Why Organizational Culture Is a Competitive Differentiator

Organizational culture doesn’t mean that you own the trendiest or coolest business — it means that you operate a positive workplace with a strong values and an even stronger identity, a place that drives business success.

The key to organizational culture? Healthy and engaged employees who believe in their company’s core mission — employees who feel heard, are recognized, and encouraged to become the best that they can be.

The connection between organizational culture and business success
Harvard Business Review released, The Culture Factor, a guide intended to help organizations better determine and shape their company culture in order to fit their strategy. The guide dives into how organizational culture drives core goals through specific beliefs and values, which in turn, influences employee behavior and activity. Having a culture strategy in place will provide employees greater clarity and focus, resulting in stronger productivity and business results.

According to a Grant Thornton LLP and Oxford Economics study, executives who say their culture is extremely healthy are 1.5 times more likely to report average revenue growth of more than 15 percent over three years. In addition, among public companies, those with extremely healthy cultures are nearly 2.5 times more likely to report significant stock price increases over three years.

Companies clearly care about revenue and their people, but are likely not looking at culture as a way to grow both. This is short-sighted … Our study shows that, in fact, investing in culture can help companies grow and thrive financially, and keep employees for a longer time period.” – Erica O’Malley, Grant Thornton partner

Once you develop a strong company culture, it will be easier to not only retain employees, but also attract new top talent. It is well understood that a high employee turnover is costly. According to Gallup, 51 percent of employees are considering a new job – which means that they’re not fully engaged in their current position; and as reported by the Center for American Progress, once an employee leaves, it can cost a company anywhere between 16 percent to 213 percent of that lost employee’s salary. Avoid the high cost of turnover by focusing on your organizational culture. After all, employees who don’t like their organization’s culture are 24 percent more likely to quit.

Also, organizational culture plays a key role when it comes to attracting top talent. Currently, most job seekers are screening potential employers by their company culture with 46 percent of candidates saying they believe culture is very important in the application process and 15 percent of job seekers turning down a job offer because of the company’s culture. Don’t lose sight of the numerous positive benefits your business can gain from building a strong organizational culture.

The link between a strong culture and employee performance

Three pillars of a strong workplace culture
It is well established that the companies who develop and maintain the strongest organizational cultures have much lower turnover rates and greater long-term success. In order to begin building a more defined, positive workplace culture, it’s important to consider the following factors.

1. Live and breathe recognition
Employees desire recognition, and based on an Achievers’ study, 82 percent of employees wish they received more recognition and 90 percent say when they receive recognition it motivates them to work harder. Start recognizing and rewarding your employees on a regular basis to show frequent appreciation and reinforce key behaviors. In the same study, 92 percent of employees agree when they’re recognized for a specific action, they’re more likely to take that action again in the future.

By recognizing valued employees, both the employer and employee benefit. The key is to reinforce positive behaviors and show appreciation on a frequent basis; as your employees continue flexing their strengths and feel ongoing appreciation, your business will grow as a result. Together, you can both succeed. If you’re a manager, it’s important to note that 58 percent of employees said their manager relationship would improve with more recognition.

For example, after Discover implemented a global recognition program, powered by Achievers, the company saw sales, customer satisfaction, and retention improve. Joanna Kalantzis, Senior Manager of Internal Communications and Engagement and Discover stated:

“Our sales have increased, customer satisfaction has improved, and our voluntary attrition has decreased since the time of launching our Achievers platform.”

Discover + Achievers: Employee Engagement Partners

Bottom line: Employee recognition drives employee engagement, and employee engagement drives business success.

2. Listen to your employees and take action
In addition to employee recognition, gathering employee honest feedback is critical. Encourage two-way feedback: As your leaders provide ongoing feedback to their teams, your employees should also be able to provide frequent feedback to their managers. When managers receive feedback, make sure they take action on it to show they are truly listening to their team. Currently, 23 percent of workers say their company and manager are “horrible” at acting on feedback. Employees want to know their company is listening to them and those who feel they are heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered, and in turn, are more likely to perform to the best of their ability.

Did you know only 39 percent of organizations believe employees know how their work connects to company goals? Leverage employee feedback tools to discover new pain points in your organizational culture and address them immediately. Employee input is the best resource to start creating an effective culture that works.

Bottom line: Open channels for employees to provide regular feedback regarding their employee experience.

3. Communicate with intent
Employees want to feel valued — they want to feel as though they are truly a part of something greater. In order to maintain a strong team unit, communication is imperative. How can employees perform to the best of their ability while driving your company’s strategy if they aren’t aligned with their organization’s mission?

Leaders must offer transparency to their teams by providing regular updates and highlighting company values. The key here is boost workplace productivity (and workplace happiness) through better communication.

Bottom line: As stated by John Adair, “Communication is the sister of leadership.” For those who simply communicate within a company, they will get by. However, those who communicate skillfully and with intent, will be able to maximize company success — especially in regard to employee engagement.

As you strategize new ways to build your company culture, take our top tips with you. Organizational culture can be your competitive edge and take your business to new heights.

Source : https://www.humanresourcestoday.com/?open-article-id=15299464&article-title=why-organizational-culture-is-a-competitive-differentiator-&blog-domain=achievers.com&blog-title=achievers—recruiting-

Mentorship Matters: Why These Founders Saw A 457% Spike In Growth During The Pandemic

Mentorship has always been a beneficial tool for building relationships, opening doors of opportunity and increasing odds of success. However, in current times of deep uncertainty, mentorship matters more than ever as employees and entrepreneurs navigate new ways of working. Lacking access to mentors and community can provide roadblocks for growth and elicit feelings of apprehension, confusion, and loneliness.

As many companies transition to working remotely, they are now put to the test on how to sustain culture, break down silos and create opportunities for professional development for their employees virtually. Mentorship is a critical resource for solutioning these hurdles.

