Posts

High Performance Employer

Designing a High-Performance Work Environment

In our previous posts, we focused on Pivotal Habits (ones that prepare us to perform by making us healthy, happy and secure) and Work Habits (the ones that make up our jobs).

We discussed the critical role these habits play in creating superior performance for employees and competitive advantage for companies. We explored why habits are frequently missed by businesses as the fundamental driver of performance, and recognized that adopting new habits is in some sense hard for people to achieve, and challenging for employers to create.

In this final post, we will explore how employers can approach the design of their businesses to ensure high employee performance, while also making sure that employees are engaged in and loyal to the business.

Understanding the foundational role of habits, we can frame the employee performance challenge for employers as a design problem:

How do you effectively design your workplace to make it easy, natural and enjoyable for employees to practice their Pivotal and Work Habits, in a way that not only has them perform optimally, but that leaves them thrilled with the experience, grateful for the support and highly engaged with you as an employer?

In solving this design challenge, the first thing to notice is that there are many things that make up the “workplace.”  It is the sum of all things that “surround” employees while they work, and these things are highly influential over how they think, feel and act. We can bucket all the things that make up the surrounding elements into four categories that we call Contexts, and they are vitally important to solving the design problem. Why is this?

A fish swimming in water (the Context for the fish’s life) is completely influenced by that water in everything that it does. So too are humans highly influenced by the Contexts of their life, and just like the fish we tend not to notice the influence of Contexts until they’re not there.

Perhaps this explains why most employers focus on employees when trying to solve productivity problems. We see the lack of performance and we typically associate the issue with the people.

We don’t notice, and therefore don’t act on, the surrounding Contexts that influence people in their daily work. In fact, the nature of Contexts (that they are unnoticed by most people, yet highly influential over our actions) is precisely what makes them so important to business designers.

The Contexts for workplace design

There are four Contexts we need to understand:

Physical Spaces: The physical environment in which employees conduct their work, which increasingly includes the home office as well as the more traditional office and factory floor environments. Designing high-performance spaces is more than just ensuring employees have the tools to do their jobs and requires us to understand the ways that physical design choices affect us psychologically.

Workplace Systems: The policies, procedures, business processes or, more simply, the rules (written and unwritten) that employees are expected to follow make up this context. Some of these rules leak into the workplace (like the laws of the land or the fact that we drive on the right side of the road) and can influence how we behave as well. So, it’s important to not only design our own rules but to understand how they will interact with rules that exist in the wider world.

Social Influence: The people that we work with every day. The day-to-day interactions with work colleagues and customers via live conversations, emails, shared experiences, and at events all strongly influence how we work, and what we achieve. We like to think we make all our own decisions, but at least 60% of the actions we take are highly or completely influenced by the people around us.

Individual Self: Our individual experiences, opinions, beliefs, knowledge and other filters through which we interpret the world. The stories we tell ourselves about the experiences we’ve had in the past hold the power to influence us in the present, which is why storytelling is such an effective influence method for employers. It can help employees to rewrite their personal stories in a way that helps to align their actions with the vision and mission of the business.

Each of these Contexts can be designed by an employer seeking to influence the experience employees have while at work. These experiences in turn affect the actions we take, the habits we form, and the way we feel about where we work.

Creating new habits by design

Understanding that designing Contexts is the most effective approach to establishing new habits still does not explain HOW to proceed.

To guide our thinking, we need to ask: What does it take to create a new habit? Or rather, is there a formula for creating new habits?

It turns out there is. Contexts influence us by creating forces that nudge us towards or away from certain actions. Just like the Contexts, there are four forces that influence habit creation.

Two forces that help us adopt a new habit are Compulsion and Capability. Compulsion is the urge to do something and it is a stronger feeling that mere motivation. For example, simply being motivated, or desiring something (like losing weight) never gets the job done. It’s the actions we take that make the difference, therefore we need to be compelled into action.

However, without the Confidence that we can succeed, we’re unlikely to take the first step and without Competence (knowledge and skills) we’re likely to fail even if we are confident. Competence and Confidence together make up Capability and, combined with Compulsion, help us to take new actions and adopt new habits.

Of course, life gets in the way sometimes. We run out of time, we get distracted, or we are derailed by last minute requests or family emergencies. These life events represent the two forces acting against us, either as static impediments to change (Barriers) or as active antagonists that draw us away from the actions to which we’re committed (Temptation).

The formula for new habit creation

The formula for creating habits says that if we’re Compelled and Competent enough to overcome Barriers and to resist Temptation, we’ll take new actions. If the forces stay in our favor over time, those actions will turn into habits. Thus, our habit change formula can be written as:

If (Compulsion + Capability) > (Barriers + Temptation) over time, new habits emerge.

The catch is that the formula needs to be true in ALL FOUR Contexts at the same time, and this explains why creating new habits can be such hard work.

We can use a series of Influence Methods, which are the many and varied ways in which an employer can ensure that the habit creation formula holds true, when designing all four Contexts. Applying these Influence Methods is the art and science of designing workplace Contexts and, when focused on the right habits, the well-spring of higher performance.

Achieving sustainable competitive advantage

In our Behavior Research Lab, BRATLAB, we’ve researched, discovered and applied over 80 distinct Influence Methods that not only support employees in practicing new habits of performance, but do so in a way that leaves them thrilled with the experience, grateful for the support provided by their company and highly engaged with their work and their employer.

Going to work on employee habits is a strategy that will remain hidden from competitors, but one that is massively powerful in producing results.

Employers that wish not only to future-proof their businesses, but to create a difficult-to-copy, sustainable competitive advantage, must learn the value of designing Contexts, and the many ways in which the array of Influence Methods can be integrated into those Contexts to ensure that employees perform at their best, and love working where they do.

This is how, at Habits at Work, we’re reinventing the world of work so employees thrive and companies flourish.

Professional speaker and founder of Habits at Work and BRATLAB, Andrew Sykes will talk about How to become a High-Performance Employer.

During Andrew’s webinar he will:

  • Explore why employee habits are the fundamental unit of corporate competitive advantage and why they’re often overlooked by leaders and managers.
  • Share research from the Behavioral Research Applied Technology Laboratory (BRATLAB) on which habits really matter, and how to design a business that makes it easy and natural for employees to sustain high performance over time.
  • Tell stories about the work of Habits at Work helping employers from a variety of industries to put their money where their mouth is when they say “People are our most important asset.”The stories of challenge and failure serve as cautionary tales of what not to do. The stories of success provide guidance on why design thinking is the key to future-proofing your business from competition and the pathway to becoming a high-performance employer.

Andrew’s webinar represents a brief summary of his upcoming book: Habits at Work: How to Create a High-Performance Employer, due for publication Fall 2017.

The webinar will cover a lot of ground in a fast-paced, lively and entertaining 1-hour session. Prepare to learn a lot, leave with food for thought and a new view on the future of the world of work.

http://blog.achievers.com/2017/02/designing-high-performance-work-environment/

 

 

About Andrew Sykes
Andrew Sykes
For more information, contact Andrew at Andrew@habitsatwork.com or read more online at www.habitsatwork.com or www.BRATLAB.com

 

 

 

 

Effectively Navigate Organizational Change

Understanding Change and Its Impact on Engagement

By: Leigh Burger
Senior Implementation Manager, Achievers

Change is a funny thing, isn’t it? We frequently resist it, yet progress is impossible without it. In fact, we can’t really move through life without it. The desired approach for most of us is to experience change in small, bite-size chunks. Otherwise, it can wreak havoc on us when there’s too much at once and we’re not prepared for it.

The same goes for organizational change. Arguably though, organizations need to be in a continual state of change in order to move forward. Whether we call it “transformation,” “growth,” or just the natural evolution of the business – companies must continue to evolve in order to stay competitive and relevant, to employees and customers alike. In other words, organizations cannot afford to stay static for any length of time in today’s environment.

The ongoing need for change presents a tricky situation when it comes to employee engagement. While leading organizational change, you must be able to rally the troops’ ongoing support and understanding. Too much top down change at once can result in disengaged employees, which equates to a loss in productivity. Employees begin to feel as though they don’t have a voice or a sense of control. The weight of the loss of familiarity and certainty can bear down on employees until they start to fatigue, and slowly but surely, begin to check out. They might still perform their jobs, but they certainly won’t be putting forth their discretionary time and effort towards realizing the shared vision of the organization.

What may surprise you is this behavior should be considered normal. Our brains are wired to resist change. The oldest part of our brain – the reptilian brain – auto-responds to change with the fight or flight response. It takes practice to bypass that part of our brain and access the rational brain where we can use logic to overcome our innate, initial reaction.

As HR and OD professionals and people leaders, how can we help employees with that process? How can we best position ourselves to lead and at the same time guide employees to think more rationally about change? After all, employee resistance is one of the leading causes for the failure of change initiatives (Bovey & Hede, 2001b; Waldersee & Griffiths, 1996). According to Cynthia Wittig, “Such findings indicate that change agents focusing on employee reactions—including resistance and acceptance—during organizational change is of utmost importance to the success of the initiative.”

How do we help eliminate the resistance? Where should your change-agent-leaders focus their efforts?

1) Address the emotions first by answering the hard questions upfront, including addressing, why?

We are persuaded by reason, but we are moved by emotion.  Acknowledge what employees may be feeling. You don’t necessarily have to answer for it, but you can acknowledge it and lead from the front by demonstrating authenticity and optimism in response. Acknowledging and naming the feelings helps create distance between a person and a situation. It creates a moment of objectivity. Instead of, “I am afraid,” they can at last get to, “I feel afraid about what Mr. Jones shared during town hall and how it might affect my department.” It also helps those of us who may have a hard time defining how we’re feeling, to make sense of why our hearts start racing, or we get sweaty palms, or feel unsettled in response to certain news.  If you have a tough change coming up – call it what it is and help employees understand why the organization needs to head in that particular direction. Our brains don’t like incomplete stories and in the absence of information, we can come to all sorts of crazy conclusions. These concocted conclusions can spin FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) out of control into a danger tornado that is likely to pick up your change initiative and spit it out in the Land of Oz.

2) Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Oh, did I mention? Communicate.

The amount and quality of information that is communicated to employees can influence how those employees will react (Wanberg & Banas, 2000). Running today’s ever-evolving organizations takes a lot of heavy lifting. It requires people-leaders and executives to be clear on the changes that are occurring and why those changes are taking place. AND it requires intentional multi-touch communications about said changes with all employees. Cynthia Witting shares, “There are several communication processes that impact employees’ reactions, including frequency, mode, content, and flow of communication. Gray and Laidlaw (2002) argued that the more embedded these processes are within management, the more effective the outcomes are because they enhance the quality of working relationships, harmony, and trust.” Sending out 1-2 emails about a change really isn’t enough. Ideally, there is a real-time, always-on, cross-functional, organization-wide conversation about these topics so that everyone can weigh-in equally and ask questions with transparency and without fear. This method should also provide communication scalability. In the absence of such a system, there needs to be on-going fireside chats or other means for employees to submit questions and expect real, authentic answers.

3) Employee participation in decision making.

According to an Aon Hewitt research study, the number one driver of employee engagement during times of change is the ability to be involved in decision making.  However, you might be thinking – if I ask them what they want or what their thoughts are, am I opening a proverbial can of worms? The reality is yes, initially it will require more work, but the outcomes of increased success and higher engagement are well worth the trouble. In fact, there’s a whole body of research available with a documented approach to making wide-spread change while engaging the whole team. It’s called Appreciative Inquiry. As opposed to the typical deficit-based mindset where everything is a problem to solve, the approach focuses on inquiries into the organization based upon what is working and what we want to do more of so that the team naturally moves in that direction. When folks have a voice – they feel heard and acknowledged. This is fundamental to creating and maintaining highly engaged employees. Particularly, in times of change.

Perhaps Buckminster Fuller said it best. “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete”.

How has your organization effectively navigated change? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Learn More Red CTA Button

 

 

About Leigh Burger
Leigh BurgerLeigh joined the Achievers Professional Services team in June 2014 She serves as a trusted advisor to HR executives, professionals and business partners for the Achievers Fortune 500 global brands in rolling out their Employee Engagement platform. She holds a Masters, Positive Organizational Development & Change from Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University as well as several relevant certifications. You can check out her full profile here.

 

 

Connect to the purpose of change

Staying Engaged During Corporate Change (Part 1)

By: Courtney Clark

When change sweeps through an organization, it often causes confusion, frustration, and fear. Even when dressed up with fancy words like “transformation” and “innovation,” employees know the end result is one thing: change.

One reason corporate change is uncomfortable is that it requires disconnecting. All change is, in disregard, disconnecting. Change forces us to let go of our old ways of being and our old measures of success.

To successfully navigate a changing workplace, studies show you must stay engaged. In my book The Successful Struggle, I examine several workplace studies on corporate transformation. The studies suggest that remaining engaged during corporate transformation is a key indicator of employee success and happiness.

In this 3-part blog series, I’ll share strategies for staying engaged in your changing workplace, so you can come out on top at the end of the transformation. All of these strategies involve connecting with something, to help fight the disconnection brought on by change.

The first strategy is to connect with the purpose of the change. Human beings are meaning-making machines: we are always asking “why?” We want to know why the change is happening, why it’s important, what it means for our future, and what the outcome might mean for us.

When change occurs in the workplace, however, getting the answers to those questions isn’t always easy. In one of my jobs as a director at a nonprofit organization, we had lost some employees and were shifting around responsibilities. Some departments were taking on new roles, and I was given control of a new income stream. No one told me if the new responsibilities were permanent or temporary, or even trained me on how to accomplish them. I didn’t know what was expected of me, or even why the tasks had shifted in the first place. This left me feeling disconnected from my purpose and challenged my ability to give my new duties proper meaning.

Leaders sometimes discuss the “why” of change around the management table, yet by the time they roll out the change to everyone else, they’ve moved on to talking about “when” and “how.” But for those of us just hearing about the change for the first time, we need to hear the “why” or we’ll never get on board. We won’t understand the purpose of the change, or what the payoff might be.

If you’re stuck in a corporate change and don’t understand the purpose behind the change, you’re bound to feel disconnected. To connect to the purpose of change, try these three things:

  1. Start a Dialogue about the Future. At a staff meeting, ask the leadership team about what the change means. To keep things positive and productive, frame your questions around the company’s future and how the change impacts the future outlook. Asking smart questions and staying positively engaged in the change will make you shine in your manager’s eyes.
  2. List your Opportunities. This change likely brings with it the possibility of growth for you, personally, and not just growth for your company. As you begin to understand where the company is headed in the future, write down ways the change can open up new doors for you.
  3. Make Change Less Personal. Because change is disconnecting, it can sometimes feel like it’s a personal affront to us. But letting the voice in your head tell you that change is personal keeps you from adapting gracefully. Change is bigger than you, so don’t let your mind dwell on how much you’re personally suffering.

Using these three strategies helps you understand the potential payoff of the change, and get behind it. When you reframe change as a challenge with a purpose, you’ll have a much easier time coming out on top!

Keep a lookout for my second guest blog post coming soon.

About Courtney Clark
Courtney Clark speaks to organizations who want to adapt faster and achieve more by building a culture of Accelerated Resilience. She is the author of two books “The Giving Prescription,” and “The Successful Struggle,” a three-time cancer survivor, brain aneurysm survivor, keynote speaker, and founder of a nonprofit. www.CourtneyLClark.com

 

Most Valuable Work Habits

Which Habits Drive Superior Employee Performance?

By: Andrew Sykes
Founder & President, Habits at Work

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

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

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

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

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

BRATLAB Habit Prescriptions: Which habits matter?

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

Pivotal Habit Collections

 

Health

Move (exercise, stand and move more)

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

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

Happiness

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

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

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

Financial Security

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which Work Habits matter most?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why do the details of Pivotal AND Work Habits matter?

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

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

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

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

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

How do you effectively design your workplace to make it easy, natural and enjoyable for employees to practice their Pivotal and Work Habits, in a way that not only has them perform optimally, but that leaves them thrilled with the experience, grateful for the support and highly engaged with us as an employer?

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

Learn More Red CTA Button

 

 

About Andrew Sykes
Andrew Sykes
For more information, contact Andrew at Andrew@habitsatwork.com or read more online at www.habitsatwork.com or www.BRATLAB.com

 

 

 

The Role of Work Habits

Employee Habits Are Your Company’s Destiny

By: Andrew Sykes
Founder & President, Habits at Work

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

The Role of Pivotal Habits

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do employees view thriving as their most important life goal?

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

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

The Role of Work Habits

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

We call these habits our “Work Habits.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What makes high performance companies different?

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

Wheel of Corporate Performance

Why should CEOs care?

Most CEOs and other business leaders miss that:

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

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

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

Learn More Red CTA Button

 

 

About Andrew Sykes

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

 

 

 

 

current and emerging HR Trends

Top HR Trends for 2016 with an Eye to the Future

By: Josh Danson and Iain Ferreira

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

1. A More Diverse and Employee-Centric Workplace

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

2. Work Anywhere, Anytime

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

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

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

4. Frequent, Real-Time Evaluation Tools

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

5. Employees as Cultural Ambassadors

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

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

Learn More Red CTA Button

 

 

 

About Josh Danson

Josh Danson

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

About Iain Ferreira

Iain Ferreira

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

 

 

New Hires Engaged Employees

Turning New Hires into Engaged Employees – 3 Quick Tips for Success

Studies on turnover estimate that when an employee leaves a company it can cost the organization between 30 to 250 percent of that person’s annual salary due to factors like loss of productivity and other associated replacement costs. BambooHR shared its research on turnover with the Society for Human Resource Management, saying the average company is losing one-sixth of its new hires in the first six months. Providing a competitive compensation and benefits package is important, but in today’s market, retention also requires making new hires feel engaged, aligned and connected from Day 1.

With this in mind, we offer three quick tips to think about when bringing people onboard your organization.

1. Promote affiliation with people from the start

The BambooHR study found the reasons new hires leave so soon included the expected, like lacking in clear guidelines on responsibilities and wanting better training, as well as some less intuitive factors. For instance, 17% said a friendly smile or a helpful co-worker would have made the difference between staying and going, and 12% wanted to be “recognized for their unique contributions.” Employees today, especially millennials, like to connect and collaborate, and that is especially true of millennials, yet the Aberdeen Group found that only 32% of organizations provide opportunities for peer networking. This represents a clear missed opportunity and one that can be easily remedied with a mentoring or “buddy” program. Conclusion: Providing early opportunities for peer networking and social recognition are critical to retention.

2. Look beyond money to drive desired behaviors

According to a frequently cited Kepner Tregoe study, 40% of employees felt that that increased salaries and financial rewards were ineffective in reducing turnover. Employee behaviors today are driven less by financial incentive and more by aligning their personal values with company goals in order to endow their work with a greater sense of meaning. Meeting these seemingly less-tangible needs can be accomplished through a formal recognition and rewards program, along with frequent manager feedback and opportunities to connect with new team members. Conclusion: Aligning employees’ personal values with company goals through recognition programs and frequent feedback is more likely to drive successful behavior.

3. Develop an onboarding system that engages quickly

Do you think of employee recognition as something only for employees who have been with the company for some time? More and more leading organizations are realizing that optimizing the workplace for employee retention requires integrating new employees into their recognition programs right from the start. By encouraging participation in an organization’s recognition program from the outset, employers can insure that new hires embrace and contribute to the company’s culture of recognition. To do this, employers can build training on the company’s rewards and recognition platform into employee onboarding programs and by not waiting until the employee has been with the company for an extended period before recognizing desired behaviors.

Ideas for early recognitions include recognizing new hires for how quickly they get up to speed on their new job responsibilities, how well they are connecting with their new co-workers, or how frequently they participate in culture-building activities. In order to reinforce a culture of recognition and achieve ongoing employee engagement as a result, recognitions should be frequent, meaningful and tied to company values. In fact, Gallup recommends at least every seven days. Conclusion: Engage employees and integrate them into the company’s culture of recognition from day one through recognitions given early and often.

