Category Archives for Positive Employee Relations

How to Attract and Keep Talented Employees in a Tight Labor Market

With the unemployment rate at it’s lowest point in more than a decade, many companies are finding it a challenge to attract and keep skilled employees. A thriving jobs market means that employers need to up their game if they want their fair share of the talented workforce. Today, we’re discussing what that means and how companies can become an employer of choice when there are so many choices.

Why Does It Matter When Employees Leave?

The simple answer to this question is that staff turnover is costly. According to Right Management, a talent and career management group, it costs almost three times a worker’s salary to replace them. This cost factor may come as a surprise, but when you consider the cost of severance, recruitment, and lost productivity and opportunities, the price an organization pays soon adds up.

Why Do Workers Leave Their Jobs?

Lee Branham, the author of “Keeping the People,” notes that most employees leave their jobs not because of pay, but because of other factors. Branham states that there are seven main reasons why employees leave a company:
  1. Employees feel devalued and unrecognized
  2. Employees feel the job or workplace is not what they expected
  3. Employees feel stress from being overworked
  4. A mismatch between the job and person
  5. Too little coaching and feedback
  6. Too few growth and advancement opportunities
  7. A loss of trust and confidence in senior leaders

Branham’s research shows that a negative company culture is the main reason why employees look elsewhere for work. The best way to combat this is to work toward fostering positive employee relations and a better working environment.

How Can You Attract Talented Employees?

Nowadays it is more of a challenge for firms to attract talented employees because of growth in the jobs market. During the recession, jobs were hard to come by so businesses didn’t have to try too hard to attract skilled workers, but that has all changed. Firms need to look beyond health insurance, compensation and benefits as a means of attracting the best candidates. Companies now need to offer a career package that includes a career path, opportunities to develop new skills, a comfortable company culture and a better work/life balance.
In addition, a union-free company can attract some of the best talent by promoting its company values. Celebrate the benefits of being a union-free firm. Let job candidates know that you strive for positive employee relations and work hard to promote fairness and equality so that there would be no reason for your employees to seek union representation. With the right focus and a well-thought-out strategy, your company can become an employer of choice..

Once You Attract Talented Employees, How Can You Keep Them?

Start by developing a retention plan. Consider the main factors that contribute to employees leaving and look at what you can do to prevent it from happening. Also, find out why your workers were attracted to the job in the first place, as this might well be the thing that is keeping them there and you could use this information to attract future employees.

Another factor to consider is training opportunities. The chance to develop new skills, achieve goals and acquire a solid understanding of job requirements gives workers a sense of value. So, opportunities for personal growth mustn’t be overlooked.

And while loyalty to a company has long ago become a thing of the past, many of today’s younger top performers do consider corporate social responsibility a major factor in job satisfaction. Millennials want to have pride in their employer, and not only paying attention to your reputation but promoting the company’s values can help retain these workers.

The Social Side of Employee Communication

Employee engagement is a persistent problem for organizations around the world for many reasons. They include increasing use of remote workers, technology that makes interpersonal communication less personal, generational differences in work expectations and communication styles, the inability to clearly separate work and personal lives, poor leadership skills and employees feeling undervalued.

The Social Mindset Is a Bond

Engagement exists when empowered employees feel connected to their work and the organization, but each person in your organization experiences engagement in a different way. For this reason, developing high engagement levels begins with developing an organizational “social mindset” in which a sense of community is created. Unions have mastered this concept, making their members feel like they’re in an exclusive club with leaders who really listen, and will champion their causes and go to bat for them when issues arise. Unions regularly communicate with their members, using social media tools and personal meetings, to keep the connection strong and inspire feelings of empowerment. The union social mindset is a bond that unites everyone around a common cause.

Social factors are important to all employees but especially to millennials. They’re always connected via social media, but social media by itself isn’t guaranteed to engage people or promote optimal communication. Too many employers miss the link between a social mindset and engagement. Social media is an engagement tool, but if your organization doesn’t develop a social mindset, your employees won’t utilize the social tools to their greatest advantage. Your employees’ behaviors are indicative of a lack of social mindset. For example, low utilization of an enterprise-wide social media system or lack of response to a manager’s feedback on a project in progress or failure to participate on coworker teams, are a few indications that your employees don’t view themselves as important contributors to a cohesive team of workers.

