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Business Needs vs. Employee Needs: Finding the Happy Medium

It’s been a hard year and a half, and as the pandemic continues to fluctuate, illness and lockdowns have taken their toll. The effects extend into the workplace, too, as companies struggle to find a happy medium between employee needs and business needs.

During this time, employees reevaluated what a workplace means to them and how job satisfaction plays into their overall happiness. Many employees found that they’re happier when they don’t have to commute, dress up, or stick to prescribed business hours. Others are ready to get back to the workplace where there are fewer distractions and more in-person collaboration.

Many businesses, on the other hand, are eager to get back to an in-office model without Zoom meetings. Managers want to communicate quickly with employees at their desks, instead of via chat. It’s understandable but short-sighted for employers to try to get back to a pre-pandemic way of operating. As the health implications of COVID-19 can’t be undone, neither can the effects it’s having on the workplace, which is why the need to find a happy medium is important.

These changes create a need for HR teams to adapt to the realities of these changes. Therefore, it’s time for businesses to adapt their return-to-office plans to ensure that they are employee-centered. Now more than ever, balancing employee needs against the needs of the business is imperative.

Listening to Employees

Work-from-home employees are not shy about their preferences and pain points around remote work. Coworkers commonly talk amongst themselves about how much they like not having to dress in full business attire or commute. They also expressed frustrations around digital communications and how, since they’re online, the workday can stretch beyond regular hours.

Before putting forth a return-to-office plan, businesses must listen to what employees truly want. To avoid turnover, some employers plan to skip a return-to-office life altogether, especially since a lack of remote work options is a deal-breaker for many employees and may send them searching for a job elsewhere. Many employees have already made that step, citing lack of remote work options as the main reason for seeking other opportunities. Notably, according to a survey by ResumeBuilder, 15% of workers are planning to leave their jobs before December.

What is the best way to find out what employees need to be happy in their current positions? Ask them. Hold a company-wide meeting to discuss what they like about working remotely, what can be improved, their thoughts on returning to full-time office work, and any questions they may have.

HR teams should leverage anonymous channels like digital surveys to make sure every voice is heard. These tools are perfect for individuals who are not comfortable speaking up in a large group, or for those who worry that their opinions will reflect poorly on them. 

Company leaders should also trust employees. They know how they work best, as well as the ways working from home affects their work-life balance. HR teams know happy employees are more engaged, produce better work, and stay in their positions longer, creating positive business outcomes.

Balancing Employee Needs With Business Needs

While keeping employee needs top of mind is essential, HR professionals must also evaluate how best to serve the company. If remote work begins to negatively impact employee and company performance, that can’t be ignored. Conversely, if an organization consistently meets KPIs, is growing, and employees are engaged, there’s no need to return to the office five days a week.

Instead of assuming performances and company operations will improve in an office setting, HR teams should strive to find balance. There’s no need for extremes. Companies don’t need to decide to keep operations fully remote or shift them entirely back to the office.

Over the course of the pandemic, it’s become clear what job functions need to be performed in person versus remote. Some team members can complete all of their job functions from home, while others have duties that require in-person work.

Companies should try to strike a balance and meet their employees in the middle. Offer a schedule that accommodates working from home alongside in-person work. For example, some organizations can easily let employees work from home three days a week, while requesting in-person attendance for meetings.

Companies can also strike a balance by easing the dress code to make going into the office feel more comfortable. Additionally, they can find cost savings by allowing employees to work from home. Businesses should evaluate whether they can stagger when different staff members come in. By doing so, they can use a smaller office space, saving on rental costs and utilities, among other expenses. At the same time, employees will appreciate the flexibility of being able to choose to work from home on a regular basis.

Looking to the Future

Before implementing a return-to-office plan, HR teams must equally weigh the needs of the business against those of their employees. Therefore, it may be tempting to develop this kind of plan quickly. However, HR teams must take time to listen to employees and measure their needs alongside business goals. This will create a happier and more effective workplace for everyone.

Image by Wave Break Media

How to Foster Corporate Altruism: Focus on Leaders First

How do leaders create a culture that features contagious corporate altruism?

Historically, shareholder capital return has been the holy grail of business success. Significant returns signal investors that the company believes in their future so much they can afford to buy back stocks and pay higher dividends, directly providing a return on investment. However, the rise of the social enterprise means changing expectations for what companies do with their profits.

In today’s business world, shouldn’t stakeholders (i.e., managers, employees) also reap what they sow?

Corporate Altruism: Demanded by the Market

Luckily, shareholder return and stakeholder return are no longer a zero-sum game. Institutional activism has made it impossible for big companies to hide from the social and environmental impacts of their business decisions, demanding transparency – at a minimum. Strategic companies are taking this a step further.

Companies that are keen to step up to rising expectations are actively looking for opportunities to take responsibility. And rightfully so: altruistic investments in their employer value, social justice movements, and environmental impact moves market price and boosts employee productivity. For example, the “Triple Bottom Line” equally prioritizes people, planet, and profit from an accounting perspective.

The case is clear: both the market and investors reward activities that improve the lives of employees, customers, and citizens. Why? Because it signals adaptable leaders who are responsive to the demands of the workforce. It is also a sign that our cultural values are also shifting.

Is it possible that the “good guys” don’t finish last?

Changing Expectations of Leaders

While this change is both rapid and significant, it is also true that we have grown accustomed to powerful leaders often being some of the least altruistic individuals we know. For example, historically, Machiavellian personality traits (e.g., manipulation) often still predict leadership effectiveness. Plus, according to the Paradox of Power, the skills that help us achieve positions of power and influence (i.e., humility and compassion) are the very skills that deteriorate once we get there – even if they’re the skills leaders need to leverage now more than ever.

Why does this matter?

Well, leaders are the “linking pins” of the employees to their perceptions of the organization. If you want to build altruism into your organization, it starts with leaders. They also happen to be one of the most significant predictors of employees’ turnover intentions and trust in the company. As the saying goes: “People don’t quit bad jobs; they quit bad bosses.” Correct: this isn’t the universal driver behind every departure. But if you have leaders with the “old guard” mentality who depend on dominance and coercion? It’s safe to say your employer brand – and consequentially market value – are at risk.

Contagious Altruism: Foster Trust and Purpose

If a company was not built from the ground up with their employer brand in mind, investing in their stakeholders can feel check-the-box-ish. The worst-case scenario (and we have all seen it before) is when an organization launches a new set of values and are caught in contradiction when their leaders are not living proof.  Indeed, the individuals who receive the most scrutiny (leaders and managers) also have the carrots and sticks to incentivize and reinforce change.

While there are many ways to continue building altruism into a shareholder-centric strategy, focusing on your leaders is one of the most worthwhile routes to change. Want to see results in both stakeholder buy-in and the bottom line?

Prioritize these four leadership behaviors:

Defining How the Business Has a Greater Purpose

One of the biggest predictors of employee satisfaction and engagement is the sense that their work is creating a positive impact. Leaders should have a strong elevator pitch about how the business emerges above and beyond the work itself. They must demonstrate how the company impacts the world in a responsible and meaningful way.

Empowering Team Members

According to Deloitte’s 2021 Human Capital Trends report, a decentralized workforce spreads ownership and engages employees in creativity and mastery of their craft. Leaders now more than ever must continue to focus on the division of labor and delegation. What can each of your team members do better than anyone else on the team? How can you leverage those strengths to improve employee empowerment?

Creating Choice in What and How Employees Contribute

The very same task can indeed be more effortful or more motivating, based on who is doing it. As you set the tone for corporate altruism, ask your team members what they enjoy doing and why. Then allocate responsibilities and opportunities accordingly.

Create a Superordinate Group Identity – A Sub-Culture

It can be challenging to unite your teams when distinctive subgroup identities exist and are conflicting (especially with the divisive political climate at play). So leaders must be explicit when defining a group identity that rises above individual differences.

There are many models for what it takes to be someone’s best boss. The overarching goal?

Ensure your organization sets the expectation that they become a social enterprise. Because two historically competing priorities – upholding employer brand and market value – are now the joint cost of admission to a future driven by contagious corporate altruism.

 

#WorkTrends Recap: The Mood Elevator

What does a good mood (or worse — a bad one) have to do with company culture?

A lot, according to Larry Senn, author of “The Mood Elevator: Take Charge of Your Feelings, Be a Better You” and the undisputed “Father of Corporate Culture.” Many years ago, his doctoral dissertation was the world’s first study of corporate culture. During a recent #WorkTrends event, our guest host Shawn Murphy asked Larry why mood matters, and how leaders can really lead major cultural change.

Leaders’ Moods Matter

The central finding of Larry’s research was that organizations tend to become shadows of their leaders. “Anybody who is a parent or a leader has a great obligation for how they show up each day.”
In other words, if the boss comes into the room in a bad mood, she can sink the meeting — fast.

Living at the Top of the Mood Elevator

Larry explains that we all ride “the mood elevator” every day. At the top are positive traits such as gratitude, resourcefulness, curiosity and purpose. At the bottom is depression. In between are the various moods that strike us all day.

Source: themoodelevator.com

His work has focused on helping people spend more of their time being at their best, at the top of the mood elevator, and limiting the damage they do when they’re feeling down.

“Have you ever said something to a loved one you wish you could take back? Have you ever written an email you shouldn’t have written? Well, I guarantee you were in the lower levels, below the midpoint, on the mood elevator,” he says.

When we learn to spend more time on the upper levels, and do less damage to ourselves and others while on the lower levels, we can have a better life, better relationships, a better marriage — the list goes on.

In other words: “Take control of your emotions and be a better you,” he says.

