Top 5 Ways to Boost Employee Morale

Are you one of those bosses who feels their employees should simply be happy to have a job at all? Unfortunately, some supervisors really do feel this way, particularly when the job market is tight. However, it’s an expensive point of view to maintain, especially in an economy that is nearing full employment: Discouraged employees are 87 percent more likely to quit, and you’ll spend a minimum of 21 percent of an employee’s annual salary on a replacement. To avoid this unnecessary expense, follow these five simple tips on keeping employee morale high:

1. Ask for input on special events

Have you ever had a bright idea for a company party or celebration, only to find that no one seems to share your enthusiasm? To avoid lackluster celebrations that don’t do anything to boost morale, encourage your staff to anonymously submit suggestions for the venues and types of employee appreciation events they’d like to see, and then encourage everyone to vote on their favorites. Employee retention depends on giving workers the sense you care about their priorities and that you seek their input on matters that impact them.

2. Encourage honest feedback

Seek genuine opinions from your workers, and don’t be afraid to  apply changes based on their feedback. Employee engagement will increase when you’re perceived as caring and confident enough to hear negative feedback. Winning your employees’ trust not only boosts employee morale, but it improves business results as well. The Harvard Business Review revealed that employee trust is essential to a company’s financial success. Your staff will also more readily buy-in to any changes that you make. Google uses this strategy with great results, creating “Google Cafes” in which all staff members share creative new approaches.

3. Hold yourself to the highest standard

Leadership is all about modeling hard work and dedication. Show your team that even though you have the right to leave early or delegate all the hard work to subordinates, you stay in the trenches and get the job done. Employees will feel supported and inspired by your example. Great leadership is key to employee happiness and success. Gallup’s leadership research shared, “When leaders focus on and invest in their employees’ strengths, the odds of each person being engaged goes up eightfold.”

4. Promote from your own talent pool

According to Forbes, external hires made 18% more than internally promoted employees  in the same jobs. Be fair and examine your internal talent pool before jumping the gun on bringing in an external hire. Give your employees opportunities for growth and advancement so that they will want to stick around and give you their all. If you make the effort to discover the unique skills and talents of each worker, you’ll be in a better position to know whom to promote when the opportunity arises.

5. Build employee motivation with rewards and recognition

Employee recognition is key to making your staff feel that it’s worthwhile to go the extra mile. Celebrating accomplishments through rewards and recognition lets your team know that you truly appreciate their efforts. It also builds a strong sense of teamwork when you encourage workers to offer each other public statements of appreciation. It’s a strong, positive motivator knowing your hard work isn’t going unnoticed and that you’re appreciated by your coworkers and leadership.

Snack Nation’s infographic revealed 36% of employees would give $5,000 a year in salary to be happier at work. Start boosting employee morale and happiness by following employee recognition best practices. With the right recognition program, your workplace culture and company’s bottom line will strengthen. Learn more about encouraging employee success by downloading our white paper: “The Total Package: Including Recognition in the Compensation Toolkit.”

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Creative ideas to draw in top talent

18 Ways: How to Find your Dream Candidate for 2017

By: Randi Sherman
Content Writer, Guest Blogger from Proven

“Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

You’re looking to expand your team. Congratulations on your company’s growth spurt! Now you want to find candidates that fit your company culture and bring the right expertise to the job. While you could just post to one of the huge job sites like Craigslist or Indeed, there are a number of other unique and creative ways to grab the attention of your future colleague, and here are a few…

Offer Rewards:  Offer a financial incentive to your current employees to assist with finding their new office buddy who will go the distance. Your staff know best what your company is all about and what success in the job entails. Set them on a mission to find the perfect candidate and reward them accordingly if they succeed.

Turn to your Network: Ask connections on your social networks to recommend people they think might be the right fit for your business. When candidates apply for the job you can see if you have any mutual connections and then reach out to those connections for “insider” information about the candidate.

Hangout: If you want to find the best talent in this hugely competitive market, go to where they are! Attend user’s groups, peruse online forums and read influential blogs; but don’t just lurk, comment and interact so they become familiar with you and your employer brand. Learn how to communicate authentically with the audience you are hoping to attract and you may be rewarded by finding a candidate you never even knew was in the market.

Niche Job Boards: Instead of putting your job listing into the mix of the huge job sites, you can target ideal candidates by using smaller, niche job boards that service specific business sectors  and categories such as creative, media, nonprofit, start up, technology, etc.

Go Local: There are local chapters of associations for every possible business field on the planet. By attending association meetings, you might find the right employee with just the right skill set for your company.

Hire Inside: Perhaps the candidate you are looking for already resides within your company. Keep an eye out for existing employees who are up for new challenges and encourage their growth and development by applying for a job outside their prescribed career path.

Heads up for the Boomerang: Don’t forget those great people you’ve previously worked with at different companies or those who worked at your current organization before and might be excited to come back. Either way, reaching out to former colleagues can be an invaluable enterprise when looking to fill a job opening. As an added bonus, you won’t have to time upfront getting to know them – your shared history makes it so you can get down to business.

Eyes Wide Open: Quite often the best candidates already have jobs, so be on the lookout for exceptional customer service and transferable skills, even from people in roles that don’t exactly match your current job opening. The right candidate rarely just falls from the sky, sometimes you have to headhunt and poach.

Cold Emailing: Emailing is still the most effective marketing tool out there. If you craft a personalized, specific email with engaging content for the potential candidate you will probably receive a thoughtful response. Recruiting emails often command more respect and consideration than other forms of less personal approaches.

Alumni trawling: Target the alumni networks of colleges and other learning institutions in line with your job requirement. At a minimum, you’ll know you’re getting a candidate with a strong educational background.

Paid Internships: What? Actually pay an intern? For a nominal fee you can put your intern through a rigorous program to gauge their skills and see if they are a fit for your organization. If they excel, hire them permanently.

Buddy system: What about hiring a trusted, personal friend? You’ll be spending loads of time together and you already have an established level of trust and rapport with each other. Win-win! Be careful though, as this strategy does come with some risks. Make sure your friend is a good fit for your company – and vice versa – or you could be risking more than just losing a new employee!

Virtual “Help Wanted” Sign: Have a permanent “we are looking to hire” button on your website so you can collect resumes from visitors. If individuals are being proactive by searching a company’s website, you’ve already found a candidate who is willing to do some research.

Tried and tested: You can always use a recruitment agency. They are financially motivated to find you the right candidate and they can save you from wading through thousands of resumes.

Fair Trade: While seemingly antiquated, a good old fashioned career fair could be where you meet the perfect candidate. If you prefer to not leave the comfort of your home or office, a virtual one works just as well.

Community Outreach: Approach a nonprofit organization for assistance with sourcing candidates. They are always looking to place their clients in opportunities where they can succeed, and they have usually done all of the necessary background checks for you.

Resume Redux: Keep the top candidates from the last time you hired on file. When a new job opening comes up – go through these files; perhaps you already have the candidate you are looking for right under your nose.

Use Facebook ads: Target your ideal candidate with a targeted ad. This can help separate the wheat from the chaff, and likely cut down candidates that express only a cursory interest.

“Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.” — Aristotle

Remember that wherever you choose to list your job opening, make sure you have crafted a clearly defined job description. You don’t want to receive a ton of applications from unsuitable candidates. When crafting your description you should illustrate to potential candidates the benefits of working for your company along with a clear description of the job expectations. Keep in mind that it’s crucial that your company culture is also attractive to the candidate. After all, these days companies are judged on more than just the financial compensation given.

Let your job listing speak to potential new hires as if they are a customer or prospect. Really sell them on the promise of your company and its unique mission and values. Go to company review sites to find out the perceived negatives of your particular industry and counteract that with a job offer that addresses job issues head on.

Individuals might look great on paper but can they actually do the job? Trust your instincts and don’t be scared to go after passive candidates (those who already have a job and might not be looking for a new one).

In the end, don’t settle, be patient. Hiring the wrong candidate can drastically affect your business and spark another prolonged hiring search.

If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur. Red Adair

About Randi Sherman

Randi ShermanRandi Sherman is a content writer providing all your literary needs and actionable insights to drive new business and improve your bottom line with The Social Calling.

 

 

 

How to Identify and Retain Top Performers with Rewards and Recognition

Employee retention is a key goal for every company, but it’s important to drill down into this metric and make sure you’re doing a good job of identifying and keeping your top performers. These employees deliver 400 percent more productivity than the average worker, according to statistics published in Harvard Business Review (HBR). The researchers state, “Our workforce strategy goal should be to double down on retention tactics for high performers,” and further explain that, in many cases, managers aren’t meeting the needs of their top talent. The first step to nurturing your best workers is to make sure you know who they are; and a simple way to discover top performers is through rewards and recognition programs.

Look for active recognizers

The right rewards and recognition program can help determine top performers – but you may be surprised by which statistics you should look at. As to be expected, the hardest working and most talented people are likely to receive the highest amount of recognition from their supervisors. They are also likely to be recognized by their peers, since the ability to work well within a team is another important component of productivity. However, when you’re seeking out the truly top performers in your workforce, it’s also important to identify those who are most often recognizing others.

According to a recent Achievers study, employees who were promoted turned out to have a track record of actively recognizing their peers. In fact, before being promoted, these high performers sent an average of 3.8 times more peer recognition than the average employee. In this way, employee rewards and recognition programs provide two separate metrics for  identifying top talent: those who receive the most recognition, as well as those who give the most acknowledgments to others.

Tie recognitions to company values

Your organization probably took significant time and effort to craft a mission and values statement.  This statement is more than mere words residing on a wall, a website, or welcome pamphlet; it can serve as a dynamic tool for shaping your employee recognition program. By tying recognitions to your company’s core values, you can see which performers are embodying those values most authentically. This approach is sometimes termed “Management by Objectives,” and it feeds employee motivation by helping every member of the organization feel that their contribution is truly meaningful.

High performers have unique needs

The workplace factors that keep your super-skilled employees motivated are somewhat different from commonplace worker needs, and it’s necessary to be aware of these differences. While competitive salaries are important, HBR research points out that using regular compensation as a method of delivering employee rewards can potentially backfire and cause resentment among coworkers. On the other hand, high performers care significantly more than average about having their efforts noticed, recognized and rewarded. These rewards can be in the form of social or financial recognition, but in either case, your top talent is especially eager to receive praise, financial incentives and frequent feedback. This is another reason that if you’re in the habit of only providing annual or semi-annual evaluation sessions, the employee engagement levels of your top performers is likely to suffer.

Why you need to focus on high achievers

While highly skilled employees are slightly more satisfied with their jobs than the average worker, one in five say they’re likely to leave their current position within the next six months. Furthermore, if and when your top employees do decide to move on, their skills will lead them to easily find new opportunities. Given the high levels of productivity and the contributions these extra-competent workers make to the workplace environment, losing even one of them can be a blow to your company.

Help your top performers fulfill their potential

Employee retention is only one of many reasons that HR professionals and managers should invest in the effort to nurture high achievers. Equally important is  assisting in their career growth and providing them with development opportunities to help them reach their full potential. A major component of nurturing employee success is to  ensure tasks remain challenging and varied. High achievers “live for the challenge,” and seek to overcome obstacles and solve problems as a source of personal accomplishment. So make sure to provide them opportunities to stretch themselves through varied and challenging assignments.

Employee recognition best practices dictate that recognitions will be most meaningful to these talented workers if they reflect on an achievement that was truly praise-worthy. High achievers are tireless, curious, full of passion, and internal drive. If they’re recognized they want it to be for something substantial and worthwhile. In other words, don’t praise them for minutiae such as arriving on-time or keeping a clean work area. Instead, provide detailed and specific feedback that focuses on the positive impact they are making through their diligence and pursuit of excellence.

The right HR technology can be your ally

Identifying top performers can help your organization discover who your most engaged employees are (and vice versa), allowing you to effectively leverage their skills and enthusiasm as a positive force in the workplace. HR tech is steadily evolving, and data gleaned from a cutting edge rewards and recognition platform can now provide you with valuable insights to help you identify and retain your top performing employees.

To learn more about how employee recognition can help you identify and retain your top talent, as well as having a positive impact on your entire workforce, download our eBook: The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition.

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5 Tips for Employees Who Are Relocating

By: Phoebe Licata
Employee Engagement Consultant, Achievers

Relocating for your career is the perfect opportunity to explore a new way of life, meet new people, and get to know yourself that much better as you step outside of your comfort zone. A new study shows nearly 85 percent of millennial workers surveyed said they are willing to move to a new city for a job. Despite all this, let’s admit it, moving is rarely enjoyable. However, the idea of a shiny new opportunity awaiting you in your new home should help alleviate some of the stress caused by moving. So ride that wave of positivity all the way to your new location and embrace the opportunities brought on by change. Here are five tips that will help your move be virtually seamless:

  1. The right “fit”
    Employee engagement at work is very much determined by the type of environment and the people that populate said environment, so making sure your personal values align with those of your future employer, in both a cultural and business context is essential. Even if you are being relocated within the same company, different offices almost always have different cultures, traditions and demographics, so maintaining flexibility and an open mind will serve you well during your transition. For those joining a new organization, before you sign the offer letter, make sure to confirm the opportunity is the right choice for you. Visiting your new office location at least once before you commit, reaching out to new coworkers via email or LinkedIn, or inquiring about the different types of culture-building activities offered to employees (or lack thereof) are just some examples of ways to vet a new opportunity. My fellow Achiever, Dr. Natalie Baumgartner, speaks about the power of Fit here: TEDxMileHigh –  Natalie BAumgartner – Fit
  1. Get Familiar
    According to the US Census Bureau, almost 61 percent of relocations in 2015 were to another state. But just because interstate relocation is common, doesn’t make it easy. Getting to know the lay of the land in a new city or state can seem overwhelming, but when you approach it with an open mind, unencumbered urban exploration can be exciting. Start by taking practice trips from your new home to your new office. With apps like Google Maps, Waze, or HopStop, it is easy to find your way, but the last thing you want is to be late on your first day, so identifying any potential delays is crucial. Time yourself during the appropriate hours to take away the commute anxiety in a big way. After that, finding your new coffee shop route (a must have!), the best Thai place for lunch, or a cool spot for after-work drinks with coworkers, will all fall into place.
  1. Reach out
    The six degrees of separation theory in which everyone is connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances has never seemed more true. Whether this new opportunity is your first job or you’re already well-along in your career, it’s a great idea to reach out to your current network and build a group of friends and colleagues to support your change. Utilize tools such as LinkedIn to connect with your future co-workers and get a sense of what they are. Alert your friends on Facebook as to your impending change and connect with old friends, and friends of friends, that live near your new home to ease the uncertainty of entering a new social scene. Finally, no matter how long it has been since you last connected, call or email old co-workers, family, or other people you may have crossed paths with before; as even the most distant contacts might enrich your experience in your new home. As long as it is done in a friendly and courteous matter, you have nothing to lose!
  1. Save more
    Accounting for an adjusted cost of living when moving often gets overlooked among the myriad of other activities needed to ensure a smooth relocation. But it’s vitally important to know that $20 doesn’t go as far in San Francisco as it might in San Antonio. First, make sure your salary is well over the cost of living with websites such as Numbeo or Living Wage Calculator. These sites can help you get a feel of how much you’ll be spending per month. Next, find out about relocation costs and if your employer is willing to cover any part of the expenses. A clearly outlined budget of specific moving action items will provide a baseline to your employer and make it easy for them to reimburse you. Make sure to double check your estimates by calling movers, looking at flight costs, and calculating the appropriate costs to move your pets. Keeping accurate records of moving costs will also streamline filing taxes at the end of the year. Lastly, you can never have enough savings for unplanned incidents and oversights. It would be wise to try and save the equivalent of 1 to 2 months of salary to cover the basics, just in case. You never know when your car will be towed while rushing to an appointment, or you get a leak in your brand new apartment! Eek!
  1. What you love
    Steve Jobs once said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” This tip is the most important by far! Whether you think of your career as a marker of personal success or not, if this change brings you one step closer to a community you identify with, better accessibility to an activity that you love or a lifestyle that makes you truly happy, then you are one step closer to success. Remember that everything takes time and if you’re attracted to the idea of this relocation and willing to make the change, you’ll gain more knowledge and insight as to what is important to you regardless of the anticipated outcome. By engaging in what you love, inside and outside of the workplace, you’ll attract like-minded people and future opportunities that will ensure seamless and positive transitions for years to come.

To learn more about how culture can be the right “fit” for you, download our white paper All for One and One for All: Uniting a Global Workforce with Company Culture.

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 About Phoebe Licata

Phoebe LicataPhoebe Licata is an Employee Engagement Consultant by day and inspirational yogi by night. Her endless positivity propels her along her journey of consulting with companies on their employee engagement and rewards & recognition strategies. Connect with her on LinkedIn to talk about how to make your employees happy, engaged, and more productive at work!

 

 

 

 

Celebrate Employee Appreciation Week Achievers

Employee Appreciation Week: Achievers’ Employees, We Appreciate You!

By: Kellie Wong
Social Media & Blog Manager, Achievers

It’s our favorite time of the year here at Achievers: Employee Appreciation Week! During this week the amount of love being sent throughout our organization gets cranked up to 11. We know that a simple “Thank you!” goes a long way – whether it’s a social recognition, monetary reward, or just a friendly high five – so we’d like to take this opportunity to say a very public “Thank you” to every Achievers employee for all their hard work, dedication, and passion. We are so proud to have such a great team pulling together towards achieving our stated mission – to Change the Way the World Works.

In honor of Employee Appreciation Week, we’re highlighting a handful of our A-mazing employees by spotlighting actual employee recognitions delivered via Achievers’ own ASPIRE recognition program. While we don’t have the space to feature all of our employees in one blog post (wish we could!), every member of the Achievers family deserves massive recognition for all the great work they do. So thank you A-players for staying engaged, recognizing your peers, and helping our customers boost employee engagement in their own workplaces.

Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card

Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card

Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card

Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card

Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card

Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card

Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card

Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card

Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card

Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card

Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card

Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card

Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card

Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card

We hope you spend this fun week recognizing your employees too. After all, 93% of employees hope to be recognized at least quarterly, if not more! Recognizing others is infectious and spreads positivity throughout an organization. So why not take the first step and recognize someone today for a job well done. But don’t limit employee appreciation to just one week. It’s important to appreciate employees frequently to foster employee happiness and continuously boost engagement and motivation. Recognize someone right now with our free and fun personalized online recognition card.

Looking for fresh ideas on how to show employee appreciation? Check out our blog post Out of the Box Ideas for Employee Appreciation Week.

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About Kellie Wong
Kellie Wong
Kellie Wong is the Social Media & Blog Manager for Achievers. She manages Achievers’ social media presence and The Engage Blog, including the editorial calendars for both. In addition to writing blog content for The Engage Blog, she also manages and maintains relationships with 25+ guest blog contributors. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.

 

ideas for employee appreciation week

Out of the Box Ideas for Employee Appreciation Week

By: Sarah Clayton
Communications and Campaigns Specialist, Achievers

Promoting a consistent culture of recognition is an essential component to employee engagement, but who says you can’t step up your appreciation game every once in a while? A good celebration tends to incite a positive atmosphere that is almost tangible to the touch – and the positivity is infectious. People’s smiles get a little bigger, the laughs a little louder and the residual feel-good attitude can be felt for days after. What’s not to love about that?

In the world of employee recognition, Employee Appreciation Day is the be-all and end-all of celebrations. In fact, some people (ourselves included) take it so seriously that we celebrate it for a whole week! If you’re keen on the idea of doing something extra special for your people to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day (or week), we’ve got some fantastic suggestions for you:

Fun and Games

My local gym (actually, it’s more like an adult playground) has a great little message on a wall that reads, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.”  There are numerous gratifying aspects of working, from building your career to meeting some amazing people, but I am a firm believer that everyone has an inner child who is just waiting to be let out to play. Here are some ways to indulge the inner child in all of your employees:

  1. Craft Room
    Fill a room with different art supplies and encourage your team to let their imaginations run free. If you have especially artistic employees, ask if they would like to share their skills through an art class.
  1. Games Room
    Puzzles, board games, cards – there are an infinite number of games out there. Games have come back in a big way in 2017, and they are the perfect way to facilitate some team bonding and to let off some steam in the process.
  1. Jumbo Games
    If you want to go big on the game front, rent a bigger game, like a ping pong or foosball table, for your employees to enjoy during the week.
  1. Trivia
    Have a condensed jeopardy type competition at lunch or put out random trivia questions throughout the day. To spice things up, add prizes.
  1. Throw Back Thursday: baby photo edition
    This one requires some prep, but is well worth the effort. Ask your team to bring in their baby photos in the days leading up to EAD/EAW, then compile the photos on a poster board and let the guessing begin. For added difficultly, sprinkle in some celebrity baby photos.
  1. Photo Booth
    Rent a photo booth (or get a Polaroid camera) for the office so your team can document the employee appreciation moments and get some new pictures to put up at their desks – or to share on social media. This has the added benefit of showing the outside world (think perspective employees) how cool and fun your workplace is.
  1. Comedy
    I have yet to meet someone who is not a fan of a good laugh. Reach out to a local comedy group and get someone in to get the chuckles going in the office. Who knows, maybe you even have a few comedians on your own employee roster.
  1. Scavenger Hunt
    There are SO many options with how to approach this. From items in the office to incorporating the surrounding neighborhood or having an ‘employee scavenger hunt’ (e.g. find someone who has completed a triathlon), there is huge potential to be creative here. Scavenger hunts are also a great way to promote inter-departmental collaboration and bonding.

Snacks and Treats

Snacks are fantastic, and I do not think it would be untrue to say that free snacks are an almost guaranteed slam dunk. Ever pay attention to what happens when the après meeting ‘leftover sandwiches are in the kitchen’ email goes out?  Mass kitchen migration.

  1. Hire a food truck to park outside the office (on the company’s dime) for lunch
    Food trucks are all the rage these days. They offer new twists on old classics, have unique menus and can provide more good fodder for social media posts.
  1. Ice Cream Sundae Bar
    Delicious ice cream. Creative toppings. Need I say more?
  1. Smoothie Bar
    Same idea as the Sundae Bar, but a healthier option (and could be more appropriate if you’ve been making wellness a priority at your company this year)
  1. Team Picnic
    The outdoors and food are two pretty awesome things, so when you pair them together it’s a pretty excellent outcome. Have a nice patio? Get your team outside and into the fresh air for a bit.
    **This is more applicable for those working in warm environments. If you’re located in an area where average temperatures in March are below zero this could be perceived as a perverse form of punishment.
  1. Top Chef Competition
    I would be willing to bet that every office has a few aspiring chefs in their midst. Put out feelers in the time leading up to your Employee Appreciation celebrations and see if anyone wants to put their culinary prowess on display for an entertaining, and tasty, competition.

Personal Development

  1. Ted Talks
    Screen Ted Talks throughout the celebrations – bonus points for committing to the ‘theatre vibe’ with comfy seats and treats (popcorn machine anyone?). You can put out feelers leading up to the event and ask people to submit topics or speakers of interest.
  1. Leader Q&A
    Transparency is king. It provides people with a sense of inclusion and breaks down some of the typical hierarchical barriers. Create a comfortable environment where Leaders answer employee’s questions and hear their ideas. It’s a good idea to include a moderator and a question submission box, in case employees wish to ask sensitive questions anonymously.
  1. Celebrate Personal Accomplishments
    People in your organization are capable of, and may have already done, amazing things. Take some time to celebrate your team member’s accomplishments outside of work – this is also a great way to get to know them as individuals, beyond the office.

These are just some ideas to get the ball rolling, the key to a successful Employee Appreciation Celebration is incorporating aspects that matter to your employees.

Start celebrating Employee Appreciation Week by giving thanks and appreciating your employees today. Recognize their great work with a personalized recognition card. Get started here. 

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About Sarah Clayton

Sarah ClaytonSarah Clayton is the Communications and Campaigns Specialist at Achievers, where she focuses on generating content to drive desired recognition behaviors and engagement on the platform.

 

 

 

High Performance Employer

Designing a High-Performance Work Environment

In our previous posts, we focused on Pivotal Habits (ones that prepare us to perform by making us healthy, happy and secure) and Work Habits (the ones that make up our jobs).

We discussed the critical role these habits play in creating superior performance for employees and competitive advantage for companies. We explored why habits are frequently missed by businesses as the fundamental driver of performance, and recognized that adopting new habits is in some sense hard for people to achieve, and challenging for employers to create.

In this final post, we will explore how employers can approach the design of their businesses to ensure high employee performance, while also making sure that employees are engaged in and loyal to the business.

Understanding the foundational role of habits, we can frame the employee performance challenge for employers as a design problem:

How do you effectively design your workplace to make it easy, natural and enjoyable for employees to practice their Pivotal and Work Habits, in a way that not only has them perform optimally, but that leaves them thrilled with the experience, grateful for the support and highly engaged with you as an employer?

In solving this design challenge, the first thing to notice is that there are many things that make up the “workplace.”  It is the sum of all things that “surround” employees while they work, and these things are highly influential over how they think, feel and act. We can bucket all the things that make up the surrounding elements into four categories that we call Contexts, and they are vitally important to solving the design problem. Why is this?

A fish swimming in water (the Context for the fish’s life) is completely influenced by that water in everything that it does. So too are humans highly influenced by the Contexts of their life, and just like the fish we tend not to notice the influence of Contexts until they’re not there.

Perhaps this explains why most employers focus on employees when trying to solve productivity problems. We see the lack of performance and we typically associate the issue with the people.

We don’t notice, and therefore don’t act on, the surrounding Contexts that influence people in their daily work. In fact, the nature of Contexts (that they are unnoticed by most people, yet highly influential over our actions) is precisely what makes them so important to business designers.

The Contexts for workplace design

There are four Contexts we need to understand:

Physical Spaces: The physical environment in which employees conduct their work, which increasingly includes the home office as well as the more traditional office and factory floor environments. Designing high-performance spaces is more than just ensuring employees have the tools to do their jobs and requires us to understand the ways that physical design choices affect us psychologically.

Workplace Systems: The policies, procedures, business processes or, more simply, the rules (written and unwritten) that employees are expected to follow make up this context. Some of these rules leak into the workplace (like the laws of the land or the fact that we drive on the right side of the road) and can influence how we behave as well. So, it’s important to not only design our own rules but to understand how they will interact with rules that exist in the wider world.

Social Influence: The people that we work with every day. The day-to-day interactions with work colleagues and customers via live conversations, emails, shared experiences, and at events all strongly influence how we work, and what we achieve. We like to think we make all our own decisions, but at least 60% of the actions we take are highly or completely influenced by the people around us.

Individual Self: Our individual experiences, opinions, beliefs, knowledge and other filters through which we interpret the world. The stories we tell ourselves about the experiences we’ve had in the past hold the power to influence us in the present, which is why storytelling is such an effective influence method for employers. It can help employees to rewrite their personal stories in a way that helps to align their actions with the vision and mission of the business.

Each of these Contexts can be designed by an employer seeking to influence the experience employees have while at work. These experiences in turn affect the actions we take, the habits we form, and the way we feel about where we work.

Creating new habits by design

Understanding that designing Contexts is the most effective approach to establishing new habits still does not explain HOW to proceed.

To guide our thinking, we need to ask: What does it take to create a new habit? Or rather, is there a formula for creating new habits?

It turns out there is. Contexts influence us by creating forces that nudge us towards or away from certain actions. Just like the Contexts, there are four forces that influence habit creation.

Two forces that help us adopt a new habit are Compulsion and Capability. Compulsion is the urge to do something and it is a stronger feeling that mere motivation. For example, simply being motivated, or desiring something (like losing weight) never gets the job done. It’s the actions we take that make the difference, therefore we need to be compelled into action.

However, without the Confidence that we can succeed, we’re unlikely to take the first step and without Competence (knowledge and skills) we’re likely to fail even if we are confident. Competence and Confidence together make up Capability and, combined with Compulsion, help us to take new actions and adopt new habits.

Of course, life gets in the way sometimes. We run out of time, we get distracted, or we are derailed by last minute requests or family emergencies. These life events represent the two forces acting against us, either as static impediments to change (Barriers) or as active antagonists that draw us away from the actions to which we’re committed (Temptation).

The formula for new habit creation

The formula for creating habits says that if we’re Compelled and Competent enough to overcome Barriers and to resist Temptation, we’ll take new actions. If the forces stay in our favor over time, those actions will turn into habits. Thus, our habit change formula can be written as:

If (Compulsion + Capability) > (Barriers + Temptation) over time, new habits emerge.

The catch is that the formula needs to be true in ALL FOUR Contexts at the same time, and this explains why creating new habits can be such hard work.

We can use a series of Influence Methods, which are the many and varied ways in which an employer can ensure that the habit creation formula holds true, when designing all four Contexts. Applying these Influence Methods is the art and science of designing workplace Contexts and, when focused on the right habits, the well-spring of higher performance.

Achieving sustainable competitive advantage

In our Behavior Research Lab, BRATLAB, we’ve researched, discovered and applied over 80 distinct Influence Methods that not only support employees in practicing new habits of performance, but do so in a way that leaves them thrilled with the experience, grateful for the support provided by their company and highly engaged with their work and their employer.

Going to work on employee habits is a strategy that will remain hidden from competitors, but one that is massively powerful in producing results.

Employers that wish not only to future-proof their businesses, but to create a difficult-to-copy, sustainable competitive advantage, must learn the value of designing Contexts, and the many ways in which the array of Influence Methods can be integrated into those Contexts to ensure that employees perform at their best, and love working where they do.

This is how, at Habits at Work, we’re reinventing the world of work so employees thrive and companies flourish.

Professional speaker and founder of Habits at Work and BRATLAB, Andrew Sykes will talk about How to become a High-Performance Employer.

During Andrew’s webinar he will:

  • Explore why employee habits are the fundamental unit of corporate competitive advantage and why they’re often overlooked by leaders and managers.
  • Share research from the Behavioral Research Applied Technology Laboratory (BRATLAB) on which habits really matter, and how to design a business that makes it easy and natural for employees to sustain high performance over time.
  • Tell stories about the work of Habits at Work helping employers from a variety of industries to put their money where their mouth is when they say “People are our most important asset.”The stories of challenge and failure serve as cautionary tales of what not to do. The stories of success provide guidance on why design thinking is the key to future-proofing your business from competition and the pathway to becoming a high-performance employer.

Andrew’s webinar represents a brief summary of his upcoming book: Habits at Work: How to Create a High-Performance Employer, due for publication Fall 2017.

The webinar will cover a lot of ground in a fast-paced, lively and entertaining 1-hour session. Prepare to learn a lot, leave with food for thought and a new view on the future of the world of work.

http://blog.achievers.com/2017/02/designing-high-performance-work-environment/

 

 

About Andrew Sykes
Andrew Sykes
For more information, contact Andrew at Andrew@habitsatwork.com or read more online at www.habitsatwork.com or www.BRATLAB.com

 

 

 

 

Employee Engagement in HR Tech

3 Employee Engagement and Recognition Predictions for 2017

By: Jessica Barrett Halcom

Many of the emerging HR trends for 2017 are being driven by the millennial generation. Now representing the largest portion of the workforce, millennials value different things when it comes to their careers. What they want and what they look for — things like being recognized and making an immediate impact — have created a strong demand for employee engagement and recognition platforms that many leading companies are now adopting.

Employee recognition software linked to a corporation’s values can help incentivize employees while aligning performance with personal goals and values.  With the right recognition software in place, employees are able to gain a clear and immediate picture of their short-term achievements, how they compare to their team members, and how they’re measuring up to personal goals and company goals. They also get valuable feedback and recognition for a job well done.

The millennial generation looks for things other than a steady paycheck and the stability of working for one employer for the next twenty years. In fact, the majority of them will consider moving jobs if it means advancement and learning something new. HR departments need to continue seeking new ways to hang on to their top talent through something more substantive than free lunches and napping pods.

This is why in 2017, more companies will be focusing on employee engagement and the employee experience as part of their retention strategy. We can also expect more companies to adopt employee engagement software. Here are our top three predictions for 2017:

1. More Work-Life Blending

The modern workforce is willing to work hard, but they want to maintain flexibility and balance with regards to their personal lives. Today’s employees are comfortable checking their smartphones on personal time to respond to work emails and doing a little work on their laptop after having dinner with friends or family, as long as it means that, in return, they can skip the grueling commute and work from home once a week, or leave early to catch their daughter’s 3 p.m. soccer game.

Collaboration tools let employees check in with their boss, team, or a company meeting, without physically having to show up, and without losing any of the momentum on a project or missing important deadlines.

2. Recognition Will Continue to Increase in Value

The average time an American employee spends with any one company now is less than five years. This is a far cry from the days of gold watches and lunch with the CEO thanking you for your many years of service. Employees are more interested in social recognition, because feeling valued is a critical component to the work environment they want to be a part of. They want to feel like the work they do matters, that it’s noticed, that it made a difference.

Receiving recognition, encouragement and appreciation is inspiring and motivates employees to continue doing great work. Employee engagement strategies help leaders and peers to publicly recognize a job well done and fosters a culture of celebration.

3. Flashy Benefits Won’t Compete

People are starting to value experience over money, which is why they want to work in a culture of growth and learning and have opportunities to do something they can be proud of. Employee engagement software helps employees know exactly what kind of impact they’re having on the business in real time.

Culture has become one of the most important things a company can focus on, and providing employees with autonomy, flexibility, and the chance to make an impact, are the new differentiators for attracting talent. Benefits packages are still important, but in 2017, they will become secondary to positive employee culture. Companies that have ditched the traditional, annual review and moved to a model of continuous feedback and a strong culture of recognition are far more attractive to today’s employee than those offering a catered snack bar and quarterly ping pong tournaments.

* * *

In 2017, you can expect to see more companies adding employee engagement software to their HR platforms, doing away with the traditional annual review process in favor of continuous feedback, furthering the work-life blend, and placing a strong focus on the employee experience, aligned with a purposeful mission and meaningful goals.

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About Jessica Barrett Halcom
Jessica Barrett Halcom is a contributor for TechnologyAdvice.com, with specializations in employee engagement, learning management system and performance management software. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay and currently lives in Nashville, TN.

 

Positive Work Culture

5 Company Initiatives That Improve Office Culture

By: Jessica Thiefels
Small Business Freelancer, Content Marketing and Strategy Consultant

In today’s competitive market for talent, office culture is everything. With employees spending most of their time (some upwards of 50 hours a week) in the office, it’s should come as no surprise that HR leaders consider developing and nurturing corporate culture and employee engagement to be their number one challenge.

Luckily, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to improve company culture. Initiatives that promote health, work-life balance, kindness and gratitude already exist and can go a long way in bolstering a positive office culture while also increasing engagement.

If you’re unsure where to start, here are a few initiatives to consider:

Employee Health

Companies have been holding organization-wide health challenges and the like for some time now, but the kinds of health initiatives employees desire are different than they once were, where end results were all that was emphasized. People don’t want to step on a giant scale and see how much weight they lost (or didn’t lose!). Instead, they want measurable processes that lead to overall well-being; to track progress with technology, get stronger, healthier, and feel great. With that in mind, here are a few modern health initiatives to try:

Supply organic lunches: According to a 3-month Communispace study. millennials care deeply about what they eat: “More than a quarter say organic, natural and non-toxic products are part of maintaining their health and may see them as alternatives to traditional medicine, signaling an opportunity for brands well beyond the traditional health care sectors,” If your organization can’t pay for lunch every day, choose a couple days to provide an organic lunch for employees or consider partnering with a catering company or bringing in a chef.

Strength challenge: You are probably familiar with popular health hashtags such as: #Healthyisthenewskinny and #progressnotperfection. With the idea of encouraging progress towards health goals in mind, why not hold a fitness challenge and then give employees a period of time to prepare for a re-test, challenging them to improve their performance and beat their old numbers. The friendly competition will encourage camaraderie and morale among employees while emphasizing greater personal health through competition.

Sleep goals: According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the more sleep an employee gets, the less likely they are to call in sick: “Results show that the risk of an extended absence from work due to sickness rose sharply among those who reported sleeping less than 6 hours or more than 9 hours per night,”

With fitness trackers and other wearables, people can now track how long and how well they’re sleeping every night. Set a sleep goal for employees and have them track their sleep over a period of time to earn rewards like gift cards, merchandise or PTO. Employees will feel better and they’ll love telling people they have “sleep goals” for work.

A Kindness Initiative

We could all benefit from more kindness in the world these days; not only at work but throughout our daily lives. In a recent poll, 76 percent of respondents said the world is a less kind place than it was 10 to 20 years ago. One way to bring more kindness, respect, and empathy into the workplace is with a kindness initiative.

It should include the following components:

Create a set of kindness “pillars” that everyone follows. Examples include: When giving constructive criticism or performance feedback, always give “compliment sandwiches” (compliment, criticism, compliment), assign work based on people’s strengths to set everyone up for success, exhibit small acts of kindness like holding the door open for coworkers, etc.

Institute regular recognition of employees. For this to stick, it has to work top down. Managers and team leaders can plan a monthly meeting where one or a group of employee(s) is called out for their excellent work. To ensure a tangible element for this type of recognition, employers can also create a wall of fame to post photos of these high performing employees. For larger organizations, an employee recognition platform is a great way to create and embed a culture of recognition.

Encourage employees to “give props” to their peers. If you use a tool like Slack to communicate within your office, this is easy to facilitate. Set up a channel where employees can recognize one another with a timely “thanks” or “nice job” regarding recent business successes. Using Slack, colleagues can not only tag the recipient of the “props”, but the entire channel, so everyone sees what that person did. Some recognition software providers, like Achievers, even allow the integration of popular tools like Slack within their recognition platform to further encourage “recognition in the flow of work”.

Employees will love getting the extra recognition, and more kindness may help reduce drama and sticky office politics.

A Volunteer Initiative

Giving back is not only good for the soul of your organization, it’s also good for attracting and retaining millennials: But sadly, only 57 percent of millennials believe that business leaders are committed to improving society. A volunteer initiative is relatively easy to set up and gives you a chance to boost your employer brand while also increasing loyalty and engagement among millennials.

