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

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

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

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

Let’s Take a Moment to Recognize Sandra

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

  1. What interested you in a career in HR?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#1: Conduct extensive research and advanced planning  

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

#2: Create a compelling business case

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

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

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

Looking Ahead

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

About GM’s Recognition Program

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

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

 

 

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employees at desk - culture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Employee experience

Are You Personalizing the Employee Experience?

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

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

Lack of Employee Engagement

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

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

How to Personalize the Employee Experience

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

Listening Opportunities

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

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

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

Career Advancement

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

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

Employee Recognition

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

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

Real-Time Feedback

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

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

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

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

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

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employee conversation

How to Shift the Employee Engagement Conversation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Engage Overwhelmed Employees

3 Factors Proven to Engage Overwhelmed and Overworked Employees

When a critical piece of business technology suddenly stops operating properly, your first reaction is to find the problem and get it up and running at full-capacity, as soon as possible.

Yet, when it comes to your most valuable business asset, your employees, many company leaders aren’t as quick to react. Unfortunately, according to a new SHRM report, 38 percent of employees feel overwhelmed by how much they have to get done at work. What’s more, a January 2017 report by Kronos and Future Workplace found that 46 percent of human resources professionals blame burnout for up to half of their staff quitting each year.

The issue of an overwhelmed and burnt-out workforce is nothing new — and that’s the problem.  So, we went directly to the source to find out where the disconnect is.

Here’s what employees told us they need from their employers, along with some insights on how you can address those needs to improve employee engagement:

Recognition

When work becomes overwhelming, those who feel unappreciated will disengage even faster, increasing their chances of looking for new work. In fact, 55 percent of North American employees noted a lack of recognition as one of the main reasons they are considering changing jobs, according to our latest report.

Of course, more and better recognition won’t decrease your team’s workload, but it will make them feel appreciated for their contributions and perhaps more motivated to do their best. These shifts can enhance productivity, lightening the burden of an overwhelming workload.

Start engaging

KABOOOM!

This hard-hitting word isn’t just for sound effect. For CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System’s employees, KABOOM, their employee recognition platform, is now a way of life. The CHRISTUS team is dedicated to compassionate care, especially for those who are poor and underserved. With such an intensive mission, it’s easy for employees to feel overwhelmed.

Seeing the need for more employee support, company leaders implemented an online, points-based social recognition solution. Leaders and employees now both celebrate in-the-moment acts of accomplishment and dedication by sharing peers’ specific actions and rewarding them with points. These recognition points accumulate and employees can then use them toward a reward they desire.

The KABOOOM program was a hit for CHRISTUS St. Michael. In fact, the company saw more than a 10 percent increase in employee engagement thanks to this recognition tool.

Strong Employee-to-Work Connection

Passionless employees are disengaged employees.

It’s up to leadership to understand what drives a strong connection between employees, their individual roles, and the company’s mission and goals. Clarifying and solidifying this connection unquestionably increases retention. In fact, according to our previously mentioned report, 74 percent of employees note that making work more interesting and inspiring increases the likelihood that they will stay with an organization.

Start engaging

Go against company norms to change the way employees interact with one another and approach their daily tasks. To form a true connection, many employees need to step out of constraining routines.

Rather than hosting traditional weekly or monthly meetings, encourage employees to keep discussions ongoing via online forums. This approach to communication not only saves time, but also allows employees to stay connected with peers and their work without being interrupted by lengthy, in-person meetings.

Some employees may need a stronger disruption from the daily grind. Consider offering regular employee education hours to help employees step out of their comfort zone and reconnect with their roles, peers, and the company as a whole. During these hours, employees can job shadow a co-worker, take a course, or draw inspiration from a favorite podcast.

Each of these tactics offers a unique way for employees to find a new, interesting take on work.

Flexibility

Your team is full of unique, diverse individuals — and that’s what makes a company successful.

Unfortunately, many employees have limited flexibility when it comes to when and where they work. This constraint can result in a lack of creativity and efficiency – and even a decrease in retention. In fact, according to our report, employees are motivated to stay on board when they have more time off (57 percent) and have the ability to work remotely (55 percent).

Start engaging

Create a unique employee experience to enhance productivity and keep employees from feeling overwhelmed. Start by surveying your team to find out why they’re overwhelmed, when they feel most productive, and where they’d like to work, or what atmosphere increases their innovation.

Based on results, start changing up the employee experience. If employees say they need a more home-like atmosphere, brainstorm as a team to identify ways to make that shift. Additionally, consider offering one or two days a week during which your team can work from wherever they want.

These are great tactics to start with but it’s critical that you don’t stop here.

Continuously survey employees about their connection to work, productivity, motivation, and emotions. Look for trends in employee engagement and compare engagement scores to the days employees are able to work when and how they want. Keep altering and communicating with your team until you find something that works for everyone.

How do you engage your team when they’re feeling overwhelmed? Let us know!

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.

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

About the Author

Natalie Baumgartner Dr. Natalie Baumgartner is the Chief Workforce Scientist 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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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.

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

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

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.

 

 

 

 

Employee Engagement Predictions

5 Employee Engagement Predictions for 2018

Employee engagement is critical to retention. Don’t believe us? The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median period people stay in their jobs is just over four years. And for those age 25 to 34 it’s even less (2.8 years). Broaden this to all millennials, and you’ve got a group that’s even more on the move – a scary prospect given they make up roughly a third of today’s U.S. workforce. So what’s a company to do? Read on for 5 employee engagement predictions – and they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

1. Employee Engagement Deniers, Seek Help Now

The biggest prediction for employee engagement in 2018? Adoption is not an option; it’s a necessity. If you don’t have already have an employee engagement strategy, get one. Even Fortune 500s compete with the gig economy, which trades the traditional work perks of a guaranteed salary and benefits for freedom, flexibility and creativity. Make sure your engagement strategy reflects those desires.

Not only must you have a strategy, you have to be ready to deploy it in as many ways as possible and as early as possible. Passing the drug test shouldn’t be the top onboard “win” for your new hire. Look into attractive benefits plans, flexible work hours or locations, gamification software, or learning opportunities that you can present during the interview process. And remember: today’s employee knows far more about you than you know about them when they walk in the door.

2. Your Employee is Your Customer

Forbes writer Denise Lee Yohn has dubbed 2018 The Year of Employee Experience (EX). This concept transcends traditional employee engagement (better HR, perks and swag, employee as customer, integrated communications) and encompasses “everything the employee experiences throughout his or her connection to the organization.” Consider who your employee is outside your building. Yohn cites compelling research that EX grows corporate stature and profits. We’re not saying to ignore the basics, but nobody buys the house for the foundation. And don’t be surprised if you start seeing “CEXO” – Chief Employee Experience Officer – creep into the C-suite.

3. Make Work Less Work

Before we get to the sexy stuff (integrated platforms!), let’s talk about some employee engagement basics: how people get their daily work done. In a 2016 Oracle Global Engagement study, only 44% of employees felt their companies used the latest technology to support their work. Are you making things easier or harder for your employees? And are you looking beyond the ubiquitous Microsoft Office suite (please)?

Today’s tools (e.g., Slack, Basecamp, Quickbase) feel more collaborative because they are. It’s not about a single person getting their work done, anymore. It’s about teams getting better work done together. But don’t forget to plan for change management. The best tech tools are worthless if they’re not adopted. It’s critical for you to answer “What’s in it for me?” for each employee. Desire is a powerful CPU.

4. Integrate, Analyze, Improve, Repeat

Whether you’re just now designing your employee engagement platform or fine-tuning it, you’ve got to think holistically and create an experience that supports your employees’ entire career path – unless you want it to be with another company.

From platforms that manage basic employee reward and retention programs to more sophisticated offerings that integrate social media, gamification, and even budget targets, technology-based employee engagement is on the rise. For example, Achievers offers a robust employee recognition and engagement platform with a full suite of tools to keep HR continuously informed and employees engaged. The more components included in your solution, the richer the data. It’s like having your own personal dashboard of what motivates your workforce.

Stephen Hunt with SAP Human Capital Management Research writes: “We will see exponential growth in the use of artificial intelligence, chatbots, intelligent services, machine learning, mobile solutions, and social platforms to make work more enjoyable, simple, and engaging.” Critical to these platforms is user-friendliness, mobility, and real-time feedback (think Pulse surveys, not the antiquated annual breed). And speaking of employee engagement, you might want to involve your employees and company brand in your platform’s design if you want it to succeed.

