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Digital Employee Experience: Do You Measure What Matters?

Sponsored by: Ivanti

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

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

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

Why Is This Digital Shift So Vital?

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

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

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

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

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

Criteria For a Digital Employee Experience Survey

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

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

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

How to Measure Digital Employee Experience

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

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

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

What’s the secret? Automation.

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

 


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

How Can Remote Teams Build “Watercooler” Connections?

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

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

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

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

3 Ideas to Help Remote Teams Feel Connected

1. Create wellness challenges and friendly competitions

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

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

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

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

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

2. Facilitate virtual wellness coffee talks and meet-ups

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

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

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

3. Encourage employees to join recreation leagues and clubs

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

10 Ways to Drive Employee Engagement With Team Problem-Solving

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

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

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

1) Use the SCRUM Framework for Project Management

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

Omer Usanmaz, CEO of Qooper Mentoring & Learning Software

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

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

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

Deborah Norris, Senior HR Manager at Amentum

3) Empower Employees to Take Ownership of Work Issues

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

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

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

4) Give Employees a Voice in Problem Solving

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

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

Joan Wyly, Vice President of 104 Degrees West Partners

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

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

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

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

6) Leverage Diversity and Mastermind for Problem Solving

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

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

Erich Kurschat, Owner of Harmony Insights LLC

7) Take a Bottom-up Approach

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

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

Dean Kaplan, President of The Kaplan Group

8) Use OKRs to Drive Teamwork and Engagement

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

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

Amy Spurling, CEO, and Founder of Compt

9) Engage Employees in Weekly Virtual Team-Building Activities

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

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

Clare Jones, Marketing Manager at OfficeSpaceAU

10) Personalize Engagement Drivers to Employee Groups

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

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

Marcus Holmes, HR Operations General Manager at City of Detroit

 


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

Why Employee Engagement is Upside Down

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

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

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

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

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

I never get hard work confused with results.

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

The Decline of Engaged Employees

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

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

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

Most of the feedback is best paraphrased as:

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

Competition vs Collaboration

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

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

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

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

Employee Engagement is Upside Down

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

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

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

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

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

The Impact Leaders Have on Employee Engagement

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

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

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

Einstein was famous for thought experiments.

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

What would happen to employee engagement?

8 Ways to Foster Employee Happiness

When it comes to the workplace, happiness is key. Studies have shown that happy employees are more productive and efficient. That’s why employers need to do what they can to create a positive work environment. But what does employee happiness mean, exactly?

Here are a few tips for contributing to employee happiness in the workplace.

What Happiness at Work Means to Employees and Employers

Employees may feel satisfied with their job, have a positive work-life balance, or feel like they are part of a supportive team.

It may mean increased productivity, lower absenteeism, or reduced turnover for employers. Regardless of the definition, work happiness is essential for employees and employers.

Studies have proven that happy employees are more engaged and productive. They are also more likely to stay with their company and less likely to take sick days.

Happy employers, however, tend to have lower health care costs and higher profits. They also tend to be more successful in attracting and retaining top talent.

8 Ways to Foster Employee Happiness in the Workplace

You, as the employer, can do a few things to create a happy work environment.

1. Learn More About Your Employees

Getting to know your employees personally can go a long way in making them feel valued. Take the time to learn about their interests, family, and hobbies. Doing so will not only make them feel appreciated, but it will also help you better understand their needs and how to support them.

2. Make Time for Fun

Making time for fun is just as important as working hard. It can be as simple as hosting a happy hour each week or planning activities to build teamwork. Whatever you do, make sure it’s something that your employees will enjoy and look forward to.

3. Make Sure Employees Feel Heard

Employees who feel their voices are heard are more likely to be engaged and motivated at work. After all, feeling like you’re a part of the team and that your opinion matters is important to job satisfaction.

Some things you can do to ensure your employees feel heard:

  • Encourage open communication by creating an environment where employees feel comfortable speaking up.
  • Make it a point to listen to your employees and take their suggestions and feedback seriously.
  • Let employees know their input is valued and that you’re working to create a happy workplace for everyone.

4. Encourage Work-Life Balance

A healthy work-life balance is essential for employee happiness and productivity. Employees who feel like they have a good work-life balance are more likely to be engaged in their work and less likely to experience burnout.

An example of this is employees being able to take advantage of flex time and set their hours.

5. Celebrate Employee Accomplishments

Everyone likes to feel appreciated, and employees are no exception. When employees feel their hard work is being recognized, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated.

One way to show appreciation for your team members is by giving verbal praise when an employee does a good job. You can do this in a one-on-one conversation, during a team meeting, or even in an email.

Another way to show appreciation is by giving tangible rewards, such as gift cards, paid time off, or tickets to a show or event.

6. Salary Increase

An employee is happiest when they get a salary increase. A raise indicates that they are doing a good job and gives them a financial incentive to continue performing at a high level.

A salary increase can also help attract and retain top talent. If your employees feel they are paid fairly, they are less likely to look for other opportunities. As a result, a salary increase can be a valuable tool for promoting employee happiness in the workplace.

7. Create a Career Pathway

Employees who feel stuck in a dead-end job are less likely to be happy at work. On the other hand, employees who feel they have a clear career path are more likely to be engaged and motivated.

One way to create a career pathway for your employees is by providing opportunities for professional development. Professional development can include anything from paid training courses to tuition reimbursement for advanced degrees.

You can also create a mentorship program that pairs more experienced employees with newer employees. Mentorship programs can help newer employees feel like they have someone to look up to and learn from. It can also help more experienced employees stay engaged in their work.

8. Offer More Benefits

Apart from a salary increase, there are other ways to contribute to employee happiness by offering more benefits.

For example, you could provide a flexible work schedule, telecommuting options, or on-site child care. These benefits can go a long way in promoting employee happiness and retention.

Moreover, you could also offer other benefits, such as health insurance, a retirement savings plan, or paid time off. These benefits may seem like a small perk, but they can make a big difference to employees.

Benefits of a Happy Workplace

  • Productivity – When employees are happy, they are more productive.
  • Retention – Attracting and retaining top talent is essential for any organization, and a happy workplace can help.
  • Engagement – Engaged employees are more likely to go above and beyond for their organization.
  • Better customer service – If your employees are happy, they will be more likely to provide better customer service.
  • Improved bottom line – A happy workplace can enhance your organization’s bottom line.

The Takeaway

Employee happiness is essential to the success of any organization. You can do a few key things as an employer to help contribute to employee happiness in the workplace.

It is vital to make sure employees feel heard. Encourage open communication and allow employees to provide feedback. It is also essential to encourage work-life balance.

Make sure employees have the opportunity to take breaks and use their vacation time. Celebrate employee accomplishments and give them growth opportunities.

Finally, offer competitive salaries and benefits. By taking these steps, you can create a happy and productive workplace.

4 Steps to Hit the Mark for Open Enrollment

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

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

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

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

Step 1: Know Your Audience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 2: Plan Bite-Size Information

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

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

Late August

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

September

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

Mid-October

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

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

Step 3: Stay on Point!

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

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

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

Diligently.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 4: Don’t Bury the Bad News

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

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

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

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

It’s Time to Change Things Up

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

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

8 Learning and Talent Development Topics for Better Employee Retention

Investment in learning and talent development is an essential ingredient of every company’s engagement and retention plans. What is one crucial topic to include in employee L&D that will lead to better employee engagement and retention?

To help you create an effective L&D program, we asked L&D professionals and business leaders this question for their best insights. From including interviewer training to developing individual talents, there are several essential topics that may help you deliver a robust employee L&D for better engagement and retention.

Here are 8 must-have topics for better employee retention:

  1. Interviewer Training
  2. Communication and its Impact on Business
  3. Feedback Delivery
  4. Celebrating Achievement
  5. Leadership Development
  6. Build Emotional Intelligence Skills
  7. Goal Setting and Performance Feedback
  8. Develop Individual Talents

Interviewer Training

A must-have learning opportunity for all employees is interviewer training. By focusing on a task and responsibility that most employees engage in throughout their careers, you simultaneously give your employees the skills to contribute to building a more successful company with the right talent. Additionally, you give them skills to carry with them wherever they go next. Interviewer training empowers everyone to become a brand ambassador. It also encourages a truly inclusive and diverse workplace and gives all employees a chance to be better.

Ubaldo Ciminieri, Co-Founder and CMO of interviewIA

Communication and its Impact on Business

Studies show that collaboration drives workplace performance. Learning the value of communication and how it impacts the business should be a priority for all employees to understand. Beginning with the “why” communication is crucial to show how it can affect and change the culture by building trust across the leadership team and staff.

In creating a high-performing, high-functioning organization, there needs to be collaboration on all levels. This means we need to communicate and over-communicate. Things change when people you work with understand what you are trying to do, the why, and how it affects them. The outcome is a high-performing team where work gets done with highly engaged staff, and the company exceeds expectations on all levels.

Denise Moxam, VP of HR and Engagement at Production Solutions

Feedback Delivery

There are countless learning topics that can positively impact employee engagement and retention. One of the areas that I believe to be crucial is feedback. To be able to skillfully provide regular, accurate, and timely feedback can improve performance, increase trust, and build relationships. All of which have a direct impact on both retention and engagement. Of course, the results are dependent upon individuals’ competency in this area. While some people may have the inherent ability to deliver feedback the right way, at the right time most of us need training and practice.

Greg Forte, Senior Director of L&D at Precision Medicine Group

Celebrating Achievement

Celebrating is a powerful skill that all leaders need to have in their toolkits to confidently & effectively lead now. When you celebrate a teammate, you are demonstrating that you see them, care about them, and value their contributions and how they show up in the world.

Celebrating is a skill, and it needs to be included in your L&D strategy. When you have leaders who properly and consistently celebrate their employees, you will see motivation, trust, connection, belonging, engagement, and retention skyrocket! Throw that confetti, leaders!

Leah Roe, Leadership Coach & Founder of The Perk

Leadership Development

While it’s not typically part of the category of employee learning, building a healthy leadership practice at all levels of the organization may be the strongest driver of employee retention and engagement. Employees need the opportunity to grow and thrive in their careers. This will rarely happen without leaders who recognize and encourage their development.

We know that most learning happens on the job and in conversation with others who already know the job. A learning function that equips front-line, mid-level, and senior leaders with the mindset, skill set, and tool set to effectively grow their employees will have an exponential impact on employee engagement and retention (not to mention business results).

Leaders who simply see employees as a means to the end of profitability, customer service, or meeting their operational metrics miss the key ingredient to meeting these business goals. They will see their employees walk away to another opportunity where they can grow.

