Lynette Silva - Author Archive

3 Important Questions for International Women’s Day

by Lynette Silva

Recognize This! – A day doesn’t accomplish much. But a movement can. Be inspired this International Women’s Day.

It’s International Women’s Day. That immediately raises three questions.

  1. Why do women get a day and men don’t? (Men do – it’s in November.)
  2. What will a day accomplish? (A single day won’t accomplish much. But the attention that a single day can bring to an important discussion can accomplish quite a lot over time.)
  3. Why is this even important?

That last question takes a bit more time to answer. I think this video answers it best. Out of the mouths of babes, the video shows a Norwegian child social experiment and the gender pay gap. I couldn’t include the video directly here, so take 2 minutes and click through. It’s well worth it.

Video Still

For those who prefer a quick summary, children paired up in boy/girl teams are asked to complete a simple task together. They then receive their reward. As you can see in the bottom right in the image above, the rewards are very unfair and skewed in the boys’ favor.

The children’s reactions are priceless. The girls are shocked when told the reason for the disparity, for the girls receiving far less, is precisely because they are girls. Equally telling, the boys are visibly uncomfortable, confused, and horrified.

When questioned about how they feel about the experiment, two of my favorite comments are:

  • “She was just as good as me, so we should get the same reward.”
  • “It’s just wrong. Girls aren’t worth less than boys.”

When did we lose sight of this basic truth? When did we become inured to the reality (and real, life-changing impacts) of pay inequality? Why do we continue to accept the excuse that, though a woman may have left the job market for a period of time to birth or raise children, upon return to work, it’s OK to pay her less for the same work as a man in the same role?

As the statement at the end of the video clip says:

“Unequal pay is unacceptable in the eyes of children. Why should we accept this as adults? Women working in the financial sector earn on average 20 percent less than men.”

Of course, there are many more aspects to be considered on International Women’s Day including #MeToo, opportunity, safety, and much more. Join us at WorkHuman April 2-5 in Austin, Texas, where we will dive much more deeply into these topics as well as others that make work more human.

Integrating the Robots into a More Human Workplace

By Lynette Silva

Recognize This! – AI can help us realize our humanity more fully in the workplace.

Robots at WorkIt’s that time of year – the World Economic Forum at Davos. This year’s theme is “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World,” which covers a lot of ground. Most interesting to me is seeing the proliferation of discussions around the intersection of artificial intelligence (AI) and creating more human work environments.

Accenture Strategy released a report at Davos, summarized in this Economic Times article:

“If businesses invest in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and human-machine collaboration at the same rate as top-notch companies, they could boost revenues by 38 percent by 2022 and raise employment levels by 10 per cent, a new report said on Tuesday. Collectively, this would lift profits by $4.8 trillion globally over the same period.”

Christian Ulbrich, Global CEO at JLL, led a panel on “why human experience in the workplaces of the future will be even more central to the success of high performance businesses, despite the rise of the robots.” As he commented in a LinkedIn prelude to the session:

“We see evidence all around us of advances in technology and big data transforming our work and lifestyles. What’s becoming equally apparent in the workplace, as a complementary counterpart to digitalization, is a strong recognition of the importance of human experience … Across all business sectors, we see growing recognition of the vital importance of community in the workplace. We don’t need a scientific study to know that being part of a community is energizing. But why? The key, I think, is shared meaning and values, which in turn instill a shared sense of purpose.”

So, where’s the intersection? One seems to be talking about empowering the robots (AI) while the other is talking about empowering the humans. The secret lies in acknowledging the path to the future while remembering the humanity at the core of our work, our workplaces and our coworkers. As Ellyn Shook, Accenture’s chief leadership and human resources officer, said at Davos:

“Business leaders must take immediate steps to pivot their workforce to enter an entirely new world where human ingenuity meets intelligent technology to unlock new forms of growth.”

Let’s think about how that might play out in a social recognition system in your organization. There’s nothing more human than the act of saying “thank you,” the effort of noticing others and their contributions while expressing your appreciation to them. And yet, applying AI to knowledge inherent (and often hidden) in meaningful messages of thanks can reveal great potential in an organization, in a team, and in an individual.

Ellyn will be joining us at WorkHuman to share more on the intersection of AI, humans, and potential in the workplace. I hope you can join us, too, April 2-5, 2018, in Austin, Texas.

How do you see creating a more human workplace intersecting with the reality of greater AI?

“I don’t see color.” (Maybe you should.)

By Lynette Silva

Recognize This! – Inclusion welcomes all that makes another person fully themselves.

mohamed-nohassi-175530I am deeply proud of my company and our leaders for the stand we have taken for greater diversity, inclusion and belonging – both in our own organization and through the WorkHuman movement. This isn’t about political correctness. This is about creating safe workspaces for people to bring their whole human selves to work, in all of their passionate, creative and sometimes messy human glory.

