Thursday, August 20, 2009

What Big Researchers Found about Employee Engagement

●● A Watson Wyatt study of 115 companies suggested that a company with highly engaged employees achieves a financial performance four times greater than companies with poor engagement. They also reported in 2008/9 that the highly engaged are more than twice as likely to be top performers – almost 60 per cent of them exceed or far exceed expectations for performance. Moreover the highly engaged missed 43 per cent fewer days of work due to illness. ●● Gallup found that engagement levels can be predictors of sickness absence, with more highly engaged employees taking an average of 2.7 days per year, compared with disengaged employees taking an average of 6.2 days per year.
●● Hewitt reported that companies with a greater than 10 per cent profit growth had 39 per cent more engaged employees and 45 per cent fewer disengaged employees than those with less than 10 per cent growth.
●● Development Dimension International (DDI) reported that in a Fortune 100 manufacturing company, turnover in low engagement teams averaged 14.5 per cent, compared with 4.8 per cent in high engagement teams. Absenteeism in low engagement teams hovered around 8 per cent, but was down to 4.1 per cent in high engagement teams. Quality errors were significantly higher for poorly engaged teams.
●● Towers Perrin found that broadly three-quarters of the highly engaged believe they can impact costs, quality and customer service; and only 25 per cent of the disengaged believe they can.
●● PricewaterhouseCoopers, who use staff and customer engagement levels as one of their four Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) have found

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

While you may have access to the technology to design your own employee surveys, you probably don't have the experience and external norms needed to avoid the problems and pitfalls that accompany question selection, web surveys, and rapid reporting.

Insightlink Communications delivers the anonymity and insight needed for effective employee surveys in four phases:

Phase One — Project Planning
Survey design, question item selection, demographic codes, reporting requirements.
Data collection options to ensure anonymity and high returns.
Web page setup. Communication and implementation support.

Phase Two — Data Collection and Data Compilation
Respondents complete surveys by paper or web.
Program computer to accommodate survey questions, coding, and report requirements.
Generate reports to survey code specifications.

Phase Three — Data Analysis, Report Preparation
Review all quantitative data. Analyze and prepare charts showing differences, similarities, trends and themes.
Review all written comments. Sort and analyze information into a meaningful format.
Consolidate all data and prepare an overall report of findings including strengths, problems, and recommendations for improving the work climate.

Phase Four — Feedback and Action Planning
Define and clarify next steps for communicating the survey findings.
Ensure a process is in place to develop action plans to support the findings.
Review total findings if desired with the leadership team.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Organizational Strength

The strongest organizations are able to successfully develop the ideal combination of (1) quality products and/or services, (2) economic viability and (3) a positive work environment based on fairness, recognition of employee needs and adherence to the organization's values. Such combinations are not easily created and need to be carefully nurtured if the organization is to continue to thrive. The importance of these factors and policies are the basis behind Insightlink's 4Cs model of employee satisfaction, with the four key drivers being Commitment, Culture, Communications and Compensation. Adopting a deliberate focus on Commitment requires organizations to recognize the fundamental role that employees play in the success of the organization. This means thinking beyond the traditional emphasis on physical and investment capital and incorporating the value of "human capital" into the calculation of success, especially with the development of the knowledge economy. Commitment is one of the factors that can help "inoculate" an organization against turnover, at a time when there is an increasing need for companies to find and hold onto their most talented employees. These days, the success of an organization is even more dependent on having a stable and committed workforce whose contributions coalesce into productive group actions. An important contributor to this need is the fact that it is becoming more difficult to replace employees because their knowledge and skills are often more refined and specialized than in the past. Finding and keeping good employees in this environment is imperative but it is not going to be easy - according to Insightlink's Employee Norms for 2005, three-in-ten employees do not expect to stay at their current organization for more than 2 years. As noted earlier, although six-in-ten employees see themselves as being generally committed to their organizations, almost the same proportion do not believe that their organization is committed to them. Although external factors, such as the health of the economy and the availability of work, influence the level of turnover, many organizations fail to recognize that employer/employee relationships are often weak and that it is up to organizations to demonstrate, in a very real way, that they are serious and committed to their employees. In order to achieve and maintain success, organizations need to recognize the following three components of building and managing a truly committed workforce:
Attracting qualified employees Developing those employees over time Building a bond of trust and commitment with those employees

