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The Value of HR Tech

How HR Tech is Making Employees More Engaged Than Ever

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

Why is employee engagement so important?

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

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

  1. Social Chatter

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

  1. Thanks 2.0

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

  1. Tailored Training

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

  1. Easy Check-ins

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

  1. Simplified Communication

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

encourage employees

5 Ways to Empower Employees to Do Their Best Work

A business or team can only be as successful as the sum of its parts. There are several companies with effective leaders that struggle with employee turnover or poor performance. According to one Gallup poll, 24 percent of employees who aren’t in a leadership or management role feel disconnected from the company or team.

This can decrease employee satisfaction, which significantly affects performance; if employees no longer care about their job, why would they care about doing it well? Empowering your employees to do their best work and be an integral part of your company can reduce their disengagement, and in turn, boost performance.

Here are a few ways to do exactly that:

1. Challenge Your Employees (Within Reason)

To avoid employees becoming bored or stagnant with their duties or roles, set goals. This helps to push them past their comfort zone and realize their potential. The goal is to set the bar high, but not too high—the goals should be attainable, yet still challenging to reach.

To set goals that empower your employees, keep these seven tips in mind:

  • Align goals with company objectives.
  • Allow employees to identify their own job-specific goals.
  • Use the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon, Realistic, Time-based) rule.
  • Make them attainable.
  • Keep goals between employees consistent.
  • Reward those who achieve their goals.
  • Work closely with those who miss the mark.

All of these tips allow you to use goals as a way to empower employees. They’ll just need a little guidance along the way.

2. Define Opportunities for Upward Mobility

No employee wants to be stuck in a dead-end job. If your staff feels there is no opportunity to advance in your company, they’ll seek opportunities to do so elsewhere. Be transparent and communicative about how staff members can earn more money, take on a bigger role, or advance in leadership.

“Even in the best-case scenario where managers are holding regular performance reviews with their employee, employees often don’t understand how to move either horizontally or vertically in an organization,” according to Louis Efron from Forbes. He continues, “But, for any employee that is worth retaining, a manager must make clear to them how and where they can move forward on their career path.”

In many cases, there may not be a clear trajectory for an employee within a company. In this case, uncover employees’ strengths, desires, and interests to see how they can take a larger role within the organization. When they know there’s room for growth, they’re empowered to get to that next level.

3. Encourage Open Communication

Do you have an open-door policy in your office? Do your staff members know that they can talk to you or other managers when they have questions, ideas or concerns? It’s important that your staff members feel their input matters instead of a dividing line between management and lower-level employees.

“When employees feel they can communicate freely with their leaders and each other, they’re more likely to feel valued, satisfied and motivated at work,” according to experts from The Office Club. “Finding a boss who eagerly listens to questions or concerns is harder than you think, so make your company and leadership style stand out with effective communication.

To encourage open communication, give employees the opportunity to share feedback on big, company-wide projects. Don’t forget to include every team whenever possible and use monthly meetings to remind employees about where they fit within the greater scheme of things. When they see how their work is having an impact, they’re empowered to do more.

4. Offer Praise and Recognize Strengths

While employees should be intrinsically motivated to do a good job, there still needs to be an aspect of humanity involved in the workplace. In short, workers need frequent feedback and praise. They want to know their efforts are appreciated and that their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed.

You may think you don’t have the budget for this, but praise and recognition doesn’t necessarily mean monetary rewards. There are countless ways to recognize your employees for a job well done, including:

  • Regular verbal praise
  • “Shout outs” (flyers, cards or emails)
  • Activity-based rewards
  • Small gift cards for coffee, food or other items
  • Half-day at work

Be specific in your praise, this will help employees identify what it is they bring to the table; when they realize they’re good at something, they’re empowered to do more of it because they know they can make a difference.

5. Promote Vacation Time and Work-Life Balance

Even the most dedicated employee gets burnt out if he or she doesn’t have a work-life balance. Happy employees are both career-oriented, and dedicated to their life outside of the office. When you let them have time for the things that are important to them, they’ll have more focus and energy during the time they spend at work.

“Your employees will actually be more productive and better at their jobs if they are well-rested and rejuvenated,” says Peter Daisyme, of Business.com. He continues, “You don’t have to mandate full weeks off at a time, but you should foster an environment where a long weekend here and there is not only tolerated but actively supported.”

When you’re sympathetic to their needs and circumstances, they’ll be more willing to work hard. You show appreciation to employees and in turn, empower them to do the same.

Empowering employees to work harder and better improves the entire company and boosts retention—a win-win for everyone.

For more information on how you can empower employees to survive the most daunting corporate difficulties, such as massive change, check out this blog post on Staying Engaged During Corporate Change.