Real-Word Examples: How Organizations Use the Mood Elevator to Shape Culture

Larry co-founded the culture-shaping firm Senn Delaney, which uses concepts like the mood elevator to improve corporate culture. He points to several examples of organizations that are at the top of their game because of these simple concepts.

“We have one hospital that has the highest patient satisfaction and highest engagement scores in America. They have a 6-foot wall with the mood elevator on it in the nursing station. The nurses put their tongue depressors on where they are when they come in,” he says.

Another example he shares: “Victoria’s Secret is the most renowned retailer in the world. You go in the back room of a Victoria’s Secret store and they’ve got a mood elevator on their wall. It’s a very practical thing. It’s one of the many things at Senn Delaney we teach, but it is a powerful notion and tool in life.”

Aim for Curiosity, Not Judgment

If you’re looking for an easy way to reframe your mood, try this quick tweak that has major results: Aim for curiosity, not judgment.

“Let’s say someone you know does something that you don’t like or doesn’t make sense to you,” Larry says. “You’ve got a choice: You can go to judgment, you can go to anger, or you can go to curiosity and say, ‘Huh? I wonder how they see this?’”

“We make things up and we create these stories in our head, and what we great teams are able to do is they assume positive intention. They assume that everybody on the team really does want to get a good outcome. They may have different ways of doing, they may not agree with them, but don’t assume that they have negative motives. Start from the assumption of positive intention and be curious to figure out why they see it that way.”

Another way to think of curiosity versus judgment: Work toward a “growth mindset.” Larry points to Carol Dwick, who offers some fascinating work in the area of growth mindset in her book “Mindset.” She says that people tend to either have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.

“Today, more than any other time in history, we need to have a growth mindset in organizations to have agility and innovation,” he says. “The essence of a growth mindset is living in curiosity — being okay not knowing, asking questions, not being the expert, but just to wonder about things.”

“If you can just live life more in curiosity than judgment, you’ll have a totally different life,” Larry says.

Stay tuned for more inspiration on the #WorkTrends podcast, every Wednesday: http://bit.ly/2DjCkja.

Can Ethical Corporate Culture and Compliance Co-Exist in Today’s Digital Workplace?

True story here. A few years ago, I sat with the Sales VP of a major corporation I worked for. We were good friends and decided to meet over lunch. I was relocating. He was recruiting me to become part of the new regional team.

“I appreciate your offer,” I responded. “But working for Company X morally, ethically and spiritually compromises me.” He leaned back in his chair, looked me in the eyes, and sighed. He had absolutely no response to my statement.

What percentage of your workforce holds that same perspective, but unstated?

The pace and cadence of digitally-connected organizations challenges the concept of ethical corporate culture.

How large are the gaps between employee handbook content, corporate mission and vision statements? How consistently and successfully are these ideas embraced, enacted and reinforced in the workplace, each day?

Can abstract values reinforce a digitally-underpinned, ethical corporate culture? 

The concept of the values-based organizational culture originates from Edgar Schein, Emeritus Professor at MIT Sloan School of Management. His seminal work, Organizational Culture and Leadership (originally published in the 1980’s), defines three distinct levels of organizational culture. (Yes, I’ve read the book).

Cultural artifacts are observable elements such as dress code and office lingo. Then, espoused values define the organization’s value system, including behavioral rules and how employees represent the corporate behavioral norm to each other and to outsiders. Finally, shared assumptions include deeply embedded behaviors which may not be documented, but certainly are inferred. Shared assumptions anticipate how employees react to situations.

However, the dynamics of the digital workplace offer a fresh set of value challenges. First, the post-industrial concept of remaining an employee “for life” is no longer the workplace norm. Many employees have expiration dates contingent on career strategy, performance or organizational shortcomings, or merger and acquisition. Then, leadership may be hired to flip the organization rather lead it into perpetuity. Also, a growing segment of the workforce are migratory and transient: gig-employees or remote digital workers.

As a result, creating and transferring a value continuum across the corporation is easier said than done. Ultimately, the survival of ethical corporate culture relies on employee integrity.

The challenge becomes how to quantify the abstract, qualitative notion of ethical corporate culture. 

Levels of employee engagement, external factors impacting security, and often departmentally-specific churn, exert selective pressure on the viability and evolution of ethical corporate culture.

Perhaps the best compass ensuring continued cultural quality becomes hiring for integrity. Integrity should, by its nature, defy shape-shifting trends and fads. The 2015 Deloitte report on building world-class ethics and compliance programs targets a positive culture of integrity as the program’s ground zero.

Integrity is defined as being honest, having strong moral principles, being whole and undivided. Integrity differs from loyalty in that loyal individuals pledge support or allegiance, regardless of being motivated by strong moral principles.

Within an ethical corporate ecosystem, the goal becomes attaining high levels of agreement based on shared assumptions (remember those?) about what is positively valued by an organization. In addition, shared agreement is reached about what is negative and devalued. In addition, these shared assumptions infer an equally high level of intensity, passion and engagement around showcasing those agreed-upon values.

Will rules-based compliance programs guarantee values-based employee and leadership integrity?

However, digital transformation of the workplace brings with it new selective pressures for survival of the fittest corporate culture. Enter federally-mandated safety, security and regulatory requirements. As a result, organizations become busy with their tangible artifacts: various compliance To-Do lists.

Consequently, corporate values and ethics become synonymous with assessing, measuring and auditing compliance to rules and regulations. Furthermore, preserving organizational “culture” dissolves into producing audited, assessed, measured and analyzed compliance reports. After all, these quantifiable, documented results demonstrate to stakeholders, stockholders and regulators that an organization, and its employees, follow stated rules.

However, this trajectory evolves human resource professionals into compliance police. What is lost in translation is their potential role in co-creating human capital strategy leveraging an ethical corporate culture.

What happens when rules and regulations shape-shift in response to external pressures? When leadership and compliance personnel lack integrity, the organizational value system disintegrates. As a result, executing compliance and risk management strategy may not ensure the preservation of core ethical values and behaviors

At best, ethical human capital hiring strategy leverages critical thinking skills and workplace responsibility.

Perhaps a better strategy for curating ethical corporate culture leverages a human capital strategy emphasizing employee ownership of and responsibility to commitments and agreements. When this model is adopted, the target is hiring for critical thinking skills as well as functional skill sets. These core skills include the ability not only to discern right from wrong, but also involve providing cultural avenues to take action.

After all, creating an enduring, ethical corporate culture curates a set of commonly espoused, shared positive values and behavioral norms. These norms and values enhance employees’ own value sets. Otherwise, employees become disenchanted, unproductive and unengaged because they lose belief in organizational ethics. When that happens, you potentially create a sandbox for moral, ethical and possibly even spiritual compromise.

Photo Credit: dominicatorumstudiorum Flickr via Compfight cc

How to Recruit Like the World’s Best Companies

The world’s best companies are mission-driven, and they make more money than their competitors. Mission-driven companies have 30% more innovation and 40% higher levels of employee retention

These companies know that to achieve their mission, they need the kind of staff that will get them there; the kind of people who are highly engaged. But in 2015, this was only true for 32% of employees.

What determines high engagement levels, is corporate culture. It’s safe to assume that not many companies are paying too much attention to culture, but the ones that are, boast higher revenue.

What Does Employee Engagement Mean & Why Does It Matter?

When employees are highly engaged with the companies they work for, it means they are emotionally invested in the company’s vision and mission, and enthusiastically take ownership of their work to produce high levels of productivity. As you can imagine, the spinoff of that results in higher profits.

When staff are disengaged, they are only interested in their paycheck. These people hang around in the coffee area, watch the clock for home time, work only as much as they need to, come in late, doodle during meetings without making any valuable contributions…you know the type.

Undoubtedly, that kind of disinterest hurts the company. In fact, Hubworks reports that the cost of low employee engagement accounts for a $450 to $550 billion loss each year.

Considering that, it’s understandable why the world’s best companies boast the highest engagement levels.

Corporate Culture Determines Engagement Levels

Now, every company has its own culture. As you can see from the previous statistics, this is mostly by default; when culture “happens” to a company, rather than coming about by strategic design.

To implement a desired corporate culture, the following questions need to be answered:

  • What is our company’s mission?
  • How do we break down the overall mission into annual business goals?
  • How do we break business goals down into departmental goals?
  • What kind of staff do we need to achieve our goals?

The kind of workers you’ll need to achieve your goals will determine what business culture will attract them.

Let’s talk about Apple for a moment: Apple is considered one of the best companies to work for. It boasts a 70% employee engagement rate, even though most staff work under a tremendous amount of pressure. Apple offers its staff many perks, one of them full education reimbursement.

About this, Gallup Business Journal says:

“Apple had created an attraction strategy that differentiated the company from its competitors — and that appealed directly to the type of employee it wanted to hire. Apple’s brilliantly defined employment brand not only speaks to people with a strong desire to learn and grow, but also says a lot about the company’s culture and what it values.” 

The first step to recruit like the world’s best companies is developing a strategy to attract and retain the kind of people you need to achieve your company’s goals.

How to Emulate the Recruitment Process of The World’s Best Companies

Like attracts like. To attract the kind of workers you want, you’re going to have to create a workplace that draws the people you are after.

Interestingly, motivation levels don’t increase according to salary, so slapping a 10% increase on everyone’s pay won’t cut it. Instead, you first need to create a culture that is attractive to the people you want to attract. When that’s in place, follow a similar recruitment process of the world’s best companies, which fits your own culture and values.

Once the company has implemented their desired culture, the recruitment process begins with ad design and copy, moving on to interviewing and tests, and ending with effective induction programs.

