Tag Archives: Employee Engagement

Mistrust and the Disengaged Workforce

Let’s start off with a story. And just as a heads up, it’s not necessarily a happy one.

Since 2009, Interaction Associates, a consulting firm based in Boston that advises on human resources and company leadership, has run a survey that measures how much employees trust the leaders who run their businesses. As of this year, the percentage of respondents who said they see their bosses as collaborative and trustworthy is at an all-time low.

On the broad questions, only 27% of respondents said they have a “high level of trust in management and the organization.” That’s down from 39% three years ago. When asked whether their organization has effective leadership, only 31% said yes, down from 50% in 2009. On the question of whether they see their organization as highly collaborative, only 32% said yes, down from 41% in 2009. Source

Okay. Stop for a second. Digest those numbers for a second.

Now take a look around the office. Odds are at least two out of every ten employees feels like they have some reason to mistrust the organization’s leadership. Ouch.

So what does that say for employee engagement? I think we both know where that’s going to fall. Another interesting survey takes the conversation further into engagement territory.

65% of workers would choose a better boss over a raise (Source)

Let’s ignore the “raise” comment and focus just on the numbers. Two-thirds of employees want a different boss. They not only want a different one, they want a better one.

It’s difficult to quantify that desire, but I think it’s something we as HR professionals need to be thinking about. People leave managers, not companies. Here are six solid HR tips for you to pass on to your managers.

Employee trust and engagement video

(subscribers click here to view)

Must-read follow up resources

I read two great articles that got my brain jump started. Here they are if you’d like to check them out as well.

  1. The data-loving China Gorman gives us her thoughts here.
  2. Here’s another great follow up resource from the inimitable Jennifer V. Miller.


Everybody’s Business (Book Review)

Everybody’s Business by Dr. Marta Wilson

Engagement is hard. If it was easy, there wouldn’t be dozens of books, webinars, and consultants on the subject. In the book Everybody’s Business: Engaging Your Total Enterprise to Boost Quality, Speed, Savings, and Innovation, the author takes us through some of the concepts and strategies for engaging employees and helping them to understand and grow the business. Each chapter concludes with an interview transcript featuring an expert on the various topics, so you get a well-rounded view of the problems and solutions presented here.

Everybody's Business - Marta WilsonWhat I liked

  • Your organization’s integrity is never stronger than the least ethical person.
  • This book is all about taking small steps with a big impact. They use Neil Armstrong’s “small step” onto the surface of the moon as an example while clarifying the fact that isn’t rarely as simple as a step; it normally involves pre-work and a strong foundation that allows for taking small, yet powerful, steps for your organization. 
  • At one time the following list was an list of “must have” executive/leadership characteristics. Now they are “everybody” characteristics: long term view, big picture mentality, delegation, motivation, resourcefulness, etc.
  • Want to make change across organizational silos? Start building the connections now before you need to leverage them for those major change initiatives.
  • Powerful quote: “There’s power in [even just] one person, so be sure that everybody can be poised to make a difference when there’s a difference to be made.”
  • One key role of a leader is to ensure that connections exist among their staff. Allowing staff to operate purely independent of each other means that the leader will always be the bottleneck on the group’s success. Facilitate connections and then step back to watch them succeed.

Wrap up

I would recommend this book for leaders looking at ways to get their people on the same page. This book contains a fair amount of theoretical concepts, but the contributors also look at some real-life examples of how these ideas play out. This would be a valuable tool for understanding how each individual person can contribute to an organization’s long-term success. If you’re interested, click here to get your copy of the book.

Click here for other book reviews.

Greenleaf Publishing provided this review copy.

All In (Book Review)

all in by adrian gostick and chester elton

All In by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

All In by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton-A book about culture, belief, and leadership

When I stopped by the Snagajob booth at the SHRM conference this summer, I was lucky enough to receive a copy of All In (How the best managers create a culture of belief and drive big results) (here on Amazon). I knew it would be a great book, and these tried and true authors didn’t let me down.

