Category Archives: Engagement

The Woodstock For HR

The competitive world of HR Conferences may be changing forever. And that’s not a bad thing, in my opinion. Innovation is happening in this space – from stronger SHRM state conference offerings, to an additional HR technology-related conference (HR Tech World) being introduced in the U.S,, to other new entries – all designed to disrupt the usual HR conference offerings and deliver greater value to attendees.

The best example of this is the WorkHuman conference, held last month in Phoenix. With well over 1,700 attendees and almost no corporate sponsors (except for the organizer, Globoforce), the focus was on engaging, useful, envelope-edge pushing content and nurturing/inspiring attendee experiences. Described as “the Woodstock for HR” by Globoforce CEO, Eric Mosley, WorkHuman isn’t our parents’ HR conference. Heck, it isn’t even our HR conference.

Re-certification credit opportunities abounded, but the focus of WorkHuman – unlike many of the really large HR conferences – was on the attendee experience. From early morning yoga and runs or walks, to healthy snack breaks, to half-hour content blocks (how many one-hour sessions can you attend in a two-day conference?), to lobby-area snackable content presentations, to blockbuster keynote speakers:  this conference is changing how HR does conferences and I see its impact on almost every other HR-related conference I attend.

It’s true that I advised the organizers on their first two conferences, but I came as an attendee this year and was thrilled to see that, despite its rapid growth (year one:  300+ attendees; year two: 600+ attendees), its focus on engaging the full human attendee has not wavered. Any time you get more than 1,500 conference attendees, the organizers tend to focus on 1) logistics, 2) schedules, and 3) sponsors/exhibitors. The people who attend become “blocks” that need to be moved around, That hasn’t happened at WorkHuman. Attendees arrive as humans and leave as engaged and inspired humans.

  • Logistics

While the conference space was large, every thought was given to the humanity of the attendees. One didn’t need to walk far to get a drink of water. The signage was easily read. The venue provided rooms of appropriate size located in close proximity for the audiences – so that session sampling was possible. The “center aisle” held snack stations, a “spotlight” stage with indoor amphitheater seating for shorter more informal presentations, comfortable chairs for congregating and conversations, info stations, and cheerful, easily identified staff to answer questions and provide directions. It’s clear that the attendee was not relegated to “steerage” status at WorkHuman. They were front and center at all times.

  • Schedules

It’s true that activities started very early – but the early agenda entries were healthy and focused on strengthening the body as well as the mind, as opposed to cramming in more re-cert credits. Starting a conference day with yoga or a group run followed by a healthy breakfast seems a smart way to start a day of learning, regeneration, and inspiration.

  • Sponsors/exhibitors

The short description is that there weren’t any. Well, outside of Globoforce, the conference organizer. It’s a rather remarkable conference experience, to be focused on new ideas, on new connections, and new ways of leading rather than being sold by vendors at every step of the way. Don’t get me wrong:  I’m not anti-sponsor/exhibitor. This is just a new way of organizing. It is fitting for a conference focused on bringing humanity into our everyday organizational life to create an exhibitor-free experience. It makes sense. As the conference gets bigger and bigger, it may make business sense to bring on a few selected sponsors, but don’t look for a major exhibition hall any time soon. Attendees take away value far greater than cheap exhibitor tchotchkes at WorkHuman.

Globoforce upends the usual HR conference calculus. By investing in the WorkHuman movement, by engaging the most current speakers and content, by prioritizing the attendee experience as the most important component of an HR conference, the WorkHuman team has created – and strengthened – one of the most compelling business conference events currently available.

Next year’s conference will be in Austin, TX (April 3-5) and keynoter Brené Brown has already been announced. I hope I see you there!

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Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Recognition, Engagement, Globoforce, Humanity in the workplace, WorkHuman

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

Artificial Intelligence and Talent

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I’ve just come across Talent Tech Labs’ Trends Report on Artificial Intelligence, Real AI – Sourcing, Engagement, & Selection. You need to read this. Full stop.

With a chapter each focused on sourcing, engagement, and selection, and a closing interview with the head of talent acquisition of Intuit, this 23 page report will school you on AI and talent.

The most helpful part of the report is the opening section on misconceptions about AI by Brian Delle Donne, the President of Talent Tech Labs. It’s a powerful, demystifying few pages that explains in easily consumable language the impact of AI in the talent acquisition technology space. As a non-scientist, I found the following chart to be the most valuable piece of information I’ve come across in a very long time. It helps me truly understand what we’re talking about when we discuss AI’s impact on people processes within organizations. Take a look for yourself:

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Understanding the levels of sophistication with examples, categories, outcomes and technology descriptions is so helpful. If you read no further – and you should read the entire report – you’ll have become smarter about natural language processing, machine learning, neural networks, and more.

Keep an eye on the reports coming out of Talent Tech Labs if you’re interested in learning about how AI will continue to impact our relationships with our people.

 

 

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Filed under #HRTechTrends, AI, Artficial Intelligence, Brian Delle Donne, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Engagement, HR Tech, Selection, Sourcing

Watson Agrees With Me!

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“More positive employee experiences are linked to better performance, extra effort at work, and lower turnover intentions.”

For people who follow my work as a speaker and a writer, this quote may seem familiar. And it’s true. I’ve said variations of this for several years. And I’ve had a range of data sources to back me up. But now, Watson has said it, so it must be true!

My friends at Globoforce and the IBM Smarter Workforce Institute have published a new white paper:  The Employee Experience Index. And it’s definitely worth a read – and not just because Watson agrees with me.

Together, Globoforce and IBM have created the Employee Experience Index that should give all those legacy engagement survey data analyses a run for their money. Frankly, I think focusing on “employee experience” rather than “engagement” makes sense. Employee experience is specific, it’s logical, it’s definable. “Engagement” is none of those things. After a broad research study that included literature review and construct identification, construct measurement, and index and driver definitions, they define employee experience as:  “a set of perceptions that employees have about their experiences at work in response to their interactions with the organization.” An elegantly simple definition. We can work with this!

And they did:  they created a 5-dimension, 10-item index to capture the core facets of employee experience:

  • Belonging – feeling part of a team, group or organization
  • Purpose – understanding why one’s work matters
  • Achievement – a sense of accomplishment in the work that is done
  • Happiness – the pleasant feeling arising in and around work
  • Vigor – the presence of energy, enthusiasm and excitement at work

These dimensions make so much sense to me. And here is the framework of drivers and outcomes of employee experience at work:

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Again, elegantly simple. Note the “Human Workplace Practices.” Not “best practices.” Not “effective practices.” Human practices. Watson is on to something!

This 13 page analysis and report includes findings like the following:  Positive employee experience is linked to better work performance, more effort, and retention. And their data supports these conclusions.

This is a terrific report. Download it here. It will give you a perspective on what many call engagement and will give you a context in which to engage your leaders – the folks who set the stage for your employees’ experience.

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Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Engagement, Employee Experience Index, Engagement, Globoforce, HR Trends, Humanity in the workplace, IBM Smarter Workforce, Watson

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

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