The success of large organisations is increasingly down to the ability of employees to leverage communication and productivity-enhancing tools to work collaboratively, regardless of distance or time.
Thanks to the advent of digital, internet-enabled technologies, the world has never been more connected; yet our ability to create deep, meaningful connections appears to be diminishing.
That’s concerning as collaboration has been proven to decrease time to market and increase an organisation’s productivity, agility and profitability.
At the same time, workplace culture is having an ever-greater influence on recruitment and retention rates.
Does the new wave of digital workplace apps and platforms hold the solution to both challenges?
Salesforce is in the business of connecting people, a job it would appear to be excelling at.
Founded less than 20 years ago, the California-headquartered software firm is currently worth almost US$100bn and has somewhere in the region of 150,000 customers worldwide.
Numerous statistics demonstrate the meteoric rise of the company – it holds 20% of the global customer relationship management (CRM) market; it counts more than 80% of the Fortune 500 companies as customers – but for me, the most impressive are those regarding its workforce.
Salesforce has around 30,000 employees in offices across North America, Latin America, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific. Despite growing at a breakneck pace, the company has successfully managed to achieve a consistently high level of communication and organisational alignment – as it’s trophy cabinet proves.
To date, Salesforce has won separate ‘Best Workplace’ awards for LGBT Equality, Diversity, Women, Millennials and Parents, and has been named as one of America’s and the world’s ‘Best Employers’.
So, what’s the secret to their success? The Manufacturer sat down with Adam Spearing, Senior Area Vice President at EMEA, to uncover how Salesforce has supercharged its employee engagement.
What does employee engagement mean for Salesforce?
Adam Spearing: In a nutshell, everything! We look very carefully at our hiring and retention levels, as well as our onboarding rates – i.e. once hired, how fast can somebody actually get into the company and start adding value.
Diversity is absolutely critical in creating a dynamic, inspiring workplace and directly impacts on productivity; so, we closely monitor diversity within the organisation.
Like almost all businesses, we conduct regular employee surveys to understand the needs and concerns of our workforce. Rather than viewing these surveys as merely a box-ticking exercise, we ensure that appropriate action based on the survey results is always taken.
The other vital element is communication. Today’s ‘millennial’ generation are largely bright, intelligent people who can choose to go and work anywhere. The notion of a ‘job for life’ is rapidly disappearing.
Therefore, as employers, we must create an open, transparent culture and truly engage with our employees.
The Manufacturer has created a trio of short insight-driven videos with Adam Spearing around the crucial topics of connectivity and employee engagement:
What does the future of Employee Engagement look like? – With workers now very much in the driving seat, it is absolutely vital that businesses invest in their workplace culture and employee experience.
Empowering employees through collaborative systems will improve productivity – connected business applications play a vital role in fostering a culture of innovation, collaboration and superior customer experiences.
How can manufacturers connect with customers by enhancing their entire operation? – How is digital technology helping to strengthen manufacturers’ customer relationships, enhance supply chain collaboration and ultimately, drive revenue?
How exactly are you achieving that?
I’ll give you two great examples which I think every organisation would benefit from. In Salesforce, we use a framework called ‘V2MOM’ – vision, values, methods, obstacles and measures – which defines how we want to run the business in a very clear, easy to digest way.
V2MOM is driven from the top via our board and chief executive, Marc Benioff, and is cascaded down through the organisation. It allows every single employee, regardless of level, role or function, to look at what they do and understand how they support the overall vision of the business.
It’s very transparent, every employee can see everybody else’s business plan – and there are no secondary or hidden business plans. That allows us to get a degree of consensus and alignment behind our objectives.
Secondly, and related to transparency, we use an enterprise social network collaboration tool across the organisation called ‘Chatter’. Salesforce, along with many of our customers, is seeing the benefit of Chatter because it offers so much more than your standard instant messaging or social media platform.
Users can connect with others and share knowledge, files and data; dedicated forums help people share insights and talk through ideas with direct feedback which accelerates innovation; and custom apps help engage and motive our employees to work more efficiently which increases productivity.
App dev + engaged employees = a better bottom line
- 297% increase in ROI
- 33% reduction in helpdesk calls, and £3.6m in savings
- 50% increase in app development speed reduces unnecessary hiring
One of the groups Salesforce has created in Chatter is called ‘Airing of Grievances’ where employees do exactly that – they air their grievances. It’s open to our entire workforce and typical grievances range from a double-booked meeting room to a workflow problem. Our executive team closely monitors the group and Marc will often personally respond to many of the issues raised.
A grievance usually starts a discussion about possible solutions or more efficient ways to do something, and there’s even a hashtag for a grievance that results in an innovative solution: #GrievanceToPraise.
It’s so important to build a culture where employees feel that they are able to make criticisms or suggestions without any comeback or retribution.
The combination of V2MOM and Chatter really helps to collapse some of the inherent hierarchies that come with being a large, global organisation, as well as help employees feel connected to the executive team.