Studies have shown that people recognize the importance of mentorship, yet only 37% of those asked have one. Ashley Werhun and Katherine Macnaughton, founders of Mentorly, have built a digital mentorship solution for businesses, schools, and organizations to redefine mentorship globally. The first iteration of the platform was Mentorly Marketplace, which provides vetted mentors to anyone around the world that needs expert mentorship. A recent pivot they have made to their business model is Mentorly Enterprise, launched last summer, a SaaS product that clients use to connect their own mentors and mentees. Clients of Mentorly include the City of Seattle, CMI, a program between P&G and Vinetta, Startup Canada + PMI-Montreal and others.

Mentorly has seen a 457% spike in growth since the pandemic began, “I think one of the reasons is because our clients are realizing the importance of taking care of their communities, but also understand what it actually means to do so,” Werhun explains, “that piece has really driven our clients to understand ‘how do I create a really strong culture?’ and ‘how do I create spaces for people to model that?’ and If I’m asking people to mentor and give back unless I have a system for them to do that, they’re not going to be able to.”

Mentorly makes it possible for organizations to prioritize the execution of a mentorship framework and ensure that this structure will help level the playing field for mentee applicants from an inclusion and diversity perspective. “It’s about making sure that the people who are getting mentorship are not just the ones asking for it. So, people get left behind,” says Werhun, “One of the reasons we’re talking with clients is they feel like they’re missing talent. With a mentorship program, they can see who’s actually taking advantage of this and therefore are seeing overall increases in employee engagement and retention.”

How Your Business Best Stands To Benefit From Embracing Automation
The two Montreal-based entrepreneurs founded Mentorly by recognizing pain points they experienced personally; identifying gaps that were echoed by hundreds of friends and colleagues. “I can’t say that I was very aware of mentorship until I needed it. And unfortunately, I think that that’s something that a lot of people go through,” describes Macnaughton, “Unless you have a broad network of multigenerational experts – people that you can look up to, peers, advisors and role models – it’s hard to reach out to those people when you need them because you haven’t nurtured those ties.” For Werhun, she recognized even pre-first job that creating a network relied heavily on those who dared to ask for it. It became apparent that the people who were unafraid to connect with teachers after class and ask for letters of recommendation, were the ones that got the opportunity. “That’s what I think led to early success in my personal career. It wasn’t a skill. It was just drive, determination and the ability to ask for help and get people on your side.”

A testing and feedback model for continuous improvement is foundational for businesses. For the Mentorly founders, it’s about keeping the conversation going with each other, with their advisors and peers, while following a cycle of constantly ideating, packaging, testing and trying. “We’re in a constant sandbox. We get to play around with a solution and see what sticks with us and what doesn’t stick, and we’re able to be nimble in that process,” describes Macnaughton, “We’re like a sponge and we’re taking in as much insight from the users and customers as possible.” One note of caution that the founders share is to remain grounded in your vision and focus on your instincts as you learn more. “Being around all of that kind of feedback that you’re cataloging, it’s about trusting your gut because you get so much feedback from advisers. I think we have incredible advisors who have led us to this point, but it’s really important to cut the noise out and really trust your gut too,” she explains. Macnaughton advises businesses to constantly refer back to their “why” statements: Why did you start this business? What is the mission and vision of the company and are you staying aligned with that?

Consider a B2B Model for Further Reach

Pivoting to Mentorly Enterprise opened up a new channel to impact more people through mentorship. The model allows for organizations to pay for the platforms so that employees within the company can use it. In this enterprise relationship, the company can onboard thousands of people at a time and provide access to mentorship almost immediately. “It immediately reduces the barriers to entry,” Werhun says, “We wholeheartedly believe that when you enter an organization or a company, they shouldn’t just promise mentorship. They should deliver it. And so it’s increased our impact just incredibly and the people that we’re allowed to reach and the scale that we’re allowed to reach people at.” This impact is faster to scale than the original business offering of a direct to consumer model.

Remember the Other Essentials for Business Success

It can be incredibly overwhelming for new business owners to run a startup. Feelings of burnout, stress and anxiety are common but not always addressed. “It’s a really wild ride every day; you’re making thousands of decisions and it feels like every decision is life or death,” Macnaughton advises, “Sometimes you think you have to do everything yourself and know everything all the time, but it’s really important to communicate your needs and to reach out for help. Grow your network because you’ll always be leaning on somebody when starting a business.” She also recognizes that it can be easy for founders to pour themselves completely into their business without remembering to do the things that fuel them as well, “I’d say it’s important to find something that grounds you and excites you. Make that a priority in your life – that could be within the business or outside of the business.”

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/pauleannareid/2021/01/25/mentorship-matters-why-these-founders-saw-a-457-spike-in-growth-during-the-pandemic/?sh=3d798fa0165b

Employee wellbeing: The seven characteristics of conscious leadership

During 2020, coaching and organisational wellbeing consultancy Conscious Works undertook some research into the characteristics that are prevalent in exemplary leadership. In a bid to shine a light on ‘conscious’ leaders, who contributed to the wellbeing and professional success of the people they lead, they wanted to understand the behaviour that enabled people to feel good and deliver great results at work.

The world is changing and people are demanding to be led differently.
Looking at over 40 examples of ‘conscious’ leadership, their mission was to unearth shining stars and change makers challenging the perception of what it means to lead well.

The human touch
The research shows that powerful leadership that achieves sustainable results does so because it has personal relationships and individual wellbeing at its heart. Those who lead from a position of trust, honesty and who inspire ‘followship’ are the leaders who are unlocking the best results in the workplace.

Gone are the days of a faceless figure leading employees into the breach. It is no longer acceptable for workplaces to be devoid of human connection, ruled by command-and-control. The world is changing and people are demanding to be led differently. So, what is conscious leadership and how can it be achieved?

Analysing these interviews enabled the research team to identify the seven most common characteristics of conscious leadership:

They see you: leaders see and treat their teams as individual humans with complex needs and they develop personal relationships with each person.
They have your back: leaders operate as a backstop for their teams creating a safe space for people to be bold and ambitious in their work.
They are present: leaders engage fully with their team and actively listen to what they say before responding. They see conscious leadership as part of their job, not an optional extra.
They are not afraid of challenge: leaders embrace positive disruption and own their mistakes, permitting others to do likewise.
They stretch you: leaders believe their teams are capable of more than they realise and push them to achieve it.
They trust you: leaders operate with empathy and integrity, believing in others to do the right thing and make good quality decisions, empowering them as adults.
They set clear direction: leaders deliver a clear vision and specific expectations of their team and then step back to allow individuals to decide how best to deliver.
On average, six out of seven of these characteristics were present in every leader that was spoken about.

