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How to Use Technology to Drive Employee Engagement

February 7th, 2017 Comments off
employee engagement

It’s hard to find someone who will argue against the importance of employee engagement. An engaged employee feels a strong sense of connection with their work. And, when we feel that connection as an employee, we do better work. Anyone who’s worked at a job for longer than a couple months knows this to be true.

As a result, most leaders are working to crack the code on employee engagement as a way to increase performance. This conversation about engagement typically focuses on the dynamics of manager effectiveness, teamwork and trust in leadership. These relationships are critical to employee engagement.

But in our focus of the interpersonal dynamics that impact engagement, we sometimes overlook how the smart use of technology tools can also have a profound impact on an employee’s feeling of engagement.

In my study of Best Places to Work, one factor stood out as a distinct differentiator between the best workplaces and the rest: communication. The best places to work are relentless about communication as a means to create clarity and reduce uncertainty for their employees.

Technology has provided us with tremendous tools for communication throughout the employee experience. One area that is of particular importance is the new hire onboarding process. The experience for employees in the few weeks prior to and after joining your organization sets the tone for them. It’s a time of both great anticipation but also great uncertainty for employees. This makes communication critical.

Here are some ways you can use technology to ensure your employees start their career feeling connected and engaged.

  1. Use video to help employees understand how to get started successfully. Video is a wildly underutilized tool by employers. It’s become cheap and easy to create – most people have a decent video camera in their phones. Here are some ways you might consider using video before an employee starts:
  2. Eliminate as much paperwork as possible. We all know there will be some paperwork when we start a new job. But, there are few worse ways to make a first impression during onboarding than with a giant stack of paperwork. Use technology to give employees the flexibility and instruction to complete their paperwork when it works best for them. And, if you can eliminate or automate the form, do it. This way you can focus on more exciting things during the employee’s first day.
    • Send welcome messages from the new hire’s team introducing themselves and sharing interesting facts about themselves.
    • Create videos of employees sharing tips for new hires. You could prompt employees by asking them to share what they wish they’d been told as a new hire.
    • Record welcome messages from the CEO or other senior leaders that explain the organization’s values and history, core expectations of all employees, and other information that would help the employee feel connected to the bigger picture.
  1. Empower the employee to manage their own onboarding experience. Create checklists and task lists for employees that include expected completion dates. This both clarifies expectations for the employee as to what their first few weeks or months will involve and empowers them by allowing them some control over how these tasks get completed.

 

Using technology tools to supplement the onboarding process is a powerful way to get your new employees off on the right foot by removing as much uncertainty from the process as possible.

Jason Lauritsen is a keynote speaker, author and advisor. He is an employee engagement and workplace culture expert who will challenge you to think differently. A former corporate Human Resources executive, Jason has dedicated his career to helping leaders build organizations that are good for both people and profits. Most recently, he led the research team for Quantum Workplace’s Best Places to Work program where he has studied the employee experience at thousands of companies to understand what the best workplaces in the world do differently than the rest. Jason is the co-author of the book, Social Gravity: Harnessing the Natural Laws of Relationships. Connect with Jason at www.JasonLauritsen.com

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Why You Should Reward Your Team Players

January 31st, 2017 Comments off
Reward team players

Are some of your employees adding more value to the team? Are you paying attention? Or are you only focusing on individual performance? Research on toxic workers shows that good team players are extremely valuable and avoiding toxic hires is key.

Once you have hired some good team players, you should reward them. Alas, many employers do not reward team players enough. A great example is from professional basketball. My fellow economics researchers Petere Arcidiacono, Josh Kinsler and Joseph Price have looked at the data to find out who the best individual players are, and who contributes the most to team success. What can we conclude from their work?

An excellent team player adds 60 percent more value to the team than a selfish player. When looking at basketball, researchers have crunched the data to figure out how much each player is contributing to team success. Each player obviously contributes their own direct talent, which is what a purely selfish player would contribute. But an excellent team player further adds 60 percent additional value to the team, by making strategic passes to teammates for example. Suppose you add two excellent team players: This is like adding more than three people to the team.

The best individual contributors are not always the best team players. The beauty of measuring both individual and team contributions is that we can rat out the selfish players. And researchers indeed find out that some players, while excellent on their own, do not contribute so much to the team. Among top players, Carmelo Anthony is not a good team player relative to Chris Andersen.

Compensation mostly ignores team contribution. Finally, researchers looked at how basketball players were paid. Was their team contribution acknowledged? Surprisingly, great team players don’t get paid much more than similarly talented selfish players. Professional basketball does not reward team players. Incentive matters, so it is likely that everyone’s efforts for the team would be enhanced if team players were better compensated.

Don’t make the same mistake as the NBA: Reward your team players!

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How to Keep Employee Boredom at Bay

January 20th, 2017 Comments off
Group of young business people in smart casual wear looking bored while sitting together at the table and looking away

 

Face it:  Even the most “fun” small businesses have roles or responsibilities that aren’t very exciting (or even downright tedious). While these tasks need to get done, watch out for employee boredom. Boredom kills morale, lowers productivity and increases the odds of workers leaving your small business for employment elsewhere.

Great employees who are bored often don’t reveal their feelings because they don’t want to come off as whiners. Thus, you may need to take the lead in figuring out if boredom is an issue at your small business. Some signs can be spotted easily, such as yawning, negative body language and distractibility. Others may be subtler – such as spending extra time on social media, making frequent trips to the water cooler, arriving late and leaving early, or making silly mistakes due to lack of focus.

If in doubt about boredom problems, try asking your employees directly or through engagement surveys. The team will appreciate your concern, and they may have great ideas on how to liven up things at your small business. Here are some additional strategies that can help bust boredom:

Gamify

Mary Poppins was on to something when she sang, “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and – SNAP – the job’s a game!” Turn an envelope-stuffing session into a race. Agree as a staff on the 10 most boring (but necessary) tasks at the office and award a prize to the person who tallies up the most time spent on them over the course of a week. Allow music, chore swaps or bringing work outdoors — whatever you deem feasible that gets people motivated.

