And the Winner of the HighGround Scholarship is… - HighGround

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And the Winner of the HighGround Scholarship is…

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Congratulations to Jerry Chiang of UC Berkeley, who is the inaugural winner of the HighGround Scholarship!

Earlier this year, we announced the HighGround scholarship to learn more about how today’s college students understand workplace culture. We asked applicants to share ideas for how companies can improve employee engagement, as well as how to sustain those that are already engaged.

Why did we do this? First and foremost, we thought it was a great way to give back and help a current college student achieve their educational goals. As an HR tool, HighGround is highly invested in understanding the mindset of the future leaders of the HR industry. It’s invaluable to hear from college students who will soon be entering the workforce on their perceptions and needs when it comes to employee engagement.

To be considered, applicants had to submit an 800-word or more essay answering the following questions:

  • How do you define “employee engagement”?
  • How would you help a business with an already high employee retention rate maintain and build a highly engaged company culture?
  • What types of programs would you put in place?
  • What motivational tactics would you implement?
  • After receiving more than 50 entries, the HighGround leadership team chose Jerry Chiang as the recipient of the $2,000 scholarship.

So, what made Chiang stand out? As stated in his essay, “The challenges companies face in sustaining employee engagement often come not from an indifference to engaging, but an overreliance on outdated and inefficient modes of employee evaluation and recognition.”

Chiang suggested companies implement two smart programs to help drive employee engagement. First, he proposed that companies solicit ideas from employees for regular events held during company hours, to help bring employees together around their own interests. The other idea that Chiang likes is the “two-pizza rule” that Amazon’s Jeff Bezos made popular, explaining that it creates a more personal atmosphere that breeds more open communication.

What struck us as especially unique about Chiang’s essay was his comments on intrinsic motivation, or the process of building rapport between employees and employers through communication. In his essay, he shared, “I propose companies embrace software that provides regular feedback and timekeeping for projects—this software would allow employees to give real-time input and allow employers to track how initiatives affect project progress via long-term metrics. And even in companies with a high employee retention rate, but low engagement, this tactic is similarly useful because it addresses common ownership in a meaningful way—a topic that veteran employees cite most as crucial to good engagement.”

We couldn’t agree more. Congratulations again, Jerry! Well done.

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