Here are a few suggestions for setting up a volunteer initiative:

  • Hold a bi-annual volunteer event, where employees volunteer their time rather than go into the office for the day. Don’t do it on a Saturday—not only will you likely cripple turnout, but employees will likely not appreciate having an initiative such as this scheduled during their free time.
  • Reward employees who volunteer on their own time with “free” half-days.
  • Give every employee one workday a year, month or quarter to take part in a volunteer activity of their choosing.

In addition to the inherent value of the good deed itself, participating employees will feel good about themselves and gain more respect for your business, making volunteer initiatives especially valuable.

A Work/Life Balance Initiative

In the aforementioned Communispace study, 49 percent of millennials reported work-life balance as an important part of their health and wellness, followed by relationships with friends and family (47 percent). Employees of all generations care greatly about achieving a proper Work/Life balance, making it an important part of any culture campaign.

Luckily, there are many ways you can help employees foster desired work-life balance:

  • Half-day Fridays: Offer this once a month, or during a specific quarter. Many companies do this in the summer, when people tend to go on more weekend escapes.
  • Flexible work hours: Instead of limiting office attendance to the standard 9-to-5, allow employees to work when and how they can personally be most productive, whether that means coming in and leaving early, or working through the night. As long as they are performing up to expectations and making themselves available for meetings and other requests from colleagues, allow them the flexibility to manage their own schedules.
  • Work from home: If possible, allow employees to occasionally work from home, be it once a week or month.
  • Unlimited time off: This is something many startups and even larger companies are starting to offer. Employees can take as much, or as little time off as their job permits, without worrying about PTO caps or tracking their remaining vacation days. Fostering trust among your employees does wonders for engagement and it also benefits employers as it has been suggested that employees may actually take less time off when they have unlimited PTO.

A Shadow Initiative

This initiative allows employees to shadow their peers for a period of time. Business departments often get siloed and have little understanding as to what each other is doing. Shadow initiatives give everyone a chance to understand the roles of their collegues and see how their two positions can work together to achieve even better results.

To keep it organized, allow one department to shadow each month. For example, in March, members of the marketing team will shadow whomever they want. Set your time period (4 hours, an afternoon), and ask each shadow pairing to come up with one way they can work together in the next month.

Employees will love spending time doing something new and the business will flourish as connections are made that take projects and ideas to the next level.

To learn more, download the white paper All For One and One For All: Uniting a Global Workforce With Company Culture.

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About Jessica Thiefels
Jessica Thiefels
Jessica Thiefels has been writing and editing for more than 10 years and spent the last five years in marketing. She recently stepped down from a senior marketing position to focus on growing her own startup and consulting for small businesses. She’s been featured on Forbes and has written for sites such as Lifehack, Inman, Manta, StartupNation and more. When she’s not working, she’s enjoying sunny San Diego with her husband and friends or traveling somewhere new. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.

 

Effectively Navigate Organizational Change

Understanding Change and Its Impact on Engagement

By: Leigh Burger
Senior Implementation Manager, Achievers

Change is a funny thing, isn’t it? We frequently resist it, yet progress is impossible without it. In fact, we can’t really move through life without it. The desired approach for most of us is to experience change in small, bite-size chunks. Otherwise, it can wreak havoc on us when there’s too much at once and we’re not prepared for it.

The same goes for organizational change. Arguably though, organizations need to be in a continual state of change in order to move forward. Whether we call it “transformation,” “growth,” or just the natural evolution of the business – companies must continue to evolve in order to stay competitive and relevant, to employees and customers alike. In other words, organizations cannot afford to stay static for any length of time in today’s environment.

The ongoing need for change presents a tricky situation when it comes to employee engagement. While leading organizational change, you must be able to rally the troops’ ongoing support and understanding. Too much top down change at once can result in disengaged employees, which equates to a loss in productivity. Employees begin to feel as though they don’t have a voice or a sense of control. The weight of the loss of familiarity and certainty can bear down on employees until they start to fatigue, and slowly but surely, begin to check out. They might still perform their jobs, but they certainly won’t be putting forth their discretionary time and effort towards realizing the shared vision of the organization.

What may surprise you is this behavior should be considered normal. Our brains are wired to resist change. The oldest part of our brain – the reptilian brain – auto-responds to change with the fight or flight response. It takes practice to bypass that part of our brain and access the rational brain where we can use logic to overcome our innate, initial reaction.

As HR and OD professionals and people leaders, how can we help employees with that process? How can we best position ourselves to lead and at the same time guide employees to think more rationally about change? After all, employee resistance is one of the leading causes for the failure of change initiatives (Bovey & Hede, 2001b; Waldersee & Griffiths, 1996). According to Cynthia Wittig, “Such findings indicate that change agents focusing on employee reactions—including resistance and acceptance—during organizational change is of utmost importance to the success of the initiative.”

How do we help eliminate the resistance? Where should your change-agent-leaders focus their efforts?

1) Address the emotions first by answering the hard questions upfront, including addressing, why?

We are persuaded by reason, but we are moved by emotion.  Acknowledge what employees may be feeling. You don’t necessarily have to answer for it, but you can acknowledge it and lead from the front by demonstrating authenticity and optimism in response. Acknowledging and naming the feelings helps create distance between a person and a situation. It creates a moment of objectivity. Instead of, “I am afraid,” they can at last get to, “I feel afraid about what Mr. Jones shared during town hall and how it might affect my department.” It also helps those of us who may have a hard time defining how we’re feeling, to make sense of why our hearts start racing, or we get sweaty palms, or feel unsettled in response to certain news.  If you have a tough change coming up – call it what it is and help employees understand why the organization needs to head in that particular direction. Our brains don’t like incomplete stories and in the absence of information, we can come to all sorts of crazy conclusions. These concocted conclusions can spin FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) out of control into a danger tornado that is likely to pick up your change initiative and spit it out in the Land of Oz.

2) Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Oh, did I mention? Communicate.

The amount and quality of information that is communicated to employees can influence how those employees will react (Wanberg & Banas, 2000). Running today’s ever-evolving organizations takes a lot of heavy lifting. It requires people-leaders and executives to be clear on the changes that are occurring and why those changes are taking place. AND it requires intentional multi-touch communications about said changes with all employees. Cynthia Witting shares, “There are several communication processes that impact employees’ reactions, including frequency, mode, content, and flow of communication. Gray and Laidlaw (2002) argued that the more embedded these processes are within management, the more effective the outcomes are because they enhance the quality of working relationships, harmony, and trust.” Sending out 1-2 emails about a change really isn’t enough. Ideally, there is a real-time, always-on, cross-functional, organization-wide conversation about these topics so that everyone can weigh-in equally and ask questions with transparency and without fear. This method should also provide communication scalability. In the absence of such a system, there needs to be on-going fireside chats or other means for employees to submit questions and expect real, authentic answers.

3) Employee participation in decision making.

According to an Aon Hewitt research study, the number one driver of employee engagement during times of change is the ability to be involved in decision making.  However, you might be thinking – if I ask them what they want or what their thoughts are, am I opening a proverbial can of worms? The reality is yes, initially it will require more work, but the outcomes of increased success and higher engagement are well worth the trouble. In fact, there’s a whole body of research available with a documented approach to making wide-spread change while engaging the whole team. It’s called Appreciative Inquiry. As opposed to the typical deficit-based mindset where everything is a problem to solve, the approach focuses on inquiries into the organization based upon what is working and what we want to do more of so that the team naturally moves in that direction. When folks have a voice – they feel heard and acknowledged. This is fundamental to creating and maintaining highly engaged employees. Particularly, in times of change.

Perhaps Buckminster Fuller said it best. “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete”.

How has your organization effectively navigated change? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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About Leigh Burger
Leigh BurgerLeigh joined the Achievers Professional Services team in June 2014 She serves as a trusted advisor to HR executives, professionals and business partners for the Achievers Fortune 500 global brands in rolling out their Employee Engagement platform. She holds a Masters, Positive Organizational Development & Change from Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University as well as several relevant certifications. You can check out her full profile here.

 

 

Connect to the purpose of change

Staying Engaged During Corporate Change (Part 1)

By: Courtney Clark

When change sweeps through an organization, it often causes confusion, frustration, and fear. Even when dressed up with fancy words like “transformation” and “innovation,” employees know the end result is one thing: change.

One reason corporate change is uncomfortable is that it requires disconnecting. All change is, in disregard, disconnecting. Change forces us to let go of our old ways of being and our old measures of success.

To successfully navigate a changing workplace, studies show you must stay engaged. In my book The Successful Struggle, I examine several workplace studies on corporate transformation. The studies suggest that remaining engaged during corporate transformation is a key indicator of employee success and happiness.

In this 3-part blog series, I’ll share strategies for staying engaged in your changing workplace, so you can come out on top at the end of the transformation. All of these strategies involve connecting with something, to help fight the disconnection brought on by change.

The first strategy is to connect with the purpose of the change. Human beings are meaning-making machines: we are always asking “why?” We want to know why the change is happening, why it’s important, what it means for our future, and what the outcome might mean for us.

When change occurs in the workplace, however, getting the answers to those questions isn’t always easy. In one of my jobs as a director at a nonprofit organization, we had lost some employees and were shifting around responsibilities. Some departments were taking on new roles, and I was given control of a new income stream. No one told me if the new responsibilities were permanent or temporary, or even trained me on how to accomplish them. I didn’t know what was expected of me, or even why the tasks had shifted in the first place. This left me feeling disconnected from my purpose and challenged my ability to give my new duties proper meaning.

Leaders sometimes discuss the “why” of change around the management table, yet by the time they roll out the change to everyone else, they’ve moved on to talking about “when” and “how.” But for those of us just hearing about the change for the first time, we need to hear the “why” or we’ll never get on board. We won’t understand the purpose of the change, or what the payoff might be.

If you’re stuck in a corporate change and don’t understand the purpose behind the change, you’re bound to feel disconnected. To connect to the purpose of change, try these three things:

  1. Start a Dialogue about the Future. At a staff meeting, ask the leadership team about what the change means. To keep things positive and productive, frame your questions around the company’s future and how the change impacts the future outlook. Asking smart questions and staying positively engaged in the change will make you shine in your manager’s eyes.
  2. List your Opportunities. This change likely brings with it the possibility of growth for you, personally, and not just growth for your company. As you begin to understand where the company is headed in the future, write down ways the change can open up new doors for you.
  3. Make Change Less Personal. Because change is disconnecting, it can sometimes feel like it’s a personal affront to us. But letting the voice in your head tell you that change is personal keeps you from adapting gracefully. Change is bigger than you, so don’t let your mind dwell on how much you’re personally suffering.

Using these three strategies helps you understand the potential payoff of the change, and get behind it. When you reframe change as a challenge with a purpose, you’ll have a much easier time coming out on top!

Keep a lookout for my second guest blog post coming soon.

About Courtney Clark
Courtney Clark speaks to organizations who want to adapt faster and achieve more by building a culture of Accelerated Resilience. She is the author of two books “The Giving Prescription,” and “The Successful Struggle,” a three-time cancer survivor, brain aneurysm survivor, keynote speaker, and founder of a nonprofit. www.CourtneyLClark.com

 

Trending HR Topics

Engage Blog: Top 10 HR Blogs of 2016

By: Kellie Wong
Social Media & Blog Manager, Achievers

How fast time flies! Can you believe it’s already 2017? Every time a new year rolls around, I like to reflect on the previous year. For Achievers and the Engage Blog, 2016 was extremely eventful. For starters, Achievers’ Customer Experience (ACE) 2016 was a huge hit, with amazing keynote speakers, including famous journalist Joan Lunden and CNN commentator Mel Robbins. From the 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards Gala to a stellar lineup of speaking sessions, ACE 2016 brought together a Who’s Who of top performers and thought leaders in the HR and employee engagement space. If you weren’t able to make our biggest event of the year last year, no worries. We have the sizzle reel right here for you to watch! Stay tuned, registration for ACE 2017 in New Orleans opens in just a few short months.

Here on the Engage Blog, readers enjoyed a wide variety of HR topics in 2016. Trending topics ranged from employee turnover and talent management challenges to top company perks and thought leadership on the hot topic of employee engagement. To recap the hottest HR themes from last year, we’ve compiled our top 10 blogs of 2016. A must-read for HR pros – and employee-focused management of all stripes.

  1. 30 Fun, Fresh Ideas for Employee Appreciation Day – Or Week!
    Do you know when Employee Appreciation Day is? Officially, it’s the first Friday in March. But because we love employees so much, we celebrate them that whole week! Regardless of whether you celebrate it for a day or a week, it’s the perfect time to show your employees some love. To help you celebrate in style, we shared a list of fun ideas to help spread employee appreciation across your entire organization – including how to enhance wellness perks and boost employee recognition. Read more >
  1. 4 Ideas For Celebrating Employee Anniversaries
    Show your employees how much you value their work and dedication by celebrating employee anniversaries. By observing major milestones, you are demonstrating employee appreciation and encouraging employee recognition. Yearly work anniversaries are no longer limited to just a mug with a “Congrats on Your 1-Year!” sticker on it. Discover new and refreshing ideas for celebrating employee anniversaries. Read more >
  1. Top 5 Best Company Mission Statements
    Does your company mission statement resonate with you? Company mission statements are meant to align an organization’s employees to a clear, primary purpose. If your company mission statement lacks luster, your organization as a whole might suffer.  Find inspiration for your company mission statement by checking out our top five list. Read more >
  1. 3 Biggest Talent Management Challenges for 2016
    Did you know only 39 percent of employees are “very satisfied” with their jobs? Why is this and what can you do about it? Sometimes employee dissatisfaction starts with management. It goes back to that famous saying, “Employees leave managers, not companies.” It’s a manager’s responsibility to help employees love their jobs. Discover three major talent management challenges and how to address each. Read more >
  1. 4 Signs An Employee Is About to Quit
    Employee retention is vital to maintaining company morale and reducing high turnover costs. It’s been estimated that employee attrition can cost six to nine months’ worth of a departing worker’s salary. Learn how to retain great talent by understanding why employees quit and monitoring for signs that they may be planning to leave. Read more >
  1. 5 Keys: How to Become an Inspirational Leader
    Don’t settle for average leadership. Learn how to motivate your team and become an inspirational leader. Marci Peters, Achievers’ Director of Customer Service, shares insight from her 20+ year career in customer experience and reveals five keys to unlocking the inspirational leader within. Read more >

  2.  Top 3 HR Trends for 2016
    What were the top three HR trends from 2016? At the start of 2016, we said it would be the increased use of data analysis, revamped performance management processes, and a shift in employee learning and development opportunities. Were we right? Rediscover the top HR trends we believed would carry forward into 2017. Read more >
  1. Characteristics of a Good Manager: What Can and Can’t Be Taught
    Good managers can make all the difference for a business and its employees. Can someone be taught to become a good manager, or is it something you’re born with? We share what we believe are some of the inherent qualities that contribute to making a great leader, along with characteristics that can be taught. Read more >
  1. The Best New Employee Engagement Ideas for 2016
    Engaged employees perform 20 percent better than others. Start boosting employee engagement with new approaches in the workplace, including gamification, weekly open “office hours” for employee feedback, and tools to empower brand ambassadors. Access our list of employee engagement ideas to help motivate employees to reach their highest potential. Read more >       
  1. Which Company Perks Attract the Best Talent?
    Who doesn’t like a list of the best company perks? Top notch benefits and perks can be an essential hiring tool and serve as your company’s competitive edge to stand out from the rest. From paid time off to wellness programs, we reveal which company perks attract the best talent. Read more >

As we enter the New Year, let’s remember that great customer experiences start with a great employee experience. And it shows up in the bottom line too! According to Gallup, companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share. Start by focusing on employee happiness, and you’ll soon see a positive ripple effect across your entire business.

Happy Employees = Happy Customers = Stronger Business Results

Here at Achievers, we want to take this opportunity to say “Thank you!” to our readers. We appreciate you taking the time to read and share the articles we put a lot of thought and love into creating, and we look forward to bringing you more great HR content on the Engage Blog in 2017. Keep a lookout for new guest blogs from top HR influencers and powerful insights surrounding employee engagement, leadership, work culture, rewards and recognition, recruiting and hiring, employee retention, HR technology, and more. Cheers to 2017!

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About Kellie Wong
Kellie WongKellie Wong is the Social Media & Blog Manager for Achievers. She manages Achievers’ social media presence and The Engage Blog, including the editorial calendars for both. In addition to writing blog content for The Engage Blog, she also manages and maintains relationships with 25+ guest blog contributors. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.

 

 

Reasons to welcome the millennial influence

The Demands of Millennials Make Our Workplaces Better

By: Anna Peters
Content Manager at College Recruiter

For all the complaining about Millennials and their approach to the modern workplace, they are actually responsible for much of the change happening in the modern workforce. Their entry into the workforce, was accompanied by a slew of stereotypes, followed recently by a round of myth-busting, with statistics and all, aimed at debunking those stereotypes. As an “ancient Millennial” myself (a term I borrow from journalist Jessica Grose), I can attest that at least some of the stereotypes come from kernels of truth, but like most stereotypes , they must be taken with a grain of salt. More importantly, many of the changes Millennials bring to the workplace are actually good for everyone. Change is always hard, so it’s natural to initially oppose or question the forces of change. However, most of the changes that Millennials have brought about have actually made for a better workplace.

The influence of the Millennial generation is not to be underestimated, if for no other reason than its size. According to a recent report from SHRM, (“Millennials: Misunderstood in the workplace?”) as  Baby Boomers exit the workforce, an even greater number of Millennials will continue to enter the workforce to take their place. In fact, it is estimated that Millennial workers (those born between 1980 and 2000) will make up more than  half of the workforce by 2020. And, according to Pew, they already make up the largest overall share of workforce, having surpassed Gen X’ers in 2015. With those facts established, here are four reasons to welcome the Millennial influence:

Generalization #1: They need constant feedback: Millennials grew up in a feedback culture. Some say that Millennials are obsessed with getting positive feedback (you’ve likely heard of the “trophy generation”, but put simply, it is the belief that we are doing our youth a disservice by lauding them for mere participation rather than awarding success.). But even if that’s true, it likely contributed to an encouraging new trend – the phasing out of annual performance reviews. An annual performance review simply doesn’t tell us enough in today’s fast-paced business culture. If HR hears a complaint about an employee but their 8-month old performance review shows high marks, that documentation does little to advise any action. In 2017, we will likely see employers implement more regular feedback conversations along with frequent “pulse” surveys to help identify and address employee concerns in a more timely, actionable fashion.

When employers engage employees in regular, smaller-scale conversations, both management and employees are better equipped to deal with issues as they come up. This in turn helps employees to feel more engaged because they know their suggestions and concerns are being listened to. Furthermore, by combining these mini performance management conversations with real-time feedback tools for employees, management can help facilitate a culture of transparency in which both positive and negative business outcomes can be celebrated or addressed openly.

Generalization #2: They demand more work life balance: One of my favorite Millennial trends is that men are beginning to demand more time with their families. They ask for paternity leave more than their fathers did, for example. And because married Millennials overwhelmingly co-lead a dual-income household, they can’t buy into the 80-hour work week like their fathers did before them. As a recent article in The New York Times put it: “Millennial men—ages 18 to early 30s—have much more egalitarian attitudes about family, career and gender roles inside marriage than generations before them, according to a variety of research by social scientists. Yet… workplace policies have not caught up to changing expectations at home.”

Likewise, a Department of Labor report also highlighted the growing importance of paternity leave as men consider whether to accept a job, noting: “Paid paternity leave may be a key workplace benefit for retaining high-skilled workers. In a 2014 study of highly educated professional fathers in the U.S., nine of out ten reported that it would be important when looking for a new job that the employer offered paid parental leave, and six out of ten considered it very or extremely important. These numbers were even higher for millennial workers.”

Millennials came of age watching their parents work long hours and aren’t convinced it translates to a happier existence, or even a fatter nest-egg for themselves. With this in mind, employers would be wise to encourage work-life balance in the name of productivity and worker satisfaction. Even the U.S. Commissioner of Labor Statistics agrees that hours with your butt in a seat does not equate to more productivity, “Only if we increase our efficiency—by producing more goods and services without increasing the number of hours we work—can we be sure to increase our standard of living.”

Generalization #3: They need hand-holding. It’s true that most managers don’t have time for hand-holding. However, research published in the Journal of Workplace Learning shows that companies who have a “culture of learning” rely not just on managers to disseminate information. Not only does their training help them perform their job functions better, but employees who are able to embrace learning and growth opportunities also feel more valued and engaged, doubling the value for the company. Learning can happen anytime, often facilitated by a co-worker (“Contextual factors influencing the facilitation of others’ learning through everyday work experiences” by Andrea D. Ellinger Maria Cseh), so managers don’t have to feel the exclusive burden of teaching their staff everything.

Generalization #4: They feel entitled to career advancement: Climbing the corporate ladder just isn’t as important to Millennials as it was to their parents (see Generalization #2: they value more work-life balance.) When they see their managers put in long hours at the cost of their personal lives, it doesn’t look appealing. In addition, Millennials learned the difference between “management” and “leadership” before they even entered the workforce, and the 80 hour week management job that only serves to maintain the status quo is not their idea of having an impact. Millennials might feel entitled to advancement in a different sense. They want to keep learning and keep contributing. If other generations in the workplace adopted this sense of motivation, you might not see a scramble to fill the senior manager job, but you’d have leaders everywhere.

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About Anna Peters
Anna PetersAnna Peters is Content Manager for College Recruiter. She manages all content, supervises a team of content writers and is part of College Recruiter’s senior management team. Her prior experience at nonprofits has made her an expert in directing volunteer recruitment and a champion for diversity and inclusion efforts. Connect with Anna on LinkedIn.

 

 

Attract Top Talent With Unbeatable Culture

Harness Your Great Culture as a Hiring Tool

By: Melissa Ricker

When it comes to attracting talent, competitive pay and great benefits are two big factors. But there’s a third factor that’s high on the list: company culture. For some professionals, the opportunity to work for an organization with a productive culture that aligns with their own values and work style may even outweigh compensation when it comes to deciding on whether to take a particular job. So if you’ve put in the work to build a great company culture, it should be front and center during as you seek to find the best employees.

Step 1: Have a Great Company Culture

Ideally, your company’s founding leadership fostered a desirable corporate culture from the outset. However, even if that’s not the case, it is never too late to drive change. Culture is the glue that holds an organization together, and the type of glue you use matters. What does your company stand for? What are your values? What is your vision? What do you want your company’s reputation to be? A culture cannot simply be defined in an email and handed down to employees. Sure it has to start at the top so everyone knows that culture is a priority, but everyone needs to buy in and believe that their needs are being met in order for the culture to take root. Every employee is expected to live the values, lead by example, and stop behaviors that violate company standards and shared cultural norms.

Elements of strong corporate culture should revolve around the following traits:

  • Teamwork. Build a team instead of a group of people. Collaboration should be valued.
  • Integrity. Without honesty and integrity, a company is destined to fail. A culture should embed the expectation that all employees act ethically and lawfully.
  • Safety. A company must protect the health and safety of its people. Employees need to feel safe and know that the company will provide them the right tools to do their jobs.
  • People Focused. One of the easiest ways to lose top talent is to fail to develop them. Passionate employees want to continually grow and develop their career. They want to reach their full potential, and they need their employers to empower them to do so.
  • Customer Success. Businesses should strive to be customer centered by building close partnerships with their customers and having a strong desire for their customers to be successful.
  • Quality. Employees should value high-quality workmanship. Shortcuts should not be allowed. The company’s reputation rides on the quality of each individual product that is delivered.
  • Innovation. Creativity and intellectual risk taking should be encouraged to continually move forward in an ever-changing market.
  • Recognition. Recognizing both individual and shared accomplishments, especially when they reinforce shared values, is one of the most effective ways to define a positive, shared, corporate culture.

Once your culture is defined, it needs to be deeply embedded and reinforced. Is your culture so rooted in the organization that it is woven into meetings, company emails, and informal conversations? Do you have a formal recognition program in place that reinforces shared company values and bolsters corporate culture?

Step 2: Use Your Culture to Attract Talent

Once you have a well-defined culture in place, you can use it to recruit top-notch employees. A great corporate culture will cause employees to seek you out. People want to work where they are valued and where their hard work and contributions to the success of the company are recognized. So it only makes sense to hire people whose personal values mesh with the values you desire. According to the Harvard Business Review, “If you assess cultural fit in your recruiting process, you will hire professionals who will flourish in their new role, drive long-term growth and success for your organization, and ultimately save you time and money.” Here is how to do it.

Advertise Your Culture

Your website, your publications and your job postings should advertise your company culture. When a potential candidate walks into the lobby and through the office building for an interview, is the culture you aspire to evident right away?

Your company’s mission statement and values should be promoted and clearly visible all over your place of business. Do not make potential candidates guess as to the type of person you are looking to hire, or what values they should share.

Furthermore, don’t just tell potential candidates about your company culture with words. Show them. Encourage team members to promote your company’s culture on social media. Post pictures of company outings, community service projects, and successful project completions. During interviews, give candidates a chance to talk to other employees. Take them on a tour and point out behaviors that exemplify your culture. Give job seekers a chance to see what it would be like to work for your company.

Interview for Cultural Fit

The interview is your opportunity to determine if the potential new employee is a cultural fit for your business. The most intellectual person on the planet with pages and pages of credentials may not thrive in your company if they do not model the values you are looking for. It is essential that you ask questions to help you determine if someone will reflect the behaviors and beliefs that are crucial to your corporate culture.

  • What drew you to this company?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What are the things on your life that matter most to you?
  • How would you describe a desirable Work-Life balance?
  • How would you describe the perfect company culture?

Having a strong corporate culture is not only important, it is strategic. Savvy business leaders know that the right culture attracts the best employees. Talented and career driven individuals seek out companies that embody the values that are important to them. The bottom line is that when an employee’s personal culture aligns with the corporate culture, the company will prosper. Use your corporate culture as a marketing tool and watch your business blossom in success.

To learn more, download the eBook All for One and One for All: Uniting a Global Workforce with Company Culture.

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About Melissa Ricker

Melissa RickerMelissa Ricker covers business and career topics for JobHero.

 

 

 

Desire for Social Recognition

Why Employees Love Social Recognition

A business isn’t anything without its employees. So in order for your business to be successful in the long term, you have to ensure your employees are consistently performing at their best. How do you do that? By focusing on employee engagement. According to Gallup, “Companies with engaged employees outperform those without by 202 percent.”

But how can you move the needle on employee engagement? One of the best and most effective ways is through employee recognition programs. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the Harvard Business Review, recognition given to top performers was the most impactful driver of employee engagement. Social recognition, in particular, is a fun and easy way to quickly show employee appreciation and boost employee engagement.

More recognitions = higher employee engagement

Employees experience an increase in job satisfaction from rewards and recognition, and it’s important they come from peers as well as supervisors. As noted in our recently published eBook, The Case for Employee Recognition, 71% of employees rank employee engagement as very important to achieving overall organizational success and 72% rank recognition given for high performers as having a significant impact on employee engagement. Furthermore, the report shows there is a negative correlation between the effectiveness of a recognition program and employee turnover rates – meaning employee recognition not only boosts employee engagement but reduces turnover rates as well.

Rewards and recognition create a positive workplace culture

A recent SHRM study noted that employees consider “culture and connection” to be a major contributing factor to employee job satisfaction. In recent years it has become widely accepted that implementing a robust rewards and recognition program is one of the top means of fostering a positive workplace culture, and one that promotes mutual respect and employee appreciation. In fact, a 2015 Cornell University research review noted that, “41 percent of the variation in employee engagement is attributable to the strength of recognition an employee receives,” and that 42 percent of companies with recognition programs include a social peer-to-peer component. In the conclusion of the study, the author states: “Recognition programs are becoming powerful avenues for exerting positive change in the workplace. What was once a nice-to-have practice is becoming a driver for improving employee engagement and a host of other factors that impact the bottom line, when properly executed. By making the programs strategic, leveraging peer-to-peer recognition, and garnering top executive buy-in, companies can maximize their return on investment on these programs.”

Social media is second nature

By 2025, millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce, and they are accustomed to spending a big chunk of their time on social media. Giving and receiving positive reinforcement by way of social recognition is fun and natural to them. Social recognitions are not viewed as tasks or something they need to check off the “to-do” list, but an instinctive way to communicate with their peers and to showcase each other’s accomplishments. Social recognition has become an invaluable piece of the puzzle when it comes to initiating and sustaining an effective rewards and recognition program.

With 70 percent of U.S. workers not engaged at work, it is imperative for businesses to focus on employee engagement; and kicking off an employee recognition program is the logical first step. Through recognition, employees will feel more appreciated and, in return, be more productive. 77 percent of employees even stated they would work harder if they felt better recognized. As the Cornell report states, “What was once a nice-to-have practice is becoming a driver for improving employee engagement.”

To learn more about how your human resources department can establish a successful employee recognition program, download our 2016 Buyer’s Guide to Social Recognition.

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Recruit and retain top talent

7 Creative Ways to Attract Top Talent

By: Sara Sayegh-Moccand
Digital Marketing Specialist, SalesWings

The goal of every recruiter is to find a candidate that perfectly fits the open position. In fact, perfectly aligning a candidate with a company is the most rewarding experience a recruiter can have. When you hire the right person your company likely will not incur costs such as time lost in further recruitment efforts or in training somebody that might not be a perfect fit. To avoid extra costs, companies large and small alike need to find better ways to identify, attract, and subsequently retain top talent. The million-dollar question is: how?

1. Present good fringe benefits

The most attractive companies take all of the great benefits they offer and then adapt them to the position they are seeking to fill. For example, a senior engineer is likely older and more established compared to a candidate just entering the job market, perhaps emphasizing childcare assistance rather than the Friday night team outing would be more enticing .For an example of how offering great fringe benefits can help attract top talent, look no further than Google.

2. Share your talent transformation plan

Show candidates that you not only have a plan for their immediate future, but also how you plan to provide growth opportunities. Demonstrate knowledge of their current skills to ensure that they are in the right position, then show them the way forward through a clear training and development track.

3. Leverage LinkedIn

Engaging with potential candidates on social networks such as LinkedIn can be useful, even if the candidate isn’t currently interested in the position you’re offering. A good way to approach this is by sending a message to the candidate with a link to your company website. You can also use a tool like SalesWings LinkedIn message tracking to score the level of interest of the lead. Perhaps the lead clicks on the link but doesn’t show any interest at the moment. With message tracking you at least know that they clicked on the link, so you can follow up by providing more information if necessary, hoping that the same lead will one day turn hot. Remember that 75% of professionals are passive candidates – meaning they’re not actively engaged in a job search – so it pays to have any edge in order to grab top talent before your competition does.

 4. Sell the work environment and profile

Showing candidates the great opportunities that come with working for your company can be a fantastic recruitment tool. For instance, giving examples of succession plans or the career progression plan of already hired talent recruited into a similar position can instill a level of confidence in the candidate that their employer will work to further their career.

A company should be up front about what is needed in order to be successful in a new role. If a candidate needs to develop new skills, the company should accordingly have a plan for how to help them develop those skills. Be open about internal and external training, any smart candidate will immediately see the benefits of developing their skills as they will have something to add to their CV.

Finally, talk about your company’s embrace of employee recognition. Employees crave employee recognition, with 93% of employees hoping to be recognized quarterly, if not more frequently. Share your company’s enthusiasm for recognizing great work and how employees are rewarded, whether through monetary rewards or social recognition.

5.  Seek to be acknowledged in a “Best Places to Work” ranking

Top candidates usually target high ranking “Best Places to Work” companies. Everybody loves to work for a company that treats employees well, so it is a good idea to exhibit the qualities the aforementioned high ranking companies do. Even if you don’t get acknowledged for your efforts immediately, you will still have taken important steps to make improvements in this area.

6. Focus on marketing

Integrate every digital marketing tactics into your recruitment efforts so that your talent acquisition team can identify, attract and engage with talent more easily. With this strategy, you can also target potential candidates before they begin their job search in earnest. The day they make their decision to leave their current company, candidates will send applications to a large number of other companies or agencies. With this method you can beat them to the punch, and be the company all other recruiters are competing against.

7. Employer branding

Demonstrating why your company is a great place to work is becoming a critical part of recruitment strategy. The LinkedIn report MENA recruiting trends 2017 reveals that over 81% of leaders in MENA countries need to invest more in employer branding. This is because employer branding has a significant impact on hiring top talent.

Your corporate website and LinkedIn page are great places to build your employer branding. A poor user experience on the career section of your website can negatively impact your brand, meaning you will receive fewer applications in general, let alone those from the top talent in your industry.

A great example of an employer branding strategy comes from Starbucks. In 2015, they used Twitter and Instagram to promote their brand. Potential hires had the opportunity to communicate with current employees by using the hashtag #sbuxjobschat. This allowed them to learn what inspired people in their jobs and what people look for in a company.

To sum up, communication is key to attracting top talents – if you don’t explain why your company is a great place to work, you will not attract the best candidates. Good luck and best wishes for a fruitful and rewarding new year!

If you’re looking to lure top talent, check out the blog post 12 Tips for Writing the Perfect Job Description.

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About Sara Sayegh-Moccand

Sara Sayegh-Moccand The author Sara is a digital marketing specialist at SalesWings, a website tracking and lead scoring add-on. The software identifies your most sales-ready leads based on their website activity. It analyzes your leads’ past and future visits and scores their level of engagement/interest.

 

 

 

 

New Hires Engaged Employees

Turning New Hires into Engaged Employees – 3 Quick Tips for Success

Studies on turnover estimate that when an employee leaves a company it can cost the organization between 30 to 250 percent of that person’s annual salary due to factors like loss of productivity and other associated replacement costs. BambooHR shared its research on turnover with the Society for Human Resource Management, saying the average company is losing one-sixth of its new hires in the first six months. Providing a competitive compensation and benefits package is important, but in today’s market, retention also requires making new hires feel engaged, aligned and connected from Day 1.

With this in mind, we offer three quick tips to think about when bringing people onboard your organization.

1. Promote affiliation with people from the start

The BambooHR study found the reasons new hires leave so soon included the expected, like lacking in clear guidelines on responsibilities and wanting better training, as well as some less intuitive factors. For instance, 17% said a friendly smile or a helpful co-worker would have made the difference between staying and going, and 12% wanted to be “recognized for their unique contributions.” Employees today, especially millennials, like to connect and collaborate, and that is especially true of millennials, yet the Aberdeen Group found that only 32% of organizations provide opportunities for peer networking. This represents a clear missed opportunity and one that can be easily remedied with a mentoring or “buddy” program. Conclusion: Providing early opportunities for peer networking and social recognition are critical to retention.

2. Look beyond money to drive desired behaviors

According to a frequently cited Kepner Tregoe study, 40% of employees felt that that increased salaries and financial rewards were ineffective in reducing turnover. Employee behaviors today are driven less by financial incentive and more by aligning their personal values with company goals in order to endow their work with a greater sense of meaning. Meeting these seemingly less-tangible needs can be accomplished through a formal recognition and rewards program, along with frequent manager feedback and opportunities to connect with new team members. Conclusion: Aligning employees’ personal values with company goals through recognition programs and frequent feedback is more likely to drive successful behavior.

3. Develop an onboarding system that engages quickly

Do you think of employee recognition as something only for employees who have been with the company for some time? More and more leading organizations are realizing that optimizing the workplace for employee retention requires integrating new employees into their recognition programs right from the start. By encouraging participation in an organization’s recognition program from the outset, employers can insure that new hires embrace and contribute to the company’s culture of recognition. To do this, employers can build training on the company’s rewards and recognition platform into employee onboarding programs and by not waiting until the employee has been with the company for an extended period before recognizing desired behaviors.

Ideas for early recognitions include recognizing new hires for how quickly they get up to speed on their new job responsibilities, how well they are connecting with their new co-workers, or how frequently they participate in culture-building activities. In order to reinforce a culture of recognition and achieve ongoing employee engagement as a result, recognitions should be frequent, meaningful and tied to company values. In fact, Gallup recommends at least every seven days. Conclusion: Engage employees and integrate them into the company’s culture of recognition from day one through recognitions given early and often.

New hires are more likely to decide to stay with your organization when they feel appreciated and welcomed by their peers. Millennials especially, projected to make up more than 50% of the workforce by 2020, embrace peer networking and social recognition. Setting up new hires for success through early participation in a company’s culture of recognition is good for employees and good for the organization.

Learn how to build a culture of recognition by downloading The Case for Employee Recognition Ebook.

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Measuring Employee Performance

5 Performance Measurement Myths

By: Meghan M. Biro

The question of how to measure employee performance represents one of the last vestiges of old-school HR methodology. Today’s workforce is digitally transformed, highly social and mobile, made up of multiple generations, and collaborating across virtual and global locations. There has been a profound shift in the workforce away from hierarchical, top-down organizations towards teams and collaboration, where having a culture of recognition can drive engagement and results far more effectively than infrequent reviews handed down from on high by management.

We all want the best hires and to lure the top talent. But once on board, they’re part of the organization, and now making sure that they’re fully engaged becomes the challenge. But how do we know if they are working up to their potential? Old-school approaches to performance management, which view a single employee outside of the context of today’s team-based, networked workplace, no longer ring true. Indeed some would argue that many of these approaches were myths to begin with – and I’d have to agree.

Here are five assumptions about measuring employee performance that need to be retired:

Myth #1 – Individuals should be judged solely on their own performance.

The idea that we perform as an island may apply to an isolated few, but it doesn’t fit the majority of workplaces — either today or yesterday. The investment made in working out how to evaluate individuals may be better spent evaluating the quality of their team or business unit’s output. What targets have been hit? What goals have been reached?

