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Recognize Your Employees and Strengthen Your Bottom Line

If you’re a supervisor or manager, you probably know how much more productive your team is when you make the effort to recognize each person’s contribution. In order to take employee recognition to the next level, however, and establish a company-wide system of rewards, you’ll need to be able to present the investment to your CEO or CFO in terms of the financial bottom line.

Fortunately, a growing body of research makes this easy. A Workplace Trends Report finds that recognition programs yield 50 percent higher sales, 27 percent higher profits and 21 percent better retention. With a solid positive ROI to back it up, an employee recognition program can be treated as part of your company’s overall strategy. A Cornell University paper on recognition in the workplace points out, “While recognition is not new, it is finally becoming more strategic as programs align recognition with business objectives and desired behavior.” Here’s some of the research that describes the nuts and bolts of why rewarding employees ends up boosting the company’s bottom line:

Rewards and Recognition Strengthen Employee Engagement

The benefits of expressing your appreciation of employees begin with engagement. Unengaged employees can cost your business thousands of dollars, because they’re not concerned about being efficient during their work hours. Instead, they tend to waste time and engage in countless distractions, just trying to get through the day in whatever way they can. If you have an employee who wastes just 15 minutes a day, that’s an hour and a quarter per week, or 3.125 percent of a work week. Looking at a sample service business with $3 million in revenue, this lost productivity from just one worker can add up to $93,750 in a year.

To avoid the lost revenue of alienated workers, you might be tempted to block social media sites from company computers, or institute various rules about not coming back late from breaks. However, the fact is that what really motivates people is positive reinforcement. Recognition is the number one driver of employee engagement, according to our Achievers’ video, and every 1 percent increase in engagement results in an additional .6 percent growth in your company’s sales. The Cornell research paper mentioned above notes that when employee engagement varies, 41 percent of that variation is directly due to the amount and quality of recognition that the employee receives.

 
The Value of Recognition and Engagement 

Engaged Employees Show Up and Pay Attention

Balancing work and outside life is tricky for everyone as our lives become more complex, but when employees are highly engaged in their jobs, they manage to show up to work despite the outside commitments that compete for their time. A Gallup research study states that engaged employees take fewer than three sick days each year, on average, while disengaged ones take more than six sick days. Your HR department is probably all too well-acquainted with the high cost of accidents and absences, and anything you can do to reduce these figures will contribute to the long-term sustainability of your organization.

There’s Space for Your Company at the Front of the Pack

Despite the proven fact that dedicating resources to employee recognition is financially prudent, many organizations still hesitate to follow through with this strategy. In a Forbes article, Ryan Scott, founder and CEO of Causecast, points out that “One of the top concerns for HR executives in 2017 is how to raise employee engagement, and for good reason. Engagement is on the decline across the world, and that spells trouble for business leaders everywhere.”

Gallup adds to this picture: Fewer than one-third of employees would strongly agree with the statement that they have received recognition or praise for doing good work within the last seven days. The authors of this Gallup study state that the role of recognition in producing engagement “might be one of the greatest missed opportunities for leaders and managers… in their search for new ideas and approaches, organizations could be overlooking one of the most easily executed strategies: employee recognition.” The fact that many companies are still missing out on the benefits of having a strong employee rewards program means that you can gain extra ground on your competitors by putting the power of recognition to work in your organization.

Employee Recognition Is Key to Staying Competitive

It’s beautifully logical, when you put it all together: Embracing a system to optimize employee appreciation and recognize others within your company will yield an abundance of benefits. According to the Cornell research, “Recognition programs, on their own, can help instill and reinforce corporate values, help with retention, and positively impact financial results. They also boost productivity, engagement, profit margins, customer retention, employee retention, ROE and ROA.” Taken together, these advantages will provide a robust return on your investment to recognize employees. Furthermore, they will add luster to your employer brand and help you compete for the top talent in your industry.

