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Employee Evaluations

5 Elements of a Healthy Performance Review Process

Before you start defining the elements of a healthy performance review process, it’s worth investigating how or where your process went wrong. Historically, performance reviews were created with the best of intentions and remained unchanged for centuries.

The idea that people are motivated by knowing where they stand within an organization gave birth to the “rank and yank” method of ranking employees into top, average, and poor performing tiers (and eliminating those at the bottom). This was popularized by Jack Welch, former CEO and Chairman of General Electric (1980-2001).

As with many common business practices, the millennial generation is challenging the way performance reviews work. Not only have forced ranking and merit-based raises been found ineffective, leaders and human resources professionals have reported performance reviews to be a significant waste of time.

While performance management is sometimes a necessary evil, thankfully, the delivery system and the value it provides is trending in a healthier direction. Let’s have a look at five elements of a healthy performance review process.

1. Regularity

The traditional performance review that takes place once or twice a year tends to be an anxiety-inducing event in which employees are sometimes blindsided by their supervisor’s perception of their performance. To be effective, performance feedback should be delivered on a regularly scheduled basis so it becomes less stressful and includes more than an overview of how they have performed over the last twelve months.

Employees will have a better chance to grow, improve, and possibly change their approach to work if they’re receiving timely, specific feedback rather than waiting several months to a year after the fact to hear about their performance.

2. A Strong Focus on Goals

A healthy performance review process includes more than just feedback, it’s a great opportunity to establish goals and expectations. This is another reason the review process should be done more regularly. As soon as current goals are met or exceeded, you can put new ones in place, rather than waiting until a formal review to adjust strategy. This will help keep your team members from growing bored or frustrated and keep them focused on imperative business objectives.

Meeting to discuss an employee’s performance, as well as their goals, helps you as a leader understand the direction they’re heading and how you can guide them, as well as how you can align their strengths and interests toward the shared goals of your team. If you have a learning management system in place, you can also pair some of these performance goals with specific learning or training objectives and track progress in real time.

3. Two-Way Conversations

“Talking at,” your employees can make them feel intimidated, or worse, annoyed. The lack of two-way communication is one of the many reasons the traditional performance review is ineffective — more than anything, the employee just wants it to end as they might be feeling belittled, unimportant, or unheard.

Instead, use the designated review time to have a two-way conversation. Spend time discussing how your employee feels about their own performance and how they feel about your performance as a leader. Ask for their thoughts on the company’s current mission and goals. Encourage them to be decisive, and solicit their ideas. Where possible, put what they tell you into action, so they know that your interest in their opinion isn’t perfunctory. This method of communication is more aligned with the modern workforce; today’s employees, especially the millennial generation, prefer coaches to managers.

4. Balanced Feedback

You already know that going into a performance review with only negative feedback can discourage an employee from making the corrective behavior necessary to get on track. A poor performer still needs to understand how their skills are valuable to the organization, the areas they are making strides in, and where you see potential for improvement.

Similarly, providing only positive feedback (even to an outstanding performer) isn’t helpful either. A healthy review should balance both positive and negative feedback. Growth only comes from pushing people past what they thought they were capable of, and an ambitious employee will look for a manager willing to do just that. Your job as a leader is to do the pushing; by acknowledging areas of improvement, and establishing new goals.

5. Performance-Based Incentives

A system of goals and evaluation criteria is a step in the right direction if you’re hoping to boost performance. But your employees will never feel intrinsically motivated to improve unless there is some benefit or reward tied to success. If they know the only reward for above-average work is the approval of their manager, you won’t see much growth.

Make sure your performance reviews are connected to a tangible reward or incentive for each employee. How you reward the employee should be individualized, and is dependent on available budget, but it could be anything from a restaurant gift card to a quarterly bonus, or even a permanent raise for the highest performing employees. Don’t let your most valuable employees feel unappreciated, demonstrate their value to them with tangible assets–verbal affirmation is nice, but it doesn’t pay the electric bill.

When you do away with forced rankings and outdated goals and start having meaningful conversations with your team, you can soften the cutthroat atmosphere at work and engage your employees as individuals. This in turn will create a culture of trust, allowing for constructive criticism and healthy performance reviews that include regular, balanced feedback, goal-setting, and an opportunity for a two-way conversation. Furthermore, a healthy review process tied to measurable incentives will not only result in higher performance, but happier employees as well.

To learn more, check out 6 Tips to Tackle Performance Reviews for Managers and Employees.

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About the Author
Jessica Barrett Halcom is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com, with specializations in human resources, healthcare, and transportation. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay and currently lives in Nashville, TN.

 

How to run a meeting that engages employees

5 ways to make meetings more engaging

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

  1. Stand up and get the blood flowing

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

  1. Be sure to get people involved

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

  1. Have clear goals and objectives

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

  1. Get visual

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

  1. Try to make a meeting special

People tend to like a bit of variety in life, and meetings are no different. Think about inviting leaders and educators to speak to meeting participants. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to be entirely related to the meeting topic or objective. As long as the speaker is innovative and challenges orthodoxy, there is an opportunity that he or she will educate and inspire meeting participants. You can also think about introducing a novel environment to help jump start creativity. It could be as simple as bringing people out to a park or hosting a meeting on a patio, but a change of scenery can go a long way to getting the engagement you want.

