Going Beyond Employee Happiness: Why Activation Matters Most

Many business leaders today recognize that their employees are their key differentiator in today’s uber-competitive business environment. But what matters above all else today is not simply employee happiness, but employee activation. Joelle Kaufman of Dynamic Signal explains how the two can and should go hand in hand.

Many business leaders today recognize that their employees are their key differentiator in today’s uber-competitive business environment. Particularly right now, as job openings in the U.S. reach record highs, keeping employees happy has become an important imperative within the executive ranks.

However, while happiness is a noble and vital goal for a workforce, company leaders must ensure that the steps they’re taking to increase employee connectedness to a company go beyond simple happiness to align employee and company interests for the future. What matters above all else today is not simply employee happiness, but employee activation. The two can and should go hand in hand.

The Tricky Notion of Engagement
In Gallup’s “State of the American Workplace” report, the researchers wisely caution against judging the state of a company’s workforce based on the level of friendly chatter happening around the water cooler or—increasingly—on a company’s digital communication platforms. The report authors note, “Employees may feel connected to their team members, but if, among other challenges, they don’t know what’s expected of them (a basic need), don’t have the appropriate materials and equipment (a basic need), or are not able to do what they do best (an individual need), their affiliation with their team members is unlikely to have a positive impact on their performance. Instead, time spent with their peers may more closely resemble a gripe session than productive teamwork.”

Indeed, positive employee interactions are crucial for driving business results, but companies must be discerning when monitoring and measuring these interactions. Are the employees truly engaged with their work and the organization? Or are they merely engaged with their co-workers? It’s easy to confuse the two.

That’s where employee activation comes in. Activation goes beyond basic measures of employee satisfaction and interaction to identity workforce attributes that contribute meaningfully to business results. An activated employee is one who feels and acts with ownership over the company’s success. They are continuously trying to improve the company – with product, service improvements, customer experience improvements and by identifying opportunities to be more efficient. They are a gold mine of potential.

Why Activation Matters
Unfortunately, most U.S. employees today are not activated for the good of their companies. According to Gallup, only 21 percent of employees say their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work. The overall attitude toward jobs these days is, unfortunately, one of overwhelming indifference. And that matters greatly to the success of today’s companies. According to Gallup, companies whose employees are involved and committed to their work see the following benefits:

10 percent higher customer metrics
17 percent higher productivity
20 percent higher sales
21 percent higher profitability.

In short, the benefits of an activated workforce are quantifiable and significant. So how can businesses fuel activation among their teams?

How Leaders Build Activated Employees
Improving employee activation within a company’s workforce requires commitment to not only meeting employee needs, but also giving them the tools to interact and contribute meaningfully to solving a company’s challenges. Leaders of companies with the strongest employee activation focus on the following:

Designing and delivering an employee experience that is compelling and consistent with the employer’s brand. It’s important to walk the talk. If a company prides itself on its customer commitment, that commitment needs to extend to its own team members. This means not overwhelming them with unnecessary, unfocused communication and ensuring that employees have a way to provide feedback to management.

Taking employee engagement from a survey to an ongoing activity that improves performance. Survey results are useful. But if a company doesn’t act on what its employees are telling it, employee activation can actually take a step backward.

Approaching performance management in ways that motivate employees. Companies need to give team members a reason to succeed, as well as a clear path to success.

Offering benefits and perks that influence attraction and retention. Even the most activated employees need to know that their companies care enough to continue investing in them.

Enabling people to work successfully from locations besides the office. Flexibility is becoming the new expectation. A company’s systems must enable employees to remain meaningfully engaged in work, even when remote.

Constructing office environments that honor privacy while encouraging collaboration. Employees’ desire for flexibility extends to their physical spaces as well.

Improving clarity and communication for employees who work on multiple teams. The digital age has given rise to tools and means of increasing visibility into team operations. Make sure the platforms you’re using do more than enable digital water cooler talk. Look for ones where real work can happen.

Employee activation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Companies need to make a concerted effort to enable employees to meaningfully contribute to the success of their organizations. The question isn’t whether businesses can afford to implement such programs and tools. Quite simply, they can’t afford not to.

