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WorkforceNEXT: Talking with Fred

WorkforceNEXT: Talking with Fred

Posted By: Sara Marchionda.

Fred Stawitz
Principal, Technical Training and OQ Regional Coordinator
Kinder Morgan, Inc.
President and National Award-Winning Writer, Educator
Storymakers, Inc.

Fred is a thoughtful leader specializing in employee engagement, with over twelve years of progressive expertise in the design and implementation of state of the art skills management programs that maximize workforce productivity, retain talent, and ensure regulatory compliance. He’s also a national award-winning writer and educator, published author and popular conference chairman/speaker. He has appeared on CNN Headline News in Southern California, was a featured guest in a PBS special one-hour program in Pennsylvania, and was quoted in a special Congressional Quarterly report.

How do you attract new and qualified talent? How do you work to retain talent?
Your best recruiters are your employees if you treat them well. When employees are engaged and committed to the organization they will tell friends and family what a great place this is to work. The word will spread. Or you can draw new recruits in the door with glitzy advertising and buzz words like teamwork, opportunity, and rewards. You will only keep them if the functional culture they experience when they step in the door does not differ significantly from the aspirational culture you promote with values statements and mantras posted on the walls.

How do we keep an engaged and committed organization when the going gets tough?
You keep an engaged and committed organization when the going gets tough by establishing the conditions that foster an engaged workforce before the going gets tough. You build trust between management and workers by creating an atmosphere of respect and open communications. You create an environment where pain and rewards are shared equitably at all levels in the organization. Not an environment where pain is pushed to the bottom and rewards always give those at the top a soft landing. You don’t treat workers like a commodity that you can easily jettison to lighten the load when the going gets tough. You view an engaged workforce as the way you do business and your employees will be committed to the success of the organization in good times and bad.

How do you create opportunities to increase employee engagement?
You don’t have to create opportunities to engage employees. Those opportunities exist in the normal course of doing business. The question is, do you take advantage of these opportunities and allow employees to act within clearly defined areas of authority and responsibility? Do you support them in navigating a path to success or hang them out to dry when something bad happens? Do you give them ownership of their role in the process? Employee engagement is better viewed as a value, not a technique to boost productivity.

What does the future of the workplace look like? How can we prepare for the next generation in the workplace?
The workplace is currently in flux. Traditional top down approaches of authority and control are being challenged by a new generation looking for the opportunity to contribute. If their efforts to engage prevail, then the future looks bright. Young people bring energy and creativity that if channeled in the right directions can transform the workplace as we know it. Society stands to benefit from higher levels of engagement, new methods of collaboration, more efficient and eco-friendly processes, and more socially conscious business practices. If they fail, the outlook for the future of the workplace and society as a whole may be a bit more bleak.

Get to know the HR Pro

What’s the one thing you want to accomplish before you die?
Before I die I want to find a forever home for one more homeless pets and help one more person move closer to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life. If I can accomplish both tasks at the same time that is simply icing on a chocolate eclair.

Do you have a pet? If so, tell me about it.
I have many furry members of my family. Most are strays who through no fault of their own were abandoned on the street and thankfully found their way into my life. Each has a wonderfully vibrant personality that adds so much joy and love per pound of body weight that the ROI of the small effort required to care for them is incalculably astronomical.

What’s the most unusual place you have visited?
Planet earth is the most unusual and intriguing place I have ever visited or lived. Whether strolling along the pathways of Dowager Cixi’s Summer Palace on the outskirts of Beijing or attending a briefing at The White House. Whether waking up next to a coyote under a picnic table in Kansas, bar hopping at midnight atop the handlebars of a bicycle in Baden Baden, marveling at the Alps in Austria, or swimming with seals in Alaska (WOW that was cold!) My life has been and continues to be a full array of unusual places, people, and events that keep me always interested in finding out, what’s next?