Category Archives: Culture

Want To Improve Your Business Outcomes?

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Last week I wrote about the new Gallup report, State of the American Workplace, and discussed some of its broader findings. This week, we’ll dig in a little more specifically.

Two of the chapters, U.S. Workers: Increasingly Confident and Ready to Leave, and The Competitive Advantage of Engaging Employees, should be required reading for all leaders as well as HR folks.

Let’s look at the chapter on U.S. workers having one foot out the door first. According to Gallup, “51% of U.S. employees say they are actively looking for a new job or watching for openings.” Think about that for a minute. A little more than half of your employees have at least one foot out the door.

Optimism about the job market is up for good reason:  hiring is up. Gallup measures job creation and reports its Job Creation Index. In 2012 the Gallup Job Creation Index averaged +18. For the first three quarters of 2016, it averaged +32. So our employees have a deservedly high level of confidence that when they leave, they can find a good replacement job fairly quickly. It’s no wonder that many of our employees have a “grass is greener” outlook.

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And, of course, all of these reasons tie into your HR strategies, policies and plans. Your approach to employee engagement should be tying in to these 5 reasons for employee resignations.

While there are many definitions for employee engagement, this really caught my eye in the report:

“Some leaders and managers believe the ultimate goal of employee engagement is higher levels of worker happiness and satisfaction. Happier workers certainly benefit an organization, but the real goal of employee engagement is improved business outcomes.”

Boom! Let me quote this again:  “…the real goal of employee engagement is improved business outcomes.” Every definition of employee engagement works here – as long as we understand the real outcome for which we’re working.

If employees are happier, they’ll work smarter and harder and quality will go up, improving our business outcomes.

If employees feel respected, they’ll be more committed and stay longer, improving our business outcomes.

If employees’ skills are developed, they’ll make greater contributions, improving our business outcomes.

If employees see a career path forward, they’ll be more committed and stay longer, improving our business outcomes.

If employees feel connected to the organization’s mission, they’ll spend more of their discretionary energy on the job, improving our business outcomes.

You get the point. As you’ll see in the chapter on The Competitive Advantage of Engaging Employees, employee engagement isn’t a nice-to-have any more. In this age of talent shortages and high turnover, employee engagement is a requirement to meet and exceed our business goals.

Gallup has been measuring employee engagement globally for a long time. In the U.S. the figures for the last 16 years are surprising. And not in a good way. They are actually alarming. Take a look:

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What’s alarming about this data is that, essentially, despite a ton of investment in programs, approaches, technology, and training, the employee engagement needle hasn’t moved since 2000. For all intents and purposes, despite our best (?) efforts, the percentage of the workforce that is either Not Engaged or Actively Disengaged hasn’t moved at all over the last 16 years. Somehow, despite our best efforts, we are not convincing our employees that we value them, that we need them, or that we want them. And they’re actively looking. Add in to the equation that there a lots of jobs available – and a lot of them are good jobs – and it’s easy to see why employees feel empowered to check out the green grass across the street or across the country.

Perhaps we aren’t speaking their language. Perhaps we aren’t letting them in as real partners in our drive for success. Perhaps we aren’t asking, or listening, or engaging. But it’s clear from this data – and a great many other sources – that the average organization needs to step up its employee engagement game.

The data are clear. Engaged employees – use definition you like – have lower turnover, lower absenteeism, higher customer metrics, higher productivity, higher sales, higher profitability – as I have been quoted saying, “everything we measure that we want to go up will go up, and everything we measure that we want to go down will down when we create a culture that values its humans.”

Download this report. Download it today and start considering how you can improve your business outcomes by engaging your employees.

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Filed under China Gorman, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Engagement, Employee Productivity, Gallup, Happiness at Work, Talent Management, Workforce Management, Workplace Culture

Is Your Organization An ACE?

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I rarely do book reviews here at Data Point Tuesday. When I do, it’s because the book is written specifically for my readers, HR professionals in the trenches, and because I know and respect the author. Today I’d like to recommend just such a book.

fulfilled-schiemannFulfilled! Critical Choices:  Work, Home, Life, written by William A. Schiemann, will be available on October 1. Lucky me, I got an advance copy and loved it! If you’re active in SHRM, then you have probably heard Bill speak at the Annual conference or at one of many state conferences where he continuously supports the HR profession. I saw Bill two weeks ago at the KYSHRM conference where we both keynoted. He’s a Ph.D. researcher, writer and consultant bringing evidence-based research into practical and useful focus for organizations of all types and sizes.

Fulfilled! Is a guidebook as well as a workbook – it helps you organize and chart the steps to find meaning in your life and your work, as well as supporting your organization in creating a culture where every employee can find that meaning. It’s full of true individual examples of people achieving real meaning as well as examples of people who missed the waypoints along the way and never achieved true fulfillment.

