Tag Archives: Culture

I’m Not Your Mother!

data point tuesday_500Some 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 June 8-10 in Orlando and let’s talk about happiness, gratitude, culture, and employee and organization success.

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Filed under China Gorman, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Globoforce, WorkHuman, Zappos

Deloitte’s HR Wake Up Call

data point tuesday_500Deloitte recently released its 2015 Global Human Capital Trends report, their annual comprehensive study of HR, leadership, and talent challenges compiled using data from surveys and interviews taken by 3,300+ HR and business leaders in 106 countries around the world. The report identifies 10 major trends that emerged from the most current research, and cites the capability gap (measuring the distance between the importance of an issue and organizations’ readiness to address it) associated with each, as well as practical ideas for how to help organizations combat theses challenges. Ranked by importance, the top ten talent challenges reported for 2015 are: culture and engagement, leadership, learning and development, reinventing HR, workforce on demand, performance management, HR and people analytics, simplification of work, machines as talent, and people data everywhere.

Deloitte’s data highlight considerable gaps in capability among all 10 trends, with the majority of capability gaps getting larger compared to last year. Global Importance vs. ReadinessLet’s take a look at the top five talent issues for 2015: Culture and Engagement ranked as the #1 issue overall for 2015 (not a surprise to us at Great Place to Work®), barely edging out leadership, which ranked as the #1 issue in 2014. This highlights organizations’ recognition that understanding their culture and focusing on building great cultures is a critical need in the face of a potential retention and engagement crisis. Building Leadership ranks as the #2 talent issue for 2015, with close to 9 out of 10 respondents citing the issue as “important” or “very important.” Despite this, Deloitte’s data show that organizations have made very little progress towards meeting this challenge since last year. Learning and Development jumped to the #3 talent challenge in 2015, up from the #8 spot last year. And while the number of companies rating learning and development as important has tripled since 2014, the readiness to address it has actually gone down (!?). Reskilling HR came in as the 4th most important talent issue for the year, with business leaders rating HR’s performance 20% lower than HR leaders’ ranking (and that is with both HR and business leaders ranking HR performance as low on average). Workforce on Demand was the #5 talent challenge for 2015, with 8 out of 10 respondents citing workforce capability as “important” or “very important” in the year ahead.

Through data analysis and extensive conversations with organizations around the world about these challenges, Deloitte arrived at six key findings that give us a bird’s eye view of how organizations are approaching talent and work:

  1. “ ‘Softer’ areas such as culture and engagement, leadership, and development have become urgent priorities.”
  1. “Leadership and learning have dramatically increased in importance, but the capability gap is widening.”
  1. “HR organizations and HR skills are not keeping up with business needs.”
  1. “HR technology systems are a growing market, but their promise may be largely unfulfilled.”
  1. “Talent and people analytics are a high priority and a tremendous opportunity, but progress is slow.”
  1. “Simplification is an emerging theme; HR is part of the problem.”

Each chapter in Deloitte’s report takes a deep dive view into the 10 talent trends they uncovered through their research with some interested findings. For example (in looking at the #4 trend, reskilling HR) Deloitte notes that nearly 40% of new CHRO’s now come from business, not from HR. Why are CEOs bringing in non-HR professionals to fill the role of CHRO? The answer may lie in their sinking belief in HR’s capabilities and abilities to provide solutions to people-related business problems.HR Performance

Deloitte puts it bluntly: right now HR is just not keeping up with the pace of business, and a reskilling of HR professionals while reinventing the role of HR is becoming critical. This need however, also creates an unprecedented opportunity for HR to play a big role at the highest levels of business strategy. But where do organizations start? Deloitte offers the following advice:

  • “Redesign HR with a focus on consulting and service delivery, not just efficiency of administration. HR business partners must become trusted business advisors with the requisite skills to analyze, consult, and resolve critical business issues.”
  • “Rather than locating HR specialists in central teams, embed them into the business—but coordinate them by building a strong network of expertise. Recruitment, development, employee relations, and coaching are all strategic programs that should be centrally coordinated but locally implemented.”
  • “Make HR a talent and leadership magnet… Create rigorous assessments for top HR staff and rotate high performers from the business into HR to create a magnet for strong leaders.”
  • “Invest in HR development and skills as if the business depended on it… Focus on capabilities such as business acumen, consulting and project management skills, organizational design and change, and HR analytical skills.”

