Archive for the "Employee Experience" Category

WorkHuman: Disconnect and Recharge

by Lynette Silva

Ambassador cheetah, VelvetRecognize This! – Humans are designed to need to recharge. Work often is not.

What does it mean to be human? A significant part of being human requires shutting off. We need deep sleep for our brains to clear out all the muck, process the day and file it away in long-term memory, and reset for the next day.

Humans need to recharge.

France codified the need to recharge into law, making the “right to disconnect” a requirement for companies with more than 50 employees. (I recommend this post by Tim Leberecht on “Is the ‘Right to Disconnect’ a Human Right?”)

Research on the business impact of making time to recharge abounds:

  • More positive employee experience: The IBM/Globoforce Employee Experience Index report (citing findings from a global survey of 23,000 employees in 45 countries) found that 77% of workers report a more positive employee experience when they get a chance to recharge when not at work (vs. 42% when they don’t get a chance to recharge).
  • Better performance: An Ernst & Young internal study of their own employees found that each additional 10 hours of vacation resulted in an 8% improvement in year-end performance ratings from supervisors.
  • Higher retention: The same Ernst & Young study found frequent vacationers were less likely to leave.
  • Increased productivity: Lack of sleep translates to a lost work performance of $63.2 billion in the United States.

For me, it’s a bit hard to believe we’re already nearly a full month into 2017. January has been a whirlwind of projects, meetings, inspirations, learnings – all wonderful, yet certainly happening at a rapid pace. I’ve been able to sustain that pace because of my end-of-2016 vacation. A near-total disconnect not just from work, but from the routine of my usual day-to-day. A chance to truly recharge. (And pet ambassador cheetah, Velvet, on safari in South Africa. Who knew cheetah purr?)

How does your organization or your supervisor support your need to recharge? What steps do you take to shut down and restore yourself?

Join us at WorkHuman 2017 (May 30-June 1, Phoenix, Ariz.) to learn more about ways to disconnect, recharge and restore yourself at work. Learn from keynote speaker Susan Cain (author of Quiet Revolution) and Pandit Dasa (mindfulness and well-being expert) among many others. Use code WH17BLG100 when registering for a $100 discount.

What Workplace Studies Can Tell Us

Compensation Cafe logoBy Derek Irvine

Recognize This! – Experiments in the workplace can help show the impact of innovative practices, and provide insight into management philosophies.

Experimentation in the workplace isn’t necessarily a new idea. As early as the 1920s, studies have looked into the effect that various workplace changes, such as lighting and scheduling adjustments, could have on productivity.

Today, many companies and even municipalities continue to experiment, in pursuit of insights that can create a better workplace.

I recently wrote about the conclusion of one such study on Compensation Cafe. This study centered on a government-run nursing home in Sweden that had implemented a 6-hour workday, and the outcomes that stemmed from that change.

Studies like this reflect a delicate balance between two management philosophies.

As with earlier studies of the workplace emerging from the Industrial Era, an emphasis is on factors that can make workers more productive and positively impact the bottom line. But there is a shift as well in some of the outcomes, reflecting an employee-centric view that aligns to the philosophies of the Human Era. In these cases, policies are examined that have potential to improve the employee experience and well-being.

Workplace experiments can offer the opportunity to examine how outcomes related to each philosophy are weighted against each other, tracking the evolution of our thinking about work.

Take the outcomes of the experiment in Sweden for example. Researchers there found that 6-hour workdays were able to improve a whole host of outcomes related to employee happiness, health, and even productivity. Unfortunately, the changes were also reported as costly and difficult to implement, leading to skepticism about such practices among policy makers.

Perhaps the experiment in the nursing home was slightly ahead of its time, or perhaps we simply need to learn more about how to make human-oriented practices more sustainable. As I wrote in the full post on Compensation Cafe:

These experiments have shown that we can increase well-being and productivity, and that things like happiness can have tangible outcomes. As we build our collective knowledge across organizations and settings, we can solve for the remaining variables like cost and ease of implementation.

Much like some of those early experiments, findings may not have supported the desired outcomes, but instead offered insight that is much more valuable over the long run.

What are your thoughts about experiments like this and the future trajectory of the work experience?

2 Steps to Reduce Voluntary Turnover to Zero

by Lynette Silva

Complex call centerRecognize This! – Understanding the importance of the work and the people doing it make work matter and make work more human.