Woman Takes Employee Surveys for Employee Morale

How does that make you feel? Why employee mood is important

If you want to keep a pulse on your company’s health, you need to understand how engaged or disengaged your employees are feeling on a regular basis. It’s no longer sufficient to gauge employee satisfaction just once or twice a year. After all, if leadership, employee morale, or performance problems aren’t solved quickly, they can lead to a drop in productivity, job satisfaction, and customer service. Big data and frequent employee surveys are a great way to measure employee mood and satisfaction in real time.

Why companies need to understand their workforce

There’s a reason world-class companies are constantly assessing employee satisfaction: engaged employees are the engine that fuels growth, great ideas, and customer satisfaction.
It’s important to remember that employee engagement directly relates to the success of an organization. Would employees recommend other skilled people in the industry for a job at your company? Do they project a positive image when dealing with your clients and customers? Do employees feel they can openly approach supervisors with suggestions? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, then disengaged employees might negatively impact your business without you realizing it.

Stay on top of employee needs every day

Businesses are using real-time data to track their markets, their customers’ behaviors, their advertising performance, and more. So why don’t we start applying this same level of analysis to tracking employee engagement? Forget annual surveys: you should be measuring engagement on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

Frequent employee surveys will allow you to track the effects of changes in your business, such as new system implementation, changes in management, changes in company structure, or anything else that might affect engagement and morale.

Make smart changes based on employee feedback

Employee surveys are an excellent way to keep managers informed. Gather feedback on a variety of your business practices, including training, onboarding, work environment, leadership effectiveness, systems, and more. This feedback will empower you to take a data-driven approach to improving your processes, evaluating your leadership team, and improving employee engagement.

It’s also worth using survey data to influence business decisions. Will employees react positively to a merger? What benefits do they actually want? What do they think about your company’s new growth strategy? These are the kinds of important questions a survey can answer quickly to keep your business on track.

Employee Appreciation Week

4 Links to inspire greatness during employee appreciation week—and all year long

2015_EAW-05What is greatness? Your employees and colleagues are doing great things every day, and the only way to keep them motivated to keep up the great work is to recognize them for it. If you haven’t already, it’s time to start recognizing the greatness in your fellow colleagues today!

As we close out Employee Appreciation Week 2015, here are a few articles to help inspire you to recognize greatness today, and every day!

How to inspire greatness: stop leadingInc.

13 epic battle speeches that will inspire greatnessMashable

These 4 feelings could hold you back from greatnessEntrepreneur

The complexity of greatness: beyond talent or practiceScientific American

 

Have you recognized greatness today?

Employee Appreciation Week

3 Links to drive results during employee appreciation week—and all year long

2015_EAW-04

Eventually, it all comes down to results. While the journey is definitely important, it’s also crucial to measure how that journey leads us to success. Recognizing success within your organization has a fantastic side effect; it encourages even more success.

Appreciating employees is an everyday thing here at Achievers, and in honor of Employee Appreciation Week 2015, we thought we’d share some of our favorite links on getting results to inspire recognition—and results—today!

5 Unconventional habits that’ll make you successfulThe Daily Muse

Micro vs macro: Using “success factors” to manage your team99U

7 Scientifically proven ways to achiever better success in lifeInc.

 

How are you recognizing your colleagues for Employee Appreciation Week?

Employee Appreciation Week

4 Links to inspire leadership during employee appreciation week—and all year long

2015_EAW-03

A good leader can make all the difference in a team’s success—and longevity. And one key to encouraging a culture of recognition lies within your leaders. Leaders come in all shapes and sizes, too—they’re not just managers.

Appreciating employees is an everyday thing here at Achievers, and in honor of Employee Appreciation Week 2015, we thought we’d share some of our favorite links on leadership to inspire recognition—and leadership—today!

Between Venus and Mars: 7 traits of true leadersInc.

Become a better leader by thinking like Swiss cheeseLifehacker

You don’t have to be a CEO to develop leadership qualitiesEntreprenuer

5 Ways to transform yourself into a leaderThe Daily Muse

 

How are you recognizing your colleagues for Employee Appreciation Week?

 

Employee Appreciation Week

4 Links to inspire collaboration during employee appreciation week—and all year long

2015_EAW-02Put a few great minds in a room together and see what happens. You already have talented, motivated, and creative talent in your organization. What do you think will result when you encourage them to collaborate in new ways?

Appreciating employees is an everyday thing here at Achievers, so in honor of Employee Appreciation Week 2015, we thought we’d share some of our favorite links on collaboration to inspire recognition—and collaboration—today!

 

 

 

 

 

Are you a collaborative leader?Harvard Business Review

What jazz soloists know about creative collaboration99U

Thomas Edison’s keys to managing team collaborationFastCompmany

Standing improves group collaborationMashable

 

How are you recognizing your colleagues for employee appreciation week?

 

 

 

 

Employee Appreciation Week

4 Links to inspire innovation during employee appreciation week—and all year long

2015_EAW-01Innovation is all around us, yet it’s not always so easy to uncover. Organizations have the opportunity every day to promote a culture of recognition and inspire innovation from employees.

Appreciating employees is an everyday thing here at Achievers, so in honor of Employee Appreciation Week 2015, we thought we’d share some of our favorite links on innovation to inspire recognition—and innovation—today!

 

 

 

 

How are you recognizing your colleagues for Employee Appreciation Week?

Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces

Announcing the 2015 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ winners!

Today, we’re excited to announce the 50 Most Engaged Workplaces in North America for 2015. This annual award recognizes top employers that display leadership and innovation in engaging their workplaces.

