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employee engagement measurement

3 Ways to Improve How You Measure Employee Engagement

Employee engagement has been one of the cornerstones of successful HR management for the last decade. Measuring engagement is like putting a thermometer into various parts of the organization to get a pulse of how your employees are doing. It is vital that you accurately measure employee engagement in order to gather insight on your workforce and learn how to improve your engagement strategy moving forward. Below, I dive into three ways to improve employee engagement measurement.

  1. Relating Engagement to Business Impact

One of the most underused opportunities in engagement surveys is the ability to relate what you measure to business outcomes. Engagement is often seen as a goal in itself. When one or multiple questions in an engagement survey have a particularly low score, the organization focuses on improving these scores. However, do you ask yourself, “How is our engagement score impacting the rest of the business?” For example, how does engagement lead to employee retention, to financial performance for your salespeople, or to your customer service level? Most of us in HR expect a relationship between engagement and these outcomes but it can be tricky to quantify this level.

Getting that one low score up from a score of three to four out of five is rewarding in itself but can you imagine how rewarding it will be to executives when you connect that score to the impact it has on the rest of the business? This is also a common critique of employees and front-line managers on the concept of engagement. Engagement might be very important for a few weeks, but afterwards no action is actually taken to address it. By relating engagement to business outcomes through people analytics, it is easier to create an urgency for improving engagement.

An example is Best Buy, a large electronics store chain, that tried to relate employee engagement to store profitability. They found that a 0.1% increase in employee engagement resulted in a $100,000 increase in profit per store. These kinds of insights help to drive better and more informed decision-making.

  1. Pulse Surveys

A trend that has been emerging in the past few years is the concept of pulse surveys. Traditionally, organizations had every employee fill out long-winded surveys once a year. These days, it is possible to measure the same using very brief surveys that are only sent to parts of the organization.

Pulse surveys enable HR to ‘take the pulse’ of the organization at different times throughout the year on a regular basis. Traditional surveys might extensively ask about a wide variety of topics, whereas pulse surveys only include a few questions, providing employees a quick and easy way to submit feedback.

An area where a lot of organizations, and particularly those in HR, can still improve on is the way they ask questions in surveys. Take a good look at what questions resonate most and least with employees, and use that insight in your next survey strategy.

In a recent publication, the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES) has been shortened to a 3-item questionnaire. This much shorter engagement scale would work very well with a pulse survey approach, enabling an organization to measure engagement frequently and in a reliable way. Because this questionnaire is used throughout the world in research, there are also norm groups available which help to benchmark engagement in your organization with engagement in the general population per region.

  1. Continuous Analytics

The two opportunities above offer a combined effect that’s larger than the sum of the individual components. Engagement can be related to business impact – and when executed the right way, pulse surveys can act as an excellent path towards gathering continuous feedback and engagement measurement. What more can you do to improve employee engagement measurement? Start with how often you look at analytics.

Don’t limit the amount of time you spend looking at analytics. Because engagement levels can fluctuate, you need to look at analytics frequently. Research has proven that engagement can change on a day-to-day basis and in line with this, the desired outcomes that are caused by engagement, also change. Continuously measuring engagement not only enables you to keep a finger on the pulse but also offers the opportunity to predict business success on a regular basis. This has also been referred to as continuous listening, a key trend in HR. Don’t turn down the opportunity to catch and address any signs of disengagement right away.

Final Thoughts

Even if your company already has engagement measurement practices in place, there’s always room for improvement and optimization.

I highly encourage taking a scientific approach to how you measure anything in an organization. Below are three key take-home messages I want every reader to take away from this article:

  1. Measurement is always a means to an end, never a goal in itself.
  2. What you measure is always related to a bigger picture.
  3. Keep learning and improving based on what you have measured.

Best of luck measuring engagement in your organization!

About the Author
Erik van VulpenErik van Vulpen is the founder of Analytics in HR (AIHR). He is writer, speaker, and trainer on people analytics. Erik is an instructor for the HR Analytics Academy and has extensive experience in the application of HR analytics.

 

 

 

 

employee feedback and recognition

Leveraging Recognition and Feedback to Boost Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is an ongoing issue. What can we do to effectively engage employees? Start with recognition and feedback. According to Aptitude Research Partners, companies identified recognition as having the greatest impact on engagement. And it doesn’t stop at recognition. Go the extra mile with employee feedback, pulse data and personalized actions in real-time to immediately address any disengagement. Dr. Natalie Baumgartner, Chief Workforce Scientist for Achievers, shares in an HRO Today article about how to effectively leverage recognition and feedback to boost engagement across your organization.

  1. Why is employee feedback software a need-to-have, and not a nice-to-have?

Employee feedback software is a need-to-have because it’s the best way for us to keep our finger on the pulse of engagement. Historically, we have thought of engagement as a survey exercise, but in this new era of engagement it has become clear that we need to focus on asking for and receiving feedback – and, most importantly, responding to it. Each of us as employees are exceptionally unique, which is why it is so critical that we offer employees different ways to provide feedback. Using a combination of modalities allows us to gather continuous feedback and valuable data that can be collected and then translated into actions that truly support employees.

  1. Why should organizations offer recognition and rewards?

Key analysts, including Josh Bersin, have long advocated recognition as a powerful engagement tool. Our research highlighting recognition as a massive driver of business performance supports the critical role that recognition plays within organizations. Research has demonstrated that engagement measurement can not just happen twice a year – and neither can recognition. Recognition needs to be a fluid, frequent activity that is built into the flow of work for every employee. In order for that to happen, we need to make it easy and engaging for employees to regularly recognize another, whether it’s manager to employee or peer to peer. Recognition is an indispensable tool that can effectively improve not only engagement specifically but also culture, more broadly. Impacting culture can be a challenging process but using a program that ties recognitions to company values makes it easier to effectively strengthen culture alignment.

  1. How can organizations leverage data to improve the employee experience?

Data is the most powerful tool you have to make informed decisions that improve the employee experience. Historically, organizations have typically gathered engagement data using traditional tools such as annual surveys that include numerous questions. We now know that engagement is exceptionally fluid and that moving the engagement needle requires real-time action. When it comes to impacting engagement, you need right-sized data in real-time. It is important to shift from launching long annual surveys to pulse and always-on measurement systems that gather engagement feedback on a more frequent basis – from every quarter to every week. Gathering feedback on a regular basis ensures that leadership has in-the-moment data they can act on. 

  1. Where is the future of employee engagement heading?

If you are an HR professional, you are most likely the one responsible for impacting engagement. Yet, who’s more motivated to impact engagement than the employees themselves? I believe that, in the future, engagement will no longer be owned by leadership – but, rather, it will be owned by the employee. Typically when engagement survey data is gathered it either never makes it to the employee or, if it does, it’s in the form of rich but complex action plans. In fact, even the more modern engagement technologies that provide libraries of solutions don’t offer the necessary real-time actions that actually move the needle on engagement. Research tells us that most engagement issues are on the smaller scale, whether it’s a lack of professional development or the office atmosphere. These are the type of issues that technology can help with by delivering bite-sized, personalized actions to employees that they can use to own the solution to the challenges they’re encountering, resulting in faster outcomes.

