1. Key employee engagement strategies for 2018

    February 27, 2018 by ahmed

    Engagement1

    Originally posted on Floship

    For any business to be successful, it must have three things: a robust overall strategy, exceptional leaders, and engaged employees. This society has moved from an economy driven by the agricultural and manufacturing industries to a service oriented, personally connected economy.

    One hundred years ago, employees were tasked with manual labor and had no vested interest in the business that employed them.

    In 2018, with high paying jobs hard to come by, it is essential for employers and leaders to engage their employees and make them feel as if they are an integral part of the business.

    How can they do that? In this article, we’re going to lay out the what, why, and how of employee engagement.

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    Employee Engagement Most Recent Data

    In 2017, Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report revealed that only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged in their jobs – meaning that they are emotionally invested in committing their time, talent, and energy to adding value to their team and advancing the organization’s initiatives.

    This means that the majority of employees show low overall engagement. Workplace productivity was low and employees and organizations are not keeping up with workplace demands fast enough.

    More Gallup research shows that employee disengagement costs the United States upwards of $550 billion a year in lost productivity. As employee engagement strategies become more commonplace, there is an amazing opportunity for companies that learn to master the art of engagement.

    Jacob Shriar, in a piece on OfficeVibe, tells us that

      • Disengaged employees cost organizations between $450 and $550 billion annually.
      • Highly engaged business units result in 21% greater profitability.
      • Highly engaged business units realize a 41% reduction in absenteeism and a 17% increase in productivity.
      • Highly engaged business units achieve a 10% increase in customer ratings and a 20% increase in sales.
      • Companies with engaged employees outperform those without by 202%.
      • Customer retention rates are 18% higher on average when employees are highly engaged.

    These statistics are just the beginning of why employee engagement is so important.

    Why Is Employee Engagement So Important?

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    The term “engagement” has been used so often and in so many different situations that it’s become hard to define. Many people think it means happiness or satisfaction, but it’s much more than that.

    According to Gallup, who has been collecting and measuring employee engagement data for nearly 20 years: “Though there have been some slight ebbs and flows, less than one-third of U.S. employees have been engaged in their jobs and workplaces.”

    Imagine if every employee was passionate about seeing the company and its customers succeed. The only true way to ensure that your customers are well taken care of is by taking care of your employees. This is known as the service-profit chain, a concept first introduced by Harvard Business Review in 1998. It’s still as relevant today as it was then.

    Profit and growth are stimulated primarily by customer loyalty. Loyalty is a direct result of customer satisfaction. Satisfaction is largely influenced by the value of services provided to customers. Value is created by satisfied, loyal, and productive employees. Employee satisfaction, in turn, results primarily from high-quality support services and policies that enable employees to deliver results to customers.

    The service-profit chain is the flow from the culture you create to the profits you generate and every step in between. The key is to start internally. When you create an environment where employees are happy, productive, autonomous, and passionate about what they do, they’ll provide better service to your customers.

    That amazing service will create many loyal customers, leading to sustainable growth and profits. That’s why it’s important for every leader in an organization to understand the service-profit chain and how each step impacts the other.

    Key Employee Engagement Strategies

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    Organizations need to pay attention to specific priorities to engage employees. Employees are more likely to become truly engaged and involved in their work if your workplace provides these factors.

    Employee engagement must be a business strategy that focuses on finding engaged employees, then keeping the employee engaged throughout the whole employment relationship. Employee engagement must focus on business results. Employees are most engaged when they are accountable, and can see and measure the outcomes of their performance.

    Employee engagement occurs when the goals of the business are aligned with the employee’s goals and how the employee spends his or her time.

    The glue that holds the strategic objectives of the employee and the business together is frequent, effective communication that reaches and informs the employee at the level and practice of his or her job.

    Engaged employees have the information that they need to understand exactly and precisely how what they do at work every day affects the company’s business goals and priorities. (These goals and measurements relate to the Human Resources department, but every department should have a set of metrics.)

    Employee engagement exists when organizations are committed to management and leadership development in performance development plans that are performance-driven and provide clear succession plans.

    When businesses actively pursue employee engagement through these factors, employee engagement soars to a ratio of 9:1 employees from 2:1 employees with concurrent improvements in the business success.

    Employee Engagement Examples

    There are of course many ways to show your employees they are valued, and to keep them focused and engaged on company success. According to Forbes, there are certain items in the benefit package that will help in creating employee engagement:

        • Health Insurance
        • Company Parties (social engagement)
        • Gifts (new babies, appreciation luncheons)

    Employees go home to different roles–parent, caregiver to a loved one, a church or civic leader, spouse, bandmate, freelancer, artist, neighbor–and the people they are closest to impact their lives and perspectives about work in meaningful ways. Acknowledging those relationships and showing they are a priority will increase employee engagement.

