1. Should Your Organization Have a Work from Home Pledge?

    September 16, 2020 by BPIR.com Limited

    Originally posted on Blogrige by Harry Hertz

    In a recent blog, entitled The New Normal Will Require RE2ST3, I asserted one of the components of the new normal will be long-term work from home (telework). I believe this shift will require all organizations to examine key factors associated with employee engagement. That is the topic of this blog post.

    Background
    Let me share some data and information relevant to our collective experiences over the last few months, as massive rapid shifts to telework occurred.

    Bloomberg Business reported on a study of 3.1 million people at more than 21,000 companies in 16 cities around the globe, comparing workforce behaviors over two eight-week periods one before and one after pandemic shifts to telework:

    • With telework the average workday lasted 48.5 minutes longer
    • The number of meetings increased by 13%
    • The number of meeting attendees increased by 14% (The average length of meeting decreased by 20%.)
    • Internal e-mails increased by 5%
    • The number of e-mails sent “after hours” increased by 8%

    A Bloomberg report on U.S. workers concluded:

    • People were working three additional hours in the U.S. and logging in at odd hours according to VPN data; there was a spike in usage from midnight to 3 a.m.
    • Boundaries between work and life have virtually disappeared
    • Burnt-out employees feel they have less free time than they had when they “wasted” hours commuting and they feel pressure from bosses to prove they are working
    • A survey of 1,001 U.S. employees conducted by Eagle Hill Consulting showed that almost half attributed their mental toll to an increased workload, the challenges of juggling personal and professional lives, and a lack of communication and support from their employer

    Recognizing the shift to remote work as a permanent change, the sports outfitter REI, has recently put its almost completed eight-acre new corporate headquarters on the market. Designed for the outdoor lifestyle the campus included such amenities as a fire pit, a blueberry bog, courtyards with native plants, and al fresco conference rooms. According to REI’s chief customer officer, Ben Steele, “We’re a national organization, and life outdoors looks different in, say, Atlanta than it does in Seattle than it does in Minneapolis or L.A.” REI’s stores are dispersed why shouldn’t the same be true for HQ personnel.

    Recognizing the stress and burn-out of employees, a large tax auditing firm, Withum, decided to give every employee Friday, August 28th off with instructions to disconnect and use the day to reset and recharge.

    Work from Home Pledge
    In late May 2020, cognizant of the strain on employees, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna, working with a group of IBMer’s issued an eight-point work from home pledge to and for employees:

    1. I pledge to be family first.
    2. I pledge to support flexibility for personal needs.
    3. I pledge to support “not camera ready” (on video calls) times.
    4. I pledge to be kind.
    5. I pledge to set boundaries and prevent video fatigue.
    6. I pledge to take care of myself.
    7. I pledge to frequently check in on people.
    8. I pledge to be socially connected with my coworkers.

    Your Call to Action
    Your organization and its leaders probably have to address the new reality of some permanent work from home. A workforce pledge may be an option to consider. It may also be appropriate to acknowledge the added stress by having a periodic day to reset and recharge. Whatever you do, the Baldrige Excellence Framework offers some criteria questions that take on new meaning in the “new normal.” Even if you have addressed all the criteria questions in the last year, it may be time to reconsider your answers. Here are some examples of topics to readdress (also proving the benefit of using the Baldrige framework in all situations):

    • From the Organizational Profile, defining your organization’s key characteristics, P.1a(3) on workforce profile
      • Do you have to reconsider employee segmentation?
      • What are new key drivers of employee engagement?
      • What are new health and safety requirements?
    • From the Leadership category
      • How do your senior leaders create an environment for success, including setting culture, two-way communication, and development of future leaders?
      • How do senior leaders create a focus on action, including setting expectations and demonstrating personal accountability?
    • From the Workforce category
      • How do you prepare your workforce for the changing capability and capacity needs?
      • How do you organize and manage at home and on site employees (and volunteers)?
      • How do you support your at home and on site employees with services and appropriate policies?
      • How do you assess workforce engagement?
      • How do you support the personal development of workforce members, manage their career development, and carry out succession planning?

    Some Concluding Reflections
    If a work from home pledge is right for your organization, how will you involve the workforce in its development? If it is not a good fit for your culture, why not? And, the big question, how will you maintain the all-important engagement of your workforce (without burnout)?

