leadership and colorful cups

Leaders Who Drink Their Own Koolaid

“Leaders are surrounded by liars.” Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries

 It really doesn’t amaze me how some leaders come to feel they are a cut above. After all, who can blame them? As they climb the organizational ladder, the probability that they’re getting honest feedback rapidly diminishes. Certainly, those above them may still be candid, but those on the lower rungs, not so much. Few employees will risk calling out their bosses on their bad behavior or inadequate efforts…and this is not good for the leader or the company’s bottom- line.

The Slippery Slope

The usual case is that remarks from those working beneath a leader tend towards the positive. Flattery, ego stroking or careful wording – whatever an employee feels is necessary to keep their job – is the route most take. Whether it be due to a socially ingrained deference to authority or out of fear of risking one’s job, most leaders simply do not get the feedback they need to become great at enlisting the best from their people. It’s easy to understand how, over time, a leader can completely lose touch with what people are really thinking.

Know Anyone Like This?

Senior leaders who have evolved double standards abound. For example, they might expect their team to return their phone calls or emails promptly, while they themselves no longer feel compelled to do the same. They may also come to expect much from others in the way of effort but they themselves don’t feel the need to break much of a sweat.

Due to the lack of honest upward-focused feedback, a leader may also have expectations disconnected from the reality of available resources. I’ve observed many situations where overworked, but committed employees, give it their all but still fall short of their boss’s requests. All this because no one wants to appear a ‘complainer’ or of somehow ‘not being up to the task’ by pointing out resource shortcomings.

All this is both de-motivating and de-moralizing for employees. If people don’t feel that their boss is behaving with mutual respect and accountability, they’ll eventually head for the hills.

The Elephant in the Room

Of all the reasons people leave companies, having a leader who they have a poor relationship with them tops the list. According to Gallup, 50% of employees who quit cite their immediate manager as the reason.

While someone may initially be drawn towards a particular company because of the compensation, mission or growth opportunities, they most often leave because they don’t have a good relationship with their boss and not because of the pull of better offers elsewhere.

It soon becomes very clear why leaders need to get honest feedback along the way. Not only is it necessary to retain their top talent, but to do otherwise is to throw money out the door.

Losing good employees costs time, talent and money. The stakes are fairly high when replacing a team member. The total cost of replacing an employee can be anywhere from thousands of dollars to 1.5 – 2x their annual salary. It involves much more than placing a new ad.

The real cost of losing an employee includes these impacts:

  • The cost of recruiting including the advertising, interviewing, screening and hiring.
  • The cost of onboarding a new hire including training and time from their new manager can be Over the course of 2-3 years a business may have to invest 10-20 percent of a new hire’s salary, or more, for training.
  • Lost productivity – it may take a new hire 1 – 2 years to get up to the speed and efficiency of an existing employee.
  • Lost engagement and cultural impact – other team members who see high turnover tend to disengage and lose their will to give their all. Both productivity and customer service can take a dive. Morale can also easily slide downwards…quickly.

The elephant in the room is the fact that many companies simply do not have programs in place to train their leaders in the primary foundation of leadership: knowing how to get the best from others.

Give Leaders Support…The Kind They Really Need

All too often leaders are thrust into their new positions with minimal support. They are not given the training or feedback that it takes to engage and get the best thinking from their team…and this is bad for business. This baptism by fire scenario pushes new leaders to fall back on what they’ve seen modeled or may understand as ‘leadership’.

One need only cast a brief glance towards the uncivil discourse within our political realm to see extraordinarily harmful examples of bullying and coercive leadership. But bad examples are everywhere. There are many examples of ‘command and control’ leadership styles throughout industry. This is why all leaders, both new and experienced, deserve and require training in how to do it differently.

Companies need to teach and coach their leaders to take an active role in building engagement plans with their employees. They should hold leaders accountable, track their progress, and ensure they continuously focus on engaging their teams. A leader’s ability to engage their teams should be part of their formal performance review process.

Research also makes clear that direct supervisors are the main components underlying how much discretionary effort employees deliver to their jobs. An engaged employee puts their heart and shoulders into their work because they want to. This is where all of the magic happens. It is this extra effort that makes the difference between acceptable productivity and stellar productivity, a mediocre product and a superb one, adequate customer service and outstanding customer service.

Where does it start?

Perhaps the most important piece in all of this is to realize that it may start with you. Take time to reflect on your own behaviors. Are you part of the problem or the solution?

If you are a leader that has elevated yourself above your team, it may mean that you are drunk on your own kool-aid. This behavior is not helping to engage your team, produce the results you want, or work through the issues that you need to face.

Being a cut above is not helping anyone. Plus, kool-aid really is for kids.

Do you want to learn more about employee engagement? Check out this recent analyst insights paper: “2018 Employee Engagement Survey: HR Professionals Share Their Advice for a More Engaged Workforce.”

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About the Author
Doug BrockwayDoug never colored within the lines as a child and believes in the healing power of dark chocolate. Despite being allergic to neck ties, he’s passionate about business. A Certified Executive Coach with global experience, he teaches leading edge approaches that help organizations create cultures that drive engagement, productivity and innovation, giving leaders and teams the skills and experience to contribute to the business in high impact ways. More information about his firm can be found at www.brockwayservices.com.

 

 

employee engagement

6 Mind-Blowing Stats on Employee Engagement

If you’ve been casual about the topic of employee engagement or figured that your employees are probably doing fine (because you’d know if something wasn’t working, right?), it’s time to take a second look. Employee engagement can seem like a vague topic since it doesn’t show up as a line item on your end-of-quarter financials, but it actually has a significant impact on how nicely those numbers stack up. Here’s a handful of employee engagement stats we’ve gathered to capture your attention:

1. Over Half the Workforce is Actively Job-Hunting

Gallup published their State of the American Workforce report, which reflects the responses of over 195,000 American employees across every industry. This important study – the largest of its kind – found that 16 percent of American workers are actively disengaged while another 51 percent are “just there.” What’s more, 51 percent of those lackadaisical or disengaged workers are busily checking their inboxes and social media networks for better opportunities. And given today’s improved employment climate, the more talented among them are aware that they’re in high demand. 63 percent – almost two-thirds – of Gallup’s respondents expressed some confidence that they’d be able to find a job as good as or better than their current one.

2. 72 Percent Ranked Employee Recognition as Having the Greatest Impact on Engagement

A recent Achievers report revealed companies identified recognition as having the greatest impact on employee engagement. Furthermore, companies that invest in social recognition see an improvement in stock prices and NPS scores, as well as individual performance of employees. With 60% of companies planning to increase their investment in social recognition technology, don’t lose sight of the power behind employee recognition and its positive impact on employee engagement.

3. Businesses with Engaged Workers Have Double the Odds of Success

When Gallup researchers compared overall metrics of businesses in the top quartile of employee engagement with those unfortunate companies in the bottom quartile, the contrast was stark. The high-performing companies simply shone, with 28 percent less shrinkage, 41 percent lower absentee rates, 40 percent fewer quality defects and between 25 and 59 percent less turnover. When all these factors are merged into one unified picture, the result is a doubling of financial success for companies who know how to build a positive work culture.

4. Highly Engaged Businesses Are 70 Percent Safer

As Gallup examined the characteristics of the best-performing workplaces, its researchers noticed a big difference in safety statistics. Workplaces with the highest levels of employee engagement were much safer: They experienced 70 percent fewer employee safety incidents and (for healthcare providers) 58 percent fewer patient safety mishaps. The study concluded that these healthier environments result from the simple fact that engaged workers pay more attention to what’s happening around them. They’re not busy wishing they were somewhere else, checking their phones or nursing grudges. Instead, they’re watching what happens and communicating with co-workers about safety issues.

5. Disengaged Workers Have a 60 Percent Higher Rate of General Errors

In Achievers’ white paper, we learn a lot about the high cost of employee disengagement. Did you know disengaged workers have a 60% higher rate of general errors? And disengagement costs the U.S. economy $550 billion per year? It’s important to address any signs of disengagement before it becomes a larger issue. A great way to address disengagement right away is with an always-on, active listening interface that gathers feedback, asks questions, and gives updates, next actions, and ideas to both employees and managers to impact engagement right away.

6. Companies with Engaged Employees Have Five Times Higher Shareholder Returns

Research published in Business2Community shows the very material effect that your employee engagement has on that all-important bottom line. While you probably care about employee happiness for its own sake, you have to be able to present some clear figures and stats when you’re explaining the value of investing in HR technology to folks in the C-suite. They’ll be impressed to hear that shareholder returns measured over a five-year period were five times higher at companies whose workers reported being engaged. Also, it’s valuable to note that organizations with engaged employees outperform those with low employee engagement by 202%.

The key to keeping workers engaged isn’t a deep secret. Proven pathways exist to increasing your employees’ sense of personal well-being and dedication to their jobs. To learn more, access Achievers white paper: “2018 Employee Engagement Survey: HR Professionals Share Their Advice For a More Engaged Workforce.

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employee engagement measurement

3 Ways to Improve How You Measure Employee Engagement

Employee engagement has been one of the cornerstones of successful HR management for the last decade. Measuring engagement is like putting a thermometer into various parts of the organization to get a pulse of how your employees are doing. It is vital that you accurately measure employee engagement in order to gather insight on your workforce and learn how to improve your engagement strategy moving forward. Below, I dive into three ways to improve employee engagement measurement.

  1. Relating Engagement to Business Impact

One of the most underused opportunities in engagement surveys is the ability to relate what you measure to business outcomes. Engagement is often seen as a goal in itself. When one or multiple questions in an engagement survey have a particularly low score, the organization focuses on improving these scores. However, do you ask yourself, “How is our engagement score impacting the rest of the business?” For example, how does engagement lead to employee retention, to financial performance for your salespeople, or to your customer service level? Most of us in HR expect a relationship between engagement and these outcomes but it can be tricky to quantify this level.

Getting that one low score up from a score of three to four out of five is rewarding in itself but can you imagine how rewarding it will be to executives when you connect that score to the impact it has on the rest of the business? This is also a common critique of employees and front-line managers on the concept of engagement. Engagement might be very important for a few weeks, but afterwards no action is actually taken to address it. By relating engagement to business outcomes through people analytics, it is easier to create an urgency for improving engagement.

An example is Best Buy, a large electronics store chain, that tried to relate employee engagement to store profitability. They found that a 0.1% increase in employee engagement resulted in a $100,000 increase in profit per store. These kinds of insights help to drive better and more informed decision-making.

  1. Pulse Surveys

A trend that has been emerging in the past few years is the concept of pulse surveys. Traditionally, organizations had every employee fill out long-winded surveys once a year. These days, it is possible to measure the same using very brief surveys that are only sent to parts of the organization.

Pulse surveys enable HR to ‘take the pulse’ of the organization at different times throughout the year on a regular basis. Traditional surveys might extensively ask about a wide variety of topics, whereas pulse surveys only include a few questions, providing employees a quick and easy way to submit feedback.

An area where a lot of organizations, and particularly those in HR, can still improve on is the way they ask questions in surveys. Take a good look at what questions resonate most and least with employees, and use that insight in your next survey strategy.

In a recent publication, the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES) has been shortened to a 3-item questionnaire. This much shorter engagement scale would work very well with a pulse survey approach, enabling an organization to measure engagement frequently and in a reliable way. Because this questionnaire is used throughout the world in research, there are also norm groups available which help to benchmark engagement in your organization with engagement in the general population per region.

  1. Continuous Analytics

The two opportunities above offer a combined effect that’s larger than the sum of the individual components. Engagement can be related to business impact – and when executed the right way, pulse surveys can act as an excellent path towards gathering continuous feedback and engagement measurement. What more can you do to improve employee engagement measurement? Start with how often you look at analytics.

Don’t limit the amount of time you spend looking at analytics. Because engagement levels can fluctuate, you need to look at analytics frequently. Research has proven that engagement can change on a day-to-day basis and in line with this, the desired outcomes that are caused by engagement, also change. Continuously measuring engagement not only enables you to keep a finger on the pulse but also offers the opportunity to predict business success on a regular basis. This has also been referred to as continuous listening, a key trend in HR. Don’t turn down the opportunity to catch and address any signs of disengagement right away.

Final Thoughts

Even if your company already has engagement measurement practices in place, there’s always room for improvement and optimization.

I highly encourage taking a scientific approach to how you measure anything in an organization. Below are three key take-home messages I want every reader to take away from this article:

  1. Measurement is always a means to an end, never a goal in itself.
  2. What you measure is always related to a bigger picture.
  3. Keep learning and improving based on what you have measured.

Best of luck measuring engagement in your organization!

About the Author
Erik van VulpenErik van Vulpen is the founder of Analytics in HR (AIHR). He is writer, speaker, and trainer on people analytics. Erik is an instructor for the HR Analytics Academy and has extensive experience in the application of HR analytics.

 

 

 

 

holidays in the office

5 Fun Holiday Traditions to Start in Your Office This Year

The holidays are a perfect time to have fun with employees and show them a good time. If you’re throwing a holiday party, don’t stop there—54 percent of employees want to feel more “holiday spirit in the workplace,” according to a recent Randstad survey—so start some fun new traditions this year.

If you’re not sure what to do, consider these fun ideas. They’ll keep employees excited all season long, while connecting co-workers and getting everyone into the holiday spirit.

  1. Cook-Off Competition

Who’s the best cook in the office? Find out by pitting your foodie coworkers against each other in a holiday cook-off competition. The first step in organizing your first-annual cook-off is to decide what employees will cook. Choose something fun, like:

  • The best cup of hot chocolate
  • The best holiday cookie
  • The best holiday side dish
  • The best cup of egg nog

The prize? A year’s worth of bragging rights. Perhaps the winner walks away with the “World’s Best Office Chef” trophy, a recognition spotlight, or mug to keep at his or her desk until next year.

  1. White Elephant Gift Exchange

A white elephant gift exchange is similar to a Yankee Swap, but in this case, the focus is on “stealing” gifts rather than swapping them—making it a lot more fun. The good news is: this old holiday tradition is still very relevant. After all, 56 percent of holiday shoppers report buying gag gifts for family or office exchanges, according to the Holidaze 2018 poll.

Host the gift exchange on an afternoon in the office, allowing employees to have some fun on the company clock. Plus, if spouses are at the holiday party, it may be difficult to do the exchange. Not to mention, some employees may not be able to make the party, so this ensures everyone can participate.

  1. Charity Outing

Did you know that 75 percent of employees want to see their company give back this time of year by donating to food drives or charities?

A fun way to celebrate the holidays with your office is by doing exactly that, giving back to the local community. Not only does this bode well for your brand, but your employees get more than just a fun party—giving back increases feelings of purpose, which leads to better sleep and a longer life, as reported by Forbes.

You can host a food drive in the office, or turn it into a group event, volunteering at a local non-profit. cCook a meal for a homeless shelter or host a holiday party at the local Boys and Girls Club. If you’re looking for more options, consider these non-profits:

  • Meals on Wheels
  • Feeding America
  • Ronald McDonald House
  • Local Children’s Hospitals
  • Local Senior Citizens Homes
  1. Gingerbread House Contest

There’s nothing that screams holiday more than a gingerbread house contest. Gingerbread house kits can be costly, so spilt your office or department into teams.

Each team will be responsible for making a gingerbread house within a certain period of time, say 30 minutes. To make it even more fun, set out bowls of extra fixings, like hard candy, sprinkles, and even non-edible elements like mini Santas, reindeer, menorahs, etc. for team members to spruce up their gingerbread houses.

In addition to being fun, this kind of holiday tradition is great for building teamwork and communication skills—while no one’s even thinking about it.

  1. Ugly Sweater Day

The same Holidaze 2018 poll found that 92 percent of shoppers spend between $25 and $50 on an ugly holiday sweater—so give them a reason to wear it with an official Ugly Sweater Day in the office.

To make your Ugly Sweater Day tradition more fun, give away a variety of awards. For example, you may give awards for:

  • Ugliest Sweater
  • Most Creative Sweater
  • Least Ugly Sweater
  • Classiest Ugly Sweater

The prize for these could be the same as the others: a trophy for bragging rights all year long. You could also buy inexpensive stocking stuffers to give as prizes or reward winners with monetary points in a recognition program.

Your Office Holiday Traditions

Have fun with the holidays this year. Don’t just throw a party—celebrate for the entire season with fun contests, gift giving and an official Ugly Sweater Day. Your employees will enjoy having some holiday fun after a long year of hard work and dedication.

To learn more ways to engage your employees during the holidays, check out this blog post.

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About the Author
Jessica ThiefelsJessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a professional blogger and freelance writer. She spent the last two years working tirelessly for a small startup, where she learned a lot about running business and being resourceful. She now owns her own business and has been featured on Forbes. She’s also written for StartupNation, Manta, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 or connect on LinkedIn.

 

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employee feedback and recognition

Leveraging Recognition and Feedback to Boost Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is an ongoing issue. What can we do to effectively engage employees? Start with recognition and feedback. According to Aptitude Research Partners, companies identified recognition as having the greatest impact on engagement. And it doesn’t stop at recognition. Go the extra mile with employee feedback, pulse data and personalized actions in real-time to immediately address any disengagement. Dr. Natalie Baumgartner, Chief Workforce Scientist for Achievers, shares in an HRO Today article about how to effectively leverage recognition and feedback to boost engagement across your organization.

  1. Why is employee feedback software a need-to-have, and not a nice-to-have?

Employee feedback software is a need-to-have because it’s the best way for us to keep our finger on the pulse of engagement. Historically, we have thought of engagement as a survey exercise, but in this new era of engagement it has become clear that we need to focus on asking for and receiving feedback – and, most importantly, responding to it. Each of us as employees are exceptionally unique, which is why it is so critical that we offer employees different ways to provide feedback. Using a combination of modalities allows us to gather continuous feedback and valuable data that can be collected and then translated into actions that truly support employees.

  1. Why should organizations offer recognition and rewards?

Key analysts, including Josh Bersin, have long advocated recognition as a powerful engagement tool. Our research highlighting recognition as a massive driver of business performance supports the critical role that recognition plays within organizations. Research has demonstrated that engagement measurement can not just happen twice a year – and neither can recognition. Recognition needs to be a fluid, frequent activity that is built into the flow of work for every employee. In order for that to happen, we need to make it easy and engaging for employees to regularly recognize another, whether it’s manager to employee or peer to peer. Recognition is an indispensable tool that can effectively improve not only engagement specifically but also culture, more broadly. Impacting culture can be a challenging process but using a program that ties recognitions to company values makes it easier to effectively strengthen culture alignment.

  1. How can organizations leverage data to improve the employee experience?

Data is the most powerful tool you have to make informed decisions that improve the employee experience. Historically, organizations have typically gathered engagement data using traditional tools such as annual surveys that include numerous questions. We now know that engagement is exceptionally fluid and that moving the engagement needle requires real-time action. When it comes to impacting engagement, you need right-sized data in real-time. It is important to shift from launching long annual surveys to pulse and always-on measurement systems that gather engagement feedback on a more frequent basis – from every quarter to every week. Gathering feedback on a regular basis ensures that leadership has in-the-moment data they can act on. 

  1. Where is the future of employee engagement heading?

If you are an HR professional, you are most likely the one responsible for impacting engagement. Yet, who’s more motivated to impact engagement than the employees themselves? I believe that, in the future, engagement will no longer be owned by leadership – but, rather, it will be owned by the employee. Typically when engagement survey data is gathered it either never makes it to the employee or, if it does, it’s in the form of rich but complex action plans. In fact, even the more modern engagement technologies that provide libraries of solutions don’t offer the necessary real-time actions that actually move the needle on engagement. Research tells us that most engagement issues are on the smaller scale, whether it’s a lack of professional development or the office atmosphere. These are the type of issues that technology can help with by delivering bite-sized, personalized actions to employees that they can use to own the solution to the challenges they’re encountering, resulting in faster outcomes.

To learn more about the future of employee engagement, access Achievers white paper: “The New Engagement Conversation: Workplace Chatbots and the Science Behind Achievers Allie.

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About Dr. Natalie Baumgartner

Natalie Baumgartner is the Chief Workforce Scientist at Achievers. She has spent her career advising companies of all sizes, from entrepreneurial startups to Fortune 500 firms, on issues related to company culture. Specifically tackling key hire assessment and portfolio due diligence issues, she’s found success analyzing what most overlook – the human element. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with a specific focus on assessment and additional training in strength-based psychology. Natalie serves on the board of the Consulting Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association. She is a popular speaker on culture and recently did a TEDx talk on the importance of culture fit. Natalie is a culture evangelist and is passionate about the power that culture fit has to revolutionize how we work. As an avid Boot Camp aficionado, if you can’t find Natalie in the office odds are good you’ll bump into her sprinting up mountains in her hometown of Denver, CO.

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culture of change

3 Steps: How to Create a Culture of Change That Motivates and Inspires

How can your company innovate fast enough to surpass the competition? And at the same time, what can you do to maximize the human aspect of the organization and create stability in execution? An agile organization could be the answer. Such structures have a 70 percent chance of being in the top quartile of organizational health, the best indicator of long-term performance. An agile firm uses change as an engagement factor. Such organizations empower employees to create value through autonomous creation and collaboration. And they all share a similar foundation: a culture of change. Below, I share three steps to create a culture of change that truly motivates and inspires.

Step 1: Promote Learning in the Workplace

Small targeted projects call for a learning-based culture. And according to Robert Half, “Businesses with a strong learning culture enjoy employee engagement and retention rates around 30 to 50 percent higher than those that don’t.”

When structured and executed well, learning and development can drive culture and business forward. We need to remember that employees want to learn, with 87 percent of millennials stating development is important in a job. Learning also reduces turnover. For example, did you know that 40 percent of employees who receive poor training and limited opportunities for development will leave their jobs within five years? By focusing on learning in the workplace, you’ll be able to see improve retention and improve culture.

All together, learning and development fuels engagement. And appeals to the C-suite! 68 percent of them believe their employees would be more engaged if they had opportunities to be challenged by working on purpose projects.

Step 2: Focus on Performance Motivation

A millennial workforce is driven by a strong sense of purpose. As a result, they expect transparent performance discussions based on real-time feedback. What happens to that feedback though? How can you take action on feedback and empower the employee? In her book Smart Tribes, Christine Comfort suggests performance motivation. She shares:

“Performance motivation results in intrinsic motivation within a supportive environment, because team members are empowered to understand their role, believe they are making a difference in their company and desire to bring their A-Game.”

The concept of performance motivation supports a culture where employees can create value for both their company as well as themselves. How do you take action?

  • Instead of the functional responsibility of the role, connect performance to the value it creates for the organization.
  • An agile organization creates value throughout the full breath of the organization. As growth can happen in any direction, individual development needs to align to a 360 degree view.
  • Encourage employees to drive their own growth and engagement. They’re fully responsible for their own performance and give them the support and feedback required to succeed.

Step 3: Lead with Emotional Intelligence

According to Brian David Johnson, Futurist in Residence at Arizona State University and ACE 2019 speaker, the real opportunity for machines to transform the workforce is in their power to free up more time for us to be more human.

Making sure employees connect the reality of today to a positive version of the future remains a challenge for their leaders. Change is hard, because it’s first an emotional experience. Leading beyond the now means accessing the inner resources required for human-centric leadership.

How do we do this? Mindfulness could be the answer towards creating more meaningful interactions. For instance, the introduction of Search Inside Yourself’s mindfulness program to SAP, a multinational software corporation, gave outstanding results. They reported a 200 percent return on investment through mindfulness in the workplace. Providing employees with tools to reduce stress, improve empathy and communication can increase employee engagement. A statistically significant increase in creativity and collaboration could be correlated directly to business outcomes as profits were boosted by 85 to 95 million euros.

In disruptive environments, it’s easy to sit on the edge of your comfort zone. An emotionally intelligent leader is all it takes to role model constructive change and motivate teams to spread a culture of efficiency and emotional agility.

We know that by 2025, millennials will make up 75 percent of the global workforce. This can make the task of increasing employee engagement feel massive. But you can start making a positive difference by putting change in the employees’ hands and creating the culture that goes with it.

I was able to attend ACE 2018, the leading employee engagement and recognition conference, and learn new takeaways and insights, including some of the above. If you are in HR and looking for a fun event that focuses on employee engagement, check out ACE 2019 which will be taking place on Sept. 10th-11th 2019 in Chicago. Register by Dec. 31st for 50% off.

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About the Author

Coralie SawrukCoralie Sawruk helps global organizations create efficient team dynamics. A people-person at heart, she believes the ultimate competitive advantage is created by the right talents working hand-in-hand, cheerfully. Coralie shares her insights on confident leadership and leading happy teams on her website. Get in touch on LinkedIn.

 

 

 

 

 

workplace

A Recognition Moment: An Interview with Jacqueline Scafidi of Zurich

Jacqueline ScafidiMeet Jacqueline Scafidi
Employee Experience Specialist, Zurich North America

Jacqueline Scafidi is on a team that leads company efforts which examine and evolve the employee experience in the workplace. Through her role with Zurich North America, she takes a human-centered approach towards recognition and rewards, volunteering, and targeted ways to engage employees in their work environment. She began with her current team in 2010, when Zurich invested in a growing team dedicated to community investment and the full employee experience. Jacqueline finds fulfillment in contributing to creative workplaces that engage a diverse set of thoughts and strategies, and has a passion to provide an approachable and distinct service experience for the customer and fellow colleagues.

Her previous career incarnation included production stage management with the Chicago theatre community. Jacqueline was a graduate of Knox College in Galesburg, IL and feels love and support from her spouse, children, family and friends.

Let’s Take a Moment to Recognize Jacqueline

We want to take a moment to recognize Jacqueline for her accomplishments in employee engagement. Below, she answers a series of questions, providing advice for fellow HR professionals and sharing her personal story.

  1. What interested you in a career in HR?

I’ve always had an interest in the study and behavior of people. What influences our choices and our behaviors? What intrinsically and externally will motivate someone? I began with a focus on the charitable efforts of the company and our employees – coordinating volunteering and fundraising efforts. In time I began to take on programs and initiatives related to broader employee engagement. More recently I took over efforts on building a culture of recognition with our rewards and recognition strategy and programs. I enjoy the variance of a job role in HR – it’s never quite the same day.

  1. What is your biggest focus or goal when it comes to the employee experience?

People matter. They are a driving force behind the success of a culture and of a company. Our focus is to ensure that our people feel that they matter and feel supported by our culture and our business. We look to involve our people in the evolution of the employee experience through their feedback and by inviting them to solution-orientated working groups to improve.

  1. What is your biggest culture challenge and how do you overcome it?

The rapid pace of change is one of the larger cultural challenges I think any organization faces today. Technology, processes, the definition of your job role – every aspect is open to a more efficient or innovative way of working.

To overcome the resistance to change it is important to communicate early and often, and to involve the users in the process from the beginning.

If you explain why change is happening and how it can positively affect someone, you are more likely to experience acceptance and adoption.

  1. What is the key to boosting employee engagement across your organization?

The key to boosting employee engagement across the organization is the support of management teams. Early adopters will always exist in an organization, but there are a majority of individuals that look to the leaders around them. We all know senior leadership should be role models for the rest of the organization. It’s the support and investment of mid-level leadership that will help an organization cross the threshold to true engagement.

  1. What is your favorite employee recognition moment at Zurich?

At Zurich, my favorite employee recognition moment occurs each year when we honor and celebrate our KAMP Leadership Award recipients. On September 11, 2001, Zurich North America lost four colleagues in the World Trade Center attacks: John Keohane, Peggy Alario, Kathy Moran and Lud Picarro. Since 2002, Zurich has celebrated their lives by presenting the KAMP Leadership Award to deserving employee leaders. KAMP is an acronym representing each of our colleagues’ last names, but it also serves as a reminder about Keeping A Meaningful Perspective, something each of those friends and colleagues exemplified in their lives. The KAMP Leadership Award is a tribute to their spirit of courage, dedication, integrity and passion. There is a sense of duty and humility when I get to steward this award and experience we provide our winners.  

  1. Where do you see the future of employee engagement heading?

I think the future of employee engagement is one that responds to the changing work environment and adapts to the needs of the employees. Companies have evolved to be interconnected on global scales, now we must look at how we stay connected with the advancement of a mobile workforce that works anywhere, anytime. Across industries we need to rethink what it means to be engaged with one another and how those interactions will continue to be meaningful. The bottom line is that engagement affects our business and if we aren’t evolving to this new way of engaging, success will be harder to reach.