Limit the pain

Spread out boring activities over various days and people. Psyching up to do something dull for an hour is easier than facing the prospect of an entire boring morning. Likewise, distributing monotonous tasks whenever possible helps to keep things fair and fresh. And watch the timing, too. Studies show that boredom hits hardest around mid-afternoon, so especially work on involving team members in stimulating projects during this time.

Increase responsibility

Boredom oftentimes is the result of being insufficiently challenged. Set the bar higher to inspire performance. Encourage individuals to propose new projects they find rewarding or stimulating. Excitement over this pet activity can make less thrilling aspects of their job more palatable. Similarly, expand their knowledge base through training. Learning promotes engagement, and your small business benefits from having multi-talented workers.

Express gratitude

Everyone’s efforts are critical to a small business’s success. Showing staff members how their work — even on mundane tasks — contributes to the company’s overall mission can instill pride and a desire to perform well. Sincere appreciation never gets old.


Want more small business advice? Find the answers you’re looking for at CareerBuilder’s small business resource page.

 

Team-Building Activities Perfect for Small Businesses

December 19th, 2016 Comments off
Team Unity Friends Meeting Partnership Concept

Hiring outstanding individuals for your small business does not automatically translate into having a strong team. For your company to thrive, people need to get along and work together cohesively. This sync doesn’t always come naturally, so some nurturing may be required. Team-building activities can help.

Now if the notion of trust falls and wilderness retreats makes you shutter, don’t despair. Plenty of other options exist for encouraging your group to bond. Here are a few that may prove perfect for your small business:

Volunteering
Uniting for a great cause creates feelings of pride, purpose, and togetherness. The activity provides instant common ground and promotes natural interaction. Conversation is bound to flow as people clean up a neighborhood park together or work side-by-side at a soup kitchen. Solicit ideas from staff members – the discussion itself will help employees learn about one another. And as an added bonus, performing charity work improves your small business’s image in the community and among potential recruits.

Taking a field trip
Remember the buzz in your fourth grade classroom as a day at the zoo drew nearer? Adults love routine-breaking excursions, too, so gather the troops for an outing. Once again, asking for suggestions can be a valuable experience in and of itself. Whether you end up bowling, touring a local brewery, or catching a new exhibit at an art museum, the change in environment will allow your small business employees to interact with one another in different ways.

Learning something new
Bring in an expert to teach your staff a certain skill. An improv instructor will get everyone laughing while cooperating as they discover how to feed off one another to make scenes work. An art teacher can promote group creativity and teamwork through designing a mural or other piece for workplace display.

Other educational ideas include starting a lunchtime book club, watching TED talks together and discussing afterwards, and holding shadowing days in which staff members teach one another about their specific company role. Look for professional development opportunities outside of the office too. Co-workers attending a conference or training session together likely will stay close to one another and interact while traveling, eating lunch or participating in activities.

Eating
For a natural way to bring people together, food takes the cake (sorry, couldn’t resist). A surprise pizza party or an afternoon ice cream social can help your small business team relax and converse. Or provide a budget for a themed monthly luncheon for which staff members work together to come up with a menu and decorations. Interaction with purpose eliminates the feeling of being “forced” to bond and should yield delicious results.


Want more small business advice? Find the answers you’re looking for at CareerBuilder’s small business resource page.

8 Last-Minute Holiday Gifts for Employees

December 16th, 2016 Comments off
gifts for employees

While many would agree this has been a looong year (#goodriddance2016), the holidays still crept up rather quickly. If you panicked when you saw that wrapped gift on your desk because you realized you have yet to purchase holiday presents, here’s a quick and dirty guide to some easy-to-buy – but also universally loved – holiday gifts for employees.

  1. Subscription box: Who doesn’t enjoy getting a gift in the mail every month? That’s what’s so great about subscription boxes – it’s the gift that keeps on giving. There is a subscription box for everything these days, from beauty supplies to pet toys. And the best part is you can purchase these online in a matter of minutes.
  2. Gift cards: While this might not be the most original idea, let’s be honest, most people would prefer to receive gift cards (over, say, a company-branded mug). The effort here is being thoughtful about the type of gift card each of your employees would appreciate based on their interests.
  3. Day or half day PTO: While every company has different policies about this, giving your team the gift of a “free” day or half day off of work is sure to surprise and delight them. You may want to request that they give you an advance heads up to ensure they aren’t all taking the same days off and you’ll have adequate support in the office.
  4. Wine: Not much explanation needed here. While you’re at it, throw in a cool bottle stopper or a cheese board to complete the gift.
  5. Travel accessories: Is most of your team heading out for the holidays? Make traveling a little easier by getting them some travel accessories, such as a fun luggage tag, a unique passport holder or a stylish neck pillow.
  6. Streaming stick: Show your employees you’re not a regular boss, you’re a cool boss, by giving them a streaming media player, such as the ones from Roku or Amazon Fire. Since more people have started moving away from standard cable and toward internet TV, this is sure to be a hit.
  7. Insulated bottle: While on the surface this may seem like one of the more boring gifts for employees, these days insulated bottles have become almost a fashion accessory. Consider the ones by S’well, for example, which come in a variety of cool designs.
  8. Grocery or restaurant delivery: You can’t go wrong with giving the gift of food delivery, but it’ll be especially appreciated during the winter months when going outside is avoided as much as possible. More and more of these grocery and restaurant delivery services are offering gift cards, so it should be pretty easy to find ones that deliver to your employees.

