Tag Archives: employee engagement

Redressing Engagement

Sandy Arseneault, CHRP

Sandy Arseneault, CHRP

Redressing Engagement

Shortly after my last article was posted (February – The Month of Engagement[1]), I received a call from a colleague asking a very important question: ‘How can I measure the level of engagement in my organization?’ My answer, of course, was: ‘conduct an Employment Engagement Survey’.

An Employment Engagement Survey is a quick and easy way to measure the extent to which employees are committed to their work and the organization. According to Dale Carnegie & Associates Inc.: “Employees personalize their work through emotions felt about the company’s actions as a whole and about their immediate supervisor in particular. Those who emotionally connect in a positive way with an organization feel a sense of ownership and are more likely to stay with it, delivering superior work in less time and reducing turnover costs”.[2] In other words, retaining a superior workforce depends on efforts made by an employer in terms of best practice, affirmative action and employee engagement.

 

Getting Started

My first suggestion is always to look at, and assign weights to, all of the following areas within your organization:

  1. Productivity and morale
  2. Absenteeism and turnover
  3. Sales and customer satisfaction

Assigning weights to these areas will help ensure you develop questions that revolve around changes you want to observe in the future. Note: for some, these outcomes may weigh the same.

One caution I am adamant about, however, is this – it is possible an Employment Engagement Survey will yield a different result than you expect. For example, you may believe absenteeism and/or turnover is of greatest concern but soon discover morale is the bigger issue, according to employees. For this reason, it is wise to start with an equally weighted survey. Remember: you can always modify your survey.

Once weighted, you can start developing questions that dive deeper into the perceptions and emotions employees have on their role, colleagues, performance, pay, and organization. If you need help developing questions, Survey Monkey offers a free and simple template you can modify as you see fit[3].

 

Getting Further

After analyzing results from your survey I strongly suggest organizing focus groups to learn more about the responses employees provided. Focus groups are also a great way to reassure employees that their constructive feedback is welcomed and free from reprimand. Of course, you should make it clear that any constructive feedback given at a focus group be voiced with respect and remain factual.

 

Finally; another question posed by my colleague, with obvious concern, was: ‘How do I reassure my employees that their feedback will remain confidential and protect their identification?’ Simple – at the beginning of the survey, include a Statement of Confidentiality explaining just that. Or, you may consider a Third Party provider. Nonetheless, be sure it is clear to your employees why you are conducting the survey and how the information will be used. This will help minimize their possible concern for reprimand.

 

[1] https://coffeeshophr.com/2014/02/03/february-the-month-of-engagement/

[2] http://www.dalecarnegie.com/assets/1/7/Emotional_Drivers_of_Employee_Engagement.pdf

[3] http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/shrm-work-engagement-template

The Role of HR and its Significance

Jessica Lau

Jessica Lau

This month, I want to talk a little bit about the role of HR and its significance in an organization. I’m not going to go into a research type of writing with data, statistics as I know there are tons of those writings out there but I wanted to talk about the role of HR from what I’ve heard and my feelings towards these comments.

In the past couple of months, I’ve spoken with friends about HR and was I shocked about their views on HR. I mean, I wasn’t too shock as I know there’s still this perception of HR as the cost centre and the department that handles the paperwork. Some people have told me that HR is where “those people make you follow all these ridiculous rules and pointless procedures to get one simple thing done. They make up all these hoops, obstacles and roadblocks for you to jump and pass through before you can do anything.” True, HR puts in policies, procedures and what some may see as roadblocks for the organization but these are necessary. Can you imagine what may happen if there’s no policies regarding sexual harassment or procedures about dismissal? There would be many lawsuits and chaos out there and these are costly to an organization. So these roadblocks are actually ways in which HR is helping an organization protect itself from millions of dollars and negative reputation.

Other comments I’ve heard also include “HR is the people who give out freezies, offer hugs, spend time throwing little parties and making workshops.” Sure, HR may be the ones offering freezies on a hot, sunny day but there is a purpose and significance behind this tiny gesture. This tiny gesture is little sign of care and appreciation, which affects engagement and retention. The little parties thrown by HR may be part of a plan to help the employees build a sense of connection and mentality of teamwork. The workshops are ways to develop employees, make them feel motivated and engaged because not everyone is motivated by external motivator such as money, especially with the Gen Y, who are motivated and engaged by internal motivators such as the opportunity to grow and learn.[1] Overall, these initiatives help with lowering turnover and increasing retention, part of talent management and development.

