Category Archives: Achievers

Millennial Employees: Defying Assumptions

Data Point TuesdayApproximately 80 million Millennials live in the U.S today. In my last post on Talent Acquisition Trends I touched on the fact that this group is the largest generation in history and, while the exact percentages vary depending on the research, is expected to make up more than 50% of the workforce by 2020. We may still think of Millennials as “the next generation” but the fact is that this group will make up the majority of the workforce in the not too distant future, so research on the values and expectations of this generation is valuable – and actionable. A great example of this kind of research is the “2014 Millennial Impact Report: Inspiring the Next Generation Workforce” by Achieve, whose purpose for the research is to “Understand Millennials’ preferences for cause work and to share those findings with organizations that are looking to better engage this influential group.” Surveys were distributed to Millennial employees of corporate research partners from various industries, as well as a generic survey with respondents representing more than 300 companies and organizations across the United States. For the study, Millennials were defined as individuals born after 1979.

As I’ve discussed in previous posts, Millennials place a high value on corporate social responsibility. Achieve’s research looks specifically at the role “cause work” plays in motivating Millennials overall – from job search, application, through to employment. Consider that of the Millennial employees surveyed, 92% felt they were actively contributing to a company having a positive effect on the world. Where cause work starts motivating Millennials though, may differ a bit from our assumptions. Of those surveyed, 63% of Millennials said that a company’s involvement with cause work and community initiatives did not factor into the search that resulted in their current job! This contradicts the common assumption that cause work matters from the beginning of a Millennial’s job search. Achieve discovered that, in fact, most Millennials first looked at what a company does, as well as pay and benefits, when deciding whether or not to apply. Cause work was not a significant factor. While only 39% of Millennials reported their company discussed cause work during the interview process, the companies that did do this, influenced interviewee’s decisions. Of the Millennials who heard about cause work in the interview, 55% of them said the company’s involvement with causes helped persuade them to take the job. Bottom line: mention cause work in interviews – especially with Millennial candidates!

Job Search Process

Another trend that I have previously discussed is Millennials’ relationships in the workplace, specifically that Millennials have a tendency to build close friendships and desire to work with those they know and would be friends with outside of work. This desire also presents itself in Millennials’ preferences for company-sponsored volunteer projects/programs. Of the Millennials surveyed, 77% preferred to perform cause work with groups of fellow employees as opposed to doing independent service projects. More specifically, 62% of Millennial employees preferred volunteering and doing cause work with employees in their same department rather than employees in the company they didn’t directly work with.

What Inspires Millenials

For Millennials, relationships also play an important part in informing candidates about a company’s causes. Information from past and current employees was the third most common source for Millennial employees who researched their company’s cause work (36%). The most common source of information was the company’s website (93%), followed by Google Search (61%). These top three sources, including word-of-mouth, beat social media outlets Facebook (22%), LinkedIn (12%) and Twitter (11%).

One last interesting area of commentary from Achieve’s report is how Millennials view the assets they can potentially donate. As it’s put in the study: Millennials differ from previous generations in that they “may still give money, time and skills, but they also view their network and voice as two very beneficial assets they can offer a cause. For Millennials, all of these resources are equal in how they may help a cause. A Millennial may see Tweeting about a cause as a way of giving resources, because they are donating their network.” When it comes to giving, Millennial employees donate money to nonprofits both on their own and through their company’s promoted giving campaigns, and they donate generously! Only 13% of the Millennials surveyed did not donate money to nonprofit organizations in 2013.

Donations

This report tells us that Millennials consistently defy employers’ expectations along a broad continuum. We need to pay attention, continue to ask questions, and learn to meet them on their own ground. Who would have thought that company websites and Google searches would be far more powerful (and motivating) than social media in this aspect of job search behavior in the Millennial cohort? And it’s interesting to note that camaraderie in their workgroup – not in their employer in general – is motivating for them. That’s one piece of data that is consistent with what we know about all cohorts in the workplace: we all want to trust our leaders, have pride in our work, and camaraderie within our workgroups. Great Place to Work has been validating these data points for more than 20 years.

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Filed under Achievers, China Gorman, Corporate Social Responsibility, Data Point Tuesday, Great Place to Work, Millennials, Workplace Studies

From the Archives: We can’t succeed without Millennials

This was a very popular post from April, 2012. The data is pretty much the same. And it bears repeating.

Managers and supervisors (especially in the Baby Boomer cohort) in almost every type and size of business have been known to lament the lack of loyalty and so-called business savvy in the Millennial generation.

