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A Recognition Moment: An Interview with Jacqueline Scafidi of Zurich

Jacqueline ScafidiMeet Jacqueline Scafidi
Employee Experience Specialist, Zurich North America

Jacqueline Scafidi is on a team that leads company efforts which examine and evolve the employee experience in the workplace. Through her role with Zurich North America, she takes a human-centered approach towards recognition and rewards, volunteering, and targeted ways to engage employees in their work environment. She began with her current team in 2010, when Zurich invested in a growing team dedicated to community investment and the full employee experience. Jacqueline finds fulfillment in contributing to creative workplaces that engage a diverse set of thoughts and strategies, and has a passion to provide an approachable and distinct service experience for the customer and fellow colleagues.

Her previous career incarnation included production stage management with the Chicago theatre community. Jacqueline was a graduate of Knox College in Galesburg, IL and feels love and support from her spouse, children, family and friends.

Let’s Take a Moment to Recognize Jacqueline

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

  1. What interested you in a career in HR?

I’ve always had an interest in the study and behavior of people. What influences our choices and our behaviors? What intrinsically and externally will motivate someone? I began with a focus on the charitable efforts of the company and our employees – coordinating volunteering and fundraising efforts. In time I began to take on programs and initiatives related to broader employee engagement. More recently I took over efforts on building a culture of recognition with our rewards and recognition strategy and programs. I enjoy the variance of a job role in HR – it’s never quite the same day.

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

People matter. They are a driving force behind the success of a culture and of a company. Our focus is to ensure that our people feel that they matter and feel supported by our culture and our business. We look to involve our people in the evolution of the employee experience through their feedback and by inviting them to solution-orientated working groups to improve.

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

The rapid pace of change is one of the larger cultural challenges I think any organization faces today. Technology, processes, the definition of your job role – every aspect is open to a more efficient or innovative way of working.

To overcome the resistance to change it is important to communicate early and often, and to involve the users in the process from the beginning.

If you explain why change is happening and how it can positively affect someone, you are more likely to experience acceptance and adoption.

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

The key to boosting employee engagement across the organization is the support of management teams. Early adopters will always exist in an organization, but there are a majority of individuals that look to the leaders around them. We all know senior leadership should be role models for the rest of the organization. It’s the support and investment of mid-level leadership that will help an organization cross the threshold to true engagement.

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

At Zurich, my favorite employee recognition moment occurs each year when we honor and celebrate our KAMP Leadership Award recipients. On September 11, 2001, Zurich North America lost four colleagues in the World Trade Center attacks: John Keohane, Peggy Alario, Kathy Moran and Lud Picarro. Since 2002, Zurich has celebrated their lives by presenting the KAMP Leadership Award to deserving employee leaders. KAMP is an acronym representing each of our colleagues’ last names, but it also serves as a reminder about Keeping A Meaningful Perspective, something each of those friends and colleagues exemplified in their lives. The KAMP Leadership Award is a tribute to their spirit of courage, dedication, integrity and passion. There is a sense of duty and humility when I get to steward this award and experience we provide our winners.  

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

I think the future of employee engagement is one that responds to the changing work environment and adapts to the needs of the employees. Companies have evolved to be interconnected on global scales, now we must look at how we stay connected with the advancement of a mobile workforce that works anywhere, anytime. Across industries we need to rethink what it means to be engaged with one another and how those interactions will continue to be meaningful. The bottom line is that engagement affects our business and if we aren’t evolving to this new way of engaging, success will be harder to reach.

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

#1: Be intentional and specific on what your strategy should accomplish.

#2: Embrace the ideas of your employees and have them be a part of shaping the outcome.

#3: Be ready to evolve and learn.

Looking Ahead

What’s next for Jacqueline? She and her team are doing some exciting work around the employee experience at Zurich. They’ve recently had the opportunity to listen to their employees in a more in-depth way and map out key moments that matter to their experiences from when they join to when they retire. These insights are allowing the Zurich team to take a deep, human-centered look at what contributes to their company’s culture and work environment and how they can continue to find ways to contribute enhancements.

About Zurich’s Recognition Program

Zurich’s employee recognition program, powered by Achievers, caters to 9,300 employees across North America. Since launch, the program has seen huge success, including 98.13% activation and 67.18% monthly active users. In the first half of 2018 alone, the program saw:

  • 54% of employees received recognition
  • 1,025,235 award points given
  • 76,784 sent recognitions
  • 1,120 mobile recognitions
  • 24,249 boosted recognitions

 To learn more about the award-winning platform that powers Zurich’s recognition program, sign up for a demo of Achievers today.

