Movember Celebrating Men's Health at Work

Celebrating Movember: Men’s Health at Work

EDITOR’S NOTE: At TalentCulture, we recognize a healthy workforce is a more engaged and productive workforce. That’s why we’re spreading the word about the importance of “Movember” men’s health awareness in this article.


The holiday season is upon us! As the days get shorter and colder, schedules are getting busier and more packed with activities. It’s common for us to let some things slide — including taking care of our health and wellbeing. We’ve all been there. But health should never take the backburner. That’s why we’d like to talk about the Movember movement.

What exactly is Movember? What does it mean for men’s health? And more specifically, how can employers leverage this opportunity to encourage discussions around important workplace health issues? We’ll even touch on how you can start a Movember event with friends and coworkers. 

What Is Movember? 

Two friends kickstarted Movember as a grassroots effort to promote men’s health in Australia. It began in 2003, at a time when the mustache had all but disappeared from popular culture.

That’s when Travis Garone and Luke Slattery first convinced 30 friends to take up the challenge of growing out their facial hair in solidarity with men’s health issues during the month of November.

This simple challenge grew faster than anyone imagined. In fact, by the time it reached the U.S, in 2008, the Movember charity had raised more than $46 million, in partnership with global charities dedicated to raising awareness around important men’s health issues.

Over the years, this movement has continued to gain traction across the globe. Now, nearly 7 million men and women contribute to the cause by funding more than 1200 men’s health projects. The Movember project and its enthusiastic supporters (known as “Mo bros” and “Mo sisters”) have addressed many worthy health causes around the world. 

Why Movember Matters

The importance of raising awareness and encouraging communication around men’s health can’t be overstated. Unfortunately, men are still statistically far less likely to take care of their health. That’s not an opinion, but a well-documented fact.

For instance, a 2021 study found that less than half of men (47%) had a routine medical checkup in the previous 12 months. Embarrassment and perceived stigmas are the primary reasons.

Our culture of stoicism means that when men experience pain, many feel societal pressure to simply push through it. And although women tend to become familiar with healthcare from a young age — seeing gynecologists and being encouraged to schedule annual checkups — men generally don’t develop the same kind of connection.

Simply put, conversations about men’s health aren’t common. In fact, they’re often stigmatized. Ultimately, this leads to poorer health outcomes. 

The Movember Mission

The Movember movement celebrates men’s health in all its forms, but emphasizes mental health and cancer prevention, in particular. Here’s why:

1. Preventing Cancer

For men, two key health concerns are prostate and testicular cancer. Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in men. Fortunately, testicular cancer is less frequent. However, it still affects about 7 out of every 100 men.

Both cancers are considered highly treatable if caught early. However, when left untreated, they can be very difficult to cure, and the statistics are less promising.

Most experts recommend starting prostate exams around the age of 45 and getting an exam every 3-5 years. Doctors often perform what’s called a PSA test. A PSA is a reliable metric that helps determine the risk of prostate cancer.

Similarly, to help detect testicular cancer, men should perform self-exams, looking for signs like lumps, swelling, or dull aching pain. Anyone who experiences any of these symptoms needs to see a doctor immediately.

Bottom line: Routine checkups are crucial for effective cancer prevention, detection, and treatment. That’s one of the most important messages behind the Movember movement.  

2. Communicating About Mental Health

Although mental health is extremely important, it is also perhaps the most stigmatized men’s health issue. Statistics show that although mental health challenges are relatively common among men, less than half will seek treatment.

This problem is especially important to recognize in the workplace, where burnout and stress are common. People often don’t realize how stressed they are until the symptoms become unavoidable.

Left unchecked, stress or burnout can not only affect your mental and emotional wellbeing but also wreak havoc on your body. Fatigue, anxiety, and depressed mood — even changes in weight and thinning hair — all can occur.

Of course, it’s important to see your doctor to make sure you’re not dealing with underlying medical issues like hypothyroidism or male pattern balding. But these symptoms can also be a response to physiological changes caused by stress.

How Employers Can Get Involved

Encouraging your workforce to be part of the Movember trend can be an excellent way to raise awareness around these important men’s health issues. For example, you can set up a Movember fundraiser, either in person or virtually. This can foster teamwork and solidarity in the workplace, while also encouraging people to take charge of their health. 

If you decide to start a Movember campaign, you don’t have to focus on only one topic. It’s an opportunity to help men feel more comfortable talking about a variety of issues that affect their health.

Conversation Starters:

  • Are you getting enough exercise
  • Are you sleeping well?
  • Do you feel overloaded with work lately?
  • How healthy is your diet?
  • Do you schedule regular check-ups? 
  • Have you talked to your doctor about things like prostate screening? 

Talk to your coworkers, talk to your friends, and bring the Movember movement to your professional and social circles. It’s not just for men either. It’s for anyone with a man in their life they care about — a significant other, a family member, or a friend. Every man matters. Encourage open conversations, show your support, and get involved!

Key Design Decisions for 360 Feedback Success

Key Design Decisions for 360 Feedback Success

Many managers and HR practitioners are familiar with 360 feedback as a leadership development practice. However, no two 360 feedback experiences look alike.

That is actually a good thing. Most successful 360 feedback drives behavior change both for individual leaders and their employers because the process is tailored to the organization’s unique culture as well as the intended purpose of the exercise.

On the other hand, this need for customization means practitioners face an overwhelming number of decisions when designing a new 360 feedback assessment. For example:

  • Who should participate?
  • How many survey questions should we include?
  • Who should receive the report?
  • What kind of follow-up support should we offer?
  • Who should choose the raters?
  • What role should HR play in the process?

Fortunately, some 360 feedback implementation practices have become ubiquitous. That means some guesswork, research and debate aren’t necessary. For example, below are five must-haves for strong engagement and outcomes.

Five Design Factors for 360 Feedback:

1) Which groups should participate in ratings?

Anyone who has observed a leader’s on-the-job behavior can provide useful rating input. This could include the leader who is being assessed, as well as a combination of direct supervisors, secondary managers, peers, direct reports, customers, board of directors representatives, donors and even skip reports.

In some situations, it is helpful to include other groups to meet specific requirements. For example, if a leader is actively involved with strategic partners or other third-party groups, their voices could add useful context. 

While there is flexibility to customize the participant mix, 360 feedback assessments typically include these four core rater groups as a baseline:  self, peers, direct reports, and direct managers. In fact, according to soon-to-be-released research from our firm, 88% of organizations include these four core groups.

2) Who will select and approve raters?

Among 360 feedback experts, there is some debate about the best way to choose raters. Should assessment recipients choose their participants? Those who favor this approach say it ensures a sense of ownership and buy-in. Others say a third party (a manager or HR representative) should choose raters. This ensures that feedback is well-balanced and avoids a “friends and family” bias.

Most 360 feedback process owners agree leaders should choose their own raters to build trust and establish assessment process buy-in. On the other hand, 70% of organizations tell us they review and approve final rater lists.

We agree that manager involvement is a wise practice, and a leader’s direct manager should approve the final list. Over the last 20 years, we’ve found that this is the most common approach. And according to our new benchmarking analysis, 48% of companies continue to use this method.

3) How will we score surveys and generate reports?

As with many HR processes, technology has also transformed 360 feedback implementation practices. Now, most HR practitioners rely heavily on online tools so they can collect, organize, analyze and share useful feedback faster and easier.

In 2009, spreadsheets and even paper surveys were still popular ways to collect and report 360 feedback data. Today, those methods are all but obsolete. In fact, 91% of organizations now use a web-based reporting tool to manage surveys and generate reports.

Many practitioners are also choosing to outsource this task to specialized service providers. In fact, our recent research shows that 80% of employers rely on an external vendor or consultant to handle this aspect of the process. 

4) How can we assure rater anonymity? 

To encourage honest responses, employers must ensure that feedback sources remain anonymous. Therefore, it’s not surprising that 81% of employers tell us rater anonymity is essential to the success of their 360 feedback endeavors.

A common way to ensure anonymity is by requiring a minimum number of survey responses for any group specified in the report. For example, peer scores are displayed separately only if at least 3 peers respond. If fewer peers respond, then that data is included only in overall average ratings.

Most often, organizations require a minimum of three raters in a category. In fact, 83% of companies use this three-rater threshold rule. Very few skip this requirement altogether (3% require no minimum responses). And on the other end of the spectrum, very few require more than three responses.

5) How will we help leaders translate the report into action?

For best results, talent management experts agree that personal follow-up is essential. To optimize ROI, employers should avoid the “desk drop” follow-up, where leaders receive a 360 feedback report, but no direct support to discuss results, implications, or next steps.

Follow-up can include any number of supportive actions, such as:  Adding development suggestions to the report, offering action planning guidance, providing individualized 1-on-1 coaching, assigning in-person or online workshops, referring leaders to specialized resource libraries, and more.

The most common step is also what talent management professionals feel is most critical for 360 assessment success:  Provide a one-on-one meeting with a trained 360 feedback coach who can facilitate action planning based on the results.

Historically, these sessions were conducted in person. However, in recent years, video meetings have become the dominant format. Also, reliance upon external coaches (rather than in-house staff) has become more popular.

Fortunately, 88% of organizations say they provide debrief sessions and one-on-one coaching, so feedback recipients can interpret insights and chart a relevant path forward.

