Driving change and increasing retention to boost the bottom line

Driving change and increasing retention to boost the bottom line

Read Jones Christoffersen (RJC) has been engineering some of North America’s most-distinguished structures for 60 years. At the heart of RJC’s success is its team, which includes some of Canada’s most experienced structural engineers who work alongside a group of talented young professionals.

While this combination of experience and energy is an asset for RJC, it can create challenges for the company’s leadership.

“Like most companies today, there’s a significant divide between my generation, the baby boomers, and the millennials,” says RJC’s Manager of Human Resources, Arthur Docherty. “We are having trouble understanding them, and they’re having trouble understanding us.”

With about 300 staff under the age of 35, understanding what matters to millennials is critical to RJC’s continued success.

“Today, the assets used by a company to provide services to clients and address the marketplace are owned by its employees and these assets are highly mobile,” Docherty explains. “If the company doesn’t have something of value to offer the employee in exchange for the use of their human capital, the exchange is not going to be done.”

Based on a significant amount of research into the cost of attrition, Docherty conservatively estimates the cost of losing one junior employee who makes $60,000 per year with 30 percent benefits to be $68,000. If, for example, the company’s profit margin is 10 percent, it needs to sell $680,000 worth of products or services to pay for that loss.

Strong participation, specific data

Docherty was asked by the company to do some research on millennials, and he decided to take a direct approach.

“I thought, let’s talk to our millennials and find out what they think,” he says. “I looked at a number of different technologies to do that. But I heard about Thoughtexchange from another HR director and I was intrigued because he spoke extremely highly of the product. He said it was the most successful and valuable ‘survey’ he had ever done.”

Docherty and RJC partnered with Thoughtexchange and asked their under-35 staff this question: “What can we do to improve your work experience?”.

Each person received an exchange link that let them participate and confidentially respond in their own words from any device. After contributing thoughts, they could see and rate thoughts shared by their peers.

“We got some fantastic information,” Docherty says. “Participation rates with our under-35 group were well over 80 percent, which is extremely strong. Our team leaders wanted specific feedback sorted by team and by city,” he explains. “We wanted it broken down into such specific pieces. I can’t say enough about what a good job the Thoughtexchange team did meeting our requirements on that.”

“Because of the Thoughtexchange technology, we have been able to action things that have not been actioned in the past.”Arthur Docherty, Manager of Human Resources

Driving change and increasing retention

At the top of RJC’s exchange report of 200 prioritized items of importance for their millennial staff were: work-life balance, upgrading offices and technology, and personal development.

Docherty says discovering the second point helped the company build a business case for moving out of one of their current office spaces and into a new, more modern one. They also found some “simple wins” that could be quickly checked off the list to make progress quickly, and launched initiatives around others.

“Because of the Thoughtexchange technology, we have been able to action things that have not been actioned in the past,” he says.

“In many companies I’ve worked with, people complain that nobody listens or nobody cares. With Thoughtexchange, we’re giving staff a venue where they can be heard and we’re acting based on their input. That has the company connecting with employees on a deeper level. And that can only be good for retention.”

RJC continues to work with Thoughtexchange on company-wide engagement initatives, and Docherty regularly launches his own exchanges with staff on an ongoing basis.

“I can send an exchange out to 100 people in less than 10 minutes,” he says. “And we can start to gather information on a process that’s happening right now. It’s simple and you can connect with all the people in your company.”

Thoughtexchange provides software solutions that bring people together, build trust and make progress on important topics. Whether it’s employees, customers or whole communities, our solutions effortlessly connect you to your stakeholders. People can confidentially and independently share their thoughts, appreciate other points of view and understand how their perspectives are connected to decisions. Our patent-pending data analysis gives you the insights to make informed decisions and take action.

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