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.

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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.