Organizations necessarily need to establish a "reservoir" of prospective, talented employees and a very important element of this is how attractive the organization is as a "mate" (building on the notion of a "marriage" between employers and employees.) The organization's reputation, to those outside of the organization as well as inside it, has a vital impact over its ability to continually attract talented employees. It is very well established that, if an organization treats employees well, they will give back as much or more in terms of both physical and emotional commitment. Corporate respect for employees is manifested in a wide variety of ways, including fairness in the application of company policies, opportunities for growth and development, recognition of employee needs and a clean, safe working environment. A good relationship is exciting and it develops and grows. There is camaraderie around shared values and interests and the enduring sense that each will "be there" for the other when needed. Organizations that are able to create commitment among their employees realize that commitment is ultimately personal. This is the hard part of commitment that has profound implications for corporate conduct. It requires consistency in action at the same time as recognizing the need for flexibility and requires making decisions about what employees are prepared and not prepared to do. It requires the patient and concerted attention of the whole organization. Some of the essentials for building commitment include communicating with employees in an honest and open way, realistically assessing their capacity to engage in various initiatives, giving worthwhile feedback, making effective decisions and taking chances. Every organization needs to enhance the capabilities of its workforce over time, which is why many organizations offer both formal and informal training. However, employees themselves also have to be willing to make the effort needed to improve their skills to help them better meet organizational goals. Commitment to one's occupation is a helpful stimulus for personal growth and Insightlink's Employee Norms suggest that this level of commitment is quite high, since almost seven-in-ten agree that they are committed to their careers and the type of work they do. However, the organization must foster the type of environment that encourages and facilitates the "natural" desire on the part of the part of employees to continually refine and develop their skills and knowledge. Importantly, this should include having clear career development plans for employees, since lack of such opportunities is an important contributor to employee turnover. Organizations need to avoid creating a scenario in which their employees act and are treated more as a collection of independent contractors rather than as a united and cohesive group. Or, to continue the marriage analogy, employees who see their relationship with their employers more as "dating" than as "marriage" are, by definition, not going to be as committed or willing to go "the extra mile" for their employers when necessary. Daters have relationships that are transient with no substantive long-term obligations and do not engage in activities that would be part of a more enduring relationship. On the other hand, "marriage" infers a strong expectation of permanence and a range of obligations on both sides that are intended to improve the quality of the relationship over time. As a first step towards improving employee retention, conduct an employee opinion survey (EOS). Such surveys are conducted for many reasons, from measuring the overall employee experience to finding out their feelings on a particular issue, plan or change within the organization. How well do employees communicate with each other and with management, what's hurting or helping their morale, how do they feel about the pay and benefits provided and how committed are they to the organization as a whole? These are only a small sample of the questions that can be addressed with a survey. More importantly, a company's culture has a very powerful influence over its work environment, which means that culture directly impacts employee satisfaction, morale and the level of commitment they will feel towards that company. Insightlink's Organizational Barometer can help organizations determine how well their company's values and mission fit with those of their employees and how strongly employees are committed to the company's current strategic direction. Understanding the extent of employee commitment is critical to maximizing the success of a company. Insightlink Communications has developed a proprietary matrix-based evaluation methodology for analyzing employee commitment that will give a clear "snapshot" to track over time. Even more critically, conducting an employee opinion survey with Insightlink lets organizations compare their performance on a wide range of measures against Insightlink's nationally representative and validated EOS normative database. Insightlink benchmark norms are derived from an independent study conducted by Insightlink on an annual basis among employees in the U.S. This study is based on a representative sample of employees that is rigorously designed to match the most recent U.S. Census demographics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics industry distribution and includes benchmarks not only for all employees in the U.S. but for all major industry classifications as well.

