23rd April 2017
Interview: Jill Christensen
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EZ: What does employee engagement mean to you?
JILL: It means employees trust senior leaders and feel an emotional connection to the organization. And when this is in play, employees go above and beyond the call of duty and give you a ton of discretionary effort – which is the magic dust to superior business results.
EZ: What are your three tips for companies looking to drive engagement in their organisations?
JILL: My proven strategy has four steps:
- Hire people whose individual values align with your organization’s values
- Ensure that every employee has goals that are aligned with the CEO’s goals
- Build a two-way communication culture
- Create a culture of rampant recognition
EZ: What do you feel are the biggest pitfalls that companies should look to avoid when executing their engagement strategy?
JILL: Do not ask HR to create and execute the strategy. HR does not own culture – senior leaders own culture (i.e. How we do things here). They must own and execute the strategy in partnership with HR and managers.
EZ: Why do employees fail to buy in when companies try to ramp up engagement?
JILL: They don’t believe that leaders are serious about wanting to improve the culture – they think EE is the next program du jour. This has everything to do with how the strategy is communicated and who the messages come from.
EZ: What skills are most useful for everyone to have when trying to move towards a culture of engagement?
JILL: Self-confidence, courage, presence and optimism.
EZ: You’re a judge for the Employee Engagement awards. What will you be looking for in the entries?
JILL: Creativity. I love hearing about new ways to engage employees and I’m not talking about free beer or an office dog!
EZ: How important do you think it is to connect Employee Engagement to Customer Engagement and why?
JILL: The connection is undeniable. Engaged employees go above and beyond the call of duty and that effort flows through to the customer experience.
EZ: What’s the best EE idea you’ve seen a company roll out/attempt and wish you’d had that idea yourself?
JILL: I love the idea of CEO For a Day. This sends the message that the CEO does not think he/she is irreplaceable or the most important person in the company, which goes a long way to build trust between the leader and employees.
EZ: What’s the worst and glad that you didn’t?
JILL: I think office dogs are the worst. My friend said that the dog in her office urinated in her cubicle. How does that engage anyone? Dogs make people happy, not engaged. Trust me – if you have a crappy, dysfunctional workplace culture, Fido is not going to stop your employees from quitting on you.
EZ: Since you entered the world of work, what’s the best experience you’ve had?
JILL: Launching my company and helping other companies improve their cultures. It’s magical!
EZ: What’s the worst?
JILL: Working at a well-known Fortune 500 company where the CEO thought he knew it all and managed by control and command. In my opinion, he was also threatened by strong, intelligent women. I quit after eight months.
EZ: If you could only roll out only one programme, which of the following would you choose and why? Wellbeing, Leadership Development or Recognition.
JILL: Leadership Development. We are experiencing a leadership crisis in our world in business, politics, government and even religion. We need to do a much better job building great leaders, as leadership makes or breaks employee engagement and bottom-line results.
EZ: Which person (dead or alive) would you love to be able to come in and speak to your workforce/colleagues?
JILL: Sir Richard Branson. He gets it!
EZ: Favourite song to crank up after a tough day at work?
JILL: September by Earth, Wind & Fire.
EZ: Best place in the world you have visited?
JILL: Australia – it was magical! Second best? Zermatt, Switzerland.
EZ: The place in the world you’d most like to visit?
JILL: I’d like to go on a safari in Africa.
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