Each week we scour the web to find you the most informative, inspirational, and insightful articles about Employee Motivation, Morale, Engagement, Leadership, Followership, Strategy and Culture. Then we edit them into bite-size chunks, to give you the essentials without the fluff. Here are this week’s must reads:

Job insecurity the norm for three quarters of global workers, finds ILO – 19th May

Claire Churchard, writing in the CIPD’s People Management magazine, comments on recent research from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), showing the majority of workers worldwide face insecure employment conditions as the use of temporary or short-term contracts and informal job arrangements are widespread. Three quarters of people around the globe work under this type of agreement, she identifies, while only 25 per cent have a permanent job.

Churchard points out that more than 60 per cent of all workers globally do not have any kind of employment contract.

In the report, The Changing Nature of Jobs, further data revealed that while wage and salaried work has grown worldwide, it still only accounts for half of global employment. The rise in part-time employment worldwide, especially among women, outpaced increases in full-time jobs between 2009 and 2013, in the majority of countries with available information.

Guy Ryder, ILO director-general, said: “These new figures point to an increasingly diversified world of work. In some cases, non-standard forms of work can help people get a foothold into the job market. But these emerging trends are also a reflection of the widespread insecurity that’s affecting many workers worldwide today. The shift we’re seeing from the traditional employment relationship to more non-standard forms of employment is in many cases associated with the rise in inequality and poverty rates in many countries.”

He warned that such trends risk perpetuating the vicious circle of weak global demand and slow job creation that has characterised the global economy and many labour markets throughout the post-crisis period. He urged employers to “stimulate investment opportunities to boost job creation and productivity, while ensuring adequate income security to all types of workers, not just those on stable contracts”.

Editor’s comment: What do you think the implications are for employee engagement, given the content this report? We would love to hear your views and experiences.

8 Signs That You’re Probably Stuck in a Talent Time Warp – 19th May

Editor’s comment – obviously what follows won’t apply to you, will it? However there may still be some people in your organisation who could do with some help in recognising that the world is changing fast.

Lori Hock lists eight signs you and your organization may be stuck in a talent time warp:

  • Talent, talent everywhere – Everyone needs a job, so hiring the best should be fast and easy, right? Wrong. During the recession, great candidates may have seemed like they were growing on trees, but not anymore.
  • No rush making a job offer — Some still believe they’ve got all the time in the world for interviews and making offers. Not so. If you are interviewing a candidate, it’s likely he/she is interviewing with other companies.
  • One employee will gladly do the work of three – The 10-year veteran employee who accumulated multiple jobs along the way has left the firm. Just because one employee weathered job scope creep doesn’t mean you’ll find a pool of others with the same abilities.
  • We dictate compensation, not the market — The market dictates current compensation rates, and it’s not based on what’s “fair” compared to your other employees. Unrealistic compensation offerings make recruitment an uphill climb.
  • What skills shortage — When it comes to STEM careers, there simply aren’t enough candidates to go around.
  • Top performers are the same everywhere – Top schools? Yes! Admired consumer brands on the resume? Excellent. That’s what everyone looks for in a top candidate, but it doesn’t mean that these candidate types will perform well in your cultural environment. Create competency profiles based on living-and-breathing top performers in your organization, and use them when searching for candidates. It will make recruitment easier, and you’ll get better results in the end.
  • What employer reputation — Access to unprecedented amounts of social data isn’t just a one-way street. Candidates can view previously unimaginable levels of company information, employee reviews and customer feedback.
  • Employees won’t dare leave — Employees no longer count their lucky stars just to be employed. You’ve got to make it worth their while. What’s your employee value proposition? What career paths are offered? How do your compensation packages compare with competitors?

The Eight Most Evil HR Policies – 19th May

Liz Ryan suggests that one of the first ways to make your workplace more human is to get rid of the following evil HR policies;

