Positive Work Culture

The Secret Ingredients of an Amazing Company Culture

If you were asked about your top priorities as a manager, how would you answer? Increasing productivity would probably be first on your list, along with steady company growth, low employee turnover, seamless teamwork, and high employee engagement — after all, most businesses share similar goals.

However, you might not have considered developing an excellent company culture among your top-tier priorities, even though it is the foundation for every one of your key goals. When focusing on creating an amazing company culture, you will discover that other elements of business success fall into place organically. Let’s unpack that concept a bit and see why.

What Is Company Culture?

The first step toward improving your company’s culture is to have a clear handle on what the term means. One of the most accurate definitions is offered by business change strategist John Kotter. He defines company culture as “group norms of behavior and the underlying shared values that help keep those norms in place.” The key words in this definition are “shared values.” Employee alignment with your company’s mission and values is a critical component of positive company culture. A sure indicator of poor company culture is a workforce, total or partial, that has no personal interest or investment in the overall mission of their organization.

Why Company Culture Matters

A worldwide survey of 20,000 workers, conducted by Harvard researchers, found unequivocally that “culture drives performance,” but only 31 percent of employees report they are engaged with their work. Furthermore, the average employee would only give his or her company a grade of “C” if recommending it to a friend, according to Glassdoor statistics. A Duke University survey of 1400 CEOs and CFOs found that only 15 percent said their company culture is where it needs to be, while 92 percent said improving company culture would improve the overall value of the business.

Other research published in Harvard Business Review finds that disengaged workers cause 60 percent more errors and defects in work performance, while those under stress from negative cultures can increase a company’s health care expenditures by an average of 50 percent. We could go on with the dire statistics, but we’re certain you get the idea. How do you do the right thing for your employees as well as your company?

How to Create a Positive Company Culture

An interesting roadmap for creating a positive company culture can be found in the science of self-determination theory. Researchers writing in Harvard Business Review have identified three universal human needs that are central to fostering employee motivation. These three needs are autonomy, competence and relatedness. Let’s look at each of the three in turn:

Autonomy

To build your employees’ happiness through autonomy, make sure the goals and timelines you ask them to meet are developed in a collaborative manner. Workers need to feel that they have some control over their schedules and approach to tasks, rather than having every aspect of their workday micromanaged. HR professionals know that flexible work hours are at the top of most candidates’ lists of desirable benefits and perks.

Another aspect of leadership that contributes to a positive work culture is the avoidance of pressure and stress. The aforementioned HBR report states that “Sustained peak performance is a result of people acting because they choose to—not because they feel they have to.”

Competence

One of the most powerful employee incentives you can offer is the opportunity for training and development. Showing that you care about the evolution of your workers’ careers is a powerful expression of employee appreciation. This development may take some careful guarding of educational funds in your human resources budget, but the resulting increase in employee well-being will be worth your investment.

In addition to working with your team to set performance goals, you can nurture employee success by setting learning goals. Human beings derive a deep satisfaction from increased skills and competence, independent of every other type of employee reward.

Relatedness

This term describes the need inherent in most humans to feel connected to a larger team effort, and to be recognized and appreciated by other people. Employee recognition best practices should be built around this fundamental element of human psychology, providing opportunities for both colleagues and supervisors to offer recognition and rewards. While your team members don’t exert effort for the sole purpose of receiving rewards, they will thrive in the climate of solidarity and unity that those rewards represent.

Another crucial aspect of relatedness pertains to alignment with company values. The HBR analysis points out that employees need to connect their tasks with a noble purpose, and to feel that their own personal values are expressed in the way they spend their work days.

The CEOs interviewed by Duke University researchers were unequivocal in their statements that company culture drives “profitability, acquisition decisions, and even whether employees behave ethically.”

Building an amazing company culture should be at the center of your organizational health, and it begins with the three psychological elements central to employee engagement. To learn more about fostering an amazing company culture, download our e-book: “All for One and One for All: Uniting a Global Workforce with Company Culture.”