To learn more about how to recognize employees and build a strong business in a time of declining employee engagement, download our ebook Employee Recognition: More Than Just a Day.

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The Power Behind Engagement

Top Four Benefits of Employee Engagement

People are always complaining about their jobs; whether it’s a boss who drives you up the wall, work that bores you to tears or even the nagging suspicion that you’re being underpaid, each unhappy employee has their own reasons for dreading a Monday morning. But when all this unhappiness and discontent gets added up, it turns out it’s having a profound impact on economies everywhere: we’re in the midst of a global employee engagement crisis, with just 13% of employees worldwide engaged with their jobs.

So what exactly does this mean? An easy way to think about employee engagement is to look at your existing staff. Engaged staff are often your best performing employees – they’re efficient, motivated, understand their role and tackle it to the best of their ability. Naturally, we think all employees will be like that when we hire them – otherwise, why bother?

During job interviews, most candidates are very enthusiastic about the job on offer and if you hire them, it’s normally this enthused and engaged person that you actually want working for you. Yet if you find yourself looking at that same excited candidate a year into the job and seeing that they’re unmotivated, checked out and unhappy, it’s clear that they’ve become disengaged. If that’s the case with many of your employees, you might have a problem brewing.

employee engagement table

It doesn’t matter if your business is a tiny start-up or huge multinational corporation – disengaged staff can run it to the ground. As employee engagement drops off, business owners find that deadlines start getting missed, staff are constantly off sick and employees start leaving the business in droves. Work slows down to a crawl, leaving engaged staff to pick up the slack and heightening their stress levels (possibly leading to them hating their jobs too!)

Luckily, by focusing on employee engagement and happiness, you can revive even the most lifeless of workforces. Read on to find out about the top benefits of employee engagement, along with some tips on how to improve it throughout your business.

1. Cost-Savings

Disengaged staff are slowly draining the life out of your business. In the UK, employee disengagement is costing businesses around £340 billion every single year in lost productivity, while in the USA Gallup estimates this figure rises as high as $550 billion.

It’s easy to see how – if you’re paying someone to do a job and they’ve only put in half the effort necessary, they’ll still get paid even if you don’t get the results you need. As for very disengaged employees (often easily identified by their miserable and disruptive attitudes), you may as well be giving money away. Employee disengagement can easily decimate the return on investment on salaries.

On the other hand, engaged employees will improve your profitability and drive revenue. In fact, workforce opinion surveys show that highly engaged employees can boost business performance by 30%. This is because engaged employees are emotionally committed to their company, its values and its goals. They want the business to do well and will do their best to help it succeed. The hard numbers prove this too – companies with engaged employees outperform those without by 202%.

Luckily, there are ways you can help to foster this sort of commitment. For instance, people who are bored to death at their jobs are unlikely to care about it much, whereas 78% of employees who say their companies encourage creativity and innovation are committed to their employer. It’s easy for businesses to get into a “this is how we’ve always done it” rut and resist change, but data like this shows that this attitude is detrimental to employee engagement. Instead, actively encourage employees to innovate and explore new ways to do things. They’ll enjoy their jobs more, be more committed and help to power your business forwards.

2. Lower Turnover

Did you know that whenever a staff member leaves, it can cost 33% of their salary to replace them? Hiring recruiters is expensive, but even if you look for someone independently you’re going to need to spend valuable time and money on advertising the position, and screening and interviewing candidates. And that’s not the end of the problem – it’s unlikely a new person will be as comfortable in the role as their predecessor – they’ll require training and time to acclimatize to their new job. In fact, a new employee can take up to 2 full years to reach the same level of productivity as an existing staff member. In the vast majority of circumstances, that’s going to mean some degree of lost productivity.

