10 employee engagement strategies to create a dream team

Employee engagement – The basics
When you walk into your office every morning and see everyone happily going about their tasks, it’s easy to be led into thinking, “This is an engaged team!”.

However, happiness is only a small part of the employee engagement mix. A sense of purpose, good health, personal relationships, well-defined roles and communication channels are just some of the other elements that contribute towards an environment where employees are truly engaged.

But before we proceed, let’s answer the most obvious question:

What is employee engagement?
William Kahn, a Boston professor also referred to as the ‘Founding Father of Employee Engagement’ defines it as:

“The harnessing of organization members’ selves to their work roles. In engagement, people employ and express themselves physically, cognitively, and emotionally during role performances.”

In less academic words, when employees really care for and feel a sense of ownership about their company, they are engaged. This could mean going that extra mile without the boss asking for it or nurturing an official side project even if it means working extra hours without overtime pay.

Benefits of employee engagement
According to recent research by Deloitte, 85% of HR professionals interviewed in a survey in Australia said creating a positive employee experience is a top priority for better employee engagement. In the same study, 84% of respondents said building an organisation of the future is just as critical.

These numbers are not surprising, because done right, employee engagement can offer some remarkable benefits.

A perennially relevant example of this is Harvard’s Service-Profit Chain, which shows how satisfied employees can positively impact customer satisfaction and retention and, ultimately, company profitability. Here’s how:

Customer satisfaction directly results in customer loyalty
Customer satisfaction, in turn, is heavily determined by the nature and quality of services
Only satisfied, productive and loyal employees can provide customers the best value
Employees deliver value if they are provided high-quality learning and development, nurturing and conducive workplace policies
To break it down further, some of the key benefits of having engaged employees are:

Higher staff productivity
Better relationships with clients
Improved profitability
Lower attrition and greater retention of top talent
Dynamic teamwork
With this in mind, let’s now look at some simple yet effective ideas to create an employee engagement strategy that works.

10 Employee Engagement Strategies
Defining your organisation’s values
Setting a shared purpose
Clearly defining roles
Nurturing relationships
Setting clear communication channels
Creating leaders
A positive work environment
Motivating employees (monetary and non-monetary motivation)
Caring for employee health and wellbeing (both physical and mental)
Personal development (training and coaching)
1. Defining your organisation’s values
A well-defined set of company values can be one of the best employee engagement strategies. A good way to define the values of your organisation is to answer what purpose or belief defines your identity. When employees across different levels buy into the core company values, they have a sense of shared purpose. It’s what makes them show up at work every day!

Company value definition and statement
Defining what your company stands for and what values your employees should embody can be challenging. But once defined, these bring diverse employees and teams together as a unified front – even during crises. Your value statement can be a simple list of qualities or a more detailed statement.
For example, the value statement of Bright Horizons Family Solutions, a global chain of over 900 childcare centres, follows the HEART Principles: “Honesty, Excellence, Accountability, Respect, and Teamwork.”

The values of Starbucks, on the other hand, are far more detailed:

“Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.
Acting with courage, challenging the status quo.
Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity and respect.
Delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for results.
We are performance driven, through the lens of humanity.”
Values further your company culture
Company values organically shape up your company culture, which also affects how external stakeholders perceive your company. How well the values and culture are ingrained into your employees will determine their level of engagement during critical tasks such as planning, problem-solving, innovation, and execution.
Once you have defined your company values, living them at the workplace and beyond is vital to creating a sense of shared purpose among employees.
2. Setting a shared purpose
Engaged employees feel a sense of ownership about their role and believe in a clear organisational purpose. The best way to define this purpose is with a mission statement. While many companies have their own unwritten mission statement, putting this into writing can be a great way to bring teams closer and promote engagement.

Here are five questions to ask while defining the core of your existence – your mission statement:

Why does your business exist?
What does it do to make customers’ and employees’ lives better?
How does it do this?
What makes your product or service extraordinary?
Which core values guide your mission?
Before formalising your mission statement, engage your employees to receive their input and feedback using means such as group discussions or by creating an internal survey. Once this process is complete and you’ve firmed up your mission statement, ensure that it is used on your website, on sales and marketing material, in your office, and during important events.

3. Clearly defining roles
Having a clear set of core values and a well-defined business mission will create clarity at the organisational level. But that’s not enough. Clarity at the individual level is just as crucial. It’s nearly impossible to have a truly engaged employee if they aren’t sure about what role they’re playing in the grand scheme of things and how they are contributing to the success of the company.

Here are a few ways to ensure that individual roles are well-defined, so employees feel valued:

Be clear with job descriptions and required skills when hiring talent. Having a clear set of roles and responsibilities not only helps people know what’s expected of them, it also enables teams to work together without conflict and friction.
Assessing the skills and emotional intelligence of people both before and after hiring them can reveal new insights about how these can be best used in your organisation. Encouraging people to do something they have a natural inclination for will foster ownership, creativity and engagement.
Don’t stop at defining goals and assessing skill-role compatibility. Set clear key performance indicators (KPIs). Define success in the role with weekly, monthly, and annual goals using something as simple as a spreadsheet if you cannot afford to use a third-party HR platform or a custom digital management platform.
4. Nurturing relationships
Organisations such as Gallup have found that having friends at work makes people more engaged at the workplace. Among other things, Gallup found that women who have a best friend at work are “more than twice as likely to be engaged (63%) compared with the women who say otherwise (29%).” When it comes to promoting employee engagement, giving people regular opportunities to mingle in a social environment could be a great quick win.

