Tag Archives: Millennials

Are You Putting All Your Eggs Into The Engagement Basket?

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George LaRocque, Founder and Principal Analyst at #HRWINS, has published a new report that caught my eye. Where Purpose Meets Performance:  Can HR Tech Solve Culture, is an interesting look at the culture challenges of the U.S. middle market (5,000 and fewer employees) which employs roughly 90% of the U.S. workforce.

Here’s where he grabbed me:

“Studies show that companies with performance enhancing cultures far out-perform those without it in terms of revenue growth, stock price growth, and net income growth. Yet, it remains nearly impossible to tie HR and people programs to business results. Business leaders and HR practitioners have looked to employee engagement as a measure of successful corporate culture but first even defining employee engagement presents a challenge. There have long been efforts to standardize its definition and measurement, and the result has been just the opposite. We’ve seen a proliferation of science and methods narrowly looking at everything from happiness to community embeddedness, social network analysis, motivation and incentives, collaboration, personality and culture assessments, and more.”

What follows is an interesting discussion, with 3 strong case studies, that shows how the acquisition and deployment of core HR technology is supporting the increase in HR credibility and impact on corporate performance, as well as greater employee satisfaction. It’s interesting stuff and incudes results from several surveys that George put out in the field.

At 20 pages, it isn’t a long read and is well organized. The main points cover the following:

  • What employees rate as the leading drivers of their feeling of engagement.
  • What employers feel are the HR and people programs delivering the best ROI.
  • How employee engagement fits in the new world of work.
  • What role core HR technology plays in building culture and aligning with business performance.

The survey work underpinning this analysis lead George to believe as I do:

“…perhaps the strongest component of culture that resonates with employees, of ALL generations, is having purpose and meaning in their work.”

The survey results, as shown below, show that, at least in the vast middle market, Baby Boomers and GenX are the most interested demographic as it relates to meaning and purpose. That’s not what you expected, is it? But it tracks with my research and observations.

#HRWINS 1

This report includes several such graphs and data points that provide solid context for whatever thinking and planning you’re doing regarding culture, engagement and your employee experience. Putting all your eggs in the “engagement” basket will most likely not produce the returns you expect. There are stronger fundamentals that may well have a stronger positive impact on your employees’ experience. Especially if you’re in the middle market.

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Filed under #HRTechTrends, #HRWINS, Baby Boomers, China Gorman, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Engagement, GenX, George LaRocque, HR Technology, Millennials

Your People and Global Internet Trends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Internet Trends 2016 1

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

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

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

Internet Trends 2016 2

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

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

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

Internet Trends 2016 3

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

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

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

Lights Out Productivity

data point tuesday_500One of the benefits of writing a blog that is focused on bringing interesting research analysis to the HR community is that people (vendors, academics, researchers, associations…) send me all kinds of research reports. I receive cool data analyses every day. And I learn a lot reading through them. Here’s a funky little survey analysis that won’t surprise anyone. But it brings up a good point.

The research goal of Generational Trends in Employee Desktop Expectations and Behaviors sponsored by AppSense, was “to capture hard data on experiences and attitudes towards desktop experience among business users.” The methodology included a series of online surveys that were fielded to independent sources of business professionals, all of whom worked at companies with more than 500 employees (1,000 employees in the U.S.) and lived in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, France, The Netherlands or Australia. All in, a total of 258 full-time business professionals who use a desktop computer for than 10% of their work participated in the survey.

If we needed to see more data that would drive a wedge between the Millennials and the Boomers, this would qualify. Except that the data aren’t surprising. Millennials grew up with technology in their hands, pockets and backpacks. Boomers grew up with almost no technology and when it did appear it wasn’t personal, mobile or transportable.

Generational Trends 2 October 2015So, while we all get distracted when our desktops are slow to load, how we spend our time while waiting is different. Evidently Millennials only know how to be productive on a computer.

Generational Trends October 2015On the face of it, it looks like Boomers try to be more work-productive while waiting for their slow desktops to catch up with them, and Millennials tend to be more personal-productive. What we don’t know is how much time these activities take – seconds, minutes, or more.

As I said, this is a funky little survey analysis. You certainly wouldn’t create any policy changes based on these findings. But you might ask questions about how much time is actually spent waiting for slow computers at your organization. If it’s minutes a week versus hours a week, you’re probably fine. If the available time due to slow computers is hours a week, the investment in alleviating the down time might be well-spent.

