Category Archives: GenX

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.


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

Your People and Global Internet Trends

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Data Point Tuesday’s mission is to find reports and impactful data sources that most HR professionals would never find and serve up some of their more interesting data points for consideration. Usually the reports come out of the Human Capital Management arena:  academic papers, vendor survey analyses, white papers, etc. There’s a ton of data flowing in our space that the average HR person would never have the time to find. It’s what I do here. But sometimes the best data and analytics sources don’t come out of the HCM arena. And the annual Internet Trends reports is one of those sources.

I have been waiting with bated breath for Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2016 report – and it’s here! Last year, I suggested that the report really should have been titled The Internet in 2015 Is All About HR. I wrote about it here. This year, I think the report should be titled How the Internet is Just Beginning to Change Everything at Work. Again, it should be required reading for HR professionals everywhere.

The annual Internet Trends report that Meeker publishes is certainly not an HR report. But it contains critical information and data that HR people need to know. It’s all big picture stuff that relates to the Internet, but it also all has impact on people – and most of it has impact on people at work. In the U.S., in Asia, in Europe – all over the world. I encourage you to flip through the report – it’s in PowerPoint – even though it’s really long. This is the outline – and I defy you to not find the majority of it interesting and relevant to your HR work, your workforce planning and your role in setting business strategy.

Here are the topics covered in this year’s report:

  1. Global Internet Trends
  2. Global Macro Trends
  3. Advertising/Commerce + Brand Trends
  4. Re-Imagining Communication – Video/Image/Messaging
  5. Re-Imagining Human-Computer Interfaces – Voice/Transportation
  6. China = Internet Leader on Many Metrics
  7. Public/Private Company Data
  8. Data as a Platform/Data Privacy

Every single one of these topics has an impact on how you interact with your people, your people strategy or your people policies. Seriously.

For example, as you think through your internal communication strategy, this graph might be helpful:

Internet Trends 2016 1

Think it’s useful to know that 64% of Baby Boomers cite the telephone as their most preferred contact channel vs. 12% of Millennials? (It won’t be shocking, I hope, to note that Millennials prefer – by 48% — social media and internet/web chat channels.) While you might instinctively know this, seeing the hard data puts the need to rethink employee communication into a different perspective, doesn’t it.?

The advent of using microphones instead of keyboards to interface with computing is in very early days, according to Meeker. However, in 2013 35% of smartphone owners used voice assistants (think Siri) and 65% used the voice interface in 2015. Adoption is rising fast among smartphone owners of all ages. Even if the majority of voice commands are about calling and navigating home, the use is skyrocketing. And as the Boomers age, think of the impact – at home and at work – of not needing to use a keyboard to utilize technology. Is your organization prepared for this radical shift?

In the US, the reasons for using voice interface and the locations we are using it are not so focused on the job. But the trends are pretty clear. What can you do to anticipate and leverage this and enhance productivity, knowledge transfer and the employee experience?

Internet Trends 2016 2

So if calling mom and dad, and navigating (literally) home are the current most often uses of using voice for computer activation, then the charts above make an inordinate amount of sense. But if you keep the oldest demographic of the workforce in mind when reading these charts, you can see that a sea change could be on the very near horizon. What if the oldest demographic of the workforce isn’t going away in the next 10 years? Even more, what if enabling/convincing the oldest demographic of the workforce to stay in the workforce was the key to your workforce plans over the next 10 years? And what if the newest/youngest demographic of the workforce was already using voice for computer interaction nearly 100% of the time as they enter the economy?

Interesting data. Interesting questions. See what I mean about non-HR sources of data?

And just to leave you wishing for the good old days, there’s this graph comparing the attributes of technology use among the emerging Gen Z cohort to the Millennials:

Internet Trends 2016 3

As my dad used to say, “If that doesn’t make your hair curl, I don’t know what will!”

The workplace and workforce planning implications of this report put the future in new light. A good light, I think. A challenging, but good light. And a light you need to focus. What do you think?


Filed under Analytics, Big Data and HR, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Demographics, GenX, GenY, GenZ, Internet Trends, KPCB, Mary Meeker, Millennials

Gen Y’s Self-fulfilling Prophecy

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Accenture recently published its 2013 College Graduate Employment Survey Findings. Lots of great data. Especially if you plan to hire recent college grads. In fact, some of the data are surprising.

