Millennials at the workplace

Motivate Millennials With a Culture of Recognition, Inspire All

Millennials are the hot topic of conversation in human resources departments today. This much talked-about but little-understood new generation is coming into its own in the workforce and will soon represent more than half of all U.S. employees. As baby boomers continue to retire, companies are facing the challenge of attracting and retaining millennials to replenish their ranks. With this backdrop, understanding the kind of corporate culture millennials desire and the forces that motivate them is key. But when you dig a little deeper, you will find that many of the same forces that motivate millennials also have a broader positive impact on your entire workforce, no matter their generation or demographic.

Millennials aren’t as different as you think

There’s been a lot of talk about how millennials are different from other generations, but the latest studies show that may not really be the case. The differences between the older and younger generations have more to do with age and life stages than with the different generational experiences they had growing up.

Millennials share many of the same long-term career goals as older workers. These include making a positive impact on their organization, helping to solve social and environmental problems, and working with diverse people. They also want to work with the best, be passionate, develop expertise and leadership capabilities, and achieve both financial security and work–life balance. In fact, only a few percentage points separate the number of millennials, gen-Xers, and baby boomers who claim these as their top goals.

That doesn’t mean that companies don’t need to adjust and evolve to attract and retain millennials; it just means that the changes they make will resonate with, and increase employee engagement among, all their employees, not just the youngest. And while there are technology solutions that can help you in this area, technology alone won’t compensate for a corporate culture that doesn’t focus on showing workers true appreciation.

What you can do to get started

If you’re a business looking to boost millennial appeal and improve overall employee engagement, consider making the following changes:

  • Emphasize a broader purpose. Create excitement around the company’s mission and purpose by connecting to broader social causes and cultural movements.
  • Encourage collaboration. Break down silos and encourage collaboration between diverse teams across your organization. Use team-building activities to help employees get to know each other and build interdepartmental connections.
  • Provide frequent feedback. Recognize contributions. Encourage employees to develop their skills and expertise by providing with training opportunities along with frequent feedback. Create a culture that recognizes and rewards achievements.
  • Provide opportunity. Look for employees who are ready to take leadership positions and give them the chance to show what they can do. Hire and promote from within rather than bringing in outside experts.
  • Reward and recognize. According to the “Happy Millennials” Employee Happiness Survey, 64% of millennials want to be recognized for personal accomplishments, but 39% of them report that their companies don’t offer any rewards or recognition. Show employees you appreciate and value their hard work by recognizing and rewarding their efforts and achievements.

Getting the most out of millennials and other generations in your workforce requires creating a culture that encourages, supports and rewards success. When you do this it will have positive ripple effect across your entire organization, regardless of generation. Download our e-book, “The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition, and learn how to use rewards and recognition to engage and motivate all your employees.

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Culture of Trust

The Currency and Culture of Trust: 5 Ways to Improve Trust Within the Workplace

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By: Bobi Seredich
Co-founder, Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence

Picture this: Your phone rings and you see the caller I.D. pop up on the screen. The little voice in your head questions, “Should I answer the call or send it straight to voicemail?” It’s understandable that we don’t always want to pick up our calls. But have you ever put yourself in the other person’s shoes and wondered how many times someone has chosen to not answer your calls?

As leaders, it’s important to get every call answered. But even more important is having the trust in your team that they will be there when you need them – and vice-versa. With one missed call, opportunities can be lost and situations addressed too late in the game. Simple things like not picking up phones calls are subtle clues in a work culture that the level of trust may not be where it should be. Reputations and relationships are formed – at a foundational level – during stressful moments when trust is either built or broken.

As leaders, not getting your team to answer calls may be a warning sign that there is something bigger going on. You have to remember that every interaction with someone is a chance to build trust, including a simple phone call. All great teams have one thing in common – trust: as defined by the ability to be vulnerable, admit weaknesses, and believe in one another. It’s extremely vital to set egos and titles aside in order to move the organization forward as a whole. Even little things like having the confidence to say “I’m sorry” is important for a team looking to build trust.

If your team has a challenge with trust, there can be big costs associated. According to famed productivity and organizational behavior expert, Stephen Covey, trust is a real and important economic factor. In his book, The Speed of Trust, Covey discusses the ‘trust tax’ and ‘trust dividend’ – if there is low trust among your team, speed decreases and cost increases as a result. If you are working in a high trust culture, there is the opposite effect, with an increase in speed and decrease in costs (in essence giving you a trust dividend). With a high trust culture, you are also creating a happier and more engaged workplace which boosts productivity. You might have great strategies and execution plans, but if you have low trust you won’t get the desired results. Keep in mind that high trust won’t save a bad strategy, but low trust will derail a good one.