Final Thoughts

Good leaders thrive on feedback. But for 360 feedback assessments to be effective, it’s important for leaders to understand the results and commit to improvement.

This means employers must take care to design and implement a valid, well-informed process from end to end. By addressing key design elements at the outset and by investing in ongoing leadership guidance, organizations can dramatically increase the likelihood of success.

 


EDITOR’S NOTE:
Want to learn more about the decisions talent managers make when designing and implementing 360 feedback assessments? Replay this recorded webinar, where the 3D Group unveils findings from its latest benchmarking study,
Current Practices in 360 Feedback, 7th Edition. This analysis includes 20 years of data from more than 600 companies.

Employers - Are you being ghosted by job candidates? Try thi advice from a recruiting industry executive

Are Job Candidates Ghosting You? Try This Recruiter’s Advice

Spooky season is upon us! People are carving pumpkins, dressing in crazy costumes, and swapping scary stories. So, in the spirit of Halloween, we’re taking on a truly horrifying subject. This is so frightening it can make a hiring manager’s hair stand on end at the very mention. That’s right. We’re talking about candidate ghosting. Beware!

Is Ghosting For Real?

Oxford Languages defines ghosting as “the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.”

When somebody ghosts you, they stop replying to your messages, they don’t answer calls, they stop all forms of communication. There’s never any explanation—they simply disappear without a trace.

Originally a dating term, ghosting is becoming increasingly common in business, especially in the context of recruiting. For example, a 2021 survey by Indeed found that 28% of job applicants had an employer—10% more than in 2019. And today’s reality seems much worse. In fact, a U.K. poll earlier this year found that more than 75% of job hunters admit to ghosting in the past year. Scary statistics, to be sure!

Why Do People Act So Creepy?

There’s no single reason why candidates ghost potential employers. But ghosting clearly seems more common when job vacancies are prevalent in a particular sector. 

When more opportunities are available, applicants have less incentive to keep in touch. They will often receive viable offers more quickly, so when they do, they’ll accept the most attractive option and move on.

However, ghosting also happens when vacancies are few and far between. We’ve seen it up close at our own recruiting agency, even in niche roles where very few opportunities exist. 

In a discussion with our team, one brave team member confessed to ghosting a prospective employer in the past. She explained, “I was pretty far into the interview process when a few issues raised concerns for me. These were mainly about time off, travel expenses—things that probably should have been resolved up front.”

The truth is, we can make some educated guesses about a candidate’s motivations, they can ghost us for any reason. Without an explanation from the candidate, you’ll never know for sure what happened—and that’s what makes it so frustrating.

The Business Impact of Ghosting

Probably the worst impact of ghosting is that it wastes time. You could spend months sourcing credible talent and conducting interviews. You may even get to the stage where you’re negotiating a package. And then without warning—poof!—that top candidate goes silent. 

Ghosting is not only time-consuming—it is expensive as well. Consider this:

The average U.S. cost per hire is $4,700 for a non-executive role and $14,936 for an executive, according to Zippia. Most roles are filled within roughly 42 days, but it can take much longer when ghosting comes into play.

And it’s not just about the extra cost of a delayed hiring process. It’s also important to take into account the business cost of an unfilled role, which can cost employers dearly in terms of lower business productivity, quality, and responsiveness.

How Can You Combat Ghosting?

Although it’s impossible to shut down ghosting altogether, we’ve learned some techniques to help employers prevent candidates from vanishing into thin air.

1) Invest in the Relationship

Put yourself in a candidate’s shoes. As one recruitment specialist told the BBC earlier this year, “Candidates are being approached all the time with an abundance of jobs to choose from […] if they have multiple applications on the go, it can be easier to simply ignore one of them.”

If a candidate is in contact with multiple recruiters or hiring managers, it’s easy for several to fall off of the radar. But if you develop a working relationship with candidates, you’ll remain top-of-mind. Just as you would with a friend or colleague, make sure you stay in regular contact with candidates. Show that you care by touching base when you say you will and by keeping them updated throughout the hiring process.

2) Be Transparent From the Start

Before you move forward, strive to clarify what a candidate is seeking in a role, and reflect on whether your offer will meet those expectations.

People may feel uncomfortable telling you they’re unhappy or unsure about an aspect of a role. Instead, they may find it easier to simply move on. So be sure you understand their job requirements from the start of your working relationship.

In particular, don’t keep the details of an offer secret. For example, if a candidate is interested only in working remotely, an in-office location will likely be a dealbreaker. It’s best to be upfront about every aspect of the role before you make an offer. This saves time for both you and the candidate.

3) Establish a Long-Term Connection

Smart hiring managers and recruitment specialists help candidates recognize the value of maintaining a relationship throughout their careers. Rather than just completing an immediate transaction, recruiters can introduce candidates to influential people within their industry and help build their professional network over time.

Ghosting can cause unintended reputational damage. So, if you help candidates see the long game, they’ll be less likely to abruptly end your communication. 

4) Respond Kindly to a Rejection

We’ve seen employers lash out at candidates who decline an offer. This is a surefire way to encourage more ghosting! If a candidate rejects a job application, remember they’re doing you a favor by responding at all.

Keep responses polite and professional. Thank the candidate for their transparency, wish them well, and keep the door open for the future. It’s a surprisingly small and very well-connected world. So think about how much goodwill a gracious response can help your organization, in the long run.

5) Ask People Not to Ghost

Sometimes the best way to encourage candidates not to ghost you is just to…ask! Tell people upfront that if they change their mind about the opportunity at any point, you would really appreciate a heads-up.

This approach has often worked for our team. It lets us be more proactive in filling roles for our clients. Because we have spent time nurturing trust with our candidates, they tend to be candid in sharing their thoughts.

Of course, this may not work every time, but it can’t hurt to try.

6) Recognise When You’re Being Ghosted

…and move on. Don’t assume that a candidate will eventually get back in touch with you to seal the deal. If a candidate is wasting your time, then your energy is better spent on finding a more suitable applicant elsewhere.

Similarly, you should never put all your recruiting eggs in one candidate basket. With ghosting on the rise, it’s crucial to have at least one active candidate at any given time. But ideally, you should keep two or three more high-quality candidates in the running for an open position, as well.

7) Don’t Ghost

You may have been ghosted, but there’s never a reason for an employer to be a ghost. Employers who blow off applicants can quickly develop a bad reputation for ghosting and wasting candidates’ time, too. 

If we expect candidates not to ghost, we must treat them the way we would like to be treated. Recognizing the time and effort unsuccessful candidates have put into their applications is a must.

Employers should keep all candidates informed of the outcome of their application, whether it is positive or negative. Otherwise, that negative candidate experience may come back to haunt your organization in the future.

All this Ghosting Talk Is Kind of Scary!

But don’t worry, you made it to the end. And now you’re much better equipped to avoid those wicked ghosts. Poof!

How can organizations measure the digital employee experience? Find out on this #WorkTrends podcast episode

How Do You Measure the Digital Employee Experience?

Sponsored by:  Ivanti

We don’t need a crystal ball to see that the future of work will be more connected, more digital and more flexible. The pandemic brought us a preview of this more adaptable world of work—and many of us want more. But what’s the next step? How can organizations make “anywhere” work a sustainable daily reality?

Smart employers are already digging deep to pave the way forward. But how will they know when their transformation process is working? How will they see results? This is why it’s vital to measure the digital employee experience, early and often.

Organizations that get this right will attract and retain the best talent. So I invite you to learn more about it with me on this #WorkTrends podcast episode.

Meet Our Guest:  Dennis Kozak

Today, I’m speaking with Dennis Kozak, COO of Ivanti, a leading information technology software provider that is on a mission to make the everywhere workplace possible for all of us. Because Dennis has a front-row seat at the table where key digital work decisions are made every day, he is an excellent source of insight for HR and business leaders.

Why Measure the Digital Employee Experience?

Welcome, Dennis! Tell us, why should we connect the dots between employee satisfaction and digital experience?

Typically, HR is very focused on measuring employee engagement, while IT is very focused on providing infrastructure and security. But very seldom do we actually marry those to focus on how IT improves or hinders an employee’s experience.

Timing Is Everything

Tell us about how to measure the digital employee experience. What does this look like?

Well, this is something people don’t think about much until they have a problem.

Your team’s digital environment may work well—until an employee gets a new laptop or a new mobile device and they try to reconnect to the company ecosystem. They’re either successful or they’re not.

So through automation you can always be checking all of the measurement points to ensure that you’re providing a consistent level of service.

Always Be Measuring

Why is it so important to continuously measure the employee digital experience?

IT is continuously changing. There are always new applications, new tools, new devices, new forms of data in an organization. So the environment is never static. And because it’s always changing, you have to continually measure.

If people don’t feel productive and IT becomes a barrier, then clearly job satisfaction will suffer and people will be more likely to leave. Turnover is difficult, not only for an employee, but for an employer, as well. We can help avoid that.

Where IT Can Add Value

How can the IT team work with HR to ensure everyone has access to the tools they need to do their jobs, no matter where they are?

Our research says 26% of employees have considered quitting their jobs because they lack suitable technology. And 42% of employees have spent their own personal money to buy technology so they can work more effectively.

In other words, people don’t necessarily want to wait for their company to help. But these statistics indicate where both functions can improve.

