How Employee Feedback Became a Way of Life and Source of Truth for Flexera
“The Glint survey is our source of truth for anonymous, candid feedback and we take the results very seriously. At this time, when the world was dealing with an unprecedented working environment, it was probably our most important survey in terms of measuring what we could do to support our people.”
Jim Ryan, President and CEO, Flexera
Flexera is a business-to-business technology firm with over thirty years of visionary experience, providing tools that help other companies understand exactly what is in their IT ecosystems and help transform those insights into decisive action to expand and accelerate their business. Flexera is headquartered in Itasca, Illinois, and along with their Revenera division, serves 50,000 customers worldwide, with 1,300 employees in offices around the globe.
Measuring employee engagement and culture has been a top priority for Flexera, but past surveys — using a different tool and under previous HR leadership — were completed once a year without the rigor to make the results actionable. Instead, Kathy Tomlinson, Senior Manager of Organizational Effectiveness, and her team wanted to use surveys to fuel change in the company.
“We previously didn’t have an org effectiveness team, and surveys were seen more as an ‘HR thing,’” says Kathy.
Flexera partnered with Glint and began pulsing employees twice a year in 2017. In 2018, Flexera decided to pause its surveys for 10 months in response to a significant amount of change across the organization. In this time, the firm acquired three companies, offices were being relocated and closed, and corporate strategies were evolving. While all of these changes were fundamental for the business and were ultimately successful, it was an overwhelming process for employees — and Flexera’s leaders saw this when the company began pulsing again.
Flexera worked with Glint to once again pulse employees globally in October 2018. The team received eye-opening results: Engagement was down by ten points. Employees left comments stating that their needs weren’t being addressed, and that there was a lack of communication to bridge the gap and connect the dots across all of the change that had occurred. Jim Ryan, Flexera’s CEO, took the results seriously and personally; and fully supported the engagement team’s response plan.
In response to the employee feedback, Flexera formed the “Leadership Circle” in January 2019. This new team consisted of 90 diverse leaders across the organization, tasked with creating an action plan to turn engagement around. With leadership support, these committee members were given additional insight into how the business was run and were tasked with taking this information back to their individual teams to bridge the gap of communication.
Flexera’s next pulse in May 2019 saw a rise of its engagement score, as well as a rise in the all-important Communication driver. The Leadership Circle’s work had been a success.
Because of the Leadership Circle’s success, the organization set up new cross-functional teams with additional leaders, including a team dedicated to change management that helped to create a workshop for managers to help support employees. Another team was formed to further the increased communication by enhancing the organization’s use of Microsoft Teams. Lastly, there was a team dedicated to creating site leaders for all offices, which allowed them to determine budget, make safety decisions and focus on increasing engagement at their specific site. These additions led to another increase in the overall engagement score in the October 2019 pulse.
COVID-19 Becomes a Global Pandemic
Flexera’s next pulse was scheduled for May 2020, in the midst of the company working remotely due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Rather than leaning away from change as the organization had done previously, Flexera’s leaders opted to delay the survey slightly only to ensure they could capture true employee feedback on how everyone was feeling and doing with these changes.
“The Glint survey is our source of truth for anonymous, candid feedback and we take the results very seriously,” said Jim Ryan, President and CEO of Flexera. “At this time, when the world was dealing with an unprecedented working environment, it was probably our most important survey in terms of measuring what we could do to support our people”
All of the different engagement committees that were created previously set Flexera up to succeed when faced with the pandemic. Site leaders worked with local officials to determine when and which offices to close, employees were already regularly and effectively using Microsoft Teams to communicate, and company All-Hands were switched from quarterly to monthly to ensure employees were receiving updated communications, with the ability to ask anonymous questions of the CEO during those monthly sessions.
Once again, engagement scores increased in the May 2020 pulse, with scores jumping an additional four points — even as every employee faced new challenges of working from home full time during a pandemic. Leaders at Flexera worked with Glint’s People Science team to design the October 2020 pulse in preparation for the expected pandemic grief to hit. Additional questions were added to this survey around Belonging, specifically capturing feedback on Diversity and Inclusion.
Flexera has seen a lot of change over the years, but the company is committed to ensuring employees feel connected to the business and are being heard. “Increasing our engagement score was a huge success, but I love more the change in mindset that this brought to our leadership team. If you want to be a leader, you need to be ready to work on the business, and not just in the business,” says Kathy.
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