Editor’s Note: All Ears

By Debbie Bolla

Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now? No, I am not talking about cell phone service. I am talking about how today’s employees want to provide feedback and feel like their employers are listening to them. But in many cases, workers aren’t being heard -or at least that is the perception. In fact, Gallup’s research finds that only three in 10 U.S. employees strongly agree that their opinions seem to count at work.

Such employers have A LOT to learn from Independence Health Group -a company that makes employee feedback a priority. The organization actively listens to its employees through annual surveys and its very popular associate resource groups (ARGs).

“We have 10 ARGs that are key components to our company, our strategy, and our engagement,” explains Executive Vice President and CHRO Jeanie Heffernan in our cover story, Insuring HR’s Success. The ARGs empower employees to connect through shared interests while improving company programs and instituting change.

Independence Health Group’s ARGs include:

  1. ABLE (Associates Beyond Limited Expectations)
  2. Future Blue Leaders
  3. iLEAD (Inspiring Lifting and Empowering the African Diaspora)
  4. imPACT (Pan Asians and Allies Collaborating Together)
  5. iVet
  6. Latinos con Proposito (Latinos with Purpose)
  7. Multicultural Men’s Group
  8. PRIDE (People Recognizing Inclusion, Diversity & Equality)
  9. Women of Independence
  10. AmeriHealth New Jersey Diversity and Inclusion Council (AmeriHealth New Jersey is a subsidiary)

The catalyst for the first-ever ARG, “Multicultural Men’s Group,” is a good example of empowerment. Heffernan shares that disheartening results from a data slice of the annual employee survey uncovered that the multicultural men demographic felt disconnected from the organization, not seeing a future for themselves. Heffernan executed a proactive approach by asking for their feedback in order to create real change that was meaningful to them. And the ARG program has led to impactful results: “This cohort was instrumental in driving the company and culture forward by engaging [multicultural men] in business solutions,” she says.

In addition to improving connections between the company and its employees, this feedback-welcoming approach also boosts employee engagement scores. While the organization’s overall employee engagement rate of 89 percent is well above industry standards, members of the company’s 10 ARGs are even more engaged at 95 percent.

And to hear more from Heffernan, be sure to check out our exclusive podcast on her 2020 agenda.

Tags: January February 2020

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