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Perfecting work perks

Company Perks That Don’t Work — And How to Fix Them

Today’s CEOs, managers, and team leaders understand the importance of keeping employee morale high. The fact that you’re reading this on the Engage Blog — a thought leadership blog meant to define, inform, and help increase employee engagement — means you must have some inkling as to the positive impact engagement can have on an organization. Many organizations try to address employee engagement by providing extra incentives, or “perks.”

When it comes to providing company perks, global businesses like Google, Yahoo! and S.C. Johnson & Son set the gold standard. By providing everything from free on-site gyms to dry cleaning services, these multinational organizations have inspired managers all over the world to come up with their own ways to make their staff happier.

In their haste to keep up with the Larry Pages and Sergey Brins of the world, many employers mistakenly implement work perks that are incredibly generous on the surface, but don’t actually benefit their employees.

As well as costing the company money, these well-intentioned extras can have a negative impact on employee morale; in some cases, creating feelings of resentment among staff that perceive their employer’s choice of company perks as an indication that they are completely out of touch with the wants and needs of individual employees. In other words, there is no such thing as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to employee engagement.

With this in mind, let’s examine a handful of common workplace perks that don’t always hit the mark, as well as consider some ways to fix them and make your employees a little bit perkier.

  1. The Games Room

The idea:

You transform a room or a corner of your office into a veritable shrine to leisure and entertainment; swapping desks, spreadsheets and whiteboards for foosball tables, video games and miniature basketball hoops. It’s the perfect place for your staff to cut loose for a few minutes each day.

Why it doesn’t work:

After the initial excitement wears off, a great many games rooms end up either covered in a layer of dust or as a hangout for a very small number of employees that love the inherent interactivity of games. Other staff, such as those with young or boisterous children, might consider the games room an annoyance, and would rather spend their breaks someplace more conducive to conversation.fyou

Making it work:

There’s nothing wrong with establishing an area for staff to shoot some pool or play a little Xbox. There are a few questions to consider before doing so:

  1. Would a significant number of my team enjoy a games room?
  2. Would they have enough time to make use of it?
  3. Would it end up being dominated by certain staff?

If you’re confident that the room would still get plenty of use six to twelve months after being set up, then go nuts; your staff will get a buzz out of having so many fun things to do on their break. Just be sure to choose a location that isn’t so close to your work area that it will distract other staff members. Furthermore, opting for games that can be played in groups and enjoyed in shorter sessions can help foster teamwork without taking too much time out of the workday.

  1. Company Getaways

The idea:

You pay for the entire company or team to go away for a few days, hoping that unwinding in beautiful, inspiring surroundings will help your staff de-stress and get to know each other better. The plan is that they come back refreshed, closer than ever, and thinking their boss is the absolute greatest.

Why it doesn’t work:

There are myriad reasons why team getaways prove to be ineffective. The most common being that staff resent having to give up time they consider to be their own, even if the company is picking up the tab.

Company trips and team-building weekends tend to be dominated by the more outgoing members of your team, leaving the quieter members of your staff counting down the hours until they can go home.

For others, trips like these are a logistical nightmare. They’re forced to find someone to pet-sit or trust their partner is willing to take care of the kids alone. This is not only inconvenient, but it can negatively shape an employee’s perception of their company.

Making it work: 

Your staff wouldn’t all choose to take the exact same type of vacation, nor do they necessarily enjoy the same kind of activities. Instead of whisking your entire team away on a single trip, consider running a few destination events throughout the year that a) don’t require an overnight stay and b) cater to different tastes.

Choose activities that allow different personality types to shine. Mix up physical, mental, and creative tasks while experimenting with different group sizes to encourage the more introverted members of your team to participate.

Most importantly, don’t eat into your employee’s personal time to reward them—it’s not a reward if they’d rather not be there.

