great communicator

Voice, Value, Feedback – The “Must Try” Communication Tool Driving Employee Engagement

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

Does anyone truly look forward to their annual performance review?  Leaders don’t enjoy preparing them and employees dread attending them.  According to HR analyst and industry thought leader Josh Bersin, “More than 70% of all organizations dislike the process they have, and I have yet to talk with an employee or manager who likes it at all (one client calls it a ‘soul-crushing’ exercise).” That’s why many leading organizations such as Accenture, Adobe, Gap, GE, Goldman Sachs and Microsoft all recently announced that they are remodeling this “soul-crushing exercise” and moving to something altogether new.

The most important adjustments to the classic performance review cycle are an increasing emphasis on constant feedback and a concerted effort to frame constructive feedback in more human terms.  According to a SHRM article by Dana Wilkie, “Among the changes: eliminating all numeric scales; doing away with “forced” or “stacked” rankings that create competition among employees; and replacing the once-a-year appraisal with ongoing feedback on a worker’s performance throughout the year.” This philosophical shift in the way criticism is dispensed wasn’t conjured up out of thin air. There is a practical reason behind the need for immediate feedback (and praise). As stated in an article in the March 2017 issue of Fortune magazine, “One big reason for the shift: Today’s companies now change strategy so often that annual performance reviews can be moot by the time they’ve completed them.”

Although many companies are moving away from the annual performance review, there will always be a need for direct reports to measure how they are succeeding and growing in their current roles. To ensure success, employers must set clear performance expectations while providing feedback and encouragement. In fact, research shows that team members desire to feel valued, heard and even “loved.”

According to a Gallup article by Jim Harter and Amy Adkins “Managers account for up to 70% of variance in engagement and consistent communication is connected to higher engagement.” But given that no two people communicate alike, it should not be surprising that less than 1/3 of Americans are fully engaged in their work.

George Shaw

The real challenge is that most managers think they are great communicators, when in fact, most are not. This has helped create a notable communication gap between leaders and direct reports, leading to confusion and disengagement.

Dr. JP Pawliw- Fry of the Institute for Health and Human Potential explains this gap as, “A distinct pattern we see over and over again in the leadership development training programs we run: when leaders face a difficult conversation, a feedback conversation or a performance review, most cover 85, 90 or 92% of the content of what they want to say in the conversation, but a funny thing happens when they get to the more difficult part, what we call the Last 8%. When they hit this part of the conversation – where there are consequences to what they are saying – they start to notice that the other person is becoming more anxious and (because emotions are infectious) they themselves become more anxious.”

This research goes on to explain that when the employee being coached starts to feel nervous and becomes defensive, their leader reflects those feelings, and starts to doubt their own intuition regarding the employee participating in the performance review. This is typically the moment the leader hesitates when offering uninhibited feedback. While seemingly innocuous, the real problem is that the leader might believe they have offered genuine feedback when really, they probably failed to address the issues most critical to both the employee and company alike. The failure to explain the Last 8% leaves the other person unclear on expectations. It’s not surprising then that the employee makes the same mistake several months later, with the leader becoming more disappointed and frustrated.

If managers and leaders are fearful when addressing critical business issues with their direct reports, how can we facilitate a complete constructive feedback conversation, including the Last 8%? From a brain science perspective and utilizing emotional intelligence – EI– we can learn to communicate in a way that doesn’t stimulate the “fight or flight” response typical of defensive behavior.

The first step in effective communication is listening to the other person and validating his or her feelings, because they are valid, even if they are not obvious. This level of empathy is an absolute necessity if the other person is going to be open to receiving your constructive feedback. If you start giving feedback before they are ready, their response will likely be defensive, making them unwilling to receive it. When a person’s fight or flight mechanism is activated, research shows that there are real physiological effects. Perhaps they might not hear you because their heart rate is increasing and oxygen is flowing to larger muscles, away from the thinking brain.

When a person is confronted with criticism in a performance review, it can cause an automatic negative response. “This neural response is the same type of “brain hijack” that occurs when there is an imminent physical threat like a confrontation with a wild animal. It primes people for rapid reaction and aggressive movement. But it is ill-suited for the kind of thoughtful, reflective conversation that allows people to learn from a performance review. According to an article in Strategy + Business magazine titled “Kill Your Performance Rating” by David Rock, Josh Davis, and Beth Jones

Thankfully, there is an excellent constructive communication tool that can help us all avoid the automatic “fight or flight” response. It is called the Voice, Value, Feedback (VVF) Tool, and it provides a framework for a complete, courageous, feedback conversation that even includes the Last 8%.

  1. Give the other person a Voice – share why you are having this discussion. Clarify your intention for the meeting. Seek contribution not blame – “I realize I may have not communicated clearly…” then let them share their feelings for a  few minutes.
  2. Value the person you are having this discussion with and empathize with the difficulties your employees deal with on a daily basis. Phrases such as ”I understand it’s been tough. I don’t blame you for feeling that way”, can go a long way in showing your employee that you care what they have to say, and value their perspective when addressing issues.
  3. Offer your Feedback – “I appreciate you and here is what we need from you moving forward.“ Be specific about the behaviours you would like your direct report to exhibit and focus on the actual impact they have made on your organziation, not on intentions. If necessary, share instances of past and current behaviors that are not acceptable and hope they will address moving forward. State clearly what you want from them, so there is no question as to how they can improve in the future. Use  phrases such as “We need you to…” “We expect you to..” “This organization relies on you to. . .”
  4. End the conversation by reminding this person how you feel about their contributions to your team. Recognizing an employee for their loyalty, the value they have created, and their impact on the organization can reinforce their belief that they have the skills necessary to improve on perceived shortcomings mentioned during the review.

Currently, I am coaching several leaders who have incorporated the Voice, Value, Feedback communication tool into their culture, and the benefits are real. It is critical that leaders are fearlessly proactive in the difficult conversations that are required in order to keep their direct reports engaged and at their most productive. Most importantly, as leaders, we need to ask ourselves, “Are we really having the Last 8% of that constructive feedback conversation?”

For more information on the benefits of effective feedback, and more insight on the debate over real-time feedback versus annual reviews, check out: “Real-time feedback vs. annual reviews: A showdown”.

And if you’d like to learn more about measuring employee engagement, the How’s and the Why’s, download the eBook, Employee Engagement: Four Places to Start Measuring What Matters.

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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.

 

Wellness and Company Culture

5 Ways Wellness Programs Can Enhance Employee Engagement

By: Barron Rosborough
Digital Marketing Coordinator, SnackNation

Look up from your computer and take stock of the colleagues working around you, they might not be at their desks much longer  A recent Gallup study reports that approximately 51% of them [U.S. workers] are either actively looking for a new job or keeping an eye out for openings.

Some say it’s a people or a hiring problem, others chalk it up to the natural employee lifecycle. However, this career transience can be more properly understood as a consequence of poor company culture.

While companies spend billions of dollars and thousands of hours working on enhancing their consumer-facing brand, they spend a fraction of that on their employer brand.

Companies often neglect their “employee value proposition,” meaning they don’t spend enough time thinking about how to differentiate themselves from other companies in a job market that has seen increased competition for talented employees.

For a company to differentiate itself in this increasingly competitive market, it needs a laser-like focus on its employees. More than the just good of the company, your employees are interested in achieving work-life balance and seeing to their own personal well-being. They want to work for a company that values those things as well.

Work and life aren’t easily distinguishable from one another these days because every employee, from CEO to the newly hired intern, carries things with them from their personal lives into the workplace. The personal and the professional exist in symbiosis, neglecting one is doing a disservice to the other.

Invest in your team holistically. It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to make your team feel cared for in the place they spend nearly one third of their lives. Making this effort can increase employee retention, engagement, and attract new talent.

An investment in the well-being of your employees as individuals is an investment in the company itself. One of the best ways to show that your company is committed to its people just as much as it is to its customers and profits is by building a well-functioning wellness program.

Establishing an employee wellness program impacts more than just the individual, it creates a more productive, motivated, and engaged workforce. Don’t believe me? Here are five examples of how wellness can turn your company culture around, creating real business impact:

1. Goals

light bulb

Wellness programs are an effective tool to align company goals with the health and well-being of your employees. They clear a path for employees to incorporate their personal well-being into their work, as opposed to handling work and wellness as separate entities.

One of the main reasons that people don’t participate in wellness programs is because they don’t believe they have enough time (as many as 51% of employees according to an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Study). However, it only takes a little creativity to align wellness goals with productivity goals, and this small effort will ultimately impact the business in a big way.

Starting with an easily accomplished task, such as setting reminders to break up screen time by taking a short walk, can establish momentum that will help build efficiencies into the work day and ultimately help to reduce burnout.

2. Morale employees working

It’s not a leap to suggest that the way an employee feels about their job directly impacts how they perform on the job. Morale and engagement are intertwined.

Around 70% of U.S. workers report not being engaged at work. In thinking about the colleagues I referenced in the opening paragraph, seven out of ten of them aren’t being utilized to their full potential. That’s disturbing.

Wellness initiatives can strengthen the commitment of the individual to the company. It’s a reciprocal relationship; employees who feel cared for are likely to match that feeling in commitment to the company – not to mention engaged employees perform 20% better than their counterparts.

If your office morale is low, don’t be afraid to get creative and try some out-of-the-box morale boosters.

3. Stress

employees

The presence of high amounts of stress in the workplace can make or break the relationship between employee and company. While a manageable amount of stress is healthy and motivates people to succeed, it can easily become overwhelming.

Stress presents itself in two forms, eustress and distress. The former pushes people to reach their goals and the other stifles production and growth. The root cause of stress for 80% of employees is work.

A wellness program that takes this into account and provides resources or activities to deal with high and sustained-stress situations can help identify and address negative stress before it becomes a problem. If stress does become a problem, it can lead to increased absenteeism and decreased productivity.

4. Relationships

employees

Fostering friendships in the office is beneficial both on a human level and as a good business decision. The Gallup study referenced above shows that about 20% of U.S. workers report having a best friend at work, which in itself isn’t that interesting. However, if employers could get that number up to 60%, the study posits that the resulting bonds would influence higher customer satisfaction and a 12% increase in profits!

The difference comes from a sense of being part of a team, rather than feeling isolated. Your employees will carry a greater sense of responsibility and purpose because they won’t perceive their work as only impacting them as an individual, but how it impacts the team, and company as well.

Offering activities that bring your team together outside of work can help foster closer relationships. Something as simple as sponsoring a company kickball or softball team can lead to seven times more engaged employees, and a more robust bottom line for the company.

5. Culture

laptop

A commitment to wellness is a commitment to building a strong workplace culture, and it follows that caring for your team means caring for your business. A strong workplace culture impacts more than just your employees, culture seeps out into the interactions employees have with customers, partners, and the community. Engaged employees are also your best resource in attracting talent, they’re the ones most likely to be extolling the virtues of your company culture on sites such as Glassdoor and LinkedIn.

Your company’s biggest asset is the people that have bought into the company’s mission. Ignoring the needs of the people that keep the ship afloat is dangerous and might leave you swimming with your head just above water.

Has your company invested as much in its people as it can or should? If not, what do you think you can do to change that? Leave a comment and start the discussion!

For more information as to how wellness can impact employee engagement, click here.

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About Barron Rosborough
Barron Rosborough
Barron Rosborough is a seasoned digital marketer and writer from Los Angeles, CA. He writes on topics ranging from wellness to leadership (and everything in between). He is currently the Digital Marketing Coordinator at SnackNation, a curated healthy snack subscription service for offices and homes.

 

 

 

 

Engage Millennials in the Workplace

6 Easy Ways to Make Your Team Millennial-Friendly

By: Coralie Sawruk
Strategic Business Transformation Consultant

With a steady increase in employable candidates, and the continued exodus of baby boomers, millennials are now in a position to have a major influence on their workplaces. But according to a recent study by Gallup, only 29% of millennials are engaged at work. This shouldn’t come as a surprise; millennials make no secret as to what they feel makes a workplace engaging. They want challenging, rewarding work in a team-oriented culture. Based on the knowledge above, it doesn’t hurt to ask: Are you actively molding your team dynamics to meet millennials’ expectations? Are you working on the transition from a ‘command and control’ structure to a network of cooperative and inclusive teams?

If the answer to the questions above is “no”, don’t fret, you don’t need a full overhaul of your business model to improve employee engagement and sense of fulfilment of your impact-driven millennial employees. Here are 6 easy ways to make your team millennial-friendly.

business employees

1. Empower small, agile project teams

In today’s fast-paced, global business environment, maximizing value streams is key to maintaining a competitive edge.

To do so, organizations often prioritize increasing their margins through best practices and efficiency. However younger employees tend to derive value from innovation and continuous results.

But it is possible to be cost-efficient and millennial-friendly at the same time. To do so organize work into small projects owned by agile, flexible teams.

Agile teams operate in a low-cost environment. They quickly address problems with solutions by bringing together business improvement concepts with customers and senior level colleagues.

By operating in project-mode, you create an ecosystem that meets 3 millennial needs:

2. Adopt transparency in communication and leverage popular mediums

In a world where work can be done anytime, anywhere, accurate and fluid communication can be a challenge for any organization.

Your young, socially-connected workforce expects information to be widely available in a timely fashion. For them, transparency from top to bottom creates a sense of collaboration.

Collaborative discussions and open-feedback loops will be helpful if you want to make your team millennial-friendly. Another efficient way to build trust across the organization is to bring strategic messages closer to employees.

Video technology allows executives to share a strategic message directly with their teams. Why not create a short “welcome” video from your CEO for new hires? Or take advantage of live video and share short messages in real-time?

3. Flatten organizational structures

A well-known contributor of employee engagement is a sense that an individual’s contributions have influence on the success of an organization as a whole.

A good way to achieve this is to give your millennials the freedom to be part of the decision-making process. If your organizational structure doesn’t allow a collaborative process for decisions, you risk deflating your young talents’ sense of leadership.

Take the Swedish company, Spotify, for example: Spotify creates engagement by balancing autonomy and accountability.

Spotify’s core organizational unit is an autonomous squad of no more than eight people, […] accountable for a discrete aspect of the product […] Several squads (are) linked together through a chapter, which is a horizontal grouping that helps to support specific competencies […]. Leadership within the squad is self-determined, while the chapter leader is a formal manager who focuses on coaching and mentoring.”

Spotify’s horizontal structure redistributes decision-making across employees, in contrast to traditional top-down, hierarchical models. This results in faster response times while simultaneously holding employees accountable for their ideas.

Not ready for a full overhaul? Not to worry, it’s still possible to reinforce your employees’ sense of responsibility and autonomy without undertaking a total business transformation. Small changes in your operating model can indicate that you value cross-functional collaboration over typical management control.

For instance, you can empower teams to discover best practice methods, and encourage adoption of these approaches from the bottom up. Or ask team leaders to embrace a coaching mindset that aligns with millennials’ need for regular feedback.

Employee Coffee

4. Change the focus of your meetings 

With the always-connected nature of millennials, massive amounts of information is consistently at their fingertips. And with the expectation that this information is to be digested and distilled into valuable bits to present to a team, establishing a well-defined focus for team meetings can create an environment ripe for actively exchanging ideas. According to the 2016 Deloitte millennial survey, the ideal millennial workweek includes 4.6 hours spent discussing ideas and new ways of working.

An easy way to make your team millennial-friendly is to carve out some time for “thought showers”; open discussions on lessons learned and continuous improvement. Alternatively, you can increase their sense of contribution by giving your young talent a spotlight to share their perspectives on a topic or cause they’re passionate about, or a cause they care strongly about.

5. Rethink flexibility

Flexibility is often seen as ‘flexi-time’ and work-from-home practices. These are elements of a culture of trust, and known factors in talent retention.

But flexibility can, and should, go far beyond this. What about encouraging flexibility of ideas, and diversity of thought?

An “open-door policy” towards new ideas embeds a culture of collaboration, innovation, and equality. At the same time, mentoring programs encourage cross-pollination of skills across generations, making employees more adaptable to rapidly changing business objectives. Promoting cultural intelligence within global teams brings various creative perspectives together.

A millennial-friendly team is flexible in the way it operates, and in the way its members think.

