Empowering Employees

By Glenn Sexton
Wednesday - December 28, 2005
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Xerox Hawaii hosts a Santa corner at the Easter Seals Gingerbread Festival fundraiser. Pictured are (from left): Kaycie Okada of Kalihi, Marlo Nakata, Michael Lima, Nick Sexton and Glenn Sexton
Xerox Hawaii hosts a Santa corner at the Easter Seals
Gingerbread Festival fundraiser. Pictured are (from left):
Kaycie Okada of Kalihi, Marlo Nakata, Michael Lima, Nick
Sexton and Glenn Sexton

Leading a company to success is never easy, especially in a market where the unemployment rate is at an all time low. How do you attract qualified employees and keep the ones you have happy? Providing your employees with high salaries and generous benefits is not always enough.

The gift of empowerment can be one of the most rewarding and powerful tools to give to your employees. I learned the importance of empowerment in July 1980, the day I was hired as a marketing trainee for Xerox Corporation.

There’s a reason why Xerox has maintained its position as a $15.7 billion leader in document technology for close to 100 years. It has to do with the investment Xerox makes in each employee in terms of training, career development, recognition, and the freedom to make decisions without the fear of reprisal for making a mistake. It’s a formula that helped me rise through the ranks. In 1995, at age 35, I was promoted to Vice President and General Manager for Operations in Hawaii and Micronesia.

This lifetime opportunity provided me with a personal lesson on the importance of having faith in your employees, and how empowerment can create employee loyalty and growth. I’ve been with Xerox now for 25 years, along with other colleagues who have risen through the ranks with me.

From the moment a sales representative is hired, Xerox invests close to $50,000 in training and development during the first six months of employment. The training begins with a three-week trip to a training facility in Leesburg, Va., followed by an average investment of $10,000 per year in ongoing development guidance and field work training. Our employees are given the tools to become successful sales executives. Their ability to market our products and services effectively shows in Xerox Hawaii’s overall performance standings within Xerox Corporation.

For the past several years, Xerox Hawaii has maintained the nation’s No. 1 position in terms of business results. And, the average length of employment at Xerox Hawaii is over 15 years.

Employees at Xerox are also empowered to make a difference in their community. In 1974, the Xerox Community Involvement Program (XCIP) was created for employees to donate company dollars and manhours to charities of their choice. The program is funded by Xerox and is managed by the employees themselves. The program started with 1,000 employees participating in 96 community projects nationwide. This year, more than 13,000 people, or one-third of Xerox’s U.S. work force, will donate hundreds of thousands of hours participating in volunteer projects nationwide. In Hawaii, our local XCIP has volunteered more than 11,000 man hours and provided more than $150,000 in monetary funds and donated supplies. Taking care of your employees goes beyond providing them with a paycheck every two weeks. At Xerox, we’ve created a unique business culture that is based on personal growth, self-motivation, recognition and achievement. By empowering your employees with the tools and confidence needed to succeed, high employee turnover and low employee morale will be a thing of the past.

Next Week: Buddy Bess, publisher of Bess Press

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