Join us for a discussion around the recent Gallup poll data regarding Employee Engagement and some fun thoughts with our VP of Incentives, Kevin Gergel. Join us bi-weekly as we analyze key tactics and trends in employee engagement, YOS, and safety programs, while we discuss relevant news topics affecting your workforce. Listen to the episode below or continue reading for a full transcript.
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[00:00:41] Welcome to the CA Short All-In employee podcast. And I'm your host, R. Scott Russell with Nelsa Webber. And we're so glad that you've joined us today. Let's dive in.
[00:01:01] All right, Nelsa, I'm excited about today's show. Do you know why?
[00:01:05] Why? Scott.
[00:01:06] Because we have a guest. Yes. Always my favorite. I know we love our guests because it takes the pressure off of us. No, no. Today, we have our guest on the show.
[00:01:17] We have Mr. Kevin Gergel. And Kevin is the vice president of incentives for us here at CA Short so welcome Kevin.
[00:01:27] Thank you very much. I hope to, I hope to be considered your favorite guest.
[00:01:31] Oh all right. No more. Don't tell Jeff, don't tell Dad.
[00:01:37] No. We're so happy to have you, Kevin. Kevin is newer to our team.
[00:01:41] He joined us this year. We're very excited to have in this part of the team. And he is leading up our business on the incentive side of our organization. We're very excited to have that. So I think the very first thing we need to do today is Kevin. Why do you tell us a little bit about you, a little bit about, you know, where've you been? How did you get here? And just so the listeners know who Kevin is.
[00:02:03] Well, certainly. Thank you. So my story begins as a baseball player. So up until I was twenty five years old, baseball essentially was my life. I had an opportunity to play competitively high school, earn a scholarship to Kennesaw State University, where I was drafted by the Seattle Mariners and played Minor League Baseball in their organization. So I had a great run. Never made it to the majors, but I found myself at twenty five years old. Now, finished with baseball. I had a college degree in business management, from Kennesaw State. But I was back home in Marietta, Georgia, depressed, unemployed, and scratching my head, trying to figure out what the heck I was going to do with the rest of my life. And I thought sales might be a good fit for me because I'm naturally curious. I love to travel and I love learning about businesses. So I started my professional selling career in Atlanta, selling B2B for AT&T. And I did that for about five and a half years. And thankfully, I had the opportunity to start to have some success. After a few bumpy moments early on as I learned the game but was able to win a few sales incentive programs and the company that was operating those programs for AT&T, that marketing agency, actually reached out to me, recruited me and said, hey, we see you're winning these sales incentive programs.
[00:03:30] How would you like to sell them?
[00:03:32] So that's what led me from telecom into the motivation solutions industry, where I have eight years experience and I'm absolutely thrilled to be part of CA Short, you know, that's, that's interesting because Nelsa, so you know we just shared, we've been sharing of course about ourselves on the show.
[00:03:49] And so Kevin comes from the AT&T background and I come from the Verizon background.
[00:03:55] And together we make a great start.
[00:04:00] So also I think that's funny. You know, Kevin's said at twenty-five he was trying to figure out what to do.
[00:04:06] And I think I did that at forty-five.
[00:04:11] You know, everybody has to find your road whenever it comes. But you know, the interesting thing, Scott, about Kevin's story too is he had such a twisty, winding road. And, you know, the topics we've been talking about lately where the disruption with the pandemic, you know, social unrest that we've seen, you know, people are out here trying to figure out what's next. And so Kevin is a real live example here at CA Short of, you know, being able to just kind of find your stride, remake yourself, you know, find what it is that you're looking for. So I love your story, Kevin. It just it keeps people inspired, I think.
[00:04:47] Oh, thank you so much. I really love the concept and it's not my own, but the concept of we get to write our own headlines. So especially lately in the news today, the headlines have not been very pleasant. But I love the concept that we have the ability each and every day to create our own headlines and to really inspire ourselves and to do whatever really inspires us.
[00:05:10] So absolutely. I think my headline is that I'm hungry. My normal thing, my granddad used to say, if I didn't walk in the door saying I'm broke, I'm hungry and I'm tired. He wouldn't believe it was me.
[00:05:28] So that's pretty exciting, though, man. I mean, you were I mean, you obviously you played some great ball in your younger days. And I think that's really cool story. I mean, you've seen you've seen some things most of us never have in that world. And. And it just it shows that even here at CA Short like we have such a variety of talented people and how they come from so many different areas. And, you know, Nelsa would tell you that I'll tell this story because I haven't shared this one yet on the show. So when Nelsa joined, I didn't know her quite yet. And I was hosting one of our annual events at work, this event.