Ad design and copy

Step number one to attract the right people is the ad. Ideally, the ad design and copywriting should be done by the marketing department, not recruitment, because the ad is branded marketing material, and needs to include:

  1. An attractive design that appeals to the people you are looking for (which is why you need to understand precisely what drives your ideal candidate).
  2. A title that stands out from the rest of the boring ads, and which appeals to your target audience.
  3. A first line that appeals to the candidate’s top internal motivator.
  4. An emphasis on what the candidate will do, learn and aim towards.
  5. Where possible, avoid specifying skills and education, especially when attitude is an important factor. Focus on attracting the right people instead of weeding out the bad apples.

Interviewing

LinkedIn listed a “Top Attractors” list in 2016. The top five best companies to work for include, in this order:

  1. Google
  2. Salesforce
  3. Facebook
  4. Apple
  5. Amazon

Let’s look at how they handle interviews:

But for Apple, all of the top 5 companies kickoff the interviewing process virtually, and then go on to rigorous face to face interviews. For instance, Google candidates who pass the virtual interview proceed to the next phase where Google conducts on-site interviews with four employees (not managers, but future peers) for up to 45 minutes each.

Facebook conducts 4 – 5 interviews before making an offer.

Emulating the methods of these top companies – affordable even for smaller companies – would require software like ClickMeeting which could be used not only for conducting interviews one-on-one, or with up to 25 people, but you could also use webinars to train new employees, especially if you work with remote teams.

What’s most important in the interview phase, is the information you need to find out, based on what’s important to your company.

Psychological tests are the norm for the world’s best companies because they understand that although you can teach a skill, you can’t instill the right attitude or motivation. For example, if the candidate is to be groomed for leadership, the company needs to know if the person has leadership abilities and what their leadership style is so that it fits the culture of the company.

The entire recruitment process is detailed and heavily invested in because it’s designed to attract the best and retain employees for as long as possible.

With that in mind, and following the examples of the world’s best companies, you’d aim to:

  • Allow candidates to showcase their skills, thinking style, leadership ability and whether they fit the company culture or not.
  • Ask questions around behavioral, hypothetical and case-based scenarios.
  • Provide role-specific initiatives where necessary, like role-playing a mock sales call. To determine teamwork ability, Apple places candidates into small groups for collaboration exercises.
  • Identify abilities with personality assessments and tests. Salesforce presents odd questions like “What’s your kryptonite?” so that they can see how fast candidates think on their feet.
  • Ascertain specific ability with challenges and practical exercises or tasks.
  • In interviews, find out different perspectives from the presence of a few staff members or managers.

As this article is about recruitment, it won’t go into onboarding, but the induction phase of recruitment is vital, as it sets the tone for how candidates view your company, which impacts their future commitment and engagement levels.

The world’s best companies pay a lot of attention to making the onboarding experience streamlined, professional and fun.

Being the Best at Recruiting

The motivation for modeling your company’s recruitment process after the world’s best companies is higher revenue and decreased cost.

With the end goal in mind and the realization that the top companies have the highest employee engagement rates, you’d begin identifying the ideal culture for your company, and the one that will attract and retain quality employees who will work to achieve the company’s goals.

The recruiting process starts with the ad design and copy and then moves on to interviewing.

The best companies have recruitment processes that are strategic and consist of clever ways of identifying information about candidates that can’t easily be manipulated.

Instituting recruitment processes like the world’s best companies is time consuming, but the results are well worth it, as the statistics well prove.

Photo Credit: joybenetton Flickr via Compfight cc

HR: It’s Time to “Level Up” with Gamification

Gamification – using game-play elements in a nongame activity – is trending across a range of industries. For a while, HR professionals were excited about its potential to improve employee engagement and training, but adoption rates have been slow. Isn’t it time for HR to “level up” with gamification?

Consider this.

In January 2016, U.S. employment engagement rates remained sluggish at 32.5 percent, and 67.5 percent of employees were not engaged or were actively disengaged from their work. And the numbers on engagement have largely remained the same since 2012. Gamification might just hold the key to improving corporate culture, commitment, and drive. 

Use Gamification to Change Information Acquisition

Educators are using gamification to make learning fun, and marketers use gamification to encourage prospective customers to interact with a brand. Small and large companies are using it to increase workplace efficiency, offer training, solve problems, and retain top talent.

Gamification works because it changes the way people look at information.

At a very basic level, you can think about “Leapfrog,” the children’s learning game. Sitting at a table working through equations isn’t always fun or motivating, but trying to get your favorite character from one stage to another is exciting to kids. If a child has to do a little math along the way, so be it. The same principles apply to adult consumers and employees. Gamification changes the framework so that individuals engage with a problem, data set, or situation—in a different and often entertaining way.

Connect Gamification and HR

In HR, gamification has implications for recruitment, benefits administration, health and wellness initiatives, and employee engagement. While the applications feel deceptively simple and fun, the organization benefits from tangible return on engagement. Gamification occurs most often at the digital level. Every interaction creates data sets for adoption and performance that employers can use to modify the environment or better support employees.

It’s a win-win situation.

Large companies such as Accenture, Deloitte, GE, Ford, Google, and Microsoft are using gamification principles to change the way they work. I believe adoption rates will start to increase as companies demonstrate real employee engagement levels that directly correspond to gamification principles. Still not convinced? Here are a few of the ways major companies have successfully integrated gamification into HR functions:

  • Google Code Jam – This competition, focused on software writing, helps the company recognize new recruits. With prizes up to $50,000, the approach attracts talented engineers and developers who are interested in testing their skills within a crowd.
  • co.uk – The British equivalent of the National Security Agency uses this website to attract qualified candidates. Individuals applying for certain positions must crack the code to move through the recruiting process.
  • Badgeville – Deloitte’s executive training program uses gamification to improve learning pathways, real-world simulations, and offer feedback. The program has resulted in a 50 percent increase in course completion and 36 percent higher weekly retention rates.
  • REVEAL – L’Oreal uses a gaming platform, complete with avatars and rewards, to test candidate knowledge and skill sets. The game offers much more than a vetting system, however. It also teaches individuals about the business, the organizational structure, and team members who work on new products.

Avoid Barriers to Gamification Adoption

Somehow, despite promising success stories, many companies have not embraced gamification as a meaningful solution to industry challenges. Some of the most common barriers to adoption include:

  • A belief that gamification is too expensive. However, companies do not necessarily need to develop a full-fledged game or gaming software to take advantage of gamification. Leadership can apply the basic principles to existing processes to improve engagement rates.
  • Older executives do not buy into the strategy. Whether your company operates under board management or a chief executive officer, some old-school managers may not understand or approve of gamification in the workplace. Check with the Millennials in the company and get their help in making the case for gamification to the older folks.
  • Lack of understanding about gamification. What is gamification and why is it a good idea? Many businesses today still don’t understand how it works or the range of benefits that accrue to incorporating game-like incentives into workplace activities. However more and more companies are using it and talking about the benefits—so it is becoming easier to explain gamification and to demonstrate its value to those who still don’t get it.

Gamification is not one-size-fits-all. Every company must design a strategy that addresses individual business challenges. The technical programming and game concepts must align with company goals. An organization needs to understand rules of the game, and tie those to the goals, player motivators and fit, to achieve real-world results.

Its Time to “Level Up” With Gamification and the Future of HR

Gamers like to talk about leveling up, meaning moving up to the next level. HR? Are you listening? Gamification is more than a passing trend, and it has the potential to revolutionize the way human resources professionals conduct business on a daily basis.

The benefits of incorporating gamification into HR activities are becoming increasingly clear. And, as more companies gain an understanding of its uses and benefits and see examples showcasing ROI, adoption rates will start to rise. It’s time to see where you can apply gamification to make valuable changes for your company.

This post was first published on Converge.xyz on 4/20/2016.

Photo Credit: lizsmith_info via Compfight cc

HR: It’s Time to “Level Up” with Gamification

Gamification – using game-play elements in a nongame activity – is trending across a range of industries. For a while, HR professionals were excited about its potential to improve employee engagement and training, but adoption rates have been slow. Isn’t it time for HR to “level up” with gamification?

Consider this.

In January 2016, U.S. employment engagement rates remained sluggish at 32.5 percent, and 67.5 percent of employees were not engaged or were actively disengaged from their work. And the numbers on engagement have largely remained the same since 2012. Gamification might just hold the key to improving corporate culture, commitment, and drive. 

Use Gamification to Change Information Acquisition

Educators are using gamification to make learning fun, and marketers use gamification to encourage prospective customers to interact with a brand. Small and large companies are using it to increase workplace efficiency, offer training, solve problems, and retain top talent.

Gamification works because it changes the way people look at information.

At a very basic level, you can think about “Leapfrog,” the children’s learning game. Sitting at a table working through equations isn’t always fun or motivating, but trying to get your favorite character from one stage to another is exciting to kids. If a child has to do a little math along the way, so be it. The same principles apply to adult consumers and employees. Gamification changes the framework so that individuals engage with a problem, data set, or situation—in a different and often entertaining way.

Connect Gamification and HR

In HR, gamification has implications for recruitment, benefits administration, health and wellness initiatives, and employee engagement. While the applications feel deceptively simple and fun, the organization benefits from tangible return on engagement. Gamification occurs most often at the digital level. Every interaction creates data sets for adoption and performance that employers can use to modify the environment or better support employees.

It’s a win-win situation.

