Friday, July 29, 2011

If You Want to Retain The Best Young Workers, Give Them A Mentor Instead Of Cash Bonuses

If innovative CEOs want their companies to attract the next brightest minds, they should save the cash bonuses and give their younger workers a strong mentor instead.
According to the 14th Annual Global CEO Survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers, 98% of Millennials believe working with a mentor is a necessary component in development. In fact, they ranked training and development three times higher than cash bonuses as their first choice in benefits.
With social media and technology playing such a influential role in the Millennials' daily lives, the way they judge a successful organization and hierarchy will differ from their parents.
The younger generation tend not to feel as attached to the companies they work for and one in four high potential employees plan to leave their employers within the next 12 months.
They are seeking more than "just a job."
Read the full story:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Employee engagement: Do benefits make a difference?

Mercer recently released its 2011 What’s Working—Inside Employees’ Minds survey on employee engagement. The survey asked more than 2,000 Canadian workers for their views on various aspects of the employment deal, including pay, benefits, careers, leadership, performance and engagement. The survey analyzes differences by workforce demographics and includes a conjoint analysis to determine what employees value most.
Some of the more interesting observations from the survey include the following:
  • One in three Canadian workers is seriously considering leaving his job—as such, employers may face a loss of valued talent as the economy and job market improves.
  • One in five Canadian workers is disaffected—she is committed to neither staying nor leaving the organization.
  • Base pay is at the top of 13 elements that employees value, but only 58% of survey respondents believe they are paid fairly.
  • Employee benefits rank in the lowest third of the most valued elements of the employment deal. In addition to base pay, factors such as retirement/savings, type of work, respect for the organization and incentive compensation are valued more than benefits.
To state the obvious, Canadian employers have a significant employment engagement issue. The employment deal is changing, with company loyalty at all-time lows and employees—now more than ever—prepared to vote with their feet. Getting base pay right is clearly key to winning the hearts and minds of employees, with employee benefits being somewhat of an afterthought.

Employee benefits do not drive employee engagement. It pains me to say these words, but the conclusion in itself is not startling—most of us in this business know that cash is king. However, admitting that benefits are not front and centre in the war for talent does not mean benefits are unimportant. A benefits plan has become the price of entry—you need to have a plan in place just to play the game.
Read the full story:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Reversing Burnout

Companies with apathetic, burned-out employees are at risk of hampered productivity, while the workers themselves face health risks. Most at risk are employees who work long hours, do monotonous tasks or have been in the same job for a long time. To help, HR leaders first need to listen to what workers have to say.

Burned out and looking for a way out? That seems to be the case for many employees.
A recent study at the University of Zaragosa in Spain found that two key factors -- workplace stress (mainly monotony and feeling overburdened) and a perceived lack of recognition -- are the prime factors in employee burnout.
At the same time, a recent study by Mercer reports that about one in three (32 percent) U.S. employees are looking to leave their jobs, while another 21 percent have rock-bottom scores on key measures of engagement.
"The business consequences of this erosion in employee sentiment are significant, and clearly the issue goes far beyond retention," says Mindy Fox, a senior partner at New York-based Mercer and the firm's U.S. Region Leader.
"Diminished loyalty and widespread apathy can undermine business performance, particularly as companies increasingly look to their workforces to drive productivity gains and spur innovation," she says.
But, there are ways to reduce burnout and negative feelings by following some obvious, but often neglected, steps, say HR experts. And unless employers change their workplace culture and philosophy, many of them may take major productivity hits because of such a situation.
Read the full story:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Loyalty Weakens at Small Firms

With small firms scrimping on employee benefits as the recovery stalls, a growing number of workers say they’re open to better offers from other employers, a new study finds.
Less than half of 1,412 small-business workers recently surveyed by MetLife said they felt a strong sense of loyalty towards their current employers, down from 62% in a similar survey in November 2008, the New York insurance firm reported. As many as 34% said they would rather be working for someone else, the survey found.
By contrast, a parallel survey of 1,508 employers found their perceptions of employee loyalty hadn’t changed, with 54% believing their workers were still fiercely loyal.
The results are part of MetLife’s annual Employee Benefits Trends report, released Monday.
About 50% of workers who said they weren’t happy with their jobs blamed company benefits, the survey found.
During the downturn many small employers cut back or held benefits packages steady, with the percentage offering certain types of benefits roughly unchanged over the past three years, the report said.
Read the full story:

Friday, July 22, 2011

Keep Your Star Employees.

From CNN/Fortune last fall, but  no less relevant in today’s business environment.

You doled out extra vacation days to make up for paltry bonuses to your top performers. After the 401(k) match was cut, you passed out gift cards to remind your stars how much they mattered. In a tough economy, it's the little things, right?