6. Make the team work for a higher cause

Team building significantly helps to retain talent, according to 79% of millennials polled by The Go Game.

But for a young workforce that takes pride in contributing to wider causes, team building activities must go to the next level. 76% of millennials regard businesses as a force for positive social impact. 

You can make your teams millennial-friendly by organizing charity days, or better yet, offering ‘volunteering leave’ so employees can partake in people-centric activities (e.g. involvement in LGBT or corporate responsibility).

By supporting such initiatives, you show that the team is, first and foremost, a group who share similar human values.

Mobile work

A small set of actions is all it takes to get started making your team millennial-friendly. Initiatives that connect directly to your young talents’ sense of purpose are easy to introduce but highly rewarding. These include improving collaboration across teams, fostering a sense of contribution, encouraging millennials to take responsibility, and enhancing transparency at all levels of the organization.

Now, what if you want to take employee engagement to a deeper level? Young generations want their values to be shared by the organizations they work for. So involve your millennials in office culture improvement, by giving them the freedom to find creative ways to internally promote your set of core values.

Want to create a magnetic culture? Access this webinar recording.

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About Coralie Sawruk
Coralie SawrukCoralie helps global organizations create efficient team dynamics. A people-person at heart, she believes the ultimate competitive advantage is created by the right talents working hand-in-hand, cheerfully. Coralie provides Strategic Business Transformation services across the globe, and mentors ambitious talents who want to become role models. Visit Coralie’s website or get in touch on LinkedIn.

 

 

 

 

effectively measure engagement

Employee Engagement: How to Measure What Matters

By: Josh Danson
Director of Content Marketing, Achievers

Recently, there have been some eye-opening reports about the state of employee engagement, both here in the U.S. and globally. Aon Hewitt, in their 2017 Trends in Global Employee Engagement Study, found that engagement levels have dropped for the first time in five years and Gallup reported in its State of the American Workplace report that a full 70% of U.S. workers are not engaged at work.

But before we all get too breathless about these admittedly disconcerting engagement numbers, it’s important to remember that employee engagement is not an end in and of itself. Engagement numbers do provide a window into the general well-being of your workforce, but more important than the raw numbers is how engagement ties back to desired business outcomes.

Say, Stay, Strive

Aon Hewitt, in an influential 2015 paper advanced the “Stay, Stay, Strive” framework for the variety of desired Employee Engagement outcomes. According to that model, engagement drives a variety of desirable outcomes, including increased employee advocacy and a more desirable employer brand, (“Say”), improved retention and tenure (“Stay”), and better overall performance (“Strive”):

“One manager may have an employee who is incredibly hardworking but needs to say more positive things about the company due to his/her network impact on peers. Another manager may have employees who generally seem positive about the company and committed to staying, but need to ramp up individual effort toward the new performance behaviors required by an organizational transformation.”

So it really isn’t just about the score, it’s about understanding what you need to measure in order to achieve the desired business outcome.

Are You Measuring What Matters?

Do you know how well your engagement programs are working? How about the connection between programs that engage employees, such as employee recognition and rewards, and your desired business results?

Employee engagement has become a cornerstone and calling-card of today’s most successful businesses. But instituting a haphazard or incomplete engagement initiative can often lead to more problems than solutions, as employees dutifully fill out their surveys but nothing ever seems to come of it.

Successful employee engagement programs should tie back to specific organizational goals, help to align employee values with company values, and ultimately — drive improvements in overall performance. Studies have shown that highly engaged employees are:

  • 21% more profitable;
  • 17% more productive, and;
  • Enjoy 20% higher sales than industry peers with average engagement.

Whether your measure for success is better employee retention, improved alignment with company goals, or increased revenue, your journey begins in first knowing what to measure and how to do it well.

An engaged workforce is almost always a profitable workforce. According to Gallup, companies with a well-defined culture of recognition and commitment to employee engagement have been shown to outperform their peers by 147 percent in earnings per share. Learning how to measure engagement – and what to measure – are the first steps towards realizing the engagement advantage. By measuring engagement in a number of ways and against a number of different metrics, companies can then learn what actions they need to take to improve in this important area of differentiation.

What you’ll learn

Having a better understanding of what makes your organization tick can help you find a competitive edge that you didn’t know existed. In our new eBook, “Employee Engagement: Four Places to Start Measuring What Matters,” we provide four ways to effectively measure the results of your engagement programs to ensure success in areas critical to your business – such as employee retention, performance against goals, and alignment with company values. Download the eBook now and begin learning how to measure what matters!

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About Josh Danson

Josh Danson

Josh is Director of Content Marketing at Achievers. An accomplished marketing and communications professional with more than 20 years’ experience in the fields of marketing and PR, Josh worked as a press secretary on Capitol Hill before moving West, and from politics into PR – and on into content marketing. Josh graduated with High Honors in History from Kenyon College and lives in San Francisco with his wife and 9 year-old daughter. In addition to work and family, he is passionate about music, politics and fly fishing (not necessarily in that order).

 

 

 

Stay Connected During Change

Staying Engaged During Corporate Change (Part 2)

By: Courtney Clark

Change is practically a given in today’s competitive work environment. But how is an individual employee supposed to thrive in an environment of constant uncertainty? To successfully navigate this near-constant change, research suggests that it’s critical to stay engaged.

In the first post of this 3-part series (click here if you missed it), I shared strategies from my book The Successful Struggle, that help you stay engaged and in tune with the purpose of corporate change.

In addition to connecting with the reasons behind the change, there are other things you can connect with that make corporate evolution easier to swallow. One of the most helpful? People. Connecting with colleagues helps us feel better emotionally when we’re facing change, and increases the likelihood that the outcome of the change will be successful.

In a study of employees in large-sized companies facing major changes, those who reported the highest levels of satisfaction after a change were also the most engaged employees. This makes sense on several levels. Actively engaged employees are more likely to be participating in the change or at minimum feel as if their voice is being heard. Engaged employees also reap the benefits of having relationships with colleagues they can lean on when transitioning becomes stressful or confusing.

In The Successful Struggle, I tell the story of David, whose role at work was changing because of a new strategic direction. David was off-balance because of the change, and worried he couldn’t deliver on his new goals. Because he didn’t want to be perceived as negative about the alteration to his role, he was reluctant to speak up in meetings. Withholding his thoughts in this setting became so innate to David that he pulled away from his colleagues during the work day, too.

David convinced himself that disconnecting from his colleagues was natural. He told himself that he was just putting his head down and focusing. It made sense to him that he would hunker down in his office, not emerging until he had a successful action plan completed. But pulling away from his colleagues was only making David more isolated. His ideas had been created in a vacuum, they lacked the fine-tuning they usually received when David shared his ideas with the group. As a result, David was not only miserable, but also less successful.

Employees who stay connected during change – to their peers, their managers, and even their personal social circle – navigate change in a much healthier way than those who pull away from others. Studies show that maintaining personal connections is a predictor of a well-handled change.

If you feel yourself pulling away from colleagues and friends during change, that’s a red flag. To connect with the people around you, try these three things:

  1. Speak Up – It can be intimidating to verbalize your concerns about change, because we’re often taught to wait and evaluate a situation before we speak. But if we don’t speak up and ask questions, we run the risk of not getting the information we need so that we CAN effectively evaluate a situation. What a Catch-22! But don’t let it silence you. Ask clarifying questions as needed, just try to do so in a constructive way. By asking questions with a positive slant, you are demonstrating that you are engaged as well as exhibiting a positive attitude about the change.
  2. Build a Work Support Network – If you’ve avoided having a work support network, change can be a great catalyst for creating one. Identify a mentor and at least one or two peers you can lean on for support. Be sure that your conversation topics don’t center on “venting,” which is an unhealthy dialogue style that keeps you feeling agitated and ignores problem-solving.
  3. Lean on Your Personal Support Network – You may not feel like talking about work problems outside of work. But having the support of your friends outside of work has been shown to be helpful. Even if you only spend a few minutes catching them up on the issue, you’ll feel like you have the moral support that will keep you going the rest of the work week; then you can lay those issues aside and go out and have a fun evening.

It’s natural to want to crawl into your cubicle and disconnect from the world when you’re facing the uncertainty of change, but you’ll be significantly more successful if you make it a priority to stay connected to your workplace and the people in it. When you stay engaged, ask questions, and lean on your support network, you’ll be surprised – and relieved! – to find how much easier it is to handle change.

Stay tuned for the next installment of my three-part series. And for those of you that need to catch up, you can find the first installment of my blog series here.

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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.CourtneyClark.com

 

Employee Engagement Summit 2017

Achievers at Europe’s Largest Employee Engagement Summit: London, April 20

By: Ruth Chapman
Marketing, Achievers EMEA

According to Gallup, companies with a highly engaged workforce outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share. Yet, even with more evidence stressing its importance, the state of engagement in the UK remains low, with only around a third of workers being highly engaged. As a consequence, productivity continues to lag nearly 20% behind that of other G7 countries. It’s no surprise then that engaging employees and promoting positive workplace culture are both high priorities for business leaders throughout the UK.

Join hundreds of HR executives, practitioners and thought leaders at the Employee Engagement Summit 2017, a one-day event to focus on employee engagement and come away with practical advice and solutions for implementing, or improving, your own employee engagement programs.

The third Employee Engagement Summit to be held at the Victoria Park Plaza in Central London on 20th April 2017 promises to be the biggest and best yet – with Chief Executive plenary keynotes, 45 speakers, 500 delegates, 2 seminar rooms, world-class case studies and round-table sessions.

An exciting, varied and packed agenda to include the following topic streams:

  • Employee & Customer Engagement, Links to Performance & Profitability
  • Internal Communications and Voice of the Employee
  • Learning & Development
  • Evolution of Work
  • Future of Work
  • Strategy & Leadership
  • Transformation & Change Management
  • Reward & Wellbeing

Come along and visit the Achievers team – our stand is located right near the refreshments so grab a coffee and head over for a chat or a demo – we even have some exciting giveaways!

With an opening keynote from former employment relations minister Jo Swinson and an enticing plethora of case study presentations from iconic brands such as Harrods, Heathrow, Thomson Reuters, the BBC, Vodafone, Nationwide, Grant Thornton, The Civil Service, John Lewis, NHS, the Co-op and many more, delegates at the Summit will have plenty to sink their teeth into. The 2017 Summit will also include delegate friendly interactive polling technology designed to encourage networking and full immersion into the day’s proceedings. It’s an event not to be missed!

Achievers own Denise Willett, Senior Director, Achievers EMEA, will be taking the stage in Hall 1 at 11:30am-11:50am for her speaking session Using Recognition to Drive Business Performance. In her session, Denise will explain why employee engagement is more important – and harder to achieve – than ever before, and demonstrate the powerful link between recognition and engagement. Using client examples, she will share valuable insights into how recognition can be used to align employees with the corporate values and business goals that impact bottom-line results.

Want to arrange a prescheduled meeting with Achievers at the show?
Please contact Mark Baldwin to organize a prescheduled meeting.
Email: mark.baldwin@achievers.com
Telephone: +44 (0)7791 510037

For more information, visit the Employee Engagement Summit website. And make sure to follow @Achievers on Twitter to stay updated on event happenings.

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About Ruth Chapman
Ruth Chapman
As a recent addition to the marketing team at Achievers EMEA, Ruth is focused on growing awareness of the Achievers brand in the UK and wider EMEA marketplace. It is her mission to communicate the success that our corporate employee engagement and recognition platform is driving for our clients.

 

 

 

Evolution of HR Technology

A Brief History and Future of HR Technology

By: Iain Ferreira
Content Marketing Manager, Achievers

If the Terminator film saga (and to a lesser extent, Stephen King’s Maximum Overdrive) taught me anything, is that it’s better to welcome the evolution of technology than be on the other side. Similar to the technical enhancements made to the cybernetic endo-skeletal T-100 in the first Terminator that begat the liquid alloy T-1000 of T2 fame, HR technology has seen a number of improvements in recent years that have made a world of difference. Moving from a set of disconnected processes and legacy systems reliant on manual inputs and characterized by balky technology, today’s HR technology is moving towards more streamlined, user-friendly platforms that can cover a range of HR functions in a more holistic, unified manner. While specialized applications focused on specific aspects of HR, such as employee well-being or recruitment, are also needed, the flexibility of cloud-based systems, mobile technology and design thinking has allowed HR tech to evolve seemingly eons beyond where it was just a decade ago. But let’s take a look back and see what these changes mean for the future of HR technology.

The Birth of the Modern Era of HR Tech

The 1990’s is when the modern era of HR Tech had its start. This time period saw the rise of the first online job boards, which made recruiting easier than ever before but also disrupted traditional employer-applicant relationships. HR recruiters could now easily source and screen hundreds of resumes of potential candidates and pare down applicant pools so that only the most qualified entered the interview process. However, this also had the effect of increasing the competition for top talent. It’s no surprise then that the 2000’s saw a greater emphasis on talent management applications that were no longer locally deployed. These new recruiting and talent management systems began to migrate to the Cloud, making implementation and maintenance a breeze. While these applications were functional they lacked the kind of employee-facing, user friendly interfaces that would be needed for them to become truly “sticky” and the kind of platform that employees actually wanted to use.

Today’s workplace is evolving to become more employee-centric and HR technology is evolving in tandem. In this current era, the focus is on identifying and hiring the top talent, and then keeping them engaged and productive. Recognition, Health & Wellness, Learning and Development – these are a few of the emerging areas of HR tech that have become crucial to engaging and retaining top talent.

Central to this growing suite of tools focused on the employee experience is their ability to positively impact engagement. With Gallup recently reporting that 87% of employees worldwide are disengaged, being able to take action to improve engagement by technological means can clearly holds great promise. Furthermore, with millennials now making up a larger portion of the workforce than ever before, finding measureable and repeatable ways to keep them engaged engagement has become of the utmost importance. With this reality as the backdrop, it’s easy to see why it is so important for companies to adapt and embrace the latest shifts in HR technology before they lose out in the war for talent. Here are a few more ideas as to where HR technology might be heading in the future:

Increase in Learning Management/Career Growth Platforms

According the Gallup study referenced earlier in this blog, 87% of millennials place a high value on growth and development opportunities in the workplace. So it stands to reason that the popularity of Learning Management Systems will continue to grow, with companies adding these to their suite of employee experience tools either as stand-alone offerings, or as an add-on to their existing employee engagement platform via integration with an open API. Access to an LMS benefits both the employer and employee alike; the employee acquires new, marketable skills (along with positive feeling of personal growth that the learning experience engenders), and the employer can expect increased productivity or an expanded skill-set from the employee. This category of employee engagement is going through a disruptive period of its own, with the increased adoption of career mobility platforms. These platforms are more than an LMS; they allow employees to gain an understanding of a new role all within the confines of their current company, sometimes going as far as offering role-specific tasks to complete.

An Increase in Actionable Data

With the proliferation of HR technology, data regarding almost every aspect of the employee experience is being tracked, measured and analyzed. Traditional metrics, such as attendance, do little to predict the future performance of employees, outside of their likelihood to show up every day. But new forms of data are beginning to shed light on drivers and predictors of employee engagement that were never available before. From recognitions given and/or received on an engagement platform, to the results of frequent pulse surveys, today’s employers now have access to reams of valuable employee data to analyze and subsequently act upon. This will only increase as big data continues to work its way into every layer of the business decision making process. By utilizing the wealth of metrics now offered on HR Tech platforms, employers can quickly identify poorly performing employees and possibly re-engage before they leave for another opportunity; or conversely, identify top performers and develop strategies for engaging and retaining them.

Greater Integration with External Systems via APIs

Virtually the entire business world has seen a major philosophical shift through the development and increased use of APIs. APIs afford employers a greater amount of choice in the external platforms they integrate into the workplace. This allows them to offer best in class applications for each aspect of HR, further ensuring the platforms they offer employees are functionally effective and entirely useable. Open API’s and the growth of Single Sign On (SSO) technology also serve to simplify the navigation of day to day HR systems as employees are no longer forced to remember a unique login name and password for every disparate system used in the workplace. Instead, different programs such as health and wellness tools, referrals programs, LMS’s, etc. can be offered in a unified environment.