Dave Adcox, Director, Learning & Organizational Development at Whitley Penn

Build Emotional Intelligence

By building emotional intelligence skills in our leaders and our teams, we support their ability to create an environment where employees are engaged and want to stay. Through our learning and development efforts, we can help our employees understand and manage their emotions, navigate relationships, and build trust. Additionally, we can help them show empathy, reduce stress, communicate better, and inspire others. In doing so, we create a place where our employees thrive and our business grows.

Mary Tettenhorst, Sr. Vice President, L&D of General Electric Credit Union

Goal Setting and Performance Feedback

Since studies show engagement often hinges on an employee’s first 90 days, providing new hires a supportive onboarding experience that includes context on company objectives, culture, and communication standards is critical. Supplementing this with assistance on goal setting will help level-set expectations and facilitate a growth path for the employee.

Always, make sure that your managers are equipped with the knowledge to articulate performance expectations, deliver feedback and coaching, and provide development opportunities for the employee along the way.

Glenn Smith, L&D Manager at Nextbite

Develop Individual Talents

The single most important L&D topic has to be how to effectively develop your people. Unlike a capital investment that has a fixed ROI, investing in human capital has almost unlimited ROI. Not only are you increasing the capacity and competence of your team to create value, development telegraphs that you believe in your people enough to invest in them. When people feel like valuable members of a winning team, they will provide higher levels of engagement and discretionary effort. Development creates a virtuous cycle that benefits both the organization and its people.

Thane Bellomo, Director of Talent Management and Organizational Development of MI Windows and Doors

6 Ways to Engage With Your Employees and Prevent Attrition

One of the important factors involved in running a business is finding and retaining good employees. Yet, employees choosing to leave a job due to a lack of connection and engagement has increased.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in March 2022. Known as the “Great Resignation,” this trend has caught the attention of CEOs, upper-level management, and HR professionals. So why are these workers leaving, and what can you do as a business owner to improve retention?

Let’s explore how you can improve employee engagement within your organization and hold onto the valuable members of your team.  

How to Improve Employee Engagement

The key to success is to motivate and engage your team. A team that is passionate about their work and empowered to make strategic choices will achieve greater success.

If you have noticed the level of engagement in your organization has dropped, don’t be alarmed. While the current situation is less than ideal, there are steps you can take to improve upon it. 

Below are six ways you can effectively re-engage your team.

1. Leverage Your Team’s Strengths and Passions

When considering the roles performed by your team members, pay attention to their strengths and areas of interest. For example, employees who are truly passionate about their work are more dedicated and happier to return to the workplace every day.

This alignment is also a great way to reduce stress levels among team members. While some members may thrive when faced with the demands of high-profile or VIP clients, others may be better suited for work behind the scenes. 

Identifying the strengths of each team member will not only create a happier, more engaged work environment but will also improve productivity. Support this by backing your employees with the necessary budget to complete their projects. This allowance will provide more interest and variety in the workplace by preventing them from feeling stuck on any one task for an extended time.  

2. Trust the Decision-Making Abilities of Your Team

When you empower your employees to make their own decisions throughout the workday, you demonstrate you value their work and abilities. Building trust is an important step in creating a workplace where your team can thrive. It builds confidence and encourages each team member to work to their full potential.

Rather than outlining strict operating procedures with no room for personalization, allow your employees to make their best judgment in situations that don’t fit inside the box. Eliminate potential barriers, such as access to funding or tools when needed. You may discover more effective ways to solve problems by equipping staff to tap into their unique skillsets.    

3. Regularly Check-In with Your Team

A way to show employees they are an important part of the team is to show them their opinions matter. Take the time to check in with team members regularly. This check-in includes offering clear feedback and opportunities for improvement, opening the door for them to communicate their concerns and ideas.

Employees want direction. Many companies still use the traditional annual review, but this isn’t frequent enough to help your team improve. Instead, try offering a brief weekly update to each team member. Take this time to highlight ways they have performed skillfully and to identify actionable ways they can improve.

4. Allow for Open Communication Both Ways

This improved level of communication also needs to go in both directions. First, make it easy for your team to provide their feedback, including any concerns they may have and ideas for the future. You can encourage this by implementing an open-door policy within the workplace, offering time for your employees to speak up during their weekly check-in, or providing the opportunity for anonymous feedback with employee satisfaction surveys.

Make sure you are following through on the information that you are given. Advocate for their ideas. If they continually offer their feedback and nothing changes, it will only create frustration. The goal is for your team to feel heard and appreciated, which means considering their suggestions.  

5. Offer Training and Learning Opportunities

Another way you can help your team grow and improve in their career goals is to offer skill development and ongoing education opportunities. By supporting your team in advancing their career, you will show them that the company is invested in their future. This continued investment of time and resources fosters an environment of dedication and loyalty.

Knowledge and education come in many forms, including:

  • Formal education (College and University)
  • Mentorship/Coaching
  • Certifications
  • On-the-Job skills training
  • Virtual learning opportunities  

When many industries are experiencing skill shortages, investing in your team is a way to benefit both your company and all who work for it. 

6. Show Employees You Care About Their Health

In recent years, there has been a growing focus on mental health in all areas of our lives. This renewed focus includes the workplace. Not only will access to better mental health support help to boost work performance and satisfaction, but it will also help to improve the lives of your team outside of work. 

There are many ways you can make the mental health of your team a priority.  This focus ranges from providing better mental health care in your company’s health benefit plan to allowing for more flexible work hours, paid time off, and “mental health days.” 

Prioritizing mental health is more than just providing care for mental illness. It also means encouraging a healthy work/life balance and providing opportunities to relieve workplace stress.

Improve Employee Engagement by Creating an Employee-Centric Work Environment

By creating a work environment focused on empowering and supporting your team, you open the door for your employees to perform to their full potential. It encourages trust, increases productivity, and boosts employee retention. Build a culture that leverages your team’s strengths, trusts their decision-making abilities, encourages communication, and supports the health of all employees. Taking these steps will inspire a healthy, balanced workplace for all. 

Understanding the Great Resignation to Define the Future of Work

The Great Resignation. The Big Quit. The Lie-Flat economy. The Great Reshuffle. The Great Rift. Whatever you want to call it, the way human beings engage with the workplace has changed – permanently. The beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic inadvertently set workplace change in motion in unimaginable ways and at an unfathomable pace. 

As the COVID-19 Pandemic continued to wreak havoc on life as we knew it, in a May 2021 Bloomberg interview, Anthony Klotz, a Professor at Texas A&M University, coined the phrase the Great Resignation. He used the phrase to describe what he believed to be an inevitable workforce “re-think” about how and why we work. Professor Klotz may have inadvertently set in motion the “pandemic” within the pandemic. Or as Arran Stewart, co-founder of Job.com, noted in a recent article, “the largest shift of human capital in our lifetime.”  

The Turnover Tidal Wave

Hundreds of articles followed that describe the different perspectives and even introduced unique names for a tidal wave of turnover, quits, resignations, and retirements throughout 2021. The articles cite reasons that range from a basic desire to establish a more manageable work/life balance to seeking out a more flexible/hybrid workday structure that can support remote work.  Whatever the reason, they all circle back to a fundamental shift, largely ignored, that has occurred in our mental models related to work. Sometimes, we get stuck.

What Do We Do Now?  

The pre-pandemic workplace was generally filled with employees who physically attended work on a regular basis. Employees completed a daily commute, interacted with colleagues, attended meetings in a conference room, stuck their heads around a cubicle corner to ask a question – all generally face to face. That was, generally, how work got done. The COVID-19 Global Pandemic brought that routine to a grinding halt.  

All of a sudden, workplaces around the globe were forced to very quickly pivot away from the face-to-face workplace to a completely virtual environment. Enter the “virtual” meeting.  Whether it was Zoom, Teams, Google Meet, Skype, or another software platform, the virtual meeting was the game changer. Suddenly, employees began to recognize that while fundamentally different, the work was still getting done.  

For some, the work was not only getting done but sometimes the work was getting done faster and maybe even better and more efficiently. For others, the work was getting done but came at an exhausting cost. The challenge of perceived 24/7 availability coupled with virtual school and limited childcare was too much. The boundary between the workday and personal time became blurred. The blurry line is not sustainable and does not seem to be going away. A breach that influences our mental model drastically changed our worldview—and directly impacted the human perspective.  

Redefine the Mental Model

The global pandemic impacted individuals, families, employees, and human beings in general … in very different ways. People are emerging from the last two years with the need to redefine the mental model; redefine the collective response of millions of unique individuals to a series of unforeseen events that changed our fundamental behaviors, perceptions, and attitudes toward the workplace forever. This response is the driving force for the change in our mental model. The Great Resignation is the result.  

There are thousands of articles, blog posts, and even new books that discuss the Great Resignation. Many of them provide anecdotal evidence that offers explicit support for the type of shift referred to and the corresponding result. From the individual in the corporate wellness industry who recognized an opportunity to begin her own consulting firm, to the federal government employee who decided to bake cheesecake for a living, to the denim executive who decided her voice was more important than a large paycheck, to the parent who decided the sacrifice of family was not worth the commute, to the twenty-something RN who will now be a travel nurse for a few years to pay off student loan debt—the examples of purposeful change to perspectives, attitudes, and behaviors are long and getting longer.  

The common theme is a need for the development of organizational acceptance that is meaningful, creative, current, and proactive.  

How Should Organizations Meet the Charge?  

  • Flexibility is key. Embrace hybrid models to meet the dynamic needs of the evolving workforce. It is time to eliminate the outdated office model.  Promote the evolving workday and move forward. 
  • Integrate meaningful strategy. Consider it as a building block for developing a dynamic and sustainable culture. Reward independence, highlight the risk-taker, ask inconvenient questions, and promote the self-starter mentality.
  • Innovate through creativity. Implement time and space within the workday for creative work on ideas or projects that go beyond the scope of the normal daily work tasks. Organizations like Google and Atlassian embrace innovation by encouraging employees to spend time thinking creatively.
  • Burnout is real. Encourage workplace policy makers to define preemptive mechanisms that include proactive identification of transitional objects to provide support.  These tangible and/or intangible objects can be as simple as random accolades from leadership or as complex as the integration of a new organization-wide wellness program.  
  • We hear you.  There is a loud and resounding message in the Great Resignation: Employees want things different. Openly acknowledge the sentiment and develop measurable action items.  

Conclusion

The bottom line is that we have changed. People have changed. The workplace has changed. The United States has changed. The world has changed. Everything has changed. The Great Resignation is much more than an economic trend.  It is a movement; a movement that has made many of us feel stuck—and has permanently shifted our workplace mental model.  