New hires are more likely to decide to stay with your organization when they feel appreciated and welcomed by their peers. Millennials especially, projected to make up more than 50% of the workforce by 2020, embrace peer networking and social recognition. Setting up new hires for success through early participation in a company’s culture of recognition is good for employees and good for the organization.

Learn how to build a culture of recognition by downloading The Case for Employee Recognition Ebook.

ebook CTA Blog Button

 

Measuring Employee Performance

5 Performance Measurement Myths

By: Meghan M. Biro

The question of how to measure employee performance represents one of the last vestiges of old-school HR methodology. Today’s workforce is digitally transformed, highly social and mobile, made up of multiple generations, and collaborating across virtual and global locations. There has been a profound shift in the workforce away from hierarchical, top-down organizations towards teams and collaboration, where having a culture of recognition can drive engagement and results far more effectively than infrequent reviews handed down from on high by management.

We all want the best hires and to lure the top talent. But once on board, they’re part of the organization, and now making sure that they’re fully engaged becomes the challenge. But how do we know if they are working up to their potential? Old-school approaches to performance management, which view a single employee outside of the context of today’s team-based, networked workplace, no longer ring true. Indeed some would argue that many of these approaches were myths to begin with – and I’d have to agree.

Here are five assumptions about measuring employee performance that need to be retired:

Myth #1 – Individuals should be judged solely on their own performance.

The idea that we perform as an island may apply to an isolated few, but it doesn’t fit the majority of workplaces — either today or yesterday. The investment made in working out how to evaluate individuals may be better spent evaluating the quality of their team or business unit’s output. What targets have been hit? What goals have been reached?

Perhaps we should be evaluating employees not only on their performance, but on their level of engagement and on their ability to thrive in team-based environment. Highly engaged employees are more likely to give the kind of discretionary effort that all bosses are looking for, and that have a tangible effect on a company’s bottom line. In fact, Aon Hewitt has reported that for every incremental one-point increase in employee engagement organizations saw a 0.6% increase in sales. For a company with sales of $100 million, this translates to a $6 million windfall! And in companies with the most engaged employees, revenue growth was 2.5 times greater than competitors with lower levels of engagement.

Myth #2 – Good employees just do the job, they don’t need a reason or added meaning.

Is the better employee really the one that doesn’t need to understand how their work aligns with company’s mission and values? Performance stems from engagement. And being engaged stems, in large part, from feeling aligned to — and invested in — the company purpose. Motivation and meaning go hand in hand.

Even if a task is performed well, accomplishing it inside a vacuum is going to create a gap somewhere along the line. Employees deserve to know why they’re there. They’ll participate more fully, and are more likely to push to reach targets and goals if they are invested in the rationale behind the effort.

Myth #3 – An employee that’s good this year will be good next year.

When a team of researchers dove into six years of performance review data from a large U.S. corporation, they found that only a third of high-scoring employees scored as high in subsequent years. And they found no evidence that high-performing employees always perform highly, or that poor performing employees perform poorly. Today’s workforce is continually being met with innovations that require new learning and new skills, so what’s “good” today may not be an accurate measure of what’s desirable tomorrow.

When a company uses trackable learning platforms, they have a means of measuring growth and development. To drive engagement and retention they can extend from onboarding programs, demonstrating a commitment to an employee’s growth from the moment of hire. 84% of employees want to learn, and keep learning. When you align an employee’s learning with the company’s business goals, that’s a win for all.

Myth #4 – Past performance is indicative of future results.

In 2015, a number of Fortune 500 companies announced that they were doing away with old school performance reviews. Accenture, the Gap, Adobe and General Electric all veered away from the annual or quarterly review ritual in favor of building a stronger culture based on continuous feedback and frequent recognition.

What’s happening instead is that many companies are moving to a system where employees and managers can give and receive social feedback and track the history of recognitions given and received. This new approach – measuring the frequency of peer-to-peer, intra-team and team recognitions within a powerful digital and social recognition program – provides better quality insights and has the potential to foster a far more positive, and productive, work culture.

Myth #5 – The best way to measure performance is when no one’s expecting it.

Spot checks, random and unexpected, are still recommended by some HR stalwarts, who assert that it’s a way to motivate employees to give a consistent performance. But it conveys an atmosphere of mistrust that may be more of a de-motivator.

Trust is critical to employee engagement, but it’s still in short supply: a recent survey of nearly 10,000 workers from India to Germany to the U.S. found that only 49% had “a great deal of trust” in those working above and alongside them. Contrast that with study findings showing that organizations are extremely concerned with driving engagement and promoting a workplace culture that is based on transparency and meaningful work. You can’t have both.

That we’re still having this conversation is in part because we may lack the imagination to see our way to a new starting point. But the real drive to perform comes from within.  We are motivated by purpose, and by being appreciated for what we do.

Employees today want to be engaged, we want to know what higher purpose our efforts are contributing to, we want to excel and to grow. Employers should start with that knowledge and measure their employees accordingly.

Make sure to check out the other series of guest blogs from Meghan Biro, starting with her first guest blog post For Recognition To Have An Impact, Make It Strategic.

Learn More Red CTA Button

 

 


About Meghan M. Biro
meghan biroMeghan M. Biro is a globally recognized Talent Management and HR Tech brand strategist, analyst, digital catalyst, author and speaker. As founder and CEO of TalentCulture, she has worked with hundreds of companies, from early-stage ventures to global brands like Microsoft, IBM and Google, helping them recruit and empower stellar talent. Meghan has been a guest on numerous radio shows and online forums, and has been a featured speaker at global conferences. She is a regular contributor at Forbes, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur and several other media outlets. Meghan regularly serves on advisory boards for leading HR and technology brands. Meghan has been voted one of the Top 100 Social Media Power Influencers in 2015 by StatSocial and Forbes, Top 50 Most Valuable Social Media Influencers by General Sentiment, Top 100 on Twitter Business, Leadership, and Tech by Huffington Post, and Top 25 HR Trendsetters by HR Examiner.

 

employee recognition culture

It Takes a Recognition Culture To Spark Engagement

By: Meghan M. Biro

Today’s workplace is evolving rapidly. The recent focus on employee engagement has taught us plenty, including how closely tied employee engagement is to an organization’s success, and what happens in this disrupted, transformed workforce without engagement: our top talent moves on. We also know that one of the primary drivers of engagement is recognition. So where do those understandings lead? If we want to be successful in this changing landscape they lead to a workplace culture built on recognition, rewards, feedback and transparency.

But to spark the kind of engagement that spurs organizational success, recognition has to be ingrained in the culture – a central and fundamental part of an organization’s DNA. When this is achieved there are countless examples of tangible results. Here are just a few:

  • Ericsson’s North American operations boosted its employee engagement scores 14% higher than the industry average;
  • When M Resort organization instituted a trackable recognition program, it elevated employee engagement by 12% within the first 8 months. It also saw a continuing rise in customer satisfaction ratings;
  • Leading health information network, Availity has aligned its corporate values with its employee rewards and recognition program, supporting a fun and engaging work environment, and ultimately solidifying its culture of transparency and respect.

Culture First, Then Engagement: 3 Must-Dos

When we look at employee recognition and ask where to start and what to focus on, most of the answers we’re getting point to culture. Culture is not just another word in the special-sauce lexicon of talent management: culture, done right, is the glue that holds a workplace together. But if it goes awry, bad workplace culture can be the source of endless friction that keeps a workplace apart. In fact, and perhaps unsurprisingly, a new SHRM study found that more than three-quarters (77%) of employees say their engagement at work hinges on having good relationships with their co-workers.

An effective culture of recognition has three prongs:

Transparency and Democratization

Positive relationships at work are built on daily interactions between employees and through opportunities for productive, creative collaboration, not occasional projects or isolated moments. Another common expectation that has come to the fore as millennials have entered the workplace in greater numbers, is transparency. Recognition programs limited to “top down” performance incentives handed down by leaders who don’t bother to consult employees on their needs and preferences can shift culture in the wrong way. Instead of inspiring greater buy-in and cultural unity, these misguided efforts may instead inspire a job search. In a workforce that values transparency, a one-directional, hierarchical approach can look like thinly veiled condescension.

What does work: opportunities for recognition and rewards that build cultural synergies demographically, structurally, and geographically. These are the stitches in a quilt of recognition that includes everyone on all levels, entry level to C-suite, by enabling participation in all directions: uphill, lateral (peer-to-peer, team to team and across teams and departments), and top-down. Recognition in this form can navigate global divides, connecting multiple hubs and geographically dispersed locations. It can’t be left to a manager to know which of his or her people want the chance to cheer their teammates on, nor should it. And they shouldn’t need to approve recognitions either. To manage recognition instead of enabling it it goes right back to the problem of top-down relationships — it simply gets in the way. On top of that, managers have enough to do, as we all know.

Integration

In the latest Global Human Capital Trends report by Deloitte, 85% of executives named engagement a key priority, but understanding how to improve it is another story. Only 34% said they felt ready to deal with issues of engagement, though 46% of companies are tackling it head-on. In terms of recognition, integration means cross-platform, frequency and flexibility. It means offering varying forms of recognition and rewards from social to monetary, from informal “Thank You’s” to big ticket rewards and incentives. Integration also means enabling recognition across any platform: via smartphones, tablets, PCs, or even an on-site kiosk.

Integrated recognition programs are already evolving: some feature open APIs that connect to other important drivers of engagement, such as health & wellness and learning & development. This also speaks to the importance of culture and another expectation that has its roots in the millennial mindset: that employees should be valued not just as talent, or “human capital” but as real humans with real lives. Workplace flexibility remains a high priority for today’s workforce, but the digital transformation also means that health & wellness, learning & development, and performance management — can all exist online or in app. It’s an easy enhancement with great payback. Moreover, it’s another stream of trackable data.