Here are some ideas to promote friendships and help people socialise at work:

Games and team building activities: Participating in team building games can help employees trust each other better, strengthen their working relationships and foster better mutual understanding.
Company retreats: Organise a weekend company retreat off-site where employees can participate in games, workshops, adventure activities or just relax by the pool. Interacting with colleagues in a relaxed environment could kick start some valuable brainstorming sessions.
Break out areas: An office break out area is where employees can bond over a meal or coffee, just relax after work, and even discuss the next big idea. Equip these break rooms with a kitchen and bar to get those interactions flowers.
5. Setting clear communication channels
When you think of internal communications, many organisations often suffer from a communications blackhole, where communication from the top doesn’t correctly percolate down to lower tiers. This could lead to employees receiving the wrong messaging or, worse still, having no idea of the strategic plan they’re supposedly a part of.

The result of this is employees feel excluded from the organisational goals and strategies. Such employees, in turn, are naturally less receptive to supervisor communications and less willing to participate in constructive discussions.

This puts the spotlight on building a strong internal communications network at the organisation level. What’s just as important is the styles and channels that managers use to interact with their teams. This could mean examining new communications channels such as Slack and Facebook Workplace or a more scalable custom solution such as a native Intranet app.

Here are some easy-to-implement ideas to bolster internal communications:

Enterprise social networks (ESNs): As open platforms ESNs can greatly democratise how enterprises create, publish and share information internally. The advantages of ESNs are better conversations between staff and management as well as greater participation by everyone.
Initiate an open-door policy: Traditionally, information in organisations flows from the top to the bottom and seldom in the other direction. An open-door policy can encourage two-way communication and feedback, making employees feel valued. Moreover, an open-door policy can be a great way to mitigate office politics. If an open door-policy isn’t the most suitable solution for your organisation, regular skip-level meetings will help spot knots in processes, remove obstacles at the immediate managerial level, and bring forth opportunities for improvement.
Publish a monthly newsletter: An in-house newsletter is a great tool to disseminate official news and updates. It also helps continuously draw focus to important organisational goals and clearly inform employees about new business areas and services. A newsletter is especially useful for acquainting new employees to the company and its processes.
Digital workplace platforms: Fostering the right levels of communication can be an even more complex challenge when you have a remote workforce. A digital platform that equips organisations with the right communications and collaboration infrastructure becomes paramount when dealing with a remote employees. Cloud solutions, mobile software tools and social sharing and discussion are the pillars of such a platform.
Have 10-minute morning check-ins: Never-ending meetings are the busy professional’s nightmare. A daily 10-minute check-in, also known as a team huddle, on the other hand, is a quick way keep everything on track, clear priorities, meet targets, and address any blockers.
6. Invest in creating leaders
Front-line managers have the biggest (and most direct) impact on employees’ productivity, efficiency, job satisfaction and overall engagement levels. Expecting managers to inherently know how to deal with conflicts or personnel motivation issues is a tad unrealistic. This is where creating sound training and development infrastructure for managers comes into the picture.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case – especially in smaller organisations. A study by CareerBuilder, an online employment website, found that 58% of managers said they have never received proper management training. Not so surprisingly, the biggest challenge for these managers were: dealing with issues between co-workers (25%), motivating team members (22%), and creating career paths for their team (12%). All of these are factors that can spell the end of employee engagement.

To ensure that immediate managers are ably trained in nurturing employee growth and engagement, focus on these areas:

Train employees before they become managers: Coaching internal talent to become successful managers of tomorrow has multiple benefits: higher retention rates, better confidence in their role, and higher levels of employee engagement. In a knowledge-driven economy, a well-trained manager can be pivotal to boosting employee engagement, productivity and efficiency.

Change management: As corporate environments change rapidly, training managers in change management is the key to maintaining stability. Change management training can help managers empathically understand how a certain change will affect employees, how this change should be best communicated, and how to equip employees to deal with this change.

Employee mentoring and nurturing: This is the attribute that sets a manager apart from a leader. A manager who is good at getting tasks done may not necessarily be adept at aiding the professional and personal development of their subordinates. Coaching your managers to nurture and mentor will empower their teams to grow professionally and take more ownership of their work.

Team building, collaboration and feedback channels: Some managerial behaviours, such as micromanagement, can lead to increased attrition rates and hurt employee engagement. Collaborating to leverage the strengths of team members, coaching talent, and creating clear feedback channels is a quality that sets leaders apart from mere managers. Did you know that something as simple as regularly asking employees to provide feedback can up engagement levels considerably? In a study by Saba, a talent management solutions company, 61% of female employees and 56% of male employees said they’re seldom asked for feedback

7. A positive work environment
According to Gallup, disengaged workers have high absenteeism rates, lower job growth and lower productivity. With this in mind, any efforts put into modeling a happy, positive and respectful workplace culture can go a long way.