5 Effective Talent Management Strategies

A talent management strategy is a blueprint for optimizing and broadening employee performance within a company. It allows a company to map out a plan to improve and revamp the organization’s most valuable asset – its people. The goal is to boost the company’s talent pool efficiency and retain and attract talented employees.

However, the concept of talent management is constantly evolving as time and technology change the nature of work itself, making it challenging to build and sustain a strong talent pipeline. Consequently, it has created the need for a new paradigm associated with talent management.

Businesses must adapt to changing demographics and work preferences, establish new capabilities, and rejuvenate their organizations. All this while simultaneously investing in new technology, globalizing their operations, and competing with new rivals.

Now more than ever, companies should use talent management strategies to achieve their goals and remain competitive in today’s fast-paced business environment. With this post as your road map, you can establish an integrated approach to managing all areas of your organization’s recruitment and development processes.

Below are 5 effective talent management strategies you should try.

1. Set Clear Objectives

As a manager, it’s your job to ensure that the company’s goals and objectives are in sync with the goals of your workforce. First, employees must understand their responsibilities and the company’s expectations. Then, through efficient communication and teamwork, they can focus on the company’s primary objectives.

With defined goals in mind, your team will become more involved in their work, commit to meeting milestones and achieve higher performance. Furthermore, it increases the efficiency and effectiveness with which your company can carry out business strategies and deliver outcomes significantly.

5 Effective Talent Management Strategies

For instance, when hiring new talent, you should set clear expectations by drawing out a detailed job description that includes the abilities and tasks required to fill that position. In addition, you should also keep in touch with new hires regularly to establish what is expected of them.

2. Offer Training Opportunities

Quality training programs should be a priority for companies to provide employees with opportunities for career advancement. If you haven’t incorporated training into your talent management strategy, you might want to think about developing a training program tailored to your employees’ unique line of work. Investing in your staff’s professional growth can be accomplished in one of two ways: by sponsoring them to participate in an outside training program or organizing an internal training program.

Most companies have shifted to online training programs, allowing employees to learn at their own speed and time. They produce and distribute interactive learning content using training tools.  Notable training tools could include micro-learning platforms, video training software, learning management systems (LMS), etc.

The other approach involves developing a training curriculum specifically for use inside the company. You can accomplish this by providing mentorship programs with access to resources and training sessions. Coaching your employees will ultimately help them learn more, improving their overall performance.

3. Conduct Performance Evaluations

As a manager, you must evaluate your team’s performance. Reviewing your employee’s performance allows you to offer constructive criticism. If an employee has been doing their job duties to a high standard, you should seize the chance to acknowledge and reward them.

Many companies have switched from annual performance assessments to conducting them more frequently as a part of their talent management strategies. They use key performance indicators (KPIs) to evaluate past and current performances and readjust to meet their goals. Monitoring (KPIs) also enables you to gain insights into prospective knowledge gaps, identify current shortcomings, and fix them. This will help you acquire executive support and the opportunity to modify the process when necessary.

5 Effective Talent Management Strategies

For example, if your company aims to improve its search engine performance, you need to track and measure your SEO campaigns’ return on investment (ROI). If the efforts do not bear any fruit, you should resort to other tactics to drive the desired outcomes. Alternatively, you can hire an SEO company that will improve your online visibility and traffic and boost your website’s bottom-line metrics, like leads, sales, and revenue.

4. Focus on Employee Experience

A company’s talent management strategy should include a holistic employee experience with ample growth opportunities. Therefore, it’s essential to figure out how your employees can best contribute to the company’s long-term goals and overcome specific challenges. However, this may vary depending on the company’s work culture, working hours, and employee benefits. 

5 Effective Talent Management Strategies

If such situations arise, you’ll have to determine if you need to hire more people or if you need to implement a new benefits scheme for your current employees. It will also require you to establish a strong corporate culture that encourages your employees and fosters a sense of community. Doing so will provide them with a workable framework in which they can grow and develop.

5. Adopt a Flexible Attitude

Workplaces nowadays are unpredictable due to rapid technological advancements, global market changes, and political shifts. Therefore, if your organization undergoes a significant change of one kind or another, it’s more important that you are flexible and responsive to sudden change.

You can effectively deal with unanticipated challenges or tasks by adjusting to change quickly and calmly. To sum up, a manager adapting to change means to: 

  • Adapt to the face of ever-changing external challenges for your company.
  • Adjust your management style in response to changing circumstances.
  • Accept changes as positive.
  • Revise strategies as necessary.
  • Take into account other people’s concerns during a transition phase.

Flexibility has become an increasingly valuable skill in today’s highly competitive setting, where unpredictability and change are often constant. However, flexibility isn’t just about reacting to situations when they arise. It also requires significant adjustments to how you think, conduct your work, and act.

Conclusion

Companies must develop strategic talent management strategies to help them retain their best employers for longer. This requires setting clear objectives,  offering training opportunities, conducting performance evaluations, focusing on employee experience, and adopting a flexible attitude. Using these talent management strategies effectively will keep your employees happy and motivated.

 

Better Pay Isn’t Always the Key to Retaining Talent

Is your organization feeling the effects of the ‘great resignation?’ If not, you are one of the lucky few. Official figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that resignations have been abnormally high through 2021. By the end of August, over 10 million open jobs were left unfilled. In a normal year, average turnover rates are typically under 20%, but in recent research from the Achievers Workforce Institute, over half of survey respondents said they would be looking for a new job in 2021. Retaining talent has become a major issue for many organizations. 

The aftershocks of the COVID-19 pandemic are one cause of today’s great resignation. Some people had the time to reflect on their jobs and they began to wonder if they would rather do something else with their lives. Others hunkered down, put their careers on hold, and waited for the storm to pass. Now the economy is restarting, organizations are hiring, and employees can and will move on. The new normal of remote working also makes it easier and safer for individuals to look for new job opportunities. It has never been easier for organizations to attract and recruit talent more quickly and efficiently. Hiring senior talent without meeting them in person used to be unheard of. Now it’s entirely normal. The new challenges in retaining top talent calls for organizations to think outside of the box and find new ways to keep their employees happy.

Better Pay Isn’t Always the Only–or the Best–Way 

So how can organizations retain talent during the great resignation? One simple solution would be to pay them more, but this doesn’t always work. Apart from those in lower-paying jobs who may need more money just to keep going, the actual amount that companies pay people is less important than whether it’s more or less than what they think they are worth.  In practice, that means: are you paying them more or less than other people doing the same job in your organization or elsewhere? 

If your competitors have deeper pockets than you, this strategy won’t work. And if employees start comparing salaries within your organization, you risk demotivating people and starting a wage war. The end result? Paying more money to less motivated, less engaged employees. 

Reward Employees the Right Way

We all tend to motivate and reward other people in the way that we would like to be motivated and rewarded. If money motivates us, that’s what we offer. If we appreciate autonomy and space, we might try that. The problem is: not everyone is the same.

A better approach is to try and understand your employees as individuals who are motivated by different things and have different personality preferences. This is where tools like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) assessment can be really useful, both in helping us to recognize how we are different from other people and in understanding what would work for everybody. Once we understand that, we can apply a more tailored approach to rewarding our employees and improve retention. 

Adapt Feedback and Motivational Styles Using “Thinking-Feeling” 

“Thinking-Feeling”, one aspect of the MBTI framework, deals with how we prefer to make decisions. People with a “Thinking” preference prefer to make decisions based on objective logic. Alternatively, those with a “Feeling” preference tend to consider how their decisions affect people and whether the decision lines up with their values. They prefer the decision that feels right rather than the logically correct choice. Understanding how employees arrive at the important decisions in their lives is invaluable in determining employee retention strategy. 

Tailor Recognition and Feedback to Employee Preference

“Thinking-Feeling” influences many aspects of our lives, including how we prefer to receive recognition or appreciation. People with a “Thinking” preference like to be recognized for their competence and expertise. They want to know when they’re doing a good job or going above and beyond the norm. Having this feedback at the end of a project or when a task is completed is important for them. If they are given appreciation on an ongoing basis, such as before the result of their work is clear, it may irritate and demotivate them. 

In contrast, those with a “Feeling” preference like to be appreciated for their efforts. They like to be recognized for their personal contribution, for making a difference (to people, to society, to the world), and for helping others. They generally like a degree of feedback and appreciation throughout a project, not just at the end. 

A “Feeling” employee working for a “Thinking” manager may wonder why they are not getting any feedback during a task. This might cause them to worry and become demotivated. Conversely, a “Thinking” employee working for a “Feeling” manager may dislike praise for their efforts before things are finished. Consequently, they may doubt their manager’s competence, lose respect for them, or wonder if there is an ulterior motive. Once a manager understands how their reports have different needs, they can modify their behavior in a way that helps to keep engagement and motivation high. 

Match Management Style to Employee Personality Preferences 

The other aspects of personality are important in keeping people motivated, too. For example, MBTI theory suggests that people with my INTP personality type want a manager who gives them autonomy. INTPs prefer to do their work their own way without much supervision or detailed schedules. They need a manager who recognizes and rewards them for their expertise and competence and treats them in a consistent way. They value leadership who is open to new ideas and gives them the space to explore new possibilities. 

This may or may not be a manager’s natural style, but knowing about personality types and the MBTI framework will help them to modify their approach to get the best from their employees and keep them motivated. 

Of course, recognizing and adapting to the individuality of employees through their personality type is not the only way to retain talent during the great resignation, but it is an excellent place to start. 

5 Ways Leaders Can Create a Successful Work Environment

impact awardWhat is a great “place” to work today? With many abandoning the office tower or business park cubicle office, we’re increasingly emerging from an era of great workplaces to the new territory of worker-centricity. While some thought the great place to work was about amenities (commuter buses, reduced or free food, and onsite everything), we’ve known something else all along–supportive leadership in the work environment is key. 

Executives in great organizations believe that every employee benefits from outstanding leadership. Engagement is dependent on leadership, as Gallup’s research consistently reports that nearly 70% of employee engagement is within a manager’s control. Managers who prosper in today’s hybrid work environment will boost engagement with the five core leadership practices.

1. Building and sustaining trust.

The core of the coming modern enterprise is an authentic leader’s ability to gain and establish trust. The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed declining confidence in social institutions and organizational leaders worldwide. The world’s two largest economies, China and the U.S., showed significant decreases in the trust of both politicians and corporate executives. Employees who trust their leaders demonstrate greater satisfaction, loyalty, and involvement, all antidotes to undesirable talent drain and loss.

