Rapid Growth and Great Workplaces

Data Point Tuesday
The 2014 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For list announcement is just days away and here at Great Place to Work we just can’t wait to share some of the awesome 100 Best Companies Trends from this year’s list! In true Data Point Tuesday fashion, I’ve compiled some noteworthy stats from our 2014 100 Best Companies Trends whitepaper to share with you, (the full trends report as well the Fortune 100 Best Companies list will be available here on Thursday) enjoy the sneak peek!

One of the most prominent trends we’ve seen with Best Companies this year is growth. For 2014 100 Best Companies with available revenue data, revenues in the last 24 months have risen an average of 22.2% and headcount is increasing to match that. The number of employees at the 2014 100 Best Companies increased by an average of 6.1% since 2012 and 15.4% since 2011 which, according to Current Employment Statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is nearly five times the growth rate of U.S. companies overall in the same two-year period. This significant increase in headcount, while positive for companies, undoubtedly also raises concerns. During times of rapid growth organizations can experience a number of challenges including: inadequate skills and pipeline of leaders, loss of top talent and leaders, scaling and developing new systems, assimilating new employees both socially and process-wise, bringing new and longer tenure employees together, balancing cultural norms of past with the need to grow quickly and be a company of the future, and burn out and disaffection of existing employees. With such challenges in mind, how are these Best Companies managing such rapid growth, and, what exactly are they doing to avoid growing pains?

In 2013 Great Place to Work compiled a benchmark group of great workplaces experiencing high growth (+20% employee population) while appearing on the Best Companies list between 2011-2013. The group was used to study the relationship between rapid growth and the employee experience at the 100 Best and included several Best Companies, such as Chesapeake Energy, Hilcorp Energy Company, NetApp, Quicken Loans, Rackspace Hosting, salesforce.com, and World Wide Technology, Inc. Results of the study indicated an exceptionally high level of trust at Best Companies experiencing rapid growth, with 94% of employees at such companies stating that “taking everything into account, I would say this is a great place to work” vs. 91% of employees at Best Companies not experiencing such rapid growth. Additionally, employees at high growth Best Companies displayed a 4% higher average score on all trust index statements compared with employees at Best Companies not experiencing rapid growth. Trust index scores correspond to statements such as: “management is approachable, easy to talk with”, “this is a fun place to work”, “I feel I receive a fair share of the profits made at this organization”, and “people look forward to coming to work here”. It’s noteworthy too that these high trust index scores at Best Companies experiencing rapid growth come from both new hires as well as tenured employees (2+ years tenure).

Great Place to Work Chart
We can take away from this data a better understanding of how Best Companies are handling the growth trend. Marcus Erb, Associate Vice President of Research, and the leader of the 2013 study on the relationship between high growth and the employee experience at the 100 Best sums it up well: “Our research shows that as far as the employee experience is concerned, companies with a strong foundation of trust, a robust leadership pipeline, and a firm commitment to the company’s culture are far better at navigating the challenges that come along with growth and change.”

Make sure to check out the 2014 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies list on January 16th

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Good Ethics = Good Business

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We’ve officially kicked off the New Year –happy 2014! With the New Year comes the tradition of resolutions, which we hear a lot about in these first few weeks of the year. I’ll be honest, I’m not so big on New Year’s Resolutions, but I do think there’s value in paying close attention to the questions that resolutions stem from, like “what can I do to better my business/life/relationships?” I prefer to call it continuous self-improvement because it’s likely that many of these resolutions are things we should always be aiming to improve, and not just in the space of one defined year. In the spirit of the tradition though, I’ll pose this to you: if you were to make one resolution this year that would impact the lives of your employees and the financial performance of your organization, what would it be? My answer: be an ethical business. This is the most fundamental attribute of a great workplace, the foundation that must exist to build all other important parts of a great workplace. And while it might seem obvious thing to aim for, nearly HALF of all U.S. employees report witnessing unethical or illegal conduct in their workplace each year (according to a 2013 Effective Practice Guideline’s report from the SHRM Foundation) with the majority of these events going unreported and unaddressed!

