Friday, October 30, 2009

Employee Engagement: I WANT IT, what is it?

2007 White Papers
Employee Engagement: What Do We Really Know? What Do We Need To Know To Take Action?

Employee Engagement: I WANT IT, what is it?

There is confusion and misdirection as to what exactly employee engagement is. The primary causes of this confusion and misdirection are a lack of congruity concerning the definition and measurement of employee engagement and a lack of distinction from other closely related concepts. This paper addresses these issues in greater detail as well as provides advice for human resource leaders.

Employee Engagement and Fairness in the Workplace

There is little doubt that employee engagement can be strengthened by fairness and its related elements, just as employee engagement can be weakened by unfairness and the like. As both the workforce and the workplace evolve, organizations may find that in order to win the “war for talent,” they must first win the battle for employees’ hearts. Justice, trust, perception and risks are only a few pieces of a greater puzzle; and their roles are can be made clearer. This paper clarifies these roles and addresses the links between fairness and engagement as well as discusses the impacts of perceived unfair treatment on engagement.

Old Wine in New Bottles? Engagement and the Bottom Line

Beginning with a discussion of employee engagement as a theoretical construct and its operation within the firm, this paper examines the extant research linking engagement, and related measures of employee attitudes and commitment, with bottom-line financial results. From here, discrepancies between and within the academic and practitioner literatures are addressed as are possible alternative explanations of the engagement-business-outcome relationship. Last, the implications for HR managers and executives are considered.

Employee Engagement and Change Management

This paper provides an overview of change management and employee engagement. It details background information on the two concepts; relates the two concepts to each other; introduces findings on the relationship between organizational commitment and change management; discusses types, key functions, and strategies of change management; and presents barriers to as well as success stories about engagement during change management initiatives.

Communicating for Engagement

By now, it has become common knowledge among HR executives and the employees within their respective firms that the nature of internal communication within the organization can have a dramatic, if not revolutionary, impact on the conduct of business. However, the methods of communication your company employs as well as the manner in which those methods are carried out can have a large effect on both the process and results of your company’s efforts to get the workforce engaged. This paper explores how to maximize the effectiveness of your company’s engagement efforts by maximizing the effectiveness of communication within the firm.

"Seeing Clearly:" Employee Engagement and Line of Sight

Establishing a clear line of sight and building an employer brand around it from inside the organization while leveraging leadership, communication, employee development and corporate & social responsibility may not be something entirely new to the world of strategic HRM, but it does appear to be a worthwhile investment, especially with regard to employee engagement. This paper examines engagement as it relates to employment these subjects and offers suggestions for HR practitioners.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The idea of creating a more engaged workforce is not a new idea. For decades, managers have been looking at the organizational factors, which engage (or disengage) employees. The manager, not the pay, benefits, perks, etc. was the key in building and sustaining a strong workplace.

Currently, about half the Fortune 500 companies conduct formal employee engagement surveys on a periodic basis, such as every two years. In addition, thousands of smaller companies also conduct such surveys.After thousands of surveys, a set of "best practices" actions has emerged to guide companies in conducting engagement surveys. Foremost, if you are going to conduct an engagement survey, you must have a strategy in place to implement the results.

Employees didn't believe that management had any interest in making changes based on what they said in the surveys. In short, the studies were counter-productive because the employees felt that the results were ignored. What happens if you do implement the results? Over the long run, it appears highly likely that companies who listen to their employees and implement key suggested changes see an increase in engagement, productivity, and profitability.

When companies focus on the problem, research suggests that it is possible to increase the number of engaged employees significantly, resulting in an almost corresponding increase in profitability.H ow much can you increase engagement?

The bottom line about employee engagement surveys is that they work, provided that you commit to implementing the results.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Engagement: a new way of thinking about people

Engagement is a relatively new way of thinking about leading people — a sort of magnetic rather than a coerced approach to getting people to want to do whatever is necessary to ensure the continuous high performance and success of the business.

As a philosophy of management, “engagement” centers on an individual’s degree of dedication to the organization and its goals with an implied reward of self-actualization or personal growth. The assumption in the business world is that engagement level predicts the positive intensity and quality of effort the organization can expect from an individual within job confines. In this regard, engagement’s value to the business is a predictor of future behavior and effort.