It’s clearly in a business’ best interests to retain as many of their staff as possible, but with widespread disengagement becoming more and more of a problem, employees are more likely to leave their jobs than ever before. A job for life has become a thing of the past. Estimates vary, but research suggests that as many as 51% of employees were looking to leave their jobs in 2017. And for those who are worried about employees being poached by recruiters and competitors, you might have reason to be paranoid – 81% of employees would consider leaving their current role for the right offer.

On the other hand, a marker of engaged staff is company loyalty. Highly engaged staff are 87% less likely to leave an organisation than less engaged staff. So if you want to reduce staff turnover, it’s worthwhile to take a look at exactly what’s ruining engagement and driving people to leave:

With this in mind, who you hire as a manager and the way you train them is absolutely vital for employee engagement. Audit your existing managers to ensure that they’re fit to lead, and be selective when hiring new ones. An effective manager prioritizes supporting their staff, leaving employees feeling far less disenchanted with their jobs. Furthermore, by implementing company-wide recognition programs, staff will feel more appreciated and motivated to work (rather than just motivated to find a new job).

3. More Productive Employees

As Albert Einstein once said, “The best creative work is never done when one is unhappy.” This remains true in the modern workplace, with overall productivity increasing by 20-25% when employees are engaged.

A big factor in reducing productivity and engagement is work overload and excessive stress. Some managers think that by setting more work and piling the pressure on, they’ll get better results. If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed at work, you probably know that the opposite is true:

It’s clear that stress is not an effective motivator. Instead, take a positive and constructive approach to each employee’s work to ensure that workloads are manageable. Implement effective and personalized feedback and communication structures that allow employees to raise any problems they’re having in a non-judgmental setting.

4. Happier Customers

Happy employees create happy and satisfied customers, and the numbers prove it: companies with a formalized employee engagement program enjoy 233% greater customer loyalty. It makes sense, really – if you’re unhappy at work, the last thing you want to do is have a chirpy, helpful conversation with a customer.

It’s worth noting that part of the reason for this is that engaged employees are often well-trained employees. Far too often, companies neglect thorough training programs in favor of ad-hoc and informal “on-the-job” style training.  This sort of training often delivers inconsistent results, with employees feeling they lack the skills and knowledge to perform their role properly: 28% of employees feel they’d be more productive with better training.

Meanwhile, employees who have received comprehensive training deliver superior customer service and achieve better results for their company. For salespeople, formal and dynamic coaching can improve their win rates by 28%. Furthermore, a lack of training frustrates employees and gives the impression there’s little room for development in their current role. Indeed, ongoing employee development programs beyond initial training periods are absolutely crucial; in a survey by CV Library, 31% of respondents cited a lack of development opportunities as the top reason for wanting to quit their job. If you want engaged employees, you need to invest in their future. After all, you stand to benefit too!

The Bottom Line: Employee Engagement is Worth the Investment

At the end of the day, your employees are more valuable and important to your business than any other asset. People spend a third of their lives at work, and it’s in your best interests to make sure they’re not miserable that entire time.

Management shouldn’t be about forcing as much work as possible out of employees at any cost. You want employees that are happy at work & want their company to succeed, rather than someone who’s looking for a quick exit because they’re unhappy.  By prioritizing employee engagement, you can enjoy all the above benefits: greater profits, lower turnover, more productive employees & happier customers…It really is a win-win situation!

To learn more about the importance of employee engagement, take a look at Achievers white paper The True Cost of Employee Disengagement.

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About the Author
Becca Armstrong Becca Armstrong is a content writer for MadMax Adventures, a purpose build outdoor activity center near Edinburgh, Scotland. They run corporate away-days for businesses that want to improve organisational performance by developing more cohesive teams, rewarding high performance or building relationships with valued customers.