Unlocking energy
The most effective and inspiring leaders unlock and sustain energy in their teams by connecting with them on a human level. The traditional belief that to be ‘professional’ we need to leave our emotions at the threshold to the office didn’t seem to be a problem for these leaders. In fact, 95% of the interviewees reported being seen, pointing to the fact that these leaders were intentional about getting to know people, to understand who they were and what made them tick.

He remembered what motivated me.
In 92% of interviews, they spoke of leaders who actively listened and were unequivocally present. This created energy in the individuals being led and motivation to deliver beyond what was expected.

I would have walked over hot coals for them.
The impact of being seen enabled people to work whole-heartedly and without fear. They were able to create the energy required to deliver results. Trusting leaders to be consistent and fair created an inclination towards commitment, loyalty and productivity.

Building trust
With dispersed teams and hybrid working, there has never been a more important time for leaders to build trust and to be flexible enough to allow for people to craft work around who they are and what they need. Having established themselves to be trustworthy, conscious leaders demonstrated high levels of trust in the people they lead.

With 78% of conscious leaders creating the conditions for empowerment, those who refrained from micro-management were found to inspire far greater commitment as a result. Conscious leaders equip their teams with the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to do the job. Crucially, they also give them the space and autonomy to determine how best to operate and deliver results.

If leaders are able to set the destination and also relinquish the map, there is an opportunity for trust to be built.
Where confidence and trust are freely given, it drives out fear and anxiety and allows people to think more freely, express more openly and collaborate more effectively. By removing a fear of judgment or blame and replacing it with curiosity and openness, it enables teams to identify what works and what doesn’t and make the necessary iterations for improvement.

The impact of trust is extensive; fewer mistakes are made, course-correction is smoother, creativity is boosted, and people are more likely to speak up about the things that will lead to better performance when fixed.

The report highlighted that effective leaders were able to see mistakes as an opportunity for learning and growth and demonstrated advocacy for their teams.

Source : https://www.hrzone.com/lead/culture/employee-wellbeing-the-seven-characteristics-of-conscious-leadership

How Employers Can Assist Employees If They Get Injured At Work

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set standards that employers must adhere to to ensure workers’ safety. For this reason, a company is responsible for the well-being of its employees and should provide a safe working environment free of any hazards. Unfortunately, you can only reduce the chances of accidents happening, and whenever they do happen, you should be ready to help the injured party. Here are some ways that you can help an injured employee.

If your employee is injured, you should first assess the incident’s nature and seriousness. For minor cuts and scrapes, a simple office first aid kit is all you need. It is essential to keep a sizable first aid kit at the office for such emergencies. In case of serious accidents, you should call for emergency medical assistance while stabilizing the patient to prevent further injuries. Remember, failure to contact medical assistance not only risks the patient’s life by worsening their condition but is also a criminal offense.

This is one thing most employers avoid. In case of a severe workplace accident, the employer should report the issue to authorities even if the injured employees insist that they are fine. This is an obligation under the law.

You should also document the entire incident by taking pictures, videos, and writing down the event’s descriptions before they fade from your mind. Documentation helps the police during investigations and might be served as evidence when settling any personal injury claims.

If the accident happened due to negligence on your part, you are required by law to compensate the injured party for any physical, emotional, and financial damage that resulted from the accident.

The injured employee has a right to file a personal injury claim. If they do, it is prudent to discuss the issue and reach an amicable consensus as soon as possible, failure to which the request might turn into a lawsuit that will ruin your company’s reputation. It is advisable to consult with a qualified personal injury lawyer such as the PA Worker’s Compensation Lawyer to help you with the injury compensation process.

You should support injured employees as they recover. If they can’t work, it is wise to provide them with a paid leave for the recovery duration. You can further organize a visit to the hospital with their colleagues and show them that they are not alone in their recovery.

When employees hear that one of their co-workers got injured while at work, they might get anxious and feel unsafe. This affects their attitude and morale, reducing the company’s productivity in the long run. It would be best if you reassured them by putting in necessary measures to prevent such incidents.

Engaging with your injured employee’s doctor is advantageous both to the employee and to your company. The worker will witness your commitment towards their well-being and will probably look to reciprocate the energy afterward. You will also be able to follow up on their recovery process and determine the amount of time you will allow them to stay at home before reporting back to work. The business will benefit from knowing the expected downtime and adapting to the employee’s absence. What’s more, you will monitor the medical bills to ensure accuracy in the valuation of their compensation claim.

After a severe injury, there is a chance the employee will not be in the right physical state to handle certain manual tasks. You can ensure they remain productive and don’t overexert themselves by assigning them lighter duties, even if temporarily. As their work capacity increases, ease them back into their initial responsibilities by slowly increasing their workload. A doctor can help you determine the kind and amount of work suitable for the recovering employee and how long it will take before their health and physical capacity is restored.

If there are drastic changes at work that might impact the injured employee’s job description or work shift when they report back, it is best to ensure they get notified as soon as possible. Surprises can be extremely vexing, particularly for someone who just recovered from an injury. They can lower morale and take a toll on efficiency and productivity.

Keeping the recovering employee posted ensures they are mentally prepared and have the time to adjust their side schedule ahead of time. If you want to involve them in formal meetings, you can use conferencing tools such as zoom to ensure they contribute and get any major updates in real-time.

This is the easiest and cheapest thing to do, but an employer’s get-well message is something any employee will appreciate. You can do it on the phone, but it would be better if you did it the conventional way and mailed a physical note to their home address. Depending on the relationship you share with them, you can write a direct personal message or craft one on behalf of the company. Either way, the employee will feel missed and look forward to getting back to work. Additionally, it will eliminate any fears they may have about losing their job.

Most workplace injuries are products of preventable factors. While there is nothing you can do to reverse the event that led to the employee’s injury, there are ways you can express remorse and show what happened was entirely a mistake. For one, you can get rid of the hazard that caused the accident and perform a safety review to make the workplace safer. You can also provide your workforce with workplace safety training and set strict proactive measures to minimize the risk of similar accidents in the future.