Business leaders should care about employee engagement because, when correctly measured, engagement profiles provide management with a statistical method to maximize return on human capital. For example, our studies show that positively engaged employees have higher than average individual productivity and innovation events plus they remain with the company longer than disengaged employees. In addition, the discretionary efforts of the fully engaged are of higher quality and of a more positive intensity than other less-engaged employees: their economic contributions to the business consistently exceed their employment costs. From a quality of work life perspective, positively engaged employees are energetic and enthusiastic which makes them more productive in group efforts and makes them a pleasure to work with...oh, fully engaged employees also solve problems.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The 14 Keys of Employee Engagement

Posted by David Zinger on October 6, 2009

14 Keys of Employee Engagement
“You sort of smell it, don’t you, that engagement of people as people. What goes on in meetings, how people talk to each other. You get the sense of energy, engagement, commitment, belief in what the organisation stands for,” is how Lord Currie, former Chair of the Office of Communications (Ofcom) and Dean of Cass Business School, puts it. From the United Kingdom MacLeod Report: “Engaging for Success: Enhancing Performance through Employee Engagement”.

Employee Engagement, as a term, has been around since the 1990’s and has recently gathered exponentially increased attention. The United Kingdom just released the above-mentioned MacLeod Report: Engaging for Success: Enhancing Performance through Employee Engagement to bring engagement to the top of everyone’s agenda. The United States government released two reports entitled The Power of Federal Engagement and Managing for Engagement. A Google search of employee engagement 2 years ago found about 300,000 resources while a Google search of employee engagement today revealed 1,640,000 resources.
So what is engagement? Employee engagement is a lot like love. You don’t have to wear a ring and always love your job but employee engagement and love are defined in so many different ways. Each consulting company seems to have their own definition. Some seem to define it as feeling good about your company, some define it as getting more discretionary effort from employees and some define it as a high response to 12 questions that include having a friend and getting feedback.

The Zinger definition of engagement :Employee engagement is the art and science of engaging people in authentic and recognized connections to strategy, roles, performance,
organization, community, relationship, customers, development, energy, and happiness
to leverage, sustain, and transform work into results.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Case Studies in Employee Engagement

by David Zinger

Let’s look at a couple of case studies on employee engagement.

Case study #1:

Tina works at a local gas station as the cashier. Tina is fully engaged. She offers welcoming teasing/banter with each customer, she is the most efficient person I have seen on a cash register, she engages the other employees and has them providing more efficient service, and she uses the word ‘we’ when she talks about the company she works for. I will go out of my way to get gas when Tina is working there.

Tina is an exceptional model of employee engagement. She doesn’t know what the term means; she has never been surveyed. When I asked her about her approach to work and her level of engagement, she was surprised by the question and took it for granted that everyone should be engaged.

Case study #2:

Bob is the antithesis of Tina and was chronically disengaged on the job before finally retiring. He even built a spreadsheet to determine when his last day of work would be and couldn’t wait till the day arrived. He hated his job, he hated the people he worked with, and he didn’t care for his company. When I asked him if there was something he did like, he replied, “golf.”
I bumped into Bob a year after he retired and he still looked miserable. I asked him about golf and now he hated golf. He told me it was like a job to him and exhibited how disengagement at work can seep into the rest of our lives outside the company.

The ‘key’ to successful employee engagement

Whether you’re a Tina or a Bob, when it comes to employee engagement, I believe there is value in the plethora of perspectives to show the richness of the concept and that it is necessary to give space for each company, organization, and individual to play engagement in their own key.

Engagement helps employees remain valuable while ensuring the organization is viable. Engagement is not only how we approach work but can also act as a compass to powerful leadership, management, and performance.

Friday, October 23, 2009

How to spot and nurture your innovative employees

Here are some tips from authors Cyndi Laurin and Craig Morningstar's book The Rudolph Factor: Finding the Bright Lights that Drive Innovation in Your Business on the qualities most innovators possess and how to bring the best out in them.

