How Do You Connect Employee Engagement and Happiness - TalentCulture

How Do You Connect Employee Engagement and Happiness?

People often assume happy employees are also engaged. But is that really a safe bet? Sometimes with the best intentions to improve happiness in the short term, leaders make decisions that hurt their business in the long term. And when a business suffers, its people do, too. So, what can you do to achieve better outcomes? Recognize that while both employee engagement and happiness matter, engagement should be your priority. Here’s why…

The Pursuit of Happiness Engagement

Naturally, we want employees to be happy. (Employees want the same thing.) But it’s important to understand that employee happiness is a fairly consistent outcome of engagement — not the other way around.

This relationship is easy to prove. We’ve all had an employee or colleague who unfortunately was fired for continually underperforming, despite seeming happy and “engaged.” Of course, job fulfillment and engagement are directly correlated. But the trouble comes when we conflate these two concepts.

For a healthy business and happy employees, it’s important to focus first on engagement. Happiness will follow. And knowing how to measure both is the key.

Engagement, Meet Happiness

Employee engagement is radically different from happiness. It’s also significantly more complex. Think of engagement as the degree to which an individual is connected to, identifies with, and supports their organization. Note that this definition says nothing about employee satisfaction. Rather than being motivated by perks or extrinsic rewards, truly engaged employees are genuinely interested in their company’s success. They are invested and they want to see it thrive.

Beneath the surface of engaged employees, you’ll often find a “noble cause” that aligns with the company’s mission and surpasses personal satisfaction. Through this commitment, employees gain a sense of ownership, accomplishment, and pride — the stuff of happiness.

Engaged employees directly contribute to overall business success in small and big ways. As a result of their collective efforts, the organization grows, new challenges and opportunities materialize, and the wheel of engagement keeps turning.

However, maintaining this flywheel’s momentum can be tricky. Effective leaders enhance the employee experience by providing variety, opportunities for growth, and a sense of direction. These are all great ways to steer engagement (as well as happiness).

But how do you know when people need more? How can you tell when engagement is at risk? If you focus first on measuring happiness, you’ll lose the forest for the trees. Instead, you need to consider both happiness and engagement, separately.

Measurement: Mind the (Survey) Trap

HR knows how to answer big questions with employee surveys. But you’ll want to avoid becoming overly dependent on surveys. That’s because they provide very limited insights, and the strength of the data is largely relative to the strength of the survey instrument.

Determining levels of engagement requires a detailed examination of multiple trends and factors. So for best results, you’ll want to go beyond questionnaires when measuring employee engagement or happiness.

Engagement Metrics

As you dig deeper, here are several useful indicators to consider:

1. Interpersonal Relationships

Leaders, do you encourage staff members to foster friendships? It’s widely recognized that strong workplace connections encourage teamwork and cohesion. In fact, 80% of people with close friends at work say they feel a strong sense of belonging to their organization. And 76% say friendships make them more likely to remain with their employer.

To understand the influence of relationships in your organization, develop metrics that answer questions like these:

  • How many friends or positive work relationships do your employees have, on average?
  • What proportion of people in your organization feel they have a reliable mentor?

2. Voluntary Overtime

Every organization has its share of people who get by with a bare minimum of effort. And in recent years, this behavior has been on the rise. Now, according to Gallup, “quiet quitters” represent at least 50% of the U.S. workforce.

Meanwhile on the other side of the coin, what about those who are willing to go “above and beyond” or proactively dedicate extra time to get work done? It’s safe to assume these employees are highly engaged. But too much discretionary effort can lead to burnout and unhappiness.

  • How often do employees contribute extra time and effort?

It’s vital to keep an eye on both ends of this effort/engagement spectrum. The key is to measure individually and often. Then be prepared to talk with employees about unusual changes in their behavior, and their comfort with self-imposed increased workloads.

3. Collaboration

If employees give themselves the time and space to collaborate only when leaders or clients require it, your organization is likely to be lacking in engagement.

No business wants to force unnecessary meetings on people. That’s a costly move, and it’s only likely to promote disengagement. On the other hand, informal and formal group conversations are vital to help team members align and move forward successfully.

  • How often are employees or teams scheduling meetings to share ideas, brainstorm, or plan their work?

A good indicator of engagement is to gauge how often people willingly make an effort to get together on a casual basis or for work-related reasons.

What About Happiness?

Happiness is much simpler to measure than engagement. This is where a good standalone survey can be effective. Strive for a survey cadence that is frequent enough to achieve at least 50% participation. Weekly, if your survey is short — three questions or less. Biweekly or monthly, if the question set is longer.

Try asking people how they feel by focusing on real-world emotions with questions like these:

  • At the end of the workday, do you feel completely drained, or do you have the energy to relax and enjoy yourself?
  • Are there any day-to-day tasks you dread, or that you think we could help simplify or improve?
  • What do you find most rewarding about your role?

Thoughtful, personalized questions lead to useful insights. When employees recognize that you care about them and are genuinely interested in their happiness, they’ll help you understand what you can do to improve their experience.

Get Happy Engaged

If your organization faces issues like poor productivity, high turnover, or negative company culture, don’t try to fix it by emphasizing employee happiness. Instead, invest primarily in engagement. Happiness will follow.

Start by recognizing the difference between these two key dimensions of work life. Then think outside the box to measure both effectively. Don’t rely on old, templated engagement survey tools — or focus on satisfaction metrics alone. Instead, invest in developing and implementing a thoughtful strategy that measures both engagement and happiness.

Then, by evaluating engagement and happiness on an ongoing basis, you’ll be prepared to proactively detect and address workforce issues that influence overall business performance.

Top Tips For Extroverts Who Work From Home - TalentCulture

Top Tips For Extroverts Who Work From Home

Are you an extrovert? About half of the people in the U.S. are. But what exactly does that mean? The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality assessment model says extroverts tend to focus attention on — and are energized by — interaction with the outside world of people, things, and experiences. In contrast, introverts focus on — and are energized by — inner thoughts and feelings.

To be clear, this is not binary. It’s a spectrum. In other words, extroverts have an inner life, and introverts interact with the outside world. But everyone leans in one direction or the other.

Historically, the business world has aligned more closely with extroverts’ needs. For example, think about open-plan offices that define so many work environments. As Susan Cain notes in her book, Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, the modern office is “designed for extraverts.”

However, the pandemic has dramatically changed workplace norms. Now, many people work from home, at least part of the time. How is this shift affecting extroverts? Are they adapting successfully? Let’s take a closer look:

How Extroverts Feel About Working From Home

You might think extroverts would resist working from home, but that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, 78% of extroverts recently told us they enjoy working from home, while 74% said they appreciate the peace and quiet of a home office. (Not surprisingly, introverts are even more enthusiastic, with 88% and 86% answering affirmatively.)

Yet, some aspects of home-based work are particularly challenging for extroverts. For instance, 69% said they miss having people around them (compared with only 39% of introverts).

Work-From-Home Guidelines For Extroverts

If your personality preference leans toward extroversion, how can you improve your work-from-home experience? Here are some suggestions:

  • Extroversion isn’t just about connecting with people — it’s also about connecting with your surroundings. Make your home an interesting, stimulating place to work. If possible, choose a location with a window and natural light. Hang pictures around the room, add items you can interact with, and play music you enjoy.
  • Take hourly breaks by briefly “visiting” another room in your home — even if it’s just the hallway. If needed, set an alarm as a reminder.
  • Spaces outside your house or apartment are great places to connect with the external world. Take a walk around the block before work, at lunch, or at the end of the day. If you have a garden or a balcony, step outside occasionally to enjoy some fresh air.
  • Regular contact with others in your world is important. Take time to interact with family members. If possible, join them for lunch or coffee and a chat. Take time to say hello to your neighbors whenever you cross paths. And when participating in online calls, use video if possible.
  • Reach out to connect and communicate with co-workers. Schedule regular informal meetings and get-togethers. Seek out opportunities to collaborate on projects. Working together virtually can foster social interaction and build a sense of teamwork. Look for industry-related communities you can join, so you can develop a broader professional network. Reach out to introverted colleagues, too — they may want to participate.
  • Invite co-workers to meet up in person. If possible, rather than working exclusively from home, choose a hybrid work schedule or consider a co-working space, so you can feel part of a more socially connected environment.
  • To be sure you don’t forget breaks and meetings, schedule them. Also, schedule breaks between online meetings. Back-to-back sessions can be tiring for everyone — even extroverts!
  • It’s easy to get distracted when working from home. Therefore, book specific times on your calendar for focused work. Also, choose a quiet space for this kind of work, so you can minimize disruptions.

Work-From-Home Success Tips For Each Extrovert Personality Type

Extroversion and introversion are not the only aspects of personality covered by the MBTI model. The framework also considers 3 other characteristics. Specifically, how individuals prefer to:

  • Process information (Sensing “S” or Intuition “N”)
  • Make decisions (Thinking “T” or Feeling “F”)
  • Interact with the outside world (Judging “J” or Perceiving “P”).

Together, these traits combine to define eight distinct extrovert types:
ESTP, ESFP, ENFP, ENTP, ESTJ, ESFJ, ENFJ, ENTJ.

Below are detailed tips to help people with each of these extrovert personality types work effectively from home:

ESTP
(Extrovert/Sensing/Thinking/Perceiving)

  • Add variety to your day by pursuing diverse tasks.
  • Between each activity, do something to stimulate your senses. Look out the window, go outdoors, or talk to someone.
  • Make use of the flexibility remote working offers — but remember that others may not appreciate a late-night email or video call.
  • Plan blocks of time when you’ll be able to avoid distractions. Assign focused work to these time slots.
  • In your leisure time, do something physically active and energizing.

ESFP
(Extrovert/Sensing/Feeling/Perceiving)

  • Make work interesting by involving others in your projects.
  • Fill your day with a variety of people and tasks.
  • Set aside time when you won’t allow yourself to be distracted by people or unrelated conversations. Use this time to concentrate on tasks you need to get done.
  • Try not to snack too much, overindulge in treats, or binge-watch TV.
  • In your leisure time, go dancing, play a team sport, or pursue other physical activities with people you enjoy.

ENFP
(Extrovert/Intuition/Feeling/Perceiving)

  • Find trusted co-workers with whom you can share ideas online.
  • Immerse yourself in a creative work project.
  • Take a break from routine tasks to connect with people.
  • Working from home frees you to be flexible about where, when, and how you work. But remember to consider others’ work priorities and patterns before contacting them.
  • Even when working remotely, some people or situations may require a quick response. Act accordingly.

ENTP
(Extrovert/Intuition/Thinking/Perceiving)

  • Seek out co-workers who are open to regular online communication.
  • Develop remote communication channels and use them to ask questions and recommend ideas to others.
  • Take frequent breaks when working on routine tasks.
  • When working from home it’s easier to be flexible about where, when, and how you work. But be sure to consider others’ work patterns and preferences before you contact them.
  • Some messages or requests from others require a quick response. Don’t forget to reply and don’t spend too long deliberating.

ESTJ
(Extrovert/Sensing/Thinking/Judging)

  • Start your day by planning and prioritizing the tasks ahead.
  • Use video in online meetings. Pay attention to how people react when you’re speaking, and respond appropriately.
  • Be tactful in online communication and avoid being overly direct or aggressive. Check emails or messages for tone before you send them, especially if you feel rushed, stressed, or upset.
  • Be sure to establish a dedicated home office or working area. If it seems too quiet, take a break, go for a walk, or connect with family and friends. You’re allowed to be flexible!
  • When family, friends, and co-workers are facing challenges, they may need emotional support. You’re likely to be more effective by listening first, rather than jumping directly into problem-solving mode.

ESFJ
(Extrovert/Sensing/Feeling/Judging)

  • Create a separate home office or work space, away from others. This will help you concentrate and focus.
  • Find ways to stay in contact with the people you know. Schedule regular informal meetings and get-togethers to nurture those relationships.
  • Establish virtual work traditions and rituals to help bring people together online and support a connected culture.
  • Communication is more difficult when working remotely. Be careful not to jump to conclusions or take offense when none was intended. Feel free to ask questions when you’re unclear, and encourage others to do the same.
  • Colleagues and business contacts might not want to meet in person, via video, or on the phone. Email and direct messaging are legitimate channels that keep you connected with others throughout your work day.

ENFJ
(Extrovert/Intuition/Feeling/Judging)

  • Keep in touch with people and keep track of what’s going on by participating in regular informal meetings or virtual meetups. Invite friends and co-workers, old and new, to participate — but keep in mind that others may prefer not to join in.
  • Build consensus by soliciting ideas, bringing them together, and providing online discussion forums or feedback channels.
  • Others might skip the pleasantries in an email or IM, particularly if they’re busy or distracted. Try not to assume you’re being criticized when no offense is intended.
  • If your working day is too quiet, take a moment to connect with family or friends periodically.
  • Remember, you can’t support everyone all the time. Don’t forget your own needs!

ENTJ
(Extrovert/Intuition/Thinking/Judging)

  • Pay attention to details when developing and implementing plans.
  • Working from home may seem productive. But take care not to push decisions through without seeking input from others about their views, opinions, and ideas.
  • In online meetings, picking up on social cues can be difficult. Give everyone a chance to speak. Use video if possible.
  • Try not to be overly directive when interacting online. Maintain a balance between directing and listening.
  • Check emails or other written communications before you send them, especially if you’re feeling stressed or you’re in a hurry.
Side Hustles: Why do smart employers support moonlighting? And how do they make it work?

Side Hustles: Why Smart Employers Support Moonlighting

When it comes to careers, many of us no longer depend on a single source of income. In fact, people are turning to side hustles now more than ever. And according to Bankrate, nearly 40% of Americans dedicate time each week to at least one side hustle.

This rise in popularity makes sense, especially with 62% of Americans working paycheck to paycheck. But even though side hustles make it possible to generate extra cash, they’re attractive for other reasons, as well. For example, many people fulfill their creative aspirations through projects outside of their primary jobs.

Whether it’s selling handcrafted items on Etsy, offering freelance website design services, walking dogs, tutoring, or joining a band, side projects can provide much more than a secondary income. They’re often personally rewarding pursuits that fit alongside day-to-day careers. No wonder so many people are turning to side hustles.

How Side Hustles Benefit Employees

In the past, employers frowned upon moonlighting. Even now, some people think they should hide this activity from their employer. But as long as a side project doesn’t interfere with primary job responsibilities, there’s no need to keep it secret. In fact, with qualified talent in short supply, forward-thinking companies see multiple reasons to support it.

For example, employees often want to explore personal interests outside their day job. A side project can be an opportunity to earn some extra money while pursuing passions that may not be part of an individual’s primary profession.

It can also be a fulfilling creative outlet where people can express themselves in different ways, build expertise in new areas, and expand their capabilities. It may be a skill that translates into the workplace, like freelance writing. Or it could be a purely creative endeavor, such as nature photography. Regardless, this kind of growth helps people bring a fresh perspective to their 9-to-5 role.

Side gigs can also boost mental health in multiple ways. The freedom to pursue outside interests is rewarding and empowering. Also, these activities help employees connect with interesting people and expand their networks. Plus, earning extra income can improve wellbeing by reducing financial insecurity.

The freedom to develop side projects shows employees their company trusts their decisions, supports their growth, and cares about their happiness. This, in turn, builds goodwill that strengthens employee morale and engagement.

How Employers Benefit From Side Hustles

Employers also see multiple benefits when supporting people in their moonlighting endeavors. For starters, because employees feel more engaged when they’re free to pursue personal passions, they’re also more satisfied and loyal. And when employees don’t feel pressure to choose between jobs, it leads to higher retention rates and avoids costly turnover.

By encouraging people to take breaks from work and develop creative outlets, employers can prevent burnout and keep team members motivated. What’s more, when people are excited by their side projects, they’re less likely to get bored or stagnant in their primary role.

Completing passion projects outside of work also boosts confidence, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills that employees can apply on the job. Plus, when people gain new knowledge and skills elsewhere, they’ll bring those capabilities to their day-to-day roles. Ultimately, this enhances overall talent development.

Finally, backing side hustles can make any company more attractive to top talent. Great candidates often seek opportunities for career growth, creative freedom, and work-life balance. When supported effectively, gig work leads to a more skilled, loyal workforce, a healthier work culture, and a better bottom line.

How Managers Can Support Side Hustles

Managers are crucial in ensuring that employees feel empowered to pursue gig work and passion projects. Here are several ways to accomplish this:

One approach is to offer flexibility whenever possible, to accommodate employee side projects. This isn’t about making side hustles a priority. However, small accommodations go a long way toward making employees feel trusted and supported when juggling multiple agendas.

Even people with one job are looking for more work flexibility these days. And employers are discovering endless options. So, if you haven’t yet formalized flexible work policies, consider these questions:

  • Do you permit occasional remote workdays?
  • What kind of flexible hours do you offer?
  • Do you offer a 4-day workweek option or other schedule variations?
  • Are employees able to adjust their schedules to accommodate personal commitments or events?

Managers may also want to consider providing resources to assist people with side projects. Offering access to company equipment, mentorships, networks, or even a special development budget demonstrates a commitment to employee aspirations beyond their current role in the company.

Additionally, leaders can encourage employees to frame and manage side hustles effectively by offering learning opportunities focused on best practices. This could include hosting expert speakers or workshops, sponsoring a community of interest, or paying for professional courses or conferences.

Above all, the easiest way to make staff members feel valued is simply to take an interest in their side hustle and offer feedback when it’s requested. Asking engaging questions and celebrating milestones boosts morale and is always appreciated. With some creative thinking, any manager can find small but impactful ways to facilitate side hustles.

Addressing Potential Issues

While side hustles can be advantageous for employees and employers alike, there are also several potential downsides to overcome. Clear expectations and communication are key. First, managers should set the stage by emphasizing that the primary focus for all staff must be their day-to-day job responsibilities.

Employees need to be committed to their roles when they’re on the job. Offering them the flexibility to work around other projects is a privilege that shouldn’t be abused, and managers need to consistently reinforce this point. What’s more, it’s vital to ensure that a side hustle doesn’t create a conflict of interest with an employee’s primary role. Again, transparency is essential here.

With the right balance, companies can fully realize the benefits of encouraging employees’ passions without compromising business priorities. With some flexibility and support from managers, side hustles can be achieved successfully alongside normal workloads.

A Final Word

Employers no longer need to consider side hustles a threat. On the contrary. Supporting side hustles is a winning strategy for companies looking to attract and retain enterprising top talent.

With thoughtfully designed policies, open communication, and managerial oversight, organizations are finding that side projects help expand workforce skills, increase engagement, and improve loyalty. And with 44% of people expecting to moonlight throughout their careers, this trend is on track to define the future of work. How is your organization responding?

 

Can Gamification Help Employees Beat The Great Gloom

Can Gamification Help Employees Beat The “Great Gloom”?

Whoosh! The winds of workforce change continue blowing in every direction. Are you feeling it?

First, the pandemic forced employers to go all-in with remote work. Then by 2021, forward-thinking leaders rolled out hybrid work models, hoping flexibility would keep the “Great Resignation” at bay. No such luck. By last year, turnover reached record highs as employee engagement continued to sink.

What’s next? Well, now, in the face of broader economic troubles, many employees are choosing to stay put. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re happy. Not at all. In fact, researchers say the “Great Gloom” is upon us. Oh my. Yet another buzzword. And this one doesn’t sound promising for anyone.

What exactly should we make of this current wave of workforce discontent? It seems we’ve arrived at a sort of no man’s land, where people are neither engaged nor disengaged — just discouraged and disheartened. But that won’t steer anyone in the right direction. So what’s an employer to do?