Trust fuels the teamwork and progress that leads to innovation, a key determinant of long-term growth and survival. Managers erode trust when they are not honest and truthful, and trust is difficult to regain. Trust erosions lead to decreases in integrity, and we don’t fully engage with those we don’t trust. Successful leaders engage and enroll people in goal-driven missions that spark collaboration leading to improved teamwork and productivity. 

2. Leading from values.

When was the last time you considered what your team or company holds in high regard? Typically, we keep our values in the highest regard and build reward and consequence systems that reflect leaders’ values. Engineers and scientists, for example, are recognized for their accomplishments with honorific titles or other expressions of acknowledgment. At the same time, sales and marketing professionals might reap great expense-paid prizes. The more selective the set of values, the more they shape performance.

Values help people connect to organizations and the world in ways more significant than individual accomplishment and effort. For example, if a startup values frugality, people will likely be encouraged to monitor capital and resource consumption. When a manager recognizes effort routinely, the manager demonstrates care and will actively bolster employee satisfaction and engagement. Values guide the decisions we make and the actions we take. Leaders gain faster results and build better relationships by consistently articulating and aligning colleagues to shared values.

3. Creating communities.

While there is truth in the observation that culture eats strategy, growth businesses are now shifting to community thinking within the work environment. A community invites deeper levels of belonging and commitment, while culture implies one-way approaches. While leaders will never underestimate the influence of culture on work processes — or how things get done — they will invest in creating communities where the practices of improvement and resilience thrive. 

Communities, not cultures, pay attention to wellbeing, commitment, innovation, and revenue. As they do, expenses and problems decrease along with skepticism and stress.

Managers and leaders who succeed facilitate employee involvement in decision-making and product and service delivery. Managers expand their capacities for including and involving others and encourage broad knowledge and skill sharing. When managers lead the way in strengthening the bonds, performance vitality and output increase. Employees improve their connections among their colleagues and partnerships between leaders and their teams thrive. 

4. Growing transition readiness.

Most people can let go of the past and successfully embrace a new order or a different future. However, the time between a specific history and an unpredictable future creates and powers uncertainty. In the face of not knowing, we fill in the gaps to reduce the psychological tension that arises with an unknown future. The remedy to not-knowing is to equip a generation of leaders with the knowledge and skill to navigate uncertainty successfully.

A manager successful at helping others through transitions possesses self-awareness and openness to change and growth through learning and development. These managers refuse to see opportunities and people as problems but rather as contributors. When work is perceived more like an invitation than a requirement, an organization’s esprit de corps positively changes.  Improvements measured by meaningful metrics rise.

5. Maintaining a Customer-First Work Environment

When employees can connect their experience and employment to a paying customer or stakeholder, the commitment to excellence thrives. People want to do their best to deliver a quality product or service to those they feel connected to. Customers and new markets are eternal sources of inspiration when we successfully recruit and involve employees in a customer-first mission. A team’s connection to a customer contributes to the motivation for peak performance. When we care, we act in a customer-first way.

Managers and leaders improve organizational energy by harnessing a customer-first spirit across the enterprise with both customers and employees. When colleagues treat each other as customers, it translates to appealing work environments. A standard of care and excellence replaces indifference created by the isolation many experience in today’s hybrid workplace.

To reawaken work and succeed in the new world of work, we must put these five practices into place to boost engagement. Leadership growth in these action areas contains the kernel of power to transform careers, lives, organizations, and the communities we serve. Begin the journey to building teams and communities on the path to personal and organizational prosperity.

 

Future Workplace Mindset: People, Technology, and Business Intersection

As we all know, flexibility is the lifeblood of HR, especially when it comes to adopting new technologies for attracting candidates. While many are resistant to change in the working world, a willingness to adapt to whatever comes strengthens both HR and business strategies. By understanding that nothing will stay the same, and thus adopting a future workplace mindset, organizations can accept change and also thrive in it.

As technology becomes more important for keeping employees happy and productive, it’s crucial that businesses understand tech’s role in business success. And more importantly, act on this understanding.

Our Guest: Michel Visser, Unit4’s VP of People Success and Enablement

On the latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Michel Visser, Unit4’s VP of People Success and Enablement. In 2018, he joined Unit4 with the aim of attracting the best global talent. He has over a decade of experience in HR, holding various senior leadership roles. Michel teaches HR at the VU University Amsterdam and has been instrumental in developing creative and innovative strategies for attracting candidates, strengthening employee development, and generating strong engagement strategies.

I wanted to know: how does a company develop a workplace mindset for building a global identity that supports its brand and culture? According to Michel, it’s all about communicating company values. Values not only determine how a business operates, but how people interact with each other. Making values apparent allows candidates to know upfront whether they’re a good match for your organization. Sharing values throughout an organization also takes the transactional aspect out of work, and has everyone working towards a common goal. It helps employees feel like they’re doing something more than just getting a paycheck every week.

“It is absolutely critical to communicate organizational values to candidates because, without clear values, employee experience becomes transactional,” says Michel. “If you make your business’s values very clear, then you give candidates a chance to relate to your mission. You can use values as an instrument to attract and retain talent.”

And HR is fundamental in crafting these values.

“HR is now front and center when it comes to being visible and showing how employees actually deliver value to the business. It’s HR who starts formulating answers to questions like what does the business stand for? What do we value?” Michel says.

Technology’s Role in Communicating Values

Technology can play a big role in communicating values. It’s HR’s responsibility to strengthen the workplace mindset that it’s good to adapt and harness tech to keep employees engaged. And it’s vital to continuously monitor and measure that engagement.

“How do you keep track of employee engagement? If you find a proper tool to do that, how do you start acting on the insights you’ve gathered?” Michel says. “In many cases, you can’t just stop by a coffee maker and ask employees how they feel anymore. You need technology to gauge this.” 

Once tech is adopted, it’s crucial that HR plans to make sure employees engage with the tech. They also need to dive into workforce planning and understand that a two-year workforce plan makes more sense than a five- or 10-year plan. Organizations need to look at the length of time that employees stick around in the modern workforce and adjust to that. They also need to understand what skill sets employees need to thrive, how to create more engagement, and how to stay true to the values that are communicated. In other words, companies can’t just be “all talk.” Businesses have to deliver on promises if they want happy people.

“Everybody will tell you on their website that they put people first. But at the end of the day, you have to deliver and make sure people feel that the company values are true. Every HR professional should focus on putting values into place,” Michel says.

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends, sponsored by Unit4. You can learn more about workplace mindset and adopting new technologies by connecting with Michel on LinkedIn. Also, you can learn about how people management and technology can combine to give organizations a competitive advantage by downloading this Unit4 whitepaper.

 

A New Paradigm: How to Encourage Meaningful Partnership at Work

Let’s face it: Many team members feel unsupported by their leaders, and it’s the single biggest reason why people quit their jobs. It also turns out that many leaders feel similarly unsupported by their team. This creates a two-way street of frustration between leaders and teams. Unaddressed, these poor relationships can lead to serious workplace problems.

Then came the COVID-19 pandemic.

It altered not only the way in which we work but strained many of the relationships we have with coworkers. It revealed a growing hunger among leaders and teams for a deeper connection and a more mutually accountable and rewarding partnership.

No doubt, we all seek healthy and effective relationships at work. But as we know, few of our key work partnerships are exceptional, and frankly, most are mediocre or even poor. So, how do we create, maintain and continuously improve our key partnerships, especially the one between leaders and teams?

Use these steps to improve meaningful partnerships in the workplace.

1. Embrace a new mindset.

Leaders and team members must embrace a new mindset of meaningful partnership. It refers to an elevated state of the “4 Cs:” cohesion, connection, coordination, and collaboration. It’s a level of partnership that goes above and beyond, that has impact, that’s mutually successful and rewarding, and is a two-way street of care, support, and accountability.

2. Infuse foundational elements for partnership to flourish.

Leaders and teams must recognize that meaningful partnership requires strong levels of Empathy, Respect, Trust, Alignment, and Partnership. This is the ERTAP model which research has found to be the foundation of meaningful workplace relationships. It suggests that these five elements are in many ways sequential, mutually reinforcing, and when combined in synergy, create the necessary conditions for meaningful partnership at work to flourish.

3. Develop a workplace covenant.

Leaders and teams need to create and routinely use workplace covenants. In brief, a workplace covenant is an honor-bound set of commitments, which have obligatory weight, to one’s work partner. It begins with the exchange of obligations and expectations, with the focus being on: “What can I do for you, so that you’ll feel supported and can be successful?”

This exchange of behaviors and attitudes between the leader and the team is discussed, compared, refined, and documented, resulting in the development of signed workplace covenants. It should be noted that there’s no religious connotation here, but instead simply the establishment of vital behavioral promises that both partners agree to hold themselves to as a matter of personal and professional integrity. They also agree to assess themselves on the covenants and receive feedback on them.

Leaders and teams then regularly review these workplace covenants informally and formally, share them with new team members, discuss them during one-on-ones, and use them as a basis for managing and continuously improving how they work together, so that both the leader and team continue to feel supported and can be successful.

So what are the benefits of meaningful partnership?

A meaningful partnership at work is a “vaccine” that prevents the ills of dissatisfaction, disengagement, despair, and departure (the Dreaded 4 Ds) that occur all too often in today’s workplaces. Meaningful partnership at work is what today’s younger workers seek but aren’t always able to articulate. They will say that they search for significance at work and collaborations that are authentic and mutually rewarding. But it begs the question: How do you create that work environment? Meaningful partnership, ERTAP, and workplace covenants are the concepts and tools to provide that answer.

Finally, for those organizations seeking to promote a positive culture, meaningful partnership offers a compelling vision. It’s a place where employees often encourage and praise. It is where managers go above and beyond to support their staff. It’s where constructive feedback is exchanged without anxiety or fear. And where everyone is doing their best to ensure the success of others. It may seem idealistic, but actually, it’s quite achievable when both leaders and teams embrace a new paradigm of collaboration—one of meaningful partnership.

 

This piece was co-written by Timothy M. Franz Ph.D., organizational psychologist, professor of psychology, and interim Chair at St. John Fisher College, and Seth R. Silver Ed.D., the principal of Silver Consulting, Inc. and former professor of Human Resource Development at St. John Fisher College.

How to Keep Talent Engaged: 3 Useful Practices from Aviation

With up to 200,000 commercial flights a day, aviation must do many things right. From airport operations and internet booking systems to something much more valuable: superb performance in the cockpit of every single plane, every single flight.

How do they keep talent engaged so they can fly impeccably? What can we learn from aviation that applies to businesses? Here are three valuable practices.

