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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.

 

 

Community

How to Build an Engaging Social Responsibility Strategy Into Your Culture

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Learn What Your Employees Care About

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

  1. Give Employees Equal Amounts of Opportunities

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winston Churchill Quote

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

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

Learn more by viewing the Achievers CARES photo album.

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

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

 

 

 

 

HR thought leaders

Words of Advice from 7 HR Thought Leaders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The best jobs turn coworkers into friends.”

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

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

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

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

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Manager

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Millennial Employees

5 Tips for Attracting Top Millennial Talent

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

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

  1. Use Social Media Authentically

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

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

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

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

  1. Create a Transparent Recruiting Process

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

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

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

  1. Be Transparent About Trajectory

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

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

  1. Emphasize Company Culture

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

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

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

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

  1. Start With Current Millennial Employees

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

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

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

Attract Top Millennial Talent

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

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

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

 

Innovation Workplace

How to Apply Innovation Principles to Your Engagement Strategy

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

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

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

Engagement Innovation Question Change

Innovation is not always about building a brand new product.

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

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

Engagement Innovation Question specialize

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

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

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

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

Engagement Innovation Question combine

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

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

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

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

Engagement Innovation Question standardize

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

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

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

Engagement Innovation Question Try

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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Achievers employees bowling

Are You Having Fun at Work?

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

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

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

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

Purpose

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

Hope

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

Friendship

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

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

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

Achievers employee

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

Achievers employees dressed up as skittles

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

Magic the Gathering Team Event

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

Achievers Band with Pikachu

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

Achievers Acoustic Band

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

Achievers employees

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

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

Oprah

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

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Do you want to join the A-team? Apply for one of our open job listings here.

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

 

 

 

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

 

Culture Change During Mergers and Acquisitions

How to Navigate Culture Change During Mergers and Acquisitions

News of one company buying another one makes for splashy headlines, broadcasting rising stock prices and the overall cost of the deal. Just look at the headlines Disney garnered for its recent $52 billion bid to acquire most of 21st Century Fox, as well as all of Sky News. However, what really counts after the dust settles is how you help your employees adjust to the cultural shift. Author and management consultant Mark E. Mendenhall writes that “cultural and psychological sides of M&A are often overshadowed by the financial side,” and SHRM notes “studies consistently show that most mergers and acquisitions fail, mainly because of people and culture issues.” As an HR professional, your participation is crucial during each step of the transition, but the most significant contribution you can make is probably in the area of employee engagement. During this high-stakes period, you have the chance to prove your value to the company if you keep the following factors in mind:

Expect Employees to Feel Stressed

Before you can help employees adjust to upcoming changes, you have to be aware of what they are feeling. From the moment the merger is first announced, your entire workforce is likely to be distracted by uncertainty. It’s disturbing to imagine one’s livelihood simply disappearing, especially for those workers who are older or who doubt their ability to land an equivalent job. Employees may even wonder if financial pressures or job-hunting may force them to move out of their home. Relationships inside and outside the workplace may suffer, and engagement in job tasks often plummets.

Even though mergers aren’t exactly a cakewalk for your HR department, you must find time to alleviate your workforce’s stress and provide each person with the support and empathy they need to stay engaged. Glassdoor advises, “Even if an employee is losing their job, studies have shown that the worker will be more productive and more valuable in his final days if he or she is notified well in advance and provided with adequate support and guidance.”

Learn From Your HR Counterparts

Whether you are part of the target company or the acquiring company, you have a lot to learn from the other HR department. Mary Cianni, Ph.D., global leader of M&A Services at Willis Towers Watson, suggests that regardless of who will continue on as CHRO, you need to learn about the other company’s people. She notes that key questions to ask include the following: “What are the key drivers to employee engagement? What motivates them? What are they accustomed to with regard to rewards and recognition?”

Practice Transparency From the Beginning

The more your workers understand about what to expect, the better equipped they’ll be to meet the challenges of change. Cianni advises management to use accurate language right from the beginning: “If [the transaction] is an acquisition, call it that, versus using terms like merger or combination. The less ambiguity about the integration approach, the clearer the messaging to employees.” You build trust by being direct and truthful.

Provide Accurate Information

HR departments are under considerable pressure during mergers, and you may find yourself called upon for answers at precisely the moment when you have least control over your workers’ situation. Be careful not to release any specifics about dates, roles, retention and so on until all those plans are definitely in place. Telling even one manager about something that “might” happen is a way to create disruption and rumor. Cianni recommends that HR staff provide regular updates, even if all you have to say is “there’s nothing new to report.”

Listen to Employees

Most of the information flow during mergers move in only one direction, because workers are anxious to know what to expect. Nonetheless, this is a time when you should make a special effort to empathize with your employees. Let managers know that it’s helpful for them to meet one-on-one with direct reports so they can find out what’s on everyone’s minds. Glassdoor recommends that companies seek input from old and new employees alike regarding how the transition is going. They may have valuable suggestions and feedback that can help everything move along more smoothly.

Similarly, when you hold HR meetings to orient staff to new benefits or policies going forward, it’s important to allow time to listen to and address employees’ concerns. Sending out anonymous surveys ahead of time is another useful way to find out what’s keeping your workers up at night. Employees need to know that the company takes their questions seriously and value their input.

Institute an Employee Recognition and Rewards Program

There may never be another time when it’s as crucial to express your company’s appreciation to employees. Connect with your managers and discuss how they can use recognition to unify their teams. RecruitLoop points out that after a merger, “Setting a proper incentive or rewards program is essential to boost the morale of your new employees and make them feel part of your organization.” If the merger results in the integration of new employees, a peer-to-peer recognition platform is an excellent way to begin the process of bringing everyone together.

When handled effectively, mergers represent a surge of fresh energy and inspiration for the entire organization. HR professionals have a major part to play in the success of this transition. To learn more about how employee engagement and the right strategy can positively impact your workplace culture during times of change, download our ebook: Engage or Die: How Companies that Act Fast on Engagement Outpace the Competition.

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Which company has already reaped the benefits of instituting a recognition culture? Availity, the nation’s largest real-time health information network, has maintained a fun and engaging work culture with its employee recognition and rewards program, LOVE (Living Our Values Everyday). Availity employees continue to embrace the Achievers platform as a method for celebrating accomplishments large and small, with nearly 70% sending recognitions and 98% receiving recognitions in the first year of the program. To learn more about Availity’s success, access their case study here.

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Incentivize Your Workforce

Why Today’s Incentive Thinking Is Different

Ever since people started working for each other, supervisors have tried to figure out the best way to reach their performance goals and keep workers on task. Too often in human history, this meant that people with less power were simply compelled to work, and incentives — if they existed — consisted merely of being allowed to survive. After several evolutionary waves, we have a deeper insight into what truly motivates people, and today’s incentives are about far more than compensation. As the Forbes Coaches Council puts it, “In decades past, motivating employees was all about raises, promotions, and bonuses. Those days are gone, and today’s employers are quickly learning that engagement stems from different kinds of incentives — ones that impact an employee’s emotional, rather than financial, health.” Here’s a quick look at how incentive thinking has changed over time, and how wise use of employee rewards contributes to today’s workplace culture.

The Beginning of Management Science

The examination of work incentives really began in the “scientific management era” from the late 1800s to about 1920. During this period, laboratory discoveries about reward and motivation began to be applied to the workplace. Employees were frequently paid at a piece rate, providing them with a straightforward pay incentive to be as productive as possible. When the innovation of pay by the hour or day was introduced, it was controversial. A widespread fear existed that if you paid workers only according to the time they spent, that they would “take it easy” and not try as hard. This was also brought up as an objection to the concept of profit- or gain-sharing programs, since it was felt that weaker workers would share equally in the rewards and thus not be motivated to try harder.

The Central Challenge of Giving Incentives

These differing opinions revealed the central challenge of providing incentives: Workers must experience a certain sense of fairness and equality, while at the same time the company must find a way of rewarding its top performers. This challenge led to elaborated systems that integrated bonuses and standards, so that all workers received a base-level pay, but those who reached higher productivity levels would be awarded a bonus. Later developments included paying the supervisor or foreman a higher rate if their team achieved set production goals. It was considered important to increase efficiency, and managers were seen as having a role in this effort. Many of the early discoveries about incentives are still applicable today, but the context in which they are given continued to evolve.

Twentieth Century Workplace Traditions

During the 20th century, companies generally offered rewards for staying with the company. Longevity bonuses and regular wage increases recognized employees for performing the core duties of their jobs, according to the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF). In the case of sales jobs, competitive (and sometimes cutthroat) relative incentives were introduced. The extreme form of such competition was classically demonstrated in the movie “Glengarry Glen Ross,” in which Alec Baldwin’s character says, “As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anybody wanna see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired.”

Incentivizing Innovation and Adaptability

It doesn’t take much deep insight to recognize the toxic nature of the Glengarry scenario. Research by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University shows that pitting workers against each other for rewards often causes team-minded players to scale back their efforts in order to equalize things. Furthermore, as the IRF puts it, standard compensation systems that rewarded people for just showing up and completing their baseline tasks are no longer enough. “To differentiate themselves today, companies rely on people going beyond their core job — innovating, training recruits, adapting their performance to new challenges, expanding their skillsets.” The incentives that are most successful at eliciting these behaviors include a wide variety of short-term incentives overlaid with authentic employee recognition. They must be customized to the individual and closely aligned with the company’s mission and values. This combination is what is now recognized to lead to the best outcomes and the highest prosperity level for your company.

Stats That Prove the Value of Incentives

Just how important is it to offer the right incentives? Let the stats tell you:

  • 70 percent of all U.S. businesses now use gift card incentive programs.
  • Workers who do not feel recognized for their efforts are twice as likely to say they’re planning to quit in the coming year.
  • 90 percent of large enterprises use technology to implement their incentives and reward programs.
  • Companies with effective recognition and reward programs experience 31 percent less voluntary turnover.
  • 69 percent of employees in an Achievers survey say that receiving recognition and rewards would motivate them to stay at their current jobs.
  • 85 percent of workers in one British survey reported that they “felt more motivated to do their best when an incentive was offered.”
  • Corporations that implemented an employee rewards program found that their overall profits increased by an average of $123,600 per week.
  • When companies initiate a reward program, they see a 14 percent improvement in their employee engagement.
  • 55 percent of employees state that their job performance is affected by the quality of their company’s recognition program.

Today’s best practices are evidence-based, and some departments are already seeing success from implementing the right incentives program. A research report in HBR highlighted a call center as they explored the growing importance of “adaptive” rather than “tactical” performance. Workers who were only rewarded for the number of calls in a call center saw their results go down because they were sticking to the given scripts (being tactical). When a test group of call center workers were given the incentive of having ownership of their customer group and the freedom to improvise (or be adaptive), their results were twice as good as the control group.

Fast Company profiles a construction company that improves performance by offering employees the incentive of leaving early. Construction manager Collin Hanks says, “I give my crews benchmarks to work towards instead of them punching the clock and working from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. regardless of what they get done. The benchmarks let them know that if they work hard and get stuff done faster, they can go home early and are still paid as if they worked till 5 p.m.”

As the business world draws on decades of psychological research and actual workplace experience, HR practices have substantially evolved. The right approach to employee rewards is key to maintaining your company’s agility in a changing marketplace. For some fresh ideas about how today’s incentives can strengthen employee engagement, download our ebook on how to incentivize the modern workforce.

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Are you free in October? Learn how to incentivize your workforce and increase employee engagement by attending Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2018 in Toronto, October 23-24. Get the early bird rate and save $200 off the regular rate today. Buy now here.

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Celebrate Work Anniversaries

10 Fun Ideas for Celebrating Work Anniversaries

On the inside, you’re full of warm-hearted gratitude for the loyalty of employees who stick around for the long haul. The question to ask yourself is whether your team knows how much you appreciate their efforts. They can’t read your mind, so celebrating employee milestones and work anniversaries is a way to showcase your positive energy and spread it around. It’s also a way to strengthen your company’s financial position, because a stronger work culture leads directly to stronger employee engagement. Emma Seppala, Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research, notes that “a positive environment will lead to dramatic benefits for employers, employees, and the bottom line.”

The negative side of the equation has plenty of alarming numbers: The absentee rate for disengaged workers is 37 percent higher than normal, and they have 49 percent more accidents and cause 60 percent more defects and errors in production. Furthermore, employees who don’t feel like their company recognizes their efforts are twice as likely to quit in the coming year, according to a 2016 study by Gallup.

An easy way to strengthen your work culture is to recognize employees on their work anniversaries. Here are 10 ways to have fun and reward your people for their loyalty.

1. Feature the Person on Your Landing Page

What better way is there to express your appreciation for someone’s years of hard work than to make him the face of your company for a while? Groundfloor Media, a Denver public relations company, does exactly that, and it obviously pays off. Named by Outside Online as one of America’s top places to work (for four years in a row!), Groundfloor Media’s loyalty to its employees conveys a brand identity focused around real people.

2. Sponsor an Exciting New Experience

Survey company 6Q celebrates employees’ long-term diligence by giving them a chance to have a whole new experience. A voucher for an unusual event — a fantasy convention or a skydiving jump, for example — can be combined with giving the employee an extra day off. The recipient will have lots to tell her co-workers about when she comes back, and the photos she takes will look great on the company’s social media page as well.

3. Personalize the Gift

Individualization is one of the top three characteristics of employee recognition, according to Gallup (with honesty and authenticity being the other two). In other words, you can’t stock up on a closet full of identical coffee mugs that say “Five Years” on them to give out during work anniversaries. Instead, offer something that demonstrates your knowledge of each worker as a unique individual. For example, set up an employee recognition and rewards platform that has a large catalog of rewards that employees can pick from.

4. Interrupt the Daily Routine

While standing up and being applauded may not be everyone’s cup of tea, fun ceremonies can occur in various brief, creative ways. Arrange for a balloon delivery to interrupt the day for employees who reach their work anniversaries. If you’re not in a big city that delivers anything from cookies to caviar, try contacting TaskRabbit and arrange for someone to come in and play a tuba solo at your worker’s desk.

5. Let Them Eat Cake

Go gluten-free if necessary, and explore the amazing art of today’s cake decorating. It’s not just for grandmothers anymore. Shock and amaze your employee with a professionally created cake in the shape of a dragon, a crystal geode or the planet Jupiter.

6. Support the Employee’s Charitable Cause

Many people have local or global causes they care fiercely about. To celebrate a worker’s loyalty in a way that has heart-level impact, take up a collection among the whole department to contribute to something the person is passionate about. You’ll improve employee productivity by showing that your company culture has an altruistic core, and you’ll polish up your employer brand as well.

7. Roll Out the Red Carpet

If your employee usually drives to work, it can be a fun (and free) treat to let her use a VIP parking space for a week, suggests Kelley Zanfardino of the HR Center for Excellence. If she typically takes the bus, you could hire a car service for her for the day and include a free cappuccino en route to work.

8. Give Coupons for Time Off

Offering workers more control over their day (and some “time for slack” as well) is a great way to express appreciation and build employee engagement, according to a Deloitte report. You can celebrate worker anniversaries with a handful of hourly coupons for time off, based on the number of years the person has worked for you.

9. Lunch With the CEO

This probably works better with small groups of employees whose work anniversaries fall within the same time period, unless your company is fairly small. Leadership consultant Christine Comaford writes that employee lunches with the CEO are “a terrific way to foster connection and safety, belonging, and mattering in your culture.”

10. Anniversary E-Cards

Who doesn’t love a fun e-card signed by their teammates? Get the team together to sign an anniversary e-card. This is a great way to get employees together to recognize an employee’s achievements and build a positive team spirit. On the day of the work anniversary, the employee will be pleasantly surprised to see a heartwarming e-card in their email inbox from their teammates. Cloud-based employee recognition and engagement platforms, such as Achievers, makes it easy for employees to participate in and receive work anniversary and birthday e-cards.

You can establish the roots of positivity in your organization today, and it doesn’t require a massive investment of time and money. Check out our ebook on employee recognition, and start optimizing your workers’ productivity.

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And if you’re looking for ways to improve the employee experience, check out our white paper, “Personalization: The Missing Link in Employee Experience.

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Learn how to increase employee engagement at your workplace by attending Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2018 in Toronto, October 23-24. Get the early bird rate and save $200 off the regular rate today. Buy now here.

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Assess Company Culture

5 Simple Ways to Assess Company Culture

Leadership structure, office environment, core mission and values, interpersonal relations, team engagement and communication style—these are just some of the many organizational details that shape company culture, something that is becoming more and more important to businesses of all kinds. A strong company culture improves:

  • Identity of the organization
  • Employee retention
  • Corporate image

What’s more, more people rank “workplace well-being” over monetary or “material benefits,” according to the Harvard Business Reviewand that well-being is created through a positive company culture.

This is why it’s important to assess company culture, just as you would your finances or sales process. If you’ve never done so before, use these five action-steps to critique—and ultimately improve—the culture of your organization.

  1. Evaluate the Onboarding Process

If your goal is to recruit people who are innovative, competent and dedicated to your mission, then it’s crucial to earn their loyalty and respect in the hiring and onboarding process. If the process is unorganized or they’re waiting around for someone to meet with them, they expect the organization to follow suit.

Consider if your training methods are outdated, monotonous and derivative—such as reading a company manual—or if the approach is personalized, engaging, creative and participatory. New hires are eager to learn their positions and acclimate to the team, but if the onboarding process doesn’t “provide the resources and tools they need to ramp-up, they can end up stagnating,” suggests SaplingHR.

Show a strong company culture from the beginning, with an onboarding process that’s as engaging and interesting as it educational.

  1. Gauge Openness Within Leadership

It’s important that you foster a culture of embracing change, especially if you want to be seen as relevant and accessible to young professionals. A recent headline in Harvard Business Review confirms this, Changing Company Culture Requires a Movement, Not a Mandate. The authors explain why this can be challenging:

“Innovation demands new behaviors from leaders and employees that are often antithetical to corporate cultures, which are historically focused on operational excellence and efficiency.”

When assessing company culture, determine whether leadership has the ability to be agile and fluid. Are they stuck in the “9-to-5” mindset, which can be stiff and resistant to change? If so, the next question is: how can our culture evolve despite hesitancy among executives? There may be the need for change at the top or a board meeting with those who have a say in the direction of the company.

  1. Look at Incentive Programs (Or Lack There-Of)

The act of praising and incentivizing employees who perform well or provide value to the company is critical—but you don’t have to break the bank with bonus checks that are taxed at an extremely high rate.

Instead, make this aspect of the company culture more personal. Take into account each employee’s interests, lifestyle and hobbies, and find ways to reward them with these personal details in mind. For example, if someone loves cooking, show appreciation with a gift certificate for cooking classes.

Conversely, you can give employees an option for how they want to be recognized with something as simple as gift cards, suggests Jason Mauser, VP of Sales at Hawk Incentives. They’re are ideal for satisfying a “diverse group of recipients” because “they’ll appreciate the ability to make their own decision.”

  1. Observe Team Interactions

The strongest and most sustainable company cultures are forged on relationships and human connections. As you assess culture, analyze the dynamics between co-workers and notice how they communicate or collaborate with each other.

  • Do they respect one another’s ideas and opinions?
  • Do they relate on an interpersonal level?
  • Do they function cohesively as a team?
  • Does the setting promote a free exchange of dialogue and unique perspectives?

“In a teamwork environment, people understand and believe that thinking, planning, decisions and actions are better when done cooperatively,” suggests Human Resources expert Susan Heathfield in an article for The Balance.

If there aren’t strong team connections, consider adding more team outings to the roster. These give employees a chance to get to know each other outside the stresses of the office, while you show appreciation for their hard work.

  1. Determine Attitudes from Answers

The right questions will elicit the most valuable insights about your company culture.  Instead of asking directly about culture, gauge how the current climate is affecting attitudes by asking about the success and challenges of the business. If negativity is coming through in answers, you know a change is needed to steer the ship back toward calmer waters. Certain topics may also elicit the same response company-wide, which can also be telling in terms of how the organization is handling a specific issue or challenge.

Here are a few questions to try from Lessons Learned in 29 Powerful Questions to ask in the New Year:

  • What didn’t go so well last year?
  • Were there any cringe-worthy moments?
  • What is the one thing your organization was worst at last year?
  • What did we learn from our mistakes?
  • What lessons can our company leverage?
  • What could our organization do differently over the next 12 months?
  • What break-through moments did we experience last year?
  • What is holding our company back?
  • What can each of us do to be more helpful to the team?

Assess Company Culture—Regularly

The culture of your organization impacts everything from productivity and engagement to retention and growth. While there isn’t a “company culture 101” blue print for every business to follow, you can assess on a regular basis to uncover the unique culture pillars of your organization. Use these tips to do exactly that, slowly creating a company culture that retains top talent and facilitates success.

If you don’t regularly assess your company culture and pay attention to what your employees want, you risk facing the high cost of employee disengagement. To learn more, download this white paper: Is HR a Cost Center? The True Cost of Employee Disengagement.

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Find out more about your employees’ needs and expectations by downloading this report: The Retention Epidemic: Why 74% of the North American Workforce Plans on Quitting.

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Are you ready to improve your work culture? Learn how to enhance your culture and increase employee engagement by attending Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2018 in Toronto, October 23-24. Get the early bird rate and save $200 off the regular rate today. Buy now here.

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

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Create a Mission-Based Culture

4 Ways to Create a Mission-Based Culture Where Employees Will Thrive

A company’s mission statement is the driving force behind its company culture. It’s what ignites passion and motivation in employees.

At Achievers, our mission is simple: to change the way the world works. We aspire to do that by aligning everyone with business goals and company values, driven by recognizing shared victories every day. In short, we aim to make success a way of life.

Creating a mission-based culture is crucial for employee — and ultimately, company — success. In fact, according to our latest report, 76 percent of North American employees cited a positive corporate culture as the single most important quality in an employer.

By focusing on your mission company-wide, you open the door for more meaningful employee experiences and a more motivated team.

Here are four steps you can take to instill a mission-based culture at your company:

  1. Start with the employee

Empowering employees to adopt the company’s mission and values as their own is the first step in creating a mission-based culture.