To learn more about the future of employee engagement, access Achievers white paper: “The New Engagement Conversation: Workplace Chatbots and the Science Behind Achievers Allie.

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About Dr. Natalie Baumgartner

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

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culture of change

3 Steps: How to Create a Culture of Change That Motivates and Inspires

How can your company innovate fast enough to surpass the competition? And at the same time, what can you do to maximize the human aspect of the organization and create stability in execution? An agile organization could be the answer. Such structures have a 70 percent chance of being in the top quartile of organizational health, the best indicator of long-term performance. An agile firm uses change as an engagement factor. Such organizations empower employees to create value through autonomous creation and collaboration. And they all share a similar foundation: a culture of change. Below, I share three steps to create a culture of change that truly motivates and inspires.

Step 1: Promote Learning in the Workplace

Small targeted projects call for a learning-based culture. And according to Robert Half, “Businesses with a strong learning culture enjoy employee engagement and retention rates around 30 to 50 percent higher than those that don’t.”

When structured and executed well, learning and development can drive culture and business forward. We need to remember that employees want to learn, with 87 percent of millennials stating development is important in a job. Learning also reduces turnover. For example, did you know that 40 percent of employees who receive poor training and limited opportunities for development will leave their jobs within five years? By focusing on learning in the workplace, you’ll be able to see improve retention and improve culture.

All together, learning and development fuels engagement. And appeals to the C-suite! 68 percent of them believe their employees would be more engaged if they had opportunities to be challenged by working on purpose projects.

Step 2: Focus on Performance Motivation

A millennial workforce is driven by a strong sense of purpose. As a result, they expect transparent performance discussions based on real-time feedback. What happens to that feedback though? How can you take action on feedback and empower the employee? In her book Smart Tribes, Christine Comfort suggests performance motivation. She shares:

“Performance motivation results in intrinsic motivation within a supportive environment, because team members are empowered to understand their role, believe they are making a difference in their company and desire to bring their A-Game.”

The concept of performance motivation supports a culture where employees can create value for both their company as well as themselves. How do you take action?

  • Instead of the functional responsibility of the role, connect performance to the value it creates for the organization.
  • An agile organization creates value throughout the full breath of the organization. As growth can happen in any direction, individual development needs to align to a 360 degree view.
  • Encourage employees to drive their own growth and engagement. They’re fully responsible for their own performance and give them the support and feedback required to succeed.

Step 3: Lead with Emotional Intelligence

According to Brian David Johnson, Futurist in Residence at Arizona State University and ACE 2019 speaker, the real opportunity for machines to transform the workforce is in their power to free up more time for us to be more human.

Making sure employees connect the reality of today to a positive version of the future remains a challenge for their leaders. Change is hard, because it’s first an emotional experience. Leading beyond the now means accessing the inner resources required for human-centric leadership.

How do we do this? Mindfulness could be the answer towards creating more meaningful interactions. For instance, the introduction of Search Inside Yourself’s mindfulness program to SAP, a multinational software corporation, gave outstanding results. They reported a 200 percent return on investment through mindfulness in the workplace. Providing employees with tools to reduce stress, improve empathy and communication can increase employee engagement. A statistically significant increase in creativity and collaboration could be correlated directly to business outcomes as profits were boosted by 85 to 95 million euros.

In disruptive environments, it’s easy to sit on the edge of your comfort zone. An emotionally intelligent leader is all it takes to role model constructive change and motivate teams to spread a culture of efficiency and emotional agility.

We know that by 2025, millennials will make up 75 percent of the global workforce. This can make the task of increasing employee engagement feel massive. But you can start making a positive difference by putting change in the employees’ hands and creating the culture that goes with it.

I was able to attend ACE 2018, the leading employee engagement and recognition conference, and learn new takeaways and insights, including some of the above. If you are in HR and looking for a fun event that focuses on employee engagement, check out ACE 2019 which will be taking place on Sept. 10th-11th 2019 in Chicago. Register by Dec. 31st for 50% off.

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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 confident leadership and leading happy teams on her website. Get in touch on LinkedIn.

 

 

 

 

 

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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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.

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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.

 

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employee recognition and feedback

Real-Time Recognition and Feedback: The Key to Driving Sustainable Engagement

A recent study revealed that 87 percent of employers surveyed rank improving retention as a key priority for their business. If you work in management or human resource, this statistic should come as no surprise. Low unemployment rates, the transformation to a candidate-driven job market and the fierce competition to attract top talent has helped employers realize the full value in their current workforce.

The Link Between Engagement and Retention

The question facing employers today is not whether they need to improve retention rates, but how to improve these rates on a long-term basis. Several studies have found a direct link between enhanced employee engagement and improved retention rates. This makes sense – the more engaged the employee is with the company, the less likely they are to seek job opportunities outside of the company.

In an effort to boost engagement, companies all too often invest in a one-time engagement strategy, such as a company retreat or team building exercises. While these tactics do offer some benefits, these strategies alone will never be enough to reap the reward of improved retention. Rather than one-time strategies, your company needs to invest in a culture of engagement. This can lead to sustainable engagement that really drives long-term results.

The Key to Sustainable Engagement

According to a recent Gallup poll, two-thirds of the employees surveyed stated that they did not receive any recognition for their work over the last seven days. Is it just coincidence that just over two-thirds of the workforce also claim to feel disengaged in the workplace? Not likely.

The truth is that it’s impossible to build a culture of engagement if you are not in constant engagement with your staff. Employee recognition and employee feedback offer a fun, effective, and non-threatening way to boost engagement while improving employee morale, job satisfaction, productivity and retention at the same time.

Why Real-Time Recognition and Feedback Is a Must

Not that long ago, employers could get away with semi-annual or even annual employee performance reviews. This is no longer the case. Employees are demanding more from their employers.

They don’t want to wait until the end of the year to find out how their employer views their job performance. Instead, they want real-time recognition and feedback. They want to know that their work is valued and that they are making a positive impact on the company. Today’s employees even accept negative feedback, as long as it’s designed to boost performance.

The reality is that if employers fail to provide real-time recognition on a regular basis, employees can start to doubt their purpose and their value to the company. Once the employee’s perception of their value in the workplace is damaged, you are at a higher risk of losing them.

Tips for Creating a Culture of Recognition and Feedback

In theory, this sounds great but putting it into action is another thing altogether. There are some steps you can take today to build a strong employee recognition and feedback program that can help build a sustainable culture of engagement.

Commitment

It’s crucial for your company to understand the full benefits of sustained engagement. Not only can enhanced engagement boost retention rates, but it also can improve overall productivity, increase workplace morale, and improve job satisfaction among the employees. Understanding these benefits will entice your company to make a solid commitment to invest in the resources necessary to build a strong, long-term employee recognition and feedback program.

Everyone Onboard

An employee recognition and feedback program will only work if everyone from top management down to the entry-level workers are all onboard. It is important to employ the support of company executives, managers and supervisors if you truly want to create a culture of recognition and feedback. Make sure that everyone understands the core mission and goals of the program.