According to the Edelman 2016 Trust Barometer, “Nearly one in three employees don’t trust their employer. And more than two thirds feel that CEOs are too focused on short-term performance.” What can you do differently to build trust in your company with team members and clients? You have to be willing to move away from old habits and negative attitudes to effectively change behaviors and build a healthy culture that is more proactive than reactive.

Here are 5 powerful ways to improve trust within your workplace according to the research by Stephen Covey in The Speed of TrustHere are the ‘Stop’ and ‘Start’ behaviors that promote them:

  1. Deliver results

Stop these behaviors:

  • Accepting low standards
  • Quitting or not seeing things through
  • Overreacting to setbacks
  • Making excuses
  • Saying you are too busy and swamped

Start saying:

  • “Let’s do this together!”
  • “What are the measures and how will we know? By when?”
  • “What does success look like?”
  • “How will we celebrate?”
  • “Let’s discuss our barriers to success and a Plan B.”
  1. Talk straight

Stop these behaviors:

  • Lying or deceiving
  • Hiding or covering things up
  • Beating around the bush
  • Giving upfront disclaimers
  • Withholding information

Start saying:

  • “Here’s how I see it…”
  • “I respect you and I want to talk straight.”
  • “Here is my intention…”
  • “Here are the brutal facts…”
  • “I want to be as transparent as I can.”
  1. Listen first

Stop these behaviors:

  • Speaking first
  • Interrupting
  • Thinking about what you are going to say next
  • Multi-tasking during conversations
  • Pretending to listen

Start saying:

  • “What I hear you saying is…”
  • “Let me make sure I understand.”
  • “Let’s clarify…”
  • “What’s your perspective?”
  • “What do you mean? How are you feeling?”
  1. Right wrongs

Stop these behaviors:

  • Taking things so personally
  • Making assumptions
  • Justifying bad behavior
  • Denying you made mistake
  • Covering up anything
  • Procrastinating

Start saying:

  • “I made a mistake. I’m sorry.”
  • “I was wrong.”
  • “This is my fault. It won’t happen again.”
  • “I’m truly sorry for how my actions impacted you.”
  • “What can I do to make this right?”
  • “Here is what I can commit to doing moving forward…”
  1. Show appreciation

Stop these behaviors:

  • Assuming people think you care as a reason not to show it
  • Micromanaging others and their work
  • Withholding trust
  • Confusing accountability with trust

Start saying:

  • “I truly appreciate you and what you did.”
  • “Here is what I appreciate about you…”
  • “Thank you.”
  • “How are you doing? Tell me about you.”
  • “I believe in you. I know you can do this.”
  • “How can I support you?”
  • “What are your thoughts about this?”

You have the ability to rebuild trust and inspire others in your organization to do the same. Trust may be thought of as a soft skill set, but it delivers bottom line results. Please join me at the 7th annual Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) Conference from September 13-14 where I will be sharing more about the currency and culture of trust. Learn more about the activities happening at ACE this year and find out how to register by reading the latest event blog post. Can’t wait to see you there!

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About Bobi Seredich
Bobi Seredich Headshot

Bobi Seredich is a recognized speaker, author, trainer and successful entrepreneur specializing in leadership development. She has spent over 20 years of her career dedicated to creating, directing, writing and presenting leadership programs for top companies in the U.S. and around the world.

Bobi is the co-founder of the Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence and Managing Partner of EQ Inspirations. In 2001, she founded Equanimity, Inc. also known as EQ Speakers – a speakers’ bureau and leadership training company. It fast became a top speaker bureau that booked hundreds of speakers with large Fortune 500 clients. EQ Speakers was sold in 2012 and continues to be a leader in the industry.

Her book, Courage Does Not Always Roar – Ordinary Women with Extraordinary Courage, was published by Simple Truths in the spring of 2010. The book is a collection of her experiences and stories of women who have had the courage to overcome very difficult life events.

Her passion is to guide individuals and organizations to a higher performance level through her own business knowledge, inspirational stories and leadership emotional intelligence training. Bobi lives in Phoenix, AZ with her husband and 4-year old twins, Alex and Gia.

 

employee communication

Social media feeds contribute to meaningful recognition

Hi there, A Advisor,

I’ve been looking into some employee recognition programs for my company, and I notice that some of them resemble social media sites; they even have a newsfeed like Facebook or Twitter. If a recognition program operates like social media sites, I don’t see how my employees will take it seriously—won’t it just be a game? I want my employees to engage with our company’s values, and I don’t want them to recognize frivolously. What’s the benefit?