Start by including IT at the table when designing your employee engagement survey. IT and HR rarely work together beyond onboarding and de-provisioning. But IT can show that the innovation and intuitiveness they bring in enabling digital work can be a deciding factor in employee productivity, satisfaction and retention.

 


For more insights from Dennis, listen to this full episode. Also, read the article he recently contributed to our blog: “Digital Employee Experience: Do You Measure What Matters?

In addition, be sure to subscribe to the #WorkTrends Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. And to continue this conversation on social media, follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

social background checks

How Social Background Checks Preserve Work Culture

Sponsored by: Fama.io

Every employer wants to provide a safe, supportive environment where people can do their best work. That’s a key reason why social background checks have become so popular. But many organizations don’t talk openly about how they make this happen.

I get it. This can be tricky to manage. But workforce wellbeing and your brand reputation are on the line. So, it’s wise to include a strong social media screening solution in your HR toolkit.

What kind of services are leading the way? And what should you consider when seeking a provider you can trust? Join me as I explore these questions on the latest #WorkTrends podcast episode.

 

Meet Our Guest:  Ben Mones

Today, I’m speaking with Ben Mones, Founder and CEO of Fama.io, the world’s largest provider of social background checks, and a leader in applying artificial intelligence technology in workforce screening services. As an expert in this process, Ben is an excellent source of advice for HR practitioners and business leaders.

Linking Culture With Social Background Checks

Ben, welcome! Let’s dive right in. How do you see social background checks tying into the employee experience?

Too often, employers don’t talk about background screening because they think it’s a “dirty” job at the front of the candidate funnel or during the onboarding process.

But that’s not what we do. We look at publicly available online records to detect behavioral patterns associated with intolerance or harassment. We look at things that, if left unchecked, could find their way into a company culture and create some damage.

Remote Work Raises the Stakes

Many of us work virtually now, so the stakes are higher. I mean, how are we getting to know people?

Agree. We often meet our coworkers by friending them on Facebook, following them on Twitter, or exchanging DMs on Instagram. So, if we’re interacting in these digital spaces, the importance of digital identity naturally follows.

Digital Screening Adoption Rate

How many companies are screening candidates or employees?

CareerBuilder and SHRM say 70% of employers perform some sort of social media or online profile check before bringing people on board. For example, they may be Googling someone before hiring them.

Risks of Social Background Checks

Compliance is a big concern with this process. What are the risks?

I think the risks of doing it yourself scare people away.

For example, you could be exposed to things you shouldn’t see. If a recruiter does this internally, they’ll see a person’s gender, ethnicity, pregnancy. You’ll see all these protected classes.

EEO says you can’t unring that bell. You can’t unsee that information. So because bias naturally occurs within all of us, you consider these sorts of things in your hiring process.

Avoiding Compliance Pitfalls

How can employers deal with these risks?

Managing the process through a third party helps squash those risks because you can configure the solution to filter only for job-relevant information.

This means you’re blind to all the protected class information you’d see if you were conducting social background checks on your own.

Key Screening Factors

What core behaviors do you look for in social screening? 

Here’s what we don’t do. We don’t do a yes/no recommendation on a person. Instead, think of flags for things like intolerance, threats, harassment, violence, crime and drugs.

 


For more advice from Ben, listen to the full podcast. And for detailed information about how your organization can benefit from social background screening, visit the Fama.io website, where you’ll find benchmarking reports and other resources for employers.

Also, be sure to subscribe to the #WorkTrends Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. And to continue this conversation on social media, follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

make change

Want to Make Change Stick? Rethink Work Meetings

Change. For better or worse, it’s a constant in today’s workplace. And in an uncertain future, it will remain a strategic priority for organizational success. But encouraging people to change is also one of the biggest challenges leaders face.

How can we leverage internal communications to make change initiatives work? Could we find the answer in something as simple as everyday meetings? Join me as I explore this question in depth on the latest #WorkTrends podcast episode.

 

Meet Our Guest:  Lindsey Caplan

Today, I’m excited to speak with Lindsey Caplan, organizational psychologist, communication strategist and founder of The Gathering Effect. By blending her experience in education, entertainment and business, Lindsey offers practical tools to help drive lasting workplace change. Here are highlights from our conversation:

Keyword: Gathering

Welcome, Lindsey! I’m looking forward to talking with you about how organizations can drive more lasting change today. Let’s start with the concept of “gathering.” Tell us, what does this term mean to you?

I define gathering as bringing people together to match a message with a moment for a specific effect. Those of us in HR are very familiar with gatherings. They’re happening all the time, whether they’re virtual or in-person or hybrid.

They come in many forms: town halls, all-hands meetings, off-sites, retreats, conferences, classes, and new hire orientations. These are all tools we can use to communicate about change and help employees do things differently.

Connecting People with Change

Why do gatherings play such a central role in the change process?

Just like a hammer, we can use gatherings for different purposes. There are four different effects that gatherings can produce, depending on the choices we make. The key is to start with the effect you want, rather than the content you want to share.

Know Your Objective

So you’re saying we should begin at the end? Interesting…

That approach may feel a little different, but it really is a significant strategic difference that determines how gatherings can make change stick. So I teach people to diagnose and define the effect they want to achieve, and then adjust their gatherings to align with the effect they want.

What Matters When We Gather

What should we consider as we plan gatherings designed to drive lasting change?

We need to look at multiple factors. Do we know the needs of people that will attend? Do we know what they care about? What’s at stake for them? Often, as leaders, we probably know. But maybe we don’t have a sense of what employees really care about.

How Culture Fits In

You say gatherings are “culture on display.” I think that’s so powerful, Lindsey. But can you explain what you mean by that?

Especially in a remote or hybrid environment, logging into a company-wide meeting, town hall or training class is rare. Right? These are high stakes moments. Often they’re important points in an employee’s journey when everyone is  together. People are listening. They’re paying attention to what leaders say and how they’re saying it. So these are excellent moments to reinforce and build your culture.

What’s Ahead

As we look ahead to the post-pandemic era, what do you see next for work gatherings, communication, and change?

I hope the pandemic workplace has given us awareness about the opportunity to do better. And I think it has revealed what we’re really gathering for—which is not information, it’s connection.

Brilliant! Yes, it’s about becoming more human, collectively. It’s about simplifying. And it’s about being mindful of what’s at stake when we make choices about when, where, how, and why we show up and communicate with others.

 


I love Lindsey’s perspective and her practical how-to advice, don’t you? I hope you’ll find this #WorkTrends episode useful as you plan change-related communications in your organization. It’s always here as a resource if you want to replay it again in the future.

In addition, you can learn more about how to leverage gatherings to drive lasting change by visiting Lindsey’s website, TheGatheringEffect.com.

For more advice from other world-of-work experts, don’t forget to subscribe to the #WorkTrends Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. Also, to continue this conversation anytime on social media, follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Why is it so important to measure the digital employee experience? Learn what's at stake and how to proceed in this article...

Digital Employee Experience: Do You Measure What Matters?

impact awardSponsored by: Ivanti

You’ve heard the adage “measure twice, cut once.” It’s good advice from the sewing world. The idea is to encourage people who want to achieve an excellent outcome to be precise and cautious before they act. If we’re supposed to be that conscientious about measuring a piece of fabric for a sewing project, why would we be cavalier about measuring something as critical as the digital employee experience?

Nevertheless, that’s what countless IT and business leaders around the world are doing by default. They’re implementing employee engagement programs based on what sounds right or feels right. They’re not relying on data-driven intelligence to make decisions about these programs. And they don’t know in advance if these programs will actually produce the outcomes they want.

Here’s the truth: If you don’t carefully measure and re-measure your digital employee experience, people will cut themselves right out of your organization. Even if you’ve been using classic employee experience measurement tools—such as an annual survey—that’s no longer enough. Today’s organizations require more complete insights focused on the digital employee experience.

Why Is This Digital Shift So Vital?

The remote and hybrid work landscape (what we call the “Everywhere Workplace”) has forever transformed work life and organizational culture. Now, a vibrant work experience is no longer about departmental happy hours, unlimited free soda, pizza Fridays, or a ping pong table in the employee lounge.

Instead, it’s about what happens in the flow of work. It’s about communicating and collaborating through tools that are smarter, easier, and more effective. It’s about seamless accessibility, usability, security, connectivity, and the ability to do your job without navigating frustrating obstacles or jumping through endless hoops.

Of course, HR teams still focus on employee experience. But now, IT professionals are just as deeply focused on this, as well. Why? The traditional employee engagement survey—once conducted and managed by your HR department—isn’t designed to capture the nuances and critical insights associated with hybrid work environments. If you want to gain useful intelligence, you’ll want to get IT specialists involved—and the sooner the better.

It’s no longer enough to assume people have what they need to be connected, productive and comfortable as they navigate the Everywhere Workplace. You need to know where the connections are working (or not). That means you need to measure what’s happening. Not just once, but over and over again.

After all, if you don’t know where you stand, it is impossible to move forward. Both HR and IT leaders need real, meaningful, actionable insights into the digital employee experience as a process. It deserves a commitment to continuous improvement. And that means you need to understand where it stands now, and how it is evolving over time.

