Tag Archives: Engagement

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.

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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

Where’s the Trust?

Data Point Tuesday
According to the American Psychological Association’s 2014 Work and Well-Being Survey released last Wednesday, only half of U.S employees believe their employer is open and upfront with them, indicating that despite the mending U.S economy and the return of many organizations’ profitability employees are still struggling to trust their organizational leaders. This distrust comes with serious negative consequences. The APA reports that trust and engagement play important roles in the workplace, accounting for 50.8% of the variance in employee well-being. In predicting trust, the dimensions of employee involvement, recognition, and communication predicted 54% of the variance. Employees reported having greater trust in companies when the organization endeavored to recognize them for their contributions, provide opportunities for involvement, and communicate effectively. In predicting work engagement, employees’ positive perceptions of their employer’s involvement, growth and development opportunities, and health and safety efforts accounted for 27.1% of the variance.

An interesting and positive finding from the APA survey, is in strong contrast to the recent reports that have suggested upwards of 70% of employees in the U.S. are not engaged or are actively disengaged. APA’s Work and Well-Being Survey finds approximately 50% of working Americans reporting average levels of engagement, with around a quarter reporting low or very low levels and just under a quarter reporting high or very high levels. The mean engagement score for working Americans was 3.62 on a six-point scale (zero representing never being engaged and six representing always being engaged). Additionally, the survey finds that 70% of U.S workers report that they are satisfied with their jobs, however, just 47% continue to be satisfied with employee recognition practices and 49% with growth and development opportunities offered by their organizations.

Taking a closer look at the statistics on trust, about one third of respondents say their employers are not always honest and truthful, and nearly a quarter say they don’t trust their employers. Interestingly though, this lack of trust does not necessarily correlate to feelings of unfair or bad working environments. The survey found that 64% of employed adults feel that their organization treats them fairly, despite that only 52% believe their employer is open and upfront with them. Does this mean as an organization you can cultivate fair and honest practices without any transparency? Does this mean that leaders get a pass on being trustworthy as long as they provide safe working environments? These are interesting data to be sure. But perhaps the bigger question is how productive are employees who don’t trust their leaders? What levels of discretionary effort and personal development will employees expend who feel physically safe but don’t trust their leaders? As a leader, the question I would ask is “how long can I rely on an employee population that doesn’t me?”

APA Center for Organizational Excellence April 2014
The APA’s findings come after surveying 1,562 adults aged 18+ who reside in the U.S. and who are employed full time, part time, or self-employed.

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Filed under American Psychological Association, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Engagement, Employee Recognition, Managerial Effectiveness, Rewards & Recognition, Worplace Trust

Employee Recognition

Data Point Tuesday

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Employee recognition is an important form of positive feedback (who doesn’t love being recognized for their efforts after all?!) and a 2013 study by Globoforce gives us even more reason to institute this type of feedback in our organizations. The study examines the growing intersection between recognition and employee performance and has some noteworthy points. Where recognition is concerned, perhaps the most important point made is that recognition directly impacts business results. Out of 708 randomly-selected fully employed persons in the United States (aged 18 or older) who are employed at organizations with a staff size of 500 or more employees,  those who were recognized with values-based recognition reported a positive change in their productivity. Additionally, 49% of respondents who had experienced values-based recognition indicated a positive change in relationships, 43% indicated a positive change in their customer service efforts, and 82% stated that being recognized for efforts at work motivated them in their job.

These statistics reinforce the value and importance of recognizing employees, but what I found particularly interesting and a less obvious benefit of employee recognition was how the ability to give vs. receive recognition affected employees. The study found that employees who are empowered to recognize other employees at their organizations were twice as likely to identify themselves as highly engaged; highlighting that value should be placed on allowing employees to give recognition as much as it is placed on making sure employees receive recognition. Another interesting and less obvious result of employee recognition is the link between recognition and alignment with organizational culture and values. Of respondents surveyed, 48% indicated that receiving recognition when they did something right served to align them with their organization’s values and culture. As I discussed in another recent post, employees who feel strongly aligned with company values and mission are more satisfied with and likely to remain at a job, so this relationship between values and employee recognition is a valuable one to explore.