Here are a few tips to create a positive work environment:

Create a solution-focussed culture where people are not afraid to own their mistake and focus on how to best move forward
Celebrate wins, honour achievements and mark special occasions for a happy workplace. It could be a new client signing on or an employee’s work anniversary! Everyone feels the need to be validated.
Listen openly to opinions and feedback before drawing a conclusion on matters. Use innovative technologies to communicate effectively. (See how retail giant Kmart Australia achieved this.)
Encourage empathy and compassion at all levels of the organisation. These qualities go a long way when someone is battling an illness, is feeling stressed at work or is dealing with personal issues.
Create spaces that allow employees to collaborate as well as focus in solitude, such as lounge rooms, cafes, game rooms and reading rooms.
Invest in a well-equipped kitchen with food and beverages
8. Motivating employees (monetary and non-monetary motivation)
Trust and contentment at the workplace can be the biggest motivators for employees – ranking even higher than money, if a Princeton study is anything to go by. With this in mind, instituting new ways to acknowledge good work and providing incentives for a job well done have direct implications on employee engagement.

Use these monetary and non-monetary means to motivate your employees:

Weekly, monthly or quarterly recognition: Create a work culture where appreciation and acknowledgement are part of daily interactions. A more formal weekly or monthly team gathering to reward people who’ve performed exceptionally well fosters a strong culture of appreciation. No matter what your preferred recognition method, always remember to keep it fair and transparent for it to be truly motivating.
Bonuses and incentives: There’s virtually no limit to the kinds of incentives and bonuses you can give employees. It all depends on the size and culture of your company, but can range from something as flamboyant as gifting your star performer a new car or offering them equity to giving them a day off work. Use platforms such as WooBoard and Bonusly to simplify employee recognition and rewards.
Other perks such as flexible work hours, work-from-home-days, childcare or petcare facilities at work can also go a long way.

9. Caring for employee health and well-being (both physical and mental)
Showing that your organisation really cares for employees’ health can be a powerful way to reduce employee disengagement by emotionalising the employer-employee relationship. But to really harness the potential of this employee engagement strategy, it’s vital to stop thinking employee wellness as merely an additional cost to the company. The Harvard Business Review reports that an employer was able to gain $6 in health care savings for every dollar invested.

If wellness programs are not already being offered at your organisation, consider using any of these ideas a starting point and build your own programs from there:

Weekly yoga, Zumba or meditation sessions in the office before or after work hours
Standing desks and ergonomic workstations coupled with plenty of natural lighting
Onsite gyms or corporate discount partnerships with health and fitness clubs
Healthy food options in the kitchen, such as fruit, vegetables, whole-grain bars, yogurt, low-fat cheeses, nuts and kale chips.
Encourage employees to speak up about mental health issues and offer assistance programs to those facing mental health issues
Create internal groups and communication channels to discuss mental issues to reduce stigma attached to psychological illnesses
Create green spaces within the office with plants to counter the effects of stale, recycled air that too many offices are filled with

10. Personal development (training and coaching)
In an ever-changing work environment, constant personal development and upskilling is what will give your employees and organisation an edge. Encourage a culture that celebrates lifelong learning as both formal and informal training can promote continuous development. Giving employees new opportunities to continuously learn and develop can dramatically improve retention rates, especially for top talent.

Here are some ways your organisation can invest in personal development to promote employee engagement:

Promote and recognise lifelong learning by treating these as an achievement or milestone
Sponsor certification or higher education programmes. If your organisation cannot bear the entire costs of an educational program, offer part sponsorships or interest-free education loans as an alternative.
Sponsor seminar, conference or training program passes for events that will aid the professional and personal development of your employees.
Encourage employees to pursue passion projects. Large companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook and LinkedIn have gained some of their most profitable products via employee passion projects.
Paid time off and sabbaticals can encourage “creative slacking”, prompting employees to come back to work with innovative ideas
Finding an employee coaching and development technique that works for your organisation and can justify the time spent on these is something that the management and HR teams will need to deliberate on. But there’s little doubt that the rewards can cause the employee engagement needle to move considerably.

Achieving great employee engagement levels is all about finding the right mix of communication styles and channels, defining purpose, collaboration, and learning. The CentricMinds Intranet platform can help your employees communicate openly and collaborate seamlessly so you can start seeing a positive change to your company culture and improved transparency across the organisation.

Source: https://www.hcamag.com/au/specialisation/employee-engagement/10-employee-engagement-strategies-to-create-a-dream-team/174402

An Older Advisor Does Something Unusual: He Creates A Succession Plan

Gary Schwartz, founder and president of Madison Planning Group in White Plains, N.Y., has solved the succession planning dilemma for his 22-year-old firm. He groomed his two sons to take over.

Schwartz, 64, said he is not necessarily ready to retire right now, but he prepared for the future, unlike many older advisors.

Succession planning ranks ninth on RIAs’ list of priorities, according to Charles Schwab’s 2019 RIA Benchmarking Study released in July. Several studies have shown that RIA owners and founders are reluctant to give up control, and even those in their 60’s have not planned an exit.

“RIAs often wait for succession planning to be event-driven,” Lisa Salvi, vice president of Schwab Advisor Services, said when the study was released. “Instead they should be thinking about where they want to be three years and five years from now. Doing nothing is a strategy, but it does not give you as many options. Planning brings a much wider range of options.”

The option selected by Gary and his two sons, Benjamin and Andrew, both of whom are 30, is to share equity so the sons can own the firm when Gary retires.

“I built this firm since 1997 and 10 years ago I started getting concerned about what would happen to my employees and clients if something happened to me,” Gary said. Madison Planning Group, which also has offices in Syracuse and Long Island, N.Y., and in Lake Worth, Fla., has $320 million in assets under management, about 900 clients and nine employees.

