We’re glad to share with you an article from our customer, ShopAtHome.com. They are a thriving online and mobile shopping experience for savvy shoppers who want to save money, based in Denver, Colorado. Less than a year ago, ShopAtHome.com chose RoundPegg software to help them reduce unwanted turnover and get a better handle on their company culture — and even help them select their VP of Marketing.
Read Nick’s article below, first published on LinkedIn earlier this week. He provides a firsthand view of what RoundPegg customers experience in their first year.
Teched Out: Culture Management Tools
By Nicholas Larche, Human Resources Manager & Corporate Counsel, ShopatHome.com
How do you define a company’s culture? The simplest answer I have come up with is that a company’s culture is defined by the values and beliefs of the people who work for it. I once worked for a company that set forth a compilation of “isms” – the guiding philosophies that all of that company’s workforce was expected to follow and work by. In my opinion, the purpose of the isms was to orient that company’s culture, but it failed to adequately define it. The isms became mantras that team members would repeat when they didn’t know the answer to a problem or catchphrases managers would use when they didn’t know how to counsel their direct reports.
When I joined ShopAtHome.com, the contrast between the company with the isms and the one I had joined, which did not, was clear – and it was both refreshing and challenging. I joined a company that lacked frustrating culture jargon, but also one that lacked clearly defined culture guideposts. Therein was the opportunity to make a difference and to do so in a way that companies around the world are giving more and more credence to: web-based culture management tools.
If you accept that a company’s culture is defined by the values and beliefs of the people who work for it, then an effective culture management tool is one which is able to identify those values and beliefs and aggregate them into a single culture profile. The difference between the mantras and the catchphrases and that which you are able to capture with culture management tools is that with the former, you blanket-sweep orient your company’s culture; with the latter, you define and customize it.
At ShopAtHome.com, we decided to implement RoundPegg, a cloud-based assessment tool that allows companies to quantify their cultures and workforce engagement levels. RoundPegg’s scientifically-backed solution helps companies reduce turnover, increase productivity, and improve overall performance by enabling business leaders to better understand, navigate, and manage this fuzzy thing called “culture.”
So, why RoundPegg? Candidly, we were experiencing some unwanted turnover and downward-trending engagement levels. But, we’re not alone in this. Businesses around the world are struggling with how to engage and retain their workforces. In the United States, less than one-third of workers are considered engaged in their jobs. As the economy improves, as the next generation of Americans assume the majority in the workforce (Millennials are not to blame for high levels of attrition, but their entering the workforce in droves is certainly a factor in the equation), and as the “gig” economy begins to take hold, turnover rates will continue to trend upwards. RoundPegg offers a unique solution to these pressing concerns.
We first implemented RoundPegg nine months ago. Our first experiment with the platform was undertaken by our Human Resources Department, which consists of me and ShopAtHome.com’s General Counsel. We used RoundPegg to determine our individual culture profiles (and we have kept the results within reach ever since). The personalized profiles provide guidance on how other team member can best work with you. For instance, with our General Counsel, I am advised to “be informed and direct” and to “debate the pros and cons” with her – and I do both of these with her regularly. Dr. Natalie Baumgartner, RoundPegg’s Chief Psychologist, explains, “When you are required to function in a way that’s really misaligned with your wiring, it becomes very exhausting and over time we tend to not want to do it [anymore].” Recall the old adage about square pegs and round holes.
What I found most interesting about my first experience with RoundPegg, and what I have determined to be one of RoundPegg’s greatest strengths, is that it initiated a conversation about values, a conversation not had enough in the workplace.
In furtherance of this grand culture experiment, we decided to pilot the RoundPegg platform while recruiting for our new Vice President of Marketing. Each member of our executive staff took the RoundPegg Culture Assessment Survey and each candidate we interviewed was instructed to do the same. We were then able to pull side-by-side culture comparisons of each candidate with each executive and each candidate with the executive staff as a whole.
While RoundPegg does assign a “score” to each candidate based on the number of value alignments and value variances with the team and manager you compare them to, one should not consider the score to be a hiring recommendation. Having a low score with a prospective hire doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t get along with that individual personally, or that you wouldn’t be able to work with them professionally. It only means that you view things differently, and RoundPegg helps you to navigate those differences in making your hiring decision. Allow me to illustrate. On a scale of 1 – 100, I score a 21 with our President and CEO. That doesn’t mean that we don’t get along or don’t work well together – we do. In taking the Culture Assessment Survey, our President ranked “Creativity” as being important to him, which makes sense – he started a catalog business and then transformed it into the thriving eCommerce company it is today. He tends to embrace risk and consider unusual alternatives and I, the Lawyer/Recruiter/HR Guy, tend more often to “use logic and proven methods to achieve success.” Now, with my boss – our General Counsel – I scored a 98. We tend to think alike.