 

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Career Pathing for High-Potential Employees

November 30th, 2016 Comments off
Businessman chooses the right path.  Vector illustration Eps10. Success, career

When you think about ways to increase engagement and boost retention among high-performing individuals, you likely think about raising those employees’ pay, giving them more vacation time or offering more benefits. Though it may not be the first option you consider, however, career pathing could be one of your strongest engagement and retention tools available.

What is Career Pathing?

Career pathing is the process by which managers help employees chart the course of their careers within the organization. Career pathing helps employees envision their career trajectory and understand the steps necessary to move forward in the organization and reach their professional goals.

Career pathing is especially important with high-performing individuals who want to see their efforts pay off, which will help them stay motivated and engaged in their work. Helping high-performing employees create a career path not only helps them reach their potential, it also benefits the entire organization. Consider the following:

Organizational Benefits of Career Pathing

  • It gives you a competitive edge when recruiting. Employees want to work at a company that is willing to invest in their future, and where there is potential to grow. If career pathing is a priority at your company, candidates will take notice and keep your company top of mind when considering their options.
  • It increases morale and productivity. When employees know they have something to work toward – that their work will pay off – they are more motivated, more engaged in their work and, as a result, more productive.
  • It fosters employee loyalty and lowers turnover. When you create opportunities for your employees, they are more likely to stick around to see those opportunities through.


3 Steps to Developing a Career Path with Employees

Like any worthwhile business venture, creating a career path with your employees is often easier said than done. There are many variables to consider – as you want to ensure the career path aligns with your business’ needs – and each career path must be customized to the individual, based on his or her individual strengths and goals. Follow these steps to create a career path for your high-performing employees.

  • Discuss the employee’s career goals. Understanding your employees’ career goals is the first integral step to helping them plan a career path. It will also enable you to align their goals with that of the company’s and explore opportunities to develop these goals within the organization.
  • Put the plan in writing. Career pathing can mean a lot of moving parts, so putting everything down in writing will not only help you and your employees keep track of what needs to be accomplished, it will also help keep you both accountable to sticking to that path. Once you have something in writing, revisit this document once a quarter to check-in, gauge progress, address any concerns or obstacles and make any adjustments needed.
  • Provide the resources necessary to succeed. Help your employees pursue their career paths with the tools they need to move onward and upward. This might mean setting them up with a mentor, letting them shadow other employees or cross-train. Also, be transparent: Make sure they know about other opportunities within the company and feel free to pursue those. Make room in the budget for employees to take classes, get certifications, attend conferences or join professional associations. Consider creating an internal learning and development program. Do what it takes to help your employees thrive – your business will benefit as a result.


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The Best Questions for Your Employee Engagement Survey

October 17th, 2016 Comments off
Computer key showing the word Feedback. Message on keyboard key.

As a small business owner with many things going on at any given time, it can be easy to miss signs of dissatisfaction among your employees. But the last thing you need is low morale and high turnover, so it pays to get a pulse on your team. Thoughtful, regular employee engagement surveys can help you do just that.

Instead of asking any old questions, however, select ones that will provide insight on how to make your small business a better place to work. Your aim should be to gather usable information, not a pat on the back. What should you include? Consider questions that get to the heart of these small business concerns, such as:

Stress: A smaller staff means employees often must juggle multiple tasks and venture into areas outside of their comfort zones. Wearing many hats can be exciting, but it can also potentially be exhausting. Likewise, long hours and pressure to do more with less can take a toll on morale. To gauge how individuals are handling such demands, ask questions such as:

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your work-life balance?
  • What word(s) would you use to describe your feelings or mood at the end of most workdays?
  • When something unexpected or confusing comes up in your work, do you usually know where to turn for help?
  • Which of the following (if any) would you consider helpful for performing your job: time-management training, more consistent feedback, clarification of priorities, flexible work schedule?
  • The majority of the time, do you feel you have enough information to make good decisions about your work?
  • What is the number one source of stress for you at the office, and what might lessen it?

 

Opportunity for growth: Employees who cannot envision career advancement at your small business become likely candidates to leave. Judge how much optimism workers have for their future at your company with questions such as:

  • Where do you see yourself in one year?
  • What types of training or development interest you most?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rank the long-term career opportunities at this company?
  • How challenged do you feel in your current role?

 

Knowledge of your brand: Studies have shown that employees become more engaged when they understand how what they do fits into the overall purpose of the company. Similarly, workers with a clear understanding of your brand can be your small business’s best ambassadors in terms of generating excitement among both potential customers and prospective hires. Ensure team members do indeed have a firm grasp of operations through questions like:

  • Do you feel you have a solid picture of the company’s future direction?
  • If someone asked you about our brand, how much confidence do you have that your response would be accurate?
  • How important do you feel your work is to the success of the company?
  • Has your role in meeting company objectives been effectively explained?

 

Company culture: When you work in close quarters and depend heavily on co-workers, maintaining good relationships is a necessity. Bad morale can spread quickly throughout the whole place and take a toll on the company culture. Feedback generated from these questions provides insight on feelings about the workplace and how well everyone gets along:

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how prominent is office politics in this workplace?
  • What two words would you use to describe our workplace’s vibe?
  • How well does leadership respond to internal issues?
  • How comfortable are you speaking up about problems?
  • Would you recommend working here to a friend? Why or why not?

 

Whichever questions you ultimately select, be prepared to act on what you learn. Asking people how they feel about something and then failing to address problems can create hard feelings — and good luck getting them to take future surveys seriously.


Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

 

9 Incredible Employee Perks That Really Exist

August 31st, 2016 Comments off
Low angle view of group of cheerful business friends having fun while behaving childish in the office. They are competing on a chair, toy car and push scooter.

They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but try telling that to the employees at Airbnb, Facebook and Google, where gourmet meals come with the territory. Free gourmet meals may seem like an over-the-top employee perk to some, but that’s tame compared to what other companies offer. From free booze to on-site massages, the following perks put free coffee and casual Fridays to shame. Check out nine more of the most incredible employee perks that actually exist in today’s workplace.