Employee engagement has been a buzz word in the human resources community for several years, but there remains an urgent need for scientifically-grounded advice for HR consultants and practitioners from survey experts as to how to measure and increase it.

Custome or syndicated research from Insightlink shows enagagement by industry, what employee engagement means in those industries and identifies its primary drivers.

Insightlink's 4Cs study will change the level of engagement in any organization.

You'll see what it means to create a culture of engagement, get a practical presentation deck and talking points managers can use to introduce the concept of engagement in their organization as well as be able to addresses issues of work-life balance, and non-work activities and their relationship to engagement at work

Employee Surveys Yield Cost-Saving Insights

Employee surveys (whether satisfaction, engagement or opinion) tell you a lot about the organization’s culture and overall employee satisfaction. With organizations asking employees to do more with less time and resources, keeping the workplace positive and productive should be a top goal. Job burnout and added stress at work increase the cost of doing business. In this economy, most organizations are trying to cut costs. What may surprise you is that using employee questionnaires to identify possible areas to cut costs, reallocate resources or boost productivity can pay off in ways you might not expect. Most employees are happy to share their cost cutting ideas and program ideas with employers. You may find that the best cost cutting ideas come from the trenches -- not from senior management or even HR.

Monday, August 17, 2009

"People don't leave their jobs, they leave their managers."

Although committed and loyal employees are the most influential factor to becoming an employer of choice, it's no surprise that companies and organizations face significant challenges in developing energized and engaged workforces. However, there is plenty of research to show that increased employee commitment and trust in leadership can positively impact the company's bottom line. In fact, the true potential of an organization can only be realized when the productivity level of all individuals and teams are fully aligned, committed and energized to successfully accomplish the goals of the organization.

As a result, the goal of every company should be to improve the desire of employees to stay in the relationship they have with the company. When companies understand and manage employee loyalty - rather than retention specifically - they can reap benefits on both sides of the balance sheet i.e., revenues and costs.

On the revenue side of the balance sheet, loyal and committed employees are more likely to go "above and beyond" to meet customer needs and are highly motivated to work to the best of their ability. Both of these traits are crucial for continued customer commitment and ongoing revenue and growth for the company.

On the cost side, loyal employees stay longer, resist competitive job offers, do not actively look for other employment and recommend the company to others as a good place to work. These four behaviors positively influence the cost side of the balance sheet because they are leading indicators of employee retention. The longer companies keep their employees, the longer they can avoid having to pay to replace them.

In other words, rather than focusing only on retention (that is, trying to retain employees who have already decided to leave), organizations should proactively recognize the benefits of understanding, managing and improving employee loyalty. The most successful organizations are those that can adapt their organizational behavior to the realities of the current work environment where success is dependent upon innovation, creativity and flexibility. Additionally, the dynamics of the work environment have to reflect a very diverse population comprised of individuals whose motivations, beliefs and value structures differ vastly from the past and from each another. Arguably, the most valuable, but also volatile, corporate asset is a stable workforce of competent, dedicated employees, since such an employee base gives companies a powerful advantage; depth of knowledge and organizational strength.

One of the key steps to understanding and improving employee loyalty is by acknowledging the importance of the following factors in building loyalty and satisfaction:

Broadly-defined responsibilities rather than narrowly-defined job functions
Effective and regular performance evaluations, both formally and informally
A corporate emphasis on employee learning, development and growth
Wide-ranging employee participation in the organization as a whole

Typically, a combination of factors influences employees' decisions to stay at their current job. Contributing factors include satisfying work, a sense of job security, clear opportunities for advancement, a compelling corporate mission combined with the ability to contribute to the organization's success, and a feeling that their skills are being effectively used and challenged. Specifically, employees who enjoy their work, identify themselves with their employer and perceive that the company is flexible regarding work and family issues also intend to stay with the organization.