The HR technology landscape has evolved so much so in the past decades that it can difficult to remember what life was like before the current era – and few of us would want to! With ongoing innovation occurring at an ever increasing pace, it can seem increasingly daunting to keep up with the times. But what remains consistent is the need to identify, hire, engage and retain talented employees. Thankfully, this has been made easier by the emergence of tools focused on the entirety of the employee experience, especially in areas like employee recognition which Aon Hewitt just identified as the top driver of employee engagement in its 2017 Trends in Global Engagement Report.

When thinking about the future of HR tech, don’t be scared of emerging technology and don’t get left behind, or like the countless victims of that famous cinematic cyber-warrior mentioned in the opening, you risk getting terminated.

Learn more about what to look for in an employee engagement and recognition solution. Download the Buyers Guide for Social Recognition Systems.

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About Iain Ferreira

Iain FerreiraIain Ferreira is the Content Marketing Manager at Achievers. He lives in San Francisco. You can view his Linkedin profile here.

 

 

 

the value of coaching

Why Millennials Want Coaches, Not Managers

Your workforce is increasingly made up of millennials; this is unsurprising – they’re the ones with the most contemporary skills, and with each passing year they become a larger percentage of the working world. With close to 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day, millennials now represent the largest subset of America’s workforce. Approaching these younger workers with the attitude and expectations of a coach, rather than the antiquated characteristics of a traditional “boss,” is key to maintaining their engagement. Here’s how a coaching style differs from the approach of a traditional manager, along with a few insights about why this shift in managerial style is so important.

Coaching responds to failure with empowerment

A manager who behaves in the classic “boss” tradition is likely to take a disciplinary tone after an employee fails or does a poor job on a project. Getting “chewed out” by the boss is a familiar trope in the stereotypical work environment. Coaching, on the other hand, takes an entirely different approach. If a player on a sports team does badly, the coach may feel frustrated, but he or she is well aware that scolding and criticizing the player is not likely to yield better results in the future. Instead, a coach views failure as a sign that the player needs more training, support, and encouragement.

Harvard Business Review (HBR) describes the behavior of award-winning college coach Mike Krzyzewski after a player’s carelessness caused his team to lose. He took the whole team out for an ice cream sundae party, emphasizing encouragement and team-building, and then he held an extra practice to help everyone come together again.

Millennials want more frequent feedback

When you picture a coach guiding a team to victory, you probably imagine lots of feedback was involved. The coach is on the sidelines, shaping the choices that the players make and shouting encouragement or suggestions. After the event, the coach probably holds a video session and works together with players to identify areas that need improvement. It’s all very hands-on.

Now, contrast that leadership style with the annual employment evaluation that typifies an old-school manager’s pattern. An employee is called in to the boss’s office and given an evaluation containing praise and criticism that might be outdated, perhaps even a year old. A coach wouldn’t have a successful team if he or she only gave feedback once a year.

Furthermore, millennials want the high-touch guidance of a coaching culture. A global survey finds that overall, millennials want feedback 50 percent more often than older employees, with most of them preferring feedback on a weekly or monthly basis.

Employee success depends on rewards and recognition

While frequent feedback is a proven method for increasing employee engagement, the quality of that feedback is equally important. An effective coaching approach is based on recognizing each person’s individual strengths. Best practices include creating a company culture that emphasizes positive feedback and employee appreciation. Positivity is necessary in every workplace, but it’s especially crucial when you’re leading a team of millennials.

A recent Gallup report noted, “Only 19 percent of millennials say they receive routine feedback. An even smaller percentage of millennials (17 percent) say the feedback they do receive is meaningful.” This same report states that fewer than 15 percent of millennials ask for the feedback they really want; so it’s up to leadership to establish these employee recognition best practices.

Managers are an important source of professional learning and development

Forbes states that most millennials identify their manager as their main source for learning and developing skills, but only 46 percent of those surveyed believe their deliver on this hope. These numbers are helpful because they indicate a direction you can take with your management style. One millennial worker quoted in the HBR article states, “It’s very important to be in touch with my manager, constantly getting coaching and feedback from him so that I can be more efficient and proficient.” And to further illustrate how much millennials crave learning and development, it’s been reported that 62 percent of executives say millennials will consider leaving their jobs because of a lack of learning and development opportunities.

Coaching takes the whole person into account

Though today’s cutting-edge companies invest serious effort into making sure their employees have a good work-life balance, they also realize that this new approach looks at employees as whole people, not just a drone carrying out a task with little to no thought. A great deal of research has gone into the psychology of coaching and the need to consider the “inner game,” but this mindset is still very new to the corporate world.

As more managers realize that helping their employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance will result in more highly engaged employee, they will likely change their style of supervision to emphasize encouragement. It’s all part of a more holistic approach to talent management; a recognition of workers’ inherent humanity and a step away from viewing them only as cogs in the wheel of a production assembly line.

It’s all about performance

Of course you want to treat your employees well for their own sake, but you also want to be an effective business person. You want to manage your team in such a way that productivity increases, both now and in the future. This often means understanding the unique needs of your millennial workers.

A coaching approach, versus a top-down “I’m-the-boss” approach gives you an incredibly powerful tool for increasing employee engagement among your younger team members. These workers will respond with higher performance and greater loyalty, bringing sustainable growth to your bottom line.

To learn more about how you can effectively introduce employee recognition to your millennial team, download our white paper, “Sink or Swim: How to Engage Millennials to Ensure the Future of your Business.”

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unbeatable workshop ideas

5 Fun Employee Workshops to Host in the Office

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

Office workshops break up the day, boost employee loyalty, and reduce turnover because they communicate the message that each individual contributor is more than a number. The key is in choosing the right workshops; the less they feel like a chore for employees, the more effective they’ll be. According to management training and leadership experts at Mind Tools, ineffective workshops can bring more problems than they actually solve: “Done wrong, they can be a huge waste of time and money. However, if they’re planned well, they can be incredibly valuable for everyone involved. Workshops are great for brainstorming, interactive learning, building relationships, and problem solving,”

Consider the following five workshop ideas and how they might fit with your company culture. Choose a few to sprinkle into the company calendar, adding variety and fun to the usual brainstorming sessions and project-focused meetings.

Lunch and Learn Workshop

Choose a day each month when all the members of your department converge for an hour to “network” internally. Cater lunch from a local restaurant or ask everyone to bring a potluck dish to make it more of a special event. Each month, one team or employee will share an important project they’re working on. The rest of the team can then provide constructive feedback and fresh ideas.

This open dialogue strengthens both the sense of camaraderie and level of collaboration between teams. It’s easy to operate in a siloed organization, but that’s not good for business, or your employees. Use your monthly “Lunch and Learn” to remind employees that their co-workers are valuable resources that they can and should turn to.

Self-Defense Workshop

Not all workshops need to be work related—in fact, to keep employees interested, it’s better if some aren’t. Workshops such as this one for self-defense show employees that you care about their well being, both in and out of the office:

“For companies who care about their employees, especially those whose employees regularly walk to their cars at night or alone, it would behoove employers to offer self-defense training courses for workers,” says Jeremy Pollack, self defense expert for Home Security Super Store.

The most important part of this workshop is choosing the correct instructor. Pollack suggests the following tips for vetting:

  • Does the instructor have videos you can look at?
  • Has an HR rep or a referring party been to an actual class and seen what the instructor has to offer?
  • How realistic is the instructor’s self-defense style, and how much real-world training and application does the instructor have?
  • Does he or she fit with the culture of your workplace?

Vision Board Workshop

Transform a conference room into a creative space for employees to make their own vision boards. Vision boards are a visual representation of how you want to feel or something you want to accomplish – a way to bring things inside you to life. Giving your employees the opportunity to create their own vision boards is an exercise in abstract thinking and serves as a way to help them explore avenues and inspiration for personal growth, both within the organization and as individuals.

A few key materials for this includes:

  • White boards and markers
  • Pens/pencils
  • Sticky notes
  • Magazines
  • Scissors

Host this workshop each month, allowing  a maximum of five participants each time. At the end of the workshop, have the participants share their favorite piece of the completed vision board with fellow employees. This should be inspirational and eye opening for everyone, even employees who didn’t participate that month.

Take it up a notch by inviting a life coach into the office. The five participants can talk with the life coach for 30 minutes as a group to start thinking creatively about their profession and growth. They can use this conversation to spur their ideas.

Mindfulness Workshop

Research conducted at the University of California Berkeley has found that practicing moment-to-moment awareness can reinforce an employees’ confidence, satisfaction, focus and productivity. Help them funnel these positives into their job performance by offering mindfulness workshops.

A few mindfulness workshops you can host include:

  • Meditation, guided with a focus on productivity
  • Yoga for reduced stress
  • Awareness and relaxation training
  • Work-life balance training

If employees love this workshop, you could make meditation and mindfulness a daily part of their routine. For example, schedule one conference room as “open” from 8-10am for quiet meditation every morning. People can choose to use it as they desire, boosting efficiency and well-being at the same time.

Financial Tools Workshop

Facilitating a money management seminar will help your employees understand the nuances of investment, budgeting, diversification and other financial concepts. Equipping people with the knowledge and resources to allocate their income wisely is both a source of empowerment for them and a reflection of your leadership expertise and concern for their overall well-being.

According to experts at Jumpstart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, “Companies providing financial education show improvement in the workplace including increased productivity, employee morale, and company loyalty and decreased healthcare costs, absenteeism, turnover, workplace distractions, and operational risk across the company.”

As the Jumpstart experts explain, a workshop like this is also beneficial to your bottom line, “Financial education programs have the effect of contributing to the company’s bottom line between $3 and $4 for every dollar spent.”

Financial workshop ideas include:

  • Financial tracking: Creating and maintaining a budget; setting goals.
  • Smart investing: How and where to invest; how to get the most for your money.
  • Credit cards: Smart use of credit; best ways to maintain good credit; what to look for in credit card rewards.
  • Retirement: How to prepare; what the company does to help; different types of accounts, along with benefits and drawbacks of each.

Regardless of your business’ overall size or scope, company growth is dependent on an engaged, cohesive and dynamic workforce. Therefore, offering workshops that benefit your employees, both professionally and personally, can mean the difference between attracting and maintaining top-tier talent versus mediocre space-fillers. Make your team feel appreciated, and their performance will speak for itself.

Are you looking for more ideas on how to improve your office culture? Check out my blog post 5 Company Initiatives That Improve Office Culture.

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About Jessica Thiefels
Jessica ThiefelsJessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a professional blogger and freelance writer. She spent the last two years working tirelessly for a small startup, where she learned a lot about running business and being resourceful. She now owns her own business and has been featured on Forbes. She’s also written for StartupNation, Manta, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 for more small business tips and ideas.

 

 

 

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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Customer Service: Do it Right the First Time!

By: Marci Peters
Director of Customer Service, Achievers

We have all experienced the good, the bad and the ugly of customer service. Often, customer service tends to fall into the bad and ugly categories. We have all gritted our teeth before calling a company for service or walking into a store to return an item, fearful of a confrontation because of a rigid policy, or simply because of the bad attitude (usually attributable to ineffective training!) of the person serving us. But whatever the cause, poor customer service can have a lasting effect on both the business offering it and the person on the receiving end.

In my 20+ years as a customer service professional, I have learned a lot about how to accentuate the good and minimize the bad and ugly. Whether I am checking out at the grocery store or out to dinner with friends, I find myself observing the level of service being provided. The one constant I find missing, is a lack of personalized service being provided. Many service representatives don’t make eye contact, let alone smile or engage in small talk. Instead, they focus more on the task at hand rather than the customer – the person – in front of them. This is because many service representatives and call center employees are trained for efficiency and are expected to check several boxes, such as validating callers first, rather than acknowledging the customer and their concern. This impersonal approach does little to demonstrate to the customer that they are a priority and that their issue is of importance to the customer service team.

With all that in mind, here are a few helpful hints to help ensure your customers are receiving The Good: Unparalleled, personalized customer service:

Do:

  1. Develop a personalized customer service philosophy and ensure your employee training clearly conveys this philosophy. What kind of experience do you envision for your customers every time they interact with your company?
  2. Make your main measure of success Customer Satisfaction instead of Average Handle Time. If your customers are happy, they will tell you. And if they are not, they will tell their friends and family, or even worse Yelp or Glassdoor.
  3. This one never gets old: hire people who are passionate about helping people. Many skills can be learned, but helpfulness tends to be part of the fundamental nature of a person.
  4. Treat your employees well; they are your most valuable resource. If your employees are happy (measure their happiness frequently), your customers will be happy as well.
  5. Empower and support your employees to deliver brilliant customer experiences. Employees who feel supported, recognized and empowered will be engaged. Employees should also be trusted to override certain policies to make customers happy (be it a slight alteration to a return policy, or applying goodwill credits or perhaps extending a recently expired promotion to a loyal customer).
  6. Have FUN at work!

Don’t:

  1. Utilize Interactive Voice Response (IVR) – Don’t do it! Live answer is the way to go. IVR’s are frustrating for your customers and are a barrier to providing personal, effective customer service. I was recently shopping for new call center software and one vendor kept pushing their self-service IVR functionality. They couldn’t understand why we weren’t interested. By avoiding the use of IVRs, it is far more likely that your customers will be satisfied by the personalized, specific assistance they received.
  2. Outsource – Unless you have full control over hiring, training and firing, then I strongly recommend against outsourcing. Sure, it might save you money, however it could cost you customers. Outsourced employees are usually underpaid and lack loyalty, resulting in a lack of commitment to your customers and your brand. When I managed the quality program for a large Canadian telecommunications company, my team would often recommend the removal of outsourced employees from our campaign and what would the outsourcer do? Turn around and put that employee on another company’s campaign.

Here at Achievers, our in-house Member Experience Team delivers a superior and personalized customer experience to more than 1 million eligible users in over 150 countries. We are committed to the highest level of quality and excellence, derived from our in-house staff and we recognize our Member Experience employees for providing the kind of personalized interactions that make for good experiences. Customer Satisfaction is our most important metric because we know if our members are delighted then it will drive the overall success of the program. Our mantra is simple:

Our Vision: To deliver a World-Class Customer Experience

Our Mission: To create Raving Fans by delighting members with our commitment to Service Excellence.

Dare to be different, and do what is right for your customer!

Check out another blog by Marci Peters on 5 Keys: How to Become an Inspirational Leader.

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

4 Easy Tips to Instantly Engage your Employees

According to Bersin by Deloitte, “employee engagement” refers to, “An employee’s job satisfaction, loyalty and inclination to expend discretionary effort toward organizational goals.” The more engaged employees you have, the more positive results you will see – from both a bottom line and a corporate culture standpoint. It’s as simple as that. But as Gallup recently reported, a mere 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work! And it’s not that much better here in the U.S., where only one in three employees are engaged at work.

Is employee engagement something your company struggles with? Start shifting the numbers in your favor with these four easy tips to instantly engage your employees:

Throw out the job description

We aren’t suggesting you should abandon your entire functional structure, but when thinking about roles, titles and capabilities it’s important to keep individual employees in mind. Management expert Glen Llopis encourages supervisors to build each job around the capabilities and interests of the person who currently holds that position. He points out that people stay more focused and perform much better when they enjoy the work they’re doing, and a good manager should be able to expand their leadership lens to consider an employee’s strengths when assigning any projects.

Praise co-workers

Managers aren’t the only ones who can commend a job well done. Encouraging peer-to-peer recognition within the workplace can be invaluable in increasing employee engagement. A simple “great job” from a co-worker goes a long way in encouraging employees to embrace teamwork and celebrate accomplishments. When co-workers celebrate shared wins and encourage one another to succeed, they are motivated to perform at their best and gain a sense of camaraderie around achieving one common goal. Spreading praise throughout the office is contagious and serves the dual purpose of instantly engaging employees and building a supportive work culture around shared goals and values.

Make every employee an “insider”

If you trust your employees enough to tell them about your company’s challenges – as well as its victories – you’ll find that they place a high value on your honesty. When employees feel like they’ve been brought in on the real, inside story, they are better able to understand the reasoning behind their company’s policies and actions. As an additional benefit, greater transparency and democratization often lead to innovation, as employees feel inspired and empowered to offer creative solutions to shared problems, which they will likely want to implement themselves. This approach may require a shift in perspective, especially if your company is accustomed to placing multiple filters between the C-suite and line workers. But it’s been proven that in companies with a flat organizational structure transparency can have some very tangible positive results.

