Tag Archives: engagement

How can we maintain healthier lifestyles at work?

Carolyn Courage, CHRP

Carolyn Courage, CHRP

This blog post was written in response to the June 2013 Coffee Shop HR World Café topic: “How can we maintain healthier lifestyles at work?”

This is a great topic to talk about especially getting closer to summer. I work at a Chocolate Factory and the question always is “how do you all remain slim?” My answer to this that the way our building is we have to do a lot of walking around and stair climbing, company sponsored active lifestyle options and, of course, great quality chocolate daily.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle at work is key to the success of a business and overall engagement levels. There are a few ideas I have seen over the years that seem to be successful.

Company sponsored physical activities are a great way to get involved in the community while living a healthy lifestyle. Paying for employees entry into the Sun Run or the BMO Marathon is one example. Creating a work team for events like these foster employee camaraderie excitement around the office and maybe some cross departmental team building too! There could be training sessions on their lunch break or running clubs after work or on the weekends.

A Company lunch program is another way to foster at healthy lifestyle. One company I visited recently had a great lunch program that most of their employees participate in it. A small fee comes off their pay check and it covers their daily lunches. The lunches are made in a cafeteria and are wonderfully healthy and are different every day. The cafeteria is also meeting place for employees to socialize.

Another company had a ‘biggest loser’ contest that lasted 6 months, complete with weigh-ins, healthy lunches and walking clubs. The employees formed teams and got points from the weight lost in the group. The winning team won a prize and notoriety!

There are lots of fun ways to incorporate a healthy lifestyle into your work place, and create employee engagement and comradery at the same time.

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

Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP

Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP

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?”

This month the Coffee Shop HR writing team is taking on a question that’s relevant for all levels of management: how to retain the best talent. As a diverse group, I’m looking forward to seeing just how distinct our responses are, and how we differ in our approach.

To clarify, I’m focusing my discussion on retaining the best talent. By this I mean your top performers: the drivers of your business and truly, those individuals who personify the company culture.

It all starts with finding the right people

This may sound like an obvious answer, but that doesn’t make it an easy one to follow. Finding the right people means recruiting individuals who are competent for the position, share the values of the organization and whose lives coincide with the demands of the role.

There’s an amusing article on Fistful of Talent that compares retention to dating: it’s all about impressing that person at the beginning. They argue that the way you represent yourself can go downhill after the honeymoon phase. But the key is to impress your best candidate just enough to stay. The rest depends on the needs and personal expectations of the individual.

I’m an HR person by day, but I’m a bartender / bar supervisor by night. I work full-time for the BC Public Service Agency, and part-time for a company called the Vancouver Civic Theatres. This was a job that I found while I was going to university, and have chosen to maintain over the years because I enjoy the work and the environment.

At the Vancouver Civic Theatres, there are a number of us who work full-time jobs while working part-time with Civic Theatres, including accountants, teachers, IT professionals, and the list goes on. If you speak with an employee at the Civic Theatres, you are more likely to encounter an employee with more than ten years of experience than an employee with less than one. We all have our reasons for choosing to stay at the theatres despite the demands of our careers and personal lives, but this is a workplace which personifies the idea that at the beginning, you need to prove to your employee that there`s a reason to stay. At some point the individual takes over and justifies staying for their personal reasons. But it all starts with recruiting the right people for the company and its unique roles.

Gauge engagement: be aware of employee expectations

Make a point to have regular conversations with staff to gage their professional goals and expectations for themselves and the company. Let’s say that you’ve hired a junior person at the firm, and you’ve heard that after six months, this person is looking for work elsewhere. Figure out why this is!  Do you have the sense that this person is unaware of your expectations, is this person not being challenged enough, or does this person feel disconnected from the team?

Take this a step further and look at the people who are functioning well in their roles: discover their long-term professional goals, ask where they aspire to move within the organization, and gain an understanding of what would help them function best. You may be surprised at what you hear.

A lesson I’ve learned recently is that not all staff appreciate progressive positions. Depending on countless personal and professional factors, at some point you may find a job that you’re comfortable with, and refuse to leave. Not everyone enjoys change, after all. Taking the time to speak with staff about long-term hopes and expectations will show you who is still engaged in their current roles, and who is seeking engagement elsewhere.

It’s no secret that recruiting is an expensive business, whether it’s done internally or through recruiting firms. If you can grow staff from within, you’ve already saved yourself from hiring and onboarding new employees. So save yourself some of that trouble, and be aware of the level of engagement that exists within your organization. Then take that knowledge, and support your staff so that they can excel, and strengthen your business.