Friday, August 14, 2009

dearth of skilled employees?

As many companies are finding out, the old adage that "a good man (or woman) is hard to find" is becoming increasingly true and government predictions suggest that even in times of high unemployment, the dearth of skilled employees is only going to get worse. Factors such as a changing economy and an aging workforce can join together to create an employment environment where competent employees who are unhappy in their current situations are motivated to find a new place to "hang their hats." When these factors are combined with the apparent weakening in employee engagement, employers may find themselves faced with a confounding problem: Unwelcome employee turnover.

In fact, a recent Insightlink National Employee Satisfaction study shows that only 21% of U.S. employees feel fully committed to their employers and only 12% agree that their employers are fully committed to them. Not surprising, however, the degree of commitment between employees and employers is directly linked to the level of job satisfaction expressed by employees. Among employees who are extremely satisfied with their jobs, 94% also feel extremely or very committed to their employers. Compare this to those employees who are not very satisfied where only 13% feel that level of commitment.As in any marriage, trust, security and the knowledge that your needs and opinions are being considered are among the traits that keep commitment strong. At work, these qualities can be even more important than the value of monetary compensation and rewards - in fact, emotional rewards can actually have a larger impact than monetary rewards on overall employee satisfaction. In other words, although employees might leave one job for another with better pay, their cause for leaving might not be salary at all but a myriad of other reasons - often more than likely having to do with mistrust of the company, feeling unappreciated, not respected or not recognized for the time and effort they have put into their work. The primary implication is to emphasize the importance of employee-employer relations and the need for organizations to really demonstrate that they are serious about their workers. There is substantial research indicating that employers can favorably influence how their employees feel by taking positive steps to create a work environment that indicates, by action, that the employee is valued. Although important, pay is only one part and employers must also address fairness, quality of supervision and support for employees to successfully achieve a work/life balance. The following specific factors and initiatives have been shown to positively affect employee satisfaction:

Clearly stated guidelines defining appropriate work behavior and job requirements.
Supportive communications with immediate supervisors and senior management.
The quality of the supervisory relationship.
Favorable developmental training and experiences.
Clearly-defined career goals and paths.
Frequent recognition, both formal and informal.
Fair and objective feedback on performance, provided on a regularly-scheduled basis.
Personal and family-oriented policies and actions.
Sufficiency of pay, benefits and rewards.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Part II: "people don't leave their jobs, they leave their managers"

Today, employee loyalty needs to be earned, rather than assumed, and must be specific, rather than general - employee surveys say that people are looking at their employment as a means of achieving personal goals rather than simply being the "good corporate soldier" of the past. This means that companies need to express and act on a commitment to develop employees' career objectives by introducing initiatives that make employees believe that their current job is the best path to achieving their career goals. In particular, consider the following elements of effective strategies designed to build loyalty and retain key employees: Include opportunities for personal growth and invest heavily in the professional development of the best people in the organization.

Provide employees with well-defined career paths (including a succession plan), mentors and tuition reimbursement for job-related education. Train employees, even if it makes them more attractive to the competition. Without seeing an opportunity on the horizon, few high potential employees will stay with a company and allow themselves to grow stagnant. Acknowledge non-work priorities by recognizing and responding to employees' needs for greater balance in their lives, since employees will develop loyalty for organizations that respect them as individuals, not just as workers.