Wrong. Perks and trinkets are nice, but they won't keep your best people when things improve. Some 27% of employees deemed "high potential" said they plan to leave within the year, according to a recent survey by the Corporate Executive Board. That rate of dissatisfaction is rising "precipitously" as the economy stabilizes, says Jean Martin, executive director of the CEB's Corporate Leadership Council, up from just 10% in 2006 and increasing at twice the rate of the general employee population.


That's the bad news. The good news is that perks aren't the only way to keep your high performers engaged. They want a mix of recognition and challenges that stretch them without completely stressing them out. Liz Wiseman, a former Oracle executive and author of the bestseller Multipliers, says money "never came up" when she interviewed 75 Fortune 500 managers about the leaders who motivated them most.

Read the complete article on CNN Money.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

How to Reward Great Ideas

Projet Créatif, video game developer Frima Studio’s program for pitching product ideas, requires its employees to work for the company for a year before presenting an independent project. That was too long for David Moss to wait. Less than a year after joining Frima, Moss compiled a creative team to start designing Ravenmark, a mythological adventure for young boys set in fourteenth century Scotland.
Originally designing Ravenmark as a digital short, Moss and his team were inspired by the innovative nature of Projet Créatif to do more. "We thought, this is a creative project," Moss says. "We're supposed to be able to pitch about anything we want so let's make a TV show."
So in March 2010, the Ravenmark team presented its idea to a jury of their peers. "Everyone was kind of confused that we were pitching a television show," Moss recalls. "But by the end of the presentation, everyone's eyes lit up and they could see the potential."
Read the full story:

28% of working adults lack enough time

In a new Gallup Study just published, 28% of working Americans reported that they did not have enough time to do what they needed to do yesterday. A significant number also believe that they can’t catch up with their daily obligations.
See more on Gallup’s website here and here on Huffington Post
We’ve found very similar numbers in our Annual Employee Survey Benchmark study. In 2011,  28% of US employees reported that they continually had more work than they could finish. That number was up from 20% a few years earlier. That has repercussions, especially on levels of stress and productivity.
Outside the Gallup Poll, most studies of work and family have found that people experiencing the greatest stress tend to be those with too much work and those who don't have enough, said Heather M. Helms, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.
That make you think doesn’t it? On the one hand we have an increase in unemployment causing stress among those without enough work, but we also have an increase in the number of stressed workers who have too much to do and not enough time to do it. Employers need to find strategies to help workers cope otherwise they’ll see their productivity gains evaporate. A good way to start is to measure the levels of stress among your workforce and compare it to national and industry norms. In 2010, our benchmark study showed 74 % of US workers agreeing  that their work is stressful. An 8% increase from a  few years before. In 2011 the same number was 71%, showing movement in the right direction, but clearly US employers still have a long way to go.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Teleworkers are happier. Surprised?

Several recent studies on how web workers are happier than their “chained-to-the-desk” counterparts.

The research is conclusive: compared to office-based colleagues, those who are free to work where they choose are happier with their jobs. But why is this? The answer isn’t as clear as it might first appear to web work boosters. After all, ask non-experts for their opinion of telecommuting and you’ll likely get a mixed bag of advantages and disadvantages. Sure, controlling your own time is bound to be freeing and allow an easier juggle of home and work responsibilities, but what about the isolation? Don’t relationships fray without face-to-face contact, leading to misunderstandings and loneliness?

More here  and here.

Retooling Labor Costs

Joe has been a machinist for 25 years at the same company, a steady and reliable worker. Although Joe is a significant asset to his firm, his wages have gone up steadily while his responsibilities have remained largely unchanged. The result is that Joe is significantly overpaid as a machinist compared with co-workers who have been doing the same job for just two years.
Struggling to ride out the worst of the recession and credit crisis intact, Joe’s company has fired dozens of workers — and considering Joe’s salary, he would seem to be a likely candidate for the next round of layoffs. Or maybe not. Joe’s a stellar employee who knows the ins and outs of the organization, the result of his many years on the job. If management let him go, not only would the company lose his wealth of institutional knowledge, but a troubling message would be sent to the other workers — namely, loyalty goes unrewarded. At Joe’s age and tenure, moreover, there could be legal implications to such a move. In short, the company would rather not fire Joe. But what’s the alternative?
Read the full story:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Deliver Value to Your Employees—Your Most Important Stakeholders

How does your company picnic impact your bottom line? What about the handwritten note sent to an employee following a loved one’s death? Or the cupcakes brought in to celebrate a milestone? Done consistently, these little signs of celebration and appreciation build employee loyalty that actually pays dividends. As CEO of Beryl, which specializes in managing patient interactions for hospitals, I seek ways to remind employees of the critical role they play in our success.
If you want employees to take a vested interest in the bigger picture, treat them like stakeholders. When you create an environment in which “jobs” are regarded more like “investments,” employees will show up with passion, productivity, and focus, making your company more profitable.
Read the full story:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Perking up the workplace - Companies turn to incentives to hold their top employees

Who knew fresh radishes could translate to employee retention? That a juicy watermelon might equal worker loyalty?