Criteria For a Digital Employee Experience Survey

What should you include in a digital employee experience survey? To glean useful insights, you’ll need to go far beyond limited indicators like post-ticket surveys. To measure and improve the digital employee experience, you’ll need a holistic picture. For instance, consider the value of knowing answers to questions like these:

  • How are people accessing information?
  • What do they think about that process?
  • How many steps must they move through to accomplish these tasks?
  • How often do they run into trouble?
  • How much time do they spend trying to securely access information, tools, and resources they need to do their jobs well?
  • Do they even have access to the right information, tools, and resources?
  • Are they able to connect and engage with colleagues?
  • How effective are these communication channels, in their view?

Post-ticket surveys don’t capture any of these things. And yet, these factors can make or break a digital employee experience. They can spell the difference between an employee who is highly productive, happy, loyal, and engaged—versus one who is forced to waste time on logistics and is likely to be frustrated. Perhaps even frustrated enough to leave.

How to Measure Digital Employee Experience

If you think this isn’t an issue for most employers, consider this statistic:

30% of IT leaders currently have no process or metrics in place to evaluate the digital employee experience. And among the 70% who do, few have established the kind of robust metrics and evaluation strategy today’s Everywhere Workplace demands.

Clearly, the stakes are high. Many organizations assume that measuring digital employee experience in a holistic way is expensive, overwhelming, and resource-intensive. Sometimes it is. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

What’s the secret? Automation.

By automating digital employee experience measurement, leaders can laser-focus on KPIs that matter most to the organization, without bandwidth and expertise from HR or IT—and without badgering employees for manual reports.

In other words, you can automate the collection and reporting of data about issues that commonly impact productivity, especially issues that traditional reports don’t easily track. For example, automation can help you monitor, quantify and evaluate slow devices, outages in network connectivity, where and when apps crash, and other problems that are difficult to capture accurately in a survey.

Of course, it’s important to gauge employee-generated insights as well. But automated, granular, data-based insights can round out the picture with a comprehensive view of what’s happening with digital workflows and how they impact engagement and productivity. Plus, with automated data collection and reporting, continuing to measure key factors over time is much easier. That’s essential to understanding your organization’s progress and how it maps to employee feedback.

Final Thoughts

“Measure twice, cut once” works well for sewing. But it’s not the answer for a modern enterprise that embraces the Everywhere Workplace. Instead, think about measuring once, and then measuring again and again. That’s how you can gain valuable insight into experience indicators and trends that will help you develop and sustain a happy, loyal, engaged, productive workforce.

 


EDITOR’S NOTE: What’s the current state of digital employee experience in organizations around the world? Find out now >> Download the 2022 Ivanti Digital Employee Experience Report.

How can employers help remote teams connect through new "watercooler" activities? Get ideas on our blog

How Can Remote Teams Build “Watercooler” Connections?

impact awardThere’s no doubt about it anymore—the workplace has shifted fundamentally. Now, according to Pew Research, almost 60% of employees are working from home at least most of the time. That compares with only 23% before the Covid pandemic struck. And although this shift to remote teams has translated into mostly happier, more productive employees, it has taken a toll on healthy,  connected work cultures.

The same Pew survey says 60% of employees feel less connected with their coworkers while working at home. That’s not great news for a number of reasons, notably, for workplace culture and its impact on team collaboration, retention and recruiting. To put a finer point on it, over the last two years, the workplace watercooler has vanished.

For sure, making a “best friend at work” has become difficult in a remote-first workplace. Forging informal bonds that lead to creating those “best friends at work” is increasingly tough when we’re stuck on Zoom calls all day and lack the human connection that was so familiar to anyone who worked in offices or other central locations prior to 2020.

HR leaders are acutely aware of this situation. They know they need to find creative ways to bring employees together in simple yet meaningful experiences. But that’s very hard to do when nearly everyone seems to be online. We’re seeing the same challenges among our clients. So today, I want to talk about a few ideas for how you could potentially use wellness programming to replace the physical watercooler and start to build a remote-forward culture that will help attract and retain top talent.

3 Ideas to Help Remote Teams Feel Connected

1. Create wellness challenges and friendly competitions

One way to break down the virtual barriers among employees is to get them excited about competing in friendly ways. There are endless possibilities, but here’s one that works for our clients.

You could offer relatively easy-to-host fitness challenges like Spring Madness, where employees form teams and earn points for completing group challenges with activities that support brain health, nutrition, and physical fitness. This can get the blood pumping, while also drawing employees closer so they can create and reinforce those connections many are craving.

How can something this simple enhance employee wellbeing? Consider the feedback we’ve received from Eddie, an employee at one of our client companies. Eddie has come to really value the fitness challenges he participates in. They’ve given him a chance to network with people across his geographically distributed company.

“I’ve made tons of friends at work through these fitness challenges,” Eddie says. In fact, he’s been on fitness challenge teams with his manager and several other coworkers. Many colleagues he’s met through these challenges have provided him with career advice, as well.

“The amount of networking I’ve been able to do has been truly remarkable. It’s amazing how many people you can meet while sharing the goal of creating a healthier lifestyle.”

2. Facilitate virtual wellness coffee talks and meet-ups

I think one of the biggest benefits of the watercooler we all miss most is just the opportunity to chat briefly about little things that aren’t work-related. Taking a few moments to exchange thoughts about what’s going on in the world or in our daily lives helps us feel connected with other people.

That just doesn’t happen anymore. But we’ve found that hosting virtual wellness coffee talks and meet-ups gives employees an opportunity to get together casually and talk about something other than work.

These meet-ups are facilitated by one of our program managers in a way that makes them very conversational and non-threatening. Some topics we’ve focused on include mindfulness, sleep, social wellbeing, and more. This is a lightweight, low-risk, low-resource way to get employees more actively engaged with one another.

3. Encourage employees to join recreation leagues and clubs

Just because people may not be interested in commuting to a central location for a full day of work doesn’t mean they don’t want to get together. A local softball or kickball league organized by your organization could get employees coming together to move, catch up and have some fun as a group.

Also, don’t underestimate the power these kinds of recreation leagues can have on overall team building and work culture. Playing a sport together can have an incredibly powerful effect on your employees’ motivation, as well as their ability to bond as a team and work as a cohesive unit.

These team-building experiences can translate directly into happier, more productive employees pretty quickly. Ultimately, it can improve their sense of wellbeing and overall appreciation of their employee experience—no matter where they may be working from day to day.

Final Thoughts

Don’t these ideas sound relatively simple and doable? None of them require a huge resource lift. And they all have the potential to help you start creating that remote-friendly culture so many companies are trying to build right now.

It’s not just a fun way to take a break and replace classic watercooler conversations. It’s actually a way to develop trust, communication, and human connection that we all find indispensable in our work lives. Who knows? It may also become a differentiator that plays a key role in the future of your organization’s talent attraction and retention strategy.

smart recruiting

Great Hires Are Better Than Frequent Fires: How Smart Recruiting Helps

Sponsored by: RocketReach

Hiring teams know just how hard it is to find candidates who hit the mark with both soft skills and technical skills.  Ideally, a new hire brings the majority of the hard skills required to do the job well. But soft skills are equally important, if not more important, depending on your company’s philosophy. In combination, hard and soft skills allow for a highly productive team and culturally rich environment.  So, how do you identify these powerhouse candidates? This is when smart recruiting tactics can make a strategic impact.

Why? Finding and placing high-performing candidates should be every HR professional’s primary goal. But if recruiting focuses more on an individual’s experience than their ability to enhance your culture or have the right attitude to learn, that hire could likely be a mismatch long term. How can you avoid this? To illustrate, let’s look closer at how we approach hiring at RocketReach

Smart Recruiting: Why Prioritize Soft Skills?

Of course, every job depends on a core technical or business skill set. However, we over-index on culture and behavioral skills because a candidate’s character matters, here. Well, not just here, but in all successful, people-first organizations.

A candidate with great skills requires less on-the-job training. But someone who’s a great cultural fit often possesses untrainable qualities that embody an organization’s values and vision. So it’s wise to get a read on each candidate’s potential to adapt to your culture and perform well with the team. 

What exactly is at stake? Well, according to a new SHRM report, over the past five years, 20% of Americans left a job because the company culture was bad. In fact, the cost of this turnover is estimated at more than $223 billion.

Here are several more findings to consider: 56% of Americans now say they feel less-than-fulfilled at work, while 26% say they dread going to work each day. In today’s talent market, finding an ideal candidate may not be easy. But hiring a strong candidate who also fits your company culture is arguably just as important (if not more so!) as hiring someone just because they have the desired level of experience.

How Smart Recruiting Leads to a Stronger Culture

Clearly, it’s important to build and sustain a people-first company culture. But how can smart recruiting help determine if a candidate is (or isn’t) a good “fit”?

1. Understand Your Work Culture

When considering your company’s culture, don’t just analyze intangible items like general employee vibes. Also include your leadership structure, core mission and vision, office environment, feedback and performance review processes, as well as overall interpersonal communication styles. These and other factors contribute to the relationships within your team and how the company is investing in its people. They also influence employee retention and how others perceive your organization.

Harvard Business Review agrees that a carefully crafted positive company culture helps develop workforce well-being. At this point, we all know how important culture is for working professionals. Every employee touchpoint, from onboarding to offboarding, influences how your organization’s culture affects your employees. As a result, people rank workplace well-being higher in importance than monetary compensation or material benefits. So, culture deserves to be top-of-mind with each new hire. 

