Getting to the Heart of Business

As an executive, what have you learned from your focus on keeping employees happy?
We have two onsite daycare facilities. Together they are the largest onsite corporate daycare in the state of Georgia. I get a lot of questions about how you measure ROI on onsite daycare. I don’t have specific metrics, but I can tell you that our turnover rate is 8.9% [the industry rate is 20.3%]. A good number of our employees are moms, and when that mom answers the telephone for a policyholder and they know that their child is well taken care of or that they’ve seen them at lunch, the interaction with that policyholder is going to be a whole lot different from a lot of experiences customers have. In our environment the heart portion is just as important as the business case, because our team members are going to be engaged. Those employees who are living in homes for which Aflac provided the seed money—they have so much allegiance to us, and we to them.

What inspired the Just Stop It competition?
Talking to employees. I’ll also pull up a chair in the cafeteria and ask what’s going on. I’d heard enough employees say that there were things that weren’t necessary anymore. I talked with our president and told him, “You need to run some sort of program or contest and let’s brand it and let’s get employees to submit their suggestions about things we just don’t need to do anymore.” He bought it immediately. We went straight to the people who were in the best position to say that a process was unnecessary—the employees performing them. We got a lot of great ideas and stopped doing a lot of things, and more than that we were able to say, “We heard you.”

You have an interesting philosophy of “just ask a question.”
It may come from my legal background, but I have to know. I’m not going to fake like I know, so I’m going to ask a lot of questions. And in the course of asking questions, especially if you’re in an arena where people haven’t asked questions, you’re going to discover something that you can do better or that you don’t need to do anymore. I don’t ever want any of my teams to rest on what we’re doing. We should be validating that what we’re doing is still relevant and still appreciated. Just look at things a different way and ask the question. 

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