Avnet’s Employee Engagement Journey

How do you connect people to profitable growth? Avnet, a Phoenix-based organization of 18,000 employees shared its employee engagement journey at i4cp’s 2014 annual conference. CEO Rick Hamada said Avnet’s purpose is “We help technology make the world a better place to live, work and play.” The journey hasn’t always been smooth.

When the tech bubble burst, Avnet’s revenues dropped 40% and shell-shocked employees dealt with a 35% reduction in headcount. In 2004, the firm started a focus on employee engagement, and surveyed employees annually between 2004 and 2007. Participation rates topped 90%, but Avnet realized it needed more time between surveys to adequately respond to issues. From 2008 to 2010, the firm moved to an 18-month cycle and instituted better reporting.

Accountability was important, and action plans to address any declines were submitted up through the CHRO, Mary Ann Miller, and the CEO. Practices implemented that resulted in improvements were featured in company newsletters. Miller says that being among the top performers in engagement isn’t enough. You need to ask yourself “So what?” and work on building an employee value proposition to sustain it—employees that are engaged, enabled and energized. This includes providing a supportive work environment that touches on five aspects of wellness: physical, financial, career, social and community.

Despite the recession, Avnet was able to maintain engagement during challenging times, and participation rates consistently topped 85%, which Hamada said is “the first indicator of whether employees feel management is taking engagement seriously.” Avnet’s results point to “the power and impact of engagement,” said Hamada.