SHRM-Foundation-EthicsBe an ethical workplace because this statistic is alarmingly high; be an ethical workplace because good ethics = good business. The SHRM Foundation’s report explains that an organization’s culture is the strongest predictor of how much market value that firm will create for every dollar invested by shareholders. In fact, the stock price growth of the 100 most ethical firms (based on the most widely used measure of ethical workplace culture) outperformed stock market and peer indices by nearly 300%. Looking from 1998-2011 the annualized returns of FORTUNE’S “100 Best Companies to Work For” in the United States were 11.06% versus 4.36% for the Russell 3000 and 3.38% for the S&P 500. There’s a flip side to this too though. If good ethics = good business, then bad ethics = bad business, and in a BIG way. More than 50% of the largest corporate bankruptcies have happened due to unethical business practices. And what was the cost of these bankruptcies to owners and the economy? $1.228 trillion, or, as the EPG reveals, nearly 10% of the U.S gross domestic product in 2011!

Now, I don’t disregard that many of the statistics we see on a daily basis fall into a kind of grey area. It’s likely we’re aware of the many variables that affect their legitimacy, like intent of the company producing the report or maybe the lack of a wide enough demographic representation, and so we use them more as guiding than supporting evidence. The statistics on ethical business though, seem pretty black and white to me.

I’ll say it one more time. Be an ethical workplace. Be an ethical workplace because the statistic that almost 50% of employees witness unethical behavior each year is alarmingly high. Be an ethical workplace because good ethics = good business. Be an ethical workplace because it’s a New Year and it’s a resolution to always have; but most importantly, be an ethical business because it’s the right thing to do.

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Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Ethics, Great Place to Work, Great Place to Work Institute, SHRM, SHRM Foundation

Employee Recognition

Data Point Tuesday

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Employee recognition is an important form of positive feedback (who doesn’t love being recognized for their efforts after all?!) and a 2013 study by Globoforce gives us even more reason to institute this type of feedback in our organizations. The study examines the growing intersection between recognition and employee performance and has some noteworthy points. Where recognition is concerned, perhaps the most important point made is that recognition directly impacts business results. Out of 708 randomly-selected fully employed persons in the United States (aged 18 or older) who are employed at organizations with a staff size of 500 or more employees,  those who were recognized with values-based recognition reported a positive change in their productivity. Additionally, 49% of respondents who had experienced values-based recognition indicated a positive change in relationships, 43% indicated a positive change in their customer service efforts, and 82% stated that being recognized for efforts at work motivated them in their job.

These statistics reinforce the value and importance of recognizing employees, but what I found particularly interesting and a less obvious benefit of employee recognition was how the ability to give vs. receive recognition affected employees. The study found that employees who are empowered to recognize other employees at their organizations were twice as likely to identify themselves as highly engaged; highlighting that value should be placed on allowing employees to give recognition as much as it is placed on making sure employees receive recognition. Another interesting and less obvious result of employee recognition is the link between recognition and alignment with organizational culture and values. Of respondents surveyed, 48% indicated that receiving recognition when they did something right served to align them with their organization’s values and culture. As I discussed in another recent post, employees who feel strongly aligned with company values and mission are more satisfied with and likely to remain at a job, so this relationship between values and employee recognition is a valuable one to explore.

globoforce

Employee recognition can also influence employees’ perception of performance reviews. Globoforce’s study found that 76% of respondents thought recognition data would make reviews better, and 75% of respondents who had been recognized recently stated that they enjoyed their reviews. We can attribute these changes in perception toward reviews to the attributes like engagement and connection with company values, but also to another idea. As the study points out, peer and managerial recognition act as a form of social crowdsourcing, a familiar and comfortable concept for employees who most likely use crowdsourcing programs like Yelp or Amazon regularly. 80% of respondents felt that crowd sourced (manager plus crowd sourced peer feedback) to be more accurate. With employee recognition serving as a form of crowd sourced feedback it makes sense then that employees who were recently recognized felt more comfortable in reviews. But why does it matter if employees enjoy their reviews? The research shows that employees who are satisfied with reviews are more highly engaged, less susceptible to job poaching, and more satisfied with their job.