  • Stack Ranking – Any company that is still stacking up its employees like pieces of lumber and comparing them to one another does not deserve your talents.
  • Working Sick – Too many employers make it a disciplinary infraction to be sick and stay home from work, even when an employee is on salary. That’s a great way to get employees to come into the office and spread their germs around when they should be home in bed!
  • No References – Imagine how it would feel to work for a company for twenty years, get laid off and then be told that the company won’t give you a reference? It happens every day, because some weenie lawyer told the CEO that a rogue manager might give someone a bad reference and the company might be hit with a defamation claim.
  • Stealing Miles – If it’s my tush in the chair for hours in an airplane, I earned the frequent flyer miles that go along with the trip. Companies that steal their employees’ airline miles are too cheap to lead a team to greatness.
  • Attendance Policies for Grownups – It’s knowledge work, so who cares whether you leave an hour early or not? Most knowledge workers take their work home with them anyway, at least in their brains. Ditch the Machine Age attendance policies and expect people to come to work — and they will.
  • Stitch-Level Dress Codes – If you don’t trust someone to get dressed in the morning, they shouldn’t be on your team in the first place. Lose the insulting stitch-level dress code and talk generally with your teammates about how to dress for work.
  • Bereavement Leave – When someone in an employee’s family dies, it’s a sad time. The last thing you want to do is to make your employee’s burden greater by insisting on seeing a funeral notice in order to authorize a few days of paid bereavement leave, but companies do it.
  • Leave Yourself at Home – Some employers don’t allow team members to take or make personal calls while at work. Others don’t let people check social media at all during the day. Who wants to work for a company like that? You hire living, breathing people and your customers and shareholders benefit when you celebrate the human side of work.

How to Get Employees Excited to Do Their Work – 18th May

Kelly Decker and Ben Decker present a communications model they have found to be helpful in how to communicate with employees in ways that are appropriate for different situations. Pulling together tips they’ve shared from thousands of leaders from Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits, and startups, they have developed what they call the “Communicator’s Roadmap”.

The vertical axis measures Emotional Connection. This is the barometer of trust, and is comprised of the rapport you build with others, your likability, warmth, reliability, and empathy. On the horizontal axis, is content. A self-centered message, on the left side of the spectrum, is not necessarily selfish, but it’s all about you—your expertise, your wisdom, your opinions, and your agenda. The right side is all about how the message relates to the other person. These are not mere facts, figures, or frameworks; they are human-scale, concrete, and actionable. If your message is not relevant to someone, it won’t be persuasive.

The four quadrants create a framework of communications suitable for different situations:

  • Bottom Left – Inform (low emotional connection, self-centered) – effective for simple policy updates: eg. clarification of expense submission procedure.
  • Bottom Right – Direct (low emotional connection, audience-centered) – effective for time sensitive directions: eg. I need the report on Friday noon.
  • Top Left – Entertain (high emotional connection, self-centered) – effective for reassuring from personal examples: eg. I did that once but was able to learn from that and did this next time,
  • Top Right – Inspire (high emotional connection, audience-centered) – effective for motivating someone to improve performance: eg. sharing an example of the previous success of another employee.

The Communicator’s Roadmap can be used create experiences that will shift responses from “Sure, I can do that…” to “Count me in! Give it a try.

Let’s Get Rid Of Management – 18th May

Chip Bell makes a passionate plea for more leadership and less management in companies. He stresses the following points to distinguish between the two;

Management is about the administration of stuff.

“Managers plan, organize, staff, and control. Managers ensure rules and policies are followed. They worry about the efficiency of the organization and the quality of its output. They preach the sermon of doing things right, as in correct.

All these are valuable functions necessary for the well being of an organization, particularly in today’s rule-constrained business landscape.”

Leadership is about the influence of people.

“Leaders inspire, encourage, coach, mentor, empower, and discipline. They worry about the effectiveness of the organization and character of those who guide its direction. They pay attention to vision, values and the productivity and well being of associates. They preach the sermon of doing things right, as in consistent with values, and doing the right thing.”

He makes the key point that;

“organizational success requires both efficiency and effectiveness; management-thinking and leadership-thinking. Successful CEO’s find ways to instill the proper blend of wise caution with courageous risk-taking; consistency-producing standards along side an entrepreneurial spirit.”

However he also points out that too often, firms favour management thinking, not leadership.

And ends with a statement;

“Leaders at the core of an organization nurture spirit and encourage determination. They elevate the power of people over the efficiency of procedure. They return us to the soul of commerce and remind us of the virtue of contribution. Leaders are the engines of enduring living companies, not just those that survive until they are purchased. They kindle purpose and awaken passion.”

RIP employee engagement… long live talent magnetism – 18th May

Roberta Matuson, author of “Talent Magnetism: How to Build a Workplace That Attracts and Keeps the Best” claims that whilst companies are spending billions on employee engagement, employees are still miserable and unproductive. “It’s time to bury this initiative and do something that works — Talent Magnetism” she says.

