Category Archives: Career Planning

Core Employee Needs: Not All or Nothing!

data point tuesday_500

It seems as though we are consistently seeing data that show decreasing levels of employee engagement and feelings of fulfillment at work. This data can be, and has been, attributed to many factors, such as a lean post-recession workforce, an increasingly competitive talent landscape, and the uber-connected, uber-informed and uber-on business world in which we operate. I’d agree that all of these can create barriers to an engaged workforce, or challenge an already highly engaged workforce. There’s also data indicating (as I discussed in my post on what Millennials look for in a great workplace) that high amounts of stress, feelings of low-engagement or no work/life balance are not as significant as we may think. There are, on a positive note, data that suggest workplaces are doing much to negate issues of engagement and work/life balance, but much of this research comes from companies classified as “Best Workplaces” and considering the frequency of content reporting low levels of engagement, trust, and happiness, such companies may be few and far between. Ultimately, we can only take data at face value. The real importance of looking at such workplace statistics is to inform ourselves and build our “bigger picture” – know what’s out there, know what’s conflicting, and create solutions and approaches that are right for our own people, culture and strategic goals.

Some data I recently found interesting comes from an article published in The New York Times, “Why You Hate Work” which included research from The Energy Project, an organization that aims to increase employee engagement and sustainable performance for organizations and their leaders. The article, by The Energy Company’s CEO Tony Schwartz and consultant Christine Porath, discusses how “the way we’re working isn’t working” and that it’s increasing common for both middle managers and top executives to feel overwhelmed and disengaged. In an effort to understand what’s impacting people’s engagement and productivity at work, The Energy Project partnered with The Harvard Business Review to survey 12,000 + mostly white-collar employees across a range of industries and organizations. They found that employees are considerably more productive and engaged when they have the opportunity to: regularly renew and recharge at work, feel valued and appreciated for their contributions, focus in an absorbed way on their most important tasks, define when and where they get their work done, do more of what they do best and enjoy most, as well as feeling connected to a higher purpose at work. The study attributed these four areas to four core needs: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.

Energy ProjectIn terms of the core physical need at work, The Energy Project’s study determined that employees who take breaks every 90 minutes find themselves with a 30 percent higher level of focus than those who take one or no breaks during the day. These employees also report a 50% greater capacity to think creatively and a 46% higher level of health and well-being. Also interesting, is that when employees feel encouraged by their supervisor to take breaks, their likelihood to stay with any given company increases by nearly 100%.  For the core emotional need, feeling cared for by one’s supervisor has the biggest impact. Employees who noted having more supportive supervisors were 67% more engaged. The core mental need? Respondents that were able to focus on one task at a time reported being 50% more engaged (although only 20% of respondents reported being able to do this). Comparably, just 1/3 of respondents reported being able to effectively prioritize their tasks, but those who did were 1.6 times better able to focus on one thing at a time. In regards to the core spiritual need, the Energy Project’s research found that employees who derive meaning and significance from their work reported 1.7 times higher job satisfaction and were 1.4 times more engaged at work.  In a nutshell, this data show that how employees feel at work has a huge impact on their engagement and productivity.

One last valuable nugget of data to note from this study is that when employees have even just one of the core needs discussed above met, versus none, all variables of their performance improve (from engagement, to loyalty, job satisfaction, positive energy at work, and lower perceived levels of stress). This is good incentive for organizations to work on things one step at a time. It clearly isn’t an all or nothing proposition. Positive changes in employee engagement don’t necessarily happen from massive culture changes or vast implementation of new programs. Baby steps are okay folks; and the more core needs are met, the more positive the impact!

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Filed under Career Planning, Center on Education and the Workforce, Millennials, Talentism, Uncategorized, Workplace Strategies

From the Archives: Job security is the #1 talent attraction magnet. Wait. What?

This was originally published on April 17, 2012.  It’s worth repeating…

In doing some research for a speech I’m giving, I came across The Talent Management and Rewards Imperative for 2012 from Towers Watson and WorldatWork.  It’s chock full of interesting data based on the 2011/2012 Towers Watson North American Talent Management and Rewards Survey and an unpublished Towers Watson 2011 survey of over 10,000 full-time employees in North America on topics such as total rewards, communication and other work-related issues.  Because I’ve been looking at data about the state of the talent pipeline (see Data Points #3, #5, #6), I thought this would be interesting reading.  Little did I know!

A couple of the data points that stood out to me challenge the “conventional wisdom.”  See what you think:

  • Only 11% of organizations have trouble retaining employees generally
  • Fully 68% of organizations identify high potentials, but only 28% inform those employees who have been identified.
  • Organizations underestimate the effect work-related stress and work/life balance have on employee retention, and do not recognized the significance of job security in attracting top talent.

Wait.  What?

It’s the last point that brought me up short.  Look at the chart below.

There are important disconnects between what employees report will attract them into a new job and what employers believe will be important in attracting talent into their organizations.  And if you look at the differing views between employers and high potential performers you’ll be even more surprised.

In all of the writing on this topic that I have seen in the last 18 months, no one else reports the significant importance of job security as part of an organization’s EVP (employee value proposition).  And look how it ranks as #1 for all employees as well as high-potential employees.  #1.

Not meaningful work.  Not alignment with the organization’s mission.  Job security.  Am I the only one surprised by this finding?

