Established in 1939, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary is a nonprofit organisation that provides vital support, safe spaces and community services for over 4,500 vulnerable and disadvantaged young people within the Calgary area. Founded on the belief that ‘every single kid counts’, the organisation’s mission is to help vulnerable children, youth and their families overcome barriers and develop the confidence and skills they need to reach their full potential in life. While the charity offers social housing, education programmes, after-school clubs and more, its core goal is to help its young clients build trust and feel supported. This mission is fulfilled by its dedicated workforce of frontline employees, whose job it is to build that relationship. However, in a sector where high turnover is endemic, when employees leave, these fragile bonds are broken – and it has a direct impact on their vulnerable young clients. Justin Bergeron, Director of People Services at Boys and Girls Club Calgary, explains how the organisation uses Workday Peakon Employee Voice to better understand the experiences and needs of its workforce – and how acting on that insight has directly impacted both the company’s attrition and the lives of the young people it serves.
Here’s Justin’s story.
Reducing the impact of turnover on vulnerable youth.
When I joined the Boys and Girls Club of Calgary, we were going through a lot of change throughout the organisation, and our turnover was really high. Our industry has always been a challenging one for employee retention; the work is low-wage, and our workforce tends to be a younger demographic. In the year I joined, we saw 42% voluntary turnover. We work with vulnerable young people – some of whom have been taken from their homes and are living in group homes. Building a trusting, supportive relationship with these kids is the most important part of what we do. It means that they have more stability.
If turnover and disengagement are high in our frontline teams, it has a direct impact on the young people we help, and the relationships they build with our employees. This is why we started looking for how we could leverage technology to help us better engage our staff and understand what our people need. The technology behind Workday Peakon Employee Voice is so impressive – we can see what people are saying in real-time and act on it before it affects our frontline workers.
Building a bridge between senior leaders and frontline workers.
For us, the most impactful feature by far has been the ability for our leaders to get that real-time feedback and engage in a conversation directly with our people. Even if it’s just an acknowledgement or a comment, it says to our employees, ‘we hear you, we’re working on it’ – and it reinforces their relationship with our Senior Leadership Team. Ensuring that our leaders at all levels had access to this feature was hugely important to us. Workday empowers our frontline managers to share their dashboards with their teams and say, ‘here’s where we’re at’, and ask them what priorities they think they should focus on. This has created a huge amount of engagement – not only do our people have a say, but they also have buy-in.
For example, we’ve always been aware that we have higher turnover in our group homes. Through Workday, we were able to see that our employees had concerns about Wi-Fi access. It was a very easy fix that made a huge difference. On an executive level, our CEO reads every single comment and does a lot of direct engagement with our employees to understand what they need and where our hotspots are so we can better support them as an organisation.
Using feedback to support employee wellbeing in high-stress environments.
Since we’ve implemented Workday Peakon Employee Voice, our employees have had a real-time place to tell us how they feel – and we are able to see the specific actions we need to take to improve our employee wellbeing. Some of the terms that are active in our sector are things like compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma and burnout – these are levels of stress that are similar to what police, firefighters and EMTs experience. From a corporate perspective, there’s a huge cost to turnover and short-term disability, such as when staff are on leave because of stress.
We also draw from a population of employees who have what we call ‘lived experience’, meaning they have grown up as vulnerable youth, have experience of the system or the socioeconomic factors. The nature of our work can take a huge toll on people, and this is why we want to go above and beyond to support our staff from a mental health perspective. Knowing how they’re feeling and what they need is one of the first steps to do that. When our feedback flagged that our staff needed more support with their mental help, we were able to focus in on exactly what they needed. We ended up increasing our counselling budget – we saw this as an investment in our people and the relationships they build with our clients.
Workday Peakon Employee Voice gives us details about our workforce that we would never have known using a traditional survey. It has made us more open and transparent as an organisation.
Director of People Services