She proposes some strategies to attract and keep the best people:

Hire and promote magnetic leaders.
If your management team consisted solely of magnetic leaders, suggests Matuson, then the attraction would be so great that you’d be pulling top people towards you and these people would stick around. However, managers are not hired and promoted for their ability to really connect with people. Instead, they are assigned management jobs because they’ve either done this work elsewhere or they are next in line to move up in the organisation. In Matuson’s view, not enough time is spent observing and asking the right questions which will determine if the person being considered for management is really worthy of serving in this capacity. When filling management positions, she advises, make sure the person you are hiring is someone you’d be proud to have as your boss.

Invest in your talent.
Provide your people with opportunities for personal development. Matuson suggests providing employees with “microburst career moves” such as a temporary assignment in a place where they can quickly add knowledge and provide value to the organisation. The employee will learn new skills and you will gain a more valuable and more connected employee. [Editors comment: This fits in with the 70/20/10 model- making sure that most of an employees development is based on-the-job, with coaching support and formal training where necessary.]

Promotions based on performance.
Matuson says promote based on performance and results, not based on time served or whose turn it is. Many workers are receiving calls at this very moment about opportunities that are a step up from where they currently are, she warns – make sure that call is coming from someone inside your organisation rather than from a competitor. Employees will remain in your fold if you consistently demonstrate that there are opportunities for promotions for those who excel at their performance.

Cut your losses.
Great people want to work with other great people, but not everyone you hire will turn out to be as good as you hoped. That’s okay, says Matuson,. Just be sure you cut your losses as soon as you can. By doing so, top talent will remain and attract like-minded people to your organisation, she concludes.

Market To Mondays: Your Employees – 18th May

This marketing blog turn its attention from customers to employees – the life blood of your company. Without them, you’ve got nothing. They also have the potential to be the biggest advocates for what you do and the products you offer. But don’t assume that just because they work there, they’re champions of the company. It takes work.

Companies like Apple, Google, Zappos, etc. have dedicated programs to make their employees excited about what they do, what the company offers, and how they can help. Loyal employees who believe in the company mission are a great benefit to the marketing department.

If you can’t make your employees believe in the mission, how are you going to make customers believe? But how?

It doesn’t cost anything to market to your employees. But it does take time and dedication. It can’t be an afterthought.

The marketing team, along with HR and upper management, need to work collaboratively to develop an employee engagement program. A well-executed program will generate a more enthusiastic team, greater productivity through engagement, less turnover which leads to cost savings, and brand advocates.

As soon as a new employee is hired, they should be enveloped in the company culture. A dedicated training program should introduce them to the details of the products and services offered, introduce them to a mentor within the company that can coach and train them, and teach them how the company markets itself to consumers, regardless of what department the person is in.

The training program should never end. Instead, after someone has been on board for a month or more, it should turn into something new. They should be the first to hear about new products and strategies. They should be connected with top managers in all departments so they can get all of their questions answered.

Happy employees are better employees. And they will become advocates for your brand without any additional incentives.

Firms Recognize Engagement – 15th May

Recognition programs are the top-used method organizations use to promote employee engagement, according to a recent survey by the research arm of Talent Management magazine.

This 2015 survey found that nearly two-thirds of human resources professionals say they deploy recognition programs to promote engagement. The survey, administered in February, included 146 respondents of HR professionals from companies of various sizes and industries.

In addition to recognition programs, half of respondents said they use wellness programs to promote engagement, while 46 percent and 41 percent, respectively, said they use work-life balance programs and stretch assignments.

To a lesser extent, respondents said they keep employees engaged through charity-matching and compensation programs.

Roughly 15% of HR respondents said they did not offer any of these programs to promote engagement.

When it comes to defining employee engagement, 78% said they view engagement as “the extent to which employees are motivated to contribute to organizational success and are willing to apply discretionary effort to accomplish tasks important to the achievement of organizational goals.”  Furthermore, about 19% said their organization does not evaluate employee engagement at all.

The values and behaviors most used to evaluate employee engagement are overall job satisfaction, opportunity to grow and improve skills, excitement about one’s work and confidence in senior leaders, according to the survey, with more than half of HR respondents saying that they examined each of these values and behaviors.

Other elements evaluated included co-worker attitude and effort, confidence in the organization’s future, satisfaction with recognition programs, work-life balance and workplace safety.

Effectiveness of employee engagement efforts, meanwhile, was largely determined based on employee retention, with 79 percent of respondents saying they used employee turnover as a measuring stick

The frequency for measurement varied from company to company: nearly half of HR respondents reported evaluating the effect of engagement on retention yearly, while a third examined its impact at least quarterly.

Like employee retention, individual performance, customer satisfaction, team performance and productivity were also measured with varying frequency, but organizations most often reported annual evaluations.

