Compensation And Benefits Still Matter
Servicon Systems, Inc. employees play bocce ball at the company’s bocce court Photo courtesy of Servicon Systems, Inc.

Sewell’s approach to employee engagement is a little different. Servicon doesn’t have an employee engagement program, per se, but rather a company philosophy that breeds loyalty and creates what she calls “net promoters” — employees who are happy enough with their jobs that they advocate for the company in front of customers and potential employees.

Creating this culture starts with training supervisors to better interact with frontline workers and be flexible to their personal needs. To ensure these practices, Servicon has a supervisor certification program that teaches situational leadership, conflict management, positive discipline, performance improvement and respectful communication.

Once supervisors are properly trained, other aspects of creating a culture of employee engagement begin to fall into place: providing employees with the proper tools to do their jobs; providing appropriate training and continuing development for frontline cleaners; and, often overlooked, creating an environment that fosters positive peer-to-peer interaction.

“By and large, if they like the person they work directly for and they feel valued, if they enjoy their coworkers, if they have the tools, equipment and the training to do the job — those are usually the keys to an engaged workforce,” she says.

It’s also important to remember, says Sewell, that all workers have a hierarchy of needs. That’s also human nature.

“You’ve got some people so worried that maybe there’s an illness in the family or significant things going on in their personal life, or they’re worried about making their rent payment, things like that,” she says. “It’s going to be hard for them, because the focus isn’t going to be there.”

This is why Sewell was careful not to omit the value of more traditional worker benefits when citing Servicon’s success.

“We’ve always had really low turnover relative to the industry, and that’s for a number of reasons,” she says. “We treat our people well. We’re a union employer, so the wages and benefits tend to be higher. We’ve provided health benefits to our work force before it was a requirement in a lot of our areas.”

In fact, in order to preserve a fair wage for its employees, Servicon even refuses to bid for jobs against competitors that pay minimum wage.

After all of these needs are met, says Sewell, then it’s time to add in the fun stuff: the potlucks, the company picnics with employees’ family members. Servicon even adopted an office dog, Laverne, after Sewell read an article about how dogs reduce stress in the workplace. (She says it works.)

But all of these extra things, she says, should be just that — extra.

“It’s a little like the dessert, if you will,” says Sewell. “It feels good and it’s great while you do it, but it’s not what’s going to be the underlying factor for you remaining engaged and happy.”

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