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Clifton Builders Work to Increase Employee Engagement at Local Businesses

Clifton Builders Work to Increase Employee Engagement at Local Businesses
Clifton Builders tour Gallup before their presentations.
The second cohort of Clifton Builders, a program of the Clifton Strengths Institute at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, provided consulting to local workplaces to help them assess and increase their work team engagement. Applying what they learned in Building a Life for Impact (MNGT 324B), 24 students created change and improvement for five workplaces in Lincoln including iSoft Data Systems, Lincoln Children’s Zoo, Nelnet, Speedway Motors and Spreetail.
From their class, students learned to approach engagement as a business strategy which yields better results. They also learned to harness Gallup’s Q-12 employee engagement survey as a tool. Students worked in strengths-based teams and partnered with a business or organization to improve workplaces by focusing on strengths and development for more engaged employees.  
“According to a Gallup study, only 15 percent of employees are engaged worldwide. Managers play the most significant role in driving employee engagement and workplace outcomes. Therefore, the Clifton Builders go through extensive hands-on training to better understand how to develop their greatest talents, motivate and engage their employees in their future careers,” said Mark Pogue, executive director of the Clifton Strengths Institute.
Builders students present at Gallup.
Builders students present at Gallup.
The student teams met first with the manager of the workplace team to discuss goals and offered them a one-on-one strengths coaching session. Then, they administered Gallup’s Q-12  employee engagement assessment to all on the workplace team. With the results, the student team led a collaborative action planning session at the business to gather input and build workers’ investment in creating a plan to become more engaged in their workplace.
Jordan De Spong, junior accounting and management major from Dunedin, New Zealand, worked with Speedway Motors. He believes the Q-12 survey provides a unique opportunity for employees to take action based on the results.
“It was fascinating to see their employees take action and commit to raising the standard of their own engagement. Unlike traditional employee surveys, which are mostly used for assessment purposes only, this method allows employees to own what happens next,” he said.
He felt like the process benefited both students and the company. Not only did students see how employee engagement impacts the big picture, but they helped create an action plan that would motivate employees to increase engagement.
“We’re thankful they gave us a chance as consultants to go to the front line and help make an impact. I believe companies that implement this in their various teams throughout the organization will see significant impact and improvement in their performance,” he said.
Students pose with copies of Jim Clifton's book The Coming Jobs War.
Students pose at Gallup with copies of Jim Clifton's book The Coming Jobs War.
Beyond sharpening their engagement expertise and leadership skills, the consulting process also allowed students to take an in-depth look into teams, businesses and nonprofit organizations. Builders presented their results and key takeaways they can apply to their future goals as builders of teams, businesses and communities to Gallup employees in December.
“I will take what I learned in this experience with me and use it in the future. I hope to one day open a nonprofit that helps children with legal issues. Working with the Lincoln Children’s Zoo taught me that a nonprofit can still be run similarly to a for-profit organization and for it to be an effective and successful organization, it requires a strong team,” said Elaina Bailey, sophomore international business and Spanish major from Kansas City, Missouri.
Freshmen from any major at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln can apply for the Clifton Builders program, where selected students take courses together to earn a Clifton Builders minor while gaining hands-on experiences in strengths-based leadership, employee engagement and well-being. Applications for the 2018 cohort are due February 15. To learn more, visit:
Published: January 15, 2018