Sincerely,

All Work, No Play

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Successful Performance Reviews

6 Tips to Tackle Performance Reviews for Managers and Employees

Employee performance reviews are often awkward and uncomfortable. Feedback, whether positive or critical, can be difficult to deliver or accept. Yet providing feedback to employees is an important way for a company’s leadership to guide the organization. Employees also want feedback; employee engagement increases when employees get more feedback, more frequently; and, they’re less likely to quit.

Tips for Managers

  1. Review expectations. Take a look at the feedback employees received last year, along with their self-appraisals and development plans.
  2. Evaluate performance. Think about how well they’ve done that work. Use your own opinion of work you’ve seen, plus updates from the employee, comments from their coworkers and input from other managers and other departments. Take note of any awards or recognitions the employee received.
  3. Plan for next year. Identify successes as well as opportunities for improvement, and set objectives for the next year. Outline a development plan that will help achieve employee success.
  4. Conduct the review. Set aside enough time for a thorough conversation. Allow the employee to respond and react to your feedback. Make sure the employee agrees with the goals you set for the next year.
  5. Follow up. Don’t file the review away until next year’s annual review. Check in with employees throughout the year to make sure they’re making progress on their development plan. Take the opportunity to offer employee recognition and rewards for improvements and achievements throughout the year.
  6. Consider continuous feedback. A new approach taking root in forward-looking organizations like GE and throughout silicon valley is known as “continuous feedback”. Continuous feedback favors frequent check-ins throughout the year over stressful annual reviews and allows you to identify potential problems and address sources of dissatisfaction or disengagement quickly, so they don’t linger and affect performance.

Tips for Employees

  1. Review expectations. Look over the expectations that were established last year, based on your job description, review and development plan. Review the work you achieved as well as the difficulties experienced along the way; this is important because managers often see only the finished work product and don’t understand the challenges that had to be overcome to produce it.
  2. Evaluate performance. Consider what you did well during the year and where you fell short, as well as what you liked working on and what you didn’t enjoy.
  3. Plan for next year. Consider your long-term career goals and what skills you would like to develop over the next year to help move you along that path.
  4. Participate in the review. Take advantage of this time with your managers. If you disagree with their assessment, share your opinion respectfully. Make sure you agree with the development plan and goals for next year.
  5. Follow up. Don’t file the review away until next year’s annual review. Take action on the development plan, and let your manager know how things are going throughout the year. Treat your manager’s time as a resource that can help you achieve career success.
  6. Embrace and encourage continuous feedback. If your manager and HR department are open to it, encourage and embrace continuous feedback and foster open lines of communication between you and your manager all throughout the year.

Because reviews feel uncomfortable, both managers and employees often simply hurry through them, just to get them over with. Taking that approach technically meets corporate requirements to conduct a review, but it loses all the benefits. When managers and employees take time to prepare before the review, have an open and honest discussion, and then use the feedback to make real changes, performance reviews become a key factor in increasing employee motivation and driving employee and business success.

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The State of Employee Engagement

The Current State of Employee Engagement and How to Make It Better

How happy and engaged are our employees? It’s an important question that every business should want to know the answer to. We hate to break it to you, but according to our latest employee survey, 51% of employees are not happy at work. What does that mean for your business? The less happy and engaged your employees are, the less productive your business will be as a whole. Start focusing on how to make your employees more engaged for better business outcomes. Take at a look at the current state of employee engagement and see what you can do to make it better.

Focus on your mission and vision
Greatness Infographic Mission and Vision

It’s surprising that a whopping 61% of employees don’t know their company’s mission. A mission and vision statement is essentially a summary of the aims, values and direction of your company. Knowing and embracing the company’s mission helps provide employees with a sense of purpose and with motivation to succeed. But if your employees aren’t aligned to, or even aware of, your company’s mission and vision, how can you expect them to move forward as a whole towards the same goals? Focus on your company’s mission and vision, and start strategizing on how to build more awareness of those core, guiding principles within your organization.

Emphasize shared cultural values
Greatness Infographic Culture

Not only are a majority of employees unaware of their company’s mission and vision, but apparently they are also oblivious to their company’s cultural values. Values are important because they help define company culture and reflect what an organization ultimately cares about. You want your employees to embrace your company’s values because by having a personal and emotional connection to what they do, they gain a sense of importance and motivation behind their work. But as our research shows, shared culture can only go so far towards improving overall levels of engagement.