There are very useful insights in this report – as there are every year. But this year the insights also serve as a warning to HR. A warning that it’s losing the confidence of CEOs and other C-Suite executives. That 40% of all CHROs are coming from functions other than HR should be sobering. That the top capability gaps are growing larger, not smaller, should be cause for concern. Without bringing furniture into the conversation, this report is a credible and important HR wake up call!

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Filed under China Gorman, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Global Human Capital, HR, Human Resources, Leadership, Learning/Development

Peer Recognition, Culture and Going the Extra Mile

Data Point TuesdayWhat motivates employees? It is money? Feeling valued at work? Connecting with a company’s social mission? All these are good answers, but a new study from TINYpulse that analyzed over 200,000 employee responses relating to organizational culture found that peers and camaraderie are the #1 reason employees go the extra mile. While peer recognition and camaraderie might seem like two aspects of company culture that happen (or need to happen) organically, there are ways organizations can promote a culture that fosters peer recognition and camaraderie. As a potentially overlooked area of focus for organizations, peer recognition is a valuable way to foster a positive culture and create one where employees regularly “go the extra mile.” 44% of employees surveyed report that when they are provided a simple tool to do so, they will provide peer recognition on an ongoing basis. The happier the employee, the bigger the praise: 58% of “happy” employees report giving regular peer recognition, compared to 18% of the least happy employees. As TINYpulse states, “Professional happiness encourages 3X more recognition!”Nov 18 2014 HappinessThinking that money motivates employees seems an antiquated line of thought when looking at TINYpulse’s data. In fact, money isn’t even among the top 5 factors that motivate employees to go the extra mile. Out of 10, “money and benefits” ranks #8. The top 3 motivators for employees to go the extra mile are:

  • Camaraderie/peer motivation
  • Intrinsic desire to do a good job, and
  • Feeling encouraged and recognized

Motivation ChartFeeling encouraged and recognized at work can stem from a number of different sources, but regardless of where recognition most often occurs, TINYpulse’s data show that employees feel significantly undervalued overall. On a 1-10 scale, just 21% of all employees gave a score of nine or ten for feeling valued at work, meaning that 79% of employees feel undervalued, or not valued at all.

Value ChartCamaraderie and recognition have broader implications than just creating a more motivated workforce. Workplace cultures that embrace these are no longer expected to be just the few and far between: job seekers expect this of organizations, and they are ways to not only attract talent, but to retain it. Millennials especially (as I’ve discussed in past posts) place a high value on camaraderie and actively seek out such work environments. TINYpulse sites a recent report by Bersin and Associates, which found that employee engagement, productivity, and customer service, are about 14% better in organizations where recognition occurs.

Consider how your organization recognizes its employees – how do you recognize peers? Do employees at your organization feel valued – do you? Maybe it’s time to institute some formal recognition programs, which we here at Great Place to Work consistently see as best practices at organizations on the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For list. “Ramping up” recognition programs doesn’t need to mean excessive time or investment either. It could be as simple as instituting a gold star program, installing a white board in the break room for “biggest save of the week” comments, or having an employee mentor another for an hour on a specific skill. Our advice is to start small, and build on positive outcomes.

But by all means, provide formal and informal ways for your employees to recognize the contributions of their peers – that is, if you’d like more of your employees to go the extra mile for your customers!

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Filed under China Gorman, Company Culture, Data Point Tuesday, TINYpulse, Workplace Studies

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

The Big Reveal

2013 Best

Everyone wants to work at a great place, and today, they’ll find out if they do. Great Place to Work® is counting down the 2013 World’s Best Multinational Workplaces list during a live, online broadcast today for the first time ever. Join me in congratulating the 2013 World’s Best Multinational Workplaces and follow us at 9AM Pacific Time in the GoLive event when we’ll stream live the reveal of the third annual list of the World’s Best Multinational Workplaces.