globoforce

Employee recognition can also influence employees’ perception of performance reviews. Globoforce’s study found that 76% of respondents thought recognition data would make reviews better, and 75% of respondents who had been recognized recently stated that they enjoyed their reviews. We can attribute these changes in perception toward reviews to the attributes like engagement and connection with company values, but also to another idea. As the study points out, peer and managerial recognition act as a form of social crowdsourcing, a familiar and comfortable concept for employees who most likely use crowdsourcing programs like Yelp or Amazon regularly. 80% of respondents felt that crowd sourced (manager plus crowd sourced peer feedback) to be more accurate. With employee recognition serving as a form of crowd sourced feedback it makes sense then that employees who were recently recognized felt more comfortable in reviews. But why does it matter if employees enjoy their reviews? The research shows that employees who are satisfied with reviews are more highly engaged, less susceptible to job poaching, and more satisfied with their job.

This data show that creating a system that gives employees feedback from peers as well as from managers – feedback that is values-based – is the gift that keeps on giving. To employee engagement, to higher retention, to financial performance. Who doesn’t want that gift under the tree on Wednesday?

What does employee recognition look like in your organization? Do you have recognition programs in place? Do you encourage employees to recognize others as well as for managers and supervisors to give recognition? Use this data as a catalyst to examine how recognition plays a role in your business. Ramping up the positive feedback could just be the key to a healthy domino effect, creating employees that are more engaged, more productive, more connected to company values, and more satisfied with their reviews.

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Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Engagement, Employee Recognition, Globoforce, Great Place to Work, Great Place to Work Institute

From the Archives: We can’t succeed without Millennials

This was a very popular post from April, 2012. The data is pretty much the same. And it bears repeating.

Managers and supervisors (especially in the Baby Boomer cohort) in almost every type and size of business have been known to lament the lack of loyalty and so-called business savvy in the Millennial generation.

  • “They want to be promoted too fast!”
  • “They don’t want to pay their dues!”
  • “They don’t understand how things work!”
  • “They want too much flexibility!”
  • “When things don’t go their way they quit!”
  • “Why won’t they stay?”

The bottom line is that organizations are finding it challenging to keep Millennials engaged and on the payroll.  In fact, with the average employment tenure of workers in the 20-24 year -old age group at 1.5 years (per the BLS), it’s challenging to keep all our employees engaged and the on the payroll.  (See my previous post on the Quits vs. Layoffs gap.  It might not be what you think!)

Achievers and Experience Inc. fielded their annual survey of graduating college students in January.  The data are eye opening.

Despite what we think we know about them, the vast majority of these about-to-enter-the-workforce Milllennials would really like to stay with their next (in most cases, first) employer for 5 years or longer!  Wait.  What?  Look at the chart below:

47% of the 8,000 college graduating respondents in the Achievers/Experience Inc. survey indicated that they expected to stay with their next employer five years or longer.  Note the language:  expect to stay not would like to stay!  That means when they join our organizations they have every expectation of making a career with us.  They’re not just accepting a job.  They’ve evaluated our EVP (Employer Value Proposition) as a match for the meaning they want to create in their lives through their work.  (Interesting to note that the biggest percentage of respondents expect to stay with their employer for 10+ years!)

So, OK.  This has got to be their youthful exuberance and relative inexperience speaking, right?  Well, I wonder if that really matters.

Employers need these Millennials.  Employers need these Millennials now.  Employers will need these Millennials more every day.  (See my recent post here.)

And employers need them to stay a whole lot longer than 1.5 years!

So what happens between “I expect to stay with my employer for 10 or more years…” and “…after one year with the organization I’m leaving for a better opportunity”?  I think we all know that answer to that question.