  • “They want to be promoted too fast!”
  • “They don’t want to pay their dues!”
  • “They don’t understand how things work!”
  • “They want too much flexibility!”
  • “When things don’t go their way they quit!”
  • “Why won’t they stay?”

The bottom line is that organizations are finding it challenging to keep Millennials engaged and on the payroll.  In fact, with the average employment tenure of workers in the 20-24 year -old age group at 1.5 years (per the BLS), it’s challenging to keep all our employees engaged and the on the payroll.  (See my previous post on the Quits vs. Layoffs gap.  It might not be what you think!)

Achievers and Experience Inc. fielded their annual survey of graduating college students in January.  The data are eye opening.

Despite what we think we know about them, the vast majority of these about-to-enter-the-workforce Milllennials would really like to stay with their next (in most cases, first) employer for 5 years or longer!  Wait.  What?  Look at the chart below:

47% of the 8,000 college graduating respondents in the Achievers/Experience Inc. survey indicated that they expected to stay with their next employer five years or longer.  Note the language:  expect to stay not would like to stay!  That means when they join our organizations they have every expectation of making a career with us.  They’re not just accepting a job.  They’ve evaluated our EVP (Employer Value Proposition) as a match for the meaning they want to create in their lives through their work.  (Interesting to note that the biggest percentage of respondents expect to stay with their employer for 10+ years!)

So, OK.  This has got to be their youthful exuberance and relative inexperience speaking, right?  Well, I wonder if that really matters.

Employers need these Millennials.  Employers need these Millennials now.  Employers will need these Millennials more every day.  (See my recent post here.)

And employers need them to stay a whole lot longer than 1.5 years!

So what happens between “I expect to stay with my employer for 10 or more years…” and “…after one year with the organization I’m leaving for a better opportunity”?  I think we all know that answer to that question.

We don’t live up to the EVP we sold them.  We don’t engage Millennials the way they tell us they want to be engaged.  Instead, we…

  • make sure they fit into our existing career paths and job descriptions
  • focus on making sure they “pay their dues” – the way we did
  • keep our processes and rules rigid and unbending – and only pretend to listen when they offer up “different” ways of working
  • resist the notion that work can be done with excellence anywhere but in a cubicle
  • make it difficult for Millennials to interact with senior leaders
  • make it difficult for Millennials to collaborate with colleagues
  • designate social responsibility activities a perk instead of a foundational value
  • try to “lure” them to stay with tenure-based plaques and timepieces

These data are a wake-up call for employers.  It’s a message from our talent pipeline that they really do want to engage with us; they believe our employer brand marketing messages; they want to learn and grow with us.

It’s time to listen harder and make sure our employer brand messages aren’t experienced as bait and switch tactics.

I don’t know about you, but I’d hate for the Millennials to have such negative employment experiences at the beginning of their careers that they opt out of organizational life altogether before they’re 30.  We’d really be in a pickle then!

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Filed under Achievers, Baby Boomers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Business Success, China Gorman, Demographics, Employment Data, Engagement, Millennials, Rewards & Recognition, Student Job Search, Talent pipeline, U.S. Department of Labor

Tying Recognition to Values: Who Knew?

data point tuesday_500

Organizations that believe in driving an intentional culture – whether for engagement purposes, recruitment purposes, performance purposes, innovation purposes, or all of the above – might think it logical to tie their recognition programs directly to their values. But as it turns out, maybe not.

The new SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey Winter 2012 Report has some interesting survey data and thought-provoking findings. The survey, sent to 6,000 SHRM members at the manager level or higher, had a response rate of 13% and a margin of error of +/- 3%. So, with 770 randomly selected HR professionals employed at organizations with more than 499 employees across North America, the sample size is large enough for the results to be interesting.

The broad findings are a little surprising – although the survey questions focused entirely on recognition, engagement and core values. (So, for example, the challenges of implementing healthcare reform don’t show up, nor do the issues of perceived talent or skills shortages.) But even within that context, these findings make me scratch my head:

#1  Employee engagement tops the list of HR challenges.

#2  Performance management remains stuck in neutral.

#3  Recognition programs fill the feedback and appreciation gap.

#4  Recognition programs have an observed positive impact on business results.

#5  Recognition aligned with core values leads to more effective managers.

#1  Employee engagement tops the list of HR challenges:  well, I do find that surprising – especially given the rest of the survey data. I might have thought that the issues of performance management done the same way it’s been done for 10-15 years (or not at all) would top the list of HR challenges. But no, employee engagement is at the top of the list. Despite (or maybe because of) the fact that most HR professionals haven’t been able to make the business case for investing in creating higher levels of engagement, it’s at the top of the list.

