Non-compete agreements: Retention tool or liability landmine?

on-compete contracts, or restrictive covenants, have garnered a lot of media attention of late. Once considered applicable only to high-level employees, non-competes have trickled down the corporate ladder to the rank and file as companies try to protect their investment in staff.

The practice of using non-competes has become so widespread that in March 2016 the Obama administration issued a report citing overuse and abuse. The findings from the U.S. Treasury Department show how common the contracts have become:

18% of American workers (30 million) are covered by one;
15% of workers without a college degree are covered by one;
14% of workers who earn less than $40,000 a year are covered by one;
19% of California workers, where such agreements are unenforceable, are covered by one; and
37% of workers report having worked under one at some point during their career.

For some employees, signing the agreement is not a transparent process. Many don’t understand the terms or their implications. Some employees are only told about the required agreement after they’ve accepted an offer. And 37% of workers are required to sign the agreement on their first day or lose the job.

In October of 2016, the Obama administration issued a Call to Action, urging states to enact laws that limit the use of non-competes. Many responded with new laws, and others have proposals in the works.

Proper use
Non-competes can have legitimate business purposes, but they must meet certain criteria to be enforceable. Companies often have to show that violation of the agreement would cause them substantial harm, for example. Additionally, there usually need to be some balance of fairness to both the employer and employee.

Courts ask what damages could arise out of the breach. Is there a calculable cost or would the harm be ongoing and irreparable? When looking at the balance of equity, they determine trade secrets, for example, and their value against the employee’s need to work.

Passing these tests, the agreements are often deemed valid. “The courts are very well equipped to deal with these cases, because the standards are built in,” according to Clifford Atlas, co-leader of the non-competes and protection against unfair competition practice group at Jackson Lewis P.C.. “The system works to balance the business interests of the employer against the rights of the employee,” he told HR Dive.

Recent decisions
In 2016, Jimmy John’s sandwich shops were required to pay a $100,000 settlement over improper use of non-competes. The company required all its sandwich makers and delivery drivers to sign an agreement not to work in any store that earned most of its revenue selling sandwiches within a 3 mile radius of any Jimmy John’s in the U.S. for two years post-employment. The Illinois Attorney General filed the lawsuit, claiming the agreement was overly broad. The company has since eliminated the agreements for all employees.

This year, an Illinois Appellate Court decision found requesting a “connection” on LinkedIn did not violate a non-compete agreement. An employee sent a generic connection request to several former colleagues. The company argued this could lead to their seeing job postings on his profile page. The Court agreed the generic networking connection request did not violate the agreement. But in Michigan, a former employee’s posts encouraged others to leave — and that contract was upheld by the Courts.


Significant percentage of employees world over disengaged

Employee engagement is a key bottom-line issue, yet over one-third of workers in 17 of the world’s most important economies are disengaged, finds out a study.

According to the study, which covered 17 countries and 12,480 participants, Indian workers ranked well above global averages on all engagement metrics, scoring higher than all other countries.

Moreover, Indian workers have also rated every workplace satisfaction metric significantly above global averages.

Global workplace solution provider Steelcase partnered with research firm IPSOS for the study to measure relevant dimensions of employee engagement and workplace satisfaction.

This study found that while more than one-third of workers are disengaged, another third are somewhere in the middle, not working against their companies, but not driving better business results either.

“When workers become disengaged, it costs companies money, slows projects, drains resources and undermines company goals, as well as the efforts of their engaged counterparts.

This is why employee is one of the key issues facing leading global organisations today,” the study said. The study noted that the most highly engaged employees tend to hail from emerging economies and the least engaged come from countries in well-established markets.

Analysis of the data identified a pattern that the country where employees live, its culture and the resulting expectations have an impact on how highly engaged and satisfied they are with their workplace.

As for India, the study noted that 70 per cent of the country’s employees occupy either a private or shared private office at work and this is an important metric for employee engagement.

“Culturally, having a workspace of one’s own, even if it is compact and modest, is a signal of belonging and importance, which may explain the overall high degree of workplace satisfaction,” it added.


