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Fostering Employee Engagement at Ernst & Young: the Zest way
Working at Ernst & Young (EY) — one of the “big four” international accounting and consulting firms — means you can’t shy away from teamwork. Indeed, employees at EY collaborate with anywhere from five to thirty people at once on any given project. Teamwork is, therefore, at the very core of EY’s DNA.
The driving force behind this teamwork is the constant collection of feedback, aimed at improving communication and collaboration. That is why EY chose Zest as its main solution to boost employee and team engagement. With Zest, employees and managers get the opportunity to listen, engage, and collaborate, which results in companies identifying better ways to motivate employees and improve teamwork.
Zest solved the difficulties faced by many employees […] and pushed teams to improve performance.
Associate at EY
“My initial observation when I started [this job] three years ago was that I needed to find a solution to promote team relationships at EY”, says Jacques Pierres, Associate at EY, “especially within teams. When I started, it was very important to me that we promote feedback […] through digital solutions.”
The importance of a continuous feedback loop cannot be overstated. And, while many different approaches to improve feedback have been invented over the past decades, they are all based on the premise that having employees and managers reflect on past processes and identify future learnings is essential for the evolution of any organization.
It is not without reason then, that companies across the spectrum invest considerable time and resources in creating a culture of constructive criticism and free-flowing feedback. Indeed, companies are increasingly choosing to move away from the top-down approach towards decision-making from a more bottom-up, employee-driven approach, where input is gathered horizontally from the employees and used to inform and shape management decisions.
These efforts are aimed at improving employee engagement, which in turn leads to greater talent retention, performance and profitability.
What’s more, finding ways to increase and improve employee engagement is all the more necessary now that the needs and expectations of the global workforce are evolving at an ever-greater pace. As Jacques points out, “with seventy percent of the workforce made up of Millennials, […] it is crucial to understand and fulfill the expectations of this generation.”
A continuous feedback loop isn’t just essential for employee happiness and business growth—it also plays a key role in effective management. From the effective delegation of tasks, to shaping business strategy, to coaching teams and individuals when problems arise, an effective feedback loop is a core tenet of management theory and practice.
EY’s employees primarily use Zest as a solution to reflect on positive team interactions, using the modules that were designed specifically for this purpose. For managers like Jacques, on the other hand, Zest facilitates contact and communication with employees and provides them with indispensable information about the emotional state of each team member:
The feature I use the most is the ‘mood module’, which is especially useful to identify ‘low moods’ — moments when employees identify that they are at an emotional low and are in need of help.
Associate at EY
Zest enables managers at EY to detect weak signals, as much as 4-6 months in advance, in employees with lower mood submissions. By identifying problems early, managers can pinpoint the cause and proactively take steps towards improving engagement.
If we visualize companies like EY as a human body, and their employees as its beating heart, then Zest enables managers to measure its pulse: how well is it performing under pressure, what are the components that improve its health, and which toxic elements need to be disposed of?
For decades on end managers have been using traditional, top-down evaluation mechanisms, such as the annual performance review, to measure this ‘employee pulse’. While the debate over the usefulness of these types of evaluations rages on, Zest revolutionizes the entire evaluation process by providing a comprehensive and real-time 360°view of employee performance and satisfaction, as well as allowing opportunities for horizontal and vertical evaluations.
Ultimately, this frees up a lot of time and effort.
It is through a reflective view of oneself that one becomes committed to engaging in dialogue […] Zest is a very effective solution for encouraging this interaction.
Associate at EY
By boosting team engagement and enabling employees and managers to listen, engage, and collaborate, Zest improves the overall employee experience and stimulates employee engagement. This is not just useful for employees working in teams, or their managers, like Jacques from EY — it is essential for the future survival of companies across the spectrum.
“Right now, transformation is essential for all companies, including EY, which is why Zest is such a key solution for us”, says Jacques Pierres. “[It] enables us to transform and adapt in the face of a fast-changing industry.”