Large companies such as Accenture, Deloitte, GE, Ford, Google, and Microsoft are using gamification principles to change the way they work. I believe adoption rates will start to increase as companies demonstrate real employee engagement levels that directly correspond to gamification principles. Still not convinced? Here are a few of the ways major companies have successfully integrated gamification into HR functions:

  • Google Code Jam – This competition, focused on software writing, helps the company recognize new recruits. With prizes up to $50,000, the approach attracts talented engineers and developers who are interested in testing their skills within a crowd.
  • co.uk – The British equivalent of the National Security Agency uses this website to attract qualified candidates. Individuals applying for certain positions must crack the code to move through the recruiting process.
  • Badgeville – Deloitte’s executive training program uses gamification to improve learning pathways, real-world simulations, and offer feedback. The program has resulted in a 50 percent increase in course completion and 36 percent higher weekly retention rates.
  • REVEAL – L’Oreal uses a gaming platform, complete with avatars and rewards, to test candidate knowledge and skill sets. The game offers much more than a vetting system, however. It also teaches individuals about the business, the organizational structure, and team members who work on new products.

Avoid Barriers to Gamification Adoption

Somehow, despite promising success stories, many companies have not embraced gamification as a meaningful solution to industry challenges. Some of the most common barriers to adoption include:

  • A belief that gamification is too expensive. However, companies do not necessarily need to develop a full-fledged game or gaming software to take advantage of gamification. Leadership can apply the basic principles to existing processes to improve engagement rates.
  • Older executives do not buy into the strategy. Whether your company operates under board management or a chief executive officer, some old-school managers may not understand or approve of gamification in the workplace. Check with the Millennials in the company and get their help in making the case for gamification to the older folks.
  • Lack of understanding about gamification. What is gamification and why is it a good idea? Many businesses today still don’t understand how it works or the range of benefits that accrue to incorporating game-like incentives into workplace activities. However more and more companies are using it and talking about the benefits—so it is becoming easier to explain gamification and to demonstrate its value to those who still don’t get it.

Gamification is not one-size-fits-all. Every company must design a strategy that addresses individual business challenges. The technical programming and game concepts must align with company goals. An organization needs to understand rules of the game, and tie those to the goals, player motivators and fit, to achieve real-world results.

It’s Time to “Level Up” With Gamification and the Future of HR

Gamers like to talk about leveling up, meaning moving up to the next level. HR? Are you listening? Gamification is more than a passing trend, and it has the potential to revolutionize the way human resources professionals conduct business on a daily basis.

The benefits of incorporating gamification into HR activities are becoming increasingly clear. And, as more companies gain an understanding of its uses and benefits and see examples showcasing ROI, adoption rates will start to rise. It’s time to see where you can apply gamification to make valuable changes for your company.

This post was first published on Converge.xyz on 4/20/2016.

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The Secret Formula for Exemplary Leadership

As the landscape of business continues to evolve, we not only see changes outside the organization, we see changes inside the organization as well. That means different communication styles, different individual work style preferences, different motivators and incentives, different corporate cultures—and as a result, leadership styles must also evolve. In today’s corporate world, leaders who take a more relational approach to management find success. Why? Because the traditional world of work that existed in the past—largely dictatorial and autocratic, is no longer an option if your goal is on not only creating a great corporate culture, but also inspiring optimal productivity from your workforce.

Today’s #WorkTrends guest, author and former New England Patriots linebacker, Dr. Jason Carthen, discussed exemplary leadership and its positive impact on the workplace. He explored the keys to this leadership style, or the “secret formula,” and why a relational leadership style is better than leadership styles of the past. Some of the keys Dr. Carthen mentioned include:

  • Leaders need to get their employees’ hearts involved if they want people completely invested
  • Intention is the difference – leaders need to be intentional in all they do

The #WorkTrends conversation that ensued and Dr. Carthen’s thoughts on the topic was informative—especially for senior leaders working to hire, motivate, inspire, and retain top talent. Carthen’s new book 52 Ways to Tackle Leadership for Your Success, is coming out soon and now available for preorder.

You can listen to the #WorkTrends podcast on our BlogTalk Radio channel here.

You’re always invited to check out the highlights of the conversation from our Storify here:

Haven’t yet tuned into a #WorkTrends show? Well, it’s never too late. You can tune in and participate in the chat with us every Wednesday from 1-2pm ET (10-11am PT). Next Wednesday, May 4, we will be joined by Scott Levy, author of “Tweet Naked” to discuss how businesses or individuals can use social media to grow their business or brand.

The TalentCulture #WorkTrends conversation continues daily across social media. Stay up-to-date by following the #WorkTrends Twitter stream; make it a regular habit to pop into our LinkedIn group; or check out our Google+ community. Engage with us any time on our social networks, or stay current with trending World of Work topics on our website or through our weekly email newsletter.

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#WorkTrends Recap: Corporate Culture & Understanding Your Workplace Genome

Understanding your corporate culture is critical to the success of any organization. Culture is not one size fits all. It differs based on who the employees are, what they value, what inspires them, what motivates them, what it is about the company that attracted them, what makes them proud to be part of the team and, of course, why they stay. All of these pieces make up your workplace genome.

On today’s WorkTrends show, guest Charlie Judy explored what it means to honestly understand and embrace your workplace culture. He talked about why it’s important to stop trying to become the organization everyone else says you are or should be, and how to make the most of the organization you already are.

It was an invigorating discussion that you can listen to on our BlogTalk Radio channel, which you can find here.

You can also check out the highlights of the conversation here:

We have built an awesome #WorkTrends community and would love to have you join us. You can tune in and participate with us every Wednesday from 1-2pm ET (10-11am PT). Next Wednesday, April 27, we have an exciting show where we’ll explore the keys to exemplary leadership with guest Dr. Jason Carthen, author and former New England Patriots linebacker.

The TalentCulture #WorkTrends conversation continues daily across social media. Stay up to date by following the #WorkTrends Twitter stream, in our LinkedIn group and on our Google+ community. Engage with us any time on our social networks or stay current with trending World of Work topics on our website or through our weekly email newsletter.

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#WorkTrends Preview: Corporate Culture and Understanding Your Workplace Genome

When undertaking any transformation within the workplace, leaders should focus on a deep understanding of the corporate culture. That means knowing who their employees are, what they value, what inspires them, what motivates them, what it is about the company that attracted them, what makes them proud to be part of your team and, of course, why they stay. These things? They are your “workplace genome.”

You’ll want to join us for the next #WorkTrends show as our guest Charlie Judy will help us explore that workplace genome. We will talk about why it’s important to stop trying to become the organization everyone else says you are or should be, and truly embracing the organization you already are. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it?

In this episode of the #WorkTrends show, Charlie will walk us through the basics of:

  • Understanding your corporate culture
  • Aligning culture with true success
  • How to OWN everything about what you are – the good, bad and the ugly
  • Discovering and understanding culture at an intimate and authentic level

This conversation will help businesses and their HR teams laser focus in on corporate culture, maximizing the true essence of your business, and attracting and retaining top talent in the process. This show is sure to be as interesting to employees as it is to HR pros and senior managers, as they will no doubt share insights on what matters to them from a corporate culture standpoint, what attracts them to an employer or a job, and what the key to retaining them is. It is sure to be a don’t miss episode and we’d love to have you there!

#WorkTrends Event: Corporate Culture and Understanding Your Workplace Genome

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Tune in to our LIVE online podcast Wednesday, April 20 — 1 pm ET / 10 am PT

Join TalentCulture #WorkTrends Host Meghan M. Biro joined by Charlie Judy as they discuss corporate culture and understanding your workplace genome.

#WorkTrends on Twitter — Wednesday, April 20 — 1:30 pm ET / 10:30 am PT

Immediately following the radio show, the team will move to the #WorkTrends Twitter stream to continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community. We invite everyone with a Twitter account to participate as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: What are different ways workplace culture manifests itself? #WorkTrends (Tweet the question)

Q2: How can an organization truly own its culture? #WorkTrends (Tweet the question)

Q3: How can an organization authentically improve its culture? #WorkTrends (Tweet the question)

Until then, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #WorkTrends Twitter feed, our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group, and in our TalentCulture G+ community. Feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions. See you there!

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#WorkTrends Recap: Simple Ways to Measure Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is something that HR pros and their colleagues in the C-suite are laser-focused on, and measuring engagement is often at the top of the list. Why the interest? When employees are engaged, they likely adopt the vision, values, and purpose of the organization where they work—and it shows. Engaged employees are passionate contributors, innovative problem solvers, and the very best colleagues. Equally as important, high-performing, engaged employees want to work in places that foster and cultivate engagement as an integral part of the corporate culture. Smart HR pros and senior leaders want to cultivate that kind of environment.

On today’s #WorkTrends show, our guest Leila Zayed from Best Companies Group addressed the importance of employee engagement and shared some practical ways to measure this valuable component of overall culture. As always, it was a discussion filled with information sure to be beneficial for everyone – from employees to HR pros to managers and the C-Suite.

Have you checked out a #WorkTrends show? You can listen at any time on our BlogTalk Radio channel, which you can find here or you can check out the highlights of the conversation as it played out on Storify:

We have built a vibrant community around the TalentCulture #WorkTrends show and would love to have you join us. You can find us every Wednesday from 1-2pm ET (10-11am PT). We have an exciting show planned on Wednesday, April 20, where we’ll explore understanding your workplace genome with our guest, Charlie Judy, founding partner of Work XO, a company dedicated to improving how we work.

Join our social communities and stay up-to-date! The TalentCulture conversation continues daily. See what’s happening right now on the #WorkTrends Twitter stream, in our LinkedIn group and on our Google+ community. Engage with us any time on our social networks or stay current with trending World of Work topics on our website or through our weekly email newsletter.

