By Melissa Campeau
When Douglas Conant took on the role of CEO
at Campbell Soup Co. in 2001, the compa-ny
was failing on virtually all fronts. They’d
lost half their market value in just one year
and takeover rumours were flying. Internally, employees were
deeply unhappy; a Gallop survey found 62 per cent consid-ered
themselves not actively engaged in their jobs and 12 per
cent said they were fully disengaged. No Fortune 500 compa-ny
had ever scored worse.
But in just a handful of years, Conant worked something of
a miracle. By 2008, a full 68 per cent of employees said they
were actively engaged in their work and only three per cent
claimed to be actively disengaged. That’s a ratio of 23 to 1.
Gallop considers a ratio of 12 to 1 to be world-class. Earnings
grew, too, by four per cent each year during that timeframe
and return on the company’s stock rose 30 per cent.
Of all the strategies Conant employed to turn things around,
he credits increasing his employees’ engagement as most im-portant.
In an interview with Forbes magazine, the CEO said,
“To win in the marketplace, we believe you must first win in
the workplace. I’m obsessed with keeping employee engage-ment
front and center and keeping up energy around it.”
Faith in engagement and its power to transform a compa-ny
has grown quickly among the ranks of senior managers and
CEOs. In fact, a 2014 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends
report found 78 per cent of business leaders rate retention and
engagement as urgent or important.
But to chart a course toward improvement, you first need
to know the lay of the land. This is where an engagement sur-vey
To gather data from employees, most organizations begin by
hiring an external company.
“That’s not necessarily because you need them to administer
it, but because you want the confidentiality and the perception
of confidentiality,” said Rick Webb, human resources direc-tor
at Sault College, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. “Also you want
to benchmark against other organizations’ results because
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