Give immediate rewards and recognition

“Congratulate” is one of the “10 C’s” of employee engagement listed by Ivey Business Journal, and there’s a good reason for this. Their research finds that most employees feel that they receive immediate feedback (otherwise known as criticism) when they do something wrong, but that recognition for their positive contributions is usually slow in coming. The most effective leaders make sure to deliver immediate recognition and tangible rewards for a job well done. Rewards and recognition are most impactful when given frequently and tied back to specific desired behaviors or actions, as opposed to generally positive feedback provided quarterly or even yearly.

Employee engagement is not something to take lightly. Industry research shows why employee engagement matters: Just a 1% increase in employee engagement leads directly to an additional .6% growth in sales (according to Aon Hewitt) and companies with highly engaged workplaces have been shown to outperform their peers by 147%. So don’t pass up these simple solutions to help address a complex issue.

Learn more about milestones along the route to employee engagement from our Getting to Greatness Infographic.

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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

 

 

 

 

Top employee desires

What Rewards Do Employees Want Most?

The balance of power between employee and employer has shifted in recent years, especially in tech-related fields. As a human resources professional or manager, you’re probably all-too familiar with the job-hopping ways of highly skilled employees who feel they can pick and choose the job they want. And that’s reflected in the fact that more than half of all business owners feel that competition for talent is stronger than it’s ever been. But there are a number of ways to attract and keep top talent, and to keep them happy and engaged while they’re with you. Offering an employee recognition and rewards program has proven to be one of the most effective ways to retain highly skilled workers and to build your company’s financial strength at the same time. Here’s a look at why a rewards and recognition system is important, and how to choose the kinds of rewards that your workers really want.

Employee happiness is essential

Even if your business is centered on sophisticated equipment or software, human beings are still the essential engine that makes everything run – and a sense of emotional well-being is the primary fuel that keeps those human beings working at their peak performance level. Research shows that workers who are recognized and rewarded for their efforts feel happier in general, have better relationships with co-workers and are more open to constructive feedback. Financially, you’ll see measurable returns as well: According to an Aberdeen Group study, companies with some type of formal employee engagement program see a 25-percent increase in year-over-year revenue, along with nearly triple the sales team success. And the difference in annual customer service cost was equally eye-popping: companies with formal methods for employee appreciation saw a 12.7-percent savings in customer service expenditures, whereas companies that don’t have any employee recognition system in place spent 1.2 percent more for their customer service.

Why employee incentives have become more important

It’s always been true that recognizing and rewarding employees for their contributions results in better performance and less employee churn, but now that millennials are flooding the workplace thee levers have become more important than ever. Younger workers are often the ones with the most desirable skill-set, but in return for their services they expect employers to be appreciative of their efforts. Investopedia lays out the basic facts for managers: One-third of every U.S. worker belongs to this generation, along with half of all new immigrants who come here. The article goes on to advise, “This drastic shift in the workforce requires companies to change how they manage and reward talent. The policies and incentives that worked for past generations are no longer effective, and companies that fail to adapt may find themselves facing a shortage of talented and motivated workers.”

What kind of rewards should you offer?

Once you’ve made the decision to establish a formal system for recognizing and rewarding your workers, the next step is to figure out what kind of rewards will most effectively motivate and delight your employees. Here’s a quick review of the benefits and perks that are recommended by employee recognition best practices:

Social recognition

Especially for the growing population of millennial employees, a social recognition platform should be your first focus. This popular type of HR technology is perfectly suited for workers who have come of age in the era of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and so on. They’re accustomed to immediate feedback, “likes,” status updates and more, and if they’re praised, they want to be able to share the event with friends. You’ll build loyalty among this group of workers with shareable social acknowledgements because these rewards are magnified when posted on personal and professional networks.

Career coaching and professional development

Your employees work for many reasons besides merely earning a paycheck, and the best way to nurture their non-monetary motivations is to offer them a chance to advance in their careers. By providing the opportunity to learn new skills and embrace new challenges, you are fueling each worker’s passion for their job and helping them feel more engaged in your organization’s overall business success.

Additional flexibility

Everyone who works for you is also balancing a wide array of outside commitments and obligations. A study of employee wants found that 35 percent of workers say they would benefit from more flexible work schedules, and 46 percent say that having more control over their time is one of the most important factors when they’re looking for a new job. Rewarding your top performers with greater control over when and where they work is a cost-effective method of increasing employee happiness and building loyalty.

Gift cards and trendy items

Although pay and compensation must be competitive in order to ensure a sense of well-being among your workforce, employees today often expect more than just their baseline pay to feel truly appreciated. That’s why being able to offer a wide array of rewards in the form of gift cards, travel and leisure, and other hot items like tablet computers or VR goggles is complimentary to any fully-fledged social recognition program. The unique benefit of offering gift cards and a full selection of items from a catalog is that each employee can choose his or her own uniquely meaningful reward, and which will make them feel more satisfied than if they just received an insignia coffee mug, plaque, or some standardized gift that you purchased for them.

Your company’s financial strength depends on making sure that your employees stay engaged. Understanding some basics in human motivation can help you to be creative in finding ways to recognize your workers. New developments in HR tech also offer holistic systems for boosting worker happiness, increasing engagement and improving overall performance.

We all want to make our employees happy, so why not start by giving them what they want: an unbeatable rewards and recognition program in place. Learn how to kick off the right rewards and recognition program for your business by downloading The Ultimate Guide to Recognition.

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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!

Check out the second piece of my three-part series on staying engaged during corporate change here.

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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

 

Most Valuable Work Habits

Which Habits Drive Superior Employee Performance?

By: Andrew Sykes
Founder & President, Habits at Work

In our previous blog, we explored how a company’s destiny is intimately linked to the Pivotal and Work Habits that its employees practice.

Employers have traditionally been inattentive to the design of employee habits, focusing instead on results produced. While this is a reasonable approach, employers have missed the opportunity to create environments that makes it easy for employees to practice both Pivotal and Work habits, which provide a difficult-to-see (and therefore difficult-to-copy) competitive advantage.

Pivotal Habits are the sets of health, happiness and financial security behaviors that prepare us to perform. They are the largest untapped source of increased human performance at work.

Practicing Pivotal Habits maximizes the probability that we show up to work each day full of energy, mental clarity and focus. If these habits are well supported by employers, they leave employees highly engaged with their work and their customers, and inspired to make a difference.

Practicing Pivotal Habits creates performance improvements in all people, irrespective of their roles in the business.

BRATLAB Habit Prescriptions: Which habits matter?

In our research at BRATLAB, we have found 9 collections of Pivotal Habits that consistently produce superior performance results.

Pivotal Habit Collections

 

Health

Move (exercise, stand and move more)

Nourish (eat for optimal performance, remove toxins like tobacco, moderate consumption of risky substances like caffeine and sugar, supplement as required)

Restore (sleep 7-9 hours, limit device usage, manage stress and adhere to drug regimens whenever required)

Happiness

Savor (savor positive experiences, practice optimism, express gratitude)

Focus (create positive relationships, perform acts of kindness and generosity, practice mindfulness)

Foster (use character strengths, show self-compassion, live purposefully)

Financial Security

Protect (purchase sufficient insurance, protect against identity theft and fraud)

Manage (learn and apply money management skills, reduce debt, create a budget and track spending regularly)

Save (save for retirement, create a short-term savings plan)

You’re probably not surprised by most of the items on this list, however the crucial details of the most effective version or prescription for each Pivotal Habit varies based on the outcomes we desire.

For example, if you’re interested in achieving improved cognitive function, then the current research says the detailed Move Prescription for producing that outcome is to do six minutes of high intensity exercise (like jumping jacks, burpees, high knees and a variety of other exercises that get your heart rate pumping) just before you need your brain to work best, and the effect lasts for the next two hours.

Alternatively, if the outcome you desire is reduced healthcare costs as an employer, then the detailed Move Prescription is doing medium intensity cardiovascular training, mixed with weight training, four to five times per week for 30 minutes at a time.

The devil is in the detail and the details matter to the kind of performance gains employers will see.

For most people and companies, the outcomes we want are “all of the above” and so we have to very carefully design the “lowest common denominator” versions of each Habit Prescription.

This is the work we do at Habits at Work, helping each employer find the Pivotal Habit Prescriptions that optimize employee performance AND that are a fit for those people and that company.

Which Work Habits matter most?

Pivotal Habits prepare every human being to perform better in their roles in life and at work. But this habits thinking extends to the details of our actual jobs as well.

We can ask, “Which behaviors, practiced again and again, will result in us performing our roles optimally, achieving the best possible outcomes in that role and for the customers and businesses we serve?,”

In the previous blog we labeled these our Work Habits and showed how they, together with Pivotal Habits, are the fundamental building blocks of corporate competitive advantage.

Unlike Pivotal Habits, these Work Habits are unique to every distinct role in a company. Defining what these habits are for each role should be a fundamental act of job design.

For salespeople, high performing Work Habits include making cold calls, holding effective sales meeting, making compelling presentations, sending thank you notes, updating sales management software, sending quality proposals, asking for the deal and ensuring contracts get signed.

For accountants, effective Work Habits include balancing the company accounts each month, issuing invoices, collecting outstanding money, paying creditors, producing monthly financial statements and answering emails only in the morning and late afternoon (to ensure uninterrupted times of focus during the day). A very different set of habits than those prescribed for effective selling.

Why do the details of Pivotal AND Work Habits matter?

Simply knowing that you should exercise every day is almost trite and somewhat useless. But knowing that the OPTIMAL type of exercise for performance in your role is short bouts of high intensity exercise, done at your desk regularly throughout the day, consuming even less time than you’d normally spend at the gym and requiring no special clothes, time off, or special facilities, makes a world of difference to:

  • the actual outcomes you get, and
  • your chances of practicing the habit at all.

The art of ensuring that people do what makes a difference to their performance, starts by designing “Habit Prescriptions” that are clear to understand, that are optimized to increase performance (based on research), and that are easy to fit into their already busy lives.

At Habits at Work, we help employers to define these Pivotal and Work Habits, and to optimize them both for ease of completion by employees as well as for their performance impact.

Now, with these insights in mind, let’s define the “design problem” for employers who wish to become High Performance Employers:

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 us as an employer?

That’s the question we’ll answer in the last of this series of three blogs.

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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

 

 

 

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.

 

 

The Role of Work Habits

Employee Habits Are Your Company’s Destiny

By: Andrew Sykes
Founder & President, Habits at Work

High-performance employers enjoy higher than industry average levels of productivity per employee. Measures of this success include revenue generated per head, return on capital employed, speed to market with new products and customer delight. These measures point to what a business and CEO get by BEING a high-performance employer, but they don’t explain what it takes to BECOME one.

The Role of Pivotal Habits

An underappreciated source of employee performance is their health, happiness and financial security – what we collectively describe as thriving.

Many people think that health is a matter of luck or good genes more than lifestyle, that happiness is a right or is related to how many things or experiences they have and that financial security depends almost entirely on how well they are paid.

The reality is quite different: the largest part (well over 50%) of our health, happiness and security is achieved by practicing a relatively small set of habits.

But how does employee health, happiness and security drive employee and company performance?

When employees thrive in life and at work, they can focus their time, minds and energy on building new products, being innovative and agile in their approach, and working with greater clarity and stamina (not necessarily longer hours, but “fuller” hours).

If you’re the kind of employer that supports employees in achieving their most important life goals, your reward is their loyalty, engagement and commitment. This is what shines through when they do their jobs and delight your customers, driving higher growth and return on capital employed. In turn, this creates new opportunities for their career growth, which is an important driver of employee happiness, especially for a younger workforce. This is truly a virtuous cycle that, once turning, plays a role in the enormous success of some of the world’s highest performing employers.

Do employees view thriving as their most important life goal?

It may sound presumptuous for an employer to claim that they understand what it means for each employee to thrive at work, let alone in life. Yet, when we’ve asked thousands of employees the simple question “what does success look like for you and what do you want for your life?,” they universally give answers that fall into the three broadly-defined buckets of health, happiness and security.

The habits that create health, happiness and security are so important in preparing us to perform and sustaining our performance over time that we call them the “Pivotal Habits.”

The Role of Work Habits

Then, there are habits that make up work. They are unique to each person or at least to their role. We prefer to think of our roles in terms of outcomes, but the quality of our performance is really a matter of doing the same or similar things, really well, over and over again. We can, therefore, think about each person’s job as a collection of habits, and we can think of the purpose of our job as a set of outcomes to be achieved by practicing those habits.

We call these habits our “Work Habits.”

Pivotal Habits PREPARE US TO PERFORM by giving us the mental clarity, focus, energy and stamina, and removing stress, financial concerns and health challenges. They allow us to perform our Work Habits with high fidelity, quality and consistency.

Together, they ensure we achieve the outcomes our roles ask of us and more. The beauty of focusing on both types of habits is that we drive higher performance for our companies in a way that leaves employees more engaged. This is what delivers the competitive advantage for high performance employers.

But wait, surely competitive advantage comes from something other than employee habits?

What about strategy, execution, new products, corporate agility, innovation, market timing, and a long list of candidates for the “IT” factor that explains high performance?

Searching online for “corporate competitive advantage” produces nearly four million hits and there are shelves of books and a wealth of high quality research in favor of the importance of strategy (e.g. Porter), capital funding, execution (e.g. Bossidy and Charan), culture (e.g. Drucker), visionary leadership and competent managers as drivers of competitive advantage.

Although each of these factors is important, on closer examination it becomes clear that there is a fundamental or atomic view of what each of these drivers has in common.

The building blocks of developing an effective company strategy are a set of Work Habits for those in strategic development roles. Execution is clearly about the whole workforce doing what they need to do, consistently over time (Work Habits).

Well-funded startups are routinely outperformed by two people in a garage, absent funding but with just the right Work Habits to produce the next big thing. Great leaders are not born; they spend each day doing pretty much the same things: telling stories to people to inspire them to build their vision (storytelling as a Work Habit) and great managers have their own set of high-performance Work Habits.

Therefore, the future of your company, and whether it will be a high performing business or not, depends entirely on the effectiveness of the different Work Habits practiced by your employees (as well as the Pivotal Habits that prepare them for sustained action).

Again, the fundamental unit of corporate competitive advantage is the habits practiced by your employees.

In fact, so strong is the link that we say, for employees and for your company, HABITS ARE YOUR DESTINY.

What makes high performance companies different?

High performance employers recognize the link between employee Pivotal and Work Habits and performance at work. They design their workplaces (the physical space, business processes, social networks and how they tell stories about their business to employees) in such a way that it becomes easy and natural for employees to practice these important habits. Pivotal and Work Habits are like the motor that turns the wheel of corporate performance.

Wheel of Corporate Performance

Why should CEOs care?

Most CEOs and other business leaders miss that:

  • Employee health, happiness and security are strong, yet underappreciated drivers of performance. At our Behavioral Research Laboratory (BRATLAB), we’ve spent the last decade researching just how strongly Pivotal Habits drive performance. Bottom line: Their impact is significant, perhaps greater than any other opportunity for improving employee productivity available to business managers today.
  • It is employee habits (both Pivotal and Work Habits) that are the fundamental unit of competitive advantage for companies, and becoming a master at designing for these habits will provide you with a difficult-to-copy, sustainable competitive advantage. Difficult to copy because few other CEOs recognize the fundamental role of habits, and sustainable because employees will thrive, rather than burn out.

This leaves two big questions: exactly which habits matter most to performance (both Pivotal and Work Habits) and how do we design our companies to make it easy and natural for employees to practice these habits?

These questions will be answered in my next two guest blogs. Check out my second guest blog: Which Habits Drive Superior Employee Performance?

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About Andrew Sykes

Andrew SykesFor more information contact Andrew at Andrew@habitsatwork.com or read more online at www.habitsatwork.com or www.BRATLAB.com

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Who’s Your OGO?