1. Provide the right response to errors.

One of the great killers of engagement in organizations is what happens when there’s an error. Of course, no one wants an incident in aviation. And it’s vital to treat every single one very seriously. But what’s surprising is that the discussions do not involve questions that suggest a personal attack or blame, like, “Who did it?” and “Whose fault is it?”

Instead, aviation professionals take a fact-based, neutral, non-rushed approach. The main question asked is: “What was it in the system that allowed this to happen?” Yes, someone may have made a mistake. But is that the result of improper or insufficient training? Or poorly designed procedures? Or some equipment that did not work as expected in that context?

The goal is for the organization to keep talent engaged by encouraging them to learn and improve. To make sure that everyone becomes better because of that incident. That people involved are more committed to doing their best, rather than discouraged or made angry. Just Culture is what this is called in aviation.

Companies are sometimes very far from this approach and there’s a lot that can be done to improve things. While pointing to “the guilty” and making sure they get reprimanded might seem like some sort of relief for the stress they’ve caused us, we all know it’s not the right path to take.

2. Ensure real-time feedback.

Pilots always know where they stand in terms of performance in their roles. This keeps them alert and motivated to learn and to perform at their best.

Twice a year they spend time in flight simulators. The first four hours of the visit are to practice situations they might face in reality: engine failure, hydraulics failure, emergency landing, smoke in the cabin, and so on. The second four hours are an examination. An experienced captain watches their every move in each scenario: their attitude, the way they communicate, their knowledge and airmanship. In the end, they get a detailed debriefing, and only if things went very well do they get to continue to fly planes. Six months later, they’re back in the simulators again to train and be examined.

In between simulators, they get feedback every day. Their activity in the cockpit can be checked or re-checked anytime because they’re in plain sight, thanks to cabin voice recorders (CVRs).

What can companies learn here? To set up an even bigger “big brother” to record all people’s moves? No. It is the supervisor’s role to notice what’s going on and to give people feedback right away. Not to be too busy with their own operational activities or wait for a superficial form to fill out now and then. Companies need to make sure that supervisors consider it important to give feedback to their people. And that everyone in the organization feels safe both to speak to others and to receive feedback from others.

In this dynamic world, we all need to know now where we stand. If we want to keep talent engaged, we must not rely on old data or on assumptions about where we are and how we’re doing.

3. Build team spirit.

In the past, airline captains used to be regarded as some larger-than-life figures, not to be argued with, whatever decisions they made. You only spoke when asked to speak. You didn’t challenge their experience or perception of things.

There are countless stories of small incidents or tragic accidents that happened because captains–mere mortals, after all–did not work together with the rest of the crew, did not consider their recommendations, did not have the right situational awareness, and ultimately made a bad call because of it.

Aviation cannot afford such a leadership style and such a culture. Because of this, since 1981, airlines have implemented what is known as Crew Resource Management. It is probably the closest thing there is to the concept of team spirit. It supports working together in a structured and clear way.

Many companies say things like, “We need to work as ONE company” and “create synergies” and “break the silos.” All good intentions are there… but the structures aren’t built to make all this happen. Organizations need to ask themselves: Are procedures written with this “ONE” goal in mind? Are the systems facilitating this vision?

Conclusion

One thing to admire about aviation is the thoroughness of every approach. Nothing is just a slogan. There are clear expectations for every role, with hardly any grey areas. The system is built in such a way that all available resources are used in the most effective way.

How does this keep talent engaged? By communicating the message that everyone counts. Not just the captain–but the co-pilot, the flight attendants, the tower, and the staff on the ground.

In aviation, efforts to build and maintain engagement go deep into how everything is organized. They go beyond the shiny surface activities, which may sound fun, but don’t last very long. How is your company doing on this spectrum?

Want Employee Engagement? Then Get Ready to LOL!

Employee engagement is a powerful dynamic and, even though it may seem as if this subject has been over-hyped in recent years, it hasn’t. Research shows that engaged employees have less turnover, take fewer sick days, and perform better. The mission is accomplished, and the bottom line improves. So why wouldn’t we want that?

The problem has been that many companies build their employee engagement strategy on mass-produced mandatory fun. Think about it. How many times do we see leaders excitedly introduce employee contests or monthly gimmicks with the intent of bringing people together? Supervisors hope it will boost productivity. Staff roll their eyes and attend because they must. Are these approaches beneficial? It depends.

Ask yourself this question: after the party is over and the free donuts are gone, what has changed? Do your workers still seem detached and on autopilot? The answer is usually yes.

Tapping into true engagement

Engagement is much more than forced participation. It’s about getting to the core of what makes human beings tick. Ever notice that when a group of people are together and connecting at a heart and soul level there is a comfort infused with energy and passion? When we become human together, laugh together, care about each other and allow bonding to occur, we tap into true engagement.

The good news is we can have it all. Engagement, productivity, all of it! If done properly, your employees will feel inspired, and you will hit those performance targets you’ve been longing for. How? Tap into your “funny bone” and have the confidence to laugh at yourself and create a culture of joy. Send the message that it’s okay to have fun at work. Then watch the energy and passion grow.

The benefits of the “funny bone”

Take for example Lizet O’Campo, Political Director of People for the American Way. She was an instant internet sensation because, through a series of technical glitches during a Zoom meeting, she accidentally turned herself into a potato. She struggled during the meeting to fix the problem all the while appearing on screen to her staff as a confused and serious potato. Lizet finally gave in and conducted the rest of her meeting as, well, a potato. Her staff was delighted and admired her sense of humility and self-deprecation.

Laughter has the added benefit of improving health. A landmark study by researchers at Loma Linda and Stanford University found that watching episodes of Laurel & Hardy and Abbott & Costello improved cortisol levels, which help the body fight infection. And laughter is a full-body workout that burns calories and flexes any number of muscles.

But one doesn’t have to be a potato leader or watch old shows on Hulu to create the space for humor and the engagement benefits that follow. By embracing a few key tenets, you can easily provide a safe space where humor is appropriate, not offensive, and engagement reigns.

1. Self-check thyself.

Leaders who desire employee engagement are obliged to walk the talk. To do this, they must look inward, recognize their own human needs, and discover what brings them joy. Then they are better able to create a space where employees can also find happiness. They inspire and build a loyal band of employees who will follow in their footsteps. Be the spark that ignites the joy. This is not something you can fake. Employees know it when you’re simply along for the ride.

2. Be courageous.

It’s not easy to change. We tend to rely on our comfort levels. Courage today is about letting go, taking a chance, and being real. Be confident and proud of your strengths but don’t be afraid to poke a little fun at your discomfort with numbers or your tendency to be a little too serious. It unleashes the human being inside.

3. Embrace humility.

Humble people are much more fun to hang out with. Modesty has the innate power to level the playing field. When we work for an unassuming leader, we feel like we can bring our whole self to work. When leaders know they’re not perfect, they allow others to be imperfect. We feel safe and accepted. As a result, we’re more creative, more inquisitive, and more productive.

4. Strengthen social awareness.

This is nothing more than the simple act of noticing, but it’s something with which we all struggle. Looming deadlines and work pressures cause us to quickly stray into the prescribed, where we depend on formalities and not on what matters most. Take the time to pick up on social cues and get to know your employees as people, not simply resources who happen to be human.

Companies with engaged employees are workplaces of passion, fun, and family. Their leaders take the time to recognize their peoples’ human needs and they tap into the joy that laughter creates. The workforce these leaders nurture is one where the staff gives their discretionary time and energy. They see their managers as approachable, kind, and normal. They care about the organization’s success because their leaders care about them.

So, if you want employee engagement, let down your guard and LOL.

 

This post was co-authored by Patrick Malone, who also co-authored with Zina their new book: Leading with Love and Laughter: Letting Go and Getting Real at Work.

Freshen Up Remote Culture for Work and Play [Podcast]

Eighty percent of employees say they want to work from home at least part-time. And three in four consider remote work the “new normal.” In an attempt to stay competitive, organizations everywhere are offering totally remote and hybrid work options to current and potential employees.

While it’s great that companies are accommodating employee needs, a new issue is arising: How do we maintain a remote culture that keeps employees engaged, even from afar?

Our Guest: Creative Entrepreneur Jeremy Parker

On the latest #WorkTrends podcast, I chatted with Jeremy Parker. He’s an entrepreneur who was named to Crain’s Class of 2020 NY 40 under 40 list. Jeremy formed the Creative Promotional Product Division under MV Sport. He also helped start Vowch Commonwealth and is currently co-founder and CEO of Swag.com, a swag distribution company that supports a healthy remote culture.

Jeremy understands that who you work with is just as important as what you’re working on, especially in the case of startups. According to Jeremy, a great remote culture starts with the recruiting process and finding the right people for what your business needs right now.

“When onboarding new hires, it’s important to find the right culture fit, especially for startups. Different employees are required for different stages of a business life cycle,” Jeremy says. 

And of course, he adds, before offering someone a role, you have to consider the candidate as a person, and determine if they will be truly happy at the company and empowered by the work.

“I think the most important thing across the board is making sure the people you hire really care about what they’re doing. That they’re willing to work hard. They need to feel passionate about the work and feel ownership over it,” Jeremy says.

Bring Remote Workers Together with Pocket Offices and Swag

Once the right remote employees are hired, how do you make them feel connected even when they’re far away? One strategy: Offer them swag.

“If you see somebody wearing a shirt representing your favorite sports team or college, you have an instant connection. It’s the same thing within a company,” Jeremy says. “If you’re wearing the same things, it brings people together around a shared purpose and mission.” 

Also, getting creative with events for remote workers is crucial. While employees may be located all over the world, it’s still possible to offer in-person opportunities for bonding.

“Instead of having one central hub and making employees drive two hours each way, find little pocket offices in different locations. So even if remote employees can’t meet everybody at the company in person, people can get out of the house and collaborate with others,” Jeremy says. “Everyone’s feeling isolated (especially with COVID). So whatever you can do to bring people together and create unity is important.”

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends. You can learn more about fostering employee connections in a remote culture by reaching out to Jeremy Parker on LinkedIn.

Employee Engagement: The New 80/20 Rule That Gets Results

“Engagement” is such a corporate word. It conjures up visions of HR and the perks and policies you hope will ultimately win over employees. If HR leads the parade of free lattes, trendy Facebook pages, and company-branded baseball caps, your people will get on board with your mission, right?

Wrong. It doesn’t work that way, and the stats show it. As many as eight out of every 10 people are disengaged at work. Not exactly the 80/20 rule you want.