2. Identify Characteristics That Map to Your Culture

Once you’ve clarified your company culture, let’s assume you want to sustain it. Using your analysis, you can identify the characteristics of current employees who are thriving. You can also compare and contrast those characteristics with previous employees who are better suited to a different culture. 

On the other hand, if you’d like to improve your culture, you can start identifying candidates whose soft skills align with your desired organizational direction.

For example, say your workforce is fully remote. This means collaboration is probably more challenging than in a traditional office environment. You may want to focus on candidates who demonstrate that they’re self-starters with a strong sense of resourcefulness, self-efficacy, and proactive ownership

Or, if your company’s mission and values emphasize diversity and inclusion, you may want to focus on candidates who are open-minded, adaptable, and have a curious approach to problem-solving. Try targeting candidates who seem resistant to change and more accepting of those with different backgrounds and ideas.

Of course, the idea of cultural alignment isn’t new. For example, a popular 2005 personnel study that is still cited today concluded that when employee characteristics align with company culture, their job satisfaction and performance are also stronger.

3. Interview With Alignment In Mind

After you understand the qualities a candidate needs to be successful in a given role, it’s time for interviews. Along with questions that evaluate hard skills, what are some questions you should ask to determine a candidate’s soft skills?

  1. What about our organization made you want to apply for this position?
    Pay attention to the enthusiasm and focus of each candidate’s answers. Did your benefits seem particularly attractive? Was it your company brand or careers page? Or was it the job description, itself? Do the candidate’s personal values align with your company’s? Each answer is a clue about the individual’s perspective, motivations and interests. This can determine how closely a candidate’s values align with your team’s and how you can sell them on these things down the line if they are a great fit
  2. What does your ideal next role look like?
    This can tell a recruiter tons about the type of environment in which a candidate will thrive. Do they envision working independently or in a group? What main responsibilities does this person want to own and enjoy most? Are they hoping to grow in mentorship or people management?? This can show you if your current team and environment fit the candidate’s needs.
  3. If one of your colleagues disagreed with you in front of a group during a board meeting or a meeting with leadership, how would you handle this?
    Sharing a hypothetical question about a challenging situation and asking for a suggested solution can reveal someone’s ability to listen and collaborate, think critically, and have the right attitude under pressure.
  4. Tell me about a time when you felt an employer’s culture didn’t suit your needs. Why do you believe it wasn’t the right fit for you?
    Sometimes a direct approach is the best approach. Pay careful attention to see what the answer reveals about the potential fit with your current culture (or the culture you’re working to achieve).

There are a million ways to ask interview questions that focus on soft skills and culture. But whatever questions you choose, make sure you tailor each to your company values and needs.

Hiring managers will understand the characteristics that align with an open position and the overall company culture. This frees you to get creative and keep interviews candid and human. The less “cookie cutter” your questions, the better they will serve your talent strategy in the long run. More importantly, ensure that your interview teams are trained to over-index on culture and company values – that way everyone is looking through a people-first lens. So whether you’re conducting a pre-screening interview, or you’re in a final-round group interview, put your culture front-and-center. 

drive employee engagement

10 Ways to Drive Employee Engagement With Team Problem-Solving

Are you looking for proven ways to drive employee engagement? Many organizations find that collaboration is a highly effective strategy. For instance, consider these 10 team-centered methods recommended by business leaders:

  1. Use the SCRUM Framework for Project Management
  2. Involve Action Focus Groups to Improve Employee Engagement
  3. Empower Employees to Take Ownership of Work Issues
  4. Give Employees a Voice in Problem Solving
  5. Create a Strength-Based Team Culture Using Assessment Tools
  6. Leverage Diversity and Mastermind for Problem-Solving
  7. Take a Bottom-up Approach
  8. Use OKRs to Drive Teamwork and Engagement
  9. Engage Employees in Weekly Virtual Team-Building Activities
  10. Personalize Engagement Drivers to Employee Groups

Why are these engagement ideas so powerful? Learn more from the descriptions below…

1) Use the SCRUM Framework for Project Management

The SCRUM framework encourages team members to work together to solve problems and complete tasks. This helps foster a sense of teamwork and engagement. It also gives team members a say in a project’s direction and execution, so they feel a sense of ownership and responsibility. Plus, each phase of the project is transparent to everyone on the team, so everyone on the team remains aware, focused and motivated.

Omer Usanmaz, CEO of Qooper Mentoring & Learning Software

2) Involve “Action Focus Groups” to Improve Employee Engagement

We conducted an engagement survey with results that identified six individual areas for improvement. Instead of using managers to do this, we asked for employee volunteers to create a response to the challenges identified in the survey. Each Action Focus Group (AFG) included 10 members who met 3-5 times to identify and recommend a solution for the company to implement. Then, each AFG presented its improvement plan to the senior leadership team, which in turn, provided feedback. After each group adjusted its plan, we implemented the final recommendations.

With this AFG approach, employees became actively involved in solving key problems. In addition, this process gave participants an opportunity to build connections outside their primary business areas.

Deborah Norris, Senior HR Manager at Amentum

3) Empower Employees to Take Ownership of Work Issues

We drive employee engagement with team problem-solving by encouraging employees to identify and solve problems affecting their work. We have found that employees are happier, more engaged and more productive when they can take ownership of issues that impact their work. 

We achieve this by providing space for employees to voice their concerns about issues and encouraging teams to come together and solve problems (sometimes with incentives), instead of relying only on managers or supervisors. 

Debee Gold, Owner & Clinical Director of Gold Counseling & Wellness

4) Give Employees a Voice in Problem Solving

Too many organizations identify problems, and then leadership dictates solutions in a vacuum. But at 104 West, we recently held an all-company meeting, where administration and staff broke out into groups, identified roadblocks to growth, proposed solutions, and then came together to share thoughts. Now, we’re implementing plans based on those ideas, and every person in the organization has a role in thisa role they helped determine.

This process helped us drive employee engagement at all levels, empowering people to be solution-seekers and showcase their problem-solving and leadership abilities.

Joan Wyly, Vice President of 104 Degrees West Partners

5) Create a Strength-Based Team Culture Using Assessment Tools

Using assessment tools like Gallup StrengthsFinder, team members can understand how to create a more strength-based approach to teamwork and problem-solving. Additionally, regular “skip level” sessions allow for bottom-up feedback that helps build a more robust work culture. Also, personalized recognition leads to a more positive employee experience.

Together, these practices can produce a psychologically safe environment where teams thrive.

Rapti Khurana, VP of Talent Engagement & Development at the National Football League

6) Leverage Diversity and Mastermind for Problem Solving

When problems need to be solved, team members tend to find a solution by relying on their individual experience and determination. That can lead to excessive time scratching heads and spinning wheels, without making much progress. However, when people come together to leverage the power of cognitive diversity, an equally diverse array of potential solutions becomes more readily available.

A mastermind-style problem-solving conversation brings together members of disparate teams that are traditionally siloed. Coming together in this way to work toward a common goal can positively impact everything from engagement and retention to trust and productivity!

Erich Kurschat, Owner of Harmony Insights LLC

7) Take a Bottom-up Approach

I’m a big proponent of the bottom-up approach to team problem-solving, based on the teachings of Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa. We involve our front-line employees in group problem-solving, as well as our managers. Front-line employees are given the authority to act autonomously within specific guidelines.

This approach is practical because those closest to a problem often know the most about it and are in the best position to devise solution strategies. Empowering workers at all levels of our organization to participate in problem-solving drives employee engagement.

Dean Kaplan, President of The Kaplan Group

8) Use OKRs to Drive Teamwork and Engagement

For our team at Compt, goal setting and management have been driving forces in employee engagement and group problem-solving. We set objectives and key results (OKRs) as a company, and each department has its own OKRs that support overall company goals. In addition, each employee’s personal goals are tied to that employee’s department goals.

We host monthly company-wide “retro” meetings to share how each team is performing in a measured and data-driven way. Everything we do is quantified, which promotes accountability and cross-department teamwork to achieve overarching goals. This ensures that we are all constantly moving in the same direction toward the same outcomes. And because each individual’s actions impact the company’s success, we feel compelled to be more engaged and create a workplace that benefits us all.

Amy Spurling, CEO, and Founder of Compt

9) Engage Employees in Weekly Virtual Team-Building Activities

One way we combat engagement issues is through weekly virtual team-building activities. Each session is planned and hosted via Zoom by a different group of employees. This way, our workforce enjoys programming variety, while each group has a vested interest in the success of the activity they host. For example, activities have ranged from virtual quiz nights to elaborate online escape room challenges.

These team-building activities have been a resounding success. They’ve provided employees with memorable shared experiences and have helped build bonds between colleagues, ultimately leading to increased workplace collaboration.

Clare Jones, Marketing Manager at OfficeSpaceAU

10) Personalize Engagement Drivers to Employee Groups

The best employee engagement strategy is to ride the drivers. Each organization, of course, will have different drivers. For example, meaningful work, career growth, empowerment, belonging, recognition, leadership, and fulfilling work relationships. 

Choose a segment of your employee population. Then implement a strategic theme strategy across your drivers that is personalized to the group but high-profile enough that successes will be seen and heard throughout the organization. Ride the drivers, measure, rinse and repeat.