    Please let me know how your organization is addressing these questions.


  2. Infographics: Tips for Promoting Employee Well-Being & Mental Health in the Workplace

    March 10, 2020 by BPIR.com Limited
    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “For every US $1 put into scaled-up treatment for common mental disorders, there is a return of US $4 in improved health and productivity.” Developing programs to support mental health in the workplace should be a priority for managers, senior leaders and human resources professionals.Rider University just released a resource guide titled, Tips for Promoting Employee Well-Being & Mental Health in the Workplace. The resource guide was created for business owners, HR departments and wellness communities who are looking to build awareness around maintaining employee well-being and mental health in the workplace.

    To learn more, check out the infographic below or the resource guide from Rider University here.

    Also, refer to our best practice report “Employee Happiness”, the report provides best practice, innovative ideas and research data on employee happiness. If you are a member login here so you can download the entire report as a printable pdf file and have immediate access to all the content. Non-members can join here.


  3. Three Critical “Future of Work” Forecasts for the 2020s

    January 24, 2020 by BPIR.com Limited

    Article originally posted on Innovation Resource Consulting Group by Robert B. Tucker

    Each year I interview hundreds of organizational leaders and individual contributors on their most pressing business challenges. Through surveys and one-on-one interviews, I probe people’s outlook on the future. I zero in on their most critical personal and professional challenges.

    In recent years, workplace issues have dominated these surveys. In short: the future is arriving faster than ever, catching employers and employees unprepared. Some examples:

    • A furniture manufacturer in North Carolina complained to me that his company is hamstrung by a lack of qualified workers to fill orders for his custom-made products. Almost daily, he sees his experienced, Boomer-age employees calling it quits, and taking their years of experience and hands-on skills with them.
    • A community college president in Iowa described to me the impact of declining enrollments as workers take advantage of the booming economy in his area.
    • A Silicon Valley human resources manager expressed frustrated that tighter regulatory visa restrictions are making it difficult to attract enough talented engineers.
    • A college textbook executive in Boston is trying to find his footing after being displaced by an industry upheaval that decimated his former employers’ business model.

    As a futurist and innovation speaker, I work across industries, and often, across continents. This gives a first-hand perspective on workforce threats and opportunities. As much change as has taken place in the prior decade, I don’t believe we have grasped the extent of the changes ahead in the 2020s. Organizations and their leaders will rise or fall, prosper or be blindsided, based on their ability and willingness to anticipate and creatively respond to rapid change. I encourage my clients to “assault assumptions” and blow up the traditional human resource department’s short-sightedness and instead look, think and act ahead of the curve.

    The three forecasts below have to do with how the workplace is changing at the dawn of the new decade. They revolve around how the world of work will evolve. Take time to ponder these predictions and then prepare to take action on tomorrow’s trends today.

    Forecast #1. Job Category churn will accelerate, creating sunrise and sunset occupations.

    A hundred years ago, buggy whip makers got wiped out by the horseless carriage. In recent years, occupational categories such as travel agent, coal miner, meter reader, locomotive firer, and many others saw contraction (sunsetting), while other categories (sunrise occupations) boomed, creating millions of new jobs.

    The fastest-growing category in the United States, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, is solar panel installer, followed closely by wind turbine technician. LinkedIn research suggests that categories such as data scientists, physician assistants, nurses, marketing and customer success managers, enterprise account executives, home health workers, and information security analysts have added and will need workers and often can’t find sufficient numbers to hire. They will continue to explode in demand and pay above average wages.

    In 2005, more than 1,200 people applied for home appraiser traineeships. In 2016 only about 100 did, Reason: enabling technology — in this case, artificial intelligence — is sunsetting this profession at a rapid pace. Lenders such as Fannie Mae, Zillow and others are allowing certain loans to be approved without an appraisal by a human being. If present trends continue (always a caveat), the occupation of home appraiser may go the way of the buggy whip maker over the next decade.

