The past year has been challenging for the economy and for business overall. Despite the downturn, some companies have managed to maintain a positive work environment with innovative programs that boost employee morale.
McAfee is one such company.
McAfee is the world's largest dedicated security technology company. Barbara Massa, Vice President of Global Talent Acquisition, explains how career development can encourage and strengthen employees in the downturn.
Monster: Amidst this year's economic challenges, how has your company managed to maintain employee performance and satisfaction?
Barbara Massa: McAfee is fortunate to be in an industry that has continued to see robust growth even in the midst of an economic downturn. Customers say that security, as a percentage of their IT spend, is increasing -- a statement that is echoed by the top industry analyst firms. Even if the economy softens, computer security is a need that doesn't go away.
As a result, our McAfee employees feel they are contributing to very important issues and therefore we enjoy strong performance and satisfaction. Additionally, McAfee provides many incentives to its employees to continually reward performance. Company stock, quarterly bonuses tied to company and individual goals and career advancement opportunities are just a few of the examples of tools used to reward and motivate our employees. It's mostly about creating an environment where employees feel valued and know they are contributing to the security and online safety of millions of families and businesses. That is very satisfying in and of itself.
Monster: Have employee recognition programs played a role?
Massa: Yes, most definitely. A basic and very key ingredient of employee engagement is feeling valued and recognized for the contributions you make each day. One example is our McAfee Heroes Award Program. There is both a team as well as an individual award given out quarterly. Recipients must demonstrate performance that exceeds normal requirements and significantly impacts our business and demonstrates our values through excellence in customer service, cost efficiency and/or contributions to quality. This is a highly sought after award with nominations coming in from all levels within the organization. Our President and CEO, Dave DeWalt, makes the final announcement of the award winners during our quarterly All Hands meetings.
Monster: Do you have any recommendations on how to initiate employee satisfaction and recognition programs on a limited budget?
Massa: Smart companies recognize that some of the most effective employee recognition programs are not monetary in nature. Having company executives single out individuals and teams for special recognition and thanks is a very rewarding experience for employees. A thank you comes with no price tag attached and carries a very long shelf life.
Monster: What other efforts have helped your company maintain a positive workplace environment?
Massa: Encourage employees and colleagues to do things at the local level. Not everything has to be big and grandiose. Lunchtime potlucks, afternoon ice cream socials, running clubs, toastmasters sessions, book clubs…the list could go on and on. Allow employees to connect and foster strong communications within their local teams. Find people who are passionate about employee "connectedness" and ask them to drive these simple things at a local level.
Monster: Are there ways to build camaraderie when times get tough?
Massa: Most definitely. And it's my strong hope that other companies will do more of this, regardless of whether times are good or bad. There is probably no stronger bond that can be built between employees than when people are working together to help others.
One area that McAfee prides itself on is our community outreach and involvement around the globe. We have seen strong individual and executive-led employee engagement activities in many groups such as India, Support, and in our field locations around the world. Recently, we raised over $70,000 to help the St. Judes Children's Research Hospital in Plano, TX. Our McAfee Development Team in India is well known in the area for their strong support of education for poor children in the slums of Bangalore. China has linked with an orphanage in Beijing. And Australia participated in a CEO sleep out for homeless where the head of Australia slept under the same conditions as a homeless person to raise an enormous amount of money.
We also just launched a CyberSecurity for Kids Awareness program to help educate the K-12 children on how to be safe online. This wasn't about marketing McAfee; it is about teaching safety online and allowing our employees time to go into their children's schools, boy and girl scout clubs, etc., to talk about these important safety issues.
All over the globe, we are making a difference. That is what matters to our employees. It's amazing to see the connections bridged when employees are working towards helping others.
Monster: Do you plan to maintain any new initiatives even after the economy recovers?
Massa: Yes, but it's more a continuation of what we are already doing. Our strategy is a long-term one, and fairly simple. We aren't distracted in our goal and mission to keep the McAfee family firing on all cylinders. Treat your employees with respect, over-communicate on important initiatives and keep your team focused on the overall company strategy.
Monster: Do you have any other recommendations for maintaining a great work environment in a downturn?
Massa: Thankfully McAfee continues to focus on the simple things: communicate with your employees, be open and honest, and don't forget to reward them in big ways when you can and in small ways all the time. The last bit of advice I'd highlight is to invest in your employees. Offer them stretch assignments, give them learning opportunities, provide an environment where it's safe to take chances and better their skills. Career development doesn't always mean you have to go "up". If you continue to invest in your employees and show them by your actions that they matter, you will have a highly engaged workforce that will move mountains to make the company and their colleagues a success.
About the Company
McAfee is the world’s largest dedicated security technology company. The company relentlessly tackles the world’s toughest security challenges. McAfee's comprehensive solutions enable businesses and the public sector to achieve security optimization and prove compliance. The company helps consumers secure their digital lives with solutions that auto-update and are easy to install and use.
About the Author
Barbara Massa is Vice President of Global Talent Acquisition at McAfee. Barbara joined McAfee in June, 2009. For the 10 years prior to joining McAfee, Barbara led the Talent Acquisition function at EMC and Documentum respectively (Documentum was acquired by EMC in December of 2003.) Barbara's prior work includes leadership positions in the recruiting organization at Cadence Design Systems and at an external recruiting firm.