Trends That Will Redefine Digital Workplace In 2018

Organizations’ reliance on technology has never been as pronounced as it is today. The last few years have been crucial for technology adoption and evaluation in India. On one hand we saw the emergence of digital native, cloud first start-ups eager to disrupt established business process, and on the other we saw traditional businesses embrace transformational technologies at an astounding pace to help maintain their competitive edge. As new technologies get further integrated into the fabric of IT infrastructures, opportunities aiding growth and development of efficiency enhancing processes will be unveiled.

This year, Citrix, has been focussing on delivering technologies and solutions that help redefine the workplace. With our digital workspace offerings, we have helped multiple organizations unlock productivity gains, thus improving their overall reaction time to the market realities and helping them position themselves to quickly take advantage of opportunities coming their way.

Given this, we, believe that the following trends will play a major role in shaping the coming year and thus will need serious consideration by organizations who intend on revamping their IT construct in tandem with the evolving technology landscape.

The future is cloudy

Cloud and cloud enabled SaaS apps are here to stay. Cloud opens a completely new facet for technology adoption and operational efficiency. Capabilities around analytics, AI, robotics that have been integrated into cloud based offerings are proving hard to emulate using traditional on-premise deployments due to cost, complexity, and skill considerations. Businesses, therefore, will have to evaluate the capabilities of the cloud offerings alongside on-premise offerings and accordingly implement an environment spread across cloud platforms that best meets their capability and productivity goals. Applied cloud strategy, evolving workload, need for business agility, freedom of usage and usage based costs, will help businesses better understand the relevance of a multi-cloud approach, further accelerating the pace of technology transformation we are experiencing today.

Rise of multigenerational workforces

Employees are a critical driving force powering the expansion and growth of businesses. Today’s workplace represents a vibrant mix of employees comprising 4 generations. Each one of these generations have a different degree of comfort when it comes to technology usage and adoption. As job profiles become increasingly skill-set focussed and age-agnostic, organizations need to work on simplifying and normalizing their technology platforms to minimise productivity gaps between the digital natives and the non-digital natives. As work paradigms and technologies change, we will see an even wider gap between generations. With 50 % of employees being digital natives who prefer not to be restrained by a location, and the rest comprising of traditional non-digital employees, organisations will have to invest in creating systems that regulate this gap. In order to optimally utilise the talent at disposal, a collaborative system wherein knowledge is shared, and peer-to-peer learning is practised, should be endorsed. Organisations need to encourage adaption of digital technologies like automation, internet-connected devices, and online communication tools, to reduce the technology awareness gap across groups.

Digital Upskilling

In an increasingly digital India, digital literacy has become imperative and almost every job today requires employees to interface with a digital medium. With technology drastically changing older operational efficacies across the board, businesses are hard pressed to transform their business processes and workflows to remain relevant in their operational space. Organizations will have to reskill their staff and re-architect their IT strategy to stay relevant. Hiring trends will also see a shift the newer generations joining the workforce are increasingly mobile and technology savvy, it will be increasingly difficult to attract the best people in this talent pool without extending capabilities like mobile digital workplaces and BYOD. As uncertainty continues to surround the technology landscape, it has become critical to create a system which focusses on employee engagement and at the same time paves a transformative path. This fundamental adjustment is pivotal for businesses to ensure they keep up with the fast-changing needs of digital transformation.

Invasion of Analytics

Multiple analysts state that in the coming couple of years as much as 75% of the applications used by the enterprises will have some form of embedded AI. There is consensus amongst technologists that analytical tools will become obligatory as companies try to improve customer interactions and increase value delivery. Application of analytic tools will be sought to ensure that secure digital workspace provide the end-user with the best possible experience across the devices they use. In addition, security analytics is also expected to gain traction, as organizations will have to actively address threats from an increasingly mobile workforce and an application base that spans multiple clouds. This approach will require the enterprise security to level up and explore alternate security paradigms, by detecting, predicting, and averting threats through accumulation and analysis of data from different sources. Furthermore, productivity analytics will also be required as AI gets heavily integrated into business processes, thus, helping users to make more informed data driven decisions that impact value delivery.