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

 

 

 

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AI and HR

Perils and Promise: What Machines and Millennials are Doing to HR (Part 3)

Part 3: … And What You Need to Do About It

(Read Part 1 and Part 2)

This is the third installment of my blog series. We’ve looked at how changes in the workforce are changing HR and we’ve also explored how a constellation of technologies will change the future of work and the very nature of labor itself. Next, we are going to get specific…what should you do about it?

As an applied futurist, it’s my job to not only envision the possible and probable future but to also work with organizations to figure out what they should do. How can you not only take steps to prepare for what’s coming, but how can you actually shape it?

My intention is to make it simple and easy to apply what you’ve learned. Essentially, here’s what you can do on Monday to prepare for the future.

Monday Focus: The Machines

Machines really aren’t that complicated for HR. Technology does not get to decide it’s future. Humans and organizations get to decide how it is implemented. All work is about humans. Everything we do as professionals is about people. As anyone in HR knows, all business is people business. So, let’s start with people.

As we imagine a future where we have autonomous technologies, what do we need to do to make sure we are keeping humans at the center? We always need to keep humans at the center of what we do. We have seen through time that any time we stray from keeping humans at the center of our decision-making, we get ourselves in trouble.

Autonomous technologies are going to afford us incredible efficiencies. They will streamline our work and they will also do away with many roles the people are actually doing today.

This is where I tell you that if a machine can take your job, then your job probably sucked. Really! If a machine can do your job, then it means that your job was turning you into a machine. The real opportunity for machines transforming the workforce is that they will free us up to be more human. We let the machines do what the machines are good at and we as humans engage with other humans. This is how we future proof the future of work. Be human.

As we bring in more autonomous technologies into the workplace, we must make sure that we are keeping humans at the center. This doesn’t mean that people have to do everything. However, we do have to ask ourselves WHY. Why are we doing this? Why are we automating this system or task? And WHAT do we hope to get out of it?

To be more specific, if you are going to implement an AI or autonomous technology in your business there are some pretty simple questions you should ask IT professionals, engineers, or vendors about when it comes to the use of these new technologies in the workplace. You don’t have to be a technology expert; you need to be a people expert.

Your To-Do List:

  1. Ask: What are you optimizing for?

All algorithms optimize.  You can’t consider all of the data all of the time. When you write an algorithm you have to limit the data that you are feeding into it. In short, you have to make choices. You have to ask yourself what are you optimizing for? What is the work that you are trying to do?

  1. Ask: What is the bias?

All data has bias. Algorithms have bias as well. At the highest-level bias is the prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair. Recently there have been well-documented cases of data and algorithmic bias in law enforcement, healthcare and the courts. It is important to understand how your organization is choosing the data they will be using. Urge your organization to get to know the data and also the bias of the algorithms.

In recent years, the high tech industry is coming to grips with the reality of bias to the point that the IEEE computer society is making recommendations for how to deal with it. This conversation will make sure that you are keeping a human perspective in these systems and having a healthy discussion on any blended team of technologies and HR professionals.

  1. Ask: Who is your outlier?

Always look for the outlier. In every system and in every algorithm, there is no way to completely understand all the data sets and all the people. When you have a system that is set up, it is always a good exercise to ask yourself, “Who are we not serving?”

“Whether your AI solution drives an internal system for HR or a customer-facing system that impacts your brand it’s important you constantly look for the outlier,” Renny Gleeson, Managing Director of Business Innovation Group for Wieden + Kennedy, explained in his upcoming report “Artificial Intelligence and the Home.” Wieden + Kennedy is a global, independent agency that creates strong and provocative relationships between good companies and their customers. “Who is the system not serving?”, Gleeson continued.  “To train your AI you need as much historical data as possible. How do you prevent your exciting new AI from trapping your organization in the status quo it’s been trained in rather than the future you seek? This search, this constant questioning, allows your organization and your brand to have a better chance of serving better – and finding the error before the error finds you.”

The constant interrogation of the autonomous system that we are using is important. Using these systems to gain efficiencies is great and they will give us incredible gains in productivity, but we have to remain vigilant. We have to keep people at the center. We must constantly interrogate the algorithms and the system to determine who are we not including. Who is the outlier?

Ok, that’s the machine part of this.

Millennials (and Gen Z)

We need to stop acting like they are not in the room. They are here and we need to involve them in the process. More importantly, we need to make sure they are helping us to make our organizations more attractive for the next generation after.

Your To-Do List:

  1. Stop talking about millennials. Start talking about purpose.

They are in the room. They are in your company. Understand that they are the key to your success. Millennials and Gen Z are more purpose-driven than any other generation in the workforce. Not only does the work you do matter but WHY as an organization are you doing this work? What is your higher purpose beyond just making money? Because it matters.

For some, these conversations might feel foreign but they are necessary because talent has choices. As the largest percentage of the labor force, millennials and Gen Z can choose where they want to put their time. Good talent always has a choice of what organization to work for.  Give them a reason to work for you.

