Tag Archives: Company culture

The Value of Purpose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some food for thought…

 

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

Got Culture?

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Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report is out. It’s a lot of information (214 pages!). But it’s important information and you’ll enjoy the most current data from this global collector and analyzer of work related data.

We talk about employee engagement – or some other euphemism for connecting with employees in a human, caring way – all the time. We get at our data through the famous surveys from organizations like Gallup, Great Place to Work™, Quantum Workplace, or Workplace Dynamics – or any of a hundred other providers of culture measurement and strengthening solutions. And we compete in geographical and industry competitions all over the world to claim one of the top spots in great organizational culture lists. All of this to attract and retain world class employees.

I’m a big believer that culture trumps most every other organizational dynamic in the war for talent, innovation, profitability, top line growth, competitiveness and any other thing you might measure. I’ve been quoted frequently as saying that “strong, positive  cultures improve everything we measure that we want to go up, as well as reducing everything we measure that we want to go down.” And it’s true. But intentionally creating and managing the right kind of culture is getting more difficult as the world gets more and more complex: 4 or 5 generations in the workplace; Big Data and Artificial Intelligence; globalization; nationalism; terrorism; population growth; global warming – the list of external dynamics – some might say threats – impact  our organizations’ success as well as how we relate with our employees seems to grow every day.

So, I appreciate organizations that collect data, make sense of it, and then make it available to all of us. I appreciate them a lot. And Gallup does a better job than most. This report, State of the American Workplace, has a ton of interesting data in it. You probably don’t want to read it in one sitting, but you do want to read it all.

In the executive summary, the report lays out the roadmap for leaders to follow in creating organization sustainability:

  • design and deliver a compelling and authentic employer brand
  • take employee engagement from a survey to a cultural pillar that improves performance
  • approach performance management in ways that motivate employees
  • offer benefits and perks that influence attraction and retention
  • enable people to work successfully from locations besides the office
  • construct office environments that honor privacy while encouraging collaboration
  • improve clarity and communication for employees who work on multiple teams

Sounds simple, I know; but any leader who has tried to create a stronger culture knows that this is hard stuff. It’s 3 steps forward, 2 steps back stuff. And Gallup has the data to back it up.

The executive summary ends with this:

“The one thing leaders cannot do is nothing. They cannot wait for trends to pass them by, and they cannot wait for millennials to get older and start behaving like baby boomers.”

The chapters are mini culture theses in themselves:

  1. U.S. workers: increasingly confident and ready to leave
  2. Do employees want what your workplace is selling?
  3. The real truth about benefits and perks
  4. The competitive advantage of engaging your employees
  5. A shift in managing performance
  6. A closer look at the 12 elements of engagement
  7. Making sense of matrixed teams
  8. The changing place and space of work

I encourage you to delve into these chapters and consider the data, the analysis and the conclusions in each. In chapter 2, data are shared that might motivate you to reconsider how you think your employment candidates are evaluating your organization as a potential employer:

gallup-american-workplace-2017-1

Increase in income potential and a well-known brand are not as important as they once were. Did you know that?

There are a number of similar “ah-ha” data points in this report. They are easily accessible, simply constructed and are potential game changers as you think about your organization’s culture and its impact on your ability to retain and acquire the talent you need.

Download it here. I think you’ll gain surprising new insights.

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Filed under Big Data and HR, China Gorman, Company Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Engagement, Employee Satisfaction, Gallup, Generations at work, HR Analytics, HR Data, HR Trends, Human Capital, Talent Analytics, Talent Management, Workplace Culture

Tangible Vs. Intangible Assets

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You might not be aware of a trend in the corporate valuation world. You might not think that developments in how companies are being valued by the financial world would be of interest to HR. But, hold on to your horses! Validation of “our people are our greatest asset” is here!

Ocean Tomo LLC, the Intellectual Capital Merchant Banc™ firm, publishes an annual study of intangible asset market value. The most recent, published in early 2015, includes a rather eye-popping chart. But first a couple of definitions.

Tangible Asset (from Investopedia):  A tangible asset is an asset that has a physical form. Tangible assets include both fixed assets, such as machinery, buildings and land, and current assets, such as inventory. The opposite of a tangible asset is an intangible asset.

Intangible Asset (also from Invetopedia):  An intangible asset is an asset that is not physical in nature. Corporate intellectual property (items such as patents, trademarks, copyrights, business methodologies), goodwill and brand recognition are all common intangible assets in today’s marketplace.

Tangible assets are things. Physical things. Intangible assets are the results of human intellect and work. And the financial value of those – tangible and intangible assets – have completely reversed in the last 40 years. Completely!

Ocean Tomo provides the following chart showing this complete reversal.

Ocean Tomo Intangible AssetsIf ever the argument was made that our people are, in fact, our biggest asset, this nails it. In 1975 tangible assets comprised 83% of the S&P 500 market value; in 2015 intangible assets made up 84% of the S&P 500 market value. That means people, human beings are the greatest driver of corporate value — and not by a little bit.

So here’s the question:  if the finance/valuation world is truly valuing our organizations based on the value of our human capital, why is it so hard to talk about – much less act upon – the value of building cultures fit for human beings?

Something to think about during this week’s heat wave.

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Filed under China Gorman, Company Culture, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Human Capital, Ocean Tomo

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

Does Your CEO Have a Higher Purpose?

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Each year I look forward to the pwc CEO survey findings. And they’re just out. You can see their top ten findings here.

If you’re in HR you need to know what your CEO is thinking about. What she’s worried about. What keeps him up at night. What she’s planning to tackle in the next several years. And if you don’t have access to your CEO, this survey can help you make sure you’re preparing for what may be coming down the pike. These survey results could help you be brilliant for your organization – and for your CEO.