In conclusion, we believe that 2018 will be the year enterprises will work towards harnessing opportunities created by integration of new technologies. We see a huge surge in the adoption and usage of digital workspace technologies, which will create ripples in the earlier established organisational structures. Digital workspaces will help organizations across various facets of operation, ranging from talent retention in HR, productivity in operations, data driven decisions in finance, improved customer engagement in sales and so on.

In the bargain, stakeholders will experience both the benefits and the transitional side-effects of this wave of change. However, workspace transformation is inevitable, and the benefits far outweigh the transitional hurdles that might come up.

HR’s Commitment Is What Engages Blue-Collar Workers

As analysts and executives wring their hands about how to excite a younger and more demanding workforce, out in the real world many HR professionals face another challenge: Engaging the older, less-connected blue-collar worker.

These are the truck drivers, warehouse staff and retail sales people who move cargo or work the cash register and, when you get right down to it, actually operate the business. They’re the semi-skilled and low-skilled workers who haven’t obtained a college degree and probably never will. To them, the point of working most often is to make a living and support their families, not to change the world and get rich doing it.

Too many employers assume these employees aren’t all that interested in their work, engagement experts say. That’s likely a mistaken assumption, according to David Shanklin, head of culture strategy for CultureIQ, an employee-engagement platform provider based in New York City. And if workers do have that kind of attitude, “you’re probably not leading them correctly,” he said.

The Blue Collar Is Here to Stay

Despite all the talk of automation displacing everyone from factory workers to truck drivers, blue-collar occupations aren’t going away. In fact, the demand for many is growing dramatically. Between 2016 and 2026, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for derrick operators in oil and gas will rise 26 percent; the need for plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters by 16 percent; and for ironworkers by 13 percent. All of these are faster-than-average growth rates.

Employers who neglect their blue-collar workers are risking trouble in terms of recruiting and retention, to say nothing of business results. “Engagement cuts across all ages, verticals and demographics,” said Kim Dawson, director of employee experience at the Austin-based engagement firm YouEarnedIt. “We’re talking about it now in terms of engagement, but historically we talked about it in terms of job satisfaction. If you’re happy at your job and say you’re satisfied, whether that’s in 1980 or 2018, they’re all the same. The only difference is the focus on engagement is more refined now.”

But there’s only so much one can do to make loading trucks engaging, said the HR manager of a distribution warehouse, who asked not to be identified because he’s not an official company spokesperson. When it comes to engaging manual workers, he said, HR is “limited in how much creativity it has to work with.”

But it can be done. Low- and semi-skilled workers are engaged by many of the same things that appeal to white-collar workers, other HR professionals say. Perhaps most important: They want to be respected and feel valued. White-collar workers may have more opportunities to get positive feedback by attacking issues creatively, “but I don’t want loaders ad-libbing their work,” the warehouse manager said. “I’ve got a standard operating procedure for that.” At the same time, he said, he welcomes employees’ well-reasoned ideas and builds variety into the workday by cross-training employees and forming teams to tackle special projects.

Listen and Understand

The first step toward engaging blue-collar employees is to listen. “You have to have a good understanding of each individual and how they view their job,” said the warehouse HR manager. “Some may not want to learn. Others do. You have to start with a conversation to understand what they’re looking for.”

Lorry Parker, SHRM-SCP, an independent HR advisor in Chicago, goes further. “Ask your workforce what would engage them, and don’t ask just once,” she said. “Don’t think you always have to have the idea. That in itself is engagement.”

It’s also important to understand that blue-collar workers view their jobs differently from office-based employees. To them, “a career has a different meaning,” said Marilena Acevedo, vice president of human resources for PetroChoice, a distributor of lubricants based in Fort Washington, Pa. “To them, ‘career’ equals ‘professional.’ ” They may not aspire to management roles, she observed, “but they want to be constant professionals.”