  1. Empower millennials.

How are you empowering the next generation to make your organization successful? As the boom generation, they will have mass and be the ones to take the reins. What are you doing to ensure that they are benefiting from your experience? Are you giving them the freedom to make a new environment?

Are you creating physical and digital places for employees of all generations to mingle and collaborate? From co-working spaces to couches and long tables, where are the spaces in your organization that encourage people to gather. These are the spaces where relationships are built and innovation springs forward. They are communities inside of communities. Once you’ve discovered the nature of these physical spaces for your group, search outside their digital equivalent.

  1. Curate your culture and make millennials mentors.

As HR professionals you understand your organization. Fostering a positive and inclusive culture is extremely important. But, also as important is making sure that when you do bring in these new workers, they are a good fit to the true culture of your workplace. Because purpose matters so much, make sure that your organization’s purpose is in sync with the possible employee’s purpose as well.

Millennials are mentors. It’s time for them to not only take over the workforce, but empower up and down inside the organization. This not only means mentoring Gen Z but also “mentoring up.”  I’ve also been asked the following by senior level leaders that are baby boomers or Gen Z: What can they do to prepare their organizations for the future? My response is get a millennial mentor. They are the future workforce. Let them help you be as successful as possible. Remember the future involves all of us.

Come see me at ACE 2018 to learn more about what machines and millennials are doing to HR. Check out my entire blog series, starting at Part 1.

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Do you want to learn more about AI and HR? Check out Achievers’ webinar recording “Engagement: How AI Helps HR to be More Human, Not Less.”

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

About the Author

Brian JohnsonThe future is Brian David Johnson’s business. As a futurist he works with organizations to develop an actionable 10 -15 year vision and what it will feel like to live in the future. His work is called futurecasting, using ethnographic field studies, technology research, cultural history, trend data, global interviews and even science fiction to provide a pragmatic road map of the future. As an applied futurist Johnson has worked with governments, trade organizations, start-ups and multinational corporations to not only help envision their future but specify the steps needed to get there. Johnson is currently the futurist in residence at Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination, a professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and the Director of the ASU Threatcasting Lab. He is also a Futurist and Fellow at Frost and Sullivan.

Johnson speaks and writes extensively in ongoing columns for IEEE Computer Magazine and Successful Farming where he is the “Farm Futurist”. He has contributed articles to publications like The Wall Street Journal, Slate, and Wired Magazine. Johnson holds over 40 patents and is the best-selling author of both science fiction and fact books (WAR: Wizards and Robots, Humanity in the Machine, 21st Century Robot and Science Fiction Prototyping). He was appointed first futurist ever at the Intel Corporation in 2009 where he worked for over a decade helping to design over 2 billion microprocessors. Johnson appears regularly on Bloomberg TV, PBS, FOX News, and the Discovery Channel and has been featured in Scientific American, The Technology Review, Forbes, INC, and Popular Science. He has directed two feature films and is an illustrator and commissioned painter. In 2016 Samuel Goldwyn released “Vintage Tomorrows” a documentary based upon Johnson’s book of the same name.

 

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13 HR Stats That Will Make You Lose Sleep This Halloween

Halloween goblins might be scary, but it’s flesh-and-blood people that can really keep you up at night. People are the engine that drives your company’s profits, and if you’re not recognizing employees effectively, the financial fallout can be a real-life nightmare. Look through the unsettling stats below and take them to heart, if you want to keep the horror tales at the haunted house and not in your HR office.

  1. Just Being a Good Manager Isn’t Enough

To retain your most talented workers, the stats say you have to do more than just be considerate and reasonable. When Facebook’s top HR leaders surveyed employees who stayed with their company, those workers had certain things in common: “They found their work enjoyable 31 percent more often, used their strengths 33 percent more often, and expressed 37 percent more confidence that they were gaining the skills and experiences they need to develop their careers.” The takeaway? To keep your best people, shape their jobs based around their strengths and passion.

  1. Employee Engagement Decreases With Age

A survey by HR firm Robert Half UK found that more than twice as many employees over the age of 35 state that they are unhappy in their jobs, compared with younger workers. This is vital information, since the proportion of 55-and-older workers in the labor force is rising, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects that age group to represent 25 percent of the working population (40.6 million people) by 2024. Frequently recognizing employees of all generation types is vital if you want to maintain the benefit of their skills and experience.

  1. Only Half of Millennials Plan to Stay with Their Jobs

Statistics can be tricky. After reading about how older workers are less satisfied, we now find stats saying that it’s the younger people you have to worry about losing. Gallup research reveals that “21 percent of millennials say they’ve changed jobs within the past year, which is more than three times the number of non-millennials who report the same.” Whether you’re dealing with older workers who are unhappily stuck in a job they don’t like, or younger ones with one foot out the door, your best defense is a strong employee feedback program.