    How to Improve Employee Engagement

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    In a recent article in Forbes, Brent Gleeson, a former navy seal and successful businessman, gives solid advice on ways to improve employee engagement.

    When managers are engaged, their team members can confidently state the following:

        • I know what is expected of me and my work quality.
        • I have the resources and training to thrive in my role.
        • I have the opportunity to do what I do best – every day.
        • I frequently receive recognition, praise and constructive criticism.
        • I trust my manager and believe they have my best interests in mind.
        • My voice is heard and valued.
        • I clearly understand the mission and purpose and how I contribute to each.
        • I have opportunities to learn and grow both personally and professionally.

    The steps for improving engagement aren’t complex, they simply must be prioritized. This means engagement must be a core function of the manager’s role. The following steps can help the manager to accomplish this.

    Step 1 – Put Everyone in the Right Role
    Again, get the right people on the bus and make sure they are in the right roles. This means that all talent acquisition and retention strategies have to be aligned with meeting company goals.

    Step 2 – Give them the Training
    No manager or leader can expect to build a culture of trust and accountability — and much less improve engagement —without setting the team up for success. This means providing the proper training and development while removing obstacles.

    Step 3 – Task Meaningful Work
    Engaged employees are doing meaningful work and have a clear understanding of how they contribute to the company’s mission, purpose and strategic objectives. Again, this is why they first have to be placed in the right role. I’ve made the mistake of hiring great talent just to get them in the door – but didn’t have a clear career path or role for them. If you don’t sort those details out quickly, they will leave.

    Step 4 – Check in Often
    The days of simply relying on mid-year reviews for providing feedback are long gone. Today’s workforce craves regular feedback — which of course leads to faster course correction and reduces waste. Use both formal and informal check-in strategies — and use them every week.

    Step 5 – Frequently Discuss Engagement
    Successful managers are transparent in their approach to improving engagement — they talk about it with their teams all the time. They hold “state of engagement” meetings and “engage” everyone in the discussion — and solutions.

    Again, these principles are not complex, but must be prioritized. Companies that get this right will drive greater financial returns, surpass their competitors, and easily climb to the top of “the best places to work” lists.

    Are Your Employees Engaged?
    Employee engagement is critical to the success of any business. When a business has engaged and invested employees, it is in their best interest to protect the productivity and profitability of the business, and the image the business has in the community. Engagement also results in employee retention, which saves the business money in turnover and training. There is no downside to getting your employees engaged and invested in your business.


  2. Where do you draw the line on staff engagement

    December 22, 2017 by ahmed

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    Originally posted on CustomerPlus by Richard Beevers

    Are your people operating at anywhere near 100% of their capability?A simple exercise I use on leadership development programmes is to ask participants to draw a line as high as they can on suitably positioned flip chart paper. I then invite them to beat their first attempts. Second time around, person after person achieves a higher line and when I raise energy levels in the room by encouraging clapping and cheering the improvement becomes greater and greater. People become gripped and strain every sinew to achieve more.

    I have done this with hundreds of delegates and never has anyone failed to beat their first attempt.

    But why, when the first instruction is so clear? Draw a line as high as you can.

    The exercise always generates a fascinating discussion about who performed best. Was it the person who drew the highest line? He just happened to be very tall. Was it the person who showed the most improvement? Or had she underperformed first time round? Was it the person who showed the least improvement? He was consistent but had he underperformed twice? Can people always operate at maximum levels without burning out?

    This simple exercise tells us a lot about staff engagement. The fundamental learning point is don’t assume people will always do their best. You have to engage with them. Constantly, consistently and constructively!

    There are many models of staff engagement and in bringing these together the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has proposed six themes:

    • Meaningfulness of work
    • Being able to feed your views upwards
    • Senior management communication and vision
    • Supportive work environment
    • Person–job fit
    • Line management style

    These themes fit very well in Daniel Pink’s best seller Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Pink suggests that once people believe they are paid fairly these factors lead to better performance, not to mention personal satisfaction: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

    So where do you draw the line in your efforts to engage your staff?

    Do you emphasise and promote the purpose of your business? Do you let your people have a real say? Do you help them to be the best they can be?


  3. New study shows we work harder when we are happy

    August 25, 2017 by ahmed

    HappyPhoto by slalit / CC BY-ND 2.0

    Originally posted on University of Warwick

    Happiness makes people more productive at work, according to the latest research from the University of Warwick.

    Economists carried out a number of experiments to test the idea that happy employees work harder. In the laboratory, they found happiness made people around 12% more productive.