Happy hour — at any hour

Drinking on the job isn’t only allowed at some companies, it’s encouraged – in moderation, of course. Whether it’s holding “Whiskey Fridays,” providing beer vending machines on site, or simply giving employees 24/7 access to fully stocked bars, companies of all sizes and industries — including Dropbox, Arnold Worldwide and Eli Lilly and Co. — are using alcohol as an incentive to work long hours and come into the office (as opposed to telecommuting). Not only do employees appreciate the chance to kick back with a cold one during the day, employers have found that letting employees socialize over beer results in team-bonding and spurs new ideas.

Nap time

Ever fallen asleep on the job (or come close to it)? Arianna Huffington understands. The president of The Huffington Post might be the most outspoken advocate for napping at work. She’s not alone, however: Google, Zappos, Uber and PwC are also among the growing list of companies that accommodate employees who want to catch up on their zzz’s during the workday. (And many employees do: According to a recent CareerBuilder study, 61 percent of workers feel they don’t get enough sleep.) Not only does this perk benefit employees, it also helps the bottom line: companies lose an estimated $86.9 billion worth of productivity due to lack of sleep.

High times

Denver-based Flowhub, which provides software for the cannabis industry, lets employees consume marijuana at work. While employees can’t smoke in the building, they can bring in cannabis-infused edibles, sodas and juices. Two nearby startups, High There! and MassRoots, also allow employees to use pot at work. According to CNNMoney, employees are trusted not to over-do it on consumption, and most use happens later in the day or during brainstorming sessions. (While several other companies allow employees to do weed at work — both for recreation and medical purposes — they decline to publicize it for fear of damaging relationships with potential investors.)

Egg-freezing
Not long ago, Facebook and Apple made headlines when they announced they would start offering egg-freezing benefits as a way to attract recruit female employees. Recently, music streaming service company Spotify began offering egg freezing and fertility assistance as well.

Gender reassignment

Seven years ago, only 49 major U.S. employers offered transgender-inclusive health care benefits. Today, that number is more than 500. Apple, Chevron, General Mills, Dow Chemical, American Airlines, Kellogg and Sprint are among the companies that have expanded their health insurance policies in recent years to cover some of the costs of gender reassignment surgeries. Other types of coverage may include mental health counseling, hormone therapy, medical visits and other treatments related to gender transition or sex reassignment.

Paid sabbaticals

Paid sabbaticals aren’t just for college professors any more. At financial advisory company Deloitte, employees can choose from a partially paid three- to six-month sabbaticals to pursue personal or professional growth opportunities or an unpaid one-month leave to go and do whatever they want. Genentech employees who have worked for the company for six years get a six week paid sabbatical, while The Boston Consulting Group offer eight weeks for employees who have been with the company five years. The Container Store, REI and Baker Donelson are just a few more on the growing list of companies offering this remarkable benefit.

Concierge services
Who couldn’t use a personal assistant these days? At some companies, employees get the next best thing. SC Johnson & Son, Accenture, Hyatt Hotels and Nordstrom are just a few of the companies that provide concierge services to save employees time and help them juggle work and personal lives. Services vary by company, but range from dry cleaning to travel planning.

On-site massages

Companies like Activision Blizzard, Cisco Systems, Scripps Health and PwC have two things in common: All offer employees on-site massages, and all made Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list this year. Coincidence? Several companies offer on-site massages as a way to reward employees and help them recharge after a long workday. And while a massage may seem like a frivolous perk, companies see it as an investment in employees’ health, helping to relieve stress and back pain (which can come from long periods of sitting at a desk) – and the bottom line. Healthier workers are, after all, happier workers and more productive workers.

Puppies!

Allowing employees to bring their pets to work not only frees them of the burden of finding pet-sitters and dog-walkers (and the guilt of leaving them home alone), it also adds an element of fun to the office. It may come as no surprise that companies like Nestle Purina PetCare, Rover.com and Petplan have pet-friendly offices (after all, animals are their business), but companies of all industries and sizes — including Eventbrite, Procore Technologies, Glassdoor and Payscape — say yes to pets at the office.

These are just a few of the ways employers are getting creative in order to stand out from their competitors and attract and retain in-demand talent. What are you offering employees and candidates to stay competitive? Tell us about your incredible employee perks at @CBforEmployers

 

How to Help Employees Overcome Financial Stress

August 11th, 2016 Comments off
Business man showing close up his empty pocket

Even in a post-recession environment, many working Americans are still struggling with anxiety over their finances. Three-quarters of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck to make ends meet, according to a survey from CareerBuilder, and while making ends meet is a struggle for many post-recession, those with minimum wage jobs continue to be hit the hardest. Of workers who currently have a minimum wage job or have held one in the past, 66 percent said they couldn’t make ends meet, and 50 percent said they had to work more than one job to make it work.

Workers may not be taking full advantage of their available saving opportunities, either. According to the survey, 16 percent of all workers have reduced their 401k contribution and/or personal savings in the last year, 36 percent do not participate in a 401k plan, IRA or comparable retirement plan, and 25 percent have not set aside any savings each month in the last year.

Perhaps in effort to help struggling employees, employers are taking a stance and advocating for higher pay. Not only do the majority of employers think minimum wage should be raised, but more employers than last year feel this way. Only 5 percent of all employers believe the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour) is fair. The majority (67 percent) feel a fair minimum wage is $10 or more per hour, up from 61 percent last year; and 15 percent say a fair minimum wage is $15 or more per hour, up from 11 percent last year. Sixty-four percent of employers believe minimum wage should be increased in their state, up from 62 percent in 2014.

But although 67 percent of employers feel a fair minimum wage is $10 or more per hour, of those hiring minimum wage workers this year, almost half (48 percent) said they’re going to pay less than $10.

