All Articles Leadership Falling in love at work: Macy’s Lisa Gick on employee engagement

Falling in love at work: Macy’s Lisa Gick on employee engagement

3 min read


This guest post is by Miri Zena McDonald, a strategic communications consultant. She is passionate about employee engagement, corporate culture, and use of social media to drive internal communications. Miri tweets at @miri_orgchange. This week, she’s reporting live from Marcus Evans 6th Annual Employee Engagement and Internal Communications Conference in Orlando.

Lisa Gick, vice president of employee engagement at Macy’s, kicked off the conference. She likened engagement as a sort of love affair with work, the excitement, passion and energy we get from our workplace causes us to hopefully fall in love with our jobs.

Macy’s is a 150-year old company with about 850 department stores now.  Over the past 5 to 7 years they’ve been working towards unifying their branding platforms, eliminating the regional nameplates. This has been a big transition for associates and communication has been key to its success.

One challenge Macy’s faces is that 70% of their employees are on the selling floor, with no regular access to computers. Some ways they’ve tackled that challenge is through short 10 to 15 minute team meetings they call rallies, which allow managers to communicate key information, energize employees, and recognize performance and key behaviors. They also make kiosks available around their stores to allow employees to access their employee intranet, as well as their online handbook eMAG.

Macy’s employee engagement program is all about creating experiences that leverage their strategies, Gick said. Other key elements include a conversational culture, as well as infusing the element of magic in the everyday. Below are a few key examples of how Macy’s has accomplished these goals:

  • Recognition: Broken down into three key elements: results, performance, and behavior. Results ties to their annual performance review that is tied to a monetary reward based on results. Performance ties to the manager’s discretionary recognition of the employee and is more frequent. Behavioral recognition can happen as much as weekly in the form of peer-to-peer recognition program and ties to corporate values.
  • Macy’s conversations: Communications are conversational and informal to promote transparency, create trust, and encourage feedback.
  • Magic: Macy’s employee handbook is called “100 ways to make magic.” It’s published and shared to all employees.
  • Online policy manual: Macy’s moved from a static paper manual to an interactive manual in the form of an avatar Maggie who walks employees through the policies and procedures in a fun way. In Maggie’s introduction she says, “We know if our associates are happy our customers will be happy too.”
  • Dress code: Macy’s turned it around and aligned it with their industry (fashion) and named it “style at work.” To approach dressing for work in a different way. Instead of saying don’t wear this, it says, “we want you to be professional , neat, pulled together and stylish.”

Macy’s has seen great adoption of these programs and plans to continue to create more experiences that increase engagement and trust such as an online tool where employees can create their own schedules and internal social media, Gick says.