Engagement Leads to Growth at Morrison

Morrison Management Specialists, a member of Compass Group, provides food, nutrition and dining services to health care and senior living markets, and employs more than 20,000 people in nearly 1,000 hospitals, integrated health care systems and senior living communities.

As part of strategic planning, it recognized the following:

•There was significant growth potential due to a booming medical and wellness services market.
•The baby boomer population would require more services while simultaneously looking to assist in delivery of these same services.
•High-quality delivery would prompt increased business presence in health care and senior living spaces.
•People were the key asset and resource that would ultimately differentiate Morrison from its competition.

Annual employee engagement surveys highlighted areas for improvement in engagement and retention. Improvement in these areas would result in increased productivity and opportunities to achieve Morrison’s growth objectives using learning, engagement tools and processes.

Implementation of tools and workshops would not be enough. Company leaders recognized that the real success of this strategy would be in how solutions were applied consistently throughout the workplace.

Talent leaders developed a systemic strategy to integrate talent-focused behaviors into the organization’s culture and subsequently increased employee engagement, decreased employee turnover and improved overall operational effectiveness.

A retention and engagement strategy was delivered to more than 6,000 leaders throughout the company introducing the concept of stay interviews — one-on-one conversations that surface what is important to engage employees and uncover key areas that leaders can address quickly.

A series of sustainers — tools to keep the strategy alive and relevant to the organization — were developed and integrated into day-to-day work. These tools included daily to-do’s, tips and techniques as well as thought provokers and an online portal.

Morrison also integrated a focused coaching operation for its top 100 managers and leaders. The operation consisted of a two-year journey. Each leader was assigned a virtual coach to apply key strategies to specific engagement dilemmas. The coaching process drilled down on the individual needs of the business unit along with how the manager or leader could deliver on those needs.

An additional company sub-goal of the coaching process was to eliminate high-risk behaviors in managers, recognized as leading causes of employee disengagement and turnover.

By working toward solutions to engagement challenges and eliminating high-risk behaviors, leaders were able to navigate the culture shift Morrison needed to promote culture change, growth and employer-of-choice status.

Major metrics in the organization were tracked from 2006-2010. These metrics included but were not limited to employee engagement, turnover rates and patient or client satisfaction.

Employee engagement rose approximately 30 percent, turnover rates dropped approximately 15 percent and client satisfaction rates rose approximately 16 percent for the enterprise.

“We have no other significant change to tie this metric change to except that we are doing this engagement initiative,” said Andrea Seidl, senior vice president at Morrison.

Engagement builds or diminishes in every interaction between the manager and the employee, particularly when working or leading through change.