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engaged employees

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

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

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

1.   Strengthen Employee Engagement Ahead of Time

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

2.   Buy-In Starts at the Top

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

3.   Name a Core Team of Change Agents

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

4.   Integrate Employee Feedback Into Your Company Culture

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

5.   Communicate Clearly and Consistently

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

6.   Support Your Managers

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

7.   Keep Motivation High With Rewards and Recognition

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

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

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

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employee feedback

5 Startling Facts: Why Employee Feedback is Essential

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

  1. Failure to Listen is Expensive

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

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

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

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

  1. Employees Value a Listening Culture Higher Than Compensation

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Employee Listening is Essential to Strong Leadership

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

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

  1. Being Unheard Will Damage Your Employees’ Motivation

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

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

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

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About the Author

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

 

 

Employee Listening and Feedback

How to Show Your Workforce That You’re Really Listening

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

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

Let Employees Speak

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

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

Make Listening a Priority

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

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

Prepare to Hear the Good and the Bad

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

Make Engagement Part of the Process

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

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

Take Action

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

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

Follow-Up Is Vital

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

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

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

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

 

 

Important HR Strategies

3 HR Strategies You May Have Overlooked

Create employee handbooks

Track employee hours

Draft contracts for new employees

Manage company benefits

Handle employee complaints

The list goes on and on. Across many industries, the role of HR has traditionally focused on endless paperwork and organizational policy development.

However, in today’s technologically-enhanced workforce, the traditional role of HR is swiftly shifting. Many organizations have undergone significant changes in light of new employment regulations and more diverse, younger employees who demand modern HR departments. Above all, experts agree that the role of the HR team is now genuinely impacted by the rapidly expanding availability of technology and digital tools.

So the role of today’s HR director, manager or executive must parallel the needs of their ever-changing organization. Successful companies also realize they must become more adaptive, resilient and customer-centered.

Taking a More Strategic Approach to HR Management

The evolution of technology allows HR professionals to take on more strategic roles in today’s HR landscape. Organizations must shift towards strategic human resource management or use the HR department to formulate HR strategies based on the company’s short- and long-term goals.

As a result, the decisions that departments make must reflect goals that the company has set. For example, if the organization plans to expand, HR’s recruitment strategy should focus on creating systems that will allow the company to recruit and hire top talent. Within this new type of environment, the HR team acts as a strategic business partner as well as a change mentor.

Here are three additional HR strategies your organization may be overlooking:

Create a Retention Strategy

Did you know that the costs of employee turnover can range from 30 percent to 150 percent of the employee’s salary? Retaining talented team members can distinguish truly successful companies from not so successful ones. Many employees leave their jobs when they are disengaged. So today’s HR professional must identify what could make people in their company disengaged and figure out ways to remedy these issues.

A strong work-life balance helps create a solid retention strategy. Organizations that promote a positive work-life balance report lower turnover and recruiting costs and increased productivity from satisfied, engaged employees.

Additional successful retention tactics might include giving employees additional time off, supporting working parents via on-site day care or job sharing, and offering flexible schedules to accommodate busy families or supporting continuing education. Employees who have time to spend on maintaining their home life look at work less like just another chore to finish.

Encourage a C-Level HR Support Strategy

If you read anything about organizational change, it typically begins with the need for executive buy-in and support. Changing HR’s role is no different. While many of today’s leaders and CEOs do understand the need for HR’s role stand on equal footing as any other business function, others tend to get stuck in a different mindset that is focused on keeping HR behind the scenes.

To shift management’s support of HR from providing transactional processing to offering valuable business insight, experts suggest first creating a business case for change. This method can compel HR to specify why their HR strategies need a more forward-thinking model, and clearly and effectively spell out the major advantages to the company.

Develop an HR Analytics Strategy

If you want to make your HR processes as efficient as possible, implement the right tech tools for your company, especially those tools that focus on analytics like business intelligence, employee feedback or employee recognition and engagement data. The power of analytics allows HR departments to use employee data to help management make more informed decisions about their team members and improve overall performance. Additionally, analytics can provide insight for effectively managing employees to reach company-wide goals more efficiently. With an analytics strategy firmly in place, executives can also better forecast a company’s future staffing needs.