This brings me to a topic we’ve discussed before — gamification.

Why It’s Time to Get Serious About Gamification

After so much disruption, some employers may welcome this pause as a moment of relief. But no one can afford to get too comfortable. If the past few years taught us anything, we know this isn’t over. Profound shifts will continue, even if we can’t see what’s around the corner. So, how can teams move forward and perform their best, while rolling with more organizational twists and turns?

I think gamification is part of the answer. I’m not just talking about fun and games, here. I’m talking about thoughtful strategies that fit into everyday work culture and tap into innate human traits, like curiosity and the desire to perform at our best.

We know from experience that gamification works for everything from recruiting and onboarding to team building and talent development. And these capabilities are within nearly every employer’s reach. So what are you waiting for?

What’s at Stake

Gallup estimates that employers lose $1 trillion each year to voluntary turnover. A majority of those former employees say their manager or organization could have done something to keep them. But companies aren’t asking, “How could we keep these people onboard?” until they’re already gone.

And now, even though more employees are staying, many are as disengaged and unfulfilled as those who left during better economic times. That’s not a good sign for business.

Success depends on productive teams — and productive teams depend on competent, committed employees. But building a high-performance culture isn’t easy, especially when remote and hybrid work schedules make communication, trust, and teamwork harder to manage. It sounds like a job for gamification.

Tips From a Gamification Expert

This reminds me of a previous #WorkTrends podcast guest who recommends that employers tap into the power of gamification to elevate the employee experience.

Lauren Fitzpatrick Shanks is the Founder of Keep Wondering Out Loud (KeepWOL), a game-centered talent development platform she developed after 14 years in leadership at five Fortune 500 companies. An accomplished, award-winning black entrepreneur and engineer, Lauren is passionate about leveraging gamification to improve performance among individuals, teams, and organizations…


So, what is gamification, and how important is it for companies to gamify their training and engagement initiatives? Lauren explains: 

Defining Gamification

We’ve all played games before. But think of gamification as game elements and mechanics you can add to work situations that aren’t meant to be games.

Think about how games work. They have rules, they have a framework, they have a structure. And these fundamentals apply to everyone.

For example, when you play Monopoly, you can’t just make up your own rules unless other players agree. This means games give everyone an opportunity to start on equal footing, so each of us has an opportunity to win.

Why Gamification Is So Powerful

As humans, we all want to win. Even if we’re not competitive, no one wants to lose or fail. So games hack your brain. They typically require strategic thinking or quick decisions that disarm people and bring them into a competitive mindset. This taps into the brain’s reward center so you tell yourself, “I want to do well. I want to put my best foot forward.”

I think all teams can benefit from gamification. However, the results depend on the types of games or game mechanics you use, and whether it’s done well. There are many possibilities, but it’s important to be mindful about how you implement it.

How Does This Prepare Us For the Future of Work?

Gamification isn’t a new concept. But companies are on a mission to incorporate it into talent development initiatives, so they can bridge the gap between learning and doing.

Deloitte predicts that soft-skill-intensive occupations will represent 2/3 of all jobs by 2030, and demand for those jobs will grow 2.5x faster than for others.

That means companies need to improve soft skills among today’s employees. And these skills are hard to develop. They don’t come intuitively. You have to practice. But games, gamification, and simulations are fun, creative ways for people to learn, practice, and retain information. They help us grow more naturally. So they’re ideal for soft-skills training.

Why Gamification Wins

We’ve worked with teams of all types and sizes — matrix-based teams, C-suite teams, and multidisciplinary teams. People who work remotely, in-person, and a hodgepodge of both.

That’s what’s amazing about games and gamification. It’s more expansive than a ropes course or an escape room or trivia questions. These methods can bring together people from different generations and cultures to build trust, connectedness, and productivity.



My Turn: How Gamification Helps

Is it really worthwhile to integrate gamification into employee engagement initiatives? That’s a fair question. Here’s my perspective. If you look closer, you’ll find multiple reasons to invest. For example, with these techniques, you can:

1. Inspire Individuals to “Level Up”

Modern employees crave personalized feedback and recognition for their contributions. Game-oriented platforms help with real-time performance tracking. This often includes reminders and rewards that motivate people to keep moving forward. It also keeps managers in the loop with alerts and insights that enable them to intervene when coaching is needed or to celebrate achievements when the time is right.

2. Help Teams Run-Up the Score

In this case, “the score” is your organization’s overall success. Adding game-based logic to department or group projects demonstrates how employee contributions translate into measurable business impact. For example, you can drive team performance by awarding points to people who collaborate effectively and share creative ideas. Similarly, you can help people sharpen their skills by integrating game elements into employee training programs.

3. Tap Into Employees’ Competitive Nature

Gamification shapes behavior with incentives that spark friendly competition and help individuals become better versions of themselves. This is where employers must tread lightly to avoid triggering a cutthroat war among staffers. However, team-oriented strategies and meaningful rewards can build confidence, competency, and camaraderie.

4. Avoid “Game Over” Scenarios

HR and business managers can use insights from gamification platforms to understand and respond to employee development needs. Think of this as a form of workforce intelligence gathering, where employee performance metrics reveal red flags, as well as exceptional performance that deserves attention. When you actively support employee career growth, your team members are less likely to leave.

5. Appeal to All Generations

Younger employees tend to care about the purpose behind their role and they want more control over their career destiny. Gamification can provide them with a more satisfying, personalized work experience. For example, Deloitte’s Mass Career Customization program lets employees pick their work preferences. Another company, Valve, uses gamification to help employees choose projects they prefer. Methods like this offer younger employees the kind of instant gratification they crave but often miss in traditional corporate settings.

6. Boost Your Employer Brand

By improving job satisfaction, engagement, and retention, gamification can eventually transform employees into brand ambassadors. This elevates recruitment by demonstrating that your company culture is modern and healthy — and puts employees first.

7. Lighten The Mood

Let’s face it. When thoughtfully implemented, gamification is fun. And don’t we all deserve a little less friction and a little more fun in our lives these days? Positive emotion can help connect us more deeply with our colleagues and with our work. Sounds like a smart “gloom slayer” tactic to me.

Game On! Can Your Culture Outplay The “Great Gloom”?

Gamification isn’t likely to solve all of today’s workplace challenges. But it can give employees something new to be excited about. And when employees are motivated to engage, work together, and accomplish something greater, good things are much more likely to happen.

Honestly, it’s hard to think of any other talent management methods with the power to pull people out of a sense of gloom. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose. So, what are you waiting for? It can be exactly what you need to get your employees more invested in their roles and engaged with your organization. Ultimately, that means you can build a winning culture. So get ready, set, go!

 


EDITOR’S NOTE: For more in-depth information about how to develop and manage successful gamification initiatives, visit the Keep Wondering Out Loud website, where you’ll find helpful resources for employers. And for more #WorkTrends insights, check our growing collection of episodes at Apple or Spotify and subscribe!

 

Veterans at Work - How to Create an Inclusive Culture

How to Create an Inclusive Culture for Veterans at Work

Recently, one of the soldiers in my reserve unit decided it was time to hang up the uniform and transition to the civilian world. During an “exit counseling” meeting, I asked him about his thought process behind this decision and the reasons he joined a part-time reserve unit after active duty. He responded in a way I believe reflects the thinking of many transitioning soldiers. He was concerned that, without the structure of full-time service, he might not be able to land on his feet.

Fortunately, he didn’t have to wait long for an answer. Only a few months after moving on from active duty, he was applying his passion for graphic design in an organization that welcomes veterans at work.

Reintegration Realities

However, for many former service members, this gear shift isn’t nearly as fluid. It may seem odd that veterans face so many hurdles when seeking meaningful employment. After all, American corporations offer a plethora of opportunities, and civilian organizations generally view veteran culture in a positive light. For example, employers tend to associate military service with premier leadership acumen, dedication to working within a group, superior adaptability, and strong problem-solving skills.

These perceptions are on track. Former service members bring a wealth of skills, dedication, and a deep sense of duty to their corporate roles. Military responsibilities are rich in leadership, teamwork, and problem-solving. But these strengths sometimes get lost in translation during the civilian hiring process. With a more inclusive, accommodating environment for veterans at work, you can more easily recruit and retain candidates from this attractive talent pool. The following ideas can help:

Ways to Welcome Veterans at Work

1. Customize Your Onboarding Process

Recognizing the unique qualities veterans bring to the workforce is important for their success as they reintegrate. Effective employers acknowledge these distinct characteristics and tailor onboarding programs accordingly.

Imagine starting a new job and discovering that your military experience is not only acknowledged, but embraced. That’s the aim of tailored onboarding. You’ll want to show veterans their service is valued. It’s about demonstrating that an individual has a unique role to play within your company, and that role ties into a bigger vision.

  • Frame Your Culture in a Meaningful Way
    For successful onboarding, begin with a clear, complete introduction to your company and its culture. Focus on what’s expected, including organizational values, communication styles, and workplace norms. This kind of orientation equips veterans with the knowledge they need to assimilate more quickly and easily.
  • Fast-Track Assimilation With Relevant Tips
    Don’t forget to address the unique challenges veterans may face during their transition back into civilian life. For example, they will need to learn corporate lingo, adjust to a different chain of command, and understand how to operate effectively within existing teams.
  • Make the Most of Mentoring
    Mentorship within the organization can play a major role here. Pairing veterans with experienced colleagues is a natural way to help them establish valuable relationships while providing a reliable source of guidance during the initial stages of employment.

Bottom line: Effective onboarding isn’t just a gesture. It’s a commitment to help veterans succeed by ensuring they feel valued, clarifying how they contribute to your mission, and equipping them to grow and excel in their new role.

2. Provide Skills Translation and Training

After welcoming a veteran into the fold, your focus should shift to translating their military skills into the context of their civilian job. This critical process acknowledges a veteran’s unique talents and nurtures their abilities, so they integrate more seamlessly into the organization as a whole.

Veterans often possess years of experience in leadership, teamwork, and problem-solving in a military context, but these skills don’t always seem directly aligned with their civilian roles. Cultivating a work environment that allows these potential skills to shine can be a game changer.

  • Identify Transferable Skills
    Employers can bridge this gap by helping veterans understand how their expertise aligns with civilian job requirements, especially as it relates to organizational and leadership skills. Many military occupational specialties (MOSs) don’t transfer one-to-one with corporate skill sets. Identifying transferable skills in creative ways can boost a veteran’s work ethic while addressing your company’s specific needs.
  • Invest in Developing New Skills
    Upskilling opportunities also play a vital role in this process. Veterans bring a wealth of skills to the table, but their military experience teaches them there’s always room for further growth and improvement. By offering relevant training and development paths, you can ensure that vets remain confident about their professional capabilities and stay up-to-date with industry standards and practices.

At the same time, it’s crucial to recognize and leverage veterans’ unique abilities. Attributes such as leadership, teamwork, adaptability, and a strong work ethic are ingrained in their DNA. By acknowledging these strengths, you can honor veterans’ service while harnessing their potential to add value to your team.

3. Offer a Flexible Work Environment

People from all walks of life appreciate a flexible work environment. However, for people juggling multiple aspects of life as they transition from active service, the freedom to work without rigid clock-in/clock-out times is especially important. Employers can help in multiple ways. For instance:

  • Offer Self-Directed Scheduling
    Veterans often need to adjust their work schedule so they can accommodate medical, financial, and other crucial appointments. Also, participating in extracurricular lifestyle activities is essential. For example, veterans benefit from joining group workouts, taking time to re-establish bonds with family members, and engaging in other practices that support mental health. By accommodating these needs, you make it possible for veterans to take care of themselves without stress or conflict. At the same time, this demonstrates that employee health and wellbeing matter to you.
  • Provide Access to Helpful Resources
    Along the same lines, paying for fitness class memberships, health advisor services or a life coach builds yet another layer of resiliency and goes well beyond token gestures of care. Taking advantage of these lifestyle resources helps relieve a variety of mental health concerns, not just for veterans, but for your entire organization.
  • Encourage Work-Life Integration
    A flexible work environment naturally promotes work-life balance, which is a crucial factor in successful reintegration. Giving veterans the freedom to manage their personal responsibilities in tandem with work-related duties empowers them to be fully engaged and present during their working hours. Trusting them to do the right thing without an overbearing management culture enhances job satisfaction and productivity. This benefits your organization, as well.

Keep in mind that work flexibility for veterans isn’t just about convenience. It’s also a meaningful way to acknowledge individual needs and responsibilities outside of work. Offering a supportive atmosphere where individuals can flourish both professionally and personally is a powerful way to demonstrate your commitment to every team member.

A Final Note on Supporting Veterans at Work

Ultimately, ensuring that veterans transition successfully into civilian work life is a collective effort. It challenges employers to take a genuine, proactive interest in employee wellbeing. Those with successful veteran-centered programs are tapping into a highly talented pool of people with demonstrated skills, commitment, and work ethic.

In return, this creates an environment where veterans feel comfortable sharing their competencies, ideas, and lessons learned from their military experience. By developing supportive communities, offering a broader vision for growth, and providing a strong mission focus, supportive employers can leverage veteran talent to build a more diverse, skilled, resilient, and innovative workforce.

Change Communication: Visual Design Lessons From Apple

Let’s go back in time. Way back to 1997. Apple’s high-flying identity as a tech innovator had been seriously tarnished. It certainly wasn’t the global tech giant it is today, with a massive, loyal customer base and an iconic brand image.

Actually, Apple was struggling so badly that it had only 90 days of cash remaining in the bank. And that’s when Steve Jobs turned the Titanic around by asking this tough, strategic question: “Who is Apple and where do we fit into this world?”

After some serious soul-searching, the company reduced its product line and launched a groundbreaking ad campaign: Think different.

This campaign was so successful it continued for five years, returning Apple to profitability and reestablishing Apple as a brand juggernaut. In fact, Apple won the Grand Effie Award in 2000 for the most effective advertising campaign in America.

What stood out about this campaign? Aside from the beautiful black and white photos of legendary “crazy ones,” it made technology feel personal and exciting. Apple customers wanted to join this tribe of crazy ones because they could relate.

During times of change, we tend to focus on facts and figures. Apple could have easily taken that approach by listing its products’ technical specifications. But Steve Jobs knew he had to think differently. He had to build an emotional connection with Apple’s audience.

What can we learn from this story? As internal communicators, let’s look at what happens when you pull emotional threads as you communicate about change within an organization.

Change Communication: A Step-by-Step Scenario

John - fictitious internal comms professionalI’d like to introduce you to John, a fictional internal communicator. He works at a large pharmaceutical company and is gearing up for a massive company transformation — a new strategy that will change the way employees work.

John is tasked with getting employees on board and excited. Just as Steve Jobs did, John understands that the emotional aspect of organizational change is just as important as helping people understand the details. To help employees feel more deeply connected with this change, he decides to emphasize imagery and visual design.

Here’s John’s creative journey and the advice we would give him at each stage in the process:

Stage 1: Kickoff

The Challenge: Before jumping into design, John needs to align with broader objectives so he can define what communication about this transformation should accomplish. He has a group of stakeholders to consider, but first, he needs to achieve consensus on what employees should know, feel, and do as a result of this transformation process.

Change Communications Process - Kickoff

Our Advice: The best way to align on an end goal is to bring all key players together. That could include leaders, project owners, change and/or communication teams, and cross-functional partners such as IT and HR.

To discuss, collaborate, and agree on objectives, design a meeting around these important questions:

  • How does the change impact employees?
  • What do employees need to know about this change?
  • How should employees feel about this transformation before, during, and after?
  • What do employees need to do differently to ensure this change is successful?

Answers to these questions will shape communication objectives. Once these priorities are clear, John is ready to consider how visual communication will help the message resonate with employees and showcase the change. (For example, visual elements may include a campaign logo and tagline, imagery or photo styles, type treatments, supplemental art, and other details.)

What would Steve Jobs do? Treat employees like customers. Explore who they are, what their work context is, and what kind of symbols and messaging are most likely to engage, persuade, and motivate them.

Stage 2: Creating the Visuals

The Challenge: John wants employees to connect to the transformation, and he knows a visual identity can accomplish that and more. He sets out to ensure the transformation feels relevant, familiar, and personal, so it is easier to understand, internalize, and support.

Change Communications Process - Creating Visuals

Our Advice: Visuals can help you attract attention, influence perceptions, and leave a lasting, meaningful impression. Here are three ways to get there:

  • Share the change story — Because stories influence how we feel about change, they are the antidote to facts and figures. Layer on images and you can offer a more accessible way to bring big concepts to life. Think of these images as shortcuts that help employees understand what’s happening, why it’s happening, and why it’s important for them.
  • Make communication recognizable — Because change initiatives are usually one of many other things happening within an organization, communication needs to stand out and be easy for employees to identify. By consistently leveraging custom graphics, a distinctive logo, and a punchy tagline, your materials can break through the noise and invite employees to engage.
  • Break down complex topics — The human brain processes visual cues 60,000 times faster than written language. Put another way, highly visual communication makes it easier for employees to consume information and retain it. For example, illustrating a new process or using icons to break down a strategy can build knowledge and reinforce actions.

What would Steve Jobs do? Turn brainstorming on its head. Instead of spitballing words, draw illustrations or curate visuals. This exercise will pinpoint the emotion and tone you want to represent throughout your change communications. Use these ideas to focus on creating simple, memorable visuals.

Stage 3: Making it Stick

The Challenge: John knows that successful change communication depends on how well you prepare people who are responsible for sharing critical information. Everyone needs to understand which materials and assets are available, why these visual tools have been developed, and how to use them.

Change Communications Process - Making it Stick

Our Advice: Consistency is key when it comes to communicating during change. A standard package of communication resources and recommendations helps all stakeholders deliver a consistent experience for employees. Here are three examples:

  • User Guide — This document (including imagery, logo, tagline, colors, and fonts) prepares people in communication roles by providing access to visual assets and specifying how they can be applied.
  • Templates — These standard tools bring together various elements in a cohesive context. (This could include a PowerPoint deck, Word document, video opening/closing, logo/tagline files, digital signs, printed flyers/posters, and more).
  • Communication Plan — This playbook should explain when, where, why, and how to use each piece in the toolkit, and how they fit into the broader change process.

What would Steve Jobs do? Take the opportunity to express the importance of change tools by meeting with key stakeholders to reinforce the strategic objectives, explain how each element supports these goals, and answer questions about how to move forward.

 


More Visual Design Ideas to Elevate Change Communication

When using visuals to support change communication, it’s not just about sharing information. It’s about connecting with employees on a deeper level and making the change process meaningful to them. So the next time you’re tasked with a change campaign, ask yourself: How can I tap into employees’ emotions? What do I want this campaign to represent? How can I think differently?

For our advice on how to design more effective change communications, download these tips:
>> 3 Steps to Make Change Communication More Visual

Building Workplace Trust with Background Checks

Building Workplace Trust With Background Checks

Sponsored by Veremark

Trust. We all know it’s essential for a healthy, productive company culture. But as an HR or business leader, what steps are you taking right now to bolster workplace trust?

If you’ve been focused on other priorities, it’s time to take another look at what’s happening with trust among your ranks. Here’s why…

The State of Workplace Trust

Reliable sources tell us why trust deserves our attention:

  • According to Deloitte, when people trust their employer, they’re 260% more motivated to work and are 50% less likely to look for another job.
  • Gallup says employees who trust their managers are more likely to be satisfied, engaged, and productive at work. Yet only 21% of U.S. employees strongly trust their company’s leaders.