  1. What would be your top three pieces of advice for an HR professional who is looking to implement an employee engagement strategy at their organization?

#1: Be intentional and specific on what your strategy should accomplish.

#2: Embrace the ideas of your employees and have them be a part of shaping the outcome.

#3: Be ready to evolve and learn.

Looking Ahead

What’s next for Jacqueline? She and her team are doing some exciting work around the employee experience at Zurich. They’ve recently had the opportunity to listen to their employees in a more in-depth way and map out key moments that matter to their experiences from when they join to when they retire. These insights are allowing the Zurich team to take a deep, human-centered look at what contributes to their company’s culture and work environment and how they can continue to find ways to contribute enhancements.

About Zurich’s Recognition Program

Zurich’s employee recognition program, powered by Achievers, caters to 9,300 employees across North America. Since launch, the program has seen huge success, including 98.13% activation and 67.18% monthly active users. In the first half of 2018 alone, the program saw:

  • 54% of employees received recognition
  • 1,025,235 award points given
  • 76,784 sent recognitions
  • 1,120 mobile recognitions
  • 24,249 boosted recognitions

 To learn more about the award-winning platform that powers Zurich’s recognition program, sign up for a demo of Achievers today.

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Kellie WongKellie Wong is a Content Marketing Manager for Achievers. She manages The Engage Blog and produces a range of marketing content. In addition to being the final editor of all blog content for The Engage Blog, she also manages and maintains relationships with 45+ writing contributors. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.

 

 

 

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How to Plan Employee Engagement Contests That All Your Teams Will Love

Thirty-three percent. It’s a fairly low number. We wouldn’t want to see that number for our customer satisfaction or client retention rates. But that’s the number of American workers who report being engaged at work. And if a figure that low isn’t acceptable when it comes to our clients, it shouldn’t be acceptable when it comes to employees either. Low engagement leads to poor performance, dissatisfaction, and higher turnover. But there are ways to combat this disengagement. Employment engagement contests help keep people motivated and gives everyone a common goal beyond just doing well at work. You want to make sure your contests are inclusive of everyone within your organization, regardless of department or job title.

Here are a few tips for building employee engagement contests that everyone will love.

Get Out of the Office

When you have different departments with different goals and responsibilities, it can be hard to manage an in-office contest. You can’t pit them against each other to see who can close the most sales or enter the most data, because there will be very clear winners before they even begin. Instead, focus on contests that everyone can reasonably participate in, regardless of their job title or skills.

This often means getting out of the office. Though you might have the time, budget, and resources to execute numerous company outings, planning even a single event a year where employees can get together outside of work for a little friendly competition can help make everyone feel a little more engaged within the company. Do trivia at a bar, play a few rounds of mini-golf, or even see which department can collect the most cans for a community food drive.

Ask Employees What They Want

Employment engagement contests are only effective if they are actually engaging. While no one idea will likely ever satisfy every single employee, it is still a good idea to at least try and get a good idea of what your employees might like to do. After all, this about them.

An employee-led committee to plan contests can incorporate employees from various departments to make sure everyone is represented.  Or you can even use surveys to help you figure out what kinds of contests everyone might be interested in. Most enterprise chat systems have polling features built in. And many HR suites offer employee feedback tools like surveying as well.

Not everyone will excel in every single contest. But you should have a pretty decent understanding of your employees that allows you to tailor your contests for a high chance of success. Contests are a lot less motivating when few participants can succeed. Make sure everyone is gaining something.

Make it Regular

Of course, you can’t host one contest and expect everyone to remain engaged long term.

To keep employees engaged, contests should become regular events.  As is the case with anything good, you don’t want to overdo it. But you also don’t want to introduce your employees to something they enjoy only to never bring it back. Then they’ll just be demoralized on top of being disengaged.

Establish what “regular” means for you and what works for your organization, then stick with.

Whether it’s once a year or twice a week, having something consistent to look forward to always makes work a little more enjoyable. Plus, the more regular these inter-departmental contests are, the most opportunities employees have to mingle and get to know each other.

Reward Teams for Little Tasks

Rewards can go a long way and the be the incentive your employees need to go the extra mile. Come up with contests that involve everyone doing their job but aren’t dependent on specific positions. For example, everyone, regardless of position, should be showing up to work on time. So consider building a contest around perfect attendance and punctuality. Even something as simple as free lunch for the entire floor if the dishwasher gets loaded and unloaded for 30 days in a row can engage employees around a common cause.

Show Off the Results

There’s nothing more frustrating than doing something well and getting no recognition. No matter what kind of contest you decide on, consider displaying the results somewhere or sending them out to the whole team. It’s important to recognize and reward employees for their participation.

You can keep a leaderboard in the break room or leverage a recognition platform to showcase results so that those who didn’t win will be encouraged to work harder next time, and those who did win can appreciate their own victory.

Implement Initiatives to Help With Goals

Have departments in the office compete and see who can hit the gym after work the most days per week or eat the most fruits and veggies for lunch? Is a group of employees working together to raise the most money for a local charity? Help these freelance efforts out! Initiatives like a company-sponsored gym membership, catered lunches, or charitable giving matching can all help employees reach their own goal. Even simple acts like these can increase employee engagement.

Hold Managers Accountable

Getting different departments on board for a contest can be tough. Making sure everyone is involved can make it a little easier. Managers need to set the example for other employees by participating in contests, and by giving it their all.

Seeing managers compete can be good motivation for employees to step up their own game, and the idea of winning a competition against their boss might make people work even harder!

Finally, Be Proactive

The best way to maintain employee engagement is to never lose it in the first place. This is easier said than done, of course, but you should be taking steps to ensure that every employee is engaged from day one, and that they all stay that way.

No matter the age, everyone likes the chance to have some fun at work. Incorporating simple contests into the daily routine can be incredibly effective in helping your teams bond and work better together.

Learn more about what incentives to offer in your next employee engagement contest by accessing Achievers’ e-book: “How to Incentivize the Modern Workforce.

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About the Author
Laura HudgensLaura Hudgens is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com. She is a communications instructor and freelance writer who studies and writes about technology, media, science, and health.

 

 

 

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5 Ways to Engage Employees Through Learning and Development (L&D)

Keeping employees engaged is a serious business! Did you know 87 percent of millennials said development is important in a job and 40 percent of employees who receive poor training and limited opportunities for development will leave their job within five years? Any Learning and Development (L&D) strategy that fails to capture the hearts and minds of its participants represents a missed opportunity to nurture talent and build for the future.

Research findings from Find Courses’ 2018 Report sheds new insight into the current state of L&D. The report revealed that top performing companies were five times more likely to implement engaging L&D programs, and almost half (42%) of L&D professionals who indicated their employees were highly engaged in learning were also highly engaged overall at the organization.

Find Courses' 2018 Report Satisfaction

Given these new findings, we’ve compiled our list of top five ways to engage employees through L&D.

  1. Recognize the Importance of L&D

Employment is evolving! It’s no secret that innovative technology and generational expectations are redefining the relationship between work and learning. With a dynamic and ambitious millennial generation set to make up half of the U.S workforce by 2020, the demand for ‘flexible, open career models’ is on the rise, and two trends are beginning to emerge:

  • The modern career has become a continuous learning journey rather than the product of one.
  • There is a growing need for workplaces to become hubs of personal development.

Despite the inevitable impact of these trends, many companies still overlook L&D’s ability as a booster of employee engagement. Now is the perfect time to meet new demands and begin embracing L&D as a future-proof model for company growth, employee retention and maybe most importantly, keeping a new cohort of young, ambitious personnel engaged!

  1. Generate Company-Wide Influence

Unite and engage your workforce by making L&D a shared endeavour. It is apparent that across-the-board engagement in learning leads to higher levels of employee engagement overall, with research revealing that 90% of companies with strong learning cultures have senior executives actively engaged in L&D initiatives.

Find Courses' 2018 Report Management

When team leaders, managers and senior executives champion employee learning, a ripple effect is generated that helps those on the frontline feel value in their personal development and more engaged in their wider company role. Promoting inclusive workplace learning through skill-sharing initiatives like a ‘learning at work’ week, for example, will help to bridge gaps between departments and reinforce an engaging, company-wide culture of learning.

  1. Avoid the ‘One-Size-Fits-All’ Solution

No single employee is the same, and your L&D strategy should strive to reflect this. Everybody has their own unique set of career expectations and goals, and when it comes to workplace learning, certain individuals will respond best to a structured, theoretical approach, while others may achieve better results from a more interactive format. To maximize engagement, implement a balanced blend of training options to appeal to the diverse needs of your staff.

Offering personalized training and the freedom to choose between different learning formats (e-learning, in-house, simulation learning to name a few), puts power in the hands of the learner and allows them to play to their own strengths. Keeping all bases covered can be a time-consuming and potentially more costly approach, but you and your employees will reap the benefits of doing so!

  1. Embrace Technology

While professional training may typically conjure up images of bored employees listening to lectures from uninspiring tutors, it doesn’t have to be this way. Learning technology can help make training an accessible and enjoyable experience.

We now live in an age where the Internet, social media, smartphones and tablets are intrinsically linked to both our working and daily lives. It therefore comes as no surprise that many employees can feel disenchanted by their company’s L&D strategy when it fails to mirror the tech-savvy environment they are accustomed to.

Today we have a broad range of options at our disposal. Social media, e-learning, gamification techniques, and even virtual reality can be utilized in a way that makes professional training fun and engaging.

Find Courses' 2018 Report Culture of Learning

With research from Find Courses’ Report indicating that companies with strong learning cultures are also avid users of learning technology, it is apparent that engaging staff through L&D also requires companies to utilize a blend of technology that is well suited to each employee’s skillset and ambitions.

  1. Track Progress

Although a simple concept in theory, the tracking of progress during training is a highly valuable and often ignored tool for optimizing productivity and keeping employees engaged in both their learning and wider career roles.

Once again, turning to tech can smoothen out the process, and incorporating a LMS (Learning Management System) grants all relevant parties a higher level of authority over learning objectives and progress. Employees have the freedom to take breaks when needed, they can oversee how much of a task they have left to complete, and most importantly, they are able to analyze results to identify strengths and areas for improvement in the future.

The increased transparency offered by an LMS also enables HR to monitor progress in a non-invasive manner, and senior staff can be kept in the loop with the benefit of knowing that their teams can receive regular contact and support. The outcomes of training programs can also be extrapolated in aid of improving future L&D strategy and rewarding top performers.

Make Learning Count

Incentivizing achievement by rewarding top performers is a great way of increasing  employee motivation and encouraging career progression. A reward trip, gift, or a simple show of recognition in the presence of colleagues helps boost an employee’s self-worth and reinforce the feeling that they are valued by their company.

According to Kim Edwards, Talent and Leadership Development Manager at Getty Images, an engaging company is “one which puts the employee at the center of everything”. Companies must begin finding new ways of making staff feel they are central pillars of company success, and L&D offers the model for growth and recognition that makes this possible. Engage your workforce through L&D and begin reaching company goals in synchrony with the development of your employees today!

Learn about the current state of the professional training industry and get more useful advice on engaging your workforce with Find Courses’ 2018 Report.

Don’t suffer the price of neglecting your workforce. Discover the true cost of disengagement by accessing Achievers’ white paper.

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About the Author
Oli GarnerOli Garner is a writer and digital content editor at findcourses.com, North America’s most popular search engine for professional training. He aims to create and share engaging content for individuals and organizations across a variety of industries, with an end goal of guiding them towards the best professional training option for their needs. Now located in Stockholm, Oli was born and raised in the UK and graduated from the University of Kent in 2015.

 

 

 

call center employee

7 Ways to Keep Call Center Employees Engaged

Your call center employees are very often the first employees your customers interact with. They are problem solvers, and they are the keys to driving innovation, knowledge, and revenue throughout your organization.

Call center employees also spend a lot of time talking to customers who are less than happy. The rigors of this work can lead to increased employee frustration and disengagement. A disengaged workforce can cripple your contact center’s ability to provide quality customer service and will ultimately raise recruiting and staffing costs which will impact your bottom line.

According to Gallup, only 30% of the current American workforce say they’re engaged and inspired at work. The other 70% of workers identify as “disengaged” and fall into two categories:

  • Those who do the bare minimum: show up, do their work, then go home (50%)
  • Those who are actively seeding discontent (20%)

The employees who fall into the disengaged category are at risk of fleeing your contact center and bringing others with them. Both disengagement and turnover have been historically difficult issues to tackle within contact centers.

Contact Babel’s 2017 study on U.S. contact centers Source: ContactBabel

According to Contact Babel’s 2017 study on U.S. contact centers, employee turnover at call centers is the highest it’s been since the recession — currently at 30%. Rates can reach as high as 70% at contact centers who outsource call center employees. Remember, a healthy turnover rate is about 10%.

How can you inspire engagement at your organization? Check out seven ways to keep call center employees engaged.

1. Recognize Employees

Appreciation is a fundamental human need, but it’s one largely ignored in the workplace. According to Gallup polls, only one in three workers in the U.S. strongly agree that they received recognition or praise for doing good work in the past seven days. The same study shows that employees who do not feel adequately recognized are twice as likely to say they’ll quit in the next year.

Recognition in the workplace confirms your employee’s presence —and work —is valued by others. As a result, recognition keeps your employees motivated and engaged, which elevates productivity.

2. Listen to Your Team

A great way to gather employee feedback is through pulse surveys. Surveys drill down on how your employees feel about their working situation and your organization. For example, pulse survey allow you to ask more granular questions about what you could be doing better, or how you can support your team more.

With surveys, you’re able to analyze employee feedback and then implement changes that show your team you are listening to them. Change connected to feedback is a great way to keep valuable call center employees engaged and happy in the workplace. It’s never too late to start leveraging employee surveys and feedback tools to gauge employee engagement levels, and take immediate action to address any disengagement right away.

3. Shorten ASA times

One of the major themes at the 2018 Contact Center Week (CCW) Executive Exchange was the importance of decreasing the average speed of answer (ASA) times at contact centers. Shortening ASA improves both the quality of customer service as well as your call center employees’ overall perception of their job.

Callers stuck in waiting queues for long periods of time may be irritated, annoyed, or emotional when their call is finally answered. These emotions are naturally pushed to the agent who answers the call. The more stress your employees absorb, the more likely they are to become disengaged from work— a high volume of stressful calls is taxing on your staff. Further, Michael Tremblay of Air Canada claims 85% of contact at call centers is considered “bad contact,” according to his discourse at CCW.

Taking steps to decrease ASA times can help soften the tone of a call, which ultimately protects your employees from excessive stress, and improves the atmosphere of their job.

4. Focus on Long-Term Hires

Employees who churn after 90 days or less from their hire date are a common problem in the contact center industry. When a contact center is plagued by 90-day turnover issues, it automatically decreases the average agent competency in an organization. With so many ‘learners’ on staff, it is difficult to provide quality customer service. Agents who have more on-the-job experience have more skills to complete their jobs better.

Specifically, tenured employees are more likely to have higher first call resolution rates (FCR). Favorable FCRs create a better experience for the customer and decrease the volume of follow-up calls that burden your workforce.

A staff with more positive than negative experiences is a happy staff. And, happy employees will stay with your organization longer.

5. Zero in on Staffing Balance

If attrition is high at your organization, you may be placing massive stress on call center employees who remain loyal to your team. These staffing gaps can quickly run down employees who are weighed down by additional responsibilities.

Understaffed contact centers also run the risk of inflating their ASAs and FCRs. At CCW, one contact center executive was asked, “What can you do to bring your ASA down to one minute?”  The response was simple enough, “Get five more people on board.”

Overbooking or spreading your employees too thin leads to resentment, increasing both attrition and absence rates, which is often a telltale sign of disengagement. The average absence rate at contact centers is currently 9.1%. If you notice an uptick in absenteeism, it’s time to act quickly to re-engage your staff.

6. Address Financial Wellness

The financial wellness hierarchy of needs suggests all humans need the following to be true to feel financially secure:

  • Control over finances
  • Capacity to absorb an unexpected shock
  • Savings and planning for the future
  • Ability to make a discretionary purchase

Personal finance issues can cause distractions that create disengagement from the workplace. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, one-third of all employees are distracted by personal financial issues while at work. Nearly 50% of employees with financial stress spend three hours or more each week handling personal finances at work. From a revenue standpoint, this distraction can cost employers $7,000 per employee, per year or about 20 hours of lost productivity each month, per employee.

Many organizations recognize the issues financial stress can cause, and have begun to unroll wellness programs which provide multiple benefits to workers and the corporation alike.

7. Offer Unique Advantages

The current job market is the employee’s market. Thanks to a record low unemployment rate and a plethora of job openings, your employees are always looking for the next best thing. And while monthly bonuses and incentives are a useful strategy for attracting talent, they aren’t always the key to continuous engagement. Find unique benefits that your staff will continue to find useful over their time with your company — something that differentiates you from the crowd.

A growing trend, perpetuated by major contact centers like DialAmerica and CaLLogix is on-demand pay. Offering on-demand payments means your employees have access to their earned but unpaid wages at the click of a button; no more waiting for their next paycheck. It is a great way to reward your employees for the work they’ve already done, and provide them with something valuable as a perk— their money, faster. Daily pay benefits are proven to reduce turnover and absenteeism while simultaneously boosting engagement.

By focusing on employee engagement, you can keep your employees from burning out and turning over. After all, the highest level of growth in an organization occurs when companies have highly engaged staff.

To learn more about how to engage your employees, check out Achievers’ e-book, “Engage or Die: How Companies that Act Fast on Engagement Outpace the Competition.”

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About the Author
Megan Wells HeadshotMegan Wells is a writer for DailyPay, a data journalist, and content strategist based in San Francisco, California. Wells’ work has appeared on Fox, Nasdaq, MSN, Motley Fool, and more. Wells also spoke at the 2015 Exceptional Women In Publishing conference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

employee holiday party

How to Engage Employees During the Holidays

The holiday season brings with it an elevated level of fun and excitement. Unfortunately, the holidays can be chaotic and stressful. All this excitement – and stress – can infiltrate your workplace and hinder morale, decrease productivity, and derail employee engagement. The holiday decorations, parties, and gift exchanges can all be quite overwhelming and easily distract your team.

Through all the hustle and bustle of this time of years, you can still find ways to reduce stress, boost employee engagement, and keep your team on track. Here’s a look at some ideas to enhance employee engagement during the holidays.

Celebrate Successes

The end of the year is the perfect time to look back over company successes. Review the company goals set at the beginning of the year and compare those goals to year-end results. Share the results with your employees. It’s vital that you remain transparent with your team by sharing the good and the bad, but always remaining positive about the future. Remember, your ultimate goal is to keep your team motivated and engaged, not to discourage them.

Take time to celebrate success for the year with your workers. This not only includes company goals that were met, but also look for other achievements, such as the number of new clients, increase in production, improvement in overall attendance, or sales numbers.

Recognize Top Employees

People crave recognition. They want to know they are appreciated for a job well done. Your workers are no different. They want to know that their time, dedication, and hard work is both recognized and appreciated. It’s best to make employee recognition part of the workplace culture all year round. There’s something about the holiday spirit; however, that makes it the perfect time of the year for special recognition.

This holiday season you should be deliberate about making employee recognition a priority. There are many ways you can do this, such as hand-written thank you notes, certificates, awards, social media recognition, and more. One great example is to transform your holiday party into an Employee Appreciation Day where your employees truly are the guests of honor. Use this time to honor your workers for their hard work and their commitment to the company.

Announce Company Goals for the New Year

According to a recent Gallup poll, less than half of today’s workers state that they feel connected to their employer’s mission. This disconnect isn’t because they don’t want to because this same survey shows that 83 percent of workers want to have meaning in the lives. Part of the problem is that employers aren’t sharing their core mission and values with their workforce effectively. With one year coming to an end and new year just around the corner, now is the time to share the company’s vision and goals for the new year with the entire workforce.

‘Tis the Season for Giving

The holidays are the time for giving – so catch the holiday spirit and reward your team. Rewarding your workers isn’t just about handing out gifts, it about creating an experience with your employees to make sure they know how much you appreciate their work. There are many affordable employee reward options, such as gift cards, food, extra paid time off, and more. Establish a recognition and rewards program where employees can choose the rewards that matter most the them.

Employee Volunteer Program

The holidays aren’t just about receiving – it’s about giving too. Many of your employees may want to volunteer but finding time between work and holiday activities may be difficult. You can help your employees out by creating a volunteer program that allows your workers to volunteer during work hours. Volunteering isn’t just good for your workers and the charities; it’s good for business too. America’s Charities calculates that businesses can save between $1,000 and $6,000 per employee by setting up an employee volunteer program.

Offer Flexible Scheduling

With the holiday season being so hectic, the last thing you may want to do is offer flexible scheduling. It’s important to realize, however, that your workers’ personal lives are just as busy as their work lives during the holiday season, which makes it difficult for them to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Encouraging your employees to take time off or leave early to take care of some of the personal holiday responsibilities can help keep them more focused and productive at work. Research done by the American Psychological Association found that workers who remain positive can boost productivity by as much as 31 percent.

Set Realistic Year-End Goals

Several studies have linked unrealistic expectations in the workplace with increased stress. While there’s nothing you can do about some of the chaos brought about by the holiday season, you can minimize its impact on your workers. Understand that the end of November through December is going to be chaotic at work. More people will be taking off, and year-end task must be completed. Take proactive measures to prepare for the end-of-the-year by setting realistic goals that won’t overwhelm your team.

Don’t let the stress of the holiday season hinder employee engagement in your workplace. Instead, take steps now to plan a holiday season that not only will prevent your employee from becoming stressed and overwhelmed, but also will keep productivity and employee morale high. Learn how to develop employee engagement all year long, including the holidays, by downloading our employee recognition e-book now.

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About the Author

Diane Scheidler is a business focused Human Resources executive with significant functional experience in all areas of HR. She has worked in both early start-up and established high growth, Software and SaaS organizations supporting North American, LATAM, and European business units.

Diane is currently the Head of HR for Achievers, where she continually focuses on the employee experience, ensuring a culturally rich and engaging work environment.

Prior to Achievers, Diane has acted in a Sr. Leadership capacity to lead functionally diverse areas of Human Resources for employee populations ranging from 200 to well over 100,000 employees for Samsung Canada, Amazon Canada, Blackberry and Altana Pharma.

Diane currently holds a Master of Human Resources and Organizational Development degree from the London School of Economics and a Bachelor degree from the University of Western Ontario. Diane is also a Certified Compensation Professional.

 
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Achievers ACE 2018 Conference Toronto Key Takeaways

ACE 2018: Key Highlights and Takeaways

“The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

They call it the Silicon Valley of the North. And with good reason.

Understanding that Toronto has been driving innovation and charting the future of tech, Achievers chose to host its  ACE 2018 conference in the city it calls home. The Six, as it is affectionately called by residents, quietly emerged as the fastest-growing tech-jobs market in 2017. The boom has positioned the city as a worldwide leader in the tech scene, outpacing historically tech heavy cities such as San Francisco, Seattle and New York and emerging as fertile ground for the future of technological innovation.

In the shadow of the iconic CN Tower, HR professionals and a diverse range of thought leaders gathered to accelerate the conversation around employee engagement, recognition and how technology is shaping the future of human resources. Furthermore, Achievers announced the 2018 Top Category Winners for the Most Engaged Workplaces Award and the Elite 8: organizations that are pushing the boundaries of workplace engagement.

From the elegant and modern Delta Hotel by Marriott, the gathering kicked off with an important announcement from Achievers’ Chief Workforce Scientist Dr. Natalie Baumgartner, who unveiled the The Workforce Institute and its commitment to changing the way the world works through academic research and engagement science. Through the initiative, Achievers will source, curate, conduct and translate workforce science into simple, accessible content available to the public through research-driven institute studies and insight papers. As the world rapidly evolves and changes, the aim is to stay ahead of the curve with reliable sources and cutting-edge technology.

With an eye to the future, the ACE 2018 conference was graced with numerous thought leaders who outlined not only how drastically the HR space has changed in recent years, but also where it is going. To this end, the breakout sessions began with futurist and best-selling author Brian David Johnson highlighting the tectonic shifts in the workplace. The conversation was focused on what the forward-thinking companies of today can do to disrupt, mitigate and recover from the obstacles standing in the way of their unified success. Weaving together disparate stands from areas such as cultural history, social science and economics, Mr. Johnson fashioned a poignant and compelling argument for organizations to not just note the radical evolution of the workplace, but to embrace it. Through focused, strategic planning, the tech savvy company of today can harness the power of AI and focus on the new realities captivating the imaginations of the current great workforce: millennials.

Through this useful lens, various ACE 2018 keynote speakers identified and explained obstacles and strategies for us to enable employees to be both engaged and efficient. One crucial strategy is to improve communication within organizations. Communication and human nature expert Celeste Headlee focused on the science behind having better conversations in the workplace. All too often, the constant influx of external stimuli distracts and derails our conversations, creating costly instances of miscommunication. Furthermore, the inexorable wave of millennials entering the workforce has profoundly changed the way we communicate in business settings. Through active listening we, as small communities and large organizations, can find better ways to collaborate and engage in a positive way with the new workplace dynamics.

To that end, day two keynote speaker Neil Pasricha spoke of the power of positive psychology and the neuroscience that underpins it all. A combination of science-based research and humorous personal stories and anecdotes helped him foreground the importance of positive employees on your teams. Flipping the conventional wisdom that motivation leads to action, the discussion fleshed out that it is actually the other way around: action leads to motivation; positive work leads to happiness. Driving the point home, Mr. Pasricha highlighted that it is never too late to take action. Regardless of the barriers you imagine are in the way, taking the time to put happiness first, personally and professionally, will lead to positive action that will feed off itself and drive the changes you require.

Similarly, Tiffany Dufu spoke about the ever-evolving workplace and how female millennials are an underutilized cohort in our modern workplaces. In a poignant discussion relevant to all millennials (male, female, et al.) the organizations that are best equipped to leverage the success of the shift workplace are those who provide support for working families. From her best-selling book, Drop The Ball, Dufu focused on the importance of achieving more by doing less. Ambitious organizations and employees would do well to reevaluate their expectations and acknowledge that to have it all, we do not necessarily need to do it all. By embracing imperfection, we can focus on what we truly care about: achieving real goals and creating rich and rewarding lives.

All of this leads to one fundamental question shared by all attendees: How do we captivate the workforce of tomorrow? The answer revealed itself to be: By listening to what they have to say, today. Through this, we can prepare ourselves for the new realities of the future. Creating and embracing that future requires a beautiful confluence of reality and imagination. The 2018 Achievers Customer Experience managed to strike the perfect balance, exposing attendees to the evidenced-based reality we work within and the next generation of HR. In many ways, the conference embodied the future we all desire: one that is optimistic and ours for the making. The future is not some distant unobtainable entity beyond our comprehension. The future is right now. Today. The future is in our people.

Achievers would like to thank all speakers and every client, partner and friend for their participation in ACE 2018! Stay tuned for more information on ACE 2019 in Chicago!

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About the Author 
Darren SavageDarren Savage is currently a Customer Success Manager who works out of Achievers’ Toronto office. Prior to his arrival at Achievers, Darren was a journalist for various publications in the Greater Toronto Area. He left the profession to explore the world before transitioning into a sales role where he provided immersive educational experiences through travel for high school students. He now manages a diverse portfolio at Achievers where he helps his clients develop successful employee engagement programs.

 

 

 

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engaged employees

7 Actionable Tips: How HR Programs Can Foster Employee Engagement During Tough Times

When your company is undergoing change, you already face plenty of challenges. One issue that might not make it to your short list of priorities is actually crucial: the need to maintain employee engagement. Organizational change efforts have a startling failure rate of 70 percent, and one major reason for this failure is that executives don’t do what it takes to get buy-in from their employees. An Aon Hewitt study found that the number of actively disengaged employees rose by more than 50 percent during situations where job duties were impacted by their company being acquired. Their research found that even employees whose jobs were not affected by an acquisition were 25 percent more likely to be actively disengaged.

Company morale takes a hit when restructuring occurs, and it’s important to realize that this is wholly natural: Employee happiness and well-being depends on paychecks continuing. If workers sense that the future of the company is up in the air, their survival instincts mean that they will start looking farther afield to find a more secure livelihood. Below are seven actionable tips for strengthening your employee retention during periods of organizational change.

