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Gold Stevie Award Winner 2019, Click to Enter The 2020 Stevie Awards for Great Employers

Company: Advisor Group, Phoenix, AZ USA

Nomination Category: Human Resources Executive of the Year


Nomination Title: Jeffrey McKown, Vice President, Human Resources

Individual Essay

Advisor Group is one of the largest networks in the U.S. of independent financial advisors, overseeing more than $268 billion in client assets. The company’s 1,000+ employees, stationed at offices in 5 states, serve more than 7,000 customers in a fast-paced, dynamic industry. The past 18 months have been a time of growth and vitality: the business added 2,000 more customers (+35%), launched multiple new services, integrated 3 major acquisitions, and addressed significant new regulatory requirements.

Jeffrey McKown, Vice President, Human Resources, is laser-focused on creating and executing a strategy to make Advisor Group a talent destination. Creating programs to engage, motivate, retain and grow performance-driven employees, Jeffrey is an integral member of the senior leadership team. His contributions impact business results in an extraordinary way.

Since joining as the Senior HRBP in August of 2016, Jeffrey helped establish the HRBP function, creating programs to support the needs of a growing business. Areas of focus include performance culture and management, talent management, employee engagement, retention, leader development, employee relations, D&I and organizational design. Because of his contributions, Jeffrey was promoted in 2017 into his current role as VP, Human Resources with direct oversight for all HRBPs and the full scope of HR generalist responsibilities.

Jeffrey’s impact is measured as follows:

Culture and Engagement

Creating and maintaining a culture of performance is the number one focus of Jeffrey and team. He architected and continuously improves a performance management process for measuring performance and giving feedback, bringing the topic front and center in the business. Maintaining focus on measuring results resulted in employees creating SMART goals resulting in richer performance conversations. Employees receive timely feedback and are not left questioning where they stand. The success of these efforts is evident in engagement survey results with a score of 77% for manager feedback, a 21% increase over 2017 results (+3% to benchmark).

Jeffrey’s also partners with HR COEs to implement programs including learning and development initiatives, leadership programs, diversity & inclusion initiatives and more. Thus, all 6 categories of the employee engagement survey realized double-digit improvement over 2017 results, with overall engagement and work environment improving by 19% each. Employee retention figures have never been higher, with voluntary attrition remaining at 10% (25th percentile). AG has retained 95% of its high-potential employees, 97% of top talent and 99% of diverse top talent, indicating the HR programs are resonating with our best talent.

Client Focus and Support

In 2019, Jeffrey designed and launched the first-ever HR client satisfaction survey to manager clients, receiving high marks in behaviors (84%), employee relations support (82%) and fairness (81%) with less than 3% of unfavorable responses. Other strong scores include responsiveness (79%), business acumen (79%) and talent needs (75%). Comments received from the survey include key themes of partnership, advocacy and guidance. With Jeffrey’s leadership of the HRBP team, client satisfaction is strong.

Technology Integration

Jeffrey’s technology focus enables HR efficiency. Jeffrey implemented Glint as AG’s employee engagement platform, bringing efficiency by reducing the time to launch a survey by more than 50% and the time required run reports by more than 75%. The simple system allowed managers to self-service view their results, an option used by 100% of managers (eliminating the need for an HR employee to run and email reports), eliminating an estimated 40+ hours of manpower.

Jeffrey routinely utilizes GoToWebinar to facilitate highly interactive training webinars, using video to increase engagement. By leveraging the registration, scheduling, surveying, reminders and recording features of this software, HRBPs can instead spend that time with clients. Additionally, Jeffrey cross-trained the HR team on the tools.

Jeffrey’s community involvement includes partnership with Arizona State University (working to create career and leadership panels) and volunteerism with Junior Achievement and ICM Food and Clothing Bank.

Individual Summary

  1. 2019 Engagement survey: 90% participation; Engagement +19% over 2017 survey; Manager/leadership +10%; Work environment +19%; Values and culture +11%; Intent to stay +16%.
  2. talent.
  3. Talent upgrades, strategic re-organizations in technology, operations, customer service.
  4. Webinars: 21 topics: goal setting, self-evaluations, feedback, calibrating talent, discussing pay. 2,913 attendees, 49 sessions, 1,000+ recording views.
  5. Partnered to create, host leadership training reaching 70% of all people leaders (114 managers), rated 4.9/5.0.
  6. HRBP survey: behaviors (84%), employee relations support (82%), fairness (81%).