Whiting is committed to the personal and professional development of its employees. Through a comprehensive approach we empower our employees to develop the skills they need to perform their current jobs while developing their leadership acumen for future opportunities. We understand a greater level of knowledge, skill and ability related to job responsibilities benefits the employee and Whiting. We work to support our employees by offering continuing education, training and seminar participation, as well generous tuition reimbursement opportunities.
In 2018, Whiting embarked on a companywide leadership training program, WLL LEAD. This program is designed to increase the leadership acumen of our managers and executives. The nearly 90 employees engaged in WLL Lead this year represent the top 12 percent of Whiting’s workforce. Employees in the program receive classroom training every six weeks and most employees are also paired with an executive coach, whom they meet with one-on-one every month. The strategy for WLL Lead is to foster more effective leadership throughout the organization to help drive increased employee engagement. The impact of the program at its half-way mark is substantial. We are seeing an immediate difference in leadership within our teams and an impact on how Whiting conducts business. In addition to the WLL LEAD program, Whiting implemented a new Learning Management System (LMS). We are sourcing content to populate our LMS. This content will cover topics from technical training to soft skills. Furthermore, our managers will be able to use this tool to increase employee engagement and productivity.
Whiting continuously shares information and seeks feedback from our employees about our business, culture and opportunities for improvement. We utilize a range of tools to help us engage with our employees including performance reviews, surveys, town halls and small group meetings with the CEO. We also utilize the company intranet and safety meetings in the field to share information and connect with employees in a timely and meaningful manner.
A big change in 2017 impacted the way we engage with our employees. In November 2017, Brad Holly became Whiting’s CEO. Mr. Holly is a progressive, people-centric CEO, committed to improving productivity through increased employee engagement and collaboration. Immediately Mr. Holly opened new channels of communication with our employees. Within one week of starting, Mr. Holly visited all Whiting locations and conducted a town hall meeting to introduce himself and form relationships with employees. He conducts town hall meetings quarterly and uses them to discuss the most significant information at the time as well as answer questions from employees. Also, for five months, he held weekly meetings with different groups of no more than 10 employees. Named “WLL Calls,” these small meetings allowed Mr. Holly to meet nearly every employee in the corporate office and understand the issues most significant to them.
In 2018, Whiting conducted an employee engagement survey facilitated by Lockton. Over 90% of Whiting employees responded to this survey, which is substantially greater than most returns. Employees provided comments and suggestions relating to the improvement of our culture and company. The survey results are not publicly available, however, Whiting has made significant improvements across the company based on our employee feedback. Throughout the year, we have improved our benefits plan, updated our work hours to be more flexible, made improvements to our communication strategy and provided enhanced training opportunities. We redesigned our employee appraisal process to improve performance evaluations, incentivize personal and professional achievements, and reward contributors for organizational accomplishments.
Whiting will continue to survey its employees to ensure appropriate engagement. Whiting understands that employee engagement changes rapidly and that we must also be dynamic in our approach as it relates to overall employee engagement.
Business results are driven by leaders working through their people. At Whiting, we know leadership skills can and must be developed. In 2018, we created a leadership program, WLL LEAD, for 90 leaders at our Denver headquarters.
In WLL LEAD, participants are challenged to take full responsibility for leading themselves first. The program then assumes that leadership is grounded in highly-productive working relationships with all stakeholders, from bosses, to peers, to direct reports and beyond. Navigating these sometimes challenging relationship dynamics is also a key focus of the program.
The program consists of highly robust content with a blend of both classroom training, practical homework and one-on-one coaching. Feedback to-date indicates that participants have fully engaged the program with employees at all levels noting the increased positive impact on business dynamics.