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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employees and great culture

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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About the Author
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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employee recognition and feedback

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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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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employees at desk - culture

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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Employee experience

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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