    Professor Andrew Oswald, Dr Eugenio Proto and Dr Daniel Sgroi from the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick led the research.

    This is the first causal evidence using randomized trials and piece-rate working. The study, to be published in the Journal of Labor Economics, included four different experiments with more than 700 participants.

    During the experiments a number of the participants were either shown a comedy movie clip or treated to free chocolate, drinks and fruit. Others were questioned about recent family tragedies, such as bereavements, to assess whether lower levels of happiness were later associated with lower levels of productivity.

    Professor Oswald said: “Companies like Google have invested more in employee support and employee satisfaction has risen as a result. For Google, it rose by 37%, they know what they are talking about. Under scientifically controlled conditions, making workers happier really pays off.”

    Dr Sgroi added: “The driving force seems to be that happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality.”

    Dr Proto said the research had implications for employers and promotion policies.

    He said: “We have shown that happier subjects are more productive, the same pattern appears in four different experiments. This research will provide some guidance for management in all kinds of organizations, they should strive to make their workplaces emotionally healthy for their workforce.”


  4. Lots of Activity, No Progress

    June 18, 2017 by ahmed

     

    Originally posted on Blogrige by Harry Hertz

    I recently read an HBR blog entitled, “How Aligned Is Your Organization?” The authors attributed a lack of internal organizational alignment to four reasons. The last, and I thought very important one, was that activity is mistaken for progress. Measurement of activity rather than progress is a common problem in organizations. Frequently, it starts with a desire to measure and manage by fact, and the easiest measures to begin with are activity measures. Activity measurement is not wrong, if you are measuring the right activities. In this blog post, I want to explore activity measurement and the achievement of progress.Activity is undertaken with the intent of producing results. And the direct results of activity are generally easy to measure (e.g., widgets produced, calls answered, time spent). Activity alone generally relates to operations and the results generally answer a question that begins with “What did you do?” You may have made twice as many widgets in half the time. You may have answered twice as many calls in only 120% of the time it previously took to answer half that number of calls. However, what you did may not yield results that relate to progress. Activity alone does not get at progress.

    In the Baldrige Excellence Framework, Results are scored on four factors. The first three are: levels, trends, and comparisons. You can measure all three of these factors for the activities described above and be very proud of your accomplishments. So what is missing?

    What if all the widgets were defective? What if all the calls answered did not resolve the callers’ issues? “Positive” activity, but no progress. The activities were measures of output, but not outcomes. The outcomes, which are measures of progress, were negative. Furthermore, the widgets may not have had the features that customers want. And with the heavy focus on widget production, the company may have missed that a replacement product was coming from another industry (e.g. digital imaging and ink replacing film and processing chemicals).

    All the customer calls you answered may have been due to poor guidance your organization provided at the start, requiring the need for further information.

    The activity measures perfectly answered the “What did you do?” question, but did not address the important questions of how well you did it, why you did it, and how important those activities are. To answer those questions we need more information about organizational context, strategy, leadership vision, and customer desires or needs. We need a systems perspective. We need an integrated set of questions and not just questions about level of activity, no matter how positive that activity’s results may be. The activity you are measuring may not even be an important activity to measure. The Baldrige Excellence Framework provides this systems perspective, through an integrated set of questions that cause thought about key organizational linkages.

    So how do quality improvement tools fit into this whole equation? They fit in very well, if applied to the right processes. Otherwise we could spend time on PDCA cycles or having Kaizen blitzes on unimportant processes, wasting people’s time and organizational resources, both of which are precious. These tools display their great value when applied to important problems. They need to be used with the good of the organization in mind, with a focus on processes that contribute to progress. We can then link the activity measures to not only output, but to the outcomes that will sustain the organization going forward.

    Finally, let me return to Baldrige Results factors. As stated previously, three are: levels, trends, and comparisons. The fourth and vital factor is integration. Are you measuring the results that are important to customers, strategy, financial success, and employee loyalty? And to emphasize the importance of integration, it is the only results factor that is also used as a scoring factor for processes. It is the measure of an aligned and integrated organization. It is the measure of systems thinking on the part of the organization. It is what moves our organizations from activity measurement, to measuring the right activities, to measuring critical outcomes, to achieving progress.

    How is your organization performing on its integration factors?