Researchers have found that an individual’s immediate boss, not that free latte, is the biggest influence on employee engagement, well-being, and drive. The logic holds that what goes on by day goes home with people by night. The influence of a boss is enormous.

However, bosses have challenges as well. Including the pressure to perform, to enable teams to perform, to meet quarterly numbers, to experiment, and to be more innovative. Leaders, managers, and supervisors have so much coming at them; it’s little wonder employee engagement suffers.

How leaders behave impacts how people engage

So, is it culpability or capability—or perhaps capacity—that prevents leaders from better engaging with their people? I don’t think it’s culpability. Nobody wakes up in the morning and says, “I’m not going to engage my team today. In fact, I’m going to completely ignore their needs and just focus on me.”

No, they wake up and know they need to balance both their teams’ productivity and employee engagement. They simply don’t know how to do it all. People don’t know how to solve the many issues that might be preventing their team from achieving results. They don’t necessarily understand that if you better engage employees to begin with, the results will ultimately flow.

The new 80/20 rule

As a team member, a full 80 percent of your engagement comes from the way your manager engages with you—from their behavior. The other 20 percent of your engagement comes from the corporate ecosystem itself: how effective your workplace is; its processes, technology, equipment, and tools; and if policies and structures work for people, not against them.

This means that as a manager or supervisor, 80 percent of your job should be spent engaging with your people and removing any barriers to success. Spend the remaining 20 percent of your time improving the ecosystem. That’s it! That’s the job. When you do it right, results follow.

What does “engaging” your people look like?

Engaging your people is physical. To start with, it means taking your nose out of your device or stack of reports and connecting, person to person. I’m not talking about a casual, “Hey, how goes it?” but, rather, instituting a formal rhythm to your managerial role.

How do you practice it?

  • Have a presence. | Do you have a visible presence in your company? Be active in your employees’ day-to-day lives. Be aware of what’s happening around you and if your teams have processes and tools that work for them.
  • Think micro and macro. | How do the everyday actions of your team connect with company goals? Communicate the connection between the two—the micro and the macro—so people know what they’re working toward.
  • Be tech-savvy. | Today, everyone needs to be both data and digitally literate. Use data to drive conversations about progress and performance. Create stories from the data itself. Help your people use technology to leverage results and get more out of every workday.
  • Coach routinely. | Do you coach your team members to build their capabilities and, in turn, their confidencePeople thrive when they learn more. Keep in mind: learning comes not only from formal training but also by putting people into situations that create opportunities to learn.
  • Collaborate with people outside of your team. | Do you spend time with the people at the outer edges of your company or with those who don’t report to you? By collaborating and building community, the best and brightest ideas will emerge—rather than ideas from the loudest voices (or the boss).

If you want to be a great leader using the new 80/20 rule, you must first manage to engage.

TCO: The Hidden Costs of HR Technology

Over the past year, the pandemic forced most organizations to re-evaluate their HR technology to better support their workforce in a new work environment. It’s easy to see how these solutions impact expenses, regardless of whether your organization has grown or downsized and whether you’ve implemented one, two, or more new technologies. But upon further examination, you may find additional costs that you don’t see on a balance sheet. These downstream costs come in the form of voluntary turnover, disengaged employees, and a poor employee experience caused by disjointed systems. All of these add to the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of your HR technology stack.

Don’t get me wrong, these shiny new systems have the best intentions and also hold the potential to streamline processes and improve efficiency. However, they can cause confusion, digital fatigue, and an overall negative employee experience when brought together. This article will examine the cascading costs caused by competing HR technologies and shine some light on the TCO of those platforms, tools, and programs.

Multiple Buyers, Multiple Priorities

HR technologies span a broad spectrum of applications. PwC’s Human Resources Technology Survey estimates the total value of the HR cloud solutions space at a whopping $148 billion. You have solutions for time and labor management, talent development, benefits administration, payroll, HR administration, and the multiple use cases that fall underneath each of these. Filling the needs presented by your organization can result in a slew of point solutions patched together, ostensibly to support the employee experience. But are they actually improving the employee experience?

The problems often start with having multiple buyers working to get these solutions in place. Too often, organizations arm each buyer with a different agenda and different initiatives. Each has a keen eye on their own goals and what technology they are bringing in-house. But with multiple buyers in the mix, the bigger picture is often overlooked. And the bigger picture can be what makes or breaks the employee experience.

What is the bigger picture? It’s the TCO of the whole HR technology stack and how these solutions work together.

Too Many Channels, Not Enough Bandwidth

Throughout the workday, employees change directions more than a weathervane in a tornado. They constantly switch between systems to communicate, track time, view benefits, take a survey, complete a learning module, and—yes—even get some work done. It’s simply exhausting. Also, that only covers a few of the functions within the sprawling HR tech stack. Thinking about it gives you a headache, doesn’t it? Or perhaps, that’s digital fatigue you’re experiencing.

Moreover, we’ve seen (and continue to see) a race to upskill and re-skill, a trend that has created the need for even more learning and development, coaching and mentoring, surveys, and other tools meant to support employees. The increase in the number of people working remotely and forcing interaction with these disjointed technologies from home has exacerbated the situation. Also, while pushing forward with upskilling and re-skilling, only 12 percent of employers plan to reward employees’ skill acquisition. The current rise in voluntary turnover is kind of a no-brainer. People work harder and longer at home. They stretch themselves to learn new skills and take on new roles–for no reward.

The Effects: By the Numbers

We know the competing HR systems and the subsequent chaos they cause result in a poor employee experience. But what exactly does that mean for your organization? And what does that cost? Now we’re getting to the TCO of HR technologies.

Burnout

Experts estimate that the healthcare costs of job-related burnout are between $125 billion and $190 billion. Once employees reach burnout, it’s often difficult to hit the reset button and get them back to their optimal performance engagement. Thus, voluntary turnover is often what lies next.

Voluntary turnover

With the average cost of hiring a new employee at $4,129, and onboarding averaging roughly $986 per new hire, organizations lose $5,000 each time an employee leaves. That doesn’t even account for the costs of the skill sets you’re losing, and the loss of the intrinsic value an individual brings to your organization. You can’t afford to lose your employees to something so preventable as integrating HR solutions.

Disengagement

Disengagement costs companies between $450 billion and $550 billion each year. Yikes! And considering one-third of most employees consider themselves disengaged, organizations must work to boost engagement. Among the several levers you can pull to boost engagement, streamlining your technology is a relatively easy move.

Management tax: Add it to the tab

The struggle of dealing with too many solutions is not one-sided. While employees grapple with multiple systems each day, managers work to pull data from each of those systems, manage vendor relationships, and learn each solution from top to bottom. Managing a sprawling tech stack is a huge distraction and can easily be minimized by combining point solutions to a larger platform.

Streamlining HR technology will make life simpler—and more productive—for managers and employees. Of course, bringing these solutions together can also be more cost-effective for an organization. Which means you don’t need to eliminate existing systems altogether. Just simplify your systems. How? By integrating and combining forces. A lot is riding on this—more than you see when usually assessing TCO.

With this in mind, adopt an integrated approach that combines talent functions to create a more fluid experience for your people. Do it for the employee experience, higher productivity, and a better bottom line. When evaluating the number of technologies in your organization, less is more.

Remote Human Resources Strategies for 2021 (And Beyond)

2020 was a year of job losses and significant changes for human resources and hiring teams. While the pandemic will eventually come to an end, many of the changes we’ve seen will stick around — perhaps permanently. So maybe it is time to take a look at your remote human resources strategies?

One of the biggest changes was the swift and complete adoption of remote work. Many businesses that had been resistant to this growing trend faced no choice starting last March. This mandatory, multi-month pilot program has been eye-opening in many positive ways.

Because of this, we can expect remote work — and remote HR — to be a long-term shift. What are some strategies you can use to excel? Here are some ideas.

Excel at Remote Hiring

The first step is to become comfortable with the technology needed for remote hiring. This includes fine-tuning automated resume review software so that you get the applicants you really want. You can also take advantage of pre-interview questionnaires and email references to qualify your candidates further.

When you’re ready for an interview, it’s time for video! Because you can see the candidate and read their body language, video-based interviews are better than telephone options. This technology, which enables you to see how the candidate prepares and reacts in a higher-pressure situation, can help you ensure a better cultural fit along with hiring for the right skills.

As you incorporate video interviews in your hiring process, find ways to keep the process streamlined and give personal attention to top candidates to win them away from competitors. For example, keep the interview short, impactful, and positive.

Embrace the Positive Impact of Remote Work

Many companies have determined that remote work is more cost-effective and sustainable than they imagined. There are fewer late employees, more flexibility, and increased employee satisfaction.

There are also cost-savings for companies. Maintaining fewer desks can mean smaller office spaces and less overhead. Remote work can also lead to increased productivity and a focus on results over time-in-office.

Most of all, remote work allows for increased diversity. People who have health issues and struggle to commute to work daily no longer feel excluded from the talent pool. The fact that people are working from home means they can create the accommodations they need to be successful and overall have a better work environment.

Focus on Employee Engagement

One of the biggest challenges of remote work is keeping employees engaged. While many people enjoy not having to drive to work, others miss the camaraderie of being in an office. Regardless of which side of this fence your employees stand, HR and management must figure out how to actively engage staff.

Start by encouraging each manager to find out what their teams actually want and need. Too often, team-building goes wrong because managers base the effort on someone else’s idea about what matters. In every instance, the team should guide the engagement process.

Leaders should also meet regularly with individual employees. These one-on-one meetings often help minimize any concerns about being forgotten or overlooked for promotions.

There are also virtual team building games you can leverage if they are a fit for your teams and company culture. Many people enjoy the break provided by a virtual scavenger hunt or digital board game – or any chance to do something fun. Do you and your employees a favor, though: Make sure the activities chosen don’t come across as corny or forced.

Support Career Development

As your dispersed team continues to function off-site, be sure to emphasize career training and development to your employees.

The remote work era an excellent opportunity to take advantage of technology and computer-based training. Because companies can tailor these efforts to each individual’s pace and preferences, many companies were already using these methods before the pandemic. Many more companies now offer employees online access to personal and professional growth opportunities such as learning programs provided by LinkedIn or SkillSoft.

Of course, leaders need to be aware of — and support — their individual team members’ career goals. When people believe their career goals are understood and supported, they are far more likely to be engaged and productive.

Balance In-Office and Remote Teams

Many companies are already managing a combination of in-office and remote workers. One way to make sure this works well is to treat everyone – regardless of their work location – fairly. For example, decision-makers shouldn’t prefer in-office workers for promotions or projects. Similarly, remote employees shouldn’t be the only people given flexibility.