By: Chris Jacobsen
National Account Executive, Achievers

A paradigm shift is happening in today’s workforce with the balance of power shifting from the employer to the employee. In response to this shifting playing field, employers are starting to register the power of recognition to boost engagement levels and increase productivity among their employees. But we still have a ways to go. According to a recent survey by KRC Research, workers say that an average of 50 days (nearly two months) pass between moments of recognition, while nearly 9 in 10 (87%) middle management employees feel unrecognized by their supervisors. 88% also feel unrecognized by their coworkers. With the shift to an employee-centric workplace, these recognition “droughts” should be a thing of the past. But although a greater emphasis on engagement and recognition has been underway for some time, it still feels as though we’re at the dawning of a new day.

As an Account Executive for an industry leader in the employee engagement space, getting to play a role in helping to bring about this shift is personally rewarding. But let me take a step back and tell you a little about how I ended up here and why the idea of recognition is so personally significant to me.

It’s Fall of 2009, and my soon to be wife, Anne, and I are sitting down for pre-marital counseling before we seal the deal (I know this is a Human Resources blog; but bear with me, I have a point, I promise). Something that has stuck with me since those counseling sessions, besides my wildly understanding, compassionate, and beautiful wife of seven years, is the topic of love languages. I had never given any thought as to what my “love language” might be until I was challenged to do so in those counseling sessions. Lo and behold, mine is “Words of Affirmation”. According to the assessment: Give me a little appreciation and recognition for a job well done and I’m good to go. How delightfully ironic (or perhaps not!) that I now work for a company whose mission it is to enable recognition and employee appreciation to happen anytime, anywhere in the world; and in so doing, change the way the world works.

Given my penchant for learning and a desire to know as much about the field of employee recognition as possible, it’s no surprise I was drawn to a book titled O Great One!, A Little Story About the Awesome Power of Recognition. “O Great One,” or OGO for short, was a nickname coined by the book’s author, David Novak, who: “Thought being called Grandpa, Poppy (or any similar title by his grandchildren) made him feel old before his time. Taking a cue from his father-in-law ‘Great Jack,’ he decreed his grandchildren should address him by his new moniker “O Great One” or “OGO” for short.” O Great One! (http://www.ogothebook.com/) is about the awesome power of recognition and how we can all play a part in attacking the world’s recognition deficit.

In the book, Mr. Novak tells how his interest in the idea of recognition grew from a personal experience of his – specifically, a birthday. On this particular birthday, his family gave him a gift in the form of a jar filled with strips of paper with moments of appreciation and expressions of love inscribed on them. This act had such a powerful effect on Novak that it provided the impetus for him to start a movement to attack “the global recognition deficit” – and to write a book, OGO, about the awesome power of recognition.

The importance of timely, frequent recognition is further emphasized within OGO as Novak recounts the experience of “Jeff,” who recognized a problem within his grandfather’s company after taking over as CEO.  The problem was a critical lack of employee recognition. With a few reluctant leaders on his team and skeptical board members, Jeff embarked on a mission to change the way his company works.

Being the former CEO of YUM! Brands (you know… KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut), Mr. Novak has a ton a of experience with employee recognition and the importance of making employees feel valued for their work. In leadership roles for many years, he witnessed first hand the tremendous success that comes with aligning employees to company values and business goals. Syntehsizing all of this experience into actionable insights, Novak lays out 10 guiding principles of recognition for employers and individuals alike:

  1. People won’t care about you if you don’t care about them
    You need to show people you care about them before you can expect anything from them.
  1. The best way to show people you care is to listen to them
    We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. We need to remember that there’s always someone who knows something we don’t.
  1. A great idea can come from anywhere
    Great ideas are essential to a company’s success, so view everyone as a potential source of inspiration.
  1. Recognize great work and great ideas whenever and wherever you see them
    It is the visibility and velocity of recognition that drives engagement results.
  1. Make recognition a catalyst for results
    What gets recognized gets repeated. Tie recognition to company goals and values.
  1. Make it fun
    Make the recognition moments fun and enjoyable. Let’s not take ourselves too seriously!
  1. Make it personal
    Recognition should be meaningful and should resonate on a personal level.
  1. Recognition is universal
    The power of recognition does not discriminate, and all of us, no matter who we are, love to be recognized and should feel included.
  1. Giving recognition is a privilege
    And the act of giving recognition is its own reward.
  1. Say thank you every chance you get
    Saying “thank you” is free, so let’s start saying it lot more.

This book is about the awesome power of recognition and how we can all play a part in attacking the world’s recognition deficit. It feels great to be recognized and to give recognition. If more organizations focused their efforts on fostering cultures of recognition, both employees and employers stand to benefit in the form of incrased engagement, reduced attrition, and improved customer satisfaction. What I’ve realized after reading this book and working with Achievers and its customers, is that we truly can change the way the world works, one OGO at a time.

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About Chris Jacobsen
Chris Jacobsen
Chris’ passion for sales and HR software began in Southern California where he worked with ADP. He and his wife of seven years moved to Montreal in 2010 and now reside in New York’s Hudson Valley with their 5 yr old daughter and 3 yr old son. Having worked in large and small corporations Chris is keenly aware of the power of recognition and showing appreciation for great work. Outside of helping organizations reimagine how they recognize their employees, Chris enjoys cooking, building couch forts with his kids, and running. Connect with Chris 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.

 

 

 

 

current and emerging HR Trends

Top HR Trends for 2016 with an Eye to the Future

By: Josh Danson and Iain Ferreira

With the sands of 2016 close to completing their journey through the pinched middle of the proverbial hourglass, it is only natural to consider what 2017 has in store. But before the future becomes the present, learning what trends emerged in the HR space in 2016 might help inform, and better prepare us for what’s to come. Below are 5 HR trends that emerged in 2016 that we believe will become more ingrained and ubiquitous in the coming months and years:

1. A More Diverse and Employee-Centric Workplace

The idea of an employee-centric workplace is one that can impact almost every aspect of an organization. From providing mechanisms for employees to directly influence the direction of a company, to facilitating a culture of recognition and engagement, in 2016 businesses were more focused on those in “the trenches” than ever before. For many organizations, the rise of an employee-centric work environment was made evident through the simple act of letting employees express their true selves, rather than stifling the individuality and diversity of thought that each individual brings to the table. As Kety Duron (Chief Human Resources and Diversity Officer at City of Hope, a California-based healthcare system) states in a recently published article on Forbes.com,  “Differences question the status quo and force us to learn from diverse thinking. You have to have people who are agile and can adapt. We can’t say we are open and then create workplaces that do not embrace diversity of thought. If we are trying to select and attract diverse talent to the leadership table and embrace their values, we must continue to encourage and value diverse thinking. When that happens at the leadership level it will cascade to all levels, creating an organization where diversity and inclusion is part of the organizational fabric.”

2. Work Anywhere, Anytime

With the ubiquity of personal electronic devices and growing variety of ways to log on and stay virtually connected, it is easier than ever for employees to work in the places in which they are most comfortable.  According to Jeanne Meister’s article, “Consumerization of HR: 10 Trends Companies Will Follow in 2016,” workplace flexibility is second only to salary when prospective employees are evaluating a job opportunity. Workplace flexibility not only creates an environment of trust between employer and employee, but also fosters a better work/life balance while reducing the costs of commuting. When work is results-driven, it shouldn’t matter where the work is being performed as long as mutually agreed-upon goals and objectives are met.

3. It’s (Still!) All About Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is the measure of how much employees believe in their company, and how much effort they are willing to put in to work toward its success. According to Gallup, in 2016 only 1/3 of U.S. employees reported being engaged at work and this number is little-changed in over a decade. So it’s not surprising that there are a number of solutions on the market focused on improving employee engagement. The most exciting and promising of these are focused on offering a complete employee engagement solution, not only focused on Health & Wellness, Learning & Development, or Rewards & Recognition, but linking all of those, while tying in measurement tools such as pulse surveys along with a robust suite of people analytics. By focusing on the complete employee experience, these emerging tools will provide the greatest ROI for emerging, employee-centric organizations.

4. Frequent, Real-Time Evaluation Tools

With increased emphasis on engagement and greater access to employee generated data and insights through recognition and rewards platforms, 2017 is shaping up to be the “Year of the Employee”. This being the case, it makes sense to invest in tools that can help you measure and act on employee engagement data in a frequent, timely manner. These can be as simple as a daily or weekly pulse survey offered through a centralized platform, or as formal as weekly one-on-one meetings between employees and their managers. By analyzing the results from these evaluation tools, companies can address certain systemic failings almost immediately This trend further emphasizes the transition to the “employee-centric” model by allowing employees to anonymously (in the case of online surveys) express their true feelings regarding their work environment and company priorities on a regular basis and then making that data widely available to help guide the business. Not only was this a trend in 2016, some think this will be a major enterprise in 2017 and beyond.

5. Employees as Cultural Ambassadors

In today’s always-on, mobile, social, transparent environment, rare is the employee lacking an up-to-date LinkedIn page and a Glassdoor premium membership. Couple these trends with greater emphasis on the individual and you have a recipe for what could be a company’s greatest (and perhaps, worst) asset for attracting top talent. With a simple click, employees can share with the hundreds, if not thousands of people in their social networks, the photos of that amazing team-building trip or a well-written blog post published by a company, espousing emergent industry trends in a given business sector. These seemingly disparate instances of social sharing actually form a lattice of social relevancy that serves to inform prospective employees of the pros (and cons) of an organization. A highly engaged, well-compensated employee is a greater recruiting tool than any other used before, as they are not a faceless, monolithic, one-way source of knowledge, but rather an approachable source of “real” insight that candidates can engage with to get an honest look into the inner working of a given organization.

Almost all of the emergent trends of 2016 reinforced the idea that employees are imbued with more power than ever before. From increased and ongoing importance of employee engagement, to trusting employees to get the job done from wherever they please, companies have already taken strong measures to assure they are at the forefront of this transition of power. With historically low unemployment rates, increased transparency, and more democratizing resources such as job boards, employer review sites and career building sites such as LinkedIn, 2017 looks sure to be the Year of the Employee.

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About Josh Danson

Josh Danson

Josh is Director of Content Marketing at Achievers. An accomplished marketing and communications professional with more than 20 years’ experience in the fields of marketing and PR, Josh worked as a press secretary on Capitol Hill before moving West, and from politics into PR – and on into content marketing. Josh graduated with High Honors in History from Kenyon College and lives in San Francisco with his wife and 9 year-old daughter. In addition to work and family, he is passionate about music, politics and fly fishing (not necessarily in that order).

About Iain Ferreira

Iain Ferreira

Iain Ferreira is the Content Marketing Manager at Achievers. He lives in San Francisco. You can view his Linkedin profile here.

 

 

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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Emotion and Employee Engagement

Intention vs. Action: Love Human Beings Not Human Doings

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

We judge ourselves based on our good intentions, and we judge others based on their actions. The holiday season is full of good intentions – but also many emotional pitfalls and opportunities to feel let down, put down, or shut down. We feel more pressure to be positive and present with family and friends, on top of accomplishing everything else on our normal end-of-year ‘To Do’ list.

So what gets in the way of us fulfilling our good intentions? Most of the time, it’s our emotions. According to research by Dr. Rachel Jack with Glasgow University there are four driving emotions that impact our ability to have the desired outcome we want. These four emotions are: fear, anger, happiness, and sadness. The challenge is that three out of four of these are negative. So how do we overcome negative emotions in order to achieve the positive outcome or results we desire?

In thinking about this question I was reminded of a client who was preparing for an important customer pitch. He had spent two weeks researching and putting together the best proposal possible with his team. But ten minutes before going into the meeting with his client, he received an email from his manager stating that one of his peers had been fired. He immediately wished he hadn’t read the email before his presentation because it caught him by surprise and left him with mixed emotions. He couldn’t understand why his peer was being let go and it led him to think negative thoughts: “Am I next?” “Why didn’t I see this coming?” “Should I be looking for another job?” Because of this negative emotional response he felt like he had been completely derailed.

But despite the shock he was in, he still had a presentation to give. When he walked into his client meeting he found he couldn’t focus – his energy was low and he couldn’t stop thinking about why his peer had been fired. Midway through the presentation he realized that his emotions were taking over his ability to deliver to the client. So much so that his other team members noticed something was off and began to wonder what had happened to him.

After the meeting was over, he felt the presentation had gone well enough, but was not as great as it could have. He wished he had the chance to re-do the presentation the way he envisioned. The meeting still went well and he was able to make the best of it, but his client and team members had no idea why he was distracted. They were judging him on his actions and how he was presenting himself in the moment – they didn’t know the emotional cause of his uncharacteristic performance.

This type of situation can, and does, happen to all of us. We are cruising along, focused on the day-to-day, when something unexpected happens that instantly derails us – whether it’s a co-worker saying something negative, or reading a difficult email. During these tough moments, it’s important that we bring ourselves back to present-moment thinking.

How do you bring yourself back to present-moment thinking? Start with asking yourself the following questions:

  • Does this feeling need to impact my actions, communication, and relationships right now?
  • Can I separate my thoughts and feelings from one another?
  • Can I take a few deep breathes to engage in the present moment and not be overtaken by what could be?

By asking yourself these questions calmly, you can slowly bring yourself back to present-moment thinking and overcome negative emotions.

The key Emotional Intelligence (EI) tool is to remember we are hardwired as human beings to feel before we think for our human survival, but this does not always serve us in our day-to-day living. Can you move away from the negative self-talk and feelings in order to achieve the results and have the impact you desire? Breathe. Ask yourself a few questions. And then get back to delivering on the good intentions you had set out to achieve that day. Most importantly, when you are interacting with friends and family this holiday season and you feel let down, remember to love human beings and not human doings. You can be pretty confident their intentions were worthy, it may just have been that their emotions got the better of them.

Want to learn more about EI? Check out our blog post How to Use Emotional Intelligence to Drive Employee Engagement.

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About Bobi Seredich

Bobi Seredich HeadshotBobi 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.

 

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.

 

How to Empower Leaders to Become Engagement Champions

By: Mike Vickers
Customer Training Manager, Achievers

Creating an engaged workforce is critical to business success. Engaged employees positively impact retention, absenteeism, productivity, customer ratings, profitability, and many other business outcomes – as outlined by Gallup. Sadly, only 32% of U.S. employees are engaged – meaning they are “involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.” And the numbers are even worse beyond our borders, with engagement standing at a mere 13% worldwide! While leading organizations are aware of the problem and are actively seeking solutions, many are not seeing a good return on their engagement investments. As customer training manager at Achievers, I often work with organizations who are excited and committed to improving employee engagement, but they don’t really know where to start. I think part of the problem can be solved by clarifying who’s responsible for improving day-to-day employee engagement.

While I completely agree that HR is responsible for managing many of the programs and practices that impact and measure engagement, we can’t stop there. So who exactly has the greatest potential to influence day-to-day employee engagement in our organizations? Leaders. Leaders at all levels, especially at a senior level, have an obligation and a responsibility to drive employee and business success by becoming engagement champions. It is a commonly accepted business truism that people leave managers, not companies. Managers are the people that employees must interface with on a daily basis and with whom they have their most meaningful and impactful interactions with (both positive and negative). Because of the outsized impact they have on employee engagement, leaders and managers must learn what levers to pull in order to foster engagement on their teams.

It has been found that one of the most effective ways to drive engagement is through recognition. In fact, when asked what leaders could do more of to improve engagement, 58% of respondents to a recent survey replied “give recognition.” But employee recognition is just one piece of the employee engagement puzzle, albeit an extremely important one. What else can leaders do to help them become an engagement champion? Josh Bersin’s Simply Irresistible Organization model highlights five elements that drive employee engagement, and I believe leaders should use this as a guide in their role as engagement champions.

Josh Bersin's Simply Irresistible Organization model

Josh Bersin’s Simply Irresistible Organization model

Employing Josh Bersin’s Simply Irresistible Organization model and embracing employee recognition is a great place to start for leaders hoping to become engagement champions. [Josh presented the Simply Irresistible Organization model at the Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) conference back in 2014. You can watch his full presentation here if you’d like to learn more.] But how can organizations help accelerate their leadership’s path to becoming engagement champions? To begin with, they can use the following strategies to coach, develop, and support them on their journey.