The new year is nearly upon us (and I, for one, am ready to put paid to 2016). With the new year often comes the opportunity for evaluation of our lives and our priorities. Many of us start a new year with new ambitions, goals for change, ideas for improvements. And for some, that means thinking about a new job or a new career.

If I were to ask you, what types of jobs do you think might have people reconsidering their career path I’m willing to bet call center worker likely would appear on your list. Rightly so – call centers rank among the highest turnover jobs in the world at 30-45%. And that adds up to a lot of money (often in the multimillions of dollars) in terms of finding, hiring, training and coaching new inbound customer service representatives.

So what if I told you about a call center with workers who deal with irate customers call after call, day after day, and yet their turnover has been zero – ZERO – for several years?

SpotHero, a startup online company that rents out parking spaces, has figured it out. (Check out the full Planet Money podcast or transcript for the full story.)

1. Recognize the importance of the work being done

All work matters. Otherwise, why bother doing it? And for the customers of the product or service being provided, the work of the providers particularly matters. Yet sometimes we can fall into the habit of elevating one role over another. “Sales is king. Everyone else serves us.” “Product rules! Without a good product, Sales would have nothing to sell.” There’s no good endgame in this attitude, though. Instead, recognizing the importance of every role in creating a powerful whole is what creates organizational success.

Case in point at SpotHero: Their customer service team is called Customer Heroes. Because to the customer in the middle of a problem, that customer service rep is their hero in that moment. As one employee from the Product group explained:

“The rest of us are trying to make a good product and help our company grow. The Customer Heroes are on the front lines making those minute improvements to humanity all the time, all day, every day… We think of them as the heroes of the company because they’re heroes for individual humans out there in the world.”

2. Recognize the importance of the people doing the work

“Being heroes for individual humans” – what a wonderful way to remind people why their work matters. But knowing your work matters isn’t enough. As humans, we also need to know we matter. SpotHero addressed this important point in multiple ways, including capes for their heroes to wear and Hero Appreciation Day. They also strongly acknowledged what it means to work human by providing a room where people could get away after a hard call. To take a break, to reflect, to restore, to rejuvenate. They call that room the Zen Den.

When pressed about why a Zen Den matters, why adding people to reduce call loads wasn’t enough, call center manager Leah Potkin replied:

“Well, where’s the fun in that? Then maybe they won’t be burnt out from how much work they have, but they’ll be burnt out emotionally from just feeling empty and not really thinking their work matters, when the work they do is just so, so important.”

Think about the people you work with every day. Think about your own work. As we wrap up 2016 and prepare for a new year, how can you remind others – and yourself – that your work matters, that you matter?

3 Steps to Build a Positive Employee Experience

By Derek Irvine

Compensation Cafe blog logoRecognize This! – With a thoughtful approach, positive organizational strategies contribute to a better employee experience.

The impact of positivity in the workplace is a subject of some debate. Some point to its tangible benefits, but others are somewhat more cynical. While the truth may take some time to uncover, the ultimate impact may be attributable to variability in how positive organizational strategies and initiatives have been implemented.

As I wrote in this post on Compensation Cafe, creating a positivity-driven workplace typically follows some variation on one of two potential paths: “At one end of the spectrum: a fad-like approach to tick a box off the list. At the other end, a holistic approach to integrate positivity into the fabric of the business.”

The closer an organization can get to the latter, the more benefits they are likely to see from building a positive employee experience.  With that in mind, there are three main things to consider to successfully build towards a more positive workplace:

 

1. Focus on drivers that lead to the outcome of positivity. Too often, positivity is treated like a driver instead of an outcome. In reality, organizational practices and norms are the drivers that lead to a positive employee experience. Keeping the two distinct allows leaders to think through the relationships between those practices and positivity, and why those relationships matter to business performance.

2. Focus on long-term practices that tap into enduring aspects of human motivation. Positivity fads focus on quick-fixes that only lead to momentary benefits or unsustainable behavior change. Instead, HR and business leaders need to consider practices that are more durable, tapping into attributes that make work meaningful and create a sense of belonging.