Our panel of judges evaluated each applicant based on the Eight Elements of Employee Engagement™: Communication, Leadership, Culture, Rewards and Recognition, Professional and Personal Growth, Accountability and Performance, Vision and Values and Corporate Social Responsibility.

The panel of judges was comprised of academic and thought leaders on employee engagement from organizations such as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Human Capital Institute and Human Resource Executive.

Recipients of the Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ Awards will be honored at an award gala on March 11, 2015 at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. We’re excited to congratulate all the winners!

The Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ in North America in alphabetical order include:

  1. 3M Canada
  2. Agrium U.S. Inc.
  3. AMN Healthcare
  4. AOL Canada
  5. ATB Financial
  6. AutoTrader.com
  7. Bell
  8. Black Hills Corporation
  9. Blue Coat Systems
  10. C.R. England
  11. CA Technologies
  12. Cargill
  13. CBRE
  14. Ceridian
  15. CIBC
  16. CIBC Mellon
  17. Cisco – Services Platforms Group
  18. ERICSSON NORTH AMERICA
  19. G4S Secure Solutions (USA) Inc
  20. GoodLife Fitness
  21. HomeAway, Inc.
  22. Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey
  23. HP Software Professional Services
  24. Humana: National Education
  25. KPMG LLP
  26. MD Financial Management
  27. Meridian Credit Union
  28. MGM Resorts International
  29. Moneris Solutions
  30. NetSuite, Inc. Canada
  31. NetSuite, Inc. USA
  32. PRAXAIR
  33. Reliant Medical Group
  34. Rogers Communications
  35. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
  36. Ryan, LLC
  37. Shoppers Drug Mart
  38. SilverBirch Hotels & Resorts
  39. Smart & Final Stores LLC
  40. Softchoice LP.
  41. Sutherland Global Services
  42. TATA Consultancy Services
  43. Tata Consultancy Services Canada Inc
  44. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
  45. Ultimate Software
  46. Veterans United Home Loans
  47. Virtusa Corporation
  48. World Travel Holdings
  49. Zappos.com, Inc.
  50. Zurich American Insurance Company

Learn more about Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ here, and follow the conversation on Twitter with #Achievers50.

Employee engagement: the buzzword for business success

The term, “employee engagement,” earned itself buzzword status in 2014, and with good reason. With each passing year, we learn more about the importance of engaging employees, and why they’re the key to any successful business and employee engagement continues to be the cornerstone for success—both for employees and businesses.

As you prepare for 2015, here’s a roundup of some of our favorite articles and resources from 2014 to help you engage, align, recognize, and reward your employees in the new year.

Engage

Why Employee Engagement Is Critical to Corporate SuccessMashable

How to Lose an Employee in 10 DaysAchievers

Five Ways to Improve Employee Engagement NowGallup

Align

Company Culture Is Part of Your Business ModelHarvard Business Review

It Really Pays to Have a Rich Company CultureEntrepreneur

Company Culture: What’s the Big Hype?Achievers

Recognize

The Art and Science of Giving and Receiving Criticism At WorkFast Company

The Ultimate Guide to Employee RecognitionAchievers

The Wrong Way to Thank EmployeesThe Wall Street Journal

Reward

11 Non-Traditional Ways to Reward Innovative EmployeesTLNT

5 Ways to Reward Great Employees Besides MoneyInc.

Top Talent, Tight Wallet: 4 Budget-Friendly Ways to Reward EmployeesThe Daily Muse

 

Wishing you an engaging New Year!

– Your friends at Achievers

 

 

The Gift That Keeps On Giving: Keeping Employees Engaged Over the Holidays—And After

By Cheryl Kerrigan, VP Employee Success, Achievers

Keeping employee morale and productivity up during the holiday season isn’t easy. Between Thanksgiving and the New Year employees are pulled in many directions, excited—and distracted—with the festivities at work and at home. The key to keeping employees focused, and to continue driving momentum during the last few months of the year is with culture. Managers can engage their teams and keep them productive—and happy—with a few thoughtful steps:

 

1.     Align your team

Do your employees know your company’s mission? More importantly, do you know your company’s mission? If your employee base is aligned to your organization’s mission and business objectives, they’re more likely to stay motivated throughout this busy time of year. When you involve your employees in setting benchmarks for achievable goals, especially as the year winds down, you’ll find they continue delivering the caliber of performance you appreciate the rest of the year. Over communicate individual roles and responsibilities to keep your team aligned, focused, and motivated to succeed.

2.     Celebrate success, every day

Embrace the opportunity to celebrate and thank your employees at work, every day. Employees value immediate feedback so make it a daily habit to recognize your employees for a job well done and you’ll begin to see great behaviors repeated. According to Gallup, 80 percent of employees say that recognition is a strong motivator for their work performance, and 70 percent said they would work harder with continuous recognition. There’s really no reason to put it off. Recognition is a great way to motivate your employees to continue driving results through the excitement of the holiday season, and long after.

3.     Empower employees to work from anywhere

If work-life balance is important to your company culture (it should be), then the holidays are a great time to prove it. Start by defining goals and making sure employees are clear on your organization’s direction. Next, empower them to work remotely or provide more flexibility with hours, so employees can accommodate for family travel and schedules. Show your employees you trust that they’ll get the job done. They‘ll appreciate the flexibility of completing tasks on their own timeline. Come January, you’ll see a refreshed and re-energized team back in the office, ready to tackle new challenges.