Help your team take this step by encouraging employees to approach their work with an entrepreneurial mindset. Challenge your team to proactively and creatively find solutions to issues the company is facing.

Software companies, for instance, use hackathons to discover new solutions in programming. Leverage this idea to bring people together to accomplish challenges that can have impact throughout the company.

Jumpstart the event by asking employees to note the biggest challenges they or your customers are facing. Next, have them form teams and begin collaborating. Give employees a designated amount of time (traditional hackathons are about 48 hours) to design a program, role, or even software to solve the issues they presented.

The last step is to have employees present their solution and successfully explain how it reinforces the company’s mission. The winning team can then move forward with implementing their solution.

  1. Celebrate your mission

 Recognition isn’t just about celebrating your employees. It’s also about celebrating your company’s mission and recognizing those who exemplify it. In doing so, employees are able to see a direct connection between their efforts, the mission statement, and the company culture.

Unfortunately, it seems many companies are missing the recognition mark. In fact, our report also found that 55 percent of North American employees noted a lack of recognition and engagement as the main reasons behind wanting to change jobs.

At Achievers, we maintain a strong, positive culture by tying our communication and employee recognition efforts to employees’ work. For example, on a quarterly basis, our company comes together for a rewards and recognition (R&R) celebrations.

We place a lot of importance on giving our employees a voice and making it known throughout the company. We are not only proud of our employees, but also we value them and want to demonstrate that during the R&R celebration.

Recognitions are shared company-wide, highlighting examples of how our employees make a difference both internally and with our customers. No accomplishment is too small. They are meaningful, impactful, and push the company’s mission forward.

  1. Be transparent during the good and the bad

 Transparency allows employees to clearly see how their efforts impact overall organizational goals. To give employees a greater sense of transparency, let your company’s mission and values shine through in every situation — both good and bad.

When something great happens, like the promotion of a team member, celebrate it publicly. Explain what this employee did to earn a promotion and how their actions and attitude positively reflect the company’s mission. This way, employees can see the company mission in action and learn and grow from it.

While not as easy to do, it’s equally important to share the downsides of the job with employees. If you lose a client, for instance, be open and honest with your team about why this happened. Most importantly, use this time to inspire employees and unite them behind your mission. By discussing the issue as a team, you and the company can learn from this experience and help prevent similar issues in the future.

  1. Stay connected

 Your company and employees are constantly evolving. Even if your mission stays the same, the connections and values employees have will change. Because each employee is unique, you need to stay connected to their emotions and relationship with the company.

To accomplish this, arm your managers with the tools they need to listen to their employees, as well as offer recognition, on a consistent basis.

Technology that allows your managers to get a pulse on their direct reports on a daily basis will provide more insight into accomplishments and challenges than an annual or quarterly survey. More importantly, the data managers receive is in real-time, which allows them to take immediate action.

Giving your managers the tools they need to listen and respond to their direct reports in a personalized way brings it full-circle and back to the company mission. These practices will give leaders the opportunity to understand what matters to their employees, react in the moment, and redirect employees to a more engaged, mission-based culture.

Find out more about your employees’ needs and expectations by downloading our report here.

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Are you free in October? Come see me and discover how to increase employee engagement by attending Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2018 in Toronto, October 23-24. Get the early bird rate and save $200 off the regular rate today. Buy now here.

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About the Author
Diane ScheidlerDiane Scheidler is the Head of HR at Achievers, an employee engagement platform specifically designed to align everyone with business objectives and company values, driven by recognizing shared victories every day.

 

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Improve Team Meetings

7 Fun Ways to Host Team Meetings

Team meetings are renowned for being boring and, to many employees, a waste of time.

In fact, one survey shows that over 75% of meeting participants are annoyed by meetings they deem unnecessary, and many more will agree they find them boring, even if it’s just from time to time.

So, as a meeting host in your business, it’s up to you to spice things up and bring a spark that will keep everybody engaged. To help you get started, here are seven techniques you can use.

  1. Use Grouping

One of the most common meeting tactics to use is known as ‘breakout groups’. This is a type of meeting where you’ll introduce a certain point or subject and then break the teams up into groups to discuss it. As you can imagine, this is ideal for brainstorming activities.

“Try to split up groups of people, so each group is as diverse as possible. At the end of the session, bring the teams back together and discuss all your points as a team,” shares Mary Parker, an HR Manager for UK Writings.

  1. Try Team Building Efforts

You may have heard of team-building days, but there’s no reason why you can’t bring a team-building exercise into your meetings to bring everyone together and to get the mind focused. This is a great way to boost employee morale, build company culture and make the team socially aware.

You could give your team a puzzle or play a simple Q & A game. Team meetings don’t have to be completely work-related either – they could solely focus on the team building aspect and be used as ten-minute introductions to get everybody engaged.

  1. Include Engaging Presentations

One of the best ways to bring new life into your meetings is by creating a visual presentation, such as a PowerPoint. This adds a visual element to your meetings and is a great way to share information in an easily digestible format.

You can add graphics, images, videos, graphs, text, and any other form of data or media that will help to keep the participants of your meeting engaged. Aim to produce high-quality presentations for your team meetings. Here are some tools that can help:

  • Grammarix & Studydemic
    These are two online tools you can use to check the grammar in your presentation.
  • Revieweal
    This website reviews copywriting services that can create content for your presentation, as recommended by the HuffingtonPost in Write My Essay article.
  • Let’s Go and Learn & My Writing Way
    These blogs have a tonne of writing guides you can follow to improve your general writing skills.
  • Australian Reviewer
    This is an online writing community where you can meet writers from around the world to improve your skills.
  • Cite It In
    This is a free online tool to help you add citations, references and quotes to your presentation professionally.
  • Writing Populist & Academadvisor
    These are two services that can help you to edit the content of your slides to perfection.
  1. Change the Scenery

Do you always hold your meetings in the same room? Why not mix things up by changing your meeting’s venue? Perhaps you could book another room in your office building. You could try meeting in a huddle space or taking your team to a nearby café or quiet place to sit.

“One of the more popular meeting places that people enjoy is going outside. Not only does this give your team a bit of sunlight and fresh air, but it also helps to break up the day, keeps your participants engaged and focused and makes a nice change from a boring meeting room,” explains Sarah Cattle, an HR Manager for UKServicesReviews.

  1. Keep Your Meetings Short

If your meetings are dragging on and on, it’s only natural that people are going to get bored, switch off and become disinterested in what’s being said. That being said, it’s so much better for you and the rest of your team to keep things short and engaging.

This means if you’re having a meeting, it’s better to stick to a selection of topics and subjects that you’re talking about, rather than trying to go on and on and cram in absolutely everything you have to say. As a rule of thumb, try and keep your meetings to around 30 minutes maximum.

  1. Switch Up Positioning

When your team comes into your meeting, have you ever paid attention to how they seat themselves?

Typically, you’ll see people sit in the same places and next to the same people. This is great, but if people are mucking around, or the same people are hiding at the back trying not to be involved, this will contribute to an unsuccessful meeting.

Instead, try mixing people up and getting them sitting next to people, and in places, that they wouldn’t normally sit. This is great for brainstorming team meetings, especially when group discussion is implemented.

  1. Add an Extra Touch

This is only scratching the surface when it comes to ways to enhance and revitalize your meetings with what works for you.

To help you get off on the right foot, here are some extra touches you can add to bring energy into your meetings, and to make them more fun:

  • Get a different employee to bring in food for each meeting and vote best food every month
  • Break your group into small groups for discussion (mix people up)
  • Every time someone ‘crushes’ an idea, get another member to throw a soft toy at them saying, “Let’s give it a ”
  • Be charismatic when talking
  • Make eye contact with the people in your meeting
  • Concentrate on your body language
  • Spotlight employees with rewards and recognition

Whether your hosting team meetings, teleconferences or office workshops, it’s important to always add your own flair to effectively engage employees. The next time you have a team meeting, make sure you have these 7 tips in your back pocket.

Are you having trouble engaging your employees? Check out this guide highlighting four ways to start measuring the results of your engagement programs.

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About the Author
Mary WaltonMary Walton is a business writer and blogger at Simple Grad, read her Boom Essays review there. Also, she writes for the Huffington Post (one of her most popular posts there is Buy an Essay article).

 

 

 

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Celebrate Your Employees

10 Meaningful Ways to Celebrate Your Employees

Are you celebrating your employees on a regular basis? The people who work for your organization perform essential functions for you, and in return you should respect them, appreciate them, and be supportive of them. It’s time to celebrate your employees with thoughtful gestures that can take their employee experience to the next level. Here are 10 meaningful ways to show your employees how much you appreciate everything they do:

1. Eliminate the Bullies

Even careful hiring and screening procedures can fail occasionally, accidentally adding a bully or troublemaker into the employee mix. This can demoralize the rest of your staff, and you may lose some of your more dedicated workers. A 2017 nationwide survey of workplace bullying found that 60 million people are affected by bullying on the job, and 29 percent of the victims remain silent about it. Basic concern for your staff begins with making sure they feel safe at work.

2. Get to Know Your Employees Better

Communication works more effectively when people know each other better. Zappos, famed for its employer brand, has an “80-20 rule,” which mandates that managers spend at least 20 percent of their time with their team members. Zappo’s Insights trainer Kelly Wolske says, “When you get to know each other on a personal level, mutual respect grows. Knowing someone’s triggers as well as their strengths can also improve communication.”

3. Offer Employee Recognition

Levi King, CEO of Nav and founder of Lendio and other businesses, emphasizes the importance of acknowledging everyone’s contributions as a way of showing appreciation in the workplace. He writes, “Go out of your way to acknowledge unique efforts and success. Recognition is the icing on the cake of achievement, and it tastes delicious.”

4. Design Workspaces That Encourage Movement

Innovative companies are taking a second look at the layout of workspaces and increasing their employees’ productivity by encouraging them to move around during the day. A recent paper by design company Teknion notes that most office jobs keep workers tethered to a chair, while “alert, engaged, and healthy workers are most often those who are afforded a stimulating and inspiring work environment that encourages movement — to sit, stand and walk around.”

5. Define a Career Path for Each Employee

A major factor that leads workers to seek new employers is stagnation at their current jobs. “Workers who stay longer in the same job without a title change are significantly more likely to leave for another company for the next step in their career,” according to Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor. Neglecting employee development can also have a measurable negative effect on your company’s bottom line.

6. Set an Example of Positive Energy

If you don’t seem glad to see your employees each day, those workers aren’t going to feel that they matter to you. Show that you care about them as people by putting out vibes that are encouraging and upbeat. Leadership trainer Shari Bench tells managers, “Do not wait for others to create the positive, rewarding, motivating environment that you have had the power to create all along.”

7. Ask for Employee Opinions

When you care about people, their opinions are important to you. The reverse of this statement is just as true: If you ask people about their thoughts, preferences and creative ideas, they will feel that you value them as individuals. Entrepreneur recommends that managers “ditch the suggestion box” and instead create a culture of transparency and fearlessness, in which everyone feels encouraged to speak up.

8. Reward Good Efforts

According to a study published in Business News Daily, “85 percent of workers surveyed felt more motivated to do their best when an incentive was offered, and 73 percent described the office atmosphere as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ during an incentive period.” The article notes that reliably offering employee rewards and incentives elevates levels of employee engagement, an essential element for building a sustainable business.

9. Encourage Employees to Take a Break

We don’t just mean coffee breaks here. Your workers need to have your permission — and in some cases, your friendly insistence — that when they leave work at night, they can ignore work emails and focus completely on the rest of their lives. To maintain good health and avoid burnout, they need to take all their vacations days as well; American workers left 658 million vacation days unused in 2015, lowering their productivity and depressing their attitude about their jobs.

10. Don’t Forget Free Food

No discussion of valuing your workers would be complete if we didn’t mention snacks. Food is one of those perennial forms of caring guaranteed to delight almost everyone. In a recent survey of millennials, 48 percent said that if they were looking for a new job, the availability of snacks would be a factor in their decision, and in one company, workers said the introduction of a seltzer machine was “life-changing.”

The common thread among all the measures listed above is that employees feel valued when their needs and efforts are individually recognized. To optimize your company’s productivity and attract the best talent in a competitive market, you must create a culture of recognition. To learn more about how to establish best-practice methods for giving employee recognition and rewards, download our e-book, “Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience.”

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A Culture of Learning

5 Reasons to Create a Culture of Learning in Your Organization

Traditionally, a six-figure salary and 401k options were enough to attract and retain top talent. We no longer live in a traditional world—and the modern workplace has come a long way from what it used to be. While these benefits are still important to employees, they’re not prioritized like they once were. Today, employees are more focused on finding a company that has a positive, strong company culture revolved around learning and growth.

To cater to the “modern” employee and remain competitive in your respective industry, you have to focus on the development of a strong company culture that supports learning and employee growth.

Here are five more great reasons to bring this culture of learning to your organization.

  1. Employees Want to Learn

Today’s employees are eager to develop their skills. According to DevelopIntelligence’s 2017 DI Developer Survey, 55 percent of those surveyed said they seek out training in order to meet current or upcoming needs or to advance their careers. Organization’s that embrace a culture of learning not only encourage learning, but have an opportunity to provide their employees with these opportunities and experiences.

Try it: Start by asking each team what they want to learn about. Perhaps they’ll be interested in attending one big conference, rather than having a series of smaller in-office seminars. The more interested your employees, the more effective the opportunity will be.

  1. Employees Want to Grow

Not only do employees want to learn, they also want a chance to grow professionally and advance their careers. In a recent Gallup poll, 87 percent of millennials said development is important in a job. Learning and development go hand in hand, help employees become the successful employees they want to be.

Try it: Tie learning and promotion opportunities together. Give employees a chance to show they can take on a new position, empowering them to advance themselves both professionally and personally within the workplace.

  1. Learning Reduces Turnover

Did you know that 40 percent of employees who receive poor training and limited opportunities for development will leave their job within five years? On the other hand, a Columbia University study found that that the likelihood of job turnover at an organization with rich company culture is a mere 13.9 percent. Make learning a part of that culture and you may see your turnover rate plummet to zero.

Try it: Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk by providing training that’s actually valuable, actionable and useful for every employee. Liz Alton, contributor to ADP’s Spark blog suggests implementing a Learning Management System (LMS), developing paths for every employee, and creating learning processes, like mentorship, which is found to be more effective than seminar-style opportunities.

  1. Engaged Employees Are Productive

Giving employees the opportunity to learn, develop, and grow will increase employee engagement—and engaged employees produce better results. According to Gallup’s 2017 Employee Engagement report, those companies in the highest quartile experience 17 percent higher productivity, 20 percent higher sales, and 21 percent higher profitability among many other positive metrics resulting from higher engagement levels.

Try it: Pair learning opportunities with an HR technology platform like Achievers, which allows you to keep employees engaged with recognition, milestones, and rewards. With an effective employee recognition program, you can ensure employees are being frequently recognized and rewarded by both peers and management for their achievements in learning and development.

  1. Learning Fosters Innovation

Companies that emphasize continuous education and development are able to develop the talents of their employees on a regular basis. This focus on talent development is a top priority for 80 percent of top executives, according to the 2017 Workplace Learning Report.

Try it: Use Intrapreneur programs to empower employees to use their new skills to innovate within the organization. As you build your program, keep these four building blocks in mind.

Create a Culture of Learning This Year

Employees want to learn. Learning keeps employees engaged. Engaged employees are productive and happy. Creating a culture of learning benefits everyone involved, and can be brought into any business, big or small. Use these simple reasons as inspiration to help your employees become the people they want to be, while taking your business to the next level.

Take the first step towards improving your culture by accessing the eBook Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience.
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About the Author
Jessica ThiefelsJessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a professional blogger and freelance writer. She spent the last two years working tirelessly for a small startup, where she learned a lot about running business and being resourceful. She now owns her own business and has been featured on Forbes. She’s also written for StartupNation, Manta, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 or connect on LinkedIn.

 

 

 

 

Build an Engaging Office Culture

4 Steps: How to Build an Engagement-Driven Office Culture

The importance of employee recognition and engagement cannot be overstated. Companies everywhere are shelling out billions every year for HR programs designed to enhance their office culture and improve employee productivity. Yet, according to Gallup’s 15-year study, the percentage of American workers that are “actively engaged” at the workplace remains fairly stagnant, with an average of just around 32%.

Gallup StudySource: Gallup

This begs the question: why are some employee engagement programs working while others aren’t?

Designing an engaging office culture requires more than just planning birthday parties or patting a worker on the back for a job well done. Engagement strategies can’t be forced; they need to be implemented carefully and encouraged in order to make an impact.

So what should you do to get your workforce more involved?

If you’re looking to build an engagement-driven office culture, check out these four common traits of successful culture initiatives.

  1. It All Starts with Leadership

Teams look to their leaders to set examples of proper behavior. The effect management has on employee engagement and motivation is astounding. According to Gallup’s State of the American Manager Report, leadership has the strongest impact on employee engagement levels in a workplace. Management is responsible for 70% of the variation in employee engagement levels, and workers who had proactively engaged managers were nearly 60% more likely to be engaged themselves.

There is no denying that managers are largely responsible for the office culture of their organization, and therefore, it is up to them to make the necessary changes for improvement and become employee engagement champions. When they strengthen their leadership practices and become more hands-on, teams will likely follow suit.

One practice that leaders must absolutely do away with is abusing company talent in any way, shape, or form. Only about 20% of office workers feel that management motivates them to do their best. Mismanagement, poor job design, or unfulfilled expectations are some of the leading causes of employee disengagement. Many workers feel that managers misuse their skills in the office by not providing opportunities to use their key skills. Underutilization or overworking employees are both major mistakes that can cause frustration, disengagement, and eventually, higher turnover rates.

Leaders with poor communication skills, micromanaging tendencies, or other negative traits can quickly discourage employees and create negative behavior among the team. In order to push for a more engaged environment, leadership must first establish a set standards and examples for others to follow.

  1. Focus on Culture Fit from the Start

We all have a desire to fit in with our peers, and it can be very frustrating and disheartening to new hires who just don’t quite mesh with the new company culture. In fact, IBM’s study found that 20% of workers left a position because they did not fit in with the company culture.

IBM Study Source: IBM

Culture fit is critical to employee engagement and happiness, especially when it comes to new hires. By focusing more on culture fit from the very beginning during the recruiting process, employers will find it easier to boost employee engagement levels while simultaneously decreasing turnover and increasing retention.

HR technology plays a huge role in employee engagement, and it can simplify the tedious process of finding new talent that are great culture fits. If you really want to be more accurate at finding employees that fit your culture, you can incorporate more data-driven insights into your hiring process. For example, there are certain HR tech platforms out there that can track applicant’s personality traits, problem solving abilities, and even professional values.

  1. Get Everyone Involved in Team Decisions

When you think of companies with great employee engagement programs, one that probably pops into mind is Southwest. The low-fare airline has really set the bar for employee enthusiasm and satisfaction levels by finding new ways to get the team involved with the company. When the business decided it was time to redesign company uniforms in 2016, they allowed employees to select the colors, fabrics, and details. All employees were then able to vote for a final decision.

The airline’s founder, Herb Kelleher, understands the importance of building a business that values everyone’s opinions and participation.

The things you can’t buy are dedication, devotion, loyalty – the feeling that you are participating in a crusade.” – Kelleher

Collecting honest feedback and suggestions is the key to building an office culture of innovation in which everyone can feel open to participate. An engaged employee often feels connected to their organization because they understand the unique role they play in its success.

  1. Encourage Interests Outside of the Office

69% of the healthiest and happiest organizations in the country offer programs for professional skill development, proving that a little extra motivation can make all the difference. Encouraging employees to work on things they are passionate about not only provides satisfaction, but also helps them achieve their fullest potential.

Innovative workplaces that encourage employees to get involved with passion projects will build an office culture that thrives. Google is famously known for encouraging employees to pitch their own business ideas and even pursue personal projects to fuel innovation and engagement.

Finding ways to support non-profits or good causes is more than just a nice thing that businesses can do. Fortune reported that up to 59% of respondents to a survey agreed that they would prefer to work for a company which supported a charitable organization over one that didn’t back any, and many were more likely to buy products from such businesses as well. More and more businesses are urging their employees to get involved with charities. Tom’s of Maine is a great example – they require employees to spend 5% of their paid work time volunteering.

Employee engagement shouldn’t just run from Monday to Friday, 9 to 5. It must be practiced beyond the office, too. Keeping everyone inspired to develop, grow, and improve, even after they’ve clocked out, can help everyone in the business aspire to be something better.

Over to You

Businesses that prioritize employee engagement will create more enjoyable office cultures for everyone. Leaders must set the standards, but it is also important to build a strong team from the bottom up. Getting every single person involved by listening to their opinions and encouraging personal interests can help keep the momentum going.

Building an amazing company culture takes time, but the rewards are well worth the wait!

To learn more about the importance of strong culture, check out this white paper on The True Cost of Disengagement

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Start building an engagement-driven culture with Achievers and Limeade. Watch this short video to see the partnership in action.

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About the Author
Lori Wagoner is a market research consultant. She advises small businesses on new ways to find local and national business. She’s an avid blogger and writes for sites such as Small Business Can, Tweak Your Biz and Customer Think. You can catch her on Twitter @loridwagoner.

 

Top 10 Company Perks

10 Irresistible Company Perks for the New Year

In a recent survey of millennials, more than 30 percent said that they’d like their workplace to be “more fun” – and this element seems to be in short supply. Survey respondents noted that “fun and humor” were job aspects for which daily reality fell far short of their wishes. In order to entice and retain the most talented workers in today’s competitive job market, it’s important to come up with company perks that will add fun to your environment. Here are 10 amazing possibilities that could make your employer brand sparkle in the new year:

1. A Place in the Spotlight

Every company has a few would-be stars yearning to strut their stuff for colleagues. AOL has found that events like lip sync battles, happy hours, and ping pong or Foosball tournaments are great at keeping staff engaged. Andrea Marston, AOL’s senior director of talent acquisition, notes that “Offering these company perks helps keep AOLers happy and excited to come and have a productive work environment.” Bain goes farther afield with its “Bain World Cup” soccer tournament for employees once a year.