One of the important takeaways is that employers have unrealistic expectations for the skills of the hires they make out of college. They think these young people should be able to hit the ground running and are surprised and disappointed when they don’t. And to compound the problem, these employers are not investing in training initiatives to get the newly hired up to speed in the short term or effective in the long term. This is all pretty logical. It’s good data and if you plan on hiring entry level employees from the ranks of the newly graduated, you should read this.

But here’s what caught my attention. It’s about the willingness to commit. And it isn’t the first time I’ve seen data like these.

Young people, entering the economy for the first time, want to commit to their employers. It’s not what we expect, I know. We expect these youngsters to be gone in the career equivalent of sixty seconds. And sometimes they are. But it’s important to know that that isn’t what they want! This isn’t what they expect!

From Accenture:  The class of 2013 is expecting more career longevity from their first jobs:  68% of pending 2013 college grads expect to be at their first job more than 3 years compared to 49% of 2011/2012 college grads.

Accenture career longevity in first jobs 2013

And from the Achievers Class of 2012 white paper:

Achievers Class of 2012 White Paper

In this survey, more than 70% of 2012 college graduates expected to be with their first/next employer 3 years or longer — and 48% expected to be with their first/next employer 5 years or more. Surprising, right? Not what we expect, right? Not what we “know” about Gen Y, right?

But the BLS shows us what happens once they join our organizations:

BLS years of tenure by age

So, young people entering the economy for the first time with a newly minted degree are filled with optimism and have every intention of committing to their first employer for 5 years or more. Is it naivte or is it a real desire to commit, belong and make a difference?

And what happens once they start that first job that impels them out the door in 18 months or less?  Are employers so inept at selection that they really can’t hire employees that will persist? Are young people so naïve that they don’t really know what they’re signing up for and leave when reality doesn’t match expectations? Or, as the Accenture survey suggests, are young people disappointed when expected training and development doesn’t materialize and they leave in search of greater learning opportunities?

Clearly this is a complex issue with lots of dynamics, as the Accenture survey results show. However, if we started with the belief and understanding that young people really do want to engage and commit to their employer, would we be more likely to invest in developing their skills?

If we started with the belief and understanding that young people really do want to engage and commit to their employer, would we create onboarding processes that ensure expectations – on both sides – are being understood and met?

If we started with the belief and understanding that young people really do want to engage and commit to their employer, how would we approach them differently?

I suspect that most employers believe that there’s no return in investing in a talent pool that will be gone in 60 seconds.

I further suspect that the EVP that is sold in the recruiting process doesn’t exactly come to life once the recruit joins the organization.

But I suspect that the real issue is that Gen X and Baby Boomer managers, supervisors and recruiters believe all the negative stereotypes about Gen Y and their lack of commitment to any agendas other than their own — despite multiple data sources that show just the opposite. And we’ve ended up in this tough reality that has become a full-fledged self-fulfilling prophecy.


Filed under Accenture, Achievers, Baby Boomers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Value Proposition, Gen Y, GenX, HR Data, Turnover, U.S. Department of Labor

Fighting for a Pessimistic Workforce

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OK.  So there’s an awful lot to be pessimistic about these days.  That goes for Baby Boomers, Millennials and Xers.  That goes for your workforce.

There’s the economy, the unemployment rate, cost of benefits, the fiscal cliff, taxes, the soaring price of college educations, the high school dropout rate…  There’s a lot. And Mercer has captured some critical information about how this pessimism – that isn’t going away – is coloring the views of the future held by many of your employees.

The questions we need to ask ourselves are:  how do I engage and motivate a workforce mired in pessimism, and, how do I (we) counteract a perceived environment of scarcity?

The recently published 12th annual 2012 Mercer Workplace Survey provides results that should give any HR professional more than a momentary woah! as we think about these questions. The survey has a cross-section of active 401(k) participants who were also enrolled in their employer’s health plan.  1,656 participants were interviewed online in June of this year.