Create a Structured Program

Employee recognition and feedback will not just happen overnight. It takes time to build a culture that can sustain engagement. Your best chance at success is to develop a structured program that is customized to meet your company’s specific needs. Use a behavior-driven platform that has the power to reach every employee, every day, everywhere.

Transparency

Transparency is a must. If there is even a hint that your employee recognition and feedback program is not equitable, it could do more damage than good. Think about it, if your program tends to recognize the same people every time, while ostracizing others this can cause resentment, not just with the workers feeling ostracized, but throughout the company. Be sure to regularly request feedback from your employees in reference to your employee recognition and feedback program and make adjustments or clarifications if necessary.

If you are looking for a meaningful way to improve retention, boost productivity and drive results you must focus not just on employee engagement, but on sustainable engagement. The key to this high level of sustainable engagement is real-time recognition and feedback.

Learn more about the link between employee recognition and engagement and find ways to develop a real-time employee recognition and feedback program in your company by viewing our Achievers and HR Zone webinar recording.

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

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Utilize Pulse Surveys

4 Ways to Make Pulse Surveys Work for Real Engagement

Companies have come a long way in terms of the investments they’re making to ensure they stay innovative, profitable, and protected. They’re also investing in ways to better communicate with their clients and with one another. However, perhaps one of the most largely overlooked, arguably most important, yet simplest areas still lacking in gaining the attention it needs is the most valuable asset every organization has: their people.

Retaining talent is key when it comes to running a successful business, and in order to keep top talent from walking out the door and never coming back, we need to understand where they’re at in terms of their employment satisfaction. Currently, only 11% of employers are surveying their employees more than once year. This is a startling statistic considering that more than half of employees are unsatisfied enough that they will actively be looking for a new job this year.

Keeping employees engaged is critical, yet keeping a pulse on how they’re doing can be overwhelming and confusing. Additionally, conducting long-form surveys regularly runs the risk of losing efficacy. One way to gain the same benefits of a traditional employee survey without inundating employees is through the use of pulse surveys conducted through human resources (HR) technology.

Pulse surveys are short surveys that ask questions related to your company’s engagement goals. Utilizing these surveys quickly assesses where your employees have concerns, and how those concerns can help your organization understand where there are opportunities to make changes. The key to success is to make sure they drive real engagement. Here are four ways to make pulse surveys do just that:

  1. Include Core Engagement Questions

In order to keep your surveys focused in the right place, be sure that your questions are written to reflect the core engagement areas you’re looking to improve or change. Gear your questions to show that your intention is to not only listen, but to act. Solicit feedback on whether or not they’ve noticed changes since the last survey and ask how they feel about those changes.

  1. Don’t Survey Too Often

Survey fatigue is a real thing, and if you conduct pulse surveys too often, regardless of their short length, people may eventually stop taking them if they don’t see results. In order to make pulse surveys truly help drive real engagement, only conduct them as often as you are prepared to make the changes necessary as a result of the survey. Because of this, the timing of how often to conduct surveys will be different for every organization. Some organizations will choose to survey as much as daily or once a week, while others will find monthly or quarterly surveys will suffice.

  1. Communicate Your Why

It’s okay to be transparent when it comes to communicating with your organization the “why” behind pulse surveys. Explain that you care about their responses because you genuinely want to make changes that will enhance and improve their experience. Make sure employees understand your intent to act upon the results of the things that they share, the time frame you expect to begin implementing changes, and that their participation is important.

  1. Share Survey Results

Regardless of survey results, even if they’re unfavorable, be sure that they are shared with everyone in the company. It’s important for employees to know that they’re being heard, that their opinions truly matter, and to feel a sense of connection with their colleagues. Sharing survey results is just one more way to communicate with employees and strong communication builds morale. An easy way to anonymize the data is to aggregate it and display key HR metrics in a public dashboard built with business intelligence (BI) software that automatically aggregates and displays survey results.

The advantages of pulse surveys are many, not the least of which being real-time insight and more engaged employees. The key is remembering that they should include questions that get at your core engagement goals, only to conduct them as often as you can act on their results, to be transparent about your reasons for asking your employees to participate in taking them, and to always share your results.

Utilizing pulse surveys begins to create a culture of continuous improvement. When employees see action being taken as a result of their feedback and suggestions, they’re more likely to trust you as an employer, and feel happier about being a part of your organization.

Are you ready to listen to your employees? Get started with Achievers Listen, the future of employee engagement. Achievers Listen allows employees to provide feedback to management on day-to-day issues via check-ins and pulse surveys, and lets front-line supervisors track trends through manager alerts. Also included with Achievers Listen is Allie, an intelligent, digital “coach” that interacts with employees in a familiar conversational way, while guiding employees with effective feedback and providing recommendations back to managers.

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Discover how to effectively listen to your workforce by checking out this white paper, “Taking the Pulse of Employee Engagement.

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Learn more about Achievers Listen and employee engagement trends by attending Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2018 in Toronto, October 23-24. Get the early bird rate and save $200 off the regular rate today. Buy now here.

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

About the Author
Jessica Barrett Halcom
Jessica Barrett Halcom is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com, with specializations in human resources, healthcare, and transportation. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay and currently lives in Nashville, TN.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

Employee Recognition

4 employee recognition best practices

Competition for top talent is intense, and your highly skilled workers are constantly being wooed by recruiters from other organizations. To build a strong company culture and foster employee engagement and alignment, you need to recognize their contributions in a way that makes them feel genuinely appreciated. The acronym R.I.S.E. is a helpful way to summarize these four employee recognition best practices:

R: Regular

People should recognize their colleagues on a consistent basis. Consistently offering appreciation for good performance sets up a reliable feedback system, developing an automatic expectation of excellence in your organization.

I: Immediate

To best reinforce behavior, recognitions should be given in a timely way. It’s a basic truism of psychology that people learn fastest when they receive prompt responses as a result of their actions. This principle is especially relevant when you have younger employees, because millennials have grown up in the fast-paced digital era and have come to expect immediate interactions with their world.

S: Specific

Recognitions should name exactly what the person did that impressed you or that reflected company values. Random or overly general words of praise can actually backfire on you and sound hollow to your workers. As Meghan Biro writes in Forbes, “Recognition should match effort and results, or it loses meaning.”

E: Encouraging

Recognitions should provide positive encouragement. This statement may sound obvious at first, but it refers to the fact that each employee should receive recognition in the form that they find most personally meaningful. In their NYTimes bestselling book, The 5 Languages for Appreciation in the Workplace, authors Gary Chapman and Paul White identify different approaches to employee appreciation. These include words of affirmation and tangible gifts. The authors point out that these methods are all similar to the ways in which parents instill a sense of value in children, although the employer-employee relationship is very different from a parental one.

The need for appreciation is fundamental to every human being. When this need is understood and fulfilled in a workplace context, it creates a positive environment in which employees feel motivated to excel.