 

cheryl-kerrigan
Cheryl is Vice President, Employee Success at Achievers where she is responsible for overall people strategy, which focuses on attracting, retaining, and inspiring top talent. Cheryl brings more than 15 years experience in Human Resources; prior to Achievers, she held an HR Leader position at Eloqua. While at Eloqua, she was responsible for building out the HR function and strategy and attracting and developing the talent to grow the business from 10 million to over 100 million in revenue. Cheryl earned her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Guelph and a post graduate certificate in Human Resource Management from Seneca College.

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy of (christmasstockimages.com) / CC BY 3.0

How not to engage your employees

How Not to Engage Your Employees

This week, Canadian ad agency, Union Advertising, shows us how they reward their employees for their hard work. While obviously a spoof, the hint of truth to the ad will strike a nerve with most of us, and is a great example of how not to treat your employees.

Are there really employers like this out there? I hope not.

Instead, we’d love to hear what your organization does that actually puts a smile on your face and makes you feel recognized and rewarded.

Share your experience in the comments!

 

Ryan LLC and Achievers

Partners in Employee Success: Ryan LLC + Achievers

Ryan LLC drives total client satisfaction by aligning its global employees with the Achievers Employee Success Platform™. Watch the video and see how Ryan LLC creates a culture of recognition to drive success.

HR Tech Europe

Lessons Learned At HR Tech Europe—When I Wasn’t There

Don’t get me wrong; I learned a lot from HR Tech Europe in Amsterdam, and thoroughly enjoyed my experience. The sessions were great. Connecting with several analysts and the media was enlightening. The people I met in the Spire bar as we passed around red drink tickets and stories were plenty and inspiring. But, the biggest takeaway from my first HR Tech Europe experience didn’t happen at the show; it happened at an old Heineken Brewery.

heinekenWith two fellow Achievers (as you can see by my pictures below with amazing colleagues Loren and Katie; we had a great time), we took part in the Heineken Experience. On Saturday afternoon after HR Tech, we spent three hours learning about the quality of Heineken beer and had a few (ok, a lot of) samples. But what stood out most for me wasn’t the product, or the brilliant Heineken marketing, or the fun experience and copious amounts of silly pictures—it was that Heineken’s unwavering focus on their people continues to make this company great.

Throughout the experience, it was obvious that Heineken creates a culture where their people, and in turn their company, can thrive. It starts with a dedicated room that shows a video from their Executive Director of their Board, Charlene Lucille de Carvalho-Heineken, describing the values of Respect, Quality and Enjoyment. She comments on how every decision the company makes flourishes from these values, creating an aligned purpose.

There’s a wall of stories describing how the leadership was insanely focused on putting their people first. In one story from 1923, Heineken became one of the first Dutch companies to establish a non-contributory pension fund for its employees. In 1929, a decade after an economic crisis, Heineken refused to fire or lay off employees, and instead provided early retirement options at age 58. In 1937, they developed The Heineken Foundation for Personnel to provide extra support for employees in need. Decades later, Heineken continues to focus on innovating great culture fit, earning them awards around the world for their focus on employees. Seriously, this company is amazing—just check out their latest hiring campaign.

The people I met embody everything we all want in our employees. They’re focused, energized, passionate, and engaged. Listening to—and watching—them speak about the product was inspiring, and more akin to a parent talking about their newborn child. The woman providing us our first sample didn’t call it “yellow beer,” she called it “liquid gold.” And all did it with a passion and confidence that they belonged to the Heineken family. You’d never guess they’d been doing the same thing, hour after hour, over and over, to more than 600,000 visitors so far in 2014.

Every interaction, from the gentleman selling us our tickets, to the lovely woman accepting them, to the person that checked out all the things I couldn’t resist from the gift shop, and everyone in between, showed that the employees not only lived and believed in the brand, they’re actively a part of the Heineken journey.

And I’m not just talking about people. Heineken’s horses are behind the brew, too.

Heineken2Yup! That’s not a typo. Even the horses are recognized as part of the family with an entire section dedicated to the role horses have played in Heineken’s growth for over 150 years. Horses were the prime method of distribution for the tasty-suds, from the streets of Amsterdam and beyond, up until the 1960’s. They highlighted their importance and displayed their continued purpose. They displayed how they are part of the family. They even have a vacation day each year when all the horses are taken on a field trip to run free in the pastures. They even take care of them after they retire for the remainder of their lives. The horses are as part of the culture as their people.

Heineken3Throughout our tour there were many passionate references to the ‘secret-sauce’ in their beer—affectionately named the ‘A-Yeast’—that keeps Heineken’s taste consistent, in 180 countries worldwide. It reminded me of the importance of alignment, and why company culture is the secret sauce your competition can’t duplicate. There are 20,000 beer brands worldwide that can make a beer with a similar look, feel, taste, and smell as Heineken.

And, so it happened that my biggest ‘ah-ha’ from HR Tech Europe came off-site of the event in an old brewery. I urge you as business and HR leaders to consider this: Anyone can build your product and compete in your market. Give a smart kid some money and a laptop and they can probably build a product better than yours—I saw more superior products in the Disrupt HR section of HR Tech than what’s currently out in the market. That means what sets you apart isn’t just in what you build, but who builds it, and why. One of my primary goals as a manager and a leader in two fast-growth companies has been simply this; don’t let a single employee be a passenger. Hire to your company values and culture, and ensure that they have the chance to belong to something they can feel passionate about and engaged with. This includes being transparent, allowing employees to have a voice, having a purpose, mission and values that are clear and lived by senior management (and not just a page on your website), and recognizing and aligning employees with that vision.