Another approach to the issue of loyalty is to consider the value of the five "I's": Interesting work. No one wants to do the same boring job over and over, day after day. Although any job will require some repetitive tasks, all jobs should include at least some parts that are of high interest to employees. Information. Information is power and employees want to have the information they need to know to do their jobs better and more effectively. And, more than ever, employees want to know how they are doing in their jobs and how the company is performing overall. It is vitally important to open the channels of communication in an organization to allow employees to be informed, ask questions, and share information and to inspire them to share the vision of the company. Involvement. Managers today are faced with an incredible number of opportunities and problems and, as the speed of business continues to increase, the amount of time that they have to make decisions continues to decrease. Involving employees in decision-making, especially when the decisions affect them directly, is both respectful and practical. Not only do those closest to the problem typically have the best insight as to what to do, involving them in decision-making will increase their commitment and improve the success of implementing new ideas or change.

Similarly, management needs to follow through on promises and live the values they preach. Independence. Few employees want their every action to be closely monitored. Most employees appreciate having the flexibility to do their jobs as they see fit. Giving employees latitude increases the chance that they will perform as desired, as well as bringing additional initiative, ideas, and energy to their jobs. Employees also need to be encouraged to achieve their best potential. Increased visibility. Everyone appreciates getting credit when it is due. The occasions to share the successes of employees with others are almost limitless. Giving employees new opportunities to perform, learn, and grow as a form of recognition and thanks is highly motivating for most people. Another important strategy for improving loyalty is to implement a systematic process of performance reviews, since effective reviews can simultaneously increase employee morale and productivity.

To achieve their primary objectives, such as improving the working relationship between employee and supervisor, performance reviews should be structured so as to: Accurately define the employee's job description, including a focus on the skills most important to the employee's job Discuss the job skills the employee performs well on and identify areas that need improvement so as to fairly summarize their most recent job performance Set mutual and worthwhile goals, which are the heart of a professional growth plan Provide useful coaching to improve the employee's performance With these objectives, performance reviews can make an important and ongoing contribution to furthering each employee's career. Related to the role of performance reviews, another important influence on employee satisfaction is a sense of being led by capable management, with both immediate supervisors and senior management having a clear sense of direction for the organization. One of the forces that disconnects employees from their companies is management's ever-changing corporate focus. By introducing yet another corporate initiative, employees come to question the credibility of management and the focus of the company. They begin to wonder what the company stands for, where it's going, and if the latest initiative is yet another "here today, gone tomorrow" program. Employees are therefore skeptical at best - and cynical at worst - about their company's perpetually shifting focus.

Without a constant, long-term strategic vision, organizations risk confusing, bewildering, depressing and disconnecting with their employees. Within an environment of ever-changing focus, employees find it hard to see a strong link between their role and the company's core purpose. Alternatively, communicating a company's shared vision and establishing a shared mission with employees are important means of enhancing employee commitment. Employees feel a stronger sense of job satisfaction when they agree with the strategic decisions, especially when they are involved in developing the strategic direction. In addition to establishing and communicating a strategic vision for the company, loyalty also requires building a partnership between management and employees and creating an environment of mutual respect, involvement and open communication. Maintaining open lines of communication with employees will enable senior management to keep up with their changing needs into the future. Recent studies have shown that managers, whether front-line supervisors, project leaders, team captains or senior management, actually have more power than anyone else to reduce unwanted employee turnover because the most important factors driving employee satisfaction and commitment are largely within the direct manager's control. These include providing recognition and feedback regularly, offering opportunities to learn and grow, helping to ensure fair compensation reflecting an employee's contributions and value to the organization, fostering a good work environment, and above all, recognizing and respecting the uniqueness of each employee's competencies, needs, desires and working style.

At the supervisory level, though, managers also need to strike the right balance of using a more employee-centered leadership style, under which their employees are welcome to participate in making decisions (i.e., "leadership through collaboration"), but without going so far as to abdicate responsibility for decision-making. When the participatory approach becomes excessive, employees may feel that they are being given more responsibility than their positions should require and, thus, can feel overworked or underpaid for the work expected. It is also critically important to recognize that, when employees indicate the intention to leave, they generally do - this means that attrition can be predicted through survey measurement, which gives employers an important "window of opportunity" to foresee and address talent loss within specific departments so as to change the environment that is causing employees to leave. Research has indicated that the biggest gaps between those who intend to stay and those who intend to leave can be best summarized as (1) the opportunity for employees to use their skills effectively and (2) differing perceptions of the leadership ability of senior management.