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Company Culture : The Magic Ingredient You’ve Been Missing

Company culture. Dozens of business articles highlight the importance of culture, how to diagnose the current company culture, and how to guide culture. Business owners and managers are encouraged to choose characteristics that will lead to a profitable company and encourage all employees to arrive at work with those principles in mind (see Creating A Company Culture Where Ideas Are Encouraged).

I work at a start-up. The managers spent months ironing out the principles that the company would incorporate into our workflow which would become the culture. They even devised a fun poem to remind us how we should be developing a culture of learning and pride.

Months passed. That culture didn’t develop. Not a surprise. Workers can’t be ordered to take pride in their work. And the overwhelming collection of low performers weren’t being encouraged to improve. Worse, no one was really doing anything to counteract those issues.

Many companies that decide to develop a culture stumble into this very issue. They determine what culture they want, they unveil their vision, they develop half-hearted measures, and then months later they wonder “what happened?”

Dr. Mark Allen, an MBA professor with Pepperdine University, presented a webinar on culture driven companies that reveals that fatal flaw of many culture initiatives: the failure to determine “who is responsible for culture in your organization.”

At the start-up I work with, the answer would probably vary. Some would attribute responsibility to managers, others to marketing, and some to everyone within the organization. That ambiguity is a problem. If everyone thinks someone else is responsible, then no one will actively work on cultivating culture.

As you contemplate who should be responsible, you might also want to consider Dr. Allen’s second question: “who is accountable for culture?” Many organizations might be able to provide an answer to the question who is responsible, but very few will also be able to adequately supply an answer to the question who is accountable.

The question of accountability shatters any illusion that the company I work for is really trying to shape the culture. We might claim everyone is responsible, but no one is accountable. No one is asked in their bi-yearly reviews, how much they have done to shape the culture or why the attempts to wrangle the culture has failed. No one is reprimanded or held accountable for that failure.

And that lack of accountability is a problem. Allen reminds us that “it’s very hard to accomplish anything in business without accountability.” Without accountability, developing culture becomes a fun, annoying, or complicated side project. Side projects get pushed to (well) the side when everyone, HR, marketing, or managers are given more vital tasks that will affect their standing within the company.

Accountability ensures that everyone put in charge of the task will bring their “A” game. Due to the very real potential to be reprimanded in some way over failure to instill a good culture, employees who are responsible for culture are more motivated to:

  • Make thorough game plans.
  • Enthusiastically tackle the plans.
  • Periodically evaluate how the culture has been incorporated within the company.
  • Learn from those failures.
  • Switch tracts if the current game plans aren’t working.

Responsibility and accountability are vital to successfully guiding a company’s culture in the right direction. As business owners, managers, and employees contemplate how to best incorporate a culture, they should start the process off right be determining who among them will be responsible for the culture and how they will be held accountable for their ability to implement that culture.

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Want Great Corporate Culture: Focus on Nurturing Relationships

The holy grail of companies large and small is a great corporate culture. And what’s the secret sauce, the master ingredient when it comes to creating a great work culture? It’s all about the relationships your team creates with one another. As a manager, you can play a big role in fostering great corporate culture by nurturing and guiding your team when it comes to building those relationships. Let’s explore.

A Deloitte University Press study earlier this year cited employee engagement and work culture as the number one challenge facing organizations today. There are a number of reasons HR professionals are focused on work culture, not the least of which is the increasingly competitive job market that impacts recruiters’ ability to find and retain top talent. Add the fact that the more engaged and happier the workplace, the more productive and profitable it will be; it becomes increasingly clear why fostering relationships and focusing on good culture are key parts of the equation.

Why Workplace Relationships are Important

Research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that employed Americans aged 25–54 spend more time working than doing anything else—a statistic that shouldn’t’t surprise anyone familiar with the American work ethic. This underscores why workplace relationships are so important; if you spend the major part of your day—your life, even—with the same people, the connections you have with them play a big role in overall job satisfaction.

However, it is important to remember that these relationships won’t always just build themselves. Sometimes it takes an engaged manager, with goals of nurturing and teambuilding, to get the ball rolling. When people really understand each other, they have a much easier time working together smoothly. In addition, closer, more connected relationships lead to better teamwork, higher morale, and increased productivity.

How Employers Can Nurture Connected Work Relationships

So, we know that well-connected teams and strong relationships are important, but how can employers (and managers within organizations) foster opportunities for relationship building and nurture them along the way? Here are some ideas to get you started:

Get out of the office. Holding off-site teambuilding events may feel a bit cliché, but they happen all the time, especially with sales teams. Why? Because they work. Taking activities off site where people can relax and show more of their true selves accelerates feelings of connection. Whether you host monthly happy hours, dinners, or celebrations to recognize team achievements, simply stepping off campus can go a long way toward developing employee trust and team cohesion. Being together out of the office allows people to get to know each other as complete, well-rounded human beings.

Build trust between your company and employees. Your employees are a reflection of the work culture you create, and the perception of your brand is founded by the way you treat them. If the environment you build is approachable, recognizes achievements, and offers support, your employees will adopt those same attitudes and it will be reflected in the way they treat and engage with one another and external audiences, including customers and potential employees.

Use technology to help build work culture. Technology is readily available to help you recognize teamwork as well as individual performance, and encouraging your employees to be comfortable with and embrace technology is smart business. In an article for The Huffington Post, I covered various technologies that directly impact and encourage employee engagement. These include Jive, Slacker, and Yammer, for starters. Do not take for granted just how powerful technology can be in connecting and strengthening employee relationships.

Empower senior leaders and managers. When it comes to creating great work environments and good corporate culture, it takes a village. Make sure to empower your senior leaders and managers, teach them how to foster good relationships, and encourage them to nurture and guide their team members. This isn’t something that’s instinctive to everyone, so regular and ongoing training on this issue is a worthwhile investment.

Invite feedback and use it. An inclusive culture leads to employees feeling valued and appreciated. Ask for feedback about what will create and maintain a great corporate culture and build strong relationships among co-workers. It’s one thing to apply principles from a book, but employee feedback will be reflective of what may really work in your particular organization. Don’t stop with asking for their feedback; whenever possible, use it!

Be genuine and sincere. You can’t fake culture. If you’re going down this path, make sure your motives are pure and that you’re genuine and sincere with your team. People are incredibly savvy and if you talk the talk but don’t walk the walk, they’ll know it.

Recognize often. People at all levels love — and need — recognition for their efforts and successes. Make sure to create many opportunities for recognition and celebration—for small accomplishments along with the big ones. Your team will love you all the more for it.

Great corporate culture, connected employees, strong teams, happy work environments — all of these are part of what make a great organization. And whether your business is large or small, the formula for success remains the same. Be clear with employees about your overall goals related to culture and internal relationships, enlist their help, invite their ideas and implement them where possible, be sincere and transparent and endeavor to be a great communicator. Empower senior leaders and managers to nurture relationship-building within their own teams, and recognize their efforts when they do so. All these things will set you on the path to that holy grail: amazing culture, employees who support and inspire one another and, invariably, happier clients as a result.

 

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5 Essentials of Strategic Renewal

Every organizational strategy needs regular updating regardless of how successful you’ve been. It’s simply not good enough to develop your strategy and put it on the shelf, expecting that it will work indefinitely.

Always be looking for and recording the factors that have changed since you crafted the last version of your plan. The business environmental involves dynamics that are relentless and unpredictable and it’s better to be prepared for them by proactively renewing your strategy every year.

Here are 5 basics of the renewal process:

1. Revisit Your Strategy. If you don’t have a strategic game plan for your organization, create one. Ensure that your growth objective, target customer groups and competitive claim are all still valid given your current circumstances. Markets and competitors change rapidly and it is vital that what you claim to be your uniqueness is still relevant and true.

2. FOCUS. FOCUS. FOCUS.
Concentrate on as few objectives and action plans as you can. Avoid the pitfall of many organizations that think this is a brainstorming exercise where the more objectives you can define the better off you will be.

The reality is that if you have too many things to do, you won’t achieve any one of them particularly well.

Define the minimum number of objectives that will allow you to achieve 80% of your strategy. Apply your scarce resource only to the issues that will yield renewal success so figure out a handful of things to do and get on with it. Attack the critical few not the possible many.

3. Modify Your Business Processes.
Renewal requires that you analyze your business processes and modify them to be compatible with your revised direction.

Don’t assume your existing processes will work; they were created to execute your old plan not the renewed version.

And if you decide that cost reductions are required, do the process change FIRST; cutting costs without changing the WAY you do business could impair how you serve your customers.

4. CUT The CRAP.
Strategy is just as much about NOT doing things as it is about choosing a new direction. Once you have determined your renewal path, eliminate the projects and activities that are no longer a priority but simply drain the organization of time and energy.

Most organizations have difficulty doing this; they relentlessly hang on to the comfortable activities of the past and wonder why they can’t make headway on their new course.

The fact is, you don’t have the bandwidth to continue with the past and adopt a new set of priorities for the future. Assign a CUT the CRAP Champion for your team and charge them with the task of cleansing your internal environment of things that are not consistent with your renewal plan.

5. Plan On The Run.
Don’t get fooled into believing that your renewal strategy will go as planned. It won’t. There are always unforeseen events that happen and execution elements that fall short of expectations and you will have to make adjustments to your plan “on the run”.

Avoid sticking to your original course when the evidence proves its a lost cause. Develop a handful of key performance metrics and examine your progress at least monthly (in times of turbulent change, weekly monitoring may be in order).