2. Vehicle Maintenance Service

Okay, we know that having your vehicle worked on doesn’t really qualify as fun. But the opportunity to painlessly take care of routine auto maintenance or bike repair on the clock leaves your team more time outside of work to do something more enjoyable. Adobe offers this service worldwide, while adding kayak storage at its Seattle campus. And, in order to make sure that transportation is never a problem for its employees, Adobe also offers shuttle service and a guaranteed ride home.

3. Company Yacht

This one only works if you’re located near the right body of water, but many organizations on the San Francisco Peninsula are realizing the potential benefits of proximity to the bay. One of these is iCracked, with its Redwood City headquarters right next to a communal dock. Employees who need a break can take the yacht out for a spin on the bay to clear their heads and breathe in the fresh salt air.

4. Flex Time for Surfing

It’s hard for staff members to feel down when the workplace reception desk posts daily surf reports – and then offers flexible hours so they can take advantage of those days with absolutely perfect waves. At Patagonia’s Ventura campus, HR director Shannon Ellis says, “Whether it’s playing volleyball or going down to the beach, we encourage people to take a moment of time to reconnect and enjoy summer.”

5. And Snowboarding…

Vermont snowboard maker Burton, located in Vermont’s Green Mountains, offers its workers flexible hours so they can catch the powder while it’s fresh. Free lessons and demo equipment lure newbies and veteran riders out onto the slopes, with free passes and discounted lift tickets thrown in. Meanwhile, office attire at Burton includes “jeans, flip-flops, mud boots” and anything that the workers feel like wearing.

6. In-house Cooking Lessons

For employees who want to actually enjoy a home-cooked meal (rather than dining at one of the company’s specialty cafes), Adobe hosts cooking classes by the company’s executive chef in the “Learning Kitchen”. These type of company perks may not fall under traditional forms of worker training, but it’s bound to keep team members on the company campus for longer hours.

7. Workspace in the Woods

Spanish architecture company Selgas Cano located its office in an actual forest (conveniently located in downtown Madrid). Workers sit at eye level with the leafy forest floor, under a curved glass wall and partial roof that let in abundant natural light. The structure is partially embedded into the ground as well, making it comfortable regardless of season or outdoor temperature.

8. Wrap-Around Lifestyle Benefits

Cutting-edge companies like Yahoo pull out all the stops when it comes to company perks. The team can get a haircut, massage or dental care; visit a farmer’s market; get their car washed; play volleyball; exercise in the fitness center; do yoga and enjoy free meals three times a day – all without leaving work. Yahoo Director of Communications Carolyn Clark states, ” [We want] our employees to feel excited about coming to work every day and making a difference.” With benefits like these, employees might never want to go home.

9. Concierge Service

For employees who are too busy with work tasks to take care of personal errands, Wisconsin household product brand SC Johnson employs a full-time concierge. This person may do anything from standing in line for concert tickets to taking an employee’s car in for an oil change – helping workers with that tricky work-life balance.

10. Employee Recognition

All the parties, boat rides and cooking lessons in the world can’t substitute for giving your employees frequent individual recognition. HR technology introduces creativity into your workplace and also provides a streamlined way to reward your team members for their unique contributions. Coworkers and managers can all participate together, while workers enjoy the fun of being rewarded for their efforts.

More than three-fourths of millennial workers state that “the culture and atmosphere of their workplace is just as important as pay and benefits.” In today’s tight job market, you’ll keep the edge over competitors if you provide unbeatable company perks and make your company into a place where people simply enjoy hanging out. To learn more about attracting and retaining employees, download our infographic on Six Stats That Speak to Employee Retention.

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Company Missions and Values

Top 5 Company Missions and Values

Keeping employees engaged is vital for the health of your company, but it’s not a simple task that you can just scribble at the bottom of your to-do list. Your employees respond in complex emotional ways to the culture of your company, and the more positive and well-defined that culture is, the more they will feel they belong. Missions and values articulated through mission statements define a company’s identity right from the moment of its founding. When shared widely, these expressions of an organization’s purpose are an incredibly powerful tool for creating and focusing employee loyalty. Douglas Ready, a senior lecturer at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, points out that the secret to getting employees engaged “lies in three organizational capabilities: being purpose-driven, performance-oriented, and principles-led. Developing the three together is referred to as creating ‘collective ambition.'” But how do you put your company’s purpose into words?

Vision, Mission, Values… Parsing the Vocabulary of Inspiration

Although a variety of terms can be used, each company statement usually expresses some guiding vision or purpose, followed by a set of practices or behaviors that aim to realize that purpose. Let’s take a look at Ericsson. The first sentence of their vision states, “Our vision is a Networked Society where every person and every industry is empowered to reach their full potential.” That vision declares what this company is aspiring to; it describes the world that they want to help create. Ericsson’s mission statement describes how they plan to proceed: “We…have set out our mission to lead transformation through mobility… We do this in three principal ways…” And then they go on to enumerate those three ways. Occasionally, companies switch up this language and use the word “mission” to describe their overall vision, and the word “values” or “strategy” to explain how they plan to get there. As PwC puts it, “Our purpose is why we exist. Our values define how we behave.”

Building Blocks for Expressing Your Purpose

If your company’s reason for existing is buried in a pile of printed brochures and hasn’t seen the light of day since your founding, or if you’re creating a mission statement for the very first time, it’s helpful to look at how other organizations have chosen to express themselves. Five qualities that characterize the very best mission statements are as follows:

1. Innovation

In most cases, today’s companies are looking to create solutions better than any that existed in the past, and they want their mission statements to express this aim. An example is Samsung’s vision statement, which begins, “Through innovative, reliable products and services…” and then goes on to elaborate how they are “taking the world in imaginative new directions.” Our own mission statement here at Achievers also centers on innovation: The purpose behind what we do every day is “To Change the Way the World Works.”

2. Optimism

Regardless of how mission statements are structured, the one quality they universally share is that of optimism. A statement may specifically address the future role of the company, as when Cott says their vision is “To become the leading North American and European Water, Coffee, Tea and Filtration service provider …” On the other hand, Bank of Montreal (BMO) simply lists as one of their values, “Make Tomorrow Better.”

3. Integrity

Ryan, LLC specifically lists integrity as one of their company’s core values. They promise to “Do the right thing” on their web page, letting employees and customers know that they can trust the company’s honesty. PwC also lists “Act with Integrity” as their very first corporate value. The company identifies the primacy of this value, along with others like “work together” and “make a difference” as the way they strengthen employee alignment.

4. Generosity and Citizenship

Businesses don’t exist in a vacuum. Even a primarily online company still participates in its surrounding community, providing employment and paying taxes. Rogers places the following statement in a bold banner at the top of their “Vision and Strategy” page: “Contributing to our community, economy, and society in a meaningful way.” They go on to elaborate, saying, “We strive to be a good business for our customers and shareholders, a good employer for our people, and a good neighbor in the communities where we operate.” PwC also directs their purpose in an outward direction: “Our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems.”

5. Employee Empowerment

The importance of a company organizing its fundamental principles around employee motivation cannot be overstated. Your employees are your most valuable asset, and managing them well requires a clear declaration of their worth. It makes a real difference when (as with Cott), a company states: “Cott employees worldwide are united by a single, unifying core value: to think and act as owners and as if Cott’s resources and reputation were our own.” One of the values listed by 3M underlines this principle: ” [We will] …value and develop our employees’ diverse talents, initiative and leadership.”

The majority of employees — 57 percent — say they aren’t motivated by their company’s mission statement. This may be because they simply aren’t aware of it: Only 39 percent of workers even know their organization’s mission statement, and just 40 percent say they are familiar with the vision or purpose behind the work they do each day. The next time you’re thinking about revamping your company’s mission statement, remember to keep in mind these shocking stats and leverage our top five company missions and values list.

To learn more about how companies like 3M, Rogers and Ericsson are effectively engaging employees, access their success stories here.

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Navigate Your Culture Transformation

How to Navigate a Successful Culture Transformation Process (Part 2)

Are you ready to transform your company’s culture? In Part 1 of this series, I discussed the process for a successful culture transformation. In this blog, I’ll discuss key tips and reminders to help you through the process. Let’s start by understanding that although this is not a quick and easy process, it can be done.

Transformations Take Time

The transformation of habits and attitudes does not occur overnight, especially when employees have been allowed to operate in a certain way or in status quo for a long period of time. Employees will naturally resist change at first, so the first thing to remember during a transformation process is that you need time. The good news is that you usually have more time than you think. While poor customer feedback, slumping profits, or even a crisis can create an incredible sense of urgency that something must be done now, the more time you plan, prepare, and work with your managers, the more likely your culture transformation will be successful. You cannot just focus on the employee base to successfully transform the service culture of your organization. As discussed in Part 1, the key to successfully transforming your culture is to focus on your front-line managers, enabling and empowering them to drive and be responsible for the change process. You also need the change to be led from the top, so in effect, everyone in the organization plays a part.

It Is All About the Habits

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” —Aristotle

Strong work habits are the key to successful execution. To change and improve your corporate culture, you must identify the habits or behaviors that need to be removed and replaced.  It is important to explain why certain habits need to change, but more critical, is to know what new attitudes and behaviors must be introduced. While new habits can generally be introduced relatively easily and quickly, it is the removal of old or outdated habits and thinking that takes time. As economist John Maynard Keynes rightly suggests, “The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from the old ones.” To escape from old ideas, you cannot rely on training alone. You must take time to stimulate thinking and conversations that highlight why current habits and attitudes are hurting the business, brand, and interactions. At SGEi, we utilize a three-pronged approach of stimulation, training, and socialization to help remove old habits and introduce new ones.

Begin With Stimulation

Before you deliver any training on the new work habits you want to see, you must get people out of status quo and begin having conversations that promote thinking. We like to utilize various media like posters, quotes, videos, and business cases to help get the conversation started. It is not important that people are able to explain ideas or answer questions correctly, rather, it is necessary to focus on getting everyone in the organization talking and having conversations. This is the first part of the management team’s training, we take them through communication training and how to deliver effective messaging. Getting daily or weekly meetings started where managers are creating conversations is an important part of the stimulation process. As the stimulation process evolves, conversations around why certain habits are unhealthy or outdated are included.

employees in conference

The key to the stimulation process is to ensure you are providing the management team with the important sound bites you want them to repeat and talk about with their teams. In the previous blog, I talked about the importance of manager accountability. So to ensure stimulation is happening correctly, it is important to observe and listen in as the managers talk to their teams. Also, it is important that the managers begin demonstrating the desired behaviors and habits before the staff go through any training.

Deliver Great Learning Experiences

For training to be effective, it should occur after time has been spent talking about why change is required, why certain behaviors or attitudes are no longer effective, and what the expectations of performance look like moving forward. If done correctly, the employees should be asking for training and information regarding how they can improve in the future.

When it comes to training and development, keep in mind the following ideas:

  • Keep training sessions under two hours at a time and do not overload them with too much content.
  • Conduct the training with cross-discipline groups so that staff can get to know other staff outside of their immediate area.
  • Make the training fun and interactive so it is memorable. Remember, staff will not walk out of training ready to adopt new habits—that will occur with socialization—so consider training as just an interrupted opportunity to communicate.
  • Spread the training out so that participants have time between sessions to process and practice on information presented.

Deliver the Change You Want Through Heavy Socialization

Probably the most important part of this process is socialization. Once staff have gone through training, you need to reinforce key messages and communicate them repeatedly. Have a communication plan that continually shares information with your employees about the transformation process. All executives and managers must be involved in this, not just the Human Resource team or a few managers who speak very well. Communication is the most important leadership tool. Therefore, no manager can make the excuse that they are not good at it. An inability to communicate is an inability to lead, so this is an important test of the management team.

employee presenting

In addition to ensuring your managers are reinforcing the new habits in their daily and weekly communications, you should provide learning reinforcement of any classroom training with e-learning so staff can learn on their own in their own time. For some employees, learning on their own time is most effective. You also have to allow time for staff to practice. One of the best practices we have implemented on various projects is to schedule rehearsals for staff to attend each week. It is amazing how habit transformation is significantly enhanced by providing practice time to staff away from your customers. One hour per week for four weeks is a great opportunity to transform mindsets and behaviors. Ensure you have the managers lead these small group sessions (no more than twelve people), so they can practice explaining why the change is important and what is expected as well as practicing giving feedback. This best practice is a win-win for all.

The final critical element in habit transformation is to ensure your managers are providing clear, timely, and consistent feedback that provides insights into what the staff are doing well and what they can improve on. In Part 1, I explained how all managers must have a responsibility for the change process. The change process can only be successful when managers are reinforcing the training through continuous feedback and coaching.

Remember That You Are Building a Movement

We stress that in the early stages of transformation you must focus on those staff that are excited by and already embracing the change rather than those that resist. There will always be those that resist, and yet, so many times we spend all our energies trying to change them. The reality is they might not ever change. In the meantime, we fail to capture the hearts and minds of those that want change. To transform successfully, you must find and embrace those that are excited by the change. As they get on board, they will find and embrace others. Successful transformation is a numbers game—the more people you have supporting, excited by, and leading the change, the more likely you are to help everyone in the organization successfully change. Of course, there will be those few that resist, but many of them are smart enough to shift their perspective when they see such overwhelming support for the changes ahead.

Don’t Forget to Recognize a Lot

employees high fiving

Recognition is a key component of employee engagement. Remember that your managers need recognition too. Ensure you make a big deal about those managers, teams, or departments who are leading the way. I recommend enhancing your company’s employee recognition program during the critical parts of the transformation process, particularly when managers are communicating with their teams regarding the transformation and as front-line training begins. This provides positive reinforcement for those embracing the transformation process.

Cultural transformations are not easy, but they are necessary for continued success. By understanding the process and following these key tips, you will find yourself better prepared for this undertaking. Know that while the initial transformation process can be difficult, it is amazing once you get traction in a movement, start recognizing successes, and celebrating people’s change. You will quickly have your people tell you they wish you had done this a lot earlier.

“At first, people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, and then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done, then it is done, and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.” —Frances Hodgson Burnett, English writer

To learn more about how to enhance your company culture through recognition, check out this eBook Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience.

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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.

 

transform your culture

How to Navigate a Successful Culture Transformation Process (Part 1)

How strong is your work culture? Are you in need of a successful culture transformation? With 21% greater profitability from engaged business units, a strong work culture can be the key to your business’ future success.  It’s important to navigate your new culture shift with the right approach. SGEi has led transformation processes over the years to improve the culture of organizations, large and small, across multiple industries. From our experience, there are some important ideas to keep in mind and an approach to be followed for any cultural transformation to be successful. Let’s begin with recognizing the need for change.

Recognizing the Need for Change

Heraclitus once said that the only thing constant in life is change. This is probably more relevant in business today with our customer and employee bases forever evolving in their needs and wants. This alone explains why we need to move our business and people out of the status quo to be constantly evolving to deliver the products or services our customers demand. At the same time, companies must be evolving the employee experience to ensure it meets their employees’ needs and inspires them to deliver more and stay longer.

Culture is the collective mindset and attitude of your employees, and it impacts how much your employees will care about your customers, how much effort they will put into their work, and whether they will stay with you long term.  Ultimately, this impacts the performance and profitability of the company, so it’s pretty important. When companies see poor customer feedback, small market share, low productivity, low employee engagement, or high turnover, there is a good chance the company had a culture problem—meaning their employees just don’t feel as good as they should about who they work for or what they do. This is the clearest message that it is time to transform your culture, and reprogram your employee experience.

Once you’ve recognized the need for change, it is important to have a well-thought-out transformation plan that incorporates the following ideas.

Transformations Must Be Led from the Top

Culture transformation has to be led from the top. This does not mean a bunch of words being said—it means making decisions that support the change.  The problem, in our experience, is that for many cultural transformations the owners or executive teams think that the change is for everyone else but them. This is a problem. Successful transformations occur when the people at the top of the company become the change they want to see in others. Gallup recently shared 70% of variance in culture is due to team leadership. Executives set the example, and let their actions begin any transformation process. This means getting them out of the office, ensuring they have conversations with employees who may not even know who they are about the reason for change, and being humble enough to admit that they too are challenged by the transformation process. The transformation process requires executives to be vulnerable, which is not something they are always comfortable being. It is also important that the ownership and executive teams then focus on the most important group within the organization to ensure the cultural change is successful. Hint: it is not the front-line staff. The focus must be on the middle and front-line managers, as they are the critical element in the transformation process.

The Key to Any Transformation Is the Front-Line Managers

Generally, the executive and senior leadership teams are a small group within the organization that is acutely aware of how important the culture transformation process is. Therefore, they are generally strong supporters and advocates for change, even if they are not always willing to change themselves. However, even though the need for change is strong amongst the owners and senior leaders, research suggests that only 12% of companies executing a culture transformation process achieve their desired results. Why is this number so low when there is commitment from the top? It is because, even though the cultural transformation must be led from the top, the small ownership, or senior leadership team cannot initiate the change on their own. They need help, and the problem is they often don’t engage the most important group to assist in the change—the front-line managers.

employees

What do you think has a bigger and better chance of impacting change amongst your employees: a 15-person executive team, 50-person senior leadership team, or a 500-person front-line management team? The answer is, you need all of them. But if you only have a small executive team or a slightly larger senior leadership team trying to implement cultural change without the involvement of the front-line management team, you will fail.

Even if we understand the need to get the front-line managers involved, we often assume that because they have a title that they get it, know it, and do it. When we make assumptions about the abilities of the management team to lead the change process, we fail to instill the necessary comfort and confidence in them to affect change. Instead, we allow them to maintain their own sense of status quo, meaning all the training and communication in the world for the front-line staff will do very little to change mindsets and habits, because the group they look to for most of their communication, in actions, words, and attitudes, are still doing what they always did. When the employees see that their immediate managers are not changing they naturally assume there is no real need for them to change too.

To successfully change your culture, you must invest most of your time, training, communications, and accountability in your management team. A big part of the focus on the managers is to assess their leadership abilities. Leadership is defined as a person’s ability to inspire someone to want to do what they, the leader, wants them to do. If you ask most front-line staff, they will tell you that they do not want to change. So the cultural transformation process, in my mind, is the best opportunity to see if your managers can inspire their people to want to do something they probably don’t want to do. By having the right management team in place with the ability to lead change you not only significantly increase your chances of a successful cultural transformation, but you also have a strong leadership team in place moving forward.

All Managers Are Responsible for Communicating Change

As I have already indicated, the key is not to assume that the managers know how to change or what needs to be done, so you must invest in their development first. The important things to work through and teach your managers are to understand the change process, why the culture is changing, how they can model the ideal leadership behaviors, and what they can do to improve their employees’ experience. From these initial training sessions, it is important that you communicate with the managers the reason for change, and provide them with a few choice sound bites that they will ultimately use with their staff. Communication is critical to successfully change while maintaining engagement from employees.

workplace employee

The next set of skills that you must ensure your front-line managers have is the ability to provide informal feedback, or have casual conversations with their staff about the new behaviors they wish to see. In our experience, the front-line managers’ inability to give casual and comfortable feedback to their staff is another important reason why transformations fail. So before doing anything with your staff, ensure your managers are trained on understanding change, why change needs to happen in your organization, how to help their staff change, and how to give them effective feedback once the new mindset and behaviors are rolled out.

Remember, just like with anyone, do not think that by putting a manager through a training class that they will suddenly adopt the habits and expectations held of them. The secret with managers is to require them to practice their new habits immediately.  This is done by equipping managers with sound bites, posters, videos, and talking points they can use with their staff to stimulate conversation. By requiring them to talk about the reasons for change and demonstrating the new habits, you can quickly evaluate a manager’s belief and commitment to the transformation process. Remember, if you do not enable them by giving them the necessary training, tools, and information, they will not be able to lead the change process. Invest the time and resources to make them a part of the change process, not a group sitting on the sidelines.

One of the important steps is to provide the management group with their own coaches, someone who can give feedback and guidance on these initial steps. The coach is assessing each manager’s engagement in the process. There are few organizations with the resources to dedicate coaches to the managers, which is why SGEi has focused on coaching managers over the years by providing them with the training, feedback, and support to be successful in change. We have learned that by setting a series of tasks for the managers to complete, guiding them through what to say and how to say it, and then ultimately assessing their ability to deliver, these are critical components to a successful cultural transformation. While we encourage our coaches and the executive teams to recognize the managers whose departments meet their goals and are champions of the change process, we also require the executives to have tough conversations with those that do not. It is important to note that those tough conversations might lead to making the equally tough decision that a certain manager is not a good fit for your organization to move forward.

One of the things our coaches have learned over the years is that managers reaching out for help or asking a lot of questions is a good thing. I am often quoted as telling all managers that they should all be struggling when it comes to change and the unknown. Our coaches know that the managers to be worried about are the ones who do not step up and ask for help—or remain quiet during training. This group is hoping that the cultural transformation just goes away, which is another reason why requiring the front-line managers to be front and center in communication is the best way to judge their comfort and confidence in the process and messaging.

Leading Change with the Front-Line Staff

Once your managers are set up for success, the attention shifts to executing change with the front-line staff. Consider the following ideas: First, keep their training sessions short, no more than two hours. Involve the executives and managers to speak at the sessions and keep training interactive and fun. Remember, most of the habit transformation will occur back in the operation, so any training session should be an introduction of ideas and behaviors. If the managers are providing feedback effectively, the employees will begin shifting their perspectives and evolving their behaviors. Reinforce the casual conversations with a lot of employee recognition to celebrate effort and mastery.

employees

Have a Plan for Those That Don’t Want to Change

At some point, as there is positive momentum in the organization, and you have provided a lot of information, training, and tools to enable great performance, you will have to start focusing on those still resisting the change. This is where you need to develop a consistent, clear, and comprehensive plan with your human resources team to transition out those that do not want to be a part of the new culture. However, don’t be too quick to write people off. People will surprise you.

In Part 2 of this blog series, I will discuss key ideas for a successful culture transformation. Read Part 2 here.

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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 transformation strategy and plan. We enable and coach your management team to own the continuous development of your company and people. We design and deliver the training and communications necessary to shift mindsets and habits to meet the objectives of the company. Please email connect@sgeinternational.com to learn more about how we can assist you with your transformation needs.