But a new farmer's market at Eli Lilly and Co.'s Downtown campus aims to do just that.

It's just one example of perks and benefits that companies are launching to avoid what some experts say may be a mass worker exodus in the coming year.

As the economy slowly begins to recover and employees, fed up with pay slashes and benefit cuts, ponder bolting, companies will have to do all they can to keep their best workers.

Consider this: Nearly 40 percent of all employees say they hope to work for a different employer in the next 12 months, according to a study by MetLife. And 25 percent of top-performing employees say they intend to leave their current employer within the year, a study by the Corporate Leadership Council found.

Read the full story:

Understand where your organization stands on Insightlink’s Loyalty Matrix and Engagement Index.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Making Work-Life Flexibility Work

Are your employees seeking work-life flexibility? While having flexibility in when, where and how you work is increasingly becoming the norm at companies of all sizes, a new study, the Work+Life Fit Reality Check, reveals there are still some roadblocks in the way.
Among the findings of the study, conducted by the Flex+Strategy Group:
  • Eleven percent of respondents said that their use of work-life flexibility increased and 76 percent said it stayed the same during the recession.
  • While in the recovery, 10 percent thought their level of use of work-life flexibility would increase and 82 percent felt it would stay the same.
  • Compared to this time last year, 66 percent report they have the same amount of work-life flexibility, and 17 percent saw an increased amount.
  • Sixty-six percent believe employee health, morale and productivity suffer as a result of having no work-life flexibility.
  • Those who worried about making less money due to improved work-life flexibility decreased from 45 percent in 2006 to 21 percent this year.
  • Those who worried about a boss saying no to more work-life balance decreased from 32 percent five years ago to just 13 percent this year.
  • Those who worried others wouldn’t think they worked hard if they had work-life flexibility decreased from 39 percent in 2006 to to only 11 percent this year.
  • The biggest obstacle to work-life flexibility was lack of time/increased workload, cited by with 29 percent.
Read the full story:

Employee Engagement: Nobody Cares

Excellent post by Edward Muzio on the unfortunate lack of interest in engagement and the seeming epidemic of “checking out” that’s plaguing the US workforce. 
Clearly, either not enough people care about employee engagement, not enough people know what to do about it, or both. I don't know about you, but to me, "both" is a troubling notion. Knowledge can lead to interest, and interest can lead to knowledge. But "nobody knows and nobody cares" is a signal flare at the end of the road. It's an attitude that quickly converts to a pattern of behavior that shuts down information transfer, marginalizes improvement efforts and saps everyone of the creativity they need to solve problems in today's complex workplace. "I don't know and I don't care" is like the organizational flu. Actually, it's more like the organizational plague.
Read the full story on Huffington Post  & check out the video below.

Boss Should Be More a Parent Than Friend

Should you try to be a close friend to your employees or is there another way to approach the relationship. This short article on The Street weighs in…
Showing an employee you care means walking some fine lines. There's a difference, for example, between asking about someone's life and being nosy.
We all know, of course, about the critical importance of engagement to your company’s profitability and success…
Research has shown over and over that employee engagement is an important predictor of retention levels and productivity: Workers who feel deeply connected to their job are more likely to stay longer and do better work. To be engaged, employees need to believe that the person they report to cares about their life and career. Even Google, with its emphasis on tech wizardry, found during a recent in-house study that caring and concern were the most important qualities for effective managers -- skills that ranked well ahead of technical know-how.
And we also know  that highly engaged employees have higher levels of agreement that their managers care about them. But does that mean you have to make everyone who works for you into your BFF?
Read the whole article here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Are Scorecards and Metrics Killing Employee Engagement?

From Adrian C. Ott on the HBR Blog Network, a great  post on rigid rules-based management practices and how they can dis-engage employees and, as her example from Delta Airlines shows, sometimes seriously damage your customer relationships.

Rules are comfort food for management. When something goes terribly wrong, the first response is to add more rules and policy. Of course, managers have good intentions: protecting the company from bad choices and creating accountability. That's what everyone learns in Management 101. Yet the net effect often shifts accountability to the wrong places. Unassailable rules and metrics shifts accountability away from management and down the chain to the front-line employee. Rules allow managers a surefire way to dodge their responsibility and protect their career.

