13 Feb 2024

How we increased employee engagement at Significa.

We love a happy team. We talk a lot about our people and the pride we have in our culture. So, can you imagine how bummed out we were when we got back a 72% engagement score from our mid-year satisfaction survey? We didn't expect this result, and it felt like we'd been slapped with a wet fish. As it turned out, it was clear we hadn't been listening to our team.

This was a wake-up call. We realised we needed to listen better, so through our then-new employee engagement tool, CultureAmp, we plugged in our hearing aids and got to work on addressing some issues that were preventing us from delivering an awesome working experience for our whole team.

This meant we had to endure some long, hard looks in the mirror, but within six months of hard work addressing our shortcomings, we've made some progress in turning that score around, with more happiness at Significa than we've seen before: at the end of last year, we got an engagement score of 86%. Good!

Our November 2023 survey had 100% participation from 22 non-partner employees and saw a 14% favourable score rise in engagement across Significa, with neutral scores decreasing from 20% to 12% and unfavourable scores from 8% to 2% compared with our June 2023 survey – which had 96% participation (24 participants).

Yeah, there was no wet fish slap this time, but surely there is still work to be done.

That being said, we want to share with you how we got that 14% increase in our engagement score at Significa in six months.

Before we get going, we think it may be relevant to clarify how CultureAmp defines an engagement score: “The engagement score measures people's connection and commitment to the company and its goals. By lifting it, we can impact performance, innovation and talent attraction and retention.”

The Surveys.

Before we continue down this blog's road, let us clarify a few things. As mentioned above, we rely on CultureAmp to build our surveys. These are mostly composed of fifty-two rating questions plus three Free Text questions grouped by twelve factors, namely:

  • Action

  • Alignment and involvement

  • Feedback and recognition

  • Learning and development

  • Teamwork and ownership

  • Service and quality focus

  • Management

  • Innovation

  • Company confidence

  • Collaboration and communication

  • Enablement

  • Work and life blend

As you probably figured by now, these questions prompt the user to slide through their level of agreement towards a certain concept or phrase. For example, the assertion “I have seen positive changes taking place based on recent employee survey results” is part of the factor “Action” and considered “Very High” in impact towards Engagement.

Question: "I have seen positive changes taking place based on recent employee survey results".

What we learned.

Looking at the latest survey results, we rest assured that our office is an enjoyable workspace, that 100% of folks feel like they are a part of the team, and that all departments of Significa collaborate well together.

Moreover, our people told us that transparency matters to them (and that's why we are now telling you all this). This need for clarity was complemented by a need for clear career progression opportunities, better compensation and more connection to management…so we rolled up our sleeves and got to it!

The measures we took.

Career paths and pay grades.

First, we looked at how we could tackle career progression opportunities and compensation in a unified manner. We'd long looked at companies doing pay grades and wondered if that would work for us. We had hesitated at the implied hierarchal structure that they bring. However, we decided that our approach was dated, created a murky lack of transparency and offered no direction regarding how to go about salary raises or promotions.

As a result, people drifted and looked elsewhere for their next steps after a couple of years. It became clear we needed to demonstrate more commitment to their development.

We built Career Paths in CultureAmp and simultaneously created a seven-level pay grade system, with each role in a job track relating to a salary range.

We wanted to show role expectations and what was required to reach the next level, hopefully serving as a motivator for our team members. Oh, and we made the levels the same across the whole company, regardless of their discipline. Yeah, we know engineers are normally paid more than everyone else, but we believe that everybody brings equal value to Significa. A Level 5 Office Manager can receive the same salary as a Senior Back-end Developer because we all succeed and fail as one.

We introduced partial pay transparency across the board for team members to see each other's level, should they wish to do so. We also extended this to our job openings, which now include salary ranges. With this, we aim to achieve fairness and bring reassurance to our team, guaranteeing that new hires won't be coming in at values way above them (as often is the case at many companies, new hires will come in at a higher salary than existing employees in the same role). These compensation adjustments contributed to a 13% increase in satisfaction in November. Positive change! But still, there is more work to do.

Question: "I believe my total compensation (base salary+meal card+benefits) is fair and relative to similar roles at other companies".

Development plans.

Like a hand in a glove, the Career Paths provided the perfect space for the development plans to follow. Development plans meant that our team could work on their career goals actively. What is necessary to achieve the next level in their path? What are they ultimately working towards? Together with the managers, each team member assessed their current strengths and opportunities and aligned their goals for the next six months.

They built a plan, reviewed it with their manager, and worked towards achieving those goals. This resulted in stronger relationships between managers and their direct reports, and it brought a new dynamic to one-on-ones that is valuable and goes beyond the current task status.

It put our people and their aspirations at the centre of our relationships, resulting in a motivated and productive team.

Other things.

Our team felt they didn't know what was happening across the company; no wonder people started to feel disengaged! In our industry, where one jumps from project to project and often spends more time with Clients than with peers, we must keep everyone updated and connected as to what's going on around Significa. We drove this home hard, and it paid off!

We also introduced Shoutouts to boost recognition, a monthly internal newsletter, and set about formalising feedback in CultureAmp for people to refer to in Performance Reviews and their development plans.

Additionally, we introduced bi-weekly updates about what's going on across Significa from team managers and Partners, giving a unique perspective of their team activities or business info. The idea was to be real about their challenges and share highlights, but mostly for it to be a personal account of how they see Significa at that moment.

As a result, we saw a massive 36% increase in people feeling informed by our leaders.

Question: "The leaders at Significa keep people informed about what is happening?".

What's next?

We can conclude that we have moved the Engagement needle but still have a long way to go. Our results were better all across the board, with only one factor – work/life balance – dipping by 2%. We are already invested in improving this score as we continue our mission to provide an employee experience that can be widely considered amongst the best in Portugal and beyond. You have to start somewhere, right?

Keen to dive deeper? Take a look at our journey towards happiness in this article.

Alec Norton

Operations Manager

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At first sight, Alec is as English as you can get, but no one has ever seen him drink tea, so lately, we have been wondering. He always has this cool and chill vibe around him unless Arsenal is playing. He's an Englishman in Porto and the Operations Manager at Significa.

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