 

Strengthen Leadership

How to Strengthen Your Manager’s Leadership Practices and Why It’s Crucial to Enhance Employee Engagement

You know it, and I know it: The key to improving employee engagement and culture is through strengthening management’s leadership practices and capabilities. Being good at management isn’t enough. Today, more than ever, managers need to practice great leadership to manage change effectively and to seriously help others grow. Doing so results in higher employee engagement and motivation, and higher engagement ultimately improves productivity and the overall health of the organization.

Why You Need Great Leadership

If you ever need to convince others about the need to motivate and engage managers, just show them a copy of Gallup’s State of the American Manager. After years of studying data from millions of managers and employees from just under 200 countries, Gallup reports some insightful data including these highlights from their 2017 report:

  1. Managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units…just 30% of U.S. workers are engaged, demonstrating a clear link between poor managing and a nation of “checked out” employees.
  2. One in two employees have left their job to get away from their manager at some point in their career.
  3. 35% of managers are engaged, 51% are not engaged and 14% are actively disengaged.
  4. Managers who are not engaged or who are actively disengaged cost the U.S. economy $319 billion to $398 billion annually.
  5. Employees who are supervised by highly engaged managers are 59% more likely to be engaged than those supervised by actively disengaged managers.

How to Strengthen Management’s Leadership Practices

Have you ever worked at an organization where HR distributes copies of leadership books and articles to managers? This happened a lot when I worked at Lowe’s. At Ceridian, my VP gave all her managers a copy of Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. When I was at Lowe’s, our leadership development team would bring in nationally known speakers such as Ken Blanchard and Liz Wiseman. While giving managers books and bringing in speakers is helpful for raising awareness about leadership, more needs to be done to help managers shift from knowing to practicing leadership.

In my book, Nine Practices of 21st Century Leadership, I share what I call the 21st Century Leadership Development Roadmap. The roadmap has four stages. At Stage Two, many managers realize that the old ways of managing are ineffective at engaging and building team culture, but managers fall short of putting leadership into practice. Something blocks them from reaching the third stage.

Leadership Is a Skill

To move to the Roadmap’s third stage, managers need to develop leadership the same as with any skill. Here’s what I mean:

Imagine that Player A and Player B want to get better at racquetball. They tried this by spending a week practicing for five-hours per day. During that week, they played against better opponents, and at night, they read articles about how they could improve their game.

Here’s one difference: Player A had a coach. Periodically during that week, the coach stopped the game, gave feedback, showed ways to improve form, and then gave more feedback. After a week, guess who improved more? Player A did.

In The Servant, James Hunter explains that leadership needs to be developed through practice, feedback, and follow-up. When managers just read books or attend leadership talks, their effort isn’t enough. He writes:

“Has anyone ever learned to swim reading a book? Has anyone ever become an accomplished pianist studying piano history? Has anyone ever become a great golfer watching Tiger Woods DVDs?…I have met many people over the years who know all about leadership but don’t know leadership.” (pp. xxiii-xxiv) – James C. Hunter

To get managers to adopt leadership practices sincerely, Hunter recommends a three-phased approach: Foundation, Feedback, and Friction. Foundation is acquiring leadership knowledge. This helps managers advance to the Roadmap’s Stage Two. To advance further, you need feedback and friction.

Without Feedback, You’re Left in the Dark

If you’ve ever administered 360-feedback reviews, you know that managers can act surprised by the feedback’s revelations about their behavior. Sometimes these discoveries hurt and aren’t easy to receive. But without knowing their blind spots, managers won’t know what or how to improve.

In Marshall Goldsmith’s book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, feedback is how he learns what his clients should focus on. He writes:

“I wish I had the power to snap my fingers and make these people immediately see the need to change…But I can’t and I don’t. Instead, I show these people what their colleagues at work really think of them. It’s called feedback. It’s the only tool I need to show people, “You Are Here.” (p. 8) – Marshall Goldsmith

From feedback, managers might identify several things to improve, and if they’re Type A people, they may want to attempt to resolve all behavioral issues at once. While admirable, that’s not good. If you’re administering the feedback, help managers focus on one or two behaviors that can have the most impact.

Friction: The Process for Making Sustainable Change

Getting managers to accept their feedback is one thing, but it’s another to get them to act upon the feedback effectively. Fortunately, you can guide managers by using a structure that Hunter and Goldsmith advocate. Here are the high-level steps for what you should guide managers to do:

  1. Acknowledge and apologize to those affected by their faulty behavior.
  2. Ask the affected people to help them get better. This could include calling them out when managers revert back to old habits.
  3. Advertise to others that they are trying to get better at a specific behavior. Goldsmith explains that if you don’t, people won’t notice.
  4. Rigorously follow up monthly with people affected and find out how well they’re doing. Employees and others affected by past behaviors need to realize how serious the managers are at trying to improve.

Call to Action: Guide Managers through Feedback and Friction

It’s easy to read books and attend leadership talks, but It’s not easy for managers to receive critical feedback. It’s even harder getting them to commit to the friction phase and doing the steps, especially the follow-up. In Triggers, Goldsmith writes, “People don’t get better without follow-up. So let’s get better at following up with our people.”

Guiding your managers through this process will change the dynamics and health of their teams. Fixing key behaviors could have a chain reaction to improve other behaviors, and managers modeling the drive to change will have a cascading affect upon their people. When managers get better at leadership practices, everyone on the team gets better and healthier!

Two More Things…

In addition to the Foundation/Follow-up/Friction approach, you might want to try Goldsmith’s feedforward process. His free article, Try Feedforward Instead of Feedback, is worth reading and introducing to your managers. Managers who read this will learn a positive way to change future behavior without dwelling on the past.

There are other ways to help managers, especially those in middle management. For several insights and tips, check out the eBook The Secret Weapon to Driving Employee Success.

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About Gary A. DePaul
Gary DePaul
Gary DePaul is a speaker, author, and leadership curator. He provides performance consulting services to help organizations identify gaps between what executives expect managers to do (in the current and future states) and what managers actually do. He has more than twenty years of professional and scholarly experience and has worked for companies such as Lowe’s, Ceridian, Fidelity Information Services, Johnson Controls, and Arthur Andersen. Gary welcomes inquiries and the sharing of ideas. You can reach him at gary@garyadepaul.com.

 

 

 

 

appreciate employees during the holidays

7 Holiday Ways to Spread Employee Appreciation

While you may do your best to spread seasonal cheer and appreciation, it’s important to keep in mind that this time of year is not all sparkles and snowflakes for your staff. Many of them will be trying to balance holiday schedules and family complications while feeling added stress due to end-of-year work tasks. Furthermore, absences and vacations often leave big holes in staffing right when the duties are most intense. With only 34.1 percent of employees engaged at work without the distractions associated with the holidays, don’t be surprised if the holidays bring a decline in productivity and a decrease in employee engagement.

There is a fix for this. Expressing employee appreciation during the holiday season is a powerful way to build good will that will last long after the candy canes have been composted. Here are seven tips for sharing true merriment (or at least momentary comfort) with your workers over the holidays.

1. Deliver Individual, Handwritten Notes

Almost all our written communications now take place online, so the simple act of putting ink on paper adds a real sense of importance to whatever is being said. Concentrate on each employee’s specific strengths, challenges, and achievements, when acknowledging their contributions on a nice sheet of paper. Avoid using holiday cards for this purpose, because you don’t want it to seem like an obligatory act. Research at Wharton School of Business found that when managers take time to express gratitude to workers, productivity increases by 50 percent.

2. Facilitate Relaxation

Weathering the winter holidays is hard work; a survey conducted by Healthline shows that between 61 to 65 percent of workers feel elevated stress during the holidays due to factors including money, family expectations, heavier work duties, and scheduling and travel demands,. You can brighten everyone’s day by bringing in a massage therapist to offer free shoulder massages or in-chair back rubs. Another inexpensive option that can be helpful is a wrap station. Encourage workers to bring in their stacks of unwrapped family gifts and provide a space with free wrapping paper and various tools and supplies. Employees can socialize during breaks while they get a personal chore accomplished.

3. Be Flexible

Winter weather complicates commuting, and if children’s schools close, you may end up with frustrated employees who are torn between commitments. Letting your people work remotely or adjust their schedules can go a long way toward relieving family stress, and employees will be able to concentrate on job duties if they aren’t having to text a stranded family member. With half of the modern workforce holding a job with some workplace flexibility, this initiative might be one to keep year-round.

If your company’s tasks cannot be handled remotely, you can win huge points by encouraging employees to bring their children to work. Buy a few games or hire a temporary childcare worker; for a small investment, you can earn months of heartfelt gratitude from busy parents. Besides, you’ll be helping your company save money. One snow day in Massachusetts costs the state around $265 million, most of it in lost wages.

4. Provide Free Food

While employees welcome edible contributions any time of year, food is one of the strongest ways to put something tangible behind your holiday employee appreciation campaign. In a workplace survey, 51 percent of respondents said that perks involving food made them feel valued and appreciated by their employers, and the holidays give you a ton of options for fun food treats. Keep some of the offerings vegetarian and gluten free, and include more than sugary desserts if you want to help people concentrate on work. If end-of-year tasks are causing your staff to burn the midnight oil, ordering in some pizzas can make all the difference in people’s commitment to stay until the job is done.

5. Host a Volunteer Day

Building a company culture of volunteerism pays valuable dividends in the form of employee morale and brand perception, according to a Deloitte study. This is especially helpful during the holiday season, because many people get depressed when they feel that celebrations have lost a central purpose of generosity and caring. You can divide staff up into different teams, depending on the volunteer setting, and help with a toy drive, holiday meal program or other community cause.

6. Encourage Employee Recognition

Employees need to feel appreciated by co-workers as well as by supervisors. In a “recognition-rich environment,” according to Gallup, employees who feel adequately recognized (including by their peers) are only half as likely to quit during the following year as those who don’t feel appreciated. The holiday season offers fresh new approaches for co-workers to gift each other, including “Secret Santa” programs and cookie or gift exchanges. Provide the initiative to get the ball rolling, and offer logistical support to any employee who wants to spearhead a recognition program of seasonal fun.

7. Leave the Holiday Party Early

This last tip might sound confusing, but it’s good to start the new year without taking yourself too seriously. Regardless of how cool you are, you’re in a position of authority, and your employees will inevitably feel somewhat self-conscious in your presence. Leadership consultant Tine Thygesen reminds managers that “while bosses are (mostly) nice people, it’s a well-known fact that no one wants to sit next to them at the Christmas party, because then they have to behave.” She urges bosses to show up during the first part of the event, circulate in a friendly way, and then leave while everything is still underway, so that employees can relax and really bond with one another.

Rewards and recognition are an important part of your company culture all year round, however the holiday season provides you with unique opportunities to show your employees that you care. For more handy tips, check out this report: The Art of Appreciation

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Employee Recognition Spotlights

Spreading Employee Recognition and Appreciation Across Achievers

It’s that time of year again, time to give thanks! And what better way to give thanks than to thank our very own employees here at Achievers. A business is nothing without its employees, which is why we encourage frequent employee recognition and appreciation. Today, we’d like to highlight some of the top employee recognitions sent across our ASPIRE platform, powered by Achievers’ HR technology. We’re proud of our employees and everything they accomplish day-to-day. Check out some of our favorite recent employee recognitions and get inspired to thank someone in your organization for a job well-done!

Achievers ASPIRE Employee Recognition Card

Achievers ASPIRE Employee Recognition Card

Achievers ASPIRE Employee Recognition Card

Achievers ASPIRE Employee Recognition Card

Achievers ASPIRE Employee Recognition Card

Achievers ASPIRE Employee Recognition Card

Achievers ASPIRE Employee Recognition Card

Achievers ASPIRE Employee Recognition Card

Huge shout-out to Achievers’ employees for everything that they do. If you want to know what it’s like to work at Achievers, check out our fun Achievers Facebook Photo Album. And discover how other companies are spreading employee recognition and appreciation with Achievers by checking out their customer stories here. Did I also mention that we’re hiring? Apply now.

Don’t let employee appreciation be limited to the holiday season. Start encouraging employee appreciation throughout the entire year with an unbeatable employee recognition and rewards program! Take the first step by downloading The Case for Employee Recognition.

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About the Author
Kellie Wong
Kellie Wong is the Senior Social Media and Editorial Manager for Achievers. She manages Achievers’ social media presence and The Engage Blog, including the editorial calendars for both. In addition to writing blog content for The Engage Blog, she also manages and maintains relationships with 35+ guest blog contributors and edits every piece of content that gets published. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.

 

 

Offer the right perks

What Hourly Workers Really Want (It Might Surprise You)

Hourly workers are among the most unhappy employees in the workforce. They often take fewer vacations, have worse benefits, and are passed over for promotions compared to their salaried counterparts. This isn’t surprising. When most companies hire hourly workers, they often focus solely on the dollar amount they must pay to attract qualified candidates, rather than the perks and benefits that can set them apart from other potential employers.

Don’t be MOST companies.

With hourly rates climbing in most major cities, it can be hard to make your job look enticing. However, it turns out that hourly workers value much more than their pay. Employee engagement is more important than ever before. Companies should be considering techniques to attract and engage their hourly workforce

Let’s take a deeper look at what hourly workers really want and how your company can use that to stand out amongst the competition and hire great talent!

Work Flexibility 

It turns out that one of the perks hourly workers value most is work flexibility. In a recent study conducted by Snagajob, nearly 36% of hourly workers reported that work flexibility was the most important perk but only approximately 50% of employers planned on offering job flexibility. So, it begs the questions:

  • How can your company offer flexibility?
  • Is it possible for hourly workers to set their own schedule?
  • Can you offer unlimited vacation time (even if it’s unpaid)?
  • Can your workers choose how many hours they work?

If any of this is possible, your company will greatly improve its odds of making a hire and can even potentially offer a lower hourly rate to prospective candidates.

Bonuses

Another work perk that hourly candidates care about is a performance-based employee bonus.

In the same Snagajob survey referenced above, it appears that 27% of candidates thought bonuses are the most important work perk, so much so that 54% of workers surveyed would change jobs if it meant a bonus structure was included in their compensation plan. Although this seems like the same thing as paying more per hour, which most hiring managers can’t do, bonuses are different.

That’s because bonuses are usually based on work performance. Therefore, if you pay an hourly worker less but offer them a large bonus if they perform well, it’s a win-win situation. If they don’t meet their goals, you don’t have to pay as much. And, if they do, you pay more but you get great results.

See if there is a way your company can offer a bonus tied to performance.  You’ll be able to attract more candidates and it will also give them a great employee incentive to work hard.

Vacation Time

Nearly 13% of workers said that the number one perk they look for is paid time off. However, many hourly employers don’t offer much PTO if they offer it at all. And this, on the surface, seems like a good idea. Why give workers time off when you can have them in the office being productive?

Well, there are a couple very good reasons. Offering PTO is clearly important to workers which means that offering more vacation time will allow you to offer a lower hourly rate or hire more qualified employees. Secondly, many workers don’t even use the vacation time they have earned, so it won’t impact your organization as much as you thought it might. Finally, if your company is in a position where it can offer hourly employees unlimited vacation (even if it’s unpaid), it will be difficult for a candidate to pass up, even for a higher wage. And, as outlined above, they probably won’t use an excessive amount of vacation, even if they do have the option.

Employee Recognition

Don’t just roll your eyes and say “Ugh, Millennials!” Employees, even hourly or contract employees, thrive on engagement, recognition, and general feedback. After all, these are building blocks for improvement and advancement in any career. And even better, deficits in employee recognition are simple to address and can (and most often will) cost you zero dollars. In the meantime, employee recognition improves company culture, increases retention and boosts morale.

There are simple ways to get an employee recognition initiative started. A manager can start by simply sending an end-of-week email highlighting the highs (and lows) of the week. This kind of constructive feedback will enhance an employee’s work. You can even gamify employee recognition, create an employee shout-out on social media or simply give a pat on the back at the end of a grueling project or difficult day. Try taking it one step further and consider implementing HR technology or an employee recognition program across your organization to encourage daily peer-to-peer recognition. Decide what sort of employee recognition best fits your culture and put it into action today!

Employee Engagement

Many hourly employees feel like they’re not really part of the organization or that they are simply temporary workers. However, studies have found that hourly employees usually want to be more engaged with the company they’re working for. There are numerous ways a company and its managers can work to keep hourly employees feeling engaged.

A great way to start is to create a culture of inclusion and make sure that hourly employees are treated and communicated with just like full time or salaried employees. Secondly, managers and other employees should invest the time to get to know hourly employees and form personal relationships.  If an employee integrates particularly well, it may be a good idea to keep them on a salaried basis. Third, managers should communicate regularly with their hourly employees. Many hourly employees complain they are set on a task and are unable to communicate with their boss on a regular basis. Setting up an open line of communication and checking in regularly will not only help an hourly employee stay on task but will also make them feel more engaged with the company and team.

How Does All of This Help Your Company?

If you find ways to stand out amidst an ever-crowded, you can make better hires and pay less per hour by offering the right work perks for your employees. Work perks like flexibility, employee engagement, and vacation time cost your company very little but are incredibly valuable to hourly employees.

If you have any other ideas for great perks that hourly employees highly value, let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear what you think!

For more information on how employee recognition can help your company, check out the eBook Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience.

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About the Author
Will Zimmerman is a writer for Proven.

 

hire on a budget

Tips and Tricks: Hiring on a Budget

If you’ve ever touched the recruiting process, you’re well aware that hiring can be expensive! However, you probably also know that making a bad hire is even more expensive. According to Forbes, a bad hire can costs an employer “thousands of dollars”. So what are the best ways to hire with different levels of budget? We’ve helped compile some top tips and tricks for those hiring on any budget.

Under $50

If you only have $50 to spend on hiring you’re largely limited to free options which is not necessarily a bad thing.  Sometimes it takes going back to the basics to get someone’s attention. For example, start with printing or buying a help wanted sign and putting it in the window of your business. The best employees are often customers of your business since they already understand what your business does and are obviously willing to support it. You’ll also want to consider posting help wanted flyers on bulletin boards around town.  Once you’ve posted your ad physically, you should turn to social media and post it on your company and personal pages. Encourage your employees to share it since they often have friends and a large network who might be looking for new jobs.

Then of course, there are the online options. Place your job ad on some of the free online job boards. There are thousands of these boards so pick three or four that best fit your target audience, create an ad, and consider it ready-to-go. Here is a quick list of free job boards to help you get started.

$51 – $100

So now you have a some money to spend on finding a perfect employee, congratulations! You should still start by doing everything in the under $50 budget because it will maximize your results without taking up any of your current budget. The next step is to start looking at paid options to promote your ad. Although you can’t quite afford some of the more expensive job boards like Monster, you should be able to create job postings on a number of sites such as Indeed, Craigslist and more. Because you can only afford one posting, it is important to optimize that posting as much as possible. A simple Google search on “How to Optimize a Job Posting” can help you take your strategy a step further and increase your chances of getting results from a job listing.

$101-$1000

As stated before, you should definitely start by doing everything in the budget categories listed above. Fortunately, you now have a fairly decent sized budget to post job ads. You can now afford to post to some of the more expensive job board options such as Glassdoor, Monster, Careerbuilder, etc. or you can create multiple ads on some of the cheaper job boards I already mentioned. Your best bet is to test both options – you never know what works well until you start measuring. If an inexpensive Craigslist ad is working well for you, post a few of them. If not, consider posting to some new job boards. Every business and audience is different, and prefers different job posting channels. The extra budget will give you the flexibility to get insights and take your hiring to the next level with more strategic thinking.  

$1000+

If your budget is hitting in the thousands, then you’re given the opportunity to heavily invest in hiring top talent and that will pay off big time. At this level of budget you have much more flexibility as far as advertising your job opening. In addition to the previous budget levels, you can look at hiring more specialized recruiters that focus on specific industries and job types. Consider hiring someone to write great job ads for you – the right job ad copy can dramatically impact the amount of applicants that come through. To prevent wasting your budget however, you’ll want to test different options to see what works. Start by looking into paid packages on job board platforms that provide you more features to help distribute and measure your job postings for maximum performance and impact.

The next time you’re recruiting with a new budget, consider our top tips and tricks. With today’s competitive job market, it’s important to recruit smarter in order to bring in a strong job candidate pool and hire the right person for your company.

To learn more, check out the white paper The War for Talent is Here: Is Your Workplace Ready?

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will zimmermanAbout the Author
Will Zimmerman is a content marketer for Proven, the small business hiring tool. He is from Boulder, Colorado, and when he’s not writing awesome content, he enjoys all things outdoors including, but certainly not limited to, skiing, camping, hiking, and surfing.

 

 

 

Elite 8

Meet the Elite 8 Winners Recognized for Exceptional Commitment to Employee Engagement

The Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards aim to encourage companies to reflect on the work environments they’ve curated. The quality of an output, whatever it may be, is defined by the people who execute on the process and is indicative of how engaged they are with their work. There is no exact science to employee engagement: its composition varies based on the values and mission of a company, but there are 8 elements that consistently align with engagement. As we reviewed the Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards applications, we kept a special eye out for applicants that excelled in these specific elements of employee engagement: are you ready to meet the Elite 8?

Leadership

Alliance Data Systems is the engine behind loyalty and marketing campaigns for more than 1,000 consumer-facing companies worldwide. Leader transparency and interaction is a priority for them: their CEO visits most of their locations around the world every year to speak with associates, answer questions and share the long-term vision.

Communication

Electronic Arts is a leading global interactive entertainment software company that delivers games, content and online services across a variety of platforms. Agile goals that evolve alongside career development plans or business priorities paired with real-time feedback ensure constant, candid communication flows.

Culture

ARI combines ideas, technology and human perspective to curate an automotive fleet management experience that optimizes performance and impacts customers’ bottom line. Family defines their culture: from internal priorities that foster career development and recognition, to an emphasis on personal interaction – caring is key at ARI.

Rewards & Recognition

ATB Financial takes an Albertan-centric approach to banking to help foster successes within the communities of Alberta. They strive to embed recognition in their company DNA to increase personal equity, company commitment and customer service.

