Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Americans Have Not Regained Pre-Recession Job Satisfaction

The American economy might be recovering, but the Americans themselves aren't feeling the satisfaction.

A new poll released today by Gallup, based upon the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, found that 87.5 percent of workers were content with their jobs in April. And while that's up from the low of 86.9 percent in July and August of last year, it remains below the peak reached in February 2008, when 89.4 percent of workers said they themselves were satisfied with their job.



Read more on Huffington Post

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Motivate The Workforce

By CORD COOPER Posted 05/25/2011 02:16 PM ET
To boost productivity, aim to motivate. Broaden employee boundaries, promote teamwork and share a powerful mission.
Scope it. If using performance metrics, don't define them narrowly, says workplace coach Daniel Pink, author of "Drive."
An example of a poorly defined approach: "You're a product manager and your (bonus) depends largely on reaching a sales goal for the next quarter," he said. You would steer toward that number and little else. "You probably won't concern yourself much with the quarter after that (by laying the groundwork now) or the health of the company." Bad idea.
Think broadly. If the bonus depends on your sales for the current year, the firm's yearly revenue and profit, customer satisfaction levels and new-product ideas, chances are you'll focus on yourself and the team. Everyone wins.
Read the full story:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Diary of a Recession Baby - Employers see benefits of workplace flexibility

By Ruth Mantell, MarketWatch
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Workplace flexibility — telecommuting, flexible hours and other employee accommodations — is an idea growing on employers who are trying to grow their companies out of the recession.
While the idea of workplace flexibility is familiar — companies have been working for years on strategies to enable employees to have some say over when and where they work — it may become more appealing for firms looking to retain workers stressed by higher productivity demands, and attract those searching for a better spot, industry participants said.
“Employees are maxed out,” said Kyra Cavanaugh, president of Life Meets Work, a Chicago area flexible workplace consultant. “[Companies] just can’t get anymore productivity out of employees coming out of the recession, and they are starting to leave their workplace. People are fed up. Market forces are making flexibility a more strategic alternative to some of the other ways that companies used to manage growth.”
Longer-term trends may also push firms to adopt more flexible policies. Women are continuing to obtain high levels of education, incentivizing them to remain in the workforce, and creating demand from families for increased flexibility. Also, there’s evidence that younger workers, who will be make up a larger chunk of the workforce as baby boomers retire, place strong emphasis on their work product, rather than hours spent in a cubicle.
According to a 2010 report from the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, the benefits of flexible workplace arrangements — less absenteeism and turnover, and improved worker health and productivity — can outweigh costs.
Coming out of the recession, Cavanaugh said, she is seeing companies shifting to more structured policies about flexible work, and away from one-off arrangements for individuals. Much of the recent growth at Life Meets Work is from companies that already have programs, but want to make them better, she said.
“Companies are saying that they need to be more formal about flexibility,” Cavanaugh said.
Read the full story:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sonar6′s Mike Carden, in defense of performance reviews

By Mary Ellen Slayter on May 18, 2011
One of my favorite sessions at last month’s HRevolution in Atlanta was a face-off between William Tincup and Mike Carden regarding the value of performance reviews. I followed up with Carden, CEO of performance-management software company Sonar6, after the conference for a quick question-and-answer session.
What’s your case for keeping performance reviews, in 25 words or fewer?
Good people like having their performance reviewed. Take your 10 best people out to play golf; how many of them don’t want to keep score?
Read the full story:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

HR – Dribble, Dribble, Pass...

HR wants to be relevant.  HR wants a seat at the table.  HR wants to be part of the business
But HR doesn’t want the ball.
They want to pass it to the next person and not be responsible for the loss.  And by default – they won’t be responsible for the win either.  HR needs to want the ball.
Dateline: Globe and Mail, March 22 – article:  “Feeling unmotivated? HR managers say it’s the boss’s fault.”
“A majority of the HR managers said executives are falling down in four areas. Seventy one percent said managers should listen more to employees’ opinions, 68 percent said they fail to communicate clear expectations, 58 percent said they need to give more recognition and praise and 57 percent said they need to provide more learning and development opportunities.”
So let me ask this HR peeps...which of the four things in that quote are on your to do list?  I’m guessing maybe one – reviewing Reward and Recognition platforms so you can install a “system” that helps managers NOT be involved in the recognition of great employee effort.
It’s the People – And Their Managers
Too often I have this exact conversation with clients.  They want a system to replace the work that their management should be doing to engage and drive performance in an organization.  They want to “outsource” human connections to a point and click interface believing they have “done the job” and forever on they will have engaged employees.
Read the full story:

The Secret To Making Employees Energized (Not Exhausted) By Difficult Work

If there were something you could add to your car's engine, so that after driving it a hundred miles, you'd end up with more gas in the tank than you started with, wouldn't you use it?