One of the most critical advantages of incorporating an HR analytics strategy is having information ready and available for future leadership needs. Companies can develop everything from recruiting and development plans to succession tactics with data they’ve collected. Often an overlooked area, a succession plan can help minimize disruption by identifying vital roles in a company and employees who possess the skills to assume these positions immediately should someone leave.

HR teams can also track and measure data to continually improve organizational processes with an analytics strategy in place. For example, much of the HR technology available on the market today can help businesses make more informed decisions about what metrics are most critical to the company culture and overall business goals, as well as track them to drive employee engagement.

The Bottom Line

It is important to understand that implementing the latest HR strategies is an ongoing process. HR should plan to regularly review its approach and adjust various elements as the company changes.

Ultimately, to remain competitive, HR professionals today must clearly articulate their key role regarding the actual value they create for their organization. Equally important, senior executives must support and invest in HR as if it were its own business, surpassing the stereotype of HR professionals as simply support staff and unleashing their full potential as company-wide strategic partners.

How strong are your HR strategies? Do you have a retention strategy in place? Get started with Achievers’ infographic on 6 Stats That Speak to Employee Retention.

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Are you having trouble engaging your employees? Learn how to address employee disengagement with Achievers’ white paper on The True Cost of Employee Disengagement.

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About the Author
Lisa Dunn
Lisa C. Dunn a freelance writer, copywriter and ghostwriter who develops high-quality content for businesses and non-profit organizations. For over 20 years, she has worked with numerous PR and digital marketing agencies, and her work has been featured in well-known publications including Forbes, VentureBeat, Mashable, Huffington Post, Wired, B2C, USA Today, among many others.

 

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The Neuroscience of Engagement

The Neuroscience of Employee Engagement

Job satisfaction is at the heart of employee engagement. And as early as 1959, it received decisive momentum when Psychologist Frederick Herzberg published the Two Factor theory of motivation. Herzberg’s research suggests that fulfilment at work is due to two set of factors:

  1. Motivators – intrinsic conditions of the job
  2. Hygiene factors – extrinsic factors causing in dissatisfaction if absent

With more advancements in brain science over past decades, Herzberg’s psychological studies have been given deeper scientific substance. Today, neuroscience (the study of the nervous system) can explain the fundamentals of human motivation at a molecular level.

This makes me question: how can we leverage neuroscience findings to help optimize employee engagement initiatives?

Let’s explore …

Neuroscience and Motivation

In “Motivation on the Brain – Applying the Neuroscience of Motivation in the Workplace”, Kimberly Schaufenbuel details the four core drivers of motivation at work:

  1. Drive to Defend: this is the only brain circuit triggered when people feel threatened.The most common “threat” at work is to feel undervalued. Usually triggered by lack of feedback or line manager interactions, it can be fixed through continuous, positive feedback.
  2. Drive to Acquire: the need to seek, to take control, and to retain objects and personal experiences of value in pursuit of immediate gratification.This can be fulfilled with short term gratification through employee recognition and rewards.
  3. Drive to Bond: the brain is wired to be social, and this drive allows like-minded people with shared interests to work cooperatively together.This is strengthened by a company culture where collaboration is valued, and leaders positively “walk the talk”.
  4. Drive to Learn: The natural desire to make sense of our world and ourselves. It exists in a cooperative atmosphere where curiosity is rewarded and knowledge freely shared.Through appreciation and gratitude, you can encourage creativity and learning.

Address the Drive to Defend: Continuous Feedback

Drive to Defend- Neuroscience and Engagement

Did you know that our brain interprets “social pain” much like physical pain?

This is the conclusion of the work by Naomi Eisenberger, Psychologist at UCLA.

Let’s take employee feedback and annual reviews for instance. If sporadic, people can experience those as an attack on their “status”. The brain is quick to perceive feedback like a physical attack, and reacts with a defensive strategy.

Achievers, a leader in employee engagement and recognition, has been an advocate of continuous feedback and listening. Egan Cheung, Vice President of Product at Achievers, shared at the 8th Annual Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) conference in New Orleans:

“To engage a modern workforce, an organization needs to be continuously listening to its employees.”

Access to constant feedback is now real. Achievers recently released Listen, where employees can provide feedback to management on their day-to-day issues via check-ins and pulse surveys.