  1. Unlimited Time Off

The idea:

Your staff are free to take as many or as few days off as they like. The hope is employees will feel empowered by having some control of when and where they work. Unlimited PTO is also meant to foster a sense of mutual trust between employer and employee; employees are trusted not to abuse the system, and in return, they trust their employer more as they have a greater sense of work/life balance.

Why it doesn’t work:

Though allowing staff to make their own decisions about leave can make them feel incredibly empowered, there is evidence suggesting that some employees feel that there must be some kind of catch. They might also fear they’re being tricked out of time off that they are legally owed.

Another adverse effect is that employees might become overly anxious about the amount of leave they are taking, worrying that taking more days off than their peers will result in them being passed over for promotions. These staff members end up rarely taking days, often to the detriment of their health and performance at work, all to inform an external perception that may or may not exist.

Making it work:

Unlimited vacation time is a great way of showing your employees that you trust them. But it can also put a lot of undue pressure on them to self-regulate. To combat this, consider doing the following:

  1. Make time off mandatory. Let staff take as many additional days off as they need, but set a minimum number that they must use up before the end of the working year.
  2. Have a clearly defined UPTO policy in place. Set rules for taking time off, and make the procedure for requesting leave a part of your employee handbook. This might seem counterintuitive on the surface, but staff will take comfort from the fact that taking leave isn’t a free-for-all, and that their coworkers won’t suddenly hop on a plane to Italy, leaving them with extra work.
  1. Culture-Specific Perks

The idea:

In an attempt to get your team to socialize, you allow your staff to finish early on Fridays and head over to the local bar where their first drink is on you!

Why they don’t work:

The problem with perks is that unless they can be enjoyed by the entire team, some might not consider them to be perks. In fact, some people may even resent the implication that they should be grateful for something that they neither benefit nor derive any pleasure from.

Things like after-work drinking can be great fun, and many workplace friendships have been born over a cold beer. But they’re not fun for everyone. Due to any number of circumstances precluding them from taking part, staff could feel discriminated against if the company mandates participation.

Making them work:

Just like with the games rooms and company trips mentioned earlier, it can be difficult to please your entire team with a single reward.

Few employees will begrudge a new parent their extended leave or subsidized childcare, but when perks favor only particular individuals, it can create tension.

The simple solution is to ensure that you have enough unique perks to ensure your employees are rewarded in a way that personally resonates with them. You should also ensure that none of the perks you offer inadvertently isolate or exclude certain individuals.

Events such as after-work drinks should never be actively discouraged, but management should try and encourage rewards and events that benefit everyone.

  1. ‘Life-on-Site’ Perks

The idea:

You’ve gone full “Google,” providing employees everything from free meals to a mobile hair salon. With their annoying little chores taken care of, your staff are happier and more productive than ever before.

Why it doesn’t work:

You’d think that without having to worry about picking the kids up from daycare, making lunches in the morning, or running around the house to find a clean pair of pants, your team would be as happy as clams.

While true for some employees, others may interpret these perks as the company attempting to remove any need for employees to leave work.

Still have work to do, but need to get home to cook dinner? No problem; you can eat right here! Have laundry to do? Use our free laundromat! Now you have no excuse not to work!

Like unlimited leave, life-on-site perks like these can cause some staff to worry that by heading home to take care of their various chores instead of doing them at work, their boss or coworkers might not see them as team players.

How to make it work:

The key to successfully implementing perks of this kind is establishing reasonable limits as to the amount they are used. For example, if you have a laundromat, then issue staff with only enough tokens to make use of it when they need to, but aren’t forced to rely on it week in, week out. Similarly, if you’re providing staff with free meals, put barriers in place to stop people eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner at work every day of the week.

Finally, make it clear to your staff that these on-site facilities have been put in place to make their lives easier. They are not expected to make constant use of them or stay in the office any longer than necessary.

Perfecting Perks

It can be easy to misjudge how employees perceive workplace perks; when you’re trying to go the extra mile and do something nice for your team, you don’t expect them to resent you for it.