But the more interesting question this brings up for me is whether or not our workforce, now dominated by digital natives, can be productive when the lights go out. Are we’re teaching them how to be productive off the digital reservation? For sure the Boomers can go Old School and use paper, spreadsheets, telephones and other relics of bygone business eras to get work done if the systems go down. Is it possible that our younger colleagues don’t know non-digital ways of being productive? Is this funky survey and analysis an inadvertent call to ensure that productivity isn’t bound by turning on a computer and being connected to the internet?

Can your workforce continue to serve your customers and be productive if the systems go down for an hour? For a day? For several days?

I’m just sayin’.

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Filed under AppSense, Baby Boomers, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Desktop Computers, Millennials, Time Management

Millennials To Business: You’re Doing It Wrong!

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Deloitte’s 4th annual Millennial Survey sends a message from more than 7,800 degreed and employed Millennials from 29 countries around the world to employers: “Business should focus on people and purpose, not just products and profits.” It’s easy for the Gen Xer and Baby Boomer business leaders to respond to this message with the corporate equivalent of “Get off my lawn!” But that would be short sighted, since the Millennials are now officially the largest age group in the economy and we need them. And we need them pretty desperately.

In this world of Big Data one can find a survey analysis to prove any position. Pretty much. And I am generally wary of survey analyses that play up differences between the generations in the workplace because my go-to research from the Great Place to Work® Institute shows that – in the workplace, at least – every person, regardless of generation, wants 3 things:

  • Resepct – including appreciation and fairness
  • Work that gives meaning to their lives and makes them proud
  • Camaraderie with their workmates

These three dynamics in a culture power all kinds of good outcomes and they show little differentiation between age cohorts regardless of industry, geographic location or size of business.

So I take with a grain of salt the results of surveys like this and still recommend that you read them. They provide interesting insights that can add color to your own questions and planning. And the graphs show some interesting gaps in the perception of what Millennials believe “should be” in contrast to “what is.” These are useful insights.

“Today’s Millennials place less value on visible (19%), well-networked (17%), and technically-skilled (17%) leaders. Instead, they define true leaders as strategic thinkers (39%), inspirational (37%), personable (34%) and visionary (31%).”

Deloitte Millennial survey 1

That’s troublesome for celebrity CEOs but good news for the rest of us.

The last 15 pages of the report show graphs that depict Millennials’ takes on the purpose of business, business performance and employee satisfaction, leadership attributes, their skills, and the gender gap regarding leadership readiness and leadership aspirations. Interesting stuff.

But these data points also underscore the growing global focus on creating more human workplaces. The resounding success of the recent WorkHuman Conference produced by Globoforce, is another piece of this trend. My belief is that while all of us want a more human workplace: Millennials are just demanding it more than those of us who were socialized in a less human era. And they are voting with their careers.

The results of surveys like this one from Deloitte give us directional information to use when considering the challenges of growing our businesses, attracting the right talent, and developing and retaining the talent we need to succeed in our competitive marketplaces. And to make our workplace cultures more human.

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Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Deloitte, Globoforce, HR Data, Leadership, Millennials, WorkHuman

Our Shaky Millennial Education Foundation

data point tuesday_500It’s the definition of a counter-intuitive statement: the Millennial generation has attained the highest levels of education of any previous American generation, yet on average demonstrates weak skills in literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in technology-rich environments compared to their international peers. This is a tough realization to stomach for a number of reasons. Not only is it disheartening to hear, and confusing considering the exorbitant and rising costs of education in the U.S., but Millennials are estimated to make up 50% of the employee population by 2020 and will shape the economic, political and social landscape for years to come (so their skills are important, to say the least). What though, will the impact of the predicted skills shortage look like? A new report by The Educational Testing Service (ETS) begins to answer that question, bringing to attention a topic that is of growing interest to a broad range of constituencies.

ETS’s report uses data from the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) to explore this topic. ETS asks why we should we pay attention to these findings, when some argue that comparative international assessments do not yield valid results. The PIAAC though, is not the only study to raise these concerns. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) as well as organizations such as The College Board and ACT, all report similar findings. In 2013, the NAEP found that 74% of U.S. 12th graders were below proficient in mathematics and 62% were below proficient in reading, and the College Board reported that 57% of SAT takers failed to qualify as “college ready.” Additionally, ACT recently reported that close to 31% (1 out of 3) high school graduates taking the ACT exam failed to meet any of the four college readiness benchmarks in English, math, reading, and science. These findings – besides the fact that any question of inadequate education or skills for our nation’s youth and future generations should always top of mind – tells us that yes, we should pay attention to such findings.