5. Wellness Tech Will Rival Work Tech

Collaboration tools: check. Integrated platforms: check. Health tech? Absolutely.

Even in wellness, tech is playing a bigger role in employee engagement. FastCompany reports that BP, Bank of America, IBM, Target, and other big names are putting wearables in their employees’ hands (and on their wrists). In 2016, FitBit launched Group Health, putting its product at the forefront of corporate wellness programs that are increasingly integrating downloadable fitness data into their health incentive tracking dashboards. In 2018, more and more companies will be helping employees get their 10,000 steps – understanding that an active body outside the cube promotes a more active mind inside it.

These are just a few of the ways great companies are thinking about employee engagement in 2018. Remember: you don’t have to be Google and your office park doesn’t have to be a self-sufficient compound to offer an awesome employee engagement experience.

To learn more about where employee engagement is heading, check out this infographic highlighting results from Achievers’ “New Year, New Job?” 2018 survey.

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

About the Author
Laura Beerman
Laura Beerman is a writer for TechnologyAdvice. Her insights have appeared in RevCycleIntelligence, Becker’s, InformationWeek and other outlets. She has spoken nationally on population health, long-term care, and been interviewed by The Wall Street Journal for her accountable care predictions. She resides in Nashville with her Canadian husband and American kittens. You can find her on LinkedIn.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Take Advantage of HR Tech

5 Creative Ways to Engage Employees with HR Tech

It’s no secret that an engaged employee is a productive employee, but fostering and maintaining that initial focus and enthusiasm is no easy task. Employee engagement relies on sparking an emotional investment in the company and creating an atmosphere in which everyone is motivated to work toward common goals. Considering only 29 percent of workers say they’re actively engaged at work, this is an issue most businesses contend with on a daily basis. Digital technology has rewritten the rules for both business and personal interactions. It’s surprising that 89% of the workforce feels they aren’t provided with the latest technology when it’s become such a necessity in the modern workplace. For savvy HR teams, there are myriad ways to bring positive change to the workplace and encourage employees to communicate, share and participate leveraging HR tech. Let’s take a look at a few ways technology is changing HR for the better.

  1. Play Around with Gamification

About 40 percent of Global 1000 organizations use some form of gamification to keep their employees engaged and invested, but what is it and how does it work? Gamification is simply a way to apply elements typically found in games – achievement-tracking, peer competition, immediate feedback and so on – onto a variety of real-world situations. HR tech platforms use these factors to tap into employees’ psychological motivators, encouraging good-natured competition and social sharing that drives determination and fun.

  1. Personalize the Employee Experience

Every employee wants to know that their unique needs and abilities are frequently recognized, and one way to accomplish this is through delivering a personalized working experience. This means making the extra effort to understand each employee’s specific wants, needs and preferences and catering to them, from the initial hiring process all the way through day-to-day activities and tasks.

Software platforms simplify this task, making it easier to customize everything from onboarding to benefits enrollment to ensure that each employee has the support and experiences they want. If your company offers a wide range of benefits, you can also leverage computer algorithms to help your employees identify the benefits that are most useful to them. This kind of individualized attention drives home the point that each employee is valued and respected, making them more likely to invest personally in their work.

  1. Manage Employee Feedback

When it comes to employee engagement, few things are more important than providing ways for workers to give feedback on the issues that matter to them. Employees need to know that their voices are being heard, and pulse surveys are one way to ensure that happens. Pulse surveys can be used to gather data on virtually anything, from gauging feelings about a recent significant change within the company to tracking the effects of action initiatives. This allows employees to offer real-time feedback and also provides managers with the valuable information they need to guide their decisions and inform strategy. However, it’s important that you have a genuine commitment to acting on the results of these surveys, as engagement may actually suffer if employees feel their input has fallen on deaf ears.

  1. Reward and Recognize Employees

Everyone wants to be recognized for their good work and achievements, but many employees feel their efforts go largely unnoticed. One way to remedy that is through HR tech tools and cloud-based platforms such as Achievers that encourage peer-to-peer recognition. Whether it comes in the form of leaderboards, awards or social and monetary recognitions, these tools keep employees engaged by recognizing achievements and creating a fun, friendly competition in the workplace. In fact, 75% of employees who were recognized by their manager once a month reported being satisfied with their job.

  1. Stay Connected

At 43 percent of all employed Americans, a greater number of employees than ever before are spending at least part of their time working remotely. While remote working on its own has been connected to higher employee engagement and greater employee satisfaction, it’s still important to make the employee experience as smooth as possible. Meeting with workers at their home office will require some different approaches and balance acts – consider exploring communication and web conferencing tools to keep in touch without a keyboard. If your remote workers need to use a variety of different systems during the course of their work, APIs can be used to tie disparate platforms together into a convenient and efficient whole.

No company can thrive without happy, motivated workers. In fact, companies with engaged employees typically outperform those without by up to a staggering 202 percent. By leveraging the technologies laid out above, you can streamline your HR responsibilities and help foster a friendly, productive environment that encourages your employees to reach their full potential.

To learn more about the importance of employee engagement, check out this fun infographic 6 Stats That Speak to Employee Retention

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About the Author
Beth Kotz is a freelance contributor for numerous home, technology, and personal finance blogs. She graduated with BA in Communications and Media from DePaul University in Chicago, IL where she continues to live and write. You can find her latest work at HomeOwnerGuides.com.

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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.

 

Shocking HR Stats

13 Scary Employee Engagement and Recognition Stats That Will Spook You This Halloween

Are you haunted by worries that your best people might quit right before a key deadline? Does lack of team alignment keep you awake at night? Don’t let the tentacles of leadership doubt creep into your brain during hours when you should be rejuvenating. Read through these thirteen hair-raising employee engagement and recognition statistics below and banish any lurking shadows from your company culture.

1. Workers Are Still Rewarded Just for Existing

In a scary throwback to the mid-twentieth century, 87 percent of employee recognition programs center on how long the person has been at the company. While it’s true that minimizing turnover is helpful, nobody comes to work every day because of recognition they’ll be awarded in some future year.

2. Frequent Recognition Gets Overlooked

We know, your life as a manager gets hectic, and you may assume employees can read your mind when you don’t express the appreciation you feel. Pro Tip: They can’t. A Gallup survey finds that only 1 in 3 workers strongly agree that they have been praised or recognized within the past week for doing good work.

3. Most Workers Are Not Engaged

According to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workforce report, 51 percent of employees state that they are not engaged in their jobs, which means they’re likely keeping an eye open for a new job. That’s a scary thought, isn’t it? And don’t even think about the distracted workers doing jobs that have a direct bearing on other people’s health and safety.

4. Leaders Are Falling Down on the Job

Gallup provides some truly alarming figures related to the failure of leadership in today’s companies: Only 15 percent of employees “strongly agree” that their management gives them confidence about the future of the company, and only 13 percent state that the company’s leaders communicate effectively throughout the organization.

5. Actively Disengaged Workers: A Problem Waiting to Happen

The number of “actively disengaged” workers, at 24 percent, is nearly double the 13 percent of workers who say they are actively engaged. This can be expensive to your business, as Gallup points out that each instance of employee turnover costs your company an average of 1.5 times the employees’ salary.

6. Recognize Them or Lose Them

Research published in Human Resources Today finds that “the number one reason why people leave jobs is limited recognition and praise.” This is a simple statistic, easy to remember, that will help you keep your talented workers on board for the longer term.

7. Criticism Impairs Thinking

You may think constructive criticism will elicit star performances, but neuroscientists disagree. In fact, criticism activates higher levels of the hormone cortisol, which researchers say “shuts down the thinking center of our brain.” Praise, on the other hand, stimulates the basal ganglia to release pleasure hormones dopamine and oxytocin, which improve performance and attention levels.

8. Lack of Recognition Interferes with Performance

Do employees who aren’t praised work harder, in hopes of eventually being appreciated? Harvard Business Review says “No.” Their research points out that 40 percent of American workers say they would put more effort into their jobs if their employer recognized them more often.

9. Don’t Be Part of This Statistic

The Harvard Business Review study cited above also found that the average employee in their survey reported that it had been 50 days since they last felt recognized for anything they did at work. What number would your average staff person mention, if a surveyor were to ask this question?

10. Millennials Can Slip Away

A recent Deloitte survey found that 2 out of every 3 millennials expect to leave their current job by 2020. One major reason for this restlessness is that this generation feels their skills are not recognized. Only 28 percent of respondents stated that their organization is currently making full use of their skills. To keep your younger workers engaged, you need to recognize their efforts by offering development opportunities.