Managing trust requires finesse. And employees want leadership to play an active role — especially in these uncertain times. That’s why we’re looking closer at one way you can elevate workplace trust on today’s #WorkTrends podcast…

Meet Our Guest: Daniel Callaghan

Daniel Callaghan is the CEO of Veremark, an international background screening and pre-hire check service he founded in 2019 as an alternative to the weak solutions available at that time. Veremark is designed to give companies peace of mind and complete confidence when reviewing prospective candidates’ credentials or rescreening existing employees.

Here are highlights from our conversation…

3 Keys to Workplace Trust

Welcome, Daniel. You often talk about the 3 pillars of trust. Would you explain this concept?

Sure. Obviously, with the rise of virtual and hybrid work, the nature of employment is changing. It’s becoming more transactional, with shorter tenures. At the same time, cynicism is growing between employers and employees. So it’s increasingly important to build trust.

The first pillar of workplace trust is about getting the right people on your team.

The second is ensuring that everyone is acting ethically and with integrity. Trust isn’t one-sided. Both the company and employees need to be accountable.

And third, both parties need to know this relationship is reciprocal and valued for the long-run.

Research shows significant business benefits from trust. For example, employers that leverage these pillars see triple-digit productivity gains compared with low-trust companies.

How Employers Develop Trust

So what does it take to create a culture of trust?

Nothing happens overnight. But as you build on the framework we’ve outlined, it helps to look at how technology can facilitate trusted relationships.

For example, with the first pillar, background screening is important to ensure the right people are on your team. And a platform like ours can drive really impactful results.

Linking Background Checks With Workplace Trust

Could you tell us more about successful background screening works?

Credential verification is more than checking someone’s college grades. It’s about establishing a level of credibility and integrity, so you’re confident that a person is a safe workplace colleague and will add value to your culture.

First, start with the right objectives. You’ll want a positive mindset about why you’re introducing this process. It should be appropriate for your industry and roles.

For example, broader checks aren’t necessary for a low-risk business with low access to cash, and where someone is working from home. But for a financial services company that’s hiring lots of senior financial executives, you’ll want a more rigorous program that goes far beyond just ID, criminal, and credit checks on a domestic or global scale.

Second, choose a partner carefully. An outsourced provider ensures you’re not exposed to claims of discrimination, or misuse of data, or asking the wrong question in the wrong location. Domain experts with governance and compliance controls can avoid costly missteps.

Finally, you’ll want to do this with care. Job hunting is stressful for candidates and background screening is a necessary inconvenience. So make sure it’s as easy and transparent as possible. People should know where they are as they move through the process.

How Tech Improves Efficiency

You offer an innovative way to streamline verification, right? Tell us about that…

We know background screening is inconvenient for employers and candidates, alike. So why should you pay legacy services to recheck information that doesn’t change, such as your academic history?

We don’t think that’s fair. So we made it possible to turn verified data into digital credentials that candidates can use as a “career passport” to share with others in the future…

 


Learn More About Building Trust at Work

Find out how a more effective hiring process can strengthen your organization…
>> Get Veremark’s new ebook and claim your 10 FREE background checks now!

 


Listen to This Full #WorkTrends Episode

Tune in to #WorkTrends on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. And while you’re there, be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss future episodes.

Want to continue this conversation on social media? Follow TalentCulture or use our #WorkTrends hashtag anytime on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Let’s talk!

What Would Your Culture Map Reveal?

What Would Your Culture Map Reveal?

Sponsored by The Culture Platform

What makes maps so special is they tell you exactly where to find places you want to visit.

Wouldn’t it be incredible if every organization had a culture map? Wouldn’t it be even better if that culture map worked like Google or Apple Maps? Anyone could easily search to find organizations whose cultural values are clearly marked on the map, and get directions to those companies. What a useful tool that would be.

The “Why, What, and How” of Culture

I think enough has been said about the “why” of culture and its role in organizational success. Anyone who has managed people or led a business knows a healthy culture is paramount to attract the best employees. And the best cultures consistently outperform and out-execute the competition.

We also know “what” culture is. It’s a set of stated values, beliefs, attitudes, rules, and behaviors expected where you work. For example, when I worked for Cisco CEO John Chambers, one of his stated cultural values was: “Treat people the way you would like to be treated, yourself.” Another was, “Deal with the world the way it is, not the way you wish it was.”

Now, as we enter the post-everything era, it’s time to focus on the “how” of culture. Companies have no other choice. “Post-everything” signaled a fundamental change in expectations. GenZ and Millennials are ready to leave one job for another faster than any generation in history.

If your company wants to attract and keep the best employees, you need a way to prove that you “walk the talk” of your stated values. But all too many miss the mark. The top reason organizational cultures don’t live up to their stated values is a lack of leadership commitment to those values.

Any organization that wants to be a magnet for talent must prove that it can live up to its aspirations. As we used to say at Cisco, “We’re in Missouri now — the ‘Show Me’ state.”

How a Culture Map Can Show The Way

For employers, a culture map is a way to show employees what the organization actually stands for. Mapping organizational culture is a new idea. It will require the same GPS features as digital maps on our phones:

  • Pin Drops: Destinations on the map need to be accurate.
  • Step-by-Step Navigation: Destinations must be accompanied by directions that explain how to get there.
  • Re-Routing: The map should reveal better ways to get to the desired destination — how to “walk the talk.”

I started The Culture Platform because I wanted to surround myself with thought leaders who have “GPS” models to measure cultural values. Because my professional background is in research, my bar is high. I’m willing to work with a model only if it is either research-based or battle-tested in the market. In other words, the models must predictably measure a specific cultural value.

I think it is a mistake to “boil the ocean” by relying on a single culture indicator. Every organization is different and unique — and every organization doesn’t need to share the same values.

The ability to measure a specific aspect of culture with a data model is what makes culture-specific “pin drops” on a map possible. In my search, I found five models that meet my criteria. Each solves a specific element of the “how” for culture-building. Those dimensions can be either curiosity, self-awareness, a sense of belonging, transparency, or empowerment.

For example, consider these five culture scenarios:

  • Many companies say innovation is a strategy — but does their culture promote curiosity, the necessary belief that it’s okay to challenge the status quo without fear of retribution?
  • Many companies say listening to their employees is a key value — but are their leaders and managers self-aware of their behaviors?
  • Many companies say a diverse workforce is their people strategy — but does their culture fundamentally embrace a sense of belonging?
  • Many companies emphasize autonomy and decentralization — but do they truly empower every employee?

These five models do more than provide the pin drop. Each has a set of step-by-step directions that represents the most effective route to the “pin.” For example, a culture of curiosity has four main “turns” to reach the pin. It should:

  1. Encourage exploration
  2. Inspire creativity
  3. Emphasize openness to new ideas and
  4. Drive engagement and focus from the top

Culture Meets GPS

The “how” of culture has always been the hardest part. It can’t be done without leaders leading the way. That’s why I was so lucky to be a direct report of John Chambers who helped him build Cisco’s culture. We had the luxury of time, though. Today, organizations need to move faster. And the way to accomplish that is with a map that includes clear “directions” to reach specific outcomes.

I remember when we Boomers printed out step-by-step directions in MapQuest (and tried to read them while driving). A culture map transports us all to the “GPS” era. Now, we can finally get to desired cultural destinations safer, faster, and with confidence.

If you want to give culture mapping a try and see how your culture stacks up, we welcome you at The Culture Platform. To get started, just email me at:  TheCulturePlatform@gmail.com.

How to Choose the Perfect Wellness Incentive Provider

How to Choose the Perfect Wellness Incentive Provider

In today’s competitive post-pandemic world of work, HR and business leaders recognize that employee wellbeing is a must-have for a strong, successful organizational culture. This is why wellness incentives have emerged as a powerful tool to attract and retain top talent.

By enhancing employee morale and engagement, strong wellness incentives help boost retention and productivity. Ultimately, company performance improves, as well. What else should you consider about wellness incentives? Take a closer look:

Understanding the Power of Wellness Incentives

In recent years, the number of people struggling to manage mental, physical, and emotional health has risen dramatically. Naturally, these issues are spilling over into our professional lives. As a result, most employers no longer treat wellness programs as optional perks. Instead, many organizations now consider wellness programs a strategic investment that fosters employee wellbeing and organizational growth.

This isn’t just wishful thinking. Studies show that a healthy workforce is more engaged and productive. In fact, companies with carefully designed wellness programs experience lower healthcare costs, less absenteeism, and higher employee satisfaction levels.

What’s more, a holistic approach to wellness (integrating physical, mental, and emotional health), demonstrates that people are valued as individuals. This resonates deeply with employees, who increasingly place work-life balance and personal wellbeing above other priorities.

But all wellness solutions aren’t created equal. So what does it take to find a wellness incentive provider that meets your particular needs? Here are steps that lead to successful outcomes:

7 Steps to Find the Ideal Wellness Incentive Provider

1. Identify Your Organization’s Needs

As you embark on a journey to select a wellness incentive provider, it’s crucial to assess your organization’s specific challenges and requirements. Start by defining your wellness requirements based on factors such as company size, employee demographics, industry practices, and standard wellness program benchmarks.

However, it helps to dig deeper. You can pinpoint specific issues that need attention by gathering intelligence from multiple internal sources. For example, conducting surveys, analyzing health data, and gathering ongoing employee feedback, can provide the insights you need to better reflect employees’ concerns and interests.

Whether you focus on reducing stress, promoting physical activity, or supporting mental health, staff input can align your wellness initiatives with their priorities as well as your organization’s mission and values.

2. Evaluate Potential Providers

The market for wellness incentive providers has grown substantially in recent years, so the number of available choices may seem overwhelming. However, not all providers are created equal. You’ll want to thoroughly research potential partners to ensure your organization reaps all the benefits you want to gain from a wellness program.

Because first-hand experience can offer valuable insights, it’s a smart move to ask trusted peers and industry networks for recommendations. Once you have a reasonable shortlist, take the time to investigate each provider’s expertise, reputation, and track record in delivering effective employee wellness solutions.

It helps to develop a qualification scorecard mapped to your organization’s priorities. For example, consider factors such as the range of services each vendor offers, as well as their ability to customize programs, their technology capabilities, and the level of customer support they provide.

3. Tailor Your Program Offerings

Today’s workforce is increasingly diverse. Team members bring a variety of interests, backgrounds, and needs to the table. That’s why one size does not fit all when it comes to wellness incentives.

A successful program offers a menu of options that cater to these differences. For instance, while some employees might be motivated by fitness challenges and step competitions, others may benefit more from mindfulness workshops or nutrition seminars.

The right provider should be able to craft a program that resonates with your employees and encourages broad participation. By recognizing and responding to individual preferences, you create a more inclusive and effective wellness initiative that will appeal to a spectrum of employees.

4. Consider Technology and User Experience

In today’s digital age, technology plays a pivotal role in the success of wellness programs. In fact, a highly accessible, user-friendly platform can make or break program adoption, engagement, and momentum. The wellness incentive provider you choose should offer a seamless digital experience that simplifies program enrollment, participation, and progress tracking.

Whatever technologies are at the heart of your program — mobile apps, wearable devices, online platforms — should be intuitive and easy to navigate. This helps employees develop a sense of empowerment and motivates them to integrate wellness activities into their lives. A provider with robust, well-designed technology can ensure that wellness becomes an integral part of employees’ daily routine, rather than a chore.

5. Prioritize Culture Fit and Communication

A wellness incentive program should seamlessly integrate with your organizational culture and values. Look for a provider that understands your company’s ethos and is prepared to design initiatives that resonate with your workforce.

Effective communication is a linchpin of these programs. The provider you choose should help you craft compelling communication strategies to raise awareness, engage employees, and drive participation. Working hand-in-hand, you can develop and deliver regular updates, newsletters, and workshops that create a sense of community and enthusiasm around wellness, fostering an environment where people feel fully supported and valued.

6. Measure and Demonstrate ROI

To secure buy-in from stakeholders and justify your investment in wellness incentives, it’s imperative to measure and demonstrate return on investment (ROI). Establish clear goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your organization’s objectives.

Be prepared to track metrics such as increased productivity, reduced healthcare costs, decreased absenteeism, and improved employee morale. The right wellness incentive provider will assist you in collecting and analyzing data, offering insights into the tangible benefits your organization reaps from the program. Effective data-driven reporting not only showcases your program’s success but also guides future adjustments for even better outcomes.

7. Don’t Forget Contract Terms and Pricing

When finalizing your partnership with any wellness solution provider, pay careful attention to the contract terms and pricing structure they offer. A fair, transparent contract ensures a fruitful relationship that benefits both parties. Focus on these factors:

  • Negotiate agreements that align with your budget and long-term goals. Inquire about any hidden costs that might arise during program implementation or expansion.
  • Also, keep scalability in mind. As your organization grows, your wellness program should have the flexibility to adapt and accommodate a larger workforce without disproportionately increasing costs.

A Final Note on Wellness Solution Providers

In the evolving landscape of workplace trends, wellness programs have become a cornerstone of employee satisfaction and organizational success. By understanding the power of wellness incentives, identifying your organization’s specific needs, and carefully evaluating potential partners, you set the stage for a program that will enhance employee wellbeing and elevate business performance.

Through tailored wellness programs that cater to diverse employee preferences and effectively leverage digital technology, you can create an environment where wellbeing is not just a buzzword but a shared commitment. In addition, by ensuring a strong cultural fit, incorporating ongoing communication, and measuring ROI, you will strengthen your program’s foundation, so your organization can successfully foster employee wellbeing now and in the future.

Grind Culture Isn't Working - How Can Wellness Win

Grind Culture Isn’t Working. How Can Wellness Win?

TalentCulture Content Impact Award Winner - 2023

The Problem With Grind Culture

In recent years, “hustle” and “grind” culture have become equated with drive, ambition, and success. The logic is that if you are not incessantly working, you won’t meet your goals. Grind culture also ties a person’s worth to the product they produce. However, it comes at the expense of individual wellbeing.

The fact is, hustle and grind culture can seriously damage long-term physical and mental health. Often, people don’t even recognize how toxic grind culture can be until it directly erodes their own wellbeing.

Grind culture is especially prevalent in the corporate world. For example, a Deloitte study found that employees and C-suite executives, alike, feel exhausted and stressed. Specifically, about 1 in 3 people say they constantly struggle with fatigue and poor mental health.

Regardless, leaders are far more optimistic than employees about how their organizations are managing this challenge. For example, while only 56% of employees think executives care about their wellbeing, a whopping 91% of leaders say employees know they care.

This gap is causing companies to perpetuate grind culture at the expense of everyone’s health and wellbeing. Over time, overwhelming work-at-all-costs environments lead to multiple unwanted outcomes:

  • Increased stress, absenteeism, and burnout
  • Decreased productivity, quality, and job performance
  • Higher turnover rates

How can employers reverse this kind of toxic spiral — or avoid it altogether? First, let’s look at why workplace wellness is so powerful. Then, we’ll explore some ways that business and HR leaders can take proactive steps to squash toxic grind culture.

Benefits of Prioritizing Wellness

What is Wellness?

The terms wellbeing and wellness are often used interchangeably to describe a person’s overall physical, emotional, and mental health. But these concepts aren’t synonymous. Gallup explains the difference:

  • Wellness is “a healthy lifestyle beyond acute illness” that is shaped by cumulative lifestyle choices and habits.
  • Wellbeing, on the other hand, “encompasses the broader holistic dimensions of a well-lived life.” This includes physical, career, financial, social, and community wellbeing.

So, wellness is only one element of wellbeing — but it is a vital element. It’s also important to recognize that the various aspects of wellness are interconnected. In other words, if our mental, physical, or emotional health deteriorates in some way, other aspects of our health will be affected. Ultimately, this jeopardizes overall wellbeing.

The habits we adopt inside and outside of work directly influence our ability to feel good and perform at our best each day. And because most of us spend our waking hours on the job, employers need to prioritize workplace wellness and wellbeing.

The Business Case for Wellness

Employees who feel good physically, mentally, and emotionally are likely to have a positive attitude that fosters trust and collaboration – two hallmarks of a healthy work culture. But there are tangible benefits, as well. Primarily:

1. Decreased Health-Related Costs

Stress and burnout aren’t constant threats when you structure and manage work in a reasonable way. This helps employees find the necessary mental and physical energy to show up, concentrate, and contribute on a consistent basis. Certainly, it’s essential to offer healthcare support and personal time off. But happy, healthy, engaged employees don’t rely as heavily on these benefits. As a result, you’re likely to see fewer sick days, leaves of absence, and chronic conditions.

2. Increased Productivity

Employees who feel healthy, safe, and supported are significantly more productive. When people don’t feel overscheduled, overwhelmed, or micromanaged, they’re free to focus on doing their best during work hours. This improves efficiency, effectiveness, and quality — which together can elevate your bottom line.

3. Reduced Recruiting Costs

A healthier work culture leads to lower turnover. This translates into lower recruiting and training expenses that would otherwise be spent on replacing and onboarding lost talent. A culture of wellness also elevates your employer brand, which means you can attract and hire new talent more quickly, easily, and cost-effectively when the need arises.

How to Promote Workforce Wellness

Managers and HR leaders play a key role in guiding “grind culture” employees toward a culture of wellness. Whether your organization is big or small, everyone will need to be willing to help foster an environment where employees feel supported.

Here are 5 ways to replace grind culture with a healthier work environment:

1. Sufficient Paid Time Off

Taking time away from work is essential for mental rejuvenation. It promotes self-care and helps prevent burnout, which can be detrimental to individuals, teams, and the organization at large. Giving employees the autonomy to use their paid time off as they see fit demonstrates trust, which in turn, builds a strong employer-employee relationship and a healthy work culture.

To determine how much time off to provide, consider multiple scenarios: sick days, vacations, flexible days for caregiving or other personal needs, and an option for unpaid days when paid time off is depleted.

2. Flexible Schedules and Breaks

Although most businesses must operate during specific hours, the traditional 9-to-5 model is not for every employee. Consider scheduling that accommodates various personal responsibilities and lifestyles.

For example, you could let people choose their preferred daily start time — such as anytime between 8-10 a.m. — as long as they work the total required daily hours. By staggering start and end times, you can support different schedules and increase productivity. At the same time, your business can extend its hours of operation, which can improve your customer experience and top-line performance.

In addition, consider flexible break times. Some employees want a 60-minute lunch break, while others may prefer multiple shorter breaks throughout the day. Letting people decide how to allocate their break time isn’t likely to hurt your business. Instead, this flexible approach can boost morale, improve productivity, and help employees feel trusted.

3. Appropriate Equipment

Providing employees with the right tools and equipment is important for wellness. Whether they are working in an office or from home, when people have everything they need to function smoothly, they’ll be more comfortable and efficient.

This can include ergonomic chairs, dual monitors, adjustable desks, specialized software, or tools. Regardless, ensuring that people have easy access to the right equipment can reduce physical strain and mental stress, while promoting productivity.

4. Embrace “Work From Anywhere” and Flexible Hours

The recent remote work trend demonstrates that many jobs can be performed from anywhere. Offering a “work from anywhere” policy can reduce commute-related stress and personal expenses while giving employees an opportunity to choose the work setting that best suits their goals and preferences.

Letting employees work from home is especially attractive for parents who want to stay close to their young children throughout the day. But this kind of flexibility appeals to others as well. Many employers are finding that it dramatically improves job satisfaction, work quality, productivity, and retention.

5. Regular 1-on-1 Check-ins

Mandated check-ins by supervisors can play a pivotal role in gauging employee wellbeing. Project updates and deliverables are important. But it’s also essential to gather feedback about employee mental and physical wellness and work concerns.

