CHRO Kevin Silva has built a humanÂ capital blueprint that provides aÂ sense of inclusion, purpose, andÂ opportunities to grow. The result?Â A 95 percent retention rate ofÂ accelerated talent.
By Debbie Bolla
Research from LinkedIn finds that todayâs workersÂ feel most engaged when they are challenged andÂ personally connected to their work. Voya Financial is oneÂ organization that is providing that type of environment.Â CHRO Kevin Silva has helped build a culture that is basedÂ on the philosophy that the sum of all the parts is strongerÂ than the individual parts. In fact, the phrase âwe are theÂ weâ is one of the organizationâs corporate values.
These efforts are driving some very impressive results thatÂ shine a light on how connected employees are at Voya:Â 93 percent of employees says the organization has a greatÂ atmosphere that presents growth challenges, and 95Â percent of employees have great pride in their work. VoyaÂ has also been able to maintain a 95 percent retention rateÂ of top talent. How else does Voya achieve such leadingÂ numbers in todayâs candidate-driven market? Here, SilvaÂ shares more about the âOne Voyaâ culture, its employeeÂ value proposition (EVP), its corporate responsibilityÂ efforts, and how building the leaders of tomorrow ensuresÂ success today.
HRO Today: Tell me about the âOne Voyaâ cultureÂ and how it was developed and executed.
Kevin Silva: Every company has a culture, and it canÂ either be a culture by design or a culture by default. WeÂ have a culture by design and it is done in a purposeful wayÂ to align with our corporate values. To do this, we lead byÂ behaviors are theÂ demonstration of theÂ culture to employees.Â Organizations needÂ to have consequencesÂ to ensure the cultureÂ becomes embedded:Â promote those whoÂ demonstrate it andÂ apply pressure to thoseÂ who donât supportÂ company values.Â And itâs important toÂ communicate and trainÂ the cultural ideals, butÂ then re-communicateÂ and re-train. The firstÂ time the message isÂ heard itâs interestingÂ to employees; the second time itâs being repeated; andÂ the third and fourth time it starts to become closer to theÂ truth.
The âOne Voyaâ culture is based on the belief that the sumÂ of all the parts is stronger than the individual parts. TheÂ phrase âwe are the weââone of our corporate valuesâisÂ often heard around the halls. We understand that weÂ are accountable both individually and collectively for theÂ mutual success of Voya.
Culture can be an accelerant of performance. The wayÂ most employees experience culture is as the sum of allÂ management behaviors. When management behaviorsÂ align with articulated culture statements, you have aÂ culture that is in harmony.
We focus on recruiting the right, diverse talent, andÂ ensuring they understand the opportunities of Voya thatÂ will help them prosper in their careers. We look for theÂ right fit for the right role at the right time. We also lookÂ for candidates who have transferable skills for long-termÂ investment in their growth. We donât fill boxes at Voyaâwe bring people in for careers and grow them across theÂ organization. We look at their aspirations and challengeÂ them, and this approach helps create a âOne VoyaâÂ concept.
HROT: What impact does Voyaâs EVP have?
Kevin Silva: A solid EVP makes it possible for employeesÂ to understand what they are getting out of their work.Â This whole idea of workÂ is about the exchange ofÂ energies and resourcesÂ between employees andÂ employers. EmployeesÂ want a supportive workÂ environment, and thatâsÂ an important part of anÂ EVP. They ask themselves:Â âWhatâs it in for me?âÂ And organizations needÂ to think about that. SinceÂ becoming Voya Financial,Â we have developed anÂ understanding aboutÂ whatâs special aboutÂ our organization. WeÂ think about what ourÂ employees are givingÂ us and what they get in exchange. Our EVP representsÂ a unique set of offerings that characterize how weÂ differentiate ourselves from competitors.
Our EVP represents who we are, what we do, and theÂ expectations of our employees, and it tries to describeÂ the appeal of working for our organization and why weÂ are distinct and different. Many people have work, butÂ not everyone has work and purpose. We want to give ourÂ employees both.
Our EVP states the following types of things:
- We are a different kind of company.
- We strive to improve the lives of our customers,Â colleagues, and communities.
- We offer a diverse and energetic environment whereÂ employees own their career and are rewarded for theirÂ contributions.
- We are committed to continually improving ourÂ employees.
When we were developing our EVP, our leaders as well asÂ our employee groups spent a lot of time determining howÂ we can move the company forward while, at the sameÂ time, helping to further their careers.
To fully understand our EVP, we listened to our employeesâÂ perspectives about being part of Voya, their challengesÂ and ambitions, and how they connect to the company.Â We held employee focus groups which reached hundredsÂ of employees. Leadership members and HR alike wereÂ part of these discussions. We developed a unique andÂ clear employer brand that accurately reflects the value ofÂ whatâs gained from working at Voya. A large part of ourÂ EVP is that we grow employees to make them better, moreÂ developed, more capable, and more purposeful in theirÂ roles. We offer employees a great place to work, a diverseÂ and socially responsibly environment, and a place to buildÂ a career.