11. Millennial Need for Flexibility Is Overlooked

Chances are good that the millennials working for you want more flexibility. Eighty-eight percent of younger workers want more schedule flexing authority, while 75 percent want the opportunity to work for home. Meanwhile, only 43 percent of these workers are allowed to work from other locations… so it’s a good bet that some of your staff are surfing the web looking for more adaptable jobs

12. It’s Up to You

Management accounts for 70 percent of the variance in engagement scores. That’s both good and bad news. It means you have a huge influence when it comes to upping your employee engagement scores, but it also means that no other techniques for increasing engagement will be successful if you ignore your role in the solution.

13. Don’t Be Overconfident

You’ve just read a dozen statistics indicating just how big the room for improvement is. Here’s one last warning to take with you: 89 percent of senior managers feel that their company is actually very good at recognizing their workers. This means they probably won’t change. Don’t be part of that overconfident group.

The figures above come from a range of sources, but they all deliver one single message: Rewarding and recognizing your employees is a no-brainer. You work hard on all kinds of complex tasks in order to bring success and sustainability to your company. Don’t overlook the most obvious — and simple — building block of workforce loyalty: prompt, varied employee appreciation.

For more insight on the importance of recognition in the workplace, check out Achievers’ eBook, Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience.

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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

 

 

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!

 

 

 

Employee Engagement

Why Your CEO Doesn’t Care About Employee Engagement (Yet)

It seems that we can’t turn around today without having a conversation that touches on employee engagement. Yet despite all the attention, it hasn’t really moved the needle. In the time that Gallup has been measuring engagement, it hasn’t changed–engagement levels are hovering right around 30 percent. At the same time, Google data shows that there’s been a steady climb in searches and interest in the topic for the last five years.

But to what end? Many companies are trying to improve this measure with little or no success.

I’m going to offer two answers to this question that not only illuminate the problem, but give you some options to consider as you try to combat the problematic issue of disengaged employees.

Engagement Should Not Be an HR Program

The first response many leaders have when they get that annual feedback survey from employees to say, “Oh, no! Engagement is down. Let’s create a program to push engagement up!”

Good luck with that.

The truth is that employees are probably tired of your “programs.” Programs begin and end. A great employment relationship does more to drive engagement than a one-size-fits-all program that’s going to last a few weeks and fade into memory. Plus, as long as the company is meeting the basic elements of an employee’s needs financially, other factors come into play for influencing the level of engagement, according to motivational theory.

A large chunk of money isn’t even going to work, even though many companies can’t afford to offer that to each of their staff. More money has been shown to reduce dissatisfaction, but it doesn’t drive happiness or increased satisfaction for the employee.

The challenge is to see engagement not as a one-off activity, but as a holistic view of the employee experience. Being able to tie each of those disparate activities together into a cohesive experience that employees are proud of is a key element to ultimately driving engagement numbers. That means everything from the first moment the person applies for a job all the way through to managing work schedules, getting performance reviews, and beyond.

Every opportunity for interaction with the organization is either a plus or a minus in the engagement column, and while we can’t expect to win every battle every time, the goal is to keep that number going in a positive direction over time (and reaping the rewards of that increased engagement, which we’ll talk about below).

Engagement Should Not Be the Ultimate Outcome

Some leaders check engagement scores as if they were the latest sports scores, hoping for good things but feeling no control over the outcome. In reality, engagement is not the outcome we are shooting for–we are looking for something deeper and more meaningful. It’s time to change the way we think about this HR metric, because it needs to become a leading business metric. Consider the following examples of how engagement can lead to increased value for virtually any company:

  • Innovation. Companies everywhere are trying to create more innovative atmospheres for employees. But what if the answer isn’t open office space but a higher engagement score? Innovation is a key outcome of engagement. Research by Gallup found that 61 percent of engaged employees feed off the creativity of their colleagues, compared to a mere 9 percent of disengaged employees. In addition, it found that 59 percent of engaged employees believe their job brings out their most creative ideas, compared to only 3 percent of disengaged employees.
  • Retention. The only thing better than engaging our employees is keeping them around to deliver excellent results over time. Towers Watson research points out that retention is tied in with many of the factors that play into employee engagement, such as career advancement opportunities, confidence in senior leadership, and a manageable amount of work-related stress. Manage those factors well, and employees will stick around and produce results.
  • Revenue. In a discussion of concrete impacts, we would be remiss if we didn’t touch on the one that matters most to many organizations: the bottom line. There are several pieces of research that demonstrate the link between engagement and financial results. According to Towers Perrin research, companies with engaged workers have 6 percent higher net profit margins, and Kenexa research points out that engaged companies have five times higher shareholder returns over five years.

Each of these points helps to paint a more nuanced picture of employee engagement, establishing it not as a standalone program or an end result, but as a holistic journey towards greater business results. And that, ultimately, is how we can get the CEO, the leadership team, and the rest of the company on board with the idea of promoting and supporting engagement as a long-term business strategy.

Want to learn more about this topic and dig deeper into the concept? I’ll be leading a session titled Stop Measuring Engagement For Its Own Sake at the Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2017 event in New Orleans and I’d love to have you join me for the discussion.

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About the Author
Ben Eubanks
Ben Eubanks, Principal Analyst, Lighthouse Research
Ben Eubanks is a human capital management industry analyst who helps companies and vendors with strategy, content, and more. Ben has over seven years of tactical and strategic experience spanning all areas of HR and he is a nationally-recognized author and speaker on trends and best practices in human capital management. Ben is the principal analyst at Lighthouse Research & Advisory where he oversees the development of research, assets, and insights to support HR, learning, and talent vendors across the globe. Ben also co-founded the HRevolution conference for HR and recruiting leaders and is one of four members that holds this annual event, attracting hundreds of attendees from around the globe since its inception.

 

 

Do What You Love

Finding Your Career Passion

Richard Branson said, “If you find what you are truly passionate about, then finding your career will not be too far away. It’s a lesson I have learned from my years creating businesses. I’ve never had what I would call a job, but I’ve worked every day for five decades.”

What Branson describes above encapsulates why doing what you love is so important. If you’re impassioned by your career, the odds of you being successful increase exponentially. So many people work solely for a paycheck with little to no thought about whether they truly enjoy their job. These people haven’t found their career passion; their purpose. And their work can suffer from lack of joy. I see it all too often within my personal and business networks. But how does one go about discovering the passion(s) that drive them?

Defining “passion” is a good place to start. According to Merriam-Webster, “passion” can be defined as “a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.” Applying Webster’s definition to the greater world, I take “passion” to mean the things that you do without concern for monetary compensation.

This could be anything from interior design to blogging about concerts, from restoring classic cars to coaching your child’s athletic team. Whichever activity you tackle with continued eagerness and enjoyment, regardless of compensation, will likely be your passion. Here are some questions to ask yourself to try and determine what you are passionate about:

  1. What gets you out of bed in the morning? (other than the alarm)
  2. Are you energized and happy when you get to work most days? If no, why not?
  3. Are you excited about the next 12-24 months? If no, why not?
  4. What or who inspires you to want to be a better person? Why?
  5. What brings you joy? Whether it’s gardening, helping people or technology – you are limited only by your imagination and resources.

I have been extremely fortunate to have worked in customer service for 30+ years. My first job was working for a well-known burger chain (no, the other one) when I was 14.  My parents told me that if I wanted anything extra, beyond what they were willing to provide, I had to pay for it myself.

Though I was reluctant to join the workforce, looking back on it, perhaps this was the best thing my parents ever did for me. It taught me the value of earning money as opposed to having it given to me. It taught me about responsibility, teamwork, and dedication. I carry many of the lessons I learned during that job with me today, so much so that I will encourage my daughter to do the same when the time comes.

Over the years, as I worked for various retailers and restaurants (including the best fish and chip restaurant in my hometown), I discovered customer service was something I was passionate about and could eventually make a career out of. And if not for the privilege of working for two extremely strong and passionate women who inspired my inner passion for leadership and customer service, Nancy Tichbon and Rhonda Bosch, the spark of passion I felt for customer service might never have become the flame that burns brightly today.

If you are one of the lucky ones, you already have a career you are passionate about.  Though you might not kick your heels up in the air every day, you probably feel that your career has meaning and that you are making a difference.