So maybe the problem is not what HR is doing but the fact that what HR is doing is not being measured in quantitative data; employees are not seeing significance in what HR does. HR needs to be more of a strategic partner and shows that HR has the business mindset and knowledge to prove that their actions make an impact to the organization. There needs to be a sense of return on investment and employees need to be communicated about the impact and the significance HR plays in an organization. There may be a possibility that the employees are not seeing significance in what HR is doing due to a lack of understanding and communication between what the employees need and what the HR thinks the employees need. HR needs to have better communication with the employees to make sure it is providing the right products and services to its customers, the employees. HR can have the best product and service but if that is not what the employees need, it is worth nothing in the employees’ views.

What do you think HR can do to change or affect the management and employees’ views of HR? How can we demonstrate HR’s importance to people within our organization?


[1] Bacharach, Samuel. Gen-Y Employees: How to Motivate Them http://www.inc.com/sam-bacharach/how-to-motivate-your-gen-y-employees.html

Heathfield, Susan M. The New Roles of the Human Resources Professional. http://humanresources.about.com/od/hrbasicsfaq/a/hr_role.htm

Effective Planning for Social Events: Make Your Effort Count!

Nicole Davidson

Nicole Davidson

I’ve always had a bit of a flair for event management. Going back to my high school days, some of my favourite memories are of the time I spent as the Social Affairs Minister of our (appropriately Canadian) Student Cabinet. My role centered on planning and executing our three school dances per year, as well as organizing other various “spirit” activities. Event management happens to be one of the few areas where I feel I can be successfully creative while at the same time feeding my need to give things structure.  In my new role, one of my initial tasks has been to resurrect a long-dead social committee. Sitting in our first meeting the other day, I was struck by how many things can derail a social committee that starts out with the best of intentions.

One of the hardest things to deal with can be differing levels of commitment from committee members. It can be hard to find people who really are passionate about planning and organizing events. Often people who are outgoing are automatically considered as being people who would be good at coordinating events, but this is not often the case. Being a good event planner also involves being someone who has a good head for organization, pays close attention to detail, and is willing to deal with the many little frustrations which come up when attempting to please a large amount of people. In other words, the people who are the most fun at the party are not always the best people to plan a party.

An effective strategy I have found for dealing with this is to not expect every person to participate in every event. The leader of the committee should be listening to hear which events a member gets most excited about, and then facilitating to have that person take a lead on events that interest them. It’s also important to make sure that the same person is not the lead on subsequent events; leading two or more events in a row is a quick way to get to event-planning burnout.

Another common problem is the tendency to over-complicate things. Everyone wants to throw an awesome event, and often it seems that adding multiple small elements can create that “awesome”. In my experience however, keeping things simple (especially in execution) is essential to planning a successful event. Unless you are throwing something very large-scale, many of the tiny elements you’re working so hard for are destined to be lost in the shuffle. I remember for one Saint Patrick’s Day dance spending hours twisting more than a hundred sparkly green pipe cleaners into the shape of clovers to hang from fishing line in the dance entrance. This is a prime example of too much effort for too little effect.

The best way to avoid the “everything but the kitchen sink” approach is to set limits in the planning stage about what is and isn’t possible. Ask other members questions about how much time an idea might take to execute, and how many people might enjoy the idea (and for how long). Encourage members of the committee to think pragmatically about ideas from a cost-benefit perspective. If all else fails, defer to a strict budget to keep ideas in line.

A final, important complication is building buy-in from other employees. This is often one of the most neglected areas. A funny email or poster to remind people of an event can go a long way to encouraging them to participate. As well, every event will need at least one “champion” to talk up the event at least one week prior.  There is nothing worse than painstakingly planning an event that doesn’t turn out well because of a lack of interest. The reason for these events is to build employee engagement- if the event doesn’t resonate with your employees, the effort is being wasted. Plan your events well and make sure that your time and effort accomplishes what it sets out to do.