Creative. Cater to their creative natures. Do they work better while listening to music? Would they like the opportunity to bounce ideas off others in the office? Would they benefit from working more closely with a team? If you're not sure what they need, ask. You may be surprised at just how simple the solution may be and what a big impact it has on productivity and innovation.

Problem-solvers. Look for the employee expressing frustration when others are putting Band-Aids on recurring problems rather than focusing on the cause of the problem and a sustainable solution. They are great problem-solvers and have an easier time than most at identifying the root causes of problems, and because they are outside-the-box thinkers, they find unconventional - but effective - ways to solve them. Make sure viable ideas are shared at strategy meetings and that innovators are given the tools they need to be active in problem-solving.

Big thinking. These employees spend an average of four to six hours per day (outside their regular work hours) thinking about how they can make things better for their organizations. That means that they can often spot trouble issues before they become full-blown problems. Make sure that they have ample opportunity to mull over problems and solutions.

Passionate. When someone is passionate about the work he or she is doing, it shows in the finished product, and you can tell they are excited when the pace of their speech increases, they gesture more and their eyes are bright. Take some time each week to meet with your employees and talk with them about the projects they are working on or ideas they have for where improvements can be made.

Questioning. If you've ever been around a young child, you know how tiring it can be to constantly think up answers every time he or she asks, "Why?" But in a business setting, encouraging your employees to ask, "Why?" and then searching for answers together may be the very thing that makes the difference between your company sinking or swimming. Don't mistake questioning for troublemaking.

Optimistic. Innovators see the world through a lens of possibility, opportunity and potential. This is the driving motivation behind their thinking. Don't be too quick to discredit or dismiss an idea or suggestion
because it seems too idealistic. Start listening to employees who have been less than familiar with you.

Selfless. They are not typically driven by self-promotion. They do the work because they are good at it, they enjoy it and they want to do everything they can to help the organization succeed. They may appear to be loners because they have chosen not to play the traditional corporate game, but most prefer collaborating with others rather than going it alone. Be sure to reward their efforts! When someone isn't working to get noticed, they may be easy to overlook.

Proactive. While some people are hesitant or slow to start, innovators are confident to act on their ideas, sometimes without knowing the exact path needed to accomplish them. And they're often successful! Provide the resources they need to move forward with viable ideas. Let them know that you are there to help facilitate their efforts as much as possible.

The Golden Chain: Engaged Employees, Customer Response, Credit Union Growth

In a highly competitive environment, a credit union must have the right people in place doing the right things at the right time to continually create value internally that is felt externally. When this is the norm in procedures and practices, members will gain an intrinsic sense of value in doing business with the credit union and will stay with you, buy more from you and tell others about you.

Engaged employees doing what they do best and achieving results are the right people. They are the makings of the initial link of the golden chain that will launch a credit union into revenue growth and profitability. Without this golden chain (engaged employees performing in an engaging manner resulting in members responding more loyally) profits and future growth will simply be compromised or worse yet, nonexistent.

Defining engaged employees is actually a bigger dilemma than most think. and if not done properly, the result can very much be a false sense of, “We’re good.” So the first task in the golden chain is the arduous task of identifying just what do we want our employees to be engaged in? Further, do we focus our efforts toward employees at large or do we streamline our efforts towards high-performing employees?

While initiatives towards employee engagement are most often all-inclusive, employee engagement surveying and resource allocation for change should be designed with high performers in mind. High performer engagement drivers include: challenging work, decision-making authority, customer focus, career advancement, company’s reputation as an employer, teamwork and collaboration, resources, decision-making input, management interest and vision. Read more...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Employee engagement and empowerment

Employee engagement and empowerment have become popular buzzwords throughout the business world, but what do they mean and how can they affect your company? This blog entry hopes to show you why those two terms can be very important to your organization.

Employee engagement is the concept that, when employees have choices, they will act in a way that benefits their company's or organization's interests. An engaged employee is a person who is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about, his or her work. Highly engaged employees believe they can positively affect the quality of their organization's products or services. Those engaged employees work with passion and feel a strong connection to their company.