From an organizational perspective the organizing concept is ACE: alignment, capability and engagement, which Bill calls “People Equity.” Bill’s consulting firm, Metrus Group, has found that organizations with high People Equity have:

  • Higher profits or reach their goals more effectively
  • More loyal customers who buy more
  • High employee retention
  • Higher quality output

“The organizations that achieve high People Equity (high alignment, capabilities, and engagement) have a distinct advantage over their competitors. And the individuals who apply this concept to their live also win…”

I really appreciated both the individual and organizational discussions about alignment, capabilities and engagement. They are simple and easily understood – and so impactful. This is one “How-To” book that ought to be on every HR leader’s bookshelf.

I don’t want to give away the good stuff – the book is available on Amazon on October 1 and you should get it. But here’s a final view at the final chapters of the book, Life Lessons:

Lesson 1:  Keep the end in mind

Lesson 2:  Nurture your body

Lesson 3:  Build a social network (but have at least one fantastic friend)

Lesson 4:  Always seek things you are passionate about

Lesson 5:  Take reasonable risks

Lesson 6:  Never stop learning – never!

Lesson 7:  Stick to your values and spirituality

Lesson 8:  Resilience – find the silver lining

Lesson 9:  Give and get

Lesson 10:  Check in with yourself regularly – force it!

You may think to yourself, I’ve read this book before. But I assure you, you haven’t. Bill brings to life real people who made good decisions as well as mistakes; who risked it all and who played it safe; who learned and who never learned. And the organizing principle of People Equity is truly a new view backed by years of research and real life practice.

And after you’ve read Fullfilled!, take it with you to your next HR conference. Chances are good that Bill will be keynoting and you can get him to autograph it for you!

 

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Filed under Balance, Business Success, China Gorman, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Engagement, Happiness at Work, HR, HR Books, Human Resources, Performance, Productivity

Are You Putting All Your Eggs Into The Engagement Basket?

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George LaRocque, Founder and Principal Analyst at #HRWINS, has published a new report that caught my eye. Where Purpose Meets Performance:  Can HR Tech Solve Culture, is an interesting look at the culture challenges of the U.S. middle market (5,000 and fewer employees) which employs roughly 90% of the U.S. workforce.

Here’s where he grabbed me:

“Studies show that companies with performance enhancing cultures far out-perform those without it in terms of revenue growth, stock price growth, and net income growth. Yet, it remains nearly impossible to tie HR and people programs to business results. Business leaders and HR practitioners have looked to employee engagement as a measure of successful corporate culture but first even defining employee engagement presents a challenge. There have long been efforts to standardize its definition and measurement, and the result has been just the opposite. We’ve seen a proliferation of science and methods narrowly looking at everything from happiness to community embeddedness, social network analysis, motivation and incentives, collaboration, personality and culture assessments, and more.”

What follows is an interesting discussion, with 3 strong case studies, that shows how the acquisition and deployment of core HR technology is supporting the increase in HR credibility and impact on corporate performance, as well as greater employee satisfaction. It’s interesting stuff and incudes results from several surveys that George put out in the field.

At 20 pages, it isn’t a long read and is well organized. The main points cover the following:

  • What employees rate as the leading drivers of their feeling of engagement.
  • What employers feel are the HR and people programs delivering the best ROI.
  • How employee engagement fits in the new world of work.
  • What role core HR technology plays in building culture and aligning with business performance.

The survey work underpinning this analysis lead George to believe as I do:

“…perhaps the strongest component of culture that resonates with employees, of ALL generations, is having purpose and meaning in their work.”

The survey results, as shown below, show that, at least in the vast middle market, Baby Boomers and GenX are the most interested demographic as it relates to meaning and purpose. That’s not what you expected, is it? But it tracks with my research and observations.

#HRWINS 1

This report includes several such graphs and data points that provide solid context for whatever thinking and planning you’re doing regarding culture, engagement and your employee experience. Putting all your eggs in the “engagement” basket will most likely not produce the returns you expect. There are stronger fundamentals that may well have a stronger positive impact on your employees’ experience. Especially if you’re in the middle market.

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Filed under #HRTechTrends, #HRWINS, Baby Boomers, China Gorman, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Engagement, GenX, George LaRocque, HR Technology, Millennials

Tangible Vs. Intangible Assets

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You might not be aware of a trend in the corporate valuation world. You might not think that developments in how companies are being valued by the financial world would be of interest to HR. But, hold on to your horses! Validation of “our people are our greatest asset” is here!

Ocean Tomo LLC, the Intellectual Capital Merchant Banc™ firm, publishes an annual study of intangible asset market value. The most recent, published in early 2015, includes a rather eye-popping chart. But first a couple of definitions.

Tangible Asset (from Investopedia):  A tangible asset is an asset that has a physical form. Tangible assets include both fixed assets, such as machinery, buildings and land, and current assets, such as inventory. The opposite of a tangible asset is an intangible asset.

Intangible Asset (also from Invetopedia):  An intangible asset is an asset that is not physical in nature. Corporate intellectual property (items such as patents, trademarks, copyrights, business methodologies), goodwill and brand recognition are all common intangible assets in today’s marketplace.

Tangible assets are things. Physical things. Intangible assets are the results of human intellect and work. And the financial value of those – tangible and intangible assets – have completely reversed in the last 40 years. Completely!

Ocean Tomo provides the following chart showing this complete reversal.

Ocean Tomo Intangible AssetsIf ever the argument was made that our people are, in fact, our biggest asset, this nails it. In 1975 tangible assets comprised 83% of the S&P 500 market value; in 2015 intangible assets made up 84% of the S&P 500 market value. That means people, human beings are the greatest driver of corporate value — and not by a little bit.

So here’s the question:  if the finance/valuation world is truly valuing our organizations based on the value of our human capital, why is it so hard to talk about – much less act upon – the value of building cultures fit for human beings?

Something to think about during this week’s heat wave.

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Filed under China Gorman, Company Culture, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Human Capital, Ocean Tomo

Engaged and Committed or Dazed and Confused?

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There are a great deal of research and writing about engagement. Sometimes, I think it’s all we see. And there are a lot of solutions providers who will help you measure engagement, diagnose why engagement is low, increase engagement – and any other thing you want to do with or about engagement.

Here’s the challenge:  every one defines engagement in a different way. It’s enough to drive you crazy. It drives me crazy. Maybe not dazed and confused, but definitely crazy. I spend most of my time at the intersection of corporate culture, business performance, what I call humanity. You could just as easily call it engagement – except I think humanity is bigger than engagement.

My particular bias against “engagement” notwithstanding, my friends at Effectory International in Amsterdam have published a very interesting report introducing their compilation of this year’s Global Employee Engagement Index (vol. 3). I am interested in this report for three reasons:

  1. I know and like these folks a lot
  2. I actually like their definition of engagement
  3. They’ve indexed engagement globally – in 54 countries around the world

It’s pretty interesting reading. Here’s how they think about engagement:

The basis of engagement – or what people want from work:

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This is a much more complete definition than most. I like the “compelling company culture” language – not a one-size-fits-all definition of culture. I like the inclusion of freedom (see www.worldblu.com ) at work. And I especially appreciate the inclusion of immediate managers in the mix, along with exceptional leaders in the C-Suite.

I also think that their data have credibility because they can show regional differences in engagement drivers around the world:

Effectory 3

With data that show a global average of engaged and committed employees of 29%, they are also able to break it out by region:

Effectory 2

The discussion that follows is engaging (see what I did there?) and the analysis of this year’s data covers topics like:

  • Why businesses need employee engagement
  • What people want from work
  • Why engaged and committed employees leave
  • Specific strategies for strengthening the four “pillars” of engagement

There are several case studies, as well as a number of key takeaways that you’ll want to note as you think about your culture and your employees.

You may not have heard of Effectory International, but you should get acquainted with their work through this analysis and report. It may reduce your level of dazedness and confusion. I think you’ll thank me.

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Filed under China Gorman, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Effectory International, Employee Engagement, Employee Loyalty, Engagement, Freedom at Work, Global Employee Engagement Index, WorldBlu

The ROI of Working Human

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The SHRM Foundation’s latest Effective Practice Guideline, Creating a More Human Workplace Where Employees and Business Thrive, was released just in time for the SHRM Annucal conference this week. The timing couldn’t have been more appropriate, as it follows on the heels of last month’s WorkHuman conference.

If you’ve been following Data Point Tuesday for a while, you know I’m a big fan of the SHRM Foundation’s EPGs. They are researched, written, and reviewed by leading academics in the Human Resources field, and are underwritten by some of the most innovative suppliers in the HR arena. This EPG, sponsored by Globoforce, brings a great deal of data and analysis into one easily read report. In other words, it’s chock full of validated research and data on a topic that is becoming top of mind for CEOs, boards, and all C-Suite members:  the connection between employee well-being and business success.

The business case for creating a more human workplace is made in the first section of the report. It includes Strategies that pay off, High costs of our current work culture, and Multiple benefits of a thriving work culture. A few of the gems from this section include:

  • The American Psychological Association estimates that workplace stress costs the U.S. economy $500 Billion (!) a year.

  • Workplace stress increases voluntary turnover by nearly 50%.