Train leaders

Leaders need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to drive employee engagement. Training should focus on why it’s important, how it can benefit them in their roles, and what they can do to improve engagement. This could take the form of short videos, bite-sized eLearning courses, formalized training sessions, intuitive reference materials, or other ways you train leaders. Leverage the expertise of your L&D team and align any training with their initiatives and programs.

Communicate frequently

Since leaders are often busy people, they need to be reminded on a regular basis of practical tips for engaging their team. The model above provides a starting point, but regular communications can help to reinforce what you expect of leaders and the ways in which you are supporting them, including: training, technology and mentorship.

Enable them with simple tools

As Deloitte points out, “people are overwhelmed with the volume and always-on nature of messages, email, information, and work related activities,” so it’s important that engagement tools are easy to use for employees and leaders alike. Leaders need tools to frequently measure engagement, provide actionable insights, and support their engagement efforts.

When considering who to partner with to support your engagement initiatives, there are many to things to consider. First, you need to identify your needs. Many current software solutions focus on only one aspect of employee engagement, such as recognition or pulse surveys. Others, like Achievers, offer a more complete engagement solution. One that enables social and points-based recognition, results-based incentive campaigns, wellness initiatives, innovation programs, pulse surveys, actionable insights, and more.

Next, you should consider what you want the employee, leader, and administrator experience to be with your software solution. The Achievers platform is designed to be an intuitive experience for all users, regardless of what device it’s accessed on. Finally, you should consider only those providers who will be a true partner on your engagement journey. Since its founding in 2002, Achievers has partnered with hundreds of organizations to improve employee engagement and positively impact business results.

By clarifying who’s ultimately responsible for day-to-day employee engagement and empowering leaders to become engagement champions, organizations can create an engaged workforce and see business success. To learn more about how to become an engagement champion, download The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition.

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About Mike Vickers
Mike VickersMike Vickers joined Achievers in January 2014 to lead customer training and education. He has spent over six years designing and implementing learning and performance strategies for organizations of all sizes. Mike is passionate about transforming organizations through effective learning solutions, innovative technology platforms, and modern HR practices. Connect with Mike on Twitter (@MikeVickers) or LinkedIn.

 

 

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 jobsWorkplace 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 mattersGoals 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 experiencePeople 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 employeesEmployee 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 employeesUnnervingly, 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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Also, don’t forget to check out our cool infographic highlighting these 5 eye-opening HR stats.

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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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Employee Recognition Experience Open API

Achievers in the Flow of Work: The Open API

By: Amit Kaura
Senior Manager, Software Engineering, Achievers

Open API
Imagine all of your employee recognition and rewards programs; everyday recognition, innovation, recruiting referrals, or years of service awards; even sales incentives, on one platform. It’s the place where everything belongs: A place where you can align every employee, globally, on a single platform and make your recognition and rewards budget go further by leveraging combined data from every employee rewards program. A behavior-driving engine that aligns your employees to your business objectives and company values, fueled by recognizing and rewarding shared victories every day. And because it was purposely designed based on the familiar and fun-to-use social media model, it’s an HR software platform that everybody actually wants to use. That is the basis of the Achievers recognition and rewards platform.

But we also recognize that not all employees are able to be on our platform 24X7, so that’s why we decided to extend the reach of our platform through an Open API – to make it as easy and seamless as possible for employees to send and receive recognitions in the everyday flow of work.

What are we trying to do with our APIs?

Most organizations use anywhere between 10 to 16 different software systems to run their business. These systems can range from document management systems like SharePoint and Confluence, to project management software like MS Project and Merlin, to intranet portals enabled via Jive, to social tools with a newsfeed, instant messaging and email, and many more. Employees spend at least 30 hours of their work week in their email and other collaboration tools. Every organization today is, on some level, a technology company and leverages technology in many forms to increase employee productivity and improve their top line.

At Achievers, we recognize this and want to be where employees spend most of their time. We want to be where the work gets done – and we are making this a reality today through integrations. With these and future integrations we are enabling employees to recognize each other and post recognitions to our platform from the other software platforms they use every day.

How does Achievers manage this? By having an open, public API that any organization’s developers can use to connect their software systems with ours, programmatically.

What is an API?

We live in a world that is incredibly fast paced and every term out there is abbreviated to save time.  Whether it is business terms like ROI, Capex, and BAU or social acronyms like LOL, OMG, and ROFL; initialism is ubiquitous in our lives. One acronym that presents itself frequently in tech circles is the lesser known, but equally powerful API, or application programming interface. What is an API? Let’s break it down into its component parts.

  • Application: If you have a smartphone, you are well acquainted with applications, they are the tools, games, social networks and other software that we use every day. Achievers is an application that facilitates employee engagement. Workday is an application that lets you maintain employee files for your workforce.
  • Programming: Programming is how the developers create all the software that make our lives so much easier.
  • Interface: An interface is a programmatic connection shared by two applications that allows them to communicate with one another.

An API is essentially a way for two different software systems to communicate with each other via a pre-defined, well understood and agreed upon standard. In other words, it is a set of standard specifications developed by the host service owners that developers, who are familiar with other systems or services, must follow when connecting systematically to the host service. The API lays out the functionality that is available in the host service, how it must be used, and what formats it will accept as input, or return as output.

Why did Achievers build its API?

Every recognition on our platform has a story. It is an interconnected series of events that starts with an accomplishment, business or personal, by an employee. These accomplishments can be as simple as exhibiting a desired behavior like, “going the extra mile.” Or they can be specific, like achieving a sales goal. This sense of accomplishment is motivating in and of itself, but it is an even more powerful motivator when it leads to a recognition given by a leader or peer, with that recognition reinforcing and perpetuating the employee’s behavior, or accomplishment.

While we have the desktop and mobile versions of our software currently available to our members to facilitate recognition, we know that these recognition stories can happen anywhere in an organization’s software ecosystem. Employees need an easy way to recognize their peers from whatever system they are working in when they discover a colleague’s accomplishment. It won’t matter if the employee is on the shop floor, using a point of sale system, answering calls in a call center, in the warehouse, in email systems like Outlook, or in instant messaging systems like Slack or Skype, they can create and send a recognition.

Facebook LikeHave you noticed how common the Facebook like button is on the internet now? You can basically “Like” content on any website and it will magically appear on your Facebook news feed.

 

Achievers A

Imagine if there was a “Recognize on Achievers” button on all content inside all of the systems that your employees work in every day, allowing them to recognize the creator of that content. Fostering a culture of recognition and driving employee engagement isn’t easy, but technology can make it seamless for employees to interact with our system. It can increase adoption and thus further the culture of recognition. Our aim is to support this philosophy with our product, and that is why we have built our API and will continue to invest in it and in the app ecosystem around it.

What are some good examples?

Many organizations have already adopted our API and created some amazing integrations.

Cox Automotive Achievers and Jive Integration

Cox Automotive, one of our more forward-thinking customers, used our API to build an integration that allows recognitions to be sent from within Cox’s Jive Intranet portal. A link to recognize an individual appears beside each person’s profile on the portal. Clicking the link opens the Achievers application in a new tab, with that employee’s name pre-populated and ready to be recognized.

 

 

Cox Automotive Achievers and Slack IntegrationAnother popular integration we are seeing amongst our customers, Cox included, is to use our API to link their instant messaging tool, Slack to the Achievers platform. This link allows employee to recognize anybody from within the Slack chat window.

 

Achievers Platform Snapshot

Future integrations could include linking Learning Management Systems to the Achievers platform via our API. This would facilitate the automated posting of an achievement to Achievers whenever an employee finishes a learning course or mandatory training module, reinforcing to teams or to entire organizations the importance and value placed on completing courses.

 

Truth and Lie Performance Review Image

The Achievers API can also be used to transfer the recognitions and achievements of all employees from the Achievers platform into whatever performance management system your organization uses for periodic reviews. Most of us can barely remember what we had for dinner yesterday, let alone remembering what people on our team did 6 months ago. This integration can help provide a more informed review, allowing managers to see all the recognitions they’ve sent, as well as any recognitions their team members have received throughout that period, directly within the performance management system.

 

Achievers Referral Platform Snapshot

Recruiting talent is hard. At Achievers, we believe that A-Players know other A-Players. We use Jobvite to get out to our employee’s social networks and drive referrals into the platform. Our API then allows Jobvite to automatically recognize and award points to employees who successfully bring in a referral.

 

 

 

 

 

What do you need to do next to take advantage? 

Achievers Platform on Laptop

The answer, if you’re already an Achievers customer, is: very little. Do you have access to software developers that can be deployed by HR, or have friends in the IT department? If the answer is yes, you are in business. Talk to them and introduce them to our Open API at https://developer.achievers.com/. Even if you don’t see a use case for using our API, we are confident that they will. Encourage them to reach out to us at: api_support@achievers.com if they have questions or are looking for inspiration. If you’ve identified the direction you’d like to go, but would like a little assistance to ensure your development team and business stakeholders are on the same page, Achievers also offers an API Consulting Service to help you and your team implement the changes and ensure your employees are aware of how this will benefit them in their flow of work. Reach out to your Customer Success Manager for more information. Finally, look at our list of existing or planned integrations and see if there is any overlap between our list and what you use in your organization. If so, we can get you started right away.

Achievers Open API integrationsWhat’s exciting about the world of APIs and app ecosystems is that it has opened new doors for our platform that we hadn’t even thought of yet. We are at an incredible point in our journey at Achievers. We have never been better poised for innovation in the space of employee engagement than we are now and we invite you to join us as partners on our journey.

Let’s engage more employees by integrating more systems with the Achievers recognition platform using our Open API.

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

 

Credits: Session hosted by Bobby Bradford, Director of Product Design at ACE 2016

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.

 

Executive Buy-In

How to Get Executives On Board with Employee Rewards and Recognition Programs

By: Kellie Wong
Social Media and Blog Manager, Achievers

Dr. Donald Clifton’s book How Full Is Your Bucket revealed the number one reason people leave their jobs is because they don’t feel appreciated. But there’s a proven way to address this problem: focus on employee engagement. According to a Harvard Business Review study, 71% of respondents rank employee engagement as very important to achieving overall organizational success and recognition happens to be the #1 driver of employee engagement.

It’s clear businesses need to focus more on employee engagement and recognition strategies. Not only does engaging and recognizing employees make them feel valued, but they are more productive in return. By focusing on employee engagement and happiness, your bottom line results will improve as a result. In fact, the Harvard Business Review recently shared that developing employees’ strengths can increase sales up to 19% and profits up to 29%. And if you’re still skeptical, just listen to our customers. Taken together, it’s pretty clear that both employees and employers stand to benefit when they have the right rewards and recognition programs in place

If this is the case, why do some businesses find it hard to get a successful rewards and recognition program off the ground? It’s not due to a lack of desire from employees, or support from their managers. According to our latest infographic on the state of employee disengagement, 93% of employees hope to be recognized at least quarterly, while WorldatWork reported that 46% of senior managers view recognition programs as an investment rather than an expense. So where is the roadblock? Oftentimes, we’ve found, it comes down to a lack of executive buy-in and support. Gaining executive buy-in is one of the most critical factors for initiating and maintaining a successful employee rewards and recognition program; it is also one of the toughest hurdles for HR to overcome.

With this in mind, we’ve compiled some tips and strategies to help HR professionals get executives on board with employee rewards and recognition programs.

Get their attention with numbers

Numbers don’t lie, so why not show your executives some numbers that’ll be sure to grab their attention. According to the Hay Group, a global consulting firm, “Our research into employee engagement has shown that companies with the most engaged employees report revenue growth at a rate 2.5X greater than their competitors with the lowest level of engagement.” Still not convinced? How about some powerful numbers provided by best-selling author and leading authority on employee recognition, Dr. Bob Nelson. Nelson shares that organizations which have a ‘culture of recognition’ have employees that are:

  • 5X times more likely to feel valued
  • 7X more likely to stay with their company
  • 6X more likely to invest in their company
  • 11X more likely to feel completely committed to their jobs

And if you’re targeting the C-suite, make sure to share this little tidbit: The financial return of Fortune’s Best Places to Work has been shown to be 233% higher over a 6-year period as compared with overall market returns and companies with higher employee satisfaction scores have been shown to have a 700% higher shareholder return.

Win them over with the right program

But getting executive buy-in for your rewards and recognition program isn’t just about convincing them of the potential ROI or how it will lead to bottom line growth. At it’s core, it should be about taking care of your most valuable asset — your employees. With that in mind, you also need to sell them on your vision of an employee rewards and recognition program that reflects your company’s culture and values and keeps employees needs at the forefront. What makes it unique? Why will your employees love it? How is this particular program the perfect fit for your business?

To help guide your pitch, start with the following key points:

  • Reinforces core values. Inc. recently shared why defining company values is important, stating, “Promoting your values throughout your organization can help your employees focus on their goals.” With the right employee rewards and recognition program you can easily tie in your company values with every recognition, reinforcing core values across the organization daily. With such strong reinforcement your employees can better focus on goals and, in turn, be more productive.
  • Results-driven. Recognitions can be tied to specific business objectives, such as rewarding employees for hitting a certain sales target, as well as to broader objectives like a focus on customer satisfaction. Employee recognition is particularly powerful because it can infuse each and every action and interaction in your company with inspiration. Points-based employee recognition underscores the value employees are creating when they contribute to success and do the right things.
  • Data and analytics. Key metrics can be accessed for real-time analytics and reporting. A good recognition and rewards program can give you the ability to track every recognition and reward given or received, allowing you to identify top performers and empowering managers to take action accordingly.
  • Cost-savings. It’s a no-brainer — online, social recognition solutions require less time, effort and cost when compared to trying to create a do-it-yourself solution or continuing to invest in outdated years of service programs.

A critical factor for any business and executive is to draw in and keep top talent. The best way to do so is by focusing on employee engagement and how to make employees happy through the right rewards and recognition program. Remember, companies with the most engaged employees report revenue growth at a rate 2.5X greater than their competitors with the lowest level of engagement. Employee engagement can quickly become top of mind for any executive once they understand how much it directly impacts business revenue.

To learn more, download the Obtaining Executive Buy-In for Employee Rewards and Recognition Programs White Paper.

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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.

 

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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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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Top 5 Reasons Businesses Need Rewards and Recognition Programs

How do you handle rewards and recognition within your workforce? Has your company kept pace with current trends in HR and the widely recognized need for employee engagement programs? Most importantly, are you aware that 51% of employees are not happy at work and that, according to Gallup, fully 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged? It has been proven that engagement is crucial for business growth. Business2Community recently reported that organizations with highly engaged employees outperform those with low employee engagement by 202%. And the Harvard Business Review reported that recognition for high performers was the top driver of employee engagement. With all that in mind, we humbly present the top 5 reasons your business needs a rewards and recognition program.

  1. Recognition is the top driver of engagement 

    Harvard Business Review reports that “the most impactful driver of employee engagement is recognition.” In today’s world, recognizing employees is very different from the recognitions of the old days; no longer are we restricted to giving out watches, pins and coffee mugs on yearly work anniversaries. While these types of gifts are still in the picture, today’s workforce is better engaged in the moment than in the future.

  2. Employee recognition is meaningful from peers 

    As workplaces flatten and allow for lateral partnerships, the opportunity for peers to nominate others for awards or give recognitions directly has increased. HR Today notes that 42% of companies have peer recognitions in place, the third most common award. Peer recognition can especially boost engagement in companies with a remote workforce.

  3. Recognitions can reward effort, not just success 

    Leigh Buchanan, writer for Inc.com, shares the funny story about how SurePayroll offers a periodic award for “Best New Mistake.” Seem odd? It’s actually a way to reward innovative thinking, even if the result was less than desirable. Can you think outside of the box and offer less-than-traditional awards and recognitions? It might just give your business the edge it needs to improve company culture and employee engagement.

  4. Recognitions engage employees outside the workplace 

    Employee engagement efforts shouldn’t end when employees walk out the door. Go beyond the standard rewards program and start recognizing employees for wellness achievements, such as losing weight, stopping smoking, lowering cholesterol and more. By giving employee rewards for positive behaviors, you not only support your employees’ improved lifestyle but also help to create a workplace that is healthier overall.