Source : https://www.humanresourcestoday.com/?open-article-id=15356810&article-title=how-employers-can-assist-employees-if-they-get-injured-at-work&blog-domain=gethppy.com&blog-title=get-hppy

Humanizing Work In The Age Of Creepy AI

We have spent much of the past decade obsessing about the future of work, and the current pandemic has prompted many to assert that the “future is finally here”. Chronologically, this is factually correct: the present was once the future. Philosophically, we can debate whether the changes we are seeing now are indeed the crystallization of accurate predictions, let alone real changes. The clichéd assertion that the pandemic has accelerated everything that was already there to begin with seems suspiciously self-serving. A sort of “I told you so” that exhibits all the characteristics of confirmation bias. We seem to look for trends like the drunkard who searches for his keys under the lamppost: not because that’s where he lost them, but because that’s the only place where he can see.

To be sure, one of the problems with predicting the future is that nobody has any data on it, so the best we can do is guess, make stuff up, and hope that people will pay some attention, remember our guesses, and forget our misses. More often than not, future predictions are an attempt to make sense of the present, but they can also distract us from solving the real problems we face today. In that sense, the best prediction is one which results in some form of action. An action that helps us create a better future by addressing the big problems of the present.

One of the big problems we face today is the potential dehumanization of work, a trend that may actually suppress (rather than accelerate) recent efforts to improve the employee experience and enable workers to construct a more meaningful relationship with their work, including purposeful careers rich in learning opportunities, and the potential to develop their human and humane qualities, such as creativity, curiosity, empathy, and integrity. Cynics may argue that this quest for the spiritual workaholic was perhaps just PR… a recruitment strategy designed to seduce the narcissistic aspirations of an otherwise disenchanted workforce. Even if this is true, we can now see the emergence of a much darker reality casting Orwellian shadows over our work and careers. This dystopian reality has revitalized fears of alienated workers oppressed by technocratic surveillance and algorithmic capitalism.

Clearly, there is no stopping technology from playing a bigger and bigger role in our lives and careers, but this doesn’t mean undermining the human aspect of work, or making work less humane. The big impact of the pandemic is not so much the advancement of technology, but the removal of human-to-human interaction, which no Zoom or Virtual Reality can fully replicate. Not so long ago our main concern was whether AI would automate humans; our main concern today should be to stop humans from behaving like AI. When you sterilize the personal touch from work, our natural proclivity is to turn into productive machines. We can, thanks to technology, self-optimize our working lives so as to minimize time wasting, boost efficiencies and productivity, which would turn us into a more predictable and soulless species. This is the way AI would want it. We already spend much of our working lives training algorithms, but there should be more to our selves than that which can be automated.The Importance Of ‘Agility’ In The Future Of Work
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Fortunately, there is no need to wait for any technological developments to make work better, as the solution to the problem is human rather than artificial intelligence. Empathy, honesty, trust, and compassion are the key ingredients for a better tomorrow, and a better today. They are the only attributes capable of turning artificial intelligence into a genuine human ally, capable of augmenting rather than downgrading our humanity, and we surely have every incentive to avoid any of he far bleaker alternatives.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomaspremuzic/2021/01/25/humanizing-work-in-the-age-of-creepy-ai/?sh=5ae964fa94ec

Making Joy a Priority at Work

Amid the dazzle and hopes of the digital age, it is easy to forget that old-fashioned human desire is as essential to achieving business goals as ever.

Right now, for example, companies are making massive investments in technologies that can more closely link their people to each other, to customers, and to other stakeholders. Yet many companies struggle because their cultures get in the way — too many layers and silos, too many colleagues who prefer to stay in their comfort zones, bask in their KPIs, and resist new ways of connecting and working.

This is a big problem. And joy can be a big part of the solution. Why? For two reasons. People intrinsically seek joy. And joy connects people more powerfully than almost any other human experience.

The connective power of joy is clearly visible in sports. When a team performs at its awe-inspiring best, overcoming its limitations and challenges, every player — indeed, the entire arena — experiences a brimming ecstasy that lifts the team even further. Success sparks joy. Joy fuels further success. Everyone is caught up in the moment.

Can the joy that is so apparent in championship athletics be replicated in business? Absolutely.

In any team environment, joy arises from a combination of harmony, impact, and acknowledgment — all of which business leaders can engender in their organizations.

Harmony. On winning teams, each player has a distinct role in achieving the goal. One player might be a great passer. Another is a great scorer. Yet another may bring a certain intensity and competitive fire. When the diverse skills and strengths of teammates are really clicking together, it feels great.

Impact. Team harmony leads to impact, which further fuels joy. Even if the result is just a single sublime play or golden moment, the palpable joy of each teammate rises. You can see it in their faces as they throw their arms around each other and jump up and down like jubilant children. They are saying to each other: “Can you believe we did that?!”

Acknowledgment. Great coaches instruct their players to, when they score, immediately point to the teammates who created the scoring opportunity. Acknowledging each player’s contributions and cheering for each other powers the entire joy-success-joy cycle.

This is a pattern rife with opportunity for business leaders. By providing people with more of the experiences that engender joy in any team setting, leaders can tap more of the practical power of joy in their companies.

To test this premise, A.T. Kearney conducted a survey in December 2018 that explored people’s workplace experiences across the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific region. The sample included more than 500 employees of various ages in companies with more than $2 billion in revenues and in a range of industries.

We first asked respondents to report how much joy they experience in the workplace. We then asked them to rate how well a series of statements reflects their professional experience, so we could gauge whether these variables correlate with feeling joy at work.

As shown in the figure below, employees who reported feeling more joy at work strongly agreed with each statement much more frequently than did employees who said they feel less joy at work. This suggests that the full range of experiences that visibly yield joy in team athletics — namely harmony, impact, and acknowledgment — can have much the same effect in the business world.

Our survey findings further suggest that joy stems from believing one’s work is truly meaningful. Employees who believe their “company makes a positive societal contribution” and who feel “personally committed to achieving the company’s vision and strategy” experienced the most joy at work. In my industry, where almost 100% of newly recruited consultants are Millennials, providing an overarching purpose is critical to attracting and retaining great talent.