Don’t think that front-line employees fail to understand this. If they feel that their only job is to be the enforcers of management’s “CYA” rules, it’s not that big a stretch to see how easily they can “check out” on the job.

Read the full post on HBR

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Three Reasons A Leader Must Have a Positive Attitude

The title of this article is pretty declarative, don’t you think? Actually it isn’t completely true. You don’t have to have a positive attitude to have a leadership role, and you don’t even have to have it to lead. But you definitely must have a positive attitude if you want to lead successfully for an extended period of time.
A specific description of what I mean when I say “positive attitude” will be saved for another day (and another article). For our purposes today, let’s define positive attitude as an expectancy that good things will generally happen, (and that even when they don’t there is likely good that will be found in the challenges) and a healthy optimism for the future for your company, team, yourself and life in general.
It is important to note what I’m not saying here as well — I’m not saying a positive attitude requires you to be a pom-pom toting cheerleader or an always smiling Pollyanna who ignores challenges and thinks that attitude alone will carry the day. It is something deeper and can be shown in your actions in a personal way; it doesn’t require you to live a stereotype (which is good, because that is too hard to do and won’t work anyway).
With that starting point, here are three major reasons having a positive attitude is important for you as a leader.
Read the full story:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Rethinking Employee Awards

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honors the year's finest film. The PEN/Faulkner Foundation honors the year's best fiction. SurePayroll honors the year's most impressive screwup.
Winning Best New Mistake is a signal distinction at SurePayroll, a $23 million online payroll-processing company based in Glenview, Illinois. The company, which was recently acquired by Paychex, celebrates the end of its busy season with a ceremony called the SureChoice Awards, of which Best New Mistake is the breathlessly awaited culmination. Employees nominate themselves; management receives about 40 proud admissions of error each year. There are three winners (gold, silver, and bronze), and the perpetrator of the gold gaffe receives $400—twice as much as do winners of the company's other, more traditional, awards.
"We underline the new part," says SurePayroll's president, Michael Alter. "There's no award for making the same mistake twice." Last year's winner tried to streamline a process for customers and ended up frustrating them instead.
Read the full story:

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Corporate Epidemic: “See No Evil, Hear No Evil” Workers

Microsoft missed the Internet. Google came years late to social networking. Pepsi didn’t notice people drinking bottled water. And Nokia didn’t really appreciate the power of software.
Were these companies crammed with stupid people? People who just didn’t care? No, of course not. They were crammed with people who saw the opportunities but didn’t or couldn’t communicate it. This problem is more common than you might imagine.
Think about it: Enron and WorldCom’s serious accounting problems were obvious, but few employees spoke up.
Why? It’s not because they don’t care.  They do care, often quite a lot. But in most cases, they’re afraid that if they raise a problem, or dare to raise a challenge, they’ll be punished or fired.
That’s the conclusion drawn from an important study into organizational silence. Most employees have, at one time or another, failed to raise an issue at work because they fear the consequences. (In the U.K., when I conducted a similar study, the results were the same except that British employees weren’t so much afraid as they were hopeless; they believed raising an issue would be futile.)
Read the full story:

Friday, July 1, 2011

How Appropriate Employee Rewards Are Like Good Wedding Presents

I’ve written before in Compensation Cafe about the difference between compensation and employee recognition (and the rewards often associated with recognition). To summarize: Cash compensates. It does not motivate.
This is largely true for three reasons:
1) Cash is expected in a set “trade” agreement. Simply put, cash is the expected (and in many cases, legally required) recompense for services rendered. Employees expect to be paid in cash for the work they’ve provided according to agreed terms. Yes, cash is often the medium of reward given to employees in terms of a bonus, but like a paycheck, these bonus often become an expectation as well (e.g., Wall Street’s bonus culture).
Even when cash rewards are given more frequently, most organizations slip these rewards into the paycheck. This means employees often don’t realize the reward has been given as the extra cash slips right out again, leading to the second challenge of cash rewards…
2) Cash is not memorable.
When company leadership goes to the effort of investing in employee recognition and rewards, immediate benefits are the increase in positive working relationships built through the “power of thank you” . This leads to increases in employee productivity, retention and engagement.
Rewards associated with that recognition extend these benefits long after the formal recognition moment occurred. Cash, when used as a reward, loses this benefit because it is too easily spent on things of daily life – gas, rent, groceries – leading to the third challenge of cash rewards…
3) Cash cannot elicit long-term positive associations and memories.
A knock-on benefit for companies that include personal, meaningful rewards with recognition is the lasting association of positive memories with that reward for the employee. Every time the employee sees the reward item, they are reminded of the value the company places in the employee and in their work.
Read the full story: