Focusing on employee engagement and empowerment can foster customer loyalty — and long-term success.
Focusing on employee engagement and empowerment can foster customer loyalty — and long-term success.
Inside the Stagecoach
April 25, 2016

Why fostering engagement is crucial to company success

By focusing on employee empowerment, says Wells Fargo’s Cara Peck, companies can foster customer loyalty — and long-term success.

Companies traditionally measure employee satisfaction but now often choose to focus on engagement. We asked Cara Peck, head of Enterprise Talent at Wells Fargo, why.

Q: Why is employee engagement so important?

Peck: When the people who work for your company are engaged, they feel empowered, and when they feel empowered, they provide better service to customers.

Wells Fargo’s Cara Peck

In fact, strong empowerment within a company is a leading indicator of strong customer loyalty. So by focusing on engagement every day, you contribute to the company’s success.

One way to gauge how well you’re doing is to hear regularly from the people on your team. At Wells Fargo, we call employees team members, and I believe hearing from team members is always beneficial because it provides us an opportunity to grow as an organization.

Last year, 93 percent of our team members participated in our annual Team Member Connection Survey. And, for the third consecutive year, Wells Fargo received the Gallup Great Workplace Award, which recognizes the most engaged and productive companies in the world. I’m proud of that!

Q: How does Wells Fargo approach team member engagement?

Peck: Thinking and talking about engagement should inform everything we do, every day, all year long. This means it can’t be only an annual occurrence but rather an ongoing, consistent, and solicited dialogue. Engagement is something we influence through the interactions we have with customers and each other, the choices we make, and the way we lead ourselves, the team, and the business.

Wells Fargo’s companywide focus on team member development and engagement is ongoing. We support team members in owning their own development while providing learning and development solutions that allow them to grow their capabilities through networking, experiential learning, coaching, feedback, and training.

Surveying is essential to “a sustained, year-round conversation between team members and their managers.”

We also foster a culture of two-way dialogue. One of the tools we use is encouraging team members to share their opinions through the survey I mentioned earlier. The brief and voluntary survey helps us gauge how well we are doing in building an environment where everyone feels included, valued, and supported in contributing to our success.

And the survey is only one part — although an essential one — of a sustained, year-round conversation between team members and their managers. We also have tools like our companywide intranet site and our internal social platform, as well as an idea-submission tool where team members are encouraged to comment, participate in discussions, and bring new ideas forward.

Q: What characterizes companies that do a good job of engaging employees?

Peck: I’ve been with Wells Fargo for 17 years, and I discover new things regularly that excite and energize me. Primarily, I’d say a company should value and support employees as a competitive advantage. During my time here, our company has managed through a lot of change, including the largest merger in banking history. Even through all of that, what has been steadfast and our cornerstone is our culture. We value collaboration, teamwork, open dialogue, and investing in our team members’ growth and development.

We recognize that effective leadership is central to engaging team members, satisfying customers, and achieving business results. We believe everyone can be a leader – that leadership is not the exclusive domain of our senior managers. We are all called to be leaders and to be the link between the vision of Wells Fargo and our customers.

This focus creates an environment of always putting our team members and customers first. We make an effort to attract and retain team members who are willing to work hard for our customers, communities, shareholders, and each other. At the end of the day, being a part of an organization with that culture makes Wells Fargo a great place to work.

Q: What steps can companies take to boost engagement?

“Foster a culture where employees are encouraged and supported to provide feedback.”

Peck: A few things come to mind. First, it’s important to foster a culture where employees are encouraged and supported to provide feedback. The best type of feedback is ongoing, so companies should look for ways to engage in ongoing dialogue with employees at all levels.

It’s also important that contributions are recognized and that employees have the tools and resources needed to perform their jobs.

Most important, to create an environment where team members feel they can grow their careers, it’s critical to provide development opportunities for team members to learn and grow. Development is any activity that helps team members gain knowledge, build skills, or advance in their career. The more purposeful team members are about their development, the more likely they are to find opportunities that align with their capabilities and passions.