Velvet handcuffs can’t hurt

I currently work in the public sector, and I’m at the beginning of my career. I shared a fear with one of my mentors that I don’t mind sharing because she had a brilliant response. I said to her, “as a public sector employee, do you think that private sector recruiters would overlook me because of the stigma associated with public sector workers?” She said, “no, it’s the velvet handcuffs you have to worry about.”

She argued that the skills and experiences I`ve gained in the public sector wouldn’t be overlooked. However, I needed to be aware that the tradeoffs associated with private sector work may cloud my decision to leave. On the one hand, I may have access to unique career opportunities in the private sector, but on the other hand, I’ve been given velvet handcuffs in the public sector – referring to superior benefits that I wouldn’t likely be able to access in a private sector position. She’s certainly right. Whenever I consider taking a position outside of my current company, I consider whether it’s worth losing the benefits I have today. And I represent an optimistic and driven Gen-Y employee. I seek out change and challenges, but not at the expense of my personal satisfaction.

There are amazing employee benefits out there, including earned days off, personal assistants, staff retreats, private vacation homes, the list goes on. If you really care about retaining the best talent, it may be worth handing out some velvet handcuffs to those who are worth the investment.

Related Pages

Coffee Shop HR World Café

To Award or Reward by Christine Ramage, CHRP

Motivational Team Building by Bonnie Milne, PhD

Motivation Fuels Engagement

When I think of motivation, I think of an old episode of The Simpsons where Homer decides that the reason why he’s going to show up for work each day is because he loves his daughter Maggie, and he’s willing to make the daily sacrifice for her.  It’s December 17th, and seasonal celebrations are everywhere.  Employees are taking vacations, kids are out of school, relatives are in town, and everyone seems to be in a hurry get somewhere.  So whose responsibility is it to ensure that employees are engaged in their work?

Motivation fuels engagement.  If I want to do something, I’ll do it, it’s as simple as that.  Speaking as an employee, I feel that the responsibility of staying engaged at work is largely mine.  But I think that`s greatly because of my personal work ethic.  If my mind is not challenged with a complex task, or if I feel unappreciated, I’ll disengage from the task at hand.  Despite these challenges that can come up in the workplace, as a paid employee, I do feel that it is my responsibility to focus on work during work hours.

On the other hand, as someone who manages employees, I view the salaries that are paid by employers as investments made on behalf of the company.  We need to support and develop these investments over time to get the best return.  So on the other side of the coin is the reality that employers have a responsibility to all stakeholders to observe the working patterns of their employees, and support their development through training and mentorship.

In Ron Alsop’s book, ‘The Trophy Kids Grow Up’ he writes about how the Millennial Generation is forcing the workforce to change the way they recruit, and ultimately how they manage their staff.  The Millennial Generation is made up of those who were born between 1980 – 2001.  Key characteristics of this generation include being comfortable with using technology, doing more than one task at all times, and demanding immediate results.  He argues that on the one hand, this generation demands immediate payoffs, but on the one hand, the work they produce is also completed swiftly.  On the one hand, Millennials want to maintain worklife balance, yet they desire to move quickly up the corporate ladder.  ‘The Trophy Kids Grow Up’ is a fascinating exploration into the mindset of the Millennial Generation, and what that means for managers and corporations as a whole.

As a Millennial myself, it is easy to see where my choices fit into the stereotypical Millennial frame of mind.  Honestly, some aspects of being a Millennial seem extremely negative, including a constant need to be recognized for one’s work.  Still, I strongly believe that the reason why I care about employee engagement is because of my Millennial traits.  Not only am I willing to multi-task, voluntarily working through multiple projects at the same time, but I enjoy the challenge of excelling in more than one task.  And because I do intend on moving up the corporate ladder over time, my mind is always focused on the business as a whole, and learning all of its parts (rather simply focusing solely on my role).

Again, I can only do so much for my own engagement.  I, as an employee, can be excited to learn about the business I am in, and the industry I care so much about.  But unless my employer supports that desire to learn through training or mentorship, there’s no other way for my curiosity to go beyond simply that.  So to the question ‘whose responsibility is it to ensure that employees are engaged,’ my response is that if motivation fuels engagement, then the responsibility of an employee is to find motivation to work, while the responsibility of an employer is to sustain that forward motion.  An employee may be expected to start the car, but an employer needs to provide the gasoline.