How to get comfortable accepting praise

by Iain Ferreira, Proposal Writer

In the rapidly growing, highly competitive corporate world, most people work hard to stand out from the rest of their colleagues through productivity and performance. However, when praised for the contributions they have made, most will respond with a sheepish smile and humbly try to deflect the praise elsewhere. While humility is an admirable quality, consistently deflecting praise can have numerous negative effects, including:

You could receive less recognition: Your managers and peers could be less inclined to offer positive reinforcement if they feel they are making you uncomfortable. Some might even feel as if you are questioning their judgement by recognizing you in the first place.

You might indirectly lessen the impact you made: The reason you’re being praised is you’ve had a tremendous impact on a particular facet of the business. If you downplay your contributions, it might make higher-ups view your role as less than the actual amount of effort you put in.

You could limit the visibility of your efforts: Promotions and management opportunities are often given to employees that create the most value. By accepting an award at a company-wide function or having your manager sing your praises on a conference call with top executives, your value to the company reaches those that might not work in your department.

With companies putting greater emphasis on employee recognition, accepting a compliment in an appropriate manner can go a long way to furthering your career goals. Here are some ways to better accept compliments in the workplace:

Accept the recognition: Don’t deflect attention elsewhere. A manager is complimenting you because your work compelled them to do so.

Be mindful of body language: Don’t shrug your shoulders or look away when being praised. Maintain eye contact with the recognizer and respond with a smile. The subtle reinforcement of positive body language can go a long way in ensuring that you are recognized again.

Thank the person complimenting you: A succinct, sincere “thank you” is more than enough indication that you appreciate being complimented. If you feel it necessary, thanking someone is a good place to reinforce your accomplishment, “Thank you so much, it was a huge project but thanks to some quick thinking, we completed it without a hitch” or include others, assuming management hasn’t already thanked your colleagues for their work, “Thank you, if not for (insert name here), this could have been a disaster.”

Return the favor: If someone complimenting you has played a role in whatever success you’re being recognized for, receiving a compliment is an excellent opportunity to return the favor and compliment them back. “Thank you so much for recognizing my effort on project X. Truth be told, I couldn’t have done it without your help.”

These are just some of the ways you can show gratitude for recognition. Ultimately, how you interact in the workplace is defined on the individual level and can be influenced by your company’s culture as well. As such, recognition doesn’t have to be limited to an in-person compliment— greeting cards, gifts, group email recognitions, or a post on a company-wide recognition platform are just a few ways to give and receive praise in the workplace.

Iain FerreiraIain Ferreira is a Proposal Writer at Achievers. He lives in San Francisco.

 

Performance Improvement Plans

How to handle performance improvement plans without causing disengagement

If employees have been underperforming, performance improvement plans are sometimes the best option. This process can be awkward for managers as well as employees, but the right approach can reduce everyone’s discomfort and contribute to better employee alignment. Here are four tips for increasing the chances that your employees will react constructively when you have to put them on a PIP:

Provide specific factual documentation

To keep the discussion focused and avoid sidetracking into argument, it’s important to cite exact dates and descriptions of problem episodes. The most concise format for documentation includes a description of the behavior or product that was expected, an outline of what the employee actually did, and a list of the consequences of the employee’s actions. In addition, if any earlier remedy or consequences were put in place as a consequence of that episode, it is important to include a notation of those.

Schedule face-to-face meetings

No good manager relies only on written communication for such a sensitive interaction. You should speak to your employee in person to inform them about the fact that you will be putting them on a PIP and then send them initial written documentation. After they receive the documentation, it is imperative that you schedule a face-to-face meeting in which you can have a two-way conversation about the issue. Following your conversation, you can confirm what you agreed on in a document that you both sign.

Ask employees what they need

In some cases, an employee’s sub-par performance is the result of insufficient resources, training, tools, or other support. Even if you’re feeling frustrated, it’s helpful to come into the PIP meeting with an open mind rather than with an assumption that the employee is entirely culpable. A productive PIP meeting should be based on the attitude that you and the employee are collaborating on finding solutions for a problem.

Develop an action plan together

While you may enter the discussion with some clear requirements in mind, it’s important that the employee have a voice in developing the action plan. If additional training is one of the items on your action plan it may be beneficial to ask the employee exactly what skills they would most like to improve. The key to a successful PIP is having employee alignment and buy-in.

Handled properly, a performance improvement plan can turn out to be a positive experience for a struggling worker. If you seek input from your employee and approach them with the sense of solving a problem together, the PIP can be a bridge to a more productive working relationship.

Disengaged Employees

How to rehabilitate disengaged employees

Disengagement in the workplace is a problem that’s all too common these days, and disengaged employees have a negative impact on both their coworkers and businesses as a whole. A Gallup poll found that fewer than 31 percent of American workers felt engaged in their jobs, while 17.5 percent were “actively disengaged.” Because these workers can wreak havoc on productivity and morale, you need to be able to recognize the signs of disengagement so you can address it as it happens.

Signs of disengagement in employees

  • Withdrawal from participation: An employee who suddenly begins to miss meetings, starts leaving early, or takes extra days off may be disengaged. Likewise, a significant withdrawal from normal work conversations may also indicate a problem. As a manager, you should watch for changes that stray from an employee’s long-standing behavior or routine.
  • Undermining and gossiping: Employees who feel disconnected from their workplace can also develop grudges against coworkers or managers. They sometimes engage in gossip that undermines company goals, and they may even intentionally spread misinformation.
  • Apathy and poor follow-through: Disengagement typically results in employees who are no longer aligned with organizational goals. For this reason, you may notice that they don’t care about the quality of their work and that they substitute excuses for task completion.

How to rehabilitate a disengaged employee

Start by reaching out to a disengaged employee to see how they’re feeling. They may be facing issues or obstacles that you can help solve. Human resources and team leaders can work together on this goal, interviewing the employee to discover their concern, be it a family need that makes a current schedule unworkable or a conflict with an immediate manager. Active listening is crucial here, and so is a willingness to make changes. Team reassignments, flexible scheduling, extra training opportunities, and other types of reorganization should all be on the table when mitigating issues with employee motivation.

While individual employee concerns can be specific and situational, proactive solutions to employee disengagement require an awareness of demographic trends. An extensive report on disengagement by AON Hewitt notes that the leading aspects of job engagement for millennial workers are career opportunities, good manager performance, company reputation, pay scale, and good communication. That means that the engagement programs you’ve had in place for one generation of employees might not be as powerful for a different generation. Determine what kinds of company-wide systems you need to have in place to reduce disengagement, whether it’s more manager training, better onboarding, employee recognition and rewards, or a more meaningful company mission.

Talent Management Strategy

3 biggest talent management challenges for 2016

The workforce is changing rapidly, and many companies are struggling to update their talent management process to keep pace with new workplace cultures. Companies that can’t keep up with the expectations of today’s employees will see a decline in engagement — and a corresponding decrease in their bottom line.

A 2015 report by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) gives a look into current levels of staff engagement. According to the report, only 39 percent of respondents are “very satisfied” with their job, indicating that there is a lot of work ahead for managers in the upcoming year.

