Associates Innovating for the Company & Each Other
The greatest ideas and innovations usually don’t come from the top – they come from the individuals who interact with the client on a daily basis, from the person on the front lines of a system implementation, from the engineers in the labs – they come from all corners of the company!
Human Centered Design to Spark Innovation
How we bring innovation to our associates, clients and industry starts with thinking differently. By equipping our teams with the right tools, process and philosophies, gets our people to speak the same language. It’s all about keeping the end “customer” in mind first when designing, implementing or fixing a solution. Already this year, our HR, IT, Sales and Finance teams have gone through this Human Centered Design Thinking Workshop. Later this year, these workshops will continue to reach the rest of the company.
A few recent examples of Human Centered Design
- Reshaping our performance review process: Acxiom recently changed from an annual performance review cycle to quarterly goals and quarterly check-ins. The decision to move to a more frequent check-in was the direct result of external benchmarking and internal focus groups. More than 60 associates were interviewed and through these interviews, they provided input on ways to improve the performance review process and experience. The input from associates was a critical piece of the decision-making process to move to the quarterly check-ins. As the process was being rolled out, specific teams were identified as rapid experimentation groups—these groups tested out the new process and provided input. The team continued to iterate the process based on the feedback from associates in these rapid experimentation groups.
- Project #Unify: The Acxiom Workplace Experience group recently launched an initiative called #Unify to improve collaboration tools across the company. As part of this launch, they solicited testers and early adopters to test some state of the art tools. Almost 300 associates volunteered to assist, and these ‘unifiers’ tested out tools for video conferencing, social networking, instant messaging and more. The “unifiers” were surveyed after each round of testing to get as much feedback about their experience but also suggestions to improve the tool. Feedback was also given on how to make the communication roll out as successful as possible.
- Project NewDay: A very similar process was used when Acxiom launched Project NewDay. Project NewDay was a company wide implementation of Workday, Acxiom’s tool of record for Finance and all ‘Human Capital Management’ functions such as compensation, benefits, talent management and more. Change agents from all part of the business were part of the testing of the work processes and their input helped shape how the processes were rolled out. They then helped support the roll-out on their teams by being the experts on the tools once they were available.
Virtual Suggestions Through our Weekly Pulse Survey: A great feature of Acxiom’s weekly pulse surveys is the ability to offer ‘virtual suggestions’. Associates have the opportunity every week to virtually put an idea in the ‘suggestion box’ of ways we can make Acxiom a better place. These suggestions can be ideas to improve the work environment on the team or ideas that will help the company overall. Because the survey questions are launched every week, leaders have real-time access to these suggestions and can make improvements or share with more senior leaders as the suggestions are being sent in.
Input Into our Company Strategy: Every five years, our CEO Scott Howe and our Chief Strategy Officer Dave Eisenberg look to give our company strategy a “refresh” to ensure our business, competencies and industry are aligned. But they don’t do this alone. The coordinated effort includes input from many of our product leaders, client stewards and clients themselves. Input is also solicited to anyone who may have a brilliant idea or insight! This input influences our Long Range Plan that maps our next 3-5 years of where our company is headed, our initiatives and our relationships with clients.
Informal Roundtables with Senior Leadership: As our executive team travels to our different locations, they take a couple hours out of their trip to meet with different employee groups or just have an informal conversation over lunch to better understand first hand what’s on the minds of our associates. This is an informal way our associates and our executives share ideas, suggestions and learn from each other.
The Voice: The Voice is an internal, crowd-sourcing tool for innovative ideas within Acxiom aimed at taking advantage of our collective intelligence to drive innovation for our existing and next generation products. Associates spot their ideas for product improvement and innovation, discuss with other users, vote on submissions, and gain visibility into the product lifecycle as ideas move from something on paper to something in the marketplace.
Hands on Support During Conflict
Workplace conflict can severely impact an associate’s ability to do their best work. We've made strategic investments in tools to facilitate better-working relationships between leaders and teams.
Dedicated Associates Relations Team: Acxiom's leadership understands an associate’s workplace environment and relationship with their leader have a significant impact on productivity and engagement. To ensure associates have a way to resolve conflict and improve their working environment, Acxiom has a dedicated Associate Relations team to support leaders and associates. The Associate Relations team serves as an impartial third party to get to the best resolution for the associate, the leader, and the company.