These findings make perfect sense to me. Life is a vector requiring both force and direction. The pursuit of happiness sets the direction, but feeling joy provides the daily confirmation that we are doing exactly what we should be doing, for the company and for the teammates who energize our efforts.

The lesson? Crafting business cultures that more consistently engender such experiences can create a much stronger sense of personal interconnection, shared purpose, and heartfelt pride across the organization.

However, the survey also points to a pronounced “joy gap” at work. Nearly 90% of respondents said that they expect to experience a substantial degree of joy at work, yet only 37% report that such is their actual experience. Nor is this joy gap confined to any particular generational cohort. For Gen Xers and Millennials (the vast majority of our sample), the joy gap was 57% and 44%, respectively.

Business leaders tend to think a great deal about success, but rarely about joy. Chances are, few are even aware of the joy gap in their organization and the resulting lack of interpersonal connection and team aspiration. That must change.

Here are some specific steps leaders can take to increase joy at work:

Set the agenda. Make the experience of joy an explicit corporate purpose. Strengthen your inclusion agenda to incorporate meaningful efforts toward ensuring all employees feel heard, recognized, and acknowledged. Fund mental health benefits for all employees.

Set the stage. Staff your new digital/culture programs with true cross-unit, cross-silo teams, where joint teamwork delivers maximum impact, shared success, and fun.

Set the tone. Encourage and celebrate individual and corporate social impact efforts. Authentically express more of the joy you personally experience in your role. Joy begets joy. In my firm, I have emphasized the need to joyfully “dial up” the culture with a sustained emphasis on diversity, inclusion, apprenticeship, and personal day-to-day leadership.

Joy can pack as much practical punch as technology if we allow it to. Both are required to maintain the cohesion that helps large organizations nimbly communicate and adapt to unprecedented challenges. Technology provides the infrastructure for connectivity, but the foundation must be a culture dedicated to the human experience of harmony, impact, and acknowledgment. In sum, joy.

Source : https://hbr.org/2019/07/making-joy-a-priority-at-work

How to transform HR with personalisation technology

In today’s turbulent world, all of us are experiencing one constant – change. Overnight, COVID-19 forced organisations to either ‘down tools’ or get set for full-time remote working, putting HR services, processes and technology to the ultimate test.

With employees now spread across different locations, less connected to their companies and less embedded in the culture, personalised digital touchpoints and experiences through company technology have become more important than ever.

Personalisation has long been a hot topic in HR technology, and the changes imposed upon workforces in 2020 have made it clear that one size does not fit all. HR departments are perfectly positioned to tap into the depth of knowledge they have about each individual employee to create hyper-personalised employee experiences within their HR systems.

Smart use of HR technology to deliver this personalisation can provide a much-needed sense of connection between employees and organisations.

Going no-code

One of the big historical challenges with HR technology, and business technology in general, has been the level of IT input required to implement, connect and manage the systems. This often leads to organisations not getting 100% of the value they hoped from large technology investments, and long-time scales to make small changes.

Thankfully the trend towards low and no-code applications is breaking down technology barriers for non-technical people, enabling organisations to set-up and use technology faster. Gartner reports that by 2024, low-code and no-code applications will be responsible for more than 65% of app development activity.

No-code is reducing the time to value and putting department heads in the driver’s seat so that they can build and evolve the technology they envisioned for their team

These increasingly visual and what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) platforms remove many IT barriers from enterprise technology. For example, users can build powerful regulatory compliant applications using visual drag and drop builders, form templates, custom workflows, and connectors to existing systems and data processes all without input from a technical expert.

No-code is reducing the time to value and putting department heads in the driver’s seat so that they can build and evolve the technology they envisioned for their team.

When it comes to workforce experience layers, being no-code makes them easily customisable, and enables HR to build personalised experiences for their workforces at speed.

The added level of control that this gives to HR departments means that in times of crises as we have recently experienced, they can be agile, react in the moment and communicate different information to different employees without needing to go via IT or expensive coders. In turn, employees are on the receiving end of the information they need to continue working effectively, without interruption.

HR personalisation portals

With the IT barriers to personalisation decreasing, HR leaders are rapidly inventing new ways to better engage their increasingly hybrid workforces.

As a first step, many organisations are deploying personalised portals to introduce personalisation at the first touch point with their employees, whilst offering access to all HR services and content on one platform, customised depending on employee, role, location and other demographics.

The aim is to truly focus on the employee experience by having one place for all things HR-related. This, in turn, improves navigation, allows faster access to information and lets employees complete work faster by uniting knowledge, collaboration and tasks in a single platform.

Overall, portals mirror the trend towards seamless and smooth experiences in consumer technology, making digital HR simple and providing a one-stop-shop access to all HR services and tasks, no matter where employees are.

A good place to start with personalisation is on a persona level, where content can be hidden or shown depending on an individual’s role, geography or seniority. This is beneficial so that your workforce doesn’t waste time reading the wrong policy guide or completing the incorrect form.

By personalising entire sections, services or individual content areas by persona, you can build rich forms interactively to ensure that the right people fill in the right fields at the right time. Employees can also get curated career development recommendations that shift with the business and maximise career potential.

Carefully tailored content not only acts as a supplement to manager guidance, but also shows employees that their employers are invested in their careers.

Engaging experiences

Another big challenge in today’s work environment is employee disengagement. It is estimated that disengaged employees are costing the UK economy £70bn every year in lost training and recruitment costs, sick days, productivity, creativity and innovation.

Here the increasingly tech-enabled HR function is also leveraging technology to come up with novel ways to keep employees motivated in spite of changing work circumstances.

Some of the best examples of this are ‘borrowed’ from the tools consumers are already using day-to-day. For example, an enterprise contextual-based search engine – think Google for an organisation – can enable knowledge to spread rapidly and give employers immediate answers to job-related questions that can inform urgent decision-making.

Additionally, having chatbots or instant messaging with humans can enable more collaboration as individual employees can engage with innovative technologies to gain real-time assistance. Personalisation platforms also provide analytics by utilising and navigating data, providing insights and immediate access into workers’ information, needs and priorities.