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About the Author
Jessica ThiefelsJessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a professional blogger and freelance writer. She spent the last two years working tirelessly for a small startup, where she learned a lot about running business and being resourceful. She now owns her own business and has been featured on Forbes. She’s also written for StartupNation, Manta, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 or connect on LinkedIn.

 

 

 

Employee Engagement

Why Your CEO Doesn’t Care About Employee Engagement (Yet)

It seems that we can’t turn around today without having a conversation that touches on employee engagement. Yet despite all the attention, it hasn’t really moved the needle. In the time that Gallup has been measuring engagement, it hasn’t changed–engagement levels are hovering right around 30 percent. At the same time, Google data shows that there’s been a steady climb in searches and interest in the topic for the last five years.

But to what end? Many companies are trying to improve this measure with little or no success.

I’m going to offer two answers to this question that not only illuminate the problem, but give you some options to consider as you try to combat the problematic issue of disengaged employees.

Engagement Should Not Be an HR Program

The first response many leaders have when they get that annual feedback survey from employees to say, “Oh, no! Engagement is down. Let’s create a program to push engagement up!”

Good luck with that.

The truth is that employees are probably tired of your “programs.” Programs begin and end. A great employment relationship does more to drive engagement than a one-size-fits-all program that’s going to last a few weeks and fade into memory. Plus, as long as the company is meeting the basic elements of an employee’s needs financially, other factors come into play for influencing the level of engagement, according to motivational theory.

A large chunk of money isn’t even going to work, even though many companies can’t afford to offer that to each of their staff. More money has been shown to reduce dissatisfaction, but it doesn’t drive happiness or increased satisfaction for the employee.

The challenge is to see engagement not as a one-off activity, but as a holistic view of the employee experience. Being able to tie each of those disparate activities together into a cohesive experience that employees are proud of is a key element to ultimately driving engagement numbers. That means everything from the first moment the person applies for a job all the way through to managing work schedules, getting performance reviews, and beyond.

Every opportunity for interaction with the organization is either a plus or a minus in the engagement column, and while we can’t expect to win every battle every time, the goal is to keep that number going in a positive direction over time (and reaping the rewards of that increased engagement, which we’ll talk about below).

Engagement Should Not Be the Ultimate Outcome

Some leaders check engagement scores as if they were the latest sports scores, hoping for good things but feeling no control over the outcome. In reality, engagement is not the outcome we are shooting for–we are looking for something deeper and more meaningful. It’s time to change the way we think about this HR metric, because it needs to become a leading business metric. Consider the following examples of how engagement can lead to increased value for virtually any company:

  • Innovation. Companies everywhere are trying to create more innovative atmospheres for employees. But what if the answer isn’t open office space but a higher engagement score? Innovation is a key outcome of engagement. Research by Gallup found that 61 percent of engaged employees feed off the creativity of their colleagues, compared to a mere 9 percent of disengaged employees. In addition, it found that 59 percent of engaged employees believe their job brings out their most creative ideas, compared to only 3 percent of disengaged employees.
  • Retention. The only thing better than engaging our employees is keeping them around to deliver excellent results over time. Towers Watson research points out that retention is tied in with many of the factors that play into employee engagement, such as career advancement opportunities, confidence in senior leadership, and a manageable amount of work-related stress. Manage those factors well, and employees will stick around and produce results.
  • Revenue. In a discussion of concrete impacts, we would be remiss if we didn’t touch on the one that matters most to many organizations: the bottom line. There are several pieces of research that demonstrate the link between engagement and financial results. According to Towers Perrin research, companies with engaged workers have 6 percent higher net profit margins, and Kenexa research points out that engaged companies have five times higher shareholder returns over five years.

Each of these points helps to paint a more nuanced picture of employee engagement, establishing it not as a standalone program or an end result, but as a holistic journey towards greater business results. And that, ultimately, is how we can get the CEO, the leadership team, and the rest of the company on board with the idea of promoting and supporting engagement as a long-term business strategy.

Want to learn more about this topic and dig deeper into the concept? I’ll be leading a session titled Stop Measuring Engagement For Its Own Sake at the Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2017 event in New Orleans and I’d love to have you join me for the discussion.

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About the Author
Ben Eubanks
Ben Eubanks, Principal Analyst, Lighthouse Research
Ben Eubanks is a human capital management industry analyst who helps companies and vendors with strategy, content, and more. Ben has over seven years of tactical and strategic experience spanning all areas of HR and he is a nationally-recognized author and speaker on trends and best practices in human capital management. Ben is the principal analyst at Lighthouse Research & Advisory where he oversees the development of research, assets, and insights to support HR, learning, and talent vendors across the globe. Ben also co-founded the HRevolution conference for HR and recruiting leaders and is one of four members that holds this annual event, attracting hundreds of attendees from around the globe since its inception.

