Karen Stout, SVP of HR, shares Arbonne’s initiatives to improve employee engagement.
Editor’s Note: We asked some of our featured executives what they thought of the recent finding that 21 percent of full-time workers will be leaving their current position in 2014. Here is a response from Karen Stout, Senior Vice President (SVP) of Human Resources (HR) at Arbonne. She will be featured in an upcoming issue of Forefront magazine.
This study is consistent with other benchmark studies, especially on employee engagement, indicating a low percentage of people positively engaged. When the hiring environment shifts from a “buyer’s” to a “seller’s” market, as it is now nationwide, more movement should be anticipated. At Arbonne, we hope to maintain a less than 18 percent attrition rate by working diligently around retention and focusing on retaining the employees who are contributing to the growth and success of the company.
Our internal engagement scores indicate some challenges with personal growth/development and upward mobility opportunities. We have taken numerous steps to address these areas and to more positively engage our workforce.
Three illustrations of these steps follow:
1. Pure Transformation.
In early 2013, Arbonne launched a companywide initiative called Pure Transformation. Pure Transformation is about employees setting goals to make positive change for themselves and/or their communities. Three categories were created to help employees focus on what transformation means in their life: Healthy, Wealthy or Wise. The initiative was supported by contests, t-shirts, a noontime walking club and more. By the end of 2013, we had more than 500 goals submitted, 1,150 pounds lost and 17 employees who quit smoking, among other truly astonishing and impressive results. Pure Transformation ultimately became part of Arbonne’s cultural DNA. This year, we are taking our transformation journey to the next step with the theme “Who do you want to become?” We will be encouraging employees to visualize the person they want to develop into and challenging them to make the decision to transform.
2. Employer of Choice.
On the staffing and retention front, we are implementing an Employer of Choice program. This includes an internal posting program via which we will promote internal opportunities and include an automated applicant component. We will have more messaging, internally and externally, to share everything Arbonne and show that the company is financially stable, growing and a great, transpiring story to be a part of. This system also will help us focus on internal career pathing. We want to show employees (and prospects) that they can help create their own career path—it is not static—and that there are opportunities to move upward and sideways and broaden their skill sets and experience.
3. Recognition and rewards.
We consistently put recognition front and center. In addition to Pure Transformation, we have a Genius Spot Award Program (inspired by our best-selling new Arbonne Intelligence Genius product), Employee of the Quarter award and various other outlets through which we recognize and reward achievements and outstanding performance. To ensure that our employees feel recognized and rewarded, we conduct regular internal surveys and the responses really do shape our goals and objectives.
The Employer of Choice program will support skill-based testing in different areas of the business. We will continue extensive interviewing and referencing. We are also painfully aware that the greatest predictor of success (as much as 80 to 90 percent) is based on soft skills, not hard skills, so we focus on that “fit factor” more than ever.
We welcome referrals from happy, existing employees as part of the hiring process. Cultural initiatives (e.g., Pure Transformation) as well as the establishment of the Arbonne Charitable Foundation, which our employees have embraced and supported beyond our expectations, have done a great deal to improve our environment and attract new team members. The social conscience aspects of our company—eco-friendly, cruelty-free, vegan, etc.—have become key reasons new hires are drawn here. All in all, we know the future continues to get better and brighter with our group.
Karen Stout is SVP of HR at Arbonne. Stout will be featured in an upcoming issue of Forefront magazine. Subscribe to be the first to read her story.