Friday, March 30, 2012

A cheat sheet for engaging employees

As a federal leader, you no doubt have a lot on your plate, and it may be tempting to shrug off employee complaints about their jobs and organization. But the bottom line is that job satisfaction drives employee engagement and ultimately leads to better performance.
The Best Places to Work in the Federal Government rankings provide a benchmark to measure employee attitudes, to identify signs of trouble and to prompt you to find ways to better manage your most important asset — your employees.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) put together a list of cost-effective “quick wins” that their managers can use to help them improve employee satisfaction and commitment. DOT developed the list after studying what leaders were doing at their component agencies that had maintained high Best Places to Work scores or that showed year-to-year improvement.
To help boost the morale and job satisfaction of your employees, here‘s some tips from the DOT playbook:
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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Your Biggest Branding Challenge Is Unhappy Employees

You’re employees aren’t happy. This is your biggest branding challenge.
For those of you who like the Cliff Notes version of things, or have trained yourself to digest news in 140 characters at a time, you may be excused from the rest of this post. For the rest of you, I’ll explain myself a bit further.
#1: Your employees aren’t happy.
According to a recent survey by job-placement firm Manpower, 84% of employees were planning to look for a new job in 2012. Earlier this year, Mercer’s “What’s Working” survey further validated these statistics, reporting that one in three US employees have moved past the “planning” phase and are getting serious about leaving their current jobs. Just about 20 percent of my LinkedIN network did just that in the past year.
Gallup is the author of some well-quoted research around employee engagement which shows that 20 percent of your workforce is actively disengaged, while the vast majority sits on the fence and punches the proverbial clock. These latest stats suggest that the actively disengaged cohort is winning new converts every day. There are even books to support the disengaged and disgruntled. A recent best-selling book by Jon Acuff, called Quitter, provides a step by step plan for people who want to trade in their day job for their dream job.
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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cultural immersion the ideal professional development tool for staff

The employee training budget is often one of the first to get cut in a tough economy. But even when they do spend the money, organizations tend to put their resources towards building specific skills. From “Advanced Excel” to “Project Management 101,” training is usually thought of as a way to improve an employee’s ability to perform a particular job function.
But what about training for fit—the idea of teaching employees what kind of behaviours are valued at your organization? Many executives think it’s just not possible. But the idea that you can train for skills but not behaviour is simply not true. If it were, none of us would be very good at child rearing or at training pets. In fact, leadership development and organizational psychology wouldn’t exist if it were impossible to teach behaviour. Fact is, our brains can be trained to behave in a certain way, and training your employees for fit is an excellent way to align your culture and use it to drive success. Here’s how to do it.
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More than just an "off-the-shelf employee survey", the 4Cs Employee Survey can be easily customized to fit your organization's needs with additional topics and/or questions to address specific areas of concern you may have. With Insightlink's 4Cs approach, you are not just getting a survey, you are getting survey experts.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Narrowing the Skills Gap

What keeps HR executives up at night? People. Finding qualified people, motivating those people and keeping them on staff. Considering that companies that do not do these three things well are unlikely to perform well, CFOs are probably tossing and turning about these issues too.
A survey of 330 HR leaders conducted by Deloitte and the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists found that one-quarter of these HR leaders consider the shortage, motivation and retention of qualified talent to be the most significant challenge facing their organizations over the next three years. This is a significant increase over the 16% who noted this as a key issue last year.
To see how such a shortage is playing out in one industry, just take a look at the challenges facing manufacturing. Last year, Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute teamed up to publish a report, Boiling Point? The Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing. The report not only details the challenges this talent shortage creates for companies but it also shows that the tried-and-true approaches to finding and developing good people may not be enough anymore.
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When you choose Insightlink Communications, you will get much more than just a way to efficiently collect survey data. With our specialized tools, you can immediately see and use your findings to effectively create positive change within your organization.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

3 sure-fire ways to lose your top talent

Are you pushing your finest employees out the door without realizing it? If staff retention is an issue for your company, then you’ll need to think about what could be causing your top talent to look for other opportunities.
There are numerous ways that bosses and top management can drive star employees away without even realizing it. Understand that people don’t walk out on companies; they walk out on managers. These are three of the worst things a manager can do to destroy the loyalty of his top performers.
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Business forum: Keep 'em happy - and productive

Treat employees well and reap the rewards in good times and bad.
Minnesotans received some good news recently: The state's unemployment rate hit 5.6 percent in January, the lowest since 2008.
But this news should be a wake-up call to local employers who may be taking the plentiful supply of eager workers for granted. When you take something for granted, it's easy to begin to treat it with indifference or even callous disregard. Sadly, data about workplace satisfaction suggests that is exactly what has been happening.
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which has been polling more than 1,000 adults every day since January 2008, indicates that Americans now feel worse about their jobs -- and work environments -- than ever before. People of all ages, and across all income levels, are unhappy with their supervisors, apathetic about their organizations and detached from what they do.
Could it be that companies have forgotten about the importance of keeping employees engaged and productive at work? While the tough economy may be distracting managers, those who have invested in employee engagement are most likely to retain star performers even as the economy continues to improve and employees start exploring their career options.
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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Employee compensation is an integral part of corporate culture