 

 

 

 

A Culture of Learning

5 Reasons to Create a Culture of Learning in Your Organization

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

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

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

  1. Employees Want to Learn

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

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

  1. Employees Want to Grow

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

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

  1. Learning Reduces Turnover

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

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

  1. Engaged Employees Are Productive

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

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

  1. Learning Fosters Innovation

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

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

Create a Culture of Learning This Year

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

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

 

 

 

 

The Value of HR Tech

How HR Tech is Making Employees More Engaged Than Ever

Employee engagement of past generations was historically limited to the HR department to address perfunctorily once per year. However, a recent Deloitte report on human capital trends indicates that that is no longer the case. Employee engagement is now a front-and-center business issue, with 87 percent of surveyed organizations citing employee engagement as a top priority challenge.

Why is employee engagement so important?

Gallup has conducted a number of large scale meta-analyses which show that employee engagement levels directly relate to outcomes such as customer satisfaction, profits, productivity, employee turnover, and product quality. And companies that increase their number of talented managers and double the rate of engaged employees achieve, on average, 147% higher earnings per share than their competition.

Having a high level of employee engagement can be a vital asset to businesses in today’s competitive market. It is clear that employee engagement is an area that must be monitored. Fortunately, this is easier than ever with advancements in HR tech. Here are five ways HR tech is making employees more engaged than ever.

  1. Social Chatter

Social media is how employees engage with friends and family in their personal lives, so it only makes sense that mimicking that function in the workplace can foster authentic relationships and improve employee engagement levels. Tools like Slack allow team members to collaborate easily across teams and functions, and keep multiple groups informed at the appropriate level. Aside from facilitating improved business functions, social media and chat tools allow employees to have fun — you can send GIFs, use emojis, share inside jokes, celebrate occasions like birthdays or work anniversaries, and more.

  1. Thanks 2.0

Never underestimate the power of thanks. In a survey of 1,000 U.S.-based, full-time employees 75% of employees who were recognized by their manager once a month reported being satisfied with their job. An appreciated employee is an engaged employee, but as teams grow and become more remote, staying on top of employee recognition can be a challenge. Plus, while many companies have a (even if half-hearted) process in place for manager to direct report recognition (i.e. performance reviews) they lack a way for peers to praise peers. Tools like Achievers are taking “thanks” to the tech-driven next level, ensuring that employee recognition is actually recognized as a critical part of day-to-day operations and overall employee satisfaction.

  1. Tailored Training

One important workplace trait often mentioned in employee engagement surveys is workplace training. A very human trait is the desire to grow and learn more. None of us likes to stagnate. However, training in the past meant long, dry conferences that took employees away from their critical daily work. Today, learning management systems (LMS) make it possible for employees to learn on their time and even better yet, in their way. While conferences of the past tried to put all employees into a one-size-fits all lecture box, LMS varies training techniques and includes gamification best practices to make the most of learning.

  1. Easy Check-ins

Sometimes the most important thing to do to increase employee engagement is to ask about it. Many businesses might think they have an effective employee engagement plan in place, but it can’t be done without frequent check-ins with employees. There are HR tech tools to assist with easy check-ins; such as allowing management to monitor moods of employees and receive feedback on a more frequent basis. This helps employees to feel heard more often. And managers can notice and nip problems before they get out of hand. When employees see that management listens to and addresses their concerns promptly, they will want to stay long-term.

  1. Simplified Communication

Record numbers of employees are now working remotely, whether it’s the occasional work-from-home day or an entirely remote team. This trend can be hugely beneficial for work-life balance, as it allows employees the flexibility to keep a job they love while adapting to changing personal needs (I.e. a move, a growing family, and so on). However, it can also present an employee engagement challenge. Without the right HR tech tools in place, remote employees can feel isolated, particularly when a larger group of employees work in an office together and only one or two are remote. In addition to the chat tools mentioned above, video calling and web conferencing solutions make it possible to have both one-on-one or entire team face time. Simply seeing a coworker’s smile across the miles can give any employee a big boost.

A final consideration to note is that technology needs are generational. As millennials move into management roles and Gen Z starts filing into the workforce, the types of HR tech that will be most natural for your teams to interact with will shift. Stay on top of HR tech trends because while the available technology is always changing, one thing isn’t — the importance of engaging your employees.