Professional & Personal Growth

ArcelorMittal Dofasco is Canada’s largest flat-rolled steel producer and a hallmark of advanced manufacturing in North America. From global assignments and leadership development to apprenticeship program and tuition refund, emphasis is placed on helping employees grow their careers internally.

Accountability & Performance

Cadillac Fairview Corporation Limited transforms communities for a vibrant tomorrow: one of largest owners, operators and developers of retail, office, mixed-used properties in North America. Company-wide objective setting and performance coaching ensures alignment on business objectives and clarity surrounding expectations of team members.

Vision & Values

Reynolds American (RAI) and its operating companies have a bold vision to achieve US market leadership through the transformation of the tobacco industry by meeting emerging marketplace demands for innovative tobacco products while redefining how a tobacco company can help reduce the harm caused by smoking. RAI employees are innovative trailblazers who are connected by common core values to drive innovation and ignite the breakthroughs that are changing an entire industry.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Total Quality Logistics is a freight brokerage firm in North America that keeps the economy moving by connecting customers needing to move truckload, LTL or intermodal freight to carriers with the capacity to move it. They established their program to organize and amplify employee’s philanthropic efforts.

There you have it. Eight companies who have identified and developed the engagement element that drives their success. An idea can only thrive if it has the right people to execute on it: employee engagement matters.

Learn more by reading the press release announcing the Elite 8 here.

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About the Author

Sarah Clayton

Sarah Clayton is the Communications and Campaigns Specialist at Achievers, where she focuses on generating content to drive desired recognition behaviors and engagement on the platform.

 

 

 

ACE 2017 Achievers Customer Experience

ACE 2017: Day One Highlights

Achievers annual mix of festivity and networking is in full swing with the 50 Most Engaged Workplace Awards Gala and day one of Achievers Customer Experience 2017 (ACE 2017) already in the books.

The 7th annual Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces took place on Monday, September 11th at the historic Saenger Theater in New Orleans. Amidst the finely dressed titans of the HR space, exquisite cuisine, and glamorous ambiance was the highlight of the show, celebrating the companies that go above and beyond in the employee engagement space as determined by a panel of employee engagement experts. After this incredible evening of industry elegance, Achievers announced the crème de la crème, the eight most engaged workplaces. This year, the Elite Eight consists of:

  • Alliance Data for Leadership
  • Electronic Arts for Communication
  • ARI for Culture
  • ATB Financial for Rewards & Recognition
  • ArcelorMittal Dofasco for Professional & Personal Growth
  • Cadillac Fairview Corporation Limited for Accountability & Performance
  • Reynolds American, Inc. for Vision & Values
  • Total Quality Logistics for Corporate Social Responsibility

After an unforgettable night of celebration, ACE 2017 kicked-off on a positive vibe. Prominent members of the Achievers Leadership team shared the success story of CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System. After partnering with Achievers in 2012, CHRISTUS St. Michael saw:

  • a 4,500% increase in recognition given compared to the organization’s prior “home-grown” manual paper solution.
  • a 10% increase in associate engagement specific to leadership recognition from 66% to 77%.
  • a decreased turnover rate to an impressively low 6.4%, significantly below the industry standard annual turnover rate of 19.6%.

In addition to the A-players of Achievers, the opening session featured Blackhawk Network CEO Talbott Roche, who said of the event, ““This is all about celebrating the success you have with Achievers. One of my favorite topics is about innovation. Achievers’ platform is used to drive not just business results, but also innovation through engagement. It’s about how to use a platform to deeply engage. Engaged employees matter to company success. Companies with engaged workers have 6% higher financial results.”

After the keynote speeches ended, it was onto the fantastic slate of HR thought leaders discussing hot-button HR tech topics like employee engagement, rewards and recognition, and how to gain executive buy-in for engagement initiatives. Among the many memorable sessions was a presentation from Rocky Ozaki of NOW Innovations, who shared culture and operational best practices you should adopt to compete in the NoW. Beginning with a brief glimpse into the history of work, Rocky explained how the connected generation, technology and the sharing economy have solidified that the future is NoW.

With the war for talent raging, attracting top talent is harder than ever before. There is a remedy that can alleviate the need for competing for the most talented candidates on the market: retaining the top talent you do have. Cara Silletto, President and Chief Retention Officer of Crescendo Strategies offered insight into how companies can be better aligned with the wants and needs of a constantly evolving workforce, ensuring that the talent you’ve worked so hard to obtain stays with your company for the long haul.

ACE 2017 also featured numerous testimonials from Achievers customers illustrating how an investment in employee engagement can lead to tangible business results such as decreased employee turnover, increased productivity, and an improved bottom line. Becky Etsby, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development at Coborn’s, an employee-owned grocery store with more than 120 locations, stated as much during her presentation, “When employees are engaged, they really do care about the company and can affect a company’s profitability”.

After such an amazing day, it is hard to believe there is more to come. With speakers like Carey Lohrenz, the first female F-14 fighter pilot, day two of ACE 2017 is sure to be equally amazing. Check out all the amazing photos from Day 1 of ACE 2017 here.

Follow the conversation on social media with #AACE17 and follow us on Twitter @ Achievers.

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Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards Gala, always a marquee event

Brie Harvey

Brie Harvey, the face of ACE

50 ME Awards

50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards Gala

A-player smiles

A-players with A-plus smiles

ACE Social Event

Achievers’ Greg Brown and Chase Dolomont getting their grub on

ACE 2017 Stilt/Juggler

Post ACE march to B.B. King’s

ACE 2017 Tarot Card Reading

“I see in your future a trip to ACE 2018”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hack your culture

The 4 C’s That Should Define Your HR Department

Since publishing my new book, Culture Hacker, a couple of months ago, I have had some great conversations and brainstorming sessions with Human Resource leaders and Executives across organizations about how to hack their culture and improve their overall employee experience. One outcome has been the development of my ‘Four C’s’ that I believe highlight the required direction of Human Resource leaders and their departments in the future. The 4 C’s refer to the HR leader and department being a Catalyst, Coach, Conductor, and Consultant within their organization. Let’s consider each in detail.

Catalyst

As a Catalyst, the HR team must be proactive and stop waiting for permission to facilitate a cultural change. I have spoken to many HR leaders who seem to be waiting for approval to begin their culture initiatives. First, culture is not an initiative- it is the collective mindset of your people. The question is not whether you have a culture, because you do. The real question is- what are you doing to positively influence the attitude of your staff to be great with customers, perform at a high level and contribute to your organization? The area of opportunity is to partner with your operations teams and work on how to improve the experience of their employees so that they are better at what they do and focused on staying where they are. Retaining employees is a key topic in today’s business world, as research from Gallup suggests that a staggering 47% of the workforce says now is a good time to find a quality job. Furthermore, 51% employees are actively looking for new jobs or watching for openings. The time is now to be the catalyst for a great employee experience.

As a catalyst, you must also be inspirational to those in the organization. Challenge the status quo and mundane by stimulating how employees in the organization think. This can be done by offering training classes, marketing ideas or quotes in screen savers or posters, circulating videos, putting out company challenges, and being a spark for thoughtful conversation when in meetings. You can stimulate the brain at any age and as long as the brain is being stimulated, people are thinking, evolving, and changing, which is necessary in today’s business environment.

Employees

Coach

As a Coach, the HR team must be out in the operations providing feedback to the managers on how they lead their teams. Author, John Le Carre, said, “the desk is a dangerous place from which to judge the world”, and I think HR spends way too much time at their desks. HR managers should spend time alongside managers guiding them on how to be better with their people. We believe 60% of all learning happens on the job, so HR cannot just limit their influence to only the classroom. 20% of all learning comes from getting effective feedback, yet it is rare for managers to get regular feedback on how they are leading. When was the last time your training team was in the operation giving feedback to managers on what they taught them in the classroom? Good trainers have operations and leadership experience and are not afraid of working alongside those they teach. They teach leadership development and have experience in managing teams. However, the reality is that many of the trainers teaching leadership classes today have little experience inspiring teams. This point leads to my next piece of advice for HR Leaders, be a conductor.

Conductor

As a Conductor, HR Executives must, like an orchestra conductor, oversee a group of experts rather than generalists. There are many aspects to being an effective HR department and I often see people moving around various roles in order to gain experience in everything that makes the department run. As a result, we often have very smart and capable generalists filling the positions, but the problem is that HR Executives need to be more focused on building a team of experts.

As an example, HR needs its own data specialists because for HR to be an effective partner in the modern business, they must be collecting and understanding data from a number of touchpoints. When it comes to training, stop promoting the capable administrator who always wanted to teach others. The great trainers, the ones that make you think and feel at the same time, have specific skills, personality traits, and experience that make them stand out. Also, developing content that resonates and stands out is not as easy as putting together a few bullet points on a slide. I truly believe the reason so many employees do not like training is because we do not have expert trainers designing and delivering content.

I also believe you need to have a manager coaching your team, or someone with management experience who can be a guide, resource, and support to your managers. HR needs to put all of its efforts into enabling and empowering their management teams rather than doing things for them, like facilitating tough conversations. I see HR departments putting too much emphasis on the staff and therefore largely ignore the most important group they should influence – their managers. Get experts on your team and elevate your office’s ability to deliver real results throughout the business.

Consultant

My final point is to be a consultant. As a consultant myself, I rely on data, introduce new ideas and best practices, develop plans, get the right people involved to execute that plan, and ensure the plan is executed. As indicated already, HR needs accurate data that will reinforce the importance of the employee experience in performance, customer satisfaction, retention, and even profitability. There are plenty of business cases, such as Lowe’s in my book, indicating that happy employees lead to better customer satisfaction, sales, and overall performance. Each HR business unit needs to have their own data.  As author Daniel Keys Moran says, “you can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data.” A focus on data will allow you to focus on facts- not feelings, which will introduce an ability to develop the right plan over the one you have used a dozen times before.

Next, ensure you are up to date with best practices and ideas that influence how employees are working today. There is so much HR technology available that has intentions to elevate the employee experience. If only the HR department would make it a focus…

Once data and ideas come together, develop a plan that includes objectives, measurements, due dates, assignments, and an understanding of the resources required. Too few HR teams have plans that are being shared across the organization, which is crazy because any HR plan should involve and affect every part of the organization. Once you have a plan, get the key people from across the organization on board and engaged with it. As the consultant, you will work through other managers and teams to make the positive changes you are looking to implement. And remember, you must hold everyone accountable to deliver as required. Managers work to fulfill their list of priorities and if they think the HR plan is not a priority, then it becomes an after thought. As a consultant, I require direct access to the organization’s President or owner so that I can be assured I can enforce the responsibilities assigned. It is important for you to have the same support and access.

This may seem like a lot, but then again what isn’t these days. In companies today, culture is no longer just an HR thing, it is a business thing. By being a catalyst, coach, conductor, and consultant within an organization, you elevate the credibility, relevancy, and influence of your team to truly help everyone else deliver a great business. Good luck.

Learn how to create an unbeatable culture and employee experience by downloading the eBook Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience.

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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 Inc., Cisco Systems, and BMW to reprogram their employee experiences to create loyal customers and raving fans. Visit www.ShaneGreen.com to learn more.

Follow Shane on Twitter: @_ShaneGreen
Connect with Shane on LinkedIn: Shane Green’s LinkedIn Profile

 

 

Improve Work Culture

Using HR Tech to Strengthen vs. Separate Your Company Culture

How many of us have ever been out to dinner and looked around to see that every person at the table is on a mobile device? Or observed a group of young people hanging out “together” while barely lifting their eyes from a screen? When we see technology being used this way (or are guilty of too much screen time ourselves) it can be easy to assume technology is pushing human beings apart.

And while internet addiction is a real thing (as one psychologist put it, we’re “carrying around a portable dopamine pump”) there is little evidence proving that technology as a whole is hurting our ability to communicate or empathize. In fact, when used correctly, it can improve these qualities.

In our personal lives, the proper use of technology can give us greater exposure to different perspectives and ways of expressing ourselves. In the workplace, HR tech can strengthen company culture by providing more avenues to engagement and socializing, while increasing productivity.

Here are five ways you can use HR technology to strengthen your company’s culture:

  1. Make Communication Comfortable (and Fun)

Many HR tech platforms include social feeds that allow employees to chat as a group, in smaller channels, or one-on-one. These channels are constantly adding fun features like emojis, reward badges, and GIFs that make using chat applications similar to how employees communicate with friends outside of work.

Far from making it less likely that employees engage with each other face-to-face, internal social channels enhance communication. They allow employees to connect, collaborate, and share a laugh, even during busy periods. They also create the freedom for employees who are introverted or not comfortable in a live, large group setting to be involved. And they create opportunities for employee recognition, particularly for remote teams.

  1. Create Transparency

Transparency is a bit of a buzzword in the modern workplace. It’s important to company culture because it implies trust, which is the basis of any strong relationship. But transparency can be hard to facilitate. First, leadership and managers across the organization must agree on what transparency means to your company. Next, a company must ensure that transparency is equitable. Is your CMO sharing profitability data with his team while your CTO is failing to share the same with hers?

HR tech can revolutionize the way you approach transparency. You can use social feeds to ensure the same messages are going company-wide, create universal trainings in your learning management system, and democratize access to your company leadership. You can also compile and share data on company culture itself, so employees can monitor progress.

  1. Prove the ROI of Culture Initiatives

When budgets are tight, it’s often employee-focused expenses such as team outings or performance awards that get the boot. These costs have long been considered as “nice-to-haves” that may bring out the smiles, but won’t bring in the revenue.

Using HR tech, you can disprove this line of thinking by tying real analytics to your company’s culture initiatives. After each culture effort, you can track real-time data to see how both performance and engagement have been affected. You can then use that data to discuss the ROI of these initiatives with your leadership. Happy employees impact the bottom line in a couple of ways. First, they are more productive. Second, they are less likely to leave (or even be absent) which means less money needs to be spent recruiting, hiring, and training replacements.

  1. Increase Benefit Engagement

HR teams spend vast quantities of time researching and implementing employee benefits that they believe will strengthen company culture. However, many employees aren’t taking advantage of those benefits from employer 401k matching to health and wellness to time off.

Often, lack of engagement with benefits is due to a lack of knowledge — the options, setup, or fine print are confusing; vacation days aren’t properly tracked; the right channels don’t exist to answer questions. HR tech can make benefits more approachable upfront and manageable in the long-term. You can use them to house benefits training opportunities, to make set-up simple, and to make it easy for employees to monitor their own usage. You can also automate reminders to both employees and managers, so that everyone knows, for example, when you need to push someone to take a vacation day.

  1. Revamp Employee Recognition

In our high-speed lives, it can be difficult to find time for “niceties” like employee recognition. And with only so much bandwidth available to focus on their teams, managers often turn their attention to employees who need extra support to succeed, assuming their top-performers are just fine on their own. While those people may be independent operators, it’s still vital that they’re acknowledged for their work. Recognition for a job well done is a huge component of employee satisfaction. In fact, 93% of employees hope to be recognized at least quarterly, if not more.

HR tech can automate both the reminders for and the process of recognizing employees. It can also track these efforts so you know if some employees are being accidently left out.

HR tech is no longer just about payroll and performance management, it’s about people. When you shift your thinking of HR tech as a help, rather than a hindrance, to communication and connectivity, you’ll see your company culture shift as well.

To learn more about the evolution of HR technology, check out Achievers’ blog post A Brief History and Future of HR Technology.

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About the Author
Taylor Burke is a contributor for TechnologyAdvice.com. She’s passionate about great company cultures. When she’s not in front of her screen, you can find Taylor reading, cooking, running, or hanging with her dog—but rarely all four at once. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

 

empathetic engagement

Emotions in the Workplace

What are the five steps to finding an emotional balance in the workplace? I’ll tell you. But first, let’s dive into where we, as employees, are currently situated in the workplace. The emergence of the millennial generation in the contemporary workforce has led to a greater need for companies to emphasize an employee-centric workplace. The importance of organizations understanding the expectations of an employee is greater than ever before, leading to stronger ties between corporate and private life. This phenomenon is not just limited to human interactions. With the surge of technology over the past ten years, the lines between ‘personal’ and ‘professional’ have become even more blurred. From BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices) programs to securing laptops for ‘work from home’ opportunities, the ties between employer and employee have become intertwined. Consequently, it has become harder to bottle up what could be perceived as negative emotions in the workplace. Who hasn’t wanted to throw their computer out a window after a terrible meeting?

Because believe me, we’ve all been there. Whether it’s being passed over for a well-deserved promotion, a document closing unexpectedly or what seems like everything in your day is going wrong – we get emotional at work. And although people have been running into the bathroom stall to have a good cry for generations, the current state of the workforce has introduced a new landscape for emotional expression. On the contrary to cultural norms, I believe that fully experiencing your emotions and acting proactively because of them, will lead to a more productive and successful career.

Anne Kreamer, author of the novel It’s Always Personal, says, “By denying the range of emotional expressiveness intrinsic and appropriate to the workplace, we find ourselves at a loss for how to handle this brave new boundary-less world.” In my experience, being able to express all emotions within an office environment directly reflects the people that work within a company and creates a culture that makes it a great place to work. The idea of positive corporate culture is more prominent than ever before because we are finally able to correlate it to organizational success.

Regardless of the type of industry, the size of the organization or the culture already in place, the volatile nature of businesses will eventually present itself, leading to ups and downs in every workplace. Finding the emotional balance and practice that is best for your productivity is often difficult but nonetheless key to adapting to any situation and navigating towards your idea of successful career. Here are five steps I use when approaching a situation that seems to take my breath away:

Learn to Greet Your Emotions

At the heart of any mindfulness practice is the ability to become “witness” to your own emotions. Being able to recognize an emotion that is coming up and identify it before reacting is one of the first steps in healthy emotional digestion. Greeting these emotions without judgement or attaching to the idea that they somehow represent the entirety of YOU, starts with awareness of exactly how you are feeling and how you physically react. Starting with the simple idea of “Oh, that’s frustration,” after clenching your jaw or “Hello, anxiety” after biting your nails, will bring familiarity to your triggers.  Because once you have the power to take a step back from those initial reactions to your true emotional state, you will be able to fully process and continue with a controlled, thoughtful next step.

Get to Your ‘Why’ Reasons

After I hold up the accurate emotional flag (the true emotion I am seeking to exhibit in a situation) without responding immediately with my default reaction, I always ask myself…why? Getting to your “why” reason will help you get to the true internal issue that prompted a reaction.  Being inquisitive until you get to your truth, not blaming external sources will help you proactively face insecurities and build a foundation around those feelings. One of my greatest yoga and mindfulness teachers, Jean Mazzei, taught me this concept and suggested I start by practicing through a journaling exercise.  I begin these sessions by asking myself questions like “why did I have want to cry after this?” or “why did this situation trigger XYZ?” and keep asking why to the prior answer in the most open and honest fashion. I get to my Why Reasons quickly and most of the time come to the realization that it wasn’t external factors like co-workers, deadlines or my commute that were really bothering me. Instead, these intense emotions come from within, only now I deal with them knowing I need to take responsibility for only what I can control. 

Know Your Limits

As stated earlier, it’s almost impossible not to have emotional ties to your work. Similar to a major project you have championed for a long time, work becomes a part of you.  When you’re coming in early or staying late every night, it’s an individual’s passion that gets them across the goal line. One of the best things about getting to your Why Reason, is learning what really motivates you, the driving factor behind why you make the choices you do, and finding out what your personal limits are. Being able to effectively draw a line in the sand and create healthy boundaries around your work is key to finding emotional balance. Just because you may be practicing empathy and not being reactive, doesn’t mean you want to constantly be putting yourself in a situation that gets you upset or angry. Knowing what your limits are and sticking to them will show you how far you are willing to go and help you better sustain a positive mindset in all aspects of your role.

Harness Your Empathetic Engagement

Brene Brown, researcher and storyteller, said it best, “Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection.”

At the end of each day, what matters is what you made of it. “Emotion, as defined by Webster’s dictionary is “a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood or relationships with others.” The ability to effectively channel overwhelming negative or positive emotions to more productively react to your circumstances, mood and relationships at work will only better your effectiveness within your role. Encouraging yourself and others to create a culture of enthusiastic people (that don’t always have perfect days!) will ultimately drive positive values that align with your organization. I constantly make mistakes and wish I would have acted differently, but by practicing these steps, I am able to forgive myself and learn what I can do better, one day at a time.

For some tips on how to cultivate mindfulness at work, check out my previous blog post here.

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About the Author
Phoebe Licata
Phoebe Licata is a Customer Success Manager at Achievers by day and inspirational yogi by night. Her endless positivity propels her along her journey of consulting with companies on their employee engagement and rewards & recognition strategies. Connect with her on LinkedIn to talk about how to make your employees happy, engaged, and more productive at work!

 

 

 

 

Encourage Time Off

Why More Vacation Time Will Make Your Employees (and Your Company) Healthier

Do you encourage employees to take vacation time? You should. Taking time off is the secret to increased productivity. If you ask a job candidate about his or her biggest flaw, chances are good they’ll say that they tend to work too hard. This isn’t just a convenient way to elude a difficult question; it’s probably the absolute truth. Furthermore, even though it might seem like this excessive diligence will contribute to your company’s productivity, the truth is that such excess work habits are harmful to employee happiness and to your company culture as well.

The Surprising HR Statistics on Work Habits

You’re very accustomed to seeing statistics focused on the fact that American employers in general provide much less paid time off than employers do in other countries, but there is a more puzzling set of figures that bear looking at as well. Even when American workers are given paid vacation time, they barely even use half of it. On average, workers in the United States use only 51 percent of their available paid time off, and 40 percent of these workers leave unused vacation time on the table. This is true even when those vacation days are lost for good, and don’t roll over into the following year. Moreover, 61 percent of workers in the same survey report that when they do take vacations, they continue doing at least some work remotely.

When you examine the reasons behind this puzzling tendency to leave a valuable resource on the table, the problem is clarified. Read on to understand why you need to enforce your company’s vacation and break time if you want to build your employee retention and facilitate the safety and wellness of your workers.