As Rhonda and Nancy did for me, it sometimes takes words of encouragement from highly respected individuals that have already discovered their career passion to point someone in the right direction. However, inspiration needs constant refreshing. My inspiration was renewed by career advice given by business tycoon Robert Herjavec, which applies to anyone looking to break into a new career. During his TV interview (you can find more information here), he offered two pieces of advice that resonated with me:

Robert’s Advice for New Grads:

“The first thing you have to do is get a job to prepare you for your next job. You should embrace internships and offer to work for free. If you don’t gain any experience the world will continue to roll right over you, especially in the marketing field where everyone wants to get in the door. Try making a deal by suggesting that you will work for free for three months and if things are going well, your employer will hire you as if you had that experience. The worst that can happen is that they say no, and in that case, you will still have gained three months of experience!”

Robert’s Advice on Retraining for a Career:

“Get into a field that statistically gives you the opportunity to have a career. A big mistake people make is choosing a job that’s difficult to make a good living in. Next, get some hardcore training from a college or other hands on program. I look for people who have hard technical skills when getting into a field. I think there is a time and place for university education and for technical experience. A two-year technical program is a great option for you as you’ll get to network and still gain many skills. The greatest value of a post-secondary program is often the chance to expand your network. Never be afraid to ask someone for an introduction, you’ll be amazed at how beneficial your network could be.”

As a people leader, I am inspired every day by the drive and energy of my team. This pushes me even harder to be the best I can be, for them and for our customers. I am fortunate to work for a company that by way of our software, inspires passion through employee engagement and recognition.

Don’t put off today what could be your passion and purpose tomorrow. Life is short; we deserve fulfillment and happiness at work as well as home.

If you have found your “passion” and want to inspire others, check out my blog post 5 Keys: How to Become an Inspirational Leader.

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About the Author

Marci PetersMarci Peters began her 20+ year Customer Experience & Contact Centre profession in the telecom space, but she has spent the last four years with Achievers – Changing the Way the World Works. She believes strongly that customer needs shape the business and employees are your most valuable investment. She has a proven track record in tactical execution of strategic customer initiatives to transform service delivery and drive positive results. View Marci Peters’ LinkedIn profile here.

 

 

Employee Engagement and Performance

Why Recognition Is Essential to Employee Engagement

When I entered the workforce in 1997, I wanted to find an employer that would offer me a long and fruitful career; a goal I shared with the Baby Boomer generation before me.

While this has been the experience of my wife, who has enjoyed 17+ years of employment with the company that recruited her out of college, I’ve worked for six companies in the almost 20 years since I graduated. One of the biggest things I’ve noticed? The social contract between employer and employee has changed.

Currently, the tenure of a knowledge worker is less than three years at a single company, and with the steady emergence of the “gig-economy,” I fully expect that number to continue decreasing over the next 10 years.

The rising cost of recruiting and retention accentuates the need, now more than ever before, for employers to do all they can to attract and retain high-performing individuals.

Tap into discretionary effort for maximum performance

I’ve had the good fortune of managing teams for the past 10 years. In that time, I’ve learned a great deal about how to get the most out of people.

To me, the goal of any good leader should be achieving maximum performance by tapping into the discretionary effort of their team members. By discretionary effort, I mean the level of effort people could give if they wanted; above and beyond the call of duty.

I always tell potential candidates that by hiring them, I’m purchasing 40 hours of their time per week, but my underlying intent is to tap into any discretionary effort they’re willing to exert by aligning their objectives to the success of their team, and the greater organization. To accomplish this, a clear understanding of the link between an employee’s efforts and business success is key.

Recognition for improved employee engagement

Employee recognition should be a tool that all leaders have at their disposal to elicit maximum effort from the individuals that value it (keeping in mind that not everyone does). Almost 70% of workers say they’d work harder if they felt their efforts were better appreciated.

Often, when employees feel valued, engaged, and emotionally committed to their work, they’re willing to go the extra mile for their company. The Corporate Leadership Council studied the engagement level of 50,000 employees around the world to determine its impact on both employee performance and retention. Two of the many important findings from this report were:

  • Engaged companies grow profits as much as 3X faster than their competitors.
  • Highly engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave the organization.

In the past, employee recognition was sporadic, often focused on tenure instead of performance. Sometimes it happened in public forums where leaders celebrated an individual’s accomplishments in a top-down fashion. Most of the time, recognition was given at the individual level in private conversations or correspondence (such as a performance review), likely not often enough to have a meaningful impact on employee engagement.

With the advent of the digital workplace, recognition can and should be given with more visibility and frequency; the end goal being a workforce made up of engaged employees.

Creating an engaging digital experience

Having tools that promote engagement and recognition is becoming essential to HR and IT initiatives in the evolving digital workplace. According to Aon Hewitt’s 2017 “Trends in Global Employee Engagement,” study, Rewards and Recognition ranked as the strongest engagement opportunity this year. But you need to find the right technology partner to help you provide an experience that your employees love to use in order for it to pay dividends.

I speak with companies daily that are faced with the challenge of replicating their “brick and mortar” culture in a digital environment. With their workforce spread out across offices, geographies, and time zones, they need to provide an employee experience that allows individuals to meaningfully connect to the company and their colleagues.

While many tools exist, those that focus on interoperability are the ones that are having the most impact. With the overwhelming quantity of tools and applications that exist inside an organization today, it’s critical to offer an integrated experience that plays to the strengths of each individual solution, resulting in a more efficient use of the entire technology portfolio.

To learn more about the impact employee recognition can have on engagement and performance, check out Achievers’ “Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition”.

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About the Author
Chris Myers Igloo
Chris Myers is VP Partnerships & Alliances for Igloo Software, a leading provider of digital workplace solutions that help companies build inspiring digital destinations for a more productive and engaged workforce. Chris owns overall partner strategy for Igloo and is responsible for three programs – Technology Alliances, Channel Partners and Developers. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

 

 

Evolution of HR Technology

A Brief History and Future of HR Technology

If the Terminator film saga (and to a lesser extent, Stephen King’s Maximum Overdrive) taught me anything, is that it’s better to welcome the evolution of technology than be on the other side. Similar to the technical enhancements made to the cybernetic endo-skeletal T-100 in the first Terminator that begat the liquid alloy T-1000 of T2 fame, HR technology has seen a number of improvements in recent years that have made a world of difference. Moving from a set of disconnected processes and legacy systems reliant on manual inputs and characterized by balky technology, today’s HR technology is moving towards more streamlined, user-friendly platforms that can cover a range of HR functions in a more holistic, unified manner. While specialized applications focused on specific aspects of HR, such as employee well-being or recruitment, are also needed, the flexibility of cloud-based systems, mobile technology and design thinking has allowed HR tech to evolve seemingly eons beyond where it was just a decade ago. But let’s take a look back and see what these changes mean for the future of HR technology.

The Birth of the Modern Era of HR Tech

The 1990’s is when the modern era of HR Tech had its start. This time period saw the rise of the first online job boards, which made recruiting easier than ever before but also disrupted traditional employer-applicant relationships. HR recruiters could now easily source and screen hundreds of resumes of potential candidates and pare down applicant pools so that only the most qualified entered the interview process. However, this also had the effect of increasing the competition for top talent. It’s no surprise then that the 2000’s saw a greater emphasis on talent management applications that were no longer locally deployed. These new recruiting and talent management systems began to migrate to the Cloud, making implementation and maintenance a breeze. While these applications were functional they lacked the kind of employee-facing, user friendly interfaces that would be needed for them to become truly “sticky” and the kind of platform that employees actually wanted to use.

Today’s workplace is evolving to become more employee-centric and HR technology is evolving in tandem. In this current era, the focus is on identifying and hiring the top talent, and then keeping them engaged and productive. Recognition, Health & Wellness, Learning and Development – these are a few of the emerging areas of HR tech that have become crucial to engaging and retaining top talent.

Central to this growing suite of tools focused on the employee experience is their ability to positively impact engagement. With Gallup recently reporting that 87% of employees worldwide are disengaged, being able to take action to improve engagement by technological means can clearly holds great promise. Furthermore, with millennials now making up a larger portion of the workforce than ever before, finding measureable and repeatable ways to keep them engaged engagement has become of the utmost importance. With this reality as the backdrop, it’s easy to see why it is so important for companies to adapt and embrace the latest shifts in HR technology before they lose out in the war for talent. Here are a few more ideas as to where HR technology might be heading in the future:

Increase in Learning Management/Career Growth Platforms

According the Gallup study referenced earlier in this blog, 87% of millennials place a high value on growth and development opportunities in the workplace. So it stands to reason that the popularity of Learning Management Systems will continue to grow, with companies adding these to their suite of employee experience tools either as stand-alone offerings, or as an add-on to their existing employee engagement platform via integration with an open API. Access to an LMS benefits both the employer and employee alike; the employee acquires new, marketable skills (along with positive feeling of personal growth that the learning experience engenders), and the employer can expect increased productivity or an expanded skill-set from the employee. This category of employee engagement is going through a disruptive period of its own, with the increased adoption of career mobility platforms. These platforms are more than an LMS; they allow employees to gain an understanding of a new role all within the confines of their current company, sometimes going as far as offering role-specific tasks to complete.