That said, in the interest of being inclusive, I acknowledge tone deafness at times. How often have you heard the phrases “I don’t see race.” or “I don’t see gender.” This misses the point of inclusion and belonging. In saying “I don’t see an essential part of you” – whether that be your gender, your relationship preference, or the color of your skin – we are also choosing to deny a large part of what makes the other person essentially them.

Each of us is, yes, more than the color of our skin, or who we choose to love, or our gender, or our religion, or our ethnic background. Yet all of those elements are what make me unequivocally me.

See me for who I am and all that I am.

That’s what makes social recognition perceived through the WorkHuman lens so powerful – it’s about recognizing the person for what they do and for who they are. It’s acknowledging that you – uniquely, specifically, beautifully you – and your talents, skills and perspectives that arise from all that it means to be fully you – are what enable you to make important contributions and achieve results for organization success. It’s about recognizing and appreciating the whole human. It’s about truly seeing the entire person in all their humanity.

As Verna Myers said beautifully, “Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.” But how do you do that? She’s also explained, embracing inclusion requires “the institution’s ability to fully integrate its understanding of and appreciation for the diverse cultures and backgrounds of its employees.”

True inclusion sees, welcomes and respects everything that makes each of us, well, us. And when I’m seen for who I am, in all my facets, and welcomed anyway, that’s how I know I belong.

What makes you uniquely you? How do you seek to understand others in their fully unique humanity?

(Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash)

This Thanksgiving, Who Can You Validate?

By Lynette Silva

Recognize This! – Part of the human condition is needing validation from others. The good news is we are all capable of providing that validation to others through recognition and appreciation.

Post-it note reading "express your gratitude"I’m coming off a whirlwind of events where I had the opportunity to share my passion for creating more human workplaces by helping millions of employees feel noticed, valued, and appreciated for who they are as well as for what they do. As always at these events, I learned more from the other speakers and from conversations with attendees. So here I share with you my two biggest takeaways from the events.

Lesson 1: We all need validation.

At the IQPC CHRO Exchange, one breakout session led by BraveShift was particularly innovative in that it had top HR executives sit in a circle and discuss together how we can improve trust in the workplace. I was fascinated to watch the conversation develop and build among these professionals who so very clearly care about their employees and the work experience they help to create for them. One participant shared powerful insight from a keynote delivered by Oprah at another event. To give full credit to Oprah, I’ve found a similar reference when she spoke at a Harvard University commencement:

“What we want, the common denominator that I found in every single interview, is we want to be validated. We want to be understood. I have done over 35,000 interviews in my career and as soon as that camera shuts off everyone always turns to me and inevitably in their own way asks this question “Was that okay?” I heard it from President Bush, I heard it from President Obama. I’ve heard it from heroes and from housewives. I’ve heard it from victims and perpetrators of crimes. I even heard it from Beyonce and all of her Beyonceness. She finishes performing, hands me the microphone and says, ‘Was that okay?’ Friends and family, yours, enemies, strangers in every argument in every encounter, every exchange I will tell you, they all want to know one thing: was that okay? Did you hear me? Do you see me?”

As humans, we need to know that we are seen, that we are valued, that we bring value to others. This is a universal human truth. Often in strategy sessions I lead, I’m asked, “At what level to do we exclude participation?” This is usually in reference to senior-most leaders. As the leader of my group, Derek Irvine, has often said, “The only factor determining who needs recognition is if you are human. I’ve yet to reach a point in my career where I didn’t appreciate or need recognition of my contributions.”

Lesson 2: We are all capable of giving validation to others through recognition and appreciation.

The Greater Good Science Center (based at University of California, Berkley) hosted a wonderful one-day conference on Gratitude and Well-Being at Work. (Do yourself a favor and check out their online courses and tools. I can personally vouch for their free, eight-week MOOC on the science of happiness for a deep dive into the research and outcomes of practicing gratitude and happiness.) Through multiple keynote presentations and breakout sessions, attendees dived deeply into the many aspects of bringing gratitude into the workplace and the benefits of doing so.

One thread of thought, most heavily emphasized by author Mike Robbins, was the concept that there is a difference between recognition and appreciation. From Mike’s perspective, recognition is about results while appreciation is about people. It’s a good point, but we shouldn’t lose in the nuance that both are intensely important in the workplace. We need to acknowledge and praise people for both what they do as well as who they are. And we all have the power to do so. Remember, at its essence, saying “thank you” is the same as saying, “I see you. I see what you do. You are valuable.”

During this season of gratitude, who are the people in your life – at work and at home – you can validate through your appreciation and recognition?

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?

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?

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?

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.