Source: https://www.hrtechnologist.com/articles/employee-engagement/going-beyond-employee-happiness-why-activation-matters-most/

Five Red Flags That It’s Time to Switch Jobs

Consider this your wakeup call.

The decision to up and leave a job isn’t an easy one. When you switch jobs, you uproot your schedule and take the risk that you’ll wind up less happy at your new gig than you were at your old one. But if any of the following apply to you, it’s a pretty sure sign that it’s time to get yourself employed elsewhere.

1. You find that you’re constantly counting down the hours
Many of us have periods where we get restless or unhappy on the job. But if you’re bored or miserable to the point where you find yourself actively counting down the hours till it’s time to leave each day, you’ve got a serious problem on your hands.

2. You get the Sunday night blues
Transitioning from the weekend and its glorious freedom to the work week isn’t easy. But if you find that you regularly get down or depressed on Sunday nights in anticipation of the five-day stretch that lies ahead, it’s a sign that your job is no longer the right fit.

3. You can’t remember the last time you worked on something new
When you’re hired to do a specific job, it’s natural to find that you do many of the same things repeatedly — especially if you’re good at them. But if it’s been months since a new task was incorporated into your routine, then it could be that you’re stuck in a serious rut and need to bust out of it. This especially holds true if you’ve repeatedly asked to try different things, only to have those requests ignored or flat-out denied.

4. You’re only in it for the money
There’s nothing wrong with having your paycheck be your No. 1 motivating factor on the job front. But if that’s the only positive thing you can say about your job, it may be time to look for something new — even if your salary is decent. In fact, a good 58% of employees who are happy with their jobs acknowledge that they’ve taken a pay cut to land a more fulfilling role.

5. Criticism no longer bothers you
It’s one thing to be good at accepting criticism, especially the kind that’s constructive in nature. But if not-so-stellar feedback from your manager or peers no longer bothers you, it could be because you’ve simply stopped caring. And if that’s the case, it’s a sure sign that your job is no longer the optimal one for you.

Some people who don’t like their jobs stay put because they’d rather contend with the evil they’re used to than face a world of unknowns. But if you’re not happy at work, it’s apt to impact your performance, and that, in turn, could put your employment status at risk. You’re therefore better off finding a more satisfying job — one that actually interests you, makes you feel good about the work you do, and doesn’t resign you to a daily existence where you tick off the minutes till you’re allowed to pack up and go home.

Source: https://www.fool.com/careers/2019/03/27/5-red-flags-that-its-time-to-switch-jobs.aspx

Missed the Boat on Your Job Search Earlier This Year? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Worry.

January and February are usually popular times for workers to search for jobs, and popular times for companies to get aggressive on the hiring front. The reason? A new year often means new budgets for employers, so companies often ramp up their recruiting once they have the money available to onboard talent.

If you’re hoping to get a new job this year but have yet to start looking, you may be wondering whether you missed your prime opportunity. Well, here’s some good news: There are plenty of companies out there with open slots to fill. In fact, as of early March 2019, 40% of employers said they plan to hire full-time, permanent employees this year, according to job site CareerBuilder. Meanwhile, 47% plan to bring in part-time employees. Not only that, but 51% of hiring managers say they’re planning to recruit talent throughout the year, which means you still have plenty of time to get yourself hired.

That said, if you do want a new job, you’ll need to take steps to make yourself the strongest candidate possible. Here’s how.

1. Refine your resume
Your resume is the first thing potential employers might associate with your application, and as such, it really needs to be perfect. Specifically, that document must be clean-looking and free of grammatical errors. It also needs to be concise, focused, and loaded with action items that paint a clear picture of the skills you bring to the table. If you’re not confident in your resume, consider using a service to polish yours up. That one-time fee could be the ticket to a better job than the one you have now.

2. Brush up on your interview skills
Presenting a solid resume is only half the battle when applying to jobs. Once that document gets you in the door, you’ll need to really ace that interview if you want a shot at getting hired. To this end, read up on the company and industry you’re applying to so that you come in sounding like you’ve done your homework. At the same time, familiarize yourself with some common interview questions (think: “What’s your greatest weakness?”) so you’re better equipped to answer them. Finally, if you know you tend to get nervous during in-person meetings, enlist the help of some friends and do a few trial runs. This will help you approach those interviews with more confidence.

3. Network aggressively
If you’re serious about finding a new job this year, don’t just spend time searching for one online. Rather, make an effort to expand your business network. Doing so might open the door to new opportunities you otherwise wouldn’t discover. Furthermore, it’s generally favorable to apply for an open position as a referral from someone internal rather than as a random candidate, so the more people you get to know, the greater your chances of finding someone who’s willing to vouch for you.

4. Understand what it is you want from a job
Knowing what you want from a job will help you better identify the right openings to pursue. If you’re convinced you want a new role this year but aren’t exactly sure where to look, consider working with a career counselor. He or she can help you narrow down your choices to make your job search more efficient, thereby saving you time and stress and helping you avoid a scenario where you’re repeatedly chasing the wrong opportunities.

With most of 2019 still ahead of us, it’s certainly not too late to land a new job this year. Focus on the points discussed here, and with any luck, your search will be a successful one.

Source: https://www.fool.com/careers/2019/03/28/missed-the-boat-on-your-job-search-earlier-this-ye.aspx

How to Tell if a Company’s Culture Is Real, or Just Lip Service

As company culture becomes increasingly important to job seekers, promises from employers like flexible work schedules and bottom-up management are becoming commonplace. Yet while these descriptions sound nice on paper, sustaining a positive environment in the office isn’t always easy. As a job seeker, how can you tell whether the assurances an employer makes about its company culture don’t stop at the job description?

By doing your research before you click “submit” on a job application or accept an offer, you can truly understand the work environment of a future employer and dodge any unwanted surprises before your first day.

1. Be critical of what a company promises
Check both the “mission and values” and “employee benefits” sections of company websites and see how much detail they provide. Companies with good benefits and strong values will take the time explain how they move forward with their aspirations and what, in particular, they offer to employees. For example, Patagonia doesn’t just call itself a sustainable company — job seekers can read in depth about the company’s investments in reducing its green footprint on its website. Corporate blogs are also great places to investigate company culture, as often those are where a company will go more in depth about how it executes its goals. On the other hand, if a company is vague and provides no game plan, then there’s a good chance it’s only talk.

2. See how the Glassdoor reviews stack up
While an employer can promise change, employees are ultimately going to be the best judges of their work environments. Reading Glassdoor reviews gives you insider access into the workplace so you can determine whether employer incentives actually come to fruition. See how often employees mention perks you’re interested in (e.g. parental benefits, PTO) and if employees have had uniform experiences.

If there’s little similarity between reviews, then it might be a red flag that the overall company culture isn’t quite what an employer has promised. For even more information, reach out to current or former employees via LinkedIn, or mutual connections to grab some coffee and chat about their experiences.

3. Look at external rankings
If companies are truly the cream of the crop for company culture, other organizations will validate them. Here at Glassdoor, we release an annual Best Places to Work list based on employee reviews. Other organizations provide rankings for more specific aspects of company culture. For example, the Corporate Equality Index from the Human Rights Campaign rates companies based on LGBTQ inclusivity in the workplace, and FertilityIQ advises job seekers on the employers with the best fertility benefits. Through external rankings, you can get an expert opinion on how a company’s culture really stacks up compared to the competition.

4. Ask the right questions in your interview
An interview can be the perfect place to learn more about culture from a direct source within the company. In order to get the answers you want, however, you have to be careful about how you phrase your questions. As Henry Goldbeck, president of Goldbeck Recruiting, notes, “If you are asking … about the culture, [recruiters] will know that and attempt to tell you what you want to hear.” Inquiries such as “How long have you been with the company?” or “What do people on the team that I’d be joining do for lunch every day?” give you insights into the office environment without triggering a recruiter’s automatic people-pleasing response.