[00:06:04] You had to come up. It was you had to actually come up and you had to do something special. You had to show me, your talent, and out walks Nelsa, who I'm just now meeting.
[00:06:13] And she goes, I'm an actress. I've been in radio. I've been doing these things. I'm an actress.
[00:06:18] I'm about to do a monologue. And she just threw it down, like she was on Broadway. And I was like, where did this person come from? Right. That's not what I expected to see. And so I was so impressed. And we found that we had like talents and like skills. And that's why we're so thrilled about this show. We're finally getting together.
[00:06:38] And so I think that that's pretty exciting. So glad to have you today, Kevin. Kevin's based out of Atlanta. So he comes to the Charlotte area with us every now and then. He just happens to be in town today. But we are all in different offices being safe. And so he'll come back and join us whenever he can. You're always welcome when you're in town. But we are going to talk about a couple of topics today.
[00:07:02] So one of those topics is around Gallup. We talk Gallup a lot, but they do a lot of. That's who we talk a lot. But recently, Gallup put out a couple of different articles. And surprisingly, they said exactly two different things. The first article basically, which was and I don't have the exact dates on that now, so you might I'm not sure by you, but it was only about a month or two ago that article came out and it basically said that employee engagement during this COVID pandemic had actually spiked at an all-time high. Well, it wasn't very long after that. The new report came out in the last couple of weeks that actually saw employee engagement take a nose dive. So I wanted us to talk about why do we think that is? Is that, you know what? What's our impression of what that could be? You know, is it is it because during the pandemic and during state shutdowns that employees really felt employers supported their actions and we're making accommodations so that they could continue their livelihood. And now that all these people went back to their offices or back to their jobs, they're not feeling as secure or safe or as engaged. I don't really know that answer. I really wanted us to kind of just discuss through that, like, why would we see that high spike and then a giant drop off all of a sudden in engagement.
[00:08:28] Right. And it was you know, you turn that article around in like a matter of minutes.
[00:08:35] So it says here just before we discuss it, you know, June data is what this is running through. I'm looking at the findings from May and June for a sample of full and part-time U.S. employees. So the June dates ran from the 1st to the 14th. And then in that second article that you turned around, like, you know, it must be like the second half of the month. You know, it just goes from a straight up to straight down. But there's some dates for you, so.
[00:09:07] So what is your take on that? Like what? What's that say to you for those of us? I mean, this is our industry, right? These are the numbers that we look at every day that we're driving and trying to help companies support driving the highest engagement that you possibly can. And we do this in our own company and our own program. But whats our thoughts on what that data's really telling us? And for me, it says perhaps we need to go back and poll again.
[00:09:34] Right. That's my initial bias. OK. Those two stand out to me.
[00:09:38] Right. But, could there be effects from what we're seeing today and how this pandemic progresses to how it is affecting an employee's experience and an employee's ability to engage at a high level.
[00:09:56] A great question for me, the second part, I think the novelty has worn off to a lot of people, I think, while scary. A large percentage of the workforce moving to a home office. It was new for many people. And while that presented some challenges, it was a little bit of an excitement because it was new. But then I think reality set in, as we saw the second spike of COVID. And now all of a sudden they realize this is kind of the new normal. And I think that leads to uncertainty. And whenever you have uncertainty, it leads to disengagement. So best in class organizations that we're partnering with. First and foremost, they have strong leadership and their leaders are able to communicate effectively. And I even look at our own organization internally with Jeff. Having a leader who stays out in front of this scenario or similar scenarios is so important, constant communication, authentic communication. I believe that for organizations to see that level of engagement rise moving forward this fall, that leadership communication piece is so important.
[00:11:12] I agree with Kevin after looking at some LinkedIn articles about, you know, what companies are doing. You know, Facebook is trending to where they're talking about sending people home.
[00:11:26] But also the wage may end up being changed based on, you know, being in a different area than just California or wherever you may be. So I think too you know, people got settled in a pattern. We've gotten to the phase one, phase two. And now as things look like they're spiking again and, you know, there's some real concerns out there about health. And, you know, people may be affected more by COVID cases in their businesses. You know, supply chain is still not completely.
[00:12:06] Holes field, if you will.