By ensuring that managers regularly communicate with team members in a relaxed setting, you can help them identify issues earlier and address concerns head-on. It’s helpful to let employees determine the meeting agenda and remind managers that their mission is to listen and follow up on a timely basis.

Embed Priorities In a Wellness Policy

To demonstrate your company’s commitment, you’ll want to document your workforce wellbeing agenda and procedures in a formal policy. This gives the HR team responsibility for enforcement, support, and guidance as managers and employees navigate things such as time off requests.

Also, when these recommendations are formally documented, it ensures that employees won’t be reprimanded by managers or leaders who may want to choose short-term project deadlines or deliverables over employee wellness.

Lead by Example

Above all, for a culture of wellness to take hold, managers at all levels of the organization need to lead by example. It sets a positive precedent if managers take vacations, take sick days when needed, and show compassion towards team members.

Also, understanding that employee wellness isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavor, it’s important to remain open to suggestions. By welcoming novel ideas and exhibiting genuine interest in collaborating with team members, managers create an environment where wellness is not just encouraged but actively practiced.

By implementing clear policies and fostering open communication, you can ensure that your most valuable asset — your employees — are happier, healthier, and more engaged. It’s an investment that’s well worth the effort.

Engagement and Feedback and People Science, Oh My! #WorkTrends podcast with Meghan M. Biro

Engagement and Feedback and People Science, Oh My!

The world of work isn’t exactly the Land of Oz, but it can be a scary place. These days, we’re surrounded by uncertainty. Leaders must find the courage to face the unknown and act on whatever they encounter along the way. It isn’t easy. But it’s a path that leads to a stronger work culture, a more enriching employee experience, and sustainable change.

After all, management is a journey. It’s a process. At its best, it’s a virtuous cycle, fueled by feedback that reveals important truths about the human realities of work. Often, we uncover this intelligence through tools based on the principles of people science. But which tools really help? Let’s dig deeper…

So Many Tools, So Little Time

This is the perfect season to assess your organization’s existing feedback capabilities and identify future needs. I’m sure that’s what many employers are doing after seeing what’s new at the annual HR Tech Conference earlier this month. But innovation isn’t the only thing driving their choices.

Just think about the complex issues weighing on leaders’ minds:

  • Employee engagement and retention continue to slide. Still, productivity and performance expectations remain high.
  • Many organizations are still trying to reconcile return-to-office policies with flexible work preferences. This means they must prioritize workforce wellbeing, inclusion, and trust — all of which depend on strong communication.
  • In the face of ongoing economic headwinds, employers are hesitant to move forward with expansion plans. Some are even cutting staff. Yet, finding and keeping highly qualified talent for in-demand positions remains an uphill climb.
  • AI is rapidly reaching critical mass. On the heels of the recent surge in generative AI, other forms of automation now touch every corner of our work lives. And momentum is expected to accelerate.

With all these factors in play, it may seem tempting to turn to technology for solutions. But that could make the situation even worse. Why?

Tech stacks are already suffering from post-pandemic bloat. After years of investing in tools to support changing workforce dynamics, too many organizations are still not making the most of their incremental tech investments or managing them strategically.

The story is all too familiar, isn’t it? No matter how many tools we acquire, if the right people can’t, don’t, or won’t apply them effectively, what’s the point? After all, technology is only as powerful as the people who use it to connect, communicate, collaborate, discover, grow, and perform each day.

On the other hand, the right tools in the right context can make a huge difference — if the right people put them to good use. Sounds like a people science challenge to me.

How People Science Helps

This reminds me of a conversation I had about a year ago on a #WorkTrends podcast with people science expert, Kevin Campbell. Over the years, Kevin has worked with some of the most prestigious firms in workforce strategy, including Culture Amp, Deloitte, Gallup, and now Qualtrics.

How does people science add value, in Kevin’s opinion? Check these snippets from our discussion:

Kevin, what exactly do you do?

People science requires expertise in multiple disciplines. Think of a Venn diagram with three intersecting circles:

One is people analytics, another is organizational psychology, and the other is applied practice. An employee experience scientist sits in the intersection of those three areas.

What does the term “employee engagement” mean to you?

It’s important to talk about what it is not, as well as what it is.

It’s not a survey. Often, we lose sight of the fact that engagement is an emotional and psychological state. A survey is just a tool that helps us measure that state.

Engagement really starts with emotional commitment. I emphasize the emotional aspect because it’s about the desire to stay with an organization and help fulfill its objectives — not because you’re obligated or you feel forced to do it, but because you want to.

What is the most critical challenge you’re seeing right now?

Organizations often overemphasize understanding and underemphasize improvement in action.

For example, according to 2021 data, nearly 90% of companies measure engagement or have some type of employee feedback program, but only 7% of employees say their company acts on feedback in a highly effective way.

How can employers address this problem? 

It’s important to recognize that the engagement survey or data isn’t the end. It’s really just the beginning.

To improve, you’ll want to translate results into actions that can have outsized impact on your company culture. And the key is simple coaching skills.

For more insights, listen to the full podcast episode here…

5 Feedback Strategies People Science Experts Use

So, if you want to gather ongoing insight to improve the employee experience, where do you start? We didn’t discuss that in our podcast interview, but Kevin did share helpful ideas in a LinkedIn article, “The Truth About ‘Always On’ Employee Listening.” Here’s a summary of his recommendations:

“Always on” means different things to different people. So I would start by asking stakeholders to define “always on.” Some surveying solutions work better than others at improving the employee experience and increasing employee engagement. Here are five use cases and considerations for each:

1. Digital Suggestion Boxes

Some organizations add intercepts on their intranet home page asking things like: “What feedback do you have?” Also, they post QR codes in break areas or add links to surveys in leaders’ email signatures. Digital suggestion boxes can build trust in other ways, as well. For example, you could gather ideas for peer recognition or business improvements.

Considerations:

It’s important to continuously monitor employee input and ensure that leaders reply. At small companies, it can be highly effective when the CEO responds directly. However, input volume can quickly become unmanageable. You could streamline the review cycle by establishing a process to filter and delegate suggestions as they are received.

2. Daily Surveys

Increasingly, we see daily surveys with a handful of simple questions about how employees feel. This kind of on-demand, anonymous channel for employees to raise issues, share feedback, and offer insights helps capture a real-time snapshot of staff morale and satisfaction.

Considerations:

As with digital suggestion boxes, volume can become overwhelming. However, this method can be beneficial if employees realize they can use it to gauge their own experiences without expecting others to act on all input. For instance, you could invite people to assess their own activities and emotions with a daily wellbeing check, so they can understand where they’re focusing time and attention, and how they feel about it.

3. Surveys to Optimize Specific Work Experiences

This involves in-the-moment feedback in the flow of work. For example, you can survey employees during and after each support instance, including live help desk, online chat, and self-service. Digital intercepts can capture feedback whenever people complete key milestones or engage with online properties like company intranets and HRIS systems.

Considerations:

It’s important to close the loop on these touchpoints with dashboards and alerts that notify experience “owners” and “designers,” so they can act quickly on the issues raised. This is also a great integration point for pulse surveys. For example, say a pulse survey identifies equipment ordering as a workplace issue. You can add an intercept on your intranet where people order equipment.

4. Lifecycle Surveys

You may not think of lifecycle surveys as “always on.” However, people are constantly being onboarded, leaving the company, and returning from leave. Each of these events is an opportunity to collect a stream of valuable feedback for leaders to consider.

Considerations:

This is also an integration point for pulse surveys. For instance, pulse questions that tie back to goal alignment, expectations, or enablement could indicate that onboarding surveys would be useful. Or if employees express concern about training and development, you could create an event-triggered survey about learning experiences.

5. Frontline Customer Feedback

You might think of this as a customer experience use case, but enabling frontline employees to make suggestions on behalf of their customers is another “always on” strategy that can elevate both CX and EX.

Considerations:

This makes the most sense when customer-facing employee roles aren’t already empowered to make changes, or they don’t have other ways to frequently share ideas and feedback with leaders.

What Would a People Science Expert Do?

Clearly, effective feedback isn’t just about the ability to gather input. Although it’s essential to welcome ideas and measure staff sentiment, that’s not enough to make the right kind of impact on workforce commitment, engagement, or performance. In fact, too much of a good thing doesn’t serve anyone well.

What really matters is whether leaders take timely, appropriate action to address whatever the feedback process uncovers.

Knowing this, the challenge in the year ahead is probably not where to find money for new or better feedback tools. The question is, whenever employees let you know the truth about their experience, do you pay attention? And are you willing to do what’s necessary to drive change and keep the conversation going?

That takes more than a big budget or fancy tools. It takes courage.

 


EDITOR’S NOTE: Find more helpful insights for business and HR leaders who care about people and the future of work. Check our growing collection of #WorkTrends podcasts and subscribe!

Pet Perks Why It's Paws Up For This Hot Benefits Trend

Pet Perks: Why It’s Paws Up For This Hot Benefits Trend

In the wake of the Covid pandemic, employee benefits have experienced a significant transformation. Increasingly, employers are focusing on benefits that enhance individual wellbeing and are easy to customize. Also, as budgets tighten, affordability is becoming a key factor. This is why pet perks continue to gain popularity.

How exactly are pet-friendly solutions adding value to employee benefits? Let’s take a closer look…

Why Pet Perks Are On The Rise

Employers invest in benefits because they want to attract top talent, foster a positive company culture, enhance employee engagement, increase inclusion, boost workforce wellbeing, and encourage retention. That’s a tall order for traditional benefits to fill.

So now, more employers are integrating innovative options like pet-friendly perks into their workforce benefits strategy. Compared with standard workplace benefits, pet perks may seem like a fringe concern. But they can be highly effective as part of a holistic approach that enriches the employee experience by recognizing individual needs, preferences, and values. Here’s why:

During the pandemic, pets became office mates for many people working from home. At the same time, interest in cat and dog adoption grew by 250%, with nearly 1 in 5 households adding a four-legged friend to their family.

People naturally want these companions to be happy and healthy — especially now, when many employees are returning to the office on a part-time or full-time basis. Pet-related benefits can provide financial and moral support that gives employees peace of mind and tells them you genuinely care about their quality of life.

How Pet Perks Work

One way to cover pet-related costs is through a specialty benefits account that each employee can personalize for their unique needs. This account can include a variety of options, such as:

  • Pet insurance
  • In-person and mobile veterinary services
  • Medicine/prescriptions
  • Obedience classes
  • ​Dog walkers
  • Grooming services
  • Pet food (including prescription food)
  • Pet sitters

How Pet Benefits Enhance the Employee Experience

Engaged employees are the key to a strong culture and a successful organization. When employees feel connected and cared for, they’re more committed, satisfied, and productive. One way to show you care for employees is by investing in what matters to them — including cherished pets.

Often, people think of their pets not just as animals, but as part of their family. Supporting employee pets with insurance, as well as pet-friendly policies and activities, demonstrates a genuine commitment to workforce wellbeing.

As a result, employees are likely to feel appreciated and valued as team members. Ultimately, this emotional connection can translate into improved job satisfaction, productivity, and willingness to go above and beyond in their work.

3 Ways Pet Perks Build Better Organizations

Pet-friendly policies, practices, and benefits help employers in a variety of ways. For example, this strategy can:

1. Attract and Retain Top Talent 

Finding and keeping qualified talent can be challenging, especially in a tight labor market. Today’s job candidates are drawn to companies that actively support their growth, health, and overall quality of life. They’re also more inclined to choose an employer that appreciates and supports them as individuals.

Offering pet perks can help your organization stand out and tip the hiring scales. What better way to show applicants you care for your team than by actively supporting the health and welfare of their pets? And with a comprehensive pet-friendly strategy, you can appeal to a broader spectrum of candidates and strengthen your position as an empathetic employer.

A pet-friendly environment also can have a direct impact on retention. Research says employees are less likely to resign if they believe their boss values their pets and cares about their wellbeing. In fact, over half of dog owners say they would stay on board if they could bring their pets to work. This means pet-friendly policies and practices can lead to lower turnover and recruitment costs.

2. Foster a Positive, Diverse Company Culture 

Collaboration, creativity, and innovation are hallmarks of thriving work cultures. One way to promote an atmosphere of camaraderie and belonging is through pet-friendly policies and practices.

For example, encouraging people to exchange pet-related stories and experiences can build common ground that brings team members closer together. What’s more, by welcoming pets to the workplace, you can foster an even stronger sense of companionship and community.

Inclusion is the secret to a rich company culture, so keep this in mind when developing pet benefit options. Ask everyone to participate in defining their interests and requirements. This encourages a sense of ownership and buy-in among the pet owners on your team.

3. Boost Wellbeing and Retention

Employee wellbeing is essential for job happiness, productivity, and longevity. A pet-friendly environment can improve physical, emotional, and financial wellbeing in multiple ways.

For instance, bringing pets to the office and participating in pet-related activities can create a more relaxed, fun work atmosphere. In fact, when one survey asked employees about the benefits of dogs at work:

  • 58% said it boosts happiness
  • 57% said it relieves anxiety or stress
  • 55% said it encourages healthy breaks
  • 52% said it increases social interaction

Other studies show that workplace pets help reduce stress and enhance mental health. This can lead to a more positive, productive environment.

In addition, by assisting with insurance and other pet-related services, you can make it possible for employees to give their pets the care they deserve without worrying about extraordinary costs. This financial security can reduce overall stress and improve emotional health.

Are You Ready to Run With Pet Perks?

For any company where staff wellbeing and cost efficiency are top priorities, pet benefits are a unique opportunity to put an “experience-first” benefits strategy in motion.

By embracing pets as a natural part of employee wellbeing, you can get a leg up in attracting talent in today’s competitive hiring market. Pet perks can distinguish your company as a progressive employer that cares about the unique needs of individual employees in a more holistic way. By welcoming pets, you can open the door to an environment that’s more fun and engaging for all.

What’s more, by financially supporting employee pets with personalized benefit options, you’re likely to boost retention, productivity, and performance. And getting started is easier than you might think.

 

Is Your Employee Recognition Strategy On Point #WorkTrends podcast

Is Your Employee Recognition Strategy On Point?

Sponsored by Kudos

The idea of employee recognition seems as natural as breathing. Who wouldn’t want to recognize a job well done? But the truth is, effective workforce recognition doesn’t just naturally happen. That’s why it pays to invest in a thoughtful recognition strategy.

Why a Strong Recognition Strategy Matters

If you follow leading workplace management trends, you know the case for recognition is compelling. For example, according to recent Gallup research:

  • Employees who say recognition is important to their organization are nearly 4x more likely to feel strongly connected with their culture.
  • When employees receive great recognition, they’re 20x more likely to be engaged than those who aren’t effectively recognized.
  • Among employees with successful recognition programs, 72% say their performance is acknowledged, even on “little things.”

Clearly, employers can’t afford to leave employee recognition and engagement to chance — especially in today’s complex hybrid work environment. But what exactly does an effective recognition strategy look like? Join me as I dig deeper with an industry expert on this episode of #WorkTrends…

Meet Our Guest: Karim Punja

Karim Punja is the COO at Kudos. As a CFA charterholder with over 15 years of experience at multiple global tech companies, Karim has found his sweet spot at Kudos. That’s because it’s a dynamic HR tech venture where data-based decisions are made at the speed of change, and everyone at Kudos is focused on improving the world of work.

With his business acumen and first-hand understanding of tools that enhance the modern employee experience, Karim is an ideal source for advice on how to develop a successful employee recognition strategy.

To learn more, check these highlights from our discussion…

Building a Recognition Budget

Welcome, Karim. Let’s begin with funding. Recognition programs should be planned, funded, and measured, just like any other business initiative. But how do we build a budget for this?

Well, a typical benchmark for a platform-supported program is 1-3% of payroll or of an employee’s salary.

But this is not necessarily a one-size-fits-all approach. You also need to consider your organization’s culture and recognition strategy.

What’s the split between hourly and salaried workers? Are your teams mostly remote workers or deskless workers? Plus, you’ll want to consider whether you’ll want to use a recognition platform to supplement income through rewards.

In addition, you may already be doing things you can consolidate into a recognition and engagement platform. For example, do you offer spot bonuses? And how do you manage birthdays and milestones?

Why Management Involvement is Key

What other elements should a recognition strategy include?

One of the most critical keys to success is getting managers on board early as stakeholders who take ownership of system adoption and usage.

We know this from analyzing our own clients. When managers are highly engaged with our system, monthly participation among non-managers is 3x higher than groups where manager engagement is low.

How a Recognition Strategy Creates Value

How should HR professionals communicate the value of employee recognition to senior leaders and others?

Measurement is an important attribute, because it speaks to the core philosophy that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

With an employee recognition system, you can get measurable insights into employee wellbeing. And when you overlay that with engagement surveys, you can compare the data and see the impact of your culture over time.

I like to talk about the value of employee engagement metrics as a leading indicator of organizational health. Whereas surveys are more of a lagging indicator, because they provide a snapshot of sentiments that have led up to a particular point in time.

So, because a recognition and engagement platform provides real-time metrics and trends, it gives you a leading indicator of sentiment. This means you can use those actionable insights proactively, rather than reactively…

 


Learn More About How to Develop a Successful Recognition Strategy

Listen to this full #WorkTrends episode on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or wherever you tune in to podcasts. And while you’re there, be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss future episodes.

Want to continue this conversation on social media? Follow TalentCulture or use our #WorkTrends hashtag anytime on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Let’s talk!

Innovative Ways to Reward and Recognize Employees

11 Innovative Ways to Reward and Recognize Employees

Recognition matters. We hear it over and over again in leadership books and best practices articles. It makes sense to recognize employees early and often. But workforce appreciation isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing, and random acts of recognition usually fall flat.

So, what do successful organizations do? They focus on building a culture where appreciation is consistently expressed in meaningful and memorable ways. But what methods actually work? For real-world advice about how to recognize employees, we asked business and HR leaders these questions:

What is one innovative way your organization recognizes and rewards employees?
How is this making a positive difference?

We received feedback from across the business world — from HR Directors to CEOs. And if you just skim this list, I’m sure you’ll find at least a few suggestions worth implementing:

  • Allocate “Dream Vacation” Time to Stellar Performers
  • Provide a Monthly Recognition Allowance
  • Make Recognition Special with “Spotlight” Experiences
  • Foster Collaboration with a “Skills Swap” Initiative
  • Lift Morale with a Peer Spotlight Program
  • Support “Passion Projects” that Boost Job Happiness
  • Incentivize Excellence with Employee of the Month Awards
  • Promote Team Unity with a Specialized Listening Tool
  • Show Genuine Appreciation with Personalize Gifts
  • Encourage Career Growth Through Learning Autonomy
  • Reinforce Team Spirit with Virtual Toasts

To learn more about how recognition is enhancing employee engagement, job satisfaction, and other key employee experience metrics at companies large and small, check the responses below…

11 Unique Ideas to Recognize Employees

1. Allocate “Dream Vacation” Time to Stellar Performers

We’ve implemented a special recognition program called “Flexible Dream Vacation.” Employees who surpass extraordinary performance goals receive an extra week of paid vacation time, which we call a “Dream Vacation.”

This additional week is not subject to typical vacation rule restrictions. It can be used whenever the employee wishes — even on short notice. This creative idea enables employees to take much-needed time away, so they can realize personal travel goals and come back to work revitalized.

The program has improved enthusiasm and morale among our team members, while boosting their productivity and sense of loyalty. In fact, since its adoption, we’ve seen a phenomenal 20% increase in employee engagement scores on our yearly surveys.