Employee empowerment is different, although it can be a contributing factor to one's feeling engaged. Empowerment is a term used to express the ways in which employees can make their own decisions without consulting superiors (managers, superivisors, etc.). These decisions vary in effect depending on the level of empowerment your organization wishes its employees to have. Employee empowerment usually begins with training, which can transition an entire company toward an empowerment model where employees are trusted to make responsible decisions that benefit the company as a whole. Or, it could merely mean giving employees the ability to make some decisions on their own, but still putting parameters in place to govern those decisions. With greater responsibility, employees feel appreciated and will work for the greater good of your organization. By offering employees choice and participation on a level that actually affects daily production, your employees are more a part of the company, and view themselves as ambassadors and will work to justify your trust with enhanced performance.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Golden Chain: Engaged Employees, Customer Response, Credit Union Growth

In a highly competitive environment, a credit union must have the right people in place doing the right things at the right time to continually create value internally that is felt externally. When this is the norm in procedures and practices, members will gain an intrinsic sense of value in doing business with the credit union and will stay with you, buy more from you and tell others about you.

Engaged employees doing what they do best and achieving results are the right people. They are the makings of the initial link of the golden chain that will launch a credit union into revenue growth and profitability. Without this golden chain (engaged employees performing in an engaging manner resulting in members responding more loyally) profits and future growth will simply be compromised or worse yet, nonexistent.

Defining engaged employees is actually a bigger dilemma than most think. and if not done properly, the result can very much be a false sense of, “We’re good.” So the first task in the golden chain is the arduous task of identifying just what do we want our employees to be engaged in? Further, do we focus our efforts toward employees at large or do we streamline our efforts towards high-performing employees?

While initiatives towards employee engagement are most often all-inclusive, employee engagement surveying and resource allocation for change should be designed with high performers in mind. High performer engagement drivers include: challenging work, decision-making authority, customer focus, career advancement, company’s reputation as an employer, teamwork and collaboration, resources, decision-making input, management interest and vision. Read more...

CEOs Who Support Engagement: Meeting Bob Eiger

In a recent post, Mark Phelps made a great statement: "Great organizations develop leaders with a strong commitment to building a highly engaging work environment for all employees, whether they are energized by taking on more responsibilities each year, or thrilled to be the best they can be in their current job." Last Friday, that's exactly what I saw around me.

Bob Eiger, who I did not meet until last Friday, appears to epitomize what a leader should be.

Loathe though I be to share examples of embarrassing myself (though with a 4-year-old and my tendency to try anything, I have become quite accustomed to it), I want to recount a story that illustrates the kind of person Bob Eiger is.

When we arrived at the hotel for the Disney Service Awards event, everyone was given adhesive name tags with your name, the number of years you were being recognized for (blank for spouses and guests like me) and your table number. Since we were asked to wear them, most of us were.

My husband and I were mingling and he briefly said hello to a man I did not know. This man did not have a name tag on or visible in his hand, nor did his wife. When I introduced myself to his wife, she said, "I'm Willow." No last name. I figured she had a pretty cool first name, so maybe, like Cher, she did not like to use her last name.

I then introduced myself to the husband and asked his name -- after a brief, but what felt endless -- pause he said, "I'm Bob Eiger." Always one to shove my foot a little farther in when embarrassed or caught off guard, I responded with something like, "Of course...I'm sorry I did not recognize you...I don't watch TV." A great combination of awkward, not quite true and nonsensical -- not to mention downright odd coming from the wife of a prime time television publicist whose job it is to promote tune-in for ABC network, which is owned by Disney. And, no, I had not had any alcohol.

In most situations, someone would have worried about how it made my husband look, that the CEO may think less of me, that people would be aghast. But no one I told did more than shrug it off with a laugh and say that Bob is the kind of guy who would have not thought negatively, that he acted and WAS one of the team...they all love Bob Eiger.

How many employees, let alone one the mammoth size of Disney, can say that?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Disney's Employee Engagement

On Friday, October 16, 2009, in front of hundreds of Disney employees and spouses, I watched Disney CEO Bob Eiger receive a bronze status from Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse to commemorate his 35 years with the company. Bob Eiger has obvious reasons to be engaged, but what struck me was the seemingly high engagement of so many other employees, in spite of -- on some instances -- lack of criteria I typically associate with engagement, such as opportunities for advancement.