  • Less than $8:00: 11 percent
  • $8.00-$8.99 per hour: 23 percent
  • $9.00-$9.99 per hour: 14 percent
  • $10.00-$10.99 per hour: 21 percent
  • $11.00-$11.99 per hour: 7 percent
  • $12.00-$12.99 per hour: 8 percent
  • $13.00-$13.99 per hour: 6 percent
  • $14.00-$14.99 per hour: 5 percent
  • $15.00 or more per hour: 6 percent


How You Fit In

If you want your business to run smoothly, consider how you can unobtrusively help your employees with their finances. While employers are not always able to raise wages, many have found ways to offer additional perks or benefits that can help employees who are struggling. For example, offering financial counseling as part of their retirement savings package or even looking at local perks, such as movie ticket discounts or deals with nearby restaurants.

There’s a reason companies invest in employee wellness programs: They are good for the company and good for employees. Investing in financial health is similar. Here are a few other things employers can do to help employees be more financially stable:

  • Host workshops on topics such as personal budgeting, credit managing, estate planning, estimating retirement savings and investment basics.
  • Hire experts to provide detailed information on complicated finance issues, such as an attorney speaking to employees about creating a will.
  • Organize lunch-and-learn seminars about financial topics such as understanding the stock market.
  • Provide one-on-one counseling to discuss monthly budgeting and contributions to a 401(k).

 

The best way to know which benefits employees want most is to ask. Listening to their needs and trying to tailor benefits goes a long way toward helping employees feel more financially secure – and more loyal to the company.

How to Infuse Some Fun Into Your Office this Summer

July 16th, 2015 Comments off
summer employee activities

When the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the street festivals are in full swing, the only place workers want to be is in their overly air conditioned office … right?!? Not so much. Now that the warmer weather months are upon us, expect potentially less motivation and lower productivity out of your employees, as they daydream about being at the beach instead of sitting around a conference table.

But if they can’t be out enjoying the summer, why not bring some summer fun to them?

Here are five ideas for summer workplace activities that can help your employees stay happy, focused and productive.

1. Plan a summer outing

This is a popular, classic approach to getting away from work for a few hours and building camaraderie amongst your team.

If you’re going for more of a teambuilding environment, you can work with corporate event planners to coordinate a scavenger hunt across your city or a field day full of grade-school style relay races and tug-of-war. Or, if you want to have a more relaxed outing where your employees can let loose (hopefully, not too much), then consider a boat tour or a mixology class.

Ask for employee volunteers to help plan the outing, too – they’ll appreciate that you want their opinion, and if they’re involved in the planning, they’ll get even more out of it.

2. Initiate a volunteer day

Organize a volunteer day (or half day) where you go out into your local community and help paint a school or clean up a playground. Not only will your employees get to soak up some sun, they’ll do some good while they’re at it. Plus, helping others has a way a boosting one’s own positivity, which can give employees a brighter outlook once they’re back in the office.

3. hire a food truck

Food trucks are becoming a mainstay in cities across the U.S., and they can often be found parked outside of busy downtown locations serving hungry workers during their lunch breaks. Score some points with your employees by renting a food truck – or trucks – and having them cater your next team lunch or happy hour. Sites such as Roaming Hunger offer to help coordinate the logistics.

4. Take meetings outside

It’s a simple concept, but one that isn’t often implemented in traditional offices. Instead of having your next meeting in a conference room, let the outdoors serve as your meeting space. Plan ahead, and find an area close to your office with space to fit your team comfortably. A shaded area is ideal to avoid sweating and discomfort (which will take away from the fun of being outside).

It may not be possible for larger groups or for more important discussions, but it could be a nice change of pace for a general team update meeting.

5. consider flexible hours

This may be more of a long-term goal, but it’s been shown that flexible summer hours can boost employee morale. Whether it’s letting your employees leave at noon on Fridays (like CareerBuilder does, yay, us!) or offering flex days throughout the summer months, employees will appreciate the benefit of being able to enjoy more time off and will – hopefully – repay you with enhanced productivity while they’re at work.

What are you doing for fun this summer at your organization? Let us know by leaving a comment!

Need to engage employees on limited resources? Check out, “3 Ways to Engage Employees Without Spending a Dime.”

How to Infuse Some Fun Into Your Office this Summer

July 16th, 2015 Comments off
summer employee activities

When the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the street festivals are in full swing, the only place workers want to be is in their overly air conditioned office … right?!? Not so much. Now that the warmer weather months are upon us, expect potentially less motivation and lower productivity out of your employees, as they daydream about being at the beach instead of sitting around a conference table.

But if they can’t be out enjoying the summer, why not bring some summer fun to them?

Here are five ideas for summer workplace activities that can help your employees stay happy, focused and productive.

1. Plan a summer outing

This is a popular, classic approach to getting away from work for a few hours and building camaraderie amongst your team.

If you’re going for more of a teambuilding environment, you can work with corporate event planners to coordinate a scavenger hunt across your city or a field day full of grade-school style relay races and tug-of-war. Or, if you want to have a more relaxed outing where your employees can let loose (hopefully, not too much), then consider a boat tour or a mixology class.

Ask for employee volunteers to help plan the outing, too – they’ll appreciate that you want their opinion, and if they’re involved in the planning, they’ll get even more out of it.

2. Initiate a volunteer day

Organize a volunteer day (or half day) where you go out into your local community and help paint a school or clean up a playground. Not only will your employees get to soak up some sun, they’ll do some good while they’re at it. Plus, helping others has a way a boosting one’s own positivity, which can give employees a brighter outlook once they’re back in the office.

3. hire a food truck

Food trucks are becoming a mainstay in cities across the U.S., and they can often be found parked outside of busy downtown locations serving hungry workers during their lunch breaks. Score some points with your employees by renting a food truck – or trucks – and having them cater your next team lunch or happy hour. Sites such as Roaming Hunger offer to help coordinate the logistics.