But choosing the right company perks for your business requires careful planning, and it’s important to consider any potential negatives, as well as the joy, your perks might bring.

Try to keep your own team’s wants and needs in mind when you’re looking for ways to reward them. That way, even if the perk you come up with isn’t the game changer you’d hoped for, your staff will still appreciate the fact that you’re trying to make their lives easier.

For more information regarding how to incentivize your employees, check out the blog post How to Incentivize the Modern Workforce.

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About the Author
Phil Kendall
Philip Kendall is the digital marketing and social media executive at RotaCloud, a UK-based startup that provides cloud-based staff scheduling solutions for small and medium-sized businesses. A writer, blogger and lifelong tech nerd, Phil is never far away from a keyboard, and has worked as everything from a freelance food writer to managing a team of writers for a Tokyo-based news and entertainment site.

 

 

 

retain employees

4 Ways to Avoid the Dreaded High-Turnover Rate

The cost of employee turnover is outrageously high. When a company loses a salaried employee, it can cost anywhere from six to nine months’ worth of the departed employee’s salary to hire a replacement. This means that if an employee is being paid $40,000 a year, the cost of everything from recruiting to training expenses will be around $20,000 to $30,000. In addition to costing your company a fortune, it can discourage talented employees from joining your organization. High turnover is one of the major red flags job seekers look for when considering a new employment opportunity.

Here are four ways companies can step up their game and hold on to the talented employees they worked hard to acquire:

  1. Get Rid of Top-Down Management

Everything in the business world is evolving and the concept of management is not immune. Many of the old rules and practices no longer apply, and the lack of a modern workplace philosophy is forcing skilled workers to leave their current company and take their talent elsewhere. The top-down approach to leadership and ruling with an iron fist is no longer a popular way to run a business.

In today’s workplace, the term “collaborative leadership” is commonly cited as a strong approach to employee management. This concept emphasizes leading by example and focusing on both corporate and individual benefit. For instance, Jacob Morgan, author of The Future Of Work, explained in a Forbes article how AMP Bank in Sydney, Australia makes it a point to sit down with each employee to explain how new technologies and strategies can benefit both parties.

It’s important to realize the vital role management plays in the development of a company. Gallup estimates that managers account for 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units. Great leadership is a crucial factor in retaining employees; it goes back to the famous saying that “people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.”

  1. Learn What Millennials Want

By 2020, it’s estimated that nearly half of the workforce in the United States will be comprised of millennials. Therefore, it is crucial to determine what these younger employees want out of a company. Ask yourself the following questions:

Millennials are looking for more than just a job with a steady paycheck, they want careers in which they are engaged with their company’s goals, and can develop their professional skills. A 2014 survey conducted by the Harvard Business Review and The Energy Project found that employees are most engaged when these four core needs are being met:

  • Value – Being cared for by their supervisor
  • Purpose – Finding significance in their work
  • Focus – Prioritizing
  • Renewal – Ability to take needed breaks

Regardless of the age of the employee, there is nothing worse than being stuck at a job that isn’t motivating. Fostering employee engagement can be difficult. However, emphasizing honesty and transparency for both company and employee alike can be integral in obtaining uninhibited employee feedback to gauge the direction of your workforce and what motivates them.

  1. Promote a Culture of Innovation

Everyone wants to be involved in a cutting-edge organization. Companies that want to remain ahead of their competitors must do their best to promote this mindset both internally and externally. For starters, when you’re advertising a job opening, take a step back and examine what your company is doing differently than similar organizations. Once you have a firm answer, drive this idea home and showcase what your business is collectively bringing to the big picture compared to your competitors.

Based on your business, this can be a daunting task. But, regardless of what product or service you provide, there is always room for innovation. Take Michelin for example. Tires might not seem like an innovative product but the science behind how rubber interacts with the road is complex. To promote a company-wide innovative mindset, Michelin sponsors cross-functional hackathons and internal incubators where employees are free to take risks and come up with new ideas for the good of the company.

