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How to Plan Employee Engagement Contests That All Your Teams Will Love

Thirty-three percent. It’s a fairly low number. We wouldn’t want to see that number for our customer satisfaction or client retention rates. But that’s the number of American workers who report being engaged at work. And if a figure that low isn’t acceptable when it comes to our clients, it shouldn’t be acceptable when it comes to employees either. Low engagement leads to poor performance, dissatisfaction, and higher turnover. But there are ways to combat this disengagement. Employment engagement contests help keep people motivated and gives everyone a common goal beyond just doing well at work. You want to make sure your contests are inclusive of everyone within your organization, regardless of department or job title.

Here are a few tips for building employee engagement contests that everyone will love.

Get Out of the Office

When you have different departments with different goals and responsibilities, it can be hard to manage an in-office contest. You can’t pit them against each other to see who can close the most sales or enter the most data, because there will be very clear winners before they even begin. Instead, focus on contests that everyone can reasonably participate in, regardless of their job title or skills.

This often means getting out of the office. Though you might have the time, budget, and resources to execute numerous company outings, planning even a single event a year where employees can get together outside of work for a little friendly competition can help make everyone feel a little more engaged within the company. Do trivia at a bar, play a few rounds of mini-golf, or even see which department can collect the most cans for a community food drive.

Ask Employees What They Want

Employment engagement contests are only effective if they are actually engaging. While no one idea will likely ever satisfy every single employee, it is still a good idea to at least try and get a good idea of what your employees might like to do. After all, this about them.

An employee-led committee to plan contests can incorporate employees from various departments to make sure everyone is represented.  Or you can even use surveys to help you figure out what kinds of contests everyone might be interested in. Most enterprise chat systems have polling features built in. And many HR suites offer employee feedback tools like surveying as well.

Not everyone will excel in every single contest. But you should have a pretty decent understanding of your employees that allows you to tailor your contests for a high chance of success. Contests are a lot less motivating when few participants can succeed. Make sure everyone is gaining something.

Make it Regular

Of course, you can’t host one contest and expect everyone to remain engaged long term.

To keep employees engaged, contests should become regular events.  As is the case with anything good, you don’t want to overdo it. But you also don’t want to introduce your employees to something they enjoy only to never bring it back. Then they’ll just be demoralized on top of being disengaged.

Establish what “regular” means for you and what works for your organization, then stick with.

Whether it’s once a year or twice a week, having something consistent to look forward to always makes work a little more enjoyable. Plus, the more regular these inter-departmental contests are, the most opportunities employees have to mingle and get to know each other.

Reward Teams for Little Tasks

Rewards can go a long way and the be the incentive your employees need to go the extra mile. Come up with contests that involve everyone doing their job but aren’t dependent on specific positions. For example, everyone, regardless of position, should be showing up to work on time. So consider building a contest around perfect attendance and punctuality. Even something as simple as free lunch for the entire floor if the dishwasher gets loaded and unloaded for 30 days in a row can engage employees around a common cause.

Show Off the Results

There’s nothing more frustrating than doing something well and getting no recognition. No matter what kind of contest you decide on, consider displaying the results somewhere or sending them out to the whole team. It’s important to recognize and reward employees for their participation.

You can keep a leaderboard in the break room or leverage a recognition platform to showcase results so that those who didn’t win will be encouraged to work harder next time, and those who did win can appreciate their own victory.

Implement Initiatives to Help With Goals

Have departments in the office compete and see who can hit the gym after work the most days per week or eat the most fruits and veggies for lunch? Is a group of employees working together to raise the most money for a local charity? Help these freelance efforts out! Initiatives like a company-sponsored gym membership, catered lunches, or charitable giving matching can all help employees reach their own goal. Even simple acts like these can increase employee engagement.

Hold Managers Accountable

Getting different departments on board for a contest can be tough. Making sure everyone is involved can make it a little easier. Managers need to set the example for other employees by participating in contests, and by giving it their all.