Perhaps we should be evaluating employees not only on their performance, but on their level of engagement and on their ability to thrive in team-based environment. Highly engaged employees are more likely to give the kind of discretionary effort that all bosses are looking for, and that have a tangible effect on a company’s bottom line. In fact, Aon Hewitt has reported that for every incremental one-point increase in employee engagement organizations saw a 0.6% increase in sales. For a company with sales of $100 million, this translates to a $6 million windfall! And in companies with the most engaged employees, revenue growth was 2.5 times greater than competitors with lower levels of engagement.

Myth #2 – Good employees just do the job, they don’t need a reason or added meaning.

Is the better employee really the one that doesn’t need to understand how their work aligns with company’s mission and values? Performance stems from engagement. And being engaged stems, in large part, from feeling aligned to — and invested in — the company purpose. Motivation and meaning go hand in hand.

Even if a task is performed well, accomplishing it inside a vacuum is going to create a gap somewhere along the line. Employees deserve to know why they’re there. They’ll participate more fully, and are more likely to push to reach targets and goals if they are invested in the rationale behind the effort.

Myth #3 – An employee that’s good this year will be good next year.

When a team of researchers dove into six years of performance review data from a large U.S. corporation, they found that only a third of high-scoring employees scored as high in subsequent years. And they found no evidence that high-performing employees always perform highly, or that poor performing employees perform poorly. Today’s workforce is continually being met with innovations that require new learning and new skills, so what’s “good” today may not be an accurate measure of what’s desirable tomorrow.

When a company uses trackable learning platforms, they have a means of measuring growth and development. To drive engagement and retention they can extend from onboarding programs, demonstrating a commitment to an employee’s growth from the moment of hire. 84% of employees want to learn, and keep learning. When you align an employee’s learning with the company’s business goals, that’s a win for all.

Myth #4 – Past performance is indicative of future results.

In 2015, a number of Fortune 500 companies announced that they were doing away with old school performance reviews. Accenture, the Gap, Adobe and General Electric all veered away from the annual or quarterly review ritual in favor of building a stronger culture based on continuous feedback and frequent recognition.

What’s happening instead is that many companies are moving to a system where employees and managers can give and receive social feedback and track the history of recognitions given and received. This new approach – measuring the frequency of peer-to-peer, intra-team and team recognitions within a powerful digital and social recognition program – provides better quality insights and has the potential to foster a far more positive, and productive, work culture.

Myth #5 – The best way to measure performance is when no one’s expecting it.

Spot checks, random and unexpected, are still recommended by some HR stalwarts, who assert that it’s a way to motivate employees to give a consistent performance. But it conveys an atmosphere of mistrust that may be more of a de-motivator.

Trust is critical to employee engagement, but it’s still in short supply: a recent survey of nearly 10,000 workers from India to Germany to the U.S. found that only 49% had “a great deal of trust” in those working above and alongside them. Contrast that with study findings showing that organizations are extremely concerned with driving engagement and promoting a workplace culture that is based on transparency and meaningful work. You can’t have both.

That we’re still having this conversation is in part because we may lack the imagination to see our way to a new starting point. But the real drive to perform comes from within.  We are motivated by purpose, and by being appreciated for what we do.

Employees today want to be engaged, we want to know what higher purpose our efforts are contributing to, we want to excel and to grow. Employers should start with that knowledge and measure their employees accordingly.

Make sure to check out the other series of guest blogs from Meghan Biro, starting with her first guest blog post For Recognition To Have An Impact, Make It Strategic.

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About Meghan M. Biro
meghan biroMeghan M. Biro is a globally recognized Talent Management and HR Tech brand strategist, analyst, digital catalyst, author and speaker. As founder and CEO of TalentCulture, she has worked with hundreds of companies, from early-stage ventures to global brands like Microsoft, IBM and Google, helping them recruit and empower stellar talent. Meghan has been a guest on numerous radio shows and online forums, and has been a featured speaker at global conferences. She is a regular contributor at Forbes, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur and several other media outlets. Meghan regularly serves on advisory boards for leading HR and technology brands. Meghan has been voted one of the Top 100 Social Media Power Influencers in 2015 by StatSocial and Forbes, Top 50 Most Valuable Social Media Influencers by General Sentiment, Top 100 on Twitter Business, Leadership, and Tech by Huffington Post, and Top 25 HR Trendsetters by HR Examiner.

 

employee recognition culture

It Takes a Recognition Culture To Spark Engagement

By: Meghan M. Biro

Today’s workplace is evolving rapidly. The recent focus on employee engagement has taught us plenty, including how closely tied employee engagement is to an organization’s success, and what happens in this disrupted, transformed workforce without engagement: our top talent moves on. We also know that one of the primary drivers of engagement is recognition. So where do those understandings lead? If we want to be successful in this changing landscape they lead to a workplace culture built on recognition, rewards, feedback and transparency.

But to spark the kind of engagement that spurs organizational success, recognition has to be ingrained in the culture – a central and fundamental part of an organization’s DNA. When this is achieved there are countless examples of tangible results. Here are just a few:

  • Ericsson’s North American operations boosted its employee engagement scores 14% higher than the industry average;
  • When M Resort organization instituted a trackable recognition program, it elevated employee engagement by 12% within the first 8 months. It also saw a continuing rise in customer satisfaction ratings;
  • Leading health information network, Availity has aligned its corporate values with its employee rewards and recognition program, supporting a fun and engaging work environment, and ultimately solidifying its culture of transparency and respect.

Culture First, Then Engagement: 3 Must-Dos

When we look at employee recognition and ask where to start and what to focus on, most of the answers we’re getting point to culture. Culture is not just another word in the special-sauce lexicon of talent management: culture, done right, is the glue that holds a workplace together. But if it goes awry, bad workplace culture can be the source of endless friction that keeps a workplace apart. In fact, and perhaps unsurprisingly, a new SHRM study found that more than three-quarters (77%) of employees say their engagement at work hinges on having good relationships with their co-workers.

An effective culture of recognition has three prongs:

Transparency and Democratization

Positive relationships at work are built on daily interactions between employees and through opportunities for productive, creative collaboration, not occasional projects or isolated moments. Another common expectation that has come to the fore as millennials have entered the workplace in greater numbers, is transparency. Recognition programs limited to “top down” performance incentives handed down by leaders who don’t bother to consult employees on their needs and preferences can shift culture in the wrong way. Instead of inspiring greater buy-in and cultural unity, these misguided efforts may instead inspire a job search. In a workforce that values transparency, a one-directional, hierarchical approach can look like thinly veiled condescension.

What does work: opportunities for recognition and rewards that build cultural synergies demographically, structurally, and geographically. These are the stitches in a quilt of recognition that includes everyone on all levels, entry level to C-suite, by enabling participation in all directions: uphill, lateral (peer-to-peer, team to team and across teams and departments), and top-down. Recognition in this form can navigate global divides, connecting multiple hubs and geographically dispersed locations. It can’t be left to a manager to know which of his or her people want the chance to cheer their teammates on, nor should it. And they shouldn’t need to approve recognitions either. To manage recognition instead of enabling it it goes right back to the problem of top-down relationships — it simply gets in the way. On top of that, managers have enough to do, as we all know.

Integration

In the latest Global Human Capital Trends report by Deloitte, 85% of executives named engagement a key priority, but understanding how to improve it is another story. Only 34% said they felt ready to deal with issues of engagement, though 46% of companies are tackling it head-on. In terms of recognition, integration means cross-platform, frequency and flexibility. It means offering varying forms of recognition and rewards from social to monetary, from informal “Thank You’s” to big ticket rewards and incentives. Integration also means enabling recognition across any platform: via smartphones, tablets, PCs, or even an on-site kiosk.

Integrated recognition programs are already evolving: some feature open APIs that connect to other important drivers of engagement, such as health & wellness and learning & development. This also speaks to the importance of culture and another expectation that has its roots in the millennial mindset: that employees should be valued not just as talent, or “human capital” but as real humans with real lives. Workplace flexibility remains a high priority for today’s workforce, but the digital transformation also means that health & wellness, learning & development, and performance management — can all exist online or in app. It’s an easy enhancement with great payback. Moreover, it’s another stream of trackable data.

Measurability

A culture of recognition that exists across multiple platforms and embraces a wide range of functions also provides a continuous stream of data – not just for a CHRO or an HR team to measure and gain insights from, but for managers and leaders throughout the organization. Tracking program ROI and managing rewards budgets is only one part the equation. Again, this is one of the most profound ways to drive and support transparency: by sharing and democratizing the data. Consider the possibilities of a team that can look at its own performance and behaviors; of managers tracking recognition patterns as they relate to engagement and performance. In terms of retention, skills gaps, identifying front-runners and planning successions, it’s an invaluable resource.

The right reporting and analytics tools provide another source of in-the-moment feedback as well, part of that reciprocal interaction between human talent and digital tools. It also makes reporting and ROI part of the very functionality of that recognition culture. In terms of feeling invested in business outcomes, and aligned with business goals, data and graphs speak volumes.

Endless Opportunity

A recognition culture supported by a robust digital platform provides endless opportunities for positive reinforcement, all tying back to tangible benefits and results. Developed with an organization’s mission and values in mind, a recognition culture should leverage technology to humanize the workplace and provide additional meaning for every task and interaction. In this current environment that values transparency, trust and flexibility, but is more scattered across locations, devices and platforms than ever, this is what it takes.

Check out Meghan M. Biro’s third guest blog post 5 Performance Measurement Myths.

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About Meghan M. Biro

meghan biroMeghan M. Biro is a globally recognized Talent Management and HR Tech brand strategist, analyst, digital catalyst, author and speaker. As founder and CEO of TalentCulture, she has worked with hundreds of companies, from early-stage ventures to global brands like Microsoft, IBM and Google, helping them recruit and empower stellar talent. Meghan has been a guest on numerous radio shows and online forums, and has been a featured speaker at global conferences. She is a regular contributor at Forbes, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur and several other media outlets. Meghan regularly serves on advisory boards for leading HR and technology brands. Meghan has been voted one of the Top 100 Social Media Power Influencers in 2015 by StatSocial and Forbes, Top 50 Most Valuable Social Media Influencers by General Sentiment, Top 100 on Twitter Business, Leadership, and Tech by Huffington Post, and Top 25 HR Trendsetters by HR Examiner.

 

Case for Employee Recognition

Why Employee Recognition Matters

By: Kellie Wong
Social Media & Blog Manager, Achievers

Do your employees feel recognized? Think carefully, because over 65 percent of employees report they don’t feel recognized at work. And lack of recognition just happens to be the number one reason why employees quit. Employee recognition drives employee engagement, and with higher employee engagement come lower turnover rates and stronger business results. Engaged employees perform 20 percent better and are 87 percent less likely to leave their organizations than their disengaged colleagues. Also, companies with the most engaged employees report revenue growth at a rate 2.5X greater than their competitors with the lowest level of engagement.

So, how do you start building your case for an employee recognition strategy? Start with The Case for Employee Recognition E-Book – an all-in-one guide that highlights everything you need to know about employee recognition. It details where the modern-day workplace is heading, why employee recognition is invaluable for businesses, and ultimately how to secure senior management buy-in. Below are some key takeaways from The Case for Employee Recognition E-Book that every HR professional should be aware of:

The ever-changing workplace

The workplace is constantly evolving and it’s important to be aware of where it’s heading. Organizations are no longer hierarchical and top down, but instead collaborative and bottom up. Baby boomers are retiring faster than young workers can replace them, intensifying the war for top talent and putting the ball in the millennials’ court. By 2018, it’s expected that millennials will make up more than 50% of the workforce.

Case for Recognition Gen Y Chart

The Case for Employee Recognition E-Book

Why employee recognition is a need, not a want

It’s simple: employee recognition positively impacts employee engagement and drives business success. According to Gallup 80 percent of employees said recognition is a strong motivator of work performance and 70 percent said they would work harder with continuous recognition. With $8 billion in assets and 260,000 customers, Meridian Credit Union saw a measurable, positive impact after implementing a rewards and recognition program.

“Analyzing the impact of engagement by comparing the top and bottom quartile of engaged employees showed that each highly engaged employee (top quartile) was responsible for over $2 million in growth, while each of the least engaged employee (bottom quartile) were responsible for $1.29 million.” – In regards to Meridian Credit Union, The Case for Employee Recognition E-Book

How to secure senior management buy-in

Hopefully now it’s clear that both your business and employees can benefit from employee recognition. But how can you get senior management on board? Start with the data. Numbers don’t lie and leaders will pay attention when you present them with ROI numbers for engaged workplaces, its impact on financial performance, and how recognition is a key driver of both. All this valuable data and more is presented in our new eBook: The Case for Employee Recognition.

Learn how employee recognition promotes engagement, creates an infectious work culture that retains top talent, and improves overall customer satisfaction by downloading The Case for Employee Recognition E-Book.

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About Kellie Wong
Kellie WongKellie Wong is the Social Media & Blog Manager for Achievers. She manages Achievers’ social media presence and The Engage Blog, including the editorial calendars for both. In addition to writing blog content for The Engage Blog, she also manages and maintains relationships with 20+ guest blog contributors. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.

 

For Recognition to Have an Impact, Make It Strategic

By: Meghan M. Biro

We’re way beyond the old paradigm of years-of-service plaques or holiday gift cards as a form of employee recognition. We know that such rewards, tied to tenure or sporadically bestowed on an individual employee for a job well done, fall short of achieving any larger goal. For employees, they do little to spur a sense of being truly valued by an organization. For the organization, they don’t spark the levels of engagement that we know drive performance and lead to desired business outcomes. Why is this an issue? Gallup research this year found that only 33 percent of US workers feel engaged at work (it’s a mere 13 percent worldwide!). That’s nearly the same figure it was 10 years ago.

And even if organizations do connect recognition to driving individual performance and achieving desired business outcomes, how many have a recognition program that actually works? Achievers’ 2015 “The Greatness Gap” survey of the North American workforce found that most employees are far from satisfied with how, when, or why they receive recognition — if they do at all. They don’t feel they are recognized at their preferred frequency (41%) or get a manager’s in-the-moment feedback (60%) They don’t feel recognized for making progress (57%) or achievements (53%). Based on these findings, disengagement, not engagement, seems to be the rule.

But this gap is more than just a gap in driving engagement via feedback. It represents lost intelligence on how to improve the employee experience and better align it with business goals. To play an effective role in an organization’s success, a recognition program needs to serve a powerful strategic function for both employee and employer.

Strategic recognition serves a number of dual roles:

 

It’s part of a widespread, unified system of employee engagement —

that can be customized into any format, platform and frequency.

 

It’s aligned to the vision and values of the organization —

and can be tailored to meet individual employee preferences.

 

It generates powerful insight on employee performance and behavior —

but “learns” from even the delivery of a “smile” emoji or an e-thanks.

 

It’s closely aligned to business goals and targets —

While also recognizing employees for “softer” contributions & achievements as well.

 

It builds bridges between the executive/management and employee sides —

and enables uphill, peer-to-peer, team-to-team, and intrateam recognition as well.

 

It functions from a single, Cloud-based nervous system, regardless of organizational side or geographic location—

but always feels local and human in scale and tone.

 

It identifies out-in-front performers and succession candidates —

while pinpointing gaps and trouble-spots as well.

 

A strategic program of recognition builds engagement — and therefore has a positive impact on retention — supports talent management, and is closely tied to business goals. It is also the foundation of a cohesive, supportive environment. It also looks at the future as well as the present. It may be further refined to fit organizations shifting to more autonomous, team-based structures — a coming workplace shift identified by Deloitte’s 2016 human capital research. Or it may already be addressing profound shifts in workplace demographics (4 generations working together) and geography (global organizations with multiple hubs).

How long does it take for a strategic recognition program to take root and deliver game-changing results? Shop Direct, a multi-brand digital online retailer with some 4,500 employees, launched its highly successful recognition program across multiple global sites two years ago and it is already being credited with having a major positive impact across the entire organization. 

Shop Direct’s Shine program was designed to reinforce the organization’s purpose (to “Make good things easily accessible to more people”) and values (Trusted, Together, Proud, Ambitious, Innovative), and to drive performance. The program enabled instant recognition and rewards across multiple sites. And with features like at-a-glance data and in-the-moment messages, it soon turned into a keen motivator that has boosted engagement levels by 14%. But perhaps the clearest indicator of success has been the high level of adoption that the program has achieved. In less than one year, Shop Direct employees had sent more than 355,000 recognitions, and activation rates stood at an impressive 97%. Shop Direct has since garnered multiple awards for its innovative thinking — including being ranked as one of Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces.

Likewise, communication and network services giant Ericsson (managing some 2.5 billion subscribers globally), needed a strategic solution to its employee recognition challenge. The platform had to be able to connect over 15,000 employees in dozens of hubs across North America — and improve on existing manual recognition programs. After implementing the Achievers solution, Ericsson’s HR team was able to automate recognition among geographically-dispersed employees, track program spend (without once going over budget), and use program data to link recognition to business results. Employees enthusiastically embraced it, making it the most widely-utilized “voluntary” enterprise platform the organization had ever implemented.

If no man or woman is an island, no employee should feel like he or she is working alone. Whatever job we do, we all want to be appreciated. What’s most profound about a truly strategic recognition program is that is answers that very basic human need. But all the while, it’s an incredibly powerful driver — and monitor — of a much larger success story: the organization itself. That’s a win for everyone.

Check out Meghan Biro’s second guest blog post It Takes a Recognition Culture to Spark Engagement.

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About Meghan M. Biro

meghan biroMeghan M. Biro is a globally recognized Talent Management and HR Tech brand strategist, analyst, digital catalyst, author and speaker. As founder and CEO of TalentCulture, she has worked with hundreds of companies, from early-stage ventures to global brands like Microsoft, IBM and Google, helping them recruit and empower stellar talent. Meghan has been a guest on numerous radio shows and online forums, and has been a featured speaker at global conferences. She is a regular contributor at Forbes, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur and several other media outlets. Meghan regularly serves on advisory boards for leading HR and technology brands. Meghan has been voted one of the Top 100 Social Media Power Influencers in 2015 by StatSocial and Forbes, Top 50 Most Valuable Social Media Influencers by General Sentiment, Top 100 on Twitter Business, Leadership, and Tech by Huffington Post, and Top 25 HR Trendsetters by HR Examiner.

 

Employee Recognition HR Stats

5 Eye-Opening HR Stats: Why Employee Recognition Matters

By: Sarah Clayton
Communications and Campaigns Specialist, Achievers

Employees are arguably the most important component of a successful business.  Employees put a human face on the product, build relationships with customers, and define the work culture that feeds business performance – yet 32% of companies struggle to retain top talent. What defines an effective retention strategy varies from business to business, but there is one common element that has been found to work across most business types and sectors: employee recognition. In fact, a recent Achievers’ study found that employees have a deep desire for recognition, with 93% hoping to be recognized at least once a quarter. In addition, 75% of employees who received at least monthly recognition (even if informal) reported being satisfied with their jobs. And finally, in a recent Harvard Business Review study, 72% of respondents ranked recognition given for high performers as having a significant impact on employee engagement. With these kinds of numbers, it is clear that both employees and employers stand to benefit from a well-executed employee recognition program.

As we approach the end of 2016, this is the perfect opportunity to define the tone for the New Year and reflect on the importance of employee recognition for businesses. To help set the groundwork for a successful 2017, we present to you five revealing HR stats that prove the value of employee recognition.

  1. Employees are loyal to careers, not jobs 

    Workplace loyalty is not derived from a job; it is nurtured through a fulfilling career.  78% of employees would stay with their current employer if they knew they had a career path instead of just a job. With employee recognition, you can motivate and identify core competencies to help develop career paths for employees in a positive and organic way.

  1. Understanding progress matters 

    Goals can be daunting: understanding the progress made towards attaining them makes them seem more manageable, and 32% of employees agree. Employee recognition isn’t just for the big wins; it’s an excellent way to support progress and provide encouragement by giving employees feedback every time they move one step closer to completing their goals.

  1. Respect knowledge and experience 

    People work hard to cultivate their skills, and 53% of employees say respect for their knowledge and experience is their top expectation of leadership. An employee recognition platform allows both leaders and peers to publicly praise employees for their expertise, providing the employee with further motivation to develop it further.

  1. Recognized employees are happy employees 

    Employee recognition doesn’t require a huge commitment. In a recent survey of 1,000 U.S.-based, full-time employees 75% of employees who were recognized by their manager once a month – which is a good cadence to check in on progress to long-term goals – reported being satisfied with their job. While 85% of those that were recognized weekly reported being satisfied. The more satisfied your employee is, the more engaged they will be, and the more likely they will stay with your company for the long-term while producing stronger results.

  1. A mission statement is meant to guide employees 

    Unnervingly, nearly two-thirds (61%) of employees don’t know what their company mission statement is. An employee recognition program, clearly linked to a company’s mission and values, is a great way to align employees around those values. By praising and reinforcing behaviors and outcomes that line up with and support the company’s mission and values, employees are inspired to live and breathe those values every day. This in turn helps to build a unified corporate culture and makes clear to individuals how their work helps the company to achieve its goals.

Retaining employees is about establishing reciprocal loyalty, making their jobs feel meaningful, and supporting and encouraging their professional development – one of the best ways to do all of these things is through employee recognition. When a company demonstrates its commitment to supporting and recognizing its employees, they will be rewarded with engaged employees who are dedicated to contributing to the company’s mission and bottom-line.

To discover more eye-opening HR stats and learn more about the correlation between recognition and retention, check out our white paper: The Greatness Gap: The State of Employee Disengagement.

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About Sarah Clayton

Sarah ClaytonSarah Clayton is the Communications and Campaigns Specialist at Achievers, where she focuses on generating content to drive desired recognition behaviors and engagement on the platform.

 

 

Employee Appreciation

Spreading Employee Appreciation Across Achievers

By: Kellie Wong
Social Media and Blog Manager, Achievers

It’s that time of year again, time to give thanks! And what better way to give thanks than to thank our very own employees here at Achievers. A business is nothing without its employees, which is why we encourage frequent employee appreciation. Today, we’d like to highlight some of the top employee recognitions sent across our ASPIRE platform, powered by Achievers’ HR technology. We’re proud of our employees and everything they accomplish day-to-day. Check out some of our favorite recent employee recognitions and get inspired to thank someone in your organization for a job well-done!

ASPIRE recognition for embrace real-time communication ASPIRE recognition for care, share and be fair ASPIRE recognition for act with sense of ownership ASPIRE recognition for live passionately ASPIRE recognition for act with sense of ownership ASPIRE recognition for thank you ASPIRE recognition for act with a sense of ownership ASPIRE recognition for build a positive team spirit

Huge shout-out to Achievers’ employees for everything that they do. If you want to know what it’s like to work at Achievers, check out the Achievers Careers Page. We’re always looking for top talent to be a part of the A-Team! Apply today.

And don’t let employee appreciation be limited to the holiday season. Start encouraging employee appreciation throughout the entire year with an unbeatable employee recognition and rewards program! Take the first step by downloading The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition.

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About Kellie Wong
Kellie Wong
Kellie Wong is the Social Media and Blog Manager for Achievers. She manages Achievers’ social media presence and The Engage Blog, including the editorial calendars for both. In addition to writing blog content for The Engage Blog, she also manages and maintains relationships with 20+ guest blog contributors and edits every piece of content that gets published. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.

 

 

Cox Automotive Spark Week

Lighting the Spark of Employee Engagement: Inside Cox Automotive’s Spark Week Celebration

By: Sarah Clayton
Communications and Campaigns Specialist, Achievers

Employees are a core determinant of company success, but with a staggering 68% rate of employee disengagement, it’s clear that effectively leveraging their full potential can be a precarious task. Factors that drive employee engagement vary across employees, but a crucial factor is how connected they feel to their company’s culture and values. In fact, 82% of employees believe culture is a competitive advantage, yet only 28% believe that they understand their culture well. Creating a great company culture is not an easy ‘drag and drop’ nor can it be quickly implemented to garner immediate results; it requires a thought-out strategy and the right tools to help execute. One crucial piece of the great culture puzzle is recognition, and one company that is demonstrating a powerful use case of leveraging recognition and to drive engagement is Cox Automotive.

Cox Automotive is an Atlanta, GA-based subsidiary of Cox Enterprises and the parent company of such well-known brands as Kelley Blue Book, Xtime, Autotrader and Manheim. Because it consists of geographically dispersed corporate and subsidiary units, Cox Automotive’s employee population is as diverse as they come. They’re a unique mix of offline and online, front line and back office. All this diversity can make it tricky for Cox Automotive to unify the entire company around a single culture.  Implementing Spark, Cox’s internal rewards and recognition platform powered by Achievers, was a significant step towards strengthening company culture and employee engagement – but the Spark Team wanted more. They wanted to do something unique to create buzz around Spark and drive members to actively participate in the program. After days of brainstorming, Spark Week was born.

Since its inception, Spark Week (its name inspired by the popular cable special Shark Week, but with considerably less blood and gore) has become a highly anticipated event every August for the Cox Automotive community. Designed to increase interest in their rewards and recognition program, Spark Week boasts a fun and unique roster of activities that drive awareness and participation.

Spark Week kicks off with a company-wide email highlighting the Spark Week calendar of activities. This sets the tone for the eventful week by communicating the upcoming activities with a fun, themed approach. Each day pairs a different element of the Spark program, such as group recognition or redemptions, with a creative component, such as a meme contest or digital treasure hunt. An uptick in recognition activity during Spark Week makes it a strategic time to launch new features in their employee engagement platform; for instance, the new feature Service Awards made its debut on the platform this year.

“Love Spark Week! So glad employees get the opportunity to recognize others who have been outstanding and be recognized for their hard work. It really makes you feel like you are a part of the team!” – Kristin Hoopes, Sr. Accounting Specialist, Cox Automotive

The huge success of Spark Week is evident from the extensive data gathered from Cox Automotive’s employee engagement platform, including:

  • A staggering 25,522 “Thank You” recognition cards sent across the platform.
  • A daily recognition average of 3,4563.2 times more than their usual daily recognition average.
  • A 114% increase in recognitions sent compared to the entire month of July.
  • A whopping 626 redemptions made.
  • A total of $1,725 worth of Spark points donated to St. Jude.

Spark Week’s success was also demonstrated by the high levels of participation of different business units who willingly submitted content throughout the week. One auction house created and shared a video where different employees reflected on their favorite redemption and encouraged other members to redeem their points. Another auction house decided to join in on the action by making an entertaining video – complete with their own shark mascot. Self-generated contributions indicate a strong sense of ownership and belief in the value of employee recognition programs. Spark Week is now an embodiment of the culture at Cox Automotive and one of the biggest internal events of the year.

The more successful an event, the more daunting it can seem for others to replicate. However, the most important element of Spark Week can be distilled down to a simple, accessible concept: make it about your employees. Reflect on what motivates them to deliver excellence and extra effort, and think about the elements in your program that could have the same motivating effect. Pair the aforementioned with fun and engaging external activities, like team breakfasts or photo contests that align with your company values to create your own version of Spark Week.

Focusing on what makes your employees happy is key to a successful business. Just remember: Every time you have a 1% increase in employee engagement, you gain an additional .0.6% growth in sales for your company. There is no better time than now to follow in the footsteps of Cox Automotive and start building your very own Spark Week-like initiative to increase employee recognition and engagement.

Check out Cox Automotive’s fun infographic highlighting Spark Week’s success!

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About Sarah Clayton

Sarah ClaytonSarah Clayton is the Communications and Campaigns Specialist at Achievers, where she focuses on generating content to drive desired recognition behaviors and engagement on the platform.

 

 

 

Employee Engagement during the Holidays

How to Boost Employee Engagement During the Holiday Season

Keeping your employees fully engaged during the holiday season, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, is challenging. Workloads can get heavier as co-workers take time off. Employees are thinking about friends and family members who are off work for the holidays. Children are out of school, complicating scheduling. Employees must work extra hours in order to meet customer demands. Managers push their employees harder to meet year-end goals, yet often fail to give them adequate recognition. With only 34.1 percent of employees engaged at work at the best of times, it’s especially important not to lose sight of employee appreciation and recognition during the stressful holiday season.

How can you maintain employee engagement under such tricky circumstances? One of the best ways is to ramp up the utilization of employee recognition best practices and reinforce positive relationships between employees and employers. Below are five tips on how to improve employee appreciation and recognition during the holiday season:

  1. Know your employee preferences 

    An Ernst & Young survey of global workforces reported that one-third of employees found maintaining work-life balance is getting more difficult. During the holidays, employees have extra demands on their personal time, so maintaining work-life balance gets even more challenging. One way to show your concern for your employees’ well-being during the holidays is to consider their working preferences during such a busy time of the year, such as offering options like flex schedules and the ability to work remote. Also, encourage both in-office and remote employee to recognize and thank coworkers who willingly help fill work gaps when they’re away on vacation.

  2. Communicate year-end goals and plans for the holidays 

    Inform employees on your company’s year-end goals and communicate your guidelines and policies for schedule flexibility. Healthline research found that 62 percent of people feel very stressful or somewhat stressful during the holidays. The more transparent your managers are about goals during the holiday season and the more they give employees recognition for successfully meeting them, the more your workforce will believe your organization values their effort.

  3. Plan inclusive social activities to help build a positive culture 

    Sponsor holiday activities that encourage your employees to work as a team, such as planning the after-hours Christmas party. Social events can also include service projects, such as a team of employees who donate time to feed Thanksgiving meals to the homeless. Remind employees that they can choose to give back this holiday season by donating their recognition points towards a charity of choice. Motivate others by rewarding the employees that choose to spend their time and/or points towards charity work.

  4. Recognize the holidays and create a festive atmosphere 

    Pretending the holidays do not exist in an attempt to avoid work disruption is likely to create employee resentment, says Bob Nelson, president of Nelson Motivation and author of “1501 Ways to Reward Employees.” Acknowledge the holidays and celebrate with festive mood. The holiday period is a great time to recognize people who cook a turkey for the office party, play Santa Claus or decorate the office for holiday cheer.

  5. Give rewards and recognition 

    While giving an employee a certificate for a free ham is a nice gesture, it does not do much to increase employee engagement. An employee engagement program focused on recognition and rewards allows coworkers to commend each other for work contributions and successes throughout the year, and especially during the holidays. It also broadcasts achievements to the entire company, boosting morale up and highlighting employee accomplishments on a daily basis.

Employee recognition should not be reserved for the last two months of the year. Businesses need to continue employee engagement efforts throughout the year to keep employee appreciation momentum strong. Employees want to feel recognized every day, and that includes the holiday season. If people recognize each other throughout the year, they enter the holiday period and the New Year as a team working together towards business success.

Take advantage of employee recognition to boost employee morale and appreciation this holiday season. Start by downloading the report: The Art of Appreciation: Top-Tier Employee Recognition.

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Learning and Development Programs

How to Leverage Learning and Development to Improve Employee Engagement

By: Kellie Wong
Social Media and Blog Manager, Achievers

Are your employees reaching their full potential at work? According to a Middlesex University study cited in a recent Sh!ft infographic, of almost 4,300 workers polled, a whopping 74% felt that they weren’t achieving their full potential at work. So how does a business engage its employees to make them feel empowered and more productive? One answer is by providing the right learning and development opportunities.

But how do you determine which learning and development opportunities are right for your employees? Getting the answer wrong could be costly. According to Sh!ft, the total loss to a business from ineffective training can add up to $13.5 million per year per 1,000 employees. The key is to stop wasting money on ineffective training programs and start approaching learning and development initiatives with a new, creative outlook designed to boost employee engagement.

Training Magazine recently featured an article providing a behind-the-scenes look at leading tech companies that are stepping up their learning and development opportunities to successfully engage employees. Following, we have pulled a few highlights from the article to help you gain some inspiration for your business:

Adobe’s focus on quality content

Adobe focuses on learning and development opportunities through its Learning@Adobe program. With the use of their own product, Adobe Connect, and other resources, they are able to offer a wide portfolio of e-learning tools. For Adobe, it’s all about the quality of content, and we can understand why:

“Adobe gets the content right—its 60-minute virtual Adobe Connect labs consistently receive net promoter scores above 90 percent.” – Training Magazine

Facebook’s learning and development package

Mike Welsh, Learning and Development Partner and People Engineer at Facebook, shared, “Facebook’s key learning and development objectives are to promote respect and foster a culture of continual learning.” So how does Facebook accomplish this? Through a number of innovative programs. First, the company focuses on personalizing the experience for employees with various specified tracks and on-demand classes. Next, Facebook provides an Engage Coaching Program that enables new managers to have one-on-one time with an executive as a mentor. Together, they work on their people management skills. Finally, Facebook’s FLiP (Facebook Leadership in Practice) program is built for peers and executive team members to provide rising leaders honest feedback.

Salesforce centers its attention on employee success

Salesforce focuses on employee success to drive customer success. In order to do this, Salesforce developed Trailhead, an interactive customer learning platform for in-house employee training. Trailhead also opens up one-on-one learning opportunities for managers and employees to discuss and track the progress of personal goals.

But Adobe, Facebook, and Salesforce are just three of many tech leaders that are effectively using and learning and development to drive employee engagement. Don’t lose sight of what’s important to your employees. According to Oxford Economics, 62% of executives say millennials will consider leaving their jobs due to lack of learning and development. Learn how to create an unbeatable learning and development program to retain your employees and keep them motivated.

What other ways can your business kick off an impactful learning and development program? Training Magazine shares five affordable ways for companies of any size to run a successful learning and development initiative:

  1. In-house mentorship and coaching
  2. Online education courses
  3. Gather employee feedback and test new ideas
  4. Train new managers to become inspirational leaders
  5. Value your employees like you value your customers

It’s been reported that three-fourths of employees that work for companies with financial performance that is significantly above average are moderately or highly engaged. Start engaging your employees with the right learning and development opportunities. By connecting employees to new learning and development resources, they can reach their full potential at work, feel driven to produce stronger results, and trust that their company cares about its employees’ success.

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About Kellie Wong
Kellie WongKellie Wong is the Social Media and Blog Manager for Achievers. She manages Achievers’ social media presence and
The Engage Blog, including the editorial calendars for both. In addition to writing blog content for The Engage Blog, she also manages and maintains relationships with 20+ guest blog contributors and edits every piece of content that gets published. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.

 

Inspirational Leadership

5 Keys: How to Become an Inspirational Leader

By: Marci Peters
Director of Customer Service, Achievers

How important is it to have inspirational leadership versus average leadership? The answer: Very important. According to Great Leadership, organizations with the highest quality leaders were 13 times more likely to outperform their competition in key bottom-line metrics such as financial performance, quality of products and services, employee engagement and customer satisfaction. Which is why it should be mission-critical for businesses to focus on developing inspirational leaders to improve company culture, teamwork, performance and bottom-line results.

CEOs are focusing on leadership development opportunities for their workforce more than ever to maximize business performance and encourage their employees to reach their full potential. Gallup estimates that managers account for at least 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units. The same study found that managers with high talent are more likely to be engaged than their peers: According to Gallup: “More than half (54%) of managers with high talent are engaged, compared with 39% of managers with functioning talent and 27% of managers with limited talent.” With numbers like these it’s clear to see why it’s so important to foster proper leadership development, so those leaders can in turn inspire their employees, driving engagement and leading to better business outcomes.

So what exactly does it take to become an talented and inspirational leader? There have been countless books written on the subject of leadership, but the secret to being a strong leader is not in a chapter of any book, it is having a passion for leadership. Having the passion for leadership isn’t something you can just learn or pick up over time – it is built within your DNA and motivates you to get up every morning and make an impact. But there are some proven ways to bring out the leader in you.

After more than 20 years in leadership roles, I have identified what I believe are the five keys to unlocking the inspirational leader within:

  1. Find your inspiration
    Identify a role-model. For example, Bill Gates or Richard Branson, to name a couple current examples that instantly leap to mind. But they don’t necessarily have to be famous – think of any successful leader in your life who inspires you daily and aligns with the type of leader you want to be. Start exemplifying their leadership behaviors, whether it’s being more supportive, positive, fair, consistent, transparent, appreciative, or all of the above. It’s important to look up to someone – every leader had another leader to look up to at one point in their life.
  2. Lead by example
    This step sounds cliché, but is absolutely true. You should always lead by example and practice what you preach. No leader is effective or taken seriously if they can’t act on their own beliefs or practices. Leaders need to actually lead the way, versus just talking the talk (and not walking the walk).
  3. Nurture others
    Take care of your people, from hiring to training, support and development and career pathing. Your team needs to feel the love when it comes to the full employee experience. It’s not always just about getting work done – it’s about feeling valued, appreciated and taken care of.
  4. Empower your team
    First and foremost, hire the right people with the right attitude and who are passionate about what they do. You want to build a team that meshes well together and shares the same values as the company, then train them well, starting with a strong, structured onboarding program. And of course, always provide a supportive, empowering environment for your team to thrive. Allow employees to learn from failures and celebrate their successes with frequent recognition and rewards.
  5. Have fun
    It’s as simple as that! Business is business, but you have to make time to play and have fun. It makes all the difference when you enjoy what you do – people can see when someone loves what they do and your positive energy will only benefit the workplace. Also, according to the Center for Creative Leadership, 70 percent of successful executives learn their most important leadership lessons through challenging assignments. Consider taking an out-of-the-box approach with challenging assignments to make them more fun.

Not only do these five keys result in better leadership, but they also have the side benefit of increasing employee engagement. Inspirational leaders take the time to inspire, support, listen and identify opportunities for their team. According to The Harvard Business Review, developing strengths of others can lead to 10-19 percent increase in sales and 14-29 percent increase in profit.

As an inspirational leader, you can effectively engage your employees and develop their strengths for more successful business results. If you act upon these five keys with genuine interest, honesty and sincerity, you will become a more inspirational leader, foster strong and meaningful relationships and improve your bottom-line.

With 51 percent of employees reporting that they are not happy at work (see our latest infographic), companies clearly need more inspirational leaders to boost employee engagement and retain top talent. Want to learn more about the current state of employee disengagement? Download The Greatness Gap: The State of Employee Disengagement White Paper.