Even if nothing like that exists for your car just yet, there is something you can give your employees that will have the same effect ... interesting work.

Now I know what you're thinking. "Finding your work interesting is nice, but the work has to get done, interesting or not." This is the attitude many managers take when they hear complaints from employees about work being too boring, tedious, or difficult. As if interest is a luxury - something that is pleasant but unnecessary, like little chocolates on your hotel pillow.

Interest in work is not a luxury--it is a powerful motivator. In fact, research shows that finding what you do interesting and believing it has inherent value is probably the single best way to stay motivated despite difficulty, setbacks, and unexpected roadblocks.

But as they say in the infomercials, that's not all. A new set of studies shows that interest doesn't just keep you going despite fatigue, it actually replenishes your energy.

Read the full story:


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Engage Your Employees: 5 Must-Dos In 2011

Judah Schiller, CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi had this recent list on Huffington Post:

5 "must-dos" to effectively engage your employees in 2011:

1) Ask and you shall receive: …look to your employees to help define your corporate challenges and, in turn, devise innovative solutions to address them…
2) Find the fun: …all work and no play makes for an unproductive and bored-out-of-their-minds bunch of employees…
3) Use social good as a Trojan horse for engagement: …aligning your employees around a common cause…a sure-fire way to spark a sense of purpose and belonging…
4) Inspire viral and grassroots learning: …offering online mentoring and learning opportunities…
5) Create a company of micro-philanthropists: …ask your employees to get involved…
Schiller says: Engagement is a two-way street and, to be successful, it requires commitment, enthusiasm and consistency…”
Read the expanded list and full post on Huffingtonpost.com

What Makes High Performers Stay?

If talented finance staffers don't have strong managers, good pay is not likely to help you retain them.
High-performing finance staffers know what they like: money (their own, in addition to the company's). They're grumpy about not having more of it — but not so much that it makes them look for new jobs.
Those are among the conclusions that can be drawn from the latest research by the finance and strategy practice of the Corporate Executive Board (CEB). Asked to rate 38 job attributes, 43% of the 983 participating high performers judged compensation to be "important," far outdistancing work-life balance, the number-two response.
That may be one reason why they are disappointed with the pay they get. Reporting their level of satisfaction with the various job attributes, they ranked compensation near the bottom, in 35th position. (Topping the list were company location, stability, and product-service quality.)
Yet factoring in responses to questions designed to gauge finance employees' intentions about staying in their job or leaving, the CEB found a surprisingly low correlation between satisfaction with compensation and inclination to seek other employment.
Read more at cfo.com

Monday, May 16, 2011

Movement to keep moms working is remaking the workplace

It started when the baby rolled off and under the bed when she was in the shower getting ready to go to work. It got worse when the nanny couldn’t figure out how to e-mail her a photo of a nasty cut on her toddler son’s chin.

Then, when she was passed over for promotion for the second time because her boss didn’t think she could handle the job and her “family responsibilities,” Jennifer Folsom, an Alexandria consultant with an MBA from Georgetown, had had it. She quit, joining a small but persistent stream of educated, upper-income women who drop out of the workforce when they find they simply can’t have it all when it comes to work and family.

But Folsom didn’t opt out for long. She joined a fledgling recruiting and placement company and turned her prodigious energy toward helping mothers like her to “opt in” — to find fulfilling work in their own time and on their own terms.

Read the full story:


Friday, May 13, 2011

Motivations vs. engagement

This post is by Paul Marciano, author of “Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work: Build a Culture of Employee Engagement with the Principles of RESPECT.” Follow him on Twitter @drpaulmarciano.
If you’re not clear as to the difference between employee motivation and engagement you’re not alone — I was once asked to explain it to the CEO of an international consulting firm that claimed expertise on the subject. What I want you to know right off is that there are significant differences between these two concepts and meaningful implications for how we manage people and, in turn, their productivity.
The clearest way to explain the difference between an engaged and motivated employee is as follows: Imagine watching a team of employees working hard to complete a project by a certain deadline. If they do so, they will be rewarded with a bonus from the client. As an observer you see all the employees fully in the game, working hard and you would say, “Everyone is really motivated.”
At the eleventh hour something goes wrong, e.g., a computer crashes or the team realizes that they just don’t have the resources they need to complete the project on time and will not receive the bonus. Now, you have two groups of people — those who look at their watches and say, “Oh well we tried, time to go home” and those who say, “What is it that we can get accomplished?” Who do you want on your team?
Read the full story:

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

America's labour market perking up

AMERICA'S recovery has not been an easy one for workers. For months, the economy expanded without doing much at all to create jobs and bring down unemployment. And recently, the economy has shown signs of faltering yet again, raising the possibility that in 2011 recovery would once more fail to bring meaningful gains to workers.

