Lisa Tyree is passionate about the employee experience, both with frontline and desk-based populations. Following stints shaping people strategies in retail and CPG, her current role is leading the HR team at MiTek, a leader in construction technology.
In our conversation, Lisa shares how MiTek is keeping employees informed and engaged through development and comms initiatives, hybrid work policies, and new technology.
What’s something new you or your team is focused on in 2023?
- Clarifying MiTek’s identity and story – who we are, what we do, and what we aspire to achieve – and connecting team members’ individual contributions to the overall success of the company
- Embracing a greater level of focus on the things we choose to prioritize and being intentional about where we invest time, money, and resources
- Evolving as a marketing-led organization that sources and analyzes market insights to drive technology innovation
- Returning to the office three days a week globally to enable in-person collaboration to spark a new level of innovation
What’s your organization’s remote work policy?
Lisa: MiTek is a global organization with 6,000 team members, of which about 40% are in our office in Vietnam. Of our 6,000 team members, a little over 1,500 are frontline team members who have never worked from home. And then we have software developers, engineers, customer service, sales, finance, and the rest of our corporate team spread across many different locations.
When the pandemic hit, it was very difficult for our Vietnam-based team members to go remote – home WiFi access is spotty and other challenges that come along with a very crowded urban environment. We wanted to ensure our team members were safe, so the local team worked hard to find a short-term solution that enabled team members to work from home. That office really thrives on working together and has a great, collaborative environment that makes working remotely more challenging. Thankfully, we were able to get people back in the office relatively quickly, and that’s been going great.
In the U.S., we wanted to be hybrid, not fully remote, so when it was safe to return we invited folks to come back to the office in early 2022 but didn’t see much uptake. People had become very comfortable working remotely. We tried to incentivize people to come into the office with events, food trucks, and activities, but we found that people would leave right after the event was over. In May, we shifted to a more intentional approach to hybrid by establishing Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday as in-office days every week.
Our perspective remains that the in-person connection and collaboration are important to making MiTek a great place to work.
We know the benefits of remote work. What are some of the challenges with it so far?
Lisa: It’s a lot harder to personally affect talent. You can meet people over Teams, but it is much harder to establish a rapport over Teams vs. in-person. Facilitating a meeting, executive presence, and other aspects of collaboration are all more challenging virtually.
What’s different about Employee Experience in 2023?
Lisa: For the past couple years, we have been focused on building a contemporary HR strategy with robust career development tools to enable managers and team members to partner on growth and advancement.
As part of our focus on career development, we are creating some structure and enablers to help our team members grow. We recently rolled out a new LXP (Learning Experience Platform) to drive this. It’s been a big change, and people have been embracing it.
For organizations with large frontline populations, one of the challenges remote work creates is the “haves” and “have nots”. What are some ways organizations might address this?
Lisa: We’re fortunate to have not heard much about this. I think a big part of why is because our plant leadership is really good at treating people respectfully, and that, if you work at a plant, everyone is on-site and in-person. So, the “haves” and “have nots” dynamic is less visible there.
In addition, we’ve focused on wage increases over the last few years. We’re highly competitive from a base pay perspective and have done some production-based bonuses. Every team member at MiTek shares in the company’s success with an annual bonus and, in the U.S., we also offer profit sharing.
Frontline team member communication can be a challenge. We continue to evaluate and pilot new ways to share information with and engage with this group, whether that’s a mobile app, digital signage, or designated workstations at each of our manufacturing locations. Each of those tools present challenges with adoption and access, so this is an area we’re still working to get right.
My background is heavy with frontline employee experience, and I have a lot of passion for that group of constituents at a company. When I started, we were 100% reliant on supervisors to relay a message – not even any digital signage. We’ve done a lot here and are looking to do more.
One of the big questions on everyone’s mind is, how do you build a thriving culture virtually? We’re all still figuring it out. But what comes to mind for you?
Lisa: As a global organization, it’s important for MiTek to keep our teams informed and engaged around key initiatives. We’re fortunate to have a great communications team who provides multi-pronged support – toolkits for leaders and multi-channel communications. For example, we’re rolling out a new identity framework about our vision, mission, and how we succeed, and we’re doing a Netflix-like drop of learning content, a global message from our CEO, slides for leaders to present with their teams, a town hall, and more.
Do you have a rewards program? Tell us about it.
Lisa: We did have a points-based rewards program that we recently sunset because it was very expensive and not effective for our global organization.
We’re now trying to figure out the best solution for global recognition going forward.
We want to empower teams to create their own categories of recognition while also celebrating some things that are core to MiTek, like our Guiding Principles.
We’ve seen some great grass roots approaches to recognition begin popping up across the organization, so we’re seeing how we can build on that momentum to host a big, company-wide celebration each year.
How is your organization leveraging engagement surveys today?
Lisa: We do an annual global engagement survey, and we’re continuing to expand our survey capabilities to gather feedback from team members at moments that matter. This includes when team members onboard and exit the organization, when they’re transitioning to new roles, and eventually, we plan to develop an upward feedback survey for all people leaders.
What is the post-survey action planning process like at your organization?
Lisa: When I joined MiTek in 2020, the company conducted annual surveys, but was inconsistent about communicating the results. An important part of building trust for people is to follow-up on their feedback. Since 2022, we have documented action plans for our surveys and are now consistently referring to it at town halls and other communication channels, but we’re always looking to improve here.
Career development has come up in both our 2021 and 2022 surveys. One of the first things we did was to create a global job architecture framework with consistent levels and titles across the organization. MiTek has been built through many acquisitions over the years, and the job architecture harmonized all jobs globally, so team members know what the career ladder looks like in each function. This year we introduced JD Expert to help managers write job descriptions. We’ve also rolled out our Leadership Blueprint that outlines seven competencies for what great leadership looks like at MiTek across three levels – individual contributor, leaders, and leaders of leaders. This includes a self-assessment that will automatically populate a learning profile with different curriculum for your development plan.
Lisa: Everyone wants to have a purpose and to be connected to the overall company success.
There are a lot of different places to work and you’ve got to give people a reason to stay at your company. It’s often not about benefits or pay, it’s about feeling like they are a valued contributor.