[00:12:09] I think that uncertainty piece is big as well, not just for the business end, but it's just like, you know, is school going to open? Is school not? That's going to affect employee participation at work. It's going to affect how productive you are, what you're you know, what your numbers look like. I just think so much has happened like this. This Gallup poll shows data from March 2020 all the way to June 14th 2020. so it's only four months. But a lot has happened in our country in those four months that was not predicted. It's unpredictable. It's like we can't really get our head around, like what's going to happen. And like Kevin said, you know, uncertainty seems to be, you know, the the devil in the mix, if you will. So, you know, and that may not like we may not ever get back to a place where we absolutely know what's going to happen with anything. You know, today is COVID. Who knows what tomorrow will be. You know, something else that pops up and takes the place, of COVID.
[00:13:16] Well, here's what I want to bring to life, tho. Not something worst than COVID. But, you know, in certain thoughts of business and yoga and all sorts of places, it's about I can't control what's outside of me. I can only control how I respond to what's going on. So it's like Kevin said, are business is communicating clearly with their people? Are you seeing really strong leadership in terms of making pivots? And if your business had been going down one road, but now you're saying things like Kodak? I read an article. Kodak is going into pharmaceuticals like Kodak, the film company is. They just got like a huge grant from the government to start working on pharmaceuticals so that they can become the go to place for companies that need medicine. So we don't have to worry about outsourcing. So you talk about a huge pivot like they're responding to the fact that they were out of date, technology outpaced them. And they said, well, let's look in a different direction. So, you know, how are you remaking yourself? Just like Kevin's story. Businesses have to look at how are we make ourselves in this new age where maybe there won't be a place of certainty the way we used to know it. You know, we've talked about that with parents working for 30 years at the same place, Scott, you know, sort of along the same lines.
[00:14:37] You know, you touched on that. And that was something else I actually even wanted to bring to our show today. I love this Kodak story. Just stood out to me for a couple of reasons. One, I went to school and actually lived right outside of Rochester for about five years. Very familiar with Kodak. Very familiar with the campus. And, you know, and in my mind, I already tell you, already thought they were dead.
[00:14:58] I'm I'll be honest. I thought I thought that I'd out. And they did. Yeah. I thought it was over. So when I saw that on the news, I got a little spark of hope.
[00:15:08] I really I said, you know what? Look here. They're going to hire, I think, up to like 700 people. I said that. That's amazing. I said there's definitely people in that area that probably need those jobs, that need a new job. And look how that company is pivoting with the help of, you know, the governments helping them a little bit. All right. They are pivoting to survive and to produce something so needed today. And I think what a great model. If your company has to change, if your company has to pivot or if you're going through a really difficult time trying to figure out how to survive, can you look at the industries that are successful, that aren't moving forward or that do need and take that shift? Let's think about all of the distilleries that shifted the hand side. Right. It's another example of the same type of thing. It's about survival of the fittest, in a way. And they're definitely going to be some businesses that we don't see in the future. Right. I know we're here in North Carolina. And for those of you that aren't in our state, you know, we don't have any bar open period. If you're not a restaurant, you're not open. There's no way those guys are going to survive, the majority. I mean, there's just no way. How do you survive nine months and not able to open your door? Right. Which is what it could be. So how do you pivot? What do you do to make change? And what do you do to do that? I think, I think it's good for the employee experience to see that there are organizations making that pivot in this time, because it is important that you need to know that there's opportunity out there. I mean, we're watching Congress right now go through their next stimulus package process. And I think that's difficult for employees to sit back and look at and wonder, how is this going to help me or maybe my spouse who's out of work and I really need help in that, in that space. And so what do we think? You know, I think that we want to give some other advice to our listeners today before we'll end our segment today is what would you say to a company or an organization? What's some great tips, Kevin, on how to keep employee engagement as high as possible during this uncertain time, knowing that it is very difficult to go highly engaged right now? But what how do you keep them highly engaged and how do you keep that experience positive?
[00:17:26] Yeah, absolutely. First of all, can we call this a Kodak moment?
[00:17:33] Get on. You haven't heard that in a little bit.
[00:17:37] I would say that, listen, we're obviously in a very unique situation, but unique situations lead to unique opportunities. So from an employee engagement standpoint, organizations have the ability right now more than ever to think outside of the box. We talk a lot at CA Short about recognition being a driver of engagement. So we have formal, informal, and day to day recognition. So as it relates to that day to day piece, finding ways to check in on your employees, to recognize your employees for even the little things I think, well, will make a big difference, and showing empathy also is so important. And so many parents right now are scrambling, myself included. My wife and I included trying to figure out what the heck we're going to do with our kids to provide them with a proper education. There's just so many unknowns out there. So knowing that my company has empathy for my situation but is also recognizing me for my efforts has gone a long way to keep me engaged. So I think it does present a unique opportunity out there.