1.   Strengthen Employee Engagement Ahead of Time

Any changes you make will meet with greater success if you already have a strong work culture of employee engagement in place. Winning trust is much harder if you wait to address employee alignment until you’re already in the midst of restructuring, especially if you’re reducing your workforce at the same time. The Ritz-Carlton has a Service Value that states, “I am involved in the planning of the work that affects me.” Their leadership center blog notes that inviting employees to participate in focus groups before initiating an unpopular change resulted in much better acceptance of the ultimate decision.

2.   Buy-In Starts at the Top

To set the scene for launching organizational change, your leadership has to be 100 percent on board. They will have the responsibility for being role models and for entering positively into a conversation with employees about how the upcoming changes will improve the company’s future. Excellent leadership means that supervisors maintain a personal knowledge of their team members and are able to anticipate the unique concerns that each individual may experience in response to pending changes. Also, there is no substitute for leading by example; if your managers demonstrate that they are also affected by the change, it will increase employee success at weathering the same changes.

3.   Name a Core Team of Change Agents

Naming a core team of people from various levels of the company who will take personal responsibility for executing the change is also a great way to propagate full communication and buy-in throughout the organization. HR best practices suggest tapping those workers who are most closely aligned with the company’s mission and values.

4.   Integrate Employee Feedback Into Your Company Culture

Using HR technology to create employee feedback is an effective method for building the foundation of trust that you’ll rely on during times of change. When employees can see that their feedback is desired and that you act on the basis of what they tell you, they’ll trust that their voices will continue to be heard as changes occur. While surveys won’t be your only channel for listening to feedback, the fact that you regularly circulate them — and then take action on them — will bolster employee retention. Survey results can also serve as a useful benchmark for the milestones of your restructuring strategy.

5.   Communicate Clearly and Consistently

Research by Korn Ferry Hay Group (KFHG) notes that during times of leadership changes, the number of workers who feel that they were informed about their organization’s financial performance typically fall by 13 percent. This type of drop suggests a lack of transparency on the part of managers. Telling a compelling “change story” can have the effect of keeping workers involved during the sensitive time following the initial restructuring. An effective communication channel can help your organization avoid becoming one of the negative statistics: Aon Hewitt’s research found that in a typical company, the percentage of highly engaged employees did not rise back up to baseline levels for two to three years following a merger or acquisition.

6.   Support Your Managers

Managers have to adjust to changes too, but they are simultaneously on the front lines of supporting their direct reports through what may be difficult times. It’s important to remember that great leaders become invested in employee motivation; if a supervisor is put in the position of having to let some workers go, it’s essential to also give that manager the tools to provide remaining employees with incentives through a reward and recognition program.

7.   Keep Motivation High With Rewards and Recognition

There are many reasons why it’s important to have an HR program in place for giving employee rewards. Receiving a gift card can convey employee appreciation during difficult times, and rewards and recognition help workers feel that managers are paying attention to performance. In Achievers’ 2018 report, 60% of companies said they plan to increase their investment in social recognition technology. Furthermore, companies identified recognition as having the greatest impact on employee engagement. Providing frequent recognition and rewards is a way of letting workers know that you appreciate them.

Change is inevitable in today’s business world, so it’s a question of “when” rather than “if.” Best practices for change management stipulate that you need to keep employees engaged throughout periods of intense change if you’re going to stay agile and productive over the life of the company.

Learn more about how you can boost employee engagement with HR programs by downloading our report, “Building a Business Case for Social Recognition.”

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employee feedback

5 Startling Facts: Why Employee Feedback is Essential

If you were on a quiz show for managers, you could easily recite a list of critical elements of business success: strong financial management, a solid customer service strategy, and so on. But would employee feedback be on your list? If not, you are missing a key business driver. Below are five reasons why listening to your employees is central to your company’s success:

  1. Failure to Listen is Expensive

As a matter of fact, “Millions of dollars are lost every day in organizations simply because of poor listening,” according to leadership training expert Dan Bobinski. He explains that these lost dollars trickle away due to errors, ineffective decisions, and eroded teamwork.

Interestingly, the chief obstacle to obtaining employee feedback is fear, in Bobinski’s analysis. He notes that managers are often afraid to listen because they worry they might give the impression of agreeing with something they don’t actually support. Other reasons that leaders may not listen well is that they don’t want to hear feedback that may force them to reconsider their own perspective or they may simply fear that they won’t have a chance to convey their own viewpoint during the discussion.

Do any of these reasons sound uncomfortably familiar? If so, you’re not alone. However, it is critical that you don’t allow these fears to wall you off from employee input. Feedback you miss out on due to any or all of these fears could be feedback that has the power to positively impact the performance of your organization.

Fear of listening can be overcome. To that end, Bobinski offers a bit of reassurance: “Truly understanding someone else’s point of view does not come naturally. It’s a learned skill that always requires effort.”

  1. Employees Value a Listening Culture Higher Than Compensation

According to Deloitte research, employees value “culture” and “career growth” almost twice as much as they value “compensation and benefits,” when selecting an employer. Deloitte’s research notes that ideal work cultures focus on an environment of listening. They point out, “The world of employee engagement and feedback is exploding. Annual engagement surveys are being replaced by “employee listening” tools such as pulse surveys, anonymous social tools, and regular feedback check-ins by managers. All these new approaches have given rise to the “employee listening” officer, an important new role for HR.”

Encouraging employee feedback is a way of granting your workers power that doesn’t require adding to their salary or granting promotions. Research published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) notes that 70% of employees rank being empowered to take action at work when a problem or opportunity arises as having a critical impact on their engagement.

  1. Supervisors Listen More to Employees with Higher Status or Longer Tenure

Even with the best of intentions, “supervisors develop selective hearing when it comes to feedback,” according to research published by the University of Texas at Austin. The study goes on to explain that managers tend to listen to employees with whom they are more personally comfortable or who have been on the job longer. Perhaps not surprisingly, the outcome from this bias is that the less-listened-to workers end up with lower performance reviews and ultimately diversity of team composition is eroded.

The solution to this, according to the researchers, is for managers to become aware of their unconscious biases and to intentionally connect with their team members in a systematic way. Another method for reducing unconscious bias is to include anonymized employee feedback through surveys, so that a person’s status doesn’t give their words extra weight.

  1. Employee Listening is Essential to Strong Leadership

An interesting analysis published in the Harvard Business Review describes an all-too-common mindset among leaders and managers that equates listening with weakness. The article noted that some leaders think of themselves as leaders in a dogmatic sense, a person who tells their subordinates what’s what. However, the article counters this by saying, “…it’s equally important for managers to stand down and listen up. Yet many leaders struggle to do this, in part because they’ve become more accustomed to speaking than listening.”

The key to translating listening skills to effective management lies in taking what you learn from your employees’ feedback and translating it into direct action. Everything your employees report can lead to an active response and it is essential that it does – particularly if the feedback reflects existing issues. Taking action to remedy a problematic situation becomes a win-win feedback cycle, because it allows you to build trust with your team that will likely result in greater transparency on their part, moving forward. Over time, your employees will have confidence in the fact that bringing an issue up with you is the first step to solving it.

  1. Being Unheard Will Damage Your Employees’ Motivation

If you’re focused on building a strong sense of employee engagement, listening is one of your most important tools. Put all the perks like catered snacks and bring-your-dog-to-work policies on the back burner. None of those are as vital as simply reaching out for employee feedback. Leadership expert Brian Tracy puts it bluntly: “Every time you fail to use listening skills and withhold your close attention from another person when they are talking, you make them feel valueless and unimportant. You start to create a negative downward spiral that can lead to unhappiness and disaffection in a workplace.”

Establish a direct line to hearing your employees by initiating a policy of employee check-ins. Using this systematic approach will help to ensure that you don’t lose track of any employee. Engagement must be nurtured proactively across all employees, even those who appear to be doing well on their own. Those individuals who are quietly productive can just as quietly fall into a pit of despair and start searching for a job where their diligence is recognized.

Always-on employee feedback empowers employees and managers – and has an immediate impact on employee engagement. For more information on staying tuned in to your workforce, download our white paper on “Taking the Pulse of Employee Engagement”. You can also visit Achievers Listen, and learn how your company can benefit from a new climate of transparency.

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About the Author

Natalie Baumgartner is the Chief Workforce Scientist at Achievers. She has spent her career advising companies of all sizes, from entrepreneurial startups to Fortune 500 firms, on issues related to company culture. Specifically tackling key hire assessment and portfolio due diligence issues, she’s found success analyzing what most overlook – the human element. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with a specific focus on assessment and additional training in strength-based psychology. Natalie serves on the board of the Consulting Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association. She is a popular speaker on culture and recently did a TEDx talk on the importance of culture fit. Natalie is a culture evangelist and is passionate about the power that culture fit has to revolutionize how we work. As an avid Boot Camp aficionado, if you can’t find Natalie in the office odds are good you’ll bump into her sprinting up mountains in her hometown of Denver, CO.

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AI and HR

Perils and Promise: What Machines and Millennials are Doing to HR (Part 3)

Part 3: … And What You Need to Do About It

(Read Part 1 and Part 2)

This is the third installment of my blog series. We’ve looked at how changes in the workforce are changing HR and we’ve also explored how a constellation of technologies will change the future of work and the very nature of labor itself. Next, we are going to get specific…what should you do about it?

As an applied futurist, it’s my job to not only envision the possible and probable future but to also work with organizations to figure out what they should do. How can you not only take steps to prepare for what’s coming, but how can you actually shape it?

My intention is to make it simple and easy to apply what you’ve learned. Essentially, here’s what you can do on Monday to prepare for the future.

Monday Focus: The Machines

Machines really aren’t that complicated for HR. Technology does not get to decide it’s future. Humans and organizations get to decide how it is implemented. All work is about humans. Everything we do as professionals is about people. As anyone in HR knows, all business is people business. So, let’s start with people.

As we imagine a future where we have autonomous technologies, what do we need to do to make sure we are keeping humans at the center? We always need to keep humans at the center of what we do. We have seen through time that any time we stray from keeping humans at the center of our decision-making, we get ourselves in trouble.

Autonomous technologies are going to afford us incredible efficiencies. They will streamline our work and they will also do away with many roles the people are actually doing today.

This is where I tell you that if a machine can take your job, then your job probably sucked. Really! If a machine can do your job, then it means that your job was turning you into a machine. The real opportunity for machines transforming the workforce is that they will free us up to be more human. We let the machines do what the machines are good at and we as humans engage with other humans. This is how we future proof the future of work. Be human.

As we bring in more autonomous technologies into the workplace, we must make sure that we are keeping humans at the center. This doesn’t mean that people have to do everything. However, we do have to ask ourselves WHY. Why are we doing this? Why are we automating this system or task? And WHAT do we hope to get out of it?

To be more specific, if you are going to implement an AI or autonomous technology in your business there are some pretty simple questions you should ask IT professionals, engineers, or vendors about when it comes to the use of these new technologies in the workplace. You don’t have to be a technology expert; you need to be a people expert.

Your To-Do List:

  1. Ask: What are you optimizing for?

All algorithms optimize.  You can’t consider all of the data all of the time. When you write an algorithm you have to limit the data that you are feeding into it. In short, you have to make choices. You have to ask yourself what are you optimizing for? What is the work that you are trying to do?

  1. Ask: What is the bias?

All data has bias. Algorithms have bias as well. At the highest-level bias is the prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair. Recently there have been well-documented cases of data and algorithmic bias in law enforcement, healthcare and the courts. It is important to understand how your organization is choosing the data they will be using. Urge your organization to get to know the data and also the bias of the algorithms.

In recent years, the high tech industry is coming to grips with the reality of bias to the point that the IEEE computer society is making recommendations for how to deal with it. This conversation will make sure that you are keeping a human perspective in these systems and having a healthy discussion on any blended team of technologies and HR professionals.

  1. Ask: Who is your outlier?

Always look for the outlier. In every system and in every algorithm, there is no way to completely understand all the data sets and all the people. When you have a system that is set up, it is always a good exercise to ask yourself, “Who are we not serving?”

“Whether your AI solution drives an internal system for HR or a customer-facing system that impacts your brand it’s important you constantly look for the outlier,” Renny Gleeson, Managing Director of Business Innovation Group for Wieden + Kennedy, explained in his upcoming report “Artificial Intelligence and the Home.” Wieden + Kennedy is a global, independent agency that creates strong and provocative relationships between good companies and their customers. “Who is the system not serving?”, Gleeson continued.  “To train your AI you need as much historical data as possible. How do you prevent your exciting new AI from trapping your organization in the status quo it’s been trained in rather than the future you seek? This search, this constant questioning, allows your organization and your brand to have a better chance of serving better – and finding the error before the error finds you.”

The constant interrogation of the autonomous system that we are using is important. Using these systems to gain efficiencies is great and they will give us incredible gains in productivity, but we have to remain vigilant. We have to keep people at the center. We must constantly interrogate the algorithms and the system to determine who are we not including. Who is the outlier?

Ok, that’s the machine part of this.

Millennials (and Gen Z)

We need to stop acting like they are not in the room. They are here and we need to involve them in the process. More importantly, we need to make sure they are helping us to make our organizations more attractive for the next generation after.

Your To-Do List:

  1. Stop talking about millennials. Start talking about purpose.

They are in the room. They are in your company. Understand that they are the key to your success. Millennials and Gen Z are more purpose-driven than any other generation in the workforce. Not only does the work you do matter but WHY as an organization are you doing this work? What is your higher purpose beyond just making money? Because it matters.

For some, these conversations might feel foreign but they are necessary because talent has choices. As the largest percentage of the labor force, millennials and Gen Z can choose where they want to put their time. Good talent always has a choice of what organization to work for.  Give them a reason to work for you.

  1. Empower millennials.

How are you empowering the next generation to make your organization successful? As the boom generation, they will have mass and be the ones to take the reins. What are you doing to ensure that they are benefiting from your experience? Are you giving them the freedom to make a new environment?

Are you creating physical and digital places for employees of all generations to mingle and collaborate? From co-working spaces to couches and long tables, where are the spaces in your organization that encourage people to gather. These are the spaces where relationships are built and innovation springs forward. They are communities inside of communities. Once you’ve discovered the nature of these physical spaces for your group, search outside their digital equivalent.

  1. Curate your culture and make millennials mentors.

As HR professionals you understand your organization. Fostering a positive and inclusive culture is extremely important. But, also as important is making sure that when you do bring in these new workers, they are a good fit to the true culture of your workplace. Because purpose matters so much, make sure that your organization’s purpose is in sync with the possible employee’s purpose as well.

Millennials are mentors. It’s time for them to not only take over the workforce, but empower up and down inside the organization. This not only means mentoring Gen Z but also “mentoring up.”  I’ve also been asked the following by senior level leaders that are baby boomers or Gen Z: What can they do to prepare their organizations for the future? My response is get a millennial mentor. They are the future workforce. Let them help you be as successful as possible. Remember the future involves all of us.

Come see me at ACE 2018 to learn more about what machines and millennials are doing to HR. Check out my entire blog series, starting at Part 1.

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Do you want to learn more about AI and HR? Check out Achievers’ webinar recording “Engagement: How AI Helps HR to be More Human, Not Less.”

Do you have any thoughts on this article? Share your comments below.

About the Author

Brian JohnsonThe future is Brian David Johnson’s business. As a futurist he works with organizations to develop an actionable 10 -15 year vision and what it will feel like to live in the future. His work is called futurecasting, using ethnographic field studies, technology research, cultural history, trend data, global interviews and even science fiction to provide a pragmatic road map of the future. As an applied futurist Johnson has worked with governments, trade organizations, start-ups and multinational corporations to not only help envision their future but specify the steps needed to get there. Johnson is currently the futurist in residence at Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination, a professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and the Director of the ASU Threatcasting Lab. He is also a Futurist and Fellow at Frost and Sullivan.

Johnson speaks and writes extensively in ongoing columns for IEEE Computer Magazine and Successful Farming where he is the “Farm Futurist”. He has contributed articles to publications like The Wall Street Journal, Slate, and Wired Magazine. Johnson holds over 40 patents and is the best-selling author of both science fiction and fact books (WAR: Wizards and Robots, Humanity in the Machine, 21st Century Robot and Science Fiction Prototyping). He was appointed first futurist ever at the Intel Corporation in 2009 where he worked for over a decade helping to design over 2 billion microprocessors. Johnson appears regularly on Bloomberg TV, PBS, FOX News, and the Discovery Channel and has been featured in Scientific American, The Technology Review, Forbes, INC, and Popular Science. He has directed two feature films and is an illustrator and commissioned painter. In 2016 Samuel Goldwyn released “Vintage Tomorrows” a documentary based upon Johnson’s book of the same name.

 

AI and HR

Perils and Promise: What Machines and Millennials are Doing to HR (Part 2)

Part 2: AI + HR = Promises and Perils

(Read Part 1 and Part 3)

This is the second installment of my blog series. We’ve looked at how changes in the workforce are changing HR. Next, we’re going to explore how a constellation of technologies will change the future of work and the very nature of human labor itself.

In 2016, I wrote a paper for Frost and Sullivan called “The Coming Age of Sentient Tools.” In it I explored what comes after “the next big thing.” You know the next big thing…it’s the thing that everyone is writing, talking, or worried about. In fact, there are a lot of next big things that are coming. Over the next 10 years, we will see a constellation of technologies moving into the mainstream that will have fundamental change on how we live and do business. They will especially effect HR.

Artificial Intelligence

The modern definition of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is “the study and design of intelligent agents where an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions which maximizes its chances of success.” To be clear, I am not talking about machines that are smarter than humans or even Super AI. There are legitimate concerns raised by people like Stephen Hawking but this is an ethical, moral, policy, legal, and ultimately philosophical dissuasion. It is a discussion that needs to happen, but I am not a philosopher. I am a futurist; I work with people to build futures.

When I talk about AI, I am generally referring to “industrial AI”. This is the AI that lands our planes, helps us find a movie to watch, or the next book we will buy. It does work and it’s coming. Over the next ten years we will see AI move into more and more of our business lives. This move is filled with promise but there are also perils.

AI promises to streamline how we work, take over simple and repetitive tasks, and even discover insights in large data sets that are beyond human comprehension. It’s going to be pretty amazing. But with automation and the lack of human inside comes peril.

Internet of Things and Smart Cities

Over the next ten years, we will see the Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart Cities more into the mainstream. One way to view both IoT and Smart Cities are different sides of the same coin. On one side of the coin you have IoT, the ability to turn anything into a computer. Essentially, if you can find a reason to make devices smart, sensing, and connected, you can do it; from thermostats to door bells. If there’s a reason, you can do it.

The other side of this coins are smart cities; a larger connected environment of buildings and city infrastructure. What would it mean to make an entire city smart, connected, and sensing? It would mean everything from energy efficient and safer buildings to smart parking meetings and even autonomous transportation of people and goods.

Imagine how these devices and buildings that are now aware could transform the workplace.  There is a real promise for safer, healthier, and more sustainable and productive places to work. I even like to imagine, what would it mean to have an office that not only allowed you to get your work done better and faster but also tried to make you laugh on a Monday or get you excited about your weekend on Friday?

But all this intelligence fueled by data exposes employees to a broader landscape of threats and misuse. HR has a specific and important role to play as these amazing new capabilities are brought into the workplace.

Robots Both Physical and Digital

Finally, we will see more robots. Right now, if you see a robot moving down the side walk it is interesting and maybe slightly odd. But imagine a future when seeing robot at work or on the street delivering dinner is commonplace.

A helpful way to imagine all of these technologies as they make their way into the workplace is to see them as autonomous technology. This could be physical autonomy like self-driving cars or warehouse robots. But autonomy can be strictly digital like AI, chat bots, and machine learning algorithms. These are the machines that will radically change HR.

But, how can we do business when the very nature of labor is changing? If machines begin to do more human work, how do we define work for humans? Ultimately, we will need to reimagine how we value human labor.

Come see me at ACE 2018 to learn more about what machines and millennials are doing to HR. Stay tuned for the my next blog post covering machines and millennials, but more importantly, what you need to do about it!

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For more information on AI and HR, view Achievers’ webinar recording “Engagement: How AI Helps HR to be More Human, Not Less.”

Do you have any thoughts on this article? Share your comments below.

About the Author

Brian JohnsonThe future is Brian David Johnson’s business. As a futurist he works with organizations to develop an actionable 10 -15 year vision and what it will feel like to live in the future. His work is called futurecasting, using ethnographic field studies, technology research, cultural history, trend data, global interviews and even science fiction to provide a pragmatic road map of the future. As an applied futurist Johnson has worked with governments, trade organizations, start-ups and multinational corporations to not only help envision their future but specify the steps needed to get there. Johnson is currently the futurist in residence at Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination, a professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and the Director of the ASU Threatcasting Lab. He is also a Futurist and Fellow at Frost and Sullivan.

Johnson speaks and writes extensively in ongoing columns for IEEE Computer Magazine and Successful Farming where he is the “Farm Futurist”. He has contributed articles to publications like The Wall Street Journal, Slate, and Wired Magazine. Johnson holds over 40 patents and is the best-selling author of both science fiction and fact books (WAR: Wizards and Robots, Humanity in the Machine, 21st Century Robot and Science Fiction Prototyping). He was appointed first futurist ever at the Intel Corporation in 2009 where he worked for over a decade helping to design over 2 billion microprocessors.  Johnson appears regularly on Bloomberg TV, PBS, FOX News, and the Discovery Channel and has been featured in Scientific American, The Technology Review, Forbes, INC, and Popular Science. He has directed two feature films and is an illustrator and commissioned painter. In 2016 Samuel Goldwyn released “Vintage Tomorrows” a documentary based upon Johnson’s book of the same name.

 

millennials

Perils and Promise: What Machines and Millennials are Doing to HR (Part 1)

Part 1: Millennials and Gen Z

(Read Part 2 and Part 3)

I’m a futurist. I work with organizations to look out into the future, modeling both positive and negative futures. I do this using a process called futurecasting. The inputs and research are a mix of social science, technical research, cultural history, economics, global cultural trends, expert interviews and even a little science fiction. As an applied futurist, I not only construct possible and probable futures, but I also work with organizations to implement actions today to prepare and even shape their tomorrow.

Starting in 2016, organizations began asking me not just about the future of work but more specifically about the future workforce. Who are the employees of the future? How will you find them? How will you retain them? There’s good reason for this. We are experiencing a shift in our labor like we have not seen for decades.

Let’s start with the math:

  • More than a third of the current workforce are millennials and in 2016 they became the largest generation in the workforce.
  • 10,000 millennials turn 21 every day in the U.S.
  • And probably the most important statistic: By the year 2025 millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce

That answers the question: The workforce of the future is millennial and also a little Gen Z. Gen Z is the generation that is entering college today.

Now, if you have read this far you are probably not a millennial because most millennials know this and quiet frankly are getting a little tired of people talking about them like they are not in the room. Right now, they are 1 of every 3 people in the room. Look around…

Millennials and Gen Z are one of the most heavily researched, studied, talked about and honestly complained about generations in history. But what can HR organizations and employers do to prepare? One simple way to get started is to just ask them.

Julia Rose West is an author and futurist that studies millennials and Gen Z. On a recent podcast “Navigating the Noise: Meet your New Employee, Customer, Client and/or Boss” about the next generation of workers, I asked West what organizations should consider when bringing these new employees into the labor force.

Regarding Gen Z, Rose remarked, “We’ve seen a lot of jobs ending in career switching with millennials, but Generation Z is projected to do a whole lot less of this. Partly because they grew up during the recession, and they’re drawn to stability…they would rather take up new roles and challenges with an existing company, than change companies.”

Many HR departments are changing how they recruit and retain new workers. Some are even exploring how they lose their millennial workers and how they can bring them back again. Traditional organizations like manufacturing and warehousing had to think twice about why employees left their organizations for other companies. They are seeing that their next generation workers want to continue to explore new roles and new companies. This doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t want to return, especially if there’s an environment that embraces personal growth and change. In fact, they are coming back with more diverse and expansive job experience.

How can HR adapt to millennials and Gen Z?  The answer is simple. West points out that these generations, “hold out for fulfilling work. Once they find that work, they’re less likely to leave a company, as long as the company’s mission and work continues to align with their values.”

So, do your company policies and values align? It wouldn’t be a bad idea to hire a millennial or two into your HR department, if you haven’t already, and listen to them.

Now it should be said that these sweeping generalizations about the next generation labor force are not 100% accurate. Individuals have their own traits and desires, but you can’t escape the math. The workforce of the future is changing…are you?

Come see me at ACE 2018 to learn more about what machines and millennials are doing to HR. Stay tuned for the my next blog post covering AI and HR.

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Are you curious about AI? Check out Achievers’ webinar recording “Engagement: How AI Helps HR to be More Human, Not Less.”

Do you have any thoughts on this article? Share your comments below.

About the Author

Brian JohnsonThe future is Brian David Johnson’s business. As a futurist he works with organizations to develop an actionable 10 -15 year vision and what it will feel like to live in the future. His work is called futurecasting, using ethnographic field studies, technology research, cultural history, trend data, global interviews and even science fiction to provide a pragmatic road map of the future. As an applied futurist Johnson has worked with governments, trade organizations, start-ups and multinational corporations to not only help envision their future but specify the steps needed to get there. Johnson is currently the futurist in residence at Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination, a professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and the Director of the ASU Threatcasting Lab. He is also a Futurist and Fellow at Frost and Sullivan.

Johnson speaks and writes extensively in ongoing columns for IEEE Computer Magazine and Successful Farming where he is the “Farm Futurist”. He has contributed articles to publications like The Wall Street Journal, Slate, and Wired Magazine. Johnson holds over 40 patents and is the best-selling author of both science fiction and fact books (WAR: Wizards and Robots, Humanity in the Machine, 21st Century Robot and Science Fiction Prototyping). He was appointed first futurist ever at the Intel Corporation in 2009 where he worked for over a decade helping to design over 2 billion microprocessors. Johnson appears regularly on Bloomberg TV, PBS, FOX News, and the Discovery Channel and has been featured in Scientific American, The Technology Review, Forbes, INC, and Popular Science. He has directed two feature films and is an illustrator and commissioned painter. In 2016 Samuel Goldwyn released “Vintage Tomorrows” a documentary based upon Johnson’s book of the same name.

 

 

Achievers CARES

Achievers CARES: Going Above and Beyond with Employee Volunteer Opportunities

It’s easy to come to work, put your head down and focus on your tasks at hand. I am young and I care so much more about what the impact of my work means, not just that things get done.

At Achievers, we understand that work is so much more than getting things done. The company’s motto is to Change the way the world works, and we truly believe that. I am amazed every day by the efforts everyone puts in, and by the many opportunities available to me to impact my community. I have been fortunate to volunteer a bunch this year, with numerous opportunities provided to me through Achievers CARES, our volunteer-led, staff charitable group – who help people like me get involved.

One of the main perks of volunteers with Achievers CARES is that you develop deeper relationships with your co-workers, many of whom you would not normally cross paths with as much.

I volunteer because we are permitted four volunteer days each year, and my manager is extremely understanding in providing me the time off. I’m lucky to be encouraged to do more than just my job, and I’ve been able to meet some really great colleagues and friends through the experiences I’ve had. Volunteering has helped me professionally, as it’s an added avenue for relationship-building that otherwise wouldn’t come up as much. It’s amazing to experience some of the great things happening in our local community, and it feels good to give my time. It is through my volunteering experiences that I’ve cultivated friendships and learned more about our business through the perspective of the people I am volunteering with.

When I was graduating university, I never imagined working at a company that offers so many opportunities. I always encourage new graduates to find a place that allows them to do the things they love, and that advice applies to experienced professionals as well. I am proud when people look up to me and ask my opinion about the work I do – it’s a great feeling! Knowing that our business cares about employee values gives me a sense of pride in my workplace and makes me that much more grateful to support initiatives that truly do Change the way the world works. Some of the events I’ve enjoyed the most this year are:

  1. CN Tower Climb for WWF: This one was tough, but great exercise as we collectively climbed the CN Tower as a team. I had never climbed to the top of the tower before, and it was great relief to get to the top! It didn’t feel like a lot of work, even though we raised a a large amount of money and woke up early to climb to the top of the tower.
  2. Kids Learning Code Camp: I participated this summer, and it was amazing to see campers, High School volunteers, University summer employees all come together with full-time employees to help deliver a meaningful experience for the kids at the camp. We helped teach kids about how to develop and market a business; and the kids were so young! They were smart and motivated, and I was proud when people asked for my opinion as we moved through the content.
  3. Blood Drive with Canadian Blood Services: I think everyone should give blood, and I’m grateful that Achievers CARES organizes this for us. I don’t think I would be as willing to organize this on my own. Since they make it easy to get involved, I go every time and I truly feel like I am saving lives.
  4. Food Drive for Parkdale Community Foodbank: We have some fun department competition with this one. The goal is to bring in the most amount of food by department, and the winner gets a pizza party. The best part is, through friendly competition, we make a big impact in the local community that relies on these types of donations to survive – it’s incredible.