 

 

Employee Evaluations

5 Elements of a Healthy Performance Review Process

Before you start defining the elements of a healthy performance review process, it’s worth investigating how or where your process went wrong. Historically, performance reviews were created with the best of intentions and remained unchanged for centuries.

The idea that people are motivated by knowing where they stand within an organization gave birth to the “rank and yank” method of ranking employees into top, average, and poor performing tiers (and eliminating those at the bottom). This was popularized by Jack Welch, former CEO and Chairman of General Electric (1980-2001).

As with many common business practices, the millennial generation is challenging the way performance reviews work. Not only have forced ranking and merit-based raises been found ineffective, leaders and human resources professionals have reported performance reviews to be a significant waste of time.

While performance management is sometimes a necessary evil, thankfully, the delivery system and the value it provides is trending in a healthier direction. Let’s have a look at five elements of a healthy performance review process.

1. Regularity

The traditional performance review that takes place once or twice a year tends to be an anxiety-inducing event in which employees are sometimes blindsided by their supervisor’s perception of their performance. To be effective, performance feedback should be delivered on a regularly scheduled basis so it becomes less stressful and includes more than an overview of how they have performed over the last twelve months.

Employees will have a better chance to grow, improve, and possibly change their approach to work if they’re receiving timely, specific feedback rather than waiting several months to a year after the fact to hear about their performance.

2. A Strong Focus on Goals

A healthy performance review process includes more than just feedback, it’s a great opportunity to establish goals and expectations. This is another reason the review process should be done more regularly. As soon as current goals are met or exceeded, you can put new ones in place, rather than waiting until a formal review to adjust strategy. This will help keep your team members from growing bored or frustrated and keep them focused on imperative business objectives.

Meeting to discuss an employee’s performance, as well as their goals, helps you as a leader understand the direction they’re heading and how you can guide them, as well as how you can align their strengths and interests toward the shared goals of your team. If you have a learning management system in place, you can also pair some of these performance goals with specific learning or training objectives and track progress in real time.

3. Two-Way Conversations

“Talking at,” your employees can make them feel intimidated, or worse, annoyed. The lack of two-way communication is one of the many reasons the traditional performance review is ineffective — more than anything, the employee just wants it to end as they might be feeling belittled, unimportant, or unheard.

Instead, use the designated review time to have a two-way conversation. Spend time discussing how your employee feels about their own performance and how they feel about your performance as a leader. Ask for their thoughts on the company’s current mission and goals. Encourage them to be decisive, and solicit their ideas. Where possible, put what they tell you into action, so they know that your interest in their opinion isn’t perfunctory. This method of communication is more aligned with the modern workforce; today’s employees, especially the millennial generation, prefer coaches to managers.

4. Balanced Feedback

You already know that going into a performance review with only negative feedback can discourage an employee from making the corrective behavior necessary to get on track. A poor performer still needs to understand how their skills are valuable to the organization, the areas they are making strides in, and where you see potential for improvement.

Similarly, providing only positive feedback (even to an outstanding performer) isn’t helpful either. A healthy review should balance both positive and negative feedback. Growth only comes from pushing people past what they thought they were capable of, and an ambitious employee will look for a manager willing to do just that. Your job as a leader is to do the pushing; by acknowledging areas of improvement, and establishing new goals.

5. Performance-Based Incentives

A system of goals and evaluation criteria is a step in the right direction if you’re hoping to boost performance. But your employees will never feel intrinsically motivated to improve unless there is some benefit or reward tied to success. If they know the only reward for above-average work is the approval of their manager, you won’t see much growth.

Make sure your performance reviews are connected to a tangible reward or incentive for each employee. How you reward the employee should be individualized, and is dependent on available budget, but it could be anything from a restaurant gift card to a quarterly bonus, or even a permanent raise for the highest performing employees. Don’t let your most valuable employees feel unappreciated, demonstrate their value to them with tangible assets–verbal affirmation is nice, but it doesn’t pay the electric bill.

When you do away with forced rankings and outdated goals and start having meaningful conversations with your team, you can soften the cutthroat atmosphere at work and engage your employees as individuals. This in turn will create a culture of trust, allowing for constructive criticism and healthy performance reviews that include regular, balanced feedback, goal-setting, and an opportunity for a two-way conversation. Furthermore, a healthy review process tied to measurable incentives will not only result in higher performance, but happier employees as well.

To learn more, check out 6 Tips to Tackle Performance Reviews for Managers and Employees.

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About the Author
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.

 

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!

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