To learn more about how to engage your employees, check out this webinar recording Using Recognition to Drive Engagement.

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About the Author
Krystle DisneyKrystle Disney, M.A., PHR is a human resources consultant and writer for TechnologyAdvice. She obtained master’s degrees in community counseling and clinical psychology from Gonzaga University and Washington University in St. Louis, respectively. Krystle resides in St. Louis, Missouri with her husband, two children, and two very stubborn beagles. You can find her on LinkedIn.

 

 

 

 

Execute Great Performance Management

Building Blocks of Great Performance Management: 3 Common Goals

Before we hit that reboot button on our performance management programs, let’s be absolutely clear on what performance management actually is, and why we should be doing it. As diverse as organizations are (and as diverse as their PM solutions should be) it is helpful to anchor our thinking within a basic framework. This framework represents the universal outcomes of strong performance programs— outcomes that I’ve come to recognize as indicators of great organizational performance. Think of these three interrelated goals as the essence of all performance programs and the basis from which each organization’s unique differences evolve. More simply, consider them the fundamental building blocks for the design project ahead of you.

In my experience, every high performing organization is ultimately using its performance management program to:

  1. Develop people’s skills and capabilities
  2. Reward all employees equitably
  3. Drive overall organizational performance

How these goals are prioritized or emphasized—what “good” looks like related to each goal—will differ from organization to organization. So too will the way each organization sets about making those goals a reality. But any high-performing organization will have some combination of these three ingredients in its performance management recipe.

Now let’s get familiar with our ingredients.

Goal #1: Develop People

It seems obvious that the development of employees should be a key outcome of any performance solution. After all, isn’t that what performance reviews and career discussions are all about? Well, yes, they should be. But as we discussed earlier, this objective is often the one that loses out. And things get especially muddled when we get hung up on our rewards and ratings processes. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

So let’s think about what a strong performance management solution that’s truly focused on developing people might look like. First, it should provide in-the-moment coaching, helping individuals to understand what went well and what could be enhanced the next time around. We all know this intuitively, but many of us are so used to stockpiling this feedback for the annual review that we don’t do this for our employees. Further, in-the-moment coaching provides suggestions to support their growth in an environment that allows them to absorb this feedback without feeling threatened or having something at risk (like their pay raise).

Next, individuals should have information at their disposal that provides insight into what is expected in their current role and any future roles to which they hope to advance. Resources for development might include mentors or coaches who are their advocates within the organization. There should also be self-assessment and training tools that would link to their development plan, providing ideas and resources to support their unique goals.

Goal #2: Reward Equitably

First, let’s be clear on what the word really means. ‘Equitable’ is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as ‘fair and impartial.’ It’s important to note that ‘equally’ and ‘equitably’ are not the same thing. For example, let’s say you worked for three weeks writing a strategy for a new business unit, and your peer had proofread it and tuned it up for you. I’d sure hope you’d want your peer to receive some recognition for her support, but I doubt you’d be happy if her reward and recognition was equal to yours. Instead, you’d want the recognition to be equitable, meaning each of you would get as much credit as you deserve.

When organizations speak of differentiated pay and rewards, they are looking for those rewards to be distributed in an equitable manner—fairly, unbiased, and consistent with the level of contribution or impact. It’s also important to note that rewarding equitably is not just about pay. We’re talking about total rewards: compensation, formal and informal recognition, benefits, promotions, project assignments, you name it.

It’s also important to remember that, from an employee’s perspective, equity is all about fairness. While extrinsic rewards are rarely a driver of human behavior, the belief that a system is unfair or biased is a significant driver for dissatisfaction. In other words, confidence that the system is equitable makes for happy and engaged employees. In order to achieve that sense of fairness, you need to get a clear view of what reward equitably means to your organization and how you can best achieve that goal in your unique environment.