An organization with a social mindset focuses on its people and is key to creating a culture of inclusion in which people thrive. Creating an organization with a social mindset requires giving people the right tools, but the tools must empower people to learn what they need and want to learn to achieve the highest performance level and to learn when they want to learn. It must be a collaborative learning journey in which people learn from each other, and have access to on-demand learning and access to internal and external communities that enable continuous learning. A social mindset means employees utilize all online and offline social systems to autonomously manage their jobs with a clear understanding of how their work contributes to organizational goals. They see themselves as proactive team members doing important work.

Self-Empowerment

Engagement actually emanates from the ability of employees to self-empower. Your organization is unique from all others. It’s why you’ve achieved competitive success. The uniqueness drives the need for the development of an internal communication system that specifically resonates with your employees. The communication system consists of tools that are available to the entire workforce; consistent, tailored messaging; regular management feedback; and leaders with effective communication skills. Engaging your workforce in a meaningful way also requires providing content that adds value to their work and is easily understood.

Millennials prefer information delivered quickly and with visual aids, and user-friendly communication platforms that include video, web, and eLearning communication tools. Of course, mobile platforms are a necessity in the eyes of your younger employees. This creates the seamless communication system that accommodates the ‘where and when’ learning and communication needs. Engaging employees requires you to encourage all people to participate in the business, including remote workers, and to provide opportunities for improving processes. Meetings can encourage people to ask questions rather than expecting people to passively learn the material. Technology-based training programs are interactive. Leader feedback encourages stretch thinking. This is how you develop a social learning organization.

Self-Motivated and Committed Employees

Various researchers have determined that employee engagement recognizes an employee’s psychological state, behaviors, and linkages between engagement and employee satisfaction. Satisfaction is not enough though. Engaged employees are committed to the organization’s mission, self-motivated and passionate about their work. Your organization’s communication system is an essential element in the engagement process, but only if it stimulates constructive conversations and positive behaviors.

Southwest Airlines is an example of a company that has created a social mindset. Employees are encouraged to collaborate, participate in decision-making and explore work activities outside their regular jobs. Employees across the organization were encouraged to share new ideas for uniforms, and one of the flight attendants chosen to participate on a final design committee called it an “unforgettable experience.” Southwest Airlines considers social media as a means for relationship building with and between employees and customers because it gives the company the ability to connect people across teams and cultures.

Airbnb creates an employee experience which considers physical, emotional, aspirational, intellectual and virtual (collaborative technologies) aspects. The collaborative technologies are used to communicate the company culture and hold an online live-streamed weekly meeting, and employees are encouraged to use WhatsApp to share learning, photos, and insights. This enables the company to create a social mindset by opening communication up to all employees around the world.

An Organizing Model for Employers

Previously a labor organizer, author Jane McAlevey shared her experiences and perspectives on union organizing in “Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell)” and proposed a union-building operational model in “No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age.” She points out that mobilizing may bring large numbers of people into the battle for employee rights but these are people already committed. To build a strong union, its leaders must expand its base to include ordinary people who were never involved in organizing. They do this by helping ordinary people understand they hold the power and can achieve desired outcomes.

Her basic operating model has several major elements that include: deep organizing in which indifferent people are attracted; full-worker organizing in which all working people are made to understand they are members of a community and have untapped potential; building unity across classes of people; developing organic leaders who create a social force capable of exercising power; and tracking every worker’s participation in the workplace and the community to better engage them in the union learning and development processes.

Creating the Social Context

McAlevey’s model is an engagement model. As an employer, you must understand an engaging communication system in your organization makes it possible for all employees to participate, exercise their power to contribute to organizational success and create a social force. The social mindset encourages people to fully participate in the communication process by providing context.

It’s not a passive system. It proactively embraces the disengaged, drawing them into the community of the already engaged. The communication skills of your leaders are crucial to the development of a social mindset. You want your employees to join your organizational efforts to remain innovative, competitive and successful, instead of joining a union. It’s the path to union proofing your business.

DIY Video for Employee Communications

DIY Video for Employee Communications

You might think it’s a bit strange for a company who produces professional-quality video for companies to give advice on “do it yourself” video for HR. But employees, especially millennial employees, crave engagement, and HR departments are increasingly expected to communicate regularly with their workforce on both routine and critical issues. Videos can be a great way to communicate with employees and deepen engagement, but, really, should you create your own content? This article will consider the pros and cons of HR departments shooting their own employee communication videos – and you might be surprised!

