If you check out a company’s profile on Glassdoor, one of the first things you see is the CEO approval rating. As an HR leader, this is a number that I was always concerned with as a signal for overall employee satisfaction. It’s common to hear stories about CEO approval in the news, and all of us have an opinion about our current and past leaders at the top of the organizational hierarchy.

But what goes into that measurement and how do company decisions affect the ratings?

ceo-approval-ratings

Until now, most of the information in this area has been ad hoc or anecdotal. We’ve all seen the dozens of business books that tell us the secrets to success at a wide variety of companies. But Glassdoor has been able to gather enough data to show true, causal links between CEO approval and areas like culture, benefits, and work/life balance.

In this episode of We’re Only Human, I interview Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, Chief Economist at Glassdoor. Andrew and I discuss the links between CEO approval and executive compensation, what it means to be a founder versus an externally hired CEO, and what really matters to employees when it comes to rating the performance of their leaders. I hope you enjoy the conversation!

If you like audio content focused on HR, talent, and the workplace, be sure to subscribe to the HR Happy Hour podcast network on iTunes, Stitcher, or your favorite podcasting app to catch new episodes of my show and all of the other exciting shows on the HR Happy Hour channel.

One of the scariest parts of having a great culture is the fear that it will shift and change in negative ways as the company grows. I can remember talking with Atlassian earlier this year, an organization that has an enviable culture and has leveraged it for incredible success. Every team at Atlassian has a person dedicated to defending the culture from poor fit hires, and these culture stewards can veto any hiring decision at any level. That’s an excellent way to help protect the culture as the organization scales up, but it’s not the only method for making it work. Today at the 2016 Glassdoor Summit, one presenter offered some amazing advice that is worth exploring.

Note: you can catch the livestream of the entire conference for free online

So far at the event we’ve heard from several speakers, including CEO of Glassdoor, Robert Hohman, about the value of transparency into culture. One quote this morning was particularly hard-hitting for me, and it came from Katie Burke, VP of Culture and Experience at Hubspot.

After talking about culture and the role of transparency, Katie threw out the quote above. I also believe the idea that acting on employee-generated ideas is one of the greatest ways to scale culture.

When we look at how culture is misrepresented in the media on a daily basis, it’s no surprise that HR leaders are craving a more concrete option for creating and scaling a culture that truly embodies the values and beliefs of the organization. Pick up any magazine or read any news article and you’ll quickly see that culture is purely about ping pong tables, free beer in the office fridge, and dog-friendly work spaces.

But as HR and talent leaders chase that elusive goal, they quickly become disillusioned and believe that this “culture” thing is just for the Googles and Ubers of the world.

As I pointed out in a recent Lighthouse blog around killing the traditional performance management approach, it’s critical for companies to point out culture in behavioral terms so that people have a concrete idea of what culture really means. But what about this concept of innovation, especially the type that is employee-driven?

Innovation, Engagement, and Culture

Innovation is not a new topic, but it’s one that is not often discussed in relation to the way we engage employees. The people throughout the organization are closest to the work, and they often have the best ideas for how to innovate and create new value. Therefore, innovation can be used as a valuable metric of engagement.

How many employee-generated ideas do you implement in a given year? One? One hundred? One thousand? Because it matters to your employees, and it’s an opportunity to improve business performance.

Last year I read The Idea-Driven Organization and thoroughly enjoyed the book. The main concept was the power of listening to employee suggestions, giving them serious consideration, and implementing them when feasible.

It’s fundamental, really. We all know that we should be listening to our employees. That goes without saying. However, the next step is actively soliciting input and then acting upon it. Instead of ignoring or fearing employee input, go the extra mile to encourage them to provide suggestions. The authors share a story that I think is a powerful reminder of this.

Employees at a bar had the opportunity to provide input on their jobs by submitting ideas. There were few, if any restrictions on the type of ideas, so one might expect them to pick some that made their work easier. But it turns out that was often associated with an improvement in the customer experience as well.

For instance, instead of having to carry a massive carton of empty bottles down to the cellar when it filled up, they installed a chute at the back of the bar for empty bottles to slide down to the cellar unassisted. This decreased the risk of workplace injuries from walking down stairs with heavy objects, improved customer service by not pulling away a service employee during a busy shift, and allowed bartenders to monitor and discard the empty bottles unassisted.

Even if nothing else came from these ideas other than the improved customer service results, it would be worthwhile. Yet it also improved the engagement levels of the employees by eliminating a non-value- added task from their daily work.

Another great example is from a former employer of mine. We used a “The Big Ideas Database,” which is a grandiose title for a spreadsheet. Any employee could share an idea through the web form and it would be considered by leadership for implementation.

Many of the ideas were actually acted upon. Some were quite minor (larger garbage bags in the break room), but others were considerably more important (repurposing/licensing a piece of software led to an additional $2 million in sales annually). Employees were actually excited about sharing ideas via the platform as a way to drive innovation and continuously serve customers better.

And, as with the previous story, it drove their engagement as well.

Want to create a culture of innovation and high performance? Focus on seeking out employee feedback and acting upon it. It’s powerful fuel for organizational performance and can be a significant competitive advantage if implemented properly.

Does your organization encourage employees to share ideas? Have you ever considered the effect on engagement or culture when an employee’s idea is implemented? 

Today we’re honored to have a guest post from a long-time friend and fellow HR practitioner. Jane Jaxon is the rockstar HR Director for a tech company in Boston. Learn more about her in the bio below the article. 

Marketing 101: You need a product that meets the needs of your target customer or audience, then you need to promote it where it will be seen by and sought out by potential customers.

Branding 101: Define what you are about and what space in the market you occupy. Stand for something you believe in. Build such a strong connection with your audience that they take on your brand identity on as their own.

