Employee Engagement: We Implemented a Staff Advisory Board
There’s a lot of talk about employee engagement these days. At Gross Mendelsohn, we have an unusually large number of career employees (i.e., individuals who stick with one company throughout the majority of their career). Despite this, most employers would agree that career employees are becoming less and less the norm.
In fact, employees hold more power in today’s marketplace than they ever have. Some of this comes from being able to find jobs all over the world via the internet, but the reality is, employees often leave companies to escape issues that management may not even know about. Even at exit interviews, these employees may omit information about the real reason they took a new job for fear of burning bridges.
At Gross Mendelsohn, we wanted to change the way our staff communicated with the firm’s partners. We wanted to give staff members a forum to freely voice their opinions, improve staff morale and maintain our firm’s high employee retention rate.
To facilitate this, we created the firm’s staff advisory board.
What Is the Staff Advisory Board?
The staff advisory board is a group of 12 employees from various departments of Gross Mendelsohn, who serve as representatives of the firm’s staff. These individuals have two-year term limits and were elected by their peers. The board meets on a monthly basis where they discuss issues that have been presented to them by their colleagues, as well as topics that have been passed down to them from the firm’s management team. After their meetings, the board presents any relevant information to the firm’s personnel committee.
The staff advisory board has been in place at Gross Mendelsohn for nearly two years.
What Has the Staff Advisory Board Accomplished?
In short…a lot.
As a partner group, we learned a lot about the staff’s perception of the firm. The board identifies key areas that need attention and develops solutions to help solve those issues. This has resulted in some key changes at the firm, including:
- An overhaul of our firm’s leadership development meetings, which now empower staff members to make presentations, participate on panels and lead discussions
- Implementation of formal peer-to-peer training sessions from the tax and audit departments, giving staff an opportunity to share their knowledge and tricks of the trade with their colleagues
- Creation and implementation of an “upward review” survey, an anonymous survey that gives staff an opportunity to provide feedback to their managers
- Changes to our tax season required hours and bonus plans to provide more personal flexibility and to provide additional rewards to more staff without impacting client service
- Implementation of ”fruit Mondays,” a program that allows employees to purchase fruit on behalf of the firm to share with colleagues to promote a healthier lifestyle (as compared to just junk food)
How Has the Board Helped the Firm?
Most employers will tell you the job market has gotten increasingly competitive when it comes to finding good employees. At Gross Mendelsohn, we pride ourselves on finding and retaining high quality staff, and we want to make sure our culture and policies facilitate an environment where our employees are happy to come to work every day.
The staff advisory board often reviews and discusses proposed changes and policies before the firm puts them into practice, which gives our management team an invaluable opportunity to hear opinions and concerns they might not have considered.
Also, as a management team, we would rather hear about issues, big or small, from the staff advisory board rather than at an employee’s exit interview. It’s inevitable that in any company, issues will crop up, whether they are related to employee morale, dress code or time off. The staff advisory board helps us uncover those issues before they become bigger problems and helps show our staff we are dedicated to creating a great workplace.
How Can I Implement a Staff Advisory Board at My Company?
Developing a staff advisory board is easy, but the feedback you get may not be easy to hear or address. Before implementing an advisory board, you should make sure your company is really ready and willing to consider making policy changes and incorporate the discussion of the board in your personnel decisions making process.
If you’re ready to form your company’s staff advisory board, consider how you can engage your employees in the process. Our board was elected by the staff and our board has two representatives per department. The board can then set up its governance including, how often the board should meet and electing a chair who will prepare meeting agendas and facilitate discussion. From there, your management team can review the discussion and proposals from the board and make decisions on changes to proposed policies or programs.
If you'd like to bounce around the possibility of implementing a staff advisory board at your organization, feel free to contact us online or call 800.899.4623.
Published on August 02, 2018