Timely Leadership Feedback: With our move to weekly pulse surveys, leaders no longer have to rely on an annual survey to get anonymous feedback from their teams. Because leaders can see in real time feedback, leaders can work together with their team or reach out to subject matter experts to put action plans together.
Showing the Love
At Acxiom, we reward those that strongly exhibit our core values of Passion, Accountability, Creativity, and Teamwork, as well as performance, loyalty, leadership, community service and innovation. Because of the importance of our values and behaviors, we established the Acxiom R&R (Rewards and Recognition) Programs to recognize those that go above and beyond in exhibiting these behaviors.
Quarterly awards given to associates who strongly exhibit our core values in the work they do. These award winners are either nominated by their peers or their direct leaders. The categories of ImPACT Awards are customized by business area and reward such things as the following:
- Client / Consumer Experience: The person or team creating delightful experiences for our clients.
- Leadership and Management: The leader demonstrating excellent leadership competencies within the division/team or externally with their clients.
- Operational Excellence: The person or team continuously delivering thought leadership, products or services to our clients in an innovative way.
- Teamwork and Collaboration: This person or team reaches around the globe and across teams to solve problems. All the while building strong relationships, leveraging the strengths of others, and celebrating successes.
- Rock Solid: The person dedicated to ensuring the highest levels of service and operational quality and proactive solutions
- Strategic Enabler and Innovation: The person who created a new process, product or service that enabled the business to continue to delight our customers.
- Disruptor: The person who consistently challenges mediocrity and makes things happen to rapidly to ensure the success of the team’s goals, strategies and priorities
Acxiom's Intellectual Property Incentive Program: Innovation is something we celebrate at Acxiom. Our Intellectual Property Incentive Program rewards associates whose innovation leads to new patent opportunities. Associates or “Inventors”, in this case, are eligible for different levels of cash awards depending on the level of the patent approval process.
Developing our Talent
One of the most important "moments of truth" for associates at Acxiom is phase 6 – learning and growing. In fact, every division has people initiative built around learning and development for their organization.
Choose Your Own Adventure Program: In response to feedback from our associate survey, the Choose Your Own Adventure program is designed to encourage associates to take ownership of their careers and to map out their career development options. The program includes a mentoring and shadowing program, the launch of a Talent Profile in Workday in which associates can showcase their career aspirations, a custom page in Acxiom’s Learning Management System, improved ability by recruiting to source internal candidates, and more robust professional and leadership development offerings.
Development Through Internal Mobility: Through our Choose Your Own Adventure Program, we opened the door for cross-divisional moves and implemented new tools like Workday that would help recruiting look first internally. We not only use Workday as our own internal “LinkedIn” but Associates can also flag themselves as interested in a key role. We ensure leaders consider internal candidates first for their open positions and the Talent Development team partners with leaders to identify and address any future skill gaps we anticipate so that our workforce is continually learning and growing for the future.
Tech Entrance Rotation & Mentorship (TERM) Program: Unique to our Connectivity LiveRamp division based in San Francisco, our TERM Program is a great opportunity for recently hired graduates to experience a cross-functional role with strategic focus and dedicated mentorship inside of a rapid-growth tech company. With the mentorship of a senior team member, associates develop a deep knowledge of LiveRamp’s products and business, enabling you to transition to another role in Business Development, Customer Success, Product, Talent, Marketing or other areas of the business.
On-demand External Learning: The ability to stay current with technology is critical to Acxiom’s success. Our Safari Books Online enterprise subscription provides our associates with access to key technical, professional development, and leadership development programs. Safari offers thousands of content assets from over 200 providers in the form of online books, tutorials, and on-demand videos. The content can be accessed on a mobile device, so our associates have the ability to develop anytime, anywhere. Associates benefit from self-directed learning and as pre-class or post-class supporting materials to foster a culture of continuous learning.
Targeted Development to Meet Business Needs
The Marketing Services division realized their associates would need a significant ‘retooling’ to meet the changing needs of Acxiom’s clients in this new digital ecosystem industry. At the same time, leaders and account representatives to our largest client saw that the client they were supporting also needed to be educated on the digital ecosystem so they can continue to be competitive in the marketplace. From these needs, our Digital Ecosystem training was born.