4. Take meetings outside

It’s a simple concept, but one that isn’t often implemented in traditional offices. Instead of having your next meeting in a conference room, let the outdoors serve as your meeting space. Plan ahead, and find an area close to your office with space to fit your team comfortably. A shaded area is ideal to avoid sweating and discomfort (which will take away from the fun of being outside).

It may not be possible for larger groups or for more important discussions, but it could be a nice change of pace for a general team update meeting.

5. consider flexible hours

This may be more of a long-term goal, but it’s been shown that flexible summer hours can boost employee morale. Whether it’s letting your employees leave at noon on Fridays (like CareerBuilder does, yay, us!) or offering flex days throughout the summer months, employees will appreciate the benefit of being able to enjoy more time off and will – hopefully – repay you with enhanced productivity while they’re at work.

What are you doing for fun this summer at your organization? Let us know by leaving a comment!

Need to engage employees on limited resources? Check out, “3 Ways to Engage Employees Without Spending a Dime.”

Is Employee Engagement Even a Thing?

June 12th, 2015 Comments off
Why it doesn't matter whether we call employee engagement, as long as we do it in a genuine way.

My name is Doug Shaw. I am a human resources consultant, speaker and artist. And as you’ll see from this post, I am British.

I specialise in organisational collaboration, community development and exploring creativity. Connecting different groups of people is a vital part of my work, and I use a unique blend of conversational techniques, social technology and artistic methods to help people make work better. People typically ask for my help when they want to achieve something collaborative and creative, and when they want to do this with each other, rather than to each other.

IS EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT A REAL THING?

A 2013 survey found that only 1 in 5 people have even heard of the term employee engagement. As a ‘thing’, I’m not convinced it matters. What matters is how the experience makes people feel.

Employee engagement seems like a fad because that’s what it is for many people. It is often experienced literally as a tick box exercise. Here’s a survey, fill it in, we don’t want to know who you are (which to me says we are not really interested in involving you personally with improving the business), we will publish a fancy report and then — because we’re too busy/lazy/bitter and twisted — nothing more will happen until the next survey when you get to tell us ‘nothing ever changes around here’. Frequently, we end up with employee engagement feeling like little more than ‘how can we, the business, get/squeeze/extract more out of our people’.

Not helpful.

However, if employee engagement were to be positioned as a stepping stone on the journey away from an industrialised model of work, towards something more co-created, more meaningful, more enjoyable, then I think the return on investment would need to be articulated as something mutually beneficial. How could we do that?

The principles behind the engagement process need to be responsive and open: Ask, listen, respond in a timely fashion. Demonstrate pace. Lead by example. Do what you say you will. Anonymity should only ever be optional. I believe the principles of responsiveness and openness will be reciprocated and will come to represent the ROI of taking engagement (i.e., your people) seriously.

TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR ENGAGEMENT

There are only three things you can influence: How you think, how you feel and how you behave. Choose your attitude; make stuff happen.

Most work is coercive, meaning that it is done to you. This habit becomes hugely disempowering and we begin to respond to this experience by demonstrating things such as learned helplessness and learned irresponsibility. Bad work sucks at your soul, which is why we need soulful HR people like you to help others engage.

TALENT ADVISORS CAN FIX ENGAGEMENT ISSUES

OK, here’s my no brainer. Notice people. Say hi to someone, spot someone doing a good job and let them know you appreciate their efforts — right there, right then. Stuff like that. Small repeatable actions make big differences.

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that talent advisors should encourage everyone to take 15 minutes out of every day to meditate. I don’t mean going around hugging trees and wearing kaftans, but instead, try using something like Headspace to learn about and appreciate the importance of being present and taking time out for yourself.

In truth, what people do with that 15 minutes is none of our business, but I think giving them time to pause and reflect shows that we care. I’ve been meditating every day for over 130 days straight and I’m just beginning to feel a benefit from it. Research is indicating that meditation is good for our psychological and physiological well-being, and helps us think better, too.

IGNORE ENGAGEMENT ISSUES AT YOUR PERIL

One final piece of advice? Ignore employee disengagement at your peril. Higher stress levels and more burnout are just the beginning. Remember how we’re in a war for talent? Your best people will leave, because they can, and this will just put more pressure on the remaining, increasingly disengaged workforce.

Throughout the month of June, our talent advisors will be dishing out their best advice on effectively managing your talent and helping them thrive. Learn why even talent management pros need fans, and take a look at how these companies are effectively managing talent

Talent Advisors Have Small Data Problems

March 16th, 2015 Comments off
Small data big data

Can we be honest with each other for a minute? There are only something like 500 talent acquisition leaders in the entire world who actually get what “big data” is — and you’re not one of them.

It’s okay. I’m not one of them, either.

The reality is 99 percent of talent advisors will never deal with big data because, by definition, it’s is a broad term for data sets so large or complex that they are difficult to process using traditional data processing applications. Excel spreadsheets are a traditional data processing application. Thousands of data points are not big data — millions, billions and trillions are.

Do you deal with data sets in the billions? No. Big data isn’t your concern, but small data is.

The question talent advisors should be asking themselves is: “How do I use small data to solve the everyday problems that I face?”

This is a question most of us should be able to answer, and we can have a positive impact on outcomes in our organizations.

I am going to give you three ways you can solve real, everyday HR and talent-related problems using small data.

PRE-EMPLOYMENT ASSESSMENTS

Almost all organizations use assessments in today’s world. They are super cheap and easy to administer, but we still have one major problem: Our organizations aren’t fully bought into the results. This is a problem for talent advisors, and we need to change this attitude and get everyone fully invested. Data can help you do this.

True talent advisors will coach leaders and get their organizations to understand how powerful the data is behind assessments and why we should be listening to what they are saying. Millions of data points don’t lie, but your ‘gut’ lies to you every single day!

EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT

When your organization gives out a valid and reliable engagement survey, what comes back is truth.

The data is telling you something — good, bad or average. Most leaders and talent advisors hear what the data is telling them but believe they know better. You don’t. You are biased. You have been working your butt off to try and make your culture better, so you don’t want to believe what the data is telling you.

Stop that. It makes you look ignorant.

The data says you have crappy managers. You know this, but you are in charge of leadership training and you want to believe that it works. It’s not working. You need to get rid of your worst offenders. You know who they are, so make it happen.

TALENT ACQUISITION

There is a ton of small data in your talent acquisition shop. Data tells you the best source of hire, how long a job has been open, how many candidates have applied, how many candidates have interviewed, etc. Talent advisors have unlimited amounts of data in Talent Acquisition; however, if you don’t figure out what is important to measure, the data can be a major hindrance to getting something done!

I run into a ton of corporate talent advisors who are failing — but who have great data to tell them why they’re failing — but refuse to actually do something about it. The data tells you exactly why you are failing. Figure out what to measure, make a plan to solve for those failures and work your plan. Don’t have enough applicants for your positions? Work with marketing, pick up the phones, measure what your recruiters are actually doing and change the outcomes.

Everyday talent advisors don’t have big data issues, but that doesn’t make the issues they face any less important. Big or small, data is becoming a way of life for the best talent advisors. The key for great performance in human resources is to be able to quickly assess the data and use that knowledge to move your organization forward with real-world strategies, plans and activities.

 

 

 

What Workers Want to Change About You – And What to Do About It

March 5th, 2015 Comments off
Change direction

Like the burn book from “Mean Girls,” employees have dished on what they don’t like about their managers in a recent TINYpulse report from TINYhr. In the study, “New Year Employee Sentiment Report,” respondents were asked, “If you could change one thing about your manager in the new year, what would it be?”

The top five answers given were:

  • Become a better, more open communicator – 15 percent
  • Have the boss quit or retire – 11 percent
  • Improve empathy and people skills – 10 percent
  • Increase raises – 8 percent
  • Become a better collaborator/team leader – 7 percent

 

What does this mean for you?

While monetary recognition made the list, it didn’t crack the top three, and three out of the five answers focus on how bosses communicate and interact with their employees.  This goes to show that a little more communication, transparency and team building can go a long way in boosting employee morale.

The next question in the study explored what employees would do if the tables were turned.

When asked, “If you were promoted to be your boss’s manager in the new year, what’s the first thing you would change?” the top five answers given were:

  • Fire, demote or improve the caliber of employee – 16 percent
  • Establish standards for behavior and company policies – 11 percent
  • Improve communication – 11 percent
  • Improve wages and benefits – 10 percent
  • Modify working hours – 9 percent

 

What does this mean for you?

Interestingly, the top answer related to cleaning house and removing “dead weight,” so to speak. This shows that employees are not only invested in their own career, but they also want to surround themselves with people who are also devoted to doing their best work.

As the study points out, “peers have a huge influence on workplace satisfaction, and greater weight should be put on who is hired … and who is fired.”

The study concludes by saying, “You have a great deal of control over your employees’ desire to stick with you or run for the hills. Take stock of what they’re asking for in the new year, because you can be sure your competitors are.”

What changes have you been making to improve employee morale this year? Tell us in the comments section or tweet at @CBforEmployers.

Managing the Crushing Onslaught of HR Data

March 2nd, 2015 Comments off
Managing the Crushing Onslaught of HR Data

T.S. Eliot wrote that April is the cruellest month, but March is a close second. Unless you live in Sardinia or Costa Rica, you could probably use some sunshine, a tropical drink, and break from the dreary winter weather.

We can’t give you a wave pool or a Mai Tai, but we can give you a month of interesting articles about data to help you pass the time until your next vacation.

“Intriguing articles about HR data?” you ask.

Yes, I know, sounds ridiculous but it’s possible.

Talent advisors collect data on a regular basis. You have access to maiden names, married names, middle names, gender, birth dates, Social Security numbers, emergency contacts, educational history and work history. You sit at the intersection of the banalest — and most personal — information that anyone has to offer.

Imagine if you stopped worrying about “big data” and “predictive analytics” and started to think about how to make the most of what you’ve got in your archives. The possibilities are limitless. And the crushing onslaught of HR data can be managed with a little time, attention and patience.

Have a tough time with your college recruiting efforts?

It’s possible to dive into your ATS or CRM and match the upper-right portion of your 9-box-grid to schools, universities, majors and even professors. You can learn who influenced the best and brightest of your workforce. The results may surprise you!

Wondering how to stanch the fierce flow of talent from one of your most important departments?

Stop worrying about exit interviews and think about using cloud-based survey tools to conduct an intervention. When someone leaves, look at your performance management process and identify high-performing, remaining team members to evaluate the person who left. How do they feel about the loss? Could anything have been done to prevent the resignation? Was it someone worth saving?

Employee engagement and disengagement scores keeping you up at night?

Your employees are human if you forgot, and they have hectic lives and busy schedules. Nothing is more disspiriting than an out-of-touch talent advisor. You have all the non-confidential attendance and benefits data you need to know when someone is experiencing a big life change — a new baby, an aging parent, hectic soccer schedule, complex health issues. Think about how you operate in a proactive way before someone comes to you in a crisis.

When talent advisors explore data, they can think strategically and creatively.

Data will help you know when to offer coaching classes, financial education, or even hyperspecific wellness initiatives. Data will help you rethink your PTO and leave policies based on when people come in and out of the office. And data can empower you to make a business case for change with your executive leadership team.

March rolls in like a lion, but it can roll out like a lamb. This month, we aim to bring you creative, thoughtful and insightful articles on the challenges, opportunities and rewards of embracing data and using it in crazy ways that aren’t so crazy.