3. Focus on aligning multiple practices into a cohesive strategy. A single practice, no matter how effective, set against a company’s current culture is unlikely to be effective in creating lasting change. Creating a positive work experience requires a set of practices and norms that reinforce one another, gradually creating culture shift that influences everyday work experiences.

 

Click here to read more from my full post on Compensation Cafe. Together, these steps can help an organization to create a more positive employee experience.

What has been successful for your organization in creating a better work experience?

Secrets to the Holiday Gift Every Employee Wants

by Lynette Silva

Give the gift of thanksRecognize This! – The best gift anyone can give or receive is the gift of thanks.

What’s the most fraught HR decision/situation this time of year? Easy answer – the office holiday party. Setting aside some of the more drama-filled scenes and stories (though I enjoyed Tim Sackett’s holiday party rules), the holiday party is a good way to celebrate a year’s worth of hard work and success as well as an opportunity to strengthen relationships with colleagues.

If the holiday party is the most fraught situation, what’s the second most? I submit, it’s the holiday gift, end-of-year bonus, etc. Why would a gift or a bonus (arguably, both desired by the recipient) be such a challenge? The top reason is because it’s annual. When recognition and rewards are held in reserve, expectations and anticipation often grow exponentially (and out of whack with realities of the business). That’s why frequent and timely recognition throughout the year is a top driver of more human workplaces.

A recent blog post by Ben Eubanks highlights three factors of social recognition that have the most impact on creating a more positive employee experience:

  1. Aligned with Desired Behaviors – How do you need people to behave, every day, in every role? The answer is likely codified in your core values, but do your employees even know what your core values are? (This recent survey says nearly half of employees don’t.) Make it easy for anyone in your organization to recognize and appreciate colleagues for living those values in their daily work. That makes your core values come alive – in people’s hearts as well as their heads.
  1. Differentiated based on Contribution — What did the person do that’s deserving of recognition? Leading a significant project that potentially saves the company millions certainly deserves far more than a pat on the back and casual, “Thanks for all you do.” Instead structure multiple award levels differentiated based on level of effort, contribution, time invested and result achieved.
  1. Appropriate to the Person – Never forget the incredible variability of us humans. What’s personal and meaningful to you (a donation to your favorite charity, perhaps) could be very different than what’s personal and meaningful to me (a runaway escape weekend). Avoid the nightmare of the unwanted (or worse, insulting) gift. True stories include the giving of a steakhouse gift card to a vegan and tickets to the latest hot theater production to a single mom who couldn’t get childcare for the night of the show. Instead, make it fun and easy for the recipients to choose their own meaningful rewards.

Finally, this holiday season, the greatest gift anyone can give or receive is the gift of thanks. Because to say “thank you” means “I see you. I notice you. You are valuable. You matter.”

Who will you give the gift of thanks to this year?

What happens when work becomes a hobby?

By Derek Irvine

Compensation Cafe logoRecognize This! — In the gig economy, a growing portion of people are working for reasons other than pay. That could mean big shifts for how companies motivate and attract workers in the future.

The gig economy has gotten quite a bit of press recently, as the popularity of technology-enabled platforms has made it easier than ever for people to find and get paid for gigs. The most popular options continue to be ride hailing and online tasks, but the sector is growing to include ad-hoc project work, professional services, and even personal help.

Although the gig economy is still relatively small in comparison to the traditional economy (approximately 8% or so), the dynamics of gig work could end up having a large impact on the ongoing evolution of the employer-employee relationship. Compounding the issue is the rise in automation and machine learning that is spreading from industrial settings to service and knowledge-based jobs.

As I wrote in this post on Compensation Cafe, one of the more striking shifts has been toward a growing segment of workers that participate in the labor market because of reasons other than pay – referred to as “hobbyists.” They seek out opportunities to socialize or have fun, or simply have a desire to do something productive with their time.

The idea of working human is deeply resonant with this approach to gig work – prioritizing a sense of belonging and meaning over pay (although adequate compensation is still vital). There are also implications for the changing landscape of how businesses and HR leaders will need to adapt to this shifting mindset among workers.

Below are some of the biggest implications, summarized from my original post, as some of these changes spread outside of the gig economy:

  • Increasing pressure on organizations to create positive work experiences that can attract and engage these workers, as a solution to high rates of churn and an unpredictable supply of talent over time.