Greg Rozdeba, Co-Founder and CEO, Dundas Life

2. Provide a Monthly Recognition Allowance

We empower everyone in our organization to take charge of recognition. Every month, we distribute $5 to each staff member, so they can say “thank you” to others, $1 at a time.

It’s not about the money. The $1 is really just a nudge to remind everyone to pay attention and share appreciation with people around them.

At our company, team members are celebrated 4.7 times a month on average. This has a much bigger impact than a typical monthly MVP award ever could!

Logan Mallory, Vice President of Marketing, Motivosity

3. Make Recognition Special with “Spotlight” Experiences

One innovative way we recognize employees is through a unique “Spotlight Experience.” Every month, we grant one outstanding employee a “day-in-the-life” experience tailored to their personal passion or aspirations outside of work. For instance, we arranged for an employee who is deeply interested in culinary arts to spend a day with a renowned chef, cooking alongside them and learning advanced techniques.

Our “Spotlight Experience” program underscores our commitment to recognizing each employee as a whole individual, not just their professional contributions.

Because this unique approach goes beyond conventional bonuses and focuses on individual interests, it builds deeper connections with people and motivates them more deeply. For example, a recent internal survey revealed a 40% increase in job satisfaction scores and a 30% uptick in employee engagement.

William Phipps, Founder, AI Tool Portal

4. Foster Collaboration with a “Skills Swap” Initiative

One way we recognize employees is through a “Skills Swap” program. In other words, employees teach their unique skills or hobbies to colleagues during dedicated instructional sessions. For example, one of our software engineers hosted a workshop on basic coding for non-technical team members.

This endeavor has significantly improved employee morale, motivation, and engagement. It creates opportunities for employees to showcase their expertise outside their job roles, fostering a sense of value and recognition. As a result, 85% of employees recently reported feeling more appreciated and motivated because of this initiative.

Moreover, these sessions have fostered a stronger sense of community and collaboration. Employees from different departments are interacting and learning from one another in new ways. This is breaking down silos and enhancing communication. In fact, we’ve seen a 30% increase in cross-departmental collaboration on projects.

Beth Worthy, President, GMR Transcription Services, Inc.

5. Lift Morale with a Peer Spotlight Program

We have initiated a “Peer Spotlight Program,” where employees nominate colleagues for outstanding contributions that might otherwise fly under the managerial radar. Each month, we showcase selected employees company-wide and reward them with a unique experience, like funding to participate in a masterclass that focuses on a topic of their choice.

This peer-driven recognition effort has elevated team camaraderie, with our internal surveys indicating a 25% boost in overall team morale and collaboration.

Brett Ungashick, CEO and CHRO, OutSail

6. Support “Passion Projects” that Boost Job Happiness

One innovative way our organization recognizes and rewards employees is through a “Passion Project” initiative. Each employee is invited to pursue a project outside their usual responsibilities that aligns their personal interests with our company’s goals.

For example, an employee with a passion for sustainability initiated a “green office” project. This led our organization to reduce waste and save energy. It even inspired involvement with our local community.

This approach not only enhances job satisfaction but also promotes creativity and ownership. As a result, our employee turnover rate has decreased by 15%, and overall job happiness has improved by 25%.

Sarah Politi, Founder and Managing Director, Jade & Sterling

7. Incentivize Excellence with Employee of the Month Awards

To publicly recognize high-performing team members, we’ve implemented a unique Employee of the Month award program. Rather than simply hanging a plaque with names on it, we hang a custom-made life-sized poster of the top performer in our office entryway. Surprisingly, this program has become extremely popular with staff.

Not only is it a source of employee pride and connection, but it has also sparked friendly competition. Everyone strives to be the face that greets people as they walk into the office. And since we implemented this program, productivity has increased by more than 10%, which we believe is due largely to improved employee morale and engagement.

Janelle Owens, Human Resources Director, Guide2Fluency

8. Promote Team Unity with a Specialized Listening Tool

Our organization has improved employee engagement by implementing an innovative listening tool that facilitates peer recognition. Through this platform, employees can recognize coworkers’ behaviors that exemplify our core values. We call these “Cheers for Peers.”

When someone goes above and beyond to demonstrate a value like “driving results” or “learning relentlessly,” a colleague can quickly log in and send positive feedback. This instant feedback loop makes it easy for employees to recognize value-driven actions in real time. And because people can see all the “Cheers for Peers” nods they’ve sent and received, it further boosts their participation.

Integrating values-driven recognition with daily interactions has been a game-changer for our company. The instant validation employees receive when peers celebrate them for living our values has strengthened staff unity and purpose. As a result, we’ve seen a noticeable improvement in morale and motivation.

Max Hansen, CEO and Co-Founder, Y Scouts

9. Show Genuine Appreciation with Personalize Gifts

We’re a small startup with a social mission, and we really try to personalize the way we acknowledge team members who deserve recognition. Don’t get me wrong — we still all have the same new-hire swag with the same branded mug, notebooks, and pens. It’s not like we’re all crafting unique mugs from clay (although that could be fun!).

But here’s our approach: When someone in our organization goes above and beyond, we find a gift that is meaningful to them. For example, our first hire is proud that she’s employee number 1, so we sent her a branded sweater with a personal note about how she’s #1 to us. (She really is a #1 person in life!)

And when another member of our team attended a Beyoncé concert this summer, we arranged a hotel stay for the weekend, so she could really live it up!

There’s a time and a place for a standard gift card or a company t-shirt. But when employees work extra hours or go above and beyond to help a customer, we know it’s not for the money. It’s because they care. So we find little ways to show them how much we care, too!

Ashley Kelly, CEO and Co-Founder, CultureAlly

10. Encourage Career Growth Through Learning Autonomy

We like to focus heavily on learning autonomy. In other words, we let our team members develop knowledge and skills the way they want to, rather than how they’re told to learn.

Although this isn’t technically a “reward,” it’s a way of approaching professional development that demonstrates a genuine commitment to everyone’s success. It also shows that we trust our staff and we want individuals to flourish in whatever ways are most effective for them.

Tracey Beveridge, HR Director, Personnel Checks

11. Reinforce Team Spirit with Virtual Toasts

Something as simple as toasting the week’s top-performing employee can help bring people together for a common purpose. In our organization, this has become a weekly tradition. Every Friday, about an hour before closing time, we host a virtual happy hour. It isn’t a mandatory meeting, but everyone in the company usually joins with a beverage of their choice.

During this online huddle, our leaders take the floor to toast the agent of the week. This is an opportunity to detail the employee’s efforts and acknowledge their achievements.

Afterward, the team tends to linger, usually playing some group games or watching a movie together. It’s a fun way to connect, socialize, and start the weekend on a high note.

Aktug Dogan, CEO, Refermate

Toxic Cultures Are Crushing Workforce Wellbeing. What Can Employers Do

Toxic Cultures Are Crushing Workforce Wellbeing. What Can Employers Do?

Toxic cultures are like dark clouds looming over the world of work. Wherever they go, they wreak havoc with employee wellbeing. That’s not an overstatement. For example, consider what one recent technology industry survey revealed:

  • 45% of tech employees said their work environment is so toxic it affects their mental health, while 48% said it takes a toll on their physical health.
  • Among those who work in toxic cultures, 43% use sick days or personal time off to take a break from all the negativity.
  • 45% of employees in these environments say they’ve been pushed into “quiet quitting.”

Statistics like these are alarming, especially for organizations that are struggling to attract and retain qualified talent. To understand the issue better and find out how to create a happier, healthier workplace for all, read on…

How Toxic Cultures Erode Employee Mental Health

Today’s work environment is so fast-paced and demanding that it’s easy to overlook signs of toxicity. But left unchecked, these symptoms can cascade into serious consequences that harm individuals as well as overall workplace wellbeing.

Recognizing key issues is the first step toward developing a healthier culture. Here are four common warning signs you don’t want to ignore:

1. High Stress Levels

Toxic workplaces are a breeding ground for stress. Often, employees find themselves constantly navigating through a minefield of negativity, unrealistic expectations, and hostile interactions.

Stressful environments are more common than you may think. In fact, 79% of U.S. workers struggle with work-related stress, according to the American Psychological Association.

The persistent pressure to meet unattainable goals — coupled with a lack of support or recognition — leaves employees grappling with chronically elevated stress levels. This prolonged exposure to stress not only takes a toll on mental health, but also contributes to physical health issues such as hypertension, insomnia, and intestinal tract disorders.

2. Burnout

A combination of stress, overwork, minimal autonomy, and a lack of appreciation create a perfect storm that fuels employee burnout. Constantly pushing people beyond their limits to meet unreasonable demands can leave them emotionally exhausted, disenchanted, and disengaged from their work.

Because it diminishes mental and physical wellbeing, burnout goes hand in hand with absenteeism and employee turnover. As a result, team productivity and organizational performance also suffer.

3. Poor Work-Life Balance

Toxic work cultures often blur the boundaries between work and personal life. Employees may find themselves constantly tethered to their jobs, with little time or energy for personal life.

A lack of boundaries between work and life plays havoc with mental health. It can compromise an individual’s quality of life and leave them feeling overwhelmed and isolated. This inability to detach from work-related stressors can also contribute to sleep disturbances and anxiety, further intensifying mental health challenges.

4. Low Job Satisfaction

One of the most obvious symptoms of a toxic workplace is low job satisfaction. This usually develops when people don’t feel respected or appreciated, and they aren’t offered opportunities to develop and grow. This means enthusiasm and motivation slide, and engagement follows.

Over time, a lack of job satisfaction can erode employee mental health. When this reaches across a team or an organization, it also puts workplace harmony, productivity, and innovation at risk.

How to Heal Toxic Cultures

Creating a workplace that puts employee wellbeing first is not just a corporate responsibility — it’s a necessity. By fostering a healthy, supportive work environment, companies can safeguard mental health across their teams, which translates into high job satisfaction, productivity, and talent retention.

Here are some strategies and tactics to help develop a work environment that is more respectful, inclusive, and supportive:

1. Promote Open Communication

Encourage employees to speak up when they encounter toxic behaviors or instances of workplace misconduct. Create formal and informal processes and channels where people can openly discuss issues. Also, for situations that require discretion, provide a safe platform where anyone can report a problem and know that leaders will act on their input.

2. Implement Feedback Mechanisms

Establish processes and tools to gather and assess regular feedback. For example, conduct periodic anonymous surveys and informal one-on-one sessions. This gives employees multiple ways to express their thoughts, feelings, and concerns about the work environment. By seeking input on workplace culture, policies, and practices you’ll have a foundation for meaningful change.

3. Prioritize Leadership Training

Invest in leadership and management training programs that underscore the importance of creating a respectful, inclusive work environment. Equip leaders with the skills they need to identify and address toxic behaviors. Also, focus on helping them develop emotional intelligence so they can be role models for a positive workplace.

4. Offer Mental Health Support

Provide resources and programs aimed at supporting employee mental health. Include access to counseling services, stress management workshops, and initiatives that promote work-life balance. By showing a serious commitment to workforce wellbeing, you’ll elevate employee trust and commitment.

5. Emphasize Employee Recognition

Implement employee appreciation programs to acknowledge and reward employees for their efforts and contributions. When executives, managers, and peers express genuine appreciation for hard work, it boosts morale and contributes to a more positive work environment.

6. Provide Professional Development Opportunities

Show you care about the future of your employees. Proactively invest in their skill development and career growth. When people feel that their employer actively supports their aspirations, they’re more likely to remain loyal and view their workplace in a positive light.

7. Offer Flexible Work Arrangements

Open the door to flexible work options, such as remote/hybrid work models or flexible hours. This kind of flexibility can help employees better balance their work and personal lives. As a result, it helps reduce work stress, avoid burnout, and enhance job satisfaction.

8. Don’t Forget Conflict Resolution Processes

Establish clear and fair methods for conflict resolution. This ensures that you can address workplace issues or disputes in a timely, effective way. A structured approach can prevent problems from escalating and negatively affecting the work environment.

Encourage Self-Care Education

Toxic cultures can be overwhelming in many ways. Although it’s important for organizations to implement employee wellbeing initiatives, it’s equally important for employees to learn how to take care of themselves.

Educating individuals about mental health and wellbeing can empower them to build the resilience they need to more effectively navigate today’s challenging work world. Consider a curriculum that focuses on topics like these:

1. Coping With Stressful Situations

Training sessions that teach employees how to identify stress and cope with it are extremely useful. During training, focus on techniques for managing work stress, such as mindfulness, time management, and brief relaxation exercises. For example, teach people to recognize their own stressors and develop personalized strategies for dealing with them.

2. Prioritizing Self-Care

Educate employees about the importance of self-care and how to incorporate it into their daily routine. Emphasize the value of maintaining a healthy work-life balance, getting adequate sleep, engaging in regular physical activity, and practicing healthy eating habits. Provide resources and tips for self-care practices that improve mental and emotional wellbeing.

3. Resolving Conflict

Be sure to help employees develop effective conflict resolution techniques that emphasize open, respectful communication. This can help participants discover how to identify and address workplace conflicts constructively — whether it involves colleagues, supervisors, or clients. Through your employee training system you can offer guidance on negotiation skills, active listening, and finding common ground during regular 1:1 meetings.

4. Building Mental Health Awareness

Plan workshops or events to raise awareness about mental health issues and reduce the stigma surrounding this topic. Employees need to recognize signs of mental health challenges in themselves, as well as their colleagues. Make sure you provide information about available mental health resources and how to seek help when needed.

5. Boosting Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence training can enhance an employee’s ability to understand and manage their own emotions while affirming others. Effective training often includes strategies for developing adaptability, problem-solving skills, and a growth mindset. All of these contribute to increased resilience while on the job.

6. Setting Goals

Everyone can benefit from learning how to set and achieve personal and professional goals. A great way to do this is by guiding employees through the process of creating actionable plans, tracking progress, and celebrating successes. Ultimately, this fosters a sense of accomplishment and motivates people to dig deeper and aim higher.

It’s Time to Let Go of Toxic Cultures

Bottom line: Workforce wellbeing is the key to a loyal, thriving, high-performing workforce. When you commit to building a positive culture that genuinely cares for team members, you’ll benefit in multiple ways:

  • Happy, healthy, well-supported employees are more content and effective in their roles. They’re also significantly more valuable team players who are willing to embrace business goals.
  • When employees are equipped to face the challenges of modern work life, they engage more fully, work more productively, contribute more creative ideas, and are more eager to share in their organization’s success.

Ultimately, fostering a culture of wellbeing is a win-win proposition. A workforce that is mentally, emotionally, and physically present and engaged will thrive — and will help your business thrive, as well.

Employee Experience by the Numbers Top 5 Concerns

Employee Experience by the Numbers: Top 5 Concerns

In recent years, employee experience has taken center stage as a primary indicator of organizational success. As a result, HR and business leaders increasingly want to understand which employee experience concerns are top of mind for today’s workforce.

Gone are the days when a stable job with a reasonable salary was the only key to employee satisfaction and retention. Now, employers recognize that a more holistic approach yields numerous benefits. For example:

  • Satisfied employees tend to be more productive, innovative, and loyal.
  • Employees who are committed and engaged, become powerful company advocates, not just internally, but among public circles, as well. This kind of support leads to a more positive employer brand.
  • A strong employee experience helps attract and retain top performers.

Recently, we conducted a survey to explore today’s biggest employee experience concerns and their underlying factors. Based on input from more than 10,000 employees at nearly 100 technology companies, this employee experience report paints a comprehensive picture of how people feel about their jobs and work environments.

Whether you’re an HR professional seeking to improve your organization’s talent strategy or a business leader aiming to provide a more fulfilling work environment, these findings can help you drive positive change. Specifically, the survey revealed 5 issues that deserve more attention…

Top 5 Employee Experience Concerns in 2023

1. Compensation is Lacking

Fair, competitive salaries are essential to attract and retain top talent. However, many organizations don’t seem to meet expectations. In fact, 46% of survey participants told us they deserve a salary increase.

If financial constraints make it difficult to offer direct salary increases, creative alternatives may fill the gap. Strategies like these may help:

  • Expand Benefits Choices

    Adding more options can make a significant difference. For instance, practical perks such as meal vouchers, childcare discounts, and transportation subsidies are highly appealing to some staff members. Diverse choices add flexibility to your compensation framework while helping more employees feel valued and supported.

  • Emphasize Intangible Benefits

    Quality of life is deeply important to many employees. You can appeal to their interests with solutions that address post-pandemic work-life challenges. For instance, develop a formal remote work or hybrid work program, try implementing a 4-day workweek or flexible work schedule, or offer extra vacation time as a company-wide bonus option.

  • Manage Private Healthcare Coverage More Effectively

    Healthcare coverage is the cornerstone of a holistic compensation package. It promotes employee health and wellbeing, while serving as an attractive incentive for job candidates. However, as healthcare costs continue to rise, access to quality care is at risk. Negotiating better insurance packages on behalf of your staff can position your company as an industry leader.

  • Facilitate Training Scholarships

    Many employees recognize the value of continuous learning and skill development. Adding subsidies for professional development and continuing education to your compensation scheme encourages professional growth while preparing team members for the future of work.

  • Encourage Performance-Based Bonuses

    Does your organization have a well-defined bonus program? Fair, equitable financial incentives are a dynamic mechanism that motivates people and reinforces achievement. By linking goals to rewards, you inspire employees to excel while advancing your organization’s agenda.

In summary, salary remains a critical concern. However, because employee experience is complex, a multifaceted compensation strategy makes sense. Think of creative ways to circumvent internal constraints so you can keep your workforce motivated, satisfied, and engaged.

2. Stress is Overwhelming

Persistent stress erodes physical and psychological wellbeing. As a result, unrelenting work stress drains employee motivation, productivity, engagement, and performance.

Remarkably, 33% of employees told us they suffer from work-related stress. Employers can’t afford to ignore this issue. But what actions are helpful?

  • Invest in Wellness of All Types

    Employee wellbeing touches all facets of life, including mental, physical, emotional, financial, social health, and beyond. Ideally, all these dimensions work together to support people throughout their professional lives. By offering a variety of wellness programs, you can help employees build the strength and resilience they need to adjust and move through personal and professional challenges.

  • Promote Awareness and Education

    If people don’t understand what causes work stress, they’re likely to struggle. Raising awareness about warning signs and skills to deal with these challenges helps people act on their own behalf. For instance, you can offer classes and resources about mindfulness and stress reduction, as well as time management, communication, and delegation techniques. By developing skills like these, employees learn how to recognize and respond to factors that trigger stress.

  • Establish Channels for Open Dialogue

    Healthy cultures foster open communication. This includes opportunities to acknowledge employee issues and actively address those concerns. Collaborative conversations about stress and its causes not only lead to better solutions but also strengthen the bonds between employees and the organization.

The ramifications of chronic stress transcend the individual experience, casting a shadow over workforce productivity and morale. By fostering a culture of wellness, you can ease stress for individuals and create an environment where employees thrive.

3. Work-Life Balance Doesn’t Exist

Healthy work-life integration drives employee commitment, motivation, and performance. At the same time, it relieves work stress, which can increase job satisfaction.

Our survey revealed that 26% of employees think work encroaches on their personal life. That’s not ideal. How can employers reduce this statistic?

  • Commit to Flexible Work Solutions

    There are many viable possibilities. Flextime, remote or hybrid work models, and 4-day workweeks can help steer employees toward a more harmonious work-life coexistence.

As heated return-to-office debate continues, post-pandemic organizations have reached a critical crossroads. Standard work models may seem “safe,” but many employees no longer think they’re realistic.

In terms of work-life balance, flexibility helps people thrive professionally without compromising personal priorities. This can reduce work stress and elevate job satisfaction. If your company is still on the fence about return-to-work mandates, carefully weigh the potential consequences of ignoring work-life balance.

