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FIS: Aligned for Success

How a Clear Focus on Employee Engagement Delivers Powerful Results

Client focus. Operational performance. Market leadership. All are drivers of success for this $5 billion Fortune 500 company. But, ask FIS clients what really makes the difference and they say, “It’s the people”.

In an industry in which 24/7 connectivity is key and technological advances happen quickly, FIS teams have to be ready to operate and innovate on a daily basis. Employees at all levels need to feel connected as they collaborate to respond to issues and focus on product innovations.

“When you’re dealing with a company of our size, with that kind of distributive employee base, you have to engage your employees and appreciate them and the job they do,” explains Gary Norcross, chief operating officer. “Not being able to have daily interaction with all of our employees, we really have to be able to reach out and show them the difference they’re making each and every day with our clients in the delivery of our software and services.”

Creating a unified culture in which employees worldwide feel appreciated and engaged has been a top priority for FIS. For President and CEO, Frank Martire, that meant setting a course to align with what matters most.

“It’s about recognizing what our employees do for us, that they truly make a difference. It’s about being able to tell them when a client calls and says, ‘You know what? Because of the efforts of your employees, we’re a better bank or financial institution.’ That’s what the employees want to know,” says Martire. “They want to know for sure they make a difference, number one. And, just as important, they want to know that we recognize that they make a difference. That’s what we try to focus on.”

The attention to employees is paying off. In just one year, overall engagement has increased 16 percent. The sense that managers care about employee well-being and opportunity is up 31 percent. And, how employees feel appreciated and recognized has increased by 61 percent.

Leadership Committed to Action

Following the biggest acquisition in the company’s history, FIS leadership was faced with merging diverse cultures and reengaging employees to deliver a consistent global experience for FIS’ clients.

“We rebranded the company and tried to create a single, global FIS culture,” explains Michael Oates, chief human resources officer. “We created five guiding principles, one of which is employee engagement. And, it’s employee engagement that has really formed the foundation of all the efforts that we’ve taken on in the past two years to create the FIS culture that we have today.”

To help identify a starting point and bring together its employee engagement efforts, FIS partnered with O.C. Tanner to develop a recognition strategy aligned with its five guiding principles. Research was initiated to understand current realities and set the vision forward. To start, employees, managers, executives and clients were all interviewed. Most importantly, results from an early employee engagement survey revealed that if FIS was committed to employee engagement, the company needed to improve in key areas. These included more communication and transparency and a greater demonstration that the company cared about its employees.

Using recognition as the cornerstone of all its efforts, a comprehensive blueprint was designed and implemented. The resulting strategy created a vehicle that brought effective appreciation into the day-to-day experience of all employees. Whether it’s recognizing a simple job well done or a nomination for an employee’s significant impact, there are fun, aligned tools available for employees to thank each other or for managers to demonstrate their appreciation for their team.

“We actually took action right away based on what people were thinking and feeling at the time of the merger,” says Lisa Sweeney, vice president, employee engagement, human resources. “It helped us identify how we could better communicate and how we could better build trust. We had just rolled out a new brand to our external and internal markets and we were able to focus on that, based on the feedback from the survey. Then certainly, roll out some very specific new tools around appreciation and recognition for the entire company.”

Bridging Teams, Departments and Countries

O.C. Tanner’s solution designers worked closely with FIS leaders to create a fully aligned, branded recognition platform. In October 2010, ‘FIS is You’ launched as the global resource for celebrating the people of FIS. It serves as a centralized place to celebrate service milestones, recognize efforts for going above and beyond, call out client compliments and much more.

The launch was supported by extensive communication and training campaigns, e-mail teasers, banners, on-site demos and recognition training for 2400 managers and supervisors. By 2012, this powerful recognition tool will be available in five languages, making it easy for 32,000 people to appreciate each other and reinforce FIS brand values.

“What we’ve tried to do through the FIS is to create a uniform opportunity for recognition, employee to employee, manager to employee,” explains Oates. “And, that’s become one of the real cornerstones again of the engagement process; along with communication and improvement of opportunity and well-being.”

But FIS engagement efforts don’t stop there. There are localized programs aimed at identifying Superior Talent Achieving Results (STAR) employees over a monthly or a quarterly period. Every spring, the company hosts FIS Day ”“ a one-day, global celebration designed for every location to hear the same company message. Translated into multiple languages, this message celebrates the accomplishments of the year and speaks to future directions. FIS’ fall, five-day employee appreciation week focuses on having events and celebrations at different locations as another way to say thank you to 32,000 employees for all that they do throughout the year. And, to further promote transparency and trust, an online Q&A forum called CEO Corner, allows employees to submit questions to Martire, who in turn answers them and posts for other employees to see.

Recognizing What Matters Most

It’s clear that Martire’s decision to focus on recognition and strengthen internal communications has made the difference for FIS. The numbers from the second employee engagement survey tell a powerful story, but no more so than the number of people who took the survey. Survey responses went from 50 to 84 percent.

Other survey results showed:

Engagement Driver/Question Percent change from prior year
Overall Engagement +16%
Well-being +31%
Trust +8%
Pride +29%
Communication +12%
Recognition +61%
Collaboration +12%

What’s equally significant, a Towers Watson global study found that when an organization was able to improve their engagement scores by 15 percent, they would also see a two percent improvement in their operating margin. FIS engagement scores rose 16 percent, corresponding with significant improvements to its business results.

“At the same time we’ve focused on our employee engagement efforts, we continue to improve, continue to grow—and have seen larger returns for our shareholders, our company, and our people” says Martire.

“Being recognized makes me feel appreciated,” says Ned Eremija, technology services manager, technology services and support. “It makes me want to try harder, makes me want to continue to do whatever I can to make my team, my boss and FIS overall more successful.”

“When you’re standing in a room and you get mentioned and it’s your queue to stand up and walk in front of your peers and shake hands with the division manager and receive something material, put it on your desk, it feels different,” points out Amer Numan, senior database analyst, community banking solutions. “People look at you differently after that gathering and that’s what motivates you to do more.”

Turning Insights Into Action

Measuring employee engagement is something FIS takes very seriously.

“Given the fact that we are a global company, we have to put surveys in multiple languages,” says Norcross. “We make sure we’re not inundating our people, but we get the constructive feedback we need on a yearly basis. It’s the combination of day-to-day interaction, town hall meetings and various work sessions with the annual engagement survey. We proactively go into our planning process and say, ‘What are the differences that we can make based on what people are telling us?’”

“FIS is about 40 years old but I would say it’s still a new company,” explains Richard Kanyago, billing supervisor, billing department. “We had a rebirth two years ago and at that point we had the guiding principles were introduced and started forming and developing a new era in FIS, a new culture in FIS which is client-focused and definitely employee-focused as well.”

Two years is a short time to have made such an impact. For Martire, who personally championed employee engagement as a core value because it has a very personal meaning to him, the key is to continue to listen, improve and keep moving forward.

“When you look at appreciation, the role it plays in the company, it doesn’t end, it’s continuous,” concludes Martire. “Appreciation and recognizing our employees is something we’ll always do and try to always do a better job at it, but we’re not perfect. We get better each and every day, each month, each year, and we’ll continue to get better as we recognize our employees. When we make mistakes, we’ll fix them. If our employees see that we care enough to want to know, to make sure that we know what they think of us and their feelings, and that we address their feelings, both the positive and negative, and we do it with full transparency, they’ll continue to believe in us and we’ll continue to make it a better company.”

For more information on the impact of effective employee engagement and how people strategies can deliver results in your organizations, visit Increase Engagement.

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