How Argent is driving employee engagement to transform company culture

BY: BROOKS CAMPANY
Director of Recruiting, Engagement & Culture

At Argent, client satisfaction is a big measure of our success. But it’s not the only one.

We know that having happy employees makes for a more motivated and — let’s be honest — pleasant workplace. So, we’re in the midst of a conscious push to nurture our culture and engage each of our 240 employees spread across 25 offices and 12 Southern states. Although we’re not all in the same place physically, we want each employee to feel that they’re part of a wider workplace community.

The results of our recent annual Gallup survey are evidence that we’re making progress. The responses we gathered from the survey showed an actively engaged workplace culture with a high level of satisfaction. And that’s a great thing to see.

The survey, given at the end of 2017, included 12 questions that produced their own scores in addition to two composite pieces of data: an Engagement Index and an Overall Satisfaction Score. Taken as a whole, these 14 data points/measurements allow us to measure our progress year over year, and also provide a picture at how we compare against other companies.

The results

Here’s what we found:

  • •The Engagement Index, with approximately 90 percent participation, increased 4.6 points from 3.94 in 2016 (on a five-point scale) to 4.12 in 2017. Although that may seem like a small point increase, last year our Engagement Index placed us in the 59th percentile of the Gallup database. This year, we’ve leapt up to the 82nd percentile.
  • •Our 2017 ratio of engaged employees versus actively disengaged ones dramatically increased to 256 percent of our 2016 ratio. In 2016, the ratio was 4.8 to 1 — that is, one actively disengaged employee for every 4.8 engaged employees. In 2017, that ratio was 12.5 to one.
  • •Our Overall Satisfaction Score also significantly increased, from 4.24 to 4.42 on a five-point scale. This score places us in the 96th percentile of the Gallup database — a significant ranking!

Digging a bit deeper into specific questions, we were encouraged to see that employees responded positively to the statement “My supervisor cares about me.” The overall score of 4.48 out of 5 ranked in the 93rd percentile among companies in the Gallup database.

How we compare

In 2016, employees gave average scores below four to half of the 12 questions. In comparison, in 2017, we only had two questions receive average scores below four:

  • •Our lowest score related to employee recognition. Although it increased from 3.32 to 3.58 year-over-year, a gain of 7.8 percent, we still only ranked in the 62nd percentile. This is an area that we acknowledge needs additional work.
  • •Although responses to the statement “I have a best friend at work” also received low scores, we think the wording of the question may not have accurately expressed the goal of quality workplace relationships that we hope Argent employees’ experience.

Looking forward

As a whole, we think there’s a lot to be proud of. But there’s also room for improvement. So where do we go from here?

In 2018, we’ll place a greater focus on improving recognition of our employees. We think a key aspect of this will be in strengthening the relationships between managers and their direct reports. To accomplish that, we’ll provide training to our managers to give them the tools for leading their Management by Objectives (MBO) process. In addition, we’ll resume our TINYpulse employee surveys, with an emphasis on questions that give us data to better structure our manager training efforts.

We know our company is only as strong as its employees, so we intend to keep up our efforts to maintain a healthy internal culture at Argent in 2018 and beyond.

About

Argent Financial Group

Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2020, Argent Financial Group (Argent) is a leading, independent, fiduciary wealth management firm. Responsible for more than $30 billion in client assets, Argent provides individuals, families, businesses and institutions with a broad range of wealth management services, including trust and estate administration, investment management, ESOPs, retirement plan consulting, funeral and cemetery trusts, charitable organization administration, oil and gas (mineral) management and other unique financial services. Headquartered in Ruston, Louisiana, Argent was formed in 1990 and traces its roots back to 1930.

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