Learn from your ongoing results and adjust your plan accordingly. The plan on the run formula: plan – execute – learn – adjust – execute – learn – adjust…

Build constant strategic renewal into your culture.

BE DIFFERENT than the herd.

Make the renewal competency your competitive advantage.

Tips For Increasing Productivity In The Workplace

We’ve all been there. It’s Monday, your weekend was much too short, and you’re getting paid to just sit at a desk, doing little to no real work.

With the birth of the Next Great Distraction seeming to crop up on the Internet every other day, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to be the productive employee you and your boss expect you to be.

Being more productive at work is not only good for your career, it will make you feel accomplished and fulfilled on your commute home.

Use these 7 productivity tips when you’re feeling slow at work to make you happier, healthier, and, in the end, more successful.

1: Exercise

The two best ways to increase your energy are through physical exercise and the proper diet. Everyone knows this, but until you’ve ingrained healthy habits, it’s much easier to continue being a sedentary junk food eater – especially while at work. The most popular alternative to 8 hours of sitting is, of course, the standing desk.

The good news is you don’t have to break the bank or take up much space to implement this work-friendly tool thanks to such manufacturers as Techni Mobili. Even bike desks can come in small, inexpensive packages. By engaging with these simple technologies, you give yourself the gifts of increased mental and physical energy.

2: Healthy Snacking

To further boost your stamina, keep only brain-power foods on hand and snack on them throughout the day, thereby stabilizing your blood glucose levels. Walnuts have been shown to increase inferential reasoning, blueberries improve short term memory, and the turmeric in curry helps to create new brain cells.

In order to increase your productivity on the job, you can intentionally set yourself up for success by instituting limits on idleness and food and, of course, by rewarding yourself for making good choices.

3: Acknowledge Employees & Coworkers

There is a simple reason for taking time out of your day to acknowledge the good work of the people you work with: putting energy into being negative drains you and those around you; positive energy generates more positive energy.

By generating an optimism epidemic, you create happy, efficient employees who are motivated to create output that prolongs the reward loop. Be realistic with your expectations, communicate them to your workforce, and reap the benefits of a happy workplace.

4: Harness the Power of Collaborative Office Spaces

Whether in a traditional office or a coworking space, people who form into teams give themselves a boost by generating a larger opportunity set and accomplishing more as a group than anyone can individually.

Creating a collaborative environment through the use of open office space not only solidifies an employee’s sense of being an integral part of the team, but research has shown that a moderate level of ambient noise can keep you alert as well. Plus, chatter and information-sharing is necessary for the generation of innovative ideas that will keep your business at the forefront of your industry.

5: Organized Fun

Friendly competition can play a large role in collaboration and productivity. Here’s how: the release of endorphins is essential to stress relief; at its heart, play is a team-building activity; a stimulated mind is more creative and poised for improved memory.

What is most important is that a playful environment comes from the top-down; the best leaders recognize that they set the tone for the work environment and it just so happens that games provide relief from mundanity.

6. Form Good Work Habits

If you haven’t done so yet, Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit, is a great read for anyone who wants to understand how to make good habits last and bad habits die off.

It all begins with the neurologically-driven habit loop: a cue triggers a routine and, if the brain likes the ensuing reward, the same cue will trigger the same routine time and time again. If you want to become addicted to habit building, there’s an app based on Duhigg’s principles – and if you play with the app too much, you can always hire someone to slap you out of that routine.

7. Take a Nap

We have all experienced the post-lunch lull – when a full stomach brings on the burning desire to trade in your desk for a nice, warm bed. Whether your belly is satiated or you just didn’t get enough sleep last night, it’s time for a 30-minute nap. Sleeping for 10 to 30 minutes during the day is just enough time to enter the peacefulness of Stage 2 sleep without delving into grogginess-inducing Stage 3 REM sleep.

Stage 2 sleep is where memory consolidation happens so, when you wake up from your nap, you not only have increased productivity, creativity, and cognitive function, but improved memory, as well. One caveat, though: taking a nap too late in the day will throw off your circadian rhythm, so it’s best to snooze in the late morning or early afternoon.

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Rewarding Diversity Instead Of Productivity

According to a study by Forbes, workplace diversity is a key driver of innovation and a critical component to success. But, what does diversity in the workplace mean? Employees can be diverse because of their race or gender, but they can also differ in what characteristics they bring to your team. Celebrate those differences and you’ll avoid groupthink catastrophes, and your workplace will thrive.

All businesses are made up of diverse personalities that constitute a larger, corporate identity. In order to create and maintain a healthy workplace atmosphere, employees should be recognized for their positive influence on your company’s culture. Yes, even the weird guy showing you pictures of his Persian cat is bringing something to the table.

Here are some team member archetypes who might be shaping your company’s culture:

Top Communicators

Find the people who are known for clarity, consistency, and thoroughness. Maybe they send the most in-depth and thoughtful responses to emails. Maybe they’re the people who are always called upon to be team spokesperson. Whatever the metric, let these employees know their value.

Top Listeners

Equally as important as communication, every company needs people who actively listen. These are the collaborators we rely on to show genuine interest in new ideas, to absorb workplace tension and to remember what was last said in a meeting.

Problem Solvers

No system is one-size-fits-all. People who drive the company forward are those who see an opportunity for improvement and run with it. Whether editing a co-worker’s report or overhauling information systems, these employees are up for the challenge.

Early Adopters

Early adopters champion progress and their enthusiasm makes others want to get in on the ground floor. Early adopters know the latest tool that can help your team succeed, or the next social network your company should be marketing on. They are essential to widespread forward momentum. Their passion for all that’s new quickly snowballs throughout your organization so that everyone wants to be on board.

Mentors

These employees are the patron saints of workplace wisdom. Not only do they have explanatory superpowers, they are your most patient and knowledgeable assets. They are sought out by employees on their first day of the job, those on their thousandth day, and those who just need a moment’s guidance.

Creative Thinkers

If you want to drive innovation, inspiration, and entertainment, these are the people to seek out. Your creative thinkers, more than anyone, need affirmation from superiors to let them know that their awesome ideas aren’t just awesome in their own heads. Keep in mind that, aside from recognition, these people require a certain level of freedom to do what they do best. You made the box, now let them think outside of it.

Every employee wants affirmation. Hot dog vendors, janitors, python programmers, content strategists — all want to be heard, understood, and reassured of their actions while at work. In business, we tend to recognize employees and co-workers for what they do, but the best companies recognize employees for who they are.  Managers who are savvy make it personal with a handwritten note. Hell, even give the creepy cat guy a custom paperweight etched with your favorite thing about him. (Hint…. it’s not his cat.)

Set time aside every week to acknowledge your key players. A workplace is like an ecosystem in that each employee contributes differently to the office — recognizing their diverse personalities will help reinforce a positive balance and facilitate employee happiness.

 

Image: bigstock

 

The Evidence Of The Whole Makes The Employer Brand

“You can twist perceptions
Reality won’t budge
You can raise objections
I will be the judge
And the jury…”

—Neil Peart (Rush, “Show Don’t Tell”)

 

He held his right hand out toward prosecutor, defense attorney and the defendant first.

“They are evidence.”

Then he put his hand on his chest.

“I represent the law.”

And then he held his hand out toward the jury box where 18 prospective jurors sat.

“And you ultimately will be the verdict.”

The judge articulated the jury selection process clearly and methodically. For me, it was the first time I had gone through one where I actually had to report to the courtroom and witness the jury questioning, waiting in the wings in case my name was called to the jury box.

In the end I was released, the jury selected before the court assistant called my name. As jurors were dismissed and new jurors called up for questioning, the judge emphasized over and over again how the jury must only evaluate the evidence presented and decide on a verdict in accordance with the law. Period. Everything else including beliefs, biases and backgrounds needed to be left at the door if at all possible.

Easier said than done of course, but this is how the U.S. criminal justice system works and it moved me to hear how objectively passionate the judge felt about the jury process and the trial itself. He also had a sense of humor about the selection process.

“I understand you good people sitting out there are really pulling for thirteen of these eighteen up here to get selected for this trial so you can be released. That’s very supportive of you. Thank you for your service.”

It struck me that this is how we deal with the world of work and our brands, but in a much more skewed way. We being leadership – the law as judge and jury – and we want business decisions made via a very filtered data set, one that includes our personal beliefs, biases and backgrounds but not the entire workforce’s, not the whole workforce.

And we keep holding court through those filters, especially when we’re an established company trying desperately, or not so, to rethink culture and rebrand the business. In doing so, are we bleeding out the good folk that work and make cultures that rock?

It’s tough to resolve the brand debt, those rehashed value propositions that haven’t meant much to the greater workforce since the company was an entrepreneurial gleam in the founder’s eye. We aren’t willing or unaware how to look at more data than how others perceive the business and the brand. All too often within our workplace we’re making important people decisions based on assumptions of the leaders, instead of the employees, which includes:

  • What we think the culture is
  • What was valuable to us at a previous age or stage in our careers
  • What matters to us in a workplace

This according to TalentCulture #TChat Show guest Susan LaMotte, SPHR, founder of exaqueo, a workforce consultancy. Susan emphasizes how important it is not to assume, and not just because of the colloquial reason and of what it makes us all when we do ass-u-me.

We should gather new data regularly from our employees through surveys, interviews, focus groups and ethnographic studies and not base business brand and culture decisions based on data from years ago or what we think it should be. Not only that we should let someone else gather the data, an objective third party if possible, so we can set our beliefs, biases and backgrounds aside while gleaning the whole of everyone else.