The PIACC is unlike school-based surveys (which focus on specific ages or grades of in-school students) and was designed as a household study of nationally representative samples of adults age 16-65. ETS’s report disaggregates the PIAAC data for Millennials (young adults born after 1980 who were 16–34 years of age at the time of the assessment). Let’s take a closer look at some of the top findings.

U.S. Millennials scored lower in literacy, numeracy, and PS-TRE (problem solving in technologically rich environments) than their global counterparts. Out of 22 participating countries, U.S Millennials:

  • Ranked above only Spain and Italy in literacy
  • Ranked last in numeracy (alongside Italy and Spain)
  • Ranked last in PS-TRE (alongside the Slovak Republic, Ireland, and Poland)

March 24 2015 PIAAC Proficiency Levels

ETS compared top-performing and low-performing U.S Millennials with their global counterparts and examined the inequality in score distribution and found that:

  • Top-performing U.S. Millennials (90th percentile) scored lower than top-performing Millennials in 15 of the 22 participating countries (only scoring above Spain)
  • Low-performing U.S. Millennials (10th percentile) ranked last along with Italy and England/Northern Ireland (scoring lower than Millennials in 19 participating countries)
  • There was a higher gap in scores (139 points) between U.S. Millennials at the 90th and 10th percentiles in the U.S than in 14 other participating countries (signaling a high degree of inequality in the distribution of scores)

March 25 2015 Numeracy Score Gaps 10th-90th Percentile

ETS also explored how Millennials with educational attainment perform over time and in relation to their peers internationally. They found that since 2003, the percentages of U.S. Millennials scoring below level 3 in numeracy (the minimum standard) increased at all levels of educational attainment.

ETS’s data highlight that despite rising levels of higher education attainment by U.S. young adults since 2003, the numeracy scores of U.S. Millennials, whose highest level of education is high school and above high school, have declined. ETS additionally found that:

  • S. Millennials with a 4 year bachelor’s degree scored higher in numeracy than their counterparts in only two countries (Poland and Spain),
  • The scores of U.S. Millennials whose highest level of educational attainment was either less than high school or high school were lower than those of their counterparts in almost every other participating country, and
  • Our best-educated Millennials (those with a master’s or research degrees) only scored higher than their peers in Ireland, Poland, and Spain.

Demographics also play a role in the performance of U.S. Millennials, and ETS noted that:

  • There was a strong relationship between parental levels of educational attainment and skills in all countries
  • Across all levels of parental educational attainment, there was no country where Millennials scored lower than those in the U.S.
  • The gap in scores between U.S. Millennials with the highest level of parental educational attainment and those with the lowest was among the largest of the participating countries.
  • In most countries, native-born Millennials scored higher than foreign-born Millennials (however native-born U.S. Millennials did not perform higher than their peers in any other country)

As ETS puts it, their “…primary concern is not to bemoan the nation’s declining status…. [but instead to] highlight deeper social issues concerning not only how we compete in a global economy, but also what kind of future we can construct when a sizable adult population—especially the millennials—lacks the skills necessary for higher-level employment and meaningful participation in our democratic institutions”. This report contains tough, but extremely meaningful data, and should be a huge indicator to the business, academic and political leaders of the U.S that our policies around education need urgent and major overhauling. As a business leader, I can’t grow my business unless my team has the skills needed to grow my business. It’s that simple. The sustainability of business in the U.S. is built on an unsustainable and very shaky educational foundation. We all need to ask ourselves: “what are we doing about this?”

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The Global Workplace of 2030

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CBRE and Genesis recently released a report “Fast Forward 2030: The Future of Work and the Workplace,” which provides meaningful insight on the behaviors, ideas, and trends, that will shape work and the workplace in 2030. Their report analyzes responses from 220 experts, business leaders and young people from Asia Pacific, Europe and North America who shared their views on how the current workplace is evolving. That report’s focus was to look towards the future and identify trends that will change the way we work over the next 15 years globally, with a key focus on China and Asia. CBRE and Genesis aimed to capture the thoughts and aspirations of this next generation by holding focus groups, instead of traditional surveys or interviews, in 11 cities worldwide, where “more than 150 corporate youth between the ages of 23-29 gave their frank opinions about current work practices, and in particular, what is and isn’t working for them and more importantly how they would like this to change in the future.”