Your leadership team must decide how they will recognize and reward the efforts of all team members. And the leaders themselves must serve as advocates for those people doing good work from home.

Of course, companies can adapt recognition and rewards programs to serve blended workforces well. Moving toward a focus on results rather than time-at-desk, for example, can be a great way to make promotions and raises equitable. When you balance your teams, you give everyone an equal opportunity to excel.

Remote Human Resources: Are You Ready for 2021?

Many leaders and companies continue to struggle with the adjustment to a remote work or blended environment – so you are not alone. One at a time, leverage these remote human resources strategies — and make your adjustment to a long-term remote-based or blended workforce better for your company, and better for your employees.

Here’s to a successful 2021 — and beyond!

 

Clovercity

One More Look Back: #WorkTrends Top 5 Podcasts of 2020

While 2020 was a rough year for many people and businesses, there were opportunities for growth. Sometimes, all we had to do was listen… to the top 5 #WorkTrends podcasts of 2020, for example.

For many years, #WorkTrends has served as a place of learning within the world of work. 2020 was no exception, as we featured many of the top minds — and many of the best companies and products — that serve the talent community.

As you look ahead to 2021, we invite you to listen to the #WorkTrends conversations that resonated most during 2020…

5) Leading Through Uncertainty

The moment we all started realizing just how impactful the COVID-19 pandemic would be, Doug Butler of Reward Gateway joined host Meghan M. Biro to discuss how leaders can bring teams together and keep them working collaboratively — even when working remotely. In our fifth-most-popular podcast of 2020, you’ll hear solid advice that’s just as applicable today as it was in June when we recorded this episode, starting with how to encourage open, honest, clear communication.

4) The Human Impact of Data Literacy

The next most popular episode of 2020 featured Jordan Morrow, then Global Head of Data Literacy at Qlik. Jordan offered tremendous insight into why we’re not using data the way we could — or should. In this episode, Jordan shared the findings of a Qlik/Accenture report on the human impact of data literacy — and why globally we miss countless opportunities because we don’t better train our employees to use data.

3) The Empathy Gap

In the third most downloaded podcast of last year, Dr. Gleb Tsipursky, the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts, joined Meghan to discuss potential workplace disasters. Dr. Tsipursky is a noted consultant, cognitive neuroscientist, and expert on behavioral economics. And during his appearance on #WorkTrends, he noted that the workplace suffers from an epidemic of disengagement. Specifically, he points to one glaring disaster within company culture: a lack of empathy. Listen in!

2) The Myth of Employee Engagement

In our second-most popular post of 2020, Mark S. Babbitt, CEO of WorqIQ joined us to talk about why our approach to employee engagement has been all wrong and still is off-base today. In this episode, Mark noted that our view of this critical workplace topic hasn’t helped us move the needle one bit — engagement levels remain the same as they were in the 1990s. More importantly, he and Meghan talked about how to overcome the impasse.

1) Assessing Digital Skills for Hiring Now

Our top post of 2020 features Sean O’Brien, Senior VP of Education at SAS, who joined us to discuss how remote work — the most dramatic shift in the workplace for 2020 — has moved from a luxury to a necessity for everyday survival. Sean noted that remote working — with its technical, practical, and cultural challenges — also shifted the hiring process further into the digital sphere. Listen to this episode to learn about how digital tools are helping organizations hire effectively in this new environment!

As we look across these #WorkTrends episodes as well as our top five blog posts of 2020, we see clear proof that last year wasn’t all bad. In fact, opportunities for individual and organizational growth exist, even in the strangest of times. We invite you to take a few minutes to enjoy these insightful conversations. And, of course, join us for even more insights in the year ahead. Our goal: to make 2021 the best year yet in the world of work!

As always, thank you for listening to #WorkTrends — and for being an essential part of the TalentCulture community!

 

Photo by Viesinsh

Conquer the Skills Gap: How to Quickly Upgrade Your Reskilling Strategy

The pandemic has only accelerated our ever-growing skills gap. However, there’s a silver lining to the chaos we’ve experienced this year. People have proved to be remarkably resilient. People are still the best resources to take on the disruption and close the skills gap. This is especially true when you consider the volatility of the external talent pool.

Yes, technology is outpacing human skills. Simultaneously, educational systems struggle to keep up with the urgency of new skills needed. Higher education is both too slow and too costly for reskilling to be effective in the near term. That said, if history has taught us anything, it’s that technology adoption may cause short-term labor displacement – but in the long run.

To effectively reskill in this rapidly changing environment, organizations must harness their greatest resource for skills potential by looking internally. The challenge then becomes how companies approach a reskilling strategy. We often see a top-down process, where leaders throw content or training at employees and expect them to get to work. This approach to talent development has never been effective. Even worse, it will undoubtedly fail when applied to the unique circumstances employees face today.

Instead, talent leaders need to design a holistic people development strategy. One that utilizes integrated technology to find the delicate balance between fulfilling the needs of their employees personally while giving them the tools to be successful at an organizational level. Only then will employees truly be enabled to reskill effectively and execute the business strategy.

Anticipate Skills Needs

In a recent study, McKinsey states that 87% of companies say they are experiencing a skills gap – or will in the next few years. Of those respondents, only a few have an understanding of how to prepare for the skills they’ll need most in the future.

As we can tell from this data point, companies are well aware of the looming skills gap issue. But they are lost at sea when it comes to understanding what to do about it. From that same study, 3 in 10 respondents say at least one-quarter of their organization’s roles are at risk of disruption in the next five years by these trends.

If you don’t know how to meet the skills needed, your first reaction will be to look outside the organization. But that’s a concern when you consider the cost of hiring. According to a  SHRM article, research suggests that a new hire can cost as much as 50% to 60% of an employee’s annual salary, with total costs associated with turnover ranging from 90% to 200% of annual salary. Further, finding new talent that fits into your culture is a feat in itself. Efficiency is what matters most now. So what companies need to do is rally around upskilling their current employees.

Leaders must tap into their own network to understand industry trends. They must decipher the needs required now (or those that will be soon) to develop their staff. To gain insight into the skills employees currently have and the skills required to do their job, start with a skills gap analysis. From there, providing performance management technology and tools that integrate to support holistic employee development is key.

Integrate Effectively

Companies are working hard to accommodate dispersed employees by keeping them connected and collaborating. Rather than adding an assortment of tools that don’t talk to each other, organizations must create a comprehensive strategy that includes mentoring, engagement, learning, and performance.

Mentoring

Most companies have created or adopted some kind of mentorship program to improve job satisfaction, provide personal and professional development, and retain their top employees. However, most of these mentorship programs have become stale and bureaucratic. As many organizations have learned, these programs aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Access to coaching and mentorship should be a continuous process and suited to an employee’s personal needs.

Engagement

The pandemic shook up our work-life balance, and the flexible work environment took its toll on engagement. Finding a tool that provides constant communication to employees and leadership is critical — especially for those working remotely. Continuous engagement shouldn’t mean micromanaging, however. Instead, support the employee’s personal needs and provide them with a positive work experience.

Learning

After leaders have identified all essential skills, leaders can provide the resources and content that cater to individual needs. An integrated Learning Module System (LMS) can equip employees with a database of information that promotes a culture of knowledge and learning.

Performance

In a survey, Forrester reports 74% of firms say they want to be “data-driven,” but only 29% are successful at connecting analytics to action. For an organization and its leaders to see the big picture, performance management technology must have detailed analytics. After all, reskilling efforts wouldn’t be relevant if you couldn’t track back to the original development strategy. Only then can you ensure each individual has made progress.

Technology shouldn’t be a hindrance to employees wanting to upskill. By consolidating tools, you’re saving time from going back and forth between systems, simplifying the work for managers, and allowing quicker decision-making.

Assess and Invest in Your People

Not everyone is facing the same challenges right now, but managers are responsible for providing the tools and resources for each employee that enable them to be efficient and productive. Moreover, LinkedIn’s 2019 Workplace Learning Report shows that 94% of employees say that they would stay at a company longer if it simply invested in helping them learn.

Closing the skills gap is an unmistakable need right now. Clearing the obstacles for employees to fill those gaps is an action that leaders must take. Finding the right fit with an integrated performance management solution can enable employees to reskill effectively and efficiently.

James Haworth

5 Steps to Making Compensation Transparency Work for Your Company

What is compensation transparency? And how does it help your company thrive now, and in the future?

Systemic racial injustice, social unrest and the pandemic have left business leaders in nearly every industry scrambling. Many struggle to find ways to cultivate an equitable and inclusive workplace. At the same time, recent protests have prompted organizations to reassess their purpose. Many have taken a powerful stand for what they believe in. Others have begun cultivating a culture where everyone has equal opportunity to fulfill their dreams.

Against this backdrop, employers are under heightened scrutiny from employees, customers, investors and communities. Now more than ever, they are expected to take bold action and create radical change within their organizations.

And radical change often starts with transparency.

For instance, research from PayScale discovered that the gender wage gap closed completely with increased transparency for 73% of industries and organizations. This means companies must commit to doing what’s right over what’s easy. It also means taking a hard look at their compensation structures to make salary transparency a top priority.

Yet equal pay is far from a set-it-and-forget-it policy. It requires diligent, intentional and consistent analysis. Also required: Iteration and measurement to ensure compliance with late-breaking employee expectations and legal regulations.

As an HR leader, consider these five steps to ensure that transparency remains at the center of your compensation strategy.

Identify Existing Pay Gaps and Disparities

Your company can relatively quickly eliminate pay inequities. Start by performing an audit to include analyzing salary structures and reviewing job descriptions to ensure they accurately reflect the requirements and demands of the position. Then examine and document various circumstances that may justify pay differentials.

For example, you may be able to support pay differences when employees meet the preferred qualifications for a position. Or when they’ve assumed additional responsibility or when their performance is superior.  Ultimately, the cost of identifying and correcting pay inequities will likely be outweighed by the benefits. Those benefits include increased employee morale, retention of a dynamic and diverse workforce, and much more.

Determine an Appropriate Level of Transparency

The next step is to assess your company’s level of comfort with pay transparency. For instance, publishing pay ranges for each position may be a great first start. If your company already has some transparency in place, you might be ready to make the leap to complete transparency. This involves publishing the compensation of individual employees (instead of ranges) externally, internally or both.

Whole Foods and Buffer, for example, have fully embraced the power of pay transparency by disclosing exactly how much everyone in the company makes – from the intern to the CEO. Yes, this strategy can be fraught with fear and overwhelming for many. When implemented correctly, though, the pros far outweigh the cons.

