Each week we aim to deliver the most useful information, inspiration, and insight about Employee Engagement and Motivation, Leadership and Followership, Strategy and Culture, all summarised into bite-size chunks.  Here are this week’s must reads;

I Want To Develop My People, But I Can’t Prove It’s Worth The Money’ – 15th August

Steve Meyer asks “Why would anybody spend a ton of money training employees if there’s no way to actually prove it works?”

And then argues that this is simply the wrong question to ask because it is similar to asking people to prove that unicorns don’t exist.

Meyer says “Stop trying to do the impossible.”

Companies are bad at quantifying training ROI. we should accept this and look at the value or training in a different way.

Take GE for example; GE has long been the shining city on the hill because they view creating a learning culture as a core business strategy. A 2012 study by the HCM Advisory Group showed just how powerful that attitude toward employee development can be. The researchers broke companies into three categories based on how they viewed employee development. The most enlightened companies, like GE, viewed it as a “strategic enabler.” The least enlightened viewed it as a “cost center.” And a group in between viewed it as a “necessary but costly contributor.”

The study showed that the strategic enabler group outperformed the cost center group by a wide margin. Employee productivity was 50% higher.

So next week you go to your boss and say: “I’d like to invest $30,000 in a training program for my team.”

What will you say when she replies: “Will it add $30,000 to the bottom line?”

Ask her the following;

“What kind of workforce do you want? A trained one, or an untrained one?”

“Do you want a salesforce that consistently deploys selling best-practices that lead to strong results, or an untrained salesforce that lapses in to bad habits that lead to mediocre results?”

“Do you want a trained management team that executes the daily blocking and tackling required to engage and retain our top performers, or do you want untrained managers whose behaviors cause people to disengage and leave our company?”

Ask your questions with the firm conviction that people who are well trained, and who practice solid fundamentals day in and day out, perform better.

The ROI of Employee Engagement – 15th August

As part of their Ultimate guide to HR Data analytics, Officevibe have written a chapter on the ROI of employee engagement.  The guide is full of useful examples of how to calculate employee ROI from a number of perspectives including Productivity, Absenteeism, Turnover and Speed of Onboarding.  Each metric has a worked example of how the ROI could be calculated and clearly demonstrates the value of investing in these areas.

There are also a number of suggestions on how to increase engagement at work including employee wellness programmes, Being social at work and Corporate Social Responsibility, backed up by research evidence. E.g.

  • A study done at the London school of economics found that socializing with colleagues is the only thing proven to make you as happy than when you’re not at work.
  • Gallup found that if you have a best friend at your work, you’re much more motivated and productive.
  • A 2003 Stanford University study found that MBA graduates would sacrifice an average of $13,700 of their annual salary to work for a socially responsible company

Overall this chapter gives some really practical examples and case studies that clearly demonstrates how you can apply the ROI calculations in your own organisation.

iCIMS Hire Expectations Institute™ Releases New Research on Increasing Employee Engagement & Retention – 14th August

Sys-Con Media have reported that software as a service provider iCIMS Inc has just released a research ebook “Increase Employee Engagement & Retention”.   The ebook focuses on creating an on boarding programme with a focus on career development and mentoring.  iCIMS conducted a survey of over 850 talent acquisition professionals and employees to learn what programmes keep employees engaged.

More than half the employees surveyed said that a mentor would help in developing their career but only 17% of employees actually have one.  Another interesting statistic is that employers believe they are offering career development opportunities yet 50% of employees say that they receive insufficient career development training.

To address these issues, the ebook focus on the power of mentoring as a development and retention strategy, offering the added benefit of increaseing the employer brand:

  • Establish a mentor programme which is available to new hires as well as existing staff.
  • Create a supportive work environment that emphasises mentoring and career development
  • Encourage managers be become mentors and share their own career path.

The ebook suggests a five step process to introduce mentoring into the organisation for new hires:

  1. introduce the manager as mentor within your new hire portal
  2. highlight the managers relevant experience as part of new hire on-boarding
  3. encourage managers to discuss career development and training with employees
  4. reveal employee growth potential from the beginning
  5. follow up with new hires to create a constantly improving onboarding experience

Why Employee Engagement is Critical to Corporate Success – 13th August

A recent ADP report found that workers bored, dissatisfied or uninspired by their job, can represent more than $2,000  per employee in annual loss.  It is a leadership responsibility to manage the continued growth of its people and as ICC CEO Steve Glaser says “When they see opportunities for advancement and recognition, they become dedicated to their employer and enthusiastic about their work.”