4. Employers Impose Too Many Needless Rules

Managing internal mandates consumes valuable time. Even worse, they can undermine your team’s ability to perform at its best. At least this is what we heard from 25% of employees who say their company enforces too many rules that serve no purpose.

Clearly, this gap needs attention. A possible solution is to involve employees in decisions about policies and procedures. By actively seeking input, you’re more likely to uncover redundant or needless standards. In addition, you can confirm which rules are crucial to operational excellence and gain broader support for enforcement.

When streamlining processes, constructive feedback is a powerful tool. It can help improve organizational efficiency. At the same time, it cultivates a sense of ownership among employees, which can foster a culture of continuous improvement.

5. Recognition is in Short Supply

When people aren’t recognized enough for their effort and results, their motivation and satisfaction levels suffer. And unfortunately, too many employers are missing the mark. In fact, 31% of respondents told us they prefer more frequent recognition.

Overcoming this challenge requires proactive measures. One strategy is to develop a formal process that encourages managers to share more meaningful recognition on a more consistent basis.

For example, programs that incorporate gamification techniques have proven highly effective. Some organizations also include peer recognition in their programs. This adds a dimension of mutual appreciation while reinforcing a sense of teamwork and camaraderie.

By prioritizing interpersonal workplace dynamics, recognition programs can boost morale and strengthen organization-wide engagement and performance.

Employee Experience Concerns Matter

Today’s post-pandemic workplace is shifting in multiple ways. Employee expectations and career aspirations are changing rapidly. It’s essential for companies to understand and respect these dynamics.

As you consider the 5 employee experience concerns we’ve outlined, what should you keep in mind? Organizations that prioritize these issues and respond thoughtfully are better equipped to attract and retain talent. Also, they’re creating cultures that thrive on adaptability, appreciation, and wellbeing. In short, they’re preparing now for continued success.

If you build your workplace on this foundation, you can look forward to being much more successful in the years ahead, as well.

Organizational Transparency is the New Normal - How Open Are You?

Organizational Transparency is the New Normal: How Open Are You?

Imagine this: You’re attending one of your company’s senior staff meetings. The CEO nods and smiles when one executive shares a KPI chart with an upward-trending graph. Clearly, the CEO appreciates seeing how performance is improving. It confirms the management team’s commitment to excellence and its ability to deliver. But these results don’t really surprise anyone. That’s because your company embraces organizational transparency.

In today’s complex business landscape, a culture of transparency is not just a nice-to-have option — it’s a strategic necessity. Why? Because open communication is a catalyst for engagement, accountability, and success at all levels of a company.

What Makes Transparency Tick?

CEOs never aim for mediocrity. They want teams that are highly motivated, engaged, and productive. This is why organizational transparency is so powerful.

Leaders who champion open communication ignite employee trust, commitment, and motivation. In transparent cultures, success isn’t just about hitting the numbers. It’s about creating an environment where people are all in — where team members know they matter and their efforts make a valuable difference.

Who’s Responsible for Organizational Transparency?

The answer to this question isn’t always clear. Certainly, openness starts at the top. But kickstarting the process and keeping it moving requires a partnership between senior leaders and People Operations.

C-suite leaders bring the company vision and goals into focus, while People Ops teams conduct daily tasks that turn that vision into a reality. Their responsibilities include onboarding new hires, managing the employee experience, and supporting workforce growth and success — all efforts that strengthen an organization’s backbone.

By working together, executives and People Ops can keep employees in the know, so their mindset and contributions align with the company’s vision, values, and objectives.

3 Ways to Enable Organizational Transparency

Here’s how People Ops can partner effectively with the C-suite to foster a transparent work environment:

1. Give Employees a Voice

A culture that welcomes feedback is a cornerstone of transparency. Employees deserve a say in how their organization operates, and leaders can promote this behavior by proactively seeking input.

Regularly inviting employees to express their insights, ideas, and opinions creates an environment where communication is accepted as a norm. By working hand-in-hand with executives, People Ops can develop, promote, and manage multiple feedback channels — both open and anonymous.

For example, you can conduct periodic focus groups or town hall forums with employees who are willing to participate in an open dialogue. And for those who prefer confidentiality, you can initiate private interviews and 1:1 conversations.

Also, to calibrate broader sentiment, insights, and trends, you can conduct periodic anonymous pulse surveys and employee net promoter score assessments.

When mapping a strategy, it’s worth noting that 47% of employees aren’t totally honest when sharing feedback with HR. But 56% of those employees are more likely to be honest when their anonymity is assured.

Although managing employee feedback channels may seem complicated, it’s worth the effort. For instance, organizations that listen and act on these findings are 3x more likely to reach their financial targets.

In addition, when you’re receptive to feedback, you build a sense of connection and trust across the organization. Ultimately, this can elevate workforce wellbeing by reducing stress, disengagement, and even burnout.

Bottom line — it pays to offer various feedback options and keep employees in the loop about how you’re responding to their concerns.

2. Share Information Quickly and Consistently

It’s essential for leaders and People Ops to agree on how to treat sensitive company information. Striking the right balance between transparency and confidentiality prevents misunderstandings. This is especially important when communicating about decisions or events that directly affect employees — for instance, when you’re dealing with layoffs, salary changes, or restructuring plans.

Leaders who care about transparency insist on timely, accurate communication. This preserves trust and positions your company as a reliable source.

For example, publishing pay scales and compensation guidelines helps avoid ambiguity and clarifies career advancement paths. Actually, pay transparency laws already cover more than 25% of the U.S. workforce — and this figure could soon rise to 50%. But this is just one reason why transparency is essential in the modern workplace.

3. Make Company Information Accessible

Ready access to information is critical for the kind of awareness and understanding a cohesive culture needs. Partially informed employees can’t be expected to contribute fully to an organization’s success. This is why a variety of communication channels can help you reach team members where they’re at and keep them up-to-date.

Platforms such as town halls, executive “Ask Me Anything” sessions, online chat forums, and email newsletters can play a pivotal role by adding context to announcements about company priorities, programs, and performance. In addition, these channels give employees an opportunity to share direct feedback with decision-makers and discuss their thoughts with peers.

To take full advantage of these channels, you’ll want to provide clear, consistent messaging across the board. Using an integrated People Ops platform, you can gather, track, and analyze internal communications activity data, and map it to broader organizational objectives.

4. Let Go of Lazy Labels

Most employees want to be seen as people. Yet, only 45% actually think their organization views them that way. Transparency can bridge this gap, so you can build a more unified, empowered workforce, where individual strengths and aspirations contribute to a collective success story.

That’s why it’s time to trash stereotypes — especially negative buzzwords. Terms like “lazy girl jobs” and “quiet quitting” aren’t constructive.

This kind of workplace shorthand may seem harmless, but it doesn’t serve anyone well. In fact, it only undermines employees who value work-life balance over work-at-all-cost expectations.

So make no mistake. Transparency isn’t about mindless judgment or brutal honesty. It’s about intentionally creating an environment where people feel like they belong and they can flourish.

This mindset fuels trust, confidence, and commitment through communication that empowers people to contribute their best. Other benefits include:

  • Heightened job satisfaction
  • Enhanced collaboration
  • Increased engagement
  • Strengthened leadership credibility
  • Improved problem-solving

At its best, organizational transparency aligns everyone with shared objectives. From Gen Z to your most seasoned team members, everyone can work more happily and productively when they’re part of a culture based on open communication.

But be prepared. Developing this kind of relationship takes time, consistency, and persistence.

The Case for Transparency

“The Great Resignation” began in 2021, when nearly 48 million people quit their jobs. But experts say the “Real Great Resignation” actually happened last year, when resignations reached nearly 51 million.

What caused so many employees to leave? According to research, 40% of former employees could no longer tolerate a toxic work environment.

Contrast this with people who feel their work culture is transparent. Their job satisfaction rate is 12x greater than others. That’s a key point because satisfied employees are much more likely to stay on board longer.

It’s no secret that employees want to feel supported, respected, and motivated to do their job well. This starts when top-down transparency is baked into your culture. With a genuine, ongoing effort, business leaders and People Ops can cultivate the kind of transparent workplace that attracts great talent, respects them as individuals, and gives them a powerful reason to stay.

Business Innovation Isn't Easy. Here's How Leaders Can Help

Business Innovation Isn’t Easy. Here’s How Leaders Can Help

TalentCulture Content Impact Award Winner - 2023In recent years, digital transformation has been one of the hottest topics in leadership circles. Technology is central to this kind of complex, large-scale endeavor. But success requires more than tools, alone. Operating models and processes must also change. And for continued improvement, business innovation should be part of the mix, as well. Why?

Because technology is constantly moving forward, ongoing innovation can keep your organization ahead of the curve. However, this depends on your ability to anticipate, adjust, and adapt. And that’s where your employees can make all the difference. Your workforce carries a wealth of information, expertise, and creativity. Unlocking that potential is key.

By combining the right technology with effective leadership strategies, you can transform your organization from a static monolith to a dynamic talent magnet, where innovation is a way of life. For more insight, let’s look closer at the relationship between digital transformation, agile leadership, and business innovation…

4 Ways Digital Transformation Fosters Business Innovation

Organizations can benefit in many ways from adopting game-changing tools and processes. These are just a few outcomes to expect from digital transformation:

1. Improved Efficiency

The best next-level tools are designed with efficiency in mind. For example, systems that rely on AI-driven automation and customization make it possible to dramatically reduce workflow bottlenecks and other inefficiencies. By empowering individuals and teams to operate more productively, the entire organization can focus more fully on higher-level tasks and creative challenges.

2. Enhanced Collaboration

Workforce collaboration is essential for business innovation. But it’s not easy to achieve in today’s hybrid and remote work environments. This is where transformative solutions are making a tremendous impact.

By relying on systems that help people directly communicate, coordinate, and stay up-to-date with projects at their convenience, distributed teams can operate even more effectively than they would in person. This makes it possible to include people from around the globe, which means more diverse input for problem-solving, ideation, and other creative activities.

Digital transformation can even improve collaboration among people who work in person at a single location. A myriad of digital applications are available for team scheduling, meetings, and project management so everyone can stay better connected and more productive.

3. Scalability

The ability to scale resources is a serious challenge, especially for younger or smaller companies. When staff workloads are full and growth reaches a peak, how can you continue to scale effectively, while also making business innovation a priority?

Digital transformation helps break through these barriers. By streamlining workflows and activating new pathways that help people bring more creativity to their day-to-day tasks, they can allocate more time to strategic problem-solving and other business priorities.

4. Adaptive Learning

The famous physicist, William Pollard, once said, “Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think what you did yesterday will be sufficient tomorrow.”

This rings true for any business that wants to unlock the full potential of its workforce. Unless employees are continuously learning, they won’t have the inspiration or skills to drive innovation. And that means your organization won’t move forward.

But as many organizations discovered during the pandemic, digital learning tools can help make learning more convenient, continuous, engaging, and effective. Now, AI-driven tools are elevating everything from personalized training content and upskilling experiences to online knowledge-sharing forums and performance support at the moment of need.

How Agile Leaders Build a Culture of Business Innovation

In industries where change is a constant, digital transformation is no longer just an option. It’s an imperative. That’s because these organizations face unique issues:

  • How can they adapt quickly?
  • What can they do to stay ahead of the curve when that curve is always changing?
  • How can they attract, engage, and retain high-quality talent over the long term?

The answer to all these questions is business innovation.

The innovation process helps companies continuously adapt, stay ahead of competitors, and engage employees. Yet, merely asking employees to do their jobs differently is not enough.

Instead, ongoing innovation requires a culture shift. And that starts with a serious, top-down commitment. This is where agile leadership methods can help. Agile methods encourage innovation in a way that traditional leadership moves can’t touch. 

What is Agile Leadership?

Agile leadership is a model that values flexibility, adaptability, and continuous improvement above all else. Agile practices stimulate organizational innovation and encourage a culture where people strive to achieve better results by working smarter and more efficiently.

Developing agile leadership and integrating it into your organization takes time and effort, but the benefits are well worth the investment. These are the cornerstones:

1. Ensure Dedicated Time

Integrating top-down agility into your organization requires sufficient time for people to apply these practices on a consistent basis. When you establish specific time blocks for leaders and employees to step outside their normal scope of work, they can shift their focus to identify broader issues, generate creative ideas, and explore various possibilities. This lets business innovation blossom where it otherwise wouldn’t have space to emerge.

Also, with dedicated time for training, employees can develop the skills and mindset they need to be more inventive and push boundaries in their current roles. It’s equally important for leaders to devote time to meeting with team members, checking in, and discussing their future. This encourages a more open, collaborative, innovative culture across the board.

2. Emphasize Flexibility

Agile leaders are characterized by their flexible behavior, which in turn, permeates the organization. That doesn’t mean structure is nonexistent. Rather, it’s about being willing to adapt and change your existing structure to better align with market conditions, workforce needs, and your organization’s objectives.

Flexibility is a massive factor in keeping employees happy and encouraging an optimal work-life balance. When people don’t feel overwhelmed by stress or anxiety, they are much more likely to be engaged, productive, and motivated to support business innovation.

3. Empower Employees 

Agile methodologies were developed specifically with employee empowerment in mind. While traditional leadership models focus heavily on the authority and regulatory power of leaders, agile focuses on team building and working alongside teams to create better solutions.

It’s about establishing common goals and supporting employees as they work on projects and initiatives that matter to them. As a result, empowered employees are more passionate about their work and more creative in framing operational solutions.

The Benefits of Business Innovation

Innovation can be a difficult concept for organizations to quantify and justify. Rather than generating immediate cost savings or revenue, innovation typically is an investment in the future. Regardless, that investment can lead to impressive, long-term impact — especially if your culture is stagnant or your competitive position is slipping.

At its best, innovation can transform your business from the inside out by engaging your employees, revitalizing your work processes, and giving rise to a sustainable competitive advantage. Even if today’s effort falls short, it can still prepare your organization for future success. How? Because you can:

1. Enrich the Employee Experience

When team members feel uninspired or they don’t feel challenged, they’re likely to leave. In fact, these are two of the most common reasons why people quit.

But this isn’t a problem in cultures that welcome new ideas and encourage people to find better ways of getting things done. Companies that encourage innovation at all levels see a noticeable improvement in work culture. That’s because employees become more invested in an organization’s mission, vision, and values when they’re actively contributing to its success. And as employee ideas take root, engagement grows stronger. It’s a virtuous cycle.

2. “Future-Proof” Your Organization

Even if your business is thriving today, it’s impossible to guarantee this will continue. Industries change, market preferences change, and business fortunes can suffer. That’s why business innovation is so important. It could be the key to sustainable success. Why?

When organizations embrace change, employees are more likely to identify and share internal and external issues as they arise. They’re also more willing to work toward solutions that address these challenges.

No business lasts forever. No idea lasts forever. However, committing to continuous business innovation is the key to staying at the forefront of your industry, even through disruption. It can help you keep a leg up on competitors and strengthen your current offerings, while simultaneously improving employee commitment, engagement, and retention.

A Final Note

Talent is called talent for a reason. Indeed, great ideas don’t always come from upper-level management. That’s why leaders should create an environment where team members play an active role in business innovation. It engages team members more deeply. It strengthens your culture. Plus, it brings frontline voices to the table, so you can generate better ideas and implement better solutions.

At first glance, the connection between digital transformation, agile leadership, and business innovation may not be obvious. But if you follow the logic, their interdependent relationship becomes clear. Ultimately, when technology, people, and processes come together for a common cause, the benefits are often much greater than the sum of the parts.

What Does the Voice of the Employee Say About Your Culture?

What Does the Voice of the Employee Say About Your Culture?

Sponsored by WorkForce Software

Employers, you know the story. For years, organizations have been struggling to engage and retain employees, yet few have really moved the meter. So, how do the best employers succeed? Some say the answer lies in listening more closely to the voice of the employee. Why?

Here’s what statistics say:

  • 90% of workers told Achievers they’re more likely to stay at a company that seeks feedback and acts on it. Yet 67% rate their organization as only “okay” or even “horrible” at doing this.
  • According to a Gallup survey, 52% of people who resigned say those in charge could have done something to prevent them from quitting. But only a third actually discussed their disenchantment with their manager before they left.

It is time to lean in and listen to the voice of the employee more closely and more continuously. But what should that look like in a modern work environment? This question is super important. And that’s why we’re talking about it today with an expert in the psychology of work…

Meet Our Guest: Angelina Sun

Today, we welcome back Angelina Sun, PhD, WorkForce Management Solutions Director at WorkForce Software. With extensive experience in multiple industries, she is deeply interested in innovative ways to build and sustain healthy organizational cultures.

In her current role, Angelina focuses on helping leaders more effectively manage and communicate with employees – especially deskless workers. Angelina’s finger is clearly on the pulse of modern workforce challenges and opportunities. That’s why I asked her to join us earlier this year to discuss the state of today’s deskless worker experience.

But this topic is much bigger than just one podcast episode. So I invited Angelina to return so we could dig deeper. Here are some highlights from our latest conversation…

Defining the Voice of the Employee

Welcome back, Angelina! What is the voice of the employee, and why is it so valuable in organizations?

People often think of the voice of the employee in terms of responses to staff surveys. But it’s more than that.  It encompasses all their feelings, perceptions, and experiences. And it includes all communication channels.

There are so many ways you can tap into the voice of the employee. For example, you can learn by paying attention to team meetings, one-on-ones with managers, service sentiment, and information sharing at company gatherings, interviews, focus groups — anywhere you gather feedback.

The Need to Feel Heard is Universal
You’re so right, Angelina. This extends far beyond employee surveys…

Everyone wants to be heard and valued. Whether we are office-based, remote, hybrid, frontline hourly workers or shift workers, we all want to feel like we’re doing meaningful, purposeful work.

But for deskless workers, the voice of the employee has a unique operational focus. Because these workers are closest to production or customers, their feedback is crucial. It helps identify what’s really happening in the workplace or with the customer experience, so we can take action and improve.

Technology’s Role

How can technology, especially mobile, help create a more seamless communication flow between employees and employers?

You know, smartphones are an essential tool for managing our day-to-day lives. This is why organizations really should employ these powerful, pocket-sized supercomputers to connect with frontline workers.

In fact, our research reveals that 45% of employees would prefer to receive training and information on their mobile phone. Yet only 20% of them actually have this option.

Improving the Communication Process

What are some of the best ways employers can select a communication vehicle and make it work for everyone?

The biggest obstacle is adoption. Why? Because deskless workers don’t sit or stand in front of a computer all day to check email and respond.

So if you want a successful solution, it must integrate into the technology deskless workers are already using in the field or on the shop floor.

We are not just talking about a simple chat system. It should be workflow-driven. It should help people get their job done and make it easier to manage schedules and work-life balance, while also helping managers have the right conversations with the right people at the right time…

 


Learn More About the Voice of the Employee

For more insights about how your organization can benefit from listening to the voice of the employee, listen to this full #WorkTrends episode on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or wherever you tune in to podcasts. And while you’re there, be sure to subscribe, so you won’t miss future episodes.

Also, visit WorkForce Software anytime for details about the company and its modern workforce management suite.

And whenever you want to continue this conversation on social media, follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Let’s talk!

11 Successful HR and Work Tech Trends to Adopt

11 Successful HR and Work Tech Trends to Adopt

In recent years, we’ve seen an explosion in new and improved digital tools for HR and work activities. But with the landscape changing so rapidly, how can organizations decide which tech trends deserve serious attention and investment?