The top ten issues for 2016 identified by U.S. CEOs in the survey are fascinating. They cover regulation, cyber security, tax reform, doing deals, paying attention to customers, investors, employees – and understanding the organization’s higher purpose. A virtual smorgasbord for HR!

Top issues CEOs are expecting to confront in 2016 include:

  1. U.S. market prospects will outshine the low-growth world

  2. Over-regulation will continue to pose a threat to business growth

  3. Regionalization in trade and divergence in economic models and regulatory frameworks, with threats to open Internet

  4. Customers and other stakeholders will expect business to demonstrate a higher purpose over the coming years

  5. Prospects will improve for laying the groundwork for U.S. tax reform

And, in 2016, U.S. CEOs will plan to:

  1. Strengthen the technology foundation to set their business apart

  2. Do more deals, especially domestically

  3. Hold fast in China, while recognizing the bumps along the way

  4. Anticipate the needs of future customers and other stakeholders

  5. Prepare the Millennials for leadership roles

I’m fascinated that 3 of the top ten land squarely in HR’s court: demonstrating a higher purpose (that’s culture), anticipating the needs of…stakeholders (that’s talent), and preparing Millennials for leadership roles (that’s talent development). If you ever wondered whether or not your CEO thinks about HR, the answer is a resounding YES in 2016.

I’m particularly intrigued with the higher purpose issue. It’s no secret that bringing humanity into the workplace is a topic on the minds of many business leaders. Having CEOs concerned that customers, investors, employees, strategic partners all want in on the higher purpose is pretty darned interesting. What are you doing to help the organization understand and communicate its higher purpose this year?

pwc CEO survey 2016 1

Anticipating the needs of customers and employees is another thought provoking issue. Addressing employee needs like wellness – physical and financial, parental leave, career development, and providing opportunities to contribute to society are clearly articulated needs of today’s U.S. employees. Are you helping your CEO provide options to meet these needs?

And preparing Millennials for leadership roles is front and center, isn’t it? Investing in their development brings a number of benefits to the organization in addition to deepening your leadership bench. Millennials frequently report that learning and skills development are as – or more – important than compensation growth. Many report that they leave their employers in search of learning and growth opportunities. Investment in their leadership development undoubtedly impacts retention in a positive way. Are you beefing up your succession plan and its supporting programs?

pwc CEO survey 2016 2

My guess is that most HR practitioners and leaders are currently thinking about these 3 priorities, among a long list of others. Isn’t it nice to know that your CEO may just be ready to help you tackle these issues?

The bigger question may be, are you ready for your CEO to start asking “what’s the plan?”

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Filed under CEOs pwc, China Gorman, Company Culture, Data Point Tuesday, HR, Leadership Development, Organization Values, pwc, Strategy, Talent Management, Uncategorized, Workplace Culture

Financial Wellness is Officially a Thing

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If you’ve ever had an employee lose their home to foreclosure, if you’ve ever had an employee lose everything in a fire, if you’ve ever had an employee deal with the costs of catastrophic medical bills, then you know that personal financial pressures are not good for your workplace. The personal financial pressures beating down on one employee impact the whole workgroup. Everyone’s productivity drops. And how an employer responds (or doesn’t respond) tells a lot about the values of the organization.

There are the “social” responses: let’s raise money so Sue can pay for her husband’s medical bills not covered by our health insurance; let’s donate clothes and furniture for Bob and his family whose house burned down; or, does anyone know of a house that Beth and Mary Ellen can rent till they get on their feet?

On the surface, these are all caring and supportive organizational responses that are frequently organized by the HR Department. But let’s step back for a minute.

What if Sue and her husband had attended financial planning seminars that had delved into how to be prepared for unexpected medical costs? What if Bob had spent time one-on-one with a financial planner every year and had an emergency fund ready to go when his family lost its house? What if Beth and Mary Ellen together had spent time with an investment advisor and as a result never bought the house they gave back to the bank because they couldn’t afford it?

Financial wellness – an emerging recognition that health is about more than the physical body – is becoming more than a topic of conversation. It’s becoming a subcategory of services and benefits that employers are deploying within their total rewards packages. It used to be that only the C-Suite got financial planning support as part of their compensation. But more and more employers are recognizing that personal financial stress can be as negative in relation to employee productivity and engagement as other types of stress. And they are stepping up by providing access to apps like HelloWallet, as well as services like annual financial planning seminars and access to financial counselors all year long.

In a recent white paper, Financial Wellness, The Future of Work, Matt Fellowes and Jake Spiegel give an overview of the rise of financial wellness as an employer concern and describe the historical macro-economic context within which employers are paying attention to the financial health of their employees. It’s an interesting read and some of the data involve huge sums of money. It does an excellent job of connecting the macro (the economic trends) with the micro (your individual employees).

It’s interesting to note the birth of the Financial Wellness category as shown in the chart below:

Aug 11 2015 Hello Wallet

Born in the Great Depression (2007-2009), the steady rise of interest in this category can be understood as chronicled through media attention.

Many employers are looking for cost effective solutions that will help their employees avert personal financial disaster. Many old school benefits providers are adding programs and a great many start-ups are tackling this need as well.

Helping Sue, Bob, Beth and Mary Ellen – and their colleagues – before personal financial disaster strikes may not be just a “nice to have” in today’s complex economic environment. It might be one of the benefits features that makes your organization more attractive to prospective employees and that makes your organization more sticky for existing employees.

Join me tomorrow at 11:00amPDT/2:00pmEDT for a webinar in which we’ll take a look at the cultural values that make this kind of benefit make sense. You may register here:  http://info.hellowallet.com/2015.08Webinar.ChinaGorman.html.

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Filed under C-suite, China Gorman, Company Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Financial Wellness, HelloWallet, Total Rewards