In conjunction with these key differences, projections have shown that improvements in the areas directly related to turnover can lead to a potential 5% decrease in actual turnover, which has real financial benefits for the organization. Did you realize that employees change jobs more for career options and training opportunities than they do for money and benefits? In fact, seeking opportunities for the long term rather than just the current job has much more influence over job change than monetary compensation - it is evident that money is a satisfier, but not a driver, of employee loyalty. Similarly, it is not salary that makes a committed employee. Compensation packages, while important, have become secondary to the employees' desire to be challenged, to contribute, to be recognized and to know how they will fit into the organization. However, this is not to claim that pay and benefits are unimportant.

There are strong correlations between compensation, benefits plans and employee commitment. It should not be surprising, though, that the compensation plans with the strongest link to employee commitment are those that give employees a stake in the future success of the organization. Compensation plans in general help drive commitment when employees understand the program and believe it to be fair. It is also worth noting that the way an organization distributes money indicates what management really wants including sending a message to employees as to whether the company truly pays for performance. In short, then, there are five actions organizations should take to reduce attrition and improve employee satisfaction:

Demonstrate to employees that the company cares about them, wants them to advance in their careers and will help them satisfy their need for personal growth.
"Walk the talk" by not only communicating the corporate strategy but by also ensuring that it is applied consistently throughout the organization, including making the rewards system consistent with strategic goals.
Watch for and eliminate all inconsistencies between promoting a belief in employees and managerial behavior or policies that undermines that commitment.
Fight attrition with smart training that is not only relevant but helps broaden employee experiences and provides development opportunities.
Weed out poor managers because many employees leave their jobs because they are unhappy with their bosses - remember the adage that "people don't leave their jobs, they leave their managers."

Employee Engagement -----> Customer Satisfaction -----> Organizational Strength

Engaged employees are the essence of “Insightlink” – a connection that can make or break an organization’s revenue growth and profitability. Without this “Insightlink” (engaged employees performing in an engaging manner resulting in customers responding more loyally) profits and future growth can be compromised or even cease to be.

The Insightlink is basically the bridge – whether it has the strength of a chain or the precariousness of a thin thread – that correlates employee engagement to an organization's strength, most typically financial strength.

Employee Engagement ----> Customer Satisfaction -----> Organizational Strength

Discerning who is an engaged employees is actually more challenging than one may think. Defining engaged employees requires looking at results of all employees in context. Among the reasons organizations choose Insightlink is for its expertise and independently-commissioned benchmark norms. Based on experience, Insightlink can tell you that engagement is not only crucial for the employees with direct customer contact – it’s also important for behind-the-scenes employees who indirectly impact an organization’s revenue and profitability by the way they support managers and other employees.

You may be surprised to hear that improved customer satisfaction is linked to cost savings and revenue gains so organizations can predict and even measure the return on investment from action planning goals stemming from employee engagement survey results. Bottom line: Employee engagement surveys and strategic actions based on quality engagement surveys are a sound investment for the organization and its customers.

Before you dive in, know that key players from top management to HR points of contact need to be on board. Organizational success on relies on successful communications and needs to ensure that employees:

Grasp the purpose of your employee-engagement initiative
Understand the financial goals of the initiative
Clearly understand how senior management is committed to a survey that supports an employee engagement-customer response-organizational growth model

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Employee Engagement & Customer Satisfaction

While there is no magic pill or instant solution for employee engagement, Insightlink’s years of experience with organizations of different sizes and spanning various industries reveals clear connections between employee engagement and organizational strength. One of the strongest connections (what we call the “Insightlink” itself) is often customer satisfaction.