There is no doubt that Toronto has grown increasingly competitive for top talent, and I’m sure that companies know this. We are lucky to have an organization that cares about employees having a meaningful experience. Our Achievers CARES team dedicates so much of their time to ensuring that we have valuable opportunities in our local community, and I could not be more grateful. It is so easy for me to get involved and have fun too! This team really goes above and beyond to identify awesome opportunities and raise necessary funds for local charities. Thanks to their efforts, we raise thousands of dollars for local and international initiatives and get involved in our communities to make the world a better place.

If you are reading this and don’t currently have a clearly defined employee volunteering or fundraising plan, don’t wait and get started today! It’s never too late to show your employees that you care about what they care about and are willing to invest in your community.

Thank you to our amazing group of Achievers CARES volunteers who make our workplace a brighter place, and show they care about our local communities.

Learn more by viewing the Achievers CARES photo album.

Do you want to join the A-Team? Apply for one of our open positions here.

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About the Author
Jeremy KwokJeremy Kwok is a Software Engineer (Development) at Achievers.

 

 

 

 

 

Employee Listening and Feedback

How to Show Your Workforce That You’re Really Listening

It’s no secret that the majority (87 percent) of today’s workers feel disengaged in the workplace. While there are many reasons for this high level of disengagement, employee complaints about employers not listening to them certainly ranks high on the list. In fact, a recent study revealed that more than one-third of the workforce believes that their employers do not listen to their ideas.

This is a staggering number and one that employers should not overlook. Not only can showing your workforce that you are really listening to them improve employee engagement levels, but it also can boost workplace morale, job satisfaction rates and overall retention. The good news is that listening to your employees is not as difficult as you might think. Here are some tips to get you started.

Let Employees Speak

The first step to really listening to your employees is to pave the way for them to speak. If your employees already feel like you’re not listening, you cannot expect them to spontaneously come to you with ideas or concerns. According to a recent study, more than 40 percent of junior-level workers state that they are afraid to bring ideas or concerns to upper management. Your employees will never feel heard if they don’t feel comfortable speaking up in the first place.

You can overcome this barrier by developing a platform for them to speak. Pulse surveys can be an extremely effective platform, especially when using an anonymous and easy-to-use interface, such as single-click surveys. Offering a fast and secure way for employees to voice their opinion can improve day-to-day engagement with your team and provide you with candid feedback.

Make Listening a Priority

It is not enough to simply say that you’re going to start listening to your workers, you must make listening to them a priority. It’s important to develop active listening skills, so your team knows that you are really listening to what they have to say. Improving your listening skills will make you a better leader and enable you to better manage your team.

Look for and create opportunities to listen to your team. For example, set time aside when conducting both individual and group meetings for your employees to discuss their work experience and provide constructive feedback. Once your team discovers that they are able to provide honest feedback without negative results from management, they will start to look forward to these opportunities to share their ideas with you.

Prepare to Hear the Good and the Bad

Don’t make a commitment to listen to your employees if you’re not ready to hear what they have to say. You must prepare yourself to hear both positive and negative feedback. How you respond to your employees, regardless of how you feel about the input, will have a direct impact on their willingness to give their opinions in the future. Remember that the goal is to show your employees that you are really listening to them, whether you like what they have to say or not.

Make Engagement Part of the Process

Listening is the starting point for boosting employee engagement in the workplace. When your employees express an opinion, it is important to actively listen to what they have to say by taking the time to ask questions, gather feedback and encourage them to elaborate more on their input so you have a rich understanding of what they’re trying to communicate.

Ensure that you’ve heard them fully by repeating back what you’ve heard, giving them an opportunity to clarify their points if necessary. Engaging with your people in this way will let them know that you are listening to them and it will reduce potential miscommunication between you and your team.

Take Action

Listening is only the first step. You must also take action. This doesn’t mean that you have to act on every suggestion or concern that your team has, but you should always closely evaluate what they have to say. Then, when you come across employee suggestions or concerns that call for more attention, don’t stop at just listening – take action.

Develop a plan that will put your employee’s idea into action. Technology can help with this by delivering bite-sized, personalized actions to employees and managers so that everyone is empowered to impact engagement right away. When your employees know that you are willing to make changes based on ideas or issues they have shared, they will know that you not only want to listen to them – but that you truly care about what they have to say.

Follow-Up Is Vital

Listening is not a point-in-time activity, it is ongoing. If you fail to follow up on the input you’ve received, your efforts to show your employees that you are really listening to them will be for naught. For example, take the time to thank your employees for providing honest feedback, let your employees know what actions, if any, are being taken, and use communication tools (i.e., the company newsletter) to share survey results and follow on action. It’s critical that your employees know you’ve heard them, even if immediate change is not possible.

Listening to your employees boosts employee engagement and job satisfaction. It inspires positive change in the workplace and has an equally positive impact on the performance of your business. Take the first step in really listening to your employees by downloading Achievers’ white paper, “Taking the Pulse of Employee Engagement.”

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About the Author
Natalie Baumgartner is the Chief Workforce Scientist at Achievers. She has spent her career advising companies of all sizes, from entrepreneurial startups to Fortune 500 firms, on issues related to company culture. Specifically tackling key hire assessment and portfolio due diligence issues, she’s found success analyzing what most overlook – the human element. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with a specific focus on assessment and additional training in strength-based psychology. Natalie serves on the board of the Consulting Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association. She is a popular speaker on culture and recently did a TEDx talk on the importance of culture fit. Natalie is a culture evangelist and is passionate about the power that culture fit has to revolutionize how we work. As an avid Boot Camp aficionado, if you can’t find Natalie in the office odds are good you’ll bump into her sprinting up mountains in her hometown of Denver, CO.

 

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13 HR Stats That Will Make You Lose Sleep This Halloween

Halloween goblins might be scary, but it’s flesh-and-blood people that can really keep you up at night. People are the engine that drives your company’s profits, and if you’re not recognizing employees effectively, the financial fallout can be a real-life nightmare. Look through the unsettling stats below and take them to heart, if you want to keep the horror tales at the haunted house and not in your HR office.

  1. Just Being a Good Manager Isn’t Enough

To retain your most talented workers, the stats say you have to do more than just be considerate and reasonable. When Facebook’s top HR leaders surveyed employees who stayed with their company, those workers had certain things in common: “They found their work enjoyable 31 percent more often, used their strengths 33 percent more often, and expressed 37 percent more confidence that they were gaining the skills and experiences they need to develop their careers.” The takeaway? To keep your best people, shape their jobs based around their strengths and passion.

  1. Employee Engagement Decreases With Age

A survey by HR firm Robert Half UK found that more than twice as many employees over the age of 35 state that they are unhappy in their jobs, compared with younger workers. This is vital information, since the proportion of 55-and-older workers in the labor force is rising, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects that age group to represent 25 percent of the working population (40.6 million people) by 2024. Frequently recognizing employees of all generation types is vital if you want to maintain the benefit of their skills and experience.

  1. Only Half of Millennials Plan to Stay with Their Jobs

Statistics can be tricky. After reading about how older workers are less satisfied, we now find stats saying that it’s the younger people you have to worry about losing. Gallup research reveals that “21 percent of millennials say they’ve changed jobs within the past year, which is more than three times the number of non-millennials who report the same.” Whether you’re dealing with older workers who are unhappily stuck in a job they don’t like, or younger ones with one foot out the door, your best defense is a strong employee feedback program.

  1. Employees Who Feel Dead-Ended Will Leave

No path for advancement is the issue “that bums working Americans out the most,” according to CNN Money. If you want to retain your best talent, you’ll want to structure your organization so that they can move their career forward right from their current position. By practicing careful employee listening, you’ll be the first to know if there’s any brewing dissatisfaction, and then strategize on how to offer a solution.

  1. Ignoring Employee Engagement Hurts You Financially

Listening to your employees and offering recognition can boost engagement levels and are central to your organization’s long-term financial viability. New research published by Gallup News reports that “A highly engaged organization can see 18 percent higher revenue per employee compared with the average.” Stats like these are vital to bring to the C-suite, especially when you need to explain the benefits of a recognition program.

  1. Employees Skip Work More If They’re Not Learning

Do you make the mistake of assuming that your team is happiest when they know everything there is to know about their job tasks? In fact, the Gallup News article cited above notes that organizations could experience 44 percent less absenteeism and 16 percent higher productivity if they give their workers a chance to learn and grow on the job.

  1. Most Workers Don’t Feel They Can be Honest With Their Boss

Don’t assume that a silent employee is a happy one. A recent study shows that only 43 percent of employees “strongly agree” that they “can express thoughts, feelings and disagreements with [their] supervisor.” You need to create a safe environment, so that every one of your employees will feel comfortable telling you what they really think.

  1. Many Employees Don’t Think Their Company Serves Customers Well

It’s all too common for HR professionals to completely separate the metrics of employee well-being from customer experience. A 2018 report by Gallup on workplace culture shows that “only 26 percent of U.S. workers believe their organization always delivers on the promises they make to customers.” Fewer than half (41 percent) of employees even agree that they know what differentiates their company’s brand from its competitors. This sense of disconnection quickly becomes a terrible feedback cycle, because discouraged employees provide poor customer service.

  1. Lack of Inclusiveness Equals Lower Employee Engagement

There is good reason why 69 percent of executives surveyed by Deloitte cited diversity and inclusion as a top priority. Deloitte’s stats show that 39 percent of employees would leave their current company for one that had a more inclusive culture, and over half (53 percent) of millennials would do so. A diverse workplace environment brings fresh perspective, and facilitates the broadest possible range of useful employee feedback.

  1. If You’re Not Listening, You Can’t Retain Ambitious Employees

In today’s tight labor market, you’re competing for top talent. In a survey of employees who quit their jobs to pursue career development, 33 percent said the job they left had not matched their expectations in this respect. When you engage your team with frequent employee check-ins and pulse surveys, nobody’s hopes and expectations will go unnoticed.

  1. It’s Really Expensive to Replace Your Employees

On average, it costs $4129 for each hire, according to SHRM’s Human Capital Benchmarking Report. Moreover, the average annual employee turnover rate is 19 percent, or almost one out of five. You can’t prevent a few workers quitting for personal and family reasons. However, it’s definitely in your best interests to avoid losing any additional people as a result of them feeling unappreciated.

  1. Employees Shame Each Other About Taking Vacation Time

Even if you’re not the one doing the shaming, 59 percent of millennials report feeling ashamed to take the vacation days that they’re entitled to. Not only that, 42 percent of them even confessed to shaming their coworkers for that reason. Your encouragement to take time off will benefit your team: Statistics from Project Time Off note that 78 percent of managers say that managers feel vacations improve employee focus, and 70 percent say that workers are more committed to the company following paid time off.

  1. Your Workers Expect You to Support Their Work-Life Balance

A Glassdoor survey found that 85 percent of employees “expect their employer to support them in balancing their life between work and personal commitments.” These type of stats speak volumes about how the workplace environment is transforming in the 21st century. Are you keeping up with these evolving expectations?

To avoid HR nightmares this Halloween, learn more about how to effectively engage your workforce. Download our e-book, “Engage or Die: How Companies that Act Fast on Engagement Outpace the Competition.”

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Achievers CARES Team

Achievers CARES: How We Engage Employees Through Giving Back

Modern workplaces struggle to attract and retain top talent. We all know this, and if you look around today it’s easy to see that workers are demanding more alignment of values in their workplace. The competition for the best-of-the-best, coupled with a growing pool of opportunities, has companies spinning to look for new and exciting ways to connect with their workers. Globally, engagement rates amongst employees is an average 15%, and it will come as no surprise that people look for more than just a ‘job’ in their employer.

I’ve worked in the non-profit sector for the bulk of my career, and when transitioning into the tech sector, it was incredibly important for me to preserve the values associated with giving back. An important deciding factor for me in selecting Achievers as my next employer was primarily based on the organization’s culture. At Achievers, employees are provided an amazing opportunity to engage with organizations meaningful to them. We are provided four volunteer days per year to help an organization of our choice. 

The importance of giving back might not be specifically measurable, but the tangible nature of enabling employees to help their community is something that no doubt impacts staff retention.

Many modern workplaces have evolved to include Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts, but not all are effectively executed. Companies need to do more than convince their workforce that what they are doing is sufficient. CSR is often employer-mandated ‘giving back’, but there are a few things that businesses can consider to ensure employees feel empowered to give back to their communities.

At Achievers, we have Achievers CARES, a staff-led initiative that is run by volunteers who help employees identify engagement opportunities and raise necessary funds for local charities. Every year, we raise thousands of dollars for local and international development initiatives that help communities impacted by poverty, mental health and other areas close to our employee’s hearts. When I joined Achievers, I was fortunate to join Achievers CARES early on – it has been a great way to jump in and get involved. The level of planning and organization that goes into this well-oiled committee has been inspiring. We make it easy for newcomers to pick up and start rolling. Not only is the plan easy to execute, but the events we plan for our employees are fun and engaging. Here are three of our most successful and enjoyable annual initiatives:

  1. Top Chef

Achievers Top ChefThis event has run for four consecutive years and encourages employees to prepare a dish or purchase a ticket to taste staff-prepared dishes; staff is selected by employees through a voting process. We also invite local chefs to help judge employee dishes (past judges include: Rosa from Caffino in Liberty Village and Markus), in the categories of appetizer, main and dessert. The chef who is crowned winner for the event selects the local charity they would like to donate all event proceeds to. This is a fun way for employees to showcase their culinary skills and taste delicious selections from the diverse backgrounds of our team members. Each June we host this event, which is an Achievers favorite and one that encourages everyone to get involved – and it just happens to have a tasty meal! Top Chef’s goal is to raise funds for local charity and showcase the culinary skills of our employees.

  1. We Care Week

We Care WeekEach fall, we launch our Achievers We Care Week. During Achievers Care Week, we have an array of activities for employees to get involved with local charities. We make things fun, keep it relevant and end off the week with a fun social event for all staff – to thank them for their participation. This year, from September 24-28, we are volunteering at CAMH, Parkdale Foodbank, Scott Mission and raising some needed funds for Save Our Scruff. Together, we are making an impact on our community, and we are proud of the initiatives we are lucky to support.

 

  1. March Madness

March Madness Charity BracketMarch Madness is a popular time for sport enthusiasts, so we decided to capitalize on this and offer an opportunity for our employees (local and remote) to compete with one another. Using the existing NCAA college basketball pool, employees who want to participate are required to purchase a ticket and select the teams they think will be victorious. At the end of the tournament, the individual who has selected the most correct winners, will be awarded the opportunity to choose a local charitable beneficiary for half of the funds pooled, and the other half goes to the employee! Coupled with a March Food drive, this initiative ran for the first time in 2018 and was a huge hit amongst our staff. This is a great addition to our initiatives because it includes remote employees, which is a typical struggle companies face.

By ensuring we are thoughtful with our approach, we have successfully raised thousands of dollars and volunteered hundreds of hours as an organization. The best part about Achievers CARES’ initiatives is that employees genuinely want to participate – and it’s mainly because the opportunities are meaningful to them. Knowing that we’ve aligned our business and employee values gives our committee a sense of pride, and further motivates us to continue to innovate for everyone at Achievers. The planning that goes into our events and initiatives is easy to replicate for any organization. Check out our 2018 calendar of events below:

Achievers CARESIf you are reading this and don’t currently have a clearly defined CSR plan, don’t wait and get started today! It’s never too late to show your employees that you care about what they care about and are willing to invest in your community.

Thank you to our amazing group of Achievers CARES volunteers who make our events a hit:

  • Kelly Lawrence, Customer Success Manager II
  • Breanne Woodrow, Sr. Manager, Professional Services
  • Megan Sylvester, Supervisor, Client Services
  • Dave Cabral, Customer Success Manager
  • Yola Lis, Implementation Manager
  • Samira Hafezi, Staff Software Engineer
  • Kaitlyn Laframboise, Sales Development Representative
  • Celeste Van Vroenhoven, Sr. Sales Development Representative
  • Monika Shtun, Customer Success Associate
  • Darren Savage, Customer Success Manager
  • Justin Rutherford, Enterprise Account Executive
  • Phoebe Licata, Customer Success Associate
  • Sheila Yue, Sales Development Representative
  • Chris McTague, Sr. Software Engineer

Achievers CARES Team

Thank you for all that you do and thank you to Achievers’ employees for caring so deeply about our communities and bettering the world around us.

Learn more by viewing the Achievers CARES photo album.

Do you want to join the A-Team and be a part of Achievers CARES? Apply for one of our open positions here.

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About the Author
Meaghen Frame
Meaghen Frame is an Operations Manager (Professional Services) at Achievers. You can find her on Twitter @meaghenframe.

 

 

 

 

 

employee communication

4 Ways to Boost Workplace Productivity (And Workplace Happiness) Through Better Communication

Between group texts and always-on social media networks, your employees already consider screens and keyboards as vital means to ongoing conversations outside of the workplace. And your company likely uses social channels to build brand awareness, target users with focused messages, handle customer service conversations and more. Now, increasing evidence shows that better communication and using social tools within the workplace can foster increased connection and productivity.

A recent study found a significant correlation between the self-reported use of social technologies across the enterprise and self-reported employee engagement in 7 of 9 factors of employee engagement – a significant contributor to employee productivity.

Hard to believe? Not when you consider how much time you – or your team – spend on just two critical but time-consuming activities.

  • 36% (17 hours) – Portion of workweek spent responding to email
  • 20%  (9.3 hours) – Portion of workweek spent tracking down information, or seeking the person needed to provide information related to a given project

Think about that … almost one-half of at-work time is spent sending, responding to, looking for, then following up on email.

Now, thinking on your own workday, consider how much time is spent sending or responding to some variety of email asking, “Did you get that thing I sent you?” And no matter how many people are copied on that ever-lengthening email string, the only thing being created is confusion. Un-needed, unproductive meetings get scheduled, time gets wasted … it’s exhausting.

Unsurprisingly, people and connection are more effective fixes than simply rolling out a newer, better tool. Below are four ways to boost productivity (and workplace happiness) through better communication.

1. Strengthen Connections Between People

A recent Harvard Business Review study looked at a large financial services company’s implementation of an enterprise-class social platform. During implementation, roughly half the company had access to the tool. The other half continued to use traditional tools. At the end of the six-month intro, HBR called the results “remarkable.”

Simply by observing conversations taking place on the social channels, users reported themselves:

  • 31 percent more likely to find coworkers whose skills would help them meet job goals.
  • 88 percent more likely to know how to find an expert on a given topic.

In the same time period, the half of the company without access showed no improvement in these key measurements.

Enterprise social fosters quicker, more spontaneous collaboration across departments and can boost productivity. While increasing numbers of tech and service companies use platforms like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts and the like for work-critical tasks and conversations, now is the time for every employer to lean in and fully embrace what enterprise social can do to increase employee connection and engagement.

You can take internal channels one step further. Taking a cue from Reddit’s AMA (Ask Me Anything) threads, internal social channels can be a great places for specialists to share what they know. For example, HR could host “Ask Me Anything About Vacation Policy” that includes relevant links to your company’s intranet, updates, holiday schedules and the like.

And don’t overlook the importance of non-work-related communication/collaboration spaces. Establish a channel that allows your workgroup (or the whole company) to interact outside of the day-to-day tasks. Additionally, the channels and chat areas that are dedicated to projects or ongoing strategic discussions can stay more focused.

Of course, enterprise social carries liabilities with it similar to email and other platforms that connect with the outside world. Your HR and IT groups should work together to build training, usage and retention policies that cover your company’s obligations to protect internal documentation and IP while retaining as much of social’s ease of use as possible.

2. Kill Your AM Status Meeting

What comes out of your typical weekly (or daily) status meetings? If you’re like most companies, blame, bitterness and resignation are the typical deliverables. But status meetings don’t have to be like that. Simply by changing the way your traditional AM meeting works can lead to huge gains in productivity.

Change your standing status meetings to actual STANDING status meetings. Get out of the chairs, out from behind the laptops and up on your feet – then do a quick roundtable of what is actually happening today for each person in the group.

This is a meeting that should focus on what the group is working on today, rather than why the group is working on it.

Everyone in the meeting should answer two questions:

  • What are you working on today?
  • Are you missing anything in order to do the work?

By focusing on actual work in progress for the day, the entire workgroup gets a picture of the most immediate priorities. And by bringing up needs or work blockages in an open setting, the entire group gets a better sense of how all the elements of a project fit together. Save all the complicated coordination pieces for your project management software and 1:1 conversations with teammates. Don’t have a project management software? Get recommendations here and start managing your projects more smoothly.

A note of caution: “Are you missing anything?” isn’t meant for calling out co-workers who haven’t delivered or complaining about what another group is or isn’t doing. By focusing on what is actually needed to do your work (“I need the most recent TPS report from accounting in order to create the slide deck”), managers can help run down deliverables and get the work back on track.

3. Consider the Whiteboard

If Kanban has taught the world of work anything, it’s that visualizing your group’s work is a powerful tool for knowing what’s working and what’s not on a day-to-day basis. But you don’t need to be fully bought into Kanban to reap key benefits.

Use the humble whiteboard to track actual work in progress and the items your group is working on today. It doesn’t replace Gantt charts, project management systems or the more detailed to-do lists that everyone uses to keep track of workflow. Instead, the WIP Whiteboard (or WIP board) creates a powerful focal point for that new AM stand-up meeting you just initiated. Also, publicly erasing the previous day’s work as it’s completed is strangely gratifying, considering how simple an act it is.

4. Food Makes Everything Better

It’s a simple idea: the path to a more connected, more productive workplace is through your coworkers’ stomachs.

Consider getting the group together over pizza, boxed lunches, food truck fare or even BYO. Then invite the head of sales, the new business people or your boss’s boss to come and discuss successes, give a quarter-in-review update or just talk about how your group’s work feeds into the company’s progress as a whole.

No workgroup is an island. But sometimes, seeing the results of your work is difficult. Lunch-and-learns are the perfect setting to share insights from outside the four walls of your department.

The tone should be informal—no Powerpoint decks, no handouts. And your invited guest should be prepped to ensure the focus is on what works, rather than running down shortcomings and losses. This lunch-and-learn is focused on giving everyone a clearer picture of how what they do every day helps keep the company running smoothly and successfully.

The More Things Change…

The evolution of the workplace is constant. Deeply staffed departments occupying multiple floors in a central HQ complex are being replaced by smaller, more nimble workgroups. Rapidly shifting business models and a hot job market means that today’s perfectly oiled machine of a team is tomorrow’s alumni group. Your coworkers are more likely to be a combination of full-timers, contractors, freelancers and some guy named Derrick who works remote from Vancouver.

The key to increasing team productivity in the new world of work, however, is pretty straightforward. Communicate early. Communicate often.

We’re social animals.It’s important to have the immediacy of face-to-face conversation. In this age of always-connected distraction screens, sometimes the most powerful thing we have to communicate with each other is actual attention and interaction.

Did you know 78% of companies with a communication strategy were able to improve their employee experience? And let’s not forget the role recognition plays when it comes to enhancing the employee experience. Access Achievers latest report on “Building a Business Case for Social Recognition” to learn more.

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About the Author
Web Webster HeadshotWeb Webster is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com, covering technology, marketing, education, and healthcare for companies across the US. Implementing stand-up status meetings with a whiteboard changed his life.

 

 

 

 

Community

How to Build an Engaging Social Responsibility Strategy Into Your Culture

MLK Jr. QuoteI’ve always had a passion for giving back and caring for others, but I always struggled with the idea of choosing to go down that path as my career. I never wanted it to lose the meaning by becoming a job that I was required to do. So, I made the choice early on in my career to give back to my community in parallel with my career and that idea has never felt more supported than it does at Achievers. A while back, my co-chair, Kelly Lawrance, and I were at a discussion about how companies get buy-in, whether that be for budget, or to justify to leaders to give employees days to participate in social responsibility, etc. and one of the VP’s from Starbucks simply put, “The business case is that it is our moral obligation to give back to humanity,” and I couldn’t agree more – and luckily, neither could the Achievers Senior Leadership Team (SLT).

At Achievers, employees are given four days a year to give back. There are endless opportunities to participate in company fundraising events and personal volunteer initiatives that the company helps support financially. All of this is facilitated and set up, by the Achievers CARES committee, a volunteer-based committee that manages Achievers Corporate Social Responsibility. Along the way, we have learned a lot about building a successful Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program within our culture and we have course corrected a few times to ensure that employees are engaged with the opportunities provided.

So, on behalf of the Achievers CARES team, we thought we would share a few guiding principles that you can easily apply to your organization:

  1. Leadership Buy-In Is Key, Even If It’s Just One Leader

Find a leader that shares the same passion for giving back as much as your committee does. Share with these passionate leaders your plans and goals and have a very clear idea of what you are asking of them. Are you asking for their time, approval on budget or their participation in events? Either way, go in with a plan and preferably an annual one that requires one approval.

  1. Learn What Your Employees Care About

All too often, organizations force their own personal philanthropy agendas on their employees and unfortunately, as a result, employees aren’t as engaged. After surveying our employees, we learned that giving back is personal and very diverse, with opportunities to give back ranging vastly. As a committee, we’ve always tried to balance that. We’ve done this by supporting both local and global causes. Our employees expressed that while global is extremely important, so many issues are right in our backyards. Along with our global partnership with WE, we’ve also put a really strong focus on mental illness and homelessness across cities closest to our employees. For us, that’s mostly across the GTA (Toronto area) and San Francisco. We learned that, “it is estimated that 1 in 5 Canadians and Americans will experience a mental illness throughout their lifetime”, so as a committee and organization we are highly focused on doing what we can to help. For other causes (environmental, animal cruelty, etc.), we source opportunities and host them on our recognition platform so that employees can choose to get involved. And the best part is, if it’s something that they are passionate about, they rally people to join them!

  1. Give Employees Equal Amounts of Opportunities

This was an important thing for Achievers CARES to focus on. We heard from our employees that there was a mix of employees who would prefer to give their time over money and vice versa, so it became incredibly important as a committee to ensure that we were always providing opportunities throughout the year to do both. We want to make sure employees feel connected to what they are participating in, and more importantly, aren’t restricted to participate due to financial or time constraints.

  1. Plan Out Your Year and Focus On a Common Goal

We decided about a year ago to pick a few key initiatives to facilitate as a committee and then to source opportunities; our aim was for the participation to grow organically. We set a budget at the beginning of the year, got budget approval, planned out our key events (one being Top Chef which is always a HUGE hit!) and from there we divide and conquer as a committee. Being a volunteer-based committee, it is important to divide and conquer since we are typically busy attending to our regular jobs.

  1. Have a Committee of Passionate People to Help Run the CSR Initiatives

Achievers’ CSR is 100% run through the Achievers CARES committee that is passionate about giving back and are all active volunteers. Each of us have different roles on the committee and we meet frequently to ensure that we’re sourcing opportunities, communicating to our employees and creating fun events to give back. Together, we’re able to pull off monthly activities and a few big events a year.

As a result, we’ve raised significant funds and volunteered hundreds of hours as an organization both locally (in San Francisco – Project Open Hand and Friends of the Urban Forest and Toronto – primarily Parkdale Foodbank, one of the least funded but most utilized food banks in Toronto) and globally, through our partnership with WE.

Winston Churchill Quote

If you currently don’t have a CSR strategy built into your workplace, why not? Today, employees are interviewing companies as much as companies are interviewing them. Employees are looking at a company’s values and seeing if they’re aligned to their own values. It’s safe to say almost everyone can connect to the importance of giving back. Not to mention, CSR initiatives are great way to connect with colleagues, do the right thing and feel good about giving back to the community.