Embracing that attitude is at the heart of PetroChoice’s approach to engagement. With 850 employees in 52 locations, Acevedo and CEO Shane O’Kelly make an effort to be visible, transparent and, above all, respectful. “Sometimes people think drivers are unsophisticated, and they’re not,” Acevedo said. “They know their work, the market, the 401(k). They have integrity and loyalty. They’re looking for us to treat them right and help them take care of their families.”

Acevedo points out that becoming a professional driver is no easy task: One must earn a commercial driver’s license, have a clean driving record, maintain hazardous-materials and other certifications, and often obtain government security clearances. PetroChoice aims to maintain a culture built around helping employees succeed and grow while operating safely and delivering products properly. “We tell them what we expect and in return they know what they can expect from us,” she said.

Little Things Go a Long Way

Day-to-day transparency and communication are important, as well. “We tell them when to expect that a lot of overtime will be necessary, and we tell them as far in advance as possible,” said the warehouse HR manager. Also, his company tries to accommodate workers so they can, for example, go to a doctor’s appointment without being penalized.

Informally recognizing an employee’s expertise during the workday also makes him or her feel valued. For example, PetroChoice regularly has its drivers deliver work-related presentations during its monthly operational safety meetings. (The company also hosts formal events like driver rodeos, where the winner and his or her spouse receive an expenses-paid trip.)

Surprisingly simple gestures can also make a difference. PetroChoice gives employees a $5 Dunkin’ Donuts gift card for their birthday, and O’Kelly has been known to send personalized anniversary notes to individual workers. “We get a lot of thanks for [both of] those,” Acevedo said.

Finally, just mixing it up can add to a worker’s engagement. Shanklin noted how Trader Joe’s moves its store workers around so they spend no more than three hours a day on a particular task. That kind of strategy “keeps the job fresh,” he said.

Blue-Collars Need Development, Too

Shanklin believes continuous improvement programs help people, and thus the business, at any level.

Development is a major theme at PetroChoice. The company actively helps workers advance by defraying the costs of professional training. Its newly launched Commercial Driver Training Program makes it possible for internal associates to obtain the often-expensive credentials necessary to become a more-highly paid commercial driver.

Warehouse workers have the chance to begin learning about trucks almost as soon as they’re hired. “They’ll drive a truck around the yard and do things like practice backing up,” Acevedo said. “That way, they go to school already having some on-the-job training.”

The company pays attention to personal development, as well. “We talk to employees about where they want to improve,” she said. For example, one warehouse associate sought Microsoft Excel training so he could better understand the reports he regularly worked with.

Finally, Dawson believes engaging all employees requires understanding the changes that occur within workforces over time. That brings us back to listening. “You need to be diplomatic and honest simultaneously, and mostly you have to care,” she said. “There is no way to be successful in employee experience unless you are invested in the success of both the people and the business.”

Mark Feffer is a freelance business writer based in Philadelphia.


How to win the war on talent

We’re used to hearing about growing opportunities for modern businesses, but it’s time we also paid attention to the rising number of challenges these businesses face trying to keep ahead of their competitors. Article by Ian Symes, Executive Vice President, Europe & General Manager, UK at Right Management.

Regardless of industry, marketplaces are continuing to become more digital, which also means they are becoming more global. You could forgive decision makers smiling at the prospect of borders dropping and lines on the map quickly fading away, but this extended reach in the market doesn’t just mean more potential customers for their business, it means more rivals too.

Spoilt for choice by an ever-widening range of technology designed for instant business impact, fierce competition could emerge from anywhere at any given moment.

It wasn’t always this way. Many of the Fortune 500 companies we recognise today took decades to reach their status and valuation, but many others have got there in five years or less. Tesla, for example was worth $1bn within five years. Airbnb reached the same figure in just four.

The major reason why many of these companies disrupt so quickly isn’t just because of the technology they have at their disposal. The secret to remaining competitive lies with a company’s people.