An Increase in Actionable Data

With the proliferation of HR technology, data regarding almost every aspect of the employee experience is being tracked, measured and analyzed. Traditional metrics, such as attendance, do little to predict the future performance of employees, outside of their likelihood to show up every day. But new forms of data are beginning to shed light on drivers and predictors of employee engagement that were never available before. From recognitions given and/or received on an engagement platform, to the results of frequent pulse surveys, today’s employers now have access to reams of valuable employee data to analyze and subsequently act upon. This will only increase as big data continues to work its way into every layer of the business decision making process. By utilizing the wealth of metrics now offered on HR Tech platforms, employers can quickly identify poorly performing employees and possibly re-engage before they leave for another opportunity; or conversely, identify top performers and develop strategies for engaging and retaining them.

Greater Integration with External Systems via APIs

Virtually the entire business world has seen a major philosophical shift through the development and increased use of APIs. APIs afford employers a greater amount of choice in the external platforms they integrate into the workplace. This allows them to offer best in class applications for each aspect of HR, further ensuring the platforms they offer employees are functionally effective and entirely useable. Open API’s and the growth of Single Sign On (SSO) technology also serve to simplify the navigation of day to day HR systems as employees are no longer forced to remember a unique login name and password for every disparate system used in the workplace. Instead, different programs such as health and wellness tools, referrals programs, LMS’s, etc. can be offered in a unified environment.

The HR technology landscape has evolved so much so in the past decades that it can difficult to remember what life was like before the current era – and few of us would want to! With ongoing innovation occurring at an ever increasing pace, it can seem increasingly daunting to keep up with the times. But what remains consistent is the need to identify, hire, engage and retain talented employees. Thankfully, this has been made easier by the emergence of tools focused on the entirety of the employee experience, especially in areas like employee recognition which Aon Hewitt just identified as the top driver of employee engagement in its 2017 Trends in Global Engagement Report.

When thinking about the future of HR tech, don’t be scared of emerging technology and don’t get left behind, or like the countless victims of that famous cinematic cyber-warrior mentioned in the opening, you risk getting terminated.

Learn more about what to look for in an employee engagement and recognition solution. Download the Buyers Guide for Social Recognition Systems.

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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.

 

 

 

Employee Engagement in HR Tech

3 Employee Engagement and Recognition Predictions for 2017

Many of the emerging HR trends for 2017 are being driven by the millennial generation. Now representing the largest portion of the workforce, millennials value different things when it comes to their careers. What they want and what they look for — things like being recognized and making an immediate impact — have created a strong demand for employee engagement and recognition platforms that many leading companies are now adopting.

Employee recognition software linked to a corporation’s values can help incentivize employees while aligning performance with personal goals and values.  With the right recognition software in place, employees are able to gain a clear and immediate picture of their short-term achievements, how they compare to their team members, and how they’re measuring up to personal goals and company goals. They also get valuable feedback and recognition for a job well done.

The millennial generation looks for things other than a steady paycheck and the stability of working for one employer for the next twenty years. In fact, the majority of them will consider moving jobs if it means advancement and learning something new. HR departments need to continue seeking new ways to hang on to their top talent through something more substantive than free lunches and napping pods.

This is why in 2017, more companies will be focusing on employee engagement and the employee experience as part of their retention strategy. We can also expect more companies to adopt employee engagement software. Here are our top three predictions for 2017:

1. More Work-Life Blending

The modern workforce is willing to work hard, but they want to maintain flexibility and balance with regards to their personal lives. Today’s employees are comfortable checking their smartphones on personal time to respond to work emails and doing a little work on their laptop after having dinner with friends or family, as long as it means that, in return, they can skip the grueling commute and work from home once a week, or leave early to catch their daughter’s 3 p.m. soccer game.

Collaboration tools let employees check in with their boss, team, or a company meeting, without physically having to show up, and without losing any of the momentum on a project or missing important deadlines.

2. Recognition Will Continue to Increase in Value

The average time an American employee spends with any one company now is less than five years. This is a far cry from the days of gold watches and lunch with the CEO thanking you for your many years of service. Employees are more interested in social recognition, because feeling valued is a critical component to the work environment they want to be a part of. They want to feel like the work they do matters, that it’s noticed, that it made a difference.

Receiving recognition, encouragement and appreciation is inspiring and motivates employees to continue doing great work. Employee engagement strategies help leaders and peers to publicly recognize a job well done and fosters a culture of celebration.

3. Flashy Benefits Won’t Compete

People are starting to value experience over money, which is why they want to work in a culture of growth and learning and have opportunities to do something they can be proud of. Employee engagement software helps employees know exactly what kind of impact they’re having on the business in real time.

Culture has become one of the most important things a company can focus on, and providing employees with autonomy, flexibility, and the chance to make an impact, are the new differentiators for attracting talent. Benefits packages are still important, but in 2017, they will become secondary to positive employee culture. Companies that have ditched the traditional, annual review and moved to a model of continuous feedback and a strong culture of recognition are far more attractive to today’s employee than those offering a catered snack bar and quarterly ping pong tournaments.

* * *

In 2017, you can expect to see more companies adding employee engagement software to their HR platforms, doing away with the traditional annual review process in favor of continuous feedback, furthering the work-life blend, and placing a strong focus on the employee experience, aligned with a purposeful mission and meaningful goals.

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About the Author
Jessica Barrett Halcom is a contributor for TechnologyAdvice.com, with specializations in employee engagement, learning management system and performance management software. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay and currently lives in Nashville, TN.

 

Effectively Navigate Organizational Change

Understanding Change and Its Impact on Engagement

Change is a funny thing, isn’t it? We frequently resist it, yet progress is impossible without it. In fact, we can’t really move through life without it. The desired approach for most of us is to experience change in small, bite-size chunks. Otherwise, it can wreak havoc on us when there’s too much at once and we’re not prepared for it.

As HR and OD professionals and people leaders, how can we help employees with the process of change? How can we best position ourselves to lead and at the same time guide employees to think more rationally about change? After all, employee resistance is one of the leading causes for the failure of change initiatives (Bovey & Hede, 2001b; Waldersee & Griffiths, 1996). According to Cynthia Wittig, “Such findings indicate that change agents focusing on employee reactions—including resistance and acceptance—during organizational change is of utmost importance to the success of the initiative.”

How do we help eliminate the resistance? Where should your change-agent-leaders focus their efforts? Start with these three tips.

1) Address the emotions first by answering the hard questions upfront, including addressing, why?

We are persuaded by reason, but we are moved by emotion.  Acknowledge what employees may be feeling. You don’t necessarily have to answer for it, but you can acknowledge it and lead from the front by demonstrating authenticity and optimism in response. Acknowledging and naming the feelings helps create distance between a person and a situation. It creates a moment of objectivity. Instead of, “I am afraid,” they can at last get to, “I feel afraid about what Mr. Jones shared during town hall and how it might affect my department.” It also helps those of us who may have a hard time defining how we’re feeling, to make sense of why our hearts start racing, or we get sweaty palms, or feel unsettled in response to certain news.  If you have a tough change coming up – call it what it is and help employees understand why the organization needs to head in that particular direction. Our brains don’t like incomplete stories and in the absence of information, we can come to all sorts of crazy conclusions. These concocted conclusions can spin FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) out of control into a danger tornado that is likely to pick up your change initiative and spit it out in the Land of Oz.

2) Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Oh, did I mention? Communicate.