 

You Are Not Chopped Liver * The Role of Technology in the People Business

by Lynette Silva

The universe in the palm of your handRecognize This! – Technology, especially HR technology, enables our better human instincts to help us create more human workplaces.

Technology and HR. How does that compute? (Sorry – couldn’t help the pun) Isn’t HR about humans? If the obvious answer is yes, then why is so much effort expended on HR technology? These aren’t trivial questions in terms of investment – in business and in people.

I like a perspective recently cited by CIPD:

“[With technology,] we can really get down to what human resources should have been all along – the job of humanising the rest of the business. There’s never been a better time to be an HR professional because tech is dissolving the supposedly critical routine that kept your vision capped to date.”

That’s the role of tech in the human space – as an enabler of a better, more human workplace and a more positive employee experience overall. Especially in our increasingly distributed workplaces where my closest work colleagues might be physically located half a world away, systems like social recognition facilitate the strengthening of connections and relationships between people through the power of thanks.

Another area where technology can help facilitate our very humanness lies in helping us overcome some of our human nature tendencies that hamper our own success. Case in point (as shared in a Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University article) is squandered work time – time lost to “dysfunctional workplace dynamics—more commonly known as ‘people problems.’”

The researcher/authors of the article describe a study in which rival groups within the same R&D department were given the option of investing budget in the idea of their internal rival or in the idea of an outside competitor. We’d rather a completely external third benefit than the rival we know and feel threatened by.

These very human – if dysfunctional – behaviors cost companies on average $15.5 million.

Are we stuck with the consequences of the more negative tendencies of our humanness? No – in fact, the path forward is by switching on our more positive tendencies. In the example described above, the “shortest path to valuable insights” – and success for the team and company – is often in selecting the rival’s idea. So how do you get people to overcome their human nature and select a rival’s idea? Study co-author Leigh Thompson provides the answer:

“List one or two things you’re particularly proud of. Perhaps you just published a book or a well-received case study; perhaps you had an above-average performance review last quarter. Now all of a sudden, when I hear about the accomplishments or ideas of a colleague, I am more receptive to it—because I have just reminded myself that I am not chopped liver.”

And that brings us full circle to the roll of technology in enabling the employee experience – the human experience. With a social recognition system, it’s even easier to log-in and remind yourself of the tremendous contributions you’ve made (and been praised for by your colleagues).

What are you particularly proud of? What memories or accomplishments remind you of just how valuable you are?

How to Assess Your Company Culture in One Easy Step

by Lynette Silva

People First alwaysRecognize This! – How your employees experience recognition and appreciation for daily efforts and results can determine the success of your organization culture.

Is there an easy and quick way to judge the culture of a company and assess potential for future performance? According to David Novak, former CEO of Yum! Brands, yes. Simply look for telltale signs of a culture of recognition and appreciation at work. (Investor and portfolio manager James Dodson’s Parnassus Workplace Fund bears this out. Companies included in the fund are selected based on how well they care for their employees. The fund regularly outperforms the S&P 500 by 4%.)

How do you create a strong culture built on social recognition? Mr. Novak makes these recommendations:

  1. Put people first

“Focus on their capabilities and recognize what they do to satisfy more customers, build more business, make more money and drive results.”

  1. Tie recognition to what matters most for success

“Recognition can be a catalyst for results if it is directly tied to the important goals and objectives of your organization.”

  1. Make recognition frequent and timely

“One of the most important tasks for any leader is…to make people feel appreciated and respected in their daily work.”

  1. Make recognition meaningful and authentic

“The key is to champion recognition every day and make it meaningful and authentic.”

  1. Energize employees through recognition

“An astonishing 82% of employed Americans feel that their supervisors don’t recognize them enough. That lack of recognition takes a toll on morale, productivity, and ultimately, profitability. In fact, 40% of Americans say they’d put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often.”

This doesn’t mean you can toss off casual, “Hey, thanks. Great job!” comments as you race past a colleague in the hall. Following Mr. Novak’s points above, meaningful recognition makes for a much better understanding of the meaningfulness of work, an important driver of a more human workplace.

HR pro turned consultant Sharlyn Lauby expanded on this in her HR Bartender blog, discussing the need for quality recognition. People want and need acknowledgement of what they did that was deserving of the praise. And it needs to be given sincerely in a way that reflects how the recipient likes to receive recognition. (Please don’t embarrass people.)

Combining the advice, a much better recognition might read:

“Hey, thanks! Great job on the Simpson project. You went above and beyond by taking the time to pull in additional data points I didn’t even know to ask for. That extra detail really helped me out with the client by showing them the ‘proof in the pudding’ of how their own numbers stack up against others on a spectrum of success. Your efforts demonstrated perfectly what we mean when we say ‘Make Customers Happy’ is a core value. Thank you!”

If Mr. Novak walked into your offices, what would his assessment of your company culture likely be?