  1. Employees Who Feel Dead-Ended Will Leave

No path for advancement is the issue “that bums working Americans out the most,” according to CNN Money. If you want to retain your best talent, you’ll want to structure your organization so that they can move their career forward right from their current position. By practicing careful employee listening, you’ll be the first to know if there’s any brewing dissatisfaction, and then strategize on how to offer a solution.

  1. Ignoring Employee Engagement Hurts You Financially

Listening to your employees and offering recognition can boost engagement levels and are central to your organization’s long-term financial viability. New research published by Gallup News reports that “A highly engaged organization can see 18 percent higher revenue per employee compared with the average.” Stats like these are vital to bring to the C-suite, especially when you need to explain the benefits of a recognition program.

  1. Employees Skip Work More If They’re Not Learning

Do you make the mistake of assuming that your team is happiest when they know everything there is to know about their job tasks? In fact, the Gallup News article cited above notes that organizations could experience 44 percent less absenteeism and 16 percent higher productivity if they give their workers a chance to learn and grow on the job.

  1. Most Workers Don’t Feel They Can be Honest With Their Boss

Don’t assume that a silent employee is a happy one. A recent study shows that only 43 percent of employees “strongly agree” that they “can express thoughts, feelings and disagreements with [their] supervisor.” You need to create a safe environment, so that every one of your employees will feel comfortable telling you what they really think.

  1. Many Employees Don’t Think Their Company Serves Customers Well

It’s all too common for HR professionals to completely separate the metrics of employee well-being from customer experience. A 2018 report by Gallup on workplace culture shows that “only 26 percent of U.S. workers believe their organization always delivers on the promises they make to customers.” Fewer than half (41 percent) of employees even agree that they know what differentiates their company’s brand from its competitors. This sense of disconnection quickly becomes a terrible feedback cycle, because discouraged employees provide poor customer service.

  1. Lack of Inclusiveness Equals Lower Employee Engagement

There is good reason why 69 percent of executives surveyed by Deloitte cited diversity and inclusion as a top priority. Deloitte’s stats show that 39 percent of employees would leave their current company for one that had a more inclusive culture, and over half (53 percent) of millennials would do so. A diverse workplace environment brings fresh perspective, and facilitates the broadest possible range of useful employee feedback.

  1. If You’re Not Listening, You Can’t Retain Ambitious Employees

In today’s tight labor market, you’re competing for top talent. In a survey of employees who quit their jobs to pursue career development, 33 percent said the job they left had not matched their expectations in this respect. When you engage your team with frequent employee check-ins and pulse surveys, nobody’s hopes and expectations will go unnoticed.

  1. It’s Really Expensive to Replace Your Employees

On average, it costs $4129 for each hire, according to SHRM’s Human Capital Benchmarking Report. Moreover, the average annual employee turnover rate is 19 percent, or almost one out of five. You can’t prevent a few workers quitting for personal and family reasons. However, it’s definitely in your best interests to avoid losing any additional people as a result of them feeling unappreciated.

  1. Employees Shame Each Other About Taking Vacation Time

Even if you’re not the one doing the shaming, 59 percent of millennials report feeling ashamed to take the vacation days that they’re entitled to. Not only that, 42 percent of them even confessed to shaming their coworkers for that reason. Your encouragement to take time off will benefit your team: Statistics from Project Time Off note that 78 percent of managers say that managers feel vacations improve employee focus, and 70 percent say that workers are more committed to the company following paid time off.

  1. Your Workers Expect You to Support Their Work-Life Balance

A Glassdoor survey found that 85 percent of employees “expect their employer to support them in balancing their life between work and personal commitments.” These type of stats speak volumes about how the workplace environment is transforming in the 21st century. Are you keeping up with these evolving expectations?

To avoid HR nightmares this Halloween, learn more about how to effectively engage your workforce. Download our e-book, “Engage or Die: How Companies that Act Fast on Engagement Outpace the Competition.”

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ACE 2017 Key Takeaways

ACE 2017: Key Highlights and Takeaways

There really is no place quite like it…

New Orleans was treated to an eclectic mix of HR professionals as customers from across the globe flocked to the Big Easy for ACE 2017.

The 8th annual Achievers Customer Experience conference was an unparalleled success, as clients and prospective customers exchanged ideas with independent HR thought leaders and decision makers representing some of the world’s most recognizable brands.

Day 1 of the conference kicked off with a series of lively and engaging speakers who introduced the various themes that were weaved throughout the rest of the talks. From the intersection of technology and personalization to navigating organizational change with an aligned workforce, the introductory speeches laid the foundation for a series of thought-provoking breakout sessions aimed at changing the way the world works! Major announcements were made during the event, including Achievers revealing the 2017 Top Category Winners for the Most Engaged Workplaces Awards and the release of Achievers Listen, a suite of tools that is taking employee engagement to the next level.