  5. Gettging airborne: Cultural transformation in the Navy

    February 14, 2017 by ahmed

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    Originally posted on BTOES insights by Chris Seifert

    When Ernie Spence arrived as the new commanding officer for the Navy’s largest F-18 training squadron, he was met with disarray. Of the squadron’s 117 planes, most had fallen into disrepair – leaving just one plane safe to fly. As a result, the team responsible for training about 60 percent of Navy squadron pilots was more than a year and a half behind schedule.The maintenance and spare parts delivery schedules for the Navy aircraft had been planned back in the 90s. As American involvement in the Middle East began to ramp up a decade later, Navy missions required these planes in action far more than initially expected. The squadron quickly found itself going through its spare parts at a much faster rate than it had resourced for, forcing planes out of commission while awaiting components that never came. As time wore on, the squadron deferred regular maintenance on the idle aircraft, eventually even using them as sources of spare componentry for other planes in need of repairs. Soon, the amount of work it would take to bring any single plane back to service became far too daunting to take on.

    “While there were external pressures, the majority of the group’s issues were internal.”

    The way Ernie saw it, while there were certainly external factors that put the squadron in a difficult situation, the majority of the group’s issues were internal.

    “There are externalities that affect every organization,” Ernie says. “But does the leadership actually take stock and measure what the effects of those will be? Do they allow the cumulative effect to pile up to the point where they appear to be unmanageable? If so, what becomes the tipping point where they decide, ‘We have to start dealing with this issue?'”

    To remedy the mindset that made the squadron so vulnerable to change, Ernie set out to augment its culture.

    Implementing culture change in a complex environment

    The F -18 training squadron is the Navy’s largest, comprised of about 1,300 military personnel, contract partners and government civilian employees spread across multiple sites. Implementing deep and lasting cultural change is never easy, but it is made far more difficult in such a complex environment. To truly change the way the squadron approached its work, Ernie had to engage with people both as individuals and as a collective unit.

    “Every single individual in an organization has the ability to make a difference.” Ernie says. “But for the organization to truly be successful, every single person must contribute to making that difference.”

    “That was the fundamental difference in culture that the squadron was missing. It was the notion that of those 1,300 folks there, any one of them could have sent them on the path to making the squadron better and more capable of operating the way it should have been. But, in order to really get the results that were required, we had to get every single person on board and working toward the same collective goal, taking a very methodical approach to how we were doing business.”

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    Ernie’s squadron was responsible for training about 60 percent of Navy pilots.

    Seeking alignment through belief

    To align the group, Ernie’s first step was to decide what a culture of success would look like. What mission, vision and values did they have to embrace to better perform their jobs? Having defined these ideas, the next step was to figure out how to turn them into action. In Ernie’s squadron, this posed a particular challenge. Because military leadership is relatively transient, people who don’t agree with particular leaders’ strategies can simply wait them out, resisting change until the commanding officer is replaced. So, Ernie knew he could not be passive – he had to actively make sure every individual bought in to the new culture.

    What Ernie realized motivated most people was meaning. For the problem he witnessed wasn’t that people weren’t willing to work hard, but that they believed their jobs didn’t matter.

    “Once an organization starts to falter, it’s easy for folks to come to work and say, ‘It’s not important what I do today,'” Ernie says. “What I saw in that particular squadron is that a lot of folks were coming to work and they were working very hard, but they were working on things that were meaningful to them at a very individual level – they were not contributory and not focused or coordinated across the entire organization. You had a lot of folks that were doing a lot of things, but not working toward what the squadron existed for.”

    Before he could expect someone to get behind the culture, he had to demonstrate why the new mission was meaningful, then explain precisely how that person’s job would contribute to realizing the mission. Having inspired belief in the new culture, Ernie eliminated actions and processes that did not align with the squadron’s values or move it closer to its mission. In their stead, the leadership established a new set of fundamental expectations designed to guide future action toward the squadron’s mission.

    Cementing culture with constant communication

    To drive their importance home, Ernie made these expectations the focal point of every policy decision, newsletter publication, team meeting, performance review and hiring decision going forward. Every action the squadron took from then on was shaped by the culture it was striving toward.

    “Driven by a new organizational culture, Ernie’s squadron saw dramatic results.”

    After about six months of constant communication, every member of the squadron was able to repeat from memory the group’s mission and the expectations that guided their behavior. According to Ernie, this is when he truly began to see a shift in the squadron’s day-to-day productivity toward the goals they had set out to achieve. Rather than taking his foot off the gas when he smelled success, Ernie says the key to sustaining the new culture was working as hard to promote it after six months as they did on day one.

    Driven by a new organizational culture, Ernie’s squadron saw dramatic results. Within six months, it had managed to bring about 20 airplanes back into service. By the time a year went by, it had completely restored nearly 60 planes, returning about $3.5 billion worth of Navy aircraft to the skies. With a functional fleet back in the air, it took less than a year for the squadron to get on pace to complete its training schedule. Plus, the new operating models were more efficient, cutting maintenance costs by as much as 36 percent.