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About Marci Peters

Marci Peters

Marci Peters began her 20+ year Customer Experience & Contact Centre profession in the telecom space, but she has spent the last four years with Achievers – Changing the Way the World Works. She believes strongly that customer needs shape the business and employees are your most valuable investment. She has a proven track record in tactical execution of strategic customer initiatives to transform service delivery and drive positive results. View Marci Peters’ LinkedIn profile here.

 

High Employee Turnover

How to Protect Your Company from High Employee Turnover

Every manager and HR professional views employee turnover as a headache, but do you actually know how expensive and damaging it can be to your organization? Here’s a look at the dimensions of this complex problem and some tested managerial practices to alleviate it with long-term solutions.

The dimensions of the problem

Current statistics from Catalyst show that it costs an average of one-fifth of an employee’s salary to replace that person, which means that for a position paying $50,000 a year, your replacement costs will generally run over $10,000. Furthermore, this cost estimate is only an average; replacing more specialized employees can often run into six figures! One Catalyst estimate states that turnover-related costs amount to 12 percent of pre-tax income for a typical company; and these figures don’t begin to describe the internal stress created when someone quits, or the hit your brand can take if a disgruntled departing worker shares their displeasure on social media.

From the employee point of view, it’s important to realize that in 2015, almost 25 percent of American workers left their jobs voluntarily. Moreover, nearly 37 percent stated that they were currently thinking of quitting, even though they hadn’t made the move yet. The root of employee attrition originates in a lack of engagement, so the best approach to protect your company from high employee turnover is to focus on employee engagement. However, despite these alarming figures, nearly 1 in 5 executives still don’t measure their employees’ engagement in any way.

Start at the beginning

Creating a sense of engagement and belonging in your staff begins on the very first day. One-third of all employees know within the first week at a new job whether they will stay with the company for the long term. With this in mind, it is important to focus on the quality and structure of your onboarding process. Your onboarding process should be built with employee retention as one of its primary objectives. The mission and purpose of your organization should be clearly communicated from day one so that your new hires can envision your company as the right fit for their career in the long run.

Build team relationships

Assigning a mentor to new employees helps them integrate into the work culture and feel more welcomed by other team members. The mentor will naturally take an interest in the person to whom they are assigned, and should feel invested in making sure the new employee transitions into their role smoothly. An important thing to remember is that formal mentoring is only a part of the senior employee’s job. They also need to make introductions, share practical knowledge, and help the new employee to feel welcomed as a valued part of the team.

Make room for personal work styles

Providing enough flexibility to allow for various work styles and schedules is also becoming increasingly important to organizations’ employee retention efforts. If you have employees who have expressed an interest in working a slightly adjusted schedule, allowing them to shift their start time a few hours earlier or later builds loyalty and goodwill by letting them know you trust them to enough to be flexible. Harvard Business Review cites an experiment in which half the workers at a travel website were allowed to choose whether they’d like to work from home. After a nine-month trial period, the company found that workers in the at-home group quit at half the rate of those who remained at the office. Furthermore, productivity in the at-home contingent had increased by 13.5 percent. Not every employee prefers to work remotely, but facilitating that opportunity will build your brand’s reputation as being a responsive, caring employer.

Help your employees reach toward the future

Providing your staff with training and development opportunities is also an essential part of any retention strategy. This may seem counter-intuitive if you think that you’re just spending money training your staff for their next career move. But as a matter of fact, training has been statistically linked to retention, and HR consultants point out that their experience bears out these figures. Offering your staff the chance to increase their skills is a form of succession planning: By nurturing your company’s top performers you ensure a home-grown stable of future leaders. It also broadens the extent of your own in-house expertise, potentially saving you money by filling existing gaps in skills. Finally, the challenge of and rewards of learning new skills increase employees satisfaction and actually slows employee turnover.

Engage employees through recognition

Recognizing your employees for the contributions they make is another essential element in any program to increase retention. This basic management truism is all too easy to set aside when the pressure is turned up for higher productivity — but the price of ignoring employee recognition is far too high to pay. In a SHRM survey of workers who had quit in the first six months of a job, 38 percent said that they might have stayed if they were “recognized for my unique contributions,” or if they received more attention from coworkers and managers, or if they had simply been offered a friendly smile.

The solutions to employee turnover are some of the same actions that will strengthen every aspect of your business. When you make internal changes that bring your staff a greater sense of well-being and a feeling of being supported, you’ll not only retain them but also attract top talent and deliver better products and services as a result. To learn more, download our white paper on uniting your workforce with a positive company culture.

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How to Spot Who’s Going to Quit Next

Most of your company’s expenses are unavoidable, but employee attrition is one of the costs that you can have significant control over. Employee attrition can cost six to nine months’ worth of the departing worker’s salary, so it’s in your best interests to find ways to address employee attrition head-on. Of course it’s necessary to create a culture in your organization that makes people want to stay — but it’s equally important to be able to recognize which employee is planning to quit next. Research into employees quitting provides some actionable insights:

Demographics most likely to quit

Over half of employees who leave their jobs do so within the first year, according to a study by Equifax. This statistic indicates that the early phases of your new hires’ careers are the most sensitive and that you should pay extra close attention to new hires who show continuing signs of disengagement at the workplace. To this end, it is important to focus your onboarding program on how to engage employees as quickly as possible to avoid high turnover. It’s also helpful to be aware of which industries have the highest percentage of employee turnover. The average turnover rate in 2015 across all industries was 16.7 percent. However, the banking and finance industry saw an 18.6 percent turnover rate, the healthcare industry was at 19 percent, and the hospitality industry topped the list with a whopping 37.6 percent employee churn rate.

Specific traits that mark a quitter

While knowing that your industry tends to have especially high turnover rates can cause you to be more alert to the risks, it also helps to know what specific traits to look for in your employees. Research conducted at Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University yielded an actionable set of behaviors that you should be watching for. If employees display at least six of the behaviors listed in the Utah State University study, the likelihood they are planning to quit in the near future reaches 80 percent. Top behaviors listed in the study include:

  • Less focus on the future: Since they know they won’t be around as projects are completed and rolled out, workers planning to quit in coming weeks tend to show markedly less willingness to sign onto long-term projects. They may also pass up opportunities for training and development, and show less interest in advancing to higher positions within the company.
  • Less connection to work: As they begin to withdraw and their engagement level drops, workers planning to leave soon tend to display lowered productivity. They’ll come up with fewer new ideas and suggestions for innovation, and they won’t go beyond the required minimum effort.
  • Less social energy: Employees likely to quit soon begin to retreat from normal socializing at work. They become “more reserved and quiet,” and they also avoid interacting socially with their boss or other managers.

Employee engagement is a reliable indicator. Reviewing the problematic behaviors listed above, it becomes obvious that they all describe a worker who is not engaged. The direct correlation between engagement and retention is further demonstrated by the USU’s list of behaviors that don’t correlate with quitting: If you have an employee who suddenly schedules a lot of doctor’s appointments, shows up at work in a suit, or even leaves a copy of their resume on the copier, you may want to check in with that person — but (contrary to conventional wisdom) those actions don’t necessarily indicate that the worker plans to quit. And, interestingly, these non-problematic behaviors can all occur in a fully engaged worker. Predicting employee attrition, then, becomes a matter of being able to recognize lack of engagement, rather than other less reliable markets.

Developing your action plan

Using employee recognition as an indicator enables you to identify your most loyal employees. These top performers are the ones who are not only engaged in producing high-quality work, but they’re also the ones who reach out to recognize their colleagues and promote an atmosphere of warmth and recognition within your organization. Conversely, once you find out which people are most engaged with their coworkers, you can also more easily become aware of the ones on the opposite end of the spectrum: the employees who are retreating from engagement and showing signs that they might quit.

Recognizing coworkers is a solid sign of engagement

According to a recent Achievers study, it was discovered employees who were about to be promoted sent an average of 3.8 times more recognitions than their coworkers; meaning active recognizers are more likely to be promoted within their organization as opposed to non-active recognizers. Those employees who feel appreciated and engaged tend to reach out to express active recognition of their colleagues are more likely to stay than quit, and they’re also the ones you need to nurture and groom for leadership roles.

Once you identify the members of your staff who are in greatest danger of quitting, you can develop managerial practices to build employee morale and loop the outliers back into a sense of alignment with the company. A desire to be recognized and appreciated for the work that they’re doing is one of the primary reasons that people quit their jobs, and a Forbes survey found 79 percent of employees “don’t feel strongly valued for the work they put in.” That same article stated, “When you take into consideration the high cost of turnover and an increasingly improving job market, these findings ought to get you thinking about your own recognition strategies. How can you expect employees to stay at your organization if they’re not getting the appreciation they deserve?”

Don’t lose top talent and take action immediately by developing the right employee recognition strategy for your business. The more you increase employee recognition, the more you’ll increase employee retention and engagement as a result. To learn more about how you can increase employee retention through a culture of recognition, download our Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition.

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HR Nightmares

10 Scary HR Stats That’ll Make You Howl This Halloween

Skeletons in closets, magic disappearing acts, and people masquerading as someone else: Is Halloween coming or is it just the normal everyday stuff of HR nightmares? This year, avoid spooky business in the office by brushing up on these important HR trends.

#1: Unsuccessful New Hires Haunting Your Halls

A recent survey by Leadership IQ reported that, “46 percent of newly hired employees will fail within 18 months.” Forty-six percent! And it isn’t that you read their resumes wrong or they falsified their background and experience — it’s that those new hires simply are not a good fit for your company. When recruiting, ensure you’re hiring for both fit and skill.

#2 and #3: Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde: Whose Resume Do You Have?

CareerBuilder reports that a whopping 58 percent of hiring managers or recruiters have dealt with resume falsifications, a number that grew during the recent recession. When you add that to SHRM’s HR analysts findings that most resumes are read for five minutes or less, you have a dastardly potion brewing. Spend time getting to know your candidates personally and thoroughly vet their backgrounds to ensure you’re getting the brilliant Dr. Jekyll — not the despicable Mr. Hyde.

#4: The Global Market Beckons, But Your Office May Be a Ghost Town

In 2014, a Deloitte HR analysis found that 48 percent of executives lacked confidence that their human resources department was capable of meeting global workforce demands. What are you doing in the face of globalization? Depending on the location of your employees and offices, you may have a lot of education and retraining to invest in.

#5: On Again, Off Again

Industry statistics and HR data shows that one in three new hires quits within the first six months. Why? Lack of training, failing to fit in, not enough teamwork. Remember that recruiting is only half the battle — ensure your structure is also set up to effectively retain new and old employees alike.

#6: Take Off the Mask: First Impressions Matter

Did you know that one-third of new employees decided within their first week of work whether they’ll be staying with an organization long-term? How do you welcome and onboard new employees? Ensure the first impressions you give are accurate and positive.

#7 and #8: Engaged and Happy Workforce or Disengaged Automatons?

Employee engagement has long been a key issue in workplace success, and recent data and analytics show that hasn’t changed. Nearly two-thirds of all employees are disengaged, and 70 percent are unhappy with their job — and that will show in their work and in your company’s success. You can never overestimate the value of a well-designed engagement strategy.

#9: Pulling a Disappearing Act

Are you ready for as many as two-thirds of your workforce to leave your organization within the next year? That’s how many employees the Kelly Global Workforce Index says will actively engage in a job hunt in a year or less. Again, preventing this requires a strong employee engagement strategy paired with an attractive total rewards package.

#10: The Changing Face of Your Workforce

About 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day – and millennials now represent the largest subset of America’s workforce. Are you ready – really ready for the shift your business will undergo as a result? Insight and data show that millennials expect to be compensated differently, engage differently and work differently. It’s time to brush up on your emojis and get down with Snapchat. Don’t be scared, but do prepared!

As we approach the end of the year, take these 10 scary HR stats into consideration when re-strategizing your employee engagement strategy. Don’t be kept in the dark by downloading The Greatness Gap: The State of Employee Disengagement White Paper.

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Also, make sure to check out our cool infographic highlighting these 10 scary HR stats!

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Company Culture

Why Work Culture Directly Impacts Employee Performance

A recent study from researchers at the University of Warwick, cited by Entrepreneur magazine, revealed that happiness makes people 12% more productive. Said the authors of the study, Professor Andrew Oswald and Dr. Daniel Sgroi from the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick:

“Companies like Google have invested more in employee support and employee satisfaction has risen as a result. For Google, it rose by 37%… Under scientifically controlled conditions, making workers happier really pays off.” Added Dr. Sgroi: “The driving force seems to be that happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality.”

What contributes to this happiness? There can be many factors – from family life, to favorite activities, even literature, music, or movies – but work culture can also play a major role in employee happiness. Work culture is a collective term for a handful of the most important factors that are under an employer’s control, and as such, it is highly relevant for every manager. The underpinnings of a strong company culture include factors related to an employee’s physical health, emotional well-being, mental clarity, and can help give their work a greater sense of meaning. Work culture is rooted in the beliefs and values that an organization establishes, and when these are clearly communicated throughout the organization, they can help boost employee engagement and motivation. Here’s why:

Worker trust is linked with shared company culture

Optimal employee performance depends on the ability of employees to trust their organization. Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Stephen Covey and Douglas Conant assert that employee trust is essential to a company’s financial success. To truly build a company culture around the key value of trust, it is required to, “personally celebrate employees for their contributions.” This climate of trust, supported by recognition, results in a positive company culture, which in turn solidifies your financial standing. Trust can also be established during periodic employee performance reviews, when managers get the chance to listen to their employees and learn what makes them happy, including what they want in a positive company culture.

“Why we work determines how well we work”

This axiom was presented by researchers who studied scores of workers and companies worldwide. If people perceive underlying purpose in the work they do, they perform better. One example given by the authors had two groups of workers that were assigned to analyze medical images. The group that was told the images contained cancer cells spent more time and did higher quality work than the control group who were not given any context for the task. When you convey the importance and coherence of your company’s purpose, you help your employees to feel that their work has meaning. Your company’s cultural values and mission statements play a larger role than you think. Reinforcing cultural values that resonate with your employees on a personal level directly impacts their motivation and drive to perform better at work.

A strong work culture balances out corporate change

“Fast-paced change, uncertainty, and volatility are the lexicon of our work lives,” according to Peter Cheese, the CEO of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Corporations are changing fast in order to keep up with emerging trends, and they need their employees to be agile as well. A strong organizational culture keeps everyone aligned and engaged, so that riding out changes becomes a mutually shared effort rather than a divisive or damaging force. When employees feel left out of the loop or are unaware of the company’s bigger picture, their performance and motivation suffers as a result. Keep your employees informed on changes happening within the organization, so they know what’s ahead for the business and the impact their role has in all of it.

Industry research on the importance of a positive work culture reveals that 87% of organizations agree that culture and employee engagement are among their most urgent challenges. To learn more about developing your company culture, download Achievers’ e-book: All for One and One for All: Uniting a Global Workforce with Company Culture.

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Employee engagement

To the Point: How Achievers Builds Alignment Across the Organization

By: Justin Rutherford
National Account Executive, Achievers

The role of a leader is to empower, engage, enable, and develop those around them in the workplace. It’s not an easy task and requires daily tending. So, how does one become a great leader? Marcus Buckingham, best-selling author and management expert, spoke at Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) Conference last fall on what makes a great leader. He shared two questions that exceptional leaders consistently ask their team: “What are you working on?” and “How can I help?” Buckingham’s argument is that these two questions should be at the core of every leader. By asking these two simple questions, leaders are able to provide guidance and help break down barriers. How an organization leads and supports its employees draws several parallels. If a business could ask its employees daily, “What are you working on?” and “How can I help?” what would that look like?

At Achievers, we use a daily 9-minute company-wide meeting known as TTP (aka “To the Point”) to facilitate this conversation. The goal of TTP is to drive alignment, visibility and give a quick break to re-energize the organization around common goals. Buzzwords aside, TTP offers a unique opportunity for the entire organization to ask, “What are you working on?” and “How can I help?” The purpose of sharing TTP in a blog post is two-fold:

  1. To demonstrate how you can apply TTP to your organization
    TTP has worked for Achievers throughout the years as a way to build alignment across the organization. If our methodology behind TTP resonates with you and your business, please feel free to duplicate TTP and apply it to your own company culture.
  2. To suggest how you can customize TTP meetings according to your own business needs
    Achievers’ TTP meetings have evolved over the years. For example, there were times when TTP would go on for over 15 minutes and we realized adjustments had to be made; and now they only run for 9 minutes. Also, as a global organization with 200+ employees, there are other factors to take into consideration when setting up a company-wide daily meeting, such as suitable time slots that work across different time zones.

By sharing why and how we conduct TTP meetings at Achievers, I hope other businesses can draw value and better align their organizations.

Below is the current breakdown of Achievers’ TTP meeting structure slide by slide. As you’ll see, the purpose of TTP meetings is to give employees the opportunity to share with the entire organization what they’re working on and ask for help if needed. Achievers’ TTP meetings are structured as follows:

Slide 1: Introductions

“Introductions” is a good time to announce any new hires that have just joined the company. This is also the right time to share if any customers, prospective customers, or potential job candidates are coming to visit the office to learn more about your business.

Slide 2: L.O.V.E Moment

Here at Achievers, L.O.V.E. stands for “Living Our Values Every day”. The most powerful way we do this is through the daily sharing of recognition moments. The host selects a recognition moment from our employee engagement platform – whether peer-to-peer or manager-to-team – and highlights it in front of the organization for a quick celebration. Moments like these show support and appreciation for hard work and provide added encouragement for employees to recognize another.

Slide 3: Good News

The “Good News” portion of TTP is used to celebrate milestones, announce closed business deals, or just  catch-up on some of the great things happening across the entire business. This part of TTP is the chance to boost spirits around company performance and give employees additional cause for celebration.

Slide 4: Department Spotlight

For the “Spotlight,” one department is given 2-minutes to highlight any projects that have been a main focus or successes they have achieved within the last two weeks. They can also speak about what is coming down the pipeline for their department. Also, every department gets equal attention by having each department rotate for this portion of TTP.

Slide 5: New Meetings

“New Meetings” is the chance to highlight new opportunities the sales team is working on. Does anyone at the company know someone in their network that works at one of these companies? If so, this is the chance for employees to help make the connection and support any new opportunities.

Slide 6: Pause Minutes

“Pause Minutes” allows for anyone in the company to share any important announcements. This can be anything from an upcoming event they want employees to attend, or an opportunity to ask for help/advice on a topic.

TTP meetings provide multiple opportunities for the Achievers team to find alignment across the organization. Because of the level of transparency and open participation, countless ideas and additional opportunities have been generated from department spotlights, prospect announcements and new meeting highlights.

One final thing to note: TTP meetings have always been very bottoms-up. Leadership steps in occasionally to share what they have been working on, but each week the host of the meeting rotates and it can be anyone in the company. This gives everyone an opportunity to stand in front of the organization and actively participate.

As someone who has worked both remotely as well as in the office for Achievers, TTP has been an invaluable part of my day-to-day these last four years at the company. As organizations strive for flatter, more transparent structures, these types of daily huddles mirror what best-in-class leaders and organizations are doing to shake up their organizational structure and build toward what Josh Bersin calls, “a network of teams.”  If you’re looking to implement something similar, feel free to reach out and let us know how Achievers can help. We’d love to be a part of helping to build the foundation for your culture, engagement, and communication strategies.

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About Justin Rutherford
Justin Rutherford HeadshotJustin has been working for Achievers for 4 years and loves being a part of the company’s journey. “Try and create more value than you consume” is a mantra that continuously inspires him when he has writer’s block. You can connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter @JustinBuud.

 

Company Perks

5 Insanely Great Company Perks That Will Draw Top Talent

Life would be simple if hiring the best people were only a matter of offering competitive pay. Incentive Magazine revealed employee benefits are more valuable than ever – according to MetLife’s 10th annual study of employee benefits trends, there is a strong relationship between satisfaction with benefits and overall job satisfaction. In today’s tight talent market, employers have to claim a unique position for their brand if they want to snag the top-tier candidates. Here are five compelling perks your business can use to make all your job openings magnetic.

1. Unlimited vacation

As achievement is increasingly measured by output rather than hours, work schedules are becoming less relevant. Remote working means a revolutionary new approach to accountability; employees may prefer working in the middle of the night or from a seaside cafe on another continent. Workers in the era of unlimited vacation are in some ways more connected to their jobs than ever before while also being free as birds.

2. Endless food

The days of packing lunches from home are ancient history in today’s most progressive organizations. Whether it’s the catered meals and stocked kitchens of SquareSpace, the fun lunches of Warby Parker, or the personalized birthday boxes offered by Stack Exchange, today’s work culture is all about great food. Even smaller companies keep their employees’ energy up by providing healthy high-protein snacks by the coffee maker.

3. On-site health support

Your company’s well-being relies on healthy employees, so why not invest in their health if you have the chance? This philosophy may take the form of on-site medical clinics, fitness centers, or bowling alleys – or it may include offering free gym memberships. Regardless of how fancy the facilities are the goal remains the same. Get employees up and moving around if you want to keep them engaged and energized for the long-term.

4. Unbeatable employee referral programs

Plenty of organizations offer plain vanilla employee referral programs, but if you want to be noticed for your policies, the trick is to pay attention to best practices. Serve up those referral bonuses promptly and be willing to reward outside your own organization. Nudge your staff several times a year to be on the lookout for new team members and change up the bonuses regularly. There’s no better way to build stability in your organization than by maintaining an effective employee referral program.

5. Rewards and recognition

Finally, employee recognition programs both attract employees and keep them engaged, as Ericsson’s E-Star program demonstrates. This company’s monetary and social recognitions program has a broad approach, with numerous benefits and perks, including a referral program, digital gift cards, mobile app capabilities and much more. These recognition all-stars do it all with style, building employee commitment by providing a positive work environment.

Download our Achievers Culture eBook today and learn more about how these perks can fit into your company’s strategy for building and boosting employee engagement.

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Customer Service Insight

Why Insight is the Best Customer Service

By: Sarah Clayton
Communications and Campaigns Specialist, Achievers

Did you know 78% of consumers have abandoned a transaction or not made an intended purchase because of a poor service experience? Don’t let your business suffer due to weak customer service. With product and service information so easily accessible online, customer service can be can be a key differentiator for your business if delivered in a strategic way to add unbeatable value. Discussing what something is or how it works is the bare minimum of what a customer expects from a customer service interaction. If you want to really stand out from your competition as a premium provider, you need to provide the ‘why’ behind your product. You need to share how your offering will strengthen their business and help them solve a bigger problem. Below are two easy ways to accomplish just that:

Align with industry trends

Industry trends define the market and can help guide a business towards success. If you take the time to understand industry trends you will be able to position your product or service more effectively to your customer. Not only does this facilitate more relevant discussions, it creates a more personalized experience for the customer.

For example, if your customer is in the retail industry and your product is in the e-commerce space, consider taking some trending statistics that can motivate them to align with the current demands of the market (and ultimately your product’s offering). Share powerful stats, such as how current sales value of e-commerce retailers is $294 billion and in 2015, 200 million digital shoppers were expected to spend an average of $1,700/person. Having numbers and trends like this at your fingertips make customers feel heard and shows that your company knows their business and truly cares about their success.

Here at Achievers, one of our customers’ primary concerns is with employee engagement. The higher a business’s level of employee engagement is, the higher their workers’ productivity and retention level will be. Currently, only 31.5% of U.S. employees are engaged at work. This lack of employee engagement is a problematic trend that continues to bedevil all players in the HR space. And chances are, it’s only going to get worse before it gets better. According to the Deloitte 2016 Millennial Survey, only 24% of millennials are satisfied with learning and development opportunities at their current job. Considering the aforementioned offerings are key contributors to millennial job satisfaction and loyalty, it’s clear that employers have a problem.

Luckily, this problem can be addressed with an increased focus on employee engagement, and the key drivers that have been identified as contributing to increased engagement. So instead of focusing on this situation as a barrier, I see it as an opportunity to demonstrate Achievers’ capacity to address the issue. Discussing with prospects and clients how our platform can be used to support learning and development opportunities shows that our business gets it. Try the same and start aligning your product or service to industry trends as a straightforward way to use customer service to deliver value.

Leverage stories to get buy-in

Stories bring things to life: they make situations tangible and meaningful in a way that mere facts cannot. Getting buy-in for a product or service requires defining a distinct benefit to the consumer, and stories are an excellent way to convey this. But in order for a story to be effective in a business context, it needs to be relevant and concise. Being able to relate how existing customers have used your product or service helps a client or prospect envision how they can attain similar results. For example, Ericsson’s case study surrounding its employee recognition program highlights immediate success and ROI from Achievers’ platform. Sharing success stories can help reaffirm that your solution really works – especially if your story involves a client with similarities in business model, industry or end goals.

I recommend actively collecting and developing customer stories so they are easily accessible to share with relevant parties. From getting buy-in for a certain premium feature, to proving that your recommended approach is the right choice, an effective story can help seal the deal. It’s one thing to discuss how a sales tool can be easily implemented; it’s another to relate that a similar client who implemented the same tool saw a $17,100 increase in profits from a $2,100 investment.

Beyond this, start focusing on how to improve your overall customer service approach. Usually, it starts with your employees. According to frequent Forbes contributor Blake Morgan (and many others), happy employees equal happy customers. One of the best ways to ensure that you have happy, engaged employees is by implementing a robust recognition and rewards program. And it’s not just me who’s saying this, a report in the Harvard Business Review recently ranked Rewards & Recognition as the number one driver of employee engagement!

To learn more about how recognition and rewards can help improve engagement levels and boost employee happiness, download The Greatness Gap: The State of Employee Disengagement Report.

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About Sarah Clayton

Sarah ClaytonSarah Clayton is the Communications and Campaigns Specialist at Achievers, where she focuses on generating content to drive desired recognition behaviors and engagement on the platform.

 

 

 

Manager and team

Top 7 Tips for Becoming a Better Manager

Bad managers cost businesses billions of dollars each year. According to Gallup, managers account for at least 70% of variance in employee engagement scores across business units. Gallup also discovered that great managers tend to share the following traits: motivational, assertive, accountable, transparent, and makes decisions based on productivity, not politics. As a manager, your success depends on both your and other people’s efforts. To get the optimal performance from your team members and be the best manager you can be, follow these 7 tips:

1. Focus on team building

While you’ll be relating to each of your employees as individuals, you also need to be aware of the fine art of team building. Your staff will be most productive when they mesh well together and have a strong identity as being part of the same team.

2. Work on your communication skills

Clear messaging is a fundamental piece of your management skill set. Focus on what you want your direct reports to hear, and keep in mind that people have varying styles of processing information.

3. Ask for feedback

The best managers are always in conversation with the people they’re supervising. Asking for feedback helps you avoid becoming isolated, makes you aware of problems before they become critical, and opens the door for innovative new ideas.

4. Set high standards

The best way to elicit great performance from your team is to be clear about your high expectations. Of course, expecting excellence must always go hand-in-hand with providing your staff with all the resources and support they need while holding yourself to the same high standards.

5. Delegate effectively

One hallmark of inexperienced leadership is a reluctance to delegate crucial tasks. You can’t produce optimum results if you micromanage or maintain control of every single function. Prepare your team well for a project and then let them run with it; you’ll be more relaxed and you’ll achieve more in the end.

6. Avoid inter-department conflicts

The agility that characterizes today’s most effective organizations often requires improvisation and free-form cooperation between different departments. You can facilitate this flexibility by maintaining good relationships with your colleagues in different departments while clearly articulating areas of accountability.

7. Recognize and appreciate your employees

Employee engagement, productivity and retention all depend to a high degree on the human sense of being appreciated. Make sure that your direct reports are not included in the 53% of employees who don’t feel recognized for their achievements at work. Monetary and social approaches can both be part of an effective system of rewards and recognition.

Management excellence is learned, not innate. When you integrate these time-tested tips into your management tool kit, you’ll not only reach your productivity goals sooner, but you’ll also nurture a positive workplace culture. By focusing on becoming a better manager, you will build better work relationships, boost employee happiness, and produce stronger business results.

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Top Talent in Business

12 Tips for Writing the Perfect Job Description

What type of candidates are you trying to recruit for your open job positions — top-notch or just so-so? The way you present your open job positions to the world can make all the difference. As you tackle recruiting and hiring, keep these 12 recruiting tips in mind in order to draft the perfect job description and attract top talent.

1. Begin with the end in mind

Instead of beginning with a list of duties and expectations, start by picturing your ideal candidate and what your standard of success would be for their performance. Develop a profile of your ideal hire, which you can match against applicants.

2. It’s all in the title

Many corporations have streamlined job titles in an effort to match them to certain levels of salary and company hierarchy. If this is the case in your organization, you may consider using a more descriptive external title for recruiting purposes, one that really captures the essence of the job.

3. Write a killer introduction

As Julie Strickland advises in her recruiting tips and advice on Inc.com, you only have a brief amount of time to catch a candidate’s interest. Beginning with an intriguing question, proposition or statement can make your job description really stand out.

4. Short and sweet rules the day

Strickland also wisely counsels that job description crafters should be brief in listing requirements, preferences and expectations. As attention spans grow shorter, this tip is especially relevant. This is also especially relevant as more and more people access candidate information on their mobile devices.

5. Include the hiring manager, recruiter and any other key internal contacts in the writing process

Different people will interact with your new hire in vastly different ways. While the hiring manager is likely most knowledgeable of expected duties and responsibilities, other team members may also have their own expectations to add. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) refers to this step as performing a job analysis.

6. Separate “must-have” from “preferred” skills

Create tiers of desired characteristics, backgrounds and training. While you might prefer that a candidate hit every possible mark on your list, that’s not always realistic. You can still attract a wide variety of applicants who meet your “must have” skills and may also offer a few of your “preferred” characteristics.

7. Keywords, keywords, keywords

Your candidates will likely find your job descriptions while job searching on the web through a number of hiring sites and search engines. Ensure that you’re using relevant keywords so that your job description appears in search results for highly qualified potential candidates.

8. Rank your priorities

Lay out the duties, skills and required background characteristics by ranking from the highest priority to lowest. This can help weed out unqualified candidates who realize that they do not match your most important needs.

9. Flexibility is important

We are in the midst of a rapidly evolving global marketplace. The Small Business Administration (SBA) reminds us that flexibility in a job description, as well as in the recruiting and hiring process, can show candidates that the job holds the potential for growth and future contributions.

10. Don’t forget the details

Is your open position based in the office or remote? Do you offer alternative scheduling? Will travel be expected of the hire? Do they need to have certain licenses or certifications beyond formal degrees? The devil is in the details, and if you miss adding these necessary tidbits, your job searching candidate pool may fall short of your expectations.

11. Should you discuss money?

Whether or not to include a specific salary or salary range has been long debated. Generally, it is more appropriate to give more specific salary ranges for lower level positions while using statements like “salary commensurate with experience” for managerial and senior level positions.

12. End with a proposition

Think of your job description as a sales pitch and use a call to action at the end to fully hook your potential applicants. You want to encourage them to take the next step and apply. And don’t forget to make the next steps of the application process simple so they can act on your call to action quickly and easily.

Don’t let a poorly drafted job description determine the type of talent you bring into your workforce. It’s all about first impressions when it comes to hiring and your job description is the first point of contact with candidates. Take our top 12 tips to start developing the perfect job descriptions for the perfect hires.

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Manager and Employees

10 Things a Good Manager Never Does

According to a recent article in The Huffington Post, 3 out of 4 employees report that their manager is the worst and most stressful part of their job, and 50% of employees who don’t feel valued by their boss plan to look for another job in the next year. Don’t lose top talent because of poor management. We’ve compiled the top 10 things that leadership should never do if they want to keep their employees happy and engaged in the workplace.

  1. Pit generations of workers against each other
    In a multi-generational workforce, each generation has something to offer your organization. A good manager connects more experienced older workers with the younger employees to encourage the transfer of knowledge and skills.
  1. Rely only on financial motivators
    Employees want more than money. They want opportunities to learn and grow, to feel like a valuable member of a successful team, and get social recognition as well as financial rewards.
  1. Under-appreciate employees
    Under-appreciated employees are usually unmotivated employees. A good manager uses a variety of techniques to demonstrate employee appreciation, including giving rewards and recognition.
  1. Discourage enthusiastic new hires by neglecting a formal onboarding program
    Recent Aberdeen Group research found that only 32% of companies have a formal onboarding program, with the remaining two-thirds neglecting new hire socialization and acculturation. Implementing a formal onboarding process, including new hire socialization or a “buddy system,” speeds the pace of integration of new employees into a positive organizational culture. According to Aberdeen, “When onboarding goes ‘right’ new hires feel engaged, motivated to perform, and eager to contribute to overall business objectives.”
  1. Ignore employee turnover rates
    CompData surveys for 2015 show a total turnover rate of 16.7% for all industries. If your turnover rate is higher than this, you’ve got a problem that needs to be addressed. A good manager determines the reasons for a high turnover rate and takes steps to increase employee engagement in order to reduce attrition.
  1. Take credit for their employees’ efforts
    Some managers never share the limelight of success. The many benefits of an organization-wide employee recognition platform include the fact that effort and results are made public and employees get the credit they deserve. A good manager should recognize achievements and take shared responsibility for failures.
  1. Expect people to do the impossible
    A Stanford study found that productivity declines sharply when someone works more than 50 hours per week. Giving someone an unreasonable deadline is a setup for failure.
  1. Micromanage employees
    Micromanaging is an outward sign of distrust and a relationship issue. It discourages teamwork and open communication. Good managers challenge employees to be innovative and gives them the right tools to succeed.
  1. Make non-transparent decisions
    Making decisions with a lack of transparency damages the employer-employee relationship by implying a hidden agenda and discouraging collaboration. It reeks of the outdated command-and-control management style. Good managers encourage employee input into decision-making.
  1. Ignore employee career goals
    Most people take a job with the expectation they will have career development opportunities in the form of conversations with peers, formal training, stretch assignments and management feedback. The manager is the link between the employee and opportunities that can build a career. Good managers ensure that link is strong for employee success.

The common thread linking all ten poor managerial practices is the failure to recognize the importance of employee socialization, engagement and recognition. To better understand what it takes to be a best-in-class manager and provide your employees with the support they need to succeed, download the report “The Art of Appreciation: Top-Tier Employee Recognition.”

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Workplace Diversity and Employee Engagement

The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion On Employee Engagement

By: Jeff Waldman
Head of Talent, Security Compass
Founder, SocialHRCamp

It is no secret that there is a positive correlation between highly engaged workforces and strong employee productivity and business performance. Depending on who you talk to the numbers may vary, but all the data points to the fact that engagement drives performance. With all of this recent attention on employee engagement and its impact, it’s not surprising that boosting engagement is becoming a number one priority of C-level executives around the globe, a claim supported by Deloitte’s 2015 Global Human Capital Trends survey.

Before we dig deeper, it is important that we understand exactly what employee engagement is. At its core, employee engagement measures the emotional commitment an employee has to his or her organization and its goals and objectives. The outcome of high engagement is employees putting discretionary effort into their work. They go the extra mile, push themselves a little bit harder to achieve their goals, and do just about anything that betters the organization. The collective impact of these bursts of discretionary effort leads to a noticeable increase in productivity, performance and business outcomes.

So how do you achieve a highly engaged workforce? There is no one-size-fits-all solution, because every organization is different. But, the trick to figuring out the path to success is tapping into the heart of what your employees value the most. Generally speaking, the factors that tend to have the greatest impact on employees’ engagement levels include: senior leadership, direct manager, corporate communication, recognition and rewards, relationship with co-workers, empowerment, and career path. The impact of each of these factors can be measured collectively as overall “engagement,” as they connect with and influence one another in varying degrees.

What if we further dive into the interconnected elements that impact employee engagement? First let me ask you a question. Let’s take a look at a fictitious company called “Company G” that is made up of 80 employees. If all 80 employees looked the same, behaved the same, possessed the same skills and experience, have the same personal interests, are all the same age, and are the same in every possible way, do you think Company G would have a high level of employee engagement? I guess you could say, “it depends”. But let’s take it one step further. What if Company G operated in a country like Canada, United States, England, or any other highly multicultural country? Or what if Company G operated in any other country where there are 5 demographic groups (Gen Z, Millennial, Gen X, Baby Boomer, Traditionalist) in their workforces? What if Company G served a market that was made up of customers who were between the ages of 18 and 100, possessed different levels of education, have a very broad range of personal income? The list goes on – the point is, engagement is dependent on a number of different factors and different factors impact engagement differently on an individual level, as well as a on a generational, geographic, industry-based, income or educational level.

The fact of the matter is, workplace diversity has a huge impact on employee engagement. Canadian top 5 bank, RBC, is well known for its principled stance on workplace diversity — “To win in your market, you need to hire your market.” Aside from the fact that diversity does drive employee engagement, it’s just smart business.

But when we talk about diversity, do we really know what it means? Among many other things, people typically attribute diversity to sex, religion, ethnicity, family status and age. What about things like difference in thought, personality, pathways to solving problems, life experiences and the list goes on. RBC defines it perfectly on their website. Inclusion comes into play when the work environment optimally enables each and every employee to perform at their best, regardless of their unique and individual difference.

So, if you put all of the above together, truly diverse and inclusive workplaces are in fact more successful organizations. If diversity and inclusion are based on the workplace enabling people to perform at their best, then what is employee engagement based on? You got it… the exact same thing. In fact, diverse and inclusive workplaces boosts employee engagement. You could even argue that the impact on employee engagement and diversity are exactly the same. This makes a lot of sense, and the research proves this.

The next time you are talking to your peers, your professional network, or your co-workers about the impact diversity and inclusion have on employee engagement, think about what I just shared. Employee engagement is a strategic business imperative, so it only makes sense to include diversity and inclusion in the conversation.