Seeing managers compete can be good motivation for employees to step up their own game, and the idea of winning a competition against their boss might make people work even harder!

Finally, Be Proactive

The best way to maintain employee engagement is to never lose it in the first place. This is easier said than done, of course, but you should be taking steps to ensure that every employee is engaged from day one, and that they all stay that way.

No matter the age, everyone likes the chance to have some fun at work. Incorporating simple contests into the daily routine can be incredibly effective in helping your teams bond and work better together.

Learn more about what incentives to offer in your next employee engagement contest by accessing Achievers’ e-book: “How to Incentivize the Modern Workforce.

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About the Author
Laura HudgensLaura Hudgens is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com. She is a communications instructor and freelance writer who studies and writes about technology, media, science, and health.

 

 

 

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Lack of Impulse Control: Is It Preventing Leaders from Engaging with Their Teams?

It all started with a client of mine whose leader had expressed frustration with her team members for being too relaxed and unprofessional. My client was the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of a large healthcare company with over 600 team members. She worked closely with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) who was a successful leader and had been with the organization for over 15 years.

One morning, the CEO became really frustrated with a few employees who were eating breakfast at their desks, which seemed to exacerbate the unprofessional work environment she was observing. She felt this was a time-waster and team members were losing productivity.

She lacked patience and decided to send an email to the entire company letting employees know they could no longer eat breakfast at their desks. Instead, team members had to eat before work or in the cafeteria. She did not inform her COO or the Human Resources (HR) department she would be sending this email.

Effects on Productivity and Company Culture

What effect did the CEO’s actions have on employee productivity that week? Her intention was to increase productivity, but her impulsive actions resulted in a decrease in efficiency. Many employees were confused by her email, and HR was receiving calls for clarification, with employees wondering if protein bars or nuts were considered breakfast items.  Other employees were pregnant or had health issues, would they be penalized if they had food at their desks? They felt they were being discriminated against.

Self-Awareness and Understanding

Was this leader self-aware enough to recognize her patterns of behavior that led her to act impulsively?  Was she able to have difficult conversations? Did she recognize how her behaviors impacted others? The answer to all these questions was “no.” This leader was not self-aware and was not able to understand the negative impact of her actions.

A Better Response

What could this leader have done better? She could have had a conversation with those few employees she felt were not being productive instead of sending a group email.

Lack of Control and Impulsive Behavior

Impulses such as the CEO described above can be perceived as a lack of control, maturity, or business savvy. This type of behavior often derails the offender as it can lead to termination or reduced opportunities for advancement.

How many of us have observed another team member engaging in an activity that we believe to be unproductive? Have you read an email, and immediately became defensive about the content or tone the sender was using? Then you impulsively decide to respond immediately and give your feedback via email, or even worse hit ‘reply all,’ and later regret what you said or wrote in that email. Unfortunately, you can’t take it back. It felt good in the short-term moment but left you with regret in the long-term.

With the use of email, Twitter, and texting, immediate gratification and ease of use prevents you from delaying or fully thinking about a response to another person’s communication. Research shows smart phones and other devices make us less assertive and cause us to “play small” and not stop to reflect how this impacts bigger life plans and goals.

What Is the Definition of Impulse Control?

Impulse control is one of the core competencies of emotional intelligence (EI) and is defined as the degree to which a person can control the need for immediate gratification. It may be the most significant indicator of a person’s future success in the workplace or adaptation in society in terms of building and maintaining relationships with others.

The impact of a lack of impulse control in the workplace is generally significant whether it is a one-time occurrence or a pattern of behavior. When you act on an impulse that leads to a negative outcome, it can lead to serious consequences that are life changing and result in forming a negative reputation. On the other hand, when you have a positive outcome, it gets a different type of attention. It can look like you are brilliant, and your reputation is elevated as a leader and a managed risk taker.

What Does Research Reveal About Impulse Control and Life Success?