Many Employees Skip Vacations Due to Fear

When researchers dug deeper than the surface statistics and worked on finding out what was preventing employees from taking time off, the main reason that surfaced was not employee engagement — it was fear. Many supervisors and managers don’t give any encouragement to their employees to take holiday breaks or other out of office time. A survey published in MarketWatch found that two-thirds of American workers report that their company says nothing at all about the importance of taking all their available employee holiday time, and one-third of supervisors acknowledge that they never bring this topic up. The same survey found that there’s a lot of anxiety among workers: 40 percent of respondents say that if they take time off, they’ll return to an unmanageable “mountain” of work, and 35 percent feel that the organization simply won’t be able to function if they’re not present.

Human Resources Departments Should Lead the Way

It’s not that managers don’t recognize the emotional perks and benefits of their workers having some time off: 93 percent of managers found that taking time off results in better employee motivation, and 84 percent stated that they saw a productivity increase after an employee break. However, the illusion that more hours result in better employee success still attracts many supervisors, and 17 percent say that they feel employees who take all their allowable time off are showing that they have less dedication to their jobs. HR professionals and HR technology both have a role in creating the company-wide message that the organization’s mission and values center on physical and psychological health.

Better Management Includes Facilitating Delegation of Tasks

Good leadership includes proactively reassuring every worker that they can feel free to take their allotted time off without having to worry that they’re creating problems by handing tasks off to co-workers. A primary management goal must be to make sure that coverage is adequate within each team, so that work gets done even if an employee needs to take some time away. Cheryl Rosner, CEO of hotel bidding site Stayful.com, also advises managers that “it’s super important to model the behavior you want to see, and we want people to get out and take their time off.” Furthermore, FastCompany’s Lisa Evans noted that 82 percent of small business owners find that they perform their duties with more energy if they take some time away from work.

Build a Work Culture Around Work Life Balance

Say you’ve successfully facilitated teamwork to cover each person’s functions, and you set a personal example by not overworking yourself. Is there more you can do? The answer is yes, and it centers around employee incentives. Rosner’s company offers employees $200 in hotel credits when they take time off work and go traveling. Sometimes it takes rewards and recognition to bring about a shift in perspective, and offering rewards for taking time away from work is one of the lesser-known employee recognition best practices.

Encourage Teams to Give Employee Appreciation

Many workers fear that taking time off will upset their colleagues. In some cases, this fear is even stronger than the concern that the boss won’t like it. When HR technology offers an easy channel for peer recognition and rewards, it sends an unmistakable message to co-workers that their colleagues support a culture of personal health.

An important benchmarking report on human capital strategy highlights the benefits of an employee rewards program that targets healthy habits. This extensive research points to the advantages your company can enjoy in recruiting and hiring, because millennials in particular are focused on maintaining a full life outside of work. Your company’s success will be strengthened when you equate your employees’ health and well-being with that of your entire company.

Hurry and take action to ensure your employees are taken care of and happy to come to work every day. Start by accessing the eBook Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience.

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top 10 work must-haves

The Now of Work

In my last post, I wrote about how the Future of Work is NoW (Now of Work) and it’s time to move away from this notion of some future state of work. If you’re taking your time preparing for this future, you are already left behind.

I hypothesized that the connected generation, technology and the sharing economy have inspired forward thinking companies to fundamentally change the way they attract, engage and retain their top talent.

Now of Work - NoW

What I didn’t share were the characteristics of the NoW of work based on my experiences and research and data from the employee experience survey STARFiiSH. While the below list is not exhaustive, they are the top 10 must-haves in my honest opinion:

#10 – Non-Hierarchical

This doesn’t mean you don’t have ‘levels’, but that everyone in the organization should be empowered to challenge the status quo and present innovative ideas. It means people over process (bureaucracy) and treating everyone equally regardless of title.

#9 – Trusting and Transparent

Trust is a complex term with no definitive definition in the context of organizational culture. If you haven’t yet, read the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni for the meaning that I subscribe to. I combine transparency because when you achieve that described level of trust you can vastly elevate the sharing of information throughout the organization. It’s commonly believed that outside of the balance sheet, organizations should share all aspects of the state of the company – from the P&L to the most damning customer feedback.

#8 – Remote and Flexible Working

If this isn’t offered to some degree in your business, you’re already on the endangered list.

#7 – Highly Collaborative

Cross-functional projects and teams elevate creativity and shared goals. Team members, with any amount of experience or tenure, have ideas to tap into, and they’re itching to share!

#6 – Constant Feedback

How often? I say weekly and I’ve seen and heard much success with tools such as 15Five to maintain a rhythm. I’m also a believer that nothing beats in person so schedule regular walks and coffee chats. For smaller team, how about lunch!  There is something very powerful with breaking bread together.

#5 – The Best Tools

It’s important to supply the right tools for success. If a team member prefers a MacBook, give that person a MacBook. If they are a Surface fan, then oblige. Tools include hardware, software, desk design, and even the whiteboard markers.

#4 – Personal Development

It’s no longer just about developing your team members to be better at their job, or preparing them for their next work challenge. Work life balance is dead; it’s just life. If you believe this, then invest in getting to know your team members as people first (with understanding of time off and personal development budgets) and help them achieve their short-term personal life goals.

#3 – Belonging

Diversity can often just be a vanity metric. Inclusion, when done right can be much more effective. What we are finding though, is that language matters and in the context of D&I, we are hearing that people want to feel like they belong – whether they are a visual minority, person with disabilities, a woman facing a glass ceiling, and yes, even from the majority group.

#2 – Innovation

In an exponentially changing world every company must develop organizational cultures where creativity and failure is encouraged. For what it’s worth, I believe that every company is a technological company and that you can expect to be innovated, disrupted or be made redundant by technology, likely faster than you probably believe.

#1 – Agility

Overused buzzword? No chance. When I think about the NoW of work, being agile in your operations and organizational mindset always rises near the top of my list. Traditional companies and industries, and unionized environments arguably have the most difficult time adopting this mindset.

Caution!

Every characteristic of the NoW of work can lead you quickly down a slippery slope if you commit too much, or too fast. Balancing this with the pressures of future proofing your business and subscribing to the NoW of work can be both complicated and frustrating.

On September 12-13, 2017, I’ll be in New Orleans speaking and then leading a workshop at the annual ACE Conference put on by Achievers. I’ll be sharing some of my experiences on how to work through this complex dilemma. Hope to see you there!

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About the Author 

Rocky Ozaki

Rocky Ozaki, Co-founder, NoW Innovations
Rocky is the co-founder of NoW Innovations, an organization that inspires and brings people and companies together to collectively thrive in the NoW of Work. Join them in their quest to change our mindset to the NoW of work!

 

 

 

Performance Management Reboot

It’s a Small (but diverse) World: Performance Management for the Global Organization

I’m not going to lie to you: rebooting your performance management to effectively drive organizational performance, develop people, and reward equitably requires a good deal of serious thought. Managing performance at a global level, however, warrants serious thought on steroids. You must have a solid understanding of the legislative and regulatory issues, demographic trends, and labor laws from every jurisdiction in which you’ve got people. Hard enough. But the most critical global consideration for rebooting your performance management is to understand the cultural differences in your workforce. 

If we were to take a peek at what organizations have historically done to recognize these differences, we’d see that the tactics range dramatically from barely a nod (bad) to localized approaches custom-designed for each unique culture (excellent). Sadly, ‘barely a nod’ tends to prevail. And so many global organizations continue to struggle to optimize their talent management processes in the ever-expanding global market.

What is the right approach for implementing a performance management program for a global workforce? Well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there is no one-size-fits-all solution. But if you agree with me that culture is the most important factor, then you’ll be sure to put a respectable amount of effort into understanding those cultural differences and how they will weigh into your solution design. And you’ll make sure your leadership is aligned with how you plan to manage various global employee groups differently from one another.

If you want to gain an appreciation for what will and won’t work here, I recommend turning to the extensive research conducted by Geert Hofsted on cultures in the workforce. In his research, Hofsted found five fundamental value dimensions that can be used to explain cultural diversity in the world. The “5 Dimensional Model”1 is one of the only models that’s based on rigorous cultural research, rather than opinion (which is why I like it). The five dimensions are:

  1. Power Distance (PDI): The degree to which people accept that power is distributed unevenly within a group or society.
  2. Individualism (IDV): The degree to which taking responsibility for oneself is more valued than belonging to a group that will look after its people in exchange for loyalty.
  3. Masculinity (MAS): The degree to which people value performance and the status that derives from it, rather than quality of life and caring for others.
  4. Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI): The degree to which people develop mechanisms to avoid uncertainty.
  5. Long-Term Orientation (LTO): The degree to which people value long-term goals and have a pragmatic approach, rather than being normative and short-term oriented.

What does this all mean for designing performance management systems? Let’s have a look at the traditional review process. The annual review is a widely accepted practice in countries like the US and the UK. In the US (and other countries with similar cultures) we score low on power distance (the degree to which people accept that power is distributed unevenly within a group or society) and high in individualism (the degree to which taking responsibility for yourself is valued more highly than belonging to a group that will look after its people in exchange for loyalty). With those defining cultural factors, we find it easy to accept the idea that very direct feedback is “the right way” to improve performance. This notion falls flat in high power distance countries, such as Japan. In fact, very direct feedback in these cultures is likely to be seen as dishonorable and disrespectful. This means that we have to take a different approach that fits these cultural norms and expectations.

Another interesting dimension to consider is how your planning horizon may vary from culture to culture. When I was at Hitachi Consulting, I learned to appreciate the very real impact of working within an organization heavily influenced by Japanese leadership. One of the most notable differences was the manner in which the Japanese leaders thought about the short and the long view. In the US we had a much shorter planning horizon in contrast to our Japanese peers. This difference in focus radically influenced how each group defined what ‘good’ looked like in both the short and long terms. At times this created conflict and stress when setting targets and measuring success.

When putting together your team to build your new global performance management solution, remember to include individuals who can help you understand cultural differences.

Rewarding equitably can be another tricky area as you navigate from culture to culture. The cash-is-king individual performance bonuses that we default to in countries like the US and UK are not a good fit in cultures that focus on greater responsibility, larger spans of control, and wider territories. Again, this showed up in my experience at Hitachi. The Japanese executives were quite surprised by our vice president’s bonus model, while the US leaders were struck by their Japanese counterparts’ lavish spending allowances. As they say, different strokes for different folks (or in this case, different cultures, different expectations). In some cultures cash rewards may even be perceived as petty. The headline? Tread carefully in this arena. If you’re planning a bonus program, be sure to consider which cultures value and expect bonuses, how you should measure them if you use them, and whether team or individual incentives would work best.

Beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed? Let me reinforce a few ideas that may help keep you grounded. First, when putting together your team to build your new performance management solution, remember to include individuals who can help you understand these cultural differences. They can be a voice for what will work and what is likely to fall flat. Get comfortable with allowing for differences across cultures. Your goal should be finding balance between meeting your desire for consistency and creating great experiences for your global team. Also, before you roll out your solution, test it in different geographies and cultures — not just the solution itself, but also the supporting content, since some degree of localization is likely to be needed on that as well.

In the end, keep humanity at the forefront of your design, and never forget that this is about your people, not the process!

If you want to learn more about performance management, join me at Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2017 September 12-13 where I will be speaking on How Performance Management Is Killing Performance – And What to Do About It. Check out details of my speaking session and the event here.

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About the Author

Tamra ChandlerTamra Chandler is a bona fide people maven. She’s spent the majority of her career thinking about people, researching how they’re motivated, and developing new and effective ways for organizations to achieve the ultimate win-win: inspired people driving inspiring performance. She’s also the CEO and co-founder of PeopleFirm, one of Washington State’s fastest-growing businesses and most successful women-owned firms. An award-winning leader in her field (she’s been recognized by Consulting Magazine twice as one of the top consultants in the U.S.), she is the author of How Performance Management is Killing Performance — and What to Do About It.

 

Source:
1. Geert Hofstede, Culture’s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions, and Organizations Across Nations (London, UK: Sage Publications, 2003).

empower employees

Staying Engaged During Corporate Change (Part 3)

In fact, change can sometimes feel downright terrible. Even if change feels frustrating, scary, or pointless, transformation can often lead to growth and opportunity for any person willing to accept it. But why would someone buy in to corporate transition amidst the chaos that comes with it?

In the first two parts of this three-part series, I discussed how science shows that to successfully navigate change, employees need to stay engaged in the workplace. The employees that report staying engaged during corporate change not only feel more positively about the change, they are also more likely to keep their jobs, or even be promoted. I covered the research from my book The Successful Struggle that suggests that to stay engaged, you should connect with a purpose and with people.

In addition to the two listed above, there is a third thing you can connect with during corporate evolution that might be the most exciting of all: Power.

You might recall David, from the previous blog post referenced above. David lost his passion for his job when the nonprofit he was employed at started going in a different direction. During a conversation with David, he revealed to me that the changes at his workplace made him realize he missed his old job in the field, working one-on-one with clients.

Although his current position doesn’t require it, David found time in his schedule to enjoy some client interaction. After several weeks of seeing the impact he was having working face-to-face with his clients, David regained his love for his job. He went back to doing the things he originally enjoyed when he started working for the organization, discovering that helping people made him feel competent, useful, and successful again.

David’s story of rediscovery should come as little surprise. After all, change can be disempowering. Prior to any alterations of their role, employees tend to know how to get their jobs done effectively and expediently. They understand the goals they are expected to accomplish, and the measurements used to judge their success in meeting them. When faced with the prospect of a major change in their job function, employees might not have the same familiarity of what is expected of them. How can they be successful if they don’t even know how to be successful in this new environment? With all this confusion, it’s no surprise that certain employees might feel powerless. However, there is a way to regain power.

The belief that you are capable – that you have the power to impact the world around you – is called “self-efficacy.” Employees with higher levels of self-efficacy have been found to navigate change much more successfully than employees with high levels of self-doubt. That’s not surprising, self-efficacy leads to a feeling of personal power.

If corporate change has you feeling powerless, it’s critical to regain your self-efficacy and subsequently, your feelings of power. To reclaim your personal power again, try these two strategies:

  • Get a Hobby. Science shows that if your power feels minimized in one aspect of your life, such as work, you can flex your power in other environments, like your home or hobbies. The power boosts you get in those environments transfers over to your work environment. So pick up a new hobby or rediscover a long-lost one, and revel in your growing power.
  • Make a Contribution. Once you’ve built up power in an area outside of work, like the weekend softball league, it’s time to transfer it back to the office. Ask yourself “how can I contribute to the current situation? How can I get involved?” Research suggests that self-efficacy and power can end up working in a loop; if you have confidence in your ability to navigate change, then you’ll likely take on a more active role in the change itself. And taking on a more active role in the change will give you more power to influence the change as it is happening.

Change doesn’t have to be disempowering. In fact, feeling powerful during change is as effective as actually having power. It’s all about how you frame your mindset. Build up your self-efficacy and remember that you have the capability to steer corporate change in your favor. In that case, maybe change will do you good!

To learn more, start from the beginning and read the first part of this blog series: Staying Engaged During Corporate Change (Part 1).

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About the Author
Courtney Clark speaks to organizations who want to adapt faster and achieve more by building a culture of Accelerated Resilience. She is the author of two books “The Giving Prescription,” and “The Successful Struggle,” a three-time cancer survivor, brain aneurysm survivor, keynote speaker, and founder of a nonprofit. www.CourtneyClark.com

 

Reduce Unneeded Stress

7 Ways to De-Stress Your Workplace

Stress is the single worst enemy of productivity. A stressed-out worker is usually not an efficient worker. Furthermore, high employee stress levels can lead to higher rates of employee turnover and absenteeism; who wants to work at a job with constant stress?

Not only is stress an obstacle to productivity, it can work against a business’ attempts to attain key business objectives. We all know that a business must be profitable to survive, but without recognizing the danger of pushing workers too hard, you’ll end up spending more money than necessary to counter mistakes made by tired, depressed, and stressed-out individuals.

Follow my 7 tips below to help your employees bounce back and minimize unneeded stress:

  1. Get Creative

Stress on the brain will squash creativity. It’s harder to “think outside the box” and be at your best when you’re chronically stressed. If you’re in a role that emphasizes mental nimbleness and dexterity, the consequences of stress can be a major roadblock to your (and your company’s) success.

Consider implementing a few creative strategies to lighten your employee’s mental load. Daydreaming is typically seen as a bad thing, however a few moments of structured mind-wandering every hour can help your workers recalibrate and better stay on task. Breathing exercises and “mindfulness” activities can also lessen workplace stress. Encourage workers to green up the office and bring in plants, which have a soothing effect on the soul. And if conditions allow, furry friends are also a wonderful addition to the workplace. According to WebMD, taking even a few minutes to play with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine — nerve transmitters that are known to have pleasurable and calming properties.

  1. SuggestScreenFreeTime.

The modern workforce spends most of its time glued to a computer screen. The problem with sitting in a cubicle and staring at a glowing rectangle all day is that it is a highly unnatural and inert way to spend one’s time. Interaction with other people, and with one’s environment, is needed to stay mentally healthy and engaged.

Hopefully, your employees already understand that they should step away from their screens several times throughout the day. You can take this further by suggesting the use of software tools, like F.lux, that make the light emanating from a computer monitor more natural and less straining on the eyes. This program makes the monitor show more typical “daylight” colors, which can help reduce computer screen fatigue.

  1. Offer Financial Counseling Services

Many people find that financial issues cause them the most stress. Promoting financial wellness and addressing the negative effects of money-related stress on employees is often overlooked by companies when they seek to lessen the stress level of their workforce. In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) noted in its 2016 Employee Benefits survey report that 61 percent of HR professionals polled last year described their employees’ financial health as no better than “fair” and 17 percent reported their employees were “not at all financially literate.”

Given the statistics above, there is much you can do to help your employees meet their financial goals. Consider bringing on a financial counseling professional that can assist your employees in determining their financial health and offer personalized, actionable advice. If adding staff isn’t an option, try designing a financial wellness program that motivates employees to be more proactive in saving for retirement, purchasing a home, or paying back student loans. You will find that as your employees gain clarity about their financial situation, they will not only be less stressed, but possibly inspire them to improve other aspects of their lives – including their productivity at work.

  1. Engage and Recognize Your Employees at Work

Higher employee engagement leads to higher employee productivity and happiness, so it’s critical to find ways to engage your workforce. One method used by many companies is establishing a recognition and rewards program. Recognition has been found to be the number one driver of employee engagement, so by building a culture of recognition, and having employees feel appreciated for what they do, you’ll see more positive social engagement and better performance. Encourage your employees to take time out of their day to de-stress by recognizing others for their hard work. A simple “thank you” can go a long way!

  1. Involve Your Employees in Exercise

There is nothing that gets people moving and motivated like a physical wellness program. Exercise is healthy and stimulating for both body and mind. There are various ways that you can get your employees involved in daily exercise habits that help them fight off illness, obesity, and other physical manifestations of stress. Could your company partner with a local gym, or give membership discounts to employees? Is there a yoga teacher willing to offer in-office sessions? Options such as these require minimal financial and time commitments for your company, so instituting at least one of them seems like a no-brainer.

  1. Offer Flexible Work Arrangements

Many studies have shown that flexible work arrangements can benefit employers as much as they do employees. Remote work and other flexible options can be a huge boost to many worker’s mental well-being, which in turn boosts your company’s bottom line.

Most people make money to support their families, but the long work hours needed to earn it mean a constant tension between work and familial responsibilities. Flexible work options, such as telecommuting, part-time roles, and flexible scheduling, can have a major impact on an employee’s quality of life. In fact, just the idea of a flexible work arrangement helped some companies improve their employee retention rates – before workers even started taking part. That’s right, simply by suggesting the concept of more flexible work, you can indirectly encourage employees to work harder and stay with your company longer.

  1. Promote Healthy Living Habits at Work

Remember that your employees’ health and welfare is key to increasing productivity and fulfilling the goals of your company. By offering free healthy snacks and encouraging your employees to maintain healthy habits at work, you are helping establishing the groundwork of a healthy lifestyle that could transfer over to the rest of their lives. As they say, you are what you eat – so by making sure there are healthy (even organic) options in the break room or at company meetings, you’re doing everyone’s bodies and minds a huge service.

Banishing stress from your workplace is an ongoing battle, but learning how to identify the symptoms of burn out and fatigue is a step in the right direction. Help your employees stay mentally, physically, financially, and emotionally healthy, and you’ll see your efforts reflected in a better bottom the company back in dividends.

To learn more about how employee wellness can lessen tension in the workplace, check out 5 Ways Wellness Programs Can Enhance Employee Engagement.

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About the Author
Beth Kotz is a contributing writer to Credit.com. She specializes in covering financial advice for female entrepreneurs, college students and recent graduates. She earned a BA in Communications and Media from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, where she continues to live and work.

 

workplace communication tips

6 Techniques: Improve The Way Your Employees Communicate

When your team works in the same building, it’s easy to get to know one another. Since you see each other every day, you’ll likely develop a deeper than surface level relationship based on proximity alone. You might come to know how your colleagues take their coffee, and maybe even buddy up with them when the company heads out on a retreat or outing. However, if the majority of your team works remotely, it can be difficult to maintain a culture of free-flowing communication. Here are six ways to ensure your colleagues have the means to effectively communicate.

  1. Stay up to Date

If your team is geographically dispersed, you might find yourself waking up in the morning to an inbox overflowing with new messages. This could contribute to missing out on important information as a crucial call to action might be buried beneath the newest messages in your inbox. Instead of relying on email as the sole source of communication, try using a good chat program to connect with your team in real time. This will help ensure that conversations are focused on the most important initiatives and allow any disconnection amongst the team to be addressed immediately.

  1. Use Emoji

It might sound unprofessional, but emoji can help improve communication. This is because the written word does not effectively communicate tone and emotion. However, using emoji in conjunction with a well-thought-out statement can inform the reader of intent, helping to avoid misunderstandings.

  1. Know When to Step Back

Try implementing a culture in which “doing” is as important as “brainstorming”. By allowing your team the opportunity to assess the necessity of their personal involvement amongst the larger group, you are allowing members of your team to step back from meetings and focus on tangible deliverables as needed. By instituting this team-wide, colleagues can work offline knowing another member of their team will fill them in if anything important arises in the meeting they missed. 