5. Take a walk around the office
If you’re in later rounds of interviews, ask if you can have a tour of the office to see firsthand what a position at the company would look like. This will give you an opportunity to meet your potential team, get a peek at office amenities, and see how you like the work environment before you make any commitments.

Source: https://www.fool.com/careers/2019/03/14/how-to-tell-if-a-companys-culture-is-real-or-just.aspx

Is There a Missing Piece in Your Leadership Development Program?

Many of today’s leadership development programs are still built on a foundation of outdated assumptions about the role of 21st-century managers. Traditional approaches to management suggest that once people move into the management track, they are expected to delegate work and provide high-level guidance, direction, coordination, and oversight. Although these skills are important, many managers today will tell you their reality, out of necessity, is that they are more and more becoming “hands-on managers.” In addition to their management responsibilities, they are expected to continue to do a significant amount of professional work themselves.

Odds are you now have many hands-on managers in your organization. This is happening because today’s increasingly knowledge-driven, cost-competitive work world is changing the way management is done. Organizations can no longer afford to promote their best talent to the leadership ranks and then allow them to focus exclusively on being managers; their superior technical and functional skills, which typically take a long time to develop, are still very much needed for solving complex problems. And if they do not continue to do some hands-on work, they will no longer have the knowledge they need to inform their management decisions.

Does your leadership development program adequately address the needs of your hands-on managers? This does not mean debunking proven leadership theories or trashing existing leadership development programs. All managers still need to learn the basic strategies for the usual leadership topics, including goal setting, addressing conflict, communicating effectively, unleashing motivation, and providing feedback.

But it is not effective to train hands-on managers as if they are traditional managers. Many of the hands-on managers we coach and train across a multitude of industries tell us they are frustrated with current leadership training, mostly because the context of the training assumes that they will let go of and delegate the work they used to do. If they still spend time doing that work themselves, they are accused of being unable to let go, of being poor delegators, or worse, of being ineffective managers.

The Missing Link: Engage Hands-On Managers in Developing Talent
Your hands-on managers could be your best partners in workforce development. Working alongside their direct reports, your hands-on managers are well positioned to encourage on-the-job learning. Particularly concerning, however, is that only 20 percent of the talent development professionals who were interviewed for a 2018 ATD Emerging Talent whitepaper reported that their organization was “highly effective at developing specific skills in emerging talent to meet immediate needs.”

Rita Murray, CEO of Performance Consulting LLC, notes in this report that “emerging talent who we think want a lot of online and self-directed training . . . (also) crave interaction and real-time feedback.”

Who better to give this real-time feedback and on-the-job interaction than your hands-on managers? But all too often, when hands-on managers get involved in doing work, they behave in ways that limit their team’s learning. They jump into the fray heads down and plow through the work like the individual contributors they used to be. Or worse, they become micromanagers who encourage boss dependence.

What’s needed is for these hands-on managers to shift their thinking about workforce development to a mindset that says, “I can do work and do it in ways that accelerate learning for my team members.” And to do this, they need to become adept at what we call “situational doing.”

Hands-on managers need to know when and how to engage in situational doing. In our book, Becoming a Can-Do Leader: A Guide for the Busy Manager (ATD Press 2016), we note that a very useful addition to traditional leadership programs is providing training in situational doing, which means:

Using a protocol that helps hands-on managers decide whether it is situationally appropriate for them to take on a task they might have delegated.
Learning to use the “think TP&L” mantra to remind them to consider the task, people, and learning (TP&L) issues that might need to be addressed while they are situationally doing.
Coming up next: Want to learn more about situational doing and other key issues hands-on managers face that are not typically addressed in traditional leadership training? Our next month’s can-do leadership blog will focus on what you can do to help your hands-on managers master strategies that will enable them to do and delegate work in ways that further their leadership agenda and develop the capabilities and capacity your organization needs.