Several executives from the top 25 companies will join us on set to share their approaches and successfull practices that help them build, sustain and grow the world’s most coveted workplace cultures. These organizations have thousands of people in different countries working across multiple time zones, and yet, their universal commitment to every employee makes them great beyond any border.

It’s no coincidence that great workplaces are also industry leaders across the board. Client satisfaction, ROI and quarterly earnings all start with the people who make it happen. Year after year, companies that see each employee as a whole person ultimately see the most valuable business results. These companies offer internal programs for personal well-being, provide professional development opportunities, and foster transparent communities for the best talent to connect, learn and succeed together.

We are honored to celebrate these companies and their dedication to sustaining healthy work environments for their employees. They help us achieve our mission of creating a better society by having a positive impact on their people and the communities within which they work.

Join us at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time today, Tuesday, October 22, to find out who made the 2013 list and hear from the best what it takes to become a Great Place to Work®. http://worldsbest.greatplacetowork.net/index.html

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Who Knows More About Culture than HR?

data point tuesday_500

The importance of culture in making or breaking a merger/acquisition has long been an interest of mine. After spending 25 years at the top outplacement/career transition business, I’ve seen the best and worst of people practices in M&A – and the best and worst of culture awareness in M&A. So I read with interest the recent whitepaper by Mercer, Culture in M&A: We Know It’s Important, So Now What? And I found some interesting nuggets.

We all know this, but Mercer’s survey data show that “failure to address corporate culture is the key barrier in up to 85% of failed M&A transactions.” 85%. I’ll bet even your gut is surprised by that high percentage. Good to have hard data on that one, right?

This is a short report, as whitepapers go, so if there’s a merger or acquisition in your future, I encourage you to download the report here because the data are pretty compelling that culture should be a primary driver during due diligence and integration execution in a successful integration.

And who knows more about culture than HR?

Mercer Org Culture Tops Elements Critical to Deal Success

The relative importance of corporate culture as a driver of deal success as compared to customer relationship management, human resources, IT and regulatory compliance could be shocking to some – but not to leaders who have been on the wrong end of one of these deals. And by wrong end I mean a due diligence process and integration execution plan that ignored the importance of culture and people, focusing solely on “cost synergies” and “accretive” value; a due diligence process and integration plan that didn’t have HR’s fingerprints all over it.

And if you need any more convincing, there’s this to consider:

Mercer Paving the Way for Deal Success

So even if your focus is on achieving operational efficiencies, addressing culture in deals is a critical success factor.

And who knows more about culture than HR?

Other topics covered (briefly) in the report include:

  • Identifying company culture

  • Understanding target company culture

  • Analyzing data on culture

  • Using surveys to engage leaders

  • Planning for integration

  • Soliciting employee feedback

  • Tracking the integration process

As you prepare for the deal, remember that although your CEO, CFO, Chief Communications Officer and head of corporate strategy may talk the talk about culture in an acquisition or merger, it’s HR (you!) that usually ends up having to walk the talk for the increasingly critical dynamic of integrating cultures. And by the way, the “cost synergies” and “accretive” value never happen if culture isn’t the centerpiece of the due diligence and integration plans.

Mercer Leadership Plays Key Role in Culture

So look at it this way:  since most organizations make HR largely responsible for the cultural integration piece in M&A activity, and failure to address corporate culture is the key barrier in 85% of failed transactions, HR has an enormous opportunity to drive up the success rate of M&A activity, quantify its value and participate as a full member of the organization’s strategic leadership.

As the economy improves and M&A activity begins to ratchet up at home and globally, HR is uniquely positioned to lead real bottom- and top-line impact by taking the culture integration mantle and running with it. And by running I mean creating the business case with hard data to ensure that culture issues are pro-actively dealt with even before due diligence begins.

Because who knows more about culture than HR?

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Filed under China Gorman, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, M&A Planning, M&A Success, Mercer

From the Archives: Memo to HR

data point tuesday_500

Until last week’s post about Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer’s decision to end telecommuting, the post below from March 18, 2011 was the most read of all my posts.  Interesting.