What will work look like in 2030? Through questions considering the nature of society and corporations, CBRE and Genesis ask respondents to identify what the big game changers will be for shaping the workplace between now and 2030. Major game changing trends and ideas included:

  • The Holistic Worker
  • Lean, Agile, and Authentic Corporations
  • The Sharing Economy

“The Holistic Worker” was an idea echoed many times throughout respondents’ answers. This is a trend that we’re already seeing today, probably most prominently in the increasing attention to social responsibility among organizations. CBRE and Genesis report that “The Holistic Worker” will continue to be a significant influencer of change in the workplace. Their research shows an increasing belief that work should be “joyous and more full-filling,” and that within work there should be many opportunities to make meaningful contributions to the organization as well as society. Essentially, the data show that lines between work and life are blurring. People are more and more often expecting the freedom to choose how, where, and when they work, and these attitudinal shifts are slowly, but surely, creating a major change in workplaces and societies.

In CBRE and Genesis’s report, 78% of youth indicated that happiness was as important as financial success. 70% of Korean parents felt happiness for their children was more important than educational and financial success and in Japan, young employees in the focus group echoed the same sentiments, talking about a way of work totally different than the traditional ways of their parents. They spoke to workplace flexibility, going home to spend time with family, and working at many organizations over their career. Thai participants in youth focus groups said they would be willing to be paid 20% less if they could work in vibrant environments with the freedom and choice about how and where they get work done. Workplace flexibility and the desire for CSR are global trends, and certainly not limited to western culture. With the desire for work to having meaning and purpose, quick impact will be key. CBRE and Genesis anticipate that in 2030: “most work will be broken down into small, discreet, comprehensible components. Each component will have a clear purpose and teams delivering will have significant autonomy and control, responding to the many of the desires of the holistic worker.”

Another game changer for 2030, will be the need for organizations to be lean, agile and authentic – specifically, authentic. If organizations cannot be true to their values and contribute to society beyond the bottom line, their main source of talent, the holistic worker (and by virtue, also holistic consumers) will be extremely limited. CBRE and Genesis predict that technology and “artificial intelligence” will be huge game changers for organizations that can leverage them correctly. Organizations with 20-40 people can be just an impactful as large corporations, and by leveraging technology while being “unhindered by legacy processes and mindsets,” they will easily disrupt existing corporate models. The growth of technology, while being extremely beneficial for workplaces, is also a worrisome concept. CBRE and Genesis’s report points out it’s predicted that 50% of the occupations in corporations today will not exist in 2030, and points to evidence that in the U.S technology is already destroying more jobs than it is creating:GDP vs. Employment Growth

“The Sharing Economy” was another major underlying theme in CBRE and Genesis’s research. They define this as a socio-economic system built around the sharing of human and physical resources, whose emergence reflects changing attitudes in societies about ownership and collaborative consumption, fuelled by technology and apps that allow people to rapidly match supply and demand – person to person. Expert respondents in Beijing reported that the sharing economy would have significant impact to the future of work and the workplace in 2030, and used a research study by consultancy Latitude in the US71 as a framework for discussing how the sharing economy might impact real estate: Jan 27 2015 New Opps for SharingCBRE and Genesis also asked respondents about competitive advantage in 2030, and although answers covered a wide range, 10 top sources emerged, with attraction and retention of key/top talent as the number one source of competitive advantage followed by innovation. Jan 27 2015 Top 10 Sources of Competitive Advantage

When talking about innovation, respondents reported that for the future of the workplace “there will be constant innovation and support of entrepreneurial behaviors: micro-innovation within the organization”.

In several past posts I’ve discussed how the workplace is going increasingly global, yet to date most of the research in the area of work and the workplace remains from a western perspective. CBRE and Genesis’s report specifically widens the research to include not only western perspective but also those of developed and developing Asian nations, providing new and unique perspectives on a geographic level. Such perspectives can provide surprising results, such as the determination and excitement of young employees in Shanghai, Beijing and Tokyo to rethink the experience of work and push their superiors to change, vs. more conservative opinions than expected in New York and London. Youth Appetite for Change

The bottom line? The youngest cohort of our employees – worldwide – are describing their preferences for work and the “office” of the not so very distant future as radically different than most work environments today. Those organizations desirous of developing their cultures to attract and retain today’s Millennials might take these findings into account. We Baby Boomers won’t be around forever. And that’s probably a good thing.

Be sure to check out CBRE and Genesis’ full report here.

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Filed under CBRE, China Gorman, Corporate Social Responsibility, Data Point Tuesday, Genesis, Millenials, Work Life Balance, Workplace Studies

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