Battling for the future
It’s not a secret well-kept. Particularly in the tech and financial industry, beleaguered by a substantial STEM skills gap, there is a fierce war for talent underway. Companies everywhere are fighting hard to secure the services of people they believe are the most talented, skilled and motivated fit for their business, hoping these people can be the difference between great success and total stagnation.

The motives behind these battles are understandable. Business is now incredibly fast-paced and the long-term picture of what a 21st century company should look like feels as though it’s shifting all the time. Particularly for businesses in the UK, where the unpredictable shadow of Brexit looms large, it’s becoming harder for decision makers to plan for the future and anticipate what specialisms and skills they’ll need for their company to thrive. Flexibility and agility has become more important than ever, but having the right people in the right roles is becoming more challenging to address.

Looking ‘closer to home’
The major mistake many companies are making is assuming that their search must be purely external because their current staff can only be defined by their active skill set. This could not be further from the truth, and deprives businesses from making the most of the people they already have. What’s more, ‘pigeon-holing’ current staff in this way may see them become restless from lack of variety or opportunity to upskill. Our latest research found that one in five people are in the wrong role, undertaking responsibilities that they are not motivated by or productive in.

Companies must ensure that they have a deep understanding of each individual’s capabilities, their potential, and what we define as “learnability” – a person’s capacity for re-training or adapting to new skills. Not only can this be the key to locating what they need without having to look beyond the office door, it also prevents talented staff from getting itchy feet at critical moments in a company’s growth.

But this kind of in-depth evaluation is easier said than done, and this is where consultancies with expertise, insight and global reach representative of today’s borderless business world can help.

Finding the right roles for the right people
At Right Management, we work with businesses looking to win their battle for talent by helping them place the talent they already have into the right places, whether that’s up, across or even out of their organisation. Using psychometric assessments, cognitive ability tests, virtual learning modules, real-time online business simulations and more, we help businesses accurately determine their employees’ capabilities and potential, ensuring they have a clearer indication of how to make best use of their ability for the company. The results benefit both parties in equal measure: businesses find what they need to drive desired business outcomes, employees are given the appropriate mentorship and support they need for their career progression.

People will always be the most important aspect of any company, so any decision made on how to train, upskill or support staff in their next chapter needs to be informed and based on logical insight. This level of employee evaluation is also critical to retaining the best talent your company has. Regular career conversations with staff that prioritise their career goals can make them feel valued and far more likely to remain invested in working for your business. The worst that can happen for businesses looking to stay one step ahead of the war on talent is to lose the best they have to savvier industry competitors.

In today’s challenging, competitive and fast-paced business environment, decision makers have a lot to watch out for. Flexibility and agility are king, and the people working for them are fundamental to these goals. The war on talent will continue to be tough. But by consistently ensuring that the right talent are in the right places, and taking the time to really evaluate every individual before looking elsewhere, progress will never be far away.


Understanding Employee Engagement

Leaders around the world are aware of the competitive advantages of employee engagement, from increased retention and productivity to greater innovation and safer physical workspaces.

Despite the ubiquity of employee engagement in the modern business zeitgeist, only a select few organizations are successfully engaging their employees, a struggle that is reflected in study after study. According to Gallup, only 33 percent of U.S. employees are engaged at work — and if that sounds bleak, the same study shows that global employee engagement numbers are even lower, hovering closer to 15 percent.

So why the disconnect?

How can so many organizations be focused on engagement with so few actually building such workforces?

The difficulty starts with a common misconception, one that mistakenly construes employee happiness, motivation and engagement as different names for the same thing.

Although they are related, they’re not equivalents. Employee engagement is the emotional commitment an employee has to their organization, its goals, its people and its values. A high level of commitment is something that no number of nap pods, kegerators or catered lunches can buy — but it can be inspired.

Inspiring engagement requires a unique set of tools, but luckily many of them cost very little to use.

Start by defining how you want the team to be engaged. Evaluate your organization’s core values and how they align with personal values. If you haven’t defined your organization’s core values, if they’re vague not representative of your organization, your employees will have a difficult time envisioning how their individual contributions make an impact.