  1. Use Online Meetings

Using online conferencing tools can help get to the root of an issue much more expediently than a flurry of emails. They’re easy to use and your entire team can get together in the same (virtual) room. It’s very effective for communication, as you can see each other’s body language (which helps inform the tone and emotion behind a statement in the same way emoji do).

  1. Use the Right Form of Communication

Email is not always the best way to discuss an important subject with your team. Try giving them a call, inviting them to a chat room, or organizing an online meeting. Before reaching out, ask yourself, what is the best communication method for what I need to tell them? Are you kicking-off a major department initiative? Perhaps an all-hands conference call is in order. Are you checking in with a solitary employee about an overdue deliverable? A brief IM might suffice. Whatever it is you might be discussing, make sure the form matches the intent.

  1. Set Clear Expectations

While having multiple channels of communication to unite a workforce spread out across multiple time zones has allowed for a greater sense of corporate interconnectivity, these advancements have made it somewhat difficult for your team to know how and when you prefer to work. If you’re the type of person that limits email correspondence to working hours, say so. If you’d like finished work uploaded to the team Dropbox rather than sent as an attachment, tell your team.  By being clear about your expectations as to how and when you prefer to work, it makes everyone’s jobs easier.

Online Tools to Improve Communication

A portion of your team might already be working remotely, so you might be familiar with some of the online tools listed below. However, technological advancements addressing the gamut of communication issues are being developed every day, so there might be some tools you may not have seen:

  • Flow Dock: This tool gives your team one place for both casual and work chats. There’s a search feature that helps you find the specific task you were discussing, and a one-on-one chat for when you need to contact just one member of your team. The best part is you can try it free for 30 days.
  • Boom Essays: Your outgoing messages should be proofread, but you might not have time to do it yourself. This service could be the answer. Send them your messages and they’ll proofread any correspondence before you send it.
  • Uber Conference: Online conferencing can be a pain, but this tool makes it easy. You can track attendees, share your screen and easily share documents—all from an extremely intuitive interface.
  • Write My Essay: The primary form of your departmental communications will likely be email, so good email writing skills are essential. However, you might feel that yours aren’t up to scratch. Get in touch with an expert writer from this service. They’ll help you refine your email skills to better articulate exactly what it is you need.
  • Word Counter: If a message is too long, the recipient might tune out before you’ve made your main point. This tool makes it easy to keep things short and sweet. All you have to do is paste your writing in, and you’ll get a quick and accurate word count.
  • MikoGo: This screen sharing app is perfect if you want to share information, quickly. There’s no need to download a program; everything is done through the web app. You can even join for free, making it as cost effective as you can get.
  • Assignment Help: If you’re having trouble articulating specific needs within written communication, then it might make sense for you to get in touch with this writing service. They can help you with your business writing skills. Work with them, and you’ll see vast improvement in your writing skills.
  • Paper Fellows: Good grammar is the cornerstone of all good writing. Without it, your messages will be incomprehensible. This writing community can help you improve your grammar, making your communications much easier to understand.
  • Calendly: This is the easiest way to arrange meetings. You simply give the site your schedule, then email a link to the person you’re meeting. They pick a time they can meet you, and then the meeting is arranged. That’s it!

Give these tips and tools a try. You’ll find it’s much easier to communicate with your team, and you’ll get a lot more done.

To learn more about how Achievers builds alignment across its entire organization for both onsite and remote employees, check out the blog post To the Point: How Achievers Builds Alignment Across the Organization.

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About the Author
Mary WaltonMary Walton is an editor at Australian assignment writing service. She also helps online businesses to find passionate remote workers; and creates awesome resumes at Resumention. Mary has an educational blog Simple Grad, there you can find useful info on college life and college tips.

 

 

 

 

Positive Work Culture

The Secret Ingredients of an Amazing Company Culture

If you were asked about your top priorities as a manager, how would you answer? Increasing productivity would probably be first on your list, along with steady company growth, low employee turnover, seamless teamwork, and high employee engagement — after all, most businesses share similar goals.

However, you might not have considered developing an excellent company culture among your top-tier priorities, even though it is the foundation for every one of your key goals. When focusing on creating an amazing company culture, you will discover that other elements of business success fall into place organically. Let’s unpack that concept a bit and see why.

What Is Company Culture?

The first step toward improving your company’s culture is to have a clear handle on what the term means. One of the most accurate definitions is offered by business change strategist John Kotter. He defines company culture as “group norms of behavior and the underlying shared values that help keep those norms in place.” The key words in this definition are “shared values.” Employee alignment with your company’s mission and values is a critical component of positive company culture. A sure indicator of poor company culture is a workforce, total or partial, that has no personal interest or investment in the overall mission of their organization.

Why Company Culture Matters

A worldwide survey of 20,000 workers, conducted by Harvard researchers, found unequivocally that “culture drives performance,” but only 31 percent of employees report they are engaged with their work. Furthermore, the average employee would only give his or her company a grade of “C” if recommending it to a friend, according to Glassdoor statistics. A Duke University survey of 1400 CEOs and CFOs found that only 15 percent said their company culture is where it needs to be, while 92 percent said improving company culture would improve the overall value of the business.

Other research published in Harvard Business Review finds that disengaged workers cause 60 percent more errors and defects in work performance, while those under stress from negative cultures can increase a company’s health care expenditures by an average of 50 percent. We could go on with the dire statistics, but we’re certain you get the idea. How do you do the right thing for your employees as well as your company?

How to Create a Positive Company Culture

An interesting roadmap for creating a positive company culture can be found in the science of self-determination theory. Researchers writing in Harvard Business Review have identified three universal human needs that are central to fostering employee motivation. These three needs are autonomy, competence and relatedness. Let’s look at each of the three in turn:

Autonomy

To build your employees’ happiness through autonomy, make sure the goals and timelines you ask them to meet are developed in a collaborative manner. Workers need to feel that they have some control over their schedules and approach to tasks, rather than having every aspect of their workday micromanaged. HR professionals know that flexible work hours are at the top of most candidates’ lists of desirable benefits and perks.

Another aspect of leadership that contributes to a positive work culture is the avoidance of pressure and stress. The aforementioned HBR report states that “Sustained peak performance is a result of people acting because they choose to—not because they feel they have to.”

Competence

One of the most powerful employee incentives you can offer is the opportunity for training and development. Showing that you care about the evolution of your workers’ careers is a powerful expression of employee appreciation. This development may take some careful guarding of educational funds in your human resources budget, but the resulting increase in employee well-being will be worth your investment.

In addition to working with your team to set performance goals, you can nurture employee success by setting learning goals. Human beings derive a deep satisfaction from increased skills and competence, independent of every other type of employee reward.

Relatedness

This term describes the need inherent in most humans to feel connected to a larger team effort, and to be recognized and appreciated by other people. Employee recognition best practices should be built around this fundamental element of human psychology, providing opportunities for both colleagues and supervisors to offer recognition and rewards. While your team members don’t exert effort for the sole purpose of receiving rewards, they will thrive in the climate of solidarity and unity that those rewards represent.

Another crucial aspect of relatedness pertains to alignment with company values. The HBR analysis points out that employees need to connect their tasks with a noble purpose, and to feel that their own personal values are expressed in the way they spend their work days.

The CEOs interviewed by Duke University researchers were unequivocal in their statements that company culture drives “profitability, acquisition decisions, and even whether employees behave ethically.”

Building an amazing company culture should be at the center of your organizational health, and it begins with the three psychological elements central to employee engagement. To learn more about fostering an amazing company culture, download our e-book: “All for One and One for All: Uniting a Global Workforce with Company Culture.”

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Perfecting work perks

Company Perks That Don’t Work — And How to Fix Them

Today’s CEOs, managers, and team leaders understand the importance of keeping employee morale high. The fact that you’re reading this on the Engage Blog — a thought leadership blog meant to define, inform, and help increase employee engagement — means you must have some inkling as to the positive impact engagement can have on an organization. Many organizations try to address employee engagement by providing extra incentives, or “perks.”

When it comes to providing company perks, global businesses like Google, Yahoo! and S.C. Johnson & Son set the gold standard. By providing everything from free on-site gyms to dry cleaning services, these multinational organizations have inspired managers all over the world to come up with their own ways to make their staff happier.

In their haste to keep up with the Larry Pages and Sergey Brins of the world, many employers mistakenly implement work perks that are incredibly generous on the surface, but don’t actually benefit their employees.

As well as costing the company money, these well-intentioned extras can have a negative impact on employee morale; in some cases, creating feelings of resentment among staff that perceive their employer’s choice of company perks as an indication that they are completely out of touch with the wants and needs of individual employees. In other words, there is no such thing as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to employee engagement.

With this in mind, let’s examine a handful of common workplace perks that don’t always hit the mark, as well as consider some ways to fix them and make your employees a little bit perkier.

  1. The Games Room

The idea:

You transform a room or a corner of your office into a veritable shrine to leisure and entertainment; swapping desks, spreadsheets and whiteboards for foosball tables, video games and miniature basketball hoops. It’s the perfect place for your staff to cut loose for a few minutes each day.

Why it doesn’t work:

After the initial excitement wears off, a great many games rooms end up either covered in a layer of dust or as a hangout for a very small number of employees that love the inherent interactivity of games. Other staff, such as those with young or boisterous children, might consider the games room an annoyance, and would rather spend their breaks someplace more conducive to conversation.fyou

Making it work:

There’s nothing wrong with establishing an area for staff to shoot some pool or play a little Xbox. There are a few questions to consider before doing so:

  1. Would a significant number of my team enjoy a games room?
  2. Would they have enough time to make use of it?
  3. Would it end up being dominated by certain staff?

If you’re confident that the room would still get plenty of use six to twelve months after being set up, then go nuts; your staff will get a buzz out of having so many fun things to do on their break. Just be sure to choose a location that isn’t so close to your work area that it will distract other staff members. Furthermore, opting for games that can be played in groups and enjoyed in shorter sessions can help foster teamwork without taking too much time out of the workday.

  1. Company Getaways

The idea:

You pay for the entire company or team to go away for a few days, hoping that unwinding in beautiful, inspiring surroundings will help your staff de-stress and get to know each other better. The plan is that they come back refreshed, closer than ever, and thinking their boss is the absolute greatest.

Why it doesn’t work:

There are myriad reasons why team getaways prove to be ineffective. The most common being that staff resent having to give up time they consider to be their own, even if the company is picking up the tab.

Company trips and team-building weekends tend to be dominated by the more outgoing members of your team, leaving the quieter members of your staff counting down the hours until they can go home.

For others, trips like these are a logistical nightmare. They’re forced to find someone to pet-sit or trust their partner is willing to take care of the kids alone. This is not only inconvenient, but it can negatively shape an employee’s perception of their company.

Making it work: 

Your staff wouldn’t all choose to take the exact same type of vacation, nor do they necessarily enjoy the same kind of activities. Instead of whisking your entire team away on a single trip, consider running a few destination events throughout the year that a) don’t require an overnight stay and b) cater to different tastes.

Choose activities that allow different personality types to shine. Mix up physical, mental, and creative tasks while experimenting with different group sizes to encourage the more introverted members of your team to participate.

Most importantly, don’t eat into your employee’s personal time to reward them—it’s not a reward if they’d rather not be there.

  1. Unlimited Time Off

The idea:

Your staff are free to take as many or as few days off as they like. The hope is employees will feel empowered by having some control of when and where they work. Unlimited PTO is also meant to foster a sense of mutual trust between employer and employee; employees are trusted not to abuse the system, and in return, they trust their employer more as they have a greater sense of work/life balance.

Why it doesn’t work:

Though allowing staff to make their own decisions about leave can make them feel incredibly empowered, there is evidence suggesting that some employees feel that there must be some kind of catch. They might also fear they’re being tricked out of time off that they are legally owed.

Another adverse effect is that employees might become overly anxious about the amount of leave they are taking, worrying that taking more days off than their peers will result in them being passed over for promotions. These staff members end up rarely taking days, often to the detriment of their health and performance at work, all to inform an external perception that may or may not exist.

Making it work:

Unlimited vacation time is a great way of showing your employees that you trust them. But it can also put a lot of undue pressure on them to self-regulate. To combat this, consider doing the following:

  1. Make time off mandatory. Let staff take as many additional days off as they need, but set a minimum number that they must use up before the end of the working year.
  2. Have a clearly defined UPTO policy in place. Set rules for taking time off, and make the procedure for requesting leave a part of your employee handbook. This might seem counterintuitive on the surface, but staff will take comfort from the fact that taking leave isn’t a free-for-all, and that their coworkers won’t suddenly hop on a plane to Italy, leaving them with extra work.
  1. Culture-Specific Perks

The idea:

In an attempt to get your team to socialize, you allow your staff to finish early on Fridays and head over to the local bar where their first drink is on you!

Why they don’t work:

The problem with perks is that unless they can be enjoyed by the entire team, some might not consider them to be perks. In fact, some people may even resent the implication that they should be grateful for something that they neither benefit nor derive any pleasure from.

Things like after-work drinking can be great fun, and many workplace friendships have been born over a cold beer. But they’re not fun for everyone. Due to any number of circumstances precluding them from taking part, staff could feel discriminated against if the company mandates participation.

Making them work:

Just like with the games rooms and company trips mentioned earlier, it can be difficult to please your entire team with a single reward.

Few employees will begrudge a new parent their extended leave or subsidized childcare, but when perks favor only particular individuals, it can create tension.

The simple solution is to ensure that you have enough unique perks to ensure your employees are rewarded in a way that personally resonates with them. You should also ensure that none of the perks you offer inadvertently isolate or exclude certain individuals.

Events such as after-work drinks should never be actively discouraged, but management should try and encourage rewards and events that benefit everyone.

  1. ‘Life-on-Site’ Perks

The idea:

You’ve gone full “Google,” providing employees everything from free meals to a mobile hair salon. With their annoying little chores taken care of, your staff are happier and more productive than ever before.

Why it doesn’t work:

You’d think that without having to worry about picking the kids up from daycare, making lunches in the morning, or running around the house to find a clean pair of pants, your team would be as happy as clams.

While true for some employees, others may interpret these perks as the company attempting to remove any need for employees to leave work.

Still have work to do, but need to get home to cook dinner? No problem; you can eat right here! Have laundry to do? Use our free laundromat! Now you have no excuse not to work!

Like unlimited leave, life-on-site perks like these can cause some staff to worry that by heading home to take care of their various chores instead of doing them at work, their boss or coworkers might not see them as team players.

How to make it work:

The key to successfully implementing perks of this kind is establishing reasonable limits as to the amount they are used. For example, if you have a laundromat, then issue staff with only enough tokens to make use of it when they need to, but aren’t forced to rely on it week in, week out. Similarly, if you’re providing staff with free meals, put barriers in place to stop people eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner at work every day of the week.

Finally, make it clear to your staff that these on-site facilities have been put in place to make their lives easier. They are not expected to make constant use of them or stay in the office any longer than necessary.

Perfecting Perks

It can be easy to misjudge how employees perceive workplace perks; when you’re trying to go the extra mile and do something nice for your team, you don’t expect them to resent you for it.

But choosing the right company perks for your business requires careful planning, and it’s important to consider any potential negatives, as well as the joy, your perks might bring.

Try to keep your own team’s wants and needs in mind when you’re looking for ways to reward them. That way, even if the perk you come up with isn’t the game changer you’d hoped for, your staff will still appreciate the fact that you’re trying to make their lives easier.

For more information regarding how to incentivize your employees, check out the blog post How to Incentivize the Modern Workforce.

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About the Author
Phil Kendall
Philip Kendall is the digital marketing and social media executive at RotaCloud, a UK-based startup that provides cloud-based staff scheduling solutions for small and medium-sized businesses. A writer, blogger and lifelong tech nerd, Phil is never far away from a keyboard, and has worked as everything from a freelance food writer to managing a team of writers for a Tokyo-based news and entertainment site.

 

 

 

EAW Success Stories

A-Player Appreciation: How Achievers Clients Celebrated Awesomeness during Employee Appreciation Week (EAW)

All businesses are comprised of a variety of capital, with human capital being the most critical to sustainability and success. The minds that drive innovation, the behaviors that build culture, and the personalities that forge relationships are all components of human capital. Employee Appreciation Week (or Day, Month, Year; however your organization chooses to celebrate it) provides companies with an annual occasion to be hyper-focused on their employees and express their gratitude in a public manner.

In today’s employee-centric world, where workers have many choices of where to lend their talents, it is important to reaffirm their decision to work for you. We know there was a plethora of appreciative gestures on or around Employee Appreciation Week, but we’d like to share some of the unique ways our clients leveraged the Achievers platform during the festivities to make their employees feel the love.

Creativity Through Messaging

Technology provides access to a bevy of different mediums and channels that can be used to convey a message. Bill Gosling Outsourcing took the opportunity to get creative with their Employee Appreciation Week approach. Bill Gosling CEO David Rae tried out his acting chops by starring in a heartfelt (and humorous – a blooper reel was included!) video message that was shared across their social media platforms. They wanted to make a direct appeal to employees by sharing a genuine message through a popular medium. And it certainly worked to promote positive recognition activity across their Achievers program. During Employee Appreciation Week, their total recognitions received increased a staggering 402.6% and their total unique recognitions (not including bulk recognitions) sent increased by 619.6%. If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a video worth?

What’s In It for Me?

Give a little, get a little was the approach Mercedes-Benz Canada took to foster an inclusive Employee Appreciation celebration. With a relatively new recognition program that launched in February 2017, they strategically leveraged launch momentum to promote the program and explain the motivation for implementation. Their campaign integrated multiple elements to drive adoption and participation by showing top-down support of their program through a bulk recognition from the CEO and behavior-based incentives where members were rewarded with points for positive recognition activity. Participation they wanted, and participation they got: received recognition index increased 300% and sent recognition index increased 389%! Looks like the Mercedes-Benz team is on the road to cultivating a culture of recognition.

A Little Competition Goes a Long Way

Friendly competition is an excellent way to spur participation, especially if it’s paired with a clear call to action. A client who is a large financial institution took this approach in developing and rolling out a #payitforward type of challenge across their lines of business (LOBs), with the winner demonstrating the largest percentage increase in recognitions sent during Employee Appreciation Week. The challenge was promoted through themed graphics and communications across their intranet, on the Achievers platform and via digital displays. The results were notable on multiple fronts. The top two LOBs increased their sent recognitions by an impressive 37.12% and 37.1% respectively, with overall recognitions sent growing by 26%. The number of recognitions sent on the first day of their 2017 #payitforward challenge came close to surpassing the sum of all recognitions sent during their 2016 EAW campaign. Inspiring robust recognition activity through competition? Check.

Have Something for Everyone

ESS launched a robust Employee Appreciation Campaign with multiple opportunities for employees to get involved and also offered incentives to help drive participation. Their campaign was not only a reflection of their huge appreciation for their team, but a strategy to garner increased participation in the festivities. Incentive programs, including the distribution of additional points to award, prizes for being a top recognizer and account activation bonuses (to name a few), ran alongside graphics and communications promoting Employee Appreciation Week. The verdict on their approach? A roaring success: total recognitions received increased 128% and total unique recognitions sent increased 215%.  If you want to drive specific behaviors, incentivize; whether with points, prizes, or a good, old fashioned “Thank you!”

At Achievers, we like to say that Employee Appreciation Week is the Oscars of recognition. If there is ever a time during the year to go all in on recognition, this is it. As the above examples demonstrate, when you come up with creative ways to promote recognition, the results speak for themselves. The important thing is to encourage participation and program adoption in order to build a culture of recognition that honors the contributions of your workforce. After all, a company’s most valuable asset is its human capital.

Check out just one of the many ways we celebrate Employee Appreciation Week here at Achievers by reading our blog post Employee Appreciation Week: Achievers’ Employees, We Appreciate You!

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About the Author

Sarah Clayton

Sarah Clayton is the Communications and Campaigns Specialist at Achievers, where she focuses on generating content to drive desired recognition behaviors and engagement on the platform.

 

 

 

 

retain employees

4 Ways to Avoid the Dreaded High-Turnover Rate

The cost of employee turnover is outrageously high. When a company loses a salaried employee, it can cost anywhere from six to nine months’ worth of the departed employee’s salary to hire a replacement. This means that if an employee is being paid $40,000 a year, the cost of everything from recruiting to training expenses will be around $20,000 to $30,000. In addition to costing your company a fortune, it can discourage talented employees from joining your organization. High turnover is one of the major red flags job seekers look for when considering a new employment opportunity.

Here are four ways companies can step up their game and hold on to the talented employees they worked hard to acquire:

  1. Get Rid of Top-Down Management

Everything in the business world is evolving and the concept of management is not immune. Many of the old rules and practices no longer apply, and the lack of a modern workplace philosophy is forcing skilled workers to leave their current company and take their talent elsewhere. The top-down approach to leadership and ruling with an iron fist is no longer a popular way to run a business.

In today’s workplace, the term “collaborative leadership” is commonly cited as a strong approach to employee management. This concept emphasizes leading by example and focusing on both corporate and individual benefit. For instance, Jacob Morgan, author of The Future Of Work, explained in a Forbes article how AMP Bank in Sydney, Australia makes it a point to sit down with each employee to explain how new technologies and strategies can benefit both parties.

It’s important to realize the vital role management plays in the development of a company. Gallup estimates that managers account for 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units. Great leadership is a crucial factor in retaining employees; it goes back to the famous saying that “people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.”

  1. Learn What Millennials Want

By 2020, it’s estimated that nearly half of the workforce in the United States will be comprised of millennials. Therefore, it is crucial to determine what these younger employees want out of a company. Ask yourself the following questions:

Millennials are looking for more than just a job with a steady paycheck, they want careers in which they are engaged with their company’s goals, and can develop their professional skills. A 2014 survey conducted by the Harvard Business Review and The Energy Project found that employees are most engaged when these four core needs are being met:

  • Value – Being cared for by their supervisor
  • Purpose – Finding significance in their work
  • Focus – Prioritizing
  • Renewal – Ability to take needed breaks

Regardless of the age of the employee, there is nothing worse than being stuck at a job that isn’t motivating. Fostering employee engagement can be difficult. However, emphasizing honesty and transparency for both company and employee alike can be integral in obtaining uninhibited employee feedback to gauge the direction of your workforce and what motivates them.