  • Shifting focus away from traditional attractors, such as benefits and employee perks, to leverage more fluid and immediate aspects of their rewards portfolios, such as social recognition.

  • Continuing evolution of performance, balancing the need for one-off gigs with repeat or ongoing work, concurrent with a greater emphasis on continuous performance conversations.

What are some other implications for employees and employers when work becomes less like work and more like a hobby?

Make Thanksgiving Every Day of the Year!

by Lynette Silva

GloboThanks 2016 - Team photosRecognize This! – A powerful employee experience at work is built on everyday practices of gratitude, appreciation and thanksgiving.

What’s the employee experience like in your organization? How would you describe it (briefly) to others?

After experiencing our latest GloboThanksgiving (where we gather as a team in both our HQ offices in the US and Ireland), I’d have to describe our employee experience at Globoforce as “GloboThanksgiving every day of the year!”

Two things every employee experiences at Globoforce, without question:

  • Gratitude and continual expressions of thanks, appreciation and recognition of contributions, help given, and work well done.
  • Food – lots of food. Sure, food is important as fuel to energize the great work we do. But we also realize food is a powerful way to draw people together informally, to pause in the midst of busy days, to share life, to build closer relationships with colleagues who are much more than co-workers.

Is a holiday office celebration the best way to understand the employee experience in your organization? Perhaps not. But how else do you measure the employee experience?

Our holiday gift to you – for the first time, an index to measure employee experience derived from a global survey of more than 23,000 employees in 45 countries and territories across all job functions for a 5-dimension, 10-item index measuring how employees experience work:

  • Belonging – feeling part of a team, group or organization
  • Purpose – understanding why one’s work matters
  • Achievement – a sense of accomplishment in the work that is done
  • Happiness – the pleasant feeling arising in and around work
  • Vigor – the presence of energy, enthusiasm and excitement at work

If those are the factors defining an employee experience, how can you influence it? First and most importantly, employees are humans with all the complexity that brings. Through the survey, we identified key human workplace practices that drive a more positive employee experience.

Graphic of Employee Experience Index, Drivers and Outcomes

This holiday season, give your employees the gift of a powerful, positive, appreciative employee experience. Read the report here.

 

Don’t Make Your Employees ‘Prisoners’

By Derek Irvine

Compensation Cafe logoRecognize This! – Motivating employees requires more than compensation, which can create “prisoners.” Instead, companies need to emphasize a richer employee experience.

There is an interesting “iceberg” effect when it comes to employee motivation. Company leadership tends to focus on what is immediately visible, both for top talent and for severe underperformers for example. This focus can come at the expense of less visible, but no less impactful dynamics

What can get missed are the employees in the middle, an interesting proportion of whom show up and stay at their jobs despite being generally unmotivated, performing just enough to not bring attention to themselves. As I write on the Compensation Cafe, this group of employees was the subject of some recent research:

A report in the Wall Street Journal highlights a study by Aon Hewitt that looked at this group of employees. That study found 8% of employees fit into this profile of “prisoner” employee – defined as those “who stay at their jobs despite feeling unmotivated” – which was related to both longer tenure and salaries above market rates.

The article goes on to suggest that compensation is generally an ineffective lever in increasing motivation, and in fact may only contribute to increased feelings of being “held prisoner.” The net impact is a reduction in functional voluntary turnover, negatively affecting colleagues and sapping the company’s potential.

The solution is probably two-fold. For employees who are either unwilling or unable to become more motivated and productive performers, the business and HR need to have processes in place to identify and move those employees out. For everyone else, there is much more hope.

As I write in the full post, I argue that it may be helpful to leverage solutions that can create a more positive employee experience. Some of those solutions can include:

  • Developmental coaching and ongoing feedback can help to uncover barriers to that employee’s motivation and find solutions in the form of new roles or responsibilities.

  • Social recognition can also be a powerful motivator that builds on those conversations, amplifying examples of good performance and engaging a positive cycle of behaviors that align with the company’s core values.

  • Finally, a greater proportion of the overall compensation portfolio can be aligned towards real-time performance, creating more opportunity for motivation creation.

What are your thoughts on the best ways to transform “prisoner” employees into productive and energized contributors?

What’s Ahead for HR in 2017?

By Derek Irvine

doors-1613314_960_720Recognize This! – Trends in HR for the year ahead will emphasize empowerment, the employee experience, and ultimately a more human workplace.