    Action steps: Feel the “churn” in your own industry and line of work, then “futurize” your thinking, and plan accordingly. Whether you’re just starting out or are well along in your career, successful navigation in the 2020s involves more than just following your passion or going with the flow. Choose proactively and wisely based on sunrise/sunset projections. Mentor others. If someone you know is thinking of paying $5000 to become certified as a home appraiser, help them out. Suggest they first consult LinkedIn’s lists of fastest growing (and fastest disappearing) occupations. Avoid occupations with no future or plan to reinvent them as booming luxury travel broker Virtuoso has done. Even if you’re well into your career, pay attention to future forecasts in your profession and industry.

    Forecast #2. Lifelong learning, up-skilling and re-skilling will no longer be optional activities. They will be vitally necessary habits for sustained career success.

    The median age of workers at Facebook, LinkedIn, SpaceX and other tech companies is 29. The hiring rate slows markedly at 34. Generation Z’s recent arrival in the workplace is jolting Millennials into realizing that they are no longer the new kids on the block, and irrelevance happens faster today than ever before. The solution? Constant up-skilling (expanding your capabilities) and re-skilling (learning new skills) so you can do a different job or keep on doing your current job once routine parts of it have been automated by software.

    Don’t expect your current employer to do this for you. A relatively few firms are as forward-looking as AT&T in this regard. Each year, AT&T’s CEO shares where the company is going, and gives insight into what skills will be needed to remain employed in the foreseeable future. AT&T then partners with Udacity to create “nano-degree” courses which help employees develop needed emerging skills, for which the company is willing to pay for. The only caveat: employees must take these courses on their own time.

    Action steps: To thrive in this new world of work, think of yourself as You, Incorporated. Today You, Inc. is selling services to your current employer. But what about your next move or even your next career? Avoid putting all your eggs in one basket, explore other careers, keep; your resume current, volunteer for new projects and stretch assignments, especially those which develop your “soft” skills and innovation skills. Be willing to relocate for new opportunities. Take risks that pull you out of your comfort zone.

    Forecast #3. Automation will accelerate job displacement, but “augmentation” rather than joblessness will be the norm.

    According to research, currently available technology, if fully implemented, could automate almost half of the activities people are paid to perform today. And “currently existing technology” is advancing at the rate of Moore’s Law, which predicts a doubling of capacity every 18 to 24 months.

    In 2017, McKinsey ‘s research brought ominous headlines with a report that indicated 73 million people were in danger of losing their jobs through automation. But then a funny thing happened. The unemployment rate in the United States plummeted to a 50-year low, and employers and employees alike now wonder: if automation is going to wreak such havoc, wouldn’t its effects already be starting to show up in unemployment rolls? Instead of massive displacement, there will most likely be continuing and constant displacement of workers as automation becomes a driving force in both the service sector and manufacturing. The new trend, however, is augmentation – technologically enhancing the worker’s unique skills to create a greater whole.

    Action steps: Look at how automation is impacting and will likely impact the work that you do, the profession you are in, and the company you lead. Ask: where are present trends headed for your profession? How will you need to add value differently in the coming years?

    In the past decade, job category churn has accelerated to the point where front-line workers, professionals, and employers alike must “think ahead of the curve” or face unpleasant surprises. But those who anticipate and plan for change can create their own reality, and ride the waves of change.


    Robert B. Tucker is a renowned global futurist and innovation keynote speaker with a client list that includes over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies. Founder and president of Innovation Resource Consulting Group, Tucker is an internationally recognized pioneer in the field of strategic foresight and innovation. For more information, please see: www.innovationresource.com


  4. Are You A Role Model Leader?

    October 1, 2019 by BPIR.com Limited

    Article originally posted on Blogrige by Harry Hertz

    What are the key attributes and behaviors for a role model, visionary leader? About six years ago, a task force of Baldrige community senior executives under the leadership of Kathy Herald-Marlowe was charged with drafting a set of senior leader attributes and behaviors consistent with the Baldrige Core Values, to be used by the Baldrige Foundation as criteria for a leadership award. Those leadership attributes and behaviors have been used subsequently as part of the learning discussions for the Baldrige Executive Fellows. Recently, I had the opportunity to update those attributes and behaviors based on revisions to the Baldrige Excellence Framework over the last several revision cycles. The revised attributes and behaviors are listed below for your consideration with your leadership team:

