Retain Employees; Keep them Engaged

May 17, 2016
Whitney VanKlaveren

Featured in Muncie Power Quarterly, Issue 2, 2016

Serving the truck equipment industry since 1935, Muncie Power Products is no stranger to the challenges associated with employee retention and engagement.

As HR manager at Muncie Power’s manufacturing and distribution center in Tulsa, Dianna Davis has played a major role in the company’s retention and engagement efforts.

“Our society has changed so much over the years. Employees used to get a job and never think about leaving,” Davis said. “That’s not the case anymore with so many more options.”

Unlike with previous generations employees today can piece jobs together, work globally from home, receive assistance through increased social programs and be sought out by other companies through technology.

Thus, understanding changing societal values, technology and employee needs are critical, as these can become challenges to retention and engagement.

The first question for any company, Muncie Power Products included, then becomes how to determine if they are selecting the right people. For Muncie Power Products, the solution has been Predictive Index®, a scientifically proven, valuation tool used to predict work-related behavior.

“To increase retention we have implemented Predictive Index®, which allows our company to analyze potential employee profiles to determine qualified candidates whose characteristics and responses match our company’s culture and job descriptions,” explained Davis.

While the valuation tool has proven valuable in selecting appropriate hires, the journey to retaining employees does not end here.

“Once hired, the greatest factors to retaining employees are the relationships between managers and subordinates, and creating belief in senior management and the company,” she said. “Studies have shown, the number one reason employees leave a company is their direct manager.”

According to Davis, Muncie Power has not only provided supervisor training to promote these relationships, but also increased the manager to employee ratio to provide more one-on-one interaction. In addition to these efforts, the company has also moved to a salary grade scale and created job progression charts.

Retention efforts like relationship building can then lead to employee engagement, as retention and engagement go hand-in-hand.

“Employees need to know their ideas are being heard and that what they do makes a difference,” she said. “Acknowledging employees and helping them to create more substantial bonds with their team, manager and the company is key to keeping their engagement.”

To keep employees engaged, the company has also increased employee development and training opportunities and moved to merit based performance management to reward job accountability.

The company’s efforts over the last few years have proven successful.

“Looking at 2014 to August of 2015, we saw a significant decrease in our turnover in Tulsa,” Davis shared. “And since 2013 we’ve provided a variety of training opportunities for our 350+ employees to attend. By the end of 2015, our employees had attended more than 1,200 training sessions. That's incredible!”

Davis and the HR team attribute the company's success to a combination of these tools, continually evaluating their efforts to better meet changing societal values and employee needs. 

Keep in mind: employee retention and engagement is a continual process, one that is never truly complete.

Dianna Davis - HR Manager

Dianna Davis began her career at Muncie Power Products in February 2014 as a temp employee before becoming HR manager at the company’s manufacturing and distribution center in Tulsa in April 2014. She holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership and supervision from Purdue University at IPFW. Davis is married to her husband, Dan, and they have two children. In her spare time, Davis likes to attend her children’s basketball and baseball games, travel, watch movies and scrapbook.