The personalisation imperative

In many cases, the ongoing crisis has created a big gap between organisations and their employees, with many left wanting.

Having a personalised digital workforce experience platform is one of the big levers HR leaders have to help their organisations and employees master this new normal working environment. Creating increasingly engaging experiences between organisations and employees will ultimately help develop a more productive and motivated workforce and reduce attrition.

It is to be remembered that employees, rather than an organisation, should be the centrepiece of this change. The HR team must adopt personalised platforms that are easily accessible to drive employee satisfaction and offer them the sort of flexibility and engagement they would have in their personal lives.

Source : https://www.trainingjournal.com/articles/features/how-transform-hr-personalisation-technology

Excellence In Employee Experience: What Works?

Employee Experience has become a crusade. Every HR and IT department is focused on it, and the marketplace has exploded. In fact, if you total up the tools spent on surveys, feedback, case management, knowledge management, and portals it’s well over a $15 Billion market today, and it leverages more than $200 billion in training, wellbeing, and other benefits spending.

How did we get here? Well it has been a journey, so let me give you some perspective.

Employee Experience: What Really Is It?

First, let’s define the term. Employee Experience (now called EX, to compare with CX, Customer Experience), is a company-wide initiative to help employees stay productive, healthy, engaged, and on track. It’s no longer an HR project. It’s is now an enterprise-wide strategy, often led by the CHRO in partnership with the CIO. And it deals with all the day to day issues employees face at work.

Second, it has multiple layers. At its core, EX is all about delivering an easy-to-use platform of tools that makes work productive. Just like Microsoft Office made our email and document management easy, a good EX solution makes all the other workplace activities easy. This is why companies like Microsoft, Facebook, and Google are big players in the space.

Third, it goes well beyond IT and HR. Today the EX strategy includes safe workplace protocols, office scheduling, employee learning, and of course all the other HR issues including pay, leave, wellbeing, and benefits.

Fourth, EX is now an “active strategy.” You should define and design your Employee Experience, not just monitor it. The CEO should think about EX as one of the most important design issues in the company. Done well, the EX program drives employment brand, productivity, engagement, retention, and customer success. (When employees aren’t productive, customers aren’t happy.)

At Amazon or UPS, for example, EX focuses on how a delivery driver can quickly find their route and deliver a package. At Microsoft or Facebook, it’s about helping engineers be productive and collaborative. At Dow or Exxon it’s about safety and process compliance. And at Northern Trust or Bank of America, it’s about security, financial controls, and customer service.

Finally, EX should build and reinforce your culture. At Unilever, for example, Purpose is everything. So a core tenet of Unilever’s EX is “finding your purpose” and “living your purpose.” So Unilever’s EX includes tools for self-discovery, job enrichment, and personal improvement.

How Did We Get Here: Consider The History

As in many business trends, this one came over time.. and I can trace the EX roots through four major eras. (Very analogous, by the way, to the evolution of CX – customer experience.)

history of employee experience
1/ Industrial Engineering

This space started with industrial engineering. In the early 1900s Fredrick Taylor, a mechanical engineer, studied the behavior of steelworkers. In his iconic book Principles of Scientific Management, he described how data proved that the optimum “load” a steelworker should carry is around 50 lbs. If the worker carried more weight he tired out or got hurt. If he carried less he wasted time.

While Taylor was looking at productivity, his time and motion studies moved us to look at more. Maybe personality matters too.

In 1921 Carl Jung, a psychiatrist (and disciple of Freud), developed the idea of “personality types” at work. He realized that different types (Introverts and Extroverts) behaved differently in groups. This work led Isabel Myers and her mother Katherine Briggs to come up with MBTI, one of the most widely used personality assessments in business.

The MBTI created a stampede of new ideas in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. And there have been hundreds of innovations since (DISC, Big Five, Predictive Index, Competing Values, and hundreds of others). All focused on trying to understand “what makes people perform better at work.”

So the core roots of Employee Experience started with industrial engineering: figuring out the physical, psychological, and environmental things that improve productivity, safety, and quality at work.

2/ Annual Surveys And Employee Engagement

The next big era was the focus on “Employee Engagement.” (Defined as an employee’s willingness to expend “discretionary effort.”) Companies like Gallup and Kenexa looked at these factors and came up with “Engagement Models” that tried to predict employee outcomes. Famously, Gallup discovered that “having a best friend at work” was the most predictive of employee retention. (It was a big topic this last year!)

In the mid-1920s Western Electric (the manufacturing arm of AT&T), pioneered the famous “Hawthorne Studies.” They looked at the lighting in a manufacturing plant and tried making them brighter. Employee productivity went up. Then they made the lights dimmer. And productivity went up again! The finding? When people feel like you’re listening to them they actually perform better! So we started a few decades of employee surveys.

This became a big industry. When I worked for IBM in the 1970s we had the Annual Opinion Survey and it was sacred. Everyone took it, the results were carefully tabulated and analyzed, and several months later there were meetings, reports, and some managers lost their jobs. These annual “climate surveys” became huge.

They were very important because companies could track their “engagement” by location, business unit, or manager and then see where things were going well and where they weren’t. But they were not very actionable and didn’t offer much open feedback, because they were based on benchmark questions.

I always thought that engagement benchmarking was a little silly – why would you want to compare yourself to another company, wouldn’t you just want to make your company the best it can be? Well, it was a massive trend so vendors like Gallup, Kenexa, Towers Watson, and others sold benchmarking data, survey tools, and lots and lots of consulting.

What we didn’t yet know was that an annual survey was “interesting but not useful.” It doesn’t tell you what’s happening at the “micro” level, where each employee is frustrated by a series of little things that may be tripping them up. So in around 2008 or so the idea of a “pulse survey” started to take hold. (Read my article Feedback is the Killer App.)

I believe vendors like Glassdoor started this craze (people could “Yelp” their company online), by letting employees talk about their employer online. Initially, employers were horrified to see these comments appear in public, but then we all got religion and started listening to employees like we listen to customers.