A huge shout-out to our Achievers CARES team who make a difference every single day. Our success wouldn’t exist without all of you and the world would be a little less bright without your efforts – Kelly Lawrance, Megan Sylvester, Yola Lis, Meaghen Frame, Dave Sinyi, Monika Shtun, Samira Hafezi, Chris McTague, Kaitlyn Laframboise, Sheila Yue and Phoebe Licata. Thank you to our employees for caring so deeply about our communities and bettering the world around us.

Learn more by viewing the Achievers CARES photo album.

Do you want to join the A-Team? Apply for one of our open positions here.

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About the Author
headshot Breanne Woodrow
Breanne is a Senior Manager of Professional Services and leads a team of Technical Consultants at Achievers. Her teams focus is on launching and expanding success programs onto the Achievers platform. Outside of work, Breanne loves to read, do pilates and spend time with her friends, family and dog Eddy. Breanne is the Co-Chair of Achievers CARES, along with Kelly Lawrance.

 

 

 

 

HR thought leaders

Words of Advice from 7 HR Thought Leaders

We have some stellar thinkers in the HR field today, so we decided to present a sampling of their pithy advice. Each of the people profiled below have their own unique take on managing your human capital, and you may even find a favorite or two whom you want to follow.

“You can’t prevent attrition if your organization doesn’t attend to employee experience.”

Meghan M. Biro is the founder and CEO of TalentCulture and an in-demand HR analyst.

In a recent Forbes article, Biro writes about the urgent need of focusing on the employee experience. She points out the disconnect that occurs in many organizations, where human capital is given lip service but no top-level executive is in charge of overseeing the well-being of workers. “Do you have a senior people manager?” she asks, “And if so, are they in the C-Suite?” Biro is a big fan of HR tech, but in her Forbes piece she observes that technology won’t solve problems unless it’s guided by a strategic vision. And that vision has to focus on what it’s like to be an employee.

“Don’t underestimate the power of recognition and how vital it is to create a positive work environment.”

David Novak is founder and CEO of oGoLead, a leadership development program.

In his recent commentary on CNBC, Novak describes the crisis brought about by toxic leadership. He observes that “actively disengaged workers are costing the U.S. as much as $600 billion in lost productivity” and that the cost of millennial turnover may be as much as $30 billion. He points out that “everyone likes to be appreciated for their contributions” and that employee rewards should be offered along the way, whenever you see great work. That way, momentum stays strong and your people will feel personally invested in the company’s mission.

“Managers need to stop telling people how to get better when they can’t provide enough staffing, training, tools or information for their people to succeed.”

Shane Green is the author of “Culture Hacker” and the founder and president of SGEI.

When providing informal feedback to employees, Green reminds managers that they have to start off by being fair. Informal feedback, provided immediately after a particular employee action, needs to include a listening component. He points out, “Do not deliver a lecture. Staff tune out managers when all they do is give a speech.” When you listen to your people and empower them with the tools that they need, you may find that performance issues resolve themselves.

“Most of us work for a reason: we want to spend our time contributing to others and creating something bigger than ourselves.”

Founder and principal at Bersin by Deloitte, Josh Bersin is a global HR analyst.

Bersin writes about the concept of meaningful work as a necessary foundation for employee engagement. He unpacks the concept of “meaningful” in the context of a job that can often feel routine. A meaningful job has four characteristics:

  • Autonomy: Workers need the freedom to accomplish tasks in their own style.
  • Selection for Fit: Managers should match tasks and employee skills.
  • Small Teams: Human beings perform most effectively in groups where they know each other.
  • Time for Slack: Workers need a chance to reflect and compare notes.

“Ensuring employees remain interested in their work creates a greater sense of purpose and deeper connection to their tasks and the company as a whole.”

Natalie Baumgartner is Chief Workforce Scientist at Achievers and she has spent her career translating engagement and culture research into software that enhances the employee experience.

In her recent Chief Executive Magazine article, Baumgartner points out that it’s important to remember humans are beings of change. Employees’ passions, interests and entire lives evolve over time. It is a costly retention error to believe talent who started their journey enthusiastically will always remain so. She shares, “While change is obviously a natural process, it’s important to catch dips in passion before employees start looking for new jobs. Use daily polls or pulse surveys to gauge interest, engagement, and overall job experiences. These frequent check-ins open the door for ongoing discussions about their future opportunities with the company.”

“I am starting to think of chatbots as your newest HR team member, one that allows employees to easily retrieve answers to frequently asked questions.”

Jeanne Meister is the founder of HR advisory firm Future Workplace and author of the 2017 book “The Future Workplace Experience.”

Meister works at the cutting edge of HR tech, and she maintains a vision of the direction that human resources is headed in. She promotes artificial intelligence as the source of solutions that make management more responsive to employee needs. When workers perceive the HR department as being their ally, performance will improve throughout the organization. Meister points out that some 75 percent of workplaces will use chatbots for some part of their HR solutions by 2020, and she notes that this technology will help HR leaders to create an employee experience “that mirrors their best customer service experience.”

“The best jobs turn coworkers into friends.”

Laurie Ruettiman is an HR leader turned writer, speaker and entrepreneur. She’s also the founder of HRBooks.

In a blog entry about the recent tax cut, Ruettiman writes about how this infusion of cash offers companies an opportunity to invest in social recognition. “I’d spend the money on a strategy that shores up your culture,” she advises, and then goes on to point out that “social recognition is a proven management practice that unlocks the full potential of people by providing purpose, meaning, and appreciation for the work they do every day.”

Fostering employee engagement is an art and a science, and HR leaders approach it from a wide variety of disciplines. Their insight can provide you with the tools you need to create a positive, productive culture in your company. To learn more, download our white paper “The True Cost of Disengagement.”

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Do you want to engage your employees? Start with social recognition. Access Achievers’ report “Building a Business Case for Social Recognition” to get started.

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Manager

Listen Up Managers: Here’s What You Need to Do to Enhance Your Company Culture

Welcome back. We’ve been discussing how company culture is everyone’s responsibility—from leaders at the top of the organization, to HR who facilitates the employee experience, to all managers and employees. In this blog, I want to speak directly to the managers because every manager has a responsibility to create and sustain a positive company culture. Listen, I get that you are busy juggling multiple tasks and responsibilities at once, but the truth is, we need to do a better job at cultivating a culture that inspires performance, and that means ensuring you are balancing all those management responsibilities with your leadership ones. So here are my top 6 areas of focus on how to deliver the right employee experience and culture:

Lead by Example With Company Values: Company values define how everyone within the organization should act and interact with their internal or external customers. As managers, it is very important that you are living the company’s values and setting a good example for your team. Managers account for 70% of the variance in engagement. Yet, we see many managers who are overworked, burned out or have become complacent in their roles, which means leadership responsibilities are often forgotten. If you are not loving what you do, putting in the effort and showing your passion and caring for your team, then how can you expect them to be inspired to perform at their best? Leadership is about inspiring others to want to do their best, so commit to showing your team what it means to live the values. Use every opportunity to reinforce the values; incorporating them into meetings, informal and formal feedback, recognition, decision-making and most noticeably who you select to join the team. The more you reference values and set the example with them, the more likely your employees are to live the values.

Select the Right Person Over a Warm Body: Don’t fall into the trap of hiring just anybody because you need to fill the job. Proper selection affects the team’s morale, as well as performance and productivity. Yet, I still see managers eager to fill the job–relying too much on experience and not considering whether the person is a good cultural fit. This is not a place where you can take shortcuts, so spend the time and put in the effort to finding the best person for the job. Select the right person by focusing on character rather than skills, asking the right behavioral questions and involving other employees in the interview process. By selecting candidates with the right cultural fit, you are reinforcing with current team members the type of heart and mind that is important to your culture and business.

Onboard and Welcome New Employees Correctly: It’s important to managers to set new employees up for success. Orientation should be an exciting and informative first day or two on the job. Partner with HR to ensure your new hires are scheduled to attend orientation. If you are responsible for conducting orientation, make sure it is interesting and engaging, focused around the brand, the culture and the customers. Onboarding, or training and immersion, should be a well thought out plan for the first 30-60 days that consists of different types of training as well as numerous opportunities for feedback and coaching. Don’t throw your employees into the deep end hoping they figure it out. This doesn’t benefit the new hire, other employees or your customers. In fact, you will likely lose the new employee because no one likes feeling like they are failing.

Recognize Those That Perform, Not Just Those That Show Up: We know recognition is important, especially when it comes to increasing engagement. But you need to get recognition right—and that means tying recognition to performance. While it is fine to acknowledge an employee’s tenure on the job, it should not be the basis for recognition. Whether your company has a formal recognition program or not, you need to be recognizing your staff (both individuals and teams) that perform well on a regular basis. Recognition should be personalized and customized. To make it personal, ensure you are providing a thank you in person that is sincere or on a hand-written note. To be customizable, you need to know what your employees like and how they like to be rewarded. This allows you to give recognition that is meaningful and inspiring. Also, provide an opportunity for employees to recognize each other, whether in person or via technology, as peer-to-peer recognition is a great way to boost engagement.

Have Tough Conversations and Make Tough Decisions: Recognizing performance is one side of the coin—the other side is ensuring poor performers are held accountable. Nothing is more demoralizing for a star employee than giving their best every day, just to see another employee completely not care, yet still allowed to be a part of the team. This is one of the quickest way to destroy a culture and ensure your best people leave. So, stop avoiding these tough conversations with low performers. During your conversation, explain the performance issues based on what you’ve observed. Offer an opportunity to help the employee improve by creating a clear, agreed-upon plan where the consequences of not improving are clear. Always be respectful by keeping your feedback about the performance, not the person. If there have been many conversations had, and there is still no improvement, it is your responsibility to let that poor performer go. It isn’t always easy, but it is what is best for the team.

Communicate so You Are Understood, Not Just Heard: We all know that communication is important, in fact, it is your most important leadership tool. But we need to do better at communicating in a way that is understood. More communication is not necessarily better so stop burying your team with endless emails and memos. Keep communication short, simple, direct and relevant. Remember if communication is important, then it should be done in person. Repeat important points often to emphasize priorities. Just because you say something once does not mean that your employees understand what you want them to do, so check for understanding. Instead of asking, “Do you understand?”, ask, “What are your next steps going to be?” or “What did this message mean to you?” Encourage your employees to ask questions or be available and accessible to them so they can come to get clarification away from the group. Communication includes listening so ensure that when you create opportunities for them to speak with you that you give them your full attention, which means no multi-tasking on phones or computers.

By following these key points, you will be on your way to creating a healthy culture that inspires performance. It isn’t always easy, but it is worth it. Thanks for reading.

Come see me at ACE 2018 to learn more about how you can reprogram your employee experience to improve customer service, retention and performance.

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About the Author
Shane GreenA world-renowned keynote speaker, author of Culture Hacker, and television personality, Shane Green is a business magnate who consults global Fortune 500 leaders on customer experience and organizational culture. Shane draws upon his foundation at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and work in multiple industries to transform employee mindsets, habits, and skills to improve customer experiences and interactions. As the President & Founder of SGEi, Shane leads a team of professionals who inspire brands like the NBA, Westfield, Foot Locker, NetJets, Cisco Systems, and BMW to reprogram their employee experiences to create loyal customers and raving fans. Visit www.ShaneGreen.com to learn more.

About SGEi
At SGEi, we help executive teams develop a cultural transformation strategy and plan. We enable and coach your management team to own the continuous development of your company and people. And we design and deliver the training and communications necessary to shift mindsets and habits to meet the objectives of the company. Please connect@sgeinternational.com to learn more about how we can assist you with your transformation needs.

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leadership

Heart and Edge: The Secret Ingredients of a High Performing Leader

When you think of a great leader or mentor who has had a positive influence on your life, how would you describe that person? Were they strong, fearless, driven, smart or were they a good listener, coach, understanding, warm, funny? We know that when leaders have too much heart, people walk all over them. When leaders have too much edge, people fear them. Can you have a combination of these traits – a heart of empathy and understanding with a strong edge of accountability and fear? The highest performing leaders know the answer to this question, and work on it daily.

Maybe you are a leader who knows the answer or wants to take your leadership performance to the next level. You might have already read several leadership books, watched numerous TED talks, and attended countless training programs. The real question you need to ask yourself is, “Do you work on your edge or your heart?” Niccolo Machiavelli, one of the most famous Italian philosophers and diplomats of the Renaissance period said, “It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.”  In contrast to this viewpoint, today’s leadership research identifies the most effective leaders have a combination of a heart of compassion and an edge of accountability often referred to as “steel and velvet”. It is this healthy combination, that is developed over time, that leads to leadership success.

Starting with warmth, and not fear, is essential to successful leadership performance. People need to like you first before they follow you. If you want to influence another person, you must connect with them off the bat. It doesn’t matter if you have a title over someone or not; being a warm person facilitates a trusting environment with open communication and ideas. Your body language – a smile, an open gesture, a positive nod – can show people you are pleased to be in their presence and are listening and attentive to them.

According to an article by Amy Cuddy, Matthew Kohut and John Neffinger in Harvard Business Review, it states, “The best way to gain influence is to combine warmth and strength—as difficult as Machiavelli says that may be to do. The traits can actually be mutually reinforcing.” Feeling a sense of inner strength helps people to be more open and less aggressive in stressful situations. When we, as humans, feel calm and confident, we project authenticity and friendliness.

It is challenging balancing heart and edge, especially because many of us are born or raised with a certain style of leadership that naturally favors one over the other. Self-aware leaders know that changing or improving a behavior takes time and can be very challenging. We form habits and negative self-talk that prevent us from making shifts in our leadership style for the better. This is a true test of Emotional Intelligence (EI). Are you able to manage your emotions and move away from old habits that might sabotage your highest performance? An emotionally intelligent leader can do this and is open to being vulnerable and receiving feedback without becoming defensive. Even when it is extremely uncomfortable, effective leaders know how to engage with others and prioritize their team to achieve overall success and happiness.

Research identifying the most important leadership qualities based on a study of 195 leaders in 15 countries over 30 global organizations highlights the importance of having both heart and edge. What does leadership heart and edge mean?

Heart/Velvet

This is the soft edge approach of leadership. These leaders demonstrate humility, listen without bias and build connections with others. They typically show the following traits:

  • Persuasion over raw power
  • Builds trust and shows confidence in their teams
  • Open to healthy conflict and wants to hear the opinions of others
  • Not afraid of being vulnerable
  • Want to engage with their team members on a personal and professional level
  • Warm and caring.
  • Let other team members lead and grow from challenges (or even mistakes) as long as they don’t jeopardize the team

Edge/Steel

These leaders use control and power to achieve their leadership success. They set high expectations for themselves and other team members. They typically show the following traits:

  • Hold themselves and others 100% accountable
  • Straight talkers and stand with conviction
  • Expect things to finish on time and within budget
  • Say or do things that might be unpopular

How do you show up with a combination of both even if you have a natural tendency towards one?  How do you utilize EI in your leadership style? Start by practicing self-awareness and identifying if you are a leader with more heart or edge. If you don’t know, ask others on your team. They will tell you.

If you have too much heart, here are some ideas to practice:

  1. Question if everyone on your team is performing to their highest performance. How can you set tougher short-term goals and push your team out of their comfort zone? Remember to stay strong and consistent in your leadership direction even if people complain or make excuses.
  2. Hold people on your team accountable. Allow them to have a voice and feel valued but be clear in your feedback. Have courageous conversations in a timely manner and preferably in the morning.
  3. If you are afraid you are going to hurt a team members’ feelings, quiet that voice and speak anyway because your feedback is valuable to their long-term success.

If you have too much edge, here are some ideas to practice:

  1. Create a culture where everyone feels their opinion matters and there is healthy conflict. The thing you should most fear is everyone agreeing with you.
  2. Learn how to place empathy at the center of all leadership and design decisions. You will supercharge your ability to produce breakthrough innovations.
  3. Listen more and try not to jump to a solution without hearing others’ opinions. Invite the person you might not be the biggest fan of, but has a stake in your company’s success, to your next meeting. You may even want to consider asking them to lunch.

In my leadership coaching and training experience, I see all types of leaders who each have their own set of challenges. Great leadership starts with you and your own authentic self-awareness.

“The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born – that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.” —Warren Bennis 

Becoming a great leader is something that evolves over time. This is hard in practice and needs to be part of your proactive growth to leadership excellence. Remember, it is this balance of heart and edge that is the key to becoming a high performing leader. Don’t give up on trying to achieve it and continue to practice EI because it really makes a difference on leadership performance.

Come see me at ACE 2018 from October 23-24 in Toronto to learn more about EI and leadership.

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About the Author
Bobi Seredich Headshot
Bobi Seredich is a recognized speaker, author, trainer and successful entrepreneur specializing in leadership development. She has spent over 23 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, Roy, and 6-year old twins, Alex and Gia.

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Millennial Employees

5 Tips for Attracting Top Millennial Talent

In recent years, the hiring world has placed an emphasis on attracting millennial talent, and for good reason: millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, according to Pew Research Center. This generation, however, is a bit different from those that came before them. They’re looking for more than a paycheck. They want transparency, feedback, experiences and the chance to explore their passions.

Your challenge is attracting this millennial talent for your business. Here are seven ways to make that happen, from bringing a more authentic voice to the experience to engaging with the millennials that already work for you.

  1. Use Social Media Authentically

This generation is social media savvy, and can spot advertisements and inauthenticy right away. They’re likely also checking your social media profiles before applying or accepting an offer, so your language needs to be authentic with everything you post, from new articles to testimonials. This is especially important if you plan to use social media as a recruiting tool. If so, keep these post ideas in mind:

Impact on Customers: Millennials want to work at companies that have a real impact because they want to be part of something bigger than just a job. Sharing your customer’s successes is a great way to show the impact their work could have on customers.

Employee Successes: Millennials want to be more than just a number. Show them you care about your employees by highlighting their successes on social media. Praising employees for a job well done on a public platform like social media shows what kind of culture your company prioritizes.

Social Good: Millennials want to work for businesses who are focused on the greater good, yet only 48 percent believe that the majority of companies behave ethically. Use social media to show that your business puts time and energy into supporting important causes.

  1. Create a Transparent Recruiting Process

Your recruiting process sets the tone for what potential new employees can expect from your business. While it’s been relatively standardized for many years, millennials are changing the game. Sarah Landrum, Forbes and Under30CEO contributor explains that the hiring process changes stemming from the demands of this generation include shorter hiring timeline and greater focus on company culture.

Ultimately, however, we see authenticity being important throughout the recruiting process as well. Landrum explains, “Millennials might have alternate expectations and might conduct themselves differently when they’re looking to start or build on their career, but the one thing they all expect is authenticity. They want to be spoken to like rational adults, and they want work that does some kind of demonstrable good in the world.”

Does your recruiting and interview processes need to be shortened? If so, how can you be effective with less time?

  1. Be Transparent About Trajectory

As you bring new potential hires through your interview process, remind them of growth they can expect within the position. In a recent Gallup poll, 87 percent of millennials say development in a job is important.

Use the recruiting process as a way to show them that their future is solid with your company. If they see themselves as managing a team, becoming CTO, or starting a new area of the business, discuss how they could work toward that within the company, and how their current role can help them learn the necessary skills.

  1. Emphasize Company Culture

It’s been said time and time again that culture is important to millennials. When looking to recruit this generation of talent, make culture front and center in your job ads and during the interview process itself.

But first, consider if your culture provides value, or if there’s more work to be done before featuring it as a benefit of working for your company. Does this sound like your company culture?

“Healthy cultures are ones where people feel valued, which in turn fosters engagement and productivity. Similarly, the best cultures foster innovation, through collaboration and non-judgement,” suggests Peer Insight’s guide, Company Culture Explained.

If the answer is yes, feature it whenever possible. For example, invite final round interviewees to attend a brief company event, like a group lunch or in-office happy hour. This shows that you’re not just saying culture is important to your company, but you’re actively making it happen.

  1. Start With Current Millennial Employees

Oliver Hurcum makes a good point in his recent article for The Undercover Recruiter: “Millennials, like most people, are looking for a workplace where they feel they belong and they are more likely to feel a sense of belonging if they are around people like them. You can bet that a millennial invited to apply for a job by another millennial is more likely to start the application process.”

This is why it can be valuable to work with your current millennial employees to attract new ones. Here are a few creative ideas to use this secret weapon to your advantage.

  • Survey or interview all millennial employees. What drew them to your company? What made them accept the position? Use their verbiage, wording and insights in job ads and social media posts.
  • Create employee videos, interviewing your millennial talent. Again, remember, authenticity in everything. Don’t tell them what to say, just encourage them to talk about why they love working for your company.
  • Introduce potential new hires to other millennials on their team; you may even consider setting up an in-house lunch so they can ask questions and get answers from the people who understand their mindset.

Attract Top Millennial Talent

Millennials may make up the majority of the workforce, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy to recruit. This generation doesn’t want the typical 9 to 5 job, and they have higher expectations—which means a good salary and nice office won’t always cut it. Use these ideas to attract this unique group of valuable employees to your business.

Are you looking for new ways to incentivize millennials? Access Achievers’ e-book on “How to Incentivize the Modern Workforce.”

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About the Author
Jessica ThiefelsJessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a professional blogger and freelance writer. She spent the last two years working tirelessly for a small startup, where she learned a lot about running business and being resourceful. She now owns her own business and has been featured on Forbes. She’s also written for StartupNation, Manta, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 or connect on LinkedIn.

 

Innovation Workplace

How to Apply Innovation Principles to Your Engagement Strategy

Any people-centric company lives through its employee experience: engagement, culture and performance management brought together. In the employee recognition and rewards space, this translates in continuous engagement efforts, closely aligned to individual preferences. But the 2018 Deloitte Human Capital Trends report states that only 8% of organizations considered “their rewards program was very effective at creating a personalized, flexible solution.” Employees expect you to come up with creative, tailored ways to respond to their feedback points. And a culture of innovation can be the answer you’re looking for.

You don’t always need a massive shift to apply innovation principles to your engagement strategy. Sometimes, even the smallest incremental improvement can trigger innovation. Ask yourself, “What could we do to make employee engagement efforts easier to consume, more responsive or more efficient?”

Do you need help to resolve your engagement innovation equation? Here’s how to apply innovation principles to your engagement strategy in 5 questions.

Engagement Innovation Question Change

Innovation is not always about building a brand new product.

It could be a better deal to pivot your engagement strategy by changing slightly your direction of travel instead of starting from scratch. That’s what Smart & Final understood when they decided to overhaul their employee recognition strategy.

Smart & Final implemented its “Spotlight” program on the Achievers Employee Engagement and Recognition platform, to engage and align employees across the organization’s geographically dispersed locations by encouraging cross-functional recognition via mobile devices. The results speak for themselves: “Sales grew 1.1% on average, resulting in revenues significantly above the sales level of the prior month-long time period.”

Engagement Innovation Question specialize

According to the innovation strategist Bill O’Connor, “Innovation is the art of establishing something in the real world that is new or different and that has a significant impact.”

The challenge is to pass the “real world” test. Innovation works when it’s useful and adopted by the individuals they target. And to address their main pain point in a new way, perfectly aligned to expectations, is specialization.

A good example of specialization happened at AirBnB. AirBnB was amongst the first ones to change the Chief HR Officer function into a Chief Employee Experience Officer function. Doing so, they aligned closely to the values of their workforce, including Millennials. And they sent a strong message to their employees that the employee experience is the essence of their workplace.

For the record, AirBnB rank #1 in Glassdoor’s “Best Places to Work” 2016 list.

Engagement Innovation Question combine

If your recognition strategy is already in place, would a small incremental addition make it more personal, effective, or user-friendly?

This is exactly the success story behind the Achievers and Limeade partnership.

Millennials know well that the root cause of stress for 80% of employees is work. That’s why they elevated wellness initiatives at work to the trademark of organizations who care for their employees.

With this being said, in order to help companies and employees feel more connected, Achievers recognition platform and Limeade’s wellness solution joined together to create a seamless, simplified employee engagement experience.

Engagement Innovation Question standardize

Innovation and creativity might be in full swing, but your business might still need structure to operate within profitable margins.

Are you looking for a performance boost? Rationalization and standardization are other ways to apply innovation principles to your engagement strategy.

M Resort Spa Casino story is a good example of standardization. To support its hands-on approach to customer service, M Resort was looking for a recognition program that would be personal and meaningful to its employees, while consolidating the property’s 14 separate employee recognition program. M Resort partnered with Achievers implement the Employee Success Platform and “boosted recognition activity by 10x—far surpassing its 2x goal—and achieved 88% activation in the first six months.” M Resort was also able to effectively reduce time and labor costs associated with the organization’s previous recognition programs.

Engagement Innovation Question Try

The current disruptive market demands companies to align product and customer experiences and to continuously pivot and iterate on the go. Design thinking can help you to apply innovation principles to your engagement strategy and promote innovative thinking in the workplace.

This the exact spirit of a HR hackathon. Starting with a simple problem statement, hackathons are opportunities for employees to work collaboratively on the design of their own “perfect” employee experience.

Asian Bank DBS organized its first HR hackathon in August 2017 to create a more joyful experience for DBS employees, while at the same time being open to re-vamping HR processes.

The results, reported in this Forbes article, are impressive: “Within 12 hours, the DBS HR Hackathon generated over 200 HR solutions from 340 DBS HR practitioners across 9 countries.”

Innovation is not always about building a better product. There are many ways to apply innovation principles to your employee engagement strategy. From redesigning the onboarding experience to making rewards and recognition more personal, a creative makeover for your employee engagement efforts can be as simple as asking a new question.

Do you want to learn more about innovation? Attend Achievers’ Customer Experience (ACE) conference from October 23-24 in Toronto. ACE 2018 is a conference for innovators who are focused on improving the employee experience and driving engagement.

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About the Author
Coralie Sawruk
Coralie Sawruk helps global organizations create efficient team dynamics. A people-person at heart, she believes the ultimate competitive advantage is created by the right talents working hand-in-hand, cheerfully.

Coralie shares her insights on confident leadership and leading happy teams on her website.

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Attention HR: What You Need to Focus on to Facilitate a Healthy Company Culture

In my last blog, I talked about how culture is no longer an HR thing, it is a business thing. This means that every owner, executive, and manager needs to make culture a priority and make decisions that support the desired culture. But this is not to say that HR doesn’t play a critical role in culture. HR owns many of the mechanisms that influence the employee experience, and is an important part of facilitating the company culture. So, what does HR need to do to ensure a healthy company culture? Here are my top suggestions:

Reinforce Your Message: Employees are barraged with mounds of information each day, causing them to lose focus on what’s important. HR is responsible for socializing employees to the company’s purpose and values so they understand how to act and interact within the organization. I recommend using a variety of mediums to achieve this—paintings or posters in the employee areas, screen savers, desk decorations, daily pre-shift cards–you get the picture. Younger employees, having grown up in the YouTube era, are more likely to respond to a short video so consider how to bring your purpose and values to life in a fun and entertaining way. When you put this information front and center, it becomes prominent in the minds of your employees. Capitalize on every opportunity to reinforce your company’s philosophy.

Support Managers in Delivering a Great Employee Experience: Whatever process you are currently using to recruit, select, train, communicate and manage performance, stop and consider how this can be made simpler and more efficient. Managers are often so bogged down running the operation that the thought of engaging in an extensive HR task makes them shudder. In turn, they usually end up avoiding the task or taking short cuts. These shortcuts often lead to long-term issues–bad hires, untrained employees, lack of communication, zero performance management. So instead of beating the current process into the managers, consider how this can be re-worked so you get to the desired result in a more efficient way. Use technology to streamline processes, reduce paperwork, and support collaboration with your managers.

Implement a Useful Performance Management Tool: Managing performance is undoubtedly important, but the traditional performance review is no longer effective. In fact, less than half of employees feel that performance reviews help their performance, and organizations feel the same. Clearly, something needs to change. Create a feedback process that is frequent, meaningful, and focused on the right things (i.e., company values). Provide a tool, whether digital or traditional, that forces managers to look at performance and have regular coaching conversations with their employees.  Then, provide training and coaching to managers on how to have informal and formal coaching conversations. When done right, consistent feedback delivered the right way is a manager’s most important leadership tool.