The high points include:

  • US employees are still concerned about saving enough for retirement
  • Workers over 50 are more concerned than their younger counterparts about their job security and have much lower retirement expectations
  • Workers perceive that the value of their benefits has dropped

If you haven’t surveyed your workforce lately, this report’s results might just motivate you to start asking some questions.  Questions beyond, would you recommend our organization as a good place to work?

Other nuggets from the survey:

  • 36% of the respondents over 50 are still concerned about losing their jobs, its highest level since 2007 (25%)
  • a survey record 44% of all respondents have considered delaying their retirement – with 59% of those aged 50+ considering delaying their retirement, up four points from last year
  • 62% of those over 50 believe they will have to work at least part time when they do retire vs. 48% of younger workers

Mercer Putting Off Retirement

Data like this can be helpful in knowing what questions to ask yourselves and your workforce as you deal with the talent challenges that face most organizations.

  1. If Baby Boomers are putting off retirement indefinitely, how do we keep the Millennials who want those jobs engaged and continuing to develop their skills?
  2. If all workers – and Baby Boomers in particular – are concerned about job security how do collaboration and innovation fare in a culture of perceived scarcity?
  3. If Baby Boomers believe that they’ll have to work part time once they do retire, how can we harness that experience in a win-win solution?

Pessimism is insidious.  It worms its way into your workforce and destroys your employees’ visions (and expectations) of a bright future for your organization and for them.  While it’s true that many of the concerns that are driving employee pessimism are out of your control (the fiscal cliff, taxes, politics, healthcare costs, etc.), you need to find powerful, positive evidence in the organization that will counteract the pessimism attacking from the outside:  a strong, ethical culture; authentic and transparent leadership; a focus on employee and customer engagement; commitment to learning and development – all of these can convince a workforce that, although the outside world may not be as friendly as it could be or once was, the inside world of your organization is a place worthy of the investment of time, commitment and heart.

Of course, you have to believe that first.

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Filed under Baby Boomers, China Gorman, Connecting Dots, Engagement, GenX, HR Data, Mercer, Millennials, Retirement Planning, Talent Management

What Gets Your Employees Out of Bed in the Morning?

SHL Talent Analytics™ has published a white paper that you need to read if you are involved with acquiring, developing or managing talent.  And that would be everyone in HR.  The SHL Talent Report: Big Data Insight and Analysis of the Global Workforce is a thorough review of the state of talent – especially leadership talent – around the world.  Using their vast global supply of data from organizational surveys, almost 4 million assessments from almost 200 countries, and the work of 300+ occupational psychologists, authors Eugene Burke and Ray Glennon provide compelling insights into the state of today’s talent as well as opportunities to prepare tomorrow’s talent for success.

The white paper covers the following talent issues with data that is deep and makes it easily understandable:

  • Leadership
  • Innovation
  • Organizational Risk
  • Diversity
  • Global Distribution of Critical Skills

Each section is compelling and could stand alone in its organizational usefulness.  At 72 pages long, though, it’s a not a tough read.

I was particularly taken with the section on Diversity.  Its discussion of gender and leadership should be required reading for all those involved in the acquisition and development of talent headed to the C-Suite.  (I wrote about that here recently.)

But even more interesting was the discussion of generational differences.  This is a topic that won’t go away for those in the talent management business –for good reason!  Burke and Glennon believe “it’s not really about gender and generations…it’s about the best person for the job and having managers who know how to leverage differences effectively.”

Right.  How many times have we heard this?  But the data they share are compelling.

I’ve seen a great deal of analysis that show that, while the values differences between generations are more a difference in  order of importance than a complete difference in values, these data show the impact of the difference in order of importance in a pretty dramatic visual:

Think about the beleaguered manager in your organization who has all three generations represented on their team.  Do you think they understand these motivational and values differences?  Do you think they interact and communicate differently with their team members in order to engage their team?  Do you think they have the skills to leverage these generational differences in ways that motivate their team to greater productivity and efficiency?  Do you think they could use these insights to become a more effective leader?

What would be the impact on turnover, engagement and performance if all the managers in your organization had these insights and knew how to leverage them?

And, oh by the way, what gets you up in the morning?


Filed under Baby Boomers, China Gorman, Connecting Dots, GenX, HR Analytics, HR Data, Millennials, SHL, Talent development