Measurability

A culture of recognition that exists across multiple platforms and embraces a wide range of functions also provides a continuous stream of data – not just for a CHRO or an HR team to measure and gain insights from, but for managers and leaders throughout the organization. Tracking program ROI and managing rewards budgets is only one part the equation. Again, this is one of the most profound ways to drive and support transparency: by sharing and democratizing the data. Consider the possibilities of a team that can look at its own performance and behaviors; of managers tracking recognition patterns as they relate to engagement and performance. In terms of retention, skills gaps, identifying front-runners and planning successions, it’s an invaluable resource.

The right reporting and analytics tools provide another source of in-the-moment feedback as well, part of that reciprocal interaction between human talent and digital tools. It also makes reporting and ROI part of the very functionality of that recognition culture. In terms of feeling invested in business outcomes, and aligned with business goals, data and graphs speak volumes.

Endless Opportunity

A recognition culture supported by a robust digital platform provides endless opportunities for positive reinforcement, all tying back to tangible benefits and results. Developed with an organization’s mission and values in mind, a recognition culture should leverage technology to humanize the workplace and provide additional meaning for every task and interaction. In this current environment that values transparency, trust and flexibility, but is more scattered across locations, devices and platforms than ever, this is what it takes.

Check out Meghan M. Biro’s third guest blog post 5 Performance Measurement Myths.

Learn More Red CTA Button

 

 

About Meghan M. Biro

meghan biroMeghan M. Biro is a globally recognized Talent Management and HR Tech brand strategist, analyst, digital catalyst, author and speaker. As founder and CEO of TalentCulture, she has worked with hundreds of companies, from early-stage ventures to global brands like Microsoft, IBM and Google, helping them recruit and empower stellar talent. Meghan has been a guest on numerous radio shows and online forums, and has been a featured speaker at global conferences. She is a regular contributor at Forbes, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur and several other media outlets. Meghan regularly serves on advisory boards for leading HR and technology brands. Meghan has been voted one of the Top 100 Social Media Power Influencers in 2015 by StatSocial and Forbes, Top 50 Most Valuable Social Media Influencers by General Sentiment, Top 100 on Twitter Business, Leadership, and Tech by Huffington Post, and Top 25 HR Trendsetters by HR Examiner.

 

Case for Employee Recognition

Why Employee Recognition Matters

By: Kellie Wong
Social Media & Blog Manager, Achievers

Do your employees feel recognized? Think carefully, because over 65 percent of employees report they don’t feel recognized at work. And lack of recognition just happens to be the number one reason why employees quit. Employee recognition drives employee engagement, and with higher employee engagement come lower turnover rates and stronger business results. Engaged employees perform 20 percent better and are 87 percent less likely to leave their organizations than their disengaged colleagues. Also, companies with the most engaged employees report revenue growth at a rate 2.5X greater than their competitors with the lowest level of engagement.

So, how do you start building your case for an employee recognition strategy? Start with The Case for Employee Recognition E-Book – an all-in-one guide that highlights everything you need to know about employee recognition. It details where the modern-day workplace is heading, why employee recognition is invaluable for businesses, and ultimately how to secure senior management buy-in. Below are some key takeaways from The Case for Employee Recognition E-Book that every HR professional should be aware of:

The ever-changing workplace

The workplace is constantly evolving and it’s important to be aware of where it’s heading. Organizations are no longer hierarchical and top down, but instead collaborative and bottom up. Baby boomers are retiring faster than young workers can replace them, intensifying the war for top talent and putting the ball in the millennials’ court. By 2018, it’s expected that millennials will make up more than 50% of the workforce.

Case for Recognition Gen Y Chart

The Case for Employee Recognition E-Book

Why employee recognition is a need, not a want

It’s simple: employee recognition positively impacts employee engagement and drives business success. According to Gallup 80 percent of employees said recognition is a strong motivator of work performance and 70 percent said they would work harder with continuous recognition. With $8 billion in assets and 260,000 customers, Meridian Credit Union saw a measurable, positive impact after implementing a rewards and recognition program.

“Analyzing the impact of engagement by comparing the top and bottom quartile of engaged employees showed that each highly engaged employee (top quartile) was responsible for over $2 million in growth, while each of the least engaged employee (bottom quartile) were responsible for $1.29 million.” – In regards to Meridian Credit Union, The Case for Employee Recognition E-Book

How to secure senior management buy-in

Hopefully now it’s clear that both your business and employees can benefit from employee recognition. But how can you get senior management on board? Start with the data. Numbers don’t lie and leaders will pay attention when you present them with ROI numbers for engaged workplaces, its impact on financial performance, and how recognition is a key driver of both. All this valuable data and more is presented in our new eBook: The Case for Employee Recognition.

Learn how employee recognition promotes engagement, creates an infectious work culture that retains top talent, and improves overall customer satisfaction by downloading The Case for Employee Recognition E-Book.

Download EBook Red CTA Button

 

 

About Kellie Wong
Kellie WongKellie Wong is the Social Media & Blog Manager for Achievers. She manages Achievers’ social media presence and The Engage Blog, including the editorial calendars for both. In addition to writing blog content for The Engage Blog, she also manages and maintains relationships with 20+ guest blog contributors. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.

 

For Recognition to Have an Impact, Make It Strategic

By: Meghan M. Biro

We’re way beyond the old paradigm of years-of-service plaques or holiday gift cards as a form of employee recognition. We know that such rewards, tied to tenure or sporadically bestowed on an individual employee for a job well done, fall short of achieving any larger goal. For employees, they do little to spur a sense of being truly valued by an organization. For the organization, they don’t spark the levels of engagement that we know drive performance and lead to desired business outcomes. Why is this an issue? Gallup research this year found that only 33 percent of US workers feel engaged at work (it’s a mere 13 percent worldwide!). That’s nearly the same figure it was 10 years ago.

And even if organizations do connect recognition to driving individual performance and achieving desired business outcomes, how many have a recognition program that actually works? Achievers’ 2015 “The Greatness Gap” survey of the North American workforce found that most employees are far from satisfied with how, when, or why they receive recognition — if they do at all. They don’t feel they are recognized at their preferred frequency (41%) or get a manager’s in-the-moment feedback (60%) They don’t feel recognized for making progress (57%) or achievements (53%). Based on these findings, disengagement, not engagement, seems to be the rule.

But this gap is more than just a gap in driving engagement via feedback. It represents lost intelligence on how to improve the employee experience and better align it with business goals. To play an effective role in an organization’s success, a recognition program needs to serve a powerful strategic function for both employee and employer.

Strategic recognition serves a number of dual roles:

 

It’s part of a widespread, unified system of employee engagement —

that can be customized into any format, platform and frequency.

 

It’s aligned to the vision and values of the organization —

and can be tailored to meet individual employee preferences.

 

It generates powerful insight on employee performance and behavior —

but “learns” from even the delivery of a “smile” emoji or an e-thanks.

 

It’s closely aligned to business goals and targets —

While also recognizing employees for “softer” contributions & achievements as well.

 

It builds bridges between the executive/management and employee sides —

and enables uphill, peer-to-peer, team-to-team, and intrateam recognition as well.

 

It functions from a single, Cloud-based nervous system, regardless of organizational side or geographic location—

but always feels local and human in scale and tone.

 

It identifies out-in-front performers and succession candidates —

while pinpointing gaps and trouble-spots as well.

 

A strategic program of recognition builds engagement — and therefore has a positive impact on retention — supports talent management, and is closely tied to business goals. It is also the foundation of a cohesive, supportive environment. It also looks at the future as well as the present. It may be further refined to fit organizations shifting to more autonomous, team-based structures — a coming workplace shift identified by Deloitte’s 2016 human capital research. Or it may already be addressing profound shifts in workplace demographics (4 generations working together) and geography (global organizations with multiple hubs).

How long does it take for a strategic recognition program to take root and deliver game-changing results? Shop Direct, a multi-brand digital online retailer with some 4,500 employees, launched its highly successful recognition program across multiple global sites two years ago and it is already being credited with having a major positive impact across the entire organization. 

Shop Direct’s Shine program was designed to reinforce the organization’s purpose (to “Make good things easily accessible to more people”) and values (Trusted, Together, Proud, Ambitious, Innovative), and to drive performance. The program enabled instant recognition and rewards across multiple sites. And with features like at-a-glance data and in-the-moment messages, it soon turned into a keen motivator that has boosted engagement levels by 14%. But perhaps the clearest indicator of success has been the high level of adoption that the program has achieved. In less than one year, Shop Direct employees had sent more than 355,000 recognitions, and activation rates stood at an impressive 97%. Shop Direct has since garnered multiple awards for its innovative thinking — including being ranked as one of Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces.

Likewise, communication and network services giant Ericsson (managing some 2.5 billion subscribers globally), needed a strategic solution to its employee recognition challenge. The platform had to be able to connect over 15,000 employees in dozens of hubs across North America — and improve on existing manual recognition programs. After implementing the Achievers solution, Ericsson’s HR team was able to automate recognition among geographically-dispersed employees, track program spend (without once going over budget), and use program data to link recognition to business results. Employees enthusiastically embraced it, making it the most widely-utilized “voluntary” enterprise platform the organization had ever implemented.

If no man or woman is an island, no employee should feel like he or she is working alone. Whatever job we do, we all want to be appreciated. What’s most profound about a truly strategic recognition program is that is answers that very basic human need. But all the while, it’s an incredibly powerful driver — and monitor — of a much larger success story: the organization itself. That’s a win for everyone.

Check out Meghan Biro’s second guest blog post It Takes a Recognition Culture to Spark Engagement.

Learn More Red CTA Button

 

 

About Meghan M. Biro

meghan biroMeghan M. Biro is a globally recognized Talent Management and HR Tech brand strategist, analyst, digital catalyst, author and speaker. As founder and CEO of TalentCulture, she has worked with hundreds of companies, from early-stage ventures to global brands like Microsoft, IBM and Google, helping them recruit and empower stellar talent. Meghan has been a guest on numerous radio shows and online forums, and has been a featured speaker at global conferences. She is a regular contributor at Forbes, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur and several other media outlets. Meghan regularly serves on advisory boards for leading HR and technology brands. Meghan has been voted one of the Top 100 Social Media Power Influencers in 2015 by StatSocial and Forbes, Top 50 Most Valuable Social Media Influencers by General Sentiment, Top 100 on Twitter Business, Leadership, and Tech by Huffington Post, and Top 25 HR Trendsetters by HR Examiner.

