How the Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary use Peakon to elevate the wellbeing of support workers

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How the Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary use Peakon to elevate the wellbeing of support workers

Established in 1939, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary is a nonprofit organization that provides vital support, safe spaces and community services for over 4,500 vulnerable and disadvantaged young people within the Calgary area.

Founded on the belief that ‘every single kid counts’, the organization’s mission is to help vulnerable children, youth and their families overcome barriers and develop the confidence and skills they need to reach their full potential in life.

While the charity offers social housing, education programs, after-school clubs and more, its core goal is to help its young clients build trust and feel supported. This mission is fulfilled by its dedicated workforce of frontline employees, whose job it is to build that relationship.

However, in a sector where high turnover is endemic, when employees leave, these fragile bonds are broken — and it has a direct impact on their vulnerable young clients.

Justin Bergeron, Director of People Services at Boys and Girls Club Calgary, explains how the organization uses Peakon to better understand the experiences and needs of its workforce — and how acting on that insight has directly impacted both the company’s attrition and the lives of the young people it serves.

Peakon gives us the detail about our workforce that we would never have known about using a traditional survey.

Key results

  • Reduced voluntary turnover during ongoing organizational change
  • Doubled employee survey response rate
  • Implemented new mental health funding following feedback

Justin’s story

Reducing the impact of turnover on vulnerable youth

When I joined the Boys and Girls Club of Calgary, we were going through a lot of change throughout the organization, and our turnover was really high.

Our industry has always been a challenging one for employee retention; the work is low-wage, and our workforce tends to be a younger demographic. In the year I joined, we saw 42% voluntary turnover.

We work with vulnerable young people — some of whom have been taken from their homes and are living in group homes. Building a trusting, supportive relationship with these kids is the most important part of what we do. It means that they have more stability.

The technology behind the Peakon platform is so impressive — we can see what people are saying in real-time and act on it before it affects our frontline workers.

If turnover and disengagement are high in our frontline teams, it has a direct impact on the young people we help, and the relationships they build with our employees.

This is why we started looking for how we could leverage technology to help us better engage our staff and understand what our people need. The technology behind the Peakon platform is so impressive — we can see what people are saying in real-time and act on it before it affects our frontline workers.

Building a bridge between senior leaders and frontline workers

For us, Peakon’s most impactful feature by far has been the ability for our leaders to get that real-time feedback and engage in a conversation directly with our people. Even if it’s just an acknowledgement or a comment, it says to our employees, ‘we hear you, we’re working on it’ — and it reinforces their relationship with our Senior Leadership Team.

Ensuring that our leaders at all levels had access to this feature was hugely important to us. Peakon empowers our frontline managers to share their dashboards with their teams and say, ‘here’s where we’re at’, and ask them what priorities they think they should focus on. This has created a huge amount of engagement — not only do our people have a say, but they also have buy-in.

Peakon’s most impactful feature by far has been the ability for our leaders to get that real-time feedback and engage in a conversation directly with our people.

For example, we’ve always been aware that we have higher turnover in our group homes. Through Peakon, we were able to see that our employees had concerns about wifi access. It was a very easy fix that made a huge difference. 

On an executive level, our CEO reads every single comment and does a lot of direct engagement with our employees to understand what they need and where our hotspots are so we can better support them as an organization.

Using feedback to support employee wellbeing in high-stress environments

Since we’ve implemented Peakon, our employees have had a real-time place to tell us how they feel — and we are able to see the specific actions we need to take to improve our employee wellbeing.

Some of the terms that are active in our sector are things like compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma and burnout — these are levels of stress that are similar to what police, firefighters and EMTs experience. From a corporate perspective, there’s a huge cost to turnover and short-term disability, such as when staff are on leave because of stress.

Peakon gives us the detail about our workforce that we would never have known about using a traditional survey. It has made us more open and transparent as an organisation, and has turned employee engagement from an occasional survey into a two-way conversation.

We also draw from a population of employees who have what we call ‘lived experience’, meaning they have grown up as vulnerable youth, have experience of the system or the socioeconomic factors. The nature of our work can take a huge toll on people, and this is why we want to go above and beyond to support our staff from a mental health perspective. Knowing how they’re feeling and what they need is one of the first steps to do that.

When our Peakon feedback flagged that our staff needed more support with their mental help, we were able to focus in on exactly what they needed. We ended up increasing our counseling budget — we saw this as an investment in our people and the relationships they build with our clients.

Peakon gives us the detail about our workforce that we would never have known about using a traditional survey. It has made us more open and transparent as an organisation, and has turned employee engagement from an occasional survey into a two-way conversation.