We don’t live up to the EVP we sold them.  We don’t engage Millennials the way they tell us they want to be engaged.  Instead, we…

  • make sure they fit into our existing career paths and job descriptions
  • focus on making sure they “pay their dues” – the way we did
  • keep our processes and rules rigid and unbending – and only pretend to listen when they offer up “different” ways of working
  • resist the notion that work can be done with excellence anywhere but in a cubicle
  • make it difficult for Millennials to interact with senior leaders
  • make it difficult for Millennials to collaborate with colleagues
  • designate social responsibility activities a perk instead of a foundational value
  • try to “lure” them to stay with tenure-based plaques and timepieces

These data are a wake-up call for employers.  It’s a message from our talent pipeline that they really do want to engage with us; they believe our employer brand marketing messages; they want to learn and grow with us.

It’s time to listen harder and make sure our employer brand messages aren’t experienced as bait and switch tactics.

I don’t know about you, but I’d hate for the Millennials to have such negative employment experiences at the beginning of their careers that they opt out of organizational life altogether before they’re 30.  We’d really be in a pickle then!

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Filed under Achievers, Baby Boomers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Business Success, China Gorman, Demographics, Employment Data, Engagement, Millennials, Rewards & Recognition, Student Job Search, Talent pipeline, U.S. Department of Labor

Maybe Engagement Doesn’t Really Matter

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When Gallup released the most recent State of the American Workforce Report the engagement news was not good. Here’s what the report said:

“Currently, 30% of the U.S. workforce is engaged in their work, and the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is roughly 2-to-1, meaning that the vast majority of U.S. workers (70%) are not reaching their full potential — a problem that has significant implications for the economy and the individual performance of American companies.”

Because the basic premise is that organizations with highly engaged workforces produce better results than those with less engaged workforces, I was surprised that the press didn’t make more of this data. I wrote about it here, but it was about creating the business case for caring about whether or not employees are or are not engaged. I guess the overall sad state of engagement in the U.S. is a given and not newsworthy anymore.

But I saw some new Galllup survey data that, frankly, raises new questions for me, and makes me wonder if “engagement” is really what we should be measuring. And if “engagement” and stronger financial performance really are causal, as Gallup implies.

The survey question was “If you won $10 million in the lottery, would you continue to work, or would you stop working?” So a rational person might think, “Well, if 30% of the workforce is engaged and 70% of the workforce is not engaged, then probably 70% of the workforce would quit their jobs if they found themselves $10 million richer.” Wouldn’t you think that? I certainly did.

So imagine my surprise to see that the response to this survey question is exactly the opposite of what we would have expected! 68% of polled working adults said they’d keep working and 31% said they would quit. Exactly the opposite!

Gallup win the lottery 1I’m confused. But then I thought I had it figured out when I looked at the next question, which asked those who said they’d continue working if they’d stay in the same job or take a different job. “Aha!” I thought to myself. “The people who said they’d continue to work would surely take another job – a job in an organization that would be more engaging since they’re all not engaged.” But no. Nearly half of those said they’d even stay in the same job!

Gallup win the lottery 2

Now I’m really confused. Maybe it’s financial. Except that the positive trajectory to stay in the same job started way before the recession of 2009. So it may not be financially motivated. In fact, $10 million buys a lot less in 2013 than it did in 2005 – and still the percentage of workers saying they’d stay in the same job has grown substantially.

So what’s the deal? Does engagement even matter? If 67% of the population will continue to work after winning $10 million – and fully half of those will stay in the job they currently have, why do we care about engagement scores? Does engagement really matter?

Enquiring minds want to know!

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Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Engagement, Gallup, Winning the Lottery

Performance and Engagement: No More Smoke and Mirrors

data point tuesday_500 I was talking with the CEO and CMO of a startup software company in the HCM space yesterday. One of the things we talked about was the ready availability of data that link organizational performance with employee engagement. No longer the stuff of smoke and mirrors, the correlation between higher revenue, lower costs and greater customer satisfaction with employee engagement is rock solid. Whether the data come from academic researchers, think tanks, research/analysis firms or other interested parties, we can cite legitimate sources to underpin our ROI calculations. (See previous posts here and here.)