From the grand ballroom of the majestic Royal Sonesta Hotel, attendees were introduced to some of the developing trends in the employee engagement work space and various success stories from members of the Achievers family:

Achievers’ Chief Technology Officer, Aris Zakinthinos, introduced CHRISTUS St. Michael, who discussed how the implementation of their employee success platform in 2012 had a monumental impact on their business objectives, including a significant increase in recognitions given and leadership engagement as well as a remarkable decrease in their turnover rate, down to 6.4%, well below the industry standard of 19.4%. To read more about Christus Health’s success, click here.

Next up was Blackhawk Network CEO Talbott Roche, who discussed how to use the Achievers platform to drive innovation within your organization. Drawing on first-hand experience, Ms. Roche outlined the benefits of creating an engaged workforce and how recognizing and rewarding their creative potential yields great returns to your bottom line. Ms. Roche went on to highlight some of the success other members of the Achievers family were having with their respective programs.

One of the more recent success stories comes out of Michigan, home to Meijer Inc., a supercenter chain with stores across the United States.

From President and CEO Rick Keyes and Recognition and Engagement Manager, Randi Roehling, we heard about the monumental impact their focus on employee engagement has had since they launched late last year. Discussing how they laid the groundwork for a successful launch of their M-Team program, the duo illustrated the importance of executive buy-in, highlighting the amazing 12,000 recognitions sent out by Mr. Keyes in a few short months.

Next came Achievers’ very own Vice President of Product Development, Egan Cheung, who proudly announced the launch of the much-anticipated Achievers Listen tool. Achievers Listen is a suite of tools that empowers employees to give continuous feedback on what’s working well and what needs to be improved. It provides managers with recommended actions based on their team‘s unique values and culture. We know that every employee is different and to engage your entire workforce, we must avoid a “one size fits all” approach. Achievers new functionality allows you to do just that.

Closing out the morning discussions was an incredible speech from one of the most inspiring young women many in the crowd had the privilege to see. Hannah Alper capped off the introduction to ACE 2017 with a discussion on how minor actions can lead to big change, leaving the crowd both humbled and inspired, ready to springboard into a trio of speaking tracks which individually focused on thought leadership within the HR space (Aspire), best practices for running successful programs (Achieve) and the exciting product functionality and releases from Achievers (Accelerate).

The first day closed out with an amazing event hosted by Achievers. Nearly 300 conference attendees joined a traditional second line parade and enjoyed a lively march through Bourbon Street. The end destination was B.B. King’s Blues Club, where all were treated to some of the best cuisine and music New Orleans has to offer.

After an unforgettable night in the Big Easy, the crowd gathered on Day 2 for a rousing and humorous presentation on Fearless Leadership from Cary Lohrenz, a celebrated author and leader who became the first female fighter pilot in the US Navy. Her experience navigating the inherent challenges of breaking down barriers and shifting individual perspectives prompted unique insights into strategic leadership and diversity training, topics that significantly influence any business’s bottom line.

Closing out the conference was none other than David Novak, author and former CEO of YUM Brands (parent company to Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut). Voted the “2012 CEO of the year”, Mr. Novak knows how to build powerful and diverse organizations. As the leader of over 1.5 million employees, he understands the awesome power of recognition. In his own words, he succinctly drove home what much of the conference covered: “Everyone brings value, worth, and individualism. You need to bring your team together. When you give people respect, appreciation and let them know that they count, they’re going to go to the moon for you.”

With that, ACE 2017 wrapped up. From keynote speakers to customer success stories, the conference illustrated the importance employee engagement and how to get the most of out of your workforce. With the sights, sounds and flavours of New Orleans still fresh on their minds, participants will be able to apply fresh ideas to their programs and drive success within their organizations.

Achievers would like to thank all speakers and every client, partner and friend for their participation in this year’s events. Stay tuned for more information on ACE 2018 in Toronto. Check out photos from ACE 2017 here.

Want to learn more about what was discussed at ACE 2017? Check out 4 Strategic Drivers of General Motors’ Adoption of Recognition Technology, which was written by ACE 2017 attendee and analyst Ben Eubanks.

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Also, while you’re at it, make sure to check out ACE 2017 attendee Coralie Sawruk’s blog post covering her ACE 2017 experience and why she is an advocate for employee recognition.