Making sure that innovation is a strong aspect of your culture can play an enormous role in keeping employees engaged and motivated.

  1. Recognize and Reward Employees

While this one might seem obvious, it is still accurate: everyone likes to know their hard work is being noticed. Great employees are hard to find, and even harder to keep. So when you notice colleagues going above and beyond the call of duty, it’s important to provide plenty of recognition and rewards to encourage repetition. Recognition is essential to employee engagement and The Corporate Leadership Council shared in a recent report that highly engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave the organization.

Events like company-sponsored happy hours or weekend getaways celebrating a strong quarter can go a long way in demonstrating to employees how much their work means to an organization. Going beyond these types of “job well done” gestures, making sure top performing employees are appropriately compensated is the most important factor in employee retention.

To address this, you can try setting up recognition and rewards programs that encourages daily praises and constant appreciation. Or consider implementing programs within the workplace that are transparent when it comes to pay raising goals, such as merit-based pay structures. Just be sure to set goals at a level in which employees will need to put their best foot forward, while remaining reasonably attainable.

Talented workers tend to know their worth. If you are not paying them appropriately, they will have no problem finding an organization that will.

Over to You

Retaining high performing employees in the current business climate is very challenging, and with the many detrimental costs of employee turnover, your company’s bottom line could be adversely affected. If your turnover rate is higher than you would like, it might be time to take a close look at day-to-day operations and find the root cause as to why people are so willing to leave your organization. Sometimes, it is a simple fix. Other times, a complete organizational reinvention is needed to ensure the external perception of your organization matches the internal. At the end of the day, a company that focuses on engaging their employees, whether through strong leadership, culture, recognition, or rewards is on the right track to reducing turnover.

To learn more about employee turnover, check out the blog post How to Spot Who’s Going to Quit Next.

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About the Author
Lori Wagoner is a market research consultant. She advises small businesses on new ways to find local and national business. She’s an avid blogger and writes for sites such as Small Business Can, Tweak Your Biz and Customer Think. You can catch her on Twitter @loridwagoner.

 

disengagement and incentivizing

How to Incentivize the Modern Workforce

With the inherent uniqueness of the individual in the corporate workforce, it is a virtual impossibility to find a one size fits all approach to incentivizing employees. An unincentivized employee is likely a disengaged one, meaning aspects of your business such as innovation, productivity, and retention could suffer. Furthermore, a workforce should be recognized and rewarded for embodying clearly defined corporate values or meeting specific company goals in a highly visible way, otherwise, employees may lose sight of the relevance of their work to the overall company mission, leading to disengagement and eventually attrition.

Moving from Disengaged to Incentivized

In their recently published report, Tomorrow’s Management Today: Incentivizing Workforce Innovation, The Aberdeen Group further stresses the importance of instituting and maintaining a well-defined, highly visible recognition and rewards program. Specifically, the report finds that employees at Best-In-Class companies were 31% more likely to stay with their employer if they felt that their work was relevant, and visibly impacted the organization. One of the easiest ways to ensure that recogntion reinforces successes aligned with company values in a highly visable way is by investing in an HCM system that offers a robust, goal-based recogntion and rewards component.

In-line with Alignment

Employees shouldn’t have to guess as to what the values and goals of their given organization are, nor should it be difficult to recognize and reward them for adhering to these values in pursuit of the stated goals. These shared goals and values should be apparent to everyone in the company, regardless of job title. Difficulty in effectively communicating key corporate objectives on an enterprise-wide level, isn’t a new phenomenon; companies have long been challenged with providing granular clarity to lower-level employees. Merely, announcing these goals at a quarterly kick-off meeting or sending them out in yearly newsletter does little to align individual employees’ around these goals.