Isn’t this what HR Tech is all about? All the fancy tools and technologies are great, but so often they aren’t people centric. Technology, tools, platforms—whatever you want to call them—are enablers. They need to enable people to align to the behaviors and values you want every employee to embody, and empower them to do their jobs more effectively and passionately.

Heineken4I learned a lot at the Heineken Experience but one other thing was new and cool to me. I was unaware that the three letter e’s in the Heineken logo were turned slightly to make it look like they were smiling. A nice touch for their brand and culture. With the whole experience that day, my fellow Achievers and I had three faces smiling back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RobRob Catalano is a Vice-President at Achievers focusing on the company’s global expansion. Marketer by trade, but focused on HR by passion – Rob has spent a decade growing Achievers in multiple roles focused on helping companies engage, align and recognize their employees to drive company purpose, values and phenomenal business performance. Follow him at @RobCatalano

 

HR Tech Tank Toronto

Insights from #HRTechTank Toronto

This week, the most promising HR Tech companies in Canada shared their innovations and insights with investors, early adopters, and industry thought leaders. Here’s what they said:

Humanizing HR Technology

Guest post by Jeff Waldman, Founder & Social HR Strategist of Stratify and SocialHRCamp

We’ve seen an unprecedented explosion in SaaS-based HR technology in the past 5+ years. Solutions that potentially solve virtually every conceivable problem within the broad spectrum of Human Resources—recruitment, on-boarding, performance management, employee engagement, recognition, talent management—the list goes on. The possibilities are infinite as to how successful these emerging technologies are at driving business value for organizations across the globe.

Yet, with all of this technology goodness comes a basic observation, or challenge, that may impact the ability of organizations to maximize value; people. None of this great technology will do us much good if we’re not ensuring employees remain at the forefront of the business.

What exactly does this mean?

Think about it for a second. Technology has streamlined business processes, opened up the floodgates to data accessibility, instantly connected people regardless of geography, and promoted user experience personalization—we’re connected anytime, anywhere, and using our devices of choice, from smartphones and tablets, to laptops, and even wearable devices.

The business case has been clearly made, and it’s an attractive one. The effects of these advancements are hugely positive, and advantageous to driving business value and outcomes. On the other hand, we’re also seeing a trend where technology adoption has somewhat replaced the face-to-face human interaction. Instead of walking over to a colleagues desk, we send an email. Don’t want to talk on the phone? Send a text. The impact? A de-humanization of the workplace—an over-reliance and dependence on technology to facilitate people interactions.

Technology can still be our friend

I’m not saying using technology isn’t a good thing, but I am saying that over-dependence at the expense of face-to-face contact could have significant negative repercussions. Nothing will ever replace the influence, impact, and strength of face-to-face interactions, and this is critically important to think about and consider within the realm of Human Resources and the workplace.

Without a doubt, technology is, and will continue to be at the center of the workplace and human resources strategy, driving business value, but it’s crucial that we don’t do so at the expense of our human connections. Organizations are made up of people who require an emotional connection to each other, the workplace, and the brand. As HR practitioners we need to be cognizant of this cause and effect relationship, and support our organizations to maximize their investments in technology, people and the workplace.

 

 

 

Jeff Headshot SHRMJeff Waldman, Founder & Social HR Strategist of Stratify and SocialHRCamp is leading the way in a growing niche that brings together HR, employer branding, social media, marketing and business. With a diverse career since 2000, spanning all facets of HR Jeff founded SocialHRCamp in 2012; a growing global interactive learning platform that helps the HR Community adopt social media and emerging HR technology in the workplace. Jeff consults and advises HR and Recruitment software companies on content market strategy, business development and product development, and with corporate HR teams across multiple industries to strategically integrate social media and emerging HR technology into HR and Employer Branding strategy.

Jeff is an avid speaker, blogger and volunteer with diverse organizations such as the SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition, HR Technology Conference, HR Metrics Conference Canada, Illinois State SHRM Conference, Louisiana State SHRM Conference and many other events in Canada and the U.S.. Recently named one of the Top 100 Most Social Human Resources Experts on Twitter by the Huffington Post he also served as a judge for the 2013 Achievers Top 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards.

You can find Jeff on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Plus.

Talent Community

What’s a Talent Community?

Guest post by Jeff Waldman, Founder & Social HR Strategist of Stratify and SocialHRCamp

Talent pool, talent network or talent community—semantics shemantics. We in the HR industry appear to be having some difficulties wrapping our heads around all of this. For starters, we can’t seem to agree on the definitions for each of these terms, let alone understand what the core purposes of each are. The so-called ‘industry influencers’ are struggling with this as well. If the thought-leaders and influencers are struggling, how can the industry at large have a clear understanding?

Part of the problem with understanding talent communities, lies in our attempts to define it. While we could sit around and debate the meaning of specific words, concepts and ideas, a simple definition just doesn’t capture the essence of what a talent community really is at its core.

Instead, what if we equate the core purpose of a talent community to the practice of relationship building? Take a marketer for example. Why are successful marketers successful? Is it because they create more appealing advertisements? Is it because they have a way with words? Or is it because they are the loudest on social networks? No, not really, and probably not.

A marketer’s success hinges on their ability to build strong relationships based on value, respect, credibility, honesty, and reciprocity. They have the ability to effectively tap into the emotional core of their target audience. They’re engaging and conversational, always discovering and sharing, and asking questions. Their success is directly correlated to their engagement with their audience.