In this Mashable article by James Obrien, four approaches are described to help (re)open that all-important conversation:

  1. Create opportunities to really engage. Every worker wants to be respected and feel rewarded
  2. Open your company’s culture to collaboration.  Use new technology and social media to promote creative thinking and turn ideas into reality
  3. Work is a personal endeavour; Acknowledge the mindset – let go of the old manager – employee relationship and focus on team-based concepts.
  4. Hire to engage. When interviewing managers and senior executives look for people who are prepared to be both a leader and a mentor.  These people need to have the same passion for personal growth has the employees that report to them.

Managers Can Motivate Employees with One Word – 13th August

Heidi Grant Halvorson explains that “Human beings are profoundly social — we are hardwired to connect to one another and to want to work together. Frankly, we would never have survived as a species without our instinctive desire to live and work in groups, because physically we are just not strong or scary enough.”

Tons of research has documented how important being social is to us. For instance, as neuroscientist Matt Lieberman describes in his book, Social: Why Our Brains are Wired to Connect, our brains are so attuned to our relationships with other people that they quite literally treat social successes and failures like physical pleasures and pains. Being rejected, for instance, registers as a “hurt” in much the same way that a blow to the head might — so much so that if you take an aspirin you’ll actually feel better about your breakup.

David Rock, founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute, has identified relatedness — feelings of trust, connection, and belonging—as one of the five primary categories of social pleasures and pains (along with status, certainty, autonomy, and fairness). Rock’s research shows that the performance and engagement of employees who experience relatedness threats or failures will almost certainly suffer. And in other research, the feeling of working together has indeed been shown to predict greater motivation, particularly intrinsic motivation, that magical elixir of interest, enjoyment, and engagement that brings with it the very best performance.

Theoretically, the modern workplace should be bursting with relatedness. Not unlike our hunter-gatherer ancestors, most of us are on teams. And teams ought to be a bountiful source of “relatedness” rewards.
But here’s the irony: While we may have team goals and team meetings and be judged according to our team performance, very few of us actually do our work in teams.

Grant Halvorson says “Take me, for example: I conduct all the research I do with a team of other researchers. I regularly coauthor articles and books. My collaborators and I regularly meet to discuss ideas and to make plans. But I have never analyzed data with a collaborator sitting next to me, or run a participant through an experiment with another researcher at my side—and my coauthors and I have never ever typed sentences in the same room. Yes, many of the goals we pursue and projects we complete are done in teams, but unlike those bands of prehistoric humans banding together to take down a woolly mammoth, most of the work we do today still gets done alone.”

So that, in a nutshell, is the weird thing about teams: They are the greatest (potential) source of connection and belonging in the workplace, and yet teamwork is some of the loneliest work that you’ll ever do.

So what we need is a way to give employees the feeling of working as a team, even when they technically aren’t. And thanks to new research by Priyanka Carr and Greg Walton of Stanford University, we now know one powerful way to do this: simply saying the word “together.”

In Carr and Walton’s studies, participants first met in small groups, and then separated to work on difficult puzzles on their own. People in the psychologically together category were told that they would be working on their task “together” even though they would be in separate rooms, and would either write or receive a tip from a team member to help them solve the puzzle later on. In thepsychologically alone category, there was no mention of being “together,” and the tip they would write or receive would come from the researchers.

All the participants were in fact working alone on the puzzles. The only real difference was the feeling that being told they were working “together” might create.

The effects of this small manipulation were profound: participants in the psychologically togethercategory worked 48% longer, solved more problems correctly, and had better recall for what they had seen. They also said that they felt less tired and depleted by the task. They also reported finding the puzzle more interesting when working together, and persisted longer because of thisintrinsic motivation (rather than out of a sense of obligation to the team, which would be an extrinsic motivation).

