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Radio Flyer Drives Employee Engagement With 'Little Red Flyer Code'

Emphasizing engagement has helped the privately owned company post double-digit revenue growth each year from 2004 through 2011.

July 25, 2012
Related Topics: Top Stories - Frontpage, Employee Engagement, Motivating Employees, Talent Management
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Engaged employees have fun at Radio Flyer. Fun is, after all, a job requirement at the Chicago toymaker.

Engaged workers "love their jobs, brag about the company, want to grow and develop with us, and belong to work groups that are like family," says Amy Bastuga, Radio Flyer's vice president of human resources.

Few toys are as iconic as Radio Flyer's little red wagon, first unveiled in the 1930s and still a top seller. The company also designs scooters, sleighs, bicycles and similar products. To continue its 95-year run of success, the company in 2004 zeroed in on employee engagement as a pivotal metric for recruiting, organizational development and performance management.

The reason, Bastuga says, is to help Radio Flyer become "the most-loved children's brand in the world," a goal that hinges on the discretionary effort and commitment of employees.

The company's engagement mantra, known as the "little red Flyer code," embodies its vision, mission and corporate values. It connects to the company's overarching plans for sustained growth, and in turn cascades to goals for individual departments and employees.

Specifically, employees are challenged to provide "fun" customer experiences, exhibit high integrity and a can-do attitude, and take individual responsibility for sustainable business practices. Emphasizing engagement has helped the privately owned company post double-digit revenue growth each year from 2004 through 2011, Bastuga says.

"Prior to our focus on engagement, we also were losing almost half of our new hires. Now, we're retaining about 80 percent," Bastuga says.

Employees that don't embrace the Flyer code usually don't last long, and that's not a bad thing, she says. "If someone doesn't believe in our vision, mission and values, or isn't applying their talents, then we don't want to retain them."

Individual managers boost engagement through feedback and coaching, but it's not a one-way street. Employees are accountable as well, Bastuga says. "We consider engagement to be a joint responsibility."

Garry Kranz is a Workforce Management contributing editor. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com.

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