  1. Creating a culture of engagement

Almost three-quarters of respondents to the SHRM survey listed “respectful treatment of all employees at all levels” as the No. 1 driver of engagement. Employees also considered “trust between employees and senior management” to be a critically important engagement factor (64 percent), along with “management’s recognition of employee job performance” (55 percent).

In 2016, successful companies will focus on a talent management strategy that takes these new priorities into consideration. Creating a culture of engagement to increase retention will be management’s primary challenge.

  1. Adjusting the frequency of feedback

Employees have indicated that they are dissatisfied with the traditional yearly review process. Instead, they are interested in real-time feedback, both positive and negative, that is delivered at least once a month.

In our North American Workforce survey, we found that 60 percent of employees reported that they don’t receive any on-the-spot feedback, and 53 percent stated that they don’t feel recognized for their achievements at all. It’s no surprise then that a full 41 percent indicated that they’re unhappy with the frequency of the feedback and recognition they do receive.

These numbers tell us that in 2016, management will be challenged to place greater emphasis on providing employees with frequent, high-quality feedback in an effort to increase levels of engagement.

  1. Attracting top talent

The job market has shifted dramatically over the past five years, going from employer-centric to almost entirely candidate-centric. Attracting top talent will be a significant challenge in 2016, as companies struggle to retain current employees, as well as fill any vacancies quickly.

Forward-thinking organizations are preparing for an applicant desert now by building their talent brand. This approach — ensuring that the company has a reputation in the marketplace as an employer of choice — relies primarily on a comprehensive talent management process that translates well to word-of-mouth referrals, company profiles and employee reviews on job boards.

As the employment market changes, organizations must adjust talent management strategies to meet and exceed employee expectations. Those that fall short find themselves with a disengaged workforce, which quickly cripples their ability to remain competitive.

Employee Performance Review

Real-time feedback vs. annual reviews: A showdown

The performance review process is undergoing a revolution. One by one, mega-corporations like GE, Adobe, Accenture, Microsoft, and Netflix are announcing they’re scrapping their annual rankings- or ratings-based performance management systems and replacing them with real-time feedback systems. The reason is clear: Real-time feedback is a better fit for today’s fast-paced business environment and a younger, tech-savvy generation of workers.

Out with the archaic system

The traditional annual or semi-annual employee performance review system is the model that most businesses still use to assess performance, justify compensation increases, and provide feedback. In a technology-driven, constantly changing corporate environment, the often tedious, once-a-year evaluations—that risk inspiring employee fear more than improved performance—are already in danger of becoming archaic.

The traditional rank- and ratings-based system carries a lot of potential negatives, including causing high levels of employee frustration, pitting employees against each other, and fostering disengagement. In the context of neuroscience, the disengagement emanates from the employee’s brain responding negatively to being compared to others instead of being assessed as an individual. Once disengaged, feedback falls on deaf ears.

Annual or semi-annual evaluations can also be ineffective when the focus tilts too heavily toward things said and done many months ago. Millennials want real-time feedback as a means of achieving high performance levels in their current environment. As the first generation of workers to grow up with instant communication, they expect more frequent evaluations and fast, relevant feedback.

Reluctance to let go of the past

There has been a reluctance to let go of the traditional employee performance review process. For all its faults, it’s a well-embedded process, and alternatives are untested by time. Only 10 percent of Fortune 500 companies have moved away from annual ratings, per the Institute for Corporate Productivity. However, when GE decided to scrap performance reviews, people took notice because the company had one of the most rigid review systems for one of the world’s largest workforces.

In the old GE system, employees were reviewed annually, ranked against peers, and the bottom percentage fired. The new system works very differently. GE is rolling out a process in which managers and direct reports hold regular and informal “touchpoints” for reviewing and revising priorities based on customer needs, and providing immediate feedback following assignments. Regular, personalized feedback is delivered via an app to 307,000 employees.

Deloitte conducted a public survey on ranking- and ratings-based performance management systems, and the results were dismal. Only 8 percent of respondents believe their performance management system drives high value levels. Deloitte concluded from the responses that traditional performance management systems actually damage employee engagement and alienate high performers.

In with the new real-time feedback system

With such large and well-known companies realizing it’s more effective to regularly provide employee feedback because one size does not fit all, more widespread adoption seems likely to follow. Real-time feedback can make your employees feel recognized and appreciated for the work they’re doing now, not 12 months ago. It can also improve the quality of feedback because it concerns current performance, enabling employee behavior adjustments that can improve productivity immediately.

Real-time feedback also creates a valuable and uplifting two-way dialogue, rather than a top-down assessment. Your employees get unique feedback without being boxed in by a set of questions, and high performers can get the tools needed to succeed now. Real-time feedback turns the employee performance review into ongoing coaching. There are various forms of real-time feedback. They include weekly one-on-one meetings with managers, routine catch-up sessions via email or an intranet communication program, engagement surveys, feedback apps, and real-time recognition programs.

Real-time recognition programs can be particularly successful in building engagement within the broader business context, because they include peer and management feedback. Across the company, your employees can celebrate wins together. The showdown between real-time feedback and annual reviews has arrived, and real-time feedback is off to a fast start.

Feedback Techniques

How to give feedback your employees will listen to

As a manager, you need to be able to shape the performance of your staff and offer guidance and course corrections as needed. Giving feedback to your team can be tricky, however, since sounding too negative or critical may cause your listener to simply shut down. Here are a few feedback techniques you can use to guide your employees in a manner that encourages them to perform at their peak.

Center feedback on business outcomes

Harvard Business Review recommends approaching your employee in a spirit of collaboration. If you identify specific business outcomes (more sales, better service, etc.) as goals that both of you are interested in achieving, your feedback takes on a quality of teamwork. The entire atmosphere of the interaction is transformed into one of mutuality, as your input assists the two of you in succeeding in a shared effort.

Consider performance management as a holistic system

Employers should view feedback as part of an encompassing performance management system that’s initiated on the hire date, according to HR Daily Advisor. From the first days of orientation through the training, counseling, and coaching you provide your employees, you’re establishing a system to elicit and recognize peak performance.

Establish two-way feedback channels

If you tell a staff member that he or she needs to complete a process more rapidly, you also need to ask that person if there are any obstacles preventing greater efficiency. All too often, managers are unaware of bottlenecks and obstructions that their employees contend with every day. Forbes encourages managers to keep an open door and take a friendly interest in all aspects of their staff’s working life.

Plan on learning something

The traditional view of giving feedback about employees’ performance puts the manager in the role of already knowing everything. If you go into the conversation ready to ask questions and gain insight from your staff, you’ll end up with more buy-in for any proposed changes. Harvard Business Review suggests posing open-ended questions, such as, “How do you feel about how things are going?” and then letting the answer guide the course of your feedback.

The underlying principle of operating a business is that your fortunes are tied to those of your workers. If they feel defensive and alienated, your company’s bottom line will suffer. Feedback that clearly conveys the message that you and your employees are on the same team is the best way to ensure your company’s future resilience.