The Bureau of Labour Statistics has given American workers a big reason to hope, however. This morning, the BLS released payroll employment numbers that show a labour market growing progressively stronger. American firms added 244,000 jobs in April, and the private sector added 268,000. Payroll figures for February and March were both revised upward. Over the past three months private-sector employment has risen by an average of over 250,000 jobs per month.

Since the employment bottom in February of 2010, the economy has added 1.8m jobs and the private sector has added 2.1m. Most of those jobs were created in the past year, and about a third of them in the last three months. This is not yet the hiring pace one would hope to see after so deep a recession—there are still 13.7m unemployed workers and nonfarm employment remains nearly 7m jobs below the pre-recession peak. But this is better than anything the American economy has seen in years. The last time the private sector added this many jobs in a month was February of 2006—more than five years ago.

Read the full story: http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2011/05/americas_labour_market

Monday, May 9, 2011

How Performance Reviews Pay Off

Sometimes, the least productive workers will bounce back the most.

Title: Driven by Social Comparisons: How Feedback about Coworkers’ Effort Influences Individual Productivity (PDF)

Authors: Francesca Gino (Harvard Business School) and Bradley R. Staats (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

Publisher: Harvard Business School Working Paper No. 11-078

Date Published: February 2011

This paper examines the impact of performance reviews on productivity, and finds that feedback delivered on a regular basis, whether positive or negative, tends to result in improved performance. On a short-term basis, though, the impact varies, sometimes in ways that are counterintuitive: Positive reviews, for example, do little to boost productivity, and negative reviews that are somewhat vague and indirect cause performance to fall off, but reviews that are directly negative cause productivity to leap. The research offers guidance to managers concerning the pitfalls and potential benefits in framing their messages in reviews, and suggests there is a need to provide feedback on a frequent basis.

In an ideal scenario, employees would be evaluated through the use of objective standards, but as the researchers point out, in organizational settings this is rarely possible. Instead, the very nature of performance feedback promotes what they call social comparison processes, as employees are informed about their performance relative to that of their co-workers. In this study, employees were not told their exact ranking, or that of their co-workers, but were informed where they stood in relation to either the “bottom 10” or “top 10” in terms of productivity.

Read the full story:


Friday, May 6, 2011

Does Robust Jobs Report Mean Blue Skies Ahead?

The U.S. economic recovery continued to chug along as employers added jobs for a third-straight month of strong growth.


The economy created a robust 244,000 jobs in April across a wide range of industries, according to a Labor Department report Friday. Gains in private-sector hiring — 268,000 jobs — were especially encouraging, although the number was offset slightly by jobs lost in state and local governments.

The government also said job growth in previous months was even stronger than first reported, revising its February figures to 235,000 new jobs from 194,000 and March numbers to 221,000 from an initial report of 216,000.

Some analysts forecast that the strong growth will result in a lower unemployment rate in the near term, despite the fact that a separate report showing that the jobless rate edged up to 9 percent last month from 8.8 percent in March as more people began looking for work.

Retailers led the way in hiring, with 57,000 jobs. Factories and financial companies also showed gains, as did the education, health care and even construction sectors — one of the worst-hit by the long and painful recession, according to survey data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The figures signal an improvement in business confidence despite weak growth earlier this year and soaring gas prices that have weighed on consumers and threatened to put the brakes on the recovery. Most analysts agree the economy has strengthened enough to keep growing this year.

Read the complete article on NPR.org

Why companies are about to start hiring

In a nutshell, it's because they don't have much choice.

The bright spot in a drab employment picture is that workers have been stretched so thin during the past couple years that companies are going to have to (gasp!) hire more.

You may be understandably suspicious. Corporate America has been raking in massive profits – they flooded in at a record $1.68 trillion annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2010 – with unemployment near 9%. Initial jobless claims are rising again after falling for much of 2010, yet the stock market is just short of record levels. Do companies really want to change this picture by hiring people and paying them and stuff?

The answer is they may have no alternative. The hiring picture is improving largely because the productivity gains that drove the profit rebound and the rip-roaring stock market rally of the past two years are petering out.

Read more on CNNMoney.com

Sitting Is Bad for You: What Can You Do About It at Work?