For years parents have been testing their young children on impulse control based on the findings in The Stanford marshmallow experiment on delayed gratification in the late 1960s and early 1970s, led by psychologist Walter Mischel. More recently, Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld have re-examined impulse control and America’s “culture of entitlement and instant gratification” in their book, The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America. Both research studies reveal impulse control is a key driver of better life outcomes as measured by better academic performance, higher SAT scores, upward mobility, and professional success.

Lack of Impulse Control and “Monkey Mind”

What prevents you from being present when you are engaging with another co-worker and not getting distracted? Is it emails, false deadlines, text messages, phone calls, web surfing, or interruptions? How can you not give into the power of temptation and stay more in the present moment?

When we lack impulse control, it takes us to a place we were not planning on going. We feel hijacked in the moment – our cognitive brain is no longer in control and our emotional brain is running the show.

On average, we have 60,000 thoughts a day (according to research by Dr. Fred Luskin of Stanford University) and only about 8-9 % are present-moment thinking. This is referred to as a “monkey-mind,” which can lead to impulsive behavior or emotional reactions when our emotional brain hijacks our thinking brain especially when we feel stress or triggered. This is called an amygdala hijack.

When the emotional part of your brain, your amygdala, is hijacked, your oxygen and blood flow move away from your thinking brain to your larger muscles, so you can react or get out of a dangerous situation. That is why you can’t tap into the best of your cognitive brain to see all variables and make a better rational decision.

The word “hijacked” is a strong word, but it feels sudden, unexpected, out of control, forceful, against your will, taking you someplace you were not planning on going. You feel more certain and things are more black and white. You are right, and the other person is wrong. You lose perspective to think clearly.

What Does Impulse Control Look Like in the Workplace?

As adults and business leaders, how can we improve our impulse control to engage better with team members and become more focused, productive and creative? Research findings reveal leaders who can manage strong emotions when feeling stress or pressure, while maintaining a healthy sense of humor, are more successful in building stronger relationships, being creative and meeting professional goals.

Developing Self-Awareness and Building Your Own Impulse Control Tools

The more self-aware you become about your own emotional triggers and how you manage your impulse control, the greater the chance to avoid inappropriate outbursts and poor decisions.  Many times, you learn to control your impulsive behavior after an unfortunate event where you lost control and had to pay a big price. Hindsight is always 20/20.  When you have a moment to look back at what you said or did, you have a better understanding of how you were triggered and how your actions impacted the situation in a negative way. You may take appropriate steps to limit the damage.

You cannot change another person or situation, but you can manage how you choose to react or respond to a situation. You can take charge of your impulse control. As a result, you can choose to “play big” and achieve more happiness, engagement and success in your personal and professional life.

Here are some specific tools you can utilize to improve impulse control:

  • Stop and breathe before you react to a situation or send an email.
  • Remember that instant gratification is short-lived and is about “playing small.” You want to “play big” and maintain a healthy sense of humor.
  • Evaluate options – no response is sometimes the most powerful response.
  • Listen to hear instead of listening to respond to someone. Become aware of distractions that are preventing you from listening.
  • Don’t feel the need to respond to every email or text immediately.
  • Leave 10-minutes earlier to an appointment to give yourself a buffer and practice mindfulness if you arrive early.
  • Avoid overpromising and under delivering and practice “present moment” thinking.

I encourage you to continue your journey toward self-awareness and practicing better impulse control.  Take charge of your success in life and the workplace and build a positive leadership reputation.  Remember this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Life is a journey not a destination.”

If you would like to learn more about EI, visit our website – www.swiei.com

Are you looking for more leadership tips? Discover how to effectively listen to your workforce with Achievers’ white paper on Taking the Pulse of Employee Engagement.

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About the Author
Bobi Seredich Headshot
Bobi Seredich is a recognized speaker, author, trainer and successful entrepreneur specializing in leadership development. She has spent over 23 years of her career dedicated to creating, directing, writing and presenting leadership programs for top companies in the U.S. and around the world.