What will it take to retain the best talent over the next 5 years?

Gareth Cartman

Gareth Cartman

This blog post was written in response to the May 2013 Coffee Shop HR World Café topic: “What will it take to retain the best talent over the next 5 years?”

I might not work in HR, but I do have the constant challenge of retaining talented employees, so I feel it’s my responsibility, not that of HR. I also have to accept that any aim to retain an employee will (almost) always end in failure. At some point, an employee will leave. It could be today, it could be tomorrow, and it could be in five years’ time. I can’t hold on forever.

So really, the question is – what can I do to keep my best employees for as long as possible? Or, how can I maximize their potential for however long I’ve got them?

The foundation, or the basics

I lump contractuals and engagement ‘tactics’ into one package – the very foundation of your retention efforts. Whether it’s the contract your people want, or fresh coffee and more pot plants, it’s the environment you create.

There are external pressures coming from everywhere these days – financial, childcare, relationships, legal, even dealing with builders! You don’t want to add to the pressures, so a workplace should be, at its very least, a haven from everything else.

If you’re going to lose a talented employee, don’t let it be due to something stupid like forgetting to pay on time. The basics.

Nobody likes your company values

I liked this statistic – 77% of people in the UK admit they’re ‘not engaged’ with the company’s brand values. Get over it.

Nobody likes your company values, and nobody cares about them. Yeah, sure, they might tell you they really care, but they’re mostly lying.

They care about their own careers, and where you, as a business, fit into that schema is the one thing that counts. Company values are not going to help you retain or engage anyone… after all, most businesses have the same values, they just use different words. No company’s brand values state “rip people off and lie to them”, do they.

What they do is help you craft the right message and behaviour in front of clients. They’re nothing whatever to do with retention or engagement, and if people aren’t engaged with them, move on. Nothing to see here.

Work makes people stay

When people leave their jobs, it’s often because of their line managers. It’s often because their work isn’t challenging enough, or because there’s a greater chance of career progression somewhere else.

You could be paying everyone on time, and you could be handing out free coffee, gym sessions, EAPs and you might even have a pool table. Whoopee-doo. But anyone can do that, and your competitors might well be doing more. Unless you’re offering way more than everyone else, the grass might always be just as green next door.

If you’re going to retain really talented employees, you’re going to have to give them a reason to stay, and here’s your bullet points:

– a job they love
– a hope (and a vision) of career progression
– a challenge

HR’s responsibility in this mix is twofold: number 1, get the basics right. If that’s finding an outsourcing partner and a shared service centre, then do it. It’s cheap and scalable and it removes the stuff that doesn’t add value.

Number 2, look after those line managers. If you’ve got bad line managers, you should be the first to know, and you should be working with them on people management skills. Transfer your hard-earned knowledge and give them a little love. Pin-point the future managers, develop a succession programme and don’t keep it close to your chest – let them in on it.

Talk to people, find out what motivates them, and find out how you can keep them just that little bit longer. They might ask say something like “I want to earn $100k, run my own business by the time I’m 40 and grow a beard”, but you could harness some of that ambition and say “you know what, let’s work together. We can help you become more entrepreneurial, but we can’t help with the beard.”

Related Pages:

The Magic Bullet by Nicole Davidson

How to Keep The BEST Ones by Carolyn Courage, CHRP

It Takes More than Money to Retain Your Best Talent by Jessica Lau

The Magic Bullet

Nicole Davidson

Nicole Davidson

This blog post was written in response to the May 2013 Coffee Shop HR World Café topic: “What will it take to retain the best talent over the next 5 years?”

The problem of retention is not one that I have had much experience with; coming from a unionized hospitality background, we very rarely lost our long-term employees. In the hospitality industry the grass is rarely greener on the other side, as switching companies often means a switch back to night shifts (or short shifts) and a loss of valuable seniority. Retention is one of the areas where an organization can actually benefit from being a unionized environment, as loathe as an organization may be to admit it- but the complicated relationship between unions and employers is certainly a subject for another day.

