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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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Achievers ACE 2018 Conference Toronto Key Takeaways

ACE 2018: Key Highlights and Takeaways

“The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

They call it the Silicon Valley of the North. And with good reason.

Understanding that Toronto has been driving innovation and charting the future of tech, Achievers chose to host its  ACE 2018 conference in the city it calls home. The Six, as it is affectionately called by residents, quietly emerged as the fastest-growing tech-jobs market in 2017. The boom has positioned the city as a worldwide leader in the tech scene, outpacing historically tech heavy cities such as San Francisco, Seattle and New York and emerging as fertile ground for the future of technological innovation.

In the shadow of the iconic CN Tower, HR professionals and a diverse range of thought leaders gathered to accelerate the conversation around employee engagement, recognition and how technology is shaping the future of human resources. Furthermore, Achievers announced the 2018 Top Category Winners for the Most Engaged Workplaces Award and the Elite 8: organizations that are pushing the boundaries of workplace engagement.

From the elegant and modern Delta Hotel by Marriott, the gathering kicked off with an important announcement from Achievers’ Chief Workforce Scientist Dr. Natalie Baumgartner, who unveiled the The Workforce Institute and its commitment to changing the way the world works through academic research and engagement science. Through the initiative, Achievers will source, curate, conduct and translate workforce science into simple, accessible content available to the public through research-driven institute studies and insight papers. As the world rapidly evolves and changes, the aim is to stay ahead of the curve with reliable sources and cutting-edge technology.

With an eye to the future, the ACE 2018 conference was graced with numerous thought leaders who outlined not only how drastically the HR space has changed in recent years, but also where it is going. To this end, the breakout sessions began with futurist and best-selling author Brian David Johnson highlighting the tectonic shifts in the workplace. The conversation was focused on what the forward-thinking companies of today can do to disrupt, mitigate and recover from the obstacles standing in the way of their unified success. Weaving together disparate stands from areas such as cultural history, social science and economics, Mr. Johnson fashioned a poignant and compelling argument for organizations to not just note the radical evolution of the workplace, but to embrace it. Through focused, strategic planning, the tech savvy company of today can harness the power of AI and focus on the new realities captivating the imaginations of the current great workforce: millennials.

Through this useful lens, various ACE 2018 keynote speakers identified and explained obstacles and strategies for us to enable employees to be both engaged and efficient. One crucial strategy is to improve communication within organizations. Communication and human nature expert Celeste Headlee focused on the science behind having better conversations in the workplace. All too often, the constant influx of external stimuli distracts and derails our conversations, creating costly instances of miscommunication. Furthermore, the inexorable wave of millennials entering the workforce has profoundly changed the way we communicate in business settings. Through active listening we, as small communities and large organizations, can find better ways to collaborate and engage in a positive way with the new workplace dynamics.

To that end, day two keynote speaker Neil Pasricha spoke of the power of positive psychology and the neuroscience that underpins it all. A combination of science-based research and humorous personal stories and anecdotes helped him foreground the importance of positive employees on your teams. Flipping the conventional wisdom that motivation leads to action, the discussion fleshed out that it is actually the other way around: action leads to motivation; positive work leads to happiness. Driving the point home, Mr. Pasricha highlighted that it is never too late to take action. Regardless of the barriers you imagine are in the way, taking the time to put happiness first, personally and professionally, will lead to positive action that will feed off itself and drive the changes you require.

Similarly, Tiffany Dufu spoke about the ever-evolving workplace and how female millennials are an underutilized cohort in our modern workplaces. In a poignant discussion relevant to all millennials (male, female, et al.) the organizations that are best equipped to leverage the success of the shift workplace are those who provide support for working families. From her best-selling book, Drop The Ball, Dufu focused on the importance of achieving more by doing less. Ambitious organizations and employees would do well to reevaluate their expectations and acknowledge that to have it all, we do not necessarily need to do it all. By embracing imperfection, we can focus on what we truly care about: achieving real goals and creating rich and rewarding lives.

All of this leads to one fundamental question shared by all attendees: How do we captivate the workforce of tomorrow? The answer revealed itself to be: By listening to what they have to say, today. Through this, we can prepare ourselves for the new realities of the future. Creating and embracing that future requires a beautiful confluence of reality and imagination. The 2018 Achievers Customer Experience managed to strike the perfect balance, exposing attendees to the evidenced-based reality we work within and the next generation of HR. In many ways, the conference embodied the future we all desire: one that is optimistic and ours for the making. The future is not some distant unobtainable entity beyond our comprehension. The future is right now. Today. The future is in our people.

Achievers would like to thank all speakers and every client, partner and friend for their participation in ACE 2018! Stay tuned for more information on ACE 2019 in Chicago!

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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.

 

 

 

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HR thought leaders

Words of Advice from 7 HR Thought Leaders

We have some stellar thinkers in the HR field today, so we decided to present a sampling of their pithy advice. Each of the people profiled below have their own unique take on managing your human capital, and you may even find a favorite or two whom you want to follow.

“You can’t prevent attrition if your organization doesn’t attend to employee experience.”

Meghan M. Biro is the founder and CEO of TalentCulture and an in-demand HR analyst.