Encourage leadership to nurture trust
Greatness Infographic Leadership Statistic

We’ve all heard the saying, “People join companies, but leave bad managers.” One constant that remains as a contributing factor to employee disengagement is poor leadership. Only 45% of employees trust their company’s leadership and half don’t expect to be in their current job just one year from now. This represents an obvious disconnect between employees and their work, and especially between employees and leadership. According to a Careerbuilder.com study cited in a Wharton management blog, 76% of full-time workers, while not actively looking for a new job, would leave their current workplace if the right opportunity came along. Don’t lose great talent because of a lack of trust in leadership and in their vision for the future. Reassure your employees that your company and leadership team cares about them, as both workers and human beings. Put the emphasis on showing them respect and trust in what they do.

Reward and recognize employees
Greatness Infographic Rewards and Recognition

Results clearly show that employees have a deep desire for employee recognition. A massive 93% hope to be recognized at least quarterly, if not more. Why is it important to recognize employees for their hard work? According to the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program, employees who feel valued by their employer are 60% more likely to be motivated to do their very best at work. A quick recognition, whether from management or a peer, goes a long way and can boost employee engagement by up to 22%. Start recognizing and rewarding your employees for jobs well done and witness the positive impact it makes. Today’s rewards and recognition programs go way beyond tired old plaques and paperweights and should be based on a social media model to encourage the highest levels of adoption and active use. They should link to employees’ existing social networks and other common communications platforms like Slack and Jabber, offer point-based rewards so employees can choose items that are meaningful to them, and most importantly, they should serve to reinforce company values and encourage desired business results.

To learn more, download The Greatness Gap: The State of Employee Disengagement.

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About the Author
Kellie WongKellie Wong is the Social Media and Blog Manager for Achievers. She manages Achievers’ social media presence and
The Engage Blog, including the editorial calendars for both. In addition to writing blog content for The Engage Blog, she also manages and maintains relationships with 20+ guest blog contributors and edits every piece of content that gets published. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.

 

Employee Experience

Beyond Employee Engagement: 6 Tips to Improve the Employee Experience

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“There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow. It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.” – Jack Welch, former CEO of GE

The recent history of work has been characterized by increasing levels of automation, greater demands on workers’ time and an overall breaking down of the walls between work and home life. But in our race towards organizational productivity we’ve added so many layered and complicated processes – along with countless devices, tools and platforms – that we’ve ended up completely dehumanizing the workplace. Employees are often termed as mere resources or just another headcount on spreadsheets; they’ve become easily replaceable in the eyes of poor leadership.

This begs the question, what do our jobs mean to us? The reality is that only a small number of people believe that our work drives our lives and defines who we are. The majority consider our jobs to be a means to an end, rather than an end in itself – and justifiably so. It is this silent majority of the workforce that we need to keep engaged by improving and humanizing their experience in the workplace. It is time we start thinking beyond engagement and try to learn what people really want from their job and the workplace.

A decade ago there was a huge push by major businesses to concentrate on customers and gather and act on their feedback. CX, or customer experience, is the sum of all touch points that the customer has with an organization. Starting with Awareness, the first step on the customer journey, then Research, Consideration, Purchase and finally, Service and Support (or some variation thereof), CX encompasses the entire lifecycle of a customer’s experience. Companies spend millions of dollars on nurturing their customers because they know that nurturing and subsequently up-selling to current customers is cheaper than acquiring new ones.

Similarly, EX, or employee experience, is the sum total of the interactions employees have with their organization – from recruitment, to onboarding and beyond. EX is measured by the individual’s experience at all points of contact as measured against the individual’s expectations, and has an effect on engagement, productivity, happiness, personal development, and advocacy. Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are hands down more productive, satisfied, and fulfilled with their job. It’s simple: more satisfied employees equate to more satisfied customers, which leads to more revenue for your business. Attrition is expensive and it is time we start focusing on EX in order to make people want to stay and be part of something bigger than themselves.

Conventional wisdom has linked an employee’s engagement and overall experience to the interactions they have with their immediate manager and the group of people they work with on a daily basis. While that is generally true, we thought it would be helpful to compile a list of the top 6 ways you can go beyond engagement, focus on the full employee experience, and humanize your workplace.
 
1. Open and transparent interactions

open and transparent

In a world where technology has transformed our most basic forms of communication and connection, workplaces have struggled to keep up. Today’s employees seek workplaces where openness is the default for communication, where their voice is heard, and where they feel significant, connected and recognized for their contributions. To create such an environment, employers need to foster a culture where people feel empowered to share feedback, suggestions and recognitions. In this way, employers can magnify the positive interactions among their employees and give senior leadership a view into how their workforce interacts with each other and the amazing work that comes as a result. But to begin with, employers must remember that their employees are not just numbers on a spreadsheet or in an HR system – they are the heart of the company culture.

