Merrick & Company, an engineering firm, was experiencing turnover they felt was at an unacceptable level. To get to the root of employee concerns, they partnered with Strategic Programs, Inc. to administer employee engagement surveys. Data captured by Strategic Programs led to decisions that have helped reduce voluntary turnover from about 30% percent to less than 10%.
“If I had to pick only one survey to ask our employees to do, it’s this one.” Debbie Norris, Human Resources Vice President, pointed out. “ We have pursued and been awarded respectable rankings in ‘Best Places to Work’ evaluations, but on the whole, I feel our employees are far more forthcoming with their feedback through the (Strategic Programs) Employee Engagement Surveys. And, we end up with lots of data we can act on.”
As recruiting costs have gone down at Merrick, resources required to attract and hire new talent have shifted to retention efforts, which are much more beneficial. For example, Merrick has developed an Introduction to Leadership program and offers mentorships to help employees succeed.
“We share the results and what actions we are going to take next. This has encouraged participation and I believe it has also helped our ‘acquired’ workforce feel that their voices are being heard and their opinions matter. It may be an indirect dialogue, but it’s a valuable employee-to-leadership path that works when you have offices all over the country,” said Norris.
• 96% Employees engaged
• 20% Reduction in turnover
“When the results from our 2012 survey showed that 96% of our employees are engaged in their work, we were thrilled. Of course, I’d like to know who that 4% is so I can help them more directly. But, by design, Strategic Programs won’t release that information. It’s part of the confidentially promised to our employees when we ask for their participation,” explained Norris.
Issues being uncovered through these organizational assessments are becoming increasingly complex in nature. Earlier versions identified easy fixes like ongoing equipment malfunctions and seemingly cumbersome rules and regulations about badges. Now, it’s about career opportunities and professional development. Organization-wide, it is known that 91% of employees feel that Merrick is ethical in its business practices and 88% responded positively to the statement “I am proud to work for Merrick.” Merrick is so confident in the data that Strategic Programs has delivered to them for nearly 15 years, that Rim Yurkus, co-founder and consultant, has been invited to present directly to the Board of Directors.
Merrick is an employee-owned engineering, architecture, design-build, surveying, planning, and geospatial solutions firm with revenues over $116 million. Market sectors they serve include energy, national security, nuclear, life sciences, and sustainable infrastructure. Founded in 1955, they have nearly 500 employees throughout their fifteen North American and Mexico offices.