This data show that creating a system that gives employees feedback from peers as well as from managers – feedback that is values-based – is the gift that keeps on giving. To employee engagement, to higher retention, to financial performance. Who doesn’t want that gift under the tree on Wednesday?

What does employee recognition look like in your organization? Do you have recognition programs in place? Do you encourage employees to recognize others as well as for managers and supervisors to give recognition? Use this data as a catalyst to examine how recognition plays a role in your business. Ramping up the positive feedback could just be the key to a healthy domino effect, creating employees that are more engaged, more productive, more connected to company values, and more satisfied with their reviews.

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Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Engagement, Employee Recognition, Globoforce, Great Place to Work, Great Place to Work Institute

The Trustworthy Leader

Data Point Tuesday
More Mindfulness for the Holiday Season

The holiday season is upon us, and many of us have been relishing the traditional cheer, treats, gifts and parties that accompany this time of year. It’s likely we’ve been reflecting on, and giving thanks for the joy in our lives, our family, friends and loved ones; or maybe we’ve been getting into the holiday spirit by donating to or helping out at our favorite philanthropic organizations. These are effective trustworthy leader practices to embrace during the holidays, and practices that, realistically, we should attempt to embrace year-round! For me, a specific practice comes to mind that we should give some serious extra “oomph” to during the holidays – mindfulness.

While practicing increased mindfulness during the holidays can be helpful for everyone, it’s an especially great practice for business and HR leaders. With so much focus on holiday celebrations and cheer, it can be easy to miss that for some of our colleagues the holidays prove to be the most stressful or difficult time of year. According to statistics from a poll by the American Psychological Association, 69% of people feel increased stress during the holidays from a perceived lack of time, 69% feel increased stress from a perceived lack of money, and 51% of respondents also experienced stress during the holidays from the perceived pressure to buy and give gifts. While financial worry seems an obvious stressor during the holidays, there are other stresses that the holiday season can amplify, such as feelings of loneliness or sadness (especially for those who may not have a strong support system or close-knit family). And during a time of year when we celebrate family and loved ones, it can be particularly difficult for those who have experienced loss.

Keeping this in mind, aim for increased mindfulness and awareness in your workplace this holiday season. Consider checking in with employees more frequently, whether it’s with a phone call, email, or an in-person visit. As we all know, sometimes something as simple as asking “how are you doing?” can brighten a day. Also consider making sure lines of communication are extra clear. It’s important to remember that no matter how someone may appear, we can never assume what is going on in their life. If you’re willing to help or have tools and resources and available for employees in need, make this known.  Reminding employees that their Employee Assistance Programs are easily accessible could encourage those who need support to seek it out. Asking for assistance can be difficult or feel shameful, and knowing that someone is willing to help could mean the difference between obtaining assistance, and suffering in silence.

Though “tis the season,” we’re not necessarily exempt from stress, and the holidays may even be amplifying worry. Perhaps it’s feeling a little anxiety about what the final year-end financial results will look like, or that the 2014 budget isn’t as perfect as we’d like, maybe it’s serious financial stress, or maybe there’s no stress at all. Whatever the case may be, work to be the true trustworthy leader who brings an increased mindfulness to your colleagues, your friends and family, and those around you this holiday season.

