Tag Archives: Employee Engagement

home-office-336377_1280

4 Ways to Support Employees During a Crisis

Over the last few weeks the environment has changed dramatically when it comes to work and life. As an HR leader, I can remember other times of crisis in the past, such as when our employees had their homes destroyed by tornadoes. We have to deal with the logistics of this from a work perspective, because HR is often the hub of policies around working remotely or being flexible for those that have personal needs that limit their availability for work during emergencies.

However, I can’t stress enough the need to embrace compassion for our people.

Think of it this way: when our local schools asked a few days ago if families had wifi at home, I know there are some families that do not have it because they can’t afford something that most of us consider a basic fact of life. Some of those children were getting free breakfast and/or lunch at school to help fill gaps in their nutrition that they weren’t getting at home.

When you think about taking care of your people, that care for the basic components of life should be part of the equation.

The Science of Doing Great Work: Tips for Working Remotely 

Before I jump into some of the tactical ideas to help support your employees during this time, I want to point out something for those (you or your employees) that might not be accustomed to working from home.

When you’re in an office, you have a fairly rigid schedule and setup. At home, that’s not the case. One of the biggest challenges for many, even though it technically shouldn’t be different than working in an office, is prioritizing what to do. The science we know on how the brain functions shows us that we have a limited amount of capacity to focus.

Focus for an hour? Sure. You can do that. Focus for six hours? Not likely.

For that reason, it’s important to approach your to do list strategically. For those things that you find hardest to do because of their greater demand on mental capacity (creative work, strategy meetings, etc.), do those earlier in the day or when you have uninterrupted time (which will be a challenge for those with kids at home during crisis times). For those things that require less mental energy (responding to emails, for instance), save those for later in the day when you are naturally in a lower state of focus.

If you make this change, you will probably be surprised to see the difference in what you can get done, how creative you are, and how you feel. For more on this you can read some of my takeaways from Two Awesome Hours, where a doctor explains this in much more detail than I could.

home-office-336377_1280Oh, and skip answering emails right before that big meeting (even if it’s virtual). You will use your much-needed focus and acuity on routine messages and fail to have that focus when you need it during the meeting. Trust me on this one. If you DO have a big meeting you need to be “on” for, then take a walk outdoors without your phone for 5-10 minutes in the last half hour before the meeting begins. That can help to refresh your energy and focus.

Those big meetings include creative ways you might support or cover your employees during this time. Or maybe one of these options that you never quite seem to have time to get to: Continue reading

How to Invest in ALL Employees, Not Just #Millennials

While there may be some minor generational differences in workplace preferences, the truth is ALL your people want to learn, grow, use their strengths and be recognized and appreciated for their efforts. I’ve written extensively about the myth that Millennials are fundamentally different than other generations. The real point is that someone at that life stage has different needs. This article is all about how to meet the varying needs of a diverse workforce. 

Money, Coin, Investment, Business, Finance, BankIn the book “Born for This,” author Chris Guillebeau tells the story of a supervisor that approached his organization’s management team in order to secure a small budget for pizza to celebrate his team’s wins and hard work. However, the management team denied the request, prompting the supervisor to leave his job and start his own firm. Today, he sees these opportunities for investing in employees as a key differentiator between his organization and the competition.

This story exemplifies the value of focusing on employees. It’s not just about dollars spent — it’s about loyalty, satisfaction and engagement that result when individuals feel like their employer truly cares about them. The value of creating the kind of environment where employees feel appreciated is a trade off in increased performance, effort and quality. This understanding is a key reason, according to CFO Magazine, why 80 percent of U.S. financial leaders are taking the appropriate measures to improve employee retention.

Current Generations and Their Values

Business leaders are not strangers to the conversation about generations in the workplace. The shifting baby boomer population is creating a domino effect in many organizations, but for the foreseeable future organizations will still have four generations in the workforce: baby boomers, Gen Xers, millennials and Gen Zers.

1. Baby Boomers

Baby boomers are delaying retirement, which may put pressure on subsequent generations for senior level positions and key leadership roles. In reality, members of this group have an immense amount of knowledge and skills and are looking for a way to share them before they ultimately retire. Instead of coasting into retirement, they are looking for ways to stay actively involved and engaged, even if only on a part-time basis.