There is a purpose to every job, and purposeful work is a significant factor contributing to engagement. Although purpose isn’t something you can give to someone, you can help reveal it. Illuminate the purpose behind the work your colleagues perform by helping them see how it impacts their team, their organization and the world around them. Recognize great work in the moment and make that praise visible and specific.

A token “Good job!” and pat on the back are certainly better than nothing, but they’re not likely to help someone see the greater impact and value of their work.

Focus on specific contributions and the impact they’ve made. For example: “Great work on the homepage update, Keisha. It’s so important for us to provide users with a delightful experience, and we’re already hearing a ton of positive feedback about the update. Your dedication to quality design is really admirable.”

Simple, genuine interactions like these cost nothing but provide immense value for the recipient and can even offer perspective for others wondering about the impact of their own work, how it aligns with the values of your organization, and how they can make their own valuable contributions.

As employees earn recognition for their valuable work, they naturally become more invested — and more engaged — in its purpose and outcome, proving once again money is not always the only motivating factor for sticking with an employer.


Employee engagement for small businesses

Workers quitting as the year ends is a common dilemma for small organizations in industries like retail, distribution, customer service and hospitality, especially if they’re dealing with young and hourly-paid staff. Some employees just leave after getting their bonuses or never come back after taking a holiday break.

These scenarios can very expensive for businesses. Turnover can cost up to 200 percent of an employee’s annual salary (depending on the role), according to Bersin by Deloitte founder Josh Bersin, considering lost productivity and the time and effort spent on hiring, on-boarding and training new staff.

Employee relations for small businesses don’t have to be complicated. Just like all other relationships, this has to be rooted in trust, communication and commitment. No matter how big or small their roles are, having an engaged pool of workers can drive a business to the next level in no time. Small business may feel disadvantaged with less to offer in terms of perks and bonuses but there are ways to effectively encourage employee engagement without having to spend immense amounts of resources.

A smaller headcount means owners can individually know each staff member. This is vital with regard to engagement initiatives. Managers and owners can start via regular check-ins that promote open and constant communication, which can eventually foster an environment of unity and trust. Visible and available business owners or supervisors can boost staff morale. Filipino workers are particularly keen on building relationships with key people in organization. Building relationships with the higher ups will lead to more open discussions.

Ensure that the lines of communication are open upward, downward and laterally. Most companies already have employee engagement perks and bonus programs but having a smaller team means that these benefits can be tailor-fit to individual needs. An extra day off, perhaps, or the cost of the flight back to their provinces for the holidays. Will an extra allowance for lodging be helpful? Are these benefits going to be useful? Knowing particular needs will help you maximize your employee benefit budget.

Some will insist that compensation remains a very big part of employee retention. Engaged employees, however, aren’t driven by monetary benefits but rather by the workplace environment.

Fleur Therese Saguid is the Head of People Operations at First Circle. She has over six years of experience in human resource management at fast growing start-ups with particular focus on talent acquisition and labor relations.


The best way to negotiate a higher salary if you’re an introvert

Negotiating for a higher salary is nerve-wracking for many of us. If you’re an introvert, however, you may be even more reluctant to fight for higher pay.

“The idea of negotiating is something that strikes fear or discomfort in many people, introverts among them,” says Susan Cain, best-selling author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” and one of the most popular TED Talks speakers of all time with over 17 million views.

But having this discussion doesn’t have to be a terrifying prospect. Cain explains that there are various steps you can take to make negotiating your salary a seamless and easy process.

“When you have to negotiate a salary,” she says, “one thing that you can always do is your homework to figure out what the market value is for this role that you’re applying for.”

Knowing how much your peers are making in that same role or industry will at least give you a starting baseline and you can navigate your way from there.

If you’re looking to negotiate, it’s crucial that you stake your request in the market value, Cain explains. By doing this you’re “depersonalizing” the negotiation. “You’re not making this like a contest between you and your prospective employer,” she adds.

Focusing on the market value also makes the dynamic between you and your employer much more comfortable and less combative, says Cain. She suggests saying the following: “I know the market value for a position like this is generally X. Do you think that you might be able to reach that?”