About the Author 
Darren SavageDarren Savage is currently a Customer Success Manager who works out of Achievers’ Toronto office. Prior to his arrival at Achievers, Darren was a journalist for various publications in the Greater Toronto Area. He left the profession to explore the world before transitioning into a sales role where he provided immersive educational experiences through travel for high school students. He now manages a diverse portfolio at Achievers where he helps his clients develop successful employee engagement programs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Increase Employee Retention

Who Owns Retention? The Real Employee Turnover Problem

What’s the biggest problem when it comes to employee turnover? No one owns retention!

At many companies, when turnover rises executives point to HR to fix it – whose plate is already overflowing with terminations, payroll, benefits management, and back-fill recruiting. HR then blames bad managers for running off good people, and the managers push back complaining that executives do not give them enough time or training to manage their people properly. They all have a point, but this blame game is costing those organizations tons of money!

Stop Focusing on the Symptoms…Find & Fix the Cause!

After much finger-pointing, companies often come to the conclusion, “We have so much turnover, we need to hire another recruiter.” Are they kidding? That’s like trying to fix a water main break with duct tape. You may temporarily slow down the deluge, but not for long! If turnover is the problem, then you don’t need to hire someone who’s good at recruiting – they’ll just struggle to fill all the positions that keep unexpectedly being vacated. You need a dedicated retention specialist who will diagnose the core issues, work to resolve them, and maintain a stable workforce moving forward.

So why is the default next step to add another recruiter? Because everyone knows what a recruiter does and which line item that goes under on the P&L.

Now before you get upset, I assure you I’m not anti-recruiter! Recruiters are great, when you need a recruiter! If turnover is a problem, it is very possible that reworking your recruiting processes might be needed as well. Perhaps you really are hiring the wrong people and/or it is time to revamp the interview process, selection criteria, and applicant communication plan. You may even need to improve your employer brand in your community if you don’t have a positive reputation as an employer in your area. These are all things a good recruiter could handle, but these changes are rarely enough if retention is rising.

So if you can get approval for a new position, how about pitching the idea of a retention specialist instead? It’s a tougher sell to get approval from the higher-ups – they’ll wonder what a retention specialist is, complain the role sounds fluffy and become convinced it’s going to add overhead costs that seem unnecessary – but you must fight for it! It’s time to get more resources to fix the real issue.

What Is a Retention Specialist Exactly?

More organizations are creating this type of position and the responsibilities certainly vary from company to company, but their primary roles are to determine why people are leaving, and to build relationships and initiatives that extend employee tenure. This often includes, but is not limited to:

  • conducting and analyzing employee surveys and stay interviews
  • building employee networks/committees
  • serving as an employee ambassador who can answer staff questions or listen to feedback
  • ensuring the onboarding process is welcoming, thorough and incorporates the company culture
  • determining gaps where additional supervisor/management training is needed
  • coordinating (and possibly conducting) supervisor/management training and development programs
  • identifying operational/system changes that help adjust to a shorter-term workforce
  • analyzing compensation, advancement opportunities and scheduling for models that better align with today’s workforce’s needs
  • implementing recognition and appreciation programs across organization
  • ascertaining ways the organization and managers can be more transparent with employees
  • developing effective staff meeting schedules, agendas, and tools for those leading meetings
  • crafting organizational messages that instill the company’s mission and core values

Sounds like a full-time job to me! Who on your current staff has time to do all these things that are needed to reduce unnecessary employee turnover?

One Person Won’t Resolve the Issue – Retention is Everyone’s Job

While having a dedicated staffer to focus on diagnosing and resolving turnover issues is essential, leaders at all levels must take turnover seriously. Just like customer service, retention should be part of everyone’s job and everyone’s training. Keep in mind, workers today will leave their jobs if they don’t like their immediate supervisor, the leadership team or their coworkers, so encouraging your entire staff to attract and retain talent is critical.

Is your organization incentivizing peer referrals? Is your company rewarding managers for improved retention within their departments? Or are they setting bonus plans according to the concept of “do more with less,” which is driving away the talent you can’t afford to lose.

Become a Champion for Retention

So where do HR professionals start? Here a few ways to attack the turnover crisis:

  1. Create recognition and/or incentive programs for employees who reach certain milestones (after one year, not five!).
  2. Demand more management training for everyone who has direct reports.
  3. Make a case for hiring (or becoming) a retention specialist.

Same Approach = Same Results

If the trajectory of your employee turnover is headed in a positive direction, keep doing what you’re doing. But if your retention is getting worse every year, it is time to try a new approach for attracting and retaining today’s new workforce!

If you want to learn more about how to effectively retain employees, join me at Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2017 September 12-13 where I will be speaking on Leading the New Workforce: The Evolution of Employee Expectations. Check out details of my speaking session and the event here.

