Sooner or later, life brings change for everyone. For Megan Miller, embracing change has been a lifestyle for the better part of two decades with no signs of letting up.
From Minnesota to Florida to Indiana geographically, from healthcare to fitness expert to business management and beyond in studies, and a career that has seen job titles change as fast as the weather in the Hoosier state, what Miller has lacked in stability she’s made up for in adventure, including a husband and two children to keep the merry-go-round spinning away from work.
She recently sat down to talk with GridLines about all of those things, as well as her latest incarnation as Continuous Improvement and Employee Experience Manager at Hoosier Energy
Q: The job title keeps changing, how much does what you do keep changing?
A: The same amount as the title. I took on Employee Experience Coordinator in July this year, and that was exciting because it was adding some things that had been talked about for a while, doing some new things, paying attention to some things, and then on the side I was already involved with the Continuous Improvement program.
With this change, Employee Experience and Continuous Improvement have evolved again. I’m still trying to wrap my arms around it and get a feel for what’s going on, where do we want to go, and what opportunities do we have. Hopefully, things will settle down, but the two really do go hand-in-hand when you think about it.
Q: From a Continuous Improvement standpoint, what’s the next evolution?
A: With a brand-new program, you have to rally everybody around it, you have to communicate the program, you have to get everybody trained. We did that.
Now I want to take the great foundation we built and continue. We’ve been doing continuous improvement for years. We weren’t always calling it that, but there are a number of projects you can look at in every department that were created in that spirit – How can we do things better? How can we be more efficient? How can we be more collaborative?
Things have evolved more formally, first as a strategic priority and now as the Rural Electric Continuous Improvement Program (RECIP) with shirts and pens and the whole shebang, but where I see CI going is being able to take some of the tools we have now and when work groups have an issue or a problem, they have the process that they need to improve. I would like to think the CI program could help get the right people in the room, facilitate a discussion – investigative in a way – but really help people walk through that process of what are we doing now, what would it look like to change and how can we change this.
Ultimately, it’s a very solution-oriented program. There are always things we can do better, no matter how great we are. As long as there are things to improve, continuous improvement is relevant.
Q: As far as Employee Experience goes, how is it different than traditional Human Resources?
A: It’s all about making Hoosier Energy a better place to work. How can we keep improving employee experiences? There’s not an easy answer to that and it’s not a one-size-fits-all, but there are some overarching themes there.
Employee Experience is related to HR and in this role, I’m collaborating with HR on a lot of those initiatives the employee experience is opening. For example, onboarding. Revamping the onboarding process is a big deal since other than the interview and offer, it’s the start of someone’s journey at Hoosier. We could call employee experience onboarding-to-offboarding, just to keep it simplistic. The journey employees go through and all the touchpoints that fall along that path, a good number of them have to do with HR from payroll and benefits to training and education, but it’s not exclusive to HR.
Improving the employee experience is not done by one person. It’s not even done by one department. It takes people shifting their mindset and everyone being willing to do things differently – consider that what might’ve worked for you might not work for the next person.
Also look at the fact that what people want in a job, want in the workplace has changed. We need to adapt to that. This is bigger than a one-person or one-department effort. That’s how employee experience is different than just HR.
Q: How much have the changes caused by COVID-19 factored into employee experience?
A: I could probably talk for a couple of hours about all the reasons why I think this position and paying special attention to this is important. There are all the obvious changes COVID-19 brought. Many of us now have a flexible work arrangement, but not all of our employees do. There’s an issue. How do you balance and how do you communicate with people who are able to work from home all the time versus people who are not necessarily looking at their email or their phone?
There are also many things we can’t see, and that can be hard for people to articulate. Part of being in a workplace is experiencing inclusiveness and belonging, and that is harder to come by, harder to practice. Even managers have asked, “How do I manage people in an environment like this?” and we need to be able to help with that and talk about the hard things. It’s addressing the things you can see and addressing the things you can’t see.
Q: The job market in general has changed with people’s expectations too, right?
A: Expectations have changed, and there is more diversity in the workforce today than ever before, beginning with more generations. We’ve got four generations in the workplace right now, so what all of those generations want and their experience of work, how they were brought up, how they want to be communicated with, their outlook – everything is so different. We need to learn how to be successful together. Hoosier didn’t use to have a lot of turnover. That has changed. I wouldn’t say we have a lot, but it has increased. The landscape of the industry has changed and the pace of change is different, which are external factors outside of Hoosier that make this position necessary as well.
Q: What led you down the path to Hoosier Energy?
A: My undergraduate degree is in exercise science. I wanted to be a doctor when I was younger, then took chemistry in college and it weeded me out. But I always had a fascination with our bodies and physical health. How are we able to do what we do?
I thought I was going to work in the fitness/health/wellness industry, then realized after not many years I was more interested in people themselves and on a larger scale, what motivates people. Why in the same situation are each of these people behaving differently? I started to be interested in people on a different level.
While working for a hospital in Florida, I got my master’s degree in business. I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I wanted to keep my options open. I had gone from Minnesota to Florida to Indiana. We (husband, two sons and two dogs) live in Ellettsville, where my husband is from, so when we first moved here, I had these two degrees and didn’t want to do fitness but didn’t know what to do, so I floundered for a little while. I did property management for a little bit but ended up with a job as an on-site contractor at Hoosier nine years ago, right after my first son was born. I actually had my interview for the job a week before I gave birth. I was … huge. Technically I was working for Hoosier Energy’s benefits advisor as an on-site wellness coordinator.
Q: How did you get from wellness to employee experience and continuous improvement?
Initially, I was creating a program and delivering education sessions and challenges for people to do, because I was passionate about fitness, wellness, being healthy and helping people enjoy life. But throughout those four years, I was getting to know people all across the company. And I loved the people here.
I was almost ready to leave, just because I didn’t want to be in wellness anymore. Then an opportunity came open in HR, which is like, ‘Hey, I love people, can still help people, but it’s not going to be through influencing their physical health.’
I got that job and then had UKG added to my plate because I had the bandwidth to take that on. I was doing a lot of things in HR, then the Employee Experience Coordinator job came up earlier this year, which was, ‘Let’s take what you’re doing and continue to make it better, dial in on certain pieces of HR like onboarding, training and development.’ Eventually, I hope to pay more attention to mentorship and internship and get into succession planning. I see so much opportunity here for things we’re not doing that if we did do them would make a big difference. And that’s the continuous improvement mindset – always looking for opportunity and being solution-oriented. Getting people together, facilitating, collaborating.
This is by far the most excited I’ve been in the past decade. It’s been weird if you look at the evolution of titles, but I feel like this job, I know it won’t be easy, but at the end of the day I want to make Hoosier Energy a better place to work, I want people to be excited to come to work. There’s always going to be parts of your job you don’t like, I get that, but I just think taking care of our people is paramount to being a high-performing organization and to what we are as a co-op – we’re supposed to care about people, care about the community, help each other out, so these two positions embody those principles and values.