Approaching the “salary topic” in this manner is based on a principle in negotiating which is called “being soft on the people but hard on the problem,” says Cain.

This tactic is particularly useful for introverts who tend to shy away from tough conversations that they find draining. On the flip side, Cain notes that one of an introvert’s many skills lies in their interactions with others on a deeply personal level.

Introverted employees should also make use of this ability to snag senior level roles, which generally come with a higher payday.

When you’re tackling a difficult scenario, being firm on the issue yet still personable is always your best bet, according to the bestselling author.

“It’s always the way you want to go,” she says. “Be firm about the substance but be friendly, and open and warm in your dealings with the people.”


Four Ways to Use Big Data in Employee Training

Big data and the technologies behind it have become one of the major factors driving modern business. An IDG Research study found that 80 percent of large enterprises and 63 percent of smaller companies were using or planning to deploy big data solutions. Collecting and analyzing the information gathered from various corporate activities enables companies to make more informed and timely decisions.

But even with the increasing amounts of data being assembled, it’s of little value if it isn’t structured for fast analysis and multiple needs. The demand for data scientists and better big data tools have been on the rise for some time as it encompasses more business functions.

One of these is employee training. The data produced in skills development can be analyzed to increase training efficiency. Here are some of the areas where big data can save your company time and money in your training processes.

Identify Training Needs

Performance analysis can indicate where training is needed within the business, whether it’s with specific job roles, teams, or individual employees. You’ll then be able to explore options to determine the skills and topics that should be covered and find the most appropriate training programs.

There are a wide variety of approaches that can be used, such as classroom formats, online courses, group workshops, or demonstrations. You must evaluate your options to select the training that’s best suited to your employee abilities, work schedules, and your corporate needs. Teaching skills and information also requires purchasing or preparing the materials you will require. This can become a blend of printed or digital documents, visual aids, technologies, and tools. Big data can guide you to the right purchases.

Individualized Approach

HR managers can use analytics to define particular strengths or weaknesses in your workforce capabilities and make necessary adjustments. Every training program should be monitored so that results can establish the effectiveness of your training processes. More personalized or more creative techniques may be called for.

Advanced educational technology can allow you to make evaluations of each employee and personalize the experience based on individual progress. Big data can integrate each trainee’s testing scores with larger datasets such as demographics and testing histories to determine which methods are effective and where reinforcement or retraining is needed. Continual evaluation will suggest which training modules are most effective with certain employees.

Constant Improvement

Analysis of training data enables HR and senior managers to keep improving their training programs. Big data creates a clearer picture of which modules are effective, which topics are harder to learn, and how employees interact with the materials and formats that are provided to them. By accessing cloud-based analytic tools, you can view real-time updates and adapt your methods as training continues.

This is even true for remote employees. The cloud is a very flexible data and service solution for an increasingly mobile workforce. Cloud computing makes it easy for virtual employees to get all the benefits of corporate training without traveling to the office.

Growing data stores of trainee performance and feedback on various subjects will suggest practices for improving training efficiency.

Future Expectations

The two business trends that you’ll continue to see are big data and sustainable practices. Both promote optimization of processes for greater profitability. Ensuring that your teams are adequately trained for core business activities and changing technologies helps your business to remain profitable well into the future.

Big data also allows you to forecast future trends. You’ll be in a position to adapt training programs before your competition sees the need. Accepting social responsibility will improve your branding and employee motivation throughout the 21st century business environment. Consumers are expecting responsible practices while workers can take confidence in improved career skills.

Training your workforce to engage with sustainability is a critical step. By leveraging big data technology in your training programs, you’re providing new opportunities to your workers and more sustainable profits for your company.

In Conclusion

Big data and analytic tools are an essential asset to modern businesses. When applied to making improvements in training programs, you’ll get happier employees with better skills contributing to your profits. Growing data will contribute to the accuracy of results, while anticipation of trends and training needs creates a more flexible business model.