“Clients began asking what would happen to them if I left” at about the time the sons were deciding on careers, Gary said. Benjamin, who considered being a police officer, decided to make Madison Planning a family business by using his marketing and organizational skills to help build the business. He is chief operating officer and Andrew is senior vice president.

There was no push back from other employees to the two sons stepping in as owners, they said. One employee has a small voting share and all employees have a profit-sharing plan.

Benjamin said he considered other careers, but “I had already invested a lot of myself into the business [by the time I got out of college] and I’d always viewed the people here as my family—and not just because of my dad, but because of the whole team. What could be better than working with people you’ve known and cared about most of your life?”

Andrew explained his side. “By the time I graduated from college, I knew financial services and helping people was where I wanted to be. Not only did I love the pure financial aspects of it, but I’d seen firsthand the impact the work had on clients’ lives. But I wanted to learn more about the business first.”

He joined Royal Alliance, Madison Planning’s broker-dealer, working in advisory services, where he supported the firm’s independent advisors. He said the role taught him how to be a problem solver for the advisors and their clients.

Andrew supports Madison Planning’s clients by providing policy analysis and financial planning. “I’m proud to say that we’re a family helping families. I don’t know many people who get as much personal satisfaction out of providing support and solutions to their clients,” he said.

He joined Royal Alliance, Madison Planning’s broker-dealer, working in advisory services, where he supported the firm’s independent advisors. He said the role taught him how to be a problem solver for the advisors and their clients.

Andrew supports Madison Planning’s clients by providing policy analysis and financial planning. “I’m proud to say that we’re a family helping families. I don’t know many people who get as much personal satisfaction out of providing support and solutions to their clients,” he said.

Source: https://www.fa-mag.com/news/one-way-to-solve-the-succession-planning-problem-50928.html

Corporate AI Culture Calls for a New HR Approach

The workforce continues to change rapidly. In addition to automating and optimizing HR processes, Artificial Intelligence will transform corporate cultures in a way that will require a new approach.

Much has been written about the potential of cognitive Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems to redefine operations within an enterprise, including the HR department. These ascendant technologies will, among other things, re-prioritize employee roles, reimagine customer interactions and change how workers collaborate with one another.

A rapidly changing workforce will bring unique challenges along with it. An increase in consultants, freelancers and contractors requires new HR strategies that address each category’s specialized needs. Meanwhile, teams that now collaborate across different regions and time zones require an HR solution that is 24/7/365. AI can provide the tools necessary to ensure a unified, modern workforce.

In addition to automating and optimizing HR processes with AI, these technologies will transform corporate cultures in a way that will require a new approach.

Performance Reviews 2.0
When machines automate routine tasks, human roles naturally shift to emphasize uniquely human attributes such as soft skills (or “people skills”) like negotiation and creative problem solving. For example, when AI systems are tasked to handle issues such as password resets, inventory maintenance or digital onboarding, IT staff can use their time to address more complex business needs, like researching and implementing new technologies that will make your company more productive. Automation allows companies to shift priorities away from execution and toward innovation.

This shift will also mean that performance metrics will necessarily move away from quantitative measurements of an employees’ ability to perform routine tasks in a set time period. A customer service representative formally graded on the number of calls handled per month would instead be evaluated by more qualitative measures such as customer reviews from their service experience.

The move from quantitative to qualitative performance reviews will, as a result, require a deeper understanding of each employee’s unique role and personal qualities. The change will likely lead to a positive improvement in company culture. Employees will be evaluated based on skillsets where they excel like creativity, complex problem-solving, and critical thinking—leaving more mundane, routine, tasks to AI technologies.

The ‘No-Collar’ Culture
AI technologies will also lead HR professionals to reevaluate how they provide HR services to employees within their companies, especially with AI poised to upend the make-up of the traditional workforce. Increasingly diverse job titles and a move away from traditional staffing models will require specialized services that help to address an employee’s unique needs. An increase in the use of freelancers, consultants, and contractors will require the implementation of advanced AI technologies to properly integrate and manage the new, “No-Collar” workforce.

Indeed, a recent NPR/Marist poll finds that one in five jobs in America is held by a worker under contract, with some economists predicting contractors and freelancers will outnumber full-time employees within a decade. More than ever, it’s important to find solutions that fully integrate these workers into an organization. AI can help better manage differences in benefits, schedules, and roles—optimizing the HR experience for both HR professionals and employees.

Not only are workforces no longer necessarily comprised of full-time salaried employees, workers no longer even work in the same physical location. According to a recent survey of 18,000 global professionals, 70% of respondents reported working remotely at least one day a week, and 53% reported working remotely for at least half of the week. The adjustment raises a host of new questions—most importantly, how modern organizations can adjust their HR solutions to better accommodate the needs of the new workforce?

In the near future, AI technologies will be invaluable HR tools for companies to provide information and services to a workforce which is increasingly likely to be spread out across physical locations and time zones. AI will be used to power intelligent virtual agents who will provide 24/7 access to personalized information and services, regardless of whether requests are submitted after regular business hours. Workers will have a greater ability to independently locate answers to their questions, and resolutions to their issues, with little-to-no human intermediation.

As the workforce continues to change rapidly, the question is no longer “if” this form of cognitive and transactional automation within HR is possible; it’s when and how companies will implement them into their existing HR teams to help them address the needs of future workforces.