My new role has certainly found me in an environment where managing retention is more crucial. The most obvious piece (and easiest piece to administer) is the performance of regular salary reviews. The money piece however, while the most obvious (and potentially the most boring to write about), is widely considered to be a little overrated. Employees are seeking more than just a good salary.

Generational shifts are part of the reason why money is not the sole focus any longer. The emergence of a new generation in the workforce is a source of concern for many, at least as far as the articles I’ve read are concerned; the supposed entitlement of my generation (most commonly referred to as Generation Y) is considered to be a major issue that organizations will have to overcome in the future. My generation is known for keeping our job tenure short (2 years, on average, according to this article) and expecting more in terms of feedback and promotional opportunities. Brought up to believe that we can have whatever we want as long as we try, entering a workplace that follows a rigid structure is a rude awakening.

I don’t know if I buy into the whole “entitlement problem” that is said to run so rampant in my generation. Part of my previous job involved supervising a workforce that was primarily the same generation as I was, and I found the majority of my employees to be hard-working and reasonable people. I will say though that when we did run into an employee with an entitlement complex, we really noticed; part of that behavior seems to be a need for attention that translates into a feeling of near-constant interaction with a demanding person, and that wears on management.

If I had to say what I would feel would be the key facets to a retention plan for my generation, I give these three major areas: opportunities for training and development, fair and transparent performance management, and low power distance between us and our bosses. The reasons for these are fairly simple. We want to know where we can potentially go and how we’re doing getting there; we want to be able to bring our concerns, ideas, and questions to our bosses and feel like we’re being heard. I don’t think that these wants are very different from what any other generation has wanted. As people we all want to feel valued, and that’s what we’re really seeking.

If an organization takes retention seriously, then they must see the value in their employees, since they’re trying to keep them. Communicating that value that they’re seeing is crucial to encouraging good employees to stay. Communicating must be done through the managers who deal with the day-to-day training, performance, and interactions in their departments. I guess communication is always that magic bullet.

Related Pages:

It Takes More Than Money to Retain You Best Talent by Jessica Lau

How to Keep the BEST Ones! by Carolyn Courage, CHRP

To Retain the Best Talent: Find the Right People, Gauge Engagement, and Consider Velvet Handcuffs by Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP

It Takes More than Money to Retain Your Best Talent

Jessica Lau

Jessica Lau

This blog post was written in response to the May 2013 Coffee Shop HR World Café topic: “What will it take to retain the best talent over the next 5 years?”

One of the biggest challenges faced by many business leaders is the struggle to find and retain the right talent with the right skills for their organizations. According to an article The ‘8 Great’ Challenges Every Business Faces (And How to Master Them All), there are no “magic answers.”  There is no “formula with recruiting and engaging the right talent,” which makes sense as everyone is different. This month’s Coffee Shop HR question, “what it will take to retain the best talent over the next five years,” is closely related to this business challenge and is very important for HR professionals and business leaders. Finding and retaining the right talent is challenging enough already, let along retaining the best talent.

I had a few ideas in mind in terms of retaining the best talent but I really wanted to see what others would say. Instead of immediately going out to look at what other business professionals have suggested, I  took this opportunity to speak with alumni friends individuals (to avoid group think) what it would take for their employers to retain them. What truly amazed me is the fact that there was quite a bit of commonality in what they said, what I found in research and what I actually thought.

I am writing this with the assumption that the company has implemented a successful recruitment strategy, which can attract and recruit the right people with the right skills and management have the ability to identify the best talent. Here are 4 ways to help retain your best talent:

Training, Development and Growth

One of the answers that everyone I spoke with was about development and growth. Everyone mentioned the importance of having an opportunity to develop new skills and grow within the company as something very important to them in regards to retention. The inability to develop and grow seems to be a “no-no” with everyone I spoke with. As Mike Myatt stated in the article 10 Reasons Your Top Talent Will Leave You, “if you place restrictions on a person’s ability to grow, they’ll leave you for someone who won’t.” So if you want their best talent to stay and grow with your company then you need to provide opportunities for them to develop and grow, perhaps having career planning or professional development initiatives. Show that you care about them and their development.