Goal #3: Drive Organizational Performance

There’s been plenty of research that has demonstrated the correlation between an employee’s connectedness to the mission and vision of his or her company and the measurable performance of that organization. We now understand how important it is to assure that teams and individuals are fully aligned to the goals of the company.

I’m talking about individuals and teams feeling an emotional connection to the purpose of the organization. That means they understand the vision, they believe in it, they want to be a part of it, and they see how their work and roles contribute to the broader goal. Remember, however, that this connection must also translate into a framework that helps each employee make good decisions and focus on the right work, day in and day out.

Driving organizational performance might sound like it has more to do with the organization than the employee, but it doesn’t. Sure, organizations want their teams and employees aligned, doing the right work, and not wasting time on efforts that are off-strategy. But we have to recognize that, as humans, we also crave the feeling of being a part of something. Most people want to feel like the work they are doing is important and purposeful. This connectedness is a vital part of an employee’s career satisfaction and overall performance, and considering that career satisfaction is of value to both the organization and the individual, we must find ways to make sure it happens.

As I’ve said, each organization is unique, with differing levels of maturity, mixtures of employee demographics, and diverse cultures and values. You will—and should—interpret and emphasize the Three Common Goals in a way that makes the most sense for you and your strategic goals. But make sure you think long and hard about each as you’re building your new solution. Ignore these important building blocks at your peril!

For more information on how to accurately measure key business objectives like performance, check out Achievers’ eBook Four Places to Start Measuring What Matters.

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

 

 

 

 

strengthen engagement

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey: Strengthening Employee Engagement

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Horizon BCBSNJ) is strengthening employee engagement. Are you?

In a recent Gallup survey, they found that only 1 out of 3 U.S. workers feel they received adequate recognition in the past seven days. Even worse, employees that aren’t recognized at a satisfactory level are twice as likely to leave their job compared to those that are. Why should you care? Because 70% of workers say they’d work harder if they felt their efforts were better appreciated and companies with the most engaged employees report revenue growth at a rate of 2.5X greater than their competitors with the lowest levels of engagement.

It’s clear that an effective employee engagement program that makes recognition timely and ubiquitous can help your company reach new heights. Let’s take a closer look at Horizon BCBSNJ for example.

With a commitment to serving with excellence and dedication, Horizon BCBSNJ has worked to deliver quality health insurance to the people and businesses of New Jersey for over 80 years.

“Our Promise” as defined by Horizon BCBSNJ

“Our Promise” as defined by Horizon BCBSNJ

This commitment to dedication and enrichment isn’t limited to external recipients. HBSBCNJ understands that their success as a business would not be not possible without an engaged and committed workforce. Because they place such an emphasis on the well-being of their employees, they have historically scored high on employee engagement surveys.

But in 2013, seeking to replace their manually facilitated employee recognition program with a streamlined, automated solution, Horizon BCBSNJ partnered with Achievers to offer their employees an unbeatable platform that would better leverage the modern workforce’s affinity for frequent, specific recognition to obtain key business objectives.

Horizon BCBSNJ debuted their employee engagement and recognition program, Step It Up, to more than 5,000 employees across four locations and saw almost universal adoption from the get-go. The program reached a 90 percent activation rate by year’s end, with that rate further ballooning to the 97 percent it sits at today. In addition to the extremely high activation rate, Horizon BCBSNJ saw other positive results, such as:

  • A 6 percent increase in overall employee engagement scores
  • A 14 percent improvement in engagement survey results related to employee recognition

Gallup states that recognition “might be one of the greatest missed opportunities for leaders and managers.” Horizon BCBSNJ is not missing out on this massive opportunity for management; their leadership team is among the most active users on Step It Up, solidifying the employee engagement and recognition program as a very important pillar of their employee strategy.

Furthermore, with trackable data flowing through the system, Horizon BCBSNJ’s HR team has a better understanding of concepts that used to be a guessing game, such as employee morale, and can swiftly pinpoint the cause of any decrease.