Transparency typically results in greater trust among the team, increased accountability for pay equity, and a rise in job applications from diverse applicants. Complete transparency, however, isn’t for every company. So, it’s critical to evaluate what level is appropriate for your employees, brand and business objectives.

Clarify Compensation Potential by Embracing New Technologies

Equal opportunity is timeless, but equal pay technologies are not.

To address the need for greater transparency, many companies, including Codacy, Buffer and Gitlab, have created salary calculators prospective candidates can use to determine what they’d make if they were brought onboard the organization. These calculations typically include the base salary for a specific role coupled with the minimum job requirements (as they relate to career advancement and market realities).

Other companies have invested in innovative technologies and cloud-based software to automate, simplify and streamline the equal pay process. By clearly explaining pay and pay practices—such as the relationship between pay and experience, performance, qualifications, and other data—you can build trust between employees and thereby bolster loyalty and engagement.

Encourage Feedback from Employees

In today’s unpredictable economic climate, employees may fear they’re expendable. Their focus and performance may deteriorate as a result. You can set your employees’ minds at ease by encouraging feedback regarding business objectives. Implementing pulse surveys and organizing town halls to gather input on pay equity and transparency best practices is also beneficial.

The key: Open communication that helps business leaders better understand what employees feel and experience while encouraging a diverse flow of ideas.

Coach How to Successfully Navigate Compensation Conversations

Perhaps most importantly, it’s imperative to coach managers on the art of compassionate communication as it relates to compensation – from new hires to the most senior team members.

For example, if the initial compensation is misaligned for a new hire, that inequity will perpetuate over time and tenure with a company. Additionally, if salaries are broadcasted publicly, employees may ask why they’re not making as much as someone else in a similar position. So, as part of these conversations, managers should set clear expectations and articulate the criteria for performance and pay progressions. That way, every employee understands the steps necessary to earn an increase in pay.

Ultimately, employers that change the framework for compensation conversations—and empower their teams with the direction needed to advance—are most likely to succeed.

At the end of the day, companies that create equitable workplaces retain employees who feel respected, valued, inspired, and encouraged to reach their full potential. When executed successfully, compensation transparency increases organizational diversity, productivity and profitability.

At the same time, open and equitable pay helps turn employees into brand ambassadors who deliver unparalleled performance.

Johan Godinez

The Owner’s Mindset: How Open Book Leadership Empowers Employees

For employees, what is an owner’s mindset? And how does open book leadership give employees total responsibility over their jobs?

The shockwaves reverberating through our economy as a result of the pandemic aren’t expected to subside anytime soon. The skyrocketing numbers of those laid off, and the businesses shuttering their doors or at grave risk of doing so, has rocked the very foundation of our great entrepreneurial nation.

The long-term impact of all this turmoil creates uncertainty everywhere. From our local neighborhoods and downtowns, to state and federal agencies., to nearly every workplace, no one is immune. As a result, many business leaders are looking for a way to recover by rethinking their businesses and finding new, innovative practices.

Now is our opportunity to rethink how to best manage staff and take maximum advantage of their collective talent. In today’s tumultuous times, it’s both unfair and unwise to leave employees benched on the sidelines worried about whether their jobs are safe. 

We need to change the game by embracing open book leadership. 

The Case for Open Book Leadership

Many tensions exist in business today that could easily be resolved through transparency and financial education. Business owners who have been skeptical about open book leadership – the sharing confidential business information with their employees. Those leaders, however, fail to see that sharing the financial picture of the company – good or bad – doesn’t scare people off. In fact, it eliminates misperceptions and provides an enormous opportunity to get people on board with fixing problems.

To get to better decisions, company leaders need to treat their people like owners. So they can understand the company’s full potential, they need to guide them through the financials. So they can grasp the challenges ahead, they must give them the information needed to let them come up with solutions. Most important, open book leadership gives staff a stake in the outcome. 

The more we teach staff about our company’s financial health, the smarter and more conservative they become with the company’s money. Because they begin to think of it as their money. 

Opening the Books: Our Story

When it comes to financial literacy, we have a huge knowledge gap in our country. In our corporation, we’ve spent more than 40 years closing that gap. Every associate in our corporation is taught how to speak the language of business. We call this open-book leadership system “The Great Game of Business.”

Our end goal has always been to build a business around people who think and act like owners. At every turn, they are taught the tools needed to take control of their destinies. At every opportunity, they are empowered to develop plans that create and protect their jobs and help grow the company.

Within our company, transparency and financial literacy builds a foundation of trust for each of us to stand on going forward. That trust eliminates a fear people many people have: That they can’t understand the business numbers. By conquering that fear, we give our associates the information they need, in a way that makes sense to them, so they can make the best decisions. 

Teach and share the numbers with everyone in the company, and three things happen: 

  1. As a leader, you inspire trust and confidence 
  2. People engage in creating their vision of the future
  3. The entire organization unites around shared goals

Developing a New Language 

Changing the game – by teaching people the game of business – works. Throughout the world, we’ve seen it happen in thousands of companies. Each has created a better future for themselves, their associates, and their communities. 

Our Great Game All-stars, for example, represent 29 companies across 22 industries. Through the pandemic, when lay-offs became commonplace, leadership and employees have worked together to save 3,385 jobs to date. And over the past two years, the average annual profit growth for these companies was 125 percent – or 6-times greater than their industry benchmarks.

Taking The Leap to Open Book Leadership

We understand: Taking that first step might require a giant leap of faith — and a lot of hard work. Just like we’ve seen the undeniable value of adding STEM courses to school curriculums, however; we need to increase financial literacy in the workplace. Our academic institutions, despite several chances to add this human value to their learning models won’t do it. So we businesses leaders must become the teachers. 

Teaching financial literacy requires the same immersive approach that schools take when teaching students a foreign language. We need to speak it all day, every day. And we do that until the words and phrases become routine — and the language becomes commonplace across the entire company. That language crosses departments. It helps us work together. It highlights where we make a difference to each other – something we need now more than ever.

Building a Better Quality of Life 

Teaching people the language of business results in much more than financial success. 

Empowered, informed associates make recommendations that fix real problems. Because they have a say in the company’s direction, they work harder and smarter. Finally, a transparent open book management system gives them the ability to understand what they need to lead a secure and fulfilling life

Opening up the rules of business – providing everyone the information on which to act – may not solve every problem your company faces. But giving staff the insider information formerly reserved for owners alone empowers everyone to take responsibility for their jobs. By understanding the big picture, they gain a sense of pride and ownership. They know their work, and their decisions, make a difference.

Take the leap. Incorporate open book leadership – “The Great Game of Business” – in your operations. Your employees will feel trusted and empowered. Which makes your suddenly transparent business that much stronger – and more ready to take on any challenge ahead.

 

WeWe

The Power of Grateful Workplaces and Engaged Employees

What sets grateful workplaces apart from others? What impact do those environments have on employee engagement?

Especially now — while most of us are still working remotely — leaders need to ask themselves a question: Why are happy and engaged employees worth their weight in gold?

And then they need to go discover more gold.

If you’re a business owner, look around your company. If you’re in a leadership role within a corporation, look around your department. Are you using a critical eye to evaluate what’s going on behind the scenes with your employees? Know what is happening when they are not on a Zoom call? If not, you’re missing an opportunity to use your relationship skills and develop deeper, meaningful conversations. The kind of discussions that matter to them. And, ultimately, to the organization.

The Value of Appreciation

It’s amazing to see how showing appreciation and expressing gratitude affects people. With just two little words like “thank you” and “well done” we can make a real difference. In a report conducted by TINYpulse, 30,000 people were queried to uncover what makes for an engaged, happy workplace. The findings revealed that 70 percent of people rated their workplace as fun due to the appreciation and subsequent recognition. Yes, the validation received from leadership and peers made the work fun. Perks such as ping pong tables and free beer Fridays? Not so much.

Showing gratitude gives employees the support and recognition they want. It provides the encouragement to go above and beyond. In essence, appreciation and gratitude inspire people. Validation motivates them to be engaged and interested.

They Tell One Person, Who Tells Two People…

Even when times are good, developing a cadre of brand ambassadors is a great idea for any company. This is especially true for companies looking to extend their brand externally and reinforce it internally. Now, in times of turmoil, helping employees feel appreciated and included greatly increases the likelihood they’ll get involved. It also inspires them to more often go beyond the call of duty. Employees who feel valued also show a greater aptitude for collaboration. They are far more likely to spread the word of their great feelings about the organization. And they’re more likely to feel the work they do directly contributes to positive outcomes. 

It’s important to have positive communications like these run up, down, and sideways along the chain. This practice helps reinforce a workplace where open communications are part of the culture and practiced by everyone — even when we’re not all sitting in the same building.

And Then There’s the Downside

When employees do not feel appreciated nor included, feelings of disinterest in their employer may develop. Depending on the level and length of disengagement, the lack of appreciation often leads them to speak publicly in negative tones. That negativity, regrettably, easily spreads to any customers with whom disengaged employees may come into contact. These negative interactions can directly affect customer purchases, retention, and recommendations on company review sites such as Glassdoor.

Further, brands always need to be mindful of the speed at which information, especially bad news, travels. When an employee is frustrated enough to vent online, social media is not an employer’s best friend.

Grateful Workplaces: It’s Good Business

Organizations that promote cultures of positivity, camaraderie, collaboration, feedback, and good communications prosper. In fact, research by Gallup identified the nine business metrics most affected by high employee engagement. The top three factors that advance an organization’s brand image and fiscal health: Customer ratings, productivity and profitability.

On the less-positive side, a study published in the Harvard Business Review details a Gallup Poll survey that show disengaged workers had:

  • 37 percent higher absenteeism
  • 49 percent more accidents
  • 60 percent more errors and defects

These data points are strong indicators of disengaged employees. Even worse, perhaps: Unmotivated employees who don’t find satisfaction in their work. Nor do they have a positive outlook of their company. In a research project conducted by doctors at the University of California and University of Florida, participants who focused on the positive aspects of their life were tested against a comparison group who focused on feelings of irritation and dissatisfaction. As makes sense, the test group considered more positive were much happier, optimistic and more likely to demonstrate healthier habits. These feelings are not exclusive to one’s time away from work. In fact, they spill over into people’s work lives every day, affecting productivity and results.

With so many people working away from the office, organizations must give their employees reasons to be brand ambassadors. Perhaps even more important in today’s workplace? They must deliberate create grateful workplaces. Which means serving as positive role models by demonstrating appreciation and a high level of engagement themselves. 

 Want highly engaged employees? Harness the power of gratitude.

 

A version of this post originally appeared on HR Exchange Network.