Tag Archives: Business Success

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

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

The 2020 Workforce: Misconceptions Between Management and Employees

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Oxford Economics and SAP recently released the report “Workforce 2020: The Looming Talent Crisis” aimed at understanding the opportunities and challenges of the evolving workforce. The research is based on survey responses from over 2,700 executives and more than 2,700 employees in 27 countries. Understanding the core characteristics of “the new face of work,” as SAP puts it, is an important step in recognizing the opportunities and challenges that will come with it. SAP and Oxford Economics’ research identifies several key characteristics of the 2020 workforce, including that it will be an increasingly flexible one. Of executives surveyed, 83% cited that they plan to increase use of contingent, intermittent, or consultant employees in the next three years and 58% say that this requires changing HR policy. In addition to being flexible, the 2020 workforce will be increasingly diverse, and SAP advises that because of this HR leaders will need to become more evidence-based to deal with these realities. As of now, only 50% of HR departments state that they use quantifiable metrics and benchmarking in workforce development and only 47% say they know how to extract meaningful insights from the data available to them. This is likely part of what influences the reported lack of progress towards meeting workforce goals that many executives cite. Just 33% stated that they have made “good” or “significant” progress towards workforce goals.

SAP identifies technology as a key need for the evolving workforce that organizations are unprepared for. While this may seem obvious, in the U.S. just 39% of employees report getting ample training on workplace technology and only 27% report access to the latest technology. While it’s understandable that not all organizations can offer the most cutting edge technologies, a lack of sufficient training for the technologies that are in place could be seriously affecting employee productivity. Aside from technology, misconceptions about Millennials are another trend of the evolving workforce that SAP points out (and with the expectation that this generation will make up more than 50% of the workforce by 2020, any misconceptions are noteworthy). The research points out that while Millennials are different than other generations, they may not be as different as they are typically portrayed. According to executives surveyed, 60% believe Millennials are frustrated with manager quality but only 18% of Millennials say that they actually are. Additionally, 62% of executives report that Millennials will consider leaving their job due to a lack of learning and development, but just 31% of Millennials say they have considered this.

millenial-misconception

In terms of the emerging workforce, there may also be gaps between what companies believe employees want from them and what employees actually want.

what-employees-say
Perhaps not surprisingly, the most important incentive to U.S employees is competitive compensation (84%) followed by retirement plans (75%), and vacation time (62%). 39% of employees say higher compensation would increase loyalty and engagement with their current job. When it comes to attributes that employees think are most important to their employer, job performance and results is number one (46%), followed by the ability to learn and be trained quickly (29%), and loyalty and long-term commitment to the company (28%). This differs however, from what employers deem most important. The top three attributes executives want in employees are a high level of education and/or institutional training (33%), loyalty and long-term commitment 32%), and the ability to learn and be trained quickly (31%).

What executives and employees do agree on is that organizations are not focused enough on developing future leaders. Only 51% of U.S. executives say their company plans for succession and continuity in key roles and 47% say their plans for growth are being hampered by lack of access to the right leaders. Employees agree that leadership is a problem area, with just 51% of employees stating that leadership at their company is equipped to lead the company to success. Better learning and education opportunities will be key to bridging this talent gap. The need for technology skills in particular will increase in demand (e.g. cloud and analytics), although SAP’s data states that just 33% of employees expect to be proficient in cloud in three years. This statistic is slightly better when it comes to analytics, with 43% expecting proficiency in three years and almost 50% expecting proficiency in mobile, social media, and social collaboration. In terms of training programs, only about half (51%) of American executives say their company widely offers supplemental training programs to develop new skills. This aligns with employees’ perceptions toward training, with 51% reporting that their company provides the right tools to help them grow and improve job performance. Additionally, about half (52%) of employees say their company encourages continuing education and training to further career development.

Take a look at the graphic below that highlights the five major labor market shifts discussed. Are you beginning to think about shifting workforce development strategies for the future? Are you really sure what your employees think? Or are you making assumptions based on popular press reports that may not be founded on fact?

labor-market-shifts

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Filed under #HRTechTrends, 100 Best Companies to Work For, Leadership Aspiration, Leadership Challenges, Learning/Development, Millennials, Recruiting, Recruiting Technology, SAP

Purpose: A Hedge Against Organizational Challenges

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The Deloitte “2014 Core Beliefs and Culture Study” proves it again, that those workplaces who focus on creating a meaningful environment for all their stakeholders (customers, employees, and communities) foster a culture of purpose that builds confidence, drives investment, and “can lead to competitive advantage in a time of economic vitality.” The survey was conducted in February of this year and is designed to explore the concept of workplace culture, defined by a set of timeless core values and beliefs, as a business driver. This year’s survey looks specifically at whether a strong sense of purpose leads to higher levels of confidences among stakeholders and drives business growth. Methodology included the survey of a sample of 1,053 adults (300 executives and 753 employed adults) employed full time within an organization with at least 100 employees.