Achievers’ Listen goes even a step further, taking into consideration the importance of positive feedback. Allie, an intelligent, digital “coach”; interacts with employees in a familiar conversational way, while guiding employees with effective feedback and providing recommendations back to managers.

Address the Drive to Acquire: Incentives

Drive to Acquire - Neuroscience and Engagement

The value of incentives to motivate employees has been debated for long. Still, money can be effective to express appreciation: a survey by Harris Interactive and Glassdoor revealed that 75% of employees consider a pay raise as a form of appreciation.

But some leaders argue material gifts are a short-term fix only. What does neuroscience to say about it?

Receiving a gift triggers an immediate dopamine response in the brain. Described initially by Wolfram Schultzreward more than 30 years ago, reward systems in the brain heavily influences our behavior.

Achievers’ platform is a good example of alternatives to cash bonuses. Through points-based employee recognition, each employee can receive monetary and non-monetary based rewards and recognition.

And it works! As shared at ACE 2017, organizations using a rewards and recognition technology solution reported better levels of employee engagement, employee retention, and productivity over the course of a year.

Address the Drive to Bond: Social Connection

Drive to Bond - Neuroscience and Engagement

Matt Lieberman is the Director of UCLA’s Social Cognitive Neuroscience lab. In his TEDx St. Louis talk “The Brain and Its Superpowers”, he shares:

“Social is not one of our programs. It is our basic operating system.”

According to Matt Lieberman, the default state of the brain (when where we’re not cognitively engaged in anything specific) is to deepen our social cognition network. He shares:

“This network comes on like a reflex to think about other people’s minds — their thoughts, feelings and goals…It promotes understanding and empathy, cooperation and consideration.”

Promoting social bonds is a pivotal dimension of employee engagement. As organizations go global, a common platform to share and connect is a simple way to tap into social drive.

A case study covering Ericsson’s employee engagement and recognition program stated:

“The program spreads positivity throughout the geographically dispersed organization, connecting employees – through recognitions they post on daily basis – to each other, and to the company”

Address the Drive to Learn: Appreciation
Drive to Learn - Neuroscience and Engagement

Small acts of generosity and gratitude trigger a specific neurobiological feedback loop. Glenn R. Fox (Brain and Creativity Institute at USC), conducted extensive research and concluded:

“When the brain feels gratitude, it activates areas responsible for feelings of reward, moral cognition, subjective value judgments, fairness, economic decision-making and self-reference.”

Employee recognition can directly impact employee engagement levels. As the brain responds to gratitude with a positive feedback loop, needless to say that a recognition-based culture can do more than a feel-good effect! The by-products of gratitude at work are serious business assets, such as enhanced creativity, increased happiness and productivity, and better cooperation within teams.

By aligning your employee engagement strategies to main human motivation drivers, you tap into dopamine reward loops and create a lasting positive feeling.

What is the value behind employee engagement? To learn more, download this white paper covering The True Cost of Disengagement. 

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About the Author

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

Coralie shares her insights on human-centric leadership and leading happy teams on her website.

Get in touch on LinkedIn.

 

 

Improve Your Onboarding

How to Effectively Get New Hires Up to Speed

Employees are the moving gears behind a business. For this reason, employers must be sensitive on how they treat and engage their workforce. And it starts from the very beginning, an employee’s first day at work. A new hire’s first day is important because it is the day that they get a real first impression of what your company is like and is critical to setting them up for future success. Why is proper onboarding so important? Because a new employee can take up to two full years to reach the same level of productivity as an existing staff member. Avoid waiting two years for a new hire to reach the same level of productivity as an existing staff member by getting them up to speed faster. Below are a few tips to effectively onboard new hires:

Clearly Define Your Onboarding Goals

It is vital that new employees have a clear understanding of their specific goals and objectives at your company. Recruiting new employees without clearly spelling to them what is required will only lead to confusion and lower productivity. When onboarding new hires, be very clear about your onboarding goals and expectations. Strategize on how you can build transparency in your workplace and onboarding programs.

A fun and easy way to get a new employee up to speed and on target with their onboarding goals is by pairing him or her with a mentor within the organization. This will help them stay engaged in all activities that take place and have someone to turn to when they have questions. It not only helps both parties build a work relationship with another, but adds to a more engaging work culture. Choosing a mentor who is well versed in the same career path or team projects would be an effective way for employees to collaborate closer together early on. New employees and their mentor may meet once or twice a week to discuss the new hire’s progress and how they are adjusting to the new job.