1. There Are Plenty of Ways to Make Great Employee Videos From Scratch

Do you have an iPhone? Good news, you’re an amateur filmmaker. Gone are the days when you needed to buy dedicated camera equipment. That phone in your pocket can take high-definition video and can usually autocorrect for poor lighting. There are a number of simple things you can do to make those handheld videos look better. Try spending 30 minutes to create consistent lighting conditions throughout your set (or if outside, try to minimize glare from the sun). You can also use multiple iPhones to get different angles. Newer models even shoot video in 4K, though this resolution will consume a great deal of memory. Even these basic techniques can give your videos greater credibility but once you use editing software, the quality of your content improves exponentially.

2. Tips and Tricks for Making Great-Looking Videos

Many amateur filmmakers use Apple’s iMovie, an incredibly powerful software platform that can make short films look fantastic. The software even allows you to start editing on your iPhone before finishing on a Mac. Once you start using iMovie, it makes sense to upgrade your other equipment to get the most out of the software. A good microphone will help capture high-quality audio, and a proper lighting rig goes a long way to make sure your subjects and set are appropriately lit. You can find royalty-free music on sites such as Premium Beat and Pond unless you intend to create your own. iMovie includes a large suite of editing tools such as time lapses, color correction and special effects. While these tools make your videos look great, it can take many months to fully understand how to use the software to its full potential.

3. Mission-Critical Videos Require Outside Professionals

Technology has evolved to the point that with limited skill, you can create a great looking employee video. With a little editing and touch-ups, homemade videos can be distributed throughout your organization. However, mission-critical communications require a professional touch. During periods of heightened tension such as union organizing, layoffs or restructuring, you want to make sure your video surgically communicates the right message to the right audience. You only get one shot in corporate communications, and mistakes can be quickly broadcast on national news and social media. Everyone wants to go viral, but not for the wrong reasons. The good news is that there the team at Projections can provide first-class employee communication videos when the stakes really matter. Projections specializes in labor relations and provides award-winning, highly effective corporate communication tools for onboarding, union organizing campaigns, benefits rollouts, changes (such as facility closings or corporate restructuring), and especially for training and educating your workforce.

A great way to deepen employee engagement is first-class videos, websites and e-learning. Showing your team members that you value their ongoing education is vital for morale and employee retention – not to mention your reputation as an employer of choice. The equipment needed to create quality videos is increasingly affordable, and there are a number of software tools to make your videos look more professional. For routine communications, creating your own videos is probably fine. For critical communications with your broader workforce, such as union avoidance, look to a professional that specializes in corporate communications to ensure your videos are focused enough to convey the right message to the right audience when it really matters.

Engagement Efforts

11 Subtle Signs Your Engagement Efforts May Not Be Working

A motivated, happy workforce doesn’t just benefit your company with increased productivity and better quarterly revenues. Employee engagement also guarantees that you get to retain your best employees, enjoy a higher level of staff loyalty, stave off nascent union organizing and ensure your company remains innovative and competitive going forward.

With that in mind, let’s examine the most common warning signs that suggest your employees aren’t as motivated or engaged as you’d like them to be.

1. Happy to Be Mediocre

Everyone knows teams or individuals who are content to be “just good enough.” Yes, they’re hitting their targets, but box-ticking metrics aren’t the stuff of great companies. Try to develop a culture that inspires your employees to want to become excellent in everything they do.

2. Defensiveness

Most employees should be fine with taking constructive criticism; ideally, they should be actively seeking it out. Unfortunately, some resist feedback, and this can be a sign of increasing withdrawal, both in the workplace and elsewhere.

3. Shying Away From Risk

Some employees can be overly protective of their own status quo. Not wanting to be blamed for failure, they shun any risk at all.

4. Reluctance to Grow in Their Personal Relationships

Regardless of the specific benefits that your company enjoys from good interpersonal relationships among your staff, it is a universal truth that bad employee interactions are always a net detriment to productivity. Having employees who won’t work on maintaining or fixing good relationships is a sure sign of trouble further down the line.

5. Resistance to Change

Changes to workplace practices can often trigger a natural and subconscious resistance in employees, which should be predicted and managed as such and even leveraged as a coaching or training opportunity. Regardless, it should only be a temporary reaction and dissolve over time. However, when employees demonstrate a chronic and obstinate desire to stay stuck in their ways, it may be an indicator of other, more serious, underlying issues.

6. Avoiding Experimentation

Not dissimilar to the desire to shun risk, a lack of interest in experimentation suggests that your employees have grown bored with their work and encounter a lack of stimulation and curiosity in what they do.

7. They Blame Culture

Employees who excuse their own work by finding fault in someone else’s show a lack of accountability. They never learn from their mistakes.