This is exactly what a talent community is all about. The final desired outcome is a rich community of top talent that loves and promotes the brand.

Yet, to date, the approach that the majority of the HR industry has taken is what I call an “old school sales” approach. The industry has this notion that employers hold all the power, and that simply offering an open position is all the effort needed to attract top talent. With this approach, dialogue between a prospect and the organization is limited and one-sided, not to mention inconsistent. Oh, and it’s terribly boring—for everyone involved. How in the world can this practice differentiate you from your competitors, promote brand awareness, and ultimately build strong relationships? Tactics like these only seek to define a position, not create a community.

Appropriately, the answer here isn’t easy. Simply stating the desired qualities of your ideal employees won’t magically draw them to you. Instead, seek out the best talent you know, and ask them how they build relationships with their target audiences. Then begin to cultivate the type of community that attracts the caliber of colleague you’re looking for.

Like any good community, your talent community is only as good as its members. Dedicate the time and effort to understand yours, and you’ll find your success far surpasses a simple definition.

 

 

Jeff Headshot SHRMJeff Waldman, Founder & Social HR Strategist of Stratify and SocialHRCamp is leading the way in a growing niche that brings together HR, employer branding, social media, marketing and business. With a diverse career since 2000, spanning all facets of HR Jeff founded SocialHRCamp in 2012; a growing global interactive learning platform that helps the HR Community adopt social media and emerging HR technology in the workplace. Jeff consults and advises HR and Recruitment software companies on content market strategy, business development and product development, and with corporate HR teams across multiple industries to strategically integrate social media and emerging HR technology into HR and Employer Branding strategy.

Jeff is an avid speaker, blogger and volunteer with diverse organizations such as the SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition, HR Technology Conference, HR Metrics Conference Canada, Illinois State SHRM Conference, Louisiana State SHRM Conference and many other events in Canada and the U.S.. Recently named one of the Top 100 Most Social Human Resources Experts on Twitter by the Huffington Post he also served as a judge for the 2013 Achievers Top 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards.

You can find Jeff on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Plus.

HR Technology

3 Keys To Making Great HR Tech

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 4.23.09 AMThis week, HR professionals from around the world are gathering in Las Vegas, but it’s not to roll the dice. It’s to talk about technology—HR technology. While this may not seem as sexy as Sinatra or the roulette tables, how we use technology in the workplace today, and in the future, is on everyone’s minds, and probably in our pockets, too.

But great HR technology isn’t as simple as creating a snazzy app or adding a few bells and whistles to old systems and services. HR Technology not only has to attract the attention of a wide audience—from interns to CEOs—but it has to keep them coming back to it, day after day.

So, what’s the magic ingredient? We know technology can enable us to access incredible insights into our workforces, and improve engagement and alignment, but none of that matters if we can’t get anyone to use the system.

Recently, Steven Parker spoke about this very topic on his webinar, Disrupting HR Technology, and laid out three key factors to creating HR Technology that will be worth your time—and investment.

1. It’s easy to use

How much time does it take you to decide if you’re going to use new technology? Gone are the days of reading a complicated user manual to set the clock on your VCR (remember those?). Smart design with the user in mind means technology has to be intuitive and and easy to use, and HR Tech is no exception.

2. It provides unique value to the user

At any given time, most of us probably have a least five different programs running on our computers, all of them necessary to get the job done. Adding another layer to an already crowded desktop won’t go over well with your employees, unless that new layer is making their life easier.

3. It makes the invisible, visible

With all great technology, comes data. Lots of it. That data becomes invaluable when it uncovers trends and information about your workforce you couldn’t access through traditional means. Employees and managers alike, should have insights into performance, as individuals and as a team.

There will surely be some great innovations showcased at #HRTechConf, and who knows, maybe HR technology will be giving Sinatra a run for his money. After all, nothing is sexier than success.

 

 

 

Open Door Policy: 4 Links to Help Embrace Transparency at Work

The “open door” policy is ubiquitous in the business world, but following through on that practice can be a challenge. Many of us set out with the best intentions, but when we’re at the point of crossing the proverbial threshold, we chicken out.

Sound familiar? Don’t worry; you’re in good company. This week we’re sharing some of our favorite insights on infusing transparency, and creating a culture of constructive, consistent feedback in the office.

Whether your door is physical or virtual, creating a feedback-friendly environment doesn’t have to be scary. Keep these links handy for the next time you’re feeling squeamish about testing out that open door policy, and you’ll find transparency in the office opens the door to a collaborative, successful, workplace environment.

Communication in the Workplace

What Do You Stand For? 3 Insights On Communication For The Modern Workplace

imageIt’s not easy getting a room full of over 400 people to jump to their feet, but that’s exactly what happened this year at the Achievers Customer Experience – #AACE14. Between standing up to stretch, popping up to shake hands with a new friend, and giving a few standing ovations, we found ourselves enthusiastically standing around—or, more appropriately, standing up.

One recurring theme from day two that got people up and out of their seats was communication. Here are three great insights that resonated with the crowd, and got everyone on their feet and engaged in the conversation.

Look Each Other In The Eye

With all the amazing new technology we have, it’s easy to forget the importance of a human connection in the workplace. Although many of us sit within an arm’s length of each other, how often do we stand up and look one another in the eye?

Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin Pulse had us do just that. Before discussing the importance of workplace wellness, Chris reminded us of the importance of connecting with one another—and how easily it could be done. We all stood up, found someone we hadn’t met yet, made eye contact, and introduced ourselves.