 

Cox Automotive Spark Week

Lighting the Spark of Employee Engagement: Inside Cox Automotive’s Spark Week Celebration

By: Sarah Clayton
Communications and Campaigns Specialist, Achievers

Employees are a core determinant of company success, but with a staggering 68% rate of employee disengagement, it’s clear that effectively leveraging their full potential can be a precarious task. Factors that drive employee engagement vary across employees, but a crucial factor is how connected they feel to their company’s culture and values. In fact, 82% of employees believe culture is a competitive advantage, yet only 28% believe that they understand their culture well. Creating a great company culture is not an easy ‘drag and drop’ nor can it be quickly implemented to garner immediate results; it requires a thought-out strategy and the right tools to help execute. One crucial piece of the great culture puzzle is recognition, and one company that is demonstrating a powerful use case of leveraging recognition and to drive engagement is Cox Automotive.

Cox Automotive is an Atlanta, GA-based subsidiary of Cox Enterprises and the parent company of such well-known brands as Kelley Blue Book, Xtime, Autotrader and Manheim. Because it consists of geographically dispersed corporate and subsidiary units, Cox Automotive’s employee population is as diverse as they come. They’re a unique mix of offline and online, front line and back office. All this diversity can make it tricky for Cox Automotive to unify the entire company around a single culture.  Implementing Spark, Cox’s internal rewards and recognition platform powered by Achievers, was a significant step towards strengthening company culture and employee engagement – but the Spark Team wanted more. They wanted to do something unique to create buzz around Spark and drive members to actively participate in the program. After days of brainstorming, Spark Week was born.

Since its inception, Spark Week (its name inspired by the popular cable special Shark Week, but with considerably less blood and gore) has become a highly anticipated event every August for the Cox Automotive community. Designed to increase interest in their rewards and recognition program, Spark Week boasts a fun and unique roster of activities that drive awareness and participation.

Spark Week kicks off with a company-wide email highlighting the Spark Week calendar of activities. This sets the tone for the eventful week by communicating the upcoming activities with a fun, themed approach. Each day pairs a different element of the Spark program, such as group recognition or redemptions, with a creative component, such as a meme contest or digital treasure hunt. An uptick in recognition activity during Spark Week makes it a strategic time to launch new features in their employee engagement platform; for instance, the new feature Service Awards made its debut on the platform this year.

“Love Spark Week! So glad employees get the opportunity to recognize others who have been outstanding and be recognized for their hard work. It really makes you feel like you are a part of the team!” – Kristin Hoopes, Sr. Accounting Specialist, Cox Automotive

The huge success of Spark Week is evident from the extensive data gathered from Cox Automotive’s employee engagement platform, including:

  • A staggering 25,522 “Thank You” recognition cards sent across the platform.
  • A daily recognition average of 3,4563.2 times more than their usual daily recognition average.
  • A 114% increase in recognitions sent compared to the entire month of July.
  • A whopping 626 redemptions made.
  • A total of $1,725 worth of Spark points donated to St. Jude.

Spark Week’s success was also demonstrated by the high levels of participation of different business units who willingly submitted content throughout the week. One auction house created and shared a video where different employees reflected on their favorite redemption and encouraged other members to redeem their points. Another auction house decided to join in on the action by making an entertaining video – complete with their own shark mascot. Self-generated contributions indicate a strong sense of ownership and belief in the value of employee recognition programs. Spark Week is now an embodiment of the culture at Cox Automotive and one of the biggest internal events of the year.

The more successful an event, the more daunting it can seem for others to replicate. However, the most important element of Spark Week can be distilled down to a simple, accessible concept: make it about your employees. Reflect on what motivates them to deliver excellence and extra effort, and think about the elements in your program that could have the same motivating effect. Pair the aforementioned with fun and engaging external activities, like team breakfasts or photo contests that align with your company values to create your own version of Spark Week.

Focusing on what makes your employees happy is key to a successful business. Just remember: Every time you have a 1% increase in employee engagement, you gain an additional .0.6% growth in sales for your company. There is no better time than now to follow in the footsteps of Cox Automotive and start building your very own Spark Week-like initiative to increase employee recognition and engagement.

Check out Cox Automotive’s fun infographic highlighting Spark Week’s success!

Download Infographic Red CTA Button

 

 

About Sarah Clayton

Sarah ClaytonSarah Clayton is the Communications and Campaigns Specialist at Achievers, where she focuses on generating content to drive desired recognition behaviors and engagement on the platform.

 

 

 

Company Culture

Why Work Culture Directly Impacts Employee Performance

A recent study from researchers at the University of Warwick, cited by Entrepreneur magazine, revealed that happiness makes people 12% more productive. Said the authors of the study, Professor Andrew Oswald and Dr. Daniel Sgroi from the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick:

“Companies like Google have invested more in employee support and employee satisfaction has risen as a result. For Google, it rose by 37%… Under scientifically controlled conditions, making workers happier really pays off.” Added Dr. Sgroi: “The driving force seems to be that happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality.”

What contributes to this happiness? There can be many factors – from family life, to favorite activities, even literature, music, or movies – but work culture can also play a major role in employee happiness. Work culture is a collective term for a handful of the most important factors that are under an employer’s control, and as such, it is highly relevant for every manager. The underpinnings of a strong company culture include factors related to an employee’s physical health, emotional well-being, mental clarity, and can help give their work a greater sense of meaning. Work culture is rooted in the beliefs and values that an organization establishes, and when these are clearly communicated throughout the organization, they can help boost employee engagement and motivation. Here’s why:

Worker trust is linked with shared company culture

Optimal employee performance depends on the ability of employees to trust their organization. Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Stephen Covey and Douglas Conant assert that employee trust is essential to a company’s financial success. To truly build a company culture around the key value of trust, it is required to, “personally celebrate employees for their contributions.” This climate of trust, supported by recognition, results in a positive company culture, which in turn solidifies your financial standing. Trust can also be established during periodic employee performance reviews, when managers get the chance to listen to their employees and learn what makes them happy, including what they want in a positive company culture.

“Why we work determines how well we work”

This axiom was presented by researchers who studied scores of workers and companies worldwide. If people perceive underlying purpose in the work they do, they perform better. One example given by the authors had two groups of workers that were assigned to analyze medical images. The group that was told the images contained cancer cells spent more time and did higher quality work than the control group who were not given any context for the task. When you convey the importance and coherence of your company’s purpose, you help your employees to feel that their work has meaning. Your company’s cultural values and mission statements play a larger role than you think. Reinforcing cultural values that resonate with your employees on a personal level directly impacts their motivation and drive to perform better at work.

A strong work culture balances out corporate change

“Fast-paced change, uncertainty, and volatility are the lexicon of our work lives,” according to Peter Cheese, the CEO of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Corporations are changing fast in order to keep up with emerging trends, and they need their employees to be agile as well. A strong organizational culture keeps everyone aligned and engaged, so that riding out changes becomes a mutually shared effort rather than a divisive or damaging force. When employees feel left out of the loop or are unaware of the company’s bigger picture, their performance and motivation suffers as a result. Keep your employees informed on changes happening within the organization, so they know what’s ahead for the business and the impact their role has in all of it.

Industry research on the importance of a positive work culture reveals that 87% of organizations agree that culture and employee engagement are among their most urgent challenges. To learn more about developing your company culture, download Achievers’ e-book: All for One and One for All: Uniting a Global Workforce with Company Culture.

ebook CTA Blog Button

 

Employee engagement

To the Point: How Achievers Builds Alignment Across the Organization

By: Justin Rutherford
National Account Executive, Achievers

The role of a leader is to empower, engage, enable, and develop those around them in the workplace. It’s not an easy task and requires daily tending. So, how does one become a great leader? Marcus Buckingham, best-selling author and management expert, spoke at Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) Conference last fall on what makes a great leader. He shared two questions that exceptional leaders consistently ask their team: “What are you working on?” and “How can I help?” Buckingham’s argument is that these two questions should be at the core of every leader. By asking these two simple questions, leaders are able to provide guidance and help break down barriers. How an organization leads and supports its employees draws several parallels. If a business could ask its employees daily, “What are you working on?” and “How can I help?” what would that look like?

At Achievers, we use a daily 9-minute company-wide meeting known as TTP (aka “To the Point”) to facilitate this conversation. The goal of TTP is to drive alignment, visibility and give a quick break to re-energize the organization around common goals. Buzzwords aside, TTP offers a unique opportunity for the entire organization to ask, “What are you working on?” and “How can I help?” The purpose of sharing TTP in a blog post is two-fold:

  1. To demonstrate how you can apply TTP to your organization
    TTP has worked for Achievers throughout the years as a way to build alignment across the organization. If our methodology behind TTP resonates with you and your business, please feel free to duplicate TTP and apply it to your own company culture.
  2. To suggest how you can customize TTP meetings according to your own business needs
    Achievers’ TTP meetings have evolved over the years. For example, there were times when TTP would go on for over 15 minutes and we realized adjustments had to be made; and now they only run for 9 minutes. Also, as a global organization with 200+ employees, there are other factors to take into consideration when setting up a company-wide daily meeting, such as suitable time slots that work across different time zones.

By sharing why and how we conduct TTP meetings at Achievers, I hope other businesses can draw value and better align their organizations.

Below is the current breakdown of Achievers’ TTP meeting structure slide by slide. As you’ll see, the purpose of TTP meetings is to give employees the opportunity to share with the entire organization what they’re working on and ask for help if needed. Achievers’ TTP meetings are structured as follows:

Slide 1: Introductions

“Introductions” is a good time to announce any new hires that have just joined the company. This is also the right time to share if any customers, prospective customers, or potential job candidates are coming to visit the office to learn more about your business.

Slide 2: L.O.V.E Moment

Here at Achievers, L.O.V.E. stands for “Living Our Values Every day”. The most powerful way we do this is through the daily sharing of recognition moments. The host selects a recognition moment from our employee engagement platform – whether peer-to-peer or manager-to-team – and highlights it in front of the organization for a quick celebration. Moments like these show support and appreciation for hard work and provide added encouragement for employees to recognize another.