What should you do about it? For starters, you can attend my session at the upcoming 7th Annual Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2016 conference in Toronto (September 13-14). I’ll be leading a session titled, “Can You Hear Me Now? Good. Let’s Talk Diversity, Inclusion & Employee Engagement,” where I will be taking you on a journey through my own struggles growing up with a severe hearing disability and how my disability enabled me to work with and support many leading organizations to build truly diverse and inclusive workplaces. After that, you can return to your own workplace and think about how diversity and inclusion can factor into your own company’s engagement efforts.

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About Jeff Waldman
Jeff Waldman ACE Guest Speaker
Jeff Waldman is Head of Talent at Security Compass, Founder at SocialHRCamp and inaugural organizer at DisruptHR Toronto. Jeff has been leading the way in a growing niche that brings together human resources, employer branding, social media, marketing and business. With a diverse career spanning all facets of HR Jeff founded SocialHRCamp in 2012, a growing global interactive learning platform that helps the HR Community adopt social media and emerging HR/Recruitment technology in the workplace. In Jeff’s role as Head of Talent at Security Compass, he is responsible for all aspects of human resources and recruiting for a rapidly growing technology organization with operations in Canada, United States and India.

Jeff is an avid speaker, blogger and volunteer with diverse organizations such as SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition, HR Technology Conference, Illinois State SHRM,Louisiana State SHRM, HR Metrics Summit Canada and many more. Jeff also continues to advise emerging HR and Recruitment technology companies on their business strategies.

Originally from Vancouver, and currently living in North Toronto, Jeff has three awesome young boys who he spends his personal time with. He also coaches his kids’ sports teams and is an avid hockey player and snowboarder.

He can be reached on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Team Work Culture

The Language of Engagement

By: Karin Volo
Chief Joy Bringer, Evoloshen Academy

“I love my job!”
“I can’t wait for Monday again!”
“I’m doing what I was born to do!”
“I am living my life’s purpose!”
“I don’t consider this work—it feels like play!”
“Where did the day go? I got so much done!”
“This is the best company to work for!”

How often do you hear these types of statements? Or perhaps we should ask have you EVER heard anyone saying these things?

Within highly engaged organizations, statements like these are actually pretty common. Employees at these companies love their work and are deeply, emotionally connected to their co-workers, their company’s purpose, and their own passions. Their values are aligned so that they can easily live and breath the company values since they are a part of who they are authentically.

And what happens to the culture and the performance at companies like these? They tend to be highly productive, profitable, and making a positive difference in the world on some level.

There are many ways to understand and begin to tackle engagement. Achievers has created the 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards to recognize and showcase organizations that are truly making employee engagement work for them. They have defined eight parameters for engagement that include: Culture, Leadership, Accountability & Performance, Professional & Personal Growth, Communication, Vision & Values, Rewards & Recognition, and Corporate Social Responsibility. All of these areas are great places to start tracking and improving your level of engagement.

In doing the research for our book Engage! we found many examples of companies that are demonstrating a whole new way of doing business, innovative companies like Virgin, PUMA, Southwest Airlines, Zappos, Achievers, and many more. But most of all, we found that it is through company culture where you can work actively with principles of engagement to make a positive impact. To paraphrase Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos, culture is to employees what brand is to customers and the market. Or as management guru Peter Drucker famously put it, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” But the quote I love best is from Simon Sinek, TED speaker and author of the book Start With Why, who said: Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” No matter how you say it, it is clear that companies with highly engaged employees and a culture of engagement are consistently among the most successful, innovative and inspiring organizations on the planet.

In Engage!, we defined the formula for creating highly sustainable engagement through the following five Cultural Keys:

  1. Collaboration – taking teamwork to the next level and having a sense of belonging and family
  2. Creativity – allowing the innovation and creative ideas to flow from within the organization
  3. Connection – creating a deeper emotional connection both to the employees and the customers through the bigger purpose and values
  4. Celebration – focusing on what is going well, celebrating the small wins as well and the big ones, showing appreciation and recognition
  5. Contribution – giving back on some level that is related to the business that gives meaning and significance to the employees and makes the business do good in the world.

When all of the 5 KCI’s (Key Cultural Indicators) are high, there seems to be a powerful positive force or energy within a company that accelerates productivity and drives the business forward.

Whether you refer to Achievers’ Eight Elements of Employee Engagement™ or to our 5 KCI’s, you can see how closely both “languages of engagement” correlate with each other—these are similar messages using different words to describe the same essentials.

Whatever words you choose to use, actively working on engagement is sound business strategy. It is possible to systematize it and it is essential to continually work with it consciously. At times, you may see examples of zany engagement activities (team-building exercises anyone?), but there IS a method to making work fun and bringing out the best in your people. And when you are able to do that consistently, you tap into an often under-utilized resource—your employees—who, working together, bring success to your company.

Working actively to build a culture of engagement is the first step in building an environment where your employees and your business can thrive. Your employees will be excited to come to work on Monday mornings and you’ll often hear what is music to any employer’s ears: “I love my job!”

Come see Karin Volo at the 7th annual Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) Conference from September 13-14 where she will be running the panel discussion with the 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Elite 8 winners on employee engagement. Learn more about the activities happening at ACE this year and find out how to register by reading the latest event blog post.

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About Karin Volo
Karin Volo
Karin is an expert in engagement, career, personal, and organizational development- aka the Chief Joy Bringer. She is a co-author of the international best selling book, Engage!  With 15+ years experience working with international Fortune 500 companies on two continents, she has insights on business building, cultural transformation, and high performance. She is the best selling author of 1,352 Days: An Inspirational Journey From Jail To Joy, the Bringing Joy children’s series, a regular blogger on Huffington Post, a faculty member at the Institute for Inspired Organizational Cultures, and an expert judge on employee engagement in both the UK and the US.

Millennials at the workplace

Motivate Millennials With a Culture of Recognition, Inspire All

Millennials are the hot topic of conversation in human resources departments today. This much talked-about but little-understood new generation is coming into its own in the workforce and will soon represent more than half of all U.S. employees. As baby boomers continue to retire, companies are facing the challenge of attracting and retaining millennials to replenish their ranks. With this backdrop, understanding the kind of corporate culture millennials desire and the forces that motivate them is key. But when you dig a little deeper, you will find that many of the same forces that motivate millennials also have a broader positive impact on your entire workforce, no matter their generation or demographic.

Millennials aren’t as different as you think

There’s been a lot of talk about how millennials are different from other generations, but the latest studies show that may not really be the case. The differences between the older and younger generations have more to do with age and life stages than with the different generational experiences they had growing up.

Millennials share many of the same long-term career goals as older workers. These include making a positive impact on their organization, helping to solve social and environmental problems, and working with diverse people. They also want to work with the best, be passionate, develop expertise and leadership capabilities, and achieve both financial security and work–life balance. In fact, only a few percentage points separate the number of millennials, gen-Xers, and baby boomers who claim these as their top goals.

That doesn’t mean that companies don’t need to adjust and evolve to attract and retain millennials; it just means that the changes they make will resonate with, and increase employee engagement among, all their employees, not just the youngest. And while there are technology solutions that can help you in this area, technology alone won’t compensate for a corporate culture that doesn’t focus on showing workers true appreciation.

What you can do to get started

If you’re a business looking to boost millennial appeal and improve overall employee engagement, consider making the following changes:

  • Emphasize a broader purpose. Create excitement around the company’s mission and purpose by connecting to broader social causes and cultural movements.
  • Encourage collaboration. Break down silos and encourage collaboration between diverse teams across your organization. Use team-building activities to help employees get to know each other and build interdepartmental connections.
  • Provide frequent feedback. Recognize contributions. Encourage employees to develop their skills and expertise by providing with training opportunities along with frequent feedback. Create a culture that recognizes and rewards achievements.
  • Provide opportunity. Look for employees who are ready to take leadership positions and give them the chance to show what they can do. Hire and promote from within rather than bringing in outside experts.
  • Reward and recognize. According to the “Happy Millennials” Employee Happiness Survey, 64% of millennials want to be recognized for personal accomplishments, but 39% of them report that their companies don’t offer any rewards or recognition. Show employees you appreciate and value their hard work by recognizing and rewarding their efforts and achievements.

Getting the most out of millennials and other generations in your workforce requires creating a culture that encourages, supports and rewards success. When you do this it will have positive ripple effect across your entire organization, regardless of generation. Download our e-book, “The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition, and learn how to use rewards and recognition to engage and motivate all your employees.

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Culture of Trust

The Currency and Culture of Trust: 5 Ways to Improve Trust Within the Workplace

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By: Bobi Seredich
Co-founder, Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence

Picture this: Your phone rings and you see the caller I.D. pop up on the screen. The little voice in your head questions, “Should I answer the call or send it straight to voicemail?” It’s understandable that we don’t always want to pick up our calls. But have you ever put yourself in the other person’s shoes and wondered how many times someone has chosen to not answer your calls?

As leaders, it’s important to get every call answered. But even more important is having the trust in your team that they will be there when you need them – and vice-versa. With one missed call, opportunities can be lost and situations addressed too late in the game. Simple things like not picking up phones calls are subtle clues in a work culture that the level of trust may not be where it should be. Reputations and relationships are formed – at a foundational level – during stressful moments when trust is either built or broken.

As leaders, not getting your team to answer calls may be a warning sign that there is something bigger going on. You have to remember that every interaction with someone is a chance to build trust, including a simple phone call. All great teams have one thing in common – trust: as defined by the ability to be vulnerable, admit weaknesses, and believe in one another. It’s extremely vital to set egos and titles aside in order to move the organization forward as a whole. Even little things like having the confidence to say “I’m sorry” is important for a team looking to build trust.

If your team has a challenge with trust, there can be big costs associated. According to famed productivity and organizational behavior expert, Stephen Covey, trust is a real and important economic factor. In his book, The Speed of Trust, Covey discusses the ‘trust tax’ and ‘trust dividend’ – if there is low trust among your team, speed decreases and cost increases as a result. If you are working in a high trust culture, there is the opposite effect, with an increase in speed and decrease in costs (in essence giving you a trust dividend). With a high trust culture, you are also creating a happier and more engaged workplace which boosts productivity. You might have great strategies and execution plans, but if you have low trust you won’t get the desired results. Keep in mind that high trust won’t save a bad strategy, but low trust will derail a good one.

According to the Edelman 2016 Trust Barometer, “Nearly one in three employees don’t trust their employer. And more than two thirds feel that CEOs are too focused on short-term performance.” What can you do differently to build trust in your company with team members and clients? You have to be willing to move away from old habits and negative attitudes to effectively change behaviors and build a healthy culture that is more proactive than reactive.

Here are 5 powerful ways to improve trust within your workplace according to the research by Stephen Covey in The Speed of TrustHere are the ‘Stop’ and ‘Start’ behaviors that promote them:

  1. Deliver results

Stop these behaviors:

  • Accepting low standards
  • Quitting or not seeing things through
  • Overreacting to setbacks
  • Making excuses
  • Saying you are too busy and swamped

Start saying:

  • “Let’s do this together!”
  • “What are the measures and how will we know? By when?”
  • “What does success look like?”
  • “How will we celebrate?”
  • “Let’s discuss our barriers to success and a Plan B.”
  1. Talk straight

Stop these behaviors:

  • Lying or deceiving
  • Hiding or covering things up
  • Beating around the bush
  • Giving upfront disclaimers
  • Withholding information

Start saying:

  • “Here’s how I see it…”
  • “I respect you and I want to talk straight.”
  • “Here is my intention…”
  • “Here are the brutal facts…”
  • “I want to be as transparent as I can.”
  1. Listen first

Stop these behaviors:

  • Speaking first
  • Interrupting
  • Thinking about what you are going to say next
  • Multi-tasking during conversations
  • Pretending to listen

Start saying:

  • “What I hear you saying is…”
  • “Let me make sure I understand.”
  • “Let’s clarify…”
  • “What’s your perspective?”
  • “What do you mean? How are you feeling?”
  1. Right wrongs

Stop these behaviors:

  • Taking things so personally
  • Making assumptions
  • Justifying bad behavior
  • Denying you made mistake
  • Covering up anything
  • Procrastinating

Start saying:

  • “I made a mistake. I’m sorry.”
  • “I was wrong.”
  • “This is my fault. It won’t happen again.”
  • “I’m truly sorry for how my actions impacted you.”
  • “What can I do to make this right?”
  • “Here is what I can commit to doing moving forward…”
  1. Show appreciation

Stop these behaviors:

  • Assuming people think you care as a reason not to show it
  • Micromanaging others and their work
  • Withholding trust
  • Confusing accountability with trust

Start saying:

  • “I truly appreciate you and what you did.”
  • “Here is what I appreciate about you…”
  • “Thank you.”
  • “How are you doing? Tell me about you.”
  • “I believe in you. I know you can do this.”
  • “How can I support you?”
  • “What are your thoughts about this?”

You have the ability to rebuild trust and inspire others in your organization to do the same. Trust may be thought of as a soft skill set, but it delivers bottom line results. Please join me at the 7th annual Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) Conference from September 13-14 where I will be sharing more about the currency and culture of trust. Learn more about the activities happening at ACE this year and find out how to register by reading the latest event blog post. Can’t wait to see you there!

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About Bobi Seredich
Bobi Seredich Headshot

Bobi Seredich is a recognized speaker, author, trainer and successful entrepreneur specializing in leadership development. She has spent over 20 years of her career dedicated to creating, directing, writing and presenting leadership programs for top companies in the U.S. and around the world.

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

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

Her passion is to guide individuals and organizations to a higher performance level through her own business knowledge, inspirational stories and leadership emotional intelligence training. Bobi lives in Phoenix, AZ with her husband and 4-year old twins, Alex and Gia.

 

Employee Experience

Beyond Employee Engagement: 6 Tips to Improve the Employee Experience

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“There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow. It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.” – Jack Welch, former CEO of GE

The recent history of work has been characterized by increasing levels of automation, greater demands on workers’ time and an overall breaking down of the walls between work and home life. But in our race towards organizational productivity we’ve added so many layered and complicated processes – along with countless devices, tools and platforms – that we’ve ended up completely dehumanizing the workplace. Employees are often termed as mere resources or just another headcount on spreadsheets; they’ve become easily replaceable in the eyes of poor leadership.

This begs the question, what do our jobs mean to us? The reality is that only a small number of people believe that our work drives our lives and defines who we are. The majority consider our jobs to be a means to an end, rather than an end in itself – and justifiably so. It is this silent majority of the workforce that we need to keep engaged by improving and humanizing their experience in the workplace. It is time we start thinking beyond engagement and try to learn what people really want from their job and the workplace.

A decade ago there was a huge push by major businesses to concentrate on customers and gather and act on their feedback. CX, or customer experience, is the sum of all touch points that the customer has with an organization. Starting with Awareness, the first step on the customer journey, then Research, Consideration, Purchase and finally, Service and Support (or some variation thereof), CX encompasses the entire lifecycle of a customer’s experience. Companies spend millions of dollars on nurturing their customers because they know that nurturing and subsequently up-selling to current customers is cheaper than acquiring new ones.

Similarly, EX, or employee experience, is the sum total of the interactions employees have with their organization – from recruitment, to onboarding and beyond. EX is measured by the individual’s experience at all points of contact as measured against the individual’s expectations, and has an effect on engagement, productivity, happiness, personal development, and advocacy. Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are hands down more productive, satisfied, and fulfilled with their job. It’s simple: more satisfied employees equate to more satisfied customers, which leads to more revenue for your business. Attrition is expensive and it is time we start focusing on EX in order to make people want to stay and be part of something bigger than themselves.

Conventional wisdom has linked an employee’s engagement and overall experience to the interactions they have with their immediate manager and the group of people they work with on a daily basis. While that is generally true, we thought it would be helpful to compile a list of the top 6 ways you can go beyond engagement, focus on the full employee experience, and humanize your workplace.
 
1. Open and transparent interactions

open and transparent

In a world where technology has transformed our most basic forms of communication and connection, workplaces have struggled to keep up. Today’s employees seek workplaces where openness is the default for communication, where their voice is heard, and where they feel significant, connected and recognized for their contributions. To create such an environment, employers need to foster a culture where people feel empowered to share feedback, suggestions and recognitions. In this way, employers can magnify the positive interactions among their employees and give senior leadership a view into how their workforce interacts with each other and the amazing work that comes as a result. But to begin with, employers must remember that their employees are not just numbers on a spreadsheet or in an HR system – they are the heart of the company culture.

2. Flexible working hours

flexible working hours

There’s been a lot said about organizations needing to offer more flexible hours to employees and the ability to work remotely. We can’t stress this enough. People have lives outside of work and the easiest way for an organization to show their employees that they care about their well-being and work/life balance is to offer a flexible schedule. That being said, you can always suggest core availability hours, say 11 AM to 3 PM, where you can expect them to be available for collaborating with their teams. If you trust your employees to make the right choice, they will make it 9 times out of 10.

3. Gamification

gamificationAs demonstrated by the recent Pokémon Go craze, or the popularity of Fitbits and “counting your steps,” it’s clear that gamification is a powerful motivational force. What scores of fitness gurus, gym sales people and even spousal encouragement couldn’t force people to do despite years of trying, Pokémon Go has been able to achieve in a matter of weeks. It has managed to get users outside and walking. So how can we bring gamification to the employee experience to produce long-term engagement? The key is to not just to rely on once a year employee engagement events or retreats to magically increase engagement. Bring the gamification into the day-to-day. Encourage little competitions amongst teams or departments and reward achievements continually. Have mini events every month to bring people together. Encourage employees to compete both against each other and their own prior results to keep them motivated. Gamification builds the company culture and is just another fun activity for employees to look forward to and participate in.

4. Recognition and rewards

rewards and recognitionEngaging employees is no easy feat. Recent Gallup surveys have showed that employee engagement has held steady at only 30% of the US workforce for the last few years, trending slightly upwards over the last couple of years. But a proven method for improving engagement levels does exist. Dr. Bob Nelson, best-selling author and a leading authority on employee recognition, has found that, “Organizations that have a ‘culture of recognition’ have employees who report they are five times more likely to feel valued, seven times more likely to stay with the company, six times more likely to invest in the company, and eleven times more likely to feel completely committed in their jobs, which has been shown to account for 57 percent greater effort on the part of employees.” And according to the Achievers 2015 Workforce Survey (revealed in our Getting to Greatness: The Route to Employee Engagement infographic), 57% of employees don’t feel recognized for their progress at work while 93% hope to be recognized at least quarterly, it not more. So don’t miss the opportunity to recognize and reward great performance at work. Through the right rewards and recognition program, tied to real business goals, companies are able to see a direct impact on revenue, retention and customer satisfaction. The value of recognition and engagement is stronger than ever, with a 1% increase in employee engagement equating to an additional .6% growth in sales. But it isn’t just about the bottom line, it’s about making employees feel valued, happy and engaged.

5. Eliminate email

eliminate emailThis will most likely be the most controversial suggestion I make, but I am not alone in recommending that employers try to eliminate email, or at least scale back its use as the primary means of communication within teams. There are a slew of group messaging and collaboration tools like Slack, HipChat and Jabber that empower teams to have effective real-time communications. Leaders can join or subscribe to conversations that they are interested in rather than having to be copied on every email sent by their team members. This is one of the many ways that leaders can encourage employees to get their work done more efficiently while not being too invasive and showing trust in their workforce. Creating a natural, trusting atmosphere for employees goes further than you think.

 

6. Pay parity

pay parityFinally, it is critical that organizations pay their employees fairly. For many years it was clear that there existed large disparities in compensation based on an employee’s gender, ethnicity or personality type. Do not compensate two people who are doing the same work different salaries just because you can, or because they won’t ask. Be fair. For far too long companies relied on people not talking about their salaries with co-workers as cover for unequal treatment. Equal and fair pay is not only ethically sound, it is sound business practice. When employees know they are getting paid fairly they will be more engaged and stay with your company for the long haul, because it’s a place where they feel valued and appreciated.

Based on a recent Gallup poll, an estimated $11 Billion is lost annually due to employee turnover and 71% of the workforce around the world is disengaged. Employee experience is the next business frontier that needs to be fully explored and optimized, and the best way to start improving the employee experience is by making your workforce feel appreciated, recognized, connected and empowered to make a difference.

Are you ready to transform your workplace by focusing on the full employee experience? Download our white paper The Greatness Gap: The State of Employee Disengagement to learn more about how critical employee engagement is for your business and what you can do to improve EX today.

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Amit K. HeadshotAmit Kaura (@tweets_bitter) is a technology leader at Achievers and is helping build the next generation Employee Success Platform. Achievers’ employee recognition and rewards platform provides digital systems for sharing recognitions, feedback, and suggestions. The platform allows you to humanize the workplace by digitizing and thus magnifying the positive interactions among the workforce.

 

boomerang employees

3 benefits of boomerang employees

“Boomerang” employees are workers who leave an organization and then come back a few months (or even years) later. Depending on their reasons for leaving and what they’ve been doing in the meantime, these returning employees can bring major benefits to your company. Here are three big benefits to re-hiring employees, and a few cautionary notes:

  1. Improved morale

Talented employees are constantly being recruited and headhunted by your competitors, and it can be painful to watch these workers jump ship for a more tempting situation. When they return, it sends the validating message that your organization is actually the best thing going right now. According to Winston Binch, chief digital officer and partner at Deutsch LA, “Our boomerangs prove to us all that we’re on to something, that what we’re doing is noteworthy, and it’s worth sticking around for.”

  1. Cost savings

It requires fewer resources to source, recruit, and onboard a former employee than someone who’s entirely unfamiliar with your company. You may not even need to use a recruiter, and a boomerang employee can save you time and money by being ready to hit the ground running.

  1. Fresh skills and energy

If your employee left their position with your company in order to pursue a passion, gain new skills, or try their hand at building a startup, they will have grown and changed during their absence. When they return, they are likely to bring fresh talent, knowledge, and networking contacts to your company.

Warning signs

While hiring boomerang employees is usually a net plus, it’s important to be aware of potential pitfalls in this practice. If an employee left due to personality conflicts, and the problems stopped as soon as they were gone, it’s not worth taking a chance on reintroducing a source of disruption. Likewise, if the employee was not performing exceptionally well at the time of departure, they need to have a clear explanation regarding what factors interfered with their previous performance, and why things are different this time.

As companies recognize the benefits that boomerang employees bring with them, these returning workers are being welcomed back in far greater numbers than they once were. Seventy-six percent of HR professionals note that they have become more open to re-hiring previous employees than they used to be, while 56 percent say they now give high priority to former employees who left in good standing, according to a Kronos survey. Judicious rehiring of good workers is increasingly recognized as a way to bring fresh energy and value to your organization.

Staff Turnover

How to analyze the reasons behind your high staff turnover

Staff turnover can be damaging to your organization, and you can only tackle this problem by identifying and changing its main causes. Below are a few strategies you can use to gather data on why your employees are leaving.

Exit interviews 

A properly conducted exit interview can yield a goldmine of information to help reduce future turnover. To get the most value from this conversation, you need to ensure departing employees feel free to disclose their real reasons for leaving. Problems with managers are a common reason for employees leaving — thus the truism, “People don’t quit jobs, they quit managers” — so it’s always better to have the exit interview conducted by someone who didn’t directly supervise the employee. It’s also useful to interview consultants and contractors at the end of their tenure; they often witness problems while inside an organization.

Survey current employees

The people who currently work for you are experts on the factors most likely to lead to future turnover in your organization. If you can create a forum in which your employees feel safe to express their full opinions, you’ll get access to a lot of the information you need. Anonymous surveys through platforms such as your Achievers instance or Survey Monkey are one good way to assure employees that their criticisms won’t be held against them. Another excellent method of discovering problem areas is to hire an outside consultant to come in and interview employees, alone and in groups.

Read employee reviews of your workplace

Sites such as Glassdoor offer current and past employees the opportunity to review their experience working for your organization. Reading through these honest appraisals is a good way to find out what your employees really think.

Gather the right data

To strategically change your company’s policies, you need to go beyond employee input and make an effort to gather data from the larger marketplace. Here are a few examples.

  • Salary: If employees are leaving for better pay or benefits, exactly how much more are other companies offering?
  • Benefits: Are there essential perks or benefits your employees are chasing, such as better maternity/paternity leave, or better health benefits?
  • Schedule flexibility: What type of flextime or remote work opportunities do your competitors offer? What percentage of their workforce has access to these perks?
  • Company culture: Data can be qualitative as well as quantitative. Are you losing workers to a company that makes them feel more appreciated? Read your competitors’ job postings to see how they present their employer brand, and also read their Glassdoor reviews.

Your employees want you to know how they feel. If you create a safe channel for them to share this information, you can build a strong culture of staff loyalty and reduce the disruption of workforce churn.

recruiting great recruiters

5 tips for recruiting great recruiters

Recruiters are key business personnel, because the quality of your entire organization depends on their ability to find and attract the best possible candidates. Competition for top recruiters is intense, but here are five tips on how to find a recruiter that will put you ahead of your competition:

Use an executive recruiting organization

If your company is large enough to need a specialized recruiter, it’s large enough to consider the option of hiring an outside recruiting organization. Investing in third-party expertise can have far-reaching benefits for the future of your company, since a top-notch HR hire will then go on to fill your ranks with equally excellent employees. If you decide to take this option, look for an executive search consultant or team that specifically outlines their background in sourcing HR talent.

Screen for key characteristics

When you publicize your company’s need for a new recruiter, you’ll encounter an assortment of candidate profiles. If you keep in mind the primary qualities of your ideal recruiter, you can build your selection process to screen for those specific qualities. According to Concordia University, the primary characteristics that you should look for in a recruiter are: organizational ability, ethics, communication skills, problem-solving acumen, leadership talent, and experience in the field.

Post the job in HR trade publications

To find professionals in any field, you go to the specialized online forums where they network with each other. Human resources professionals are consummate networkers, and a focused HR job board on their favorite trade publication is likely to be the first place they’ll look for new opportunities. Two examples are HR Jobs at the Society for Human Resource Management and the Career Center at Workforce HR Jobs.

Take a team approach to hiring

Whether you’re adding to an already-existing HR department or hiring your first dedicated recruiter, the decision is too important to rest solely on one person’s opinion. It’s a good idea to interview potential HR candidates at least twice, and invite other managers to sit in on at least one of the interviews.

Present an updated view of HR’s function

The function of the recruiter within a company is currently undergoing a radical shift. In order to attract the top HR talent, you have to demonstrate your understanding of the new role that human resources leaders play in today’s organizations. Recruiting and hiring is no longer merely an administrative role; instead, HR professionals are key members in the company’s management team, helping build core strategy for the future.

Finding and attracting good recruiters requires a significant investment of resources, but this investment is one that will return abundant benefits in social and financial realms.

Team Morale

How to maintain morale when you let employees go

When employees are laid off or fired, it can damage the morale of the team members who remain. The dismissal of a colleague can also erode the trust and loyalty that your employees feel toward you, even if you had excellent reasons for making your decision. Here are three tips for helping your department maintain high team morale in the aftermath of layoffs or firings:

Acknowledge the situation

There’s no way to have a comfortable conversation when you’re talking about workers who you’ve had to let go. Unfortunately, there is also no good way to avoid having that conversation. Simma Lieberman, a California management consultant says, “One of the worst actions management can take during this time is to not acknowledge the situation and the impact it is having on employees. This only makes the situation worse.” Being proactive in initiating a discussion of these events allows you to address employee anxiety and clear up misperceptions. Worker trust can only be rebuilt within a climate of transparency.

Present a continuity plan

Your employees will have two big questions in their minds following layoffs or firings, and a continuity plan is necessary to address both of these questions. The first question is: Is my job safe? To renew a sense of engagement within your company, you need to lay out a clear plan to show your workers why you need them and how their contribution is crucial to your mission. The second question you’ll hear is: Who’s going to cover the extra work? This should be clearly addressed with specifics and you should also be open to feedback from those employees whom you expect to shoulder the extra burden.

Head off further turnover

It might seem as though the workers who still have jobs after a round of layoffs or firings would breathe a sigh of relief. In fact, however, research published in Harvard Business Review notes that companies typically see “a substantial increase in voluntary departures after layoffs, even if the downsizing was small.” Watching a colleague lose their source of livelihood is disturbing for the whole team, and uncertainty and discouragement run rampant in the wake of that disruption. The Harvard research warns that your highest performers are the likeliest to quit after losing members of their team. As a manager, you’ll need to direct some specifically encouraging energy to these capable employees, emphasizing to them that the downsizing has opened up new doors to advancement for them.

It’s never easy to let workers go, and dealing with the aftermath can be tricky. Handled correctly, though, team morale can be maintained and productivity protected.

 

Company Culture

Company culture: Where should it come from?

Having a positive company culture is an essential part of fostering engagement among employees, and it also directly influences a company’s “productivity, creativity, value and growth rates,” according to Columbia Business School professor Shiva Rajgopal. It’s crucial to create a workplace culture people love. Although the essential value of company culture is undisputed, the question remains of who should initiate it: Should it come from top executives and trickle down? Should it be determined by HR professionals who roll out “culture” activities? Or should it be a grassroots effort by employees who live the culture every day?

Leadership gets the ball rolling

“Someone in a leadership position in your organization needs to make the initial decision that cultural change is a priority,” according to culture change consultant Micah Solomon. He points out that, while employee input may identify problem areas, management has the power to implement necessary structural changes throughout the organization. These changes are going to affect every department, and may include new HR hiring priorities and procedures, new evaluation metrics for managers, and new standards for line workers.

All employees bring company culture to life

It’s not enough to simply dictate cultural change from the top down, however. As Solomon puts it, “If employees are only doing things right because you spelled out every little thing, even if you do so very, very elegantly, you haven’t created a culture, and you haven’t created an approach that is sustainable.” To transform company culture from mere words into a living force that permeates the whole organization, you will need to ensure that everyone’s needs are being met. “Culture-driven companies explicitly put their people first,” states Forbes culture consultant Josh Bersin.

Everyone benefits from a positive culture

A high-quality corporate culture has direct impact on a company’s value, with some industry analysts now studying Glassdoor ratings as part of their valuation process. Furthermore, the “culture winners” are drawing top talent, as is evident in the overlap between Fortune’s Best Companies to Work For and LinkedIn’s list of The World’s Most In-Demand Employers.

Want to learn more about how company culture impacts employee engagement? Download our latest whitepaper, All for one and one for all. 

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Employer branding

How to attract job candidates with excellent employer branding

The availability of skilled workers was named as a significant concern by 73 percent of CEOs, according to a recent PWC survey. In today’s competitive hiring ecosystem, high-quality “employer branding” is key to attracting top talent. Because millennial workers don’t build lifetime careers at a single company the way their parents did, they are always checking to see if the grass is greener over at the next corporate campus. To attract and hold the best of this skilled group, you must make sure that your employer branding is competitive. Here’s some context for you to work from:

What exactly is employer branding?

Your employer brand is your reputation as an employer. This is separate from the reputation of your products, although the two can overlap. If you’re known as a stellar employer, some customers will feel motivated to buy your products just for the sake of supporting your good policies. Harvard Business Review points out that employer branding in the age of social media has become far more transparent and far more potent, because employees will share impressions with their entire social networks.

How does your employer brand affect recruiting?

Today’s top workers can pick and choose among opportunities, and company marketing departments find themselves pressed into service to make the company appeal to prospective job applicants as well as to customers. Long-term recruitment needs are the primary drivers behind employer branding, according to CEOs and HR directors surveyed about hiring strategies. 61 percent of these executives have created an “employee value proposition,” listing all the benefits that their company offers to employees. The fact is that if you’re competing for limited talent resources, good employer branding is a necessity. Furthermore, once you’ve snagged a few excellent hires, they’re likely to sing your company’s praises and attract other high-level workers to apply in the future.

Conversely, there is no way to simply skip the task of employer branding. In today’s connected world, every company has a reputation that is abundantly shared and discussed. If you don’t pay attention to creating a positive employer brand, your omission may result in your having a negative one.

Tips for enhancing your employer brand

Here are a few guidelines for establishing an enticing reputation that will generate more high-quality job applicants:

  • Identify external and internal perceptions of your company: The first step to improving your employer branding is to discover the problem areas. Make an effort to learn how your company is viewed by reading ratings on Glassdoor and other hiring forums, and also ask for anonymous employee input.
  • Tell your company’s story: People naturally gravitate toward stories, and potential employees are looking for roles in an appealing narrative.
  • Engage the CEO and senior managers: Top talent is attracted to organizations that have a clear mission statement and philosophy. A round table discussion with company leaders is helpful for setting the tone of the company culture.
  • Draft brand ambassadors: Your current employees are your best channel for attracting good job applicants. Their advocacy (via social media or in person) will be trusted by potential hires far more than any official company communications.
  • Hire a branding expert: Even if you have an in-house marketing department, you can benefit from the expertise of an independent employer branding consultant. This person is well aware of how to give you a competitive edge.

Building a stellar employer brand is more reliant on focused attention than on major investment. Each business has a unique story and some one-of-a-kind characteristics; you simply need to clarify these unique qualities and broadcast them effectively.

Why Employees Quit

4 signs an employee is about to quit

When employees quit, it has a multiplying negative impact: their co-workers may feel over-burdened and discouraged, while the company suffers from a drop in productivity. Furthermore, the expense of recruiting, hiring, and training replacements is substantial. To proactively retain your top talent, it’s important to understand why employees quit and monitor for signs that someone might be ready to leave. Here are the four biggest indicators that one of your employees has started hunting for another job:

  1. Becoming disengaged

A person who sees their future at a different company is less likely to stay closely engaged in their present position. Any significant decrease in an employee’s participation in discussions, a reluctance to sign up for training opportunities, or an avoidance of committing to long-term projects could be a danger sign.

  1. Using personal devices

If you notice your employee suddenly bringing their private laptop to work, or having an unusual number of conversations on their personal cell phone, it’s not usually a good sign. They could be pursuing external job openings, or they could be establishing private working relationships with your clients.

  1. Being quiet about a new educational achievement

Workers who plan to stay with your company will probably loop you in on any extra training or certificates that they want to pursue. They would naturally be interested in whether their new education would promote their career within your company, or whether any of their training costs could be offset. Conversely, if you become aware that someone has completed a degree, received a new certification, or attended a training and they haven’t brought it up with your company, it might mean they’re positioning themselves for a career change.

  1. Changing absentee patterns

One of the most common red flags is when an employee who rarely uses sick days is suddenly developing a cluster of viruses, dental appointments, or other ailments that result in random hours away from work. Likewise, if someone who typically takes all their vacation days at once is now taking them one at a time, you may want to have a conversation with them about how they’re feeling about their work. Don’t accuse employees of faking illnesses or using their vacation time inappropriately; that will be a fast way to alienate people. Rather, use these signs as a reminder that you should be checking in with your employees on a regular basis.

Understanding why employees quit is the first step toward changing their minds. When you notice one of the four listed symptoms, you still have the opportunity to initiate a positive conversation. Once you learn about the person’s plans and reasons for wanting to make a change, you can explore the potential for meeting their needs while retaining them at your company.

How to Recruit Employees

In-house or outsource: choosing the right recruiting method for the job

The average time to fill an open position is now close to a month. During that time, the costs of the unfilled position mount up. Being shorthanded can damage the morale of the remaining employees, require paying overtime to complete projects, or prevent the company from meeting deadlines or taking on new work. Companies need to use the most effective methods possible to bring in a replacement worker quickly in order to minimize the time, effort, and expenses associated with the recruiting process and the unfilled position. When you’re thinking about how to recruit employees, you should weigh the pros and of conducting your own candidate search using internal recruiters on your human resources staff or hiring a specialty head-hunting firm. Here’s a look at when you should do it in-house and when you should hand off the effort to a specialist.

Keep recruiting in-house
If you already have a recruiter on your HR staff, you should start the employee search process by working with them. If you’ve filled other positions recently, you probably have a pool of resumes from candidates who weren’t right for those positions but might be ideal for this new opportunity. Reaching out to contacts you already have can save you time in identifying your new hire. Your in-house staff will also be able to identify any current employees who may be looking for a transfer or are ready to step up and assume new responsibility. Using an internal transfer to fill a position shortcuts the onboarding process significantly, and often improves morale for employees who see that career growth is possible.

Outsource recruiting to a specialist
If you’re hiring for a very specialized skill or for a very senior-level position, a headhunter who specializes in that field or in executive recruitment is likely to have more connections and a deeper network of potential candidates than you could contact on your own. Working with an external recruiter is also effective if your own staff is overloaded with other responsibilities. The external team can do the preliminary screening and involve you only when an applicant is a solid potential match. If you’ve been conducting your own search and not finding candidates you like, that’s another time to reach out for assistance and work with a recruiting firm who knows how to recruit employees that are a better fit for your business.

Of course, if you don’t have a recruiter on your HR team, you’ll turn to a recruiting firm to fill open positions. If you plan to do a lot of hiring, you might even consider opening a position for a recruiter as well.

Millennial Employee Retention

How to retain millennial employees

While millennial employees are known for being “job hoppers,” this is an oversimplification that does not do justice to the ambition and hard work that they bring to the table. Your younger talent is the key to your organization’s future, so knowing how to retain them is essential. Use these tips to improve the employee retention rates among your millennial workforce:

  1. Offer a larger purpose

Younger workers want to feel that they are making a difference in the larger world. As you assemble the perks you offer, it’s important to go beyond merely material things like bonuses and health benefits (although those are important, too).

Provide the opportunity for your employees to engage in philanthropic activities that express the mission and values of your organization. Your younger workers will identify their own altruistic aspirations with those of your brand and are likelier to feel fulfilled in their position.

  1. Encourage innovative thinking

Young workers are eager to have a voice in shaping the company they join, and you can benefit from their efforts to improve your business process. Tap into this win-win proposition by following LinkedIn’s practice of having teams of employees pitch ideas to executives once each quarter.

Workers whose pitches are accepted have three months to work on their innovation. When millennials feel that their ambitions and ideas are respected, and that they have room to work on passion projects, they’ll be more engaged with the welfare of your business.