Evidence from the survey indicates that focusing on purpose rather than profits is what builds business confidence. What do organizations define as purpose though? When respondents were asked about activities that are part of the purpose of their organization, the top 5 cited answers were:

  • Providing business services and/or products that have meaningful impact on clients/customers (89%)
  • Providing business services and/or products that benefit society (84%)
  • Providing employees with education, experience, and/or mentorship benefits (77%)
  • Encouraging employees to volunteer (74%)
  • Generating financial returns for our stakeholders/shareholders (69%)

Deloitte “2014 Core Beliefs and Culture Study”

Deloitte also found that those respondents who agree they work for an organization with a strong sense of purpose were more likely to say their organization recorded positive growth (81% vs. 67%) and outgrew competitors (64% vs. 44%) in 2013. When looking to the future, respondents who say their organizations have a strong sense of purpose are also much more optimistic about the future prospects of their organizations: 91% of respondents who believe their organization has a strong sense of purpose feel that their company will maintain or strengthen its brand reputation and loyalty vs. 49% of respondents at organizations without a strong sense of purpose.

Organizations with a strong sense of purpose tie confidence to three main factors:

  • a commitment to delivering top quality goods/services
  • focus on long term sustainable growth
  • clear understanding of organization’s purpose and commitment to core values.

Companies reporting they do not have a strong purpose however, find confidence tied almost exclusively to financial factors:

2014 Core Beliefs and Culture Study

When looking at priorities of leadership at these companies, we see a similar trend. For organizations that report having a strong sense of purpose, making a positive impact on clients is ranked most often as the top priority for leadership vs. leadership at companies without a strong sense of purpose, who most often report short-term financial goals as their top priority (the study notes that there were no major differences in top leadership priorities as stated by employees and executives).

Purpose also appears to drive investment. Respondents at organizations with a strong sense of purpose are consistently more likely to say their organization will increase investments year over year than companies without a strong sense of purpose, especially in areas such as:

  • New technologies: 38% vs. 19%
  • Expanding into new markets: 31% vs. 21%
  • Developing new products/services: 27% vs. 17%
  • Employee development and training: 25% vs. 11%

Companies with a strong sense of purpose also perceive higher levels of confidence among key stakeholders – 89% of respondents say their clients trust that they deliver the highest quality products and services (vs. 66% at organizations without strong purpose).

If this data isn’t enough to suggest that there really is something to creating a strong sense of purpose and values at an organization, Deloitte’s data also detail that more fully engaged employees, greater diversity, and encouragement of innovation are also more present at organizations reporting a strong sense of purpose. Despite the benefits though, 20% of respondent’s state that leadership fails to set an example for the rest of the organization by truly living the organization’s purpose and 18% say it is not part of performance evaluations.

Once again, the data are persuasive. Organizations with strong missions that are focused on more than profits are clear winners creating successful, sustainable businesses. Put another way, creating a strong purpose-focused culture may be the best hedge against the difficult economic, political and talent challenges facing most organizations today.

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It’s all About: Trust, Honesty, and Transparency

Data Point TuesdayCompany cultures, the good, the bad, and – well in the interest of being nice we’ll leave it at that – have been the focus at Great Place to Work® for the last 25 years, since Robert Levering and Milton Moskowitz researched their book The 100 Best Workplaces in America. What their research revealed is that the key to creating a great workplace revolves not around the building of a certain set of benefits and practices, but through the building of high-quality relationships in the workplace, relationships characterized by trust, pride, and camaraderie. What we call a great company culture. As Erin Osterhaus, researcher for HR technology reviewer Software Advice, points out in her blog about a recent survey, the term “company culture” has seen an astronomical rise in use since 1980, due in part to publications like The 100 Best Workplaces in America, as well as companies’ recognition that culture has a direct impact on how happy, and healthy employees are– and, how well they perform. With the rise in attention to the topic of company culture, enter the adoption of roles created specifically to focus on company culture. As Osterhaus points out, Google, #1 on the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For List for the last three years, was one of the first companies to adopt such a position (Chief Culture Officer) in 2006.

company culture over timeConsidering all the research and data that surround the term “company culture” today, Software Advice surveyed 886 U.S. adults to learn how they define company culture, and to better understand what culture means to the group it impacts the most: employees and job seekers. What did they discover? Most survey takers described “company culture” as a value, belief, or habit of employees that worked at an organization, or the overall feeling of the environment at that company. The majority of respondents listed their ideal company culture as “casual or relaxed” followed by “family oriented,” “fun,” “friendly,” and “honest and transparent.” However, when asked which of these five attributes would most likely convince them to apply at company, respondents stated that “honesty and transparency” would be the biggest influencer.