Ensure New Employees Start Out Right: Despite the evidence that orientation is a critical part of a new employee’s experience, many companies still have a boring, lifeless orientation that focuses on rules and regulations and neglects to excite and inspire. HR owns orientation, which means you set the tone for the new employee’s experience. So, stop with the drudgery of endless policies and generic videos—employees can read the handbook later. Deliver an experience that your new employees will remember. Focus on making orientation interesting and engaging around the brand, culture, and customers. Give employees the information that is most important to their success with the company and in such a way that will get them excited about being a part of the company. Remember that your work is not done with orientation. Work with managers to ensure they have a well thought out onboarding plan following orientation. Nothing is worse than handing over an employee who is pumped up about the company, only for that employee to get thrown into the deep end with no training or guidance.

Develop Leaders at All Levels: Leadership development is a crucial focus for the HR team and that focus should begin a lot sooner than most companies are prepared to do. Employees want and need to be developed, yet companies still neglect to provide informative and inspiring training and development programs at all levels of the organization. This is especially true of supervisors, who are often thrown into their new role without much coaching or training on how to lead employees. Invest in a comprehensive training program that starts developing leaders well before they have their first title.

Get Connected With the Operation: I see too many HR departments that are completely disconnected from the departments they serve. Get connected with the operation by having regular conversations with managers about their challenges and needs. Immerse yourself into the operation so you can provide feedback to managers and help coach performance at all levels. HR should be a partner and a coach for the Operations team, rather than an inconvenience. HR must provide value through keeping departments well informed about important changes that affect their employees, as well as providing guidance for managers on how to lead their teams. HR must also learn to analyze and present data around the company culture and employee engagement in such a way that it can be easily understood and then worked on by the front-line leaders.

Culture is created in all areas of an organization, from line level employees to the C-suite, however HR plays a fundamental role in making employee experience exceptional. Implement the type of employee experience that drives results and emotionally connects your people to your brand and business.

Come see me at ACE 2018 to learn more about how you can reprogram your employee experience to improve customer service, retention, and performance.

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About the Author
Shane GreenA world-renowned keynote speaker, author of Culture Hacker, and television personality, Shane Green is a business magnate who consults global Fortune 500 leaders on customer experience and organizational culture. Shane draws upon his foundation at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and work in multiple industries to transform employee mindsets, habits, and skills to improve customer experiences and interactions. As the President & Founder of SGEi, Shane leads a team of professionals who inspire brands like the NBA, Westfield, Foot Locker, NetJets, Cisco Systems, and BMW to reprogram their employee experiences to create loyal customers and raving fans. Visit www.ShaneGreen.com to learn more.

About SGEi
At SGEi, we help executive teams develop a cultural transformation strategy and plan. We enable and coach your management team to own the continuous development of your company and people. And we design and deliver the training and communications necessary to shift mindsets and habits to meet the objectives of the company. Please connect@sgeinternational.com to learn more about how we can assist you with your transformation needs.

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4 KPIs to Track Your Employee Engagement

The time has come to start thinking about employee engagement as a measure of organizational success that is as important as growth and revenue. In today’s hyper competitive and connected world, true employee engagement may just be the differentiator between businesses that succeed and those that don’t.

Because engagement is a critical business metric, you may be wondering, how do you accurately measure it? It can seem a bit nebulous or qualitative, unlike the hard analytics you’re used to. Luckily, there are several ways to quantify employee engagement and track it over time. Here’s where to get started.

1. Engagement Surveys

For years, annual employee surveys were the best (and only) available tool for measuring employee engagement. But today’s leading organizations are moving away from annual surveys in favor of more frequent surveys and continuous feedback in order to get a more timely, accurate and actionable read on engagement. Here’s how you can use engagement surveys to better understand employee engagement:

  • Weekly pulse surveys that ask just a few questions. Start with something simple, like “Would you recommend us as a place to work?” and make sure to occasionally repeat the question so you can track changes.
  • Active listening interface that acts as an always-on, intelligent, open channel for employees and managers. With Achievers Listen, via a visual single-click poll, employees share day-to-day engagement confidentially. Based on employee response, Allie, an active listening interface, follows up with simple, friendly conversational questions to better understand how the employee feels and perceives work. Gather feedback, ask questions, and get updates, next actions, and ideas to impact engagement right away.
  • Historical data that shows trend lines as organizations shift. Engagement can shift as organizations go through high and low times.
  • Comparison data between departments and functions. Some parts of the organization will naturally be different from others, but use that data as a discussion starter to make sure engagement is on the right track.

2. Pulse Surveys

For employee engagement, it can be helpful to ask employees one simple question: How likely are you to recommend our business to a friend as a place to work?

The question can be measured on a 1 to 10 scale, with one being the low end and 10 the high end. Scores of 9 and 10 are promoters — employees who would actively recommend your place of work to a friend. Scores of 7 and 8 are passive — they wouldn’t take the action to recommend, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t fans. Scores of six and below are detractors — if a friend were to ask about applying, they might deter them.

The beauty of this type of scoring is in its simplicity. One question can be asked quickly in regular pulse surveys that show a measure of change over a short amount of time. It can also be easily broken down by department or team, so that you can potentially identify which areas of the business (or leaders) are affecting engagement for good or bad.

3. Supervisor Satisfaction

Speaking of leadership, managers can have a massive effect on employee engagement. One out of every two surveyed professionals reports leaving a job to “get away” from a bad boss. Conversely, a good boss can make his or her team more productive, satisfied, and loyal.

But how do you measure supervisor satisfaction? Reporting a poor manager can be a frightening experience — making the reporter feel at risk of repercussions. That’s why a qualitative look is the best way to go. It not only creates a safe way to gather information, but removes potential bias from the situation as well.

First, look at both retention rates and promotion rates from a particular manager’s department. High rates of turnover may be an indicator that something isn’t right, while high rates of promotion indicate that leadership in that department is helping employees grow. Then, use the same survey measures discussed above to break the data down by department. You can go a step further by asking employees this question: How likely are you to recommend your manager as a person to work for to a friend?

Finally, be sure to use your engagement software to set baseline goals for employee engagement based on the entire company’s data. From there, you can segment by department and manager and figure out which groups are above the baseline and doing well, and which are below and may require additional attention.

4. Goal Performance

Research into human psychology indicates that goal setting helps increase feelings of autonomy, connectedness, and competence that ultimately leads to personal happiness. Further, from a business perspective, setting and achieving goals is crucial to growing your business.

Goal performance and employee engagement are directly correlated, so measuring the former can help provide insight into your employees’ state of mind. First, you’ll want to measure overall goal achievement. Part of setting goals is failing to meet some of them, so if your organization is at a 100% success rate, you may be setting your sights too low. A good number to track against is 60-80% achievement.

Furthermore, you’ll want to set and measure some goals that are a stretch. Creating high standards for employees to strive for drives healthy competition and development. Track the progress and milestones towards those moonshot goals, and don’t forget to praise and recognize employees along the way.

Simply tracking KPIs for employee engagement isn’t enough. Once you start measuring this critical business metric, you need to take action. Start by tracking your engagement workflows and major milestones in a project management tool (check out TechnologyAdvice for project management recommendations based on your needs) that lets HR and C-level stakeholders provide insight and feedback. Use the information you’ve gathered to define a strategy for improving engagement, measure success along as you roll out the strategy, and be prepared to innovate along the way.

To learn more, download Achievers’ e-book, “Employee Engagement: Four Places to Start Measuring What Matters.”

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Taylor BurkeTaylor Burke is a writer for TechnologyAdvice, covering marketing and sales. She’s passionate about helping brands become more authentic, transparent, and connected with their audiences.

 

 

 

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Real-Time Recognition and Feedback: The Key to Driving Sustainable Engagement

A recent study revealed that 87 percent of employers surveyed rank improving retention as a key priority for their business. If you work in management or human resource, this statistic should come as no surprise. Low unemployment rates, the transformation to a candidate-driven job market and the fierce competition to attract top talent has helped employers realize the full value in their current workforce.

The Link Between Engagement and Retention

The question facing employers today is not whether they need to improve retention rates, but how to improve these rates on a long-term basis. Several studies have found a direct link between enhanced employee engagement and improved retention rates. This makes sense – the more engaged the employee is with the company, the less likely they are to seek job opportunities outside of the company.

In an effort to boost engagement, companies all too often invest in a one-time engagement strategy, such as a company retreat or team building exercises. While these tactics do offer some benefits, these strategies alone will never be enough to reap the reward of improved retention. Rather than one-time strategies, your company needs to invest in a culture of engagement. This can lead to sustainable engagement that really drives long-term results.

The Key to Sustainable Engagement

According to a recent Gallup poll, two-thirds of the employees surveyed stated that they did not receive any recognition for their work over the last seven days. Is it just coincidence that just over two-thirds of the workforce also claim to feel disengaged in the workplace? Not likely.

The truth is that it’s impossible to build a culture of engagement if you are not in constant engagement with your staff. Employee recognition and employee feedback offer a fun, effective, and non-threatening way to boost engagement while improving employee morale, job satisfaction, productivity and retention at the same time.

Why Real-Time Recognition and Feedback Is a Must

Not that long ago, employers could get away with semi-annual or even annual employee performance reviews. This is no longer the case. Employees are demanding more from their employers.

They don’t want to wait until the end of the year to find out how their employer views their job performance. Instead, they want real-time recognition and feedback. They want to know that their work is valued and that they are making a positive impact on the company. Today’s employees even accept negative feedback, as long as it’s designed to boost performance.

The reality is that if employers fail to provide real-time recognition on a regular basis, employees can start to doubt their purpose and their value to the company. Once the employee’s perception of their value in the workplace is damaged, you are at a higher risk of losing them.

Tips for Creating a Culture of Recognition and Feedback

In theory, this sounds great but putting it into action is another thing altogether. There are some steps you can take today to build a strong employee recognition and feedback program that can help build a sustainable culture of engagement.

Commitment

It’s crucial for your company to understand the full benefits of sustained engagement. Not only can enhanced engagement boost retention rates, but it also can improve overall productivity, increase workplace morale, and improve job satisfaction among the employees. Understanding these benefits will entice your company to make a solid commitment to invest in the resources necessary to build a strong, long-term employee recognition and feedback program.

Everyone Onboard

An employee recognition and feedback program will only work if everyone from top management down to the entry-level workers are all onboard. It is important to employ the support of company executives, managers and supervisors if you truly want to create a culture of recognition and feedback. Make sure that everyone understands the core mission and goals of the program.

Create a Structured Program

Employee recognition and feedback will not just happen overnight. It takes time to build a culture that can sustain engagement. Your best chance at success is to develop a structured program that is customized to meet your company’s specific needs. Use a behavior-driven platform that has the power to reach every employee, every day, everywhere.

Transparency

Transparency is a must. If there is even a hint that your employee recognition and feedback program is not equitable, it could do more damage than good. Think about it, if your program tends to recognize the same people every time, while ostracizing others this can cause resentment, not just with the workers feeling ostracized, but throughout the company. Be sure to regularly request feedback from your employees in reference to your employee recognition and feedback program and make adjustments or clarifications if necessary.

If you are looking for a meaningful way to improve retention, boost productivity and drive results you must focus not just on employee engagement, but on sustainable engagement. The key to this high level of sustainable engagement is real-time recognition and feedback.

Learn more about the link between employee recognition and engagement and find ways to develop a real-time employee recognition and feedback program in your company by viewing our Achievers and HR Zone webinar recording.

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Do you want to engage your employees? Start with social recognition. Access Achievers’ report “Building a Business Case for Social Recognition” to get started.

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5 Business Impacts of Social Recognition

Are you an HR professional who’s eager to give your company the advantages of a technology-based social recognition program? When you make your pitch to key executives, you need a way to define and quantify the benefits of such a program. Below, we line up five positive impacts of recognizing and rewarding your employees; present these to anyone who cares about your organization, and you can’t help but win them over!

Impact on Individual Workers

Worldwide, only 15 percent of workers feel engaged at their workplaces, according to Gallup research , and even in the U.S. “the majority of the workforce (51 percent) is not engaged.” Hopefully, your numbers are better than this, but there’s probably still room for improvement. And what are those not-very-engaged workers up to all day? A lot of their time is spent browsing the web, looking for other jobs. One Achievers study found that 44 percent of employees who switched jobs cited lack of recognition and reward as the reason. Furthermore, Harvard Business Review points out that “40 percent of employed Americans say they’d put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often.”

Impact on Managers

While social recognition programs are usually evaluated in terms of improving worker competence and attitude, it turns out that instituting a culture of recognition also has an impact on manager behavior.  Managers who learn to provide their employees with well-targeted positive feedback on a frequent basis actually become better leaders. This increase in management skill will have a powerful impact throughout your organization. Additionally, when workers are more engaged, their managers feel better about being able to deliver on productivity goals. Gallup  notes, “Highly engaged organizations also hold their managers accountable — not just for their team’s measured engagement level, but also for how it relates to their team’s overall performance. They ensure that managers are engaging employees from the first minute of their first day at work.”

Impact on Financial Success

The people in your company who work on nailing down the bottom line are used to looking at hard figures: They can tell you exactly how much effect your cloud server cost or shipping rates have on this quarter’s profits. They may not realize that it’s equally possible to attach numbers to the benefits of improved worker wellbeing. A Harvard Business Review study shows that when a program was implemented in which workers’ strengths are recognized by managers, it resulted in happier workers (of course) and also in a 14 to 29 percent increase  in profit.  Other studies echo the point: Gallup research shows a 21 percent increase in profitability in companies with highly engaged workforces, and in our report, we present additional research that shows how social recognition affects company valuation.

Impact on Employer Brand

Working in HR, you know that a big part of organizational success depends on attracting top talent to your company. In today’s competitive marketplace, you have to be able to do something that makes your brand stand out from the crowd. Gallup puts the spotlight on 39 companies, as they hand out their “Gallup Great Workplace” awards. These companies “create a culture of engagement in which employees can continuously develop and thrive,” and on average, they have 14 engaged employees for every one who’s disengaged. Aon Hewitt annually measures worldwide employee engagement, including quantifying employee advocacy and interest in staying with the current employer. In their latest report, they note that “recognition for contributions (beyond pay and benefits)” is the top driver for these metrics. Social recognition programs that enable employees to express their appreciation for each other play a major role in creating a company culture that feels welcoming and positive.

Impact on Customers

Customer loyalty is an easily-measured metric, and it will reflect the increased levels of employee engagement that result from workers feeling appreciated. The Institute of Customer Service asserts this point clearly: “It is now widely accepted that employee engagement is a critical source of competitive advantage.” The customer loyalty specialists at Smile.io note, “Studies have found that companies with high employee engagement scores had twice the customer loyalty (repeat purchases, recommendations to friends) than companies with average employee engagement levels.” The great thing about having happy customers is that it sets up a positive feedback loop. Social recognition can come from satisfied customers as well as from co-workers and managers, and it will add to an employee’s overall sense that they’re engaged in meaningful activity. Finding ones’s work meaningful creates a sense of alignment with the company’s mission.

The research adds up in a nice logical progression: A social recognition program is the most powerful driver for employee engagement, and engaged employees have a substantial impact on the company’s operation and financial success. Itemizing the impacts of rewards and appreciation will help you build a water-tight  case for investing in HR tech innovations. To learn more, download our report, “The Business Case for Social Recognition.”

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A Recognition Moment: An Interview with Sandra Garcia of General Motors

Sandra Garcia GMMeet Sandra Garcia
Global Compensation CoE (Center of Expertise) Lead for Global Strategic Initiatives – Global Recognition and Global Service Awards Programs, General Motors 

Sandra Garcia resides in Rosario, Argentina and has worked for General Motors (GM) for close to 21 years. Sandra knew early on in her career that she wanted to work for a global company that would allow her to collaborate with people from different countries and cultures. She wanted the opportunity to expand her skillset and be challenged on a daily basis. With a bachelor’s degree in Labor Relations and two professional certifications from WorldatWork (Global Remuneration Professional (GRP) and Certified Compensation Professional (CCP)) and her wide-ranging experience within GM, she is fully equipped to help lead GM’s global recognition and service awards programs.

As GM’s Global Compensation Lead for Global Strategic Initiatives, Sandra is highly regarded as a thought leader in global recognition and global service awards programs and responsible for leading the subject from beginning to end. Her role in GM’s global recognition program, which launched in August 2017, included conducting research and development, leading the bidding process and vendor strategy, designing the new program and gaining leadership buy-in/approval. Also, as a member of the recognition implementation team, she develops strategies and guidelines, training and communication content and participates in key decisions regarding global deployment.

Let’s Take a Moment to Recognize Sandra

We want to take a moment to recognize Sandra for her accomplishments in employee engagement. Below, she answers a series of questions, providing advice for fellow HR professionals and sharing her personal story. 

  1. What interested you in a career in HR?

Early in my career at GM, I started working in Global Purchasing, which enabled me to develop strong negotiation, analytical and planning skills and build relationships with various stakeholders globally. As time passed, I realized I wanted to leverage my negotiation skills and bachelor’s degree in Labor Relations towards building collaborative relationships with the local Union within a challenging union environment in Argentina. I spent some time in Labor Relations, until I applied for a local Compensation and HR Planning position at GM which offered me more analytical and planning experience. I fell in love with working on compensation topics and that’s when I knew I wanted to become a specialized expert in this particular field. I ended up joining the Global Compensation CoE team at GM. I started as a Consultant, and over time, I developed deeper technical knowledge and expertise in different related areas. Just a couple of years ago, I was given the responsibility to lead the implementation of a new global recognition program. This stretch  assignment allowed me to use all the skills acquired throughout my career at GM to set up the program for success. The new recognition program has helped GM not only strengthen its culture of recognition, but support its culture change.   

  1. What is your biggest focus or goal when it comes to the employee experience?

Based on research, we know that focusing on the employee experience can give companies a competitive advantage. We also know that meaningful work and a sense of achievement are key factors that drive a positive employee experience. When it comes to recognition, our focus is to build a positive employee experience. Through our recognition platform, employees are able to connect the work they do every day with company values and gain a deeper understanding of how their work contributes to the company; this gives employees a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Social recognition, in particular, helps nurture a positive work environment of mutually supportive relationships, which offers employees a sense of belonging.

All of this contributes towards creating a more positive employee experience that increases employee performance, engagement and retention.

  1. What is your biggest culture challenge and how do you overcome it?

Overall, my biggest culture challenge is finding new ways to innovate and having an open mind to change – to see things not as they are, but as they could be. Innovation is clearly led from the top, and I have been lucky throughout my career at GM to have supportive leaders that provide me opportunities and push me outside of my comfort zone. This has allowed me to develop and propose solutions, strategies and initiatives to address important issues related to our employees and/or competitive practices. To overcome my culture challenge to innovate or champion change (and the initial fear of potential failure one might feel), I go through extensive external and internal research to understand issues; this includes gathering data, facts, trends, etc. This process allows me to thoroughly digest every idea before selecting which one is the best to pursue or recommend. When I have research in my back pocket, I feel more confident to endorse an idea, believe in it and give it a try. Also, I have made it a habit to always reflect on the lessons learned – what went well and what did not – to better equip me for future decisions.

  1. What is key to boosting employee engagement across your organization?

One of the key factors for boosting employee engagement across GM involves our culture strategy. Our refreshed purpose, vision, values and behaviors introduced at the end of last year set the stage for common enterprise definitions. Having a common language globally for talent, feedback, recognition, development, learning and culture makes it easier for our employees to understand how their work is directly tied to the company purpose. Also, our leadership team plays a key role in GM’s employee engagement efforts and drives the direction of our culture. They focus on how to improve employee performance and drive a shared sense of accountability. Other key drivers that increase employee engagement across GM include career opportunities and frequent recognition. Our employees have endless opportunities to grow within the company both professionally and personally. They also have recognition embedded into their day to day, which gives them a sense of progress and achievement. When an employee’s work is publicly recognized by leaders and colleagues, it motivates him/her to grow, contribute and engage in the workplace.

  1. What is your favorite employee recognition moment at GM?

I have many memorable recognition moments at GM. One of my favorite moments was the day we launched our new global recognition program, powered by Achievers. On launch day, our project team received a public recognition from our Vice President of Global Human Resources and it ended up being the first recognition sent across the platform. This moment gave me a real sense of achievement and purpose, and I felt all my hard work paid off.

  1. Where do you see the future of employee engagement heading?

We know that the future of employee engagement is heading more towards frequent pulsing and the ability to act on feedback more rapidly; technology is key for this. As leaders play a critical role in employee engagement, we will continue to see a strong focus on providing leadership with quick, actionable tools to build and sustain engaged teams. There will also be an emphasis on providing employees the right resources to be more accountable of their own engagement levels. 

  1. What would be your top three pieces of advice for an HR professional who is looking to implement an employee engagement strategy at their organization?

#1: Conduct extensive research and advanced planning  

Like any project, designing and executing a successful program happens well before vendor selection, so it is key to do extensive research and advanced planning. Gather as much information internally to understand your company’s current state. For example, look into how employees and leaders perceive recognition, what options are out there, and what is working and what isn’t working. Look outside your company and research externally to better understand the recognition industry, trends and best practices. This will help you create a compelling business case first, and later, design the program, strategy and objectives for leadership buy-in. Also, gather as much information as possible during the bidding process to get a strong grasp of project deliverables and the deployment process before selecting a vendor.

#2: Create a compelling business case

Use all the extensive research you’ve done to identify alignments between your company’s business goals and HR strategy. For example, ask yourself, “Are you leveraging recognition to be a top driver of employee engagement or as a catalyst for alignment? Or perhaps as a driver to accelerate cultural change?” Be prepared to use different targeted key messages and tailor data or evidence for the different buy-in audiences and stakeholders (i.e. a technology platform can help track budget and monitor spend for Finance, while a recognition platform can serve as a top driver of employee engagement for HR).

#3: Get executive sponsorship from key players and involve stakeholders early in the process

Make it a priority to get buy-in from key stakeholders or audiences. Determine which stakeholders are the right ones to involve early in the project to better set up the program for success. By identifying who to get sponsorship from and which stakeholders are vital, you are building a stronger case and structure for your future recognition program. An employee engagement and recognition program is dependent on the right team and advocates driving it.

Looking Ahead

What’s next for Sandra? She is currently integrating hourly employees globally and other programs into GM’s recognition platform to further improve the employee experience and engagement. She continues to partner with key stakeholders to drive a culture of recognition and remains focused on sustaining and improving employee recognition across GM.

About GM’s Recognition Program

GM’s employee recognition program, powered by Achievers, caters to 68,000 employees across 26 countries. Since launch, the program has set the record for most activations in the first day of program launch in Achievers history. GM has seen huge success, including 96% activation, 63% monthly active users and 67.9% recognition coverage. To learn more about the award-winning platform that powers GM’s recognition program, sign up for a demo of Achievers today.

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Kellie WongKellie Wong is a Content Marketing Manager for Achievers. She manages The Engage Blog and produces a range of marketing content. In addition to being the final editor of all blog content for The Engage Blog, she also manages and maintains relationships with 45+ writing contributors. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.

 

 

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When Will Companies Realize That Culture is Not Just an HR Thing?

When I talk to business owners and executives about wanting to improve their culture, their typical response is that culture is something that HR is responsible for. This response is a clear indication that those at the top are still disconnected from what truly matters. When will business owners, executives, and managers realize that each of them is responsible for shaping and managing company culture each day? Maybe this lack of ownership is because the idea of culture is vague to them, so instead of trying to understand their role in it, they simply pass the responsibility over to HR. But this strategy will only take you so far. It’s time for leaders to get serious about improving their company culture.

Let’s clarify what culture is. Culture is the collective mindset and attitudes of your employees about what they do, which manifests itself in how they do things (i.e. their actions and behaviors). These behaviors manifest themselves in their interactions with your company, your customers, and other employees.

This mindset – the one your staff brings to work every day – determines how they will take care of your customers, how much effort they will put into their work (i.e. employee engagement), and whether or not they will stay with you long term. In fact, 76% of employees in North America listed having a positive company culture as a main factor for staying with a company. Considering that 55% of employees will look for new jobs this year, retention is one key outcome where culture can make all the difference.

The mindset and attitude of your employees play a significant role in how they perform at work. How someone feels about coming to work affects his or her energy levels and cognitive abilities. This is often referred to as employee engagement, which is tightly connected to company culture. The impact of a negative, disengaged culture is tremendous. It can lead to poor customer interactions, decreased brand reputation, high turnover, underperforming staff, and in turn, reduced profits. Depending on the size of your company, the cost could be thousands, millions, or even billions of dollars.

In case that was not convincing enough, consider the effects of a positive and engaged culture:

  • 26% less employee turnover
  • 20% less absenteeism
  • 15% increased productivity
  • 30% better customer satisfaction
  • 65% increase in share-prices

If these numbers don’t mean much to you, consider that each one represents an opportunity to significantly lower costs or improve revenues. Simply put, a positive and engaged culture equals a better bottom line. This is why everyone involved in a company must put the mindset of their employees at the forefront of everything that they do. Culture can’t be just an HR issue because, honestly, it’s just too important.

While HR clearly plays a key role in defining company culture, by being the conductor and owner of many of the mechanisms that affect the employee experience, HR cannot be the only ones providing leadership around culture. All leaders throughout the company must take responsibility for culture and make decisions that support the desired culture each day. Culture has responsibilities at every level of an organization, and those at the top have the most influence on the mindset of the company. Research from Gallup suggests that managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement levels and that employees who have engaged leaders are 60% more likely to be engaged themselves. Yet, we still see so many companies with completely complacent managers that don’t care about what they do and no one does anything about it.

I often hear owners, executives, and managers argue against investing their time and efforts into fostering a positive and engaged culture. Here are a few of the arguments I most frequently hear:

  • We have to remain focused on our customers and their experience –after all we are in the customer experience economy. Of course customers are important, but I argue that we are in the employee experience economy. The talent war is over, talent won, and as a result if we do not take care of our best and brightest people another company will. If you take care of your employees and they feel good about whom they work for and what they do, they will naturally take care of your customers.
  • Employees (especially young ones) don’t work hard anyway so why give them more? The reality is, Millennials and Generation Z, just as previous generations, have the capacity to work very hard; it’s just that the new generation of workers do not see the value in investing in a business that doesn’t invest in them. Rather than sitting back and accepting outdated thinking, unsafe (physically and emotionally) work environments, and managers that do not give a damn about them, younger generations are willing to speak up or walk out.
  • The employees will just leave, anyway. Maybe they will, but if you want any chance to keep your best and brightest, then you have to provide them a better employee experience than they received in the past. Companies must create a reputation for themselves as a place where people want to work and want to be their best. This is where the best employees will be found now and more so in the future.

If you are focused on profits and productivity (and let’s face it, who isn’t?) then you must be willing to deliver a better employee experience to positively impact the mindset and attitude of your people coming to work. Culture is the most important thing in business today, so every owner, executive, and manager must keep it at the forefront of everything they do. We often ask ourselves what is the most important consideration in business today. The answer is clear: Company culture and the type of experience you create for your employees.

Come see me at ACE 2018 to learn more about how you can reprogram your employee experience to improve customer service, retention and performance.

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About the Author
Shane GreenA world-renowned keynote speaker, author of Culture Hacker, and television personality, Shane Green is a business magnate who consults global Fortune 500 leaders on customer experience and organizational culture. Shane draws upon his foundation at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and work in multiple industries to transform employee mindsets, habits, and skills to improve customer experiences and interactions. As the President & Founder of SGEi, Shane leads a team of professionals who inspire brands like the NBA, Westfield, Foot Locker, NetJets, Cisco Systems, and BMW to reprogram their employee experiences to create loyal customers and raving fans. Visit www.ShaneGreen.com to learn more.

About SGEi
At SGEi, we help executive teams develop a cultural transformation strategy and plan. We enable and coach your management team to own the continuous development of your company and people. And we design and deliver the training and communications necessary to shift mindsets and habits to meet the objectives of the company. Please connect@sgeinternational.com to learn more about how we can assist you with your transformation needs.

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Are You Personalizing the Employee Experience?

Have you ever been in a restaurant when one of the regular customers walks in? Not only does the waitress know his name, but she knows his order too, personalizing the customer experience. Is there any doubt in your mind that this is a loyal customer, that he will eat at the restaurant again or that he’s highly likely to recommend the restaurant to others?

This scenario isn’t exclusive to the restaurant industry. Businesses in all industries have always known the importance of providing high-quality customer service. Companies have now come to realize what waitresses have known for decades – that personalized services build loyal customers. In fact, in a recent survey, 77 percent of companies surveyed believe that providing real-time personalization is crucial to business success.

