the ceo magazine, employee engagement,
David Ossip, CEO of Ceridian

Success comes from culture

When I first walked in to our head office in Minneapolis – a beautiful building, with a welcoming reception desk – my first thought was “Oh my, I don’t think I’m going to be allowed into the building.” Hanging behind reception were large flat-screen televisions, one of which listed the company dress code. My t-shirt and jeans weren’t going to make the cut. The office had an environment that seemed to echo the 1960s. The boardroom and executive floor resembled a scene from the television series Mad Men.

I could tell it would be an uphill battle at times to transform the culture into one that aligned with our vision for the company – our culture had to be fast and exciting, casual and inventive, and possess the mindset required for rapid growth.

Fast forward to today and Ceridian is one of the fastest growing cloud companies. Since Ceridian acquired Dayforce several years ago, we’ve been transforming the business at an astounding pace. From R&D through to Sales and Customer Service, our teams have been constantly pressing to exceed our targets. Culture and human resources are no exception to that.

We understood early on that the most important thing that we could do to ensure our customers had successful outcomes was to create a culture of engaged, happy employees. When your employees are engaged, positive outcomes follow for the rest of the business pretty quickly.

One key insight that has helped us to continually improve our engagement is the idea of triggers of disengagement. The little (and not so little) challenges employees face every day that have an immediate negative impact on an employee’s feeling of engagement. The effect is cumulative, too. As friction and frustration mount, employees are less willing to go the extra mile. Rockstars will feel that their time is being wasted. There are three triggers in particular that we’ve put a lot of effort into addressing:

Swift action for poor performers

Employees are typically aware when one of their coworkers is not performing at the required level. It impacts team deliverables and can stress morale and personal relationships in the workplace.

Leaving poor performance unchecked sends a toxic message to the organization and has the immediate effect of disengaging top performers. These top performers consistently make the extra effort; however, if they see or sense that management is unwilling or unable to address poor performance, it can invalidate their efforts.

Workplace policies - one size rarely fits all

Businesses need to operate in a way that allows employees to take care of their personal lives. When an employee has to tend to the needs of their children or dependents, the demands of another job, or address other personal challenges, employers must show flexibility. If an employee is not given the freedom and support they require to manage their personal lives, it can have a tremendous impact on their productivity. Health and happiness suffer, absenteeism increases, and high-performing employees become unwilling to expend discretionary effort. Policies such as flexible working hours are a good start, built on a recognition that one size rarely fits all.

Replace technology that doesn’t empower

This is a common failure point for many organizations. Procurement decisions for tools and technology are made in a vacuum – often decided by budget – without a real appreciation for the impact to employees’ work lives. The reality is that when tools are inadequate, employees are unable to translate their capability and efforts into results, and are instead caught in re-work cycles.

Businesses seeking to build a strong culture of engagement must empower their managers to identify and eliminate disengagement triggers and support positive engagement triggers. By listening attentively and encouraging honest feedback, it’s possible to create a workplace that provides employees with a sense of purpose and a community of shared values – which leads directly to long-term health for the business and shared success with customers.

Culture triggers of engagement

Just as triggers of disengagement can damage culture, it’s possible to cultivate triggers of engagement. Take action to instill a sense of purpose; provide meaningful rewards and recognition; align management actions with company values. By building triggers of engagement into the fabric of your company, you can create a virtuous cycle that constantly reinforces the best in your culture. Being open and honest in communication with your employees will give you all the information you need to identify these opportunities. So, make the extra effort – your employees will thank you for it, and your customers will too.

About the Author

As the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of human capital management technology company Ceridian, David Ossip is the driving force behind the innovation, vision and leadership of the company. David’s commitment to helping companies save time and money while increasing employee engagement and productivity is transforming the human capital management industry.

Dayforce, a highly successful cloud company founded by David, was acquired by Ceridian in 2012. David served as President of Ceridian Dayforce after the acquisition, where he led further development and growth of the revolutionary Dayforce HCM solution. In 2013, David became the CEO of Ceridian and in 2015 Ceridian’s Chairman.


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