Developments in organisations can have a huge impact on employee engagement. While growth and acquisition are positive for business, the change can cause disruption for employees. A leading developer and manufacturer of sophisticated vacuum products, abatement solutions and related value-added services with over 100 years of history, Edwards has over 4,300 employees. In 2014 they were acquired by Atlas Copco. Together they are one of the most important industrial suppliers in the world. Edwards now has a global reach of more than 30 countries, 15 manufacturing sites, 5 service centres and hundreds of field services.
As a company, their goal is to be the environmental leader in the field of vacuum pumping and abatement by applying technology, products and services to benefit the environment for future generations. They invest in development, and in 2012 won the Queens award for enterprise and innovation. They truly believe in putting the customer at the heart of everything and providing the best quality services and products. They can only do this with an engaged workforce who takes equal pride in what they do.
Due to the global expansion, ORC International has been working with Edwards since 2011 to provide a consistent global approach to employee engagement.
We developed a survey with 61 questions in 12 different languages to be delivered across over 20 countries. The online version had individual links with pre-coded demographic information to reduce the amount of time needed to complete. To be able to reach everyone in each different job function, 30% of employees needed to take part through paper survey. Teamcodes were printed on each to deliver the same information as unique links.
Two questions were added in 2014 to gain insight into how Edwards employees felt about the acquisition and the changes in the business.
Employees around the world were able to respond to their open comments questions in their local language. These were then translated into English so that senior stakeholders would be able to understand every message. Daily response rates were communicated at every location so that they could help drive participation at a local level, and achieve the highest response rate possible.
Being a global company and having both an online and paper methodology hasn’t prevented Edwards from succeeding and continuing to improve. This is reflected in their participation rate which has increased from 74% in 2011 to 90% in 2014. Engagement has also seen a marked improvement increasing by 8% from the 2011 score of 67% – the opposite may easily be expected during a time of acquisition.
The results of the questions around acquisition showed that employees were aware of the acquisition and saw the benefits of it happening. This gave insight to the leadership team, and both Atlas Copco and Edwards took ownership of the process.
During the time of acquisition, the president of Edwards went to every site around the world to have Town Halls with all employees. Action planning is aided by their different local key drivers, and cascaded down from senior managers to local line managers, using multiple channels. A monthly newsletter keeps the engagement momentum going. Communication is furthered through participation in Yammer throughout the company. Edwards employees are really encouraged to voice their opinions and the results validate that with strong communication and leadership, transitions are achievable.