We are back with our Webinar Series – Experts on Employee Experience! 🎉 It is a monthly webinar series where Jade Choy, Epoch's CEO, has conversations with leaders and innovators in the employee experience and engagement space.
In case you missed it, here are some key learnings and takeaways from our webinar featuring Pierrie Jefferson, Employee Experience and Engagement Programs Manager at Pax8, and Lyndsey Hoffman, Vice President of Social Impact at Pax8. View the full recording here. Scroll on for notes! 👇
Pierrie started his career about five years ago in higher education student affairs. He was involved in leading students to build inclusive campuses and events and things for the student body. This led to where he is currently with Pax8 where he was able to start seeing what it looks like to work in corporate companies. He’s always wanted to help improve engagement and belonging and to build affinity in the places where they are, work, go to school, etc. He wants to make sure everyone can connect. To him, it’s important to be the leader that makes those connections are happening.
Lyndsey has been in and out of social impact her whole life. She was heavily involved in engagement, especially in CSR when she worked at Microsoft as a Community Development Specialist where she wrote grants for different local programs in the state of Texas. She felt this needed to happen more often with a greater ripple effect in all organizations around the world. In March 2020, she was brought to Pax8, starting in sales, and had a great time. As the company grew, she presented the idea of social impact to the Pax8 CEO and knew that with a people-first culture, this social impact focus was important to invest in now rather than later. Despite all the various roles she’s taken on, she shares that she always finds herself back in a social impact and engagement-related role.
When Pierrie started at Pax8 he had the opportunity to focus on their engagement groups. He focused on making them the best they could be. They are a pivotal time to engage employees in activities to create belonging outside of their core roles. They have been renovating their ERGs for a long time now. They realized the program needed some tweaks and providing the opportunity to talk to those involved with the groups to make sure they had the opportunity and space to grow professionally was important.
They had grassroots groups that fit into what employees were looking for. The groups included: community, fun, environmental, health and wellness, DEI, and a women’s resource group. They met with a consultant to see what the programs should look like going forward, and to create a program structure that empowers employees from marginalized backgrounds to grow and feel like they belong.
They didn’t get rid of everything, but with the creation of their social impact, they then put all the social health and wellness, environment, and community into their social impact program to reform how they show up at Pax8.
They are currently in Phase 1 where they are interviewing for new ERG leadership and executive sponsorship. They want to create a space for education, learning, and people to connect. Stage 1 is finding people that are passionate and who fit into the new mission and vision. They communicated this through a company-wide email, described the changes to the ERG, and shared new leadership opportunities that were available.
Stage 2 is to have those leaders undergo training and craft mission, vision, values, and the creation of OKRs. They want to build a good fence for them to work within to set the ERGs up for future success.
Stage 3 is to launch all the ERGs globally for their employees.
Executive sponsorship is looking at directors and above to be involved in employee resource groups to be the voice and leader who makes sure that things are circulated. Sometimes higher-up employee has greater access to groups of individuals in the organization than others because of their title. So, executives can communicate communications with those higher-up employees. Executives also fight to keep doors open when they’re closing to find funding and buy-in for different initiatives, which can be more compelling than a less senior employee trying to get the same buy-in.
When they thought about revamping their employees, top-of-mind priorities include figuring out how to connect employees across oceans. They want to make sure that the opportunities allow employees to connect internationally. While everything is nuanced and different, all ERGs will be global and there is space for local activation within each of their ERGs. But to them, each region must have some members involved in the international activation so everyone’s needs are met.
Since they are so new in the global space, the decision was difficult to decide whether they should open up these global ERGs or maintain regional or local programming. Because they’re growing globally so fast, they have a lot of global assignees as well. They have people moving from EMEA, the UK, the Baltics, etc. This cross-pollination of culture connects offices internationally and by providing global resource groups, you can still have a sense of home and belonging with the ERG from your home country. That was a driving reason why they wanted to open up the ERGs globally.
Pax8 is also in the process of onboarding Benevity. As part of their platform, they can differentiate between ERGs and interest groups. ERGs have social impact sponsorship and have different parameters compared to interest groups. Interest groups are groups that want to be ERGs someday but still need to grow up a little bit. Up until that point, Pax8 will help support their growth until that point. On top of this, they have Pax8 clubs to make sure that people can just participate in activities with each other that align with their hobbies.