[00:18:49] That's that's good. Excellent insight.
[00:18:51] Yeah, it is for me. You know, I totally agree with you. I think on my end and Nelsa I want to add your perspective, too. It's about communication and transparency. I believe that through these times, you need to almost overcommunicate, because when you leave gaps, the employee begins to fill those gaps in themselves and they will fill it in with all of their worry and their concern and what they're bothered by versus having that strong sense of communication, strong processes, strong plans, and knowing that they have a partner in the company that they work for and that that partner is there not only for the gains of the business, but to invest in the employee as they're an asset to the company.
[00:19:42] True that I totally agree with you on that one, Scott. You know, I think sometimes maybe people feel like if they say too much, you know, it might not be accurate or it might not be where they settle.
[00:19:54] And I just think sometimes we don't do a service to our employees because I can remember working in the school system, we used to say, you know, if employees don't get the word from the leader and from leadership, they're gonna get it from somebody.
[00:20:09] So we can control the narrative when we overcommunicate, when we make sure that people feel like they're getting regularly updated information. And, you know, people know that nobody has all the answers right now. Does anybody have an answer right now? Sometimes it feels like. But just feeling like you are being truthful and transparent, I think makes people feel better because at least you're telling me what you know as of right now. And I think that's what people are really looking for. Like, just keep me up to speed. Just don't let me feel like there's been two weeks of silence and then all of a sudden there's this big announcement and people feel like the shoe has dropped, you know, just steady, steady at it. You know, if it's just an e-mail to say hi, we're still looking at the situation. We're looking at what's going on with the schools. We're looking at what's going on, you know, with COVID cases in the area. I just really feel like people want that right now. They want to feel like leadership is just as engaged. Talking to us. As you know, the employee is at, you know, trying to figure out what's next. So.
[00:21:16] That's good. That's good. Now, I know we're going to wrap up here in just a few minutes, but we would be a mess not to recognize the fact that Kevin is the V.P. of incentives. So one of the things we want to get out there today is, you know, if your organization most definitely if you're running incentives, if you're looking for new ideas, if you are looking to work with us, because we'd love to work with you. Kevin, how do people get in touch with you? How can people talk to you about what our offering is an incentive?
[00:21:45] Absolutely. So phone number (770) 861-1975. You can find me on LinkedIn and all the socials. So happy to connect.
[00:21:56] Awesome. Awesome. And I know you do things other than incentives, but you're leading that charge for us. We're very excited about that. And I think the next time we have you on, I'd love to just focus in on why incentives are so important right now. I think some people may think, wow, that's we've got so much to think about. That's the last. But the truth is, it's not. It's very important right now to drive higher production because you do have so much interaction. People are getting distracted easily. They're not focused. And you need to drive your business to a higher playing field that they're very important right now. And I think that'll be a great show when you get to come back and visit with us.
[00:22:36] Well, listen, I've been working on a little teaser for that.
[00:22:38] Can I give it a shot? Yes. OK.
[00:22:42] So revenue solves a lot of problems. When done correctly sales incentives bring revenue. And if I had to sum up sales incentives in three words, it would be this inspiration trumps compensation. Look forward to digging into that. Oh, I like it. Yeah.
[00:23:03] Got a snap on that.
[00:23:07] Now the third call and. Oh yeah. You know what?
[00:23:12] Now that you said that, I've got to throw this at you now.
[00:23:14] So just as I, I just got a new you know, we talk streaming a few episodes back. I got a new my new TV service, which I'm happy with. And I did get my HBO Max.
[00:23:26] What I found on HBO, Max, that makes me the happiest. What is it? Mad TV.
[00:23:32] They have all the seasons. Oh, that's so good.
[00:23:36] I love that show. I thought it was really funny comedy. I love in living color as far as the others and then I love Mad TV.
[00:23:44] And I was just talking to a friend about how I wish I could see those old episodes again. And there it was.
[00:23:50] So I'm looking to see that's how we're calling it into existence, aren't they? Have we got it?
[00:23:55] Kevin man, thank you for being here today. Nelsa, thank you. Like always. And our listeners, we appreciate you. And we'll see you. Well, we won't see you, but we'll hear you on our next episode.
[00:24:07] Thank you.
[00:24:16] Thank you for joining us on the CA Short All-In Employee Podcast. Scott and I will see you next time.