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About the Author
Cara Silletto
Workforce thought leader Cara Silletto, MBA, is the President & Chief Retention Officer at Crescendo Strategies, a firm committed to reducing unnecessary employee turnover by bridging generational gaps and making leaders more effective in their roles. Cara is a highly-sought-after national speaker and trainer, having conducted more than 100 engagements in 2016 alone. She has spoken to more than 10,000 leaders across the country at companies including UPS, Toyota, Humana’s Learning Consortium, and Cintas. Workforce Magazine named her a “Game Changer,” Recruiter.com included her in their 2016 “Top 10 Company Culture Experts to Watch” list, and she is a co-author of the book, What’s Next in HR. Follow Cara on Twitter @CrescendoHR.

 

Positive Work Culture

The Secret Ingredients of an Amazing Company Culture

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

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

What Is Company Culture?

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

Why Company Culture Matters

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

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

How to Create a Positive Company Culture

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

Autonomy

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

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

Competence

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

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

Relatedness

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

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

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

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

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How to Identify and Retain Top Performers with Rewards and Recognition

Employee retention is a key goal for every company, but it’s important to drill down into this metric and make sure you’re doing a good job of identifying and keeping your top performers. These employees deliver 400 percent more productivity than the average worker, according to statistics published in Harvard Business Review (HBR). The researchers state, “Our workforce strategy goal should be to double down on retention tactics for high performers,” and further explain that, in many cases, managers aren’t meeting the needs of their top talent. The first step to nurturing your best workers is to make sure you know who they are; and a simple way to discover top performers is through rewards and recognition programs.

Look for active recognizers

The right rewards and recognition program can help determine top performers – but you may be surprised by which statistics you should look at. As to be expected, the hardest working and most talented people are likely to receive the highest amount of recognition from their supervisors. They are also likely to be recognized by their peers, since the ability to work well within a team is another important component of productivity. However, when you’re seeking out the truly top performers in your workforce, it’s also important to identify those who are most often recognizing others.

According to a recent Achievers study, employees who were promoted turned out to have a track record of actively recognizing their peers. In fact, before being promoted, these high performers sent an average of 3.8 times more peer recognition than the average employee. In this way, employee rewards and recognition programs provide two separate metrics for  identifying top talent: those who receive the most recognition, as well as those who give the most acknowledgments to others.

Tie recognitions to company values

Your organization probably took significant time and effort to craft a mission and values statement.  This statement is more than mere words residing on a wall, a website, or welcome pamphlet; it can serve as a dynamic tool for shaping your employee recognition program. By tying recognitions to your company’s core values, you can see which performers are embodying those values most authentically. This approach is sometimes termed “Management by Objectives,” and it feeds employee motivation by helping every member of the organization feel that their contribution is truly meaningful.

High performers have unique needs

The workplace factors that keep your super-skilled employees motivated are somewhat different from commonplace worker needs, and it’s necessary to be aware of these differences. While competitive salaries are important, HBR research points out that using regular compensation as a method of delivering employee rewards can potentially backfire and cause resentment among coworkers. On the other hand, high performers care significantly more than average about having their efforts noticed, recognized and rewarded. These rewards can be in the form of social or financial recognition, but in either case, your top talent is especially eager to receive praise, financial incentives and frequent feedback. This is another reason that if you’re in the habit of only providing annual or semi-annual evaluation sessions, the employee engagement levels of your top performers is likely to suffer.

Why you need to focus on high achievers

While highly skilled employees are slightly more satisfied with their jobs than the average worker, one in five say they’re likely to leave their current position within the next six months. Furthermore, if and when your top employees do decide to move on, their skills will lead them to easily find new opportunities. Given the high levels of productivity and the contributions these extra-competent workers make to the workplace environment, losing even one of them can be a blow to your company.

Help your top performers fulfill their potential

Employee retention is only one of many reasons that HR professionals and managers should invest in the effort to nurture high achievers. Equally important is  assisting in their career growth and providing them with development opportunities to help them reach their full potential. A major component of nurturing employee success is to  ensure tasks remain challenging and varied. High achievers “live for the challenge,” and seek to overcome obstacles and solve problems as a source of personal accomplishment. So make sure to provide them opportunities to stretch themselves through varied and challenging assignments.

Employee recognition best practices dictate that recognitions will be most meaningful to these talented workers if they reflect on an achievement that was truly praise-worthy. High achievers are tireless, curious, full of passion, and internal drive. If they’re recognized they want it to be for something substantial and worthwhile. In other words, don’t praise them for minutiae such as arriving on-time or keeping a clean work area. Instead, provide detailed and specific feedback that focuses on the positive impact they are making through their diligence and pursuit of excellence.

The right HR technology can be your ally

Identifying top performers can help your organization discover who your most engaged employees are (and vice versa), allowing you to effectively leverage their skills and enthusiasm as a positive force in the workplace. HR tech is steadily evolving, and data gleaned from a cutting edge rewards and recognition platform can now provide you with valuable insights to help you identify and retain your top performing employees.