Marcus Holmes, HR Operations General Manager at City of Detroit

 


EDITOR’S NOTE: These ideas on how to drive employee engagement were submitted via Terkel. Terkel is a knowledge platform that shares community-driven content based on expert insights. To see questions and get published, sign up at terkel.io.

business value

We Surveyed 100+ HR Leaders on Driving Business Value in 2022

Sponsored by: ThoughtExchange

For several months, we’ve been sharing insights from our partner ThoughtExchange. They’ve done some fascinating research on Gen Z employees, employee experience, boosting retention, and driving business value. They’re an essential tool for leaders across departments and industries looking to align and engage their workforces.

We finally got the opportunity to use ThoughtExchange to consult our network of HR and Talent professionals, and you shared some great insights with us and each other. 

We asked:

As HR and Talent professionals, what areas are you focusing on at your organization to increase retention and drive business value?

With anonymity, anti-bias technology, and automatic translation capabilities, ThoughtExchange makes it easy to gather diverse perspectives and have equitable discussions.

What We Heard

Using ThoughtExchange’s tools, we analyzed the thoughts you shared to identify important themes and actionable insights. It’s an efficient way to hear from large groups of diverse people, particularly in a remote setting.

First, we looked at the Summary—an AI-generated snapshot of the top-rated ideas:

Onboarding and orientation – new hires should be set up for success from the start. Effective employee retention improves the productivity and performance of a company. Personal and professional mental health – a toxic work culture can really hurt productivity and business value. Pay equity. Personal wellbeing – avoid burnout.

Overall, you’re recognizing that business value is heavily impacted by employee experience, and you’re focusing on providing a healthy, productive workplace. 

Ideas That Rise To The Top

Next, we looked at the highest-rated answers. ThoughtExchange’s Thoughts tool shows each thought’s rating, and also how ratings change by role. These were the top-rated thoughts for each of the different roles:

Talent Acquisition: Leadership Development. Leaders need to role model behaviors to scale change.”

Recruitment: Employees’ aspirations for career development. These days I noticed fresh graduates and junior employees are switching their careers for any salary variation. Career development enables employees to be competent and get expertise for their future career.” 

Training & Development: Performance appreciation and reward. By acknowledging good work done, it drives up their productivity.”

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Personal and Professional Mental Health. A toxic work culture can really hurt productivity and business value.”

HR Leadership: Employee wellbeing. This helps the employees stay fit mentally, emotionally, and socially.”

What was particularly interesting is that, of the top thoughts for the entire group, none of the top thoughts by role were included. 

  • (4.2*) “Focus employer branding efforts on values and vision. Ensure you can articulate clearly how your company is making the world a better place. People in a group desire belonging. These factors serve as unifying tools and help employees feel that the work they do is not ‘just work.’”
  • (4.0*) “Onboarding and orientation. New hires should be set up for success from the start. Your onboarding process should focus on employee guide to thrive and culture.”
  • (4.0*) “Skills, skills, skills! We want to attract skilled talent, but we need to keep investing in their skills, so people want to stay and grow with us! Caring about the future viability of your workforce means business sustainability. Plus, it’s good for employees, too. Everybody wins.”

The variation in how thoughts are ranked demonstrates how ThoughtExchange can identify team or departmental priorities, but also surface common ground.

Where You Disagreed

It wasn’t all common ground. ThoughtExchange’s Differences tool shows the rating patterns for different groups and finds the polarizing ideas.

In our Exchange, compensation and pay equity was an area of contention. Group A (in blue), mainly HR Leadership, assigned high ratings (in the 4* range) to these thoughts:

Group B (in green), consisting mainly of Recruitment, Training & Development, and Talent Acquisition folks, gave ratings averaging 2*. This may indicate a difference in priorities between HR Leadership and those responsible for hiring and upskilling employees.

The Differences tool doesn’t stop there. It also finds thoughts that Group A and Group B both rated highly. Both groups agreed that employee wellbeing and engagement are top priorities. Holding space for both sides of an issue is vital, but identifying where those two sides agree helps build a strategy everyone supports.

Areas Of Focus

To understand the discussion’s general themes, we used the Theme tool to categorize thoughts into Culture, Performance, and Strategy. 

Thought Exchange Themes

Deeper analysis shows which issues are the most pressing for our community, and identifies actions to improve retention and drive business value.

Areas to Action:

  • Company Culture: clarify organizational values, define employer brand, and consult employees on improving their work experience. 
  • Skills Development: provide employees with skills, career, and leadership development opportunities.
  • Performance Appreciation: improve morale and productivity by rewarding high-performing employees.

What You Told Us

You’re invested in improving and streamlining every stage of the employee lifecycle. You value organizational culture and recognize the importance of robust onboarding and career development. You care deeply for the wellbeing of your employees and want to foster a more supportive workplace.

For us, this Exchange showed how valuable an inclusive, unbiased discussion platform is for identifying team and organizational priorities. 

We can see how ThoughtExchange brings immense value to different kinds of leaders looking to innovate tactics, align on strategy, improve business efficiency, and engage employees.

Want to see how ThoughtExchange can give you mission-critical insights to make better decisions and transform your discussions? Talk to one of ThoughtExchange’s Talent & HR experts today.

performance

To Boost Retention – Review for Projects, Not Performance

If you’re ramping up for Q4 in your workplace, you may be anticipating a slew of quarterly performance reviews. It’s your manager’s last chance of the year to address recent performance issues, map out a plan for improvement, and set a goal for what’s next year.  

But if you’re concerned with retention, you may want to reconsider. Performance reviews, depending on how they’re done, may not have the right tone to fit the turbulent world of work we’re in right now. They may not support your engagement and retention challenges. Employees are jumpy — and while feedback is always a good idea, it may all be in the delivery and the framework.  

What works instead? Take a project-based approach — in which feedback and reviews are based on specific projects rather than overall performance over time. It avoids focusing on trickier metrics like behavior and “commitment” and provides a picture of a given situation and a given challenge. And it creates a clear boundary between life and work at a time when many of our workforces are seeing those lines blur. The day-to-day of a given job may be filled with ebbs and flows that didn’t exist when performance review criteria was designed. Particularly in categories like “attitude,” “willingness,” or “energy.” But a project is a project: you get it done.

Projects and Teams are Already on the Rise

The world of work is already shifting to projects as an increment of production instead of focusing simply on time. A project-based approach to the workplace is already a reality for a growing number of organizations. Of course, there are industries that traditionally lend themselves to project-based cadences of work. Industries such as marketing, advertising and content, engineering, legal firms, consultancies, and other service providers. But even high-service industries can shift to projects — framing work into initiatives, special efforts, campaigns, and quotas.

Taking this approach can bring your people together as a team. And we’re seeing the rise of teams — Deloitte’s research on the power of high-performance teams to catalyze organizational growth is pretty compelling. We divide into teams to better structure communications channels within digital workplaces, to forge accountability, to better manage, and to create a unit we can rely on. Projects and teams go hand in hand: a team executes on a project, essentially — and may interact with other teams, but they have a specific role, specific tasks. That actually frees up a manager to track a whole lot more in terms of individual input and contributions, responsiveness, creativity, and the ability to work in a group — and as reflected in the outcome of the project they were a part of.

Anchored to Specific Targets

The uneasy truth may be that many organizations wonder if performance reviews are working, but don’t have an alternative. But this is the era of transformation — like it or not, we transformed where and when and how we work out of necessity. It’s a reality right now that employees are stressed — and a bit jumpy if you look at the Great Resignation. 

So consider the fact that just 14% of employees agree their performance review inspires them to improve, according to Gallup research. Further, traditional performance reviews and approaches to feedback can take a psychological toll —  actually making performance worse about one-third of the time, according to research published by the American Psychological Association. No one wants to unintentionally build more resentment instead of more engagement, best intentions aside.  

I’ve seen plenty of well-designed performance reviews that stay brilliantly on specifics. But one of the common objections employees have to performance reviews is that the criteria can feel vague; in that gray area may live bias, unfairness, arbitrariness, etc. Going granular may alleviate that: you’re looking at clear tasks delineated within the arc of a project: beginning, middle, completion. There’s closure. A sense of accomplishment. Finishing something feels good — and deserves credit. It may offer a tactful cantilever to other issues that need to be addressed. And there’s no question that each individual’s contribution to that project — and their own experience being a part of it— offer countless opportunities for feedback, for clarification, and for recognition. 

Reflecting What’s Happening Now

Is taking a project-based approach to reviews feasible for most organizations? It could be more feasible than you think. It fits the changes the world of work is already undergoing, and: factors many organizations are already experiencing:

  • An increase in bringing in gig workers, SMEs, and consultants that either complement existing skills among our salaried workforces or expand them as necessary — and therefore redefining the essence of a team.
  • A shift from depending on the overall cohesion of a physical workplace to a remote and hybrid one, where people don’t come together organically but over the work they do.
  • A new emphasis on flexible scheduling and more work/life integration — seeing the job as a series of projects rather than a monolithic block of time no matter what happens.
  • A need to integrate faster into operations and get employees aligned before that 3-6 month period when many consider leaving: A recent survey of some 2,000 U.S. employees found that more than half (52%) were already on the hunt for a new position after being in their present one for less than 3 months. 
  • A workforce in which teams, no matter their composition, can autonomously and independently execute, and a well-managed or self-managed team is becoming the essential engine of production (more than individual output) and a key part of the organizational chart.