#2  Performance management remains stuck in neutral:  Performance management is the talent management infrastructure weak link. Most CEOs and other members of the C-Suite report that they know their system is ineffective. And what’s more they know their employees don’t like their current system either. That HR folks are “stuck in neutral” in this regard is perplexing. With the billions of dollars being spent on ineffective, unpopular legacy systems, this would seem ripe for corrective action — not being stuck in neutral.

#3  Recognition programs fill the feedback and appreciation gap:  so investing in new solutions that fill a gap rather than fixing the full system seems shortsighted to me. Don’t get me wrong. I think that there are recognition programs that powerfully engage teams, inspire individuals and create positive momentum for employers and their customers. Some of the new entrants that utilize social technology and are natively mobile are stunning. And worthy of investment. But should we be thinking bigger than filling gaps?

#4  Recognition programs have an observed positive impact on business results:  that’s research-speak for “we can’t quantify it yet but we think it’s real based on anecdotal evidence.”  ‘Nuff said.

#5  Recognition aligned with core values leads to more effective managers:  that’s it! If the data clearly support this finding, then this is the foundation for the business case that HR has been looking for. I’ve long believed that if the middle manager cohort was effectively trained and managed, the incidences of workplace drama and their resulting legal issues – and the resulting time-suck for HR – would be hugely reduced. Managers would be held accountable for managing. And HR could get to the strategic business of workforce planning and talent management leadership.

The following charts from the report show the “observed” connection between values-based recognition systems and managerial effectiveness in “acknowledging and appreciating” employees:

SHRM Globoforce Fig 8

SHRM Globoforce Fig 13

*Note:  the red circles on the charts are mine.

The finding that managers do a better job of effectively acknowledging and appreciating employees when recognition programs are directly tied to core values seems to stack up. But it also appears that managers do a better job of effectively acknowledging and appreciating employees simply by being given a recognition program to use. Either way works for me. And either way clearly works for employers and their employees.

But I’ll go out on a limb with the observable improvement in managerial effectiveness and agree that tying recognition programs to values is a winner. In fact, I’ll go so far as to opine that tying talent management in its entirety to organizational values will provide quantifiable improvement, not just observed improvement.

Interesting findings in this report. If you haven’t looked at some of the innovative new solutions in the recognition space maybe you should.

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Filed under Achievers, Annual Performance Reviews, Business Case, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Globoforce, Managerial Effectiveness, Rewards & Recognition, Talent Management

Gen Y’s Self-fulfilling Prophecy

data point tuesday_500

Accenture recently published its 2013 College Graduate Employment Survey Findings. Lots of great data. Especially if you plan to hire recent college grads. In fact, some of the data are surprising.

One of the important takeaways is that employers have unrealistic expectations for the skills of the hires they make out of college. They think these young people should be able to hit the ground running and are surprised and disappointed when they don’t. And to compound the problem, these employers are not investing in training initiatives to get the newly hired up to speed in the short term or effective in the long term. This is all pretty logical. It’s good data and if you plan on hiring entry level employees from the ranks of the newly graduated, you should read this.

But here’s what caught my attention. It’s about the willingness to commit. And it isn’t the first time I’ve seen data like these.

Young people, entering the economy for the first time, want to commit to their employers. It’s not what we expect, I know. We expect these youngsters to be gone in the career equivalent of sixty seconds. And sometimes they are. But it’s important to know that that isn’t what they want! This isn’t what they expect!

From Accenture:  The class of 2013 is expecting more career longevity from their first jobs:  68% of pending 2013 college grads expect to be at their first job more than 3 years compared to 49% of 2011/2012 college grads.

Accenture career longevity in first jobs 2013

And from the Achievers Class of 2012 white paper:

Achievers Class of 2012 White Paper

In this survey, more than 70% of 2012 college graduates expected to be with their first/next employer 3 years or longer — and 48% expected to be with their first/next employer 5 years or more. Surprising, right? Not what we expect, right? Not what we “know” about Gen Y, right?

But the BLS shows us what happens once they join our organizations:

BLS years of tenure by age

So, young people entering the economy for the first time with a newly minted degree are filled with optimism and have every intention of committing to their first employer for 5 years or more. Is it naivte or is it a real desire to commit, belong and make a difference?

And what happens once they start that first job that impels them out the door in 18 months or less?  Are employers so inept at selection that they really can’t hire employees that will persist? Are young people so naïve that they don’t really know what they’re signing up for and leave when reality doesn’t match expectations? Or, as the Accenture survey suggests, are young people disappointed when expected training and development doesn’t materialize and they leave in search of greater learning opportunities?

