Intentional employee experience

Jul 30, 2023


Rapid company growth and shifting circumstances require intentional efforts to maintain and shape a company culture that serves everyone.

As a company grows, it must be intentional about creating the kind of internal culture it wants to embody for its employees. Without intention, culture will naturally shift, and it’s not guaranteed to be in the optimal ways.

When a company grows extremely quickly, this problem is even more concerning. For example, Colliers Engineering & Design has grown from 30-something offices to roughly 70 offices in only about a year-and-a-half. That’s not a lot of time, and any time there is rapid expansion, it can potentially come with miscommunication, and employees of acquired companies holding onto their former culture. To complicate matters further, CED’s speedy growth happened in the midst of the transition from everyone working at home through the pandemic to coming back into the office. That’s all exciting, but as a company that has prided itself in its specific family-like culture for so many years, CED’s human resources department knew it couldn’t sit on the sidelines.

What can you do if your company is growing and you know you need to do something to keep your culture intact? What about if your COVID initiatives and norms are now outdated, and you find your company at a crossroads culturally? How can you take the reigns on your post-COVID company culture, whether your employees are in the office together, virtual from home, or living across the country from each other and your headquarters?

An employee experience committee. At CED, as our company saw exponential growth taking off, our leaders knew that formal measures had to be enacted to ensure new employees both join our culture and contribute to shaping it for the future. A group of dedicated employees answered the call from human resources and formed the Employee Experience Committee, which has the main goal of improving employee relations and getting staff engaged and happy to come to work. They serve as a liaison between employees and leadership, and they communicate concerns and recommend improvements around the common goal of retaining existing talent and enticing future talent to join the firm.

Made up of legacy CED members as well as members from firms CED has acquired and partnered with, the group has had many accomplishments. These include supporting the summer activities across the firm, establishing the Ask the Executive series (a town hall forum), Making Connections (a series of virtual teambuilding sessions), and other virtual events to help engage remote staff. Another key factor? Members of the Committee come from every region, not just CED’s headquarters. This ultimately engages more staff and offers much-needed consistency to a diverse firm.

What do they do inside the committee meetings? One member said they “share ideas and what has worked or not worked to help branches where engagement may be lower. With every region represented, committee members serve as representatives for offices with questions and help them in different more personal ways as opposed to a ‘one size fits all’ approach.”

What are the main benefits to having this committee? Another member explained that the committee improves engagement across the firm with different activities and events. Some of these are social, while others are more focused around work and company unity to really understand what CED does and what we stand for. We also want to foster communication and networking opportunities across the firm since we are growing so much with so many offices around the country, so that we can continue to keep the family culture. In this way, people can get to know each other even if they don’t necessarily work together. Another member noted that the committee provides employees a connection to coworkers outside of working on projects together, which also promotes cross selling and future work.

An Employee Experience Committee isn’t all CED has to promote positive workplace culture. We also have had a Women’s Organization, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee, Green Team (environmental), Safety Committee, and many other grass-root groups over the years that have brought people together. Having such a diversity of groups that all focus on and give necessary attention to specific topics, including a committee dedicated to employee experience, is an excellent way to ensure that no topic goes overlooked or is shortchanged.

Don’t know where to start? Norm Baillie-David, an expert in this field, has some great tips for the best way to set up employee committees. He noted the importance of keeping the size between 10 and 12 people. Also, he recommends that members come from every part of the company and, while management should be included in the group, they should not be leading the group and its initiatives.

To reference a term from middle school social studies, this group must have popular sovereignty, meaning that the power of the group must come from the people – or the employees of the company.

What do your employees want? What do they say they need? Ensure that your committee is asking and listening to the average employee they are representing. How? Send out surveys, ask for feedback after events, and listen even, or especially, when you hear constructive criticism. If you’re intentional, you can create the kind of company culture you and – more importantly – your employees want. 

Alexis Eades is a communications specialist for Colliers Engineering & Design. A graduate of Rutgers University, she has a passion for writing, learning, and traveling. You can read more from her here.

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