  1. Support flexible scheduling

Millennials care about meeting goals and accomplishing projects, not about clocking in and out on a rigid schedule. If your operations can be accomplished with a certain amount of remote work and flexible timing, your company will be much more attractive to young workers. You may find that one employee is most productive after midnight, while another prefers to show up every day at 7 a.m. Customized individual options are one of the key values that millennials are seeking in their workplace.

The millennial generation of workers has a lot to offer, but they are undeniably mobile: a Forbes study found that 91 percent of them expect to move on to a new job in less than three years. You can improve employee retention by understanding what young workers are looking for and making your company the place where they want to put down roots.

Vacation Time

How to convince employees to take vacation time

Businesses don’t just run on machinery; they run on the hard work and innovation of employees. Unfortunately, many North American employees are stifling their productivity and creativity by working without significant breaks for many months, or years, at a time.

In 2014, more than 40 percent of Americans didn’t take any vacation at all. Taking vacation time, whether employees actually travel or not, is essential for allowing time to rest and recuperate. “Use it or lose it” policies encourage some employees to take vacation time off, but there are a number of other ways that you can improve vacation usage at your organization:

Encourage people to take time off

Some companies encourage people to take vacations by offering several weeks of paid days off per year. Other companies have policies stating that employees are required to use a minimum number of vacation days, paid or not. Companies can monitor whether employees are taking days off through their HRIS and remind them when too much time has gone by without a break. HR should work with the employee’s manager to resolve issues that make it hard for the employee to get away.

Take a vacation yourself

Employees know there are unstated policies that matter just as much as stated policies. If senior managers never take a vacation, or if they’re always calling to check in when they’re away, employees will think that they’re expected to always be available, no matter what HR says the policy is. Take a real vacation yourself to let your employees know that it’s really okay.

Don’t overload employees with work when they return

Who can relax on vacation when you know work is piling up at the office and you’ll be slammed when you return? Have a process in place to handle work so it doesn’t accumulate and overload an employee returning from vacation. Some companies even take care of work-related emails in employees’ inboxes when they’re away. It’s the electronic equivalent of coming back to a clean desk.

Think twice before offering unlimited vacation

Offering unlimited vacation time seems like it should reassure employees that it’s okay to take time off, but it can sometimes have the opposite effect. Without some official norm, employees don’t know how many vacation days it’s really okay to take — they realize unlimited vacation doesn’t mean taking off 364 out of 365 days, but they don’t know just how many days are acceptable. They may take less than they’d like because of the confusion.

Your employees are your best asset. Help them take advantage of their vacation time allowance for their benefit as well as the company’s.

 

Exit Interview Questions

3 things you need to learn from exit interviews

Breakups are tough. This is as true in the workplace as it is in personal life. But employers need to take advantage of these challenging moments to ask departing employees why they’re leaving and try to learn from their responses. By conducting interviews before your employees walk out the door, you can gain valuable insight into the ways that your company might be falling short, and what other companies are doing to poach your talent.

You can find plenty of lists of reasons employees quit (like thisthis, or this), but you won’t know which reasons apply to your business unless you ask. Then, use the information to improve the environment for the employees who remain. Be sure to ask departing employees these exit interview questions:

  1. Why are you leaving? Departing employees are dissatisfied about something: the salary, the nature of the work, how they were treated by their manager, or something else. Don’t be satisfied with an answer like, “I want more challenge.” Ask follow-up questions to understand exactly what they mean. The more specific information you get, the better you can address those issues.
  2. What did you like about your job here? Hopefully, there was something employees liked about their jobs. Learning the positives is as important as learning the negatives so you know what you shouldn’t change about the work environment. If your company is considering changing some policies, ask departing employees their opinions of the proposed changes before you implement them.
  3. Did you have the resources you needed to do your job? Employees can’t work effectively without the right tools, but budget-conscious departments sometimes scrimp on spending. Companies need to invest in the resources employees need to get the job done. These resources can include training as well as software, office supplies, and support staff. When employees don’t feel they have the needed resources, they don’t feel the company is committed to their success.

Don’t try to use an exit interview to change employees’ minds about leaving. It’s usually too late, and even if you somehow persuade them to give you a second chance, the problems that they experienced before might persist. Instead, use the conversation to help improve the way you treat the rest of your staff. If you really listen to the feedback, asking exit interview questions should become a less common event.

Employee Turnover

How to weatherproof your company against job-hopping employees

Every business experiences turnover. Even engaged employees will move on from jobs they’ve loved for new opportunities, personal or professional. Millennials are some of the biggest culprits when it comes to rapid turnover. Forbes reports that most employees stay in their jobs about 4.4 years, but millennials expect to change jobs in fewer than three years.

Much of the reason for this is economics; millennials graduated in a tough economy and many take short-term internships and jobs that don’t use all their skills in order to earn an income. They hop to new jobs in an effort to move up the career ladder and in search of career fulfillment.

Companies need to protect themselves from the inevitability of employee turnover. Without a strategy in place, keeping operations running smoothly can be a struggle. There may be gaps in the knowledge needed to complete a project, and remaining employees often have to pick up extra work to cover for the departed employee, which can lead to lower morale. Make sure your plan covers knowledge transfer, staffing issues, and administrative tasks.

Knowledge transfer

Don’t allow one employee to be the only person who knows how to perform a crucial business function. Instead, make cross-training a part of your normal business process. The plan and associated documentation for every project should be online in a shared folder so others can access it.

No matter how much you’ve documented during normal operations, make sure knowledge transfer is a major part of departing employees’ final weeks on the job. Review the projects they’re currently working on, and schedule sessions to train other employees to pick up those responsibilities.

Staffing issues

Begin thinking about how to replace departing employees as soon as possible. Prepare standard job descriptions in advance, but remember that it’s sometimes quickest and cheapest to replace an employee with an internal transfer, so spread the word about any openings among colleagues in other departments.

Administrative tasks

Don’t forget to perform administrative tasks that are important for security. Make sure the employee returns all company-issued devices, such as laptops and cell phones. If you allow access to corporate systems from personal devices, you should be able to remotely wipe company files. Have a process for disabling the employee’s access to email and other business applications.

Exit interviews

Human resources should conduct an exit interview with employees before their last day. Departing employees can offer valuable insight that helps you improve the environment for employees who remain. If you handle this well, a departing employee can actually benefit your business.

Employee Appreciation Day

30 fun, fresh ideas for Employee Appreciation Day – or week!

by Rebecca Wetherbee

Can I just start by saying, blog reader… you rock! Everyone here on the Achievers team really appreciates YOU for sifting through the vast interweb and landing on the [engage] blog, for spending time reading and sharing the articles we work so hard to create.

We are all caught up in the spirit of Employee Appreciation Day, which is right around the corner on March 4th. In fact, we love Employee Appreciation Day so much that we celebrate it all week! There is so much you can do to express appreciation for the people who work at your organization, and we thought it would be a good idea to share some of our ideas… including things we’ve done in the past that our employees have loved.

It’s essential to make employee recognition, including rewards, part of your everyday company culture. But that doesn’t mean Employee Appreciation Week should go unnoticed. These extra-special perks will remind all of your employees how much the company cares.

 

Wellness

  1. On-site massage therapists or chiropractors

Your employees are on their feet, hunched over computers, and sitting for long commutes… help them relax.

  1. Guided meditation

Meditation is a great way to reduce stress. Bring in an expert to guide your employees, or host a recorded meditation for anyone who wants to participate in a quiet, dim room.

  1. Free yoga or other exercise classes

Hire an on-site yoga or exercise teacher to come in for the day and host a series of classes for employees.

  1. Catered lunch and/or breakfast

Bring your employees together and give them fuel for their busy day, by supplying healthy lunches or dinners for the whole company.

  1. Fitness trackers

Encourage employees to keep better track of their steps, heart rate, and sleep by supplying fitness trackers. Bonus: the data from fitness trackers can be used for employee step competitions throughout the year!

  1. Bring in standing desks

Not every employee will want to stand all the time, but you can provide supplies to temporarily convert desks into a standing format, or create permanent standing stations with monitors and power cords throughout the office.

Work

  1. Educational speakers

Give employees access to thought leaders in your industry. It’s educational, and entertaining!

  1. Budget for employee-selected training/development

Give team leaders a set budget for each employee they manage, then give employees the freedom to select the training they want – whether it’s a conference, class, or online course.

  1. Hold executive office hours

Typically, your executive team is only accessible to your high-level managers. Give employees at all levels the opportunity to connect, share ideas, and ask questions of the leaders at your organization.

  1. Personal project time

Set aside time for your employees to drop their regular projects and work on something they’re passionate about.

  1. Complete an initiative you’ve been promising

Have you been telling employees forever that you’re going to overhaul performance reviews, bring in better snacks, or renovate the office bathrooms? Nothing will show your employees you appreciate them more than by fulfilling those promises.

  1. Office revamp

Speaking of renovations, does your office need a facelift? Major construction isn’t in the cards for everyone, but there are a number of things that can improve employee experience, including: better chairs, better lighting, more plants, a fresh coat of paint, or whatever your employees say they need!

  1. Updated electronics

Time to do upgrades of laptops, monitors, smartphones, and software. Your employees will be thrilled, and probably more productive.

  1. A half day off work

Your employees will really feel appreciated if you let them leave early on March 4th!

  1. Flex vacation day

If it’s not feasible for all employees to take an afternoon off at the same time, grant everyone one extra vacation day to use as they please; or put basic parameters on when they can redeem. If you’re going to give this gift though, don’t make it too restrictive.

  1. Extended break times

Whether your employees typically get 15-minute breaks or 30-minute lunches, double their break times this week.

  1. Bring your dog to work

Dogs can be great for reducing stress at the office. Not to mention, the owners can save a little money on dog-walker fees.

  1. Give volunteering hours

Corporate social responsibility is an important way to keep your employees engaged. By giving your employees time off to volunteer, you reinforce your company’s dedication to CSR, and you give your team a great opportunity to get out of the office.

Recognition

  1. Public employee recognition

If you use a social recognition platform, this is something that happens every day. But you can make your recognitions extra special by blasting a few out to the company email list, praising someone during a team meeting, or posting recognitions up on public bulletin boards.

  1. Social media employee recognition

If you want to praise your great employees for the whole world to see, post individual recognitions on your company’s social media channels. Just be sure to get the employees’ permission before you share their names or photos.

  1. Rewards & recognition suggestion box

Of course, it doesn’t have to be a physical box – but it is a great idea to reach out to your employees and ask them what forms of recognition and rewards are the most meaningful to them. Is there something that your recognition or total rewards program is missing? This is a great time to find out.

  1. Office awards ceremony

Host a company-wide awards ceremony to celebrate some of the biggest successes over the past year, whether they were accomplished by individuals or whole departments. Make the ceremony a fun, creative, event – not just another company meeting.

  1. Personalized thank you notes

Recognition technology is a powerful thing, but we still love the idea of hand-written notes every now and then. It gives a certain touch!

Gifts & Treats

  1. Pick-a-subscription gift

Gifts like monthly cheese samplers, doggie gift boxes, or snack subscriptions are a great way to show your employees you care on an ongoing basis. Send out a list of options that fit your budget, and let your employees pick what works for them.

  1. High-quality sweet treats

Even if you keep the kitchen stocked with mini candy bars, your employees will be happier if you pick up a box of treats from the local bakery, the popular cupcake place around the corner, or the trendy donut shop.

  1. Better coffee

Get rid of the rocket fuel. Treat your employees to a selection of gourmet beans and blends. Or if budget allows, bring in a pop-up barista for the week who can whip up lattes and cappuccinos.

  1. Live entertainment

Concerts, comedy shows, and sporting events are all great bonding opportunities for your employees, whether you bring the performers on campus, or take your employees on a field trip.

  1. Spot bonuses

You can’t go wrong with bonuses. But if you’re going to go this route, be generous. Sums too small might insult your teams.

  1. Extra budget for team outings

Give team leaders budget for fun activities. They can plan outings that their team is likely to enjoy, and they can bond more easily in a small group setting.

  1. Fun desk drops

Give your employees something fun to look forward to all week by leaving quirky, fun, or useful gifts on their desks before they arrive.

 

Rebecca WetherbeeRebecca Wetherbee is Achievers’ social media manager, responsible for creating and promoting content across all of our branded social networks as well as this very blog.

Topgrading Intervew

What is Topgrade interviewing?

Employers today are more focused than ever on hiring for “fit.” They’re trying to find and vet employees that will jive with the culture, pace, and expectations that are unique to their workplace. With this evolution in priorities, there has also been an evolution in interviewing approaches. There are a wide variety of interview styles and question techniques out there, and Topgrading is one approach that claims to help you find better-quality candidates and reduce your number of mis-hires. In fact, it’s the approach that the recruiting team here at Achievers uses to make A-Player hires.

Topgrading seeks to mitigate two issues that can plague interviewing and job placement: candidate dishonesty and the inability of a hiring manager to imagine a candidate in action in the position. Even slight dishonesty or exaggeration can lead to a hire that is less than successful. Combine that with weaknesses on the part of the interviewer: a hiring manager who does not ask the right questions — or the right chronology of questions, which Topgrading relies on — can fail to identify the best candidates.

An important first step to successfully employing Topgrading in your organization is to fully build the profile of the ideal person. Look beyond day-to-day duties and minimum standards and truly flesh out a description of a candidate who could best fit that role. This ensures accurate comparison when it’s time to move to the next step, which is recruiting to fit.

Once the profile is built, you should lean on it to create your job description and advertisements. Compare all of your applications against this ideal profile. The need for organizational fit is becoming increasingly important in recruiting. Early meet-and-greet sessions with several suitable candidates can determine both initial fit and whether it would benefit both your organization and the candidate to continue on the interview process.

And that’s where Topgrading takes a hard right turn from many other recruiting and interviewing paradigms. Contemporary interview techniques often rely heavily on candidate-led meetings, where resumes are used to develop questions and interviewers ask job- and background-specific questions packaged for efficient-but-short interviews. In contrast, Topgrading relies on extremely comprehensive interviews that build chronologically from a candidate’s earliest relevant background up to their current competencies. Often, those in-depth interviews rely on equally depth-exploring written packets that walk candidates through step-by-step inquiries.

Sound time-intensive? Topgrading definitely is and often relies on having many people involved in the recruiting, interviewing, and hiring process. However, the benefits — especially when filling hard-to-fill or organizationally key roles — can be enormous. When you get to know candidates at that level of detail, you can better assess their true fit within your organization. Chronologically documenting a candidate’s education and experience can ferret out dishonesties large and small that they may have relied on previously to gain new roles.

Executive Onboarding

3 high-powered onboarding tips for new executives

The cost of losing an employee at any level is significant. Losing an entry-level employee can cost you up to half their salary, but losing a senior level executive can cost more than 400 percent of their salary.

Those are just the direct turnover costs. When you lose executives, there are other costs to the company, including loss of momentum and sometimes damage to the company’s reputation. That’s why companies invest so much time in the executive search process. Despite all that effort, 40 percent of executives who take a new position fail during their first 18 months in the job.

A strong executive onboarding program can help reduce that risk of failure. Many companies have a standard onboarding program for employees that focuses on administrative matters, such as providing information about healthcare, 401K programs, and computer passwords. While those tasks need to be handled, they don’t meet the special needs of executives, whose work relies on relationships moreso than software.

An effective executive onboarding program needs to establish the new executive’s authority, provide an understanding of the organization’s culture, establish key stakeholder relationships, and clarify expectations and priorities. This requires an onboarding process that extends over weeks or months and provides the executive with the following:

  1. A customized overview of the organization

Onboarding should provide the executive a customized, in-depth review of the teams they’ll need to work with and the challenges they’ll need to address. This should be tailored to the department the executive will be responsible for and the issues they will be tackling.

  1. A detailed review of stakeholders

Stakeholders aren’t always obvious from an official organization chart. New executives need to understand exactly who has input into decision-making and the informal processes through which policies are discussed and consensus reached. Because management’s decisions succeed or fail based on how well lower-level employees carry them out, the new executive also needs insight into how those workers feel about the organization, their work, and the current processes.

  1. A statement of expectations

No executives can succeed when it isn’t clear what they are expected to do. Organizations should provide new executives with clear priorities, along with the metrics that will be used to measure success. Those guidelines let the new executive know where to focus his or her efforts and how to track progress.

Along with that information, new executives need a defined process that provides ongoing support for success. There should be a partnership between the new executive, management, and HR to make sure he or she gets the information needed to succeed, whether it’s day one or day 100 on the job.

Employee Recognition

Why you need to celebrate employee milestones

As a manager, you’re aware that it’s important to give employees everyday recognition, praise, and feedback. You’ll do a better job of effectively delivering this recognition, however, if you understand the reasons behind it. Here are three primary effects you’ll experience from building employee recognition into your daily workplace culture:

  • Better morale: Acknowledging the hard work and dedication that employees invest in your company is a good way to give them “a sense of ownership and belonging,” according to HR Council. They’re more likely to have the motivation to go above and beyond on the next project if they know their efforts will be noticed.
  • Greater employee retention: As HR.com points out, this isn’t rocket science – employees who are recognized are more likely to be engaged, and engaged employees equal higher retention rates. On the flip side, employee turnover can be a huge expense for your company and can damage your customer’s experience with your brand.
  • Higher productivity: After surveying more than 4 million employees in 10,000 business units, the Gallup Organization states unequivocally that individuals who receive regular recognition and praise increase their individual productivity.

Options for employee recognition

In addition to ongoing recognition and feedback, HR and managers need to develop special ways to celebrate bigger milestones. When your workers meet their goals, achieve a professional accomplishment such as a new certification, earn a promotion, or even hit their annual anniversary, there are a variety of unique ways that you can mark their special occasion. These are a few popular reward and recognition ideas that go beyond everyday praise:

  • Free lunch
  • Gift card or financial bonus
  • “Free” time off
  • New electronics like an upgraded smartphone, tablet, or laptop
  • All-expenses-paid vacation
  • Special award or bonus points
  • A public, company-wide ecard

Recognizing your employees will pay off

When you acknowledge the contributions your employees make and create an encouraging workplace culture, you’re laying the foundation for your future business success. Gallup’s Business Journal estimates that “22 million workers (in the United States alone) are extremely negative or ‘actively disengaged.” This disaffection ends up costing the U.S. economy up to $300 billion in lost productivity every year, not including associated absences, injuries, and employee turnover. Take the time to invest in your employees’ sense of meaning, pride, and emotional health – the investment could pay back in the form of better productivity and retention.

Technical Recruiting

The non-tech-savvy manager’s guide to hiring tech employees

Tech employees are a hot commodity in today’s job market. Your company has to compete with a lot of other popular employers if you want to hire the best web designers, IT professionals, software developers, and app builders. In many cases, the hiring managers tasked with technical recruiting have no background in tech themselves, and so they may find it difficult to identify, interview, and assess tech candidates. If this predicament sounds familiar to you, then you’ll benefit from using a few straightforward techniques to find the best person for your team.

Ask your network for help writing your job posting

It may be difficult for you to even compose an effective job posting if you don’t have a command of the necessary language, so you should use your networking skills. Hubspot recommends that non-techie hiring managers make an effort to consult with friends in the tech industry to describe the job. Work with your contacts to determine which programming languages, platforms, software, or specialties your team requires. For instance, do you know the difference between a front-end and a back-end developer? If you don’t, you better get that clarified before you create your job description.

Look for tech talent where they hang out

Find your tech talent in their natural environments. Consider looking around college campuses or “hackathons,” events usually several days long where many people compete or collaborate in computer programming. Talented developers may frequent popular websites such as HackerNews, or if you really want to stretch, you could find them in the parking lot of a big company that’s laying off a lot of workers — one employer found new staff in Yahoo’s parking lot when he brought a free food truck there after Yahoo’s big layoffs.

Present the big picture

Forbes contributor Meghan Biro advises communicating why your company is a great place to work: “Don’t throw around a lot of buzzwords or try to dazzle talent by tossing in references to the latest technologies.” Instead, she urges managers to describe the nature of your workplace culture and the organization’s accomplishments. If you get potential candidates excited about your future goals, they’ll want to be part of those outcomes.

Check out portfolios

Many applicants for tech positions arrive at the interview with a portfolio of finished projects, and these examples can give your entire team a sense of whether the candidate is a good fit. You can also assign a small test project as part of the vetting process; then rely on your in-house experts or outside consultants to judge the quality of the results.

Employee Engagement Ideas

The best new employee engagement ideas for 2016

Employee engagement is “the top human resource challenge organizations anticipate facing in the next three to five years,” according to a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management. If you want to stay ahead of this challenge, you need to keep your employee engagement strategy fresh, relevant, and exciting for all of your employees. Here are a few employee engagement ideas we think you should implement in 2016:

Introduce gamification

One coffee company found that their employees were having trouble retaining detailed information about their products, so it introduced a game-like quiz designed for mobile devices. Top performers on these quizzes were rewarded with gift cards and other employee rewards, while managers gave special attention and mentoring to those who had more difficulty.

Open the door with office hours

Good managers are the “closest thing to a silver bullet” in building employee engagement, according to management consultant Oliver Mincey, and accessibility is key. Holding regular weekly “office hours” is one way for high-level executives to welcome informal conversation with employees from all levels of the company. Encourage all staff members to provide feedback, voice concerns, ask questions, and share new ideas during this time; employees will feel valued, and you’re likely to acquire actionable suggestions.

Align individuals with company vision

The Federal Office of Personnel Management has released a 2016 plan for increasing employee alignment. One of their primary recommendations is that managers demonstrate to employees that their individual job responsibilities are specifically relevant to carrying out the organization’s mission. This will place the employee’s daily tasks in a highly meaningful context, leading to a natural outcome of greater engagement.

Encourage brand ambassadors

In today’s networked landscape, it makes sense to establish a presence in your employees’ social media communications. MarketingLand points out that skillful managers equip their employees with shareable company content. When a worker’s personal branding overlaps with organizational branding, the level of that worker’s engagement stays high.

Gallup poll published in 2016 found that almost 70 percent of workers across the United States feel disengaged and dissatisfied with their jobs, and their flagging employee motivation ends up costing American businesses between 450 and 550 billion each year. Don’t let your business become part of these negative statistics; whether you use the employee engagement ideas listed here or come up with your own alternatives, it’s important to remember that your company’s health is only as strong as the engagement of your people.

 

Talent Management Strategy

3 biggest talent management challenges for 2016

The workforce is changing rapidly, and many companies are struggling to update their talent management process to keep pace with new workplace cultures. Companies that can’t keep up with the expectations of today’s employees will see a decline in engagement — and a corresponding decrease in their bottom line.

A 2015 report by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) gives a look into current levels of staff engagement. According to the report, only 39 percent of respondents are “very satisfied” with their job, indicating that there is a lot of work ahead for managers in the upcoming year.

  1. Creating a culture of engagement

Almost three-quarters of respondents to the SHRM survey listed “respectful treatment of all employees at all levels” as the No. 1 driver of engagement. Employees also considered “trust between employees and senior management” to be a critically important engagement factor (64 percent), along with “management’s recognition of employee job performance” (55 percent).

In 2016, successful companies will focus on a talent management strategy that takes these new priorities into consideration. Creating a culture of engagement to increase retention will be management’s primary challenge.

  1. Adjusting the frequency of feedback

Employees have indicated that they are dissatisfied with the traditional yearly review process. Instead, they are interested in real-time feedback, both positive and negative, that is delivered at least once a month.

In our North American Workforce survey, we found that 60 percent of employees reported that they don’t receive any on-the-spot feedback, and 53 percent stated that they don’t feel recognized for their achievements at all. It’s no surprise then that a full 41 percent indicated that they’re unhappy with the frequency of the feedback and recognition they do receive.

These numbers tell us that in 2016, management will be challenged to place greater emphasis on providing employees with frequent, high-quality feedback in an effort to increase levels of engagement.

  1. Attracting top talent

The job market has shifted dramatically over the past five years, going from employer-centric to almost entirely candidate-centric. Attracting top talent will be a significant challenge in 2016, as companies struggle to retain current employees, as well as fill any vacancies quickly.

Forward-thinking organizations are preparing for an applicant desert now by building their talent brand. This approach — ensuring that the company has a reputation in the marketplace as an employer of choice — relies primarily on a comprehensive talent management process that translates well to word-of-mouth referrals, company profiles and employee reviews on job boards.

As the employment market changes, organizations must adjust talent management strategies to meet and exceed employee expectations. Those that fall short find themselves with a disengaged workforce, which quickly cripples their ability to remain competitive.

4 ideas for celebrating employee anniversaries

We’re big advocates of everyday recognition, but we agree that there are some employee milestones that deserve extra-special recognition. Whether it’s anniversaries, retirements, or other major accomplishments, observing milestones is a great way to show an employee that you care about their contributions. Here are a few ideas for how you can celebrate milestones with a bigger bang:

  1. Collaborate on a personalized reward

HR can collaborate with team leaders to figure out what type of employee rewards or celebration would be most meaningful to the employee, whether it’s a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant, or a cake in their favorite flavor and color. Going the extra mile to personalize the celebration is a great way to make the employee feel understood and appreciated.

  1. Send a company-wide recognition email or online video

Recognition of career accomplishments is important to all employees, whether it’s a tenure of one year or 10. When a manager sends an email or video to all employees, recognizing a work anniversary and mentioning specific accomplishments, the employee has verification that work contributions are recognized as important to business success.

  1. Give the employee a choice

You can develop an employee rewards system with different items for each year of service and let the employee have fun by choosing. For example, a five-year-anniversary employee might have three options: a gift card, free lunch, or a company-sponsored donation to the charity of their choice. The 20-year employee could choose between a weekend trip with family, a gift of top-of-the-line technology, or paid sabbatical time.

  1. Generate company-wide support with interactive cards

Most managers will pass cards around the office to drum up signatures and well wishes, but we think that electronic “cards” make for more dynamic keepsakes. Our product Celebrations allows employees across an organization to share congratulations, encouragement, and memories whenever an employee celebrates a new milestone.

Achievers Fall Product Release

This card makes it easy and interactive to celebrate the employee through social recognition, but also with certificates, commemorative items, gifts, points, or all of the above. It’s a great way for employees from across the globe to contribute to their coworker’s special day.

Of course, you can still throw the traditional office party, but small parties have a limited and short-term impact. The recognition process must be inspiring as well as consistent, personal, and timely to deliver the biggest bang.

Company Perks

Which company perks attract the best talent?

Gone are the days of poor working conditions, grueling hours, and no benefits. In recent years, companies have seen the importance of offering quality perks for their employees. This realization has spawned a steadily building competition among companies as they try to out-perk other employers. But with the myriad of options available, from unlimited vacation time, to office dogs, to free lunch, how can you tell if you’re creating a real impact or just spinning your wheels?

While company perks are not the primary reason candidates join companies, some benefits weigh heavier in a candidate’s decision process than others. Perks, benefits, and employee incentives also play a role in improving employee retention rates and satisfaction. Unsurprisingly, MetLife’s U.S. Employee Benefit Survey found that “professionals satisfied with their benefits are more than twice as likely to also be satisfied with their work.” For those considering a new position in today’s market, the following company perks are the most compelling:

Paid time off

Paid time off gives your employees a better sense of financial security should an emergency or illness arise. If employees are offered unlimited paid time off, this introduces an element of trust, as management allows employees a high level of control over their workload. When employees feel respected, they often return that respect by managing their work responsibly.

Shared profits

Nothing gives your employees a meaningful sense of ownership like profit-sharing. Regardless of distribution methods, shared profits can transform your employees’ perception of themselves from workhorses or cogs to legitimate members of a team working toward a shared cause.

Frequent breaks

Some companies still cringe at the idea of giving their employees anything more than a quick lunch break during their shift. However, studies have repeatedly shown that working in short bursts can propel productivity, boost employees’ moods, and recharge mental capacities. Now that we’ve learned the traditional 9-5 workday with one break isn’t the most efficient way to work, it’s easier to experiment with different schedules to keep employees fresh and vitalize work flow.

Wellness programs

It goes without saying that a staff of unhealthy employees won’t do much for your productivity — nor will it entice new candidates to hop on board. While you may not have the budget for a luxurious on-site gym, there are plenty of ways to routinely incorporate wellness into your company culture. Some companies have begun offering nutritional counseling and healthy lunch days, or providing more relaxing break rooms so employees can unwind.

As you’re crafting new perks and benefits policies, you should listen carefully to the perks that your job candidates ask about most during interviews. What do they have at their current companies that they really enjoy? What employee incentives have candidates in your area started to expect from employers? Don’t make the mistake of assuming that the most obvious perk is the one most valued by your people.

Company Mission Statement

Why you should integrate employee ideas into your mission statement

How many of your employees could recite your mission statement, or even summarize it? If your answer is “almost none,” you’re missing out on a powerful engine for employee engagement. Too often, the company mission statement quietly resides on a website page no one ever looks at, while the actual fabric of company life is woven from the strings of daily tasks. Here’s why your organizational health depends on having a mission statement that resonates with your employees, and a few words about how to make that happen.

Mission statements should drive engagement

People need a purpose for the work they do. A job for which a paycheck is the sole motivator usually leads to a disengaged if not alienated workforce, and obviously no business thrives in that condition. While few workplaces may be subject to such a total emotional disconnect, many still have plenty of room for improvement: In our 2015 North American workforce report, we discovered that more than half of today’s workforce (57 percent) don’t find their company’s mission statements inspiring at all. Here’s one possible reason: 61 percent of survey respondents stated that they didn’t even know their company’s mission.

Employees play a crucial role in setting the mission

Bruce Casenave, Nautilus Inc. CEO, points out: “Not only does your company need to maintain clearly identified values, but every employee must understand his or her role in supporting the mission in order to achieve the collective results.” Harvard Business Review adds, “Employees who don’t understand the roles they play in company success are more likely to become disengaged.”

How to encourage employee input

Soliciting and vetting ideas from large employee populations may sound like an impossible time sink, but with today’s collaboration platforms, it’s more doable than ever. Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst relates his company’s successful use of a global communication tool to invite employee input on rewriting the mission statement. He admits that the process did give rise to blunt commentary from workers to managers, but a free exchange of ideas was essential for establishing companywide buy-in to the final statement. A leader can jump-start the creative process by posing open questions to workers, such as “What do you think we do well?” or “What should the company core values be?”

Allowing your employees to express their vision for the company mission can only have a positive impact. Such mutual goal-setting is a great practice for making sure your employees feel aligned with your overarching business objectives and motivated to help you meet them.

Stress Management at Work

7 ways to reduce employee stress around the holidays

The holiday season is a cheery time, filled with lights, presents, and time with loved ones. Unfortunately, it’s also a stressful and exhausting time for employees trying to balance work and holiday responsibilities. So, in the spirit of giving, here are seven tips for helping employees deal with stress management in the office:

  1. Provide free flu shots at work

Arranging for free flu shots at work saves employees a trip to the physician’s office or pharmacy. This simple act also sends the message that you care about their health and time. Meanwhile, you benefit by having fewer absences during flu season.

  1. Allow flexible work schedules

Allow flexible work schedules so employees can get still get work done while attending to personal holiday obligations. For example, allow a four-day workweek, or time off during the week to run errands with make-up hours worked at home or job sharing/balancing.

  1. Assist employees with daycare

Students get up to two weeks for holiday break, creating a trying situation for parents of young children and obligating them to use vacation hours during what may be your busiest time of year. You can help relieve the stress by allowing telecommuting or providing access to daycare services during the school holiday period.

  1. Adjust workloads and deadlines

Employers usually have leeway when it comes to assigning workloads and setting deadlines. You can look for ways to temporarily lighten the load by only requiring critical projects or tasks, or moving deadlines to allow more time to complete work. Be realistic about what can and can’t be accomplished as the year winds down.

  1. Offer holiday benefits

Holiday benefits include everything from floating days to financial and other rewards. The key is to give the benefits early enough in the holiday season so employees can take them into consideration during their holiday planning.

  1. Offer holiday health and wellness training

People tend to adopt unhealthy habits during the holidays, such as eating fatty foods and foregoing exercise. Departure from regular routines can be a great stress inducer, so offer health and wellness training that proposes specific strategies for maintaining healthy habits during the holidays.

  1. Celebrate your employees 

Businesses succeed because of their employees. During the holiday season, employers should celebrate and reward employees, commending each on his or her yearlong contributions to business success.

Stress management at work is good for employee mental and physical health, as well as for workplace productivity. A Virgin Pulse survey found that 64 percent of respondents admit that stress distracts them from work and reduces the quality of the work produced. But the good news is that you, as an employer, can do a lot to help employees enjoy the holidays while keeping the business on track.

Office Holiday Party

Underdressing & overserving: Avoid these common issues at your office holiday party

Do you dread throwing the obligatory annual office holiday party? Don’t worry; you’re not alone. While popular among employees, holiday parties can be stressful for managers because spouses and partners may be present, alcohol is usually involved, and inhibitions are generally lowered. Here are six of the most common pitfalls of office holiday parties, along with easy tips for heading them off.

Reluctant guests

This fact should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: Attendance at the office holiday party should not be mandatory. Some employees are just not the party-going kind, and even party lovers will feel more festive if they’re there by choice. Likewise, significant others may be welcomed, but their attendance should not be heavily stressed.

Employee costs

If you can’t afford to hold your party without asking your staff to pick up part of the tab, your goodwill effort might backfire. Management expert Alison Green notes that a simple party with small treats will feel like more of a gift than a pricey dinner that your workers have to subsidize.

Overwhelming details

Party planning works much better if you keep your priorities in order. Young Upstarts points out that color-coordinated napkins and perfect tablecloths won’t matter nearly as much as plenty of good food and a generous bar, including options for non-drinkers too.

Drinking and driving

If you’re serving alcohol, HR specialist Suzanne Lucas urges you to make it easy for partygoers to be responsible by making prior arrangements with a cab company, renting a bus, or holding the party in a location that’s convenient to public transportation.

Too much drink, not enough food

You can head off potential overindulgence in alcohol by making sure there’s a steady supply of munchies. Include protein, vegetables, and gluten-free options so everyone will find something appealing.

It’s a party, not work

As a manager, the office holiday party is not the place to bring up work topics. Trying to use the good cheer to fuel work tasks will only deflate the team’s holiday spirit and deplete their motivation.

When handled well, holiday office parties can deepen the camaraderie among team members and build warmth that lasts well into the new year. If you’re sensitive to the potential pitfalls, you can plan ahead and avoid them. Then, you can throw a holiday party that’s enjoyable for workers and management alike.

STEM Careers

5 ways to make your company stand out to STEM candidates

Job candidates with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills are some of today’s most coveted professionals, and it’s a buyer’s market for people with this technical talent. In order to compete with other employers for STEM job candidates, employers need to go the extra mile. Here are 5 things your company can do to attract STEM candidates, from the initial inquiry all the way through to an accepted offer.

Start an apprenticeship program

One way to turn up the flow of STEM job applicants is to establish a presence in high schools and colleges. New apprenticeship programs are appearing across the technology sector, according to the Wall Street Journal. When you position your brand as an advocate for improving STEM education, you develop an early loyalty among tomorrow’s top talent.

Present opportunities for career growth

STEM candidates want to use their skills to have an impact on the world, and they picture themselves on a rising career trajectory. Your company needs to publicize a policy of facilitating professional development, so that you are seen by skilled job candidates as an ally in building their careers. Encouraging personal ownership over the life cycle of a project is an important method of supporting professional growth.

Define job responsibilities clearly

The data analysts at Qubole point out that people skilled in quantitative areas tend to be linear thinkers, and they gravitate towards well-structured responsibilities. Job postings and interviews should be clear about your organization’s vision, your methods of providing a good work environment, and your approach to personal achievement and group collaboration.

Train and promote from within

Don’t overlook your existing human capital — fresh graduates are not necessarily better than the people who are already committed to your organization. Providing advanced training opportunities can build your talent pool for tomorrow’s needs, while also strengthening your employer brand. “A commitment to training is seen by employees as an investment in their worth and a powerful incentive to stay at the company,” according to CIO.

Invest in technology

Keeping your technology at the industry’s leading edge is fundamental to attracting top talent in the STEM fields. Any hint of reluctance to invest in tools and training will discourage STEM specialists right from the beginning. The appearance of staying current extends to using the most effective digital tools for hiring and employee recognition.

You will attract top-tier STEM talent by simply being open about the value that these candidates bring to your company. When you send a clear message that you recognize and nurture your employees, you will build your company’s human capital for the long term.

How to motivate employees during the holidays

How to motivate employees during the holiday season

The winter holiday season is often a distracting time for employees. They may be hosting family members or planning to travel, the kids are home from school, and they may be working under generalized holiday stress. The common outcome for business is a high absentee rate and a distracted work force, leading directly to lowered productivity. As a manager, it’s your job to find positive ways to keep everyone on task. Below are three basic tips to keep your employees enthusiastic about their jobs despite the pressures of the season.

Plan ahead and be flexible

Don’t let holiday scheduling sneak up on you. Meet with your staff right now to go over everyone’s scheduling needs and to make sure the office doesn’t end up shorthanded. Nothing adds to holiday burnout more quickly than employees being forced to do someone else’s work in addition to their own. If your staff can work remotely, consider letting them extend their time away while still meeting productivity goals. Also remember that winter holiday travel can be affected by weather, and half your team could end up snowed in at an airport across the country. Likewise, allowing schedules to flex a bit to accommodate holiday obligations can help support your employees’ work-life balance and build loyalty to your company.

Create a festive atmosphere

Your employees are going to appreciate your acknowledgment that the holiday season is special. Business Know-How notes that you can increase employee motivation by offering a few celebratory observances. “Secret Santa” exchanges are popular and cost-free for your company. Plus, supplying an assortment of treats and decorations that recognize all of the different holidays that are celebrated during this season can create an atmosphere of emotional warmth. If possible, schedule a holiday party during the workday, so you’ll avoid putting pressure on your employees to invest scarce personal time in work-related events.

Offer rewards and recognition

Kimberly Merriman, associate professor of management at Penn State University, points out that providing parties, gifts, and other forms of acknowledgment carries important symbolic value: “They send a message that the employment relationship is more than simply a transactional one.” A Glassdoor survey focusing on holiday recognition found that “53 percent of employees would stay at their company longer if they felt more appreciation from their boss.”