Source: https://www.td.org/insights/the-true-measure-of-trust

Study: CEO support is key to closing the gender gap

Dive Brief:
A new research report by the Women Tech Council (WTC) examined the gender gap in the tech industry and identified executive engagement, more women in leadership roles, and formal diversity and inclusion (D&I) programs as among the practices that are helping to close it. WTC is a national organization based in Silicon Slopes that focuses on the economic impact of women in technology and increasing their numbers in the industry.
The four practices, which the WTC said are drivers of talent retention and high performance, include: 1) active CEO, executive and leadership support; 2) women currently in leadership roles; 3) community participation in best practices involving culture and inclusion; and 4) formal D&I groups.
“In order for a company to attract and retain the best talent while driving innovation and bottom-line success, inclusive cultures must be rooted in the organization’s DNA,” WTC President Cydni Tetro said in a statement. “By moving beyond single-factored solutions to deeper measures that anchor gender inclusivity firmly into an organization, the practices outlined in this research can help increase the number of women across the technology sector today and ensure that diverse workforces are sustained in the future.”

Dive Insight:
The WTC identifies ways to close the gender tech gap, but these practices are applicable across industries and disciplines. Without CEO and senior management’s buy-in, change that would bring equal opportunity for female workers is less sustainable. Pressure on organizations for positive workplace reform often comes from employees, sometimes through walkouts, strikes or even lawsuits, but leadership’s support is what drives long-term transformation.

A culture of inclusion, led and built by HR, is critical in work environments, especially those that struggle with attracting, hiring and retaining women in leadership roles. A new IBM Institute for Business Value study found that women make up just 18% of leadership positions — even though they comprise more than 51% of the world’s population. The report further projects that, at this current rate of change, the gender gap between women and men won’t close before 2073.

Employers can’t afford to wait more than 50 years to close the gender leadership gap. They stand to lose out on the benefits that a diverse workforce brings organizations, the most notable including a higher rate of return on investment and increases in revenue share. Employers can commit to D&I initiatives now and adopt measures to remove barriers to women’s progress. Leaders tend to underestimate the barriers in recruiting, retaining and advancing women and minority employees; thinking strategically and listening to those groups can help a company make meaningful changes.

Source: https://www.hrdive.com/news/study-ceo-support-is-key-to-closing-the-gender-gap/550271/

HR professionals feel most valued at work

People working in human resources, education and finance feel the most valued by their employers, according to research.

The poll of 1,002 employees working in UK organisations with more than 500 staff revealed that 12.0% felt very valued and 50.5% valued, while 28.7% believed they were unvalued and 8.8% very unvalued

Three-quarters (75.0%) of HR professionals said they feel valued or very valued, compared to 73.2% of staff in education, and 68.4% in finance.

Regionally, those working in London (42.6%) and the Northwest (41.1%) felt most unvalued, whereas those working in the home counties (72.7%) and the Midlands feel the most valued (67%).

The survey, conducted by Censuswide on behalf of benefits provider Xexec, also found that 35.5% would be unlikely to recommend their current employer to friends and that 46.3% of employees believe that employers aren’t interested in their physical and mental wellbeing.

More people believed their employer took an “active interest” in the mental wellbeing (46.9%) than their physical wellbeing (36.0%).

Jamie King, head of global reward at Xexec, said: “Engaging and motivating staff should be a priority for any business but particularly so for larger employers for whom employee retention is a major concern.

“What’s clear from these results is that big businesses need to do more to make their employees feel valued and recognised. While there’s a lot of interest in topics such as employee recognition and wellbeing, over a third of employers are falling short in this respect.”

Asked if their employer had a reward and recognition scheme, 58.9% said they did, 36.0% said they did not, and the remainder (5.1%) did not know.

Respondents were also asked the three most important things they look for in a new job. Unsurprisingly salary scored highest (74.1%), followed by work-life balance (43.7%) and location (41.8%).

King added: “While annual bonuses and financial rewards are, unsurprisingly, very popular among employees, what’s clear is that employers need to go above and beyond these to really instil loyalty and genuine engagement among their staff.

“Factors such as work-life balance, flexible working, employee benefits and making employees feel recognised are hugely cost effective when compared with financial rewards and, as we can see, are highly valued by employees.”

Source: https://www.personneltoday.com/hr/hr-professionals-feel-most-valued-at-work/

A continuous-learning mindset could reshape training tech

One of the defining characteristics of technology is its ability to disrupt, and learning technology is no different. As 2019 wears on, technology is making its indelible stamp on workplace learning and development, presenting both challenges and solutions.

