Workforce Management - Connecting with an Engaged Workforce

By Liane George, VP Human Resources & CHRO, United Launch Alliance (ULA)

Liane George, VP Human Resources & CHRO, United Launch Alliance (ULA)

How does a company connect with its workforce to ensure that they are optimally both productive and engaged? There are many things to consider that may increase the likelihood that you are efficiently and effectively responding to both the needs of the business and those of your employees.

United Launch Alliance is the nation’s premier provider of rocket launch services for Department of Defense, NASA and commercial customers. The space launch industry has seen many changes in the last couple of years andnow, more than ever, it is critical that we are taking steps to ensure that we have tools and processes in place to stay connected to our workforce.

Key to any organizations effective approach to workforce management is having a set of sound communication methods and vehicles that includes both in-person and technology-driven options. ULA spends a great deal of time creating a variety of opportunities to connect and engage with the workforce – a few are highlighted below:

• Skip-level Meetings – with some frequency, all ULA executives conduct the practice of holding skip level meetings at all locations throughout the enterprise. They meet with a variety of employee groups – the only one they do not meet with for this format is their direct reports. Often times these meetings purposely do not have an agenda; rather it is a time to just sit and chat with employees to find out what is on their mind. What is going well and what ideas do they have to offer for improvements.

• Town Hall Meetings – hosted by the CEO every 6 weeks or so, Town Hall meetings present real-time, important updates to all employees. The last agenda item for each town hall is always Q&A, which offers employees an opportunity to ask questions about any topic. In addition to in-person viewing, these sessions are recorded and made available to employees across the enterprise via an internally hosted video platform.

Like many businesses, ULA develops survey tools to gauge employee’s interests on a variety of topics and ensures that we are connected to direct feedback from the workforce.

• In 2018, we launched a Pulse Surveytool that replaced a traditional annual employee engagement survey. While an annual survey can provide great insight, it is often times a lengthy process and the feedback can become stale quickly. ULA developed a “real time” survey and named it Rocket Fuel. Every two weeks or so we launch a new pulse question and distributein our weekly newsletter – very short and simple with quick feedback to management and employees. This has been a highly effective way to ask relevant questions and the responses often provide ideas for changes and communications enhancements. Communicating the resultsand how we intend to address them, again via our internal newsletter, closes the feedback loop and reinforces our executive team’s commitment to take action on the results.

• In2018,ULA sent out a Benefits Preferences Survey to all employees. This survey queried employees about all of ULA’s Total Rewards Programs including compensation, benefits, work-lifebalance options, etc. The data provided a snapshot of a) what is most important to people and b) how satisfied are they with our current offerings. We have begun implementing a few new programs based on this information, and we will continue to rely on this tool to consider additional changes or new offerings.

With continued advancement of technology platforms, it is an ideal avenue in which to connect with employees especially, as is the case with ULA, when they reside in multiple geographic locations around the country.

• At ULA, we host an on-line platform called HRConnectthat provides resources for all employees and leaders. Reference sections offer resources in every area that HR touches an employee’s experience, for instancepolicies and procedures, health and wellness, performance management and life events. Employees can reach HRConnect with single sign on via our company Intranet and also access limited resources off the network. Employees can find answers to a variety of questions – if they do not find what they are looking for there are avenues for them to reach out for additional assistance. We track usage (and customer satisfaction) and report on that monthly. Key to the effectiveness of this site is that the HR team who does an amazing job, all year long, to ensure that the content on the site is user friendly, updated and relevant.

• This past year we rolled out an Intranetresource called theCareer Portal–a one-stop-shop for career planning and development resources. We invite all ULA colleagues to explore and utilize resourceson the site including online training, job openings at ULA,formats forcareer development forms, and videos of our executives’ leadership journeys.

Employee Appreciation takes many forms at ULA. It is important to reinforce to all team members that their work and dedication to the organization, and our customers’critical missions, is valued and appreciated. Throughout the year, we host a number of events that include:

Young Minds at Work Day (our version of Take your Child to Work Day)

Family Events

Veteran’s Day Celebrations

Company Anniversary Celebrations

In addition to very important, serious work, at ULA we also like to have a little bit of fun. At the end of 2018, we gave each employee a customized Rocketopoly board game to celebrate everything about ULA and the amazing space business!

Technology is a critical tool in employee engagement. At ULA, we use it to check in with our employees, communicate how we will act on their feedback and amplify our efforts to reach employees across different locations and shifts. As with life outside of work, technology can connect and amaze, but it’s not the only way to connect with those most important to us.

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