And we promise that spring — with sunshine and a little warmth — is on its way!

Managing the Crushing Onslaught of HR Data

March 2nd, 2015 Comments off
Managing the Crushing Onslaught of HR Data

T.S. Eliot wrote that April is the cruellest month, but March is a close second. Unless you live in Sardinia or Costa Rica, you could probably use some sunshine, a tropical drink, and break from the dreary winter weather.

We can’t give you a wave pool or a Mai Tai, but we can give you a month of interesting articles about data to help you pass the time until your next vacation.

“Intriguing articles about HR data?” you ask.

Yes, I know, sounds ridiculous but it’s possible.

Talent advisors collect data on a regular basis. You have access to maiden names, married names, middle names, gender, birth dates, Social Security numbers, emergency contacts, educational history and work history. You sit at the intersection of the banalest — and most personal — information that anyone has to offer.

Imagine if you stopped worrying about “big data” and “predictive analytics” and started to think about how to make the most of what you’ve got in your archives. The possibilities are limitless. And the crushing onslaught of HR data can be managed with a little time, attention and patience.

Have a tough time with your college recruiting efforts?

It’s possible to dive into your ATS or CRM and match the upper-right portion of your 9-box-grid to schools, universities, majors and even professors. You can learn who influenced the best and brightest of your workforce. The results may surprise you!

Wondering how to stanch the fierce flow of talent from one of your most important departments?

Stop worrying about exit interviews and think about using cloud-based survey tools to conduct an intervention. When someone leaves, look at your performance management process and identify high-performing, remaining team members to evaluate the person who left. How do they feel about the loss? Could anything have been done to prevent the resignation? Was it someone worth saving?

Employee engagement and disengagement scores keeping you up at night?

Your employees are human if you forgot, and they have hectic lives and busy schedules. Nothing is more disspiriting than an out-of-touch talent advisor. You have all the non-confidential attendance and benefits data you need to know when someone is experiencing a big life change — a new baby, an aging parent, hectic soccer schedule, complex health issues. Think about how you operate in a proactive way before someone comes to you in a crisis.

When talent advisors explore data, they can think strategically and creatively.

Data will help you know when to offer coaching classes, financial education, or even hyperspecific wellness initiatives. Data will help you rethink your PTO and leave policies based on when people come in and out of the office. And data can empower you to make a business case for change with your executive leadership team.

March rolls in like a lion, but it can roll out like a lamb. This month, we aim to bring you creative, thoughtful and insightful articles on the challenges, opportunities and rewards of embracing data and using it in crazy ways that aren’t so crazy.

And we promise that spring — with sunshine and a little warmth — is on its way!

3 Ways to Engage Employees Without Spending A Dime

February 23rd, 2015 Comments off
invest in your employees without spending a time

Employees are considered to be the most important asset at your company, which means business objectives can’t be accomplished without them. As a result, your executives agree that anything that can be done to ensure that these critical resources are more productive and engaged is a win, right?

Of course! Well…
You can invest in employee engagement as long as it doesn’t cost a thing.”

Sound familiar? Unfortunately, when executives think about employee engagement, their focus is often on the expense side of the equation. Activities and programs to measure or increase “employee engagement” get squeezed into tightly managed overhead budgets. These also become the first items that are cut if the business outlook becomes partly cloudy.

Thankfully, the sharpest talent advisors know that employee engagement is about emotional commitment to the organization and the organization’s goals.

So, how can you increase your employees’ emotional commitment without a budget?

1. Connect their work to a higher purpose.

Consider this example of how a janitor at the Mayo Clinic responded to a journalist who asked if he was cleaning a room for the next patient.

No. I’m saving people’s lives.”

When questioned about his answer, the janitor explained that one of the biggest dangers in health care facilities is bacteria and unsanitary conditions, which may mean the difference between life and death for a patient. Thus, he felt as responsible for saving lives at the hospital as ER doctors and first responders.

To capture the hearts and minds of your employees, you must help them understand how their specific job affects the end product or service – and how their work matters.

2. Enable progress by removing obstacles.

What happens on a great day at work? In a study conducted by Harvard researchers, over 12,000 work diary entries were studied in an effort to discover what happened in an employee’s everyday work life that correlated with the highest levels of creative output and satisfaction.

The most common event triggering a “best day” at work response? Any progress made by the individual or by their team. Even a small step forward counted. The most common event triggering a “worst day” response? A setback. (Check out the great book called “The Progress Principle” to learn more about this study.)

Does your organization have out-of-date policies and procedures, office politics/turf wars, or employees who don’t have the tools and resources they need to do their job? To increase employee engagement and emotional commitment, you must remove these obstacles to success and ensure employees are able to make progress in their daily work.

3. Celebrate successes — big and small.

We tend to focus our celebrations of success at work on big, one-time events: achieving record performance, landing new customers, launching new products, or hitting year-end results. These are all important reasons to celebrate. But what about the many steps along the way that were successfully completed by employees in order to achieve these triumphs? Are your leaders trained and encouraged to watch for and recognize these?

A simple “thank you,” high-five or personal note can go a long way to increasing employees’ emotional commitment. In fact, according to Towers Watson, recognition from supervisors and managers can “turbocharge” employee engagement for better workplace productivity and performance.

Don’t give up because you don’t have a budget to purchase new engagement software or tracking survey scores. As a talent advisor, you can positively impact employee engagement — and business performance — by helping your employees to connect their work to a higher purpose, enabling progress and celebrating successes.

Throughout the month of February, the Talent Advisor Portal has been featuring HR leaders who will help you learn why and how and why to invest in talent in 2015 — even on a shoestring budget — and why it’s about more than making them love you. See what you’ve been missing this month. New to Talent Advisor? Sign up here to get new articles delivered to your email inbox.

 Help employees connect their work to a deeper meaning