Slide 3: Good News

The “Good News” portion of TTP is used to celebrate milestones, announce closed business deals, or just  catch-up on some of the great things happening across the entire business. This part of TTP is the chance to boost spirits around company performance and give employees additional cause for celebration.

Slide 4: Department Spotlight

For the “Spotlight,” one department is given 2-minutes to highlight any projects that have been a main focus or successes they have achieved within the last two weeks. They can also speak about what is coming down the pipeline for their department. Also, every department gets equal attention by having each department rotate for this portion of TTP.

Slide 5: New Meetings

“New Meetings” is the chance to highlight new opportunities the sales team is working on. Does anyone at the company know someone in their network that works at one of these companies? If so, this is the chance for employees to help make the connection and support any new opportunities.

Slide 6: Pause Minutes

“Pause Minutes” allows for anyone in the company to share any important announcements. This can be anything from an upcoming event they want employees to attend, or an opportunity to ask for help/advice on a topic.

TTP meetings provide multiple opportunities for the Achievers team to find alignment across the organization. Because of the level of transparency and open participation, countless ideas and additional opportunities have been generated from department spotlights, prospect announcements and new meeting highlights.

One final thing to note: TTP meetings have always been very bottoms-up. Leadership steps in occasionally to share what they have been working on, but each week the host of the meeting rotates and it can be anyone in the company. This gives everyone an opportunity to stand in front of the organization and actively participate.

As someone who has worked both remotely as well as in the office for Achievers, TTP has been an invaluable part of my day-to-day these last four years at the company. As organizations strive for flatter, more transparent structures, these types of daily huddles mirror what best-in-class leaders and organizations are doing to shake up their organizational structure and build toward what Josh Bersin calls, “a network of teams.”  If you’re looking to implement something similar, feel free to reach out and let us know how Achievers can help. We’d love to be a part of helping to build the foundation for your culture, engagement, and communication strategies.

Learn More Red CTA Button

 

 

About Justin Rutherford
Justin Rutherford HeadshotJustin has been working for Achievers for 4 years and loves being a part of the company’s journey. “Try and create more value than you consume” is a mantra that continuously inspires him when he has writer’s block. You can connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter @JustinBuud.

 

Employee Recognition

5 tips for creating your employee recognition road map

Remember how good it felt in grade school when the teacher put a sticker on your test because you got a perfect score? If you’re like most employees, not a lot has changed. You probably like recognition and rewards just as much now as you did then. Employee recognition fulfills our intrinsic need to be acknowledged for our achievements, and motivates us by making us feel accepted.

Not only does recognition make employees feel good, but companies that inspire their employees with meaningful recognition perform better in the marketplace. Consider the companies that earn a place on Fortune Magazine’s “100 best Companies to Work For” list. Since 1998, the publicly traded companies in that group have outperformed the S&P 500 index by nearly 2 to 1.

Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work ForImplementing an effective employee recognition program requires specific considerations and a program that fits your company’s needs. Here are a few tips on how to implement a recognition strategy that will engage and align your employees.

Determine your budget and criteria

It’s time to put your money where your mouth is; determine the criteria for rewards, and set your budget. Be sure to determine the behaviors needed to achieve business objectives, and base rewards on these behaviors. Most organizations spend about one or two percent of payroll on their employee recognition programs, but be sure to allocate the amount of money needed to execute your plan and achieve your goals.  Remember that engaged employees perform better, and think of your rewards as an investment.

Ensure recognition for all

Recognition and rewards need to be executed across the entire organization to have a lasting impact. Everyone in all levels of the company must use recognition, and the program should allow for people at all levels to recognize each other. With mobile or desktop service, recognition can and should happen anywhere, at any time.

Eliminate barriers for recognition

Empower your employees to appropriately recognize each other. Eliminate barriers, such as approvals for recognition and rewards. Program adoption will likely suffer if employees aren’t able to freely recognize each other, which will put the success of the program at risk. Trust your employees to know when rewards and recognition are warranted.

Make recognition visible

It’s great to celebrate employee contributions, but sometimes visible rewards aren’t appropriate. There are three types of recognition visibility:

  • Public: online newsfeed
  • Group: In front of the employee’s team
  • Private: employee/manager one-on-one

Encourage employees to adopt recognition by giving them high visibility. Consider what level of visibility will work in your organization, but remember that high visibility helps to reinforce the right behaviors by setting an example.

Measure results

You won’t know if you have been successful unless you measure the results of your employee recognition program. During the planning stages, decide what will be measured. Consider whether you have created an engaged, aligned workforce, and whether this has had an impact on business results.

Employee recognition programs need to involve more than a sticker for a perfect score, but remember that the effect is similar. In order to engage your workforce, they need to understand that their contributions are valued and will be rewarded.

Interested in finding out more about how to create an employee recognition strategy? Download The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition.

Employee Recognition

Why recognition is crucial to real-time talent alignment

When it comes to business success, engaged employees perform 20 percent better and are 87 percent less likely to leave an organization. As more employers start to understand the power of engagement, we see businesses strive to achieve a powerful trifecta of senior leadership, managers, and employees who align to achieve bottom-line goals.

In her Forbes article, “How To Succeed At Real-Time Talent Alignment,” Meghan Biro comments that to achieve alignment, “Ideally, your recruiting process should be linked to leadership, culture and the on-boarding process. How you bring a new employee on board will determine whether or not you keep them for more than 18 months.” She’s right. This cohesion is essential to recruiting and retaining top talent; but how exactly can employers achieve this alignment? The key is recognition. Not only does recognition make employees feel valued, but managers who inspire their employees with meaningful recognition drive alignment and perform better in the marketplace.

Biro highlighted four opportunities that every employer can seize to drive real-time talent alignment. Here, we’ll show you how recognition plays into these scenarios to ensure engagement and alignment across the organization.

Get to know your employees

Employee recognition is the spark that gets it all going. It fulfills our intrinsic need to achieve and motivates us because of our inherent desires for acceptance and belonging. Encourage managers and leadership to get to know the people on their teams and what motivates them, and recognize them for their accomplishments. This will build trust and loyalty among your organization and ultimately drive alignment.

Be prepared to make changes fast

Here, Biro discusses the importance of equipping employees with the tools they need to succeed, and being prepared to gracefully offboard them if they don’t. To ensure that top talent live up to their potential and that their performance meets your expectations, recognize employees for living the company’s core values. Make sure employees understand what behaviors are measured and why. If you reinforce desired behaviors with positive feedback, those behaviors will be repeated.

Don’t hire a resume, hire a human

When filling leadership positions, many companies have a habit of taking their best performers and creating the worst managers. Before you fill a management role, consider what types of skills this position requires beyond the list of qualifications. Does this person have coaching skills, recognition experience, and a track record of success working with a team? Evaluate how you can equip your leadership with the recognition tools they need to be great coaches and ensure alignment.

Hire ahead of need

The number of available jobs is on the rise, and this is creating a job-seekers market in many areas. If you wait until you have an urgent need to fill a role, you might find that it’s harder than you expected to attract top-quality candidates. Plan ahead by building your employer brand and by promoting a culture that is rooted in recognition, engagement, and alignment.

Interested in learning more about how recognition is crucial to real-time talent alignment? Download The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition to learn tips and strategies you can implement today.

Source: Lockwood, Nancy R. “Leveraging Employee Engagement for Competitive Advantage: HR’s Strategic Role.” HRMagazine Mar.2007: 1-11. SearchSpot. ABI/INFORM Global (PQ). Web. 8 Apr 2013.

Employee Recognition

Discover the irrefutable case for employee recognition

You’ve seen the YouTube videos of happy flight attendants creatively rapping the in-flight safety instructions, or read the stories of employees who have gone way beyond their job duties to help a customer. These make for great stories, but you can’t help but notice that most of these employees work for winning companies. Would the employees have gone above and beyond if they didn’t have a great work environment? Or would the companies be so successful without engaged employees?

You may think your employees are engaged now, but have you planned for the future? What will change when baby-boomers retire? What if your company could be more successful just by recognizing your employees? Here are a few reasons you need an employee recognition program:

Impact of the future workforce

Baby boomers are retiring, and they are taking much of the skill and experience in their companies with them. This year, 60 percent of new jobs being created require skills held by only 20 percent of the population. Millennials are already starting to take over; earlier this year, they surpassed Gen Xers as the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. You need to have the feedback channels, communication strategy, and collaborative environment to be able to recruit top millennial talent during this generational transition.

More employees work outside the office

The workplace is changing — literally. New communication tools are making it possible and easy for employees to work from home or other remote locations. As mobile trends continue and mobile apps become more advanced, more work is going to take place away from the office. How will your organization make these people feel like they are an engaged and valued part of the team? Do you have recognition programs in place that allow your mobile team to participate seamlessly?

Customer service is linked to employee engagement

The customer is always right, and that is even truer today. In a world where one tweet or a short video clip can do major damage to a company’s reputation and bottom line, it is critical that customer-facing employees are engaged and motivated. The good news is, you can empower your employees to provide great customer service and create repeat customers. Consider the ROI of this new strategy; organizations that prioritize customer service make 60 percent more profit!

Reinforce the right behaviors

Employee recognition does more than just give people warm and fuzzies. It is a strategic investment that aligns employees with corporate objectives. Employee recognition works by reinforcing behaviors that help achieve goals, and it solidifies people’s emotional connection with their jobs and the company. Engaged employees who are aligned with business objectives will work harder to achieve goals and serve customers, meaning they will push the company to succeed.

Get senior management involved

Although we often hear executives say that employees are the organization’s greatest asset, they are also often viewed as the biggest cost. So how are you going to justify an employee rewards program that increases the cost? By explaining the ROI. Use numbers and provide examples of the outcomes that can be achieved.

Winning companies have a great work environment. Great work environments are created when employees are aligned with business objectives and rewarded for meeting goals. It’s time you created a recognition strategy that can push your company to the next level.