To learn more about how employee recognition can help you identify and retain your top talent, as well as having a positive impact on your entire workforce, download our eBook: The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition.

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HR Tech World 2017 London

Achievers in Action at HR Tech World: March 21 & 22, London

Have you ever wondered how much employee engagement can impact your business, and taken even one step further, the world? Imagine if every single employee felt valued, motivated, and recognized for their achievements? What a difference we would see in the workplace and society. Employees would actually enjoy going to work and as a result, would strive to reach their best potential. This would then be reflected in how they would treat their customers and fellow-employees, a virtuous cycle that would serve to lift everyone’s moods. HR’s mission is to do exactly that: increase employee engagement and, in return, boost employee happiness and business results. According to Gallup, companies in the top quartile of employee engagement see real measures of business success including 21% higher productivity, 22% higher profitability, 41% higher quality, and 37% absenteeism.

Where does Achievers fall into all of this? Achievers’ state mission is to: Change the Way the World Works, and we do that by offering world class employee recognition and engagement solutions that help bring about that change, one business at a time. You can learn how Achievers accomplishes this by joining us at HR Tech World in London from March 21-22. Discover why businesses are adopting Achievers’ award-winning solution to effectively increase employee engagement by an average of 22%! Join Achievers and thousands of HR Directors, executives, and thought leaders to focus on all things HR technology – what’s hot and where it’s heading. Within 10 years, over half of the office occupations in the world will be displaced by technology. How do we manage this? How do we capitalize on this? And how is HR tech defining the Future of Work?

This year, HR Tech World will be held at the famous venue ExCel London and will bring together a “Who’s Who” of HR. At this premier 2-day show, you will have the opportunity to meet some of the leaders in the HR tech space. Achievers will be there at Booth 303 with everything from live product demos to a “design your own T-shirt” stand. Come by and ask us anything you need to know about employee engagement and Achievers’ powerful rewards and recognition platform. Also, don’t miss up our lineup of speaker sessions:

Denise WillettUtilizing Recognition to Drive Employee Engagement
Denise Willet, Senior Director, Achievers EMEA

Denise is responsible for helping top employers globally increase employee engagement and retention, achieve desired results, and impact business success through recognition. At this session, you will discover the link between recognition and engagement and learn about Achievers 7 key principles that contribute to a successful recognition program.

 

Chase DolomontGet a Showcase of Achievers‘ Platform
Chase Dolomont, Solutions Consultant, Achievers EMEA

In the Product Demo Arena, Chase will offer a real-time view of the tools and strategies Achievers offers to help create an impactful culture of employee recognition that significantly impacts employee engagement.

 

And don’t just take our word for it. Listen to testimonials from amongst a list of Achievers’ customers. Or, come to HR Tech World and hear Colin Watt, Shop Direct’s Colleague Engagement and Relations Director, share how to successfully introduce sustainable recognition as an engagement tool and change-agent.

Colin Watt Shop DirectShop Direct is the UK’s second largest online pure play retailer with brands such as Littlewoods.com, Very.com and Veryexlcusive.com. After Shop Direct implemented the Achievers Employee Success Platform, the engagement score across the company rose from 67% in 2010 to its current, world-class level of 84% with correlated increased customer satisfaction over the same period. To find out more how this has been achieved book yourself into his Engage to Succeed session.

Don’t miss out on the rest of the stellar lineup of sessions – sign up and book tickets today. Then come by and join us at Booth 303 to get a first-hand look of Achievers’ Employee Success platform. Choose to get a guided 1-on-1 demonstration or try it yourself by browsing Achievers’ platform on an iPad. Discover how to quickly and effectively drive employee engagement with frequent recognition, both monetary and social, atop of continuous pulse monitoring. Find out in-person why Achievers’ innovative behaviour-driving engine produces real results for businesses.  Don’t forget to have some fun with our interactive touch screens to customize your FREE Achievers’ merchandise!

Want to arrange a prescheduled meeting with Achievers at the show?
Please contact Helen Brooker to organize a prescheduled meeting.
Email: Helen.Brooker@bhnetwork.com
Telephone: +44 (0) 7796 957726

We look forward to seeing you at HR Tech World at Booth 303.

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About the Author
Helen BrookerAs Marketing Director of Achievers UK, Helen is focused on establishing Achievers’ approach to employee engagement through recognition in the UK marketplace. She builds awareness for how Achievers can build successful recognition programs that align with strategic business objectives. She has been a marketing and solutions consultation lead within the wider Blackhawk Network business group for 6 years working with many diverse, global organizations to improve business performance across employees, channel partners and customers.

 

 

Effectively Navigate Organizational Change

Understanding Change and Its Impact on Engagement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3) Employee participation in decision making.

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

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

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

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

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