Here’s the problem I have with compensation systems at many organizations today. They are either completely arbitrary, or they’re linked only to outcomes.
Corporate culture is about people’s behaviours – how employees accomplish goals, not just what they accomplish – so to establish a culture that drives company success, organizations ought to link a significant component of their compensation systems to behaviours. Some of Canada’s most innovative and successful companies have figured out that doing so is an obvious and important tool in aligning culture.
The perfect case study on the use of compensation as an alignment tool is WestJet. Back in the mid-1990s, when Clive Beddoe and his partners were creating the airline, they looked to Southwest Airlines for inspiration. Beyond its cost structure, which couldn’t be replicated in Canada thanks to our very different regulatory environments, Southwest’s competitive advantage was its culture, and the tools it used to align the interests of the employees of those with the company.
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Health benefits are big driver of employee loyalty

The 10th annual survey of employee benefits trends and attitudes, commissioned by MetLife, produced two overriding results:
--Employees and employers alike value employee benefits as an incentive to attract and keep workers.
--Employees want retirement and health benefits and are apt to change jobs to go where they're offered.
The new study, released Monday, found that employee loyalty is declining, and about 1 in 3 employees said they plan to leave their current employer by the end of the year.
For many, a job change is motivated by this finding: "Nearly half of all employees surveyed said that because of the economy they are counting on employers' benefits programs to help with their financial protection needs," and that percentage climbed higher the younger the worker.
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Monday, March 19, 2012

Are Millennial Employees Flakes?

Do you think millennial employees' work ethic falls short of other generations? If so, you're not alone. In a recent poll for Workplace Options, 68 percent of those surveyed say millennial employees -- ages 18 to 29 -- are less motivated to take on responsibility and produce quality work than their counterparts in other age groups, and 46 percent believe millennials are less engaged at work than other employees.
Read the rest on Huffington Post
Some of our clients have used their 4Cs employee survey data to look at their own Millennials compared to their Gen X-ers, Boomers and Traditionalists. It’s an interesting exercise.  How do you think your organization would compare?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Are Women Better Leaders than Men?

We've all heard the claims, the theories, and the speculation about the ways leadership styles vary between women and men. Our latest survey data puts some hard numbers into the mix.
Our data come from 360 evaluations, so what they are tracking is the judgment of a leader's peers, bosses, and direct reports. We ask these individuals to rate each leader's effectiveness overall and also to judge how strong he or she is on the 16 competencies that our 30 years of research shows are most important to overall leadership effectiveness. We ask, for instance, how good a leader is at taking the initiative, developing others, inspiring and motivating, and pursuing their own development.
Our latest survey of 7,280 leaders, which our organization evaluated in 2011, confirms some seemingly eternal truths about men and women leaders in the workplace but also holds some surprises. Our dataset was generated from leaders in some of the most successful and progressive organizations in the world both public and private, government and commercial, domestic and international.
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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Is the Purpose of Incentives to Motivate People?

Article after article tells us that we should halt our use of incentives because people aren't motivated by money. Or because they are motivated by money, but to do the wrong things.
I can't help feeling that many of them are missing the point.
Many of the incentive arguments centered around whether or not money motivates people reflect a wrongheadedness about the role of and reason for variable pay. This stems in no small part from the Deci/Kohn/Pink worldview that contingent rewards exist solely as bluntheaded instruments of control, as bribes, as a means of getting people to do things they would otherwise not be inclined to do.
I reject this point of view. It suggests that most employees come in each day unwilling to do good work and unwilling to help their organizations succeed. I don't buy that. While there are bad apples in every bunch for sure, I don't think it's true of most places and for most workers.
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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

5 Tips To Retaining Star Gen Y Talent

Every company wants to tap a new generation of innovative and vibrant talent, but few companies have figured out how to successfully retain the rockstars who can help catapult your company or team to the next level.
Retaining phenomenal talent has always been difficult, but doing so with the Gen Y demographic poses new challenges: salary and title are no longer enough, because Gen Y has a completely different barometer of success and happiness. Money is not synonymous with happiness, and titles do not automatically translate to success. Bottom line: Gen Y wants to be fulfilled and make a meaningful impact; in fact, many of them want to somehow change the world, or at least the lives of those around them.
In our current economic climate--with volatility and unease continuing to define many work environments--the distinction and loyalty of the team is of critical importance. More than ever, we need talented colleagues to stick it out with us and elevate our organizations. However, we continue to hear about Gen Y's feeling of entitlement and immense turnover. What is really happening, and how can we utilize the tools that a number of budding startups are creating to solve some of these issues?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Social vs. monetary motivation in the workplace