 

Woman Takes Employee Surveys for Employee Morale

How does that make you feel? Why employee mood is important

If you want to keep a pulse on your company’s health, you need to understand how engaged or disengaged your employees are feeling on a regular basis. It’s no longer sufficient to gauge employee satisfaction just once or twice a year. After all, if leadership, employee morale, or performance problems aren’t solved quickly, they can lead to a drop in productivity, job satisfaction, and customer service. Big data and frequent employee surveys are a great way to measure employee mood and satisfaction in real time.

Why companies need to understand their workforce

There’s a reason world-class companies are constantly assessing employee satisfaction: engaged employees are the engine that fuels growth, great ideas, and customer satisfaction.
It’s important to remember that employee engagement directly relates to the success of an organization. Would employees recommend other skilled people in the industry for a job at your company? Do they project a positive image when dealing with your clients and customers? Do employees feel they can openly approach supervisors with suggestions? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, then disengaged employees might negatively impact your business without you realizing it.

Stay on top of employee needs every day

Businesses are using real-time data to track their markets, their customers’ behaviors, their advertising performance, and more. So why don’t we start applying this same level of analysis to tracking employee engagement? Forget annual surveys: you should be measuring engagement on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

Frequent employee surveys will allow you to track the effects of changes in your business, such as new system implementation, changes in management, changes in company structure, or anything else that might affect engagement and morale.

Make smart changes based on employee feedback

Employee surveys are an excellent way to keep managers informed. Gather feedback on a variety of your business practices, including training, onboarding, work environment, leadership effectiveness, systems, and more. This feedback will empower you to take a data-driven approach to improving your processes, evaluating your leadership team, and improving employee engagement.

It’s also worth using survey data to influence business decisions. Will employees react positively to a merger? What benefits do they actually want? What do they think about your company’s new growth strategy? These are the kinds of important questions a survey can answer quickly to keep your business on track.

3 reasons your mobile app shouldn’t mirror your desktop application

By Justin Rutherford, National Account Executive, Achievers

A couple of years back, I downloaded one of the most popular CRM apps for iOS thinking this was going to triple my productivity, “Now I can work while on the train to the office. This is awesome!” But I quickly realized the app was less than I’d hoped for. It was clunky and difficult to navigate. After several attempts to squeeze even an ounce of value out of the tool, it was promptly deleted and I haven’t attempted using it since.

Now when prospective customers ask me, “can the Achievers native apps do everything that the desktop version can?” my immediate response is, “Why would you want to burden your employees with that kind of experience?”

And this isn’t unique to this particular company. Many organizations evaluating enterprise applications are overlooking some basic needs for users when determining what to put in front of their employees. Although I’m not a developer, I’ve tested my fair share of apps. As someone who frequently has conversations with HR leaders on the topic, here’s where organizations are missing the mark with their enterprise apps:

1.  Feature overload

Think about the consumer applications that have been wildly successful from the start. Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter. Their focus from day one has been a delightful, wholly native mobile experience. Product design for each is focused on doing one thing really well; sharing photos, newsfeed of mini blog posts respectively. Over the years they’ve compounded their initial success, slowly layering-on features that continue to enhance that experience.

But that isn’t what I experienced with my CRM app. It was packed with “features” that were more congesting than they were useful. Because it was so overloaded, it was frustrating and difficult to navigate.

Ray Wang did a great job cataloging what many of us have experienced with business applications on our mobile devices. He notes that first and second generation mobile experiences failed us,

Instead of crafting new experiences, first and second-generation apps, mostly mimicked the same experiences as the systems of transaction they replaced.

Lightbulb moment. We don’t need everything from desktop versions of software on our apps. If we’re on the move and using our phones, that probably means we just need some of the basics to “get it done.” Look at email apps for example. They’re pretty basic. Read, reply, draft and send. And you know what? That’s all we need when we’re away from our desks. The complicated things can wait until we’re back at our desks.

If enterprise apps released themselves from the shackles of desktop replication, their customers would have a much more productive, enjoyable mobile experience.

2. Utilization and adoption

I can tell you the top five apps that I open up daily, why they fit into my routine, and what value I derive from them personally and socially. Now take a look at what business applications are on your phone today. I’d wager a bet that email is the only one that sees any serious traffic on a regular basis. Why is this?

If a tool isn’t useful to the majority of your workforce, they’re not going to use it. My CRM company didn’t factor in how different users would most value the app, so it was targeted at a small, specific user persona, essentially alienating everyone else—including me.

Take stock of what your employees are using, and figure out how to cater to as many of them as possible. If you’re having trouble identifying value in business apps across the organization, it’s because too few employees are deriving meaningful value from the tools they’re provided.

For HR leaders, the biggest task is to be champions and enablers of culture. A big piece of that monstrous, constantly shifting puzzle—empowering individual contributors and people leaders with the right tools to execute on engagement and leadership strategies. At scale. If what you’re putting in front of them isn’t enabling this to happen, employees will continue to cobble together what they need to get the job done.

If done correctly, utilization and adoption doesn’t become a means to an end for enterprise tools, as in, “I have to use this tool because HR says I have to” but a natural result of users finding the app makes their lives easier.

3. The user experience

In a world of system overload, well documented by Josh Bersin, software tools find they become lost in the mix, plagued with 30% adoption rates across the organization. Demand for employees’ attention comes from so many directions, so when it’s difficult to see immediate value, they’ll quickly move on.

My CRM app was anything but enjoyable to use. I was frustrated with the first tap, and was more inclined to write a scathing review in the App Store than ever use it again. They could learn from companies like Evernote, who continues to deliver a positive user experience. They lured me with it’s simple to use note-taking feature, and over time, I discovered new uses that made the mobile experience uniquely valuable, while also complimenting the broader features and functionality of the desktop version.

Mobile can’t just be a box that’s checked. The user experience must be one that employees want to use because they love the experience—not one they have to use. And the bonus side-effect of loving your mobile app, is that your users are more likely to get attached to the desktop version, too. Win win.

comscoreTalent strategies are quickly becoming people strategies. In the same way, talent focused technologies that are doing it right, are focused on the value the individual user derives from the tool. With mobile usage quickly eclipsing that of desktop, it’s more important than ever to make sure the tools you’re providing to your employees make their work life easy, connected, and seamless.

 

 

 

 

Now when prospective customers ask me, “can the Achievers native apps do everything that the desktop version can?” my immediate response is, “Why would you want to burden your employees with that kind of experience?”

 

To learn more about Achievers’ latest product release, read the press release.

 

JustinJustin shares his passion for talent strategies that deliver an employee first experience as a National Account Executive for Achievers. When he’s not poring over the latest analyst reports, Justin devotes a significant portion of his free time eating all the great food San Francisco has to offer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces

Announcing the 2015 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ winners!

Today, we’re excited to announce the 50 Most Engaged Workplaces in North America for 2015. This annual award recognizes top employers that display leadership and innovation in engaging their workplaces.

Our panel of judges evaluated each applicant based on the Eight Elements of Employee Engagement™: Communication, Leadership, Culture, Rewards and Recognition, Professional and Personal Growth, Accountability and Performance, Vision and Values and Corporate Social Responsibility.

