Culture of Trust

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Deliver results

Stop these behaviors:

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

Start saying:

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

Stop these behaviors:

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

Start saying:

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

Stop these behaviors:

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

Start saying:

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

Stop these behaviors:

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

Start saying:

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

Stop these behaviors:

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

Start saying:

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

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

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About Bobi Seredich
Bobi Seredich Headshot

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

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

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

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

 

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

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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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. 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. 

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_magnetic_culture

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.