What was amazing was that this little exercise should have only taken moments, yet it lingered on until someone had to remind us we were there for a presentation. Chris made his point. With just one simple gesture—making eye contact—we can meaningfully connect with our fellow colleagues, every single day.

Communication Is More Than Just An Email

As the day progressed, we were treated to a special airing of HR Happy Hour, a live weekly radio show, hosted by Steve Boese, Co-Chair of the HR Technology Conference, and Trish McFarlane, an HR executive, writer, and speaker.

This energetic session kicked off with cocktails in hand and a challenge on the table: How to reskill your team for the modern workplace—a challenge everyone in the room could appreciate.

There were lots of great ideas passed around, but what really struck me, is what one of the audience members, a manager of employee experience, said about communication: “A lot of times, communication means an email…but it’s so much more than that.”

How many times have you sent an email when simply walking across the office, or making a quick phone call, would have worked just as well? Technology is a fantastic tool; as long as we’re using it to enhance our daily communications with one another—not replace them.

Reach People Where They Are

Nearly every speaker and attendee I met at ACE recognized that if they were going to be successful at boosting employee engagement, they had to find the best ways to connect with their greatest assets—their employees.

Trish McFarlane said it best during HR Happy Hour; “It’s about reaching people where they are—not where you are.”

HR professionals and executives need to understand where their employees are, and not just geographically. Understanding how employees communicate and operate in their personal lives makes enhancing their work lives much easier. Whether that means implementing wellness programs, encouraging days off for volunteering, or highlighting social recognition within the organization, connecting with employees in a way they’re already comfortable with will help transform average companies into great places to work.

 

It’s not easy to change the way the world works, but after two full days of inspiration, innovation, and collaboration, there’s no doubt that HR professionals at #AACE14 are standing up to the challenge.

WIFFM: The rule of common purpose

Fast Company recently wrote about “How To Foster Outrageously Awesome Employee Engagement.”  They touched upon the importance of seeing your employees as your competitive advantage and treating them accordingly, emphasizing the value of positivity and implementing expectations that you want to see. However, my favorite tip was “The Rule of Common Purpose,” making sure that the interests of each employee are meaningfully represented.  This is also known as the “WIIFM” or “What’s in it for me?” Foster a culture where open communication is embraced and employees have the opportunity to give and receive feedback on a regular basis. When employees feel valued, productivity flourishes and engagement soars!

Taking ownership: A litmus test for employee engagement

I’ve worked in plenty of offices that have undertaken office challenges, whether to undertaken environmental initiatives, become healthier, fundraise for a worthy cause, or volunteer our time. These initiatives contribute to employee engagement by facilitating personal goals alongside professional ones; companies that invest in their employee’s personal growth as well as professional demonstrate their commitment employees’ holistic happiness and productivity. They’re always fun while they last, but then afterwards the team usually goes back to their old habits.

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3 ways to talk to your employees and learn something

It’s common knowledge that businesses need to understand their customers in order to be successful. Companies that have a thorough knowledge of their target market are better equipped to produce and deliver superior products and services to their customers. The way companies gain this knowledge is to listen to their customers. Listening to your customers helps you learn about their pains and struggles so you can create the innovative solutions that they will want to purchase.

In Janine Popick’s article, “Talk to Your Customers; You Might Learn Something,” she discusses how CEO’s need to make themselves available to see what customers are saying and communicate with them directly. We want to take this concept one step further and talk about how important it is to talk to your employees too. Listening to employees’ ideas and challenges provides a similar opportunity to improve processes and spark new, innovative ideas. Seeing and listening firsthand what your employees think is crucial to your business, just as much as knowing what your customers think.

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Happy and productive: Harness communication to improve engagement

Dear A Advisor,

I’m an HR manager and I’ve recently noticed a breakdown in communication in my company. It’s affecting productivity between and within teams and making it more difficult for employees to truly engage with their work. In fact, the numbers on our engagement surveys are falling and people seem much less happy. I’d like to keep my teams positive and productive, without the strain of poor communication.

Do you have any tips for improving lines of communication between and amongst teams in my company?

Thanks!

Let’s Start Talking

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Career development: Tips to leverage your employee talent pool

Dear A Advisor,

I’ve been with my company for over a year and I’d like to advance my career. I think my company is a great place to work and I would love to grow within the company, but I’m frustrated that my career progression is undefined.

I would like to understand how to advance my career so that I can be with my company long term. What’s the best way to bring this up to my leader?

Thanks for your help!

Let’s Stick Together

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Beware the silent treatment: 3 essential approaches to your hiring process

Hey A Advisor,

I need your help improving my recruitment program. We only have a few positions to fill, and even though we’ve seen some great applications, we haven’t had much success in bringing those candidates into our organization. Our problem seems to be somewhere in the interview process: it can often take a week or so to have an application approved by our leadership team, and almost every time we become excited about a new candidate they’re no longer interested by the time we contact them. I don’t think that our interview process is unreasonably long, and we’re a desirable company to work for, so I’m not sure why these possible hires are so hard to bring into our company.

I hope you can shed some light on the situation!

Thanks,

Slipping Through My Fingers

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5 dos and don’ts to create and maintain relationships at work

We spend so much of our time at work, some of the best friendships are created in the workplace. The most successful corporate cultures are comprised of individuals with similar goals, professional interests, and ambitions in life – so the manifestation of friendships in the workplace is inevitable.