The panel of judges was comprised of academic and thought leaders on employee engagement from organizations such as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Human Capital Institute and Human Resource Executive.

Recipients of the Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ Awards will be honored at an award gala on March 11, 2015 at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. We’re excited to congratulate all the winners!

The Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ in North America in alphabetical order include:

  1. 3M Canada
  2. Agrium U.S. Inc.
  3. AMN Healthcare
  4. AOL Canada
  5. ATB Financial
  6. AutoTrader.com
  7. Bell
  8. Black Hills Corporation
  9. Blue Coat Systems
  10. C.R. England
  11. CA Technologies
  12. Cargill
  13. CBRE
  14. Ceridian
  15. CIBC
  16. CIBC Mellon
  17. Cisco – Services Platforms Group
  18. ERICSSON NORTH AMERICA
  19. G4S Secure Solutions (USA) Inc
  20. GoodLife Fitness
  21. HomeAway, Inc.
  22. Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey
  23. HP Software Professional Services
  24. Humana: National Education
  25. KPMG LLP
  26. MD Financial Management
  27. Meridian Credit Union
  28. MGM Resorts International
  29. Moneris Solutions
  30. NetSuite, Inc. Canada
  31. NetSuite, Inc. USA
  32. PRAXAIR
  33. Reliant Medical Group
  34. Rogers Communications
  35. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
  36. Ryan, LLC
  37. Shoppers Drug Mart
  38. SilverBirch Hotels & Resorts
  39. Smart & Final Stores LLC
  40. Softchoice LP.
  41. Sutherland Global Services
  42. TATA Consultancy Services
  43. Tata Consultancy Services Canada Inc
  44. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
  45. Ultimate Software
  46. Veterans United Home Loans
  47. Virtusa Corporation
  48. World Travel Holdings
  49. Zappos.com, Inc.
  50. Zurich American Insurance Company

Learn more about Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ here, and follow the conversation on Twitter with #Achievers50.

Open Door Policy: 4 Links to Help Embrace Transparency at Work

The “open door” policy is ubiquitous in the business world, but following through on that practice can be a challenge. Many of us set out with the best intentions, but when we’re at the point of crossing the proverbial threshold, we chicken out.

Sound familiar? Don’t worry; you’re in good company. This week we’re sharing some of our favorite insights on infusing transparency, and creating a culture of constructive, consistent feedback in the office.

Whether your door is physical or virtual, creating a feedback-friendly environment doesn’t have to be scary. Keep these links handy for the next time you’re feeling squeamish about testing out that open door policy, and you’ll find transparency in the office opens the door to a collaborative, successful, workplace environment.

MGM Resorts International and Achievers

MGM Resorts: 2 Takeaways from a Game-Winning People Strategy

What does it take to implement a remarkable employee engagement strategy?

Last week, Achievers had the pleasure of hosting Christopher Henry, VP of Talent and Organizational Development for MGM Resorts International, on the webinar titled, How to Put Employees First to Win Customers. Chris shared with us how MGM’s investment in the development of their people and culture is largely responsible for the brand’s amazing turnaround.

This isn’t the first time we’ve been exposed to MGM’s awesome People Strategy; MGM submitted a stellar application that won them a spot in the Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ Awards in 2013. Since last year, MGM has continued to shape and improve its employee engagement plan to adapt to a growing company and workforce.

Christopher highlights four of the Eight Elements of Employee Engagement™ responsible for the biggest improvements in employee performance and happiness at MGM. Under each dimension, he provides an impressive list of initiatives. Here are three of my favorites:

–          Unified Vision, Mission, and Core Values

  • MGM makes sure all employees are united under a common mission and educated on what MGM stands for. When employees are working towards a common goal, communication and teamwork improve.

–          Effective Communication and 2-Way Feedback

  • All employees have the opportunity to give and receive both real-time and milestone feedback. Managers are then held accountable for proposed changes by the “YOU SAID IT, WE DID IT” initiative.

–          Corporate Mentoring Program

  • Managers and directors are assigned coaches two levels up from them (i.e. Managers paired with VPs) to solidify the mentee’s development of MGM’s seven core leadership competencies.

Selecting just three highlights was difficult – MGM’s People Strategy is pretty high-level. In fact, for an outside company trying to come up with or revamp an employee engagement strategy, MGM’s approach might be a little intimidating. Thus, I think it’s important to consider the following two points:

1.       There really isn’t a “one size fits all” employee engagement strategy.

Every business is different, every company culture is different, and most importantly, the workforce is constantly evolving. MGM’s approach of focusing in on individual elements of employee engagement works very well for them – but a more holistic approach might work better for a smaller business. A great employee engagement strategy is unique to that company and adapts to corporate changes and the always-evolving workforce.

2.      A superior employee engagement strategy takes time – and effort!

Implementing a new people strategy isn’t easy; it tends to be a lengthy process with many steps – researching and evaluating employee satisfaction, analyzing data, devising a strategy, implementing that strategy, evaluating its effectiveness, and making changes as needed.

It’s important to remember that big shifts in engagement rarely happen overnight. But take it from MGM – that extra investment in time and effort WILL be worth it.

Hear it for yourself! Tune in as Chris shares all the specifics on MGM’s game-winning People Strategy on “How to Put Employees First to Win Customers.”

Watch On-Demand

Chris Henry

MGM LOGO R

 

Baby Boomers and Millennials

Boomers’ Love/Loathe Relationship with Millennials and How to Overcome the Generational Divide

You’ve heard the stereotypes about Millennials: lacking attention span, overdependent on technology, self-centered, ignorant of older generations, entitled – and so on.

Not only are these statements inaccurate, but these myths also stem from the difference between how Millennials work versus how Boomers work. In a recent Forbes article, Boomers’ Love/Loathe Relationship With Millennials, Eisenberg interviews Stiller Rikleen, executive-in-residence at the Boston College Center For Work & Family and president of the Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership, about the recent survey she conducted among 1000 Millennials.

Rikleen’s findings were consistent with the outcome of the Class of 2014 survey that ConnectEDU and Achievers partnered on to understand exactly what the next generation of top talent is looking for from their future organizations. The verdict is that many of the stigmas that Boomers associate with Millennials are actually not negative; they are simply representative of an evolving workplace.

Here are a few (seemingly) negative stigmas about Millennials that Stiller Rikleen addresses in her interview, along with tactical takeaways for HR professionals and employers to apply in the workplace to bridge the style gap between Boomers and Millennials:

Millennials demand constant feedback.
Are Millennials looking for more frequent feedback? Absolutely. Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not. While older generations have perceived this need for constant feedback to only be self-fulfilling for Millennials, constant feedback also drives business results. Yes, Millennials are eager to use frequent feedback to get ahead, but recognizing Millennials for great performance and making recommendations for improvement also keeps them engaged and the business booming.

Boomers are resistant to give feedback.
In the historical workplace, the only appropriate and designated time to give feedback was in an annual performance review. Saying that Boomers are resistant to give feedback doesn’t describe the full picture. In fact, Boomers come from a work generation where structured feedback was the only type of feedback that was delivered to their teams. With Millennials now in the workplace reporting to Boomers, Boomers should be conscious to share timely feedback with their team members. This can occur in one-on-one meeting, by embracing a “coachable moment,” or even during a quick coffee break in the kitchen. Feedback drives better results for employees, managers, and the company overall.