The amount and quality of information that is communicated to employees can influence how those employees will react (Wanberg & Banas, 2000). Running today’s ever-evolving organizations takes a lot of heavy lifting. It requires people-leaders and executives to be clear on the changes that are occurring and why those changes are taking place. AND it requires intentional multi-touch communications about said changes with all employees. Cynthia Witting shares, “There are several communication processes that impact employees’ reactions, including frequency, mode, content, and flow of communication. Gray and Laidlaw (2002) argued that the more embedded these processes are within management, the more effective the outcomes are because they enhance the quality of working relationships, harmony, and trust.” Sending out 1-2 emails about a change really isn’t enough. Ideally, there is a real-time, always-on, cross-functional, organization-wide conversation about these topics so that everyone can weigh-in equally and ask questions with transparency and without fear. This method should also provide communication scalability. In the absence of such a system, there needs to be on-going fireside chats or other means for employees to submit questions and expect real, authentic answers.

3) Employee participation in decision making.

According to an Aon Hewitt research study, the number one driver of employee engagement during times of change is the ability to be involved in decision making.  However, you might be thinking – if I ask them what they want or what their thoughts are, am I opening a proverbial can of worms? The reality is yes, initially it will require more work, but the outcomes of increased success and higher engagement are well worth the trouble. In fact, there’s a whole body of research available with a documented approach to making wide-spread change while engaging the whole team. It’s called Appreciative Inquiry. As opposed to the typical deficit-based mindset where everything is a problem to solve, the approach focuses on inquiries into the organization based upon what is working and what we want to do more of so that the team naturally moves in that direction. When folks have a voice – they feel heard and acknowledged. This is fundamental to creating and maintaining highly engaged employees. Particularly, in times of change.

The ongoing need for change presents a tricky situation when it comes to employee engagement. While leading organizational change, you must be able to rally the troops’ ongoing support and understanding. Too much top down change at once can result in disengaged employees, which equates to a loss in productivity. When your next major change happens across your organization, consider my top three tips to help eliminate resistance and gain support.

Perhaps Buckminster Fuller said it best. “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete”.

How has your organization effectively navigated change? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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About the Author
Leigh BurgerLeigh joined the Achievers Professional Services team in June 2014 She serves as a trusted advisor to HR executives, professionals and business partners for the Achievers Fortune 500 global brands in rolling out their Employee Engagement platform. She holds a Masters, Positive Organizational Development & Change from Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University as well as several relevant certifications. You can check out her full profile here.

 

 

Connect to the purpose of change

Staying Engaged During Corporate Change (Part 1)

When change sweeps through an organization, it often causes confusion, frustration, and fear. Even when dressed up with fancy words like “transformation” and “innovation,” employees know the end result is one thing: change.

One reason corporate change is uncomfortable is that it requires disconnecting. All change is, in disregard, disconnecting. Change forces us to let go of our old ways of being and our old measures of success.

To successfully navigate a changing workplace, studies show you must stay engaged. In my book The Successful Struggle, I examine several workplace studies on corporate transformation. The studies suggest that remaining engaged during corporate transformation is a key indicator of employee success and happiness.

In this 3-part blog series, I’ll share strategies for staying engaged in your changing workplace, so you can come out on top at the end of the transformation. All of these strategies involve connecting with something, to help fight the disconnection brought on by change.

The first strategy is to connect with the purpose of the change. Human beings are meaning-making machines: we are always asking “why?” We want to know why the change is happening, why it’s important, what it means for our future, and what the outcome might mean for us.

When change occurs in the workplace, however, getting the answers to those questions isn’t always easy. In one of my jobs as a director at a nonprofit organization, we had lost some employees and were shifting around responsibilities. Some departments were taking on new roles, and I was given control of a new income stream. No one told me if the new responsibilities were permanent or temporary, or even trained me on how to accomplish them. I didn’t know what was expected of me, or even why the tasks had shifted in the first place. This left me feeling disconnected from my purpose and challenged my ability to give my new duties proper meaning.

Leaders sometimes discuss the “why” of change around the management table, yet by the time they roll out the change to everyone else, they’ve moved on to talking about “when” and “how.” But for those of us just hearing about the change for the first time, we need to hear the “why” or we’ll never get on board. We won’t understand the purpose of the change, or what the payoff might be.

If you’re stuck in a corporate change and don’t understand the purpose behind the change, you’re bound to feel disconnected. To connect to the purpose of change, try these three things:

  1. Start a Dialogue about the Future. At a staff meeting, ask the leadership team about what the change means. To keep things positive and productive, frame your questions around the company’s future and how the change impacts the future outlook. Asking smart questions and staying positively engaged in the change will make you shine in your manager’s eyes.
  2. List your Opportunities. This change likely brings with it the possibility of growth for you, personally, and not just growth for your company. As you begin to understand where the company is headed in the future, write down ways the change can open up new doors for you.
  3. Make Change Less Personal. Because change is disconnecting, it can sometimes feel like it’s a personal affront to us. But letting the voice in your head tell you that change is personal keeps you from adapting gracefully. Change is bigger than you, so don’t let your mind dwell on how much you’re personally suffering.

Using these three strategies helps you understand the potential payoff of the change, and get behind it. When you reframe change as a challenge with a purpose, you’ll have a much easier time coming out on top!

Check out the second piece of my three-part series on staying engaged during corporate change here.

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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.CourtneyLClark.com

 

The Role of Work Habits

Employee Habits Are Your Company’s Destiny

High-performance employers enjoy higher than industry average levels of productivity per employee. Measures of this success include revenue generated per head, return on capital employed, speed to market with new products and customer delight. These measures point to what a business and CEO get by BEING a high-performance employer, but they don’t explain what it takes to BECOME one.

The Role of Pivotal Habits

An underappreciated source of employee performance is their health, happiness and financial security – what we collectively describe as thriving.

Many people think that health is a matter of luck or good genes more than lifestyle, that happiness is a right or is related to how many things or experiences they have and that financial security depends almost entirely on how well they are paid.

The reality is quite different: the largest part (well over 50%) of our health, happiness and security is achieved by practicing a relatively small set of habits.

But how does employee health, happiness and security drive employee and company performance?

When employees thrive in life and at work, they can focus their time, minds and energy on building new products, being innovative and agile in their approach, and working with greater clarity and stamina (not necessarily longer hours, but “fuller” hours).

If you’re the kind of employer that supports employees in achieving their most important life goals, your reward is their loyalty, engagement and commitment. This is what shines through when they do their jobs and delight your customers, driving higher growth and return on capital employed. In turn, this creates new opportunities for their career growth, which is an important driver of employee happiness, especially for a younger workforce. This is truly a virtuous cycle that, once turning, plays a role in the enormous success of some of the world’s highest performing employers.

Do employees view thriving as their most important life goal?

It may sound presumptuous for an employer to claim that they understand what it means for each employee to thrive at work, let alone in life. Yet, when we’ve asked thousands of employees the simple question “what does success look like for you and what do you want for your life?,” they universally give answers that fall into the three broadly-defined buckets of health, happiness and security.

The habits that create health, happiness and security are so important in preparing us to perform and sustaining our performance over time that we call them the “Pivotal Habits.”

The Role of Work Habits

Then, there are habits that make up work. They are unique to each person or at least to their role. We prefer to think of our roles in terms of outcomes, but the quality of our performance is really a matter of doing the same or similar things, really well, over and over again. We can, therefore, think about each person’s job as a collection of habits, and we can think of the purpose of our job as a set of outcomes to be achieved by practicing those habits.

We call these habits our “Work Habits.”

Pivotal Habits PREPARE US TO PERFORM by giving us the mental clarity, focus, energy and stamina, and removing stress, financial concerns and health challenges. They allow us to perform our Work Habits with high fidelity, quality and consistency.

Together, they ensure we achieve the outcomes our roles ask of us and more. The beauty of focusing on both types of habits is that we drive higher performance for our companies in a way that leaves employees more engaged. This is what delivers the competitive advantage for high performance employers.

But wait, surely competitive advantage comes from something other than employee habits?

What about strategy, execution, new products, corporate agility, innovation, market timing, and a long list of candidates for the “IT” factor that explains high performance?

Searching online for “corporate competitive advantage” produces nearly four million hits and there are shelves of books and a wealth of high quality research in favor of the importance of strategy (e.g. Porter), capital funding, execution (e.g. Bossidy and Charan), culture (e.g. Drucker), visionary leadership and competent managers as drivers of competitive advantage.

Although each of these factors is important, on closer examination it becomes clear that there is a fundamental or atomic view of what each of these drivers has in common.

The building blocks of developing an effective company strategy are a set of Work Habits for those in strategic development roles. Execution is clearly about the whole workforce doing what they need to do, consistently over time (Work Habits).

Well-funded startups are routinely outperformed by two people in a garage, absent funding but with just the right Work Habits to produce the next big thing. Great leaders are not born; they spend each day doing pretty much the same things: telling stories to people to inspire them to build their vision (storytelling as a Work Habit) and great managers have their own set of high-performance Work Habits.