What will some of the big themes be for HR leaders in the year ahead and how can we begin preparing for them? For some answers, I attended a session at HR Tech based on Josh Bersin’s new report, HR Technology Disruptions for 2017.

One of the key findings from that report is a much greater emphasis on empowerment and the whole work environment, increasing the robustness of how we think about employee engagement and cultural fit.  HR technology is playing a large and disruptive role in accelerating this philosophical shift, bringing together sophisticated people analytics, always-on self-servicing, and greater social connection.

These trends deeply resonate with the WorkHuman movement and community. We collectively stand at a pivotal moment for HR to integrate technology and humanity in creating a better workplace and a better employee experience.

It is clear that employees now expect much more out of work, and by extension, many of the HR systems that contribute to the work experience in some way. In Josh’s analysis, we can see how these trends have emerged across HR functions (see his Figure 2: Evolution of HR systems below).

bersin-model

Early technologies aimed to automate and integrate existing processes, streamlining most administrative tasks across benefits and compensation and talent management. Because of that streamlining and perhaps other factors, HR professionals and employees alike began to realize that existing processes were no longer working.

They needed to be fundamentally rethought and rebuilt.

Alongside cloud and mobile technologies, there is now an opportunity to rethink those processes and more fully engage the hearts and minds of employees. There is also an opportunity for HR to move at the speed of business, integrating these processes into the stream of everyday work.

Social recognition is one example that Josh mentions, which empowers all employees to recognize the contributions of others in real time, avoiding the costly process of top-down nominating committees and the pitfalls of having a small “winner’s circle.” Next-gen performance feedback is another area where this kind of empowerment is quickly growing, basing processes in ongoing growth-oriented conversations instead of annual forms or ratings.

Across these and the other emerging “apps that make work life better,” the notion of the workplace is expanding to include more human elements and meeting employee’s expectations for autonomy and control over those elements. These changes will result in a better employee experience, and as research by Globoforce’s WorkHuman Research Institute and the IBM Smarter Workforce Institute has shown, that will lead to better business results.

How is your company preparing for these more human trends ahead?

Who Inspires You to Get Out of Bed in the Morning?

Woman in a bedby Traci Pesch

Recognize This! – Simply expressing to others they are appreciated and important powerfully and positively impacts both the giver and receiver of the praise.

How do you change someone’s perspective of themselves? How do you change your own perspective of yourself and your mission? One step – recognize someone. Celebrate the good in them. Tell them how they are special, how what they do matters.

It really is that simple. The act of recognition – both giving and receiving – fulfills a basic human need, the need to be noticed. The need to be seen. The need to be of value to others and to be valued by others.

Take a 6-minute positivity break and watch this video of teachers telling students they are important and appreciated.

Wow. Powerful. I admit it – I welled up a bit watching that. Why? It’s the faces and the reaction of the students who are the recipients of the messages of praise and appreciation. You can see their faces and entire demeanor change in an instant from cautious “What did I do wrong?” to blushing “Really? I didn’t know I had that impact on you.”

And it’s precisely that nuance of the message of appreciation that’s so important. Every message was not just “Thank you. You do good work.” Every message included the important specific element of, “You are the reason I come in every day to do my job. You inspire me. You make my work have value and meaning.”

That’s a critical lesson for us in our jobs, too. Yes, praise and thanks are important. Even more so are the personal, sincere and specific messages of how someone made a difference and how they and their efforts had a lasting impact.

This positivity project worked by focusing on the human experience. Jamie McSparin, the teacher behind the project said in an interview, “It started that dialogue between teachers and students, which humanizes the whole experience. It’s not, ‘Here, I’m teaching you.’ It’s ‘Let’s build a relationship and make this an experience.’”

We all need that reminder. We’re not working with robots, but with humans. What fuels humans? Interaction. Relationships with others. A sense of greater meaning and purpose. Experiencing work and life together. (That’s a large factor of the research resulting in the new IBM/Globoforce Employee Experience Index announced at HRTech – a positive employee experience requires trust, relationships, meaningful work, recognition, empowerment and balance. Read the report.)

Who would you recognize in your workplace? Who inspires you to get out of bed in the morning? What is it about them and their work that makes a difference? Most importantly, when are you going to tell them?