There was a woman who started as a receptionist in 1969 and was recognized for 40 years of service -- and she holds the title of receptionist. I gather she now has a very high profile receptionist position, she loves it and that's what she wants to do. Period. She is happier than most people -- those among us who are never seemingly content with their level advancement, always striving for something just beyond their current grasp.

I saw a lot of fairytale rises as well as a surprising number of extremely happy, engaged employees who were doing some version of what they started decades ago. Seems the ones whose titles stayed similar seemed more satisfied than most people on any day of the week.

My cynicism tells me it's not true -- it was the environment, the lovely Langham Hotel in Pasadena, the high-class, yet not over-the-top, event, that made them seem so committed.
The skeptic in me tells me that there is something underneath the veneer. Maybe they lacked an ability to rise beyond where they are. But I'm wrong...and I admit I'm jealous of how content they are. They are engaged regardless of the day-to-day specifics of their jobs and tasks -- and engagement for them has more to do with the environment in which they do it and the people who surround them than the work itself.

The Disney culture appears to be one that supports employee engagement -- even at organizations under their ownership, like Channel 7 or Good Morning America, which are not infused with the Disney and movie magic paraphernalia that dominate the Burbank headquarters. It's not about the Disney Silver Pass that gets them and 3 guests in for free to Disneyland most of the year. It can't even be exclusively about senior management, since all of these people worked -- and stayed -- through the Eisner years. So what is it?

We will look more closely at the phenomenon in future blog postings...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Southwest Airlines - Lessons in Employee Engagement

My First Flight on Southwest Airlines - Lessons in Employee Engagement
Posted Friday, September 4, 2009 by Mark Harbeke

For a series of meetings this week back at our Chicago HQ, I flew on Southwest Airlines for the first time ever. While it was a little weird to choose your own seat, I think it actually made for a better flight experience because it got people talking to each other a little more than usually happens.
When a passenger dropped her water bottle and it slid back several rows, I don't think there would have been nearly as many smiles among people passing it back up to her (including yours truly) as there were if the airline didn't set a casual, "it's just air travel, folks" attitude from the get-go.
But really making the difference were Southwest's caring, exuberant flight crew. Attendants did more checks on passengers on the first leg of my roundtrip flight than I've seen them do on multiple roundtrips on other carriers. On arrival at Chicago Midway Airport the captain even joked, "Don't forget any of your belongings, including husbands and wives."
How does Southwest get seemingly more commitment out of their employees than do other airlines? Colleen Barrett, their President Emeritus who still works closely with the Texas-based company on employee development strategies, told us it boils down to two things: creating a culture of ownership and hiring people who are servant leaders.
My flight back to Los Angeles was further enriched by Southwest's in-house magazine, Spirit. Their September issue just so happens to feature a lengthy cover story on entrepreneurship. Two highlighted small business facts in particular stood out to me:
Average years a small business survives: 11.2
Average annual revenue of a small business: $3.6 million
As I've noted here before, our Top Small Workplaces, which use employee engagement best practices as a means to improve business metrics, leave these stats in the dust (or maybe, in keeping with the theme here, on the ground):
Average years a Top Small Workplace (2008) survives: 42
Average annual revenue of a Top Small Workplace (2008): $36 million

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Employee Engagement Trick: Get in on the Conversation Quickly

Employee Engagement Trick: Get in on the Conversation Quickly
Posted Wednesday, July 15, 2009 by Mark Harbeke

Are you ready for a very short post with a very effective tip for employee engagement and manager team building?
One of my friends who's an attorney came up with this a while back to comfortably break the ice with a group of people who are talking and get immediately up to speed on what they're talking about. Instead of saying,
Excuse me, but what are you talking about?
Whose birthday is it?
My friend has found that when he does this, without fail someone responds, "Oh, it's no one's birthday. We were just talking about _____."
The uses for this trick in the workplace are many:
Owners, leaders, managers – use to encourage productivity before or after daily huddles, or any time you see groups of employees gathered in discussion.
Low- and mid-level employees – use to break into the convo with both workers at your level and even supervisors.
New hires – use as a smooth ice breaker to meet your coworkers and get a sense of the organization's pulse.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Goldman Sachs CEO Taking a Leadership Cue from Top Small Workplaces?