A few high points

  • Managers matter: The authors mention a very interesting red/green experiment that still rolls around in my mind when I’m thinking about management/leadership topics to write on. They mapped out their departments using green, yellow, or red. Green teams were higher than average in productivity, profitability, etc. Red were just the opposite and were especially poor in the area of turnover. So the company decided to experiment by moving some “green” managers to “red” areas and vice versa to see the results. Here’s a direct quote, “In every single case, no matter the background or expertise of the manager, within a year the red departments were green and green departments were red. It was the manager who made the difference.” Wow! Continue reading

Handling Disrespect at Work-The Respect Effect (Book Review)

How to teach managers and teams about disrespect at work

Recently I received a copy of The Respect Effect to review. This post is less of a book review and more of a discussion about one specific idea I found in the book, but it’s been a good read and I definitely have some good notes for my next manager’s meeting. 

How does Zappos handle issues with disrespect in the workplace?

“If it [the issue of disrespect] cannot be successfully handled within the workgroup, we fire them.”
Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com

I’ve been thinking about this ever since I read it a few weeks ago. It’s not only about not tolerating disrespect within the workplace setting. It also presents an idea that warrants some thought. Continue reading

Employee Financial Wellness

employee financial stressIf employee financial wellness is not on your radar, it should be. The level of employee stress and the resulting business impact caused by this widespread issue can’t be ignored. Some studies indicate that up to 1/4 of your employee population is dealing with serious financial issues.

In fact, Financial Finesse\’s most recent research on the trends of employee financial issues indicated that nearly 21 percent of employees reported “high” or “overwhelming” levels of financial stress. With financial problems being cited as one of the leading causes of stress in America, today\’s workplace is greatly affected by employees who are experiencing financial problems.

The hidden victims

One issue that many don’t realize is that this affects people like our military pretty heavily. Having recurring or serious financial difficulties makes it more difficult for soldiers to maintain a security clearance (financial problems make you a target for foreign government intelligence). In fact, soldiers can be declared unfit for duty if they are unable to resolve the financial issues they have. Imagine losing your job due to a few poor financial mistakes, and you realize how serious this is.

What you can do about it Continue reading

How to Create a New Hire Welcome Letter

new hire welcome letter

Have you ever wondered how to send a new hire welcome letter to get the employment relationship started on the right foot? I started sending a letter to new hires last year, and I’ve tweaked it over time to cover more questions, beef up explanations, and pretty much share as much information as I possibly can with our new employees. I’ve included my version below, so if you’re considering adding this into your new hire process, feel free to borrow/use some of this. (If you want more help with onboarding and new hire orientation, check out the free new hire orientation eBook!)

The Pinnacle new hire welcome letter

Welcome, [Name]!

We are excited about your first day with Pinnacle. Be forewarned, you’ll have a lot of information thrown at you on the first day, and it probably won’t slow down for a while. A piece of advice: take notes!

We use the phrase “drinking from a fire hose” around here sometimes, and it’s an apt description for the pace of the work we do. Don’t let that worry you, though. Along with that work comes an amazing manager, a supportive team, and a group of leaders that really does care about you and your work.

We’re different from other companies. Other companies say that, but at Pinnacle, it’s true. We are just over four years old and fairly small (about 70 employees at this time). We are growing quickly, and that is as a direct result of our reputation for doing great work. We aren’t a 5,000 person company with dozens of locations. You aren’t a faceless number to us. We treat our people like adults, because you deserve that. We’re a small business doing big things (or “small, but mighty” as we like to put it!).

You have a lot of questions as the resident newbie. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there and it’s understandable. Here are some of the most common questions and answers to get you started. If you have something that isn’t answered below, your supervisor would be happy to assist!