Lack of Employee Engagement

Unfortunately, many of the same businesses that have found success investing in personalized services for their customers have failed to apply these same principles to their employer-employee relationships – and it shows. According to Gallup, the rate of employee engagement has steadied around 32 percent for more than a decade, despite the fact that employers together are investing more than $720 million a year on employee engagement.

While it seems clear that employers understand that there’s a disconnect between them and their employees, their investments to date have done little to improve employee engagement. Perhaps, the piece missing in the employee experience is the same factor that drives customer loyalty – personalization.

How to Personalize the Employee Experience

Unfortunately, personal relationships aren’t built overnight – just ask the waitress. Instead, it takes time, a commitment, and ability to connect with the other person. There are steps, however, that employers can take right now to add personalization to the employee experience.

Listening Opportunities

Building a relationship is a two-way street. You cannot expect your employees to take a vested interested in what you have to say if you don’t listen to what they have to say. Take time to really listen to your employees and value their input.

Your employee’s first-hand knowledge of working with customers, working with the machinery or working with third-party vendors can provide you with a different perspective that may influence positive change within the workplace.

Regular listening sessions, reverse performance reviews and pulse surveys are great ways to show your employees that you’re willing to listen.

Career Advancement

Employees want career advancement. In fact, a recent study ranked lack of career growth as the number two driver of voluntary turnover. The facts show that employees will leave a company if they see no advancement opportunities. While many companies understand this demand and offer career growth opportunities from within, very few are personalizing this process.

Rather than send out internal memos related to job opportunities within the workplace, what if your company took the personalized approach instead? What if rather than wait for employees to come to you, you proactively take steps to grow and develop your staff based on their skills, performance and experience.

Employee Recognition

When done correctly, employee recognition can be one of the most effective ways to personalize the employee experience. The big question is – “Are you recognizing employees the right way?” First and foremost, employees want fairness and transparency. If both of these components are not at the core of your employee recognition program, it could have the reverse effect.

Your company’s employee reward and recognition program should recognize the personal accomplishments of your employees and, in turn, boost employee engagement. It’s important to develop a well-defined recognition program that is understood and followed by all levels of management.

Real-Time Feedback

For decades, employers have relied on annual performance reviews to provide feedback to their employees. While individuals names may be on each performance review, in most cases, this type of feedback is far from personalized.

In many cases, these annual reviews are little more than a supervisor trying to complete a stack of performance reviews before the deadline and then spending a few minutes, if that, while each employee reads over the review. Rarely, do these reviews give the employee an accurate look at their performance, either good or bad, on a daily basis.

Real-time employee feedback can solve this problem, and guess what – employees want this type of feedback. Real-time feedback gives supervisors and management the ability to immediately compliment an employee for a job well done or immediately point out underperformance when necessary. What’s most important is that immediate feedback personalizes the experience by providing specific feedback in reference to specific actions.

The process of personalizing the employee experience must start from the top down and include all layers within the company. This will help to personalize the employee experience and boost overall employee engagement rates within the workplace. Much like the customer at the restaurant, personalization has the power to build loyalty among your workers. Loyalty, in turn, can spur higher retention rates, improved productivity, increased employee referrals and better employee morale and job satisfaction.

If you want to learn more about the value of personalizing the employee experience, download our white paper covering Personalization: The Missing Link in the Employee Experience.

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Event Activities at ACE 2018 in Toronto, October 23-24

Did you know employee engagement levels bounced back to an all-time high rate of 65% in 2017, up 2% from 2016? This is great news for HR professionals whose goals are to increase employee engagement and productivity. Why should employee engagement be a top priority for your business? Let the numbers from Achievers’ white paper tell you:

  • Engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave their organizations than disengaged employees
  • Disengaged workers have a 60% higher rate of general errors
  • 66% of all employees will look elsewhere for work when they feel underappreciated and undervalued
  • 54% of managers feel that “it’s common for staff to quit due to lack of recognition”

We’re over halfway into 2018, and it’s time for employee engagement advocates to come together and share impactful ways to empower and inspire. Join us at Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2018, the leading employee engagement and recognition conference in North America. ACE brings together Achievers customers and prospective customers, along with renowned guest speakers and HR thought leaders – all focused on improving the employee experience and driving engagement to achieve desired business outcomes.

Our incredible two-day conference is going to be in Toronto, so make plans to be at the Delta Toronto Hotel from October 23-24. You’ll have the opportunity to network with hundreds of HR thought leaders, executives, and experts, offering their thoughts as to how to implement and maintain a world-class engagement program. ACE 2018 is a conference for innovators who are looking for best practices to successfully engage their employees.

The fun isn’t limited to just ACE. The Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards Gala kicks-off the festivities the evening prior. Not only does The Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards recognize the employers in North America that best display innovation in engaging their workplaces, it features a variety of opportunities for inspiration and education. Past winners include top brands, such as Air Canada, Meijer, Rogers Communications, and Electronic Arts. This year, we have a distinguished panel of judges consisting of HR experts and thought leaders on workplace engagement. Join us to rub elbows with the top performers and thought leaders in the HR and employee engagement space.

ACE Speaking Tracks

With three presentation tracks designed to inspire, innovate, and engage, you’ll gain insight as to how some of the most successful companies have leveraged employee engagement to meet key business objectives.

  1. LEAD (Thought Leadership Track) – Join some of the most forward-thinking minds in HR as they shed light on emerging workforce and employee engagement trends and offer expert advice to challenge your everyday thinking.
  2. ENGAGE (Customer Success Track) – Learn about the tools and strategies used by some of Achievers’ most successful customers to elevate their programs and achieve desired business outcomes, including reduced attrition, increased sales, and unrivaled customer satisfaction.
  3. ACCELERATE (Product Innovation Track) – Take a deep dive into the capabilities of the Achievers Platform. Collaborate with, and learn from, Achievers Product experts who will share how to get the most out of the platform and accelerate program ROI.

Inspirational Keynote Speakers

Leave ACE 2018 feeling inspired and motivated by our amazing lineup of keynote speakers. 

Neil Parischa

Neil Parischa
Happiness Expert | Bestselling Author of “The Book of Awesome”

Neil Parischa is a “New York Times” best-selling author, award-winning blogger and one of the most popular TED speakers in the world. He draws on the latest research in happiness to increase individual performance and create a more positive and productive workplace.

 

Tiffany Dufu

Tiffany Dufu
Author of “Drop the Ball” | Named to the League of Extraordinary Women in “Fast Company”

Tiffany Dufu is a catalyst-at-large in the world of women’s leadership. She is the author of “Drop the Ball”, a memoir and manifesto that shows women how to cultivate the single skill they really need in order to thrive: the ability to let go.

 

Celeste Headlee

Celeste Headlee
Communication and Human Nature Expert | Award-Winning Journalist | Author

Celeste Headlee is an award-winning journalist, professional speaker and author of “Heard Mentality” and “We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter.” Headlee’s TEDx Talk sharing 10 ways to have a better conversation has over 16 million total views to date.

 

Bethenny Frankel

Bethenny Frankel
Entrepreneur | TV Personality | Author | Philanthropist

An entrepreneur, TV personality, author and philanthropist, Bethenny Frankel is a businesswoman ahead of the curve. Most recognized as a star on Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New York City,” Frankel created the Skinnygirl brand, now a lifestyle empire, which led her to being on the cover of Forbes Magazine.

 

In addition to our amazing lineup of keynote speakers, we will also be offering breakout sessions from thought leaders including:

  • Bobi Seredich, Co-Founder, Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence
  • Brian David Johnson, Futurist in Residence, Arizona State University
  • Kyle Lagunas, Analyst, IDC
  • David Kingsley Head of Global People & Place, Mulesoft (a Salesforce company)
  • Peter Weng, Chief Business Officer, Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute
  • Shane Green, President & Founder, Professional Services, SGEi

And this is just a taste of some of the speakers this year. Check out the entire list of ACE 2018 speakers here.

Stay tuned for more updates and details on ACE 2018, as well as a series of guest blogs from featured speakers at this year’s event. Also, don’t forget to join the conversation on social media with the hashtag #AACE18 and by following @Achievers on Twitter.

Register now to claim your spot at ACE 2018. See you in Toronto!

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About the Author
Kellie WongKellie Wong is a Content Marketing Manager for Achievers. She manages The Engage Blog and produces a range of marketing content. In addition to being the final editor of all blog content for The Engage Blog, she also manages and maintains relationships with 45+ writing contributors. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.

 

 

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Recognize Your Employees and Strengthen Your Bottom Line

If you’re a supervisor or manager, you probably know how much more productive your team is when you make the effort to recognize each person’s contribution. In order to take employee recognition to the next level, however, and establish a company-wide system of rewards, you’ll need to be able to present the investment to your CEO or CFO in terms of the financial bottom line.

Fortunately, a growing body of research makes this easy. A Workplace Trends Report finds that recognition programs yield 50 percent higher sales, 27 percent higher profits and 21 percent better retention. With a solid positive ROI to back it up, an employee recognition program can be treated as part of your company’s overall strategy. A Cornell University paper on recognition in the workplace points out, “While recognition is not new, it is finally becoming more strategic as programs align recognition with business objectives and desired behavior.” Here’s some of the research that describes the nuts and bolts of why rewarding employees ends up boosting the company’s bottom line:

Rewards and Recognition Strengthen Employee Engagement

The benefits of expressing your appreciation of employees begin with engagement. Unengaged employees can cost your business thousands of dollars, because they’re not concerned about being efficient during their work hours. Instead, they tend to waste time and engage in countless distractions, just trying to get through the day in whatever way they can. If you have an employee who wastes just 15 minutes a day, that’s an hour and a quarter per week, or 3.125 percent of a work week. Looking at a sample service business with $3 million in revenue, this lost productivity from just one worker can add up to $93,750 in a year.

To avoid the lost revenue of alienated workers, you might be tempted to block social media sites from company computers, or institute various rules about not coming back late from breaks. However, the fact is that what really motivates people is positive reinforcement. Recognition is the number one driver of employee engagement, according to our Achievers’ video, and every 1 percent increase in engagement results in an additional .6 percent growth in your company’s sales. The Cornell research paper mentioned above notes that when employee engagement varies, 41 percent of that variation is directly due to the amount and quality of recognition that the employee receives.

 
The Value of Recognition and Engagement 

Engaged Employees Show Up and Pay Attention

Balancing work and outside life is tricky for everyone as our lives become more complex, but when employees are highly engaged in their jobs, they manage to show up to work despite the outside commitments that compete for their time. A Gallup research study states that engaged employees take fewer than three sick days each year, on average, while disengaged ones take more than six sick days. Your HR department is probably all too well-acquainted with the high cost of accidents and absences, and anything you can do to reduce these figures will contribute to the long-term sustainability of your organization.

There’s Space for Your Company at the Front of the Pack

Despite the proven fact that dedicating resources to employee recognition is financially prudent, many organizations still hesitate to follow through with this strategy. In a Forbes article, Ryan Scott, founder and CEO of Causecast, points out that “One of the top concerns for HR executives in 2017 is how to raise employee engagement, and for good reason. Engagement is on the decline across the world, and that spells trouble for business leaders everywhere.”

Gallup adds to this picture: Fewer than one-third of employees would strongly agree with the statement that they have received recognition or praise for doing good work within the last seven days. The authors of this Gallup study state that the role of recognition in producing engagement “might be one of the greatest missed opportunities for leaders and managers… in their search for new ideas and approaches, organizations could be overlooking one of the most easily executed strategies: employee recognition.” The fact that many companies are still missing out on the benefits of having a strong employee rewards program means that you can gain extra ground on your competitors by putting the power of recognition to work in your organization.

Employee Recognition Is Key to Staying Competitive

It’s beautifully logical, when you put it all together: Embracing a system to optimize employee appreciation and recognize others within your company will yield an abundance of benefits. According to the Cornell research, “Recognition programs, on their own, can help instill and reinforce corporate values, help with retention, and positively impact financial results. They also boost productivity, engagement, profit margins, customer retention, employee retention, ROE and ROA.” Taken together, these advantages will provide a robust return on your investment to recognize employees. Furthermore, they will add luster to your employer brand and help you compete for the top talent in your industry.

To learn more about how to recognize employees and build a strong business in a time of declining employee engagement, download our ebook Employee Recognition: More Than Just a Day.

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staff meeting

Do You Have Staying Power? What it Takes to Keep Staff Longer

My grandparents lived and worked in a different world than we do today. And as a 36-year-old, my Millennial friends (now 20-37) and I cannot even fathom what the workplace and the employer/employee relationship used to look like – before smartphones and leggings, and when “because I said so” was an acceptable answer to a staff member’s question.

A Shift in the Workforce

As we look at today’s new workforce, a major difference is that many Gen X workers (now 38-53) who entered the workplace 15-25 years ago were good at working independently, figuring out how to get things done by themselves, and meeting their Baby Boomer bosses’ (now 54-72) expectations. That’s because many Gen Xers were latchkey kids at age 8, 10, or 12, so they had a unique learning opportunity as children to figure out their own homework (before Google) and take care of themselves (without burning the house down). They also were a much smaller generational group than the Boomers, so when they entered the workforce, they did what they were told – without pushing back or asking their supervisors “why?”. They had little power to push back because of their size, so most Gen Xers fell in line and did exactly what the Boomers requested of them in order to advance their careers. Most decided to play the “Boomer Game” and just did their job.

But things in our world – personally and professionally – have changed drastically in the last 20 years, and today, the employer/employee relationship is very different than it used to be. By 2020, Millennials will outnumber the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers in the workplace – meaning more pushback by the younger cohort is expected – and since everyone is hiring, new hires today have much more power moving forward than employers may like.

While it can be frustrating to managers who worked their way up the ladder after painstakingly waiting their turn and paying their dues, Millennials who push back on old ways of doing things should be viewed as helpful, not as a hindrance. After all, what they’re asking for – flexibility, a voice, more appreciation, etc. – is what ALL employees want. And we all know how valuable negative client feedback is, so we treat it as a “gift” that allows us to see the evolving needs of our customers and make adjustments over time for them. Why not see employee pushback and recommendations for change in the same light? Let’s consider employees our internal customers, with whom we must evolve with to retain, and make an effort to change the way we see their pushback.

How to Retain Your Staff

We need to retain our new hires longer, so we must ensure managers and supervisors at all levels are effective communicators. Their staff probably were not raised like they were, so it is critical that leaders communicate their expectations more clearly to staff. It’s not enough to say, “the dress code is business casual” to a new hire. “Business casual” is a relative standard that each employee will view differently, and it’s sure to lead to a missed expectation when that new hire does not realize that her “dressy” flip flops or her “nice” leggings are not considered appropriate for the workplace. Expectations and requests must be more clearly defined than ever before, because staff can’t read managers’ minds. And it’s not “common sense” to know “how it’s always been done” when someone is new – they do not know what you want.

To improve employee retention, work to shift the mindset of your managers to understand today’s new workforce, and ensure they have the right training to effectively communicate with their employees. Building strong, positive, genuine relationships with staff is the best way to extend the tenure of new hires, which will reduce employee turnover over time.

Remember, the one-size-fits-all model for staffing and leadership no longer works, so organizations must encourage their managers to understand what their ever-changing internal customers are looking for in an employer and continue evolving to become a place where people want to work.

Did you know managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement? Make sure your management staff makes employee engagement a top priority with Achievers’ ebook Engage or Die: How Companies That Act Fast on Engagement Outpace the Competition.

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About the Author
Cara Silletto
Workforce thought leader, keynote speaker and trainer Cara Silletto, MBA, works with organizations to reduce unnecessary employee turnover by bridging generational gaps and making managers more effective in their roles. She is the President and Chief Retention Officer of Crescendo Strategies (www.crescendostrategies.com) as well as the author of the 2018 book, Staying Power: Why Your Employees Leave & How to Keep Them Longer, available on Amazon. Want to have Cara speak for your organization or upcoming event? Request booking info at solutions@crescendostrategies.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using Recognition to Drive Engagement: Inside Scotiabank’s Pay It Forward Campaign

Are you currently using recognition to boost employee engagement across your organization? You should. Scotiabank, a leading financial services provider, is already ahead of the curve and finding innovative ways to spread employee recognition across 90,000 employees globally. Before diving straight into Scotiabank’s recognition success, let’s get to know the company a bit. Scotiabank was founded in 1832 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. With close to 90,000 employees around the world and over 23 million customers, Scotiabank is a leader in financial services in North America, Latin America, the Caribbean and Central America, and Asia-Pacific. They offer a broad range of advice, products and services, including personal and commercial banking, wealth management and private banking, corporate and investment banking, and capital markets.

In order to maintain and build their strong global reputation, Scotiabank had to make sure they focused on their employees to maximize productivity and business success. Where did Scotiabank start? The answer is with their Applause 2.0 informal recognition program, powered by Achievers.

A Round of Applause for Scotiabank

Scotiabank was running on a legacy platform from the early 2000’s before upgrading to its Applause 2.0 recognition program in March 2016. Applause 2.0 leverages advanced HR technology that enables ongoing employee recognition at all levels, linking to the company’s core values. Scotiabank’s employees across the world are able to participate in the program, including regular and contract employees. To simplify the employee experience, Applause 2.0 was integrated with other core systems, including Scotiabank’s internal social collaboration platform. With the ability to earn points through point-based recognitions, employees can work towards redeeming from a wide variety of reward items in the catalogue.

Let’s Pay It Forward With Recognition

In order to keep the momentum going with their employee recognition program, Scotiabank decided to build a 2-week campaign to create excitement in the workplace and keep the program fresh. The campaign, named Pay it Forward, encouraged employees to view each received recognition as an opportunity to pay it forward and recognize another peer. To further empower employees during the campaign, individual contributors, who typically only have access to social (non-monetary) recognition, were given access to points to award.

A domino effect shortly followed after the campaign launch and the results were extremely positive. So positive that Scotiabank has run the campaign two years in a row. In 2018, 86,243 total recognitions were sent during the same campaign period as the previous year, resulting in a 46% increase year-over-year for all recognition activity on the platform. Also, 20% of all employees sent more than one recognition during the campaign period, revealing that this campaign wasn’t all about the points for employees – it was about being intentional and conscious, and recognizing others based on performance. Scotiabank’s recognition program and Pay It Forward campaign truly aims to seek out employees that have gone above and beyond their normal duties. What other success did Scotiabank see with their Pay It Forward campaign in 2018? We’ll tell you.

Scotiabank saw the following positive results:

  • 47,586 Pay It Forward points-based recognitions were sent
  • 1,677 users activated their account during Pay It Forward, bringing Scotiabank up to 86% activation globally
  • 37% of employees sent at least one recognition during the campaign, an increase of 13% compared to 2017

It’s clear that Scotiabank’s Pay It Forward campaign was a huge success. But, what about Scotiabank’s KPIs? Did their KPIs see a positive impact as well from the campaign? The answer is absolutely. Employee participation from Pay It Forward ended up positively impacting KPIs in 2017, which was a great win for Scotiabank’s HR team.

2017 KPI results included the following:

  • People managers sent 3.0 recognitions on average in the campaign period, up from a 2.0 two months prior.
  • Recognition coverage jumped to 65%, resulting in a 10% increase month-over-month
  • 70% of employees globally logged into the platform, resulting in a 20% increase month-over-month

Scotiabank saw tangible and outstanding results from their targeted Pay It Forward campaign every year and it showcases the true value recognition has towards driving employee engagement. Let’s give a round of Applause to Scotiabank and their employee engagement success!

To learn more about Scotiabank’s recognition journey, check out this webinar recording on Using Recognition to Drive Engagement – A Best Practice Guide with Scotiabank.

Are you looking for another HR success story? Discover how Cox Automotive increased employee engagement across their organization by checking out this blog post on Lighting the Spark of Employee Engagement: Inside Cox Automotive’s Spark Week Celebration.

About the Author
Kellie WongKellie Wong is a Content Marketing Manager for Achievers. She manages The Engage Blog and produces a range of marketing content. In addition to being the final editor of all blog content for The Engage Blog, she also manages and maintains relationships with 45+ writing contributors. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.

 

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Remote working employee

Top 5 Benefits of Hiring Remote Employees

Working from home employment is more than a lifestyle perk. It tells prospective employees your company cares about the team. Offering your employees the freedom to work from home is known to increase employee engagement. A Gallup survey states, “the optimal engagement boost occurs when employees spend 60% to 80% of their workweek — or three to four days — working off-site.” The next time you have a conversation about whether or not to hire remote employees, reference these top five benefits.

  1. Lures Top Talent

Remote jobs are appealing to everyone, whether you’re a student, parent, or someone with a unique lifestyle. It is a desirable option for people of all educational backgrounds and experiences. Offering telecommute options can give you the competitive edge you need to lock in top talent.

  1. Reduces Cost-Savings

A typical business would save $11,000 per person per year if they offered remote working. Think of all the expenses that would be removed off your budget list, such as no longer needing to purchase cubicles, ergonomic chairs and stationery supplies. Additionally, it can be more cost effective to hire remote employees outside of your office walls to broaden your candidate pool.

  1. Increases Productivity

Did you know 77% of people are more productive working at home? If your office is in Toronto or a popular city, the reality of a 1-2-hour commute can create stress and burnout. When employees have the flexibility of working from home, they have less distractions and can be more productive in their own space than in an office full-time.

  1. Lowers Work Absences

Canadian workers miss an average 9.3 days per year and it’s costing the economy $16.6 billion. With telecommuting, you might find your business having less work absences and higher cost-savings. The primary financial benefits of offering remote work for employers come from lower absenteeism and reduced sick leave. 

  1. Reduces Employee Attrition

95% of employers say telework has a high impact on employee retention. Some of the major factors that motivate employees to leave an organization include lack of work-life balance and a long commute to work. Offering the ability to telecommute addresses these two motivational factors, and in turn strengthens retention. 

How to Find Remote Workers

Most human resources specialists think common sites like Indeed or Monster is the best way to find remote employees. These websites are helpful but limited in finding a diverse group of talent that are experienced in working from home. Freelance sites like Freelancemyway, Hubstaff Talent and Guru are a few of my top recommendations. Feel free to check them out and start growing your remote team.

Final Thoughts

Remote work experience has financial and productivity benefits for both the employees and organizations. It improves work-life balance, decreases costs, and can attract a higher volume of top talent. I recommend the next you’re advocating for hiring remote employees, turn to this list and prove remote work is worth the investment.

Are you looking for ways to retain employees? Get inspired with Achievers’ employee retention infographic and learn more about the current retention epidemic by accessing this report.

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About the Author
Makeda Waterman is an online media journalist of 4 years with blog features on CNBC Make It., Huffington Post, Glassdoor.com, Elite Daily, Fast Company, among others. She is passionate about helping people improve the quality of their career.

 

leadership

Lack of Impulse Control: Is It Preventing Leaders from Engaging with Their Teams?

It all started with a client of mine whose leader had expressed frustration with her team members for being too relaxed and unprofessional. My client was the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of a large healthcare company with over 600 team members. She worked closely with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) who was a successful leader and had been with the organization for over 15 years.

One morning, the CEO became really frustrated with a few employees who were eating breakfast at their desks, which seemed to exacerbate the unprofessional work environment she was observing. She felt this was a time-waster and team members were losing productivity.

She lacked patience and decided to send an email to the entire company letting employees know they could no longer eat breakfast at their desks. Instead, team members had to eat before work or in the cafeteria. She did not inform her COO or the Human Resources (HR) department she would be sending this email.

Effects on Productivity and Company Culture

What effect did the CEO’s actions have on employee productivity that week? Her intention was to increase productivity, but her impulsive actions resulted in a decrease in efficiency. Many employees were confused by her email, and HR was receiving calls for clarification, with employees wondering if protein bars or nuts were considered breakfast items.  Other employees were pregnant or had health issues, would they be penalized if they had food at their desks? They felt they were being discriminated against.

Self-Awareness and Understanding

Was this leader self-aware enough to recognize her patterns of behavior that led her to act impulsively?  Was she able to have difficult conversations? Did she recognize how her behaviors impacted others? The answer to all these questions was “no.” This leader was not self-aware and was not able to understand the negative impact of her actions.

A Better Response

What could this leader have done better? She could have had a conversation with those few employees she felt were not being productive instead of sending a group email.

Lack of Control and Impulsive Behavior

Impulses such as the CEO described above can be perceived as a lack of control, maturity, or business savvy. This type of behavior often derails the offender as it can lead to termination or reduced opportunities for advancement.

How many of us have observed another team member engaging in an activity that we believe to be unproductive? Have you read an email, and immediately became defensive about the content or tone the sender was using? Then you impulsively decide to respond immediately and give your feedback via email, or even worse hit ‘reply all,’ and later regret what you said or wrote in that email. Unfortunately, you can’t take it back. It felt good in the short-term moment but left you with regret in the long-term.

With the use of email, Twitter, and texting, immediate gratification and ease of use prevents you from delaying or fully thinking about a response to another person’s communication. Research shows smart phones and other devices make us less assertive and cause us to “play small” and not stop to reflect how this impacts bigger life plans and goals.

What Is the Definition of Impulse Control?

Impulse control is one of the core competencies of emotional intelligence (EI) and is defined as the degree to which a person can control the need for immediate gratification. It may be the most significant indicator of a person’s future success in the workplace or adaptation in society in terms of building and maintaining relationships with others.

The impact of a lack of impulse control in the workplace is generally significant whether it is a one-time occurrence or a pattern of behavior. When you act on an impulse that leads to a negative outcome, it can lead to serious consequences that are life changing and result in forming a negative reputation. On the other hand, when you have a positive outcome, it gets a different type of attention. It can look like you are brilliant, and your reputation is elevated as a leader and a managed risk taker.

What Does Research Reveal About Impulse Control and Life Success?

For years parents have been testing their young children on impulse control based on the findings in The Stanford marshmallow experiment on delayed gratification in the late 1960s and early 1970s, led by psychologist Walter Mischel. More recently, Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld have re-examined impulse control and America’s “culture of entitlement and instant gratification” in their book, The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America. Both research studies reveal impulse control is a key driver of better life outcomes as measured by better academic performance, higher SAT scores, upward mobility, and professional success.

Lack of Impulse Control and “Monkey Mind”

What prevents you from being present when you are engaging with another co-worker and not getting distracted? Is it emails, false deadlines, text messages, phone calls, web surfing, or interruptions? How can you not give into the power of temptation and stay more in the present moment?

When we lack impulse control, it takes us to a place we were not planning on going. We feel hijacked in the moment – our cognitive brain is no longer in control and our emotional brain is running the show.

On average, we have 60,000 thoughts a day (according to research by Dr. Fred Luskin of Stanford University) and only about 8-9 % are present-moment thinking. This is referred to as a “monkey-mind,” which can lead to impulsive behavior or emotional reactions when our emotional brain hijacks our thinking brain especially when we feel stress or triggered. This is called an amygdala hijack.

When the emotional part of your brain, your amygdala, is hijacked, your oxygen and blood flow move away from your thinking brain to your larger muscles, so you can react or get out of a dangerous situation. That is why you can’t tap into the best of your cognitive brain to see all variables and make a better rational decision.

The word “hijacked” is a strong word, but it feels sudden, unexpected, out of control, forceful, against your will, taking you someplace you were not planning on going. You feel more certain and things are more black and white. You are right, and the other person is wrong. You lose perspective to think clearly.

What Does Impulse Control Look Like in the Workplace?

As adults and business leaders, how can we improve our impulse control to engage better with team members and become more focused, productive and creative? Research findings reveal leaders who can manage strong emotions when feeling stress or pressure, while maintaining a healthy sense of humor, are more successful in building stronger relationships, being creative and meeting professional goals.

Developing Self-Awareness and Building Your Own Impulse Control Tools

The more self-aware you become about your own emotional triggers and how you manage your impulse control, the greater the chance to avoid inappropriate outbursts and poor decisions.  Many times, you learn to control your impulsive behavior after an unfortunate event where you lost control and had to pay a big price. Hindsight is always 20/20.  When you have a moment to look back at what you said or did, you have a better understanding of how you were triggered and how your actions impacted the situation in a negative way. You may take appropriate steps to limit the damage.

You cannot change another person or situation, but you can manage how you choose to react or respond to a situation. You can take charge of your impulse control. As a result, you can choose to “play big” and achieve more happiness, engagement and success in your personal and professional life.