Foster Strong Employee Relationships

How an employee engages and interacts with rest of the team is very crucial. As part of the Human Resources department, you have a role to play in helping to foster strong relationships amongst coworkers. Interworking relationships is a huge part of work culture and leadership’s relationship with employees in particular has a strong impact. Leaders need to lead by example and have the responsibility to live out the company’s values daily and communicate with those around them. When employees and leadership develop a strong relationship, new hires gain an instant new sense of teamwork and employee alignment.

When new employees feel free and comfortable to reach out to co-workers because of the healthy professional relationships presented, especially for the first few weeks, the learning process becomes easier for them to adapt to their new surroundings and team members.

Promote Your HR Programs

New employees should be quickly introduced to your HR programs and HR tech platforms. For example, if your company has an employee recognition and rewards program, make sure new hires are aware of it and know how to use it as soon as they start. Employee recognition programs connects employees and allows them to recognize each other for hard work. Programs like this not only provide something fun for new hires to become accustomed to but also instantly immerses them into the company culture and fosters a positive work environment. Receiving public recognition on a digital, easy-to-access HR tech platform boosts employee happiness and gives employees insight on what others are working on and accomplishing.

It’s HR’s job to not only implement HR tech platforms and programs correctly but also keep promoting them to new hires and existing employees so there is optimal use and employee engagement.

Ask for Feedback

Employees want to feel like they can be honest and heard at their company. Asking for continuous feedback and reviews are a great way to have healthy and honest conversations on how to improve the employee experience, especially the onboarding process. What better way to discover how to improve the onboarding process than by asking new hires about their experience?

Employees must be given the opportunity to participate in well-constructed outcome based reviews. This can be achieved by developing structured reviews that may include specific ratings, rankings, and written reviews on a mandated frequency. Employee surveys are also a great way to give new employees the opportunity to provide honest feedback about their overall experience and onboarding process. Through real-time feedback and pulse surveys, management is able to make the necessary adjustments and assessments for company initiatives. Getting employee feedback provides HR the insight they need to improve the onboarding process.

Provide the Right Material

New hires should not be left on their own. They should be supported from day one to ensure they feel comfortable in their work environment. Be prepared and stock their working stations with easy-to-digest guideline materials and resources so that they know where to go when they have questions. This includes contact sheets, company guidelines, access information, portal details, time-saving tools, and other onboarding material. New hires should be provided with public administration forms regarding their benefits, taxes, and direct deposits as early as day one. The more useful information, the better. And don’t limit yourself to sharing just health benefits and 401k details, add some fun collateral that represents your company culture and engages employees to want to learn more.

Companies need to invest wisely when it comes to their employees and it starts with putting attention on the onboarding process. The onboarding process is critical when it comes to setting employee up for success. When employees are set up for success, they become more engaged, satisfied, and productive. Don’t fall short with your onboarding initiatives and make sure you get your new hires up to speed quick.

To learn more about how you can enhance the employee experience through a culture of recognition, download this eBook.

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About the Author

Addison Jenning

Addison Jenning is an HR manager and a passionate writer who recruits, motivates and contributes to the development of employees. She oversees the effective and successful execution of the company’s internal strategy. Addison runs Job Descriptions Wiki and she can also be found on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

Strengthen Leadership

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

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

Why You Need Great Leadership

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

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

How to Strengthen Management’s Leadership Practices

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

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

Leadership Is a Skill

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

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

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

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

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

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

Without Feedback, You’re Left in the Dark

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

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

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

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

Friction: The Process for Making Sustainable Change

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

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

Call to Action: Guide Managers through Feedback and Friction

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

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

Two More Things…

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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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Hiring Millennials

[SlideShare] Tomorrow’s Leaders Just Graduated: Five Reasons Why You’ll Hire Them

Motivated and driven, 60 percent of young graduates will apply directly to the company when searching for jobs. You’re not just going to hire them. You’re going to fight for them in a war for talent.

Check out the following SlideShare presentation to get an edge on the impending war for talent and learn quick tips you can implement today to engage your current workforce, while simultaneously creating an appealing culture for the Class of 2014.

Here are the top five reasons why you’ll hire the Class of 2014:

 

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