What Does It Mean To Be A Workplace Champion?

by Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers on May 7, 2018

When A.J. Hinch was hired as the Astros new manager in 2013, no one talked about winning. The team had never won a championship, and for the previous three seasons, they’d had twice as many losses as wins. Four years later, the Astros went on to win the World Series, and Hinch was named Baseball America Manager of the Year.

What changed?

In an interview that has always stuck with me, Hinch said it started when second baseman Jose Altuve simply told him, “I want to win.”

“The game is about the players,” Hinch said. “If you believe in them always and set a culture where they believe in themselves, they will prioritize winning.”

Are you the type of leader who creates an environment that makes employees want to win?

That was the theme of our 2018 Workplace Champions Summit, hosted at Minute Maid Park. We had nearly 100 people from all over the country who took time away from their busy schedules to learn more about trends in facilities management, leadership and maximizing their investment in our IWMS. Through it all, we shared ideas about what it means to be a workplace champion who creates a culture of winning.

Here are a few of the biggest takeaways from the event.

(P.S. – Check out our video if you attended; you might spot yourself!) 

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A Workplace Champion Makes Data-Driven Decisions

Baseball legend Yogi Berra famously said the game is 90 percent mental and 50 percent physical.

The same philosophy applies to running a successful workplace. To make the decisions that will help your workplace win, you need to ask the right questions and gather the right information. iOFFICE Product Engagement Specialist Angela Burkett showed conference attendees how to get the most valuable data from our Insights report management software. It all starts with defining your objective and forming a question you can answer with the data. For instance, let’s say your objective is to keep your workplace as comfortable as possible with the ideal temperature, space and lighting. You might ask, “What are our most common service requests related to those issues, and how can we be proactive about them?”

Using the Insights module, you can filter service requests by type and even create a chart that shows a visual breakdown of how much time your team spends on these requests. You might notice you’re spending a significant amount of time replacing light bulbs. A lot of those requests could be avoided by moving to longer-lasting LED bulbs or changing a number of them at periodic intervals, which frees up your team to focus on other priorities. 

It might seem like a small change, but when your employees come into an office that is comfortable and well-maintained, they’re more likely to feel that you’re invested in them and they’ll be more likely to invest in you.


A Workplace Champion Promotes Employee Engagement 

Imagine your workplace is a boat with 100 people onboard. According to the most recent Gallup research, only about 33 of them are engaged and paddling hard. Half are just passengers along for the ride. They are disengaged. Another 17 are actively trying to sink your boat. Workplace-Champions-jill-2

International author and speaker Jill Christensen used this powerful analogy to illustrate the importance of employee engagement. Employee engagement starts with senior leadership defining the mission and objectives and carries through every department. Christensen shared four practical steps for improving employee engagement: 

  1. Hire the right managers
  2. Build a culture that encourages two-way communication
  3. Create a line of sight between employee performance and company objectives
  4. Recognize employees for their contributions 

Following these simple steps can have a huge payoff. After Christensen implemented this process at Avaya, the company’s employee engagement score improved by 12 points, and their stock went up by 26 percent. 

Workplace Champions Are Change Management Pros


Whether you’re trying to improve your company culture or shifting your workplace strategy, you have to be a pro at managing change. Vik Bangia, Managing Partner of Verum Consulting, has done this with many organizations and shared some excellent tips for managing change like a champion:

  1. Understand your influencers. Find that person within your organization who is going to help you champion the change, whether they are in HR, IT, FM or another department.
  2. Understand the role technology plays within your workforce. Your Baby Boomers are generally technology adaptable, while Millennials are considered technology dependent. They have different expectations about technology and may prefer to communicate in different ways.
  3. Think about your corporate real estate as a brand. Be the Match is a great example of this, with a well-designed workplace that reflects its brand colors and wall-sized art of donors and transplant patients.
  4. Use systems thinking. You need to consider how one change will affect other areas of your workforce and anticipate unintended consequences. Ask a lot of “what if” questions and set boundaries for the change as you work toward it gradually. 

Workplace Champions Invest In the Employee Experience


The Hershey Company invested more than $60 million in a newly renovated facility for its employees that includes a mix of private and collaborative space, as well as space for support and amenities, including a 30,000 square-foot fitness center.

In addition to investing in the physical space, the company also incorporates flexibility and autonomy into its policies for dress code, scheduling and devices. They prioritize initiatives that promote health and wellness, community service and diversity.

How have those investments impacted their bottom line? As Senior Facilities Manager Stephen Hinkle shared, Hershey uses benchmarking to compare its space utilization, real estate footprint and other metrics to other large consumer product goods producers. Since implementing some of these changes, it has made measurable improvements, including reducing per-person space utilization and improving recruitment and retention. Additionally, employees are more engaged, meaning they are more productive and more likely to stay.

“On average, a company with engaged employees is 21 percent more profitable,” Hinkle said.

We’re grateful to all the workplace champions who came to Houston to share their ideas and advice, from our guest speakers to our customers.

We also want to sincerely thank all who attended this year. It was such a pleasure spending time with all of you!

If you missed the summit, stay tuned; we’ll be sharing more great tips and ideas on our blog, in videos and through our new Workplace Innovator podcast!  


Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers

Tiffany covers leadership and marketing topics and enjoys learning about how technology shapes our industry. Before iOFFICE, she worked in local news but don't hold that against her.

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