Diversity in our DNA
To be an innovative growth company, we value and seek out a diverse workforce. Today Acxiom is made up of 41% females and 59% males in our workforce – better than the 29% female overall technology benchmark! But diversity isn’t just gender, it’s multidimensional – it’s generations, global experience, veteran status, gender preference, ethnicity, location, leadership styles and much more.
Supporting Diversity in our Communities
Getting under represented groups into the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math starts with introducing these areas to kids at a young age. And once they participate and see how awesome these programs and experiments are, their faces just light up with excitement!
- Boys and Girls Club of Central Arkansas: In March 2016, we announced our partnership to provide STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs to students during the summer. We committed to $25,000 in the program and Scott Howe our CEO, personally matched the corporate gift with an additional $25,000.
- 90 kids from the Boys and Girls Club of Central AR recently came to our park in Little Rock, Arkansas to celebrate the end of their Acxiom-funded summer STEM program. The kids brought 31 rockets to launch off of our custom-designed launch pad! We are committed to enriching the future of children through STEM education, in hopes of igniting a passion and future career in technology. These young engineers may just be the next generation of Acxiom associates! Watch the video here!
- GirlStart: Our Austin, TX, associates recently volunteered at Girlstart—an organization whose mission is to increase girls’ interest and engagement in STEM through their after school programs. These awesome volunteers assembled 970 engineering journals that each girl will receive. They also packaged and prepped 6 different lessons for 33 after school programs – ultimately serving 970 girls!
Grace Hopper - Women in Technology: We know there is an innovation need to have women in technology and we want to provide women that opportunity! In October, we are bringing our dedicated energy to host a career booth at the annual Grace Hopper celebration in Houston, Texas. In addition, we are sponsoring a networking event for an anticipated 500 attendees! Co-founded by Dr. Anita Borg and Dr. Telle Whitney in 1994 and inspired by the legacy of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, Anita Borg Institute’s Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) of Women in Computing brings the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront.
Our goal is to share the career possibilities at Acxiom and provide attendees of our sponsored networking event to learn more from the women of Acxiom and each other. Because we are going to this event with career opportunities available now, we would love to fill at least 10% of our jobs with the brightest minds from the Grace Hopper event!
Supporting our Veterans: In the U.S., Acxiom actively seeks Veterans for employment as they bring valuable skills and experience from their military service to the Company such as leadership, teamwork, integrity, and a strong work ethic. To attract more Veterans, Acxiom supports community events such as UCA Veterans Day, attends Veteran hiring events and has implemented a Diversity Scholarship Program for women, minorities, Veterans and individuals with disabilities. This program provides $5,000 and an internship each semester to multiple candidates.
CEO, Scott Howe, has a statement of veteran support on Acxiom.com and each year, Scott sends a communication to all associates to thank Veterans for their service. Because of the continued support year over year, the Veterans at Acxiom Associate Resource Group was recently formed in 2016. We have provide networking events like the Veteran Movie Day, shared information such as services available through the Veterans Administration and Acxiom’s Military Differential Program, and drafted group members to attend Acxiom job fairs with corporate Recruiters to recruit and attract Veterans to the workplace.
HR recently coordinated a welcome back surprise for an associate soldier returning from active duty from leadership. Acxiom also provides 2 floating holidays per year, inspired by our Veterans that can be used to celebrate Veterans Day or other holidays. As a way to celebrate our veterans, we recently published a Veterans Spotlight news article on our intranet Acxiom Connect to highlight and thank our veterans, past and present, for their service to preserve our rights and freedoms.
Taking a Stand for the LGBT Community: We believe everyone deserves to be treated equally, regardless of the color of their skin, beliefs or sexual orientation. In March 2015, Arkansas was motioning to pass the Arkansas House Bill 1228: The Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In a letter on behalf of Acxiom to the Arkansas State Governor and signed by our CEO, Scott Howe and Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, Jerry Jones:
“We are not alone in the belief that the bill is a deliberate vehicle for enabling discrimination against the LGBT community and should not become law[.] This bill will have a practical effect of excluding parents, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors from pursuing normal, everyday life that straight citizens take for granted.”