Juan Cruz, Jr. is the Senior Manager, National Field Services, at Fresenius Medical Care North America. In his role, Juan Leads and manages 6 district field service managers and 55 field service technicians. He’s recently championed a title change of his field team to more accurately reflect the evolving profession, implemented field service KPIs to measure field performance and efficiency, and developed third party SOP to manage the vetting, onboarding, and performance of third-party service providers. One of the aspects of his role that he’s most passionate about is ensuring that his workforce is highly engaged to maintain optimal productivity and customer experience. Here Juan shares with us his thoughts and advice on employee engagement.
Nicastro: Why is employee engagement so important to you and to Fresenius?
Cruz, Jr.: Employee engagement is important for several reasons. First, you have a workforce that is productive – and there is a direct correlation between engaged and productive workers. Disengaged employees will only give you the minimum — just enough to get by — get their work done and go home at the end of the day. With an engaged workforce, you are getting the best ideas and input that can propel a team and organization forward. Engaged employees are also more collaborative. They want to work together for the benefit of the clients, company, and each other. For Fresenius, it is also important because we have several initiatives from product launches to technology deployment over the next couple of years, and we want to be to be excited and ready and eager to learn about the products and technology to ensure that the launches and implementations are successful and as glitch-free as possible.
Nicastro: How have you witnessed a lack of employee engagement causing negative effects?
Cruz, Jr.: I have personally seen the effects of disengaged workforce – work is delivered, but it is not of the highest quality, which causes rework and lost time. Disengaged employees are also not responsive to business needs. There is no urgency in their step, which can have a trickle effect to other parts of the organization. Also, I have seen just the abrasiveness with which disengaged employees work with members of other teams. Disengaged employees have a difficult time working with others because they believe that they are being taken advantage of, or there is no benefit to them in the working relationship.
Nicastro: What are your methods for ensuring your employees are engaged and satisfied?
Cruz, Jr.: Communication is the key to anything that is worthwhile. One of the things I do is take pulse surveys every once in a while to get the team engaged in decisions that need to be made. But even more importantly, taking action on the survey responses and letting the team know that action has been taken or in some cases that an action cannot be taken. If employees see that they are not getting feedback on their feedback, or that action isn’t being taken, they will become disengaged and no longer want to participate. Also, I include employees in discussions with other departments so that there is collaboration between different teams and business functions. A lot of these cross-functional discussions not only build trust with other parts of the organization, but also allow team members to contribute outside of their core responsibilities.
Nicastro: How do these efforts pay off?
Cruz, Jr.: When you have an engaged employee, you have an engaged mind. You also have a situation where ideas and creativity are being fostered, and the ideas that come from your frontline workforce can be transformational for a service business. Engagement also increases collaboration across different teams and parts of the business. As a manager you can make better use of your team, from being tactical to being more strategic, and operate with better productivity.
Nicastro: What advice do you have for others on improving employee engagement?
Cruz, Jr.: My biggest advice would be to proactively solicit input and advice, and really listen to what people have to say. Be intentional in getting advice, feedback, and ideas and implement those contributions where appropriate. Ensure you have a 360 loop where the employee is aware that their contributions were not in vain. Also, be an example to others. Leaders need to set the example of being engaged in their work, with other people, and other teams within the organization.