Category Archives: Culture

The Value of Purpose

I’m seeing a trend in the Human Capital Management space wherein vendors/consulting firms are creating mini white papers rather than big research reports. The continuation of “Snack Nation,” I guess. But I like it. For those among us who just don’t have the time to sit down and focus on a lengthy research report, these snackable bits of relevant research and content are helpful. And pwc does a better job than most of serving up helpful content based on current research and analysis.

Take Putting Purpose to Work:  A study of purpose in the workplace (published a year ago). It’s a 14 page, easy to read document that walks the reader through a discussion of the meaning of your organization’s purpose for your employees and what it can mean for your business. As we learn more and more about what drives the younger generations in our economy, there’s no denying that purpose is discussed a great deal in the C-Suite as the War for Talent wages around us.

Data in the report are based on a survey conducted by pwc that included 1,510 full- and part-time employees and 502 U.S. business leaders from 39 industries – from both public and private companies, as well as partnerships, government/state-owned agencies, and non-profits.

“The current era of disengaged, transient talent impacts every aspect of the business, and the need to activate purpose at work has never been more urgent.”

This is the thesis of the report. And it’s hard to argue against it.

The reports argues that the following commitments are critical as leaders create a purpose driven culture:

  • Make purpose accessible
  • Emphasize the human element of purpose
  • Include purpose at the center of your talent strategy

For leaders – including those in HR – the following graphic provides interesting food for thought.

This is a striking disconnect, and one that HR leaders could take the lead in eliminating. It shows that, while there is understanding in the C-Suite regarding the criticality of purpose in business success, there is a lack of will in operationalizing purpose in the business.

What’s the story in your organization? Does the C-Suite believe that your organization’s purpose is central to its success? And if it does, how is it manifested in your employees’ day-to-day lives on the job? Good questions for all leaders whether or not they’re in HR.

Of the five key insights itemized at the beginning of the report, the second really resonates and is a bit of a warning:

“Business leaders tend to focus on the value in defining and illuminating purpose for commercial success. For employees, purpose represents an avenue by which they find personal fulfillment. This disconnect is preventing companies from reaping the comprehensive potential benefit of defining what they stand for as an organization.”

Some food for thought…

 

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Filed under Business Success, China Gorman, Company Culture, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Engagement, Purpose at Work, pwc, Talent Management, Uncategorized

Empathy: Corporate Performance Enhancer?

If you’ve heard me speak on “Humanity Means Business,” you know I pay a lot of attention to the intersection of corporate culture, business performance, and people. And I mention several organizations that measure and/or rank employers on scales of relevant cultural attributes. It is sometimes surprising to audiences that top ranked (on a number of lists) employers are also top financial performers. So lists like FORTUNE’s 100 Best Companies to Work For, and WorldBlu’s annual list of certified employers, along with BCorp certified companies and devotees of the Conscious Capitalism movement – all provide road maps for leaders to enhance corporate performance through creating strong, human (of varying sorts) relationships with their people. And it’s always interesting to me that many organizations show up on more than one list.

Through  my Facebook feed, I found a different list posted on Harvard Business Review Online on December 1, 2016:  The 20 Most Empathetic Companies, 2016. This “corporate fitbit for empathy” is about “understanding our emotional impact on others and making change as a result” and its authors believe that empathy “is more important to a successful business than it has ever been, correlating to growth, productivity, and earnings per employee.” While the authors don’t share those correlations, they do share the 2016 list. And the listed companies do not surprise; they show up on other lists.

“The Empathy Index seeks to answer the question: Which companies are successfully creating empathetic cultures? These are the companies that retain the best people, create environments where diverse teams thrive, and ultimately reap the greatest financial rewards.”

Based on this list, I’ll easily believe that they all have better than average retention statistics, and certainly strong records of financial performance. But I wonder if each company on their list is truly an organization “where diverse teams thrive.” One just needs to note the number of Silicon Valley tech companies on the list. We all recognize the diversity challenges these organizations face – including those on this list.

The article’s author, Belinda Parmer, says “the tech sector continues to lead our ranking, now accounting for an even bigger share of our top ten (60% in 2016 versus 50% in 2015), with Facebook knocking Microsoft off the top spot, owing to its focus on improving its internal culture and the introduction of the Empathy Lab.” So trying counts. But should it?