There is a disconnect between what Millennials value and what Boomers think they value.
In the traditional workplace, it was common for employees to stay with companies for their entire careers and get recognized and rewarded for their length of tenure. But in the modern workplace, new employees will work with many different companies and want to be recognized and rewarded for their contributions, regardless of how long they’ve been there. Instead of recognizing Millennials with the predetermined rewards Boomers have been accustomed to, give Millennials the freedom to set goals and choose their own rewards for big achievements. Then, use day-to-day recognitions for the wins in between.

Learn more about what the Class of 2014 wants from their future employers and how your business can bridge the gap between Boomers and Millennials.

Download our Class of 2014 whitepaper.

Class of 2014: Your Next Generation of Top Talent

 

Blog post originally written by Stephanie White, edited and published by Julia Bersin.

Ask Achievers: How can we give effective constructive criticism?

ask_achieversIn this week’s Ask Achievers, Jewel Celestine shares best practices for giving constructive criticism. Jewel is the Employee Success Business Partner at Achievers, where she develops and implements strategic HR initiatives pertaining to performance management, talent development, and employee engagement. She has been in human resources for the last ten years serving as a learning and development consultant, HR business partner, and HR strategist.

Dear Ask Achievers,

Our organization has praise down, but we seem to be struggling on the constructive criticism front. Comments often come across as mean-spirited, passive-aggressive, aggressive-aggressive, or not at all. Do you have best practices for delivering effective negative feedback? I want to make sure our staff is learning what it needs to grow without the drama or potential for abuse.

Constructive criticism is an art, and too often a neglected one. Recognizing positive behavior yields great results, but you’re right, it’s critical to correct negative behaviors, too. Here are some best practices I have seen used in effective workplaces: Read more →

The annual review is dead; long live continuous feedback

performance_managementIn a recent article for Forbes, “Time to Scrap Performance Appraisals?,” Josh Bersin sounds the death knell of the annual review. He lists several good reasons why it’s time to say goodbye: the feedback is often too far removed from the behavior to be of use, it’s nearly impossible to remember a year’s worth of activity, course corrections should happen as soon as possible, etc. They’re all excellent points, and yet for 15 years, Bersin says, companies fought back when he advised eliminating the process. Mostly, their concerns boiled down to a need to capture the data collected in the reviews.

Well, of course you need data. So why aren’t you having these meetings every week?

Read more →

Harvard Business Review reveals the bright side to negative feedback

industry_headlinesPositive feedback and recognition clearly amplify key behaviors that drive results. But what happens when you are faced with employee behavior that misses the mark? With talent scarcity on the rise, your organization cannot afford to replace all the underperformers and rehire, retrain, and recover from loss of revenue. Instead, you should help these employees reach their full potential and maximize your investment.

Read more →

The power of consistent recognition

Recognition can be incredibly addicting – but the good kind of addiction, because being recognized once is never enough.

When you recognize an employee on-the-spot for a job well done, it can be very powerful. This type of recognition is powerful because the employee receives timely, specific and meaningful feedback, which reinforces that the certain behavior should be repeated.  However, if that same behavior is repeated and does not receive timely recognition, it is likely that the initiative will fall flat. So what’s the problem?

Read more →

The customer profit chain

“The employee customer profit chain is not a revolutionary idea. More than 15 years ago a study in HBR identified ‘the employee-customer-profit chain’ at Sears. This was a straightforward dynamic in which employee behavior affected customer behavior, which in turn affected company financial performance. This study has been replicated by JC Penny, Best Buy and Marriott. And for all of them the results held true—effective leaders let to satisfied employees, which lead to satisfied customers, which led to a direct and measurable increase in sales revenue.” http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/07/how_damaging_is_a_bad_boss_exa.html

Make sure that your company becomes another one of these financial success stories where sales revenue sky rockets year-over-year. Provide your leaders with the right tools to excel in their jobs and give consistent real-time recognition and feedback. Your employees will be grateful and so will your customers!

Equal opportunity feedback: Incorporating meaningful recognition from customer recommendations

Dear A Advisor,

My company has a very large customer service department and their hard work and dedication really shines through in the positive feedback that they receive from customers. I feel like all of this hard work is rarely represented on our online recognition platform; it’s feedback from customers who do not have access to the platform. Is there a way that I can leverage the recognition platform so that it can account for all the hard work in our customer service department?

Thanks for your help!

Spread the Love

Read more →

Connect your employees for business success

“Humans are social by nature, and technology is now amplifying that tendency, turning us into an always-connected, interactive network of advice, feedback, information, and gossip. For thousands of years we only interacted with others face to face, but we now do it by phone, email, status update, online chat, SMS, Skype, or FaceTime.”

If your company does not provide consistent real time feedback you will alienate the most technically inclined generations, Gen X, Gen Y and the Millennials. Provide your employees with an online rewards and recognition program where they can get real time feedback from their managers and their colleagues.

Forbes:http://www.fastcompany.com/1839425/so-you-think-your-customers-trust-you-5-reasons-to-think-again

Give before you take: 3 ways to win employee loyalty

According to Webster’s Dictionary, the definition of loyalty is being faithful to a cause, ideal, custom, institution or product. In everyday life, loyalty is found in sports fans that cheer for their teams even when they’re losing or in a dog that never leaves its owner’s side.

Read more →

Out with the old performance review, in with recognition

Dear A Advisor,

I’m a new manager and I’m expected to do performance reviews with my team. Performance reviews seem so outdated — I don’t think something that resembles a report card helps with employee engagement. I would love to give my team feedback on their accomplishments and all the ways that we can improve our team. Is there a way that I can do this that’s more meaningful and engaging for my team? 

Thanks for your help!

Still New At This

Read more →

Capture ROI with every recognition

“HR is responsible for creating a rhythm of recognition and everyday feedback.  Facilitating this culture without a formal program in place is time consuming and taxing on HR professionals.  Technical rewards and recognition programs will meet your employees’ needs, take pressure off HR, and precisely measure ROI to present to the C-Suite.”

Make your team’s values the corporate values

“Align your feedback with the company’s overall objectives. The most deeply motivated people – not to mention those who are most productive and satisfied – hitch their desires to a cause larger themselves.”

Drive results with a culture of communication

A, I need your help –

Our workforce isn’t producing the results we need, and I think it’s because they don’t know what they are expected to accomplish.  What spark gets individual employees to go from vague, general goals to ones with targets?  Our team of managers has much difficulty getting to results /outcomes with their respective teams.

Help!

Seymour Results

Read more →

Positively, immediately, and certainly say ‘Thank You’

“Today’s younger employees are not concerned with their length of tenure, but of their immediate impact on the business’s success.  To retain Next Generation employees, and encourage them to drive results, companies must adopt a total recognition package that frequently provides employees with positive, immediate, and certain feedback.”