TO:                         HR

FROM:                  China Gorman

RE:                         News flash!

Date:                     March 18, 2011

Guess what?  Your CEO probably gets it.

I know HR pros like to kvetch about the C-Suite in their organizations:

  • “My CEO doesn’t get it.”
  • “The CEO and CFO run the business like people are widgets.”
  • “I can’t get the C-Suite interested in cutting edge HR solutions.”

Those days are over, friends.  I’ve met and talked with a number of CEOs lately.  CEOs from Fortune 200 companies, medium-sized companies and start-ups.  I’ve been struck by the conversations we’ve had.  Because in each case, these CEOs exhibit many of the behaviors HR pros are looking for from their CEOs.  Here are some of the signs:

1.       Talent acquisition/development comes up early in a conversation about their top challenges.

2.       They have done reading – or in some cases, writing – about corporate culture and are actively involved in leading a change in their organization’s culture.

3.       They have embraced the research of an OD or culture expert/guru whose work they are integrating into their culture and language.

4.       Succession planning is among the top issues on which their leadership team is working.

5.       Employee engagement is critical to them.  They know the scores of their organization’s most recent employee attitude survey and are peering over the shoulders of their operations leaders to ensure the opportunities for improvement are moving forward — in line with the culture change work they’re leading.

6.       Supervisors/managers are measured by how well they manage the performance and development of their people.

7.        Diversity/inclusion enters the conversation early when talking about culture.

But here’s the thing, HR.  This is a trend.  We’re going to see more and more of these behaviors from CEOs as we experience the pending generational shift in the ultimate C-Suite in organizations large and small.

So here’s the big question:  Are you ready? Are you ready to be evidence-based in your leadership?  Are you ready to base organization and business solutions on current research and analytics?  I hope so.  Because the next generation of CEOs – as well as some in the current generation as my experience indicates – while  they’re beginning to focus on what HR would say are the right issues, they’re still the CEO.  They’re still all about the numbers.  Outcomes.  Growth.  Quality.  They still need fact and data to support their decision making.  That’s not going to change.   And if they don’t get that fact and data from HR where are they going to get it?

CEOs don’t really make critical decisions much by “gut feel” and that probably won’t change.  Ever.   Sure, some may be more spontaneous than others.  Some may be more extroverted than others.  And some may actually sound like HR professionals.  But they’re still CEOs.  They still have to deliver top and bottom line performance this quarter and next.  And they have to have a plan for the longer horizon – a plan that is based on real data and supported by the current set of facts.

Where would the average HR professional begin to source useful research data and analytics?  SHRM, CIPD, ASTD, WorldatWork – all the large HR-related professional associations are investing more and more into their research capabilities.  They all conduct and publish top notch research in every aspect of the people domain in organizations. They want their members to embrace more rigorous and sound methodologies.  Heck.  They’re pleading with their members to be consumers of relevant research because they know the day of reckoning is approaching.

Other organizations like The Conference Board, the Corporate Executive Board and Bersin & Associates all publish extraordinary research that enable HR to make fact-based decisions and to get HR metrics aligned with financial metrics.  Free sources of actionable research-based data include the SHRM Foundation, the U.S. Department of Labor,  the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and innumerable non-profit organizations that cover the waterfront of issues and functions.

Since more and more CEOs are “getting” the fact that people and culture are critical to business success, is HR “getting” that in order to respond to this CEO movement in their direction, they need to be making movement into the fact and data-based world of the CEO?  I surely hope so.

It’s past time to get comfortable with research and analytics — and making them actionable.

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From the Archives: Job security is the #1 talent attraction magnet. Wait. What?

This was originally published on April 17, 2012.  It’s worth repeating…

In doing some research for a speech I’m giving, I came across The Talent Management and Rewards Imperative for 2012 from Towers Watson and WorldatWork.  It’s chock full of interesting data based on the 2011/2012 Towers Watson North American Talent Management and Rewards Survey and an unpublished Towers Watson 2011 survey of over 10,000 full-time employees in North America on topics such as total rewards, communication and other work-related issues.  Because I’ve been looking at data about the state of the talent pipeline (see Data Points #3, #5, #6), I thought this would be interesting reading.  Little did I know!

