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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