In a recent Forbes article, Biro writes about the urgent need of focusing on the employee experience. She points out the disconnect that occurs in many organizations, where human capital is given lip service but no top-level executive is in charge of overseeing the well-being of workers. “Do you have a senior people manager?” she asks, “And if so, are they in the C-Suite?” Biro is a big fan of HR tech, but in her Forbes piece she observes that technology won’t solve problems unless it’s guided by a strategic vision. And that vision has to focus on what it’s like to be an employee.

“Don’t underestimate the power of recognition and how vital it is to create a positive work environment.”

David Novak is founder and CEO of oGoLead, a leadership development program.

In his recent commentary on CNBC, Novak describes the crisis brought about by toxic leadership. He observes that “actively disengaged workers are costing the U.S. as much as $600 billion in lost productivity” and that the cost of millennial turnover may be as much as $30 billion. He points out that “everyone likes to be appreciated for their contributions” and that employee rewards should be offered along the way, whenever you see great work. That way, momentum stays strong and your people will feel personally invested in the company’s mission.

“Managers need to stop telling people how to get better when they can’t provide enough staffing, training, tools or information for their people to succeed.”

Shane Green is the author of “Culture Hacker” and the founder and president of SGEI.

When providing informal feedback to employees, Green reminds managers that they have to start off by being fair. Informal feedback, provided immediately after a particular employee action, needs to include a listening component. He points out, “Do not deliver a lecture. Staff tune out managers when all they do is give a speech.” When you listen to your people and empower them with the tools that they need, you may find that performance issues resolve themselves.

“Most of us work for a reason: we want to spend our time contributing to others and creating something bigger than ourselves.”

Founder and principal at Bersin by Deloitte, Josh Bersin is a global HR analyst.

Bersin writes about the concept of meaningful work as a necessary foundation for employee engagement. He unpacks the concept of “meaningful” in the context of a job that can often feel routine. A meaningful job has four characteristics:

  • Autonomy: Workers need the freedom to accomplish tasks in their own style.
  • Selection for Fit: Managers should match tasks and employee skills.
  • Small Teams: Human beings perform most effectively in groups where they know each other.
  • Time for Slack: Workers need a chance to reflect and compare notes.

“Ensuring employees remain interested in their work creates a greater sense of purpose and deeper connection to their tasks and the company as a whole.”

Natalie Baumgartner is Chief Workforce Scientist at Achievers and she has spent her career translating engagement and culture research into software that enhances the employee experience.

In her recent Chief Executive Magazine article, Baumgartner points out that it’s important to remember humans are beings of change. Employees’ passions, interests and entire lives evolve over time. It is a costly retention error to believe talent who started their journey enthusiastically will always remain so. She shares, “While change is obviously a natural process, it’s important to catch dips in passion before employees start looking for new jobs. Use daily polls or pulse surveys to gauge interest, engagement, and overall job experiences. These frequent check-ins open the door for ongoing discussions about their future opportunities with the company.”

“I am starting to think of chatbots as your newest HR team member, one that allows employees to easily retrieve answers to frequently asked questions.”

Jeanne Meister is the founder of HR advisory firm Future Workplace and author of the 2017 book “The Future Workplace Experience.”

Meister works at the cutting edge of HR tech, and she maintains a vision of the direction that human resources is headed in. She promotes artificial intelligence as the source of solutions that make management more responsive to employee needs. When workers perceive the HR department as being their ally, performance will improve throughout the organization. Meister points out that some 75 percent of workplaces will use chatbots for some part of their HR solutions by 2020, and she notes that this technology will help HR leaders to create an employee experience “that mirrors their best customer service experience.”

“The best jobs turn coworkers into friends.”

Laurie Ruettiman is an HR leader turned writer, speaker and entrepreneur. She’s also the founder of HRBooks.

In a blog entry about the recent tax cut, Ruettiman writes about how this infusion of cash offers companies an opportunity to invest in social recognition. “I’d spend the money on a strategy that shores up your culture,” she advises, and then goes on to point out that “social recognition is a proven management practice that unlocks the full potential of people by providing purpose, meaning, and appreciation for the work they do every day.”

Fostering employee engagement is an art and a science, and HR leaders approach it from a wide variety of disciplines. Their insight can provide you with the tools you need to create a positive, productive culture in your company. To learn more, download our white paper “The True Cost of Disengagement.”

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

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Engage Overwhelmed Employees

3 Factors Proven to Engage Overwhelmed and Overworked Employees

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

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

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

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

Recognition

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

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

Start engaging

KABOOOM!

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

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

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

Strong Employee-to-Work Connection

Passionless employees are disengaged employees.

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

Start engaging

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

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

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

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

Flexibility

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

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

Start engaging

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

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

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

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

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

Find out more about your employees’ needs and expectations by downloading our report here.

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Are you free in October? Come see me and discover how to increase employee engagement by attending Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2018 in Toronto, October 23-24. Get the early bird rate and save $200 off the regular rate today. Buy now here.

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About the Author

Natalie Baumgartner Dr. Natalie Baumgartner is the Chief Workforce Scientist at Achievers, an employee engagement platform specifically designed to align everyone with business objectives and company values, driven by recognizing shared victories every day.

 

 

 

 

 

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