  1. Promote a Culture of Innovation

Everyone wants to be involved in a cutting-edge organization. Companies that want to remain ahead of their competitors must do their best to promote this mindset both internally and externally. For starters, when you’re advertising a job opening, take a step back and examine what your company is doing differently than similar organizations. Once you have a firm answer, drive this idea home and showcase what your business is collectively bringing to the big picture compared to your competitors.

Based on your business, this can be a daunting task. But, regardless of what product or service you provide, there is always room for innovation. Take Michelin for example. Tires might not seem like an innovative product but the science behind how rubber interacts with the road is complex. To promote a company-wide innovative mindset, Michelin sponsors cross-functional hackathons and internal incubators where employees are free to take risks and come up with new ideas for the good of the company.

Making sure that innovation is a strong aspect of your culture can play an enormous role in keeping employees engaged and motivated.

  1. Recognize and Reward Employees

While this one might seem obvious, it is still accurate: everyone likes to know their hard work is being noticed. Great employees are hard to find, and even harder to keep. So when you notice colleagues going above and beyond the call of duty, it’s important to provide plenty of recognition and rewards to encourage repetition. Recognition is essential to employee engagement and The Corporate Leadership Council shared in a recent report that highly engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave the organization.

Events like company-sponsored happy hours or weekend getaways celebrating a strong quarter can go a long way in demonstrating to employees how much their work means to an organization. Going beyond these types of “job well done” gestures, making sure top performing employees are appropriately compensated is the most important factor in employee retention.

To address this, you can try setting up recognition and rewards programs that encourages daily praises and constant appreciation. Or consider implementing programs within the workplace that are transparent when it comes to pay raising goals, such as merit-based pay structures. Just be sure to set goals at a level in which employees will need to put their best foot forward, while remaining reasonably attainable.

Talented workers tend to know their worth. If you are not paying them appropriately, they will have no problem finding an organization that will.

Over to You

Retaining high performing employees in the current business climate is very challenging, and with the many detrimental costs of employee turnover, your company’s bottom line could be adversely affected. If your turnover rate is higher than you would like, it might be time to take a close look at day-to-day operations and find the root cause as to why people are so willing to leave your organization. Sometimes, it is a simple fix. Other times, a complete organizational reinvention is needed to ensure the external perception of your organization matches the internal. At the end of the day, a company that focuses on engaging their employees, whether through strong leadership, culture, recognition, or rewards is on the right track to reducing turnover.

To learn more about employee turnover, check out the blog post How to Spot Who’s Going to Quit Next.

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About the Author
Lori Wagoner is a market research consultant. She advises small businesses on new ways to find local and national business. She’s an avid blogger and writes for sites such as Small Business Can, Tweak Your Biz and Customer Think. You can catch her on Twitter @loridwagoner.

 

Recognition: The MVP of Employee Engagement

No longer a specialist relief pitcher called in to face a tough hitter, or a rarely used bench player padding stats in garbage time, employee recognition has become a widely recognized superstar when it comes to driving employee engagement. And with only 41% of employees recognized at their desired frequency, and 60% feeling their managers don’t recognize them in the moment, a huge opportunity exists for your business to leverage recognition to engage your employees.

While there are a variety of ways to help create an engaged workforce, many experts, including AON Hewitt and the Harvard Business Review, believe that recognition is the most important pillar of any employee engagement program. As Meghan M. Biro states in her new eBook Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience, “Be it bonuses, awards, rewards, a virtual gold star, or a simple shout out on social media, fostering a culture of recognition drives higher levels of engagement, which translates into improved performance and better results.”

With the shifting dynamics and demographics in the contemporary workplace (millennials now outnumber baby boomers and the economy is reaching “full employment”) there is a greater emphasis on the individual. Accordingly, employee recognition should follow suit and be relevant to the person receiving it.

Gone are the days of the monolithic approach to recognition, in which employees were only recognized once a year during a performance review, with little news of their accomplishments reaching the greater organization or even worse, once every five or ten years with a “Years of Service” award. Replacing this approach with one focused on recognizing and rewarding people frequently with meaning and specificity has become critical in creating a true culture of employee recognition. And it follows that the more frequent the recognition the higher the employee engagement.

The Impact of Recognition: Is It Real?

Recognition as a philosophy is one thing, but does it have quantifiable value when put into practice? Horizon Blue Shield Blue Cross of New Jersey thinks so. In 2013, they implemented their Step It Up employee recognition program (hosted on Achievers recognition and engagement platform) across their four business locations in the hopes of increasing employee engagement. By year’s end, 90% of employees had joined the platform, with executives leading the way by being amongst the most active users. All of this activity contributed to:

  • 6 percent increase in its overall engagement scores
  • 14 percent improvement in engagement survey results related to recognition
  • 97 percent activation rate for its Step It Up Employee Recognition Program

The Step It Up program is still in frequent use today, with executives continuing to lead the recognition charge.

What You’ll Learn

Instituting a company-wide recognition program that encourages frequent peer-to-peer recognition regardless of title or department can be a game changer. In her new eBook, Meghan M. Biro provides the reasons why employee recognition is the most valuable tool for creating a culture of engagement and explains how tying recognition to core company values can ensure repetition through reinforcement – and have a positive impact on key business metrics including productivity, innovation, retention, and customer satisfaction.

If any of these business objectives mentioned are important to you, then it is time to consider implementing a strategic recognition program. But what should you look for when deciding on the best platform for it? To find out the answer to that question and more, download Meghan M. Biro’s latest eBook Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Engagement.

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About the Author

Iain FerreiraIain Ferreira is the Content Marketing Manager at Achievers. He lives in San Francisco. You can view his Linkedin profile here.

 

 

 

 

Benefit of Using Structured Interviews

Why Recruiters Should Consider Structured Interviews

Your interviews are probably more unstructured than they should be.

Too many recruiters and hiring managers ask interview questions that reflect their biases, increasing the likelihood that they don’t fairly compare candidates.  Even worse, many recruiters just “wing it” when conducting interviews because they claim that’s the best way to, “get a real feel for the candidate.” However, when discussing why Google turned to structured interviews, Google’s VP of People Operations Laszlo Bock made clear his thoughts on “winging it,” stating, “Typical, unstructured job interviews were pretty bad at predicting how someone would perform once hired.”

You may not be so unstructured as to totally wing it in an interview, but think of all the small talk you probably make over the course of interviewing someone. An unstructured interview might lead you into a 10-minute conversation about a shared interest with the candidate, like fishing or the movie you both saw recently, instead of working toward determining the viability of the candidate in fulfilling the duties of the vacant position.

According to internationally known talent management thought leader Dr. John Sullivan, “The selection and hiring of people is fraught with bias and subjectivity… Recruiters need to do everything they can to make objective and unbiased decisions – even though perfect objectivity is never going to be possible.”

Biases prevent employers from hiring people who actually fit the job. Allowing your biases to influence your hiring decision can result in hiring a bunch of people you just, well, like. Structured interviews help keep you from basing your hiring decision on how you “feel” about a candidate, or just because you have something in common with a candidate. It doesn’t matter that you both like fishing or both cried when you saw the movie “Lion.” A structured interview lets you rely on empirical data that you collect from each interview and helps reduce unhelpful biases.

Dr. Sullivan points out that “structured interviews reduce bias by focusing on relevant, job-specific factors and past performance rather than on personal characteristics. Questions focusing on what you expect for accomplishments and on evidence of past performance will reduce bias.” One common example is what psychologists call confirmation bias: we judge the candidate in the first five minutes (or maybe 30 seconds), and spend the rest of the interview selectively hearing only what confirms our preconceived judgement.

A structured interview format is one in which all candidates (no cheating–this means ALL) receive the same questions in the same order, and are evaluated using the same metrics.

Think of it as a science, not an art. You need clear criteria with which you’ll assess each candidate’s responses. Start by identifying or reviewing the competencies of the particular job. What is actually required to succeed in this role? Base your metrics entirely on this question. Be wary of traditional metrics like GPA and school attended.

Dr. Sullivan encourages recruiters to “make sure that your questions are not aimed at bringing out a bias of some sort.  Keep them job-specific and relevant to the work you want the candidate to do.”

Use a rubric that helps interviewers assess each response that candidates give. In addition to avoiding the unstructured whims and common biases, the rubric helps avoid the impact of your team’s varying moods. Even if you’re having a bad day, you can rely on the structured interview to function the same way every time. See? A science.

An additional benefit of using structured interviews is that they are also significantly more defensible in legal situations, largely because they provide more detailed, objective hiring criteria.

A structured interview doesn’t have to be dry or disengaging.

Your hiring team may resist a structured interview, claiming they are boring or overly rigid. These tips can help to get the team on board.

  1. Most importantly, the candidate should have a positive experience during a structured interview. In fact, you will decrease the likelihood that candidates walk away feeling judged unfairly. In the opposite scenario, candidates who don’t seem to relate to their interviewers on a personal level (because they don’t like fishing, for example) will feel disengaged and less impressed with your organization.
  2. If you want the hiring team’s buy-in, you need to involve them from the beginning. Prepare them for the change by explaining the reasoning and science behind structured interviews. Invite them to help create the interview questions. Provide them with the job criteria and prompt them with, “What would be a good question that would allow a candidate to demonstrate that they can perform this function?”
  3. Remind them that the point of the exercise is not in asking cool questions, but in hearing how the candidate answers. It might seem fun to ask someone what they did over the weekend or which famous actor they most resemble, but remind your team that this is not the best way to find a candidate with the right skills for the job.
  4. The hard part is making sure the hiring team sticks to the questions. You might have a rogue interviewer who resists the questions and continues to go off on tangents with the candidate. Show this person the hiring rubric you’ve created with the team, and demonstrate how those unstructured questions cannot be evaluated within the rubric, and thus bring subjectivity into the process.
  5. Here are a couple good interview questions from Google’s Laszlo Bock:
    • Tell me about a time your behavior had a positive impact on your team. (Follow-ups: What was your primary goal and why? How did your teammates respond? Moving forward, what’s your plan?)
    • Tell me about a time you had difficulty working with someone (can be a coworker, classmate, client). What made this person difficult to work with for you?

While there is no one way of ensuring your interview process is completely free of bias, determining a universal set of criteria, based on job functions, can help minimize the impact of preconceived notions.

To learn more about how to hire top talent, check out Achievers’ blog post on harnessing culture as a recruitment tool.

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About the Author
Anna Peters
Anna is the Content Manager for College Recruiter, which believes that every student and recent graduate deserves a great career. College Recruiter features thousands of articles, blogs, videos, and other content as well as 300,000 internship and entry-level postings for open jobs. Anna and her team of writers produce content for talent acquisition professionals, as well as entry-level job seekers. Her prior experience at nonprofits has made her an expert in directing volunteer recruitment and a champion for diversity and inclusion efforts. Connect with Anna on LinkedIn.

 

 

great communicator

Voice, Value, Feedback – The “Must Try” Communication Tool Driving Employee Engagement

Does anyone truly look forward to their annual performance review?  Leaders don’t enjoy preparing them and employees dread attending them.  According to HR analyst and industry thought leader Josh Bersin, “More than 70% of all organizations dislike the process they have, and I have yet to talk with an employee or manager who likes it at all (one client calls it a ‘soul-crushing’ exercise).” That’s why many leading organizations such as Accenture, Adobe, Gap, GE, Goldman Sachs and Microsoft all recently announced that they are remodeling this “soul-crushing exercise” and moving to something altogether new.

The most important adjustments to the classic performance review cycle are an increasing emphasis on constant feedback and a concerted effort to frame constructive feedback in more human terms.  According to a SHRM article by Dana Wilkie, “Among the changes: eliminating all numeric scales; doing away with “forced” or “stacked” rankings that create competition among employees; and replacing the once-a-year appraisal with ongoing feedback on a worker’s performance throughout the year.” This philosophical shift in the way criticism is dispensed wasn’t conjured up out of thin air. There is a practical reason behind the need for immediate feedback (and praise). As stated in an article in the March 2017 issue of Fortune magazine, “One big reason for the shift: Today’s companies now change strategy so often that annual performance reviews can be moot by the time they’ve completed them.”

Although many companies are moving away from the annual performance review, there will always be a need for direct reports to measure how they are succeeding and growing in their current roles. To ensure success, employers must set clear performance expectations while providing feedback and encouragement. In fact, research shows that team members desire to feel valued, heard and even “loved.”

According to a Gallup article by Jim Harter and Amy Adkins “Managers account for up to 70% of variance in engagement and consistent communication is connected to higher engagement.” But given that no two people communicate alike, it should not be surprising that less than 1/3 of Americans are fully engaged in their work.

George Shaw

The real challenge is that most managers think they are great communicators, when in fact, most are not. This has helped create a notable communication gap between leaders and direct reports, leading to confusion and disengagement.

Dr. JP Pawliw- Fry of the Institute for Health and Human Potential explains this gap as, “A distinct pattern we see over and over again in the leadership development training programs we run: when leaders face a difficult conversation, a feedback conversation or a performance review, most cover 85, 90 or 92% of the content of what they want to say in the conversation, but a funny thing happens when they get to the more difficult part, what we call the Last 8%. When they hit this part of the conversation – where there are consequences to what they are saying – they start to notice that the other person is becoming more anxious and (because emotions are infectious) they themselves become more anxious.”

This research goes on to explain that when the employee being coached starts to feel nervous and becomes defensive, their leader reflects those feelings, and starts to doubt their own intuition regarding the employee participating in the performance review. This is typically the moment the leader hesitates when offering uninhibited feedback. While seemingly innocuous, the real problem is that the leader might believe they have offered genuine feedback when really, they probably failed to address the issues most critical to both the employee and company alike. The failure to explain the Last 8% leaves the other person unclear on expectations. It’s not surprising then that the employee makes the same mistake several months later, with the leader becoming more disappointed and frustrated.

If managers and leaders are fearful when addressing critical business issues with their direct reports, how can we facilitate a complete constructive feedback conversation, including the Last 8%? From a brain science perspective and utilizing emotional intelligence – EI– we can learn to communicate in a way that doesn’t stimulate the “fight or flight” response typical of defensive behavior.

The first step in effective communication is listening to the other person and validating his or her feelings, because they are valid, even if they are not obvious. This level of empathy is an absolute necessity if the other person is going to be open to receiving your constructive feedback. If you start giving feedback before they are ready, their response will likely be defensive, making them unwilling to receive it. When a person’s fight or flight mechanism is activated, research shows that there are real physiological effects. Perhaps they might not hear you because their heart rate is increasing and oxygen is flowing to larger muscles, away from the thinking brain.

When a person is confronted with criticism in a performance review, it can cause an automatic negative response. “This neural response is the same type of “brain hijack” that occurs when there is an imminent physical threat like a confrontation with a wild animal. It primes people for rapid reaction and aggressive movement. But it is ill-suited for the kind of thoughtful, reflective conversation that allows people to learn from a performance review. According to an article in Strategy + Business magazine titled “Kill Your Performance Rating” by David Rock, Josh Davis, and Beth Jones

Thankfully, there is an excellent constructive communication tool that can help us all avoid the automatic “fight or flight” response. It is called the Voice, Value, Feedback (VVF) Tool, and it provides a framework for a complete, courageous, feedback conversation that even includes the Last 8%.

  1. Give the other person a Voice – share why you are having this discussion. Clarify your intention for the meeting. Seek contribution not blame – “I realize I may have not communicated clearly…” then let them share their feelings for a  few minutes.
  2. Value the person you are having this discussion with and empathize with the difficulties your employees deal with on a daily basis. Phrases such as ”I understand it’s been tough. I don’t blame you for feeling that way”, can go a long way in showing your employee that you care what they have to say, and value their perspective when addressing issues.
  3. Offer your Feedback – “I appreciate you and here is what we need from you moving forward.“ Be specific about the behaviours you would like your direct report to exhibit and focus on the actual impact they have made on your organziation, not on intentions. If necessary, share instances of past and current behaviors that are not acceptable and hope they will address moving forward. State clearly what you want from them, so there is no question as to how they can improve in the future. Use  phrases such as “We need you to…” “We expect you to..” “This organization relies on you to. . .”
  4. End the conversation by reminding this person how you feel about their contributions to your team. Recognizing an employee for their loyalty, the value they have created, and their impact on the organization can reinforce their belief that they have the skills necessary to improve on perceived shortcomings mentioned during the review.

Currently, I am coaching several leaders who have incorporated the Voice, Value, Feedback communication tool into their culture, and the benefits are real. It is critical that leaders are fearlessly proactive in the difficult conversations that are required in order to keep their direct reports engaged and at their most productive. Most importantly, as leaders, we need to ask ourselves, “Are we really having the Last 8% of that constructive feedback conversation?”

For more information on the benefits of effective feedback, and more insight on the debate over real-time feedback versus annual reviews, check out: “Real-time feedback vs. annual reviews: A showdown”.

And if you’d like to learn more about measuring employee engagement, the How’s and the Why’s, download the eBook, Employee Engagement: Four Places to Start Measuring What Matters.

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

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

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

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

 

Wellness and Company Culture

5 Ways Wellness Programs Can Enhance Employee Engagement

Look up from your computer and take stock of the colleagues working around you, they might not be at their desks much longer  A recent Gallup study reports that approximately 51% of them [U.S. workers] are either actively looking for a new job or keeping an eye out for openings.

Some say it’s a people or a hiring problem, others chalk it up to the natural employee lifecycle. However, this career transience can be more properly understood as a consequence of poor company culture.

While companies spend billions of dollars and thousands of hours working on enhancing their consumer-facing brand, they spend a fraction of that on their employer brand.

Companies often neglect their “employee value proposition,” meaning they don’t spend enough time thinking about how to differentiate themselves from other companies in a job market that has seen increased competition for talented employees.

For a company to differentiate itself in this increasingly competitive market, it needs a laser-like focus on its employees. More than the just good of the company, your employees are interested in achieving work-life balance and seeing to their own personal well-being. They want to work for a company that values those things as well.

Work and life aren’t easily distinguishable from one another these days because every employee, from CEO to the newly hired intern, carries things with them from their personal lives into the workplace. The personal and the professional exist in symbiosis, neglecting one is doing a disservice to the other.

Invest in your team holistically. It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to make your team feel cared for in the place they spend nearly one third of their lives. Making this effort can increase employee retention, engagement, and attract new talent.

An investment in the well-being of your employees as individuals is an investment in the company itself. One of the best ways to show that your company is committed to its people just as much as it is to its customers and profits is by building a well-functioning wellness program.

Establishing an employee wellness program impacts more than just the individual, it creates a more productive, motivated, and engaged workforce. Don’t believe me? Here are five examples of how wellness can turn your company culture around, creating real business impact:

1. Goals

light bulb

Wellness programs are an effective tool to align company goals with the health and well-being of your employees. They clear a path for employees to incorporate their personal well-being into their work, as opposed to handling work and wellness as separate entities.

One of the main reasons that people don’t participate in wellness programs is because they don’t believe they have enough time (as many as 51% of employees according to an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Study). However, it only takes a little creativity to align wellness goals with productivity goals, and this small effort will ultimately impact the business in a big way.

Starting with an easily accomplished task, such as setting reminders to break up screen time by taking a short walk, can establish momentum that will help build efficiencies into the work day and ultimately help to reduce burnout.

2. Morale employees working

It’s not a leap to suggest that the way an employee feels about their job directly impacts how they perform on the job. Morale and engagement are intertwined.

Around 70% of U.S. workers report not being engaged at work. In thinking about the colleagues I referenced in the opening paragraph, seven out of ten of them aren’t being utilized to their full potential. That’s disturbing.

Wellness initiatives can strengthen the commitment of the individual to the company. It’s a reciprocal relationship; employees who feel cared for are likely to match that feeling in commitment to the company – not to mention engaged employees perform 20% better than their counterparts.

If your office morale is low, don’t be afraid to get creative and try some out-of-the-box morale boosters.

3. Stress

employees

The presence of high amounts of stress in the workplace can make or break the relationship between employee and company. While a manageable amount of stress is healthy and motivates people to succeed, it can easily become overwhelming.

Stress presents itself in two forms, eustress and distress. The former pushes people to reach their goals and the other stifles production and growth. The root cause of stress for 80% of employees is work.

A wellness program that takes this into account and provides resources or activities to deal with high and sustained-stress situations can help identify and address negative stress before it becomes a problem. If stress does become a problem, it can lead to increased absenteeism and decreased productivity.

4. Relationships

employees

Fostering friendships in the office is beneficial both on a human level and as a good business decision. The Gallup study referenced above shows that about 20% of U.S. workers report having a best friend at work, which in itself isn’t that interesting. However, if employers could get that number up to 60%, the study posits that the resulting bonds would influence higher customer satisfaction and a 12% increase in profits!

The difference comes from a sense of being part of a team, rather than feeling isolated. Your employees will carry a greater sense of responsibility and purpose because they won’t perceive their work as only impacting them as an individual, but how it impacts the team, and company as well.

Offering activities that bring your team together outside of work can help foster closer relationships. Something as simple as sponsoring a company kickball or softball team can lead to seven times more engaged employees, and a more robust bottom line for the company.

5. Culture

laptop

A commitment to wellness is a commitment to building a strong workplace culture, and it follows that caring for your team means caring for your business. A strong workplace culture impacts more than just your employees, culture seeps out into the interactions employees have with customers, partners, and the community. Engaged employees are also your best resource in attracting talent, they’re the ones most likely to be extolling the virtues of your company culture on sites such as Glassdoor and LinkedIn.

Your company’s biggest asset is the people that have bought into the company’s mission. Ignoring the needs of the people that keep the ship afloat is dangerous and might leave you swimming with your head just above water.

Has your company invested as much in its people as it can or should? If not, what do you think you can do to change that? Leave a comment and start the discussion!

For more information as to how wellness can impact employee engagement, click here.

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About the Author
Barron Rosborough
Barron Rosborough is a seasoned digital marketer and writer from Los Angeles, CA. He writes on topics ranging from wellness to leadership (and everything in between). He is currently the Digital Marketing Coordinator at SnackNation, a curated healthy snack subscription service for offices and homes.