Motivation is a big industry. From incentive and recognition trade shows to compensation consultants, there are a host of industry experts ready to carefully craft the perfect program that keeps employees working happily and productively. Most of these experts adhere to the economic principle of agency theory, which says that individuals work for their own self-interest.
To best leverage this principle, these experts offer just the right trinket, or they design an elegant incentive compensation solution tailored to your needs. All of these offers assume that simply having financial incentives triggers people to work harder, which makes performance-based compensation almost a given.
According to research from Ian Larkin, assistant professor at Harvard Business School, social comparison — our natural tendency to measure ourselves against our peers — may be the most powerful workplace motivator. So performance-based compensation might not matter as much as how that pay compares with peers in the organization.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Wellness & Office Morale: The Value of Happiness

I was in the airport last week and picked up the Harvard Business Review, and the cover had a big smiley face with a title, “The Value of Happiness; How Employee Well-being Drives Profits.” I was so excited to read the article because my passion is helping people live healthier, more productive, and happier lives through wellness programs. Your office may already have a strong focus on wellness, but I felt driven to share a few ideas with you, as even making small changes can increase engagement, productivity, and happiness in your office.
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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Low-Cost Ways To Show Employees They're Highly Valued

Small businesses can compete for talent without breaking the bank. Yes, you still need to pay competitive wages to get people in the door, but it’s the perks that will help you retain them. Here are 30 low-cost ideas for small businesses who want to show employees that they are highly valued.
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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Send a Message to the Women in Your Company

Every day, of course, is a good day to work on improving the way that you engage and communicate with your people. But it never hurts to have a special reason to start (or to restart) a conversation with employees — the sort of conversation that builds real connections with them, the sort of conversation that builds real value for your organization.
Next Thursday, March 8, people all across the world will celebrate International Women's Day. In some countries, it's is a nationally observed holiday. For business leaders, it provides an occasion to think with renewed urgency about the goal of including women fully and productively in the life of their company.
What are the essential ingredients of inclusive leadership? Most executives who take that question seriously recognize that communication ranks on any list of such ingredients. It's a lesson about the soft side of management that many leaders have learned the hard way: You can't work with people successfully if you don't talk with them.
But there's more to it, we believe. Truly inclusive leadership entails not just talking with your people, but also letting them do much of the talking. Just as so-called user-generated content has revolutionized the consumer Internet in recent years, so does employee-generated content invigorate the conversation that unfolds inside an organization.
Which brings us back to International Women's Day. More and more top leaders today understand that women as a group face particular challenges in the workplace — and that companies benefit from acknowledging (and, in some cases, accommodating) those challenges. Many women, for example, find that meaningful inclusion in the life of their company is somewhat a function of how easily they can juggle the demands that come with being a working mother. When leaders pretend that those demands are irrelevant, many women aren't apt to feel very welcome.
In our new book, Talk, Inc., we describe how leaders at one company — EMC Corporation, the world's largest computer-storage provider — found a way to enhance organizational inclusion by promoting conversational inclusion. They encouraged a group of employees who are also mothers to produce rich content about "the working mother experience" (as those women call it). That move sent a message to women throughout the company: At EMC, their day has come.
Here, excerpted with slight modification from our book, is a story we call "Mothers of Inclusion."
The real work of engaging employees "has nothing to do with technology," says Polly Pearson, EMC's former vice president of employment brand and engagement strategy. "It's all about behavior." As if to prove that conversational inclusion isn't dependent on using the latest digital gadgetry, EMC in 2009 published a traditional printed book — a soft-cover tome of coffee-table-book size, just shy of 250 pages in length, written by and for EMCers. It's an old-media monument to the idea of letting employees tell the EMC story, and to the related idea of letting them tell their own stories. Called The Working Mother Experience, the book gathers personal essays by ninety-seven EMC women from fifteen countries (along with one essay by a male employee).
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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Making Employee Engagement in Sustainability Successful

A new survey by the firm Green Research reports that employee engagement is one of the top two sustainability trends for 2012 (the other is improving supply chain sustainability). Why? Researchers concluded that "engaged employees make things happen". Isn't that the truth! Whether it is bringing a new product to market or improving workplace processes, employees are the internal agents of change.

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Friday, March 2, 2012

The workplace’s new normal

Each year for International Women’s Day, a U.N.-designated holiday celebrated on Mar. 8, Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, conducts external global research that investigates the workplace and careers and what women and men around the world have to say about them. This year, possibly more than in any of the eight years we’ve conducted the research, respondents’ beliefs about careers and work-life balance paint a picture of change and a movement to a new normal in the workplace.
Accenture’s research was conducted via an online survey of 3,900 business executives from midsize to large organizations in 31 countries. Respondents were split evenly by gender and were balanced by age and level in their organizations. The margin of error for the total sample was approximately plus or minus 2 percent. You can see the report here.
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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Who Are Your Organization's Entrepreneurs?

How useful would it be to identify the problem-solvers within your business? They're called entrepreneurs, and not all of them are created the same. The ability to identify entrepreneurs empowers organizations to effectively manage their workforce. Through research, we're beginning to learn more about spotting star performers who would otherwise become disengaged and flee — taking their new ideas with them.
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