Source: https://www.hrtechnologist.com/articles/digital-transformation/corporate-ai-culture-calls-for-a-new-hr-approach/

Top talent is looking for compatible culture at your business

As executives and managers of businesses in Houston, we spend copious amounts of time focusing on the bottom line. We ask ourselves questions daily around how our numbers look, what percentage of growth we have seen, are we trending toward our company revenue goals — the list goes on. But, how often do we monetize our company culture?

This is not earth-shattering news to anyone who has done a candidate search lately, but just to highlight the obvious, our current market makes it challenging to find top talent. On the flip side, key players and strong executives who are looking to make a change are zeroing in on a company’s culture.

Productive employees who are motivated and are performance-driven want to ensure that the next career move they make is to a culture that fosters personal and professional growth. They look for a culture that has the ability and reputation to hire other great talent when it comes time for growth in their internal team.

Reputation and culture go hand in hand. When you look at statistics alone, you will find that a strong company culture can increase retention and improve profit margins by 33 percent. With stronger leadership and individual drivers in an organization who also value culture, your organization will gain the leverage it needs to hire new employees who are drawn to this same mindset of putting culture at the top of the list. To put it simply: Culture drives productivity.

For example, take a look at the newest additions to the work force, which are Millennials and Generation Z. We know they will choose culture and flexibility over compensation. If we are looking at hiring any managers or executives who do not fall into the Millennial or Generation Z bucket, one of the key factors is also on culture.

Talented individuals are looking at company and personal growth opportunities, not just a job. We see candidates continuously research companies, and the first thing we hear about is how they perceive the company. One of their first questions is typically around the topic of culture. Post interview, we receive feedback on their perception of the company culture and how it will impact their professional growth and personal fulfillment within the organization.

We are all too familiar with the word retention. By stabilizing, focusing and strengthening our culture, we inherently increase our retention numbers along with our employee satisfaction. Employee turnover can be stifling to an organization. It all circles back to having culture at the core. Culture is a key element to our overall strategy.

Let’s avoid the insanity trap, which Albert Einstein would explain as, “Repeating the same action over and over and expecting to get a different result.” If we want sustainable leadership and productive teams we should focus on our value add — our culture.

Keeping it real: What HR leaders need to know about deepfakes

Although most deepfakes target politicians and celebrities, the technology has already been used in employer scams.

lame Forrest Gump. The 1994 movie used new technology to edit Gump’s character into scenes to make it seem like he talked with John F. Kennedy or sat next to John Lennon — an editing magician’s trick that won the film accolades.

That technology has evolved into what is now referred to as “deepfake” technology: a mix of AI and machine learning that allows users to alter videos, audios, and photos in powerful ways.

One deepfake example: A widely-shared video of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi that was doctored to slow down the speed of her speech, creating the impression Pelosi was impaired. Deepfakes can make it seem that someone is saying something or doing something they may never have — and that can create a new kind of security woe for employers of all types.

Just because deepfakes haven’t showed up at your company doesn’t mean they’ll stay away forever, Randy Barr, chief information security officer for Topia, a global mobility management software company, told HR Dive; “We’re going to start to see a lot more than this as soon as technology is readily available for people to use and try.”

What can HR do now to ensure employees are safe?

It’s all fun and photoshop until someone gets hurt
Deepfake technology can have positive purposes, such as in the creation of digital voices for those who have lost the ability to speak, or the David Beckham video that shows him explaining how people can protect themselves from malaria, using deepfake tech to look like he’s speaking in nine different languages.

But unlike the altered content from Forrest Gump and Instagram filters, the audience isn’t supposed to know that the deepfakes are manipulated pieces.

On top of that, the technology is often used explicitly to create trouble, Niraj Swami, CEO of SCAD AI, an AI consultancy, told HR Dive. “It stems from leveraging controversial material…offensive content or offensive perspectives,” he said. When this material pops up in social media, it creates media confusion, he said, and many viewers react emotionally to the false information.

Some deepfake videos can be identified relatively easily, Barr said. “One of the simple ways of detecting it is if you look at the video, see how often that individual blinks, because [with] the current AI technology and deepfake, it’s hard to impose the face over a body if the eyes are closed,” he said. Other tips are to look for a mismatch in skin tone, and placement of the eyebrows and chin, he added.

Just as deepfake technology is becoming more sophisticated, so is the technology used to identify altered media, with improvements on both sides expected to continue.

How deepfakes can harm employers
Although most deepfakes thus far have targeted politicians and celebrities, the technology has been seen in the work environment — and it may be used with increasing frequency, experts said.

Imagine a CEO placing an urgent call to a senior financial officer requesting an emergency money transfer — except the CEO’s voice was deepfaked by criminals, as Axios reported happening to a number of companies already. Deepfakes could be used to attack a company, Barr said; “[It] could be the evolution of how ransomware takes place.”

Source: https://www.hrdive.com/news/keeping-it-real-what-hr-leaders-need-to-know-about-deepfakes/559475/

Building a Strong Brand Story Is Your Best Retention Tool

A great brand makes people feel something. In utilizing the brand, people fill emotional needs they were seeking. Consider how powerful that really is.

However, when developing your brand story, you’ll need to first think critically about the internal emotional needs of your customer. This is crucial if you want it to make an impact. When you excel at crafting your brand’s messaging, you identify your audience members’ emotions — whether they feel stressed, anxious, connected, or otherwise.

Ensuring customers can see themselves in your brand story — and making them the main characters of it — represents the first step toward truly engaging them. From there, you can show that you understand them. You’ll be able to paint your company as one that can expertly help meet those internal emotional needs.