Bobi is the co-founder of the Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence and Managing Partner of EQ Inspirations. In 2001, she founded Equanimity, Inc. also known as EQ Speakers – a speakers’ bureau and leadership training company. It fast became a top speaker bureau that booked hundreds of speakers with large Fortune 500 clients. EQ Speakers was sold in 2012 and continues to be a leader in the industry.

Her book, Courage Does Not Always Roar – Ordinary Women with Extraordinary Courage, was published by Simple Truths in the spring of 2010. The book is a collection of her experiences and stories of women who have had the courage to overcome very difficult life events.

Her passion is to guide individuals and organizations to a higher performance level through her own business knowledge, inspirational stories and leadership emotional intelligence training. Bobi lives in Phoenix, AZ with her husband and 6-year old twins, Alex and Gia.

 

Improve Team Meetings

7 Fun Ways to Host Team Meetings

Team meetings are renowned for being boring and, to many employees, a waste of time.

In fact, one survey shows that over 75% of meeting participants are annoyed by meetings they deem unnecessary, and many more will agree they find them boring, even if it’s just from time to time.

So, as a meeting host in your business, it’s up to you to spice things up and bring a spark that will keep everybody engaged. To help you get started, here are seven techniques you can use.

  1. Use Grouping

One of the most common meeting tactics to use is known as ‘breakout groups’. This is a type of meeting where you’ll introduce a certain point or subject and then break the teams up into groups to discuss it. As you can imagine, this is ideal for brainstorming activities.

“Try to split up groups of people, so each group is as diverse as possible. At the end of the session, bring the teams back together and discuss all your points as a team,” shares Mary Parker, an HR Manager for UK Writings.

  1. Try Team Building Efforts

You may have heard of team-building days, but there’s no reason why you can’t bring a team-building exercise into your meetings to bring everyone together and to get the mind focused. This is a great way to boost employee morale, build company culture and make the team socially aware.

You could give your team a puzzle or play a simple Q & A game. Team meetings don’t have to be completely work-related either – they could solely focus on the team building aspect and be used as ten-minute introductions to get everybody engaged.

  1. Include Engaging Presentations

One of the best ways to bring new life into your meetings is by creating a visual presentation, such as a PowerPoint. This adds a visual element to your meetings and is a great way to share information in an easily digestible format.

You can add graphics, images, videos, graphs, text, and any other form of data or media that will help to keep the participants of your meeting engaged. Aim to produce high-quality presentations for your team meetings. Here are some tools that can help:

  • Grammarix & Studydemic
    These are two online tools you can use to check the grammar in your presentation.
  • Revieweal
    This website reviews copywriting services that can create content for your presentation, as recommended by the HuffingtonPost in Write My Essay article.
  • Let’s Go and Learn & My Writing Way
    These blogs have a tonne of writing guides you can follow to improve your general writing skills.
  • Australian Reviewer
    This is an online writing community where you can meet writers from around the world to improve your skills.
  • Cite It In
    This is a free online tool to help you add citations, references and quotes to your presentation professionally.
  • Writing Populist & Academadvisor
    These are two services that can help you to edit the content of your slides to perfection.
  1. Change the Scenery

Do you always hold your meetings in the same room? Why not mix things up by changing your meeting’s venue? Perhaps you could book another room in your office building. You could try meeting in a huddle space or taking your team to a nearby café or quiet place to sit.

“One of the more popular meeting places that people enjoy is going outside. Not only does this give your team a bit of sunlight and fresh air, but it also helps to break up the day, keeps your participants engaged and focused and makes a nice change from a boring meeting room,” explains Sarah Cattle, an HR Manager for UKServicesReviews.

  1. Keep Your Meetings Short

If your meetings are dragging on and on, it’s only natural that people are going to get bored, switch off and become disinterested in what’s being said. That being said, it’s so much better for you and the rest of your team to keep things short and engaging.