A Resilient Framework

Recently the Harvard Business Review pointed to the resiliency of a project framework: instead of focusing on process and controls, it focuses on how to deliver the elements with the greatest value. It’s not a leap to see how that approach could also remove bias (such as recency) and gray areas from the equation, making the effort more about purpose, intent, strategy, goals, execution, and lessons learned. In terms of HR and talent management, that kind of shift immediately opens the door for feedback and self-reflection on the part of its participants and makes self-observation part of growth. In essence, it democratizes the review process by making it more clear.

Depending on the size and nature of your organization, performance reviews may be a critical factor in your talent management strategy. But adding project-focused reviews to the mix adds a concrete benefit. A tangible means to gauge people’s efforts to achieve real results, in real-time.  

It’s also a smaller-scale way to build larger-scale results: as we know, growth happens in increments and iterations, not whole-cloth. No question, it’s easier to drive alignment and achieve collaboration across a team focused on a project. So take that sense of accomplishment, focus on it and celebrate it, and then do that over again. In terms of employee engagement, that can create a truly strong foundation — and more reason for them to stay.

Hiring

Traditional Hiring Practices Are Inefficient for Hiring Leaders

There hasn’t been a time in recent history when the development and application of smart hiring practices has been more important. Companies are struggling to hire the best and the brightest while facing a unique set of challenges. We’ll explore if we are meeting this inflection point effectively — and what companies can do to improve their response.

Our Guest: Lou Adler

On the last Worktrends Podcast, I spoke with Lou Adler. We discussed hiring practices and how businesses can take it to the next level.

‎Lou Adler is a well-known hiring expert, who turned the recruitment industry on its head through his performance-based recruiting model. With over 40 years in the recruiting industry, Lou’s company, the Adler Group has trained over 40,000 hiring managers and placed 1500 executives for many of the fastest-growing companies.

He is a top LinkedIn influencer and author, known for The Essential Guide for Hiring and Getting Hired and the Amazon top 10 best seller Hire With Your Head, Using Performance-Based Hiring to Build Great Teams, translated into multiple languages.

Hiring Decisions: Are We Making Progress?

You contend that hiring results haven’t improved much in the past 25 years. What is the basis for this claim after tens of billions have been spent on new HR tech?

Well, the biggest claim is… I look at the Gallup satisfaction report, which comes out monthly and it hovers around 30 to 33% of people who are actually satisfied with their jobs. And that number hasn’t changed in 25 years since they started taking it.

So as far as I’m concerned, things have not only not gotten better, they have gotten worse. And I contend, I know the reasons why, but that’s least sufficient proof to say, “Hey, maybe we do have a problem.”

The Great Resignation & Job Satisfaction

Let’s talk about the great resignation. In all of the implications, what are you seeing here? And do you have suggestions for companies, recruiters, and job seekers around this?

To me, and it goes back to the underlying problem of why people are dissatisfied and it really comes down to the point that people take jobs and they don’t really know what the work is. And they don’t know what the style of the manager is, they don’t know the quality of the team, and they’re not a hundred percent sure of what the expectations are.

The satisfaction is driven by the work itself, the people, the company, the manager, the projects, the impact they’re making, and people give that to a shrift. They focus too much on the start date, not enough on the actual work they’re doing.

So to me, that’s the underlying problem of dissatisfaction. And it’s gotten worse because people are now trying to hire faster for more money. So now you have the great resignation, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

The Solution: Recruiters Need to Understand the Roles

Recruiting, with no understanding of the role, won’t help us recruit and retain the contributors. It’s time to change the mindset about how we approach discussions with candidates. Quick hiring, without deep consideration of the roles, is fueling negative outcomes. 

I have the knowledge that I believe is correct, but I think you have HR leaders and companies that have a strategy designed, “Hey, let’s fill jobs as fast as we can.”

And yet I believe the process of making that decision, “Should I hire this candidate?” And from the candidate’s perspective, “Should I take this job?” That is a much more detailed, thorough evaluation. That’s an investment on the company’s standpoint in hiring this person and an investment on the candidate, “Hey, should I invest my time in this company?”

And I don’t think the tools that both sides use to make that decision are evaluated properly. I think people have competency models. They’ve got behavioral interviewing. I think that’s a band-aid solution, and I don’t think they’ve really addressed the core problem.

The Solution: Take the Time to Define the Work

There are steps to improving hiring. However, more time on the front end of the process is necessary. This requires a close look at critical performance objectives — and incorporating these into a method, a “scorecard”, that can direct the entire recruiting process.

If you want to implement performance-based hiring, you have to only do two things. Number one is you don’t take a requisition filled with skills, experience and competencies. Instead, you take a requisition that lists the five or six key performance objectives the person taking that job needs to do over the course of the year to be considered successful.

We call that a win-win hiring outcome. Meaning the candidate says, “I’m so glad I had this job over the year and I’m enjoying this work.” And hiring manager says, “I’m so glad I hired that person.” So, defining the work is that core thing.

The other bookend is, don’t accept or don’t hire anybody unless they meet the standards on a tool. We call it the Quality of Hire Talent Scorecard, which determines the 10 best predictors of on the job success. If you just put those two bookends in, don’t hire anybody who doesn’t meet these performance requirements and define those performance requirements up front, you’ll figure out what you’ve got to do in the middle to get there.

In Summary: When Hiring, Emphasize Key Performance Indicators & Consistently Apply That Strategy

Overall, we cannot hope to improve hiring decisions without taking the time to understand the specifics of the role. The ensuing process should not be a race to hire, but a race to capture the important aspects of the role and communicate this effectively to candidates.

The issue to get to that though, requires a lot more work. It’s not just, “Will you take this offer at this point in time?” I have to understand the job, I have to understand the environment, the candidate has to understand, “Is this the right career move? Is it work that I’m intrinsically motivated to do? Can I work with this team? And can I work with a manager’s style?”

I hope you found this episode of #WorkTrends helpful. I know that I found the discussion fascinating.

Subscribe to the #WorkTrends podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. Also, for more great conversations, be sure to follow #WorkTrends on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram!

Employee Engagement

Why Employee Engagement is Upside Down

impact award
Leaders and managers frequently refer to the famous Albert Einstein quote when something in their organizations isn’t working after repeated efforts. I wonder what Einstein would say about employee engagement?

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

For two decades, the benchmark of benchmarks for employee engagement is Gallup, a world-class research organization. In the past 10 years, the percentage of engaged employees in Gallup’s research has fluctuated. From a low of 30% to a high of 36%.

Much ado was made about the uptick in engagement over the past decade before the pandemic reversed the direction of the numbers.

I’m pretty sure Einstein would agree with my old boss at Cisco. Former CEO John Chambers, who famously described missed expectations at Cisco as:

I never get hard work confused with results.

Moving up just six percentage points over a decade. From such a low number to begin with, is indeed a lot of “hard work” and little enduring results.

The Decline of Engaged Employees

The most recent 2022 Gallup numbers show the percent of employees engaged is down.  U.S. companies are down 32%. It was 30% in 2002 and 2012.

I’m not sure how many billions of dollars were spent on employee engagement measurement and programs during this time, but it is clear from this data it was not a productive investment.

The inertia reflected in the engagement data reflects what I’ve heard over the past three years talking to hundreds of HR leaders about what works and what doesn’t in employee engagement.

Most of the feedback is best paraphrased as:

We are not learning anything new from our employee engagement data.

Competition vs Collaboration

I’ve been lucky to work with hundreds of companies and their leadership teams. Especially after I wrote The Collaboration Imperative, which shared the best practices used at Cisco in its transition from a culture based on internal competition to one based on internal collaboration.

From these listening sessions, I’ve come to believe that certain ideas exist in organizational thinking in the absence of hard evidence. I don’t know how these ideas got started. I just know the ideas are entrenched.

For example – the way leaders and managers think about employee engagement today. It reminds me of the way organizations think about career planning. That it is the responsibility of the employee, despite overwhelming evidence indicating a different reality.

If it is true that employees are responsible for their own careers, why is “my manager” the most cited reason when an employee leaves a company?

Employee Engagement is Upside Down

I want to eat my own dog food by starting with evidence. I’ve spent the pandemic sponsoring a large, real-world research study on what makes an employee want to stay at a company. I wanted to know what it would take to get an employee to recommend where they work.

Our primary research and the large collection of company data captured in the second phase of our research confirm we’ve been measuring the wrong things in employee engagement.

In fact, employee engagement is upside down, according to our research.

Instead of measuring how engaged employees are, we should be measuring how engaged leaders and managers are.

In statistical terms, our evidence-based model demonstrated a strong, positive linear relationship between the degree to which leaders and managers engage employees and the willingness of employees to recommend where they work. In other words, the more engaged leaders and managers are in creating organizational culture with their teams, the greater the likelihood of an employee recommending the employer. Our research conclusions have a 95% confidence interval.

The Impact Leaders Have on Employee Engagement

Just like career planning. It’s time to embrace the fact that leaders and managers are the reasons why people fall in love with a company and its culture — or not. Leaders create the global cultural values of an organization; managers implement those values locally.

Company values are based on human behavior, not a poster on the wall. Values-based behaviors start with role-modeling them as leaders and managers. How can we expect employees to be engaged if their management team isn’t?

If we’re going to innovate in how we think about employee engagement, I want to call upon Einstein again for help.

Einstein was famous for thought experiments.

Here’s one. Management guru Peter Drucker said you can only manage what you measure. What if leaders and managers were accountable for engagement?