Clearly this is a complex issue with lots of dynamics, as the Accenture survey results show. However, if we started with the belief and understanding that young people really do want to engage and commit to their employer, would we be more likely to invest in developing their skills?

If we started with the belief and understanding that young people really do want to engage and commit to their employer, would we create onboarding processes that ensure expectations – on both sides – are being understood and met?

If we started with the belief and understanding that young people really do want to engage and commit to their employer, how would we approach them differently?

I suspect that most employers believe that there’s no return in investing in a talent pool that will be gone in 60 seconds.

I further suspect that the EVP that is sold in the recruiting process doesn’t exactly come to life once the recruit joins the organization.

But I suspect that the real issue is that Gen X and Baby Boomer managers, supervisors and recruiters believe all the negative stereotypes about Gen Y and their lack of commitment to any agendas other than their own — despite multiple data sources that show just the opposite. And we’ve ended up in this tough reality that has become a full-fledged self-fulfilling prophecy.

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Filed under Accenture, Achievers, Baby Boomers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Value Proposition, Gen Y, GenX, HR Data, Turnover, U.S. Department of Labor

From the Archives: Stick a Fork in Annual Performance Review Systems

While I’m traveling, I thought I’d re-post one of the most popular Data Point Tuesday posts from 2012.  Enjoy.

Today’s data points come from two recent surveys:  one from Achievers and one from Cornerstone OnDemand.  Both surveys show clearly that annual performance review systems’ time has come.  It’s over.  Time to stick a fork in them.

Well, it’s time to stick a fork in them if you’re interested in providing the kind of feedback to your employees that is focused on growing their skills, binding them closer to the organization and engaging their full and discretionary energy.

Let’s look first at the Achievers data.  As part of a survey fielded in April of this year, employees were asked how frequently they would like to receive feedback from their managers.  HR professionals and CEOs were asked how frequently they thought employees in their organizations would like to receive feedback from their managers.  Do the answers surprise you?

No surprise that employees would like to receive feedback immediately or on the spot – or at least weekly.  Maybe a bit of a surprise that both HR professionals and CEOs know this.  Here’s the question, though:  if employees, HR professionals and CEOs all know that employees don’t want feedback in an annual context, then why are the majority of performance feedback systems in use today based on an annual model?

Making matters worse, Cornerstone OnDemand published survey results from late 2011 with related findings:

  • only 37% of employees report that they’ve been given useful feedback from their manager/employer in the performance review process
  • Only 32% said that their performance goals are aligned with their company’s business objectives
  • Only 20% have established career goals with their manager/employer

So.  Annual feedback systems satisfy no one from a frequency perspective.  And feedback systems in general are not providing useful feedback for employee skill growth or engagement – or in line with business objectives.

At this point you could say, “Yikes!” and start moaning.

Or, you could say, “This looks like an opportunity for HR to make a significant contribution to the success of the business!” and start collecting similar data from your organization to identify whether this opportunity is real.  If it is real, I see the building of a compelling business case in your future – just in time for the FY2013 budget planning process.

And a new more powerful way to engage employees and manage performance in your organization could be right around the corner.

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Filed under Achievers, Annual Performance Reviews, Business Case, Business Success, China Gorman, Cornerstone OnDemand, Engagement, HR Data, Performance Feedback

Is Your Workplace Engaged?

My friends at Achievers are collecting applications for inclusion in the 2012 Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ Awards. As an HR business leader you should think about applying. Today. Because time is running out.

The process is not onerous and even if you don’t win – it’s a highly competitive and influential list – the process of answering the application questions will get you thinking and focusing on what you need to do create an engaging workplace.

Achievers, the leading next-gen solution provider in the Rewards & Recognition space, has identified Eight Elements of Employee Engagement™:

  1. Leadership
  2. Communication
  3. Culture
  4. Rewards and Recognition
  5. Professional and Personal Growth
  6. Accountability and Performance
  7. Vision and Values
  8. Corporate Social Responsibility

The questions in the application survey ask employers to comment on their programs, policies and structure around each of the eight elements. In some cases, as in the Vision and Values section, the survey asks how your organization handles behavior that is NOT in line with a core value.

Each answer can be no more than 250 words, so the survey won’t take hours to complete – but will require thought in order to be both comprehensive and brief.

Previous winners have included organizations as diverse as ADP, Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, North Shore-LIJ Health System, Glassdoor.com and E&A Credit Union.

