Over the next few months, we’ll take an inside look at how the NSCA 2020 Excellence in Business award winners have adapted to our constantly changing industry. For its commitment to improving company culture – and measuring the results – HB Communications was named an NSCA 2020 Excellence in Business award winner in the Employee Engagement category.
Whether NSCA member companies choose to acknowledge it or not, many are in the same boat as North Haven, CT-based HB Communications, Inc. was after restructuring in 2018. When it took an honest look at its company culture, the company saw areas that needed improvement.
Led by new HR Director Erin Roesler, and with support from executive leadership, the company created and implemented strategies to improve company culture. That has traditionally been a murky objective for integration firms. It’s difficult to figure out which steps will have impact – and even more difficult to quantify those efforts, which is why many companies leave their culture objectives on the back burner.
For Roesler, however, the business case was clear – and punting on company culture wasn’t an option. Upon joining the team in Fall 2018, she noted that HB was struggling with employee turnover and retention rates. “I started to pull some metrics and looked at ways to improve,” she says. “One of the things I wanted to focus on was culture.”
A New Emphasis on Company Culture
Like many integration firms (if they’re being honest), HB hadn’t been “proactively considering” company culture, Roesler says. She brought a focus on driving the culture by identifying issues that employees struggle with – and addressing them. In order to do that, HB conducted informal surveys to identify these areas.
“We realized that one of the issues was communication,” Roesler says. “Employees didn’t feel like we were effectively communicating information from the executive team down to the boots on the ground.”
As a result, HB launched an executive office-hours program. The executive team committed to being present for monthly office hours at both company locations outside of its Connecticut headquarters (HB leadership was already spending time at all locations, but formalizing a program and providing a schedule went a long way toward fostering communication).
Additional programs launched to improve company culture at HB Communications included:
- A peer-to-peer recognition program
- Improved internal communication processes
- Bolstering of wellness programs
- Introduction of management training
- Streamlined processes
- Launch of new appreciation events
- New hiring philosophy
In shifting its focus when it comes to hiring, HB now prioritizes finding the right fit and attitude over the employee’s experience. This fostered a positive environment and created an employee-led culture shift, according to Roesler.
HB implemented an array of changes aimed at improving company culture – not just one or two swings for the fences. That was by design because “there’s not one answer to complex company culture issues,” Roesler says. “It’s important to come at it from multiple angles.”
Metrics Meet Company Culture
Return on investment (ROI) is tricky when it comes to company culture, which prevents many from taking steps to improve it. But HB Communications leadership understood the importance of finding a way to measure impact or, as Roesler puts it, finding out “how we know that these initiatives work.”
For COO Joel Harris, measuring the results was vital.
“Those of you who know me know I’m very bottom-line oriented and fact based,” he told 2020 Business & Leadership Conference attendees during a panel discussion featuring company representatives from the Excellence in Business award winners.
For HB Communications, measuring results began with establishing baselines. Through that series of employee surveys, the company was able to set baselines for things like employee engagement. Then, after launching something like the peep-to-peer recognition program, the company re-administers survey questions to measure against the baselines. “We continued every quarter to get those updates of where we were at engagement-wise,” Roesler says. “The metrics come from those surveys.”
Indeed, the company saw the impact of its company culture initiatives:
- 5% average increase in overall engagement over the course of six months
- 8% reported increase in teamwork (due to the peer-to-peer recognition program)
- 5% increase in supervisor feedback (due to a streamlined and improved performance feedback process)
- 5% overall satisfaction increase
- Significant reduction in turnover – 14% from 2018 to 2019
“It’s very quantified. It’s not just a touchy-feely type of HR where we hope that, by doing these things, something good will happen,” Harris says. “We’re very intentional about measuring and quantifying the impact.”
The retention metric is key, of course, but Roesler is quick to point out that the improved company culture has also helped HB Communications from a recruiting standpoint. “It sets us apart from others in the industry,” she says, adding that, in an industry requiring the hiring of specialized individuals, it’s important to establish a leg up on the competition.
There are also non-metrics-based impacts from the steps HB Communications has taken to improve company culture. It’s hard to quantify a change in attitude and mood – but those impacts are no less valuable. “Our culture a year ago compared to what it is now is night and day,” Roesler says. “It has really pushed us into a more progressive and proactive organization.”
Check back as we continue to reveal how the 2020 NSCA Excellence in Business award winners made business changes to adapt to our constantly changing industry. You’ll also read stories from:
- AV Solutions
- Hillman AV
- CEC (Communications Engineering Company)
- Corbett Technology Solutions
- Constant Technologies Inc.