Look at the disconnect between the top 5 factors for all employees and employers’ top 5 factors.  Outside of base pay it’s a total mismatch!

On the high-potential performers side, outside of base pay and career development opportunity it’s a total mismatch!

It looks like we’re totally out to lunch when it comes to knowing what’s motivating in terms of EVP and the talent pipeline.  Out. To. Lunch.

In a world that observes the incredible talent acquisition strategies and investments at organizations like Zappos, PepsiCo, Rackspace and AT&T, we’re encouraged to believe that creating cultures of happiness and engagement are what it takes to delight customers and retain employees – high potential or otherwise.  And I chose those organizations because I know the ground-breaking work each is doing in terms of building their talent communities and the engagement of their workforce.  They truly are ground breaking.

It turns out talent attraction may be a bit more mundane than “creating a little weirdness.”

It turns out that some of the basics like job security and base pay still hold huge sway in our workforce.  And I think this is good news.  It gives” regular” employers doing good work and being good to their employees a fighting chance to keep their employees and attract the talent they’ll need going forward.

Basic blocking and tackling.  Basic management competence.  Basic HR.  Can’t get away from them if you want your organization to succeed.

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Filed under AT&T, Business Success, Career Planning, China Gorman, Culture, Engagement, HR, Talent Management, Talent pipeline

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the C-Suite…

The Career Engagement Group from New Zealand recently conducted  an online survey of over 1,000 employed people ages 18-65.  The focus of the survey was to understand the career aspirations, agility and drivers of the current workforce across key demographics such as gender, age and career stage.

Maybe because the survey originated in New Zealand, some different questions were asked than the usual employee engagement surveys we see so routinely today.  It’s always good to get a different take on what’s important.

One of the subjects covered that seemed out of the ordinary was Leadership Aspiration.  Now that I think about it, I’m not sure I’ve ever been asked – in the many engagement and career development surveys I’ve taken – if I wanted to lead at the most senior level in an organization.  It’s a great question.  And the answers surprised me.  How about you?

Leadership Aspirations & Gender & Generations

  • Only 11% of all respondents want to lead at the most senior level in an organization.
  • Women report lower leadership aspirations than men – 15% of all males aspire to senior leadership positions, while only 9% of all females had similar aspirations.
  • Younger people have higher leadership aspirations overall.

Hmmm.  Only 11% of all respondents want to lead at the most senior level in an organization!  That surprises me.  A lot.  I would have loved to have seen the breakdown in responses by age group as well as gender.  Because I might have thought that the younger generations might be less interested in the stress and costs of leadership at the top than their older colleagues, but the results say otherwise according to the Career Engagement Group.

And women being less interested in leadership at the top than men?  That’s kind of a show stopper, don’t you think?  With more and more women entering the workforce around the world, this finding should be concerning.  Many industry-leading organizations are working hard to keep women in their organizations – maybe they should also be more encouraging about the value and rewards of life at the top.  According to this survey, there aren’t a lot of people — male or female –dreaming about being the CEO and making plans to get to the top.

When the demographics are already working against us (see my posts here and here) and the C-Suite is justifiably concerned about where the next generation of leaders is coming from, perhaps what’s needed is a marketing campaign to encourage workers to reach for the top.

What do you think?

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Filed under C-suite, Career Development, Career Planning, CEOs, China Gorman, Connecting Dots, Demographics, Engagement, HR Data, Leadership Aspiration, Talent development, Talent pipeline

Certificates: the New Associate’s Degree?

Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce has published a new report:  Certificates: Gateway to Gainful Employment and College Degrees. I’m a big fan of a previous report from these authors, Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018 and wrote about it here.

This new report gives a clear look under the hood of one of the staples of our post-secondary education infrastructure: the certificate.

Take a look. It’s not a hard read.

Uniquely American, certificates are widely varied in their positive impacts and largely ignored by private, public and government socioeconomic surveyors. The study’s authors contend that if certificates “with a demonstrated labor market value” were counted in official post-secondary surveys as “credentials” they would improve the U.S.’s post-secondary completion position from 15th to 10th among industrialized nations (OECD countries).

And 1 million certificates were awarded in 2010 – up from 300,000 in 1994.

Interesting data from the report include:

  • Certificates are the fastest growing form of post-secondary credentials in the U.S. increasing from 6% in 1980 to 22% today
  • 20% of certificate holders go on to get two-year degrees
  • 13% of certificate holders go on to complete four-year degrees
  • Workers with certificates earn an average 20% more than workers with just high school degrees

As talent management and HR professionals continue to struggle to find “qualified” workers to fill their openings, perhaps a new look at the experience and credentials they require might open a large segment of fully qualified workers – those with certificates instead of college degrees.

Something to think about.

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Filed under Career Planning, Certificates, China Gorman, Demographics, Education Deficit, Employment Data, Post-secondary education, Talent Management, Talent pipeline, Unemployment

The one thing…

If you had one piece of job search advice to share with college seniors who are entering the job market in a few months, what would it be?  I’m working with a large group of college seniors next week to help them focus in on their career planning and job searches.  These are liberal arts students with likely majors in business, communications, the sciences and English lit.  What’s the one thing you’d tell them as they gear up for their job searches?  Please leave a comment below.  Thanks!

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Filed under Career Planning, Principia, Student Job Search