  5. Happy employees = happy customers 

    Forbes shared, “Creating a happier work environment starts with a company that is willing to listen to what employees want and value.” We couldn’t agree more. Success starts with your employees, and the positivity ripples to your customers. Forbes also shared that most publicly traded companies named as ‘Best Companies to Work For’ saw their stocks significantly uptake in performance. It’s a win-win. Focus on employee happiness – the happier the employee, the more motivation they will have to put forth their best effort and make your customers happy.

Curious as to what the state of employee disengagement looks like? Check out our Greatness Report and see. The report analyzes the gap between how often awards are actually given versus how often employees would like to be recognized. In particular, the gap between actual and preferred widens at the monthly, weekly and daily level. Think frequent recognitions seem unsustainable? Take a look at how some of the most innovative and successful companies in the world, such as Ericsson, are using rewards and recognition to successfully engage their workplace and you’ll feel even more motivated to kick off an impactful rewards and recognition program of your own.

To learn more, download The Greatness Gap: The State of Employee Disengagement.

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ACE 2016 #AACE16

Twitter Highlights from ACE 2016 #AACE16

By: Kellie Wong
Social Media and Blog Manager, Achievers

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.

ACE 2016

Elite 8 Gala Kicks off ACE 2016 in Toronto

Last night in Toronto, Achievers announced the winners of the Elite 8 at the Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ Awards Gala. In a setting that was a perfect mix of glitz and industrial chic, the award recipients and representatives from almost every one of the 50 companies included on this year’s list enjoyed dinner, drinks and good times at the Steam Whistle Brewery in the heart of downtown Toronto. The event also provided attendees ample opportunity to network with peers from some of the most easily recognizable and highly successful companies in the world, and for entertainment, the world famous Second City comedy troupe.

Steam Whistle Brewery

Steam Whistle Brewery

Second City Comedy Troupe

Second City Comedy Troupe

Attendees at the Awards Gala

Attendees at the Awards Gala

Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards Gala 2016

Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards Gala 2016

The Elite 8 were recognized for receiving the highest scores for each of the Eight Elements of Employee Engagement—the criteria Achievers used to determine the Most Engaged Workplaces winners.

The 2016 Elite 8 winners are:

The Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards are designed to recognize and celebrate top employers in North America that display leadership and innovation in engaging their workplaces, as evaluated by judging panel of employee engagement academics, thought leaders and influencers. Among the 50 companies selected as winners, the judging panel selected eight companies that represent the best of the best, with regards to the Eight Elements of Employee Engagement.

The event marked the kickoff of Achievers Customer Experience 2016 (ACE 2016), Achievers’ annual customer conference. The full conference program officially began this morning (09/13) and runs through Wednesday (09/14).

Achievers' Opening Keynote with the VP of Product and CTO

Achievers’ Opening Keynote with the VP of Product and CTO

Spencer West's ACE 2016 Keynote

Spencer West’s ACE 2016 Keynote

ACE 2016 Networking Break

ACE 2016 Networking Break

Day 1 at ACE 2016

Day 1 at ACE 2016

Follow all the action from ACE 2016 at: #AACE16. And if you couldn’t make it this year, be sure to register early for next year’s event!

Ericsson culture of innovation

Ericsson: Uplifting Employee Engagement Scores With Achievers

By: Kellie Wong
Social Media and Blog Manager, Achievers

Did you know companies in the top quartile of employee engagement see significantly better business results than bottom quartile organizations? According to Gallup, engagement leaders  see 21% higher productivity, 22% higher profitability and 41% higher quality of work. This is also supported by Aon Hewitt, which found that a 5% increase in employee engagement is linked to a 3% increase in revenue growth in the subsequent year.

One company that is doing what it takes to stay in the top quartile of employee engagement is the world-leading communications technology and services company, Ericsson. In order to maximize their business potential, the team at Ericsson understood the need to focus on employee engagement as a driver of business success. But finding a way to engage and unify such a large and diverse set of employees was no easy feat for Ericsson, considering the company employs over 15,000 people across 30+ regional offices in North America alone.

Ericsson had tried a number of recognition initiatives previously but was looking for an enterprise-class technology solution that was truly scalable and would serve to unite its employees around their culture of innovation The company’s leaders also wanted to find a platform with robust analytics and that would help them regularly track spend, leverage recognition data for business insights, and streamline the recognition process. After researching different employee rewards and recognition providers, Ericsson chose the Achievers Employee Success Platform as the best solution to engage its employees while aligning them with business goals.

Ericsson rolled out the Achievers platform — internally branded as “E-Star” — to its 15,000+ employees across 30+ locations in North America in 2014. With a 98% employee – manager activation rate, the E-Star program soon became the most widely-utilized “voluntary” enterprise platform the organization had ever implemented. Even better, a whopping 65% of the recognitions awarded were social, or non-monetary, helping Ericsson to stay on target with budget. With widespread adoption and usage, the company was soon seeing the payoff in the form of improved engagement scores across the board. Among the successes they saw:

  • A 3% increase in overall engagement scores, up from an already world-class score of 81%;
  • North America employee engagement scores that were 5% higher than Ericsson’s global scores and 14% higher than the industry average, and;
  • Employee engagement survey results pertaining to recognition given by managers rose 4%.

With increasing positive employee engagement survey scores and new business insights derived from Achievers analytics, Ericsson is rightfully confident about the strength and ongoing success of their employee engagement strategy.

To learn more about Ericsson’s success story, download the Ericsson Case Study.

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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.

 

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

iPhone

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.

 

Successful Performance Reviews

6 Tips to Tackle Performance Reviews for Managers and Employees

Employee performance reviews are often awkward and uncomfortable. Feedback, whether positive or critical, can be difficult to deliver or accept. Yet providing feedback to employees is an important way for a company’s leadership to guide the organization. Employees also want feedback; employee engagement increases when employees get more feedback, more frequently; and, they’re less likely to quit.

Tips for Managers

  1. Review expectations. Take a look at the feedback employees received last year, along with their self-appraisals and development plans.
  2. Evaluate performance. Think about how well they’ve done that work. Use your own opinion of work you’ve seen, plus updates from the employee, comments from their coworkers and input from other managers and other departments. Take note of any awards or recognitions the employee received.
  3. Plan for next year. Identify successes as well as opportunities for improvement, and set objectives for the next year. Outline a development plan that will help achieve employee success.
  4. Conduct the review. Set aside enough time for a thorough conversation. Allow the employee to respond and react to your feedback. Make sure the employee agrees with the goals you set for the next year.
  5. Follow up. Don’t file the review away until next year’s annual review. Check in with employees throughout the year to make sure they’re making progress on their development plan. Take the opportunity to offer employee recognition and rewards for improvements and achievements throughout the year.
  6. Consider continuous feedback. A new approach taking root in forward-looking organizations like GE and throughout silicon valley is known as “continuous feedback”. Continuous feedback favors frequent check-ins throughout the year over stressful annual reviews and allows you to identify potential problems and address sources of dissatisfaction or disengagement quickly, so they don’t linger and affect performance.

Tips for Employees

  1. Review expectations. Look over the expectations that were established last year, based on your job description, review and development plan. Review the work you achieved as well as the difficulties experienced along the way; this is important because managers often see only the finished work product and don’t understand the challenges that had to be overcome to produce it.
  2. Evaluate performance. Consider what you did well during the year and where you fell short, as well as what you liked working on and what you didn’t enjoy.
  3. Plan for next year. Consider your long-term career goals and what skills you would like to develop over the next year to help move you along that path.
  4. Participate in the review. Take advantage of this time with your managers. If you disagree with their assessment, share your opinion respectfully. Make sure you agree with the development plan and goals for next year.
  5. Follow up. Don’t file the review away until next year’s annual review. Take action on the development plan, and let your manager know how things are going throughout the year. Treat your manager’s time as a resource that can help you achieve career success.
  6. Embrace and encourage continuous feedback. If your manager and HR department are open to it, encourage and embrace continuous feedback and foster open lines of communication between you and your manager all throughout the year.

Because reviews feel uncomfortable, both managers and employees often simply hurry through them, just to get them over with. Taking that approach technically meets corporate requirements to conduct a review, but it loses all the benefits. When managers and employees take time to prepare before the review, have an open and honest discussion, and then use the feedback to make real changes, performance reviews become a key factor in increasing employee motivation and driving employee and business success.

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The State of Employee Engagement

The Current State of Employee Engagement and How to Make It Better

By: Kellie Wong
Social Media and Blog Manager, Achievers

How happy and engaged are our employees? It’s an important question that every business should want to know the answer to. We hate to break it to you, but according to our latest employee survey, 51% of employees are not happy at work. What does that mean for your business? The less happy and engaged your employees are, the less productive your business will be as a whole. Start focusing on how to make your employees more engaged for better business outcomes. Take at a look at the current state of employee engagement and see what you can do to make it better.

Focus on your mission and vision
Greatness Infographic Mission and Vision

It’s surprising that a whopping 61% of employees don’t know their company’s mission. A mission and vision statement is essentially a summary of the aims, values and direction of your company. Knowing and embracing the company’s mission helps provide employees with a sense of purpose and with motivation to succeed. But if your employees aren’t aligned to, or even aware of, your company’s mission and vision, how can you expect them to move forward as a whole towards the same goals? Focus on your company’s mission and vision, and start strategizing on how to build more awareness of those core, guiding principles within your organization.

Emphasize shared cultural values
Greatness Infographic Culture

Not only are a majority of employees unaware of their company’s mission and vision, but apparently they are also oblivious to their company’s cultural values. Values are important because they help define company culture and reflect what an organization ultimately cares about. You want your employees to embrace your company’s values because by having a personal and emotional connection to what they do, they gain a sense of importance and motivation behind their work. But as our research shows, shared culture can only go so far towards improving overall levels of engagement.

Encourage leadership to nurture trust
Greatness Infographic Leadership Statistic

We’ve all heard the saying, “People join companies, but leave bad managers.” One constant that remains as a contributing factor to employee disengagement is poor leadership. Only 45% of employees trust their company’s leadership and half don’t expect to be in their current job just one year from now. This represents an obvious disconnect between employees and their work, and especially between employees and leadership. According to a Careerbuilder.com study cited in a Wharton management blog, 76% of full-time workers, while not actively looking for a new job, would leave their current workplace if the right opportunity came along. Don’t lose great talent because of a lack of trust in leadership and in their vision for the future. Reassure your employees that your company and leadership team cares about them, as both workers and human beings. Put the emphasis on showing them respect and trust in what they do.

Reward and recognize employees
Greatness Infographic Rewards and Recognition

Results clearly show that employees have a deep desire for employee recognition. A massive 93% hope to be recognized at least quarterly, if not more. Why is it important to recognize employees for their hard work? According to the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program, employees who feel valued by their employer are 60% more likely to be motivated to do their very best at work. A quick recognition, whether from management or a peer, goes a long way and can boost employee engagement by up to 22%. Start recognizing and rewarding your employees for jobs well done and witness the positive impact it makes. Today’s rewards and recognition programs go way beyond tired old plaques and paperweights and should be based on a social media model to encourage the highest levels of adoption and active use. They should link to employees’ existing social networks and other common communications platforms like Slack and Jabber, offer point-based rewards so employees can choose items that are meaningful to them, and most importantly, they should serve to reinforce company values and encourage desired business results.

To learn more, download The Greatness Gap: The State of Employee Disengagement.

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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.

 

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.

 

Employee Recognition

4 employee recognition best practices

Competition for top talent is intense, and your highly skilled workers are constantly being wooed by recruiters from other organizations. To build a strong company culture and foster employee engagement and alignment, you need to recognize their contributions in a way that makes them feel genuinely appreciated. The acronym R.I.S.E. is a helpful way to summarize these four employee recognition best practices:

R: Regular

People should recognize their colleagues on a consistent basis. Consistently offering appreciation for good performance sets up a reliable feedback system, developing an automatic expectation of excellence in your organization.

I: Immediate

To best reinforce behavior, recognitions should be given in a timely way. It’s a basic truism of psychology that people learn fastest when they receive prompt responses as a result of their actions. This principle is especially relevant when you have younger employees, because millennials have grown up in the fast-paced digital era and have come to expect immediate interactions with their world.

S: Specific

Recognitions should name exactly what the person did that impressed you or that reflected company values. Random or overly general words of praise can actually backfire on you and sound hollow to your workers. As Meghan Biro writes in Forbes, “Recognition should match effort and results, or it loses meaning.”

E: Encouraging

Recognitions should provide positive encouragement. This statement may sound obvious at first, but it refers to the fact that each employee should receive recognition in the form that they find most personally meaningful. In their NYTimes bestselling book, The 5 Languages for Appreciation in the Workplace, authors Gary Chapman and Paul White identify different approaches to employee appreciation. These include words of affirmation and tangible gifts. The authors point out that these methods are all similar to the ways in which parents instill a sense of value in children, although the employer-employee relationship is very different from a parental one.

The need for appreciation is fundamental to every human being. When this need is understood and fulfilled in a workplace context, it creates a positive environment in which employees feel motivated to excel.

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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Performance Improvement Plans

How to handle performance improvement plans without causing disengagement

If employees have been underperforming, performance improvement plans are sometimes the best option. This process can be awkward for managers as well as employees, but the right approach can reduce everyone’s discomfort and contribute to better employee alignment. Here are four tips for increasing the chances that your employees will react constructively when you have to put them on a PIP:

Provide specific factual documentation

To keep the discussion focused and avoid sidetracking into argument, it’s important to cite exact dates and descriptions of problem episodes. The most concise format for documentation includes a description of the behavior or product that was expected, an outline of what the employee actually did, and a list of the consequences of the employee’s actions. In addition, if any earlier remedy or consequences were put in place as a consequence of that episode, it is important to include a notation of those.

Schedule face-to-face meetings

No good manager relies only on written communication for such a sensitive interaction. You should speak to your employee in person to inform them about the fact that you will be putting them on a PIP and then send them initial written documentation. After they receive the documentation, it is imperative that you schedule a face-to-face meeting in which you can have a two-way conversation about the issue. Following your conversation, you can confirm what you agreed on in a document that you both sign.

Ask employees what they need

In some cases, an employee’s sub-par performance is the result of insufficient resources, training, tools, or other support. Even if you’re feeling frustrated, it’s helpful to come into the PIP meeting with an open mind rather than with an assumption that the employee is entirely culpable. A productive PIP meeting should be based on the attitude that you and the employee are collaborating on finding solutions for a problem.

Develop an action plan together

While you may enter the discussion with some clear requirements in mind, it’s important that the employee have a voice in developing the action plan. If additional training is one of the items on your action plan it may be beneficial to ask the employee exactly what skills they would most like to improve. The key to a successful PIP is having employee alignment and buy-in.

Handled properly, a performance improvement plan can turn out to be a positive experience for a struggling worker. If you seek input from your employee and approach them with the sense of solving a problem together, the PIP can be a bridge to a more productive working relationship.

Disengaged Employees

How to rehabilitate disengaged employees

Disengagement in the workplace is a problem that’s all too common these days, and disengaged employees have a negative impact on both their coworkers and businesses as a whole. A Gallup poll found that fewer than 31 percent of American workers felt engaged in their jobs, while 17.5 percent were “actively disengaged.” Because these workers can wreak havoc on productivity and morale, you need to be able to recognize the signs of disengagement so you can address it as it happens.

Signs of disengagement in employees

  • Withdrawal from participation: An employee who suddenly begins to miss meetings, starts leaving early, or takes extra days off may be disengaged. Likewise, a significant withdrawal from normal work conversations may also indicate a problem. As a manager, you should watch for changes that stray from an employee’s long-standing behavior or routine.
  • Undermining and gossiping: Employees who feel disconnected from their workplace can also develop grudges against coworkers or managers. They sometimes engage in gossip that undermines company goals, and they may even intentionally spread misinformation.
  • Apathy and poor follow-through: Disengagement typically results in employees who are no longer aligned with organizational goals. For this reason, you may notice that they don’t care about the quality of their work and that they substitute excuses for task completion.

How to rehabilitate a disengaged employee

Start by reaching out to a disengaged employee to see how they’re feeling. They may be facing issues or obstacles that you can help solve. Human resources and team leaders can work together on this goal, interviewing the employee to discover their concern, be it a family need that makes a current schedule unworkable or a conflict with an immediate manager. Active listening is crucial here, and so is a willingness to make changes. Team reassignments, flexible scheduling, extra training opportunities, and other types of reorganization should all be on the table when mitigating issues with employee motivation.