So while “casual/relaxed” and “fun” ranked over honesty as the most common definition of an ideal company culture, the fact that “honesty and transparency” are the bigger influencers on whether a prospective candidate actually applies at a company highlights what we’ve known about company cultures all along… that trust and values matter most.

ideal company cultureSoftware Advice’s data prove once again that it is fostering trust and building honesty and transparency that ultimately create a sense of camaraderie amongst employees and the fun, family feel environments that respondents report as their “ideal company culture.” As Leslie Caccamese and Katie Popp state in Great Place to Work’s recent whitepaper, Five Lessons for Leaders as they Build a Great Workplace, “What people often think makes a great workplace isn’t actually what makes it so.” While great amenities like workout facilities, foosball tables, and 4 star catered meals may initially come to mind when people think “great company culture,” it’s ultimately evidence of trust-based interactions between leaders and their employees that Great Place to Work looks for when evaluating companies for our Best Companies to Work For lists in nearly 50 countries around the world.

I’ll leave you with another quote from our recent whitepaper: “…by all means, install slides and fi­reman poles; scatter about lava lamps and bean bag chairs. Bring in the manicurist and the barista, and cater to people’s pets. Just make sure these things aren’t happening in lieu of deeper, more substantial practices like involving employees in workplace decisions, keeping them informed of important issues, tending to their ongoing professional development, and sharing profi­ts fairly. These types of practices will go much further in helping employees feel that theirs is a great workplace.”

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Filed under 100 Best Companies to Work For, Business Success, China Gorman, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Great Place to Work, Great Place to Work Institute, Great Rated!, Relationships, Trust

Streaming Live: 2014 Great Place to Work Conference®!

Data Point Tuesday

I’m going to deviate from my normal Data Point Tuesday this week to offer you an invitation to attend the streaming keynote sessions from our 2014 conference. The 2014 Great Place to Work® Annual Conference kicks off this Thursday in New Orleans, and we’re very excited to share some of the great learning opportunities of the conference virtually! This year’s conference has sold out with 1,150 registered attendees from more than 400 companies. 39 out of our 45 keynote speakers and concurrent session leaders are business leaders (20) and senior HR practitioners (19). This is the only national event that teaches, inspires and connects professionals across industries and functions to strengthen workplace culture through building trust.

We’re thrilled to bring a packed agenda with a wealth of engaging speakers to those attending in New Orleans this year. If you’re not attending however, don’t worry! We will have free live streaming of our conference keynote sessions here this Thursday and Friday (April 3rd and 4th). Our keynote speakers this year include Bill Emerson, CEO of Quicken Loans, Terri Kelly, President and CEO at W.L. Gore & Associates, Victoria B. Mars, Member, Board of Directors at Mars, Inc., Blake Nordstrom, President at Nordstrom Inc., and Jeffrey Pfeffer, Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. We’re very excited to allow all of you to join us virtually and we hope you’ll take advantage of a great opportunity to take away actionable ideas and learn about best practices from experts at companies recognized for building trust, pride and camaraderie in the workplace! See you there!

Watch the 2014 Great Place to Work® Conference Keynotes Live Here

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Bring me a Higher… Purpose!

Data Point Tuesday
The Importance of Connecting Employees to a Clear Corporate Mission

A recent study by Spherion, “The 2013 Emerging Workforce” examines the 2013 workforce and the post-recession resurgence of the “emergent worker mentality” characterized by the study as one which focuses on a free-agency style employment. While the study provides data to support this point it is more than likely we have experienced the validity of this resurgence in our daily lives, perhaps witnessing friends or colleagues job-hopping more frequently, or seeing an increased social conscience in employees and new talent. Whether we’ve confirmed suspicions that our current workforce is driven by a very different set of factors than previous generations or not, insights from this report can help to remind us of the importance of understanding this emergent worker mentality.

Data supports that connecting employees to an organizations values and greater corporate mission is one of the most influential attributes of job satisfaction for the emergent worker. 70% of respondents from Spherion’s study who worked for a company with “a clear mission and follow through” reported that their level of job satisfaction was very/extremely good , compared to a job satisfaction rate of just 23% for organizations with no clear mission and follow through. As Jake Magleby stated in a blog published by Great Place to Work last month: “Businesses with vision are often more successful than their competitors. This is because people like to support a specific cause or purpose. Business leaders who recognize this can develop a vision for their company that is based on common values and shared goals… This vision for a better world is something that most people not only relate to, but very much want to support. This support translates into a healthy bottom line for the company and a healthier community”.

Data from Spherion’s 2013 Emerging Workforce Study not only confirms that employees at companies with a clear mission are more satisfied with their jobs but are also that they are more likely to stay at their jobs. 70% of respondents at a company with a clear mission and follow through reported that the likelihood they would stay at their current job for the next five years was excellent/very good, and only 21% responded that they were at least somewhat likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months. Additionally, respondents from companies with a clear mission and follow through felt more confident in their growth potential than employees from organizations without a clear mission and follow through. Given these returns, all organizations should consider making their mission and values even more visible and relatable for employees and this has been a top priority for me in my new role at Great Place to Work. Does your company place a premium on mission and values? What actions do you take to connect employees to your mission?

corporate-mission-importance

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