Gallup’s recently released State of the American Workforce is one example of such data. In the “From the CEO” introduction, Chairman and CEO Jim Clifton says:

“Here’s what you need to know:  Gallup research has found that the top 25% of teams – the best managed – versus the bottom 25% in any workplace – the worst managed – have nearly 50% fewer accidents and have 41% fewer quality defects. What’s more, teams in the top 25% versus the bottom 25% incur far less in healthcare costs. So having too few engaged employees means our workplaces are less safe, employees have more quality defects, and disengagement – which results from terrible managers – is driving up the country’s healthcare costs.”

Here’s the corresponding chart from the report:

Gallup Engagement KPIx

You may or may not have an opinion about Gallup’s Q12  methodology, but the longitudinal nature of their data — together with their periodic meta-analysis — says to me that their findings have weight. We can take to the bank – and to our CEOs and CFOs – the relationship between higher engagement and stronger organizational performance.

This is the data of sound and persuasive business cases for investing in the well-being of our employees. Take a look at the Gallup findings. You’ll find something that will spark an ah-ha moment. Or maybe two or three.

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Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Engagement, Engagement, Gallup

Shooting Ourselves in the Foot Isn’t an Effective Engagement Strategy

data point tuesday_500

Recent headlines from Gallup proclaiming that college-educated Americans are less engaged on the job than other cohorts may have spurred some conversation among HR leaders and professionals. Engagement, that elusive component to organizational success, is the holy grail many employers chase. And Gallup, the grand surveyor of people on all topics, has regularly published engagement data that either convinces us that engagement is a fraud or that we have to try harder to win over our workforces.

A recent USA TODAY article, “Higher education = lower joy on job?” quoted Gallup findings as well as findings from this report: “Why Are Recent College Graduates Underemployed?” from the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. The justaposition of these two sources shows an interesting picture.

Here’s Gallup’s data:

Gallup Engagement by Education 2013

So. According to Gallup, the most engaged group of workers are those who have earned a high school diploma or less.  And the least engaged group of workers are those who have earned a college degree. By themselves, the numbers are almost interesting. By themselves, the bigger news is that the numbers show that less than a third of the workforce is engaged, and more than two-thirds of the workforce is either not engaged or actively disengaged. OK. That’s interesting and cause for concern.

But put this Gallup data into the blender with this data from the Center for College Affordability and Productivity and it gets a little more interesting:

College Grads Underemployed 2013

If nearly half of all American workers with college degrees are in jobs that do not require a college degree, might that have something to do with their level of engagement? Are nearly half of our college educated workforce bored on the job?

And if they are, and if we’re concerned about engagement, why are we putting them into jobs for which they are overqualified? Would high school graduates be more engaged and perform better? Would those better performers positively impact the financial performance of their employers?

The Center also asserts that

“past and projected future growth in college enrollments and the number of graduates exceeds the actual or projected growth in high-skilled jobs, explain the development of the underemployment problem and its probable worsening in future years.”

So they believe the engagement problem will grow worse – if there really is a causal relationship between engagement levels and the over-qualification of many of our workers.

What do we make of this? Well, I do think it’s common sense to believe that people who are significantly over-educated for the jobs they hold could well be bored and unengaged. But I also think that in this economy, many are grateful to have any job, over-educated or not. What that means for engagement is unclear to me. Except that Gallup, being the last word in survey data, shows a clear line between education levels and engagement.

shoe with bullet holeWhile this might be above my pay grade, I’m willing to make a leap here and suggest that hiring overqualified workers might not be the best strategy for boosting engagement. If we truly believe that engaged workers have a demonstrably positive impact on an organization’s financial performance – and that’s been the HR mantra for a number of years – then we are probably shooting ourselves in the foot by requiring college degrees for jobs that truly don’t need them.

I’ve written this before: the over-inflation of job requirements in job descriptions isn’t putting the unemployed in this country back to work. And now we know it isn’t helping organizational performance. Hmmm…

I’ll bet we can agree on this:  shooting ourselves in the foot isn’t an effective engagement strategy.

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Filed under Center for College Affordability and Productivity, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Education Deficit, Engagement, Gallup, Job Descriptions