Goldman Sachs CEO Taking a Leadership Cue from Top Small Workplaces?
Posted Wednesday, September 16, 2009 by Mark Harbeke

Is it just me or does Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, sound of late like the leader of a Top Small Workplace?

SmartBrief today referenced a recent New York Times interview with Blankfein, whose current leadership stance they summarize as follows:

It's not enough for employees to show up on time and do their jobs well... Workers need to have broad views of their responsibilities, so that everyone is watching out for everyone else. Creating that kind of environment starts with the leader, he notes, because workers are more likely to accept responsibility for each other when their boss has empowered them to take risks.
Broad views of responsibilities, taking risks – loyal readers of this blog have heard these steps for greater workforce effectiveness before from our Top Small Workplaces.

Mostly privately held, these honored small firms value long-term brand integrity before the shorter-term goals of publicly held firms, such as steady returns for their shareholders. Which makes Blankfein's assessment last week that Wall Street bonuses are out of control all the more interesting.

Yesterday Daily Finance charted Goldman Sachs' "amazing rebound" after the financial system nearly ground to a halt a year ago. James Cullen wrote that while the company initially looked like it had the most to lose from the panic, it restored itself through two building blocks common among Winning Workplaces:

Trust, Respect & Fairness for the customer: Like (on a much smaller scale) Paducah Bank and Phelps County Bank, Goldman Sachs avoided many of the bad mortgage assets that its competitors embraced.

Open Communication: Cullen says that while mum was the word from other investment firm management teams last September – other than to say that all was well on a ship that was clearly sinking – Goldman Sachs had the fortitude to reach out to investor Warren Buffett and give him "attractive terms" on his preferred stock investment.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

10 Best Practices: Transitioning to Work at Home

10 Best Practices: Transitioning to Work at Home
Posted Tuesday, August 25, 2009 by Mark Harbeke

Here are 10 best practices from my own experience. Feel free to add to this list by sharing your own thoughts or experiences below.
To have a better chance of getting buy-in from leadership, explain how service levels will be maintained, and/or costs saved. I do 98% of my work on a computer, so I knew I could be based anywhere. I was also able to identify cost savings as a result of not needing to take public transportation to work and have that be reimbursed (a company benefit).
You can't over-communicate to your coworkers as far as when you're leaving. Make sure they have ample lead time to be able to wrap up any standing projects before you hit the road, Jack.
Whatever amount of time you think you'll need to pack up your workspace, double it. Trust me, you'll run short on time here if you make a conservative or even middle-of-the-road estimate.
Another note on packing: it's a great opportunity for spring cleaning! Which files do you really need? (How many are already stored electronically?) How much space do you envision in your home office? That will help dictate how many boxes you'll need. This is another opportunity to demonstrate a cost savings to your employer if, like me, you need to have your files shipped to you: "I thought I would need eight boxes, but I did some consolidating and I only need five."
If – again, like me – you're not merely moving your office to where you live now but are relocating to a new city, don't forget to think about how your new 'hood will affect your work environment. Arrange multiple on-site visits if possible at different times of the day so you can get a sense of anything that might be an external distraction, such as traffic or construction. On a related note, could your work activity annoy your neighbors? (Maybe you like to blast music while making sales calls. I don't know.)
Your new home office space shouldn't be an afterthought. Especially if you have a family, you need to be intentional about the workspace. Draw up a floorplan (a crude, napkin-quality one is fine) and map out the dimensions of your space.
When doing the above step, think about the work environment you've been used to and what you'd like it to be. Are you the kind of person who works best with a general din going on around you? You might not need a room all to yourself in this case. If you're worried about pets or kids disturbing you, though, and feel you need to isolate yourself to do your best work, make your own room – or at least a cordoned-off area with the help of tension rods and curtains – a priority.
High-speed Internet is an absolute must. Shop around for an ISP in your area that can provide both Business Class Internet and a static IP address. You'll need the latter to set up a virtual private network (VPN) with the help of hardware like this. (Yet another cost savings opportunity for your employer: if you think you'll use your work PC for both business and home, offer to split the monthly cost of the Internet connection with them.)
You will undoubtedly miss that person-to-person contact you had in your regular office environment. Your phone and a webcam can be vital tools to help you feel as connected as you were before. When communicating via email, be clear about project expectations and deadlines, and encourage the same from your coworkers. You'll find that minutes of staff meetings, especially those you may miss while transitioning, are as good as gold.
It is even more important when working from home to learn and put to use this time-tested business lesson: know when to say no. Make it a habit to under-promise and over-deliver.
Working from home can improve your virtual team building skills to enhance employee leadership development. From a management perspective, because it promotes work/life balance, it can be a great way of investing in your workplace.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Are You Measuring Engagement vs. Only Employee Satisfaction

