Category Archives: Employee Engagement

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

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:

Effectory 1

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

Do Employees Give Leaders Points For Trying?

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In honor of next week’s WorkHuman Conference, I thought I’d draw your attention to this white paper:  The ROI of Recognition in Building a More Human Workplace.  It was published by the WorkHuman Research Institute at Globoforce, the social recognition solutions company. Because it is a white paper, it has a definite bias towards recognition, but it also has some very interesting insights to share about the larger question of the impact of culture on employee engagement.

The value of bringing humanity – a recognition that employees are more than 9-to-5 skillsets – into your culture, your policies, your practices, your leadership behavior is being documented in organizations of all sizes, in all industries and in all geographic locations. This white paper gives further insight into the attributes of “humanity” in the workplace through an analysis of a survey that was in the field from Nov 4-7, 2015 and had 828 randomly selected, full-time employees in the U.S.

The key findings of the survey analysis include:

  1. When employees believe leaders are striving to create a more human workplace, culture metrics improve.

  2. Recognition not only significantly improves engagement, but also creates a more human culture.

  3. Employees’ attitudes toward change and optimism for the future correlate with recognition efforts and efforts to build a more human workplace.

  4. Employees trust colleagues most, but it is trust for leaders that most impacts culture.

  5. Recognition and a human workplace are drivers of employee well-being and happiness.

I was very interested in findings #1 and #4 – the leadership focused findings.

Finding #1:  “When employees believe leaders are striving to create a more human workplace, culture metrics improve.”

This is fascinating. It implies that as long as leaders are trying to be more human, they get the benefit of the doubt. It would seem that employees give their leaders points for trying. Here’s a particularly informative graph from the report on this point:

ROI of Humanity 1

It seems clear that if employees believe the leaders of their organization care about them as a people – not as skillsets – they are willing to engage more across the board. Care. Not the usual word to describe the relationship between leaders and employees. But that seems to be changing. And that’s a good thing.

ROI of Humanity 2

Interesting connections.

Regarding finding #4, trust in leaders most impacts culture, I found the comparisons informative. Comparing the effects of trusting colleagues vs. trusting the boss vs. trusting leadership on various culture dynamics, the trends were clear. The impact on engagement was telling:

ROI of Humanity 3

Creating and maintaining trusting relationships with colleagues, bosses and leadership are, of course, hallmarks of more human-focused cultures. Most highly valued by employees are, interestingly, the relationship of trust with senior leaders. Many would have us believe that it’s all about the work unit, the close-in colleagues. The “best friend at work” syndrome. Others believe it’s all about the immediate boss.  I’ve long believed that trustworthy, authentic and approachable leaders – at every level – can overcome most any cultural issue – with trustworthiness being the key. And this data would agree with me. This report looks at several dimensions of trust that are quite interesting.

I like this white paper. It provides some thought provoking analysis that support the growing focus on creating more human workplaces. Workplaces that are more productive, more collaborative, more innovative and more engaging for employees. What business model couldn’t use more of all of those?

 

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

HR Challenges vs. Organizational People Priorities

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At Data Point Tuesday we love great graphics. Great graphics can really make a point. They can help people digest complex data points and make sense out of the numbers. Quantum Workplace’s new report, the State of Employee Feedback, does all of these things.

The things I found most interesting about the data, however, were not about the state of employee feedback, but rather about HR’s priorities and their view of organizational people challenges. This report isn’t really about those things, but they’re pretty interesting. Quantum Workplace polled HR professionals in nearly 300 organizations that cover the size spectrum. (No information on industry sectors or geographic location, sadly, but maybe those are being saved for another report.)

The high level, easily consumed findings (and terrific graphics) focus on 5 areas:

  • What are HR teams’ biggest challenges?
  • What will be prioritized in the coming year?
  • What employee feedback strategies and tools have become more or less important?
  • What tactics and strategies are organizations using to measure and improve their employees’ experience?
  • What are the most engaged organizations doing differently?

