The People Behind the Data: Improving Employee Engagement and Retention at Penrod
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Penrod Blog

The People Behind the Data: Improving Employee Engagement and Retention at Penrod

At Penrod, we use data every day to run our business. We use it to set goals, forecast, make decisions, measure progress, solution, and more.

Here’s the thing about data, though: it doesn’t always feel very human. So how do we use data when it comes to the most inherently human aspect of our business — our people? One of our most critical “people” data points is employee engagement.

Once a quarter, we send out a confidential engagement survey using Culture Amp. To understand overall engagement, we ask questions through the lens of pride, level of recommendation (Net Promoter), commitment, and motivation.

The result of these questions is our “Favorable Score.” Sometimes, we simply refer to this as our employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS), but in practice, this metric goes much deeper than the level of recommendation.

Our survey dives further into known drivers of engagement. These factors include leadership & management, development, role, feedback & recognition, connection, and alignment. Here’s where data and people collide in the best way!

We can segment this data demographically to analyze trends, evaluate feedback, benchmark performance, and most importantly, identify areas of greatest impact to take action on. Instead of throwing everything at the wall and hoping something sticks, this data analysis helps identify high-value actions to reach our goals.

Our company goal is to be at least 85% favorable quarter over quarter. Over the past three quarters (Q4 2021 – Q2 2022), we’ve set record highs at or above 94%! This is a significant achievement and a trend of exceptionally high engagement — but it did not manifest spontaneously.

High engagement is a team effort, fostered by regularly sharing and capturing feedback, listening to understand, and taking meaningful action. A strong culture is supported by continual measurement and iteration at all levels because strength today does not guarantee strength a year from now.

A little over a year ago, we saw record low engagement levels. It’s not a secret. We cannot earnestly speak to our peaks of high engagement without elaborating on the valleys that got us there.

Our Q1 2021 survey resulted in a record low of 77%. For us, that raised red flags. Indeed, lower-than-average engagement would be an indicator of higher-than-average attrition in the coming weeks and months. We used this data to double down on factors most significantly impacting engagement.

Our favorable score in Q2 2021 had not yet notably changed (79%), but by Q4 2021— eight months after our record low – we hit a record high of 95%! Here’s how:

  • We focused on balancing workloads within our delivery unit;
  • We established a new, more autonomous and connected, team structure within our delivery unit;
  • We developed and implemented a new career progression framework providing clear opportunities for growth and advancement;
  • We revised our hiring practices and targets to bring more healthcare industry experience;
  • We implemented a 401(k) match;
  • We increased collaboration between our Sales and Delivery teams;
  • And a hundred actions in between supported by direct feedback and metrics.

Actioning on employee engagement in meaningful ways takes time and effort. Is it worth it? Let me work it.

According to Gallup, “Engaged Employees are more present and productive; they are more attuned to customers’ needs; and they are more observant of processes, standards, and systems. When taken together, the behaviors of highly engaged business units result in a 23% difference in profitability.”

When we empower exceptional experiences for our people, they empower exceptional experiences for our customers, partners, and each other. Data is undoubtedly a big part of this. However, the secret ingredient is marrying data with a passionate dedication to improving our human-centered operations.

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