Trends driving tech adoption
One of the hot topics of the day is the tech disruption happening in the workforce, requiring employers to upskill and reskill workers. The learning and development mindset is re-emerging, especially in the corporate space, but workers want it to be done in a modern way and not just for compliance, Jeremy Auger, chief strategy officer at D2L told HR Dive.

He said he’s also seeing a demand for personalization from a generation that has had nearly everything tailored for them from the day they were born, prompting similar demands in workforce training and development.

But nowadays, technology may hinder the growth of the incoming workforce. Employers are concerned about the growing gap in soft skills found in employees fresh out of school, Auger noted. To assist, tech providers are building tools centered around social assessment to help with coaching, feedback and mentorship.

In other words, employers view tech as both part of the problem and part of the solution. What is needed is more agile, personalized and continuous learning — something hard to do in the traditional way, Auger said.

“Everyone is having to reskill themselves, at a micro level because new apps are always coming at you and on a major level where you might have to reskill around a set of skills like data analysis or analytics,” Christa Manning, director, HCM innovation at Ultimate Software, told HR Dive.

“Just-in-time learning” remains a key approach, enabled by new technology. In many cases, this involves a quick video walkthrough where a user follows embedded tutorials inside an app that shows how to do something versus providing training on how to do it, Manning explained.

What does implementation look like?
As these trends drive tech adoption, the old compliance model of training — simply checking off the “completed” box — is falling away. Employers are looking for a real return on their investment, Auger said; they expect to see employees emerge with new skill sets.

In practice, perhaps sales needs to improve their pitches, Auger offered as an example. An employee might use a video platform to record his or her pitch, share it with bosses and peers and receive time-stamped feedback. Employers view that kind of social assessment as a great way to provide coaching and feedback, he said.

When looking for a learning solution, it’s important that employers find something both modern and personalized, Auger said. Similarly, the ideal solution has shown to already work for others and scale easily, he said.

Source: https://www.hrdive.com/news/a-continuous-learning-mindset-could-reshape-training-tech/549891/

Five Mistakes that Hinder Employee Engagement

It’s not news that employers care about engagement, while employees care about happiness. While the two may seem like different subjects, they are very closely related. The more engaged employees are, the happier they are, which is what most organizations vie for anyway. If you’re looking to ramp up your employee engagement, here are some common but not-so-evident mistakes which employers make that you want to avoid.

Playing the Waiting Game

Many organizations take the easiest route or a standard non-specific approach with their employee engagement strategy. All they’re looking for is quick results. You can’t blame them; they’re probably coming from a place of misguided advice, where some rewards and recognition experts had them believe that a simple plug-and-play program would drastically transform their workforce. Then there are engagement strategies that are a product of the waiting game. Mostly led by business leaders who wait until the last moment or dire situations to have engagement strategies come play the superhero and upturn distressing employee satisfaction, motivation or retention numbers.

If you’re approaching employee engagement programs as a quick fix or damage control solution then you’re doing it all wrong. The ‘cross the bridge when we come to it’ approach doesn’t work with employee engagement because engaging employees is not as simple as the flick of a switch. Employee engagement, in fact, goes by the principle of readiness. This means it works best when leaders prepare for it, much before they need it. Knowing how to engage employees requires a careful understanding of what employees value in your organization and amplifying it. You also

want to find out what is lacking in your organization and making it available. By making step changes that are tuned into the current state of your workforce, you can inch toward where you would want them to be in the future.

Leadership Lost in Translation

There’s no better way to say it – engagement gets lost in translation; a great many organizations with great leadership vision and culture ideas don’t see it translate to a great workplace simply because the essence is lost, watered down or misinterpreted as it passes down the levels of hierarchy. And the same goes with engagement programs that start off on a promising note with the right ideas and objectives, but post the initial fanfare of the launch, the reigns are handed down to program managers to only focus on transactions and execution There is little direction offered and a weak process to review progress. The result – the program shows less than impressive results and the strategic vision is lost in translation.