A couple of the data points that stood out to me challenge the “conventional wisdom.”  See what you think:

  • Only 11% of organizations have trouble retaining employees generally
  • Fully 68% of organizations identify high potentials, but only 28% inform those employees who have been identified.
  • Organizations underestimate the effect work-related stress and work/life balance have on employee retention, and do not recognized the significance of job security in attracting top talent.

Wait.  What?

It’s the last point that brought me up short.  Look at the chart below.

There are important disconnects between what employees report will attract them into a new job and what employers believe will be important in attracting talent into their organizations.  And if you look at the differing views between employers and high potential performers you’ll be even more surprised.

In all of the writing on this topic that I have seen in the last 18 months, no one else reports the significant importance of job security as part of an organization’s EVP (employee value proposition).  And look how it ranks as #1 for all employees as well as high-potential employees.  #1.

Not meaningful work.  Not alignment with the organization’s mission.  Job security.  Am I the only one surprised by this finding?

Look at the disconnect between the top 5 factors for all employees and employers’ top 5 factors.  Outside of base pay it’s a total mismatch!

On the high-potential performers side, outside of base pay and career development opportunity it’s a total mismatch!

It looks like we’re totally out to lunch when it comes to knowing what’s motivating in terms of EVP and the talent pipeline.  Out. To. Lunch.

In a world that observes the incredible talent acquisition strategies and investments at organizations like Zappos, PepsiCo, Rackspace and AT&T, we’re encouraged to believe that creating cultures of happiness and engagement are what it takes to delight customers and retain employees – high potential or otherwise.  And I chose those organizations because I know the ground-breaking work each is doing in terms of building their talent communities and the engagement of their workforce.  They truly are ground breaking.

It turns out talent attraction may be a bit more mundane than “creating a little weirdness.”

It turns out that some of the basics like job security and base pay still hold huge sway in our workforce.  And I think this is good news.  It gives” regular” employers doing good work and being good to their employees a fighting chance to keep their employees and attract the talent they’ll need going forward.

Basic blocking and tackling.  Basic management competence.  Basic HR.  Can’t get away from them if you want your organization to succeed.

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Filed under AT&T, Business Success, Career Planning, China Gorman, Culture, Engagement, HR, Talent Management, Talent pipeline

Data Point #9: Employer Loyalty Isn’t Dead? Wait. What?

MetLife published its 10th Annual Study of Employee Benefit Trends on March 19th, 2012.  At 80 pages, it’s a read.  But it’s a fascinating read.

The report shows clearly that the strong role of workplace benefits in driving employee attraction, retention and productivity continues as reported by these MetLife studies during the last 10 years and persists today during the slow economic recovery.  Interestingly, the study correlates satisfaction with benefits to employee job satisfaction, and also shows clearly that employees who are dissatisfied with their benefits are more likely to want to work somewhere else.

The data are fascinating.  And I recommend the investment of 30 minutes to read it through.

The data point that I found most interesting in the study follows:

I haven’t seen anyone discuss employer loyalty to employees in a long time.  I think I assumed, by looking at other trends, that the issue of employer loyalty was long dead.  Building employee loyalty, however, was a whole other discussion:  we call it employee engagement.  And employers are starting to pay attention to this issue because of the rapid shift in workforce demographics coming down on us like a load of bricks. (See my posts on this topic here and here.)

But where has been the focus on employer engagement? Have we all assumed that employer loyalty is dead and gone forever?  That employees “know the score” and don’t expect employers to be loyal to them?  Well, MetLife reports that between 2008 and 2011 employer loyalty scores have increased 5% from 52% to 59%!  Wait.  What?

In the same time period, however, the perception by employees that their employers are loyal to them has decreased 8% from 40% to 32%.  How pitiful is that?  Employers think they’re doing better, but employees aren’t getting the message.  And in fact, more of them aren’t getting the message as time goes on.