Challenge Your Best Talent

It is very important to challenge your best talent, allow them to get creative and pursue their passion. This may mean allowing them to explore different ways of doing their daily tasks, trying different strategies for their tasks or allowing to get creative in being innovative on new initiatives, this may add value to the company they work for. For example, Google set up “20 Percent Time” for their staff to work on their own projects they like; this encourages the Google staff to be innovative and have an opportunity to exercise their autonomy.

Allow Your Best Talent to Contribute to Meaningful Work

To retain your best talent, you need to incorporate your best talent in the overall strategic plan and contribute to meaningful work. If you want to retain your best talent, give them opportunities to contribute to meaningful work and make a difference and an impact in the company. Mike Myatt stated that it is very likely that your best talent are interested in improving, enhancing and adding value to the work they do and the company they work for. Failure to allow your best talent to contribute to meaningful work will push them to leave.

Recognition / Acknowledgement

As Dan Ariely stated in What makes us feel good about our work, fail to recognize and acknowledge someone’s work is almost as bad as ignoring someone’s work. If you want to retain your best talent, it is very important to recognize and acknowledge their work. If you fail to recognize their contribution, it is “just as good as asking them to leave,” according to Mike Myatt. Also, I believe that we are so accustom to the speed of technology and immediate feedback nowadays that recognition and acknowledgement need to be made quite immediate as well.

It is challenging to find the right talent with the right skills and even more difficult to find the best talent therefore once you find them, make sure to engage and retain them. Yes, it is important for you to provide competitive compensation but you must also provide opportunities to develop and grow them, challenge them, allow them to contribute to meaningful work and provide them with recognition and acknowledgement.

Related Pages

How to Keep the BEST Ones! by Carolyn Courage, CHRP

To Retain the Best Talent: Find the Right People, Gauge Engagement, and Consider Velvet Handcuffs by Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP

Coffee Shop HR World Café : What will it take to retain the best talent over the next five years?

It Takes Two to Tango

I think it would be an easy cop-out to say that it is an Employer’s responsibility to keep workers engaged. Drilling down, one may even say it is Management’s sole function to keep workers engaged to ensure high productivity… But, this doesn’t paint the full picture. Yes, without a doubt management needs to actively engage their workers- give them variety in their task, autonomy within their work, and foster the connection one has with the purpose of their work; however, I’d like to focus on the relationship between and employee and an employer and how each plays a role in employee engagement.

As an employee it is also your responsibility to ‘maintain’ your engagement. If you feel yourself becoming disconnected from your work, bored, or feeling unchallenged, you have two options: you can say something to your boss, or you can stay silent. Sitting your boss down and saying your work is boring is not exactly what I’m suggesting- don’t misquote me! But what I am saying is that employers are not mind readers and many take the approach of no news is good news when looking at feedback from employees. Sometimes a candid conversation is needed, especially when the relationship between employee and manager is a good one. Like any relationship, including the employment one, communication is key. If you choose not to voice your concerns or wishes related to your work-that is completely your choice- sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and sometimes the squeaky wheel quietly looks for work at another organization in their spare time.

Remember those “Employee Engagement Surveys”? That is one avenue employers take to solicit feedback from employees and gauge levels of dedication, interest and happiness within the workplace. If the survey is sent out, and management takes no action upon the results, I’d say they shouldn’t have done a survey to begin with! If management receives the results, truly invests in making the changes employees say they need to stay engaged, and actually takes action, that is a great start to ensuring employees are engaged.

I think there is a lot to be learned about corporate culture playing into employee engagement, the law of attraction that states ‘like attracts like’, and the fact that most people like people like themselves. If your organization’s values and culture are strong, you may have a very homogenous workforce which is made up of many employees who are the right ‘fit’ for your organization and therefore are highly engaged simply because they do ‘fit’. Does that mean that whoever does the hiring and recruitment, those who deal with people who don’t even yet work for the company, have a hand in ensuring the workforce is engaged? More often than not, it is the Human Resources Department that actually manages much of the recruitment (gate keeping) for an organization and is also the department that conducts and employee engagement survey… however, I see Human Resources as a partner in engagement, but not the one responsible for it.

In the end, I’d say it takes two to tango and that both the employee and the employer have a role to play and are both responsible for employee engagement. I’m not even going to open the can of worms of talking about the role unions play in engagement… lets save that for another article!