The winning organizations will be notified on August 20 and the public announcement will be on August 27th, with the awards galas on October 25th in San Francisco (U.S. list) and November 14th in Toronto (Canada list).

Achievers has a strong history of research and analysis in the engagement arena and is a strong go-to source for current data and thinking on how engaged workforces outperform their unengaged peers.  Check out these white papers here and here.

Winning an award like this is great. Being able to declare to your talent community and other stakeholders that you are an organization publicly recognized for its effective focus on creating a culture and environment focused on employee engagement is pure gold. Apply here before time runs out to be included in the 2012 list. And good luck!

*Full disclosure: I’m one of 6 judges who will determine the final winners.

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Filed under 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Award, Achievers, Business Success, Engagement, HR, Razor Suleman, Talent Community, Talent pipeline

Maximizing Your Conference Investment

This is an updated post from August 2010.

The 2012 SHRM Annual Conference is just around the corner.  Word has it that there will be many first-timers in attendance.  This is for them — and for other attendees who want to be sure they maximize the financial and time investments they’re making.  Here are three proven strategies for making sure you get your money’s worth.

Sessions

Conferences generally have 3 types of content sessions:

  1. General Sessions:  these are sessions that are intended for the full complement of attendees.  The speakers are typically big names in the industry who speak on universal topics relevant to the conference theme or they are big celebrity names meant to draw your attendance to the conference.  SHRM does both — and usually always has a movie star or TV personality on the big stage.  Big names sell tickets, folks.  Think of them as the motivational part of the conference.
  2. Concurrent Sessions:  these are the main content tracks that are scheduled throughout the conference.  Each time slot will hold multiple options for your consideration.  Designed for smaller subsets of the conference attendees, these tend to be led by consultants, academics and a few practitioners and are focused content of a practical nature.  Think of them as the skill building part of the conference experience.
  3. Sponsor Highlights:  these are sessions that feature a sponsor or exhibitor’s product or service, are marketing-focused in nature, and come as part of their sponsorship/exhibitor fee.  SHRM doesn’t do this very often — but the exhibitors frequently hold mini-sessions in their booth space in the expo hall.  Don’t dismiss them.  You can get great information about what’s new and cutting edge as well as scope out potential new partners.  (I’ll be conducting mini sessions in the Achievers booth on Sunday and Monday.  Come over and say “hi.”)

In a typical two-and-a-half- or three-day conference, it’s important to select wisely the sessions you want to attend – and in advance.  But it’s also important not to over-schedule yourself (more on that later). I recommend attending all the General Sessions.  The big names generally have value and the celebrity speakers are usually engaging, entertaining and motivating.  Then attend concurrent sessions in about 60-75% of the time slots.

Save Time For Networking

One of the particular values of attending a conference in person (as opposed to an online conference or a series of webinars) is the opportunity to meet other like minded people.  Look at the list of presenters.  Look at the list of sponsors/exhibitors.  Find out who else will be attending.  Then target 4-8 people that you’d really like to meet and talk with – and find them at the conference.  Leaving time in your session schedule to set short appointments when you find people on your target list will allow you to be thoughtful in creating new relationships.  Don’t pass up the opportunity to learn from industry pros – who, by the way, also want to network and meet people just like you!

You know how to network, right?  You prepare for these opportunities in advance by identifying what you’d like to talk about with each target and prepare 2 or 3 questions to get the conversation rolling.  You can ask everyone the same questions, or you can customize your approach to each person.  Your confidence will be strong as you introduce yourself to these folks and you’ll be surprised how amenable perfect strangers are to meet and talk with you.

If you aren’t on Twitter or FaceBook, now would be a good time to start accounts.  Many of the people you want to meet are using social media to connect with new and old friends.  I’ll be there.  Connect with me.  On Twitter I’m @ChinaGorman and it’s easy to friend me on FaceBook.  Just mention #SHRM12 in the invitation and I’ll accept.  Social media will be prevalent in Atlanta.

Nothing is More Attractive Than a Smile

As you walk the conference halls and expo aisles, make sure your demeanor and body language is open.  And smile.  Intentionally.  You’ll appear open, friendly, not intimidating or intimidated.  Really, there’s nothing more attractive than a smiling face.  And there’s nothing that builds your confidence to approach strangers than acting open and welcoming.

Attending a conference and getting your money’s worth isn’t hard.  But it takes some forethought and planning.  Both you and your organization want to realize the investment it took to get there.  Make sure you get the full value of the experience.

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Filed under Achievers, China Gorman, Conferences, HR, HR Conferences, SHRM, SHRM Foundation, Talent Management