Andrew Block Knows Success Starts with Team Members

CHRO Andrew Block on why a people-first approach is foundational to ABM Industries’ success and team member experience

Andrew Block, executive vice president and chief human resources officer at ABM Industries, has had an impressively diverse career history. With a celebrated twenty-five-year professional tenure, Block has worked in industries such as banking, restaurants, professional services, tech, and more, garnering valuable CHRO experience along the way. Prior to joining ABM, Block served in other large-scale companies such as Buffalo Wild Wings, C.H. Robinson, and Wells Fargo where he developed the skills to establish and lead sizable teams to success.

Andrew Block ABM Industries
Andrew Block, ABM IndustriesPhoto Courtesy of ABM Industries Inc.

Block’s HR expertise not only makes him an experienced leader but also a knowledgeable one. Over the years, he has identified the critical components of attracting and retaining top talent as well as the importance of talent planning and organizational effectiveness.

Profile magazine spoke with Block about his efforts at ABM and how a people-first approach is imperative to an organization’s success, now more than ever in the midst of the pandemic and racial injustices.

What brought you to ABM?

When CEO Scott Salmirs and I first discussed the need to evolve ABM, I was very excited at the prospect of helping to improve the experience and culture for our 140,000 team members. The need to improve ABM’s processes, data, and infrastructure was apparent, and, as a people-focused business, the need to ensure a culture that prioritized our team members was tremendously apparent, too. So, the organization itself and the opportunities it presented were very appealing.

Though I am only two years into my journey with ABM, I am excited about the progress we have made, and it is reflected in our results. At the end of FY2019, we reported that we grew revenue by more than 30 percent organically and acquisitively, expanded our margins by almost 40 percent, and increased earnings by nearly 30 percent. Just as importantly, our overall team member and client satisfaction has shown marked improvements.

What are some key initiatives you and your team have spearheaded?

It’s hard not to mention our efforts in response to COVID-19 and racial injustices, as they have naturally taken priority for ABM and companies around the world. The impact of the pandemic on our clients and team members has been substantial. As a leading provider of facility solutions, the services our team members provide has been elevated to be mission critical. It used to be that much of our workforce was invisible, but today we are visibly on the frontlines helping to ensure a clean, safe environment in the spaces where you work, shop, and learn.

“Our people-first approach is the cornerstone of what we do and provides a foundational approach on how we treat our team members.”

Ensuring our team members’ safety has always been our number one focus, but it has taken on even more importance during the pandemic. Last year, we had implemented a new HR operating model that enabled efficiencies and allowed us to put a greater emphasis on our frontline team members. This has translated to improved processes, team member training and empowerment and has been critical throughout COVID-19.

Diversity and cultural inclusion have also always been an important part of the ABM story. But this is not enough. The racial injustices that have been played out on a global stage have made us take a hard look at what more we can do. We have done listening sessions, stood up a Culture and Inclusion Council and are identifying champions to develop organizational priorities that nurture an inclusive workplace.

What is a people-first approach and how is it paramount to the success of any organization?

What we do is deploy a highly skilled workforce to take care of the people, places, and spaces that matter to our clients and their customers. Every person is critical, and we need to be able to enable a very large and growing workforce. Our people-first approach is the cornerstone of what we do and provides a foundational approach on how we treat our team members.

Our people are a big part of our competitive advantage. People need to feel that what they do is important and critical, and our philosophy goes beyond the basics. This comes to life through our mission: to make a difference every person, every day. I believe any organization, ultimately, will provide better customer experiences, and deliver stronger returns for shareholders, with a people-first approach.

Why should HR leaders focus on people?

In 2019 the Business Roundtable released a revised statement that corporate purpose should fundamentally support all stakeholders. The goal was to affirm that employees, clients, and communities are critical stakeholders as well. By ensuring that you consider the needs of those stakeholders, you will have a healthier organization and, by default, improved growth and profitability.

Over the past few years, Harvard and other universities published reports that analyzed the financial performance of companies with a purpose-based philosophy. The results clearly show those that do perform better in the long-term and provide greater shareholder value.

In my view, it all starts with our team members.

Editor’s Note: This feature was updated on 7/31/20.