Let’s look to Nike for an example. When you think of Nike, you probably think of more than just high-performance fabric and the latest pair of athletic shoes. The company’s story is all about becoming a better person by taking steps toward reaching goals. It’s about breaking a sweat, facing adversity, and working your tail off to prove yourself.

Nike has worked meticulously to connect with how you feel and meet your emotional needs through every commercial, Instagram post, and piece of brand communication. This was no accident.

Learn More: How to Use Slack to Establish a Transparent Workplace Culture

Why Employees Are Your Brand Story’s First Defense
How can you tell your brand story with the same impact, then? Before any type of brand can move customers in this way, it should take one very important step: Engage employees in its story. If you can’t get employees to align with the brand story you’re telling, customers will be more hesitant to buy-in. In turn, business will suffer: Diluted and unaligned brand messaging alone costs businesses $10 million or more annually.

According to Gallup’s “State of the American Workplace” report, more than two-thirds of U.S. workers are either not engaged or actively disengaged at work. Unfortunately, having these workers leads to lower customer satisfaction and disengaged clients. Relationships suffer as a result. This is to be expected when the same unengaged employees are responsible for interacting with customers, providing service, and driving innovation.

When you seamlessly integrate your brand story within your company first, though, it can improve employee retention and engagement. Be sure you’re putting your best foot forward here. Apply your brand story to every part of your organization, and use it to inspire your people and help them inform each business decision.

Employees should do these things because they want to, not just because they’re paid to. They feel emotional alignment with the brand story. However, success with this requires careful planning and time. Here are three ways business leaders can help employees buy into their brand stories and remain engaged:

1. Don’t stop at your company’s “why.” To write a brand story that feels authentic and brings your mission to the forefront, ask yourself a few questions. At Pariveda, we’re constantly talking about creating value for our clients by solving problems and growing individuals — our clients and our people — toward their highest potential. This truly represents our “why.” It makes people fill an unmet need for growth and improvement with each passing day.

Nike sells shoes, for example, but it also aims to sell confidence. It wants the threads on its shelves to inspire people to become the best versions of themselves. Once you’ve grasped your “why” beyond making a profit and how you’d like to build from there, you’ve defined your brand in the simplest form.

After this, you can consider your “how.” This isn’t just limited to the services you offer. You should also consider your culture, which enables your employees (and your company as a whole) to provide those services. Figure out what’s true to your mission, services, and people. Building a brand story can only be successful and resonate if it’s genuine.

2. Share the story with each employee. Don’t just gather the necessary employees in a conference room and have them repeat your brand message. Simply feeding them a story and mission won’t ensure success. You must help them understand your brand message now and with every future opportunity.

It’s helpful to explore your brand story using a one-on-one approach. Make this a dynamic, interactive conversation by playing out different scenarios. Once you’ve done this, continue to reinforce your brand story in every company message, meeting, and event.

This is something we’ve integrated into our onboarding process. We talk to every leader who arrives at our firm and discuss our brand aspirations.

Again, this goes far beyond making money: We constantly reinforce the learning, coaching, and giving embedded in our firm, and this involves more than exploring our brand story in one meeting and calling it a job well done. It’s crucial to provide constant reminders to your employees so they can apply your brand’s principles in everyday actions.

3. Demonstrate how to best live out your brand’s story. When encouraging employees to embrace your brand’s story, you’ll face people who don’t understand how it relates directly to their work. However, they still play a part no matter their roles or departments.

Let’s consider someone working in information technology at a B2B company. If the company’s clients want to become industry innovators, getting them there might mean solving a difficult business problem or creating a new application development project. These initiatives might not represent the company’s story at first glance, but they do work toward it. Every service and person has a role in building a brand’s story and bringing it to life, and this is made possible through each and every client interaction.

If you have employees who wonder how their work connects to your overarching story, have a conversation about why and how their particular roles work as part of it.

The big secret is that the brand stories are personal. After all, successful brands maintain relationships with people. Although your customer should always be at the center of your brand story, employee alignment plays an instrumental role in helping your company live it.

HR under-utilizing data analytics in workforce planning

While HR leaders want to be “ahead of the curve” with their approach to technology, many lack the data or expertise needed to measure whether their benefits spend is helping achieve organizational goals, according to the “Innovation generation—the big HR tech disconnect 2019/20 report” by Thomsons Online Benefits.

For example, the study found that more than half of the 380 HR professionals in multinational organizations surveyed are not using employee data to help forecast potential retirement scenarios and liabilities.
Related: Analytics tools becoming key to HR management

“This, in turn, can have a significant impact on workforce planning (knowing when employees are likely to retire is vital), learning and development (longer working lives mean more reskilling and upskilling), health care costs (older workforces are more expensive to cover), as well as pension provision,” the authors write.
Employers still rely heavily on survey results and demographic data, but more insights can be gleaned by also analyzing benefits take-up, program data and building-generated data, according to the report. However, just under half (48 percent) of employers currently do not report on benefit take-up levels.

“So even though employee engagement is a top priority for organizations, it’s clear they are missing a trick in not linking benefits take-up-among other factors such as employee sentiment and wellbeing-to engagement employee data effectively,” the authors write.