Therefore, the future of your company, and whether it will be a high performing business or not, depends entirely on the effectiveness of the different Work Habits practiced by your employees (as well as the Pivotal Habits that prepare them for sustained action).

Again, the fundamental unit of corporate competitive advantage is the habits practiced by your employees.

In fact, so strong is the link that we say, for employees and for your company, HABITS ARE YOUR DESTINY.

What makes high performance companies different?

High performance employers recognize the link between employee Pivotal and Work Habits and performance at work. They design their workplaces (the physical space, business processes, social networks and how they tell stories about their business to employees) in such a way that it becomes easy and natural for employees to practice these important habits. Pivotal and Work Habits are like the motor that turns the wheel of corporate performance.

Wheel of Corporate Performance

Why should CEOs care?

Most CEOs and other business leaders miss that:

  • Employee health, happiness and security are strong, yet underappreciated drivers of performance. At our Behavioral Research Laboratory (BRATLAB), we’ve spent the last decade researching just how strongly Pivotal Habits drive performance. Bottom line: Their impact is significant, perhaps greater than any other opportunity for improving employee productivity available to business managers today.
  • It is employee habits (both Pivotal and Work Habits) that are the fundamental unit of competitive advantage for companies, and becoming a master at designing for these habits will provide you with a difficult-to-copy, sustainable competitive advantage. Difficult to copy because few other CEOs recognize the fundamental role of habits, and sustainable because employees will thrive, rather than burn out.

This leaves two big questions: exactly which habits matter most to performance (both Pivotal and Work Habits) and how do we design our companies to make it easy and natural for employees to practice these habits?

These questions will be answered in my next two guest blogs. Check out my second guest blog: Which Habits Drive Superior Employee Performance?

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About the Author

Andrew SykesFor more information contact Andrew Sykes at Andrew@habitsatwork.com or read more online at www.habitsatwork.com or www.BRATLAB.com

 

 

 

 

Reasons to welcome the millennial influence

The Demands of Millennials Make Our Workplaces Better

For all the complaining about Millennials and their approach to the modern workplace, they are actually responsible for much of the change happening in the modern workforce. Their entry into the workforce, was accompanied by a slew of stereotypes, followed recently by a round of myth-busting, with statistics and all, aimed at debunking those stereotypes. As an “ancient Millennial” myself (a term I borrow from journalist Jessica Grose), I can attest that at least some of the stereotypes come from kernels of truth, but like most stereotypes , they must be taken with a grain of salt. More importantly, many of the changes Millennials bring to the workplace are actually good for everyone. Change is always hard, so it’s natural to initially oppose or question the forces of change. However, most of the changes that Millennials have brought about have actually made for a better workplace.

The influence of the Millennial generation is not to be underestimated, if for no other reason than its size. According to a recent report from SHRM, (“Millennials: Misunderstood in the workplace?”) as  Baby Boomers exit the workforce, an even greater number of Millennials will continue to enter the workforce to take their place. In fact, it is estimated that Millennial workers (those born between 1980 and 2000) will make up more than  half of the workforce by 2020. And, according to Pew, they already make up the largest overall share of workforce, having surpassed Gen X’ers in 2015. With those facts established, here are four reasons to welcome the Millennial influence:

Generalization #1: They need constant feedback: Millennials grew up in a feedback culture. Some say that Millennials are obsessed with getting positive feedback (you’ve likely heard of the “trophy generation”, but put simply, it is the belief that we are doing our youth a disservice by lauding them for mere participation rather than awarding success.). But even if that’s true, it likely contributed to an encouraging new trend – the phasing out of annual performance reviews. An annual performance review simply doesn’t tell us enough in today’s fast-paced business culture. If HR hears a complaint about an employee but their 8-month old performance review shows high marks, that documentation does little to advise any action. In 2017, we will likely see employers implement more regular feedback conversations along with frequent “pulse” surveys to help identify and address employee concerns in a more timely, actionable fashion.

When employers engage employees in regular, smaller-scale conversations, both management and employees are better equipped to deal with issues as they come up. This in turn helps employees to feel more engaged because they know their suggestions and concerns are being listened to. Furthermore, by combining these mini performance management conversations with real-time feedback tools for employees, management can help facilitate a culture of transparency in which both positive and negative business outcomes can be celebrated or addressed openly.

Generalization #2: They demand more work life balance: One of my favorite Millennial trends is that men are beginning to demand more time with their families. They ask for paternity leave more than their fathers did, for example. And because married Millennials overwhelmingly co-lead a dual-income household, they can’t buy into the 80-hour work week like their fathers did before them. As a recent article in The New York Times put it: “Millennial men—ages 18 to early 30s—have much more egalitarian attitudes about family, career and gender roles inside marriage than generations before them, according to a variety of research by social scientists. Yet… workplace policies have not caught up to changing expectations at home.”

Likewise, a Department of Labor report also highlighted the growing importance of paternity leave as men consider whether to accept a job, noting: “Paid paternity leave may be a key workplace benefit for retaining high-skilled workers. In a 2014 study of highly educated professional fathers in the U.S., nine of out ten reported that it would be important when looking for a new job that the employer offered paid parental leave, and six out of ten considered it very or extremely important. These numbers were even higher for millennial workers.”

Millennials came of age watching their parents work long hours and aren’t convinced it translates to a happier existence, or even a fatter nest-egg for themselves. With this in mind, employers would be wise to encourage work-life balance in the name of productivity and worker satisfaction. Even the U.S. Commissioner of Labor Statistics agrees that hours with your butt in a seat does not equate to more productivity, “Only if we increase our efficiency—by producing more goods and services without increasing the number of hours we work—can we be sure to increase our standard of living.”

Generalization #3: They need hand-holding. It’s true that most managers don’t have time for hand-holding. However, research published in the Journal of Workplace Learning shows that companies who have a “culture of learning” rely not just on managers to disseminate information. Not only does their training help them perform their job functions better, but employees who are able to embrace learning and growth opportunities also feel more valued and engaged, doubling the value for the company. Learning can happen anytime, often facilitated by a co-worker (“Contextual factors influencing the facilitation of others’ learning through everyday work experiences” by Andrea D. Ellinger Maria Cseh), so managers don’t have to feel the exclusive burden of teaching their staff everything.

Generalization #4: They feel entitled to career advancement: Climbing the corporate ladder just isn’t as important to Millennials as it was to their parents (see Generalization #2: they value more work-life balance.) When they see their managers put in long hours at the cost of their personal lives, it doesn’t look appealing. In addition, Millennials learned the difference between “management” and “leadership” before they even entered the workforce, and the 80 hour week management job that only serves to maintain the status quo is not their idea of having an impact. Millennials might feel entitled to advancement in a different sense. They want to keep learning and keep contributing. If other generations in the workplace adopted this sense of motivation, you might not see a scramble to fill the senior manager job, but you’d have leaders everywhere.

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About the Author
Anna PetersAnna Peters is Content Manager for College Recruiter. She manages all content, supervises a team of content writers and is part of College Recruiter’s senior management team. 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.

 

 

Who’s Your OGO?

A paradigm shift is happening in today’s workforce with the balance of power shifting from the employer to the employee. In response to this shifting playing field, employers are starting to register the power of recognition to boost engagement levels and increase productivity among their employees. But we still have a ways to go. According to a recent survey by KRC Research, workers say that an average of 50 days (nearly two months) pass between moments of recognition, while nearly 9 in 10 (87%) middle management employees feel unrecognized by their supervisors. 88% also feel unrecognized by their coworkers. With the shift to an employee-centric workplace, these recognition “droughts” should be a thing of the past. But although a greater emphasis on engagement and recognition has been underway for some time, it still feels as though we’re at the dawning of a new day.

As an Account Executive for an industry leader in the employee engagement space, getting to play a role in helping to bring about this shift is personally rewarding. But let me take a step back and tell you a little about how I ended up here and why the idea of recognition is so personally significant to me.

It’s Fall of 2009, and my soon to be wife, Anne, and I are sitting down for pre-marital counseling before we seal the deal (I know this is a Human Resources blog; but bear with me, I have a point, I promise). Something that has stuck with me since those counseling sessions, besides my wildly understanding, compassionate, and beautiful wife of seven years, is the topic of love languages. I had never given any thought as to what my “love language” might be until I was challenged to do so in those counseling sessions. Lo and behold, mine is “Words of Affirmation”. According to the assessment: Give me a little appreciation and recognition for a job well done and I’m good to go. How delightfully ironic (or perhaps not!) that I now work for a company whose mission it is to enable recognition and employee appreciation to happen anytime, anywhere in the world; and in so doing, change the way the world works.