Most "employers of choice" do some form of employee "satisfaction" survey. The question is: Is it worthwhile, and if so, why?

In the current economic climate, one might be tempted to ask: "Why bother?" With unemployment at record high numbers, one might assume that employers have employees "over a barrel," that they (the employees) don’t have many other options, so it's not necessary to go out of our way to give them what they want.

This argument fails on (at least) two levels. Even overlooking the crass opportunism of such an argument, theatre operators need to recognize that while overall national unemployment rates climb to record levels, the current jobless rate for working-age teenagers (our key employment demographic) remains little changed over the last several years, at 21.6 percent.

The other way in which the "over a barrel" thesis might fail would be if we were only measuring satisfaction. But most companies that do this "right" aren't measuring mere satisfaction; they're measuring engagement.

What's the difference? In a nutshell, satisfaction is simply how happy or content your employees are. Engagement is a measure of their level of motivation and their potential for discretionary effort.

Big difference.

While satisfaction is certainly a component—or driver—of engagement, so are many other things, like trust, company pride, feeling valued, commitment, and feeling your work is significant or relevant. Given that definition, it's easy to see how someone could be satisfied, but not engaged. Having a bunch of happy employees might make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside; but it’s not going to necessarily have any impact on the business.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Engaged Employees can make a difference!

Fully engaged employees contribute more significantly to an organization's success. Research shows that engaged employees are more productive, motivated and committed. Using the employee survey will help you develop fully engaged employees and teams within your organization by addressing basic factors or motivators of the job, the work and the company.
You already know it’s smart to tap into employees' constructive input. However, do you tap into that powerful source of input effectively?

We know how... using our employee surveys and our delivery mechanisms to obtain valuable employee input. However, employees don't just want to provide input -- they also want to be part of an organization that can utilize employee survey results and move forward by demonstrating improvement.

Our method of gathering employee input, along with our action planning guide and form-fillable worksheet tools, can help transform your organization into a high performing team.

Engagement: High-performance Culture

A high-performance culture is critical for building employee, engagement, commitment and enthusiasm, acting with speed and flexibility and driving and sustaining growth.

It is characterized by:

A clear, compelling, communicated corporate purpose to shape business decisions, generate customer loyalty and inspire employee engagement, passion and maximum contribution

Shared organizational values that guide people as well as influence business practices and decisions as the organization delivers on its promises to all its constituents

An environment that encourages individual ownership of both the organization’s bottom-line results and its cultural foundation.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Onboarding in Four Phases

Start employee engagement from Day 1 with four levels of onboarding. Because so often employees leave managers, not companies, focusing on the opportunities for employees to build strong working relationships with their managers is key.

The first level of onboarding— the "welcome" should focuse on the employees’ and company’s
most basic needs, such as an overview of the organizational chart, the company video, products and services overview, and basic computer training.

The second level of setting the groundwork for employee engagement addresses the need for new hires to affirm that they made the right choice. Employees undoubtedly ask, ‘Did I make the right choice coming here?’ and you want to make sure this level of onboarding ensures they answer themselves with a resounding "yes”

The third level of setting the groundwork for employee engagement in onboarding— the fit —is affirmation for the long-haul. This is the phase of onboarding where HR shares the mission and values of the company with the new hire,
clarifies work conditions and unspoken rules of the road and describes job specifics. It’s also the
time when HR needs to start letting go and pushing the responsibility of onboarding back to the new hire and the hiring manager.