The word “together” is a powerful social cue to the brain.  In and of itself, it seems to serve as a kind of relatedness reward, signaling that you belong, that you are connected, and that there are people you can trust working with you toward the same goal.

Executives and managers would be wise to make use of this word with far greater frequency. In fact, don’t let a communication opportunity go by without using it.  I’m serious.  Let “together” be a constant reminder to your employees that they are not alone, helping them to motivate them to perform their very best.

Richard Branson on Increasing Employee Engagement – 11th August

In a regular column in Entrepreneur magazine Richard Branson shares his thoughts on how to increase employee engagement.  Using examples from the Virgin Group, he answers a question about how to help employes achieve their full potential.  Branson refers to the commonly reported Gallup survey, which reported only 13% of employees worldwide ante fully engaged at work.  He also highlights a less well reported survey of 12,000 employees by the Energy Project that identified four drivers:

Renewal – Employees who take a break every 90 minutes report a 30 percent higher level of focus than those who take no breaks or just one during the day. They also report a nearly 50 percent greater capacity to think creatively and a 46 percent higher level of health and well-being. ( Remember the Hawthorne Studies? – Ed)

Value – Employees who say they have more supportive supervisors are 1.3 times as likely to stay with the organisation and are 67 percent more engaged.

Focus – Only 20 percent of respondents said they were able to focus on one task at a time at work, but those who could were 50 percent more engaged.

Purpose – Employees who derive meaning and significance from their work were more than three times as likely to stay with their organisations.  They also reported 1.7 times higher job satisfaction and were 1.4 times more engaged at work.

Branson describes a number of activities that his Virgin Group undertakes to address the four drivers.  He describes how he gives his employees real autonomy, and celebrates individual achievements through newsletters and hosting parties.  The newsletter all help Virgin to link day to day activities with the larger aims of the business.  He is also a strong believer in flexible working and healthy living initiatives and links this to the renewal driver.

Another way in which the Virgin Group monitors employee engagement is through referrals.  An employees endorsement that his company is a great place to work is a real measure of the success of the efforts in engaging employees.

Finally Mr Branson quotes Virgin Pulse CEO Chris Boyce and his belief that employees are a company’s competitive advantage “They’re the ones making the magic happen — so long as their needs are being met.”

How to Use Social Campaigns to Drive employee Engagement – 7th August

Social Media company Brightkit has released an article on using social campaigns to drive engagement.  As well as driving sales Brightkit believe that social media can also build employee and team engagement.  They suggest six ways in which social media can be used internally to promote get your employees more involved in your business:

  • Use video content to engage your top sales performers – run a top pitch contest that the whole team votes on with a prize to the winner
  • Use a poll to collect employee feedback on hot topics – Polls are a quick and easy way of collecting opinions on topics that matter to your staff.
  • Use an Instagram gallery to showcase your corporate culture – Allow your employees to take snapshots of office life and post them with a specific hashtag and promote on the company website (you can always moderate the photo’s if you feel the need.
  • Create a quiz on new products or company updates – Promote new product launches with an interactive quiz, or use it as a fun training tool.
  • Implement a social feed to celebrate your best employees – acknowledging and celebrating employee achievements increases motivation and productivity and increases camaraderie.
  • Run an Instagram contest to relive the memories of your last company retreat – As well as reliving all the fun of your last outing, sharing, commuting and voting on the favourite submissions builds involvement, participation and creative thinking.

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About Emenex

We help you keep your great people great.

Emenex enables organisations to get the best from and for their staff.

Leaders approach us when they have challenges associated with motivation, productivity, retention, talent management and succession planning. They know that addressing these critical issues can deliver higher levels of profit, productivity and customer satisfaction. They also know that a more progressive solution is required – one that enhances their brand with customers and staff alike.

The solution our clients are choosing to implement is the extraMILETM approach to engagement and development. The extraMILETM delivers all the tools and skills leaders need to clearly define and communicate organisational priorities to employees. For employees, it ensures they are prepared and able to align their personal and career goals to the priorities of the organisation.

The continued growth and development of both teams and individuals builds loyalty, commitment and engagement. It builds an organisation better able to meet future challenges and leads to higher performance and customer satisfaction.

The result?

Individuals and their organisation excel.

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