While individual employee concerns can be specific and situational, proactive solutions to employee disengagement require an awareness of demographic trends. An extensive report on disengagement by AON Hewitt notes that the leading aspects of job engagement for millennial workers are career opportunities, good manager performance, company reputation, pay scale, and good communication. That means that the engagement programs you’ve had in place for one generation of employees might not be as powerful for a different generation. Determine what kinds of company-wide systems you need to have in place to reduce disengagement, whether it’s more manager training, better onboarding, employee recognition and rewards, or a more meaningful company mission.

Create a magnetic company culture with recognition and great data

by Sarah Clayton, Communications and Campaigns Specialist 

A Magnetic Culture is one that draws talented employees to the workplace, empowers them, and sustains an environment in which they are less likely to leave.

– Kevin Sheridan, Employee Engagement & Virtual Management Expert

At Achievers, we love to get like-minded people together, so we have been hosting regional events to discuss engagement and recognition strategies with our local clients and others in the business community. We recently co-hosted a breakfast seminar with our client partner, Discover, to discuss the impact of having a magnetic culture.

The speakers gave thought-provoking presentations that sparked insightful discussions around a key element of company success: recognition. People are a valuable resource: when you invest time in your people, you will see that investment reflected in their work. Our motto at Achievers is “Change the way the world works”, and that means providing our clients, and prospects, with the tools to effectively invest in their team through recognition. To that end, we have summarized some focal points from the seminar and their connection to the Achievers platform.

Alarmingly, nearly two thirds of the workforce is defined as “ambivalent employees”: a delicate group who lie in limbo between engaged and disengaged. If addressed correctly, members of this group can be converted to productive, engaged employees. The alternative is that they remain ambivalent (the ‘quit and stay’), or that they progress toward disengagement, neither of which are attractive options for a company or culture. Thus the question begs: how do you engage an ambivalent employee?

There’s a saying that “you can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data.” Data helps you identify, analyze, and solve problems, so we made it a priority to have an abundance of data accessible through our platform. It provides insight into engagement levels, the impact variables or events have on engagement, and workplace trends (to name a few).

The most valuable aspect of the data we provide is that it is real time, so you can react promptly to the needs of your team. When a company has agile response times to employee behaviors, it goes a long way to build trust and grow engagement. For a company to thrive in the Information Age, external expectations of real-time information exchange and reactions must be integrated into company practices.

In order to realize the full potential of a resource, it’s integral to understand how to leverage it — an idea that is especially relevant with a company’s human capital. In conjunction with the data we provide, the unique employee profile that is generated through platform activity provides managers insight into the skills and behaviors of their team members.

An employee profile is a valuable tool for employee development because it acts as a centralized collection of their recognition moments, awards, milestones, and interactions. It streamlines the process of performance reviews, and the continual collection ensures no accomplishments are missed. The exposure a profile can provide into interdepartmental relationships and traits valued among colleagues presents a strategic opportunity to help develop career paths. When managers can show an employee that they are actively invested in their future with the company, the employee is more likely to reciprocate through engagement.

High usage levels across the platform are indicative of strong employee buy-in: we’re presenting them with a communication channel they want to use. The ability to voice their opinions through recognition not only fosters engagement, it creates a sense of empowerment.

The historic practice of reserving recognition for management contributes to a hierarchical role divide that is not conducive to a collaborative work environment. With organizations becoming progressively flatter, power that was once centralized at the top is being disseminated across employees. To successfully navigate structural shifts, power needs to be given an outlet — and recognition is a popular choice. It facilitates cohesion between company values and employees, and it helps employees shape the work environment they want to see.

Employee engagement is an output that is derived from multiple inputs, with the end goal being a magnetic culture. The Achievers platform provides several tools that can be leveraged according to trends and strategic company goals to develop a culture that resonates with employees.

 

Sarah Clayton

Sarah 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.

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.

Company Mission Statement

Top 5 best company mission statements

There are many ways to define or approach a company mission statement, but the intent is the same in all cases: Mission statements are meant to align an organization’s employees to a clear, primary purpose. While many mission statements aren’t particularly inspiring, the most effective ones help employees find meaning in their work and feel like they’re making a difference for the greater good.

Unfortunately, our 2015 North American workforce survey found that a majority of workers fail to find such a sense of purpose in their employer’s mission statement; often because they don’t even know what it is. They understand job demands and performance evaluations, but aren’t able to see how their own daily efforts impact the bigger picture.

The best company mission statements pull double duty as compelling engagement tools. For example, our mission statement at Achievers is “To Change the Way the World Works.” We know it sounds lofty, but we genuinely believe that the work we do each day can have a real impact on the work lives of millions of employees globally. And we like to think that our big mission is part of why our employees come to work every day and give an A-plus effort.

If you think your mission statement still needs work, we’ve pulled some inspiration from organizations with passionate employees and big goals. Hopefully this will help you find a new way to energize and align your employee base:

  1. Twitter

The mission: “To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information, instantly, without barriers.” The technology company aims to remove communication barriers and help people connect with one another. What’s more heartwarming than that?

  1. Clarks

The mission: “Our passion is to listen to our customers and deliver a product that allows the consumer to feel the pride, respect and trust of everyone at the Clarks Companies N.A.” Clarks focuses on guiding employees to create high-quality products and deliver excellent customer service.

  1. MGM Resorts International

The mission: “MGM Resorts International is the leader in entertainment & hospitality—a diverse collection of extraordinary people, distinctive brands and best in class destinations. Working together, we create partnerships and experiences that engage, entertain and inspire.” MGM’s commitment to diversity encourages its employees to work collaboratively as they pursue innovation.

  1. Coca-Cola

The mission: “To refresh the world…To inspire moments of optimism and happiness…To create value and make a difference.” This uplifting mission statement reaches beyond the company’s flagship soft drink, instead resolving to make the world a happier and more inspired place.

  1. REI

The mission: “We inspire, educate and outfit for a lifetime of adventure and stewardship.” Their mission ties their employees to a love of the outdoors, sustainability, and healthy living.

According to Gallup, sincere mission statements help improve employee loyalty, employee alignment, and customer engagement. With those results, there’s no reason not to get on board by creating a company mission statement that actually works.

 

Buyer's Guide for Social Recognition Systems

Finding the right social employee recognition solution: partner, platform, program

Employee recognition — done right — is today’s must-have for business. Social employee recognition systems appear on Gartner’s Hype Cycle, climbing the curve to become a standard business system — but how do you choose the right system? It’s a choice that comes with very high stakes. Pick the wrong partner and you not only risk throwing your money to the wind; you could also alienate your entire workforce. Ouch.

Let’s consider what to look for to better your chances of finding the right fit.

It starts with finding a partner. This means the people and services that stand behind the solution. Ultimately, a platform is only as good as the people who bring it to life. The success of your employee recognition program hinges on the support and expertise your vendor provides.

A platform: The core technology system that your employee recognition program will run on. Enterprise platforms – rather than a mobile-only solution for example – give you the place to consolidate all of your employee programs and get visibility and control over program spend. Platforms that offer an API enable you to integrate the solution with other enterprise applications. It’s a great opportunity to keep employees productive by having recognition right within their flow of work and enables you to bring your workforce data together, ultimately getting more value out of your investment in each application.

Ability to create your unique program. Getting results relies on how well the set of features and functions you’ll be using can be tailored to the culture and objectives you’re targeting.  It might go without saying, but recognition tools need to be front and center.  Here is a short list of some of the essential recognition features to look for that will ensure your program will be successful.

Recognition tools to look for:

2016 Buyer's Guide for Social Recognition Systems

Learn more about what you need to consider to find the right employee recognition solution for your organization in our new 2016 Buyer’s Guide for Social Recognition Systems

Employee Appreciation Day

Achievers employees, we appreciate you!

In honor of Employee Appreciation Week, we wanted to highlight a handful of our A-mazing employees. While we didn’t have the space to feature everyone, all members of the Achievers family deserve recognition. We hope you’ll be recognizing your employees this week as well!

Need ideas for how to do it? Get 30 fun, fresh ideas for celebrating Employee Appreciation Day!

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Employee Appreciation Week

Send recognitions for Employee Appreciation Week!

Happy Employee Appreciation Week! At Achievers, this is one of our favorite times of year. While we believe strongly in appreciating our employees all year long, there is something special about a week when companies across North America realize that it’s time to do something extra special.

For those of you who aren’t using the Achievers platform, we wanted to give you an easy way to send recognition cards to your hard-working colleagues. That’s why we’ve created an Employee Appreciation Week tool where you can pick from a variety of different digital cards and email them to anyone who deserves to be appreciated.

So what are you waiting for? Start recognizing!

 

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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.

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.

 

New Year’s reflections on job engagement

by Kevin Sheridan

This time of year, it’s natural to become reflective; to reflect on the last year and on resolutions you have for the New Year.

One of my central messages in my keynote presentations is to encourage more reflection on job engagement. Roughly 60% of the worldwide workforce is not Engaged or Disengaged in their job, otherwise known as the middle category of Ambivalence.  A large reason so many people are stuck in this “blah” middle category is that they have not reflected on whether they are in the right job in the first place, or as Jim Collins said in his best-seller Good to Great, “the right seat on the bus.”

The great news is that we, as managers and employees, are already empowered to do something about it and re-cast ourselves into the right job or seat on the bus.  Ask yourself these types of questions and you may indeed find yourself re-calibrating your job description and job duties, or taking a completely different job in a different industry:

  • Does my job make the best use of my skills and abilities?
  • Am I passionate about my job?
  • Am I prideful about where I work?
  • Do I consistently have fun at work?
  • Am I proud to work with my coworkers?

These are only a few of the most useful questions to reflect upon in order to ensure you are fully engaged in your job.  A more comprehensive list of job reflective questions is available on my website.

Are you in the right seat on the right bus?  Don’t let another year pass by without being engaged.

Kevin Sheridan is an Internationally-recognized Key-Note Speaker, a New York Times Best Selling Author, and one of the most sought-after voices in the world on the topic of employee engagement.   He spent thirty years as a high-level Human Capital Management consultant, helping some of the world’s largest corporations rebuild a culture that fosters productive engagement, earning him several distinctive awards and honors. Kevin’s premier creation, PEER®, has been consistently recognized as a long- overdue, industry-changing innovation in the field of Employee Engagement.  His book, “Building a Magnetic Culture,” made six of the best seller lists including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today.  He is also the author of The Virtual Manager, which explores how to most effectively manage remote workers. 

Kevin received a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School in 1988, concentrating his degree in Strategy, Human Resources Management, and Organizational Behavior.  He is also a serial entrepreneur, having founded and sold three different companies.

Web page: www.kevinsheridanllc.com

Twitter: @kevinsheridan12

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/in/kevinsheridan1

Email:  kevin@kevinsheridanllc.com

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.

Employee Performance Review

Real-time feedback vs. annual reviews: A showdown

The performance review process is undergoing a revolution. One by one, mega-corporations like GE, Adobe, Accenture, Microsoft, and Netflix are announcing they’re scrapping their annual rankings- or ratings-based performance management systems and replacing them with real-time feedback systems. The reason is clear: Real-time feedback is a better fit for today’s fast-paced business environment and a younger, tech-savvy generation of workers.

Out with the archaic system

The traditional annual or semi-annual employee performance review system is the model that most businesses still use to assess performance, justify compensation increases, and provide feedback. In a technology-driven, constantly changing corporate environment, the often tedious, once-a-year evaluations—that risk inspiring employee fear more than improved performance—are already in danger of becoming archaic.

The traditional rank- and ratings-based system carries a lot of potential negatives, including causing high levels of employee frustration, pitting employees against each other, and fostering disengagement. In the context of neuroscience, the disengagement emanates from the employee’s brain responding negatively to being compared to others instead of being assessed as an individual. Once disengaged, feedback falls on deaf ears.

Annual or semi-annual evaluations can also be ineffective when the focus tilts too heavily toward things said and done many months ago. Millennials want real-time feedback as a means of achieving high performance levels in their current environment. As the first generation of workers to grow up with instant communication, they expect more frequent evaluations and fast, relevant feedback.

Reluctance to let go of the past

There has been a reluctance to let go of the traditional employee performance review process. For all its faults, it’s a well-embedded process, and alternatives are untested by time. Only 10 percent of Fortune 500 companies have moved away from annual ratings, per the Institute for Corporate Productivity. However, when GE decided to scrap performance reviews, people took notice because the company had one of the most rigid review systems for one of the world’s largest workforces.

In the old GE system, employees were reviewed annually, ranked against peers, and the bottom percentage fired. The new system works very differently. GE is rolling out a process in which managers and direct reports hold regular and informal “touchpoints” for reviewing and revising priorities based on customer needs, and providing immediate feedback following assignments. Regular, personalized feedback is delivered via an app to 307,000 employees.

Deloitte conducted a public survey on ranking- and ratings-based performance management systems, and the results were dismal. Only 8 percent of respondents believe their performance management system drives high value levels. Deloitte concluded from the responses that traditional performance management systems actually damage employee engagement and alienate high performers.

In with the new real-time feedback system

With such large and well-known companies realizing it’s more effective to regularly provide employee feedback because one size does not fit all, more widespread adoption seems likely to follow. Real-time feedback can make your employees feel recognized and appreciated for the work they’re doing now, not 12 months ago. It can also improve the quality of feedback because it concerns current performance, enabling employee behavior adjustments that can improve productivity immediately.

Real-time feedback also creates a valuable and uplifting two-way dialogue, rather than a top-down assessment. Your employees get unique feedback without being boxed in by a set of questions, and high performers can get the tools needed to succeed now. Real-time feedback turns the employee performance review into ongoing coaching. There are various forms of real-time feedback. They include weekly one-on-one meetings with managers, routine catch-up sessions via email or an intranet communication program, engagement surveys, feedback apps, and real-time recognition programs.

Real-time recognition programs can be particularly successful in building engagement within the broader business context, because they include peer and management feedback. Across the company, your employees can celebrate wins together. The showdown between real-time feedback and annual reviews has arrived, and real-time feedback is off to a fast start.

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.

How to deal with difficult customers

Dealing with difficult customers? Help your employees maintain morale

Difficult, upset or angry clients create challenges for your workplace beyond the obvious need to turn dissatisfied customers into happy ambassadors for your business. When your employees routinely deal with difficult customers, the work environment can become highly stressful, and as a manager you have to take steps to guard against damage to employee morale. Failure to recognize and support workers who undergo this kind of pressure can harm your business and create a negative feedback loop: Stressed employees will provide poorer customer service and eventually seek a different job. You’re left with the repeated expense of hiring and training, while your (perhaps dwindling) customers are served by discouraged or inexperienced representatives. Here are three tips for supporting your workers and helping them learn how to deal with difficult customers.

  1. Provide specific training

Dealing with confrontations in a business setting requires a specific skill set, and no one is an automatic expert. Provide your workers with plenty of training in best-practice customer service responses, and include a chance to role play difficult interactions with specific scripts. This will help your staff avoid falling back on existing emotional patterns of dealing with family arguments.

  1. Empower your employees

In many cases, the best way to satisfy an unhappy customer is to offer them a special service or exception to the rule. Employees on the front lines of handling customer complaints need to have the power to make such decisions without being required to seek management approval. This provides a streamlined customer experience, while also building employee self-esteem by showing that you have faith in their decision-making.

  1. Brainstorm proactive measures

An excellent way to reduce your employees’ stress levels is taking measures to reduce future customer unhappiness. Meet with your staff on a regular basis and ask for their input about changes that may alleviate client frustrations. This team orientation will avoid isolating stressed employees, and will identify customer satisfaction as a mutual goal. You can also take this opportunity to praise individual employees for having handled a difficult interaction especially well. Expressing appreciation is especially critical for supporting employees on the front line of customer service.

When your employees are happy and engaged, they’ll have the emotional strength to put their training to work and handle difficult customers. As a result, your brand will benefit from reduced turnover and from the repeat business that comes from a highly professional customer approach.

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.

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