I wonder at the assumptions being made by the researchers. These are their research parameters:

  • Ethics
  • Leadership
  • Company culture
  • Brand perception
  • Public messaging through social media
  • CEO approval ratings from staff
  • Ratio of women on boards
  • Number of accounting infractions and scandals
  • A carbon metric was added in 2016

That’s a lot. They don’t say how they measure these components, just that many are from public sources. Counting the number of women on boards is easy. Measuring ethics and culture are not. Defining and measuring brand perception is doable, measuring leadership is not.

I think we’d all agree that empathy is a good thing – for people and organizations. I’m really not sure, however, that empathy – as a leading organizational culture characteristic – is that meaningful. Are these 20 companies on this list because they’re trying to be empathetic? Or are they on the list because they pay people fairly and well; have intelligent, approachable leaders; are competitive in their sectors and have business plans that take advantage of – and lead – their market conditions? I’m not sure we can tell.

I’m not convinced that empathy as a corporate culture cornerstone is something that moves the performance needle more than respect, intelligence, humanity and flexibility – or any other list of current cultural attributes. It’s an interesting discussion, though, and I encourage you to read the HBR online article. It will definitely get you thinking.

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Filed under China Gorman, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Diversity, Empathy, Employee Engagement, Employee Productivity, Engagement, HBR Online, Workplace Culture

Culture and Compensation

PayScale has produced its 8th annual in-depth report on compensation best practices: Comp is Culture. If you have anything to do with paying people – so, that’s virtually every manager, everywhere – reading this report will be well worth your time. Even though I’m not an HR professional, much less a compensation professional, I found it fascinating. Especially the impact that compensation practices have on organization culture.

The report is based on responses gathered in November and December, 2016 from 7,700 respondents, of which 5,136 were in the U.S. and 641 in Canada (as well as respondents in Australia, India, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and others);12% were Enterprise organizations’ (5,000+) employees, 13% Large organizations’ (750-4,999) employees, 29% Mid-sized organizations’ (100 – 749) employees, and 46% Small organizations’(1-99) employees.

Not surprisingly, the report identifies the following ass the biggest talent- and culture-related challenges in 2017:

  • Finding and growing great talent
  • Employee retention/engagement – large number of retirements anticipated in 2017 as well as continued millennial job-hopping
  • Competition from younger stage tech startups
  • Hiring and retaining the right employees in the face of high growth
  • The fierce talent competition shifting the balance of power to candidates
  • Improving company culture and fighting attrition for newly trained employees

The picture here is clear:  the war for talent hasn’t abated. In fact, in may just be beginning in earnest.

As it relates to pay practices and culture, the PayScale research found the following:

  • When it comes to pay, only 20 percent of employees said they were paid fairly, whereas 44 percent of employers said that their employees were fairly paid.
  • In a similar vein, employers were significantly more inclined to say their employees were appreciated at work (64 percent), whereas only 45 percent of employees said they felt appreciated at work.
  • A question around pay transparency revealed more of the same – 31 percent of employers said their company had a transparent pay policy, whereas only 23 percent of employees agreed.

There are a number of discussions and supporting graphs to keep even the most nerdy among us engaged, but these discussions and graphs are also easily understood and the information flows simply and logically. There’s a lot here, and it’s all good.

Being focused on all things relating to organization culture and leadership’s impact on it, I found the following chart very interesting:

There are two points here that are worth pondering if you think the data might apply to your organization:

  1. The percentage of respondents in both the employees and employers categories who agree or strongly agree on all five statements is higher than might be expected, with the exception of the final statement.
  2. Only one statement has a higher percentage of agreement from employees than from employers – and it’s the statement about the state of the employer/employee relationship. Employees report that their relationship with their manager is stronger than the managers report. With rising turnover and many organizations struggling to increase retention, who saw that coming?

This report covers the waterfront in terms of compensation practices, their impact on culture, and employees’ perception of many of the aspects of their pay. There are a number of surprising nuggets of information that could impact your organization’s compenation practices. It’s not an easy read, but it’s a good read. I recommend you spend some time with it.

 

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Filed under China Gorman, Compensation, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Experience, Employee Satisfaction, HR, HR Data, PayScale, Performance Management

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.

gallup-employees-are-leaving-2017

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:

gallup-engagement-2017-original

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