Aberdeen Quote

Bottom-Up Drivers of Greater Productivity

Where it was once difficult to measure concepts such as productivity, innovation, etc., the continuous evolution or HCM systems, specifically those emphasizing recognition and rewards, can offer a tangible measurement as to the employees demonstrating those qualities a company values most. In this report you will learn how best-in-class companies are beginning to focus their peripheral HCM spend on goal-based platforms in rewards and recognition and how they are favoring bottom-up measures to drive greater workforce productivity.

Now that you have a general understanding as to the major cultural shift emphasizing employee engagement, download Aberdeen’s report on Incentivizing Workplace Innovation for more information, including recommendations regarding the selection of an HCM ecosystem.

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About the Author

Iain Ferreira

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

 

 

 

unbeatable workshop ideas

5 Fun Employee Workshops to Host in the Office

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 the Author
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.

 

 

 

Creative ideas to draw in top talent

18 Ways: How to Find your Dream Candidate for 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author

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

 

 

 

How to Identify and Retain Top Performers with Rewards and Recognition

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

Look for active recognizers

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

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

Tie recognitions to company values

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

High performers have unique needs

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

Why you need to focus on high achievers

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

Help your top performers fulfill their potential

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

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

The right HR technology can be your ally

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

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

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ideas for employee appreciation week

Out of the Box Ideas for Employee Appreciation Week

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 the Author

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.

 

 

 

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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Positive Work Culture

5 Company Initiatives That Improve Office Culture

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 the Author
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.

 

Learning and Development Programs

How to Leverage Learning and Development to Improve Employee Engagement

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 the Author
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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Employee Incentive Programs

Best employee incentive programs for health & fitness

Many companies consider wellness programs to be a nice extra — an optional perk to keep employees engaged. The evidence, however, demonstrates that workplace wellness programs have far-reaching economic benefits for the companies that put them in place. Harvard Business Review notes that Johnson & Johnson saved $250 million on employee health care costs as a result of their long-running emphasis on worker wellness. This works out to a return of $2.71 for every dollar they invested. Here’s a quick look at how you can help your employees improve their level of wellness.

Incentives are essential

The Wall Street Journal reports “Nearly 90 percent of employers offer wellness incentives or financial rewards or prizes to employees who work toward getting healthier.” This percentage represents a substantial increase from earlier years, as organizations have come to recognize two things: first, they will benefit financially from a healthier workforce, and second, employees aren’t good at following through with new health habits in the absence of incentives. The fact that people have trouble sticking with health resolutions is well-known, so organizations and workers alike can benefit from well-organized programs.

Diverse approaches to employee incentive programs

Employee incentive programs can be structured around several models, and you may want to draw from each one in order to suit the diversity of personal styles among your staff:

  • Personalized interventions: These reward individual employees for taking specified personal health steps, such as completing a health risk assessment, reaching a target weight, or getting a cancer screening. Individual incentives don’t invite team effort or competition, but people who prefer to make such efforts privately will appreciate receiving an individual bonus.
  • Employee competitions: Some people are motivated by the recognition they will achieve by coming out on top of a friendly competition. The contest model can be applied to such actions as quitting smoking, attending a certain number of exercise classes, or walking the greatest number of steps in a given period. Incentives for winning such competitions can be gift cards, vacation days, and/or public presentation of prizes.
  • Collaboration: The third model for creating employee incentive programs is a collaborative one. Lunchtime walking groups or gym clubs use a supportive camaraderie to encourage employees to remain disciplined. Incentives here can also be cash, gift cards, or peer-to-peer recognition.

Letting your employees know you care about their health and wellbeing will build a sense of loyalty in your organization and contribute to a stable, productive economic future as well.

Tuition Reimbursement Policy

Do companies really benefit from giving tuition reimbursement?

Have you considered paying some of your workers’ tuition to continue their education? In an era where employee engagement is a top priority for businesses, tuition assistance is a much-sought-after company benefit. But it also has the potential to be a burden on your bottom line, so you must determine whether it ultimately provides a good return on your investment. The following points will help when developing a tuition reimbursement policy for your company.