What would happen to employee engagement?

Open Enrollment

4 Steps to Hit the Mark for Open Enrollment

Is the benefits information you have to tell employees important before and during Open Enrollment? You bet! Easily understood? Not always. 

According to the latest MetLife employee benefits trends, close to 90% of employers believe their benefits are clear and easy to understand. Yet only 65% of employees (only 56% Gen Z) agree. 

Uncomplicating the complicated is not an easy task, but it’s well worth the effort. Employees who better understand their benefits are ones who better appreciate the benefits they have. 

Let’s look at 4 steps to help supercharge your Open Enrollment communications strategy.

Step 1: Know Your Audience

For HR, this means not just thinking about employees. Think like employees. Heck, you are an employee.

When Open Enrollment season hits, chances are you’ll be making some decisions about your benefits. Just like all the other employees. What (and who) are you thinking about when you’re comparing options? Your family? Your health? The costs? The coverage? Yep…just like all the other employees.

If you can hold on to that “employee to employee” connection when you’re communicating to them about benefits, you’re more likely to create understandable, compelling communications. Make your messages relatable and relevant, with a hint of emotion.

Relatable – We’re all people. We can empathize with each other. Remember this when you communicate to employees. Make an emotional connection. That’s how you get employees to engage.

What does that mean? For example, many employees have families they love, and so do you. And you all want the best benefits you can get for them. Relay that feeling.

Relevant – Present information from the employees’ points of view, not the company’s. Avoid touting your company’s awesomeness (“We’ve added a great new dental plan”). Talk more about why it matters to them (“You have more dentists to choose from in the new plan”). Instead of saying, “We have a new enrollment system,” say, “You can enroll faster and easier with our new enrollment system.”

Keep the message conversational, too. If you were talking to a colleague, how would you get your message across? Probably not in a verbose, run-on sentence with oodles of detail. 

Step 2: Plan Bite-Size Information

If you’re sending a firehose flow of information two weeks prior to Open Enrollment, employees will not absorb everything you’re telling them. Try starting communications about six to eight weeks prior to your OE start date, especially if you’re making major changes

Strive for a slow drip campaign that feeds bite-size bits of information. A sample campaign for a late October enrollment may look like this…

Late August

  • Teaser/kick-off announcements
  • Watch for what’s to come messaging
  • Training webinar for leaders and HR partners

September

  • Weekly or bi-weekly communications with chunks of information
  • Home mailer with highlights and a few important details
  • Portal/website or interactive guide with a deeper dive into info, tools, and resources

Mid-October

  • Meetings, webinars, and benefits sessions
  • Displays for enrollment to-do’s and timing
  • Weekly reminders to enroll (first day, one week left, last day)

To get the word out, a wide variety of channels is best. But when it comes to education, a Colonial Life Employee Enrollment Survey (via Unum) shows how employees rank their three top choices: benefits portal or website, in-person counseling session, or printed materials.

Step 3: Stay on Point!

When you start crafting your Open Enrollment communications this year, remember that employees:

  • Check their phones 150 times a day
  • Check email 30 times an hour
  • And are still trying to do their jobs

Competition for their attention is fierce. How do you break through the distractions, buzzing and beeping all around them? 

Diligently.

You must spend time considering the message you’re putting out there. Is it going to drive the results you’re hoping for? The key is to build messaging super-focused on achieving that objective. Avoid filling headspace or airwaves with any other content — stick to information employees need to know to make the decision at hand.

Also, our brains don’t want to work hard at processing information. Keep content easy-to-read and scannable. 

  • Short sentences (14 words or less)
  • Short paragraphs (3 sentences or less) 
  • Eighth-grade reading level
  • “Chunked-out” content with subheads (bite-size)
  • Lots of “you” and “your” and less “we”
  • Human language — no acronyms and other benefit geek speak

Don’t be afraid to use phrases and incomplete sentences. No, really. (See what we did there?) It goes against everything you learned in grammar class but write like you talk. Employees will trust it more, as they read it like a conversation.

One last trick — after you’ve created your first draft, cut the amount of text in half. Get rid of any sentences that are repetitive or words that don’t help employees understand your message.

It may be interesting, amusing, or truly relevant, but if it’s not essential, it’s just brain clutter.

Step 4: Don’t Bury the Bad News

They may not like bad news — but they’ll like it even less when they find it hidden among other news. Employees are adults. They can adapt to change if you’re upfront, honest, and help them through it.

Rip off the band-aid. Give them the “why” of the situation through consistent and continuous communications.

  • Tell the same story, the same way, and tell it often
  • Provide a specific date when they’ll know more
  • Be honest and open (or transparent if you speak HR)

Are rates increasing? Probably because the company’s costs keep increasing. Explain that to employees. “U.S. health care costs are expected to rise 10-15 percent this year, but we’re keeping your increase lower, at only 6 percent.”

It’s Time to Change Things Up

HR professionals tend to be criticized for overexplaining and using confusing terms that make benefits hard to understand. We know why that happens, and we get it. 

Put in the work now so you can achieve effective, results-generating communications. Communications that have higher employee engagement. But put yourself in employee shoes when you communicate. Wait…you’re wearing employee shoes.

Burnout

By the Numbers: Employee Burnout, Workplace Discrimination, and the Great Resignation

Sometimes research emerges that sets a new high-water mark on a troubling trend — and it’s well worth paying attention to. That’s the case with the recent Work and Well-Being Survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA) of 1,501 U.S. adult workers. Conducted in 2021, it remains extremely relevant to where we are now. 

The survey reveals a strong connection between stress, burnout, workplace discrimination, and the Great Resignation. If that sounds like a topic you should know more about, we heartily agree. We also think that the fact that the research was conducted outside an HR-centric organization actually makes it all the more valuable for those of us in HR — particularly leadership.

The Bottom Line of Burnout

Here’s the bottom line: employee burnout is undeniably high. It’s clearly a major factor in the Great Resignation. It’s also affecting employees unequally: discrimination is a thru-line there. We took a closer look at some of the survey’s most telling statistics to see how we’re doing. As you look for strategies to stave off employee departures and reduce workplace-related stress, these are numbers (and issues) you need to keep in mind.

Burnout is at an All-Time High, Regardless of Profession

  • 79% of employees across all professions reported work-related stress. 
  • Nearly 3 in 5 employees reported negative impacts of work-related stress, including lack of interest, motivation, or energy at work. 
  • 36% reported cognitive weariness.
  • 32% reported emotional exhaustion
  • 44% reported physical fatigue — a 38% increase since 2019.

Burnout is a Key Factor in the Great Resignation

There’s a clear association between day-to-day workplace stress and the likelihood they will look for a new job somewhere else, and soon:

  • 71% reported feeling typically stressed out or tense during their workday.
  • Only 20% reported they didn’t feel that way.
  • Those who report feeling tense or stressed out during the workday are over 3X more likely to seek employment somewhere else in the next year.

Workplace Discrimination

It’s not only stressful, but employees are also sick and tired of it — and it’s making them seek employment elsewhere:

  • 68% of those who say they have experienced or witnessed discrimination in their current workplace plan to look for a job outside of their organization in the next year. 
  • Only 33% of those who say they did not experience or witness discrimination in their current workplace plan to look for a job outside of their organization in the next year. 

The Breakdown is Telling

Black and Hispanic:

  • 31% of Black and Hispanic employees say they have been the target of discrimination in their workplace in the last year. 
  • 20% of White employees say they have been the target of discrimination in their workplace in the last year. 
  • 58% of Hispanic and 57% of Black employees plan to look for a job outside of their organization in the next year. 
  • 37% of White employees plan to look for a job outside of their organization in the next year. 

LGBTQ+:

  • 32% of LGBTQ+ employees say they have been the target of discrimination in their workplace in the last year.
  • 23% of non- LGBTQ+ employees say they have been the target of discrimination in their workplace in the last year.
  • 56% of LGBTQ+ employees plan to look for a job outside of their organization in the next year. 
  • 43% of non-LGBTQ+ employees plan to look for a job outside of their organization in the next year. 

People with Disabilities:

  • 47% of people with disabilities say they have been the target of discrimination in their workplace in the last year.
  • 19% of people without a disability say they have been the target of discrimination in their workplace in the last year.
  • 63% of people with disabilities plan to look for a job outside of their organization in the next year. 
  • 41% of people without a disability plan to look for a job outside of their organization in the next year. 

Women and Burnout

What’s not in here: how women are faring. Women’s experience with workplace burnout is its own topic, and we’ll be covering it. There are also plenty of other factors contributing to the soaring rates of workplace stress, from overwork to not enough paid leave, to low compensation to being left out of decision-making. Look for our coverage of those as well in the coming months. (In the meantime, please read here for more on the connection between employee responses to the pandemic and workplace stress — an uneasy and ongoing relationship. And for an interesting take on overcoming burnout pre-pandemic, check out this great #WorkTrends podcast we did with a public schools counselor turned go-to executive coach. — her wisdom still holds true.)

Final Thoughts

The numbers we’ve included here paint a clear picture — and as we look for a special sauce that will slow down voluntary quits, it’s time to get back to basics. The importance of an inclusive workplace where everyone feels like they belong is inarguable — and the APA’s stats should prompt a serious re-think. Once again, kudos to them for doing such a well-considered, diligent deep dive into this important workplace topic.