The study found that organizations that use employee data to report on business issues are more than twice as likely to be “very satisfied” with their return of investment on benefits spend than those that don’t. A majority of those (64 percent) have used people data insights to improve employee engagement; 47 percent have improved employee productivity; 59 percent have improved their benefits program by looking at employees’ interactions with their benefits platform.
More employers (68 percent) are building analytics teams within their HR department. A third (35 percent) of all of the respondents surveyed have upskilled existing HR team members and 21 percent have hired in external talent. Over the next year, 32 percent plan to upskill HR team members and 17 percent who plan to hire in external talent.

“Ensuring that teams, either within the organization or externally, can really harness the power of employee data is inevitably the next step,” the authors write. “And it’s positive to see that many organizations are preparing to do this, whether that be to outsource these capabilities to third parties or upskilling existing teams.”

While more than a few employers still lack sufficient HR analytical capabilities, the authors of Thomsons’ report are optimistic: within the next three years there will be “exponential growth” in the amount of data being collected and analyzed by virtually every organization.

“From benefit take-up levels to employee well-being, HR and benefits professionals will (often for the first time) have the insights and analytics they need to truly transform their benefits proposition, tailoring it to the individual as a means of driving and rewarding performance,” the authors write.

However, to be more proactive in spotting issues before they impact talent strategies and organizational goals, more employers will need to develop predictive analytics capabilities – right now, only 12 percent are doing so.

But that could be due to disparate HR systems that don’t talk to each other, many of which have no analytics capabilities, or capabilities that aren’t centralized “to provide a single source of truth,” according to the report.

“Without a redesign of the technology that underpins the entire benefits function, the risk is that while new tools and apps and data analytics will deliver better benefits, better employee engagement scores and a better return on investment, organizations will still fail to unlock the true potential of technology to transform the employee experience,” the authors conclude.


Why Is Artificial Intelligence Biased Against Women?

With the rapid growth of machine learning, artificial intelligence and it’s related technologies, technologists are just beginning to reckon with the repercussions of our unconscious biases.

Amazon, for example, had to scrap a four-year-old recruitment matching tool because it had taught itself to favor male applicants over female ones. Equally qualified female candidates were ranked lower than their male counterparts, with some graduates of all-female colleges losing whole points due to their alma mater. The system was trained on data submitted by applicants over a 10-year period, who were overwhelmingly male (73% of Amazon’s leadership is male). Despite the company building the technology to be neutral, it still taught itself to be biased based on the data it was given by the people who built it, which reflected their reality – a (majority white) male-dominated industry.

AI’s race and gender biases are a result of who has the power in the backroom. Over 70% of all computer programmers are white males and despite our best attempts at neutrality, we were raised in a society that inherently devalues women and POC, teaching us both explicitly and implicitly that they are less capable than white men. This colors our worldview and in turn, the technology we create; we aren’t necessarily actively misogynistic or racist but our environment allows us to perpetuate the biases ingrained in us by society unchallenged.

Learn More: Future of Work: 10 Key Trends for the Next 10 years

Acting Against the Passive Biases
It’s up to tech companies to do the work behind the scenes to make sure that AI and its relatives are as equitable as they can be. It’s not enough to simply acknowledge that there is a problem, especially when it’s a problem we can fix. We, including myself, a white male at the top of a rising AI-based recruitment platform, must amplify the voices of the women and POC, who are being actively disenfranchised by our passive biases. We must make conscious decisions to elevate the POC and women around us to roles where they are part of the decision making the process. We have to listen when they tell us about the ways our privilege is clouding our judgment and advocate for and work with them to fix the issues. We need to make sure our hiring strategies are deliberately diverse because right now, they’re passively biased and it’s not helping anyone.

Equality isn’t the same as equity. The balance of power in the field is too greatly shifted in one direction for us to simply wait for someone else to make the change – we need to work on eliminating the barriers altogether. Not just for the women and POC we know personally and tell us their stories, but so that we – the privileged – can be better ourselves. Isn’t that why we became technologists in the first place – to make the world a better place?

Source : https://www.hrtechnologist.com/articles/diversity/why-is-artificial-intelligence-biased-against-women/

To Boost Organization Performance, HR Leaders Must Develop “Complementary Leadership”


Only 50% of employees agree that their team leader effectively creates a vision for the future of the team, according to a global survey of 4,000 employees by Gartner, Inc. More troubling — leaders are having a crisis of confidence in themselves with only half of more than 2,800 surveyed reporting they are well-equipped to lead their organization in the future.

“Leaders today have more responsibilities than ever, but are ill-equipped to take on their expanded roles,” said Sari Wilde, managing vice president in the Gartner HR practice. “We are seeing organizations overhaul their leadership models, hoping the right combination of competencies will enable leaders to tackle their growing responsibilities. Unfortunately, relying on leadership models alone isn’t enough.”

Gartner’s research reveals that rather than focusing on leadership models, HR leaders should create an environment built on “complementary leadership” – the intentional partnership between one leader and one or many leader partners to share leadership responsibilities based on complementary skillsets. In fact, complementary leadership can provide a big boost to leaders’ performance. Gartner analysis showed leaders who use complementary leadership saw a 60% increase in their teams’ performance and a 40% increase in their own performance.

“Our research found that leaders are not always best-positioned to manage every responsibility they are tasked with; instead, the best leaders identify others who have a stronger grasp of skills at which they are weak and share responsibilities with them,” said Ms. Wilde.