Want to learn how to create a recognition strategy that’s tailored to engage and align all of your employees? Download The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition.

Employee Recognition

Trend alert: Employee recognition is hot and lapel pins are not

We hate to be the one to tell you this, but a lot of employees think sporting a company lapel pin is about as “in” as wearing socks with sandals. There are much better ways to reward your employees and reinforce your brand besides just handing out tchotchkes.

Companies today are getting extremely competitive when it comes to culture and perks. Does your employee engagement strategy reflect what employees truly want and even expect from their employers?

What’s out? Passé trends include:

  • Ad hoc and disconnected recognition
  • Hierarchy
  • Annual or semi-annual feedback & bonuses

What’s on-trend today is:

  • Collaboration and bottom-up communication
  • Cross-team recognition
  • Tailored but fair rewards

Modern recognition strategies are necessary to win in today’s competitive business landscape, and these strategies must be transparent and advanced – just like the modern workplace. Evolving your engagement strategy reaches beyond what’s “on-trend” and extends to the bottom line. We curated this list of ten reasons why you need to replace the lapel pins with real-time recognition:

  1. Create better shareholder value.
    Recognized employees will work harder to satisfy your customers, which has a direct effect on your organization’s stakeholders.
  2. Align employees with business objectives.
    This reinforces the right behaviors and makes recognition more purposeful.
  3. Get employees engaged.
    Recognition solidifies employees’ emotional connection with your company.
  4. Celebrate individual accomplishments.
    While team recognition is important, employees want to feel that they have made an impact at an individual level too.
  5. Employees will work harder.
    80 percent of employees said recognition is a strong motivator of work performance.
  6. Maximize retention rates.
    Engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave their organizations.
  7. Leverage your greatest resource.
    Recognition is the easiest and most meaningful way to motivate your people.
  8. Become more productive and profitable.
    Organizations with high engagement rates are 78 percent more productive and 40 percent more profitable than organizations with low engagement levels.
  9. Develop your future leaders and motivate them to stay.
    Engaged employees perform 20 percent better.
  10. Reinforce positive behaviors.

When great work is recognized, it’s repeated.

Wonder what other recognition styles are in this season? Download The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition to find out!

Employee Recognition

Revamp your employee recognition strategy to drive results

Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition

Everyone likes to know that people around them notice and appreciate them.

This applies to the workplace too. We often hear organizations say that their number-one asset is their people. Considering this, businesses should be concerned that only 49 percent of North American employees are happy at work. According to WorldatWork, 89 percent of organizations report that they have some type of recognition system in place, but with these staggeringly low employee engagement rates, it’s clear that these programs are far from effective.

It’s not simply a matter of sending out thank-you cards; organizations need to ensure that their employee recognition program is planned and executed to deliver certain results. Here are some tips:

  1.       Start at the beginning

If you were renovating a house, you wouldn’t begin painting until you had finished drawing the floor plan, framing the walls, and hanging the drywall. It’s important to take the same approach with creating a meaningful employee recognition strategy. If you don’t start by creating an employee retention plan that will work at your company, all of the other employee engagement efforts will go to waste. Try administering a baseline employee engagement survey. This will give you insight into what’s working and what isn’t. Determine where your employee engagement levels stand today, and then create reasonable timelines and benchmarks for growth.

  1.       Ask, “What’s the point?”

Once you’ve determined where you currently stand, you can create goals. Why do you want to improve your employee recognition program? Do you want to improve employee retention, or align global employees with a common goal? Maybe you want to foster team spirit and collaboration. Whatever your goals are, they need to be defined so that you can build a program that centers on fulfilling these objectives.

  1.       Look at the big picture

In order for the program to run smoothly between departments and deliver the intended results, recognition needs to be tied in with compensation and benefits, performance management, rewards, career development, employee engagement and alignment, and retention and recruiting.

  1.       Go mobile

People are doing more and more on their mobile devices, and they expect to be able to use their phones and tablets for work. Your recognition program needs to be accessible to employees on the field, telecommuters, and even your global workforce. If you use a software platform to manage rewards and recognition, ensure that you have a cloud-based, mobile-friendly solution.

Whatever your needs are, it’s important to start with objectives and execute on a plan that’s sure to deliver results. A cohesive strategy for employee recognition will result in greater engagement, higher retention, better customer service, and a company-wide culture of recognition and success.

Want to know more about creating an employee recognition program? Download The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition.

Onboarding new employees

2 things that set new hires up for failure

According to the 2012 Allied Workforce Mobility Survey, employers lose an average of 23 percent of all new hires within their first year. Among those who stay, one third of employees don’t meet expected levels of productivity.

These are alarming statistics. They indicate that new hires are not receiving the quality guidance and onboarding they need when starting a new position. It also means that you, the employer, are probably spending far more in hiring costs than you need to.

Onboarding new employees should be a priority initiative for your HR team, because it can have a dramatic impact on retention, productivity, and future hiring success. While there’s no single magic formula for successful programs, there are a couple of fundamental ways to get it wrong.

Unidirectional information

Experienced candidates might hit the ground running on their job’s technical aspects. However, they’ll still have plenty of basic questions they need answered: “Can I help myself to a stapler, or do I need to fill out a requisition form?” “Is this organization’s culture built around email communication, or should I speak to people face-to-face?” “Where’s the bathroom?”

Most onboarding programs are designed to give information that the organization prioritizes, like the company history, executive bios, and corporate mission statements. While this information is important, your programs should also incorporate the needs of the employee. If you want new hires to feel more welcome, make sure they have an “office buddy” — someone who can set up their workspace and show them the lay of land. The earlier you can integrate the new hire into your company’s culture, the more productive they’ll be.

Not setting clear goals and milestones

Believe it or not, only 39 percent of companies set clear goals and establish milestones for new hires. Yet without clear performance criteria, employees may end up with too much or too little work, or perform tasks in a way that upsets the apple cart. So take the time to show them how you do things, and be open to suggestions if they know how to make a process cheaper, faster, or better.

Preparing the team is critical in this process, especially if another team member was overlooked for promotion. Managers can smooth away lingering resentment by explaining why the new hire was selected for the job. It helps if you can establish a set of team goals and objectives to help the new hire — and the team as a whole — succeed.

Successful onboarding requires viewing your organization through the new hire’s eyes. Quickly integrating them into company culture, and preparing the troops for the new arrival, allows the team to gel — and that can lead to higher-level functioning, greater collaboration, and increased productivity.

The route to employee engagement

Infographic: The route to employee engagement

The most successful businesses are rooted in an engaged workforce, where employees are valued for their contributions. It seems simple, yet many companies are missing the mark when it comes to connecting their employees with core engagement factors like their company’s mission, their experience of recognition at work, and their workplace culture.

This is the “greatness gap” that many employers are dealing with today. HR and business leaders work hard to create a company mission and vision, craft a culture statement, and roll out employee recognition programs … yet something’s still not clicking. That’s why we decided to survey hundreds of full-time employees throughout North America to determine how engaged they feel at work, how often they get recognized, and whether they feel aligned with their company’s mission. The results were pretty shocking — and we’ve highlighted some of the biggest stats below.

We encourage you to get the rest of our employee engagement insights by downloading the full Achievers 2015 North American workforce survey results right here.

Greatness-Infographic-FINAL_smaller

Share this Image On Your Site

Ways to Motivate Part-Time Employees

4 ways to engage your part-time and hourly employees

Employee engagement is tricky even for full-time employees who are immersed in your company culture. For hourly and part-time employees, true engagement is even more difficult to accomplish. In many cases, your hourly or part-time employees are working in lower-paying roles with limited flexibility, no benefits, and a clock-in/clock-out mentality.

If you’ve noticed that your part-timers are feeling disconnected or unmotivated, there are several ways to motivate employees that will improve their experience, and ultimately their job performance.

Employee-led scheduling

Many part-time and hourly employees have limited or no control over the schedule they work. This can lead to resentment when work hours interfere with other things that may be going on in their lives. It can also be unhealthy if employees are asked to work split shifts, or switch day and night shifts on a regular basis.

While your company needs coverage during peak times, empowering employees to be part of the overall schedule design is beneficial for two reasons: it helps your employees understand and align to the needs of your company, and it gives them more flexibility to maintain their own version of work-life balance.

Change the work environment

Take a good, long look around the environment you work in. Is it warm and inviting, or drab and uncomfortable? Having a pleasant work environment can positively impact the everyday moods of your employees. And when hourly and part-time employees are in a good mood at work, their level of engagement rises.

Changes don’t have to be extensive or expensive to create a big boost. Updating hazy or buzzing lights to bright whites, covering dingy paint jobs with warm colors, and adding some vibrant green plants are all fairly affordable and fast ways to improve an environment. This is another great area to involve your employees — challenge them to help create an atmosphere they’ll enjoy.

Keep people in the loop

Because part-time employees are out of the office much more than full-time staff, they can feel disconnected when they miss announcements, activities, or opportunities that took place while they were away. Managers should maintain a protocol for how they disseminate essential information to part-time employees throughout the week, so that they’re in the loop and ready to hit the ground running each time they come in.

Alternative benefits

It’s simply not cost efficient to provide the same insurance coverage and other benefits to part-time or hourly employees as it is for salaried staff. However, there may be ways you can engage hourly employees through alternative benefits. For instance, although your company may not be able to afford health or dental coverage for part-timers, you may be able to offer them access to plans your company has negotiated. They can enroll and self-pay for coverage that may be less expensive than going through a health exchange.

Regardless of their role, all employees need to be recognized and incentivized at work. Make an effort to praise and celebrate their accomplishments, positive behavior, and time in service. Whether you offer monetary rewards, additional perks, or just regular verbal praise, consistent recognition is a key way to improve engagement.

Chances are, your company’s success depends on your hourly and part-time employees just as much as it does on your full-time staff. By making easy changes and finding new ways to recognize and appreciate their work, you can keep your part-time team happy, reduce turnover, and even increase productivity.

 

Want to make recognition a bigger part of your total rewards package? Download our whitepaper to learn how.