A successful engagement program needs the leadership team to be actively involved, whether it is in educating program managers on the greater vision or guiding them on executional aspects and taking strategic calls.

Managers Winging It

A big chunk of operational responsibilities in employee engagement programs are given to line and functional managers. Who else knows team members better, right? While it’s good to trust managers to do their job well, where organizations go wrong is in assuming that managers will figure it all out by themselves, wing it and bring the program goals to fruition with ease. The problem with offering managers complete flexibility and to take the ‘do as you please’ approach is that most of them are probably not prepared for it or do not know how to go about it, while some others may be disinterested or unfair in their proceedings. This can end up doing more damage than good to your workplace engagement. So how do you go about it? Equipping your managers with the right means and measures to recognize and motivate their teams is the first step. Remember, they are facilitators of the program and it’s your job to offer them the right engagement framework. The next step is to train managers on when/how they should be engaging their team members. While you’re on it, watch out for dysfunctional managers, we’ve all heard of and been around. Statistics show that 28-36 percent of employees work with leaders who have a dysfunctional approach. It’s important that leaders redress such dysfunctional behaviour in managers at the earliest and ensure that they are using their R&R budgets impartially and effectively, at the right moments. How you groom your managers can make or break your engagement program.

Building on Idiosyncratic Biases

At the start of any employee engagement program, one of the main focus points is going to be defining pain points that are getting in the way of employee engagement or building a happy workplace and addressing it through the program. The truth is that there are many factors that affect employee engagement and workplace happiness, as experiences and opinions of employees vary. The mistake that many program managers – who are also employees at the workplace make, is in defining the program goals based on just their personal observations and insights. And there are some who totally believe that their program is right on track, as they’ve chalked out program objectives based on internal survey results. But how telling are these employee surveys really? Statistics show that only one-third of employees participate and actually give candid answers in these surveys. More often than not employees aren’t brutally honest in these surveys, and you’ll find program managers who are relying on just these results solving the wrong problem, as their employees are perhaps looking for something else altogether.

Survey results aren’t everything, it takes good research – whether it’s sit-down one-on-one meetings or group discussions or simply what you pick up at casual watercooler conversations with employees to understand what is really affecting their morale, expectations and engagement. HR managers need to empathize with their audience and broaden their research to truly understand what employees need, and the direction that their program should take. Of course, we’re not saying write off your survey results entirely; you want to factor them in while developing your program – they offer a great starting point on where to look.

Rewards curated to engage workforce are another territory that is riddled with idiosyncratic biases. Program managers look at their personal preference and likings while curating rewards for employees. They look for convenience rather than effectiveness. The result – rewards fail their very purpose, and don’t do enough to engage, let alone motivate employees to earn it. Instead, if you focus on rewards that are effective, promote re-consumption and are memorable long after, now there’s a winning impactful rewards program that keeps employees engaged now and in the future.

ROI Gone Astray

Often, you’ll see employee engagement programs launched with great enthusiasm, but the same enthusiasm doesn’t carry through during the course of the rest of the program. Many organizations look at employee engagement programs as merely checking things off the list of what great workplaces do, and expect the program to fuel itself once launched and keep engagement running in the workplace. Launching engagement programs and laying down the initial strategy is merely 10-20 percent of the initiative; measuring, modifying and sustaining it are the better part of the efforts needed to sustain a successful initiative.

If you feel your engagement program is not having the desired impact, it’s time to take a look at which of your goals and objectives are not being realized, and why. Most organizations do not have dedicated people to measure the impact and take accountability for program goals, due to which it falls through. Little or lack of communication also affects engagement success. What you want is for HR professionals in the organization to tie the program goals with their KPIs, measure participation and impact, and communicate with participants at regular intervals to have it on track. That’s when you know you are getting the results you want.

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/330099

HR Loyalty: Management or Employee?

” It feels like Human Resources acts first and foremost to protect the company and management, not employees. How would you respond to this?”