Test and get feedback. The biggest thing is hearing your community. The first time you do things it won’t be perfect. It’s okay to throw Spaghetti at the wall and have only 3 noodles stick. Just try again! Take ownership of mistakes and give yourself the grace to fix things and improve for the future. Mistakes are okay and are a great learning opportunity.
They had 425 employees and got to over 1,400 since Covid. They are facing the same challenges as everyone in terms of trying to get people engaged and getting people to come into offices for events, so there’s still that social connection. They plan to maintain grace and space as they figure out how to integrate employees and the business with social impact. Covid allowed them to grow so quickly, and also changed a lot so don’t be so upset and hard on yourself that you didn’t get everything right because Covid was a different landscape. Even the environment today is extremely different from the past corporate world.
How to engage employees is top of mind, and still something they’re learning. Listening is key. Because of their rapid remote growth, Pax8 has a listening strategy to learn from employees who haven’t been able to feel the Pax8 culture that lives in person. They looked at their overall employment records and acquisitions and saw over 2/3rds of staff only knew the remote Pax8 culture. They’re doing an EX25 survey through Qualtrics to collect data on different areas such as employee engagement, social impact, leadership development, support, resources, and more. The point of the survey is to check how employees are feeling and once this data is collected, they’re also doing focal groups with 4% of the globally diverse workforce to discuss what they want and don’t have that can’t be read and bred inside of a normal tech survey. Then, they will create strategies from a people operations and global standpoint to support where employees want more support and engagement. The survey will help redefine their workforce and culture, especially since it’s grown so much and so quickly. It will help them look internally and see who they are.
People are excited. Social impact encompasses DEI, CSR, and other social impact programs such as creating programs that either help source diverse talent or help them diversify their partner community. Because there is a cloud marketplace, with partners they want to build bridges between the partner so their social impact trickles through people, partners, and community, and more so the impact is multiplied.
There have been many requests to give back to the community and get involved in different spaces so you need to make sure you create space for things that people are passionate about and make sense for Pax8 too. If people are going to take time to do things in person, people want to get together with a purpose together as a team. We are more than just ourselves and CSR connects with that community piece.
They’re excited about the ERG launch, and Beyond which is their first external partner event. What they’re excited about is having all these different partners and customers get together, to engage people in thinking about how they can get the same kind of incubation started in their business. If they can’t do that, it’s about thinking about how they can get involved in initiatives Pax8 can offer them.
Start small. If you don’t have a ton of funding, that’s okay. Do something that is more person powered rather than financially powered. Get creative! Focus on a couple of things and do them well rather than trying to focus on 15 things done just okay. In addition, they need to make sure that the event is accessible as possible for everyone who will be there. For example, it’s going to be the first global conference to build opportunities for people to understand how people interact with each other from different regions across the world. This could include providing training or document on different customs around the world so nobody gets offended by norms they may not be used to. Their doors are always open. They have an open-door policy for people to discuss anything they’d like to.
It’s multi-level. There’s no “one size fits all” but it’s an absolute must. Don’t be emotionally attached to the work you present to them. Your leaders may have a different view or insight into the business you may not have visibility to. When you’re going into those incubation conversations, be open to hearing what the leaders have to say. You don’t necessarily have to agree but you should collaborate to find the middle ground to make sure it works. Also, understand that some leaders won’t buy in. Some will buy in, others will be a spokesperson, and others might not like it. Have a door that can open towards other leaders. It’s okay to hear no 10 times. It’s like door-to-door sales. It takes a while to get the first yes but once you have it, you’ll hear more yes’. It’s also important to build rapport and create relationships to get advice, help, and support.
Each other. Community is really important. If Pierrie or Lyndsey even get one thank you, that fuels them for the week. Those tiny things build up and validate the work that they are doing. They use that momentum to keep going and keep fighting for what their employees need and want. They also stay positive by recognizing that many people want to be in their position as the changemakers and that makes them grateful.
Connect with Pierrie and Lyndsey on LinkedIn if you want to chat about creating an intentionally engaged, inclusive, values-driven culture for employees globally. Sign up for Epoch’s newsletter to be in the know for our next Experts in Employee Experience webinar and other Employee Experience events!
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