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4 ways to benefit from open communication and improve employee engagement

Picture a familiar situation: You take advantage of a service, whether to sign up for a new mobile phone contract, or to order a new gadget from a website. There’s a problem with your purchase, but when you call customer service, you wait on hold only to reach an automated service and learn that the customer service office is closed. When you finally reach an agent to find a solution, they offer no assistance. What seemed like a simple fix has wasted valuable time, and the next time something goes wrong you may resort to a new provider.

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The shocking truth about social media

“Social media is at the forefront of communication, whether you like it or not. You can jump on the bandwagon or miss the train. As a leading company of the 21st century it is important for us to stay on top of the newest social media tools and platforms. At Achievers we use social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn to communicate our mission and core values, and to share industry-leading resources and build brand awareness.”

The top 3 improvements managers need to perfect the employee manager relationship

Picture this: you drag yourself out of bed at the crack of dawn for exercise boot camp. You’re barely awake but have already committed to the challenge; you just need a little guidance. The boot camp leader blows his whistle for warm up, yet remains seated and offers zero feedback during the session. Your workout falls flat and demotivation ensues.

There is nothing more demotivating than a poor leader. We’ve all experienced this trend and have suffered from the results. But it’s time to Change the Way the World Works, and send the poor managers of the world to leadership boot camp.

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SAY WHAT?! Why communication is key to employee engagement

Communication is vital to employee engagement. All high-performing organizations have great communication and, unsurprisingly, it is a top motivator for employees. Great communication within an organization can be defined as open, consistent, transparent and multi-directional.

This means that ideas and direction not only come from the top, but employees also contribute to the conversation. Dialogue is free-flowing and comes from both directions, as simple and basic as a homemade telephone with two soup cans and a string.  Managers who are great communicators are also available to their employees for support, encouragement and questions.  Finally, good leaders share the organization’s successes as well as its failures with employees because everyone has the right to know about it and transparency builds trust.

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Drive results with a culture of communication

A, I need your help –

Our workforce isn’t producing the results we need, and I think it’s because they don’t know what they are expected to accomplish.  What spark gets individual employees to go from vague, general goals to ones with targets?  Our team of managers has much difficulty getting to results /outcomes with their respective teams.

Help!

Seymour Results

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Employee engagement can be very Pinterest-ing

There’s a new kid in town, and what they have to offer is very Pinterest-ing.

With TechCrunch reporting that Pinterest now has 10.4M registered users, the reality is that businesses should WANT to get on (a pin) board and take advantage of the traffic that this new phenomenon of a social site attracts.

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Not your average company, not your average meetings!

Meetings.  This business term evokes many mixed feelings.  But at Achievers, we believe that meetings are the best way to instil a culture of transparency and ensure that everyone is aligned to be successful.  We host unique and upbeat meetings on a frequent basis to bring the company together to share information, successes, and goals.

Here’s what it’s like to attend meetings at Achievers:

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Employee engagement: Just a tweet, like and plus away!

Social media is at the forefront of communication, whether you like it or not.  A 2011 study from Ipsos Reid found that over 17 million people nationwide are regular users of social media.  So, how does this affect your employee engagement strategy?

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This just in: Your employee engagement is down

Can’t keep it up?

You’re not alone. Employers worldwide can’t keep it up either. If you’re experiencing snowball effects such as:

  • Increased turnover rates
  • Decreased employee empowerment
  • Unsatisfying performance results
  • Poor team culture

…then it’s time you admit that your employee engagement strategy needs a makeover.

 

Aon Hewitt recently released their disturbing analysis on employee engagement levels in 2011 in workplaces across the world. They reported shockingly low levels of engagement, levels that have failed to increase since 2008.

 “At the end of the third quarter, Aon Hewitt analyzed its employee engagement database of more than 5,700 employers, representing five million employees worldwide. The findings reveal an engagement level of 56 percent thus far in 2011, which is the same as 2010, but lower than 2009 (60 percent) and 2008 (57 percent). Traditionally, engagement levels between 65 percent and 100 percent represent a high-performing culture; 45 percent to 65 percent indicate the workforce is indifferent to organizational success or failure; and anything lower than 45 percent represents a serious or destructive range.”

Take a moment to reflect on that. And then ask yourself, why? Why are we letting ourselves fall victim to the “what goes up must come down” law of nature?

It couldn’t be spelled out more clearly for employers: employees + engagement = business results. And that’s what makes it difficult to understand why companies have failed to evolve – or even adopt – an engagement solution. There are many possible reasons why this problem has been perpetuated. Here are three major trends in 2011 that I believe to have contributed to disengagement. Last year, employers continued to:

  • Remain uninformed about the significance of employee engagement
  • Stereotype “engagement” as a fluffy and immeasurable topic
  • Be completely preoccupied with social media

It’s 2012 now; if you’re looking for business success this year (and really, who isn’t?), then it’s time to get informed about employee engagement.  It’s been researched, studied and published – HR industry analysts stand behind the performance and engagement equation, with recognition being the best form of driving engagement and motivating your workforce. The reality is that a “thank you” is much more powerful than a bonus, not to mention entirely aligned to business success. Makes you wonder why you’re not recognizing more, doesn’t it?

If you can identify with any of the three trends above that reigned top of mind in 2011, I encourage you to consider these in 2012 to boost your employee engagement scores:

  1. Set realistic goals and be transparent with your teams about expectations
  2. Open the lines of communication and meet regularly with employees to provide feedback and facilitate status reports
  3. Establish a recognition rhythm by following-up and using the power of a “thank you” to reinforce positive results