Most of the participating companies reported that they did not regularly measure the impact of employee engagement on customer loyalty, absenteeism, profit, service quality, revenue growth or market share, but those who did also tended to make yearly evaluations.

See all the survey findings here from Talent Management.

What Parents Should Tell Their Kids About Finding a Career – 15th May

James M. Citrin sympathises that it’s difficult to advise kids about how careers really work today and how to get any job, much less a great job. All parents love their kids and want to set them up for a life of self-sufficiency, meaning, and happiness. So what should you do — and not do — when it comes to helping your kids with their careers?

Begin by telling them that in the early going they will be valued more on their potential than on their experience and track record.  James calls this first couple of years in one’s career the Aspiration Phase, in which it’s all about exercising one’s intellectual and interpersonal energies, and bringing enthusiasm, work ethic, and energy to an organization. The most important objective is for them to discover their strengths and interests, and to begin learning marketable skills.

When your son or daughter gets to their middle to late twenties, they are likely to be in what James calls the Promise Phase.   During this stage, their value will begin to be recognized through compensation, promotions, and access to the best assignments and mentors.  During this stage, encourage them to find out the answers to questions such as whether they prefer working on their own, in small project teams, or in larger organizations, and whether they are honestly willing to put up with the late nights and weekend work required for jobs in lucrative sectors like technology and financial services.

There are inevitable trade-offs to be made between three competing forces:

  1. Job satisfaction
  2. Lifestyle
  3. Money

This is the Career Triangle.  The reality is that it is relatively easy to maximize one of the points on the triangle, and it’s not impossible to optimize a second.  But especially in the early years of one’s career, it’s incredibly difficult to max out all three.  

The final key point to stress with your kids about how careers really work is the power of relationships. Relationships are critical both to getting jobs and to being successful once on the job.  But it is also one of the most essential factors to overall happiness. You want to encourage your kids to have a relationship mindset, always seeking to help others, making an extra effort to be polite to everyone they come into contact with, especially in a professional context, regardless of what role or how senior someone is in an organization.  You want to stress the importance of following up on introductions and sending thank you emails.  But I would actually advise you to not encourage your kid to network and encourage them to focus less on networking and more on finding ways to develop meaningful relationships, based on the timeless truth of give-and-take.

The Leadership Behaviour That’s Most Important to Employees – 11th May

Christine Porath suggests that being respectful doesn’t just benefit you, but it benefits everyone around you. In a study of nearly 20,000 employees around the world she found that when it comes to garnering commitment and engagement from employees, there’s one thing that leaders need to demonstrate: Respect. No other leadership behaviour had a bigger effect on employees across the outcomes we measured. Being treated with respect was more important to employees than recognition and appreciation, communicating an inspiring vision, providing useful feedback — or even opportunities for learning, growth, and development. However, even when leaders know that showing respect is critical, many struggle to demonstrate it. If you’re one of those leaders, consider the following steps:

  1. Ask for focused feedback on your best behaviours.  Collect feedback via email from about 10 people (co-workers, friends, family). Ask each for positive examples of your best behaviour. When and how have they seen you treat people well? After compiling the feedback, try to organize the data by summarizing and categorizing it into themes. Look for patterns. When, where, how, with whom are you at your best? Use your insights to reinforce what you’re doing well. Leverage your interpersonal strengths.
  2. Discover your shortcomings. Then gather candid feedback from your colleagues and friends on your shortcomings? Identify a couple of trusted colleagues who have the best intentions for you and your organization. Ask for their views about how you treat other people. What do you do well? What could you do better? Listen carefully.
  3. Enlist your team in keeping you accountable. Choose one change that could improve your behaviour and then experiment, asking your team to help you by letting you know when they see improvement. For example, after a meeting, ask your team if they saw an improvement in the behavior that you’re working on. What was the impact?
  4. Make time for reflection. Keep a journal to provide insight into when/where/why you are your best and when you are uncivil. Identify situations that cause you to lose your temper.

The path toward building greater self-awareness and treating people more respectfully at work doesn’t have to be walked alone. While you’re working to improve your own behaviour, encourage your team members to do the same.

About Emenex

We help you make your 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 delivers higher levels of profit, productivity and customer satisfaction. They also know that a more progressive solution is required – one that delivers above and beyond expectations and enhances their brand with customers and staff alike. The solution our clients are choosing to implement is the extraMILETM Employee Engagement Programme.

The extraMILETM Employee Engagement Programme 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. Get in touch to find out more.

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