    VISIONARY LEADERSHIP

    1. Leads the organization in setting and owning organizational vision and values
    2. Guides the creation of strategies, systems, and methods to ensure ongoing organizational success
    3. Inspires the organization and partners to achieve high performance
    4. Demonstrates authenticity, admitting to missteps and opportunities for improvement

    SYSTEMS PERSPECTIVE

    1. Sets a systems perspective across the organization so that the organization and all its parts are viewed as a whole
    2. Causes holistic thinking and cross-functional synthesis, alignment, and integration
    3. Requires a focus on strategic direction and customers to improve overall performance
    4. Leads with recognition of the larger ecosystem (partners, suppliers, customers, communities) in which the organization operates

    CUSTOMER FOCUSED EXCELLENCE

    1. Builds a customer-focused culture and integrates customer engagement and loyalty as a strategic concept
    2. Creates a focus on anticipating changing and emerging customer and market requirements
    3. Ensures differentiation from competitors through the development of innovative offerings and unique relationships

    VALUING PEOPLE

    1. Builds and reinforces an organizational culture that focuses on meaningful work, engagement, accountability, development, and well-being of workforce members
    2. Creates an organizational environment that is safe, trusting, and cooperative
    3. Builds partnerships with internal and external people and stakeholder groups
    4. Builds a culture of inclusivity that capitalizes on the diversity of the workforce and partners

    ORGANIZATIONAL LEARNING AND AGILITY

    1. Develops a capacity for rapid change and for flexibility in operations
    2. Leads and inspires the organization to manage risk and make transformational changes despite ever-shorter cycle times
    3. Creates an empowered workforce that effectively develops and uses evolving organizational knowledge
    4. Embeds learning in the way the organization operates

    FOCUS ON SUCCESS

    1. Creates a focus on short-and longer-term factors that affect the organization and its future marketplace success, including needed core competencies and skills
    2. Accomplishes strategic succession planning for leaders and workforce
    3. Ensures that organizational planning anticipates future marketplace, economic, and technological influences

    MANAGING FOR INNOVATION

    1. Builds an environment where strategic opportunities are identified, and the workforce is supported to take intelligent risks
    2. Fosters collaborative thinking among people who do not normally work together

    MANAGEMENT BY FACT

    1. Compels the organization to measure performance both inside the organization and in its competitive environment
    2. Uses data and analysis in operational and strategic decision making.
    3. Challenges the organization to extract larger meaning from data and information

    SOCIETAL CONTRIBUTIONS

    1. Acts as a role model for public responsibility and actions leading to societal well-being and benefit
    2. Motivates the organization to excel beyond minimal compliance with laws and regulations
    3. Drives environmental, social, and economic betterment of the community as a personal and organizational goal

    ETHICS AND TRANSPARENCY

    1. Requires highly ethical behavior in all organizational activities and interactions
    2. Leads with transparency through open communication of clear and accurate information
    3. Builds trust in the organization and its leaders

    DELIVERING VALUE AND RESULTS

    1. Leads the organization to achieve excellent performance results
    2. Defines and drives the organization to exceed stakeholder requirements and achieve value for all stakeholders

    How does your leadership team perform relative to these attributes and behaviors? Do the members of the team complement each other’s abilities, so that all the appropriate attributes are covered? Do your team members collaborate to make sure that employees, customers, and partners are treated fairly and with respect?

    Have a discussion with your leadership team to identify collective strengths and opportunities for improvement. Your leadership team will be strengthened as a result and your people will benefit from the outcome!


  5. Truly want Organisational Excellence and Resilience, it’s not your Systems, it’s your People you need to focus on for Positivity

    September 6, 2019 by BPIR.com Limited

    It’s been a long standing view that implementing ‘Systems’ will be the key to increasing overall organisational excellence. Organizational excellence is defined as the ongoing efforts to establish an internal framework of standards and processes intended to engage and motivate employees to deliver products and services that fulfil customer requirements within business expectations (asq.org). It is now well established that engaging your staff is the key to making systems and processes work effectively, not the other way round (Markos & Sridevi, 2010). Moreover, engage your staff and you not only get operational excellence, you get a productive and engaging work culture where leadership and operations thrive. Whether it’s production, clinical healthcare, customer services, aviation, construction, transportation or any other industry, the findings are relevant and consistent. Employee engagement matters most.