Human Resources professionals are often asked this question, and usually during the most adversarial of conversations. Employee relations, an important team within HR, is typically assigned responsibility for conducting investigations – on behalf of the company and in response to employees’ concerns. The source of the complaint while an important starting point is not central to the “who comes first, company or employee”. Both play a central role with distinct focus and different objectives.

Companies are obligated (in some cases by law) to conduct investigations and take appropriate action when advised of a potentially “unacceptable situation”. The Company (usually through HR team members) seeks to understand the situation, the roles played by various “actors” and determine if remedies need to be applied. It is important to remember, federal and/or state employment law can obligate employers to dig and dig thoroughly into each case with sharp focus on securing the facts, along with their implications.

Employees bringing complaints to HR should expect a fair and impartial investigation into the situation. This does not however, mean that the investigation automatically nor inherently leans toward the employee’s perspective. Remember, HR’s obligation is to review the charges without bias, gathering all the facts. The investigation team is charged to listen, learn, discover, and then act –taking whatever action is required.

For example, a corporate university “Dean” was reported by two faculty members for “not fulfilling the Dean’s role’s”. They needed the Dean to be scheduling programs, encouraging enrollment and managing students’ expectations, while encouraging the instructors. According to the faculty making the complaint, their boss was failing on all counts. The faculty wanted “action” and they didn’t want the Dean’s supposed poor performance to reflect poorly on their work.

The Employee Relations team reviewed class schedules, enrollment records – both current and historical, along with student reviews. It was clear there were performance gaps on the part of the Dean and the two faculty members making the initial complaint.

The investigator scheduled a conversation with the Dean and asked specifically about the decline in course offerings along with concomitant reduced enrollment. His response was that he was dealing with a couple of “problematic professors” and as a result his time for administration was limited.

Then the investigators examined faculty’s evaluations and found that the Dean’s assertions about substandard performance in the classroom was accurate. The College had always enjoyed an exceptional record of course evaluations and these two individuals’ class evals were, as the Dean described, instructing well below acceptable levels.

You may be thinking, well the facts let the Dean off the hook, and it looks like the faculty making the allegations were in line for “trouble”. Neither was accurate. The Dean was not fulfilling the role nor delivering to the key performance metrics (KPM) which measured his work. The University President spoke with the Dean and responding that while the Dean might have had reason to be falling behind he had not informed his leader. The President reiterated that the Dean was obligated to fulfill his obligations, including managing faculty member performance AND insure that she was informed on all issues with which he might struggle.

The faculty members’ whose student evaluations fell far short of expectations were thoroughly chagrined that the Employee Relations team dug into their class evaluations. They asserted that their complaint was with the Dean – no complaint had been lodged against their role as instructors. The investigators were clear that their charter required them to look at all aspects of the issue, including their own performance.

The University President called a meeting with the Dean and the two-faculty members to discuss how to remedy all aspects of the situation. She clarified expectations for the three, reviewed the data gathered and asked for the team to collaborate on rectifying the unacceptable aspects of the situation. All three were advised that their performance would be reviewed again within the next 90 days to insure enough progress was being made.

The faculty members then sought an audience with the Employee Relations’ investigators. They were unhappy that their performance was also called into question and expressed regret for even raising the issue. They asserted that they got in more trouble for raising the issue, than the Dean suffered for his ”poor performance”. They also suggested that the Company’s University might be retaliating for their allegations. Human Resources assured the faculty, they were serving all parties accordingly.

This is a classic example of the two-sided coin of Human Resources: on one side is the obligation to care for the business and on the other side, caring for employees. Is this confusing? No, not really … if all stakeholders don’t focus on caring for the business, the potential exists for the company to fail. Companies who fail cannot employ anyone. So, both sides of this coin are the responsibility of Human Resources.

It’s important to remember that Human Resources serves many “masters”, especially their two-sided coin, which defines their work. It’s important to recognize that HR serves – the greater good (remember that two-sided coin), prevailing laws, and the need for impartial review. Neither the company nor employees should “come first”. This may not be re-assuring yet accurately reflects the burden our HR colleagues carry.

Source: https://www.hrexchangenetwork.com/hr-talent-management/columns/hr-loyalty-management-or-employee