Effectively capturing and structuring data from your training operations enables you to perform big data analytics that drive improvements in output, quality, and employee engagement. Constant improvements give you the potential to advance employee skillsets more rapidly and consistently to meet new workforce developments such as cloud computing and remote workers.

Big data enables you to predict market and industry trends so that employees across the company can receive the training they need. As individuals or as an organization, your team will be able to adapt to business changes more smoothly and efficiently.


A Year-End Review for Your Employee Engagement Program

It’s common to “take stock” of our personal and professional goals as we transition to a new year. We may take the time to evaluate how we performed against our own goals or resolutions, year-end reports and performance reviews can evaluate how we performed against professional goals, and we can evaluate our programs, vendors, and customer/client experiences as a way to measure progress against organizational goals.

The majority of organizations today have employee recognition programs in place, with the most commonly-used program type as milestone recognition or service awards. But employee engagement has grown beyond recognition and into elevated programs to address culture, wellbeing, drive, and more.

If you want to take a mental inventory or audit of your employee engagement program, start here:

Purpose — In one study, 57 percent of employees polled said “meaningful work” made the strongest contribution to their positive feelings about their work. Ultimately, everyone wants to know their work makes a difference — to the team, the organization, the community, and even the world. Does your organization make it easy for employees to connect to a greater purpose in their work? Does your mission statement have life? How do people within the organization live up to company values? And is there a strong sense of social responsibility with support from senior leaders and commitment throughout the organization?

Work Design — Part of the buzz around culture is about swanky office design, open work concepts, even trends like hot desking — but you don’t need to compete with startups and ad agencies for the most creative spaces. Ultimately, a good workspace provides a safe physical environment that supports productivity and is appealing to employees. But beyond the physical workspace, good work design involves the design of jobs, autonomy of employees, and a focus on innovation, with programs to support continuous product and services improvement and professional development.

Social System — Having a friend at work has an impact on how we feel about work. Feeling connected to a social system can provide a sense of belonging, meaning, and make work feel a little less like work. To evaluate your organization’s social system, ask these questions: Does your organization support diversity and inclusion in meaningful ways? Is onboarding an inclusive and thoughtful process, making new employees feel truly welcome, prepared and part of the organization? And — can employees communicate in ways that support their work?
Personal Growth — Nearly half of workers in a recent study reported professional development opportunities supported their engagement at work. In another study, 76 percent of Millennials said development opportunities were an important part of culture. Professional development can be offered in technical training, leadership development or support for personal growth. Want to know what your employees would appreciate most? Ask them.

Contribution Awareness — Everyone wants to feel appreciated for the work they do. There’s a lot of pressure on organizations to increase the feedback employees are receiving, but this doesn’t always mean more check-ins with the same manager or team. Performance insights can come from a variety of sources (including customers). And while more than 80 percent of organizations report having some form of employee recognition program in place, a holistic recognition system with tangible rewards can make a measurable impact on how values employees feel in the organization.
Advocacy — In the spirit of customer loyalty programs, today, we can foster advocates from within the organization as well. Does your organization support employee ambassadors and referrals? What steps can your engaged employees take to share their satisfaction with people outside of the organization? Can they (or do they want to) engage with the organization on social media? Can they (or do they want to) share their work achievements with their friends and family?

Wellbeing — Corporate wellness programs have gone beyond fitness challenges and into supporting mindfulness, wellness education, and opportunities to eat healthy and get exercise at work. Many organizations promote financial and psychological health for employees as part of supporting a holistic sense of security. If employees are not financially secure or emotionally well, the likelihood that they are able to do their best work is diminished. Organizations who recognize this support the whole health of their employees without being invasive or paternalistic. Employees need opportunities to willingly engage in, not required programs that could take away from their enjoyment of their jobs.
Want to learn more about how your organization is wired to support engagement? Take our free, innovative online assessment: Engagement Potential Index (EPI). Your results will be compared to industry benchmarks in a customized report alongside a tailored set of recommendations on how to improve your standing. If you’re serious about taking stock in your organization’s engagement program and you want to learn more about how to support employees, take the EPI today!