Benefits of Telecommuting

Should you let your employees go remote? How to weigh the risks and benefits

The benefits of telecommuting are becoming clearer, and this practice has gained popularity so fast that it is now considered a standard perk in some industries. Forrester Research predicts that by 2016, 43 percent of the U.S. workforce will primarily work from home. Not only that, but a Global Workplace Analytics survey found that 36 percent of employees would choose a telecommuting option over a pay raise. Would your organization benefit from allowing, or encouraging, some employees to work remotely? There are a few key factors you should consider before you decide to offer this option. And be aware—if you don’t discuss telecommuting proactively, your employees will likely start asking about it soon.

First, consider what types of jobs are best suited for remote work. Obviously anyone dealing with customers, patients, or physical objects can’t telecommute. If you have team members whose effectiveness depends on immediate information exchange, then their roles are not well-suited for telecommuting. However, many information-based jobs can be done from home just as well as they can from a cubicle, if not even better. Many employees report higher levels of productivity at home, when they don’t have to deal with distractions from coworkers, ambient noise, and difficult commutes.

Effective telecommuting requires certain basic ingredients, both human and technological. Before being granted the right to work remotely, an employee should demonstrate consistently high performance and commitment to the job. Once they’re home, they’ll have no oversight, so managers will need a good way to track results and keep employees accountable. (Though this is true even for employees who come into the office every day – results speak much louder than butt-in-seat-time).

Additionally, you will have to consider the technology needed to support effective remote workstations. Will your staff members need to share a virtual whiteboard space, have real-time group meetings, or simultaneously mark up documents? Remote work platforms are becoming more sophisticated, but it might take some up-front investment on your part to provide your employees with high-quality software and audio and video equipment.

Telecommuting is somewhat unstructured by nature, so creating a structure is a good idea. Be clear with your employees about what hours you expect them to be available, and through what means of communication. Ask for input from your employees, and engage in conversations about the possible issues that might arise. Once you have the technology and policy in place, begin slowly: Have workers telecommute one or two days a week at first, and then evaluate how things are going at the end of each month. While you may increase this schedule to several days a week, you’ll probably still want to have regular meeting times where everyone comes together in the same place. It’s important that employees continue to feel a sense of belonging and identification with your organization.

Employee engagement is the key to business success. Employees feel more engaged and productive when they are able to effectively balance work and family obligations. In fact, businesses whose workers telecommute at least three times a month are likelier to see a 10 percent higher annual revenue growth. That means that telecommuting doesn’t just benefit your employees—it can benefit your business’ bottom line as well.  When managed well, your team of virtual employees can get the best of both work worlds.

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?

Employee engagement financial services

Let’s talk numbers: How employee engagement impacts financial services and banking industries

WP_COD_Financial_Meme_600x600_V1The financial services and banking industries don’t fare well when it comes to employee engagement. When compared to all other industries, finance and banking suffer from high customer-switching rates, low employee engagement levels, high turnover, and absenteeism. Ouch.

 

 

 

 

 

For banks, 20 percent of lost business to competitors was due to poor service, ranking higher than internet service providers (18 percent), and even wireless phone companies (17 percent).


Your clients’ reach and access to knowledge is wider than ever before. Now that your prospective and current clients can instantly get access to information about your company and your competitors, they can make quick decisions about which companies they want to do business with. This makes customer-switching extremely problematic for businesses—which is typically the outcome after a poor customer service experience. Recognize your employees for providing outstanding service to clients in order to combat customer-switching and reinforce positive behaviors you want repeated.

Total costs related to absenteeism amount to $84 billion annually. A decrease of only 10 percent in employee absence could produce a one to two percent savings in payroll costs.

When employees are disengaged, being at work is the last place where they want to spend their time. Unfortunately for banking and financial services companies, this means that absenteeism has a significant impact on productivity and payroll costs. It’s not an easy problem to tackle, but aligning your employees to business objectives is one way you can infuse more meaning into employees’ work, making them feel like the valued contributors that they are.

The number one reason employees quit after financial considerations is lack of recognition, and 65 percent of employees don’t feel recognized at work.

The numbers speak for themselves: organizations with high engagement rates are 78 percent more profitable than organizations with low levels of engagement. This means that engagement really does have a strong impact on business results. Financial services and banking executives need to get on board with an employee recognition strategy, and can start by explaining the business benefits and potential growth the organization could achieve with an engaged workforce.

At 17.2 percent, banking and finance employees mark the industry with the highest turnover rates.

When banking employees leave their business, they take years of experience, skills, and potentially even clients with them. This is a real problem for the industry. Reducing turnover rates starts with understanding the problem, and making an effective strategy to combat turnover. Consider deploying an employee engagement survey to understand how and if employees feel connected to the business. From there, develop an engagement strategy that specifically aligns with the outcomes of the survey.

Download our latest whitepaper, and learn more about the cost of disengagement to the financial services and banking industry.

 

 

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

 

 

Employee Engagement in the Retail Industry

3 Ways Disengaged Employees Impact the Retail Industry

When it comes to driving repeat purchases in retail, customer experience is just as important as price, if not more so. With your employees at the forefront, bringing positive or not-so-positive experiences to your customers, it’s important for retail leaders to work with a highly engaged team. Get the fast facts and learn how disengaged employees affect consumers and what you can do to improve engagement levels.

FACT 1: Disengaged employees fire customers.
The retail industry saw 28% of global consumers switch due to poor customer service in 2013, compared to 22% in 2012.

Ouch! As if the economy and changing consumer tastes weren’t enough, retailers and brands are now losing loyal customers due to poor service. And that’s not all. Of all industries, retail has had the highest percentage of consumers who switch due to poor customer experiences. How can you engage your employees and empower them to deliver exceptional service?

  1. Be transparent: Help employees understand how consumer interactions affect the bottom line.
  2. Timely recognition: Give your employees kudos on-the-spot when they provide excellent service.
  3. Utilize feedback: Allow your customers to give feedback and share it with your employees.

FACT 2: Disengaged employees call in “sick.”

A decrease of only 10% in employee absence could produce a 1-2% savings in payroll costs.

Absenteeism isn’t just a nightmare for logistical reasons, it’s also a symptom of unengaged employees. Employees who aren’t motivated to come to work are probably not delivering exceptional service when they’re in attendance. Here are several ways to beat absenteeism:

  1. Improve the culture: Create a positive environment where employees feel excited to come to work.
  2. Create alignment: Get employees in sync with the organization’s objectives so they understand how they contribute to the business.
  3. Use peer-to-peer recognition: It’s great to get feedback from the top down, but peer to peer recognition is a powerful tool as well.

FACT 3: Disengaged employees will leave your company.  

More than 50% of disengaged retail employees are planning to switch jobs in the next year, versus 10% of engaged employees.

High retention rates are indicative of engaged employees. Engaged employees are putting your customers first and ultimately driving the bottom line. Consider practices that your business could adopt to help boost retention rates and keep business booming.

  1. Engage employees: Practice recognition when employees meet a business objective.
  2. Develop a recognition rhythm: Get all of your employees in the habit of recognizing each other on a regular basis.
  3. Evolve your engagement strategy: Ditch antiquated ways of rewarding employees and use positive and timely feedback.

Learn more about how your business can improve the customer experience by engaging employees. Download our whitepaper, The Cost of Disengagement for the Retail Industry.

 

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

 

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.

Future of Organization

Are You Willfully Ignoring the Future of Your Organization?

Are You Willfully Ignoring the Future of Your Organization? Guest blog post by Rebecca Rodskog, a workforce crusader and the Founder of FutureLeaderNow, LLC

“If you are deliberately trying to create a future that feels safe, you will willfully ignore the future that is likely.”

― Seth Godin, Linchpin:  Are You Indispensable?

One of my mentors, Seth Godin, who I was fortunate enough to work with through his FeMBA program in 2010, speaks a lot about organizations’ (and individuals’) propensity to do what’s “safe,” or at least perceived safe, to avoid risk and potential failure. The problem with this approach is if you spend so much of your time trying to do what will surely not fail, you’ll never create anything innovative, and most likely, your organization will slowly be replaced by others who are willing to Poke the Box and create something unique. Read more →

Employee Disengagement is Contagious

Disengagement is Contagious; Here’s Your Prescription

Are your managers experiencing low engagement levels?

Has it been a while since management has recognized their teams?
Is your manager’s team completely unaware of the corporate objectives?

When your workforce is exhibiting low engagement levels, HR professionals must look to managers. Because managers oversee teams of your employees, their attitudes tend to have a ripple effect on the organization. That means that if your managers are unhappy, pessimistic, unengaged or simply not well-trained, disengagement will prevail. This is troublesome because disengagement is contagious; but with this prescription – taken daily – things will be better in no time. Read more →

Align Employees

Aligning Your Workforce: One, Two, Three Strikes – You’re Out

Picture this: it’s the bottom of the ninth and bases are loaded. Two outs and you’re down by three. Batter up! That’s you. The worst thing you can do right now is strike out.

You look up at your coach for your play, but … wait, your coach isn’t there.
You glance out the field and realize that your team has no idea what to do next.

Okay. You think. Now what? Read more →

Develop Modern Manager

Five Strategies to Develop the Modern Manager

The Secret Weapon to Driving Employee Success: Your ManagersBad managers are the number one reason employees quit, but good managers have the power to drive results. Performance is 35 percent higher when teams are led by strong management; moreover, engaged employees are also much more likely to stay with the organization, reducing turnover costs.

With these kinds of results on the line, who wouldn’t want to give their managers the tools they need to become great at their jobs?

There are many things organizations can do to help managers do their jobs well. Here are five strategies you can start using today to develop your managers. Read more →

AutoTrader and Achievers

Three Reasons to Look Up to Autotrader as a Top Employer

Achievers 50 Most Engaged WorkplacesIt’s difficult for large, global companies to inspire employees and keep them engaged. More often than not, geographically dispersed employees feel disconnected from their employers, further driving them down the path to disengagement. But some companies have figured it out and lead the charge in maintaining highly engaged workplaces that recognize employees’ accomplishments and align their performance to business success. Autotrader is one of those companies. Read more →