Level four of the groundwork for employee engagement provides the greatest opportunity for companies to differentiate themselves from competitors. Put managers and employees at the center of this level. Here HR should become the orchestrator, not the owner, of the process and should help managers build the foundation for a trusting relationship with the employee. Make sure that during this phase managers
work to help their employees shorten their learning curve, expand their reach and discuss how their jobs relate to what the company does.

Managers can be resistant to working at this relationship-building phase. Get them to understand that this is their job, not yours.

Referencing how someone might plan a road trip, get employees to take charge and
get in the driver’s seat. Managers should be the navigators and employees the drivers.

And HR after onboarding? HR can act kind of like OnStar or a GPS -- there if you need it, but not taking you anywhere you don;t want to go.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

“4Cs” Model of Employee Satisfaction

All Insightlink reports are structured on the basis of our “4Cs” model of Employee Satisfaction, which categorizes most survey results into one of four factors that influence and sustain employee involvement. These four factors are: Culture, Commitment, Communications and Compensation.

Most of the measures are based on 5-point agreement or rating scales. Wherever appropriate, summary means have been provided in addition to percentage distributions. The means are also calculated on a 5-point scale, with “1” being low and “5” being high.

Key benchmark norms have been included in this report to give context for organizations' performance against a norm for all U.S. employees and, when available, against a representative norm for their industry.

These benchmark norms are derived from an independent Insightlink study conducted annually among employees in the U.S. This study is based on representative samples 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.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Engagement: an ongoing priority, not an annual event

The most successful organizations make engagement an ongoing priority, not a once-a-year event. They take a multi-faceted approach to address problem areas and improve engagement organization-wide. Their best practices include:

Maximize managers. Ensure that managers are themselves engaged and understand how to help their team members picture what full engagement can mean to them. Hold them accountable for coaching and development. Weed out bad managers.

Align, align, align. Make sure everyone in the organization understands the bigger picture and how they can contribute to the organization's success. Start at the top by aligning the executive team, then communicate clearly and tirelessly.

Redefine career. Provide employees with a clear, compelling picture of what "career" means in your organization. Help them clarify what they want, then provide them with tools and support for achieving it. Focus on development and opportunities to leverage unique skills through projects not necessarily promotions.

Pay attention to culture. Work with senior management to build a meaningful culture in the organization, then invest in managers to support and sustain it. Make sure that systems and processes work in favor of — and not in contradiction to — the aspired culture.

Ruminate over data less, act more. Develop a measurement strategy that provides actionable insights. Avoid the analysis-paralysis trap and hold leaders at all levels accountable for increasing engagement.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Engagement: alignment of employeess personals

Engaged employees not only plan to stick around; they are enthused and in gear to impact your bottom line. During difficult times their energy and effort can help your organization survive, even thrive.

Engagement reflects alignment of each employee’s very personal goals and drivers of job satisfaction with the organization’s strategy and contribution requirements.

Organizations need to provide clear objectives and a work environment that recognizes the value of their employees. Yet retention and engagement aren’t achieved through organization -wide work/life policies, talent management systems or culture initiatives alone. And, realistically, if employees themselves aren’t clear on what they do well and what matters most to them, it’s unlikely that any work situation will engage them. (It’s the “You can’t get what you want if you don’t know what you’re looking for” dilemma.) Managers can make a difference, but not if they themselves aren’t crystal clear on what the organization needs or their well-intentioned coaching misses the mark.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Credit Unions: Higher Employee Engagement

Credit Union industry benchmark normative scores for overall satisfaction are 69% -- higher than both Banking and Financial Services and the United States overall employee benchmark norm.
Credit Union overall satisfaction even exceeds Insightlink’s recommended minimum target of 65%, at which point organizations really start to experience the benefits of having a committed and engaged workforce.
Because of these differences, credit unions should expect their satisfaction scores to be higher and pay attention to industry scores.