The Insightlink is the bridge – whether it has the strength of a chain or the precariousness of a thin thread – that correlates employee engagement to organizations strength, most typically financial strength.

Employee Engagement ----> Customer Satisfaction -----> Organizational Strength

Engaged employees function as the beginning of the link and, ideally, the other side or end is the organization’s strength as a whole, In between, customer satisfaction is crux of the “Insightlink.” The Insightlink takes the strength employee engagement and leverages it into revenue growth and profitability. Engaged employees performing in a manner leads customers to act more loyally, which in turn, generally leads to greater profits and future growth. Non-engaged employees (such as what Insightlink’s 4Cs framework calls “Dissatisfied Compromisers”) do just the opposite.

So how do we help organizations build and strengthen this link? When it comes to employee engagement, the process and practice for appropriate alignment of survey results with subsequent action planning optimally includes:

Leadership involvement from senior executives, particularly the top executive
Clarifying and establishing overall objectives; determining drivers of engagement
Communicating internally the objectives
Aligning to objectives, including appropriate accountability
Measurement of the work-life environment
Acting on the results

The underlying premise is that successful organizations need to retain people who care about their work, who care about how they perform it and who care about the overall success of the company. When engaged employees are what customers regularly encounter and they create value internally that is felt by customers externally, customers gain an intrinsic sense of value in doing business with the organization and will stay loyal, purchase more and/or more often and tell others about their experiences.

Morale and Employee Engagement

Dissatisfied compromisers, defined in Insightlink's 4Cs survey as employees who indicate dissatisfaction but plan on staying for over 2 years nonetheless, also grew with employee size (18% for <101,>500). Benefits are likely a contributing factor to this trend – they not only help retain top performers, but employees of all types. For some areas of difference, variance is clearly linked to the nature of being a larger company. For instance, it is not surprising that satisfaction with senior management being accessible to employees is 46% among employees at companies with fewer than 100 and drops to 37% at companies with 101-500 and down to 33% for organizations with over 500 employees. That 13-point drop is not something senior management can probably realistically do much about, nor is it necessarily as significant a factor in employee engagement at big companies as are others.

Three areas of difference where senior management at larger companies could affect a change are in:
1. Showing an understanding the need for employees to balance their personal/family responsibilities with their work
2. Leading by example through their own behavior
3. Knowing what is on employees’ minds

The first two issues require proactive communication. For the latter, launching a survey would appear a step in the right direction.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Action Planning after Employee Surveys

You’ve probably heard that effective goal setting is a key to gaining successful results from your employee surveys. Whether or not you choose Insightlink for your employee surveys, you owe it to yourself and your organization to set goals and show employees that their time taking the survey was not wasted. Setting (and meeting) those goals gives employees a sense of the organization’s commitment to continuous improvement. Helpful tips for accomplishing this are included in our Action Planning Guide.

Effective Action Plans cannot be established without knowing the end result you want to achieve. In deciding what goals to set for your organization and/or your own department, site or functional unit, ask yourself:

Which issues are in your control to change?
What resources do you and/or your organization have available in order to resolve the issue?
How long will it take to correct the issue?
How will implementation of the proposed solution provide value to your employees?

All goals established for Action Plans should be divided into three categories:

Short-term “quick fixes” that can be implemented immediately.
Medium-term objectives that can be achieved in 2-3 months.
Longer-term goals that are more ambitious and likely require 6 months to a year to achieve.

Also, you should record the goals that cannot realistically be handled at the site level or cannot be tackled at this time. You need to let your employees know what these goals are and why they cannot be addressed at this time.

12 Ways Employees at Larger Organziations are Less Satisfied

What was surprising was a virtual lack of significant differences between perceptions of supervisors linked to employee size. In fact, one’s immediate supervisors having a clear vision of the organization’s future was the one of the only areas of difference -- and it is not surprising given the size of larger organizations that direct supervisors do not have as clear a vision as they may at other companies (50% for <101,>500).