Because whether our business was a terrible place to work for or not, how do we tell the story now? How do we get rid of our brand debt and tell the realistic story now? Because you can bet the majority of your employees and candidates are already telling it, good or bad, and the Talent Board Candidate Experience Awards data verifies this.

A recent PeopleFluent Millennial Survey shows revealed that over one-third of the respondents value culture as the biggest factor when recommending their place of work to a friend. And over 40 percent value culture as the most important factor when choosing a job.

Asking our current employees about what our company does and doesn’t do well as an employer helps us to tell that realistic story now, and HR can and should drive this initiative. Then we can build a real employer brand foundation to better extend that brand in the market.

The jury has spoken and the verdict is in. It’s the evidence of the whole that makes the employer brand.

#TChat Preview: How To Build And Market Your Employer Brand

The TalentCulture #TChat Show is back live on Wednesday, July 15, 2015, from 1-2 pm ET (10-11 am PT).

Last week we talked about how to create a culture that rocks, and this week we’re going to talk about how to build and market your employer brand.

No matter how you slice it, it’s really a lesson on research and positioning and how you end up marketing your company as the place to work.

However, you can’t be everything to everyone and too many companies are trying to be just that. No matter how “great” you think your company is, the “greatness” message won’t weed out the people who aren’t a great fit for your company.

So first you should ask your current employees about what your company does well as an employer, and all of the things that it doesn’t do well. Then build a real employer brand foundation so you can better extend that brand in the market.

Sneak Peek:

#TChat Events: How To Build And Market Your Employer Brand

TChatRadio_logo_020813#TChat Radio — Wed, July 15 — 1 pm ET / 10 am PT

Join TalentCulture #TChat Show co-founders and co-hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman as they talk about how to build and market your employer brand with this week’s guest: Susan LaMotte, SPHR, founder of exaqueo, a workforce consultancy.

 

Tune in LIVE online Wednesday, July 15th

#TChat Twitter Chat — Wed, July 15 — 1:30 pm ET /10:30 am PT Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin, and Jim will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: What common misconceptions do companies have about an employer brand? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q2: What steps can be taken to build and market an employer brand? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q3: How can organizations easily maintain their employer brand? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Until then, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group, and in our TalentCulture G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions. See you there!!!

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#TChat Preview: How To Create A Culture That Rocks

The TalentCulture #TChat Show is back live on Wednesday, July 8th, 2015, at 1-2 pm ET (10-11 am PT).

Last week, live from #SHRM15, we discussed the brilliant HR profession of today and tomorrow. This week we’re going to talk about how to create a company culture that rocks.

Because for those company cultures about to rock, we’ll not only salute you, we’ll work for you and evangelize for you. Of course that’s a reference to a classic rock song, but it’s a mantra that continues to ring true when it comes to workplace culture today.

Great “bands” and brands focus on culture first and foremost so it will drive engagement, business outcomes and ultimately success.

As our guest this week puts it — company culture is only as strong or weak as the employees that collectively make up the heart and soul of the organization.

We hope you’ll join the #TChat conversation this week and share your questions, opinions and ideas with our guests and the TalentCulture Community.

Thank you to all our TalentCulture sponsors and partners: Dice, Jibe, TalentWise, Hootsuite, IBM, RecruitiFi, CareerBuilder, PeopleFluent, and HRmarketer Insight. Plus, we’re big CandE supporters!

Sneak Peek:

#TChat Events: How To Create A Culture That Rocks

TChatRadio_logo_020813#TChat Radio — Wed, July 8 — 1 pm ET / 10 am PT

Join TalentCulture #TChat Show co-founders and co-hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman as we talk about the art of candidate engagement with this week’s guest: Jim Knight, a leading training and development expert who worked with Hard Rock International for 20 years where he led the renowned School Of Hard Rocks.

 

Tune in LIVE online Wednesday, July 8th

#TChat Twitter Chat — Wed, July 8 — 1:30 pm ET /10:30 am PT Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin, and Jim will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: What does a rocking culture look like? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q2: What steps can organizations take to build a rocking culture? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q3: How do organizations sustain rocking cultures? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Until then, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group, and in our TalentCulture G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions. See you there!!!

Subscribe to our podcast on BlogTalkRadio, Stitcher or iTunes:

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Join Our Social Community & Stay Up-to-Date!

The TalentCulture conversation continues daily on Twitter, in our LinkedIn group, and on our Google+ community. Engage with us anytime on our social networks or stay current with trending World of Work topics through our weekly email newsletter. Signing up is just a click away!

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Six Reasons Why You Should Make The Most Of Your Vacation Days

Take a vacation this year! We’ve all let those “not this year” excuses  pile up with our workload, but not taking a vacation could actually be more damaging than you might think to workplace satisfaction and productivity.

There are many common reasons people cite for not taking a vacation. Vacations are expensive, time-consuming to plan and employees often fear they’ll miss a promotion or look less committed to the team. However, these common misconceptions are usually ungrounded, and simply holding you back from that much-deserved time off.

Immersing yourself in the culture of another country, soaking up the sun on a faraway beach or simply making yourself comfortable on your own couch are all excellent examples of making the most of your vacation. Not only are they fun and relaxing, they are also proven ways to boost your immune system, increase your productivity and reduce cost for your business.

Six Reasons Why You Should Be Making The Most Of Your Vacation Days

1. You’ll Be More Relaxed, Refreshed And Productive

According to a 2013 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) study cited by Project: Time Off, 75 percent of HR professionals reported seeing better performance from employees who took more vacation days than those who took less.

Vacations are an important opportunity for you to recharge your batteries and refresh your mind. It can be easy to feel that time spent on yourself is not the same as time spent on your career. However, in the case of vacation days, taking a much-needed break can be just the boost your career needs.

2. You Likely Won’t Lose Out On That Promotion

You’re staying late, arriving early and consistently delivering. You’re almost a shoe-in for that promotion — can’t take a vacation now, right? Wrong. As GoGirl Finance states, a USTA study found no evidence that avoiding vacation improves one’s chances for a bonus or raise. Furthermore, GoGirl also points out that taking some time away from work might actually help others see how important your contributions are. Relying on others and taking the time to plan how your duties will be covered in your absence also strengthens your team.

3. It’s Good For Your Health

Beyond simply helping you recharge and reducing your stress, studies suggest that taking a vacation is also key for your overall health and wellness. GoGirl notes that men who don’t take vacations are more likely to suffer from heart disease, while women who don’t take time off are more likely to suffer from depression. As a bonus, staying healthy means you’ll take fewer sick days, saving money for your company. In other words, taking care of yourself is good for your employer as well.

4. Not Taking Vacation Days Can Cost You

According to Project: Time Off, employees in the US alone are letting go of $52.4 billion in combined benefits each year.  So if your employer has a “use it or lose it policy,” you could be losing out on more than you think.

Not making the most of your vacation time means more than just a financial loss, too. Work/life balance may sometimes feel like a buzzword, but it is truly important to step away from your workplace once in a while to spend time with people and hobbies that are important to you.

5. There’s Cost To Your Company

Project: Time Off states that US firms have at least $224 billion in unused vacation time on their books. While that isn’t an immediate worry, it presents a “potential and perhaps unnecessary burden on a business’ financial health and outlook.”

Employees who don’t take care of their health by taking vacations can also cost their company in additional sick days. Plus, taking time off can help companies retain talent and keep turnover cost down. SHRM states that 78 percent of human resources directors found that employees who took more vacation days reported higher job satisfaction.

6. Time Off Can Stimulate Creativity

In addition to promoting productivity and improving employee performance, taking time away from the office can really help get the creative juices flowing. It may even help you come up with your next big idea.

To sum up,  whether it’s camping in Mongolia or binge-watching Netflix, a good vacation is a must for anyone looking to increase productivity and job satisfaction. For employers, it’s vital to have a clear vacation policy that encourages employees to make the most of their vacation days. It will save you and your business time and money while making your team more engaged.

Many companies are innovating on their vacation policies. Hubspot, for example, allows unlimited time off and mandates a minimum of two weeks vacation. TED goes a step further, shutting their offices completely for two weeks each summer to ensure that even their most dedicated workaholics take time off.

However, beware of replacing competitive salaries with progressive vacation policies when trying to attract top talent. According to this article in Inc. Magazine, sometimes offering unlimited vacation can breed resentment among employees, as some are forced to pick up the slack of those taking advantage of the unique work perk.

It’s important to find a vacation policy that’s right for your company. Here’s a handy guide to help with that.

Whatever vacation policy you choose to adopt, what matters is that it aligns your company’s culture and goals and is designed to encourage employees to take the time they need. Sometimes time away from work is just what your team needs to be more present than ever.

Image: Big Stock Images

Virtual Reality Is Coming To An HR Function Near You

Ever heard of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One?

It’s a novel that takes place in the year 2045. Human civilization is in a dark period, so people seek refuge in a virtual reality world called the OASIS. Many spend all their waking hours in the simulation – working, taking classes, exploring different cultures, and trying out new hobbies.

The book became a pop culture phenomenon when Steven Spielberg signed on to direct the film version, but that’s not why I was interested in it. I’ve long been intrigued by the promise of virtual reality, and I think Ready Player One presents a reasonably accurate portrayal of what our lives will be like around mid-century.

Is The Prospective Company A Good Fit?

Ready Player One does not talk about HR and the employee lifecycle, but my mind went to this application immediately. The first thing I considered was hiring. We instruct candidates to think carefully about whether a prospective company is a good fit, but without the opportunity to spend time in the organization, there’s a great deal of guesswork involved. Virtual reality could enable a candidate to experience a day-in-the-life of an employee in their role. She could walk through the facilities, meet managers and co-workers, and start a project. But most importantly, she could get a much better sense of the culture.