3/ Pulse Feedback, Response, And Employee Services

Next we entered a world of “pulse surveys” and Yelp-like tools at work. And this introduced a journey to always-on feedback” and the need to “design” a better experience at work. (NetPromoter did this for customer experience about ten years earlier.)

Initially, companies were afraid of pulse surveys. Every HR person I talked with said “nobody wants all these surveys” or “we’re wasting people’s time” or “the data won’t be useful.” But actually, the opposite happened.

Employees started to love giving their feedback and the results were very useful, so the tools market exploded with growth. Today you can get feedback tools from hundreds of vendors and they let you crowdsource suggestions, look at sentiment analysis and mood, and even identify harassment, fraud, and safety issues by looking at what people say.

(And this data is powerful. One of the largest Utilities in the US found employee feedback about maintenance issues which later predicted a massive fire.)

This flood of employee information then opened up another big question: who is going to deal with all these feedback issues?

We need a service delivery center or a series of self-service experiences, that help employees deal with their questions. So over the last ten years, we’ve built up an industry of case management systems, chatbots, and service delivery tools to respond to employee needs. (ServiceNow’s enormous growth all comes from this era).

Consider this picture. On the vertical axis, I show the wide range of EX issues we have to address (from the bottom to top of Maslow’s Hierarchy). On the horizontal, I show all the various service delivery groups in the company that have to get involved. It’s a big “N x N” problem to solve, which takes an enterprise-wide focus.

employee experience
By the way, this era also opened up the door to sentiment analysis, organizational network analysis, and many forms of intelligent analytics. Companies like Kanjoya and Glint, who pioneered text analytics, let loose a marketplace of systems that can identify mood, topic, and risk in employee feedback, case information, voice, and even video. And now we’re closing the loop – monitoring employee feedback in near real-time and sending it to the right stakeholder.

(Read “Shortening The Distance From Signal to Action” for more on this trend.)

4/ Today: EX Is About Designing An Integrated Experience

And this brings us to where we are today. We’re moving from “passive” to “active.” Let’s not just survey and respond, let’s design the EX we want. So companies are investing heavily in this strategy and bringing together HR, IT, Facilities, Safety, Legal, and more. And the COVID-19 crisis has added “safe workplace” to the mix, creating a massive industry for workplace redesign, desk scheduling, and low-touch work environments.

How do you build an EX strategy? It’s a cross-disciplinary problem because there are hundreds of “employee journeys” to consider.

We’re working with a large global company (more than 300,000 employees) that developed a detailed analysis of more than 200 “employee transactions” to be automated. For each of these “experiences”, we’re looking at whether we can make it self-service, automate it with a new tool, implement in the core HCM system, or possibly delegate it to a business partner or line manager. Imagine the “design work” that this requires.

Well, this is where we’ve arrived. Now, in the post-Covid (soon) world, we realize we have to look at health and safety, workplace design, desk scheduling, and even commute and travel. These new “safety and operational” issues are vital to an employee’s productivity, so we’ve added them to the mix.

As we talk with companies about what’s going on, we found that there are three keys to success.

First, you have to create a cross-functional initiative, one owned by HR, IT, Facilities, and Legal. One person leads this strategy, but it has to be implemented in stages over time. Every service delivery center in the company is now involved (many companies have a Global Business Services function, but many do not), and there is a case management, knowledge management, and IT technology focus to consider.

Second, you need to “design” the experience you want. Every company has a different focus: at Dow and Exxon and Shell, the central focus is safety. At Unilever and Patagonia, the central focus is purpose and personal growth. At Microsoft, the focus is on productivity and wellbeing. And in financial service companies, the core focus is often on compliance, accuracy, and accountability.

These higher-level strategies have to be in place so you can decide what to do and what not to do. While we all want a “perfect” experience at work, there is no end to the number of things you can focus on. I urge you to go back to your business strategy first, so you don’t get lost in the weeds of things to do.

We have been working with a large Tech company on this for a few months, and they’re looking at the myriad of systems they have to stitch together. This is a huge part of the design, because building a new or updated “employee portal” can take millions of dollars. New announcements from Microsoft and other vendors are starting to make this easier, but this is all part of the design.

Third, you have to look at service delivery. No platform or “designed solution” is enough. Employees need someone to call, a place to get answers, and a series of escalations when things go wrong. What if I spot a safety hazard and want to report it? What if I’ve lost my laptop and am worried about lost data? What if my manager starts to harrass me and I need a private conversation? And what if I”m just burned out and can’t find what I need and don’t know where to start?

Deciding how and where escalations occur is part of EX. Just as we want customers to find the “right person” as fast as possible when they have questions or issues, we need the same design for employees.

Creating Employee Personas

Around 2016, when this idea first came to light, people started to apply design thinking to this problem. And they quickly found out that “all employees are not the same.” The needs of a mobile sales professional are very different from that of a manufacturing worker, and likewise, a retail employee is different from a software engineer. So we started to look at “personas.”

In 2017 I interviewed the head of digital strategy for Deutsche Telekom and they created 22 “personas” for all the workers in the company. They used design thinking to study what these people do, and then created a series of digital workplace tools, HR practices, and productivity tools for each. This core work has served them well: as new problems come up, the team can quickly apply the personas to the problem.

Deutsche Telekom
And this is a chance to get to know your company well. In one of my conversations, I asked the head of HR for a large manufacturer if they had segmented their workforce for EX design. She answered “yes, absolutely. We have three workforce personas: Executives, Managers, and Labor.” Well, it was a step in the right direction, but you can imagine my disappointment when I told her “I think you can go a little deeper with this.”

Today we have to look at “deskless workers” (store, plant, mobile workers) in a very different way from “office workers.” We have to look at employee journeys by role, age, and even location. So there are dozens of dimensions to segment the workforce, making EX even more interesting (and complicated) than ever.

Enter 2021: More Important Than Ever

Today EX is more important than ever. The Pandemic taught us that working at home, developing a safe workplace, and supporting people in their wellbeing, productivity and career growth is essential. So EX has crawled out of the corner of the HR department and landed on the desk of the CEO.

And this leaves me with one final point. Employee Experience is not just a program to improve retention or productivity, it’s now core to your brand.

