All the Employee Engagement news worth reading

Each week we bring you the best news and articles on Employee Engagement (and the related areas of leadership, learning and development, organisational culture and motivation) and all in bit size chunks.  Here they are for this week;

The Pay-for-Performance Fallacy – 13th May 2014

This is a powerfully argued account of the fallacy inherent in motivating people with money.  Sebastian Bailey not only makes it clear that it doesn’t work, except to  attract talent, but once employed it doesn’t result in motivation, engagement, job satisfaction and performance.
Instead, there are a whole set of other tools companies can use – and examples of these in practice.  In all this is well worth reading and digesting.

Three Reasons You Should Have Difficult Conversations Now – 13th May 2014

While some people may be better at dealing with conflict than others, no one really enjoys uncomfortable or challenging conversations.  This article discusses three reasons why you need to run toward, not away from, difficult conversations now:

  1. Avoidance causes increased internal distress
  2. Frustration often leads to emotional outbursts
  3. Procrastination usually results in bigger issues

Top 5 Signs That New Hire Will Be a Rock-Star Employee – 13th May 2014

What does it take to become indispensable to an organisation? To be on a short list of its most valued employees? To be one of the real difference makers?

The author of this article finds these attributes were common to all:

  • Integrity
  • Proven ability to get things done
  • Low drama
  • No surprises
  • Passion

Time is Your Employees Scarcest Resource – May 2014

To get the most out of your employees, you must treat their time as precious, creating disciplined time budgets and investing effort to generate the greatest possible value for your company.

In this post, the Authors offer us eight practices for managing organizational time:

  1. Make the agenda clear and selective
  2. Create a zero-based time budget
  3. Require business cases for all new projects
  4. Simplify the organization
  5. Clearly delegate authority for time investments
  6. Standardize the decision process
  7. Establish organization-wide time discipline
  8. Provide feedback to manage organizational load

The comments are also worth reading – some of them offering a different way of looking at the issue.

Why don’t employee engagement surveys work? – 12th May 2014

In a stimulating article on HR Zone called Why don’t employee engagement surveys work? Debbie Hance identifies the ‘curse’ of Employee Engagement surveys, namely that the process of trying to achieve something positive and beneficial for your employees can actually end up disengaging them.

Expectations are raised that the employer will do something about the situation, but frequently no action is taken. Hance offers three reasons for this inaction:

  1. Engagement surveys don’t ask the critical questions.
  2. Change is difficult.
  3. Engagement is wrongly perceived as an ‘HR issue’.

Happily, Hance also provides three approaches to help:

  1. Ask the right questions.
  2. Take practical action at three levels: senior executives, line managers and individual contributors.
  3. Devolve the responsibility for engagement to everyone in the organisation.

The Top 8 Reasons Your Best People Are About To Quit — And How You Can Keep Them – 11th May 2014

More Americans are quitting their jobs today than at any point in the past 4 years according to this article, despite a struggling economy.  If you’re a boss, the biggest reasons might start with you.  Very illuminating explanations…

  • You’ve overloaded your best people with too many responsibilities
  • You’re a micro-manager
  • You’re never around
  • You’re not in touch with how some of your hires or promotions are driving your best people nuts
  • You’ve never given your people a sense of where they can go in their careers
  • You run terrible meetings
  • You communicate that you care more about yourself than the team
  •  You’ve never given them the big picture vision of where your group is heading or you are constantly changing the big picture

Continuing the list theme…

Three Questions Executives Should Ask Front-Line Workers – 9th May 2014

In this post the Authors suggest that there are three simple questions, asked with the intent to learn, can help you to stay in touch with reality and be a better leader:

  1. How can I help you?
  2. Why are we doing it this way?
  3. How are we doing in living out our values?

Each one puts you in closer touch with reality, builds trust, and inspires high performance.

Employee engagement is a two-way street – 12th May 2014

An interesting interview with Lesley Brown, Regional Practice Leader of Employee Surveys, Asia Pacific for Towers Watson in which she highlights the subtle shifts as generational diversity impacts on employee engagement strategies.  Employees have moved from passive receivers of engagement initiatives to active participators.  Multiple communication channels and career paths are now needed to engage and retain staff.

Millennials are the Least engaged Demographic – 12th May 2014

According to Aon Hewitt’s 2014 Trends in Global Employee Engagement annual study, millennials are the least-engaged generation in the workforce, with engagement levels of 56 percent. This compares to 66 percent for baby boomers and 60 percent for Generation X.

