Freda Stolz – VXI Global Solutions
In the year 2000, the world entered a new millennium—and Freda Stolz entered a new, unexpected chapter of her career, switching her focus from marketing to human resources. She quickly discovered the two areas are more similar than they appeared.
In the late 1990s, working as a marketing coordinator at a mining and metals company, Wire Rope Industries, Stolz would attend events and trade shows. There, she would explain to distributors the benefits of purchasing the company’s products. When she returned from those shows, not only would she help revamp marketing material, but she also helped the sales team change its pitch.
In short, for Stolz, effective marketing meant working with other employees, not just clients. The company’s leadership noted this and when the director of human resources position became vacant in 2000, the company’s president encouraged her to apply for the role.
Not only did Stolz land the position, but she’s been in human resources since. When she joined VXI Global Solutions in May 2021, her role—vice president of human resources for the Americas—didn’t exist. That, she says, allowed her to put her stamp on new employee-driven human resource initiatives.
“It’s been a boon as the leadership has been very supportive of establishing clear employee value propositions—my first task upon entering the company in the midst of a global pandemic.”
Advertising a supportive working environment
Based in Los Angeles, VXI is a business management and process outsourcing company with over 30,000 employees globally. Typically, its employees answer questions over the phone about products and services offered by its clients. In 2020, it added 20 clients listed in Fortune Magazine’s 2020 list of the World’s Most Valuable Brands.
“We’ve also won numerous best-in-class industry awards for outstanding customer care and business continuity solutions,” Stolz says.
The major issue when Stolz joined was attrition. Employees were leaving because of the stressful work environment—Stolz says call centers are inherently challenging. Employees also felt disconnected from VXI and their colleagues. As Stolz explains, employees work with a single client, so they might feel more connected to the clients than to VXI.
In response, one of Stolz’s first initiatives was creating an employee led engagement team, which the employees titled Visionaries. Meeting at least once a month, the team finds ways employees can engage with the local community to promote important causes. The call center facilities partner with schools, food banks and other charitable organizations in the surrounding community.
Members of the Visionaries group are supporting communities in Los Angeles, as well as Tucson, Atlanta, Lubbock, Austin, Canton and Youngstown. Virtual engagement is imperative because, as Stolz points out, over 2,000 of VXI’s U.S. employees are currently working from home.
The Visionaries members, depending on their interests and the goals of the other employees, volunteer to participate in community-facing initiatives outside work hours. This allows employees to help their communities and is also intended to create a stronger relationship with VXI’s clients.
“Everyone wants to know that they’re doing something worthwhile,” Stolz says. “The Visionaries team and all those involved in community initiatives, such as sorting through food donations at a food bank, see their work’s impact beyond answering a phone—which can feel tedious.”
While client agreements continue to largely determine the base wages—VXI, through Stolz, is providing employees other incentives, such as rewards programs that recognize outstanding performance, and training and career development training, if, for instance, they wish to become managers.
A new dawn
With the Visionaries program a success, Stolz next created a monthly newsletter that covers employee accomplishments and local engagement activities. Using the in-house intranet site, she also posts about holiday events and the new employee rewards program she and the human resources team created.
The rewards program allows employees to accrue points for milestones—birthdays and work anniversaries—as well as for participating in work contests and demonstrating high performing behaviors. It also rewards employees for contributing to successful teams in the workplace and sharing each other’s accomplishments through digital cards of recognition or more personal e-cards.
“Employees can then redeem these points for rewards of their choosing,” Stolz says. “These range from gift cards to electronics, products for the home and personal care items.”
Restructuring the foundation
At VXI, Stolz knew that before she could help with recruiting or retention, she needed to clearly define HR roles. This way, HR representatives could clearly communicate what they do and resolve issues more efficiently.
“After all, what does human resources even mean?” Stolz asks with a laugh.
To help cement this definition, within three months, Stolz had implemented five HR pillars: talent acquisition, employee relations-business partnering, people and culture, HR services—compensation and benefits—as well as learning and development.
Now, Stolz can work with the team members responsible for people and culture on creating a fun and quick onboarding process for new employees, and with the learning and development team on developing career path opportunities.
She works separately with talent acquisition members on creating digital posters and marketing VXI jobs across social media. While VXI is still bolstering its recruiting strategies, the company can more quickly react to market trends, such as monitoring company reviews and its reputation on social media.
Currently, Stolz is focusing on the new work-from-home reality and providing employee support virtually. She says that this portion of the employee population is increasingly important in the new world of work, and VXI has successfully managed the transition.
“It may sound cliche, but I truly believe that happy employees work more effectively and create happier customers and clients,” Stolz says. “That’s where my focus remains.”
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