Virtual reality could also revolutionize talent management. At present, leaders have trouble managing global, dispersed workforces. Employees might clock in from locations all around the globe, work variable schedules, and communicate using different methods. Virtual reality will certainly change the degree to which remote workers feel engaged and part of a unified team. By mid-century, you’ll put on your headset and send your avatar to work alongside colleagues who could be physically located anywhere. Conferences, meetings, presentations, performance reviews, brainstorms, and team building/social events could all be conducted in the virtual world, facilitating ongoing communication, relationship-building, and innovation.

Customized Training And Individual Skill Acquisition

Learning and development is the area of HR that will likely benefit most from advances in virtual and augmented reality. This technology could take the concepts of customized training and individual skill acquisition to an entirely new level. If you want your new hire to master public speaking skills, for example, you won’t have to wait for the next Toastmasters or Dale Carnegie signup. You’ll just have her avatar work with a virtual coach and then present to a virtual group of executives in a virtual boardroom. If today’s gamification applications address the type of experiential learning younger employees crave, virtual reality will pack 10X the experiential punch.

Providing employees with opportunities to learn about and explore different areas of the business will become easier too. Now, rotational programs and even short-term stretch assignments in alternate functional or geographic areas are typically reserved for the highest performers simply because they are so expensive. By eliminating travel-related costs, virtual reality will make it possible for more employees to broaden their skillsets and increase their value to the organization.

What other ways might virtual reality transform HR as we know it?

Image Credit: Pixabay.com

#TChat Recap: Build A Remarkable Workplace

“Not every Aussie is Crocodile Dundee.”  – Mandy Johnson

And not every workplace is remarkable.

This week’s global #TChat guest Mandy Johnson, best-selling business author, active speaker, advisor and executive educator, shared her top 6 steps that have led to remarkable workplaces around the globe:

  1. CEO Buy-In & A “People Practice” Champion at the Top Table
  2. Monthly One-On-Ones
  3. Families, Villages & Tribes
  4. Improve Actual Job Roles
  5. Team-Based Planning
  6. Reward & Recognize Genuine Achievement

A century of having more people than jobs made lip service and empty platitudes the workplace norm. People are the heart, soul, and balance sheet of an organization. Today, successful businesses prioritize people-centric initiatives for increased talent retention and better profits:

Leaders must passionately believe the bottom line is driven by a “People Practice” Champion in the C-suite:

Intelligent “people practices” humanize your brand and leverage the power of employees: your front-line brand allies and ambassadors. People’s stories and personalities shape your company culture. Organizations win when the workplace supports employees and aligns with the business vision:

Putting people first is the main game for success in the World of Work. Let’s commit to being remarkable every step of the way.

See What #TChat-ters Said About Building A Remarkable Workplace!

 

What’s Up Next? #TChat Returns Wednesday March 11th!

#TChat Radio Kicks Off at 7pm ET / 4pm PT — Our weekly radio show runs 30 minutes. Usually, our social community joins us on Twitter as well. The topic: How To Manage The #NewWayToWork.

#TChat Twitter Kicks Off at 7:30pm ET / 4:30pm PT — Our halfway point begins with our highly engaging Twitter discussion. We take a social inside look at our weekly topic. Everyone is welcome to share their social insights #TChat.

Join Our Social Community & Stay Up-to-Date!

The TalentCulture conversation continues daily on Twitter, in our LinkedIn group, and on our Google+ community. Engage with us anytime on our social networks or stay current with trending World of Work topics through our weekly email newsletter. Signing up is just a click away! Passive-Recruiting Photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via Picjumbo

Where To Start With Employee Engagement: Does Your Culture Value People?

Is there a gap between your brand and your company culture? Answer: Hopefully not. There certainly shouldn’t be. A company culture that’s authentic and real will radiate through your brand, conveying the same message, the same mission, the same feeling, the same values to job seekers and new hires that it does to well-established, and hopefully engaged, employees.

But if we’re out of the dark ages in terms of the new World of Work, we’re still in the dim outskirts. Consider employee engagement, a key indicator for one thing, more quantitative data (such as career satisfaction) can be gleaned by employees already at a workplace than those still considering it. If employees are not as engaged as they should be; not buoyed by the spirit of the organization they spend most of their time in; that’s a sign of a visible gulf.

Last month a friend and colleague Susan LaMotte made the smart connection, and it’s been an ongoing talking point for me as well. Susan compared how much we’ve been spending on employee engagement with how successful that output has been. Answer: Depressing: Not very. We’ve spent more than $720 million according to a Bersin study. Compare that to a survey by Gallup that revealed that only 13% of employees consider themselves truly engaged in their work.

If your employees aren’t engaged, that’s a serious detriment to your employer brand, and that’s what going to translate down the pike. Proof is in the pudding — or not — an organization without a strong company culture will lose out to companies that do.

Employee Engagement

Here are two values it’s key to transmit:

1) Supporting Your Employees As People With Lives

Companies like Apple and Google clearly align employer brand with workplace culture. Why are we still talking about these more mainstream brands you ask? Because they have historically embedded themselves into our collective brain. Innovation, creativity and teamwork are part of that culture, as is the message that to keep people inspired, fresh and happy, the organization has to support them. Job seekers are savvier than ever and will turn on a dime: a company that touts “long hours in the trenches” translates as “doesn’t respect my need for a life outside of work.” One that doesn’t address childcare and benefits for a family translates as “we are more important than your family.” That won’t work, particularly given this intensely competitive recruiting culture, not to mention ever-increasing workplace options.

2) Living Your Mission Statement

Integrity is key among the values external job candidates are shown to hold dear in a prospective employer. That’s what happens when the mission statement is clear, authentic, and transparent. Make sure your employees are part of the mission statement so it aligns their engagement with the company goals — they are the embodiment of your employer brand. And make sure the same clear goals and values in that mission statement are part of your recruiting strategy, your videos, your mobile and social platforms.

There are more ways than ever to convey employer brand, whether to active or passive candidates: social, mobile, onboarding, video. And we have the immense power of analytics to draw from. Yet while the workplace is transforming rapidly, it’s still plagued by some of the same issues that have always plagued it: employees disengage, recruits go where the grass looks greener. There’s still a gulf between the organization, brand and the human being. More than ever, it’s time to change that.

 

photo credit: Infographic: Social Employee Advocacy via photopin (license)

Originally published on Forbes.com

How To Cure A Sick Company Culture

Performance wanes. Employee engagement falls and morale sinks.

These are tell-tale signs that your culture is sick and needs attention. So how do you go about fixing it?

First, three housekeeping questions:

1. What is “culture”? Culture describes an organization’s working environment. How people behave. What they talk about. How they interact with and treat one another. The values they respect and hold sacred.

2. What is the purpose of culture? It enables the achievement of goals. It is a tactic, if you will, that facilitates healthy and effective execution of a company’s strategy because it engages every employee in its purpose. Culture is the engine of accomplishment. A finely tuned engine delivers high performance; a poorly tuned one is hit and miss.

3. What is the “right” culture? There is no shrink-wrapped version of culture that applies to every organization. You must create the unique one that works for you. There may be elements in common with other firms, but you discover this after the fact. Culture should never be copied; it should be created.

Cultural change requires an intervention; you can’t expect it to change without an imposition. The challenge is to move from “this is the way things are around here” to “this is the way things must look if we are to survive and thrive.”

Here are five steps that will create the culture that is right for you:

1. Start with building your strategic context. Culture is guided by the strategic game plan of your organization — “what you want to be when you grow up.” It’s an expression of what the inside of your organization must “look like” in order to successfully execute. Early in my career we had to shift from being a monopoly telecom business to a nimble customer-focused competitor; we needed to create a different culture to take us there. The journey began with creating a new strategic vision that would allow us to successfully compete in a world we had not previously experienced.

2. Develop the values you require every team member to align with. Successful execution begs that everyone is on the same page in terms of how to do their job. A value is a common-held belief, without which your strategy is impaired. Technology businesses require risk-taking, creativity and innovation to be successful; if employees don’t act in a way that delivers these values, dysfunction sets in and progress is eluded.

3. Define the behaviors that are required to exhibit each values. For each value develop more granularity to move away from an aspiration to something that is concrete and more understandable. For example, if “spirited teamwork” is one of your values, define in more specific terms what is meant by the value. What behaviors would you expect to see exhibited when spirited teamwork is alive and well in the organization. This is a critical step. Values need to be translated so that every employee has a direct line of sight that connects what they do every day to the values expected.

4. Assess the inside. Evaluate each employee in your organization to determine his or her “value fit.” Some will transition immediately to your new values; others can be convinced to adopt them and others will refuse. The point is you need to get everyone onboard fast; time is not your friend. Exit who you believe are the “non-adopters”; they will infect their colleagues if they stay and prevent progress.

5. Build your values into your reward and recognition programs. Make the expression of values matter by holding people accountable. Reward awesome “spirited teamwork” in front of employee groups. Publicize your “value heroes” so others know what is expected. Ultimately, include values as part of your variable compensation program, in which the consistent heroes are financially rewarded. If you have a 360-degree feedback program, include values as an important part of individual assessment.

The culture that is right for you is much more than an aspiration. If you don’t follow through with the specific executional elements necessary to give it “life,” it will remain a dream.

And nothing will change.

About the Author: Roy Osing is a former executive vice-president and CMO with over 33 years of leadership experience. He is a blogger, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead.

photo credit: Measuring a Shot 11-9-08 — IMG_7413 via photopin (license)