This means if you’re having a meeting, it’s better to stick to a selection of topics and subjects that you’re talking about, rather than trying to go on and on and cram in absolutely everything you have to say. As a rule of thumb, try and keep your meetings to around 30 minutes maximum.

  1. Switch Up Positioning

When your team comes into your meeting, have you ever paid attention to how they seat themselves?

Typically, you’ll see people sit in the same places and next to the same people. This is great, but if people are mucking around, or the same people are hiding at the back trying not to be involved, this will contribute to an unsuccessful meeting.

Instead, try mixing people up and getting them sitting next to people, and in places, that they wouldn’t normally sit. This is great for brainstorming team meetings, especially when group discussion is implemented.

  1. Add an Extra Touch

This is only scratching the surface when it comes to ways to enhance and revitalize your meetings with what works for you.

To help you get off on the right foot, here are some extra touches you can add to bring energy into your meetings, and to make them more fun:

  • Get a different employee to bring in food for each meeting and vote best food every month
  • Break your group into small groups for discussion (mix people up)
  • Every time someone ‘crushes’ an idea, get another member to throw a soft toy at them saying, “Let’s give it a ”
  • Be charismatic when talking
  • Make eye contact with the people in your meeting
  • Concentrate on your body language
  • Spotlight employees with rewards and recognition

Whether your hosting team meetings, teleconferences or office workshops, it’s important to always add your own flair to effectively engage employees. The next time you have a team meeting, make sure you have these 7 tips in your back pocket.

Are you having trouble engaging your employees? Check out this guide highlighting four ways to start measuring the results of your engagement programs.

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About the Author
Mary WaltonMary Walton is a business writer and blogger at Simple Grad, read her Boom Essays review there. Also, she writes for the Huffington Post (one of her most popular posts there is Buy an Essay article).

 

 

 

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Engage Millennials in the Workplace

6 Easy Ways to Make Your Team Millennial-Friendly

With a steady increase in employable candidates, and the continued exodus of baby boomers, millennials are now in a position to have a major influence on their workplaces. But according to a recent study by Gallup, only 29% of millennials are engaged at work. This shouldn’t come as a surprise; millennials make no secret as to what they feel makes a workplace engaging. They want challenging, rewarding work in a team-oriented culture. Based on the knowledge above, it doesn’t hurt to ask: Are you actively molding your team dynamics to meet millennials’ expectations? Are you working on the transition from a ‘command and control’ structure to a network of cooperative and inclusive teams?

If the answer to the questions above is “no”, don’t fret, you don’t need a full overhaul of your business model to improve employee engagement and sense of fulfilment of your impact-driven millennial employees. Here are 6 easy ways to make your team millennial-friendly.

business employees

1. Empower small, agile project teams

In today’s fast-paced, global business environment, maximizing value streams is key to maintaining a competitive edge.

To do so, organizations often prioritize increasing their margins through best practices and efficiency. However younger employees tend to derive value from innovation and continuous results.

But it is possible to be cost-efficient and millennial-friendly at the same time. To do so organize work into small projects owned by agile, flexible teams.

Agile teams operate in a low-cost environment. They quickly address problems with solutions by bringing together business improvement concepts with customers and senior level colleagues.

By operating in project-mode, you create an ecosystem that meets 3 millennial needs:

2. Adopt transparency in communication and leverage popular mediums

In a world where work can be done anytime, anywhere, accurate and fluid communication can be a challenge for any organization.

Your young, socially-connected workforce expects information to be widely available in a timely fashion. For them, transparency from top to bottom creates a sense of collaboration.

Collaborative discussions and open-feedback loops will be helpful if you want to make your team millennial-friendly. Another efficient way to build trust across the organization is to bring strategic messages closer to employees.

Video technology allows executives to share a strategic message directly with their teams. Why not create a short “welcome” video from your CEO for new hires? Or take advantage of live video and share short messages in real-time?

3. Flatten organizational structures

A well-known contributor of employee engagement is a sense that an individual’s contributions have influence on the success of an organization as a whole.