I know you’re asking yourself, “Did you ultimately hire the highest scoring candidate for the VP of Marketing role?” No, we didn’t, and she was a tremendous hire.
Piloting RoundPegg allowed us to use and understand all of the finer features of the platform. The system is robust, but very intuitive. The features that we use regularly can best be divided into two buckets: Culture and Engagement.
RoundPegg’s platform proves that you can quantify your culture, and they do so in seven minutes or less. The RoundPegg Culture Assessment Survey displays 36 values (e.g., adaptability, creativity, decisiveness, opportunities for professional growth, etc.) and asks respondents to identify the nine values that are most important to them (and drag them to the left) and the nine values that are least important to them (and drag them to the right) – leaving the remaining 18 values in the neutral middle. Respondents are not asked to rank the values they selected in any particular order and they are not asked any other follow-up questions. The data collected is then aggregated and displayed on the RoundPegg Culture Dashboard.
Front and center on the Culture Dashboard is your company’s “Culture Score” (a numerical value between 1 – 100). RoundPegg doesn’t tell you if you have a good culture or a bad culture, but it does tell you if you have a strong culture or a weak culture by identifying how aligned your team members are to the “Core Values” of the company (the three most important values across your workforce). Aside from the Core Values, RoundPegg also identifies “Conflict Values,” those that are highly chosen as both more and less important by your workforce and could lead to challenges in the workplace.
Each team member is provided the option of connecting with other team members throughout the company to compare value alignments and value variances. Business leaders can view in detail the subcultures within their business units, departments, and teams. Administrators (likely your Human Resources practitioner) can compare any two team members within the organization and use the value variance and alignment data to mediate and solve workplace disputes.
The use of RoundPegg in recruiting alone justifies the cost you pay for the platform. Studies show that roughly 90% of hiring failures are due to poor culture fit. With RoundPegg, companies can up their culture game. RoundPegg claims that team members with a strong culture fit are, on average, 15% faster to onboard, 35% more profitable, and 27% less likely to turnover within their first 18 months of employment. Integrating RoundPegg into the recruiting process improves the likelihood that you ultimately hire the right fit for your organization. Hiring managers are provided customized interviewing, onboarding, and coaching guides, enabling them to better interview and better navigate their team’s interpersonal dynamics.
To every beginning, there is an end. And, with every termination, your HR team can view the impact on your organization’s culture. Administrators are able to view how well the team members who exited the business – whether voluntarily or involuntarily – aligned to the culture of your organization, indicating whether the “right” team members are attiring (golf rules – the lower the score, the better).
Workforce engagement isn’t static – it fluctuates constantly. RoundPegg’s engagement platform enables human resources practitioners to quickly and easily administer “Pulse Surveys” to get a sense of workforce engagement levels in real time. Survey administrators control the cadence. At ShopAtHome.com, we administer the engagement surveys on a quarterly basis. There is a common misconception when it comes to surveys, and that is that team members are certain to encounter survey fatigue. Rest assured, your team members will continue to act when they witness or realize the benefits of doing so (so it’s on you to actually do something with the survey results). As RoundPegg puts it, “There is no such thing as survey fatigue, only inaction fatigue.”
The standard survey consists of ten statements divided into seven categories: Expectations, Fairness, Growth & Development, Impact, Job Fit, Rewards, Support, and Trust. Survey administrators can add or substitute custom statements to fit their business needs. Each statement is ranked on a scale of 1 – 5. Individual engagement scores are kept anonymous so that team members can feel free to answer honestly. Only managers and administrators can view the aggregate engagement levels of their teams, departments or business units.
Once the survey is closed, RoundPegg’s “Heat Map” functionality readily indicates which teams need the most attention, when, and to what extent. Then comes accountability. At ShopAtHome.com, we sit down with each manager to complete a RoundPegg Action Plan. We discuss the results, identify focus areas, and define actions for improved engagement. Once next quarter’s scores come in, we revisit the Action Plan and revise as necessary. Historical engagement levels are recorded and displayed on the Engagement Dashboard so that business leaders can measure the traction they have made over time.
Studies indicate that strongly engaged team members provide as much as 57% more discretionary effort than team members who are not strongly engaged. Strong engagement also correlates to greater longevity and greater job satisfaction. Thus, an engaged workforce is a win-win situation – it’s good for the business and it’s good for the team member.
Approximately two-thirds of human resources practitioners report that they will be modernizing their company’s engagement and retention strategies. In 2015,more than one-third of HR departments will invest in new technologies, with 88% of them continuing or increasing their spend. If you want to remain competitive in the global marketplace, especially in the areas of engagement and retention, maintaining the status quo is no longer an option.