Business investment or just another perk?

The opportunity to subsidize your employees to further their education requires careful decision-making. If your only reason for this offer is simply to increase employee engagement, you may want to consider other popular options such as flex-time or remote work opportunities. These options tend to improve employees’ work-life balance while being less expensive to implement.

On the other hand, if you do want to support your employees’ careers by helping them acquire specific skills, your organization has the chance to benefit from their improved knowledge and abilities. Furthermore, you will also build a strong employer brand and benefit from attracting top talent in a competitive marketplace. Remember that you may be able to offer up to $5,250 tuition assistance per year per employee and deduct it as a business expense on your taxes. Be sure to read the fine print on the IRS instructions regarding this tax break before you proceed.

ROI may be diffuse

Training Magazine highlights the 125 companies each year that excel in employee training. This eminent list includes some of the nation’s largest and most prestigious companies, and 99 percent of them offer tuition reimbursement. These businesses have determined that employee education is a worthwhile investment, however the true return might come in the form of lower employee turnover, greater productivity, better job candidates, and greater worker loyalty.

Roll out tuition benefits thoughtfully

If you do decide to offer a tuition program, you may wish to limit it to workers who have been with your company for a specific length of time. You can also specify the GPA that the employee has to maintain, and you can limit the areas of study to those that will directly pertain to the skills your company needs. Further, you may want to spend time talking with a worker who expresses interest in enrolling in school to learn how he or she will balance the commitments of job, class time, and homework.

By offering a well-considered tuition reimbursement policy, you will be partnering with your employees to build their success. At the same time, your company can benefit from their improved expertise and develop strong employee loyalty.

 

Company Perks

Which company perks attract the best talent?

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

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

Paid time off

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

Shared profits

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

Frequent breaks

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

Wellness programs

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

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

Employee Bonus Plan

Annual bonuses: How much do they actually incentivize employees?

by Andrea Vearncombe, Total Rewards Manager, Achievers

Do you give your employees big annual bonuses as a reward for their work? Or perhaps you just give them out of tradition? If so, you have plenty of company: It’s common to rely on annual bonus plans to build employee motivation and pad salaries. However, a lot of bonus plans aren’t set up in a way that truly motivates good work. There’s a psychology behind rewards and employee incentives that you need to understand before you can create an effective bonus structure.

Do you give them, or do employees earn them?

If bonuses are going to serve as an incentive, you need to provide employees with clear metrics and objectives so that they understand exactly what they need to accomplish to earn the bonus. If you have a structure where everyone gets a bonus no matter what, that will quickly demotivate some employees, because they expect to receive a check regardless of their performance.

In addition to being clear, the bonus objectives need to strike a balance so that they’re not too far-fetched, or too easy. The goals should be attainable.

Too little, too late

Employees come to work every day of the year, and you need them to feel motivated and engaged on each one of those days. Most bonuses, however, only come 1-4 times per year. Even if employees feel a sense of satisfaction when they finally get their check (and research shows that sometimes they don’t), it won’t provide motivation for an employee who faces a challenging work situation weeks or months before bonuses are due. Furthermore, annual bonuses can actually spawn resentment or entitlement, creating interpersonal conflicts among employees or alienation from the company during a financially lean year.

Reward more with less

While financial incentives can be an effective way to motivate and reward employees, employers shouldn’t rely on periodic payout as their only method of engagement. Managers and employees should recognize each other and celebrate accomplishments both large and small all throughout the year. Real-time recognition that’s tied directly to an employee’s contribution is often more effective than the annual bonus—and it costs a lot less.

And if you’re running a recognition program manually with spreadsheets and closets full of rewards, you should know that there is a better way. Check out this whitepaper to learn how to make things easier.

 

Andrea Vearncombe  Andrea Vearncombe is responsible for leading the global total rewards and culture strategy for Achievers in North America and EMEA.