  • Gallup estimates that poor leadership associated with active worker disengagement costs the U.S. economy $450 – $550 Billion (!) per year.

  • 550 Billion workdays are lost annually due to stress on the job.

  • 60 – 80% of workplace accidents are attributed to stress.

The supporting data showing how detrimental most workplace cultures are to their financial success are proliferating. Even if treating employees as if they were human beings wasn’t the right thing to do, the numbers alone make it hard to understand why creating more humanity-focused cultures aren’t the leading priority for every single organization and for every single CEO!

Once past the business case, the report lays out a thorough treatment on how to fix your culture in the section, Seven Ways to Help Employees Thrive. Not rocket science, but rather simple common sense, these seven elements come with case studies, examples and specific “how tos” for you to consider in your own organization.

  1. Share Information About the Organization and Its Strategy
  2. Provide Decision-making Discretion and Autonomy
  3. Create a Civil Culture and Positive Relationships
  4. Value Diversity and Create an Inclusive Atmosphere
  5. Offer Performance Feedback
  6. Provide a Sense of Meaning
  7. Boost Employee Well-Being

Citing employers like Alaska Airlines, Genentech, General Mills, Ritz-Carlton, Microsoft and many others, author Christine Porath loads this EPG with practical tips, examples and evidence.

At its heart, however, humanity-focused workplaces start at the top. They start with trustworthy leadership and sustainable leadership behaviors. This graphic says it all:

EPG May 24 2016

This report shows, once again, that there is absolutely no downside to not only treating employees humanely, but consciously and intentionally investing in their well-being. When our employees feel respected as individuals, appreciated for their contributions, and supported in their family lives and community commitments, as well as their physical health and mental well-being, our organization missions are more likely to come to fruition and all of our stakeholders – every single one of them – will be more than happy with the return on their various investments.

Thanks to the SHRM Foundation’s newest EPG, The ROI of Working Human has never been more clear.

 

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Filed under China Gorman, Christine Porath, Company Culture, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Effective Practice Guidelines, Employee Engagement, Employee Stress, Engagement, Globoforce, HR Data, SHRM Foundation

I’m Not Your Mother!

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This is a popular post from a year ago. I was reminded of it at the WorkHuman conference earlier this month.

Some things are simple. Some things are complicated. And some things that seem simple are actually pretty complicated. For example, it seems like a simple observation that happy employees are better employees. And, in fact, data abound to prove that point. But how to get happy employees is a little more complicated.

Early in my career as a business leader I always believed that people were my critical competitive edge and that creating a strong, caring culture was my job. But happiness? Come on. I wasn’t my employees’ mother. The nature of the employer/employee relationship, I believed, was a commercial relationship. Employees come to work, do a good job and I pay them. The more I could remove obstacles from their ability to do good work, the more I could offer development and thanks for a job well done, the better they performed. It wasn’t rocket science. Treat people well and they’ll treat your employees well. I got that. But trying to make them happy? I didn’t think that was part of the deal. (And I was a pretty effective business leader.)

But as I matured as a leader, I did begin to wonder about this notion of working to create happiness at work. I spent some time at Zappos – a culture whose leader is all about making his workforce happy. And while the Zappos culture wouldn’t be a fit for me, it worked for them. And they were happy. Really happy. And their business results were such that they could sell the business to Amazon for over $1 billion.

And then I became CEO of the Great Place to Work Institute and was covered over in data that prove a direct line from employee well-being to financial performance. And so while early in my career the notion of employee happiness didn’t register as a leadership imperative, I now believe that creating a culture that, in Tony Hseih’s words, delivers happiness to employees is quite clearly a practical and effective way to achieve top line growth, profitability, customer loyalty and, most importantly, employee loyalty.

In preparation for the Globoforce WorkHuman Conference in a couple of weeks, I was reading up on employee happiness and ran across one of their white papers, The Science of Happiness. It’s a quick read and makes some rather simple but profound points backed up by reliable data.

Here are 6 reasons why you want happy employees based on research from the Wall Street Journal and the iOpener Institute. Happy employees:

  • Stay twice as long in their jobs as their least happy colleagues
  • Believe they are achieving their potential 2x as much
  • Spend 65% more time feeling energized
  • Are 58% more likely to go out of the way to help their colleagues
  • Identify 98% more strongly with the values of their organization
  • Are 186% more likely to recommend their organization to a friend

Download the paper. It’ll take you less than 10 minutes to read and will give you some simple ideas to begin to see the benefits of focusing on employee well-being and happiness. And then join me at the WorkHuman Conference next year and let’s talk about happiness, gratitude, culture, and employee and organization success.

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Filed under China Gorman, Conferences, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Engagement, Engagement, Globoforce, Gratitude, WorkHuman