    But building engagement is not as obvious as it may sound. The answer is not adding gaming to the office lounge or having casual Fridays. It is much more foundational to every person’s psyche than the superficial fixes often deployed. Engagement itself has been shown to be poor globally, primarily due to the lack of understanding on what it is and how to increase it. Engagement is when your employees are full of vigour, dedication and immersed in their tasks.

    Globally only about 15% of the workforce is engaged, with 18% being actively disengaged and 67% just not engaged. The actively disengaged are disgruntled employees, the sabotagers, they actively steal from the organisation, are knowingly negligent or spend most of their time purposely sabotaging processes. The not engaged are simply there at work. They are aren’t actively sinking the ship, but they aren’t rowing either. They’re just there for the ride, to clock in and clock out. This equates to an estimated US$67 Trillion loss in productivity to the global economy. The NZ/Australia figures sit just below the global figures in engagement, with 14% engaged, 15% actively disengaged and a whopping 71% in the middle, just not engaged. Losing the economy roughly NZ$2.7 Billion in lost productivity.

    What makes matters worse is that globally, across industries and countries, engagement has been pretty much stagnant since engagement measures started in the 2000s. Not decreasing overall, but definitely not increasing either. This is primarily because organisations continue to simply measure engagement annually, don’t understand what they measured fully, how to fix it or what interventions exist or how to implement them. So they spread the stats to top management, have a meeting, put it in a file, do not much else about it and measure it again the next year!

    The primary driver to enhance engagement lies not in the organisation systems, or tearoom fun activities, but in each employee’s psychological capital (PsyCap). PsyCap is the internal ‘positivity’ you build into your personnel to enhance the will to chase goals. Building PsyCap has been scientifically shown to make us smarter. Our peripheral vision literally expands, we can take in more information from our surroundings in lesser time. Our brain has more information to work with so processes information faster. We have more info and retrieved it faster, so we problem solve faster. This all feeds back on itself so we get smarter, faster. The more we can do this and for longer, the more permanent it becomes. Think going to the gym now and then versus going consistently every week. The changes and results become permanent. Doctors have been shown to reach differential diagnosis faster and more accurately. Production staff have been shown to produce fewer defective products with less risk and health and safety issues in the workplace. Service focussed employees have been shown to retain customers and increase customer satisfaction. The same tide (PsyCap) raises all ships (all industries have been shown to reap the benefits globally).

    When employees with PsyCap interventions, positivity interventions, were measured against employees with no interventions within the same organisation, significant KPI differences were found. Those with positivity intervention showed 37% less absenteeism, 65% less turnover in high turnover orgs, 28% less org. shrinkage, 48% less safety incidents, 41% less patient incidents, 41% less quality defects, 10% increase in customer satisfaction, and a 22% increase in productivity enhanced profitability. Build positivity, engage in work, increase productivity, increase profitability.

    Organisational resilience relies on 9 key factors in order to have robust resilience, material resources, planning, information mgt, redundant pathways, governance, leadership, culture, social collaboration and human capital. Of these 9, 4 (nearly half your organisational resilience) rely entirely on the positivity of your employees to be successful. Positive employees need positive leadership, which together establishes a positive culture, which enhances social collaboration, which reinforces your human capital overall. This positivity builds and enhances engagement, which in turn then effectively enhances your other 5 resilience components in efficiency, resources, planning, information mgt, redundant identification and overall governance,

    But it’s not all about work either! People who have positivity interventions have greater mental resilience, in life, significant well-being overall and generally have a better quality of life after and are more likely to be promoted, have successful marriages, increase immune function and general health, have better brain functionality and basically excel in all aspects of life. And it lasts long term with far reaching benefits. Because when we are happy, those around us are more likely to be happy, work colleagues, friends, family. It makes good business sense to invest in positivity. It makes good life sense to invest in positivity.

    If you are interested in this article, can you help?

    The author, Ranjeeta Singh, Positive Coach & COER Researcher, is looking for participant organisations that would like to be involved in her exciting research project on Employee Positivity. If interested please contact Ranjeeta ranjeeta.singh@gmail.com. Minimal time commitment, full ethics, legal and confidentiality conformance is part of the study and, the big plus is that you will receive a measure of Employee Positivity for your organisation (and a comparison against other participants) and access to the research findings on how to improve it.