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The B2T Revolution

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Employees (And Prospects) Are Consumers When it Comes to HR Technology

Mobile devices and apps are no longer the hot new craze. The B2C (Business-to-Consumer) sectors have taken care of that. Mobile devices have become an essential item for communication and internet access, and as Cisco reports, by the end of this year (in three weeks!) the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the number of people on earth. By 2017, it’s predicted there will be nearly 1.4 mobile devices per capita. We’re now seeing companies like Lenovo, the world’s largest PC maker, selling more mobile devices than PCs. And as you’re undoubtedly aware, smartphones are a huge part of this mobile device equation. The growth of smart phone usage in 2012 was 81% and has only increased since. We’re using our smartphones for MUCH more than phone-calls though. Downloading applications, checking email, accessing the internet, getting directions, making dinner reservations, paying for purchases and meeting Mr./Ms. Right are just a few examples of ways smart-phones and mobile devices are being used today by people all ages from all walks of life. The bottom line is people are living their lives on mobile. And as long as the product is intuitive, easy to use and fast, the potential for success on mobile devices is huge.

HR Technology applications are no exception. A 2013 Mobile Consumer Report from Nielsen found that 82% of U.S smartphone users browse the web on their smartphone, and 63% use smartphones for social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. According to Talent Management Headquarters, one billion (1,000,000,000) job searches are conducted on mobile devices each month! Mobile recruiting is well on its way to being the next big thing for talent acquisition. This makes sense when we consider that we can use mobile devices during short moments of down time, on a bus or during a lunch break.  As career sites and job postings become increasing mobile friendly, it’s likely that both passive and active job seekers will turn to their mobile devices before they turn to their desktop to hunt for jobs or job search related information.  And mobile recruiting offers organizations the benefit of exposure to job seekers who may not own or be frequent users of computers.

More importantly, with so many employees working from mobile devices, it has become increasingly critical for employers to provide HR information through vendors with easy to use, native mobile apps. Perhaps this is the new focus:  B2T – Business to Talent! Mobile HR applications offer employees (as well as HR managers) instantaneous interaction and engagement with HR Data like payroll and benefits information, recruiting/talent acquisition services, performance/goal management, and time and labor information – even more so than using a laptop or desktop. And in the day and age when all of us are used to instant access when we are living our non-work related lives, having these important processes and data easily accessible are becoming a must-have not a nice-to-have. In 2011, the ADP Research Institute looked at how mobile technology could make HR mobile solutions a game-changer. Respondents reported a significant benefit in using HR mobile solutions, citing improved workforce satisfaction, improved real time decision making, and improved workforce productivity. So the B2T revolution is here.

Mobile technology has revolutionized much in our lives and for HR leaders and employees there is more change to come. User friendly HR applications for mobile devices will prove an effective way to increase efficiency for managers and employees, just as the popularity of job searching on mobile devices will undoubtedly impact how we recruit. Communicating with talent – current and future – via mobile really could be a game changer for employers, employees, job seekers and HR technology providers.

The B2T bottom line:  employees are consumers. And they expect to have consumer-like experiences with the technology and software at work and about work. And if you aren’t providing it for them, they’ll likely use their smartphone to find another employer!

Mobile-Enabled Process Adoption

*This post is part of SilkRoad’s first annual #HRTechTrends Blog Carnival. A recap of all participants will be posted on SilkRoad Ink on December 20, 2013.

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Bring me a Higher… Purpose!

Data Point Tuesday
The Importance of Connecting Employees to a Clear Corporate Mission

A recent study by Spherion, “The 2013 Emerging Workforce” examines the 2013 workforce and the post-recession resurgence of the “emergent worker mentality” characterized by the study as one which focuses on a free-agency style employment. While the study provides data to support this point it is more than likely we have experienced the validity of this resurgence in our daily lives, perhaps witnessing friends or colleagues job-hopping more frequently, or seeing an increased social conscience in employees and new talent. Whether we’ve confirmed suspicions that our current workforce is driven by a very different set of factors than previous generations or not, insights from this report can help to remind us of the importance of understanding this emergent worker mentality.

Data supports that connecting employees to an organizations values and greater corporate mission is one of the most influential attributes of job satisfaction for the emergent worker. 70% of respondents from Spherion’s study who worked for a company with “a clear mission and follow through” reported that their level of job satisfaction was very/extremely good , compared to a job satisfaction rate of just 23% for organizations with no clear mission and follow through. As Jake Magleby stated in a blog published by Great Place to Work last month: “Businesses with vision are often more successful than their competitors. This is because people like to support a specific cause or purpose. Business leaders who recognize this can develop a vision for their company that is based on common values and shared goals… This vision for a better world is something that most people not only relate to, but very much want to support. This support translates into a healthy bottom line for the company and a healthier community”.

