Learning From One Another

NACS HR Forum attendees learn from their peers on hiring, retaining and engaging employees.

March 19, 2020

By Sara Counihan

DALLAS—The NACS 2020 HR Forum addressed timely topics and provided attendees with the opportunity to learn from their peers on how they implement different tactics in their organizations through panels, networking and other presentations.

The panel “Innovation in Attracting and Recruiting Employees in the C-Store Industry” featured Kim Scully, leader of operational recruiting and staffing for QuickChek Corporation, and Lianne Daues, director of recruiting at Core-Mark, and each shared different recruitment challenges and best practices to attract talent.

Text recruiting is something Scully has begun implementing in her recruitment practices, as text messaging becomes the preferred mode of communication for job candidates.

“We’ve allowed our store leaders to use it, but they have specific templates available to them,” said Scully. Store leaders can use a system to send texts to candidates to let them know they have paperwork to fill out or ask for an interview, and everything is tracked in the company’s hiring system, said Scully.

“We’ve received really positive feedback,” said Scully.

Daues shared that her company has utilized social media to recruit new hires, using its own employees to promote the company. CoreMark created marketing materials for social media, such as video testimonials from employees about working for the company.

“Our No. 1 recruiter is our people,” said Daues. “We’ve seen a 144% increase in engagement from November to February, and that was from our people getting other people excited about our organization.”

Other topics the panel discussed were background checks, human resource information systems, job candidate engagement, retention programs, assessment tools and new hire onboarding tactics.

In a similar vein, Mary Beth DeNooyer, chief human resources officer for Keurig Dr Pepper (KDP), presented on how engaging employees can make a difference in an organization’s bottom line.

In her session, “Differentiate Your Company Through Employee Engagement,” DeNooyer said that employee engagement matters because you receive more productivity, collaboration, innovation, retention and, as a result, profitability from an engaged employee.

“We believe it’s the combination of heart and mind that get [employees] to commit to the organization,” said DeNooyer. In order for KDP to get to the heart of what engages their employees, they asked each employee to take an assessment—all 25,000 employees. The assessment, or engagement survey, asks six questions and has an 80% participation level.

KDP is a decentralized company and has more than 125 locations, so once the assessments are complete, action planning to address the results of the survey happens at each location and is unique to the location.

“When you ask [for feedback], you’ll get a laundry list. … What are the one or two things that will have the biggest impact?” asked DeNooyer. She noted it’s important to be transparent and as communicative as possible about the action plan. Tell your employees you recognize each piece of feedback from the survey, but you’re going to address these items first, and here’s why, she said.

Tying together with DeNooyer’s presentation, attendees heard from another panel that discussed the value of checking in with employees and what it means to have more frequent, meaningful conversations.

Panelists Amanda Norred, HR manager at St. Romain Oil Company, and Tate Cutrer, director of talent development and learning at RaceTrac Petroleum Inc., were led by moderator Bob Huebner, who is the founder and president of 200Mark Consulting LLC. Cutrer began explained the difference between feedback and coaching.

“Feedback is direct and prescriptive,” said Cutrer. “Coaching is more collaborative, explorative and actually engages with someone, asking questions to gain insights that hopefully lead to actions.”

There are two types of coaching: One is an informal conversation, typically a couple minutes or less and is unplanned. A sit-down coaching session is prepared ahead of time and is an observation of performance over a period of time. Each type of coaching always focuses on asking the employee questions to get to the root of the issue.

“I equate coaching to building a muscle—it can be trained and strengthened,” said Norred. “The informal moments can help formal conversations become easier.”

The panel encouraged attendees to advise managers to slow down and never make assumptions of employees and always ask questions when needing to address something. If you can’t ask a question, chances are you’re doing it wrong.

“Everyone is excellent at something. How do you use [coaching] to find out your employee’s story and what they’re excellent at?” asked Huebner.

Sara Counihan is managing editor of NACS Magazine and content project manager at NACS.