As a vendor white paper, the report is most focused on discussing findings on issues 3 – 5. While they are all interesting and probably useful as a backdrop, the first two were most interesting to me. They show in great specificity the challenge that is being an HR professional today. This survey’s respondents listed these as their top organizational HR challenges:

Quantum Workplace 1

Interesting that proving the ROI of HR initiatives is in the #3 spot, not the #1 spot. As HR becomes more and more a strategic business function, and less and less an administrative “overhead” function, I would assume that proving the ROI of everything HR does would move to the top of the priority list. That’s how business functions operate

But wait. There’s more. I’m comparing and contrasting that list – of HR challenges – with HR’s self-report of top organizational people strategies:

Quantum Workplace 2

This is as good a list of or organizational people strategies as I’ve seen. No one is probably surprised that Attracting Top Talent is the first organizational priority. And even though there is no common definition of Employee Engagement, no common way to measure it, and no indication that it’s improving anywhere in the world, it’s not surprising that HR folks would put this category in second place for its organization. Talent acquisition and employee engagement are the tip of the spear in all popular business and HR content outlets.

What I’d like to see are the same questions posed to CEOs and CFOs in those same organizations. I’d love to see if those other senior leaders identify the same HR challenges and people priorities in the same order. Call me crazy, but I’ll bet there would be significant differences in both categories and rank order. And that’s my point today. HR talking to itself about HR and people processes is not bad. Better, though, would be HR talking to other business leaders about HR and people processes. I hear anecdotally that this is starting to happen. But the simple fact that Finding an Executive Sponsor is on the list of HR’s top challenges for 2016 tells me it isn’t happening enough.

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Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Engagement, HR Data, Human Capital ROI, Human Resources, Quantum Workplace, Uncategorized

Should You Care About Worker Happiness?

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Universum has just published another fascinating survey analysis that should be required reading for any leader wondering about the engagement of their employees, humanity in the workplace, or whether or not their workforce is happy. The summary is available here and it introduces the Universum Global Workforce Happiness Index™.

The survey covered 250,000+ professionals in 55 markets in order to set country- and industry-level benchmarks. The Universum Global Workforce Happiness Index is calculated based on:

  1. Employee satisfaction in their current job,

  2. Likelihood of recommending their current employer, and

  3. Their stated sense of job loyalty.

Starting off with a simple four-box model of work happiness, the four quadrants are simple to understand because of their common sense approach:

Universum Happiness 1STRANDED employees feel dissatisfied in their current jobs, but are unmotivated or unwilling to make a change. SEEKERS are dissatisfied at work and looking for a change. RESTLESS employees require immediate attention because even though they are satisfied and likely to recommend their employee, they are open to changing jobs. FULFILLED employees are satisfied, feel positive about their employer as a place to work and aren’t interested in changing jobs. This construct is simple and makes it easy to relate to these four types of workers.

If you are leading a global business, then the Global Workforce Happiness Index By Country chart will give you some interesting data to chew on:

Universum Happiness 2If you have global expansion plans should you prioritize those countries whose workers are Restless? Or countries whose workers are Seekers? Or do you go right for the Fulfilled worker countries? Maybe it isn’t enough to be looking at skills availability – maybe the availability of hearts and minds should also be a factor.

This report summary packs a great deal of insight into just 17 pages and I’ve just skimmed the surface for you. In the final section, every employer would do well to follow this recommendation: separate “attraction drivers” from “retention drivers.” Do the characteristics that attract high quality candidates to your organization retain them for the medium- or long-term? For organizations battling it out in the talent wars around the globe, this is the next tough question to answer.

The implications of workforce happiness around the world – especially with GenY and GenZ becoming the dominant generations at work – are beginning to change how every organization relates to its people. We’re re-thinking lots of fundamental people processes, policies and behaviors. Factoring the happiness of our people is just one of the ways things are changing.

This is a super report. It gives just enough analysis to be useful, while creating the case to get the full report. I liked it a lot.

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Filed under Analytics, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Engagement, Global Workforce Happiness Index, Happiness at Work, HR Data, Universum