Wait, this is an HR blog, right? It is. Why are these concepts so basic when building a business and customer base, but relatively foreign in the HR world? Human capital is critical to the success of a company, yet basic marketing principles and resources are rarely allocated to our teams. It seems silly. A business cannot succeed without both the right product or service and the right people to deliver that product or service.

I suspect many of you don’t have marketers on your team, but there are some simple steps you can begin to take on your own to differentiate yourself and strengthen your employer brand to attract a better pipeline.

Understand your value proposition. What value can you deliver to prospective candidates? Examples include: location, work/life balance, opportunity to work with cutting edge technologies, top-of-the-market pay or great mentorship and development programs. Ask your current employees what the best part of working for your company is. And market it! Make sure pictures and language on your website highlight your differentiators. Invite employees to write testimonials or post to Glassdoor. But above all, be honest.

Figure out your market and focus your advertising appropriately. Each position has a unique market and needs to be treated as such. For example, we ask our team to review our job descriptions when we’re adding to the team to give us feedback – the oozing-with-personality job descriptions we use for entry level positions just may not appeal to senior level developers or a CFO. When I’m looking for an engineer, I ask our current team where they spend their time browsing and to tell me about the most effective cold call or email they have received and I tweak my recruitment approach accordingly. Finally, when we land a fantastic candidate, we take note of how so we can better focus our efforts next time.

Deliver. You need your public persona to match the candidate (and employee) experience. If you differentiate by the intelligence of your team, candidates expect to talk to smart people. If you pride yourself on corporate values and culture, the interview experience and questions should reflect that. You cannot attract or retain the right people if you aren’t able to deliver on the experience you’ve marketed. Just think – would you go back to a hotel that showed beautiful rooms and an ocean view but delivered an inferior product? Neither will candidates.

No company is perfect in every area, but you can be much more successful if you are able to identify what your strengths are, how you compare to the competition, and your audience, then relay that message in an effective way. How do you stack up? What differentiates your open reqs and opportunities from the competition?

About the author: Jane Jaxon is the HR Director of a high-growth tech company in Boston where she gets to focus on building a great workplace and scaling people operations. Jane’s favorite buzzwords of the trade are eNPS, talent density and (of course) people operations. She likes neither pina colada’s nor getting caught in the rain, but sure loves marathoning critically-acclaimed tv series, reading in the sun, plotting her fantasy football world domination and, lastly, keeping a stealthy social media presence. Find her on LinkedIn.

Whoa! What a title, huh? I’ll get to that in a minute, but first I’d like to ask if you have an onboarding program. How do you introduce new people to your organization?

A few well-known onboarding methods:

  • Is it by tossing them a manual with instructions to “read through and ask questions?”
  • Do you make them watch a video or slideshow detailing the long (AKA boring) history of your organization?
  • Or do you surround them with people who are willing and able to help, guide, and provide the support necessary to prepare them as a representative of your brand and an employee of your company?

In case it wasn’t totally clear, the last one was supposed to be the “right” answer, if there even is one. I was reading this really old book a few days back, and I ran across this great explanation. Onboarding isn’t new, and people have been doing it the right way (and the wrong way) for many years. Check it out:

See that? I’ll repeat it for you.

This company undertakes to form an intimate and personal contact with its new employees… This personal touch is regarded as all important.

Why do I care?

My organization is of medium size, but our employees are scattered to the far corners of the state. Creating and sharing a new onboarding program is something I’ve been increasingly interested in recently. A few other resources I’ve found:

Have anything more you’d like to add? I’d love to hear your ideas for what makes an onboarding program succeed (or fail).

If you\’ve read much in recent months, it\’s probably had some flavor of social media running through it. It seems like there\’s no way to get away from the topic, no matter where you turn. But every once in a while a great question comes up that can\’t be ignored, and that\’s what happened this week. Check it out:

We want to let our employees know that we have set up a Facebook page, but we don\’t want to give them the impression that it\’s okay to use Facebook at work. What should we do? As the HR rep at my company, my boss is waiting for a response. Help!

-J

My take on Facebook

  • I think it\’s a great tool for your business to interact with people on a more personal level (assuming you\’re maintaining it once it\’s set up).
  • If you\’re worried about employees spending all day surfing the web, that\’s a problem with your own culture and leadership, and it\’s not affected by this decision.
  • How many of your employees have personal cell phones? They can access Facebook at any time, even if you block it with your company firewall/filter.
  • If the point of your Facebook page is to get the word out about your company, then make use of your employees. They know a lot of people, and they are your marketing team to the world. Turn your employees into champions for your brand.
  • If you want to encourage the use of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media sites at work, but you don\’t want it to be completely out of control, why not create a social media policy? Here\’s a site with 40 examples of social media policies.

Anyone else have an opinion they\’d like to share with J?

If you have a question you\’d like to get an answer for (whether publicly or privately), just shoot me an email.

Photo by daveynin.

In recent months, there has been a firestorm of discussion online about the future of HR and where the profession is going as a whole. Will the job functions of an HR pro change radically in the next several years, or will it stay pretty much the same? I encourage you to read some of these thought provoking articles and think for yourself. If it\’s staying the same, what do you want to be doing? If it\’s changing, will you be ready?

This is Your Brain on HR-Discussion on HR\’s recent changes and its bifurcation into two main functional areas. When you finish this one, I think you\’ll be inspired.

Re-Branding HR-Revolves around the bad rap HR gets in most organizations and how to make it meaningful again by redefining its core concepts. This one\’s my favorite.

Blowing up Human Resources-Challenges the direction of our profession and its inner workings. While I disagree with this one, it will give you some interesting ideas.

Photo by paulsimpson.