The results realized at Horizon BCBSNJ is proof that any workforce can benefit from an effective employee engagement and recognition program, even one that is already engaged. To learn more, access Horizon BCBSNJ’s Case Study.

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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

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

Stay Connected During Change

Staying Engaged During Corporate Change (Part 2)

Change is practically a given in today’s competitive work environment. But how is an individual employee supposed to thrive in an environment of constant uncertainty? To successfully navigate this near-constant change, research suggests that it’s critical to stay engaged.

In the first post of this 3-part series (click here if you missed it), I shared strategies from my book The Successful Struggle, that help you stay engaged and in tune with the purpose of corporate change.

In addition to connecting with the reasons behind the change, there are other things you can connect with that make corporate evolution easier to swallow. One of the most helpful? People. Connecting with colleagues helps us feel better emotionally when we’re facing change, and increases the likelihood that the outcome of the change will be successful.

In a study of employees in large-sized companies facing major changes, those who reported the highest levels of satisfaction after a change were also the most engaged employees. This makes sense on several levels. Actively engaged employees are more likely to be participating in the change or at minimum feel as if their voice is being heard. Engaged employees also reap the benefits of having relationships with colleagues they can lean on when transitioning becomes stressful or confusing.

In The Successful Struggle, I tell the story of David, whose role at work was changing because of a new strategic direction. David was off-balance because of the change, and worried he couldn’t deliver on his new goals. Because he didn’t want to be perceived as negative about the alteration to his role, he was reluctant to speak up in meetings. Withholding his thoughts in this setting became so innate to David that he pulled away from his colleagues during the work day, too.

David convinced himself that disconnecting from his colleagues was natural. He told himself that he was just putting his head down and focusing. It made sense to him that he would hunker down in his office, not emerging until he had a successful action plan completed. But pulling away from his colleagues was only making David more isolated. His ideas had been created in a vacuum, they lacked the fine-tuning they usually received when David shared his ideas with the group. As a result, David was not only miserable, but also less successful.

Employees who stay connected during change – to their peers, their managers, and even their personal social circle – navigate change in a much healthier way than those who pull away from others. Studies show that maintaining personal connections is a predictor of a well-handled change.

If you feel yourself pulling away from colleagues and friends during change, that’s a red flag. To connect with the people around you, try these three things:

  1. Speak Up – It can be intimidating to verbalize your concerns about change, because we’re often taught to wait and evaluate a situation before we speak. But if we don’t speak up and ask questions, we run the risk of not getting the information we need so that we CAN effectively evaluate a situation. What a Catch-22! But don’t let it silence you. Ask clarifying questions as needed, just try to do so in a constructive way. By asking questions with a positive slant, you are demonstrating that you are engaged as well as exhibiting a positive attitude about the change.
  2. Build a Work Support Network – If you’ve avoided having a work support network, change can be a great catalyst for creating one. Identify a mentor and at least one or two peers you can lean on for support. Be sure that your conversation topics don’t center on “venting,” which is an unhealthy dialogue style that keeps you feeling agitated and ignores problem-solving.
  3. Lean on Your Personal Support Network – You may not feel like talking about work problems outside of work. But having the support of your friends outside of work has been shown to be helpful. Even if you only spend a few minutes catching them up on the issue, you’ll feel like you have the moral support that will keep you going the rest of the work week; then you can lay those issues aside and go out and have a fun evening.

It’s natural to want to crawl into your cubicle and disconnect from the world when you’re facing the uncertainty of change, but you’ll be significantly more successful if you make it a priority to stay connected to your workplace and the people in it. When you stay engaged, ask questions, and lean on your support network, you’ll be surprised – and relieved! – to find how much easier it is to handle change.

Stay tuned for the next installment of my three-part series. And for those of you that need to catch up, you can find the first installment of my blog series 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.CourtneyClark.com

 

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.