2. Flexible working hours

flexible working hours

There’s been a lot said about organizations needing to offer more flexible hours to employees and the ability to work remotely. We can’t stress this enough. People have lives outside of work and the easiest way for an organization to show their employees that they care about their well-being and work/life balance is to offer a flexible schedule. That being said, you can always suggest core availability hours, say 11 AM to 3 PM, where you can expect them to be available for collaborating with their teams. If you trust your employees to make the right choice, they will make it 9 times out of 10.

3. Gamification

gamificationAs demonstrated by the recent Pokémon Go craze, or the popularity of Fitbits and “counting your steps,” it’s clear that gamification is a powerful motivational force. What scores of fitness gurus, gym sales people and even spousal encouragement couldn’t force people to do despite years of trying, Pokémon Go has been able to achieve in a matter of weeks. It has managed to get users outside and walking. So how can we bring gamification to the employee experience to produce long-term engagement? The key is to not just to rely on once a year employee engagement events or retreats to magically increase engagement. Bring the gamification into the day-to-day. Encourage little competitions amongst teams or departments and reward achievements continually. Have mini events every month to bring people together. Encourage employees to compete both against each other and their own prior results to keep them motivated. Gamification builds the company culture and is just another fun activity for employees to look forward to and participate in.

4. Recognition and rewards

rewards and recognitionEngaging employees is no easy feat. Recent Gallup surveys have showed that employee engagement has held steady at only 30% of the US workforce for the last few years, trending slightly upwards over the last couple of years. But a proven method for improving engagement levels does exist. Dr. Bob Nelson, best-selling author and a leading authority on employee recognition, has found that, “Organizations that have a ‘culture of recognition’ have employees who report they are five times more likely to feel valued, seven times more likely to stay with the company, six times more likely to invest in the company, and eleven times more likely to feel completely committed in their jobs, which has been shown to account for 57 percent greater effort on the part of employees.” And according to the Achievers 2015 Workforce Survey (revealed in our Getting to Greatness: The Route to Employee Engagement infographic), 57% of employees don’t feel recognized for their progress at work while 93% hope to be recognized at least quarterly, it not more. So don’t miss the opportunity to recognize and reward great performance at work. Through the right rewards and recognition program, tied to real business goals, companies are able to see a direct impact on revenue, retention and customer satisfaction. The value of recognition and engagement is stronger than ever, with a 1% increase in employee engagement equating to an additional .6% growth in sales. But it isn’t just about the bottom line, it’s about making employees feel valued, happy and engaged.

5. Eliminate email

eliminate emailThis will most likely be the most controversial suggestion I make, but I am not alone in recommending that employers try to eliminate email, or at least scale back its use as the primary means of communication within teams. There are a slew of group messaging and collaboration tools like Slack, HipChat and Jabber that empower teams to have effective real-time communications. Leaders can join or subscribe to conversations that they are interested in rather than having to be copied on every email sent by their team members. This is one of the many ways that leaders can encourage employees to get their work done more efficiently while not being too invasive and showing trust in their workforce. Creating a natural, trusting atmosphere for employees goes further than you think.

 

6. Pay parity

pay parityFinally, it is critical that organizations pay their employees fairly. For many years it was clear that there existed large disparities in compensation based on an employee’s gender, ethnicity or personality type. Do not compensate two people who are doing the same work different salaries just because you can, or because they won’t ask. Be fair. For far too long companies relied on people not talking about their salaries with co-workers as cover for unequal treatment. Equal and fair pay is not only ethically sound, it is sound business practice. When employees know they are getting paid fairly they will be more engaged and stay with your company for the long haul, because it’s a place where they feel valued and appreciated.

Based on a recent Gallup poll, an estimated $11 Billion is lost annually due to employee turnover and 71% of the workforce around the world is disengaged. Employee experience is the next business frontier that needs to be fully explored and optimized, and the best way to start improving the employee experience is by making your workforce feel appreciated, recognized, connected and empowered to make a difference.

Are you ready to transform your workplace by focusing on the full employee experience? Download our white paper The Greatness Gap: The State of Employee Disengagement to learn more about how critical employee engagement is for your business and what you can do to improve EX today.

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Amit K. HeadshotAmit Kaura (@tweets_bitter) is a technology leader at Achievers and is helping build the next generation Employee Success Platform. Achievers’ employee recognition and rewards platform provides digital systems for sharing recognitions, feedback, and suggestions. The platform allows you to humanize the workplace by digitizing and thus magnifying the positive interactions among the workforce.