In looking at what employees feel is important, attitudes were fairly similar across the board, with the importance of there being someone at work who encourages your development (63% for <101,>500) appearing to be one of the only attributes showing a downward trend in importance linked to employee size. On the other hand, there were a dozen measures where assessment of performance revealed a 9 or more percentage point difference between companies with fewer than 100 versus those with over 500 employees.

1. It is possible to cut through the bureaucracy to get things done at your organization
2. Is doing a good job of hiring the right people for the appropriate positions
3. Senior management listens and responds to employee ideas
4. Providing useful coaching to improve your performance
5. At work, your opinions seem to count
6. There are few rules or tasks that get in the way of work
7. This organization shows a genuine interest in its employees
8. Employees all over the organization talk and share ideas
9. Learning new skills is a high priority in your organization
10. Employees have input into the training they receive
11. You feel that people primarily get ahead in your organization based on the merits of their work
12. Senior management encourages employees to have fun at work

These findings reveal that employees are willing to put up with less satisfaction in several areas in exchange for satisfaction is one important one -- benefits. Benefits appear to eclipse salary and job security as reasons employees who appear to be dissatisfied stay put. Of course, contributing factors to these differences may at least be somewhat attributable to industry or job functions disproportionately represented among companies with over 500, such as manufacturing and production. Nevertheless, satisfaction with benefits is just one of the areas explored by Insightlink’s 4Cs survey and, in light of these findings, Insightlink recommends spending time evaluating your organization's benefits (as assessed by employees) and making sure they provide incentive for top performers to stay. Insightlink offers separate benefit-focused surveys in addition to its well-known 4Cs survey, which includes a battery of questions about compensation generally as well as benefits specifically. Want to learn more about how Insightlink stands out from other survey companies with its 4Cs approach to employee surveys, independent norms, unparalleled service and great value? Interested in seeing how your organization can benefit from its own employee survey?

Employee Engagement by Organization Size - Part 1

Employers may underestimate the role that benefits play in keeping employees, according Insightlink’s annual normative survey.

In looking at satisfaction with various aspects of employee engagement, satisfaction with benefits literally appears to be the only area where employees at larger companies (i.e., over 500 employees) seem to be significantly more satisfied than their peers at smaller companies.

On literally all other scores showing variances of 8 or more percentage points, usually organizations of 100 or fewer employees (and usually even ones with between 101 and 500) showed higher satisfaction scores.

Overall satisfaction was significantly lower at organizations with over 500 employees (60% for <101, 59% 101-500, 54% 500+) and satisfaction with senior management dropped as organization size grew (49% <101, 44% 101-500, 37% 500+). Similarly, morale – personal, departmental and organizational – decreased as the employee number increased.

Morale of dept/work group 50%/45%/38%
The morale among employees 46%/39%/35%
of your organization as a whole
Your own morale 60%/58%/51%

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Does Employee Satisfaction Lead to Higher Profits?

Or more importantly, does low employee engagement lead to a drop in profits? A recently published article from Wharton University of Pennsylvania examines the issue. In a paper titled, "Does the Stock Market Fully Value Intangibles? Employee Satisfaction and Equity Prices," the stock returns of companies with high employee satisfaction are compared to various benchmarks -- the broader market, peer firms in the same industry, and companies with similar characteristics. This research indicates that companies with high levels of employee satisfaction earn returns that are more than double those of the overall market.

Organizations of all sizes see that employee engagement is directly correlated with employee productivity and company performance. Despite this, senior management sometimes forgets it's still critical to focus on engagement, even during an economic downturn. Some figure, why bother making sure employees are satisfied when they are likely to stick around and perform anyway? See how investing in employee satisfaction surveys can help not only your workplace, but your bottom line in 2009. For a guided Webinar walking you through Insightlink's 4Cs survey process, contact us at or call 866-802-8095 x705.