Data from Spherion’s 2013 Emerging Workforce Study not only confirms that employees at companies with a clear mission are more satisfied with their jobs but are also that they are more likely to stay at their jobs. 70% of respondents at a company with a clear mission and follow through reported that the likelihood they would stay at their current job for the next five years was excellent/very good, and only 21% responded that they were at least somewhat likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months. Additionally, respondents from companies with a clear mission and follow through felt more confident in their growth potential than employees from organizations without a clear mission and follow through. Given these returns, all organizations should consider making their mission and values even more visible and relatable for employees and this has been a top priority for me in my new role at Great Place to Work. Does your company place a premium on mission and values? What actions do you take to connect employees to your mission?

corporate-mission-importance

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Laws Require WorkFlex – Really?

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There’s been a lot of talk recently regarding flexible scheduling policies in organizations. All kinds of people have been writing about whether such policies are actually beneficial or harmful for businesses, as well as questioning if flexible scheduling polices are really essential or non-essential to things like employee engagement, well-being, and productivity.  Actually, I think these discussions miss the point and I don’t think any of these questions can be answered on such a broad scale. The potential for flexible scheduling policies to help or hinder an organization is dependent on a whole series of variables, making such questions decidedly organization specific and not answerable as a larger theme that applies to all organizations. What we can confirm about flexible scheduling policies however, is that they are a highly regarded benefit and broadly implemented by some organizations.  The graph below from Statista, detailing data from a 2013 Employee Benefits Report by SHRM, found that  in the U.S in 2013, 58% of employers offered the option of telecommuting to some of their employees and 4% planned on starting to offer telecommuting within the next year. This data gives us a rough idea of the implementation of flexible scheduling policies within the U.S, and with more than half of employers offering telecommuting options it’s obvious that this is an approach worth discussing.

Statista SHRM Telecommuting 2013

We can clearly point to Marissa Mayer’s decision to ban telecommuting at Yahoo! (see my post here) as one of the major sparks in the recent discussions around flexible scheduling. Adding to the controversy is legislation that has passed in Vermont and now San Francisco, requiring certain organizations to seriously consider employee’s requests for a flexible work schedule. The most recent legislation around flexible scheduling passed just last month on October 8th 2013 in San Francisco. The Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance (FFWO) will become operative on January 1st 2014, and mandates that employers with twenty or more staff give employees in caregiver roles the right to request a predictable or flexible work schedule. To qualify an employee must have worked for the organization for more than six months, work at least eight hours a week on a regular basis, and be a caregiver for a child or children under the age of 18, a parent(s) over the age of 65, or a person(s) with a serious health condition in a family relationship with the employee. If an employee meets these standards they have the right to submit a request for a flexible schedule and their employer is required to meet with them within 21 days. The employer is required to respond to the request within 21 days of their meeting and if the employer denies a request they must explain the denial in a written response that sets out a bona fide business reason for the denial and provides the employee with notice of the right to request reconsideration.

Legislation like this raises a whole new set of questions around flexible scheduling policies. The San Francisco ordinance is positive in that it helps to protect employees against discrimination based on their caregiver status, however, at the same time, could you argue that legislation like this goes too far? Does it restrict an organization’s right to organize their business in the way they see fit, and most conducive to achieving goals? The FFWO could be positive in prompting employees that desire flexible scheduling policies to speak out – employees that may have previously felt afraid to voice such requests do to the bureaucracy of their organizations. But what will the effects be on organizations that have never implemented flexible scheduling policies? Will the ordinance cause a roadblock and additional internal conflict? These are some of the top questions that come to mind as I consider the implications of flexible scheduling legislation. What do you think?

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