Part of the reason for this low level of engagement is a lack of recognition by managers that Millennials need a different management style.  Although this new generation is very confident, they still need regular feedback, structured career goals and creating meaning by connecting work with the bigger picture.

Leveraging the Manager – Employee Relationship to Drive employee Engagement – 12th May 2014

Karen Knox from Halogen Software summarises  a couple of interesting articles that emphasise the importance of the management role in employee engagement.

Once again 1:1 discussions form a cornerstone of increasing engagement and performance and Karen uses complimentary work from other articles to support her argument. One article in particular by Michael Cardus from the Journal of Quality and Participation sums up Karen’s viewpoint.  Cardus identifies five levers that can help managers drive engagement:

  • Be a competent manager – one who adds value and enables employees to do their best work.
  • Agree objective performance goals that are linked to departmental and organisational priorities and, to the best extent possible, also engage the employee’s abilities, ambitions and interests.
  • Objective metrics to measure progress toward the performance goals is regularly and jointly measured.
  • Appropriate resources to enable employees to do their best work is a key responsibility of the manager. These could be physical, financial or emotional.
  • Facilitating employee autonomy. By viewing themselves as resources and coaches, managers can avoid micro-managing.

Are we working harder than ever?

Is the title of an interesting CIPD report published last week, in their Megatrends series – Published in April 2014

Their typically thorough research reveals that employees certainly think they are. This is not because they are working longer hours though; average hours worked per year have been falling consistently for decades. Rather it seems to be a sense of work becoming a more intense experience, with higher workloads, increased pressures to meet deadlines, intensified customer demands and performance targets.

In an earlier survey (2010), employees who saw their jobs as most demanding had the highest average job satisfaction. Highly engaged employees are more likely to give more energy and effort voluntarily. Employees who do not feel they get the support they need from their managers or colleagues are more likely to feel under pressure. Therefore it is essential that managers’ people management capabilities are strong.

It’s possible that the recent recession has had an impact on work intensity, so theoretically as the economy grows people would not need to work so hard; but recession is certainly not the sole cause and its unlikely that a reduction in work intensity will be deliberately sought in organisations. Technology (which of itself is neutral) also plays its part; the report points out that it can both increase work intensity, and reduce it, depending on how it is used.

Perhaps the major influence on work intensity is that life in general has become more intense. Technology demands instant response, and as every employee is also a consumer/service user, so they have the expectations on those they do business with as their customers do of them.

You can download the free report here.

Here’s how to measure the ROI of Employee Engagement – 8th May 2014

Zane Safrit suggests you don’t ask you local rocket scientist – he has already asked his and they have come up with the following steps;

  1. Identify the areas of your company’s operations that are not dependent on employee performance.
  2. Pick the metric or KPI, Key Performance Indicator, that troubles you the most. Use your standard financial and management reports.
  3. How many times did you recognize and engage your employees for acheiving the metric? Count the times.
  4. Add those up. Keep it simple. Just use tick marks if you want, each one getting a single tick mark.
  5. Then divide that troublesome metric by that combined number of times you recognized your employees in ways that are meaningful to them.
  6. What improvement do you need to see in that metric? Say a 10% improvement.
  7. Double the ways your recognize and engage with your employees. Do that for 90 days and see what that metric is. Need faster results? Triple that number.

Meeting the Challenge – Employee Engagement and the future of the NHS – 8th May 2014

A recent report into employee engagement in the NHS has found that while it has improved over the last 2 years, engagement still falls behind other industries.  The report investigates the work of eight NHS Trusts that have markedly higher levels of engagement and highlights key factors that has a positive impact on  employee engagement.  The keys factors are:

  • A strong set of values developed in partnership with key stakeholders and embedded within people management processes
  • Senior Leaders and Managers seen to be living the values and visibly demonstrating them in behaviours and decisions
  • The critical role of line managers in managing performance, development and team work
  • A strong employee voice able to raise concerns and involvement in decision making
  • Involvement and partnership with stockholder groups e.g. Unions in the future direction

About Emenex

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

The Emenex extraMILE process aligns employees with their organisation’s priorities and enhances every individual’s emotional connection with their employer, so releasing increased levels of performance and personal fulfilment.




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