A few things you need to know about your work

  • What do I wear? We have a casual atmosphere in the office. It’s business casual most days, and many of us wear jeans on Fridays. Remember, we’re more focused on the work than your clothes!
  • Who do I ask questions of if my manager isn’t present? We support each other, so you can get questions answered by anyone. The most common questions can go to [insert operations team description/focus areas].
  • What do I do if I have a computer problem? Send an email to [support address] describing your problem to open a trouble ticket.
  • What are the standard working hours? With your key, you can get into the building 24/7 if necessary. Some of the engineers work 6:00-3:00. Some of the operations staff work 8:00-5:00. Find something that is comfortable with you and communicate that with your supervisor.
  • Will I have to work overtime? Evenings? Weekends? At times we will have flurries of activity that require some overtime, but it’s not a regular/weekly occurrence.
  • Will I have to travel? How often? Who makes travel arrangements? Travel isn’t something we do often, but it’s not unheard of. If you are required to travel, speak with your manager about who is responsible for making your travel arrangements.
  • How flexible are my work hours? One thing we appreciate at Pinnacle is the person you are outside of work. We work hard to be flexible when work and life events conflict. During those times stay in close communication with your manager if possible. It’s more about fitting your work into your life than the other way around.

A few things you need to know about your department

  • Who will I be working with? First and foremost, you’ll be working closely with your manager. They will be able to answer most of your questions or point you in the right direction if they cannot. The rest of your team will be [short description of department].
  • Who are the “movers and shakers” in the organization and how can I become one of them? The neat part about Pinnacle is that we all have our unique roles and responsibilities, and we all have a time and place for to be the “mover and shaker.” Doing your work well is a surefire way to establish your credibility as a foundation for future professional and organizational growth.
  • If I have ideas, suggestions or concerns, what channels exist to share those concerns? If it’s an idea, we have a Big Ideas database on SharePoint that you can use as an outlet for sharing new, innovative ideas. If you have concerns, your manager or theirs will be the next likely step.
  • How do people prefer to communicate in this organization? (Face to face? By e-mail? Phone?) Depending on the topic, we use all of these methods. Inside the office, we use Windows Messenger chats for quick back-and-forth conversations. Because we have locations across the US, we use email to do much of our official communication. Phones are perfectly acceptable when you need a quick answer and email isn’t fast enough. And face-to-face conversations (or “huddles,” as we like to call them) are key to solving many of the issues we run into on a daily basis.

A few things you need to know about Pinnacle

  • Do we have a strategic plan? What does it entail? The strategic goals of the organization are developed and shared on an annual basis by the Leadership Team. The corporate goals/strategy for 2012:
    • [Goal A, B, C, Etc.]
  • What are employees rewarded and recognized for? As previously stated, doing your work well is the best way to go. It sounds simplistic, but many organizations don’t have the transparency and flatness of Pinnacle. You interact on a daily basis with everyone from the CEO to a customer site lead to the engineers at corporate. They can tell when you are doing your work well, and good news like that travels quickly.



Again, this is just one piece of a new hire process that touches on our culture in multiple ways. Anyone else use a similar tool with new hires? Care to share what sort of content you cover in this “welcome” document? Here’s an example of one of the welcome letters to new employees that has stuck in my mind for years.

HR to Employee Ratio

HR to Employee Ratio-more than just a number

Sometimes you have to stop and wonder where common sense has gone. Companies are expecting more from their HR team than ever before, but according to data gathered by XpertHR, companies are increasing the number of employees relative to the number of HR professionals. This leads to a number of trickle-down effects, but the major one is forcing those human resources employees into a more administrative function. There’s no hands-on, friendly interaction. There’s no face-to-face discussion of what the company has to offer to you as an individual.

No, it’s just an ever-increasing spiral in an attempt to decrease costs and increase efficiency. While you’ll never meet someone who’s for increasing costs and lowering efficiency, that does come with its own baggage. Recent information from Gallup puts employee disengagement higher than 25%. I know that figure is determined by a number of factors, but if there’s one thing we can push for as HR professionals, it’s the desire for companies to treat their staff like people. They aren’t machines that run endlessly. They will lose motivation over time. They will resent being treated like just another number.

So do something about it.

If you work for a company with a ratio that stifles your ability to impact the organization, try to find out what it would take to get that lower. It may not be possible overnight, but maybe there are some more administrative tasks that can be handed off to an admin so you can focus on more strategic, high-impact HR practices.

I can still remember talking with a local HR pro at a SHRM chapter meeting about how they embed HR generalists into business units to keep the HR team close to the action. For more on this topic, check out Employee to HR Ratio (with a neat infographic!).

So, what’s the ratio in your organization? Is it too much, too little, or just right?