Given my penchant for learning and a desire to know as much about the field of employee recognition as possible, it’s no surprise I was drawn to a book titled O Great One!, A Little Story About the Awesome Power of Recognition. “O Great One,” or OGO for short, was a nickname coined by the book’s author, David Novak, who: “Thought being called Grandpa, Poppy (or any similar title by his grandchildren) made him feel old before his time. Taking a cue from his father-in-law ‘Great Jack,’ he decreed his grandchildren should address him by his new moniker “O Great One” or “OGO” for short.” O Great One! (http://www.ogothebook.com/) is about the awesome power of recognition and how we can all play a part in attacking the world’s recognition deficit.

In the book, Mr. Novak tells how his interest in the idea of recognition grew from a personal experience of his – specifically, a birthday. On this particular birthday, his family gave him a gift in the form of a jar filled with strips of paper with moments of appreciation and expressions of love inscribed on them. This act had such a powerful effect on Novak that it provided the impetus for him to start a movement to attack “the global recognition deficit” – and to write a book, OGO, about the awesome power of recognition.

The importance of timely, frequent recognition is further emphasized within OGO as Novak recounts the experience of “Jeff,” who recognized a problem within his grandfather’s company after taking over as CEO.  The problem was a critical lack of employee recognition. With a few reluctant leaders on his team and skeptical board members, Jeff embarked on a mission to change the way his company works.

Being the former CEO of YUM! Brands (you know… KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut), Mr. Novak has a ton a of experience with employee recognition and the importance of making employees feel valued for their work. In leadership roles for many years, he witnessed first hand the tremendous success that comes with aligning employees to company values and business goals. Syntehsizing all of this experience into actionable insights, Novak lays out 10 guiding principles of recognition for employers and individuals alike:

  1. People won’t care about you if you don’t care about them
    You need to show people you care about them before you can expect anything from them.
  1. The best way to show people you care is to listen to them
    We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. We need to remember that there’s always someone who knows something we don’t.
  1. A great idea can come from anywhere
    Great ideas are essential to a company’s success, so view everyone as a potential source of inspiration.
  1. Recognize great work and great ideas whenever and wherever you see them
    It is the visibility and velocity of recognition that drives engagement results.
  1. Make recognition a catalyst for results
    What gets recognized gets repeated. Tie recognition to company goals and values.
  1. Make it fun
    Make the recognition moments fun and enjoyable. Let’s not take ourselves too seriously!
  1. Make it personal
    Recognition should be meaningful and should resonate on a personal level.
  1. Recognition is universal
    The power of recognition does not discriminate, and all of us, no matter who we are, love to be recognized and should feel included.
  1. Giving recognition is a privilege
    And the act of giving recognition is its own reward.
  1. Say thank you every chance you get
    Saying “thank you” is free, so let’s start saying it lot more.

This book is about the awesome power of recognition and how we can all play a part in attacking the world’s recognition deficit. It feels great to be recognized and to give recognition. If more organizations focused their efforts on fostering cultures of recognition, both employees and employers stand to benefit in the form of incrased engagement, reduced attrition, and improved customer satisfaction. What I’ve realized after reading this book and working with Achievers and its customers, is that we truly can change the way the world works, one OGO at a time.

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About the Author
Chris Jacobsen
Chris Jacobsen’s passion for sales and HR software began in Southern California where he worked with ADP. He and his wife of seven years moved to Montreal in 2010 and now reside in New York’s Hudson Valley with their 5 yr old daughter and 3 yr old son. Having worked in large and small corporations Chris is keenly aware of the power of recognition and showing appreciation for great work. Outside of helping organizations reimagine how they recognize their employees, Chris enjoys cooking, building couch forts with his kids, and running. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn.

 

Attract Top Talent With Unbeatable Culture

Harness Your Great Culture as a Hiring Tool

When it comes to attracting talent, competitive pay and great benefits are two big factors. But there’s a third factor that’s high on the list: company culture. For some professionals, the opportunity to work for an organization with a productive culture that aligns with their own values and work style may even outweigh compensation when it comes to deciding on whether to take a particular job. So if you’ve put in the work to build a great company culture, it should be front and center during as you seek to find the best employees.

Step 1: Have a Great Company Culture

Ideally, your company’s founding leadership fostered a desirable corporate culture from the outset. However, even if that’s not the case, it is never too late to drive change. Culture is the glue that holds an organization together, and the type of glue you use matters. What does your company stand for? What are your values? What is your vision? What do you want your company’s reputation to be? A culture cannot simply be defined in an email and handed down to employees. Sure it has to start at the top so everyone knows that culture is a priority, but everyone needs to buy in and believe that their needs are being met in order for the culture to take root. Every employee is expected to live the values, lead by example, and stop behaviors that violate company standards and shared cultural norms.

Elements of strong corporate culture should revolve around the following traits:

  • Teamwork. Build a team instead of a group of people. Collaboration should be valued.
  • Integrity. Without honesty and integrity, a company is destined to fail. A culture should embed the expectation that all employees act ethically and lawfully.
  • Safety. A company must protect the health and safety of its people. Employees need to feel safe and know that the company will provide them the right tools to do their jobs.
  • People Focused. One of the easiest ways to lose top talent is to fail to develop them. Passionate employees want to continually grow and develop their career. They want to reach their full potential, and they need their employers to empower them to do so.
  • Customer Success. Businesses should strive to be customer centered by building close partnerships with their customers and having a strong desire for their customers to be successful.
  • Quality. Employees should value high-quality workmanship. Shortcuts should not be allowed. The company’s reputation rides on the quality of each individual product that is delivered.
  • Innovation. Creativity and intellectual risk taking should be encouraged to continually move forward in an ever-changing market.
  • Recognition. Recognizing both individual and shared accomplishments, especially when they reinforce shared values, is one of the most effective ways to define a positive, shared, corporate culture.

Once your culture is defined, it needs to be deeply embedded and reinforced. Is your culture so rooted in the organization that it is woven into meetings, company emails, and informal conversations? Do you have a formal recognition program in place that reinforces shared company values and bolsters corporate culture?

Step 2: Use Your Culture to Attract Talent

Once you have a well-defined culture in place, you can use it to recruit top-notch employees. A great corporate culture will cause employees to seek you out. People want to work where they are valued and where their hard work and contributions to the success of the company are recognized. So it only makes sense to hire people whose personal values mesh with the values you desire. According to the Harvard Business Review, “If you assess cultural fit in your recruiting process, you will hire professionals who will flourish in their new role, drive long-term growth and success for your organization, and ultimately save you time and money.” Here is how to do it.

Advertise Your Culture

Your website, your publications and your job postings should advertise your company culture. When a potential candidate walks into the lobby and through the office building for an interview, is the culture you aspire to evident right away?

Your company’s mission statement and values should be promoted and clearly visible all over your place of business. Do not make potential candidates guess as to the type of person you are looking to hire, or what values they should share.

Furthermore, don’t just tell potential candidates about your company culture with words. Show them. Encourage team members to promote your company’s culture on social media. Post pictures of company outings, community service projects, and successful project completions. During interviews, give candidates a chance to talk to other employees. Take them on a tour and point out behaviors that exemplify your culture. Give job seekers a chance to see what it would be like to work for your company.

Interview for Cultural Fit

The interview is your opportunity to determine if the potential new employee is a cultural fit for your business. The most intellectual person on the planet with pages and pages of credentials may not thrive in your company if they do not model the values you are looking for. It is essential that you ask questions to help you determine if someone will reflect the behaviors and beliefs that are crucial to your corporate culture.

  • What drew you to this company?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What are the things on your life that matter most to you?
  • How would you describe a desirable Work-Life balance?
  • How would you describe the perfect company culture?

Having a strong corporate culture is not only important, it is strategic. Savvy business leaders know that the right culture attracts the best employees. Talented and career driven individuals seek out companies that embody the values that are important to them. The bottom line is that when an employee’s personal culture aligns with the corporate culture, the company will prosper. Use your corporate culture as a marketing tool and watch your business blossom in success.

To learn more, download the eBook All for One and One for All: Uniting a Global Workforce with Company Culture.

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About the Author

Melissa RickerMelissa Ricker covers business and career topics for JobHero.