For useful advice, we asked HR and business leaders these questions:

What emerging HR or work tech trend is making the biggest impact on your organization? Why is this the case?

In response, we received excellent feedback from a variety of business professionals — from HR Directors to CEOs. And I’m sure you’ll agree as you skim this list, their recommendations make sense for employers everywhere:

  • Simplify Your Tech Stack to Enhance the Employee Experience
  • Enhance Recruitment Success With AI-Driven Hiring
  • Propel Real-Time Feedback With AI
  • Leverage People Analytics for Data-Driven HR Decisions
  • Automate Background Checks to Improve DEI
  • Boost Company Image With Employee Advocacy
  • Adopt AI to Transform HR Processes
  • Personalize the Hiring Experience With Video Interviews
  • Improve Compliance and Decision-Making With AI
  • Tap Into a PEO for Sophisticated HR Services
  • Streamline Repetitive HR Tasks With Automation

To learn more about how these tech trends are redefining organizations large and small, check the responses below…

11 Ways to Benefit From Top HR and Work Tech Trends

1. Simplify Your Tech Stack to Enhance the Employee Experience

One trend we’re tackling is the simplification of our tech stack to enable a seamless employee experience. As a result, we’re being more thoughtful about the systems we choose to enable key programs. Our goal is to offer an intuitive, natural employee journey from hire to retire. We also hope to benefit from improved data and integrations.

In conversations with other HR tech leaders, we’re finding many larger, established organizations that are also facing this issue. For some, shifting to a connected set of systems that matches a connected experience will be a multi-year process.

This can feel like fixing an airplane while in flight. Actually, it is. But when this is done in the right way, you’ll feel the net reward through improved employee productivity, reduced HR technology spending, and the opportunity to influence vendor roadmaps.

Tiffani Murray, Director, HR Tech Partners – Global Talent Organization, LinkedIn

2. Enhance Recruitment Success With AI-Driven Hiring

One of the most impactful HR tech trends our organization has adopted is AI-driven talent acquisition. With streamlined candidate screening and predictive analytics, we’ve reduced turnover rates and increased employee satisfaction.

Recently with the help of AI, we identified a top-notch senior developer that we subsequently hired. This led to a 20% increase in project completion rates and stellar client feedback. Going forward, we expect AI in recruitment to continue accelerating our company’s growth and success.

Vikas Kaushik, CEO, TechAhead

3. Propel Real-Time Feedback With AI

One HR tech trend that has made its way into our organization is an AI-backed app for real-time feedback. From helping us interact “anytime, anywhere,” to customized notifications that ensure we never miss feedback requested or received, this app is strengthening our organization’s feedback culture.

Its most powerful feature is an innovative feedback generator with a simple process that helps individuals produce, amend, and share feedback in less than 2 minutes. It also helps senders and receivers schedule and conduct private one-on-one interactions with end-to-end encryption.

We’re seeing numerous positive outcomes. For example, this ensures feedback focuses on competencies that align with our organization’s vision and values. Also, detailed reporting makes it easy for leaders to track team engagement while helping individuals understand how their contributions advance our feedback culture.

Manvika Jhala, Principal Consultant, Projects, NamanHR

4. Leverage People Analytics for Data-Driven HR Decisions

People analytics is a growing tech trend, and it’s making a notable impact on our organization. With timely access to relevant, useful data, we’re able to make better decisions about our employees. We can thoroughly analyze personnel performance from multiple angles, with insights we would have otherwise missed or misinterpreted.

For example, we used people analytics to make sure our pay structure is fair and equitable across various employee groups, regardless of an individual’s personal background. This has had a positive effect on overall employee morale because people feel their contributions are appreciated and compensated fairly.

Michael Alexis, CEO, teambuilding.com

5. Automate Background Checks to Improve DEI

As a company that provides background checks, automation helps us filter for specific candidate criteria, focus on unique company needs, and avoid bias in the process. This has helped us significantly level up our recruiting and hiring game. We now offer these services to companies that are striving to reach ambitious DEI goals.

Max Wesman, Chief Operating Officer, GoodHire

6. Boost Company Image With Employee Advocacy

Our employee advocacy program is making a big difference at our company. When our satisfied workers speak positively about us online, it elevates our company image.

For instance, when we had a job opening, we asked our people to share the job with their friends and colleagues online. This kind of outreach worked really well. As a result, we hired a great candidate who fit in with our company and immediately started contributing in a meaningful way.

This program also helps us get more customers. People looking to buy our products trust what our workers say about us more than what we say about ourselves. So the employee advocacy program isn’t just about hiring. It also helps our business grow in other ways.

Martin Potocki, CEO, Jobera

7. Adopt AI to Transform HR Processes

Although artificial intelligence is one of today’s hottest tech trends, some employers still aren’t sure what their adoption path should be. However, we are integrating artificial intelligence across multiple HR processes, from recruitment to employee engagement.

For instance, we’ve implemented an AI-powered recruitment tool that streamlines the hiring process. It automates tasks like resume screening and interview scheduling, which saves significant time and reduces bias in the candidate selection process.

This has improved our recruitment results and enhanced the candidate experience, as well. Also, in addition to improving HR operations, AI is helping us make better-informed decisions and improve business outcomes.

Madhurima Halder, Content Manager, Recruit CRM

8. Personalize the Hiring Experience With Video Interviews

Video interviewing is one of today’s biggest HR tech trends. It can provide a more personalized hiring experience that improves the applicant experience and helps employers extend their hiring reach in more inclusive ways.

For example, employers can use video tools to conduct non-traditional interviews with applicants who aren’t able to travel, or who speak languages that aren’t common in the employer’s geographic location.

With platforms that make it easier for skilled people to connect with potential employers, this opens up opportunities beyond traditional face-to-face interviews. It also ensures no candidates are left behind because of geographical or physical limitations.

Julia Kelly, Managing Partner, Rigits

9. Improve Compliance and Decision-Making With AI

Recent technological developments have altered nearly every facet of human resources, from sourcing to performance management. Artificial intelligence is now streamlining administrative duties like reviewing applications and setting up interviews. This not only benefits the company financially but also frees up HR personnel for more important, strategic tasks.

Employment law, health and safety regulations, and data privacy are just a few examples of HR’s responsibilities. By providing consistent, accurate record-keeping and reporting, automated HR processes can help ensure compliance with these critical requirements.

Also, with the help of data and analytics tools in automated solutions, HR professionals and business leaders can make better decisions. For instance, AI is helping HR teams more quickly and easily spot issues with employee absences and turnover.

Aleksandar Ginovski, Career Expert, Resume Expert and Product Manager, Enhancv

10. Tap Into a PEO for Sophisticated HR Services

As a startup executive since 2012, I’ve relied on Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs) as a fairly common fixture in my work life. These organizations make it possible for smaller companies to tap into core HR packages that include payroll, benefits negotiation, and a suite of other HR capabilities.

Working with a PEO is an easy decision if you don’t have sufficient resources or admin staff to deal with HR logistics and other technicalities. So, not surprisingly, the number of PEO providers and levels of service have grown significantly over the years.

In our company’s case, the HR apparatus is much more sophisticated than you would typically expect for a company of our size. This makes it possible for us to offer everyone more and better benefits.

Trevor Ewen, COO, QBench

11. Streamline Repetitive HR Tasks With Automation

Artificial intelligence is making a massive impact on the HR function. AI technology is redefining the human resources department, streamlining many of its work processes.

Today, HR leaders apply AI to a wide range of tasks, so they no longer manually manage functions like payroll, recruitment, onboarding, and performance management. It can help employers find the right talent, identify skill gaps, answer employee questions, analyze survey data, and more.

The most positive and profound impact of AI technology is the automation of repetitive, boring tasks. It saves manual HR labor, while simultaneously improving process efficiency and accuracy. This frees HR team members to focus on more strategic, creative tasks.

Although some organizations are quickly embracing HR automation, it may be more beneficial to adopt it incrementally over time, so teams can adjust and adapt to the change.

Saikat Ghosh, Associate Director of HR and Business, Technource

How to Improve Leadership Communication - TalentCulture

5 Steps to Improve Leadership Communication in Your Company

In our constantly changing business environment, one thing remains the same — employees want to hear from their organization’s leaders. People naturally look to decision-makers for answers, direction, and context. Fortunately, most leaders understand and embrace their central role in organizational communication. But some struggle with keeping people aware, informed, and motivated. In these situations, it helps to establish an effective leadership communication program.

What does this kind of endeavor look like? Every organization faces unique challenges and requirements, but these 5 strategies can help you move in the right direction:

An Action Plan For Better Leadership Communication

1. Establish Communication Roles

Effective leadership communication programs have a clear purpose and well-defined roles for leaders at every level in an organization. To start, specify roles for your CEO and members of the senior management team.

Typically, CEOs provide a company’s overall direction, while senior leaders translate abstract, high-level concepts and strategies into concrete, meaningful information. For example, the CEO will share annual business priorities. Then members of the senior leadership team articulate what those priorities mean for their business unit or functional group.

HOW TO GET STARTED:
Help leaders get invested in your program’s success by facilitating a workshop to ensure that everyone understands their specific communication role and how to fulfill it.

2. Make Your Company Strategy Memorable

When we measure employee knowledge of a company’s strategy, we often find that staff members are aware of the strategy, but aren’t sure how they contribute to it. Because leaders spend so much time working with peers to develop, refine, and update business strategy, they may have a blind spot when it comes to employee awareness.

HOW TO GET STARTED:
First focus on helping leaders see your company’s strategy from an employee’s point of view. Then work with them to package the message and connect the dots so employees better understand how they can contribute. Try these steps:

  • Simplify: Distill the primary concept into a few words or a phrase that will resonate.
  • Design: Bring the strategy to life by creating a one-page visual overview that leaders can use to illustrate this concept in meetings, events, and other forums.
  • Collaborate: Encourage employees to participate in discussions about your strategy. This builds awareness, interest, understanding, and buy-in.
  • Distribute: Share a printed version of your short-form strategy statement so employees can display it in their workspace. Make it especially memorable by printing the phrase on swag items people appreciate such as mouse pads, mugs, notepads, thermos bottles, or cell phone cases.
  • Reinforce: Using predefined roles as a guide, ask leaders to refer to company strategy during everyday conversations. For example, suggest that department managers add clarifying statements like, “Here’s how this work supports our overarching strategy…” when they introduce new projects or request process improvements.

3. Leverage Channels That Drive Dialogue

Employees are always interested in opportunities to interact with leaders — from asking questions of the CEO to sharing ideas with the department heads. But tools that work well for desk-based employees may not be ideal for those in labs or manufacturing facilities. So, as you facilitate two-way communication between leaders and employees, be sure to choose a channel that aligns with your organization’s realities.

HOW TO GET STARTED:
Here are 5 dynamic channels that can help you foster interaction:

  • Microblogging: Think of short narrative posts without titles, like long-form posts on Instagram and LinkedIn, or tweet threads on Twitter. Invite employees to add questions or comments to these posts.
  • Coffee chats or snack breaks: Invite a small group of employees for an informal roundtable conversation over coffee or snacks like ice cream, popcorn, or energy bars/drinks.
  • Medium-size meetings: Facilitate a group exercise that solves a known issue, featuring a higher-level leader as a participant.
  • Large group forums: Showcase several leaders if possible, who can offer their unique perspectives on key challenges and interests. Build in polls and provide plenty of time for Q&A. Also, don’t forget to document the discussion and follow up on open items as well as any next steps. It may even be appropriate to redistribute all or part of the content from this meeting with others who didn’t attend in person.
  • Internal social media platforms: Encourage employees to submit questions or suggestions whenever it is convenient for them. It may also be helpful to offer employees the option to participate anonymously. Monitor this online forum to ensure that appropriate leaders respond on a timely basis.
  • Impromptu huddles: Host a five-minute conversation during a shift change or at the start of a day. (Even 5 minutes of casual face-to-face interaction can go a long way with employees!)

4. Develop Content Employees Crave

The best way to create meaningful content that employees want is to learn about their interests. Using easy measurement tools such as an online survey or a poll, ask people to identify topics they want leaders to explore. Then assign topics to appropriate leaders and channels as you develop communication plans.

HOW TO GET STARTED:
For example, when we conducted an intake survey for one of our clients, half of the employees said they wanted to hear more about issues and trends affecting their industry. So, the company added an “industry trends” segment to its town hall meeting agendas.

For topics that may not make an employee’s wish list, encourage leaders to weave in a personal connection with the subject matter, explain its relevance, and underscore its importance. This moves content beyond mere facts and descriptive information. It adds interesting context that employees can’t get anywhere else.

For instance, ask leaders to share:

  • Their unique perspective on the topic
  • A personal story that illustrates a key point. This can be about their work experience or career path, or it could be inspired by their family, hobbies, or community activities
  • Reflections on experiences and conversations that influenced key decisions
  • Lessons learned

Studies show that this type of insight is very inspiring and helpful to employees. Plus, hearing a leader open up and speak from the heart conveys authenticity and builds trust.

Also, remember to continuously assess the impact of this kind of communication via surveys and polls and adjust content accordingly. And when content is particularly successful, be sure to repackage it and redistribute it in other ways.

5. Celebrate Milestones and Successes

It’s no secret that employee engagement levels improve when people know their work is valued. Sincere recognition also has a direct impact on job satisfaction and workforce retention. However, busy leaders may unintentionally overlook opportunities to show appreciation. Internal communicators can close this gap by embedding recognition moments into existing leadership communication channels.

HOW TO GET STARTED:
Here are a few examples that work for our clients:

  • Allocate time to recognize recent staff achievements at every department or team meeting.
  • When a senior leader writes about a business win or key milestone, be sure the article mentions appropriate individuals or teams by name.
  • To honor a significant business achievement, your CEO can send a timely, company-wide email message celebrating this success and encouraging others to congratulate everyone who contributed.
  • When marking a major milestone in any employee’s professional or personal life, your CEO can send a handwritten note to the individual’s home.

A Final Word on Effective Leadership Communication

You can help leaders deliver consistent, high-impact communication when you commit to proven strategies like these. As a result, your organization can expect to benefit through increased organizational alignment, engagement, and productivity. And I guarantee that leaders and employees, alike, will appreciate your efforts.

What's your best management advice? 13 senior business leaders share useful lessons learned.

What’s Your Best Management Advice? 13 Top Leaders Reply

Management advice is everywhere. But how do you know which guidance to trust? To find truly useful answers, we asked business executives to answer this question:

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice for how to become a better manager, what would you say?

In response, we received excellent management advice from 13 experienced leaders — including company CEOs, founders, and C-level executives. And I’m sure you’ll agree, the collective wisdom they shared reads like a playbook for any aspiring manager who wants to level up:

  • Prioritize Leadership Skills and Embrace Vulnerability
  • Conduct Regular Check-ins and Learn from Errors
  • Practice Active Listening
  • Master the Art of Delegation
  • Respect Individual Ambitions
  • Create a Psychologically Safe Team Space
  • Seek Team Feedback
  • Plan for Contingencies and Create Transparency
  • Foster Open Communication and Employee Understanding
  • Uplift Others and Practice Humility
  • Listen More and Trust Your Team
  • Develop Strong Relationships and Set Clear Expectations
  • Understand Your Management Style

To dive deeper into these responses, read on…

13 Senior Leaders Share Their Best Management Advice 


1. Prioritize Leadership Skills and Embrace Vulnerability

Reflecting on my own professional journey, I would tell my younger self to prioritize the development of leadership skills over technical expertise. Through the years, as I ascended to the C-suite, I realized my role was less about nitty-gritty details and more about guiding the team toward our shared vision.

For instance, when I was a manager, I was deeply involved in the technical aspects of our projects. I prided myself on my ability to solve complex problems. However, as I moved up the ladder, I found that, although my technical skills remained important, they took a backseat to my leadership abilities. It’s essential to inspire my team, manage people through change, and build a strong, inclusive culture.

My unique advice to aspiring leaders is to embrace vulnerability. It might seem counterintuitive, but showing your human side can actually strengthen your leadership. When I started sharing my own challenges and failures with my team, I noticed a significant increase in their engagement and trust.

Johannes Larsson, Founder and CEO, Financer.com

2. Conduct Regular Check-ins and Learn from Errors

I would advise my younger self to become a better manager by checking in with my team. Humans commit mistakes. Smart humans learn from those errors.

I’ve learned that checking in regularly with each employee makes a difference in our business. Talking with people about their short-term and long-term plans and how to achieve them helps employees feel valued. It improves retention, for sure.

Regular conversations give you a chance to gauge employee satisfaction when it comes to workload. Then you can make adjustments if needed. Early on I failed to do that, which caused us to lose people with strong potential. However, I’ve learned from experience, and am doing better now.

Eli Pasternak, CEO, Liberty House Buying Group

3. Practice Active Listening

If I could go back in time, I would practice active listening. Initially, I focused on sharing my ideas more than understanding my team. Now I recognize the value of listening. It’s important to seek feedback and create an environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves.

Regular one-on-one meetings and open forums encourage dialogue and collaboration. These practices improve engagement, productivity, and satisfaction.

That’s why I urge mid-level managers to prioritize communication and active listening. Encourage people to engage in meaningful conversations and open dialogue. This unlocks team potential and opens the door to innovation and overall success.

Josh Amishav, Founder and CEO, Breachsense

4. Master the Art of Delegation

I would tell my younger self to accept the fact that I can’t do everything myself. Delegation is a critical skill both for maturing as a team leader and growing a business.

When I was just starting to get the company off the ground, I had an intuitive desire to handle every process myself. Finance, marketing, client management — I spent half of my working time trying to touch areas where I lacked expertise.

Eventually, I saw how unproductive and ineffective that approach was, so I began handing off small tasks. But team members couldn’t see the big picture, so small-scale delegation didn’t help either.

Finally, I realized how important it was to trust my team and rely on their expertise without trying to interfere with their work. Today, I’m lucky to have a team of professionals by my side who let me focus on activities that will yield the highest returns and grow the company.

Tatsiana Kirimava, Co-Founder and CEO, Orangesoft

5. Respect Individual Ambitions

As a driven leader, I used to project my ambition onto my team, expecting everyone to have the same level of commitment and desire to progress professionally. But over time, I realized not everyone aspires to be a C-suite executive — and that’s okay.

It’s crucial to respect the unique ambitions of each team member instead of imposing your own aspirations on them. When I made this mental shift, I saw improved team dynamics and productivity. Moreover, it alleviated unnecessary frustration, allowing me to find greater satisfaction in my work.

Remember, demanding too much from your team can lead to dissonance. Ask people about their goals and ambitions, and you’ll unlock a more harmonious, effective working environment.

Rafael Sarim Öezdemir, Founder and CEO, Zendog Labs

6. Create a Psychologically Safe Team Space

If I could turn back time, I’d tell myself to create a safe space for the team. I never aimed for psychological safety, but it happened. Team members have confided they feel safer than at previous jobs.

Once, a member of our marketing team spotted a software issue. She spoke up without fear, and we fixed it together. Another time, a new guy from the UX team suggested that we add an automation process. Despite being new, he didn’t hesitate to share.

It’s hard to calculate the financial impact of this but I’m sure that psychological safety makes a difference between failure and a team that prospers.

Vladislav Podolyako, Founder and CEO, Folderly

7. Seek Team Feedback

If I could go back in time, I would actively seek more feedback from my team. I used to be close-minded. I believed I had all the answers. However, I soon realized that true growth and improvement come from embracing diverse perspectives and valuing input from others.

By creating an open, safe environment where my team feels comfortable sharing their ideas and concerns, I’ve been able to foster more collaboration and innovation. Also, I’ve gained valuable insights that help me make better decisions and ultimately become a more effective leader.