If employees don’t feel safe, productive, or supported, they will tell their friends – and your employment brand will suffer. And in times of change and stress, we want our people to “power us to success.” Designing a great experience for them is as important as it is for customers.

Source : https://joshbersin.com/2021/01/the-crusade-for-employee-experience-how-did-we-get-here/

HR leaders fear impact of work from home

As coronavirus continues to weigh on the HR agenda, a new study claims that, whilst 46% of HR directors see improving employee productivity and engagement as their main focus for the year, just 33% foresee such an improvement occurring.

The results, which form part of Clear Review’s second Performance Management Report, were ascertained by surveying over 200 HR professionals to discover how the industry is continuing to deal with COVID-19 alongside the latest challenges on 2021.

And whilst a perceived lack of improvement in productivity and engagement appears to be a key concern, the main issue through the eyes of HR professionals seems to be offering solutions to the issue whilst workers remain remote.

“A return to face-to-face encounters [feels] as far away as ever. We are all going to struggle with maintaining performance levels as we balance home schooling, lockdowns, quarantining, concerns for families while still doing our jobs,” noted Stuart Hearn, Founder and CEO at Clear Review.

“For businesses, that means working harder to both support and motivate staff. The survey suggests they may feel that working remotely hampers performance levels, but the fact is that we are going to be in this situation for a while longer. Employers, and their HR leaders, need to come up with ways of developing performance while maintaining productivity and engagement in a dispersed workforce.”

The report also noted the trend of shifting attitudes in the wake of the pandemic. It stated that just nine per cent of respondents acknowledged reassessing worker pay as a priority, down from 18% in 2019, when the first Performance Management Report was published.

Yet whilst HR outlook for the current year seems worrying, the report also highlighted positive changes to attitudes as a result of COVID-19.

In fact, 97% of managers and 89% employees agreed that they or their teams would benefit from regular development and coaching sessions. This is a steep improvement on the first report back in 2019, when 81% of the former and 64% of the latter believed this to be the case.

Source : https://my.executivegrapevine.com/content/article/2021-01-25-only-3-hr-leaders-postive-about-work-from-home

The mental health cost of ‘masking’ and racism in the workplace

Cultural ‘masking’ in the workplace is a by-product of racism and it’s having a devastating effect on our collective wellbeing and mental health. Let’s make this the year that racism, and the need for ‘masking’ is eradicated.

The stress of ‘masking’
It is exhausting having your guard up all the time, afraid to make a misstep that could negatively put you in the spotlight. For instance, many Africans are concerned about taking their food to work because their colleagues will complain and HR will come after them for upsetting the duty of care, with the smell of their ‘ethnic food’, so they learn to pretend to enjoy sandwiches and tea until their brains are convinced.

This also applies to how people dress. From agbada to turbans to saris, to iro and buba (wrapper and blouse) to ankara (African prints) to burkas – what would your reaction be to seeing your colleagues come to work dressed in one of these? Would your kneejerk reaction be to say they are dressed ‘unprofessionally’?

What about their hair, their speech pattern, or perhaps their hand and facial gestures? Are they interpreted as too showy or rude? Are the adjustments being made one-sided, all from the colleagues from different minority racial backgrounds?

Despite the fervent conversations on diversity, equality and inclusion during the pandemic, Covid-19 has birthed a different kind of micro-aggression and exclusion shielded under the auspice of ‘health concerns’. Since ethnic minorities have been identified as being at higher risk of severe illness from Covid-19, it has resulted in the unconscious bias that ethnic minorities are carriers of the virus, and they are treated with veiled disdain as a result. It’s a fine line, so how does one find the balance?

The mental health issues caused by racism, micro aggressions, exclusion and having to wear a workplace ‘mask’ don’t only negatively affect the individual, but the bottom line as well, due to the costs of absenteeism, recruitment and training. Indeed, figures from the ONS show that an estimated 141.4 million working days were lost because of sickness or injury in the UK in just one year, the equivalent to 4.4 days per worker – and that was in 2018. Imagine how much higher that might be now.

Creating a people first, inclusive culture that encourages everyone to bring their whole selves to work is more than a trendy catchphrase or slogan. It takes commitment, dedication, constant education, organisational checks and an emphasis on giving voice to everyone.

To look out for the holistic wellbeing of racially diverse colleagues, the silent plague of masking has to be addressed. Here are some ways to remove the need for masking:

diagram outlining steps to remove racism from the workplace

Diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) training backed by zero tolerance to racism
While subtle acts of exclusion are often harder to spot, it is essential that DEI training is done regularly to empower everyone with knowledge and information. This education makes it easier to implement a 360-degree feedback system enabling colleagues and management to see where the loopholes are. The 360-degree feedback doesn’t just empower the racial minority – it also empowers allies to use their voices.

Understand your people
Take advantage of a personality testing system like DISC, which is the universal language of behaviour. Knowledge of DISC empowers you and your team to be more self aware, more understanding of others, better communicators, agile at resolving conflict, and promotes better onboarding. Research has shown that behavioural characteristics can be grouped in four major groups – dominant, influence, steadfast and compliant. All people share these four styles in varying degrees of intensity.

Know your colleagues
It is clear that work is easier when you feel you know your colleagues, so how about proposing a learning experience where colleagues discover each other’s cultures? This could be done in the form of an immersive experience that leaves them feeling like they’ve made a trip to each other’s homes. If it’s done often, this will weave a bond of understanding and appreciation between team members.

Host diversity themed days
On these days, you can choose to encourage colleagues to come to work in traditional outfits and to share a fact or story about the outfit. (If you’re working remotely then video calls can facilitate this shared experience). This activity should encourage everyone to embrace, express and celebrate the richness of various cultures. Does this raise the question of cultural appropriation? No – because other cultures are not being appropriated, but appreciated with due acknowledgment given. This creates an understanding of roots and connectedness between the brand and the larger community.
We all have a responsibility to eradicate racism in all its forms at work, on the street and at home. Remember, we do not know what we do not know – but we can learn.

Source : https://www.hrzone.com/lead/culture/the-mental-health-cost-of-masking-and-racism-in-the-workplace