Is it possible that the traditional office worker has the most dangerous job in America?

Consider the following studies that found sitting for extended periods is hazardous to your health. In 2007, Dr. Rikke Krogh-Madsen, a post-doctoral fellow at the Centre of Inflammation and Metabolism in Copenhagen, decided to test the effects of a sedentary lifestyle. To do this, the doctor culled together a group of nonsmoking, healthy men in their twenties. Before the study began, Krogh-Madsen split the men into two groups: Those who walked on average 6,000 steps per day and those who averaged around 10,000. Then, over the next two weeks, she forced them all to reduce their walking routines—by sitting more often—to 2,000 steps per day.
The result? Both groups had a 60 percent increase in the amount of insulin circulating in their blood, as well as an increase in heart disease risk factors, including a seven percent average increase in abdominal fat. "It is amazing that only two weeks of reduced stepping can induce numerous metabolic abnormalities," Dr. Rikke Krogh-Madsen told U.S. News & World Report.

Read the full story: http://www.inc.com/articles/0502/Action-Tips-for-Healthy-Employees.html

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Why immigrant entrepreneurs are leaving U.S.

Most returnees fare better at home than they believe they would do in America

In a speech last week to Facebook employees, President Obama discussed the role immigrant entrepreneurs play in U.S. economic competitiveness. "We want more Andy Groves here in the United States," he told the crowd, touching on the Hungarian-born entrepreneur's startup success. "We don't want them starting Intel in China or starting it in France."

Sadly, our President didn't back his words with action. He simply said he would support "comprehensive immigration reform," which is legislation that has no chance of passing. This is because it tries to fix all the problems with immigration at the same time. Most Americans will support legislation to admit more doctors, scientists, and entrepreneurs, but they are deeply divided on the issue of amnesty for illegal immigrants. So we're in a messy stalemate.

Our leaders don't seem to understand the urgency of the situation. They fail to recognize how much the world has changed. Entrepreneurs see abundant opportunities in places like India and China now. The world's best and brightest can stay home and achieve as much success as they could in the U.S. Skilled workers who immigrated to the U.S. are optimistic about these opportunities; many are headed back home.

Read the complete story on MSNBC

Does this mean the U.S. may be heading for a skilled worker shortage? Let us know your thoughts.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Managing quirky behavior in the workplace

The nonprofit Partnership for Public Service and The Washington Post’s On Leadership site produce the Federal Coach, hosted by Tom Fox, director of the partnership’s Center for Government Leadership.

The goal is to “engage, inspire and learn from you, the federal worker, whether you are a new hire, a contractor or a manager at the highest level.”

Most people know how to behave in the workplace, but there are always outliers who are aggressive or quirky, or who have never figured out the acceptable social norms.

Recently, a colleague shared a rather bizarre story of a federal employee who would burp in the face of a colleague or manager when given a task he didn’t want to perform. Even though the employee’s job performance was fully satisfactory, people complained about this behavior and saw it as mocking and a sign of deliberate disrespect.

Although this seems like a scene out of the television comedy “Parks and Recreation,” uncomfortable issues arise in offices across the country every day.

For example, a search on the phrase “body odor in the workplace” on Google yielded more than 85,000 articles and blog entries. From improper attire to offensive e-mails, inappropriate office behavior comes in many forms.

Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules on how to deal with awkward and embarrassing situations. Even though it can be tricky, you need to confront unusual behavior quickly, because it may be hurting your team’s morale and ability to do work.

Read the full story:


Monday, May 2, 2011

Generation Gap Causes Conflict in Some Workplaces, SHRM Poll Shows

Alexandria, Va., April 29, 2011 — Conflict between members of different generations exists in almost three-quarters of organizations, and more than half of organizations actively work to reduce that conflict, according to a new poll from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
SHRM released the results of its “Intergenerational Conflict in the Workplace” poll as the May edition of the Society’s HR Magazine published a cover story about the multigenerational workforce. Five generations will be represented in the U.S. workforce next year, the magazine noted. This is significant because “Multigenerational discord can impede workplace relationships and lower engagement,” it said.
When asked the extent of intergenerational conflict in the workplace, 44 percent of respondents said it existed “to a slight degree” in their organizations, 25 percent said “to some degree” and 3 percent said “to a large degree.”
At the same time, however, about one-quarter of the more than 400 randomly selected SHRM members said intergenerational conflict doesn’t exist at all in their workplaces. Organizations with fewer than 500 employees were more likely than larger organizations to report that it was not an issue.
Read the full story: http://www.shrm.org/about/pressroom/PressReleases/Pages/GenerationalConflict.aspx