We communicate our EVP and embed our principles duringÂ the interview process, recruitment, onboarding,Â training, and as we build managers. WeÂ even put it in our performance reviewÂ process. For leaders, 50 percentÂ of their evaluation is based onÂ what they accomplish and theÂ other 50 percent is on howÂ they accomplished it. We haveÂ leadership behaviorsâwhichÂ are a big part of our secretÂ sauceâand one of the criteriaÂ is measuring leaders on howÂ they grow people. We gradeÂ our managers based on howÂ effectively they are growingÂ successors and investing inÂ people so they know the businessÂ and can deliver results.
Our approach is having an impact. Our lastÂ third-party survey found:
- ninety-five percent of employees say they take greatÂ pride in working at Voya;
- ninety-three percent say Voya has a great atmosphere;Â and
- ninety-three percent report that their work providesÂ them with great challenges.
HROT: Why do you think training and development isÂ so crucial for productivity and retention?
Kevin Silva: We start with the belief that managersÂ are never fully formed regardless of their level in theÂ organization. Managers always have the ability to growÂ and are in search of reaching their full potential. We pushÂ for ongoing continuous improvement in our organizationÂ at all levels. We push for people to be intellectuallyÂ curious. Our employees need to understand not only theirÂ jobs, but also the business we are in.
Training and development are about challengingÂ employees to grow. We do traditional leadership training,Â change management training, crucial conversations,Â relationship building, and team building. We saw a 23Â percent increase in participation in our training andÂ development programs in 2017.
But training is not only classesâit can be mentoring.Â We have four, if not five, generations in the workforce.Â One of the great challenges we have is: How do weÂ transfer knowledge? We should be able toÂ move people ahead in the organizationÂ through mentorship and the transferÂ of knowledge. At Voya, seniorÂ employees mentor junior employeesÂ and vice versa. Executives are alsoÂ mentored by executives fromÂ outside of our organization and,Â in exchange, we do the same. WeÂ want to provide our employeesÂ with knowledge and we want toÂ create a self-sustaining learningÂ environment.
These programs have direct resultsÂ on retention. Last year, we sawÂ a 95 percent retention rate of ourÂ accelerated talent. We were able to keepÂ 95 percent of our best people! Our stock hasÂ performed at almost twice the rate as S&P 500 since ourÂ IPO. Weâve got great financial performance because of ourÂ unique talent.
HROT: Do you see financial wellness as a trend and,Â if so, what should HR offer its employees?
Kevin Silva: The ability for one to understand andÂ manage their finances will create options in life. ThatâsÂ not to be confused with wealth. We are talking aboutÂ the ability to understand the consequences of makingÂ financial decisions or the consequences of not makingÂ financial decisions.
Companies definitely should offer financial wellnessÂ programs to enable employees to better understandÂ their business, how they serve customers, and to betterÂ understand their own financial wealth. At Voya, we haveÂ an understanding that financial wellness is a healthyÂ balance of living for today and preparing financially forÂ tomorrow. Financial wellness is a responsibility. We helpÂ take our employees on the path to financial security. WeÂ have assembled tools and resources to navigate throughÂ complex financial decisions like retirement, long-termÂ healthcare, and saving for college.
We recently introduced the program âLife Stage GuidanceÂ Experienceâ to provide employees with a view of people inÂ similar situations (single, married, later in life) and adviceÂ on the types of decisions they need to make and how theyÂ may affect financial well-being.
HROT: You also head up CR for Voya. How do HR andÂ CR align?
Kevin Silva: There are different ways to think of HRâinÂ the small context or the big context. I think about it in theÂ big context. It has everything to do with work environmentÂ and culture. And if you look at the broader definition ofÂ HR and culture, of course CR fits in. Our HR team and ourÂ efforts are about bringing Voyaâs financial capital andÂ human capital together to produce the best results forÂ customers, employees, and shareholders. If you are tryingÂ to bring those things together, then you see the importanceÂ of CR. Our CR efforts are a main driver of employeeÂ engagement and a top reason people want to work here.
We get very high marks on our employee surveys becauseÂ of our engagement in CR. We have several programs thatÂ are supported through our corporate foundation. ForÂ example, we promote financial literacy in schools. ThroughÂ our support of the âTeacher of the Yearâ program, weÂ help children prepare for better, more financially secureÂ futures.
We also have an annual âEmployee Giving Campaign,âÂ which is a month-long campaign designed to engageÂ employees in team building and activities thatÂ demonstrate our core values and raise the visibility ofÂ the importance of giving back. During that month, everyÂ dollar that an employee gives to an eligible nonprofit, upÂ to $5,000, is matched by the Voya Foundation on a dollar-for-dollar basis until we reach a $2.5 million match. WeÂ also provide all of our full-time employees with 40 hoursÂ of paid time off to volunteer in their communities andÂ provide them with additional opportunities to volunteerÂ through our employee-led teams known as âCommunityÂ Partners.â This ties into the theory that it is not just whatÂ you attest to, but itâs the actions that demonstrate whoÂ you are.