A good way to achieve this is to give your millennials the freedom to be part of the decision-making process. If your organizational structure doesn’t allow a collaborative process for decisions, you risk deflating your young talents’ sense of leadership.

Take the Swedish company, Spotify, for example: Spotify creates engagement by balancing autonomy and accountability.

Spotify’s core organizational unit is an autonomous squad of no more than eight people, […] accountable for a discrete aspect of the product […] Several squads (are) linked together through a chapter, which is a horizontal grouping that helps to support specific competencies […]. Leadership within the squad is self-determined, while the chapter leader is a formal manager who focuses on coaching and mentoring.”

Spotify’s horizontal structure redistributes decision-making across employees, in contrast to traditional top-down, hierarchical models. This results in faster response times while simultaneously holding employees accountable for their ideas.

Not ready for a full overhaul? Not to worry, it’s still possible to reinforce your employees’ sense of responsibility and autonomy without undertaking a total business transformation. Small changes in your operating model can indicate that you value cross-functional collaboration over typical management control.

For instance, you can empower teams to discover best practice methods, and encourage adoption of these approaches from the bottom up. Or ask team leaders to embrace a coaching mindset that aligns with millennials’ need for regular feedback.

Employee Coffee

4. Change the focus of your meetings 

With the always-connected nature of millennials, massive amounts of information is consistently at their fingertips. And with the expectation that this information is to be digested and distilled into valuable bits to present to a team, establishing a well-defined focus for team meetings can create an environment ripe for actively exchanging ideas. According to the 2016 Deloitte millennial survey, the ideal millennial workweek includes 4.6 hours spent discussing ideas and new ways of working.

An easy way to make your team millennial-friendly is to carve out some time for “thought showers”; open discussions on lessons learned and continuous improvement. Alternatively, you can increase their sense of contribution by giving your young talent a spotlight to share their perspectives on a topic or cause they’re passionate about, or a cause they care strongly about.

5. Rethink flexibility

Flexibility is often seen as ‘flexi-time’ and work-from-home practices. These are elements of a culture of trust, and known factors in talent retention.

But flexibility can, and should, go far beyond this. What about encouraging flexibility of ideas, and diversity of thought?

An “open-door policy” towards new ideas embeds a culture of collaboration, innovation, and equality. At the same time, mentoring programs encourage cross-pollination of skills across generations, making employees more adaptable to rapidly changing business objectives. Promoting cultural intelligence within global teams brings various creative perspectives together.

A millennial-friendly team is flexible in the way it operates, and in the way its members think.

6. Make the team work for a higher cause

Team building significantly helps to retain talent, according to 79% of millennials polled by The Go Game.

But for a young workforce that takes pride in contributing to wider causes, team building activities must go to the next level. 76% of millennials regard businesses as a force for positive social impact. 

You can make your teams millennial-friendly by organizing charity days, or better yet, offering ‘volunteering leave’ so employees can partake in people-centric activities (e.g. involvement in LGBT or corporate responsibility).

By supporting such initiatives, you show that the team is, first and foremost, a group who share similar human values.

Mobile work

A small set of actions is all it takes to get started making your team millennial-friendly. Initiatives that connect directly to your young talents’ sense of purpose are easy to introduce but highly rewarding. These include improving collaboration across teams, fostering a sense of contribution, encouraging millennials to take responsibility, and enhancing transparency at all levels of the organization.

Now, what if you want to take employee engagement to a deeper level? Young generations want their values to be shared by the organizations they work for. So involve your millennials in office culture improvement, by giving them the freedom to find creative ways to internally promote your set of core values.

Want to create a magnetic culture? Access this webinar recording.

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About the Author
Coralie SawrukCoralie helps global organizations create efficient team dynamics. A people-person at heart, she believes the ultimate competitive advantage is created by the right talents working hand-in-hand, cheerfully. Coralie provides Strategic Business Transformation services across the globe, and mentors ambitious talents who want to become role models. Visit Coralie’s website or get in touch on LinkedIn.