Here are some specific tools you can utilize to improve impulse control:

  • Stop and breathe before you react to a situation or send an email.
  • Remember that instant gratification is short-lived and is about “playing small.” You want to “play big” and maintain a healthy sense of humor.
  • Evaluate options – no response is sometimes the most powerful response.
  • Listen to hear instead of listening to respond to someone. Become aware of distractions that are preventing you from listening.
  • Don’t feel the need to respond to every email or text immediately.
  • Leave 10-minutes earlier to an appointment to give yourself a buffer and practice mindfulness if you arrive early.
  • Avoid overpromising and under delivering and practice “present moment” thinking.

I encourage you to continue your journey toward self-awareness and practicing better impulse control.  Take charge of your success in life and the workplace and build a positive leadership reputation.  Remember this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Life is a journey not a destination.”

If you would like to learn more about EI, visit our website – www.swiei.com

Are you looking for more leadership tips? Discover how to effectively listen to your workforce with Achievers’ white paper on Taking the Pulse of Employee Engagement.

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About the Author
Bobi Seredich Headshot
Bobi Seredich is a recognized speaker, author, trainer and successful entrepreneur specializing in leadership development. She has spent over 23 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 6-year old twins, Alex and Gia.

 

Achievers employees bowling

Are You Having Fun at Work?

A few years ago I found myself diligently working non-stop for three days at a start-up to bring up a website with a team of six people. We were stressed, tired, not having fun, and my boss kept cracking jokes to lighten the mood.

Finally, someone asked, “How can you be making jokes at a time like this?”. He replied, “What’s the point of doing this if we’re not going to have fun doing it?”. At the time that didn’t really help our mood, but over the years that statement has stayed with me and has shaped how I approach my career and the work I do every day. Really, what is the point of spending 40 hours a week somewhere if we don’t enjoy it?

Throughout my career I’ve worked for some companies where I’ve had little to no fun, but it wasn’t until Achievers where I finally started enjoying my daily 9–5 life. Recently, I went to a conference where I heard Dr. Annie McKee speak. She is a respected academic, speaker, best-selling author of the book “How to be happy at work”, and advisor to top global leaders. According to Dr. McKee, “Life is too short to be unhappy at work”. When we’re unhappy at work, our personal life suffers, our sleep is affected and our relationships take a back seat. Think about it. An average person works about 43 years in their life. That’s 2,236 weeks, and 89,440 hours of being unhappy. That’s a BIG part of your life!

Dr. McKee says the three keys to being happy at work are purpose, hope, and friendship.

Purpose

We all strive to find purpose in our day to day lives, whether it’s with eating healthy, making time for friends and family, or exercising. Having purpose should be an equal priority. This purpose needs to come from the leadership team. “Having a sound, clear, and compelling purpose helps you to be stronger, more resilient, and able to tap into your knowledge and talents,” says Dr. McKee.

Hope

Similarly, employees need hope to succeed. Purpose drives us to be better today, but hope keeps us on track for tomorrow. Hope helps us get through the days that aren’t easy, the projects that prove to be difficult, and the people that aren’t always pleasant to be around. “To be truly happy at work, we need to see how our workplace responsibilities and opportunities fit with a personal vision of our future. This kind of vision emerges from hope and optimism, which we can, with focus and hard work, cultivate even in difficult jobs and toxic workplaces. When we see our jobs through a positive lens, and when a personal vision is front and center in our minds, we are more likely to learn from challenges and even failures, rather than be destroyed by them,” says Dr. McKee.

Friendship

The last key to being happy at work, according to Dr. McKee, is friendship. She says, “One of the most pernicious myths in today’s organizations is that you don’t have to be friends with your coworkers. Common sense and my decades of work with people and companies show the exact opposite. Love and a sense of belonging at work are as necessary as the air we breathe.”

If you find hope, purpose, and friendships in a company, chances are you will also be happy there. I find purpose through opportunities to develop. For example, I recently joined a team where I was able to learn technologies I didn’t know before such as Docker and Symfony. Achievers is special in that they give employees an opportunity to learn on the job when they see promise in them. I find purpose in giving back to the company because they believed in me. In addition, I have hope because I am progressing in my career. I am able to grow and therefore, I have more mobility as a Software Engineer. Finally, I have found some really amazing friends in my teammates. Some days I laugh so much at work that my stomach actually starts hurting.

Exhibit A — the day we spent redecorating my friend’s workspace and watching his reaction when he walked in.

Achievers employee

Exhibit B — the day we decided to dress up as skittles.

Achievers employees dressed up as skittles

However, those things alone are not enough. The company goes one step further to create a culture that’s inclusive, welcoming, and fun. At Achievers we have one of the best company cultures I have ever seen. We have weekly Throwdown Thursday parties, epic Halloween weeks where the entire office gets a makeover, an employee appreciation week where we get gifts and perks every day, and a wellness week with fitness challenges and healthy shakes, to name a few. We have a Magic, The Gathering league that includes players from our senior leadership team. Here we have the CTO, Aris Zakinthinos and the Director of Product, Egan Cheung, playing a Magic match that had play by play commentary, and an audience of about 30 people.

Magic the Gathering Team Event

We have regular public speaking practice sessions called Speaker’s Corner. Many people, including myself, have a fear of public speaking, so I started this club to let people practice and get over their fear. The company allows employees to take time off to volunteer and also provides volunteer opportunities. We even have a band, along with a music room to practice. Here is a recent performance of our band Operating as Intended. Pikachu was visiting for the day.

Achievers Band with Pikachu

Recently my friends and I started our own little acoustic band where we meet and just play together. Here we are performing at the office talent show!

Achievers Acoustic Band

We routinely go on coffee walks together, and sometimes do 15-minute exercise breaks. We have karaoke, trivia nights, and personal top 1’s where we set a personal goal for the year, and receive $250 towards achieving it. My own personal top 1 for this year is to run an official 5K race. I’ve always wanted to run more so this initiative is providing me with the motivation to do it. Once I finish my run, I can get up to $250 towards anything I spent for the run (i.e. running shoes, clothes, costs of participating). Just this past week we had an amazing afternoon participating in a scavenger hunt, and wrapping up the day with an awesome party. Here we all are before the games began!

Achievers employees

All of these, along with unlimited food and drinks in the kitchen, makes Achievers one of the best places I’ve ever worked at.

In the end, how much fun you have really depends on you. A company can provide an amazing work culture, but you can be as involved as you like. If your company doesn’t have the culture, you can start the initiative. For example, I started Speaker’s Corner and one of our technical support agents started the band. The more involved you get in the culture, in the team, in the activities provided by the company, the more fun you will have at work. This, combined with hope, purpose, and friendship will help make you much happier during your 40-hour work week. That happiness will spill into the rest of your life and who doesn’t want that?

Oprah

Start building an amazing workplace culture with Achievers Employee Engagement Platform, which combines the highest-adopted employee recognition platform with an active listening interface to accelerate employee engagement. Schedule a demo today.

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About the Author
Samira Hafezi
Samira Hafezi is a Staff Software Engineer at Achievers.

 

 

 

This blog post was re-purposed from Achievers Tech Blog.

 

employee conversation

How to Shift the Employee Engagement Conversation

I was taking in a keynote at an HR conference last year and I was so motivated and excited by messages that were exactly aligned with my beliefs on employee engagement (I do work for an engagement company after all so that’s a relief).

Statements such as, “Put employees first” and “Bring humanity back to the workplace” were being thrown out. I was eating it all up. The speakers were very senior and well-respected global thought leaders – it is safe to say I was loving every minute.

I floated out of the keynote sessions to the breakout tracks, excited to hear stories from real organisations who were on this employee journey. Then it hit me, in the day to day world, the discussions are drastically different: “We need to get off spreadsheets and onto the cloud … Our yearly performance management transformation … Successful implementation of our yearly engagement measurement system…”

Putting employees first wasn’t even part of the conversation! I frantically scanned every single break-out track title and NOT ONE had the word “Employee” or “Engagement” in the title. What is causing this disparity?

Having had many insightful employee engagement conversations with senior HR leaders in Europe and the UK this past year, I’ve learned that we know what we need to do and why. After all, it is no secret that highly engaged workplaces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share. This Gallup study proved that companies with highly engaged workforces are more profitable, more productive and produce higher sales. Business leaders are not satisfied with the old methods, so why aren’t we there when it comes to employee engagement? Why are we struggling to make progress?

Are we stuck? Stuck completing yearly reviews, stuck rewarding the top 10% of our employees and missing the opportunity to inspire the middle majority, and stuck on spreadsheets. We all want to do things differently but perhaps we aren’t exactly sure how to get there. And even when we do know how to get there, the conversation must shift so drastically from what we’ve been doing for decades that we aren’t sure how to tackle that level of change. The employee landscape has radically changed, so why are we still utilising old tools and expecting new outcomes?

We need to ask ourselves, are we recognising daily the amazing efforts across our entire employee population? Do our employees feel connected to our vision, mission and values? Are we listening to their feedback in real-time and most importantly, are we responding? Are we empowering our employees to take their engagement into their own hands? The answers to these questions cannot be a gut check but rather must be measurable and aligned directly to business outcomes. After all, we know the customer experience is directly determined by the employee experience.

With employee engagement and productivity lower in Britain than global averages, we have a real opportunity to change the dreaded “productivity in Britain” conversation with some fundamental shifts:

  1. Listen
    Empower employees by giving them an avenue to provide feedback in real-time. Engagement is fluid and how we feel about work and our own success changes weekly, daily, even hourly. So why are we still measuring employee engagement as if it is static? Let’s try a new tactic and make employees part of the solution – in real-time, not quarterly or yearly.
  1. Empower Leaders to Take Action
    Pulse surveys allow us to collect a mountain of insightful data but unless we take action it’s just another survey that didn’t provide change, only creating more frustration. When we measure in real-time we must empower managers to take action in achievable bite sized chunks. If we exercise once a year we know that doesn’t create change. The same goes for employee listening. When we measure in a fluid manner we need to empower our managers with the tools they need to join the conversation immediately.
  1. Recognise
    This is the secret sauce. Let’s take those values off the wall and embed them in the everyday fabric of the employee experience. Amazing things happen within our organisations every single day. It’s time to highlight those actions in neon lights for everyone to see with peer to peer, visible, meaningful and frequent recognition. We know, what gets recognised gets repeated!

A culture of recognition and real-time action are game changers that will allow us to truly put employees first. Will you change the conversation in 2018?  We are happy to say we did. You will now find Achievers under the renamed breakout track with “Engagement” in the title.  We are proud to say we are no longer slotted under just “Rewards”. We are changing the conversation; will you join us?

To learn more, download our eBook Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience.

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About Achievers
More recognition, more often, to all employees. More action, more empowerment and watch the business results follow. Let’s make a difference and change the way the world works. Visit achievers.com to find out more and if you are looking for the latest in employee engagement insight subscribe to the Achievers award-winning Engage Blog.

About the Author
Denise WillettDenise Willett currently holds the role of Senior Director, Achievers EMEA, which sees her leading sales, marketing and services. Denise is passionate about helping our clients build and maintain successful engagement programmes that align with strategic business objectives. Prior to her present position, Denise spent 5 years successfully leading and developing a fantastic team of Customer Success Managers. This gave her the opportunity to partner with many diverse, global organisations who share her belief in the power of a work environment committed to employee recognition and engagement.

 

 

 

employee on smart phone

What Employees Really Want from Their PTO Package

Paid Time Off (PTO) Is More Than a Privilege

Hard work and determination are as American as Jersey Shore reunions and bacon-topped desserts. And to make ends meet in our highly competitive, ultra-consumerist society, U.S. employees often find themselves putting in long hours, taking fewer lunch breaks, and even getting side-gigs to keep pace. Well, worth it or not, thou who burneth the candle at both ends burneth out entirely. That begs the question, is all the tenacity balanced with sufficient PTO and the ability to stay home when you’re sick? And what’s more, do workplaces feel the need to encourage those hours with cold, hard compensation?

Are 11 Days of PTO Too Many or Not Enough?

A new study by TSheets found employees are, for the most part, getting their hard-earned PTO, as 84 percent of employees said they receive PTO. On average, American workers receive 11 days of PTO per year, which includes both sick and vacation pay. That said, around 16 percent of the employees surveyed said they aren’t receiving any PTO this year, and 21 percent said they get somewhere between six and 10 days.

Be it work reflecting life or life reflecting work, employees who do have time off with compensation are still leaving precious PTO hours unused at the end of the year. In fact, the survey found that 65 percent didn’t use all of their PTO last year — five days, on average, were left unused.

There are reasons for the leftover PTO hours, of course. Some employees have hours that roll over into the next year, and some felt the pressure to work. Others simply didn’t take the time. When you look at respondents in certain age groups, those reasons became more varied.

Although younger people were more likely to have leftover PTO (61 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds versus 39 percent of the 45-and-up crowd), the reasons didn’t quite match up. Less than half (42 percent) of employees aged 55 and over said they didn’t take their PTO in full because of their workload, whereas only 18 percent of the younger employees gave the same reason.

Employees Under Pressure

As much as we’d like to believe our work-life balance is, well … balanced, most employees want to do a good job and put in a hard day’s work. That could be why the majority of the people surveyed (60 percent) gave work-related reasons for not using their PTO, and nearly a third of the respondents said they felt pressured to work instead. To make matters even more confusing for those of us who love a good vacation, almost half of employees admitted to working during vacation or on sick leave.

And what does pressure add to the mix? Well, stress, for one. Without that PTO, employees feel more stressed. Over half (58 percent) of employees who said they didn’t use all of their PTO said they’d describe their stress levels as “unhealthy.”

The PTO Employees Really Want

Since people occasionally need time to recalibrate and take care of personal items without thinking about work, time off isn’t just about vacation days. Nearly half of the employees who participated in the TSheets survey answered that they’d like to get more time off.

But when they were asked to choose between more PTO or a raise, 74 percent said they would take the money. Despite historically high levels of employment, more than 1 in 3 workers (39 percent) said they would accept a job without PTO.

In terms of the type of time off benefits employees desire, paid holidays tops this list, with 91 percent of employees ranking it as the No. 1 benefit. A close second (88 percent) value sick leave, and paid vacation came in third with 87 percent. Interestingly, fewer people said maternity and paternity leave are the most important benefits.

One in 5 said employers shouldn’t provide maternity leave, and 28 percent said employers shouldn’t provide paid paternity leave. With all that said, almost half of the respondents replied they’d take a lower paying job if it meant having more flexible working arrangements.

Choosing the Right Benefits of Employee Health and Well-Being

From what we’ve seen, it’s obvious that PTO is incredibly important for employees. And whether providing the 11-day average is a possibility, employers are responsible for determining whether PTO is a privilege or an integral piece of a compensation package that values an employee’s well-being, rest, and personal time.

So what’s in it for the employer? Happy employees, of course! Use holiday leave, sick leave, and vacation time as a recruiting tool and as a way to retain the best employees. As hardworking as our nation may be, technology has indeed made it easier to do our jobs and has given us the potential to arrange, plan, and track PTO when we need it.

Are you looking for new ways to incentivize the modern workforce? Get started with Achievers’ Incentives eBook.

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About the Author
Kim HarrisKim Harris is a copywriter and blogger based in Boise, Idaho, who has been putting her journalism background to good use telling true stories and helping businesses grow since 2008. When she’s not writing for TSheets by QuickBooks, you’ll find her queuing up entertainment and plotting her next escape.

 

 

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Employee Diversity and Inclusion

7 Strategies to Hire Diversity of Thought In Your Organization

If you always recruit from the same places, with the same methods, you will always get the same people. In today’s competitive market you need to be creative. You have to go where the candidates are and have a long enough lead-time to get a good selection of candidates. If you want to be ahead of the competition, and bring in more innovation, then think with a diversity of thought mindset.

Here are seven winning strategies to ensure you hire employees that bring diversity of thought and ideas.

  1. Research Thoroughly

Research and develop a list of colleges that historically have large numbers of women, people with disabilities, and people from different cultural, ethnic and racial backgrounds. Send recruiting teams to those schools.

  1. Expand Perspectives

Consider expanding your recruiters’ perspective. They may be conscious of recruiting people across the diversity spectrum, but are they looking for people who are the “exact right fit” meaning people who think exactly like you? Determine whether they are listening and looking for people with new ideas, who are creative problem solvers, and innovators.

  1. Have an Open Mind

Train recruiters to have an open mind when it comes to interviewing candidates. Have them go beyond the suit, shoes, and haircut, and have them focus on the knowledge behind the exterior. Instead of questioning appearances or nervous habits, question which candidates can bring diversity of thought and innovation to your business.

  1. Gather Feedback

Don’t let one person be the judge of it all. Consider having a diverse panel conduct interviews so you can get feedback on candidates. Ask your teammates to think about whether or not you’re focusing strongly enough on diversity of thought when recruiting prospects.

  1. Grow Your Network

Attend hiring events and come prepared to discuss the benefits of working for your organization and your industry. Don’t limit yourself to just the people in front of your eyes though. Expand your network by asking attendees to share your job opportunities with their connections in the field in case they might know someone who is a strong fit. The quickest way to grow an diverse network is of course through social media. Have your team and peers share your job opportunities across their social media platforms, including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and more.

  1. Collaborate With Organizations

Develop relationships with diversity related organizations. For example, when recruiting on college campuses, think of the different diversity-focused student organizations you can collaborate and sponsor events with.

  1. Ask the Right Questions

Listen and be engaged when getting to know your candidates. Ask the right questions, such as asking for their insights and observations about your organization or what they would change or do differently. See if their answers bring something new to the table and bring diversity of thought.

A great example of a leader who searched for diversity of thought was a CEO of a facilities management company who wanted to hire more female managers. Instead of recruiting from his industry, he started attending meetings of women in real estate.

“I wanted to find women who would bring different experiences so we could get fresh ideas. I looked for women who understood property management from the client’s perspective, and would challenge the way we’ve always worked. We now have several women in decision making positions as a result, and we’ve been able to better serve our clients.”

By gathering different perspectives, he was able to source new ideas and cater to client needs more effectively.

Organizations can grow and increase their market share dramatically when they bring people of diverse backgrounds together. With diversity in the workplace, you are able to provide opportunities for your team to share different experiences, talents and perspectives. One of leadership’s job is to access and mine that diversity of thought and let it shine, or your organization and the people in it will wilt and fall behind. The choice is yours. Hire creatively.

Learn how to build an amazing workplace culture where every employee feels included by accessing Achievers’ ebook: Employee Recognition: More Than Just a Day.

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About the Author
Simma Lieberman
Simma Lieberman helps leaders create inclusive cultures that last from start-up to scale. She creates environments where people love to do their best work, and customers love to do business. For over 20 years she has been a consultant, speaker and executive leadership coach, and is the author of three books on diversity and inclusion and one on resilience. Learn more about Simma by visiting her website.

 

 

 

 

 

Employee quitting

4 Ways to Prevent Your Employees From Quitting

When you hire a new employee, that person is already looking for a new job and at risk of quitting. That rather dire warning is offered by Dan Schawbel, research director at Future Workplace and one of Forbes’ “30 under 30” list. Schawbel cites a study by his company showing that one-third of American workers are at the risk of quitting and looking to change their jobs within the next six months. Employee turnover, he points out, “costs companies a fortune,” and the numbers agree: Losing an employee in the first year of their tenure can cost your company up to three times the person’s annual salary. Clearly, employee retention is a top priority for every organization and it’s HR’s duty to build a strategy that can prevent employees from quitting. Here are four HR best practices to strengthen work culture and protect your company from the high cost of worker churn.

1. Provide Relevant Training Opportunities

As Schawbel investigated the underlying causes for employee attrition, he found a major perception gap between management and workers when it came to a training and development. Sixty percent of managers reported that they provide their employees with a clear path for advancing their careers, while only 36 percent of workers felt that this was true. This discrepancy needs your attention, because you ignore it at your peril: Employees (especially the highly talented ones you’d most like to retain) have more power than they once did, because their skills are in demand. Schawbel’s study found that 41 percent of employees say that they would leave their present companies if they found a position that offered better career advancement.

These numbers suggest that there is more to this equation than simply providing opportunities for training and development. That’s the first step, of course: A study of 4,300 workers found that 74 percent don’t feel that they’re achieving their full potential in their current position, and only 12 percent feel that the training they did receive is actually applicable to their job duties. Along with offering appropriate pathways for your workers to develop their skills, you should ask for frequent feedback to make sure that these opportunities are perceived as being relevant and useful.

2. Encourage Healthy Work-Life Balance

Thirty-nine percent of employees state that a negative balance between work obligations and the rest of their lives constituted a “major pain point” in their careers. These statistics are highlighted by Rich Hein, senior managing editor of CIO Magazine. He points out that the average tenure for an IT worker these days is less than four years, and an unmanageable set of work demands is one of the main culprits for this high turnover rate.

While you can’t necessarily relieve each employee’s outside personal challenges, Hein points out that your organization will benefit by offering flexible hours or telecommuting options. Multiple studies reflect the fact that providing flexibility to employees results in fewer sick hours, greater employee happiness, higher productivity and less stress.

3. Keep Your Managers in the Spotlight

It’s an old truism that people don’t quit jobs — they quit bosses. Even if you’re well aware of this basic human resources principle, it never hurts to be reminded that your management-level staff are key to retaining your workforce. “One manager with poor people skills can do damage to the culture and effectiveness of a company in a short period of time,” points out Maricopa County CIO David Stevens. Too often, people with outstanding technical know-how are promoted to leadership positions, where an entirely different skillset is needed. Fortunately, management training and coaching can be highly effective, and can enable your middle management staff to perform at their full potential.

Productivity consultant Laura Vanderkam adds an interesting twist to this standard advice. She points out that a manager may feel attached to keeping a “rockstar employee” in his or her department, and may be reluctant to provide development training that would advance the person’s career. For this reason, Vanderkam encourages executives and HR specialists to specifically reward managers who successfully move their outstanding employees forward into different departments. The manager’s individual loss will be the organization’s gain, as employee alignment will be strengthened by new career opportunities.

4. Show Your Employees That You Appreciate Them

Wayfair CEO Niraj Shah identifies employee rewards and recognition as one of his three key ways for retaining employees. He acknowledges how easy it is for busy managers to put employee retention “on the back burner,” and he finds that continuous positive feedback is his go-to method of letting employees know how valuable they are to the company.

There’s an art to employee recognition best practices, however: It’s important to provide feedback on an ongoing basis, but workplace expert Lynn Taylor points out that it can’t be “robotic.” Your appreciation needs to be authentic and varied, delivered in a variety of forms. To keep a sense of freshness present in your appreciation, you can change up the channels: Providing your workers with a chance to recognize and praise each other’s contributions will nurture teamwork. Similarly, you may sometimes recognize the unified efforts of a whole team or department, so that it’s clear that everyone benefits from strong employee alignment.

You invest significant resources into recruiting and hiring. Once you’ve onboarded those top-notch employees, however, your HR challenge is only beginning. Lynn Taylor reminds managers, “Retaining the best and brightest is what ultimately matters. The most innovative and successful companies today [have] taken retention efforts to an advanced level.” To learn more about the current retention epidemic and how to prevent your employees from quitting, check out our latest report highlighting key findings from a survey taken by 1,724 employees across the U.S., Canada, UK, and Australia.

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Open Office

Thinking of an Open Office? Read This First

Companies are trying to find a workspace setup that increases employee productivity. Meanwhile, the employees are hoping that they will be allowed to concentrate or collaborate as needed and still escape unnecessary distractions. Getting the design of an office right can be hard – it is clearly a moving target. Let’s take a look back at the history of office design. In 1964, a Herman Miller executive, Robert Propst, came up with the idea of the office cubicle. It was a reaction to the open office setups of the 1950s which were felt to be too noisy and lacking in privacy.

1960 officeA 1960s escape from the vast open office layout.

The office cubicle found huge adoption in the following decades, giving workers an office layout that was often an immense field of cubicles as far as the eye could see – as was so effectively lampooned in both the movie Office Space and the comic strip Dilbert.

office spaceRon Livingston, David Herman And Ajay Naidu take their revenge on their nemesis, the office  fax machine in a scene from “Office Space”. Source: Getty Images.

To break away from the office cubicle layout, companies started moving back toward a variation on of open-plan offices taken from the 1950s. Open-plan offices have become increasingly popular and make up approximately 70 percent of all offices. Understanding the history behind these changes to office design can help businesses make informed choices about what to implement in their own setup, and how the physical space of the office affects employee happiness and engagement.

open officeFed up with working in an open-plan office? You’re probably not alone. Source: Photofusion/Rex Features.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Open Office Layouts

The Good:

An open office layout can help increase the amount of day-to-day communication. Instead of having a meeting or walking to another cube, one desk occupant can simply talk across to the next. Beyond being able to hear the neighbor, one can also see if they are (1) at the desk and (2) if they are likely to be available – not on the phone or in a conference.

The flexibility of an open office helps to break down the barriers between departments and hierarchies. With more chances to interact, teams can grow closer organically. Spontaneous lunch outings become more common, which can increase employee engagement and overall happiness. Familiarity in a non-work setting helps to build trust in coworkers and communication across departments. In an extreme example from my personal experience, a software company I worked at would stop work Friday afternoons to allow the entire staff to play games or just hang out. The open office and companion culture at this company helped developers, marketers, and even C-levels communicate better as a team.

The Bad:

On the flip side, what if an important report has to be done by 5pm on a Friday while the other 20 people in the office are laughing and carrying on? The noise becomes a problem without sound barriers provided by cubicles and closed doors.

In an open office, sometimes every phone call becomes anathema and the guy who used to be the water cooler pundit is always too loud and too close. A survey by Oxford Economics on open office plans said that 53% of those surveyed were less productive when they could hear ambient noise. Another study took this further and found that noisy offices can impair your ability to recall information or do basic math.

The Ugly:

The look of an office separated into cubicles is great if you love that grey and drab with bad lighting aesthetic. However, you have that physical and sound barrier between you and your coworkers. The open office layout removed those barriers allowing you to see and collaborate with your coworkers. This is its main selling point, well, that–and it often gives the office clean, trendy lines. The introverted and those sensitive to sound will quickly notice the drawbacks to all this openness.

There Are Always Trade-Offs

Pro: You Can See the Colleague You Want to Engage With

In one open office layout I sat directly across from the COO and very close to a Director in another. It’s nice to be able to see them and talk to them quickly without having to find their office and knock or wait for the door to be open, which makes you feel like another task in their project management software. The playing field does seem a bit more level without closed doors and formal meetings.

Con: You Might Hear or See Something You’d Rather Not

However, there are some times when privacy is necessary. In a phone-free workplace, I would need to take my cell phone call somewhere else. Also those managers would need to find a location for their reviews and interviews to maintain the privacy of their meeting and save the other workers from that extra noise. “And for introverts, an open office can be an especially dark place. Constantly interacting with other humans can be exhausting.” In her popular TED talk on how our workplaces are designed for extroverts, Susan Cain, author of Quiet, explains this powerfully. She notes that “modern offices have the collaboration element well taken care of, but they’re neglecting the concentration and the contemplation.”

Office Layouts Depend on Your Culture

“People feel more connected to a workplace where they have the ability to shape their work environment and decide when and where they’re going to work. This freedom increased the likelihood that workers were happy with their jobs by 12 percent and increased overall job performance.” – Nicole Coughlin of Knoll Activity Spaces 

The real key to designing the right office layout is understanding that all your employees are different. Each will have slightly different needs and work styles. If you decide to move forward with an open office you should try to make it balanced with a number of offerings for privacy and quiet. Here are some office suggestions:

  • Work-a-Day Normal Desks: Give employees the option to move around the office if need be, whether it’s a sitting, standing or adjustable desks.
  • Large Tables: Let employees gather together and work at one large table together. This can encourage collaboration and team building.
  • Conference Rooms: Sometimes all it takes is a closed door to give some much needed privacy.
  • Phone Booths: Private booths are a great alternative for conference calls or recorded trainings.
  • Couches: Who doesn’t like a comfortable couch to change things up? Let employees kick their feet back while they get work done.
  • Multiple Lighting Options: Some employees don’t like overhead lights and some do. Have the option of lighting up one zone with and another without.

Choosing between an open office or a layout that provides a little more privacy doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Remember to think about what works for your company, its culture, and the amount and types of engagement you want among your employees. Defining these pieces before redesigning your office setup will ensure you choose the office space that works for your team.

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About the Author
Steve Medeiros Steve Medeiros is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com. He has an extensive background in technology, software, and customer support. Find him on LinkedIn.