2. Generation X

Generation X workers are sandwiched between a large population of baby boomers and an even larger population of millennials. This group is starting to focus on future-oriented areas like retirement but at the same time many are climbing the career ladder and looking for ways to continue advancing as baby boomers make their exit from the workforce. Coaching and leadership development are critical for these individuals.

3. Millennials

According to the ADP Research Institute® report, Strategic Drift: How HR Plans for Change, millennials are looking for opportunities to learn, grow and advance their careers. One organization cited in the report says that millennials’ reputation for changing jobs often reflects the failure of organizations to train them — not the picture of disloyalty often painted in the media. This group is ready to advance, which presents a winning combination for baby boomers looking to share their years of wisdom with an eager audience.

Video has become an increasingly popular tool for developing millennial employees. As a generation with a clear interest in learning and progression (with an affinity towards technology), millennials value the opportunity to learn at their own pace outside the rigid confines of the training room. This is where video can help. As research from specialized companies like IG1 Communications has shown, video has a 10x engagement rate for millennials over other training methods while also bringing down costs and training times making it an enticing option for HR departments.

4. Generation Z

Gen Zers are just entering the workplace. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) notes, “With Gen Z coming of age during the recession, they are putting money and job security at the top of the list. Sure, they want to make a difference, but surviving and thriving are more important. The cultures that can foster that are the ones that will win the war for talent with Gen Z.” It’s important to see this in the context of the other demographic groups to understand how best to motivate these workers.

Meeting the Needs of a Diverse Workforce

The lesson for finance leaders is to keep these varying interests in mind when considering areas of investment on the employee side of the equation. For instance, mentorship and career development programs could be a pro for millennials, but it takes the involvement of baby boomers and other experienced workers to make the relationships work. Benefits also run the gamut, depending on the demographic in question:

  • Gen Xers may be looking for leave options to care not only for children, but for aging parents
  • Many millennials are looking for help with repaying crushing student loan debts
  • Baby boomers may have an interest in near-term retirement planning
  • Gen Zers are focused on collecting experiences, which means volunteerism may be more important than just another vacation day

Clearly, a one-size-fits-all approach to benefits will not cut it for this diverse group.

The ROI of Employee Engagement

While it’s nice to consider the prospect of increasing employee engagement just for the sake of it, the truth is there needs to be business value tied to the practice. I talked about this extensively in my interview with Ohio Living CHRO Dana Ullom-Vucelich and how her firm has seen incredible value from more engaged staff.

Additionally, Forbes reports that in hospitals, teams with more engaged employees lead to fewer readmissions, increasing patient satisfaction scores. Improvements in employee engagement can lead to higher retention. It’s important to note that while each organization may be different, there is always value in creating a positive, engaging workplace for employees.

While there may be some generational differences in workplace preferences, most people want to learn, grow, use their strengths and be recognized and appreciated for their efforts. Finance leaders that can invest in programs that support that will likely see the value that an engaged workforce can deliver to the bottom line.

I originally published this piece on the ADP blog: https://www.adp.com/spark/articles/2018/12/what-does-it-look-like-to-invest-in-all-4-generations-of-employees.aspx

“Parts of this article are brought to you by IG1 Communications via Presscast.io“.

Does #HR care more about employees or protecting the company? [Reader Question]

I love answering questions from readers, because they encourage me to explore topics I might otherwise not touch on, such as today’s discussion. Have a question of your own? Share it and I’ll try to work it into the schedule!

Does HR care more about the employees or protecting the company?

HR’s Primary Role

When someone is hired into the HR profession, their primary role is to support the “people” functions of the company, such as hiring, training, and retaining employees. It’s funny if you think about that being the primary responsibility set, because we know that managers select candidates, often recommend workers for development, and are the reason that 80-90% of workers leave the organization, Regardless, that’s our job: tie the business objectives with the people process objectives to the degree we can.  Continue reading

employee engagement performance

Here’s How An Engaged Company Outperforms Others by Nearly 150 Percent

Employees are more disengaged than ever, and the statistics on employee engagement only serve to further the narrative. Gallup reports that more than half of employees (51 percent) say they’re actively looking for a different job or watching for opportunities. Nearly 26 percent of the U.S. workforce is going to change jobs this year, and these are typically the most highly skilled and motivated employees.