Chris Muller, Vice President, Money Under 30

8. Plan for Contingencies and Create Transparency

I would encourage myself to make contingency plans a priority. Although planning for success is obviously critical, having backup strategies in place can help address unexpected obstacles that arise.

Effective contingency plans help decision-makers recognize that their leader has fully evaluated the situation and taken appropriate measures to adjust and move forward.

By nature, I am an organized person, so I tend to anticipate potential obstacles and map out other options. But earlier in my career, I wasn’t always transparent about this.

Failing to communicate about contingencies sometimes made my staff uneasy, so I missed opportunities to gain their trust. However, over time, I learned to take proactive steps to support staff through change and reassure them that a Plan B was available.

Tasia Duske, CEO, Museum Hack

9. Foster Open Communication and Employee Understanding

In the past, I’ve seen many problems come from miscommunication and thoughts left unsaid. I know top talent left the company when they felt unheard and underappreciated because their opinions did not receive enough attention. This is why my management advice would be to foster more open communication and listen more closely to employees.

For example, it’s important to conduct satisfaction surveys so you can understand staff concerns and take action to make the work environment better. This reduces employee turnover, as well as the cost of training new hires. It also builds a positive company culture that attracts great people and keeps them on board.

Jeff Moore, CEO, Everyday Power

10. Uplift Others and Practice Humility

“Talent doesn’t give you license to be an a**hole.”

I was both blessed and cursed with many natural gifts and talents. I was creative, charismatic, a born salesman, and a spotlight hog.  When I got the chance to be “the boss,” I assumed I had a responsibility to share my awesomeness with everyone and prove that I could do their job as well or better than they could.

What a jerk I was!

Through the words and actions of various true leaders, I’ve come to realize that great leadership requires humility, patience, and the ability to lift others up to levels they never thought possible. I’m so grateful to those who were patient enough to give me the latitude to figure it out on my own. Today, as a sales and leadership trainer, I’m “paying it forward” by helping others avoid the mistakes I made.

Bill Guertin, Chief Learning Officer, ISBI 360, LLC

11. Listen More and Trust Your Team

When I think back, I remember times when stress was high. People on my team were feeling disconnected and lost trust in me because I communicated much more than I listened.

But leadership is not about being in the front of the team, always speaking or telling people to execute tasks and ideas. Effective leaders do just the opposite.

By practicing saying less and listening more, I stopped believing I needed to carry everything on my shoulders. I learned that people want to feel like they are heard and their contributions matter.

Listen first and believe that your team can add value and succeed. Nurture them so they feel you trust their decisions. Right or wrong, we can learn from our mistakes and create better solutions.

So speak less, inspire those you lead, and trust that your direct reports will rise and deliver great results.

Michele Delgado, CEO, Hartmetrics

12. Develop Strong Relationships and Set Clear Expectations

One piece of advice I would share with myself is to have the courage to step out of my comfort zone and take the time to develop strong relationships with my team.

Strong relationships are key to being a successful leader. Before taking any action, it’s important to understand the motivations and viewpoints of each team member, so you can make informed decisions based on their unique needs. So encourage people to express themselves openly. And when they share ideas, listen actively.

Also, make sure expectations are as clear as possible. Setting expectations up front makes it easier to develop an environment conducive to collaboration and innovation.

Leadership is about inspiring and encouraging your team to do great work. Ensure you acknowledge their efforts, offer guidance, and provide constructive feedback to help them grow. By providing reinforcement and support, you can foster a culture of respect, trust, and appreciation.

Nataliia Tomchyshyn, Marketing Manager, Relokia

13. Understand Your Management Style

Early in my career, I didn’t recognize my management style. Although this is not a necessity, it helps to know your style and how it works in a real-world environment.

For instance, if your approach is more participative, take time to understand the steps involved and their implications. For example, talk with managers who’ve used this approach and learn about its impact. This discovery process doesn’t need to be lengthy, but it can be revealing.

I planned to manage my team based on my predecessor’s advice. Although this helped, it took a long time to develop and test my approach. Fortunately, everything eventually worked out. But the sooner you can get a grasp of your style, the better.

Marco Andolfatto, Chief Underwriting Officer, Apollo Cover

 

Why is great leadership like a Fine Watch? - TalentCulture Article

Why Is Great Leadership Like a Fine Watch?

A fine mechanical watch is exquisite in its own right. But if you look closer, you’ll see more than just a special timepiece. It is also useful as a framework for leaders who want to improve the quality of their organization’s performance. What does that leadership framework look like? Here’s my perspective…

I’m continually amazed at how unrelated things in life tend to line up with almost perfect timing. Nearly a year ago, I decided I wanted to own a “real watch,” so I began researching popular brands. Around the same time, I was recruited to run Birkman International. Birkman is a 72-year-old company that provides businesses with a roadmap that helps teams work better together and drive operational performance.

These two unrelated events have allowed me to witness the elegance and intricacies that both watches and companies need to run well.

What Do Watches Teach Us About Great Leadership?

Imagine opening the case back of a mechanical watch. Inside you’ll find what seems like a highly complicated collection of gears and wheels. Most of us only open our watch when there’s a problem with its function. The same holds true for businesses — we never seem to look inside until we detect an issue.

In a properly functioning company, each individual, department, and team knows its role. They work at the right pace to accomplish their respective tasks. It is all about coming together at the right time to achieve success. Just like clockwork.

Look Inside

When you open the back of the case and look carefully, you’ll see that it is powered by a mainspring. Without it, the entire mechanism won’t work. The same is true with any company.

The mainspring of the business is the CEO who provides the power needed to drive the business forward. As the mainspring, a CEO is responsible for keeping the organization under a kind of tension that creates motivation, movement, and results over time. However, to ensure consistently high performance, this tension must be released in a regulated way.

This is where the Chief Operating Officer (COO) steps in to serve a critical function. The COO is an organization’s balance wheel. This leader is responsible for distributing the power generated by the CEO, releasing it to the rest of the organization at a steady, reliable pace, like the hands of a watch.

However, unexpected things happen sometimes. For example, what if you accidentally drop your watch? The balance wheel absorbs the shock and ensures that the movement keeps spinning at the right rate. Similarly, unexpected things will happen at work. Regardless, the COO ensures that daily business operations continue to run smoothly and reliably.

A Fine Watch at Work

Once a watch’s power is being created and released at the correct pace, it’s up to the gears and wheels to do their job. But first, these components must be positioned in all the right places. Likewise, employees must be placed in the right position before they can move your organization forward effectively.

For any watch (or any company) to perform well, the real trick is to make sure every “right wheel” works with all the other “right wheels.” This is when the elegance of a great organization reveals itself. It is also when underperforming teams require careful attention. Leaders may need to open the “case back” of their organization and diagnose issues by investigating two questions:

  1. What is stopping us from achieving the desired results?
  2. How do we get things running the way they should?

The good news is that, often, new parts aren’t required to fix a broken watch. The same is true in business. Throughout more than 30 years as an executive, I’ve found that organizational problems aren’t rooted in individual employees, but in the friction between all the moving parts. This is why great leadership can make a significant difference.

Making Everything Run Like Clockwork

If you take a watch apart, clean the pieces, reassemble it, and oil it, you end up with a wrist piece that runs properly. Likewise, if we take sufficient time and care to work with our people, we’re likely to find an effective solution to any problem.

In business, “oil” is the understanding of ourselves and others’ needs. This helps us communicate well with people so they can overcome the friction that arises from misunderstanding and mistrust. This gives us the ability to move forward in unison.

To maximize business results, leaders must take time to break down what their organizations are doing at their core. When we define our company’s purpose, bring it into focus with laser-sharp clarity, and provide a psychologically safe environment for team members to communicate, we build a foundation for truly remarkable results.

When we add oil to watch components, the mechanisms come to life. The same holds true for businesses. The latest technologies may increase efficiency, but they cannot reduce human friction within a team. Similarly, a modern smartwatch may be a reliable way to keep track of time, but it does not compare to the craftsmanship of a fine watch.

Effective Leadership Endures

The tagline of luxury watchmaker Patek Phillipe is, “You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.” In other words, if you properly care for one of their watches, it will last hundreds of years.

This aligns with my approach to leadership. I believe executives are merely caretakers for their successors. As the leader of a business now entering its third generation, I take heart in knowing that if we do the work to improve ourselves and better our organization, our impact on the world will be an enduring legacy.

I hope leaders everywhere share the same vision. The future of business depends on it — as does the future of work.

Are you turning into THAT boss? 4 red flags that indicate you need to improve

Are You Turning Into THAT Boss? 4 Red Flags

We often hear that people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers. We all get what that means. But what does it mean for those of us who take on broader roles? As we rise through the ranks, we silently vow never to become THAT boss. You know the one. It’s the manager employees fear and avoid — the one they talk about in hushed tones or in private Slack messages.

How do you know if you’re morphing into the very kind of leader you swore you’d never become?

At a time when companies are struggling with an uncertain workforce, high turnover, and a lack of employee engagement, leaders must stay focused on talent retention. This means you’ll want to be extra careful not to become your employees’ worst nightmare.

But what kind of signals indicate that you’re the kind of boss no one wants? And how can you steer clear of this fate? Let’s take a closer look…

4 Signs You’re Becoming THAT Boss

1. THAT Boss Replaces Flexible Work Options With Rigidity

The pandemic dramatically changed our work environments. Now, after working remotely for more than three years, many leaders are eager to see an office full of employees. But some are moving too swiftly and going to extremes.

Rather than retaining some of the flexibility that became the norm when many of us were working from home, some leaders are intent on forcing employees to return to pre-COVID office standards. Yet according to multiple studies, employees prefer flexible work options. In fact, research shows that productivity and collaboration don’t need to suffer when team members work from various locations.

For example, according to The Hackett Group, professionals want to work remotely 60% of the time and in the office 30% of the time. This clearly indicates that employees want the flexibility to work on their own terms. This study also found that employees who can choose their work location are more engaged. Specifically, engagement increased among 58% of those with work flexibility. Also, these respondents indicated greater willingness to remain with their current employer, rather than look elsewhere.

Some leaders are concerned that employees who aren’t working in the office may not feel connected or engaged with their team. This has prompted them to implement hybrid work policies. But the Hackett Group found no change in collaboration or engagement when comparing hybrid and work-from-home models. In fact, respondents who are free to choose a flexible work model said they feel more connected with team members and with their organization’s values, mission, and culture.

2. THAT Boss Needlessly Cuts Pay and/or Benefits

Budgets are tighter — and inflation and economic upheaval aren’t making the situation any easier. In this kind of situation, leaders may be tempted to reduce compensation and benefits. After all, payroll is usually an organization’s biggest overall cost.

But unless your company is truly in dire straits, these cuts can be a serious morale killer. It sends a message that you undervalue employees. Even worse, it suggests that you aren’t willing to invest in keeping exceptional talent onboard. This can leave some of your most critical employees feeling overworked, under-appreciated, and frustrated. Ultimately, they may even become burned out.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that although salary is a key issue for employees, it’s not the only factor they consider when deciding whether to stick around.

According to recent Forbes Advisor research, 40% of employers say employees leave because they’re attracted to better benefits elsewhere. In other words, today’s workforce places a high priority on health insurance, life insurance, retirement plans, mental health support, paid time off, and other employer-sponsored programs.

This may seem obvious, but as a leader, you need to ensure that your team’s basic needs are covered. This starts with fair, competitive pay. But if you also offer diverse benefits that support employee wellbeing, people will be much more inclined to stay onboard and do their best, even during difficult times. 

3. THAT Boss Doesn’t Show Appreciation

Don’t ignore the efforts of your greatest asset — your people. Attitude costs you nothing, and an attitude of gratitude goes a long way toward helping people feel they’re valued and they belong. In fact, workplace surveys consistently show that employee appreciation and recognition programs help boost productivity, reduce absenteeism, lift engagement, and drive better business results.

There is actually science behind this. Genuine recognition and appreciation meet employees’ basic psychological needs. This is why several studies equate consistent work recognition with higher pay in terms of providing a fulfilling employee experience.

We also see this in data at my company, CardSnacks. We offer electronic greetings and gift cards for holidays of all types. However, our business category is driven by ongoing employee recognition and appreciation, not just specific calendar events like Employee Appreciation Day or Administrative Professionals’ Day.

It’s easy to send someone a quick note or a gift card along with a heartfelt thanks. Even that small investment in time and resources strengthens your connection with employees in ways that boost their commitment and productivity.

4. THAT Boss Flubs Communications

Employees look to managers for leadership every day. Good leadership requires strong communication. Don’t just focus on your team’s mistakes and what hasn’t been done yet. Instead, speak with empathy, communicate clearly, and try to inspire others. As a manager, make it your mission to act like the person you’ve most enjoyed working with in your career.

Also, remember to maintain an even keel. Organizational life is a continuous cycle of highs and lows. Effective leaders know a steady hand is essential to navigate the storms of business life. If you create an environment where people feel they’re lurching from crisis to crisis, it won’t be long before valued team members start jumping ship.

So stay calm, pick the right words, and set the right tone. The better you communicate, the better your results will be as a manager, and the more people will want to work with you.

Don’t Become THAT Boss

No one needs you to be the worst kind of boss. Instead, you can choose to listen to your staff, show empathy and gratitude, and ensure that everyone receives compensation and benefits that outshine your competitors.

You can create a work environment that encourages your employees to be successful on their own terms. If you do this, I guarantee, you’ll never need to look in the mirror and see the boss you never wanted to be.

Why It Pays to Lead With Purpose - TalentCulture Article

Why It Pays to Lead With Purpose, Especially Now

These days, any employer that doesn’t lead with purpose is fighting an uphill battle. Why? Take a look at recent headlines. They’re filled with news about troubling workplace trends. Specifics vary, but the coverage points to a common underlying theme — hiring and retaining skilled workers continues to be a monumental challenge.

The problem stems from a confluence of factors. For example:

How can employers turn this situation around? It seems the solution begins when we focus on purpose.

Can Purpose Really Reverse Tough Work Issues?

Although the recent surge in employee resignations has cooled, workforce satisfaction and disengagement remain alarmingly high. As a result, other disturbing trends are emerging — from “quiet quitting” and “bare minimum Mondays” to “resenteeism,” and “rage applying.

None of this reflects well on the state of today’s workforce. In fact, multiple studies indicate that more than 50% of employees are actively looking for a new position. No wonder employers are still struggling to figure out how to re-engage existing employees, attract qualified new hires, and create a work culture where people flourish and feel a sense of belonging.

To address these challenges, smart leaders are leaning into the power of purpose. This isn’t a quick or easy solution. But when business decisions reflect a genuine desire to lead with purpose, it opens the door to organizational transformation.

Today’s workforce is attracted to companies that genuinely care about tough societal issues and take action to resolve these issues. In other words, employees are interested in organizations with strategies that reach beyond revenue and productivity, alone. They want to work for companies that are committed to more meaningful metrics.

How to Lead With Purpose

What can leaders do to embed purpose into business strategies? For answers, we recently surveyed more than 1000 senior executives from U.S. companies. The findings underscore how purpose is gaining influence in The Future Workplace. Here are four key leadership recommendations:

1. Integrate Purpose With Talent Strategy

Start by prioritizing purpose in the battle for talent. Why? Our survey confirms that sustainability and purpose are top of mind for employees, with 75% of leaders agreeing that a business strategy built on purpose is essential for talent recruitment and retention. In addition, 86% of respondents say this strategy should play a central role when evaluating employee performance.

Younger people are deeply concerned about this. In fact, Deloitte research indicates that 39% of Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) and 42% of Gen Z employees (born between 1997 and 2012) are prepared to leave their jobs if they aren’t satisfied with their employer’s commitment to sustainability.

To build purpose into workplace culture, it’s important to align your vision and processes with employee and stakeholder feedback, ensuring all voices are heard and everyone has a seat at the table. As a leader, you can do this by consistently focusing on these action items:

  1. Invite employees to regular meetings where business decisions are discussed, and encourage them to share concerns and ideas.
  2. Pay attention to employee feedback. Gather and analyze input from surveys and other internal forums that encourage dialogue.
  3. Develop and implement process and policy improvement plans based on employee concerns and suggestions.
  4. Host regular “town hall” meetings to share information about organizational priorities, goals, and progress, as well as the path forward. This helps ensure that all staff feel welcome to come along on the journey.

2. Put Purpose at the Heart of Value Creation

Beyond improving talent recruiting and retention, what else can you do to lead with purpose? Consider everything you do to create business value.

58% of our survey respondents say it’s essential for companies to create value in ways that benefit all stakeholders — employees, partners, customers, and communities, as well as shareholders. This extends to “earning profits in a sustainable way,” which includes minimizing any harm the business may cause to society.

Another 17% said organizations should “contribute to solutions for challenges confronting people and society as a means of earning profits and generating long-term stakeholder value.”

It should be easy for anyone to see how your business creates value and ensures sustainability across its extended ecosystem. Operational efforts that support sustainability should be clear and transparent. This includes everything from budgeting and office design to workplace culture and how you champion change.

To prioritize value creation and sustainability efforts, generate an open dialogue about how your organization can embrace a mission that puts people and the planet first. As you move forward, invite employees to assess their own societal and environmental impact. Also, be sure to ask employees and other constituents for feedback on an ongoing basis.

3. Openly Define Your Purpose

Transparency is also essential in how any organization defines and demonstrates purpose. Creating a purpose statement combines two key elements: setting goals and identifying intentions. This helps leaders and employees accomplish short-term tangible goals, while they simultaneously consider long-term aspirations and potential actions that can more broadly impact society.

Interestingly, 80% of our survey respondents say their company already has a formal statement of purpose that is “well-established and integrated with our strategies,” or they recently developed this kind of statement and they intend to use it as a guide for future culture change.

Only 1% do not have a statement of purpose beyond generating shareholder value, and they don’t expect the status quo to change.

It is also worth noting that business leaders assign real value to these statements. In fact, more than 75% told us they “strongly agree” that a statement of purpose is an effective guidepost. What’s more, a majority also strongly agree that a defined purpose is central to their business success.

4. Weave Purpose Into Your Employee Experience

Effective leaders recognize the connection between purpose and workplace dynamics. This includes supporting individuals who want to work remotely at least part of the time. After all, the future of work is not about working from home or in the office, per se. It’s about having the flexibility to work effectively wherever, whenever and however you choose.

Clearly, if employers want to remain competitive in the future, they need to offer flexible work options that align workforce preferences with business realities. Research indicates that this is especially true for employers in the tech, retail, telecom, manufacturing, and energy sectors.

That said, smart employers are moving beyond strict RTO mandates that force people to work on-site. Instead, they’re proactively making their office environment more inviting and productive. For example, 98% of our survey respondents are taking steps to improve the in-office experience. This includes adding direct rewards and benefits for on-site work, training managers in “soft skills” such as emotional intelligence, or investing in workplace diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Purpose Leads to Lasting Business Benefits

Businesses can no longer afford to discount or ignore changing workforce dynamics. As you navigate these changes, be sure to remember the increasingly pivotal role purpose plays in your company’s ability to recruit and retain talent. This includes new ways to attract and engage job candidates, as well as ways to develop and motivate people once they’re onboard.

Ultimately, this approach can create broader opportunities to strengthen and advance your organization’s position in the global marketplace. Companies that do this effectively are rewarded with improved productivity, profitability, and a brand that represents an enduring sense of purpose.

So, if you want to stay ahead of the pack in the years to come, start answering this question today: “How will we lead with purpose in the new workplace?”