Knowing how to motivate employees is essential throughout the year, but it takes on unique importance during the holiday season. If you plan ahead, create warmth and recognize each employee’s unique contribution, you can build good will that may last until next year’s holiday season.

LinkedIn Recruiting for Millennials

3 tips for recruiting Millennials through LinkedIn

by Melanie Savas, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist

Now that Millennials are becoming one of the biggest talent pools in the US workforce, organizations are realizing they need new and innovative ways to attract Gen Y candidates, employing both active and passive techniques. This generation brings a new list of requests to potential employers, including top-of-the-line technology, a wider array of benefits, more frequent feedback, growth opportunities, and flexibility. Most importantly, they want to do work that feels meaningful.

Tech-savvy Millennials rely heavily on social media to find the companies that can meet their needs. LinkedIn in particular is seen as a go-to source for professional job listings and employer research. If you want to compete in the war for Millennial talent, you’ll need to refine both your employer branding and your LinkedIn recruiting strategies.

Humanize

You can start by ensuring your LinkedIn content engages Millennials seeking connection. Revitalize your company profile by highlighting your benefits, company culture, career paths, and how each role contributes to the company’s goals. Solicit employees to talk about their day-in-the-life experiences at your company in video format. Post compelling job descriptions that detail what the candidate would be doing on a daily basis. Include soft skills to attract Gen Yers who may be lighter on experience — think curiosity, critical thinking, self-motivation, and tenacity.

Engage

Ongoing engagement is critical to remaining relevant and on the cutting edge of trends. Check your newsfeed and post content during regular working hours, when LinkedIn engagement is highest. Post when you’ll be attending local events and invite others to meet you. Join relevant industry groups and take part in organic conversations. Work with your marketing team to make sure your company is producing articles that position the organization as a thought leader. Connect with industry contacts to expand your network. Finally, don’t forget to engage your current employees. Notify them when new jobs are posted and encourage them to share and submit referrals.

Leverage

Take advantage of the robust tools and resources LinkedIn offers to achieve the best recruiting results:

Consider posting a sponsored job to attract up to 50 percent more targeted candidates.

Search for candidates by companies, contacts, groups, schools, and interests.

Leverage shared connections to request introductions.

Join the same groups as candidates to connect individually.

Reach out to candidates via InMail and highlight what you have in common, such as a shared contact, company, school, group, or interest.

Review candidates’ profiles and look for level of detail, status updates, groups, endorsements, and recommendations.

Review data analytics to understand where your top Millennial candidates are coming from and where they’ll go when they leave your organization.

Optimize your company page’s SEO rankings by including relevant keywords.

Share jobs via your status updates, groups, and InMail network. Explain what makes the job unique and ask everyone to share the posting. Don’t forget to do the same on your company’s blog, Facebook, and Twitter pages.

Harnessing the power of LinkedIn to reach a Millennial audience can put your organization ahead of the curve in attracting and hiring top talent from this generation.

 

Melanie SavasMelanie Savas is the Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist at Achievers, where she’s responsible for recruiting top talent for Achievers across North America, and partnering with hiring managers to strategically grow the business.

Jennifer MClure at ACE 2015

HR, get the C-suite’s attention by keeping the bottom line in mind

Today’s HR professionals should think of themselves as business leaders who happen to work in human resources. When they behave that way, they will be perceived that way by the C-suite, according to Jennifer McClure, president of Unbridled Talent LLC.

McClure spoke at Achievers Customer Experience 2015 about “Getting the C-Suite’s Attention: 7 Strategies for Transforming from HR Leader to Business Leader.” For the past three years, CEOs have listed Human Capital as their number-one challenge, and they look to human resources to help them overcome that challenge. HR leaders must learn to speak to business executives in terms of strategic direction, planning, problem solving and – more than anything else – in terms of money and finances.

McClure outlined seven areas in which an HR leader must transform the way they’re thinking and the way they’re positioning their work. She said that to evolve into a respected business leader, an HR leader must first overcome the fact that data used for workforce planning (absenteeism, retention, etc.) is historical. It’s critical that HR leaders start looking forward, by understanding what needs you have today so that you can project what you’ll need tomorrow. It also is essential for an HR leader to understand which current employees hold institutional knowledge or could actually hurt the business if they left the organization.

Regardless of what industry you are practicing human resources in, McClure says that the “The War for Talent,” coined by McKinsey years ago, is still relevant today. Candidates today are in the driver’s seat, and organizations are in a position where they may be trying to “sell” their organization to people they may not have hired in the past. In fact, McKinsey also predicted a shortfall of up to 18 million skilled workers over the next 5 years, making it even harder for organizations to fill essential roles today and tomorrow.

HR leaders must be able to present human capital “problems” to CEOs with solutions in mind. Be prepared to present data and sell workforce planning and human capital ideas based on how they will help the business and support business strategy. Remembering to speak like a business leader – in terms of dollars and cents and the impact on the bottom line – will help any HR professional.

Human Experience at Work

Today’s workforce mindset – employees want a human experience

 

In today’s competitive economy, if two organizations are both doing a great job engaging their workforces, what makes one of them better than the other? Aon Hewitt recently surveyed 2,539 employees at companies of 1,000 or more across several industries, and Raymond Baumruk, partner and leader in the firm’s Next Practices/Employee Research & Insights group, shared top findings with attendees of Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2015.

Baumruk said they were somewhat surprised to find that the things many companies see as “differentiators,” employees actually view as “table stakes,” or basic expectations of potential employers. Baumruk also shared that there has been a shift in the past three to four years. Potential employees are looking for more of a human experience, in which error can happen, people can laugh, and ideas and opinions are solicited and respected.

When it comes to base expectations – the “table stakes” that any company should offer – the study found that employees expect a company to:

  • Communicate completely and honestly (80% cite this as a base expectation)
  • Recognize strong achievement or performance
  • Have a collaborative environment and encourage teamwork
  • Have a strong management and leadership team
  • Provide valuable work tools/resources, including technology

The characteristics that employers said they consider differentiators that make an organization attractive include:

  • Fun place to work (In an interesting side note, Baumruk said that Baby Boomers were more likely to cite this than Millennials)
  • Flexible work environment
  • Good fit with employee values
  • Provides stimulating work

The survey showed that, much like the differentiators, these characteristics revolve around the human experience and are relationship oriented vs. organizational oriented:

Companies focus on:                                                                     Employees want the focus to be on:

Teamwork                                                                                          Recognition

Customer satisfaction                                                                      Respect

Profit                                                                                                    Loyalty

Quality                                                                                                 Balance

Brand image                                                                                       Teamwork

Productivity                                                                                        Open communications

The top work characteristic employees want in an organization today is recognition. In addition, employees want to be recognized by managers and leadership in a way in which their peers and colleagues are aware of the recognition – through email, in-person meetings, etc. Open and honest communications are just one of vital elements to creating the human experience that today’s employees want.

And as Aon Hewitt discovered, from Baby Boomers to Millennials (and even Centennials), employees are looking for a human experience – engaging, fun, open, honest, and collaborative – in the workplace.

Bobi Seredich at ACE 2015

Day 1 at ACE 2015: EI is the X factor that creates engaging and inspiring leaders

The threshold competencies for a successful leader are IQ, technical skills, and emotional intelligence (EI). While most of us would think that IQ and technical skills are most important, in reality EI is twice as important as a predictor of leadership success.

In her Achievers Customer Experience 2015 (ACE) session, Bobi Seredich, co-founder of Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence, explains how EI is not only important for leaders, but also organizations as a whole. According to Seredich, EI and the ability to connect with your colleagues becomes even more important as one moves into senior leadership positions.

Why? Because a company with great leaders who understand and practice EI can make business teams more productive, engaged, empowered, and committed to the organization, and it can increase the retention of those teams.

Seredich said that practicing EI is like playing golf or practicing yoga. Some days you play great, and other days you falter. She encouraged ACE attendees to explore EI and why it is so important in the workplace for leaders and employees, saying:

  • If two people are in a room, and a person with a negative emotion walks in, it only takes 3 seconds for that negative emotion to permeate the room. Influencers need to realize how their behaviors and demeanors affect the room.
  • Ninety percent of communications are non-verbal, so leaders should be highly aware of how they are communicating with their posture and demeanor as well as their words.
  • People decide if you are competent in less than 100 milliseconds, so you need to be very mindful of your body language and facial expressions when you meet new people in order to make the best impression.

Of course, because of the way human’s brains work, emotions often come before thoughts, so humans feel before we think. This can lead to misunderstandings, disconnections, and stress overload. Learning EI includes understanding how to manage emotions and knowing that being a great leader of a highly successful organization includes the balance of “heart and edge.”

Top performers who are most likely to be promoted are those who approach with heart by demonstrating humility, listening without bias, and building connections. They also have an “edge,” and set high expectations, hold themselves to account, and stand with conviction.

Practicing a balanced EI approach with a mind to connecting with employees, increasing engagement, and creating success, according to Seredich, can help keep everyone’s minds on task by avoiding emotional overload in the workplace.

Employee Retention Raise

How to retain your best employees when you can’t afford to give them a raise

When employees have done great work, they expect some form of acknowledgment. In a competitive marketplace where your top talent always has their eye on the next stepping stone in their career, your organization must win employee loyalty through tangible appreciation. Budgetary constraints can be relentless, however, and often prevent appreciative managers from offering a raise. If you find yourself seeking creative ways to increase employee retention and reward exceptional worker effort, here are a few useful points to keep in mind.

Salary isn’t the key factor in engagement

Traditional business wisdom tends to equate employee rewards with raises and annual bonuses, but in today’s workplace, researchers have found that compensation levels don’t always have a strong effect on employee motivation. Harvard Business Review (HBR) points out that rewarding good performance with raises isn’t the most effective way of engaging your workforce. As a matter of fact, a number of studies have found that simply increasing a worker’s annual income level can actually demotivate them. The HBR authors write, “The more people focus on their salaries, the less they will focus on satisfying their intellectual curiosity, learning new skills, or having fun, and those are the very things that make people perform best.” As the study suggests, human beings thrive when they have the chance to develop their knowledge and abilities.

Recognition is a natural human need

Social connections are essential to people’s well-being; CNN cites a study in which employees state that they would sacrifice up to $30,000 in salary in favor of receiving high praise at work. Autonomy and control over work projects are also identified as key factors in employee well-being, according to research by a neuroscientist and an executive coach published in Forbes. A change in title is another way to express recognition for an employee’s outstanding contribution.

Flexibility is coveted

In addition to their desire for greater personal autonomy over the completion of work projects, today’s employees struggle to balance work commitments with the demands of personal lives. If you reward your employees’ best efforts with flexible work arrangements (FWAs), you’ll enhance your employer brand. An extensive study by the Society for Human Resource Management states that “Ninety-one percent of HR professionals believe implementation of formal FWAs had a positive impact on employee morale (job satisfaction and engagement).”

The success of your organization depends on attracting and retaining highly competent workers. Rewarding your top-tier talent with recognition, autonomy, flexibility and further training opportunities will strengthen your employer brand and build a profitable future for your company.

Cox Automotive

Rewards & Recognition + Community Relations = A Winning Combination

At Achievers, we love our customers. We’re interviewing them to highlight their expertise, advice, and secrets to success. 

Cox Automotive, a leading provider of products and services that span the automotive ecosystem worldwide, has nearly 25,000 employees working across more than 24 brands, including Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book, Manheim, and a number of other best-in-class companies. Cox Automotive’s expansion over the past few years has created an interesting opportunity for Heather Markle, Cox Auto’s Manager of Rewards & Recognition.

How many of you remember your Achievers launch? Heather’s first launch was in October of 2012 and her 9th launch will be September 30th.  With at least three more launches planned for 2016, Heather and her team are not only focused on scaling their program as they acquire new employees — often thousands at a time — but also on keeping their existing program fresh and top-of-mind for legacy users.

Spark, which Cox Auto’s iteration of the Achiever’s platform, is a fun play on words for the automotive industry that reflects their dedication to “sparking” motivation, inspiration, and engagement through social recognition.

We sat down with Heather and her colleague Stephanie Hogge, Analyst, Rewards & Recognition, to find out how they’ve managed to keep their program relevant and engaging with so much growth at Cox Automotive.

Q. Is there any one thing that you can share with us that has contributed to the success of Spark?

Heather: Sure, if there is one thing I’d like to stress today it’s the value of partnership. We’re constantly looking for ways to embed our program into company initiatives, contests, and events. That level of alignment reinforces the value of the program and helps us leverage Spark points to drive behaviors. What we’re most proud of is our partnership with our Community Relations Team. Stephanie can share how we work together to offer meaningful rewards to our employees while also allowing them to give back to their favorite charities.

Q. Stephanie, how did you help build this partnership? 

Our partnership really began when members of the Community Relations (CR) team approached us after a big event to see how they could recognize volunteers in Spark. Since then, we’ve worked closely with the team to make sure all of our employee volunteers get the public recognition they deserve. We are always looking for ways to integrate Community Relations and Spark. For example, last year we co-sponsored an event for our Atlanta employees celebrating the 100,000th recognition sent through Spark. Each attendee was encouraged to make a small donation, which the CR team then distributed to some of Cox Auto’s favorite charities. Earlier this year, we were excited to announce that every donation made through Spark’s “Give Back” feature is now eligible for matching through CR’s matching gifts program.

Q. How have employees responded to this partnership? Have you received any feedback?

Employees have been incredibly positive about this partnership. This is made apparent to me every time I look at redemption activity in Spark, and see how many people have decided to donate their hard-earned Spark points to a deserving organization. In 2015 alone, Cox Auto employees donated almost $9,500 worth of Spark points to 70 unique organizations. I think people appreciate the ease of making a donation through Spark especially because the dollars are automatically matched by Cox Automotive.

Cox Automotive

Q. What’s next for Cox Automotive?

Heather: Our company is truly global now. We are working to expand our program to the UK and Australia hopefully next year. We not only focus our adoption efforts on acquisitions, but through enhanced partnerships like the one we have with our Community Relations Team.

As we became Cox Automotive, our Achievers platform was the first platform to launch to our entire employee population. Spark was the first site to bring our company together. Having that level of buy-in from our leaders goes a long way to set us up for success. We look forward to getting our passport stamped in early 2016 as we help to spread our culture of recognition world-wide.

To learn more about how Heather has transformed the culture of recognition at Cox Automotive, and to hear how she’s using the Achievers platform to engage both online and offline employees, be sure to attend her presentation at this year’s Achievers Customer Experience. See the full agenda and register here: www.achievers.com/ace

 


Heather MarkleHeather Markle, Manager of Rewards & Recognitioni
n-tra-pre-neur (In¹tre-pre-nur) n. A person within a large corporation who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product.

I stumbled upon AutoTrader.com five days after I graduated from Oglethorpe University with a degree in Business and Behavioral Science. Fifteen years and eight roles later, I have become a strategic, multidisciplinary designer & intraprenuer with an eye for innovation and pixel perfection. I continue to look for opportunities to fill gaps with unique approaches to common problems. My creative skill set and passion for new technology make me a natural fit to lead our Rewards & Recognition team, define our awards strategy and champion our platform adoption efforts.

Dogs at work

Do dogs at work actually improve employee engagement?

Dogs at work are the latest perk to have employees salivating with envy. From Nestle Purina’s “bring your dog to work day” to the “woof-top” dog park built on top of Zynga’s San Francisco headquarters, a growing number of companies are letting employees bring their pooches to work.

The office is not your home, however. If it’s not appropriate for your employees to wander around in their PJs, why should you welcome dogs at work? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons, and whether it actually affects employee engagement:

Pooches reduce workplace stress

Employees who bring their pets have less stress. In one study, researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University found that workers who had dogs nearby experienced declining levels of stress throughout the day, but stress levels spiked by 70 percent for workers who left their dogs at home. From a work-life balance perspective, bringing your dog to work means that employees don’t have to worry about their four-legged friends sitting home alone all day. Pooches also contribute to the casual feel of the work environment and introduce a tangible sense of fun that relieves stress.

Staff members become more sociable

One of the reasons pets have such a marked effect on workplace-related stress is because they encourage the staff to open up socially. Even on the most hectic days, team members walking past a dog tend to engage in mushy, one-way conversations and scratch the dog’s belly. A dog’s antics give co-workers something to laugh about, and this binds them together — making for a friendlier office environment that, according to Purina, boosts productivity.

Dogs can distract co-workers

While a study by Central Michigan University confirms that dogs at work could help build camaraderie and trust, the study also admits that pets can distract some employees. What if co-workers have an allergy or phobia? Employees are unlikely to work efficiently if they must chain-swallow antihistamines or cower in their office to avoid canines. Also, what impression might clients get if they hear barking in the background?

Pet-free zones can help

Employers who ignore the wishes of canine-loathing staff do risk alienating a portion of their workforce. That’s why it’s crucial to lay down the ground rules before you invite your tail-wagging friends — and that includes designating pet-free zones for workers who are uncomfortable around dogs. Ultimately, the burden of avoiding messes and aggressive behavior lies with the pet owner. It’s a perk that comes with responsibility.

Inviting dogs to work may not be for everyone, and staff buy-in is crucial. However, if both the dog and team are happy, then maybe it’s worth giving dogs at work a trial run.

Onboarding new employees

2 things that set new hires up for failure

According to the 2012 Allied Workforce Mobility Survey, employers lose an average of 23 percent of all new hires within their first year. Among those who stay, one third of employees don’t meet expected levels of productivity.

These are alarming statistics. They indicate that new hires are not receiving the quality guidance and onboarding they need when starting a new position. It also means that you, the employer, are probably spending far more in hiring costs than you need to.

Onboarding new employees should be a priority initiative for your HR team, because it can have a dramatic impact on retention, productivity, and future hiring success. While there’s no single magic formula for successful programs, there are a couple of fundamental ways to get it wrong.

Unidirectional information

Experienced candidates might hit the ground running on their job’s technical aspects. However, they’ll still have plenty of basic questions they need answered: “Can I help myself to a stapler, or do I need to fill out a requisition form?” “Is this organization’s culture built around email communication, or should I speak to people face-to-face?” “Where’s the bathroom?”

Most onboarding programs are designed to give information that the organization prioritizes, like the company history, executive bios, and corporate mission statements. While this information is important, your programs should also incorporate the needs of the employee. If you want new hires to feel more welcome, make sure they have an “office buddy” — someone who can set up their workspace and show them the lay of land. The earlier you can integrate the new hire into your company’s culture, the more productive they’ll be.

Not setting clear goals and milestones

Believe it or not, only 39 percent of companies set clear goals and establish milestones for new hires. Yet without clear performance criteria, employees may end up with too much or too little work, or perform tasks in a way that upsets the apple cart. So take the time to show them how you do things, and be open to suggestions if they know how to make a process cheaper, faster, or better.

Preparing the team is critical in this process, especially if another team member was overlooked for promotion. Managers can smooth away lingering resentment by explaining why the new hire was selected for the job. It helps if you can establish a set of team goals and objectives to help the new hire — and the team as a whole — succeed.

Successful onboarding requires viewing your organization through the new hire’s eyes. Quickly integrating them into company culture, and preparing the troops for the new arrival, allows the team to gel — and that can lead to higher-level functioning, greater collaboration, and increased productivity.

How to run a meeting that engages employees

5 ways to make meetings more engaging

All too often, business meetings are unproductive, unfocused, and just plain boring. While meetings may have a bad reputation, that doesn’t mean your team can’t work together to create a positive experience for everyone involved. When employees feel engaged in a meeting, it can generate an environment where ideas flow, team collaboration improves, and social bonds are strengthened. Here are five tips for how to run a meeting that increases employee engagement:

  1. Stand up and get the blood flowing

While many people have anecdotal evidence that standing meetings improve attention and engagement, there’s now research to support this claim. The Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis found that people in their study had increased levels of engagement when they stood up during a meeting compared to a control group. If you feel that the level of participation isn’t as high as you would like, or if you’re losing your audience, have team members get out of their chairs.

  1. Be sure to get people involved

If you want people engaged, you have to be sure to include them. Think about implementing different strategies to get people sharing ideas, collaborating, and speaking with one another. To do this, try routinely hosting a round at different points in a meeting where participants can contribute, share opinions, and even voice complaints. Think about breaking people up into groups or partners, or even using “speed dating,” where everyone switches partners quickly to bounce ideas off one another. Also be sure to ask for feedback on meetings and query participants about how meetings can be improved in the future.

  1. Have clear goals and objectives

Meetings that go off on tangents or don’t have a clear goal can often leave attendees frustrated and disinterested. There should be a set framework in advance of your meetings, with key points outlined and a good idea of what the meeting needs to accomplish. This can help make brainstorming sessions more focused, help you stay on point, and keep your team going in the right creative direction.

  1. Get visual

Visuals are an excellent way to increase engagement in a meeting. But just adding some pie charts to a presentation isn’t going to cut it. Think about using a white board or pin boards, mixing up colorful markers, and distributing post-its throughout your meeting room. Encourage people to write their own ideas down, express themselves visually, and even vote on ideas by placing a sticker with their name next to the proposals they like best.

  1. Try to make a meeting special

People tend to like a bit of variety in life, and meetings are no different. Think about inviting leaders and educators to speak to meeting participants. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to be entirely related to the meeting topic or objective. As long as the speaker is innovative and challenges orthodoxy, there is an opportunity that he or she will educate and inspire meeting participants. You can also think about introducing a novel environment to help jump start creativity. It could be as simple as bringing people out to a park or hosting a meeting on a patio, but a change of scenery can go a long way to getting the engagement you want.

Commuting to Work

Driving me crazy: How bad commutes affect employee retention

There’s nothing worse than sitting in traffic or squeezing onto a crowded subway. But for many workers, it’s the way they both start and end their day. When we think about the issues that most affect employee happiness and turnover, we often overlook a major factor that actually takes place outside the office: the quality and length of an employee’s commute.

Long commutes can cause personal problems, physical problems, and ultimately disengagement from the workplace. Tweet: Long commutes can cause personal problems, physical problems, and ultimately disengagement from the workplace http://ctt.ec/frg2v+

While a recent study by the Brookings Institution shows that commute distances for both urban and suburban residents are increasing overall, managers do have options. There are a number of changes you can make within your organization to help relieve the negative effects of commuting to work.

One big impact that long commutes have on people’s lives is that they increase their sense of loneliness. Harvard social scientist Robert Putnam has studied social isolation at length, and he discovered that “every 10 minutes spent commuting results in 10 percent fewer ‘social connections’.” To alleviate your employees’ sense of isolation as they travel to and from work, you can help them set up carpool or vanpool options. That way, they can break the isolation and connect with colleagues while underway.

If employees do need to rely on personal vehicles to get to work, you can make their lives easier by flexing hours in response to local traffic patterns. If you allow someone’s workday to begin and end slightly earlier or later than the standard rush hours, they can avoid gridlock and get to and from home faster.

Since long commutes result in more time spent sitting down (and more fast food consumed en route) you can help employees counter these effects by placing stronger emphasis on healthy habits in your workplace. You can replace the office donut box with fresh fruits and raw vegetables, and offer subsidized benefits such as gym memberships and smoking cessation assistance. Get more ideas for encouraging health in the workplace from our article 5 ways to make healthy lifestyle part of your company culture.

Another way to solve the commute issue is to lessen or eliminate it; telecommuting, compressed work weeks, and job-sharing options allow employees to complete work with less physical travel. The number of employees who work remotely grew by almost 80 percent between 2005 and 2012, and these numbers increased across all sectors even during the recession.

Finally, some employers are considering commute time as a selection factor in hiring, and some job candidates have mixed feelings about the practice. Just ask this letter-writer to the Ask a Manager blog who doesn’t understand why potential employers should care about her 2-hour commute.

While this hiring approach might eventually weed out the commuting problem altogether, it might not be the most effective or ethical way to screen candidates. Xerox, for example, decided not to use data regarding job applicants’ distance from the workplace because it wanted to ensure that its hiring policies were not discriminatory – i.e. because in some areas, lower-income communities might be located farther from the city center.

Whichever approach you take, make sure that your people leaders have awareness of and sensitivity toward commuting issues. Small changes and allowances can have a big impact on employee engagement, health, and productivity long term.

Job Personality Test

Do personality assessments really help with hiring?

In the interests of efficiency, the hiring process is becoming increasingly automated. Hiring managers and recruiters are continually developing new ways to save time, reduce manual effort, and identify the best possible candidates for each open role. One outcome of this shift is that hiring managers are relying to an ever-greater extent on personality assessment tests. According to The Wall Street Journal, 8 of the 10 most prominent private employers now incorporate pre-hire personality testing in their application process.

For employers interested in following this trend, an abundance of such tests are readily available. These tests range from classical personality-type assessments such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to a variety of newer evaluation instruments, some of which are geared to specific industries or jobs. Many employers believe these tests can determine how well prospective job candidates will fare in their organization’s work environment, and whether they’ll be a good cultural fit. This information is particularly valuable given that employees who jive well with their company culture tend to have higher levels of engagement.

Despite their popularity, however, job personality tests do not always result in traceable benefits such as reduced churn or improved employee engagement. In fact, such tests may not even speed up the hiring process. Steven Davis, a University of Chicago economist interviewed in The Wall Street Journal article, found that as companies add more layers of pre-hire screening, the average time before a job is filled has expanded to the longest time on record: 26.8 days.

Furthermore, Harvard Business Review (HBR) points out that research has been available since 2002 demonstrating that personality testing doesn’t necessarily correlate with better job performance. Despite this evidence, however, the researchers found that HR professionals continue to place faith in the efficacy of such tests. The writers attribute this to the fact that busy hiring managers don’t have time to read academic research and are likelier to be swayed by their own industry trends.

There are some types of pre-employment testing that do offer measurable benefits, however. The HBR article cites evidence that testing for specific job-related competency is generally valuable, as are cognitive ability (intelligence) tests. While personality tests tend to measure transient states of mind, cognitive and functional tests measure stable traits that don’t undergo as much change, according to the HBR researchers. Such focused tests are also less subject to being “gamed” by savvy test-takers who can perceive the more desirable answers on personality tests and simply fill them out to please the potential employer.

The fact is that as a hiring manager, you have numerous powerful tools at your disposal for effectively screening job candidates, and you may prefer methods that are supported by solid evidence. Behavioral interview questions can be highly revealing of a candidate’s essential personality, as are job-related test assignments. In the end, however, the art of human resource professionals and the hiring manager’s personal insight still are (and will always be) the most effective employee screening tools in existence.

Want more tips for how to screen candidates for cultural fit? Check out our article “6 questions every recruiter should ask to determine cultural fit

The Importance of Corporate Social Responsibility

The importance of corporate social responsibility programs for employee engagement

Organizations with well-defined social responsibility programs can improve their brand reputation, attract more job candidates and customers, and increase employee engagement.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs arose from the understanding that businesses function as a part of society—the success of each deeply affects the other. The importance of corporate social responsibility has increased in recent years, in large part due to the growing influence of millennials. According to the Brookings Institute, within 10 years millennials will represent three quarters of the workforce. For this generation, brand loyalty belongs to companies that offer actionable solutions to specific social problems. Eighty-three percent of millennials expect businesses to try harder and achieve more with their social responsibility programs, according to a recent study.

This discerning generation is seeking out companies to work for and to patronize that make genuine contributions to charitable and social causes. This shift in values makes a real difference financially. A report by the Harvard Business Review pointed out that there is a strong link between CSR programs and profitability: “CSR can be much more than a cost, a constraint, or a charitable deed—it can be a source of opportunity, innovation, and competitive advantage.”

Additionally, the US Federal Reserve found that three out of four (74 percent) of the highest revenue companies in the US now have CSR programs. Globally, the percentage of CSR reporting organizations rose to 80 percent of the world’s largest corporations.

From an HR standpoint, corporate social responsibility programs are instrumental in helping employees feel more engaged and more aligned with the company’s mission, vision, and values. According to Forbes, “More and more, executive management came to realize that employees expected choice and access in their giving and volunteering.”

How can companies allow their employees to get involved with social responsibility at work? Here are some examples of how companies are encouraging employees to get involved with social responsibility programs:

  • Toyota offers each employee a $250 grant to their favorite charity after they complete 50 hours of public service.
  • HP allows employees to take four paid hours for volunteering each month.
  • Timberland invites and encourages employees, business partners, and even customers to get involved in its volunteering efforts.
  • KPMG hosts recognition award dinners where senior managers personally congratulate employees who excel in volunteering.

Other popular CSR programs include the coordination of group trips for employees to volunteer together during the work day, and employer matching for employee donations to specified charities.

The future of business belongs to millennials, who are the largest population group in US history and already outnumber baby boomers. They were raised with concerns about society and the environment, and they look to businesses to solve the world’s greatest problems. Meanwhile, many of the world’s most successful organizations have incorporated social responsibility into their core brand mission and messaging.

At Achievers, we’re such big believers in the power of CSR for employee engagement that we’ve dedicated one of our Achievers 50 Most Engaged Elite 8 Awards to corporate social responsibility. In 2015 the honor went to Netsuite, Inc. for initiatives led by its corporate citizenship arm, Netsuite.org.

Corporate Wellness Programs

Step it up! 5 ways to make healthy lifestyle part of your company culture

Corporate wellness programs can lead to better employee engagement, greater productivity, and fewer long-term health care costs. However, you don’t need enterprise-level resources to support your employees in leading a healthier lifestyle. Even small and mid-sized businesses can introduce changes that will support a culture of health and wellness, and many of them don’t cost anything.

“The workplace is too often an overlooked but important part of the employee well-being equation. With people spending so much time on the job, it’s key for companies to recognize their influence on people’s health, well-being, and productivity,” said Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin Pulse, the habits-focused well-being company. “Ultimately, there’s no silver bullet when it comes to improving employee well-being, and successfully changing habits goes way beyond a person’s individual willpower. As an organization, anything you can do to support your people’s health will make a difference. It’s all about helping them by making small tweaks to the environment and culture so that healthy choices and changes are easier.”

  1. Promote exercise

Physical activity is one important key to better health. Depending on the size and nature of your workplace, you have many options for encouraging your workers to be active. Secure bike parking and employee showers are great options if your facilities allow for those, but simpler innovations can also be effective. Establish and incentivize a lunch hour walking club, or subsidize gym memberships and give points for hours attended. Fitness trackers are also increasing in popularity, and they allow employees to track their steps and other relevant health data. Holding friendly competitions, such as steps challenges, using these devices is a great way to integrate technology into your wellness programs.

  1. Get everyone on their feet

Numerous research studies indicate that prolonged periods of sitting result in unique health problems, and that “exercise is not a perfect antidote for sitting,” according to one biomedical researcher. Provide your staff with standing desk options and encourage hourly stand-and-stretch breaks. Walk-and-talk meetings are another great option, because they simultaneously allow for physical activity while also keeping meetings from running too long.

  1. Offer healthy snacks

Good nutrition will give your employees the stamina they need to stay sharp throughout the workday. While special occasions still warrant cookies and cake, you should support your workers’ daily nutrition with healthier options. Stock vegetable snack trays, fresh fruit baskets, and plenty of low-calorie snacks that people can grab when they’re in a rush. Be sure to position healthy options right within eyesight, and consider hiding less healthy options in cabinets or in opaque containers to reduce temptation. Laszlo Bock, the SVP of People Operations at Google, refers to these easy techniques as “nudges,” and they’re extremely powerful. Google employees were able to cut 3 million calories from their diets as a result of nudges, and your employees could see similar results.

  1. Support mental health

Stress, anxiety, and depression are destructive forces in your employees’ lives. Linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, and immune disorders, these mental health issues also lead to sleep deprivation, family problems, and poor performance at work. Your company and employees both will benefit from any programs you put in place to address these common issues. In addition to providing support resources for employees in need, review your health benefits to ensure that you’re providing adequate mental health care coverage, and encourage or require employees to use all of their allotted vacation days.

  1. Prevent illness

Flu season takes its toll each year on productivity, as employees and their family members succumb to long spells of illness. Furthermore, a hard bout of flu weakens the immune system, leaving the person vulnerable to whatever ambient infections cross their path. If possible, provide on-site flu vaccines to your entire staff. If this isn’t feasible, consider subsidizing your employees’ share of vaccine costs and provide paid time to go and get the shots. Additionally, managers should always encourage sick employees to stay home—not only will they recover more quickly, but they won’t spread their illness to colleagues. Ensure that your managers are trained to prioritize employee health over face time.

The health of your business cannot be separated from the individual health of your employees. When your organization becomes an ally in supporting each member’s wellness, you’re committing to better engagement, improved productivity, and increased loyalty. À votre santé!

Cultural Fit Interview Questions

6 questions every recruiter should ask to determine cultural fit

Savvy hiring managers have shifted their thinking about how to vet prospective candidates: they’ve realized that they have better long-term success when they focus on cultural fit moreso than work history and experience. While many job skills can be taught through on-the-job training, there’s almost nothing a manager or HR person can do to change an employee’s personality, work preferences, and sources of motivation.

Finding a person who is the right match for your company’s culture can be tricky. Check out six cultural interview questions every recruiter should ask to determine whether a job candidate is a fit for your organization.

  1. Describe your ideal work environment and team interactions

Begin by listening to how candidates express their work preferences. Listen carefully for jargon and stilted answers; pre-interview research of your organization may be influencing their answers.

  1. Explain how you interact with colleagues outside of your team, at higher or lower-level positions, or on multi-departmental teams.

When hiring for an open position in a highly collaborative environment, you’ll want to be sure that candidates are comfortable working with nearly any other employee in the organization.

  1. Tell me what your earliest work or volunteer opportunities taught you about career goals and values.

While personalities may be pretty set, how employees approach situations can change over time based upon individual experiences. Knowing what a person has taken away from prior experiences that continues to be impactful as an employee can tell you a lot about how he or she will mesh with your own organization.

  1. What are three things you expect from your work environment in order to be successful in your role?

With this question, you will be trying to gauge several things: level of supervision and collaboration, amount of concrete versus discrete support needs, and how future-thinking tasks like continuing education or development may impact how your candidate expects to work toward success.

  1. What was your best work environment experience? (For entry-level candidates, invite responses related to volunteer experience or school/club experience.)

By describing past environments in which he or she has been successful, a candidate can reveal what circumstances they need to thrive: anything from team structure, to preferred manager style, to office environment. This will give you clear insight into whether the attributes of your organization align with the candidate’s needs.

  1. What was your worst work environment experience and how would you have changed it to be a better experience?

This question may lead to interesting responses. Watch for the difference between complaining about an experience versus lining out problems and suggesting how they may be addressed. This will show you if a potential employee may be willing to work to address any problem areas your company has already identified.

Asking candidates skill-based and behavior-based questions are a great way to understand their capabilities and experience, but cultural interview questions allow you to determine how well an individual will fit in at your organization based on their intrinsic strengths, personality, and preferences. Be sure to integrate these culture questions in each of your interviews if you want to increase the chance of long-term employee engagement and success.

Employee Perks for the Summer

3 cool employee perks for the hot summer months

Are you and your employees ready for summer? Maintaining employee engagement during summertime can be challenging. But you don’t need to resign yourself to a period of low productivity and motivation just because temperatures are rising. Try these employee perks to keep your team members in the game while also giving them a chance to enjoy the season.

Flexible Work Schedules

Flex schedules are the norm in an increasing number of workplaces, and summer may be when your employees need them the most. Kids are out of school, there may be gaps in childcare coverage, and it’s a prime time for much-needed vacations.

These easy perks don’t cost you anything, but they can help your employees manage this busy, transitional season:

  • Half-Day Fridays: Let your employees go home early either every week or every other week.
  • Revolving Home Days: If employees can complete work from home, set aside certain days and times for it. This lets employees work during “off” hours so they can be with kids or attend functions during normal work hours.
  • Schedule Swapping or Earned-Time Allowance: Planning vacations can be like composing a symphony—lots of moving parts need to come together to create an enjoyable time away. If employees have less vacation time than they need, let them earn more days off by working extra hours before a vacation to create an earned-time allowance. Similarly, make it easier for employees to switch shifts with coworkers to accommodate everyone’s time away.

Relaxed Dress Code

While you want your employees to maintain an appropriate appearance at work, consider allowing some leeway on the dress code during the summer. Let men lose their ties for a few months, and let women wear sleeveless shirts or dresses. The more comfortable employees feel while in the office, the more their heads will be in the game.

Freebie Fridays

Another way to celebrate your employees’ devotion while maintaining their engagement is to hold special events throughout the summer. A smoothie machine one week, chair massages another, or an employee gathering outside of work hours can go a long way toward showing your appreciation. In addition to work-sponsored events, consider arranging discounts with local businesses like sports teams or amusement parks so your employees can enjoy some summer fun at a discount.

With a little planning and a lot of appreciation shown for jobs well done, perks at work can effectively maintain, or even increase, employee engagement during the coming summer season. Flexibility and perks can be the key to continued company success.

While you’re at it, why not take a second look at the rest of your Total Rewards Package? There’s a lot more that you can include in your compensation toolkit besides salaries, bonuses, and a few cool perks. Download our whitepaper, The Total Package: Including recognition in the compensation toolkit, to learn more.

Benefits of Telecommuting

Should you let your employees go remote? How to weigh the risks and benefits

The benefits of telecommuting are becoming clearer, and this practice has gained popularity so fast that it is now considered a standard perk in some industries. Forrester Research predicts that by 2016, 43 percent of the U.S. workforce will primarily work from home. Not only that, but a Global Workplace Analytics survey found that 36 percent of employees would choose a telecommuting option over a pay raise. Would your organization benefit from allowing, or encouraging, some employees to work remotely? There are a few key factors you should consider before you decide to offer this option. And be aware—if you don’t discuss telecommuting proactively, your employees will likely start asking about it soon.