Organizations need to fully understand just how critical engagement is to success. Gallup shows that organizations with a highly engaged workforce outperform peers by 147 percent in earnings per share. And the cost of rehiring and retraining replacement workers has been well-documented.

So why, in this enlightened age, would any organization not prioritize employee engagement?

The Compliance-Engagement Balancing Act

Continue reading

employee surveys

Stop! Do You Really Need Another Employee Survey?

At a recent event I had the chance to speak with several HR leaders about their challenges, issues, and problems. Inevitably when I would ask them how they planned to follow up or dig into the issues, they mentioned the same thing: an employee survey.

employee surveysBut is that the right avenue for gathering information? Are there times when surveys might not be the best way to gather intelligence on what’s happening in the business?

Limitations of Surveys and Survey Alternatives

When you’re gathering data from people, surveys are one of the most cost-effective methods for getting a lot of responses from a lot of people in a relatively short time. But there are a couple of issues with surveys. The first is response bias. This concept simply means people respond differently to questions than they might otherwise. Answers may be skewed purposefully to make the responder feel better. Alternatively, responses may be skewed if the person perceives the question differently than another individual. For example, how would you respond to this question?

On a scale from one to five, how happy are you at work? Continue reading

How to Radically Change Your Performance Management Practice [Podcast]

autumn speharIn today’s episode of We’re Only Human, I talk with Autumn Spehar, HR Director at Stout Advisory, about how her company made a radical change in its approach to performance management. We also talk about how it’s working out one year later and the key lessons learned.

Check out the show below:

Show Notes

Performance management is one of the most hated HR systems in existence. Yet virtually every employer has a need to measure performance, set goals, and give feedback. So, what’s the right balance between a system that meets the needs of business leaders and one that meets the needs of the employees?

In today’s discussion with Autumn Spehar of Stout Advisory, Ben delves deep into this question by asking Autumn to describe her company’s transition from annual, paper-based performance management to a technology-enabled approach utilizing continuous feedback, real-time recognition, frequent check-ins, and more. This conversation is more than theory–it’s based on a year of practice in using the system, including the ups and downs that any company might face in this kind of transition.

Listeners to this episode will not only get to hear about Stout’s new outlook on performance, but they will be treated to some insightful commentary about the connections between culture, behavior change, and other elements that some of the “headlines” on performance management seem to miss. If you’re in charge of performance management at your company or you think your system could use a refresh, this is the episode for you!

The Secret to Alienating Your Employees Over Time

I recently learned a great strategy that I can’t wait to share with you.

Employee: Hey Bob. I know you are busy. I just have a few quick questions. A few of us came up with this really great idea for the party.

HR: No.

Employee: Um, well, okay. So, Jim needs me to help him with this thing…

HR: No.

Employee: All right, then, just one more question…

HR: No.

Employee: Come on, you didn’t even give me a chance!

HR: (Smiles gleefully)

———

Let me tell you the secret to human resources: always say no. Whatever people want, just flat out turn them down. The great thing is that pretty soon, you can train them to stop asking for anything and settle for whatever you want to leave them with. They’ll stop bothering you and just get to work.

Clever, huh? Now you, too, can implement this kind of approach to human resources and make your stand for what you believe in.

News flash: if this sounds even remotely appealing to you, you suck and need to get out of HR.

This post was inspired by a recent conversation with an HR leader that was trying to help an employee with a major insurance crisis to cover his critically ill child. The response from one of her peers in HR? “It’s not our job to take care of them.” Ugh. Yes, we’re business leaders, but we’re also people too, darn it. Take care of your people and they’ll take care of you. Disregard, dismiss, or demean them and you will lose the best chance you have at being competitive in the marketplace.

Why is that so hard for some people to grasp?