8. They Won’t Grow Their Skills

It shouldn’t be a hard sell to get your employees to expand their skill set and make themselves more valuable in the process. If some of your staff are reluctant to engage with workplace training and ignore offers of educational opportunities, you might want to explore it with them further in a bid to address any preexisting concerns.

9. The Sound of Gossip

We know gossip when we hear it, and in the workplace, it’s never a good thing. Not only does it decrease team cohesiveness, damage morale and inculcate a negative atmosphere, it’s also a consistent precursor to the beginnings of union organizing in your firm. Rumors and hearsay can spread false notions and add fuel to the fire that union officials rely on.

10. Jealousy

If you get that feeling that some of your employees are jealous of others, or that there’s a rift between a department or two borne out of a feeling of inequity, it’s definitely worth investigating. What might appear as a sense of petty injustice can have large ramifications on labor relations further down the line.

11. Attendance Issues

And, finally, what could be more indicative of disengagement than your staff not turning up to work in the first place? Fortunately, this is usually one of the last signs to manifest itself, giving you plenty of opportunity to address the problem beforehand.

If you’re witnessing any of these signs of failing employee engagement, it’s not too late! In fact, its testament to your commitment to your teams that you’re aware of their needs. Now is the time to begin connecting, and you can use powerfully consistent video messages, highly interactive eLearning and dedicated websites to create an innovative, engaged workforce.

People First: The “Right” Communication is Key to Employee Engagement

 

A manager tells a baby boomer employee, “I need you to work on this new project. I’m confident you can figure out what needs to be done,” and walks off. The manager doesn’t give the employee any of the tools needed to do the job properly nor does he explain why the project is important. In another department, a manager sends a millennial employee multiple texts that say, “I’ve been meaning to discuss your future with the company,” and the conversation never takes place.

The first employee feels taken for granted and hopes the work can be completed to the management’s liking. She wants, and needs, goals and feedback as work progresses, but at her stage of life she is not interested in career advancement. The millennial believes the manager is uncomfortable giving feedback and uninterested in the employee’s career plans. He is now looking for a new job.

The Right Way is the Preferred Way

Much emphasis is placed on developing effective (aka the “right”) communication in the workplace, but do your leaders understand the implications of ineffective communication? A decade ago, the workforce primarily consisted of two generations. Today there are usually three or four, and millennials in particular are driving changes in workplace communication. However, you shouldn’t ignore the fact that each generation has a preferred communication style. Many managers continue to rely on one communication style, acceptable 10-20 years ago, and find themselves questioning high employee turnover rates.

The ability of organizational leaders to communicate with employees in the style they prefer, and in a way that meets their expectations, is key to developing engaged employees. For example, millennials like social media, texts, video and other digital-based communications. They appreciate honest and regular feedback, productive training, collaboration and leaders who respond to their input in some manner.

Stepping Out from Behind the Metric Wall

The “right” conversation isn’t always held face to face, but all interactions across communication channels need to have positive qualities. The right conversations cross generations because they’re “tools” that add to the employee’s understanding of the company mission, the employee’s role in achieving that mission and the value he or she delivers. Engaging leadership conversations embrace employee training and development, insights and ideas, and personal goals. They promote a workforce ‘community,’ and are transparent and sincere.

Gallup conducts numerous surveys on employee engagement, and for good reasons. Employee engagement percentages remain stubbornly low, approximately 33 percent. Measuring engagement levels is not enough. In the technology age, overwhelmed leaders often rely on metrics as a wall to hide behind rather than directly engaging employees. Engagement survey results and other metrics cannot replace regular communication, feedback or training. The numbers may indicate progress or a lack of progress, but a good employee engagement program includes ongoing conversations between your leaders and employees, and managers need the appropriate learning to conduct productive, regular conversations.

Right Engagement Leads to Right Answers

A writer in the Harvard Business Review suggests that employee complaints concerning poor communication in the workplace are often symptomatic of a larger, deeper problem. In the article’s example, complaining employees were actually communicating in the workplace, but the real problem was uncertainty about their job responsibilities. Human Resources wasn’t making job responsibilities clear. Leaders trained in effective communication would have examined and uncovered the real issues by engaging employees. This applies to union-proofing your business, too. Employees will inevitably turn to other sources if managers don’t understand and correct larger organizational problems.

The right communication is a linkage between employers and employees, and that can be in person and via video, websites and interactive eLearning that help companies orient, train, inform, educate and connect with employees. In fact, Gallup found that employees who were most engaged had some form of communication with their managers every day. Leaders who use a mix of phone, in-person and digital communication are the most successful in engaging employees of all generations.

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