To enable complementary leadership, HR leaders should focus on the following questions:

How do we help leaders focus on the right capabilities?
How do we get leaders to change their behaviors?
How do we fill leaders’ urgent capability gaps quickly?
Equip leaders to identify their locally relevant gaps, not universal needs
Leaders need to know their current level of skills proficiency so they can prioritize what they need to develop and where they need help. Today’s leadership assessments can be misleading because they don’t include the right inputs and prioritize results based on the wrong metrics. Rather than evaluating leaders against organization-wide metrics that are too broad, leaders should focus on identifying locally relevant development priorities.

“To do this, leaders should focus on sourcing development priorities from their teams, which will enable employees and leaders to coalesce around a shared set of priorities in service of the team,” Ms. Wilde said. “Additionally, specific context must be factored into assessments of capability needs and performance potential. This enables a better understanding of how leaders are positioned to perform within the specific challenges and needs of their business unit and/or function.”

Develop leaders for practical application, not personal transformation
Many leadership development programs last only a few days and aim to completely transform leaders’ approach to their role. Often, leaders struggle to apply a drastic transformation once they return to their desks. A better approach centers around integrating leaders’ workflows and priorities into development programs to enable leaders to apply their learning in context. HR should start by determining two things:

What work processes and frameworks are leaders comfortable with?
How can HR leaders adapt these processes to develop leaders?
Aligning development programs with leaders’ day-to-day reality helps leaders understand how they can use new skills in their current role.

Create leader partnerships, not just better individual leaders
HR leaders can serve as the catalyst to help leaders identify and make the most of partnerships. Rather than waiting for individual leaders to develop all of the necessary skills, HR must help them find the right partners to share their responsibilities, particularly in the face of filling urgent skill needs. These leader partnerships allow each leader to specialize in core skills, develop needed skills and lead in critical areas. This type of partnering can increase leaders’ skill preparedness by 54%.

Additional information is available in the Gartner report, “Reshaping Leadership for the Future.” The report explains how organizations are tackling leadership challenges to generate better performance.

How to Address the Challenge of Managing Managers

Performance coaching as it relates to management is a consistently popular topic among human resources professionals. Most of what one reads, however, is focused on how best to manage front-line employees. In other words, employees who are not managers. How to more effectively coach managers themselves is a tricky proposition that is not addressed often enough.

Why is this an issue? Because organizational success is directly based on how skilled managers are at coaching their teams. How does HR know whether a given manager is an effective coach? What does HR base its determinations on?

To address these questions in your organization, it’s a best practice to implement regular, scheduled one-to-one meetings between managers and their direct reports, and hold all team members accountable for conducting these meetings. What’s even better is if you can create a way to gain visibility into how these meetings are being held.

In our company, we’ve implemented an effective method for creating this visibility. We’ve learned that one-to-one meetings have a particular benefit in helping business leaders manage managers and improve their coaching skills–plus they provide downstream advantages for the entire organization.

Why conduct one-to-ones?
The annual performance review is outdated. For today’s modern workforce–with a high percentage of people working flextime or in remote positions–regularly scheduled feedback sessions are crucial for moving the company forward.

At our company, weekly one-to-one meetings between managers and their direct reports are a core part of our culture. We consider these meetings to be the primary mechanism to ensure consistent, high-quality feedback.

The one-to-one is intended to provide a dedicated time and setting for team members and managers to regularly review the full scope of the employee’s tasks, responsibilities and goals.

A key benefit of integrating regular one-to-ones into your company culture is that it prevents coaching and feedback from getting pushed to the back burner as team members and managers alike work through their daily responsibilities.

This is clearly important for direct reports who want to build their skills and grow their careers, but it has a particular advantage for managers, too.

How one-to-ones help managers improve
It’s critical to hold managers accountable when it comes to one-to-ones, but as a business leader, how do you know if they’re going well or being conducted effectively? Sitting in on such meetings feels intrusive and can potentially undermine the manager, affecting his or her relationship with the direct report.

Here are three ways to gain insight into your managers’ performance:

The business leader should also be conducting regularly scheduled one-to-ones with all of their direct reports–the managers. It’s just as important to have an avenue for feedback and dialogue at this level.
Encourage and conduct regular training sessions for managers. People can and do get better at managing. Just like any other skill, it’s an area that can and should be consistently worked on and improved. In this spirit, managers at our company read Coaching for Improved Work Performance by Ferdinand F. Fournies. We also hold manager forums three times per year with the specific goal of improving and augmenting management skills. We role-play one-to-ones with scenarios based in reality and work on developing the tools and skills to better support, coach and manage direct reports. We even video the role-play sessions so that we can review them and give feedback to the participants.
Using a performance management software solution can also improve organizational accountability. At our company, team members write an agenda and send it to their manager in advance of the one-to-one meeting through performance management technology. The manager responds with any items they’d like to add, and the direct report follows the meeting with a summary detailing any pertinent discussion or action items.
One benefit of this practice is that whether things are going well or poorly, there is updated documentation of regular meetings and feedback between the employee and his or her manager. A second benefit is that the business leader or HR manager can review or audit these conversations to ensure the meetings are being held and conducted effectively, without intruding on the sessions themselves.

Business leaders may not recognize that coaching managers is something to prioritize, but it’s an issue every organization faces. Implementing performance management mechanisms like one-to-one meetings and consistent documentation are vital ways to ensure that managers are developing both their own skills and the skills of their team.

Source: https://www.inc.com/entrepreneurs-organization/how-to-address-challenge-of-managing-managers.html