First, consider what types of jobs are best suited for remote work. Obviously anyone dealing with customers, patients, or physical objects can’t telecommute. If you have team members whose effectiveness depends on immediate information exchange, then their roles are not well-suited for telecommuting. However, many information-based jobs can be done from home just as well as they can from a cubicle, if not even better. Many employees report higher levels of productivity at home, when they don’t have to deal with distractions from coworkers, ambient noise, and difficult commutes.

Effective telecommuting requires certain basic ingredients, both human and technological. Before being granted the right to work remotely, an employee should demonstrate consistently high performance and commitment to the job. Once they’re home, they’ll have no oversight, so managers will need a good way to track results and keep employees accountable. (Though this is true even for employees who come into the office every day – results speak much louder than butt-in-seat-time).

Additionally, you will have to consider the technology needed to support effective remote workstations. Will your staff members need to share a virtual whiteboard space, have real-time group meetings, or simultaneously mark up documents? Remote work platforms are becoming more sophisticated, but it might take some up-front investment on your part to provide your employees with high-quality software and audio and video equipment.

Telecommuting is somewhat unstructured by nature, so creating a structure is a good idea. Be clear with your employees about what hours you expect them to be available, and through what means of communication. Ask for input from your employees, and engage in conversations about the possible issues that might arise. Once you have the technology and policy in place, begin slowly: Have workers telecommute one or two days a week at first, and then evaluate how things are going at the end of each month. While you may increase this schedule to several days a week, you’ll probably still want to have regular meeting times where everyone comes together in the same place. It’s important that employees continue to feel a sense of belonging and identification with your organization.

Employee engagement is the key to business success. Employees feel more engaged and productive when they are able to effectively balance work and family obligations. In fact, businesses whose workers telecommute at least three times a month are likelier to see a 10 percent higher annual revenue growth. That means that telecommuting doesn’t just benefit your employees—it can benefit your business’ bottom line as well.  When managed well, your team of virtual employees can get the best of both work worlds.

Work-life balance tips

You look like you need a vacation: Helping your employees disconnect

Are you one of the 64 percent of managers who expect their employees to be continually available by email and phone? This figure comes from a recent survey by Workplace Trends, and the ramifications of blurring the boundaries between personal time and work time are concerning. Too often, both employers and employees assume that true dedication means they’re never off the clock – in reality, this inability to leave work behind yields only inefficiency and emotional burnout. Forward-thinking employers support (and even pay) their staff to disconnect completely when they’re not at work.

Weekends and vacations act as mental “reset buttons,” helping workers remain effective by allowing them to refresh themselves and engage fully in other interests. Decades of research show that humans perform better when they have the chance for rest and recuperation. Football coaches encourage players to get plenty of rest before a game, and colleges warn students not to study all night long before a big exam.

An increasing number of businesses now recognize that their workers are more engaged on the job when they have the chance to disconnect. In fact, the CEO of Evernote now pays employees $1,000 to take a vacation in which they stay entirely disconnected from work. FullContact went one step further, offering its employees $7,500 to take non-working vacations.

The trend toward working from home and using personal mobile devices on business trips creates confusion about what constitutes personal time. In addition, the economic pressures of the recent recession have instilled fear in employees that if they take truly disconnected vacations, they might be passed over for promotions.

To encourage your employees to get the mental refreshment they need, here’s a quick list of work-life balance tips:

  • Set an example: When you’re not working, let your staff know that you aren’t available by phone or email.
  • Make disconnecting during non-work hours a company-wide policy, and publicize it widely.
  • Provide assistance with delegating, especially if your employees have a tough time believing it is safe to leave work in a colleague’s hands.
  • Reassure workers that you don’t value them on the basis of over-connectedness. Instead, praise them for demonstrating good mental hygiene (as shown by being able to step away from phone and email).
  • Incentivize taking all the allotted vacation time.

Even if it takes a bit of effort to break the habit, your organization will benefit from the change in culture. When your employees have the chance to take a true break from work on evenings, weekends, and vacations, they’ll come back with increased productivity and improved morale.

Questions Hiring Managers Should Ask

Failing grade: Why hiring managers lose out when focusing on GPA

How do you evaluate candidates for a job? Is college grade point average (GPA) an important metric that you integrate in your decision? In an era when analytics have become a key part of almost every business decision, GPA seems like an obvious number to rely on. It’s time to realize, however, that not all metrics are created equal. Many human capital experts agree that GPA has little or no predictive value for the performance of a student in their eventual job. In fact, according to Laszlo Bock, the SVP of People Operations at Google, their hiring managers have stopped this approach: “One of the things we’ve seen from all our data crunching is that GPAs are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless — no correlation at all except for brand-new college grads, where there’s a slight correlation,” Bock said.

Because college students typically enter their undergraduate studies as teenagers, there are countless reasons why they might have sub-optimal performance in the classroom. At that age, students are only beginning to navigate the world as independent adults. We’re all aware that some of the deepest life lessons are acquired outside the classroom, and often those lessons involve learning from painful mistakes. If those experiences show up as low grades, then GPA will not attest to the true learning that took place.

If you collect this uninformative data, you won’t be able to avoid relying on it; it’s just human nature to be biased in favor of a candidate with a 3.9 GPA over one with a 3.0. A numerical bias of this kind can prevent you from finding the best candidates, or from comparing applicants on the basis of qualities that really make a difference. For example, one key quality that reliably correlates with workplace success is employee engagement. If your new hires are a good cultural fit for your workplace and their personal ambitions are aligned with the values of your company, they’re more likely to be motivated, productive, and successful.

It’s true that hiring managers should consider many factors when vetting a candidate, but be careful not to cloud your judgement by gathering irrelevant information. The questions hiring managers should ask should focus instead on behavioral interview questions that determine a candidate’s thought processes, problem-solving skills, experiences, motivations, and personality. Your understanding of which candidates are a better fit is, in the end, far more relevant than a number on a transcript from long ago.

Salary and Job Satisfaction

Money doesn’t motivate: Why employees need more than just a paycheck

by Andrea Vearncombe, Total Rewards Manager, Achievers

Why do your employees show up at work every morning? If you think it’s just to earn a paycheck, then you’re overlooking something essential about human motivation. Most people agree that fair compensation is a requirement for employee engagement and job satisfaction, but it only meets the bare minimum.

Research studies published in Harvard Business Review demonstrate that the overlap between pay level and job satisfaction is actually less than two percent. Of course salaries have to be competitive if you want to attract and retain employees in the first place, but once people are able to meet their basic lifestyle needs, their happiness and engagement are actually driven by non-financial factors.

Harvard researchers noted that corporate performance is directly correlated with employee motivation, so they ran a large-scale study to determine exactly how managers can foster a strong climate of motivation within their teams.

In a survey of 300 Fortune 500 companies, the researchers focused on four specific indicators of motivation:

  • Employee engagement
  • Satisfaction
  • Commitment
  • Intention to quit

They defined “engagement” as the “energy, effort and initiative that employees bring to the job.” Their research found that none of these four indicators of motivation were actually influenced by salary.

They also discovered two important human needs that determined how engaged employees will be. The first of these is the need to bond with larger teams and groups. When an employee feels proud to be part of an organization or company, they are strongly motivated to give their best effort. The second need that companies can fulfill is the individual’s desire to be challenged and to make a unique and meaningful contribution to their organization.

The take-away for HR and people leaders is that recognition and rewards shouldn’t just come in the form of salaries and bonuses. Instead, the most effective way to foster engagement is by acknowledging the human need for bonding and teamwork. Positive social recognition from both managers and peers will encourage individuals to meet challenges and contribute to the success of their team. When employees feel acknowledged and appreciated by the people around them, they’re more likely to repeat the behaviors that earned praise.

Because this element of human-to-human bonding and recognition is so essential for job satisfaction, it needs to be systemic within your organization. Don’t leave recognition up to chance. Develop a strategy around how recognition and rewards will be distributed across each sector of your company so that every employee has the chance to participate. By making investments in employee alignment, rewards and recognition, and team bonding activities, you can earn much higher returns than just doling out large raises.

Want more tips for how to implement a seamless, automated recognition and rewards strategy? Download our whitepaper Do-it-yourself vs. Doing it right: Fueling employee engagement with a social recognition and rewards platform.

 

Andrea VearncombeAndrea Vearncombe is responsible for leading the global total rewards and culture strategy for Achievers in North America and EMEA.

Hiring Millennials with Graduate Recruitment

4 things you need to understand before hiring a new college grad

These days, many companies are clamoring for college grads; each year brings a fresh pool of talent for you to tap. The great news about graduates is that if they’re intelligent and adaptable, they can work in almost any sector of your business. But what’s the best way to compete against all the other organizations trying to recruit the same candidates?

Keep in mind that new graduate recruitment and hiring millennials requires a different approach than recruiting seasoned professionals.

Demonstrate your company’s mission and meaning

Most college students want to feel like they’re a part of something meaningful and something that has a positive impact on the world. If you want to attract this growth-oriented group, you need to demonstrate how your company makes a difference in your industry, your community, or the world.

If your company offers unique values, culture, or growth opportunities, don’t be afraid to highlight them. Are you performing work that has a big impact on society? Do you have a creative and innovative atmosphere in your workplace? Do you emphasize a collaborative team-based environment? Illustrate why your company is unique and innovative, and you’ll attract innovative young employees.

Understand where grads are coming from

Candidates that have just graduated present a much different recruiting challenge than other candidates. Most of them don’t have experience with the interview process, contract negotiations, and other professional norms.

Understand that recent grads are still a work in progress and that training and guidance are necessary at the start to build on the talents your candidates naturally possess. This will ensure your investment in a recent grad pays off with big dividends down the road.

Use the right recruiting tactics

Millennials have grown up almost entirely in the digital age, which means they are used to constant communication, using digital tools to achieve their goals, and plenty of flexibility. You can showcase your company’s strengths in these areas by using the following tactics:

  • Set up a peer interview to allow a recent grad to connect with other young employees in your organization who can answer their questions.
  • Explain how a grad’s skills will help a company or organization succeed. This will help a millennial candidate gain a clear vision of how they will gel with your company’s culture.
  • Consider offering flexible job hours or the future opportunity for remote work for certain grads that can complete the required tasks on their own schedules.

Retain employees the right way

After you recruit a millennial, it’s important to keep them engaged and satisfied with their job. Providing millennials with regular feedback on their job performance and recognizing them for the work they put in is key. That means routine employee engagement surveys are vital to keeping millennials happy.

It’s also necessary for you to reward millennials that are performing well. Recent grads aren’t the types who will put in years of work to gain seniority, and they will often change companies in pursuit of their ambitions. If you can demonstrate that advancement is based on results, you’ll be in a much better position to retain millennial employees.

Employee Retention Strategies

3 powerful ways to improve your employee retention rate

People are often told that they should find a job they love. Unfortunately, circumstances don’t always allow the luxury of waiting for that one dream position. And some people think they’ve found their dream job, only to find that things start to go sour. There are a lot of reasons this can happen: a bad boss, a toxic team, stagnant career growth, or lack of recognition.

Losing your employees to resignation is an expensive problem. The better you can retain your employees, the better you’ll be able to save money, and more importantly, save the knowledge and talent your employees bring to the table.

A competitive salary is the bare minimum that you need to provide to keep employees satisfied. Beyond compensation, your employee retention strategies should factor in the total rewards package you offer, the quality of your leadership, and the power of your social recognition strategies.

Making sure your employees are thoroughly engaged should be a key step in your employee retention strategy. Here are 3 practical ways to start:

  1. Offer a generous and unique benefit package

Competitive wages will always be an important factor in retaining high-quality employees. In today’s employment market, individuals are also placing a high value on the benefits an employer offers. Health insurance coverage and paid vacation time are considered standard, so going above and beyond that minimum can go a long way toward improving your retention rate. Flexible work schedules, work-from-home opportunities, generous maternity and paternity leave, and paid fitness club memberships are just some of the popular benefit options that communicate value with today’s workforce.

  1. Emphasize leadership within a team – not “boss” and employees

A “boss” who cracks the whip does not encourage loyalty. A team leader who works side by side with those they lead is more likely to generate the commitment and attitude you’re looking for. If you invest in your managers to ensure they’re well trained, you’re investing in your employee retention as well. Good managers will train and inspire their team, and they will help their direct reports find their strengths and grow their careers.

  1. Appreciation and recognition go the distance

Finally, showing recognition and gratitude go a long way toward making an employee feel appreciated. Make sure you have a rewards and recognition strategy in place across your organization. Encourage managers to give their reports positive feedback on a regular basis, and foster a culture where peers are encouraged to recognize each other for good work. Regular, authentic recognition within your teams will help your employees feel more engaged, valued, and aligned with the organization. Make sure every employee knows that their work is meaningful to the company.

Don’t let high employee turnover hurt morale or your business’ bottom line. Smart employee retention strategies will help you keep your employees engaged, activated, and working toward your business’ goals.

Employee Appreciation Week

4 Links to inspire innovation during employee appreciation week—and all year long

2015_EAW-01Innovation is all around us, yet it’s not always so easy to uncover. Organizations have the opportunity every day to promote a culture of recognition and inspire innovation from employees.

Appreciating employees is an everyday thing here at Achievers, so in honor of Employee Appreciation Week 2015, we thought we’d share some of our favorite links on innovation to inspire recognition—and innovation—today!

 

 

 

 

How are you recognizing your colleagues for Employee Appreciation Week?

Employee Vacation Time

Out of Office—4 Reasons Why It’s Time for a Break

The end of the year is just around the corner. In a little over two months, you’ll have goals to meet, budgets to decide, holidays to plan for, and let’s not forget the start of the flu season. In other words, you probably aren’t thinking much about taking time off—but you should.

Americans are neglecting their vacation benefits, taking fewer days off in 2013 than at any time in the past 40 years. And, if you believe the studies about sitting for more than six hours per day, things aren’t looking good for those of us tied to our desks, 40-60 hours per week.

 

Still not convinced it’s time for a break? Here are four of our favorite links this week to help you get out of the office for some much needed R&R:

  1. Shorter, Better, Faster, Stronger—The Easiest Way to Get More Done? Work Less – Slate
  2. Workaholics who skip vacation are forfeiting $52.4 billion annually – Fortune
  3. This Agency Is Giving $1,500 to Each Employee to Go on an Exotic Vacation – AdWeek
  4. Could Unlimited Vacation Time Work for Your Company? – The Muse

 

Photo Credit: Fifth World Art via Compfight cc

Talent Community

What’s a Talent Community?

Guest post by Jeff Waldman, Founder & Social HR Strategist of Stratify and SocialHRCamp

Talent pool, talent network or talent community—semantics shemantics. We in the HR industry appear to be having some difficulties wrapping our heads around all of this. For starters, we can’t seem to agree on the definitions for each of these terms, let alone understand what the core purposes of each are. The so-called ‘industry influencers’ are struggling with this as well. If the thought-leaders and influencers are struggling, how can the industry at large have a clear understanding?

Part of the problem with understanding talent communities, lies in our attempts to define it. While we could sit around and debate the meaning of specific words, concepts and ideas, a simple definition just doesn’t capture the essence of what a talent community really is at its core.

Instead, what if we equate the core purpose of a talent community to the practice of relationship building? Take a marketer for example. Why are successful marketers successful? Is it because they create more appealing advertisements? Is it because they have a way with words? Or is it because they are the loudest on social networks? No, not really, and probably not.

A marketer’s success hinges on their ability to build strong relationships based on value, respect, credibility, honesty, and reciprocity. They have the ability to effectively tap into the emotional core of their target audience. They’re engaging and conversational, always discovering and sharing, and asking questions. Their success is directly correlated to their engagement with their audience.

This is exactly what a talent community is all about. The final desired outcome is a rich community of top talent that loves and promotes the brand.

Yet, to date, the approach that the majority of the HR industry has taken is what I call an “old school sales” approach. The industry has this notion that employers hold all the power, and that simply offering an open position is all the effort needed to attract top talent. With this approach, dialogue between a prospect and the organization is limited and one-sided, not to mention inconsistent. Oh, and it’s terribly boring—for everyone involved. How in the world can this practice differentiate you from your competitors, promote brand awareness, and ultimately build strong relationships? Tactics like these only seek to define a position, not create a community.

Appropriately, the answer here isn’t easy. Simply stating the desired qualities of your ideal employees won’t magically draw them to you. Instead, seek out the best talent you know, and ask them how they build relationships with their target audiences. Then begin to cultivate the type of community that attracts the caliber of colleague you’re looking for.

Like any good community, your talent community is only as good as its members. Dedicate the time and effort to understand yours, and you’ll find your success far surpasses a simple definition.

 

 

Jeff Headshot SHRMJeff Waldman, Founder & Social HR Strategist of Stratify and SocialHRCamp is leading the way in a growing niche that brings together HR, employer branding, social media, marketing and business. With a diverse career since 2000, spanning all facets of HR Jeff founded SocialHRCamp in 2012; a growing global interactive learning platform that helps the HR Community adopt social media and emerging HR technology in the workplace. Jeff consults and advises HR and Recruitment software companies on content market strategy, business development and product development, and with corporate HR teams across multiple industries to strategically integrate social media and emerging HR technology into HR and Employer Branding strategy.

Jeff is an avid speaker, blogger and volunteer with diverse organizations such as the SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition, HR Technology Conference, HR Metrics Conference Canada, Illinois State SHRM Conference, Louisiana State SHRM Conference and many other events in Canada and the U.S.. Recently named one of the Top 100 Most Social Human Resources Experts on Twitter by the Huffington Post he also served as a judge for the 2013 Achievers Top 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards.

You can find Jeff on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Plus.

Company Culture

Company Culture: What’s The Big Hype?

You’ve heard it before: In today’s War for Talent, highly skilled job seekers have a plethora of workplace choices, meaning organizations must differentiate themselves to attract and retain great people.

So how do they do it? One way is having a noteworthy company culture. Company culture is a trending HR topic and, according to Harvard Business blogger Michael Mankin, it is “the glue that binds an organization together and the hardest thing for competitors to copy.”

But to find out just how important a company’s culture is to recruiting and retaining top talent, I decided to go straight to the source: The queen of culture herself, Achievers’ Culture Manager, Kristal Thorne. My goal was to figure out what it takes to cultivate a unique company culture, and how organizations can foster that culture to boost engagement across the board.

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In your opinion, why is company culture so important to having an engaged workplace?

In a roundabout way, I think it’s important because, when you have a great company culture, your employees tend to be happier and more engaged. It all sounds pretty straightforward, but there’s research backing the idea that a fun and unique company culture keeps employees happy and on board. Happy people work harder to drive business results which then results in more growth.

So as culture manager, how do you bring more culture to the workplace to drive that reaction?

I think the easiest way is to allow others to bring culture in. I like to think of myself as a “Culture Enabler” more than anything else. A great company culture encompasses everyone’s input – you start by hiring great people, and from there, you encourage and allow them to bring in their own ideas and passions.

For example, one Achiever wanted to close out the summer in a big way, by taking First Round Friday (Achievers’ style happy hour) off-site, opting for a Beach Party instead. She approached me with the idea, more so I think to figure out if it was ok. My answer: YES! If you’re interested in it, likely there are others. My goal: to help make the event a success by providing behind-the-scenes marketing and logistics advice.

So when somebody comes to you with an idea like that, how do you gauge whether it’ll be a good fit for the entire company? In other words, how do you stay current on the Achievers culture?

In terms of “staying up on the Achievers culture” I’d say I spend a LOT of time socializing with different groups. Some days that may mean I get up and walk around the office to chat with different people from different teams; sometimes it may mean getting caught up in a conversation with an Achiever I rarely talk to for 40 minutes in the kitchen; sometimes it means sitting at a lunch table, or sitting at a different desk in an area of the office I don’t often spend time in. Mostly I just try to do what I can to make myself approachable – say hi to every person I pass, attempt to crack a joke, give a hug or a high-five for no reason… it’s about having a pulse on the organization, and the only way that happens is by hanging out with its greatest assets – its people.

That doesn’t sound like too terrible of a job… but aside from the social perks, are there any challenges you face as culture manager?

Sure there are! I would say a big one is adapting to the constant changes our company has faced over the years – and the cultural changes that go along with them. In the nearly 5 years I’ve been here, we’ve gone from 35 people in one office in Toronto to nearly 250 across North America and into Europe. We have a significant portion of our workforce working remotely or in the field. Our average employee age has increased by 5 years. So, as you might imagine, the culture here has changed quite a bit. As culture manager, it’s imperative that I stay on my game and make sure I’m aware of those changes so that the way we define our culture stays true – not just to the old employees, but to our new-hires as well.

You raised an important point—organizations are always changing. How do you manage cultural change in the organization?

Culture is a living, breathing thing. It’s bound to shift slightly here and there, and that’s part of what makes it awesome! No one person is responsible for a company’s culture – every employee is a part of it, new and old. As the face of Achievers has changed, its culture has adjusted slightly to be more encompassing and inclusive. With that being said, one thing has remained consistent: its importance to our employees.

Do you have any advice for companies just getting started developing their company culture?

For leaders, lead by example. Company culture is an organic thing, but if leaders don’t buy into it or act in ways that don’t match company values, the culture will be muddled. It won’t make sense. Leaders need to be the first ones to actively participate in and embrace the culture, whether that means living and breathing company values, planning and attending events, or encouraging others to embrace the culture too.

As for everyone in the company, care, share and be fair, as we like to say here at Achievers. Listen to other people’s ideas and contribute your own. Each individual should be given the opportunity to lead, the opportunity to listen, and the opportunity to participate in the culture.

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While planning beach parties and taking extended coffee breaks sounds like fun, it’s clear that managing company culture in a growing and changing workforce isn’t easy. Take it from Kristal; the extra investment to keep your employees happy, and the culture rich, is well worth the time and effort. After all, your employees are your company’s best assets.

Do you have a brag-worthy company culture that keeps your people excited about work?

Apply now to be one of the Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™

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Open Door Policy: 4 Links to Help Embrace Transparency at Work

The “open door” policy is ubiquitous in the business world, but following through on that practice can be a challenge. Many of us set out with the best intentions, but when we’re at the point of crossing the proverbial threshold, we chicken out.

Sound familiar? Don’t worry; you’re in good company. This week we’re sharing some of our favorite insights on infusing transparency, and creating a culture of constructive, consistent feedback in the office.

Whether your door is physical or virtual, creating a feedback-friendly environment doesn’t have to be scary. Keep these links handy for the next time you’re feeling squeamish about testing out that open door policy, and you’ll find transparency in the office opens the door to a collaborative, successful, workplace environment.

Communication in the Workplace

What Do You Stand For? 3 Insights On Communication For The Modern Workplace

imageIt’s not easy getting a room full of over 400 people to jump to their feet, but that’s exactly what happened this year at the Achievers Customer Experience – #AACE14. Between standing up to stretch, popping up to shake hands with a new friend, and giving a few standing ovations, we found ourselves enthusiastically standing around—or, more appropriately, standing up.

One recurring theme from day two that got people up and out of their seats was communication. Here are three great insights that resonated with the crowd, and got everyone on their feet and engaged in the conversation.

Look Each Other In The Eye

With all the amazing new technology we have, it’s easy to forget the importance of a human connection in the workplace. Although many of us sit within an arm’s length of each other, how often do we stand up and look one another in the eye?

Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin Pulse had us do just that. Before discussing the importance of workplace wellness, Chris reminded us of the importance of connecting with one another—and how easily it could be done. We all stood up, found someone we hadn’t met yet, made eye contact, and introduced ourselves.

What was amazing was that this little exercise should have only taken moments, yet it lingered on until someone had to remind us we were there for a presentation. Chris made his point. With just one simple gesture—making eye contact—we can meaningfully connect with our fellow colleagues, every single day.

Communication Is More Than Just An Email

As the day progressed, we were treated to a special airing of HR Happy Hour, a live weekly radio show, hosted by Steve Boese, Co-Chair of the HR Technology Conference, and Trish McFarlane, an HR executive, writer, and speaker.

This energetic session kicked off with cocktails in hand and a challenge on the table: How to reskill your team for the modern workplace—a challenge everyone in the room could appreciate.

There were lots of great ideas passed around, but what really struck me, is what one of the audience members, a manager of employee experience, said about communication: “A lot of times, communication means an email…but it’s so much more than that.”

How many times have you sent an email when simply walking across the office, or making a quick phone call, would have worked just as well? Technology is a fantastic tool; as long as we’re using it to enhance our daily communications with one another—not replace them.

Reach People Where They Are

Nearly every speaker and attendee I met at ACE recognized that if they were going to be successful at boosting employee engagement, they had to find the best ways to connect with their greatest assets—their employees.

Trish McFarlane said it best during HR Happy Hour; “It’s about reaching people where they are—not where you are.”

HR professionals and executives need to understand where their employees are, and not just geographically. Understanding how employees communicate and operate in their personal lives makes enhancing their work lives much easier. Whether that means implementing wellness programs, encouraging days off for volunteering, or highlighting social recognition within the organization, connecting with employees in a way they’re already comfortable with will help transform average companies into great places to work.

 

It’s not easy to change the way the world works, but after two full days of inspiration, innovation, and collaboration, there’s no doubt that HR professionals at #AACE14 are standing up to the challenge.

Baby Boomers and Millennials

Boomers’ Love/Loathe Relationship with Millennials and How to Overcome the Generational Divide

You’ve heard the stereotypes about Millennials: lacking attention span, overdependent on technology, self-centered, ignorant of older generations, entitled – and so on.

Not only are these statements inaccurate, but these myths also stem from the difference between how Millennials work versus how Boomers work. In a recent Forbes article, Boomers’ Love/Loathe Relationship With Millennials, Eisenberg interviews Stiller Rikleen, executive-in-residence at the Boston College Center For Work & Family and president of the Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership, about the recent survey she conducted among 1000 Millennials.

Rikleen’s findings were consistent with the outcome of the Class of 2014 survey that ConnectEDU and Achievers partnered on to understand exactly what the next generation of top talent is looking for from their future organizations. The verdict is that many of the stigmas that Boomers associate with Millennials are actually not negative; they are simply representative of an evolving workplace.

Here are a few (seemingly) negative stigmas about Millennials that Stiller Rikleen addresses in her interview, along with tactical takeaways for HR professionals and employers to apply in the workplace to bridge the style gap between Boomers and Millennials:

Millennials demand constant feedback.
Are Millennials looking for more frequent feedback? Absolutely. Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not. While older generations have perceived this need for constant feedback to only be self-fulfilling for Millennials, constant feedback also drives business results. Yes, Millennials are eager to use frequent feedback to get ahead, but recognizing Millennials for great performance and making recommendations for improvement also keeps them engaged and the business booming.

Boomers are resistant to give feedback.
In the historical workplace, the only appropriate and designated time to give feedback was in an annual performance review. Saying that Boomers are resistant to give feedback doesn’t describe the full picture. In fact, Boomers come from a work generation where structured feedback was the only type of feedback that was delivered to their teams. With Millennials now in the workplace reporting to Boomers, Boomers should be conscious to share timely feedback with their team members. This can occur in one-on-one meeting, by embracing a “coachable moment,” or even during a quick coffee break in the kitchen. Feedback drives better results for employees, managers, and the company overall.

There is a disconnect between what Millennials value and what Boomers think they value.
In the traditional workplace, it was common for employees to stay with companies for their entire careers and get recognized and rewarded for their length of tenure. But in the modern workplace, new employees will work with many different companies and want to be recognized and rewarded for their contributions, regardless of how long they’ve been there. Instead of recognizing Millennials with the predetermined rewards Boomers have been accustomed to, give Millennials the freedom to set goals and choose their own rewards for big achievements. Then, use day-to-day recognitions for the wins in between.

Learn more about what the Class of 2014 wants from their future employers and how your business can bridge the gap between Boomers and Millennials.

Download our Class of 2014 whitepaper.

Class of 2014: Your Next Generation of Top Talent

 

Blog post originally written by Stephanie White, edited and published by Julia Bersin.

Millennials and Baby Boomers in the Workplace

3 Ways to Better Manage Boomers and Millennials and Ensure Mentoring

As more and more Millennials graduate and enter the workforce – while Boomers begin to retire – HR professionals and employers seek to understand how to effectively manage both generations while ensuring a smooth knowledge transition. But with generational stereotypes, a modern workplace and a potential skills gap, effective management and mentorship can be a challenge.

Craig Malloy, Cofounder and CEO of Lifesize Communications, recently guest wrote for Forbes and discussed the challenges and opportunities that come with managing Millennials and Boomers in the workplace. Three stand-out pieces of advice closely relate to Millennial findings that ConnectEDU and Achievers found in their recent study, Class of 2014. Learn how these three pieces of advice that Malloy recommends for better management and mentorship in the place can be applied. Read more →

Workplace Transparency

[Webinar] The Future of Workplace Transparency

The Future of Workplace Transparency When it comes to transparency in the workplace, a lot has changed. Ten years ago, you could find more information about the latest iPod online than you could about your own workplace. Today, social media sites like Glassdoor are helping people find jobs and companies they love through peer reviews and ratings, which makes HR professionals have to think more like marketers when it comes to recruiting and retention. Read more →

Hiring Millennials

[SlideShare] Tomorrow’s Leaders Just Graduated: Five Reasons Why You’ll Hire Them

Motivated and driven, 60 percent of young graduates will apply directly to the company when searching for jobs. You’re not just going to hire them. You’re going to fight for them in a war for talent.

Check out the following SlideShare presentation to get an edge on the impending war for talent and learn quick tips you can implement today to engage your current workforce, while simultaneously creating an appealing culture for the Class of 2014.

Here are the top five reasons why you’ll hire the Class of 2014:

 

Recruit and Retain Class of 2014

Four Secrets to Recruiting and Retaining the Class of 2014

Millennials are driven, motivated, and more educated than any other group in history – and this year’s graduating class marks a critical time for employers. Businesses have the power to engage smart and energized people and help them cultivate their skills to become the company’s greatest asset.

What can employers do to ensure that the bright and energized class of 2014 will want to work for them? Here are four secrets revealed. Read more →

Develop Modern Manager

Five Strategies to Develop the Modern Manager

The Secret Weapon to Driving Employee Success: Your ManagersBad managers are the number one reason employees quit, but good managers have the power to drive results. Performance is 35 percent higher when teams are led by strong management; moreover, engaged employees are also much more likely to stay with the organization, reducing turnover costs.

With these kinds of results on the line, who wouldn’t want to give their managers the tools they need to become great at their jobs?

There are many things organizations can do to help managers do their jobs well. Here are five strategies you can start using today to develop your managers. Read more →

Forbes commentary: Three best practices for creating an employee-centric workplace

employee_engagementFaced with an increasingly competitive and ever-changing environment, top employers have figured it out: their employees are the key to their success. However, as the economy stabilizes and Millennials become a larger part of the workforce, what employers must do to attract, retain, and inspire their employees is facing an overhaul as well. Research reports that Millennials boast an average tenure of just over one year with a company, far less than the national standard of 4.4 years, and as employees feel more power in the hiring process and less employer-loyal than ever, keeping top talent on board is critical to maintaining a competitive edge.

A recent Forbes article highlighted the “5 Must-Have Qualities of the Modern Company,” including supporting flexible work, operating like a small company, prioritizing want versus need, focusing on the voice of the employees (and customers), and adapting to change. Read more →

Ask Achievers: How can we give effective constructive criticism?

ask_achieversIn this week’s Ask Achievers, Jewel Celestine shares best practices for giving constructive criticism. Jewel is the Employee Success Business Partner at Achievers, where she develops and implements strategic HR initiatives pertaining to performance management, talent development, and employee engagement. She has been in human resources for the last ten years serving as a learning and development consultant, HR business partner, and HR strategist.

Dear Ask Achievers,

Our organization has praise down, but we seem to be struggling on the constructive criticism front. Comments often come across as mean-spirited, passive-aggressive, aggressive-aggressive, or not at all. Do you have best practices for delivering effective negative feedback? I want to make sure our staff is learning what it needs to grow without the drama or potential for abuse.

Constructive criticism is an art, and too often a neglected one. Recognizing positive behavior yields great results, but you’re right, it’s critical to correct negative behaviors, too. Here are some best practices I have seen used in effective workplaces: Read more →

Ask Achievers: How do I get started with employee referrals?

ask_achievers
This week’s reader question goes to Kate Pope, our Manager of Talent Acquisition. As our resident expert on all things recruitment, she shares her advice for getting the most out of employee referrals.

Dear Achievers,

I really want to encourage employee referrals at my company, but I’m not sure where to start. What’s the first step? Is it going to be a lot of work (and if so, is it really worth the effort)? It seems intuitively like a good idea, but I need metrics to convince my boss. Help!

– Really Excited For Employee Referrals

Read more →

The Class of 2013: What the findings mean for employment branding and Millennial recruiting

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Guest Post by Kristen Dooley

On the heels of each comprehensive “Class of” survey with Achievers, one of the most common questions we receive here at ConnectEDU is “What does this mean for recruiters?” Millennials are poised to become half of the workforce in the United States and companies are increasingly interested in recruiting the right members of each graduating cohort. Naturally, we’re attuned to what those new graduates are looking for, and this year’s survey of 10,000 students is a useful tool for extrapolating effective tactics for recruiting from and branding for this group.

Read more →

The top 5 real reasons your employees are leaving their jobs

retention
Guest blog post by Julie Labrie

Many HR thought-leaders are predicting that talent retention will be one of the greatest upcoming challenges for professionals in the people management field. Fierce competition, the norm of changing careers multiple times, and talent shortages in niche areas all contribute to this landscape.  Putting strategies in place to motivate top performers to stay may be the difference between success and failure for a company.

Read more →

Learn what top employers are talking about: Engagement drives business success

retention
Top employers realize that engagement is an effective tool to boost bottom-line results through alignment and increased productivity. Most importantly, engagement also helps to build a competitive employer brand that attracts, retains, and inspires the best and the brightest talent.

We recently interviewed Kimberly Rath, co-chairman of Talent Plus, which has been recognized as one of the Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ in both 2011 and 2012 for their leadership and innovation in engaging their workplace. The Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards will recognize 50 U.S.-based companies as well as 50 Canadian companies in 2013. Specifically, Talent Plus has been recognized because of their vision, values, hiring protocol, and that they value being a purpose driven workplace.

Read more →

5 ways to assess workplace culture fit

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Guest Post by: Meghan M. Biro

Recruiting the best talent and culture can be a heartbreaking process. While there’s nothing more exciting and fulfilling than finding the right person for a job, there are those times when – on paper or digital at least – the candidate seems a perfect fit, only to crash and burn within months of being hired. The tangible recruitment and training costs of these mis-hires can be high, and they also drain morale and energy from a team and company.

Read more →

Big Data: Can you tell the signal from the noise?

recruitment
Last month, Google’s SVP of people operations Laszlo Bock gave a much-discussed interview to the New York Times on the role of Big Data in the recruitment process. On the one hand, he says, hard data can help you separate your feelings from the facts. While almost everyone thinks they’re leadership material, for instance, few people actually are.

That’s where Big Data can come in handy:

If you go back to somebody and say, “Look, you’re an eighth-percentile people manager at Google. This is what people say.” They might say, “Well, you know, I’m actually better than that.” And then I’ll say, “That’s how you feel. But these are the facts that people are reporting about how they experience you.” You don’t actually have to do that much more. Because for most people, just knowing that information causes them to change their conduct. One of the applications of Big Data is giving people the facts, and getting them to understand that their own decision-making is not perfect. And that in itself causes them to change their behavior.

Read more →

[Infographic] Anatomy of an employee referral

How much do you know about employee referrals?

Did you know they can be 18 times cheaper to hire than traditionally-recruited candidates? Or that they work better, smarter, and stick around longer? If not, don’t worry—we’re here to break down the anatomy of an employee referral for you, so you can see what makes these superstars tick (and how you can get them to work for you).

Check it out:

Antomy of employee referral

Need more insight? You’ll love the stats, testimonials, and best practices in our new e-book, The ultimate guide to employee referrals: How to engage employees, save millions, and drive Employee Success™.

The 5-step plan to build your own employee referral program

recruitmentEmployee referral programs consistently produce the best candidates in the shortest time and at the lowest cost. But if you’re like most companies, referrals comprise only 6.9 percent of applicants. What a waste!

Fortunately, that’s not a fixed maximum; with a little effort, you can boost those numbers. According to Gerry Crispin, a principal at CareerXroads, “companies where recruiters place greater emphasis on referral-related hiring” are able to increase the percentage of referrals by 7-15%. By following the following best practices, you too can start saving thousands of dollars (and countless hours) per employee.

Read more →

[SlideShare] The ArcelorMittal Dofasco story: Creating a culture of Employee Success

Achievers recently released its latest Slideshare presentation, Creating a Culture of Employee Success, which was featured on the Slideshare homepage last week.

This featured presentation will take you through the ArcelorMittal Dofasco journey and explain how to launch and maintain a successful rewards and recognition program that will have real business impact.

Check out the presentation below for a glimpse into what it takes to create an engaged workplace with a recognition-rich culture. Leave a comment below and tell us what you think!

For the full story, refer to the on-demand webinar here.

 

[Webinar recap] Building a culture of recognition: Credit Union ONE’s Employee Success™ Story

webinarsOrganizations with high engagement rates are 78 percent more productive and 40 percent more profitable than disengaged organizations1. Top employers realize that engaged workplaces begin with a recognition-rich culture, and this is where the Credit Union ONE Employee Success story starts.

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Maybe employees don’t leave managers, after all

hr_trends_and_analyst_findingsFor years, it’s been common knowledge that employees leave managers, not companies. But a new infographic from Glassdoor disagrees: according to their research, only 8 percent of employees attribute their departure to their managers. Far more common reasons were lack of career growth (33 percent), salary and compensation (27 percent), company culture (15 percent), work/life balance (14 percent), work environment (12 percent), and overall company performance (11 percent).

So why does conventional wisdom maintain that managers are the cause? The most-cited study on manager-driven turnover is the 1999 book, First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, which is based on 25 years of research by the Gallup Organization. But that report is 14 years old now; surely there’s more recent information than that?

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