I think this is interesting.  Despite all the attention being paid to employee engagement – through salary, through benefits, through recognition, through providing strong ethical cultures, through providing meaningful and interesting work — in fact, the study finds evidence of a widening disconnect between employers and employees.

Job insecurity and expectations that benefits will be cut may well be contributing to employees feeling less important to their employers.  This “loyalty gap” presents an immediate opportunity for HR and C-Suite leaders to really step up communication and feedback about their increased loyalty.  Of course, the proof is in the pudding, and for employees to believe that their employer is growing more loyal to them, they are going to have to see a change in behavior – if they stick around long enough.

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Filed under China Gorman, Culture, Demographics, Employee Benefits, Employee Loyalty, Employer Loyalty, Engagement, MetLife, Talent pipeline, Uncategorized

What Comes First: Employees or Customers?

As a business leader, I’ve always believed that one of the most important aspects of my job is to create and lead a culture that motivates employees to come to work every day and do their very best work.  I’ve always known that in order to acquire, delight and retain customers my organizations (at the local, regional, national and global levels) needed to acquire, engage and retain the best talent.  I’ve always known that the link between customer and employee satisfaction is strong.

Over the last few months I’ve been able to take the time to read some great books, articles and research reports; to meet with thought leaders and executives; and to attend conferences and courses focused on these aspects of organization and leadership success.  Now I’ve got more than a “gut” instinct that the focus on creating a culture that puts customers first by recruiting, developing and retaining the right employees brings dividends that are more than repeat customers and happy employees.  Now I’ve got real data.

Where did I get the data?  I’ve read research reports from BlessingWhite, Gallup, SHRM, the U.S. Department of Labor and others.  I’ve read books by Chip Conley, Mark Sanborn, Geoff Colvin, Leigh Branham and Mark Hirschfeld, Tony Hsieh, Jim Collins, Dave Logan, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright and Jonathan Haidt among others.  I’ve had conversations with Tony Hsieh, Dave UlrichDoug and Kimberly Rath, Cathy Missildine-Martin, Paul Hebert, Joe Gerstandt, Jason Lauritsen, Chris Hoyt, Lars-Henrik Friis-Molin, John Sumser, William Tincup and many others.  Basically, I’ve been a sponge.

And the outcome?  Well now I see clearly that while having happy, committed employees is critical for organizational success, having the right happy, committed employees makes the difference between good customer service and exceptional customer service;  the difference between good organization performance and exceptional organization performance — by any measure you wish to use. 

The right happy employees are determined by what will exceed the customers’ expectations.  And that’s about culture and values. 

To create a culture that retains happy employees feels good on many levels.  What leader doesn’t want to walk around and see smiling faces on their employees?  But to create a culture that retains employees happy to make your customers ecstatic is the secret sauce of organization success. 

The reason for an organization’s existence is not to create a “happy” environment for employees.  The reason for an organization’s existence is to create value for its stakeholders by serving its customers.  You win in business by serving your customers better than anyone else.  And it’s clear to me now that the key to serving your customers better than anyone else lies squarely in creating a culture that attracts and retains the right employees.  I’m not sure many leaders see the difference here, but it seems huge to me.

In the hard work of creating a motivating culture almost every organization starts with their employees:  what makes them happy, what will engage them, what will motivate them to commit over the long haul.  I’ve come to believe that the hard work of creating a motivating culture needs to start at a different place:  conversations with customers and potential customers.  What is important to them in their interactions with your employees?  What values will motivate their engagement, their commitment over the long haul?  Once you have that input you can begin to translate it into organizational values, characteristics, behaviors and skills that become the basis for your culture work – and, ultimately, your talent acquisition, engagement, development and retention strategies.

It’s clear to me that both culture and organization success has to start with the customer.  Only then will you know what kind of talent acquisition, engagement and retention strategies will lead to the type of organizational success that will value your organization among the strongest financial performers and land you on the lists of best companies to work for. 

In other words, when creating and leading your organization’s culture look first to your customers and second  to your employees. 

Most do it the other way around.

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