Category Archives for Positive Employee Relations

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.

5 HR Trends to Watch for in 2018

 

With the start of a new year, there are always countless predictions about what lies ahead. This is no exception when it comes to the world of Human Resources. While already an ever-changing field, be sure to watch for these transformative trends in the workplace in 2018:

1. Employee Experience

With an ever-increasing number of millennials entering the workforce, the employee experience is more important than ever. In 2018, many workplaces will shift their focus from employee engagement to the employee experience. Similar to the approach that customer service reps employ, HR professionals are already beginning to focus on creating a more engaging and enjoyable environment for their employees. As a result, it is likely that employer loyalty and overall morale will drastically improve in many companies.

2. Independent Contractors vs. Employees

Dubbed the “gig culture,” more people are enjoying the freedom that comes along with working on their own schedule. While the employee title certainly won’t be going anywhere in 2018, more employers will take advantage of hiring independent contractors for short-term projects or specialized tasks. This method proves beneficial to both parties as the independent contractor retains freedom from an employee title while the employer does not have to pay for a full-time employee.

3. Flexible Positions

In the past, position titles and duties were often clear and to the point. In 2018, these titles and duties will become less fixed. Instead, assignments and duties are likely to be given based on an employee’s strengths versus their official job title. This allows employers to get the most out of top talent while allowing employees more variety in experience and education in the workplace.

4. Work/Life Balance

Millennials are unlike the generations that have come before them in a number of ways, but the most crucial is their focus on maintaining a work/life balance. This is forcing many HR departments to reassess policies that they have in place. To meet the demand, companies are beginning to offer more flexible schedules, paternity leave and remote work opportunities in efforts to provide a better work/life balance .

5. Feedback in Real Time

Performance reviews have drastically decreased in popularity in the last five years. While many companies phased these reviews out in 2015, those who have not will likely do so in 2018. To replace these traditional and ineffective reviews, employers are instead offering real-time feedback to employees. This allows employees to understand their strengths and weaknesses and adjust accordingly as issues arise, instead of learning about it months later.

By staying on top of the emerging trends in the HR community, you can ensure that your workplace remains competitive and up-to-date in 2018 and in the future.

2018: Personalization Trends in HR

In consumer markets over the past few years, companies have faced a growing demand for customized experiences. This trend is now appearing with far greater frequency  in the realm of employee engagement, where human resources staff attempt to implement technology and changes in practice sensitive to individual workers’ talents, needs and preferences. Personalization of the employee experience can take many forms — from individually tailored learning platforms to employee choice of work spaces.

Personalized Learning

Forward-thinking companies are taking a personalized approach to employee engagement, development and training, adapting lessons, available offerings and learning experiences based on each employee’s learning style, competencies and retention. Personalized training allows targeting of areas in need of improvement, challenging the employee without overwhelming them and saving the company both time and money thanks to elimination of unnecessary training or training that employees don’t retain. Personalized learning, whether through provision of tailored content or the giving employees their choice of curated content according to their interests, increases motivation, engagement and retention.

Relevant Communications

Employee-facing self-service apps, chatbots and communications not only better engage staff through the provision of relevant information, but also help human resources departments better use resources. For example, one company developed an app that offers fast, personalized information on questions frequently directed to human resources staff related to vacation policy, benefits administration or basic processes, such as requesting time off.

Choice in Workspace

People excel in different work environments, and different environments are preferred for different work purposes. Workers are significantly more engaged at work when they have control over where and how they work. Human resources departments are beginning to collaborate with facilities and real estate departments within their organizations to design spaces that give employees choices of where to do their work based upon the activity they are working on, such as collaborative work with teams or tasks requiring a high degree of focus.

Want to tailor your communications to your unique workforce? Projections offers completely custom video production, websites and eLearning programs that engage workers and keep them productive. From concept to writing, shooting to post-production, create the message your employees need. Then, deploy your final product in in-person meetings, online, or even in-home with personal mailings.

 

11 Examples of How Great Social Media Sets Employers Apart

Forging meaningful connections via social media is a goal of most people. It’s not just individuals though; about 50 percent of large companies and 75 percent of small businesses use social media.

Here are a few examples of how companies excel in using social media:

  1. Best Buy’s Blue Shirt Nation (BSN): This is a community of Best Buy employees who share knowledge, best practices and ideas, regardless of their positions and even ages. Best Buy has successfully integrated this internal network with its employees’ lives and have used it to empower employees and engage them meaningfully.
  2. Zappos: Two-thirds of employees of this online shoe and clothing shop have a social media presence, where they are encouraged to freely connect online with customers. Besides that, the company fosters a culture that helps employees thrive and be happy. You can be sure that no employee of such a company would consider union organizing.
  3. Indium Corporation of America: This solder manufacturer has ten blogs and 15 bloggers. The company has been able to cultivate relationships that enhance not just customer satisfaction and brand loyalty but also employee satisfaction.
  4. Latham & Watkins LLP: The private social network of this large law firm is useful from recruitment to retirement as it contains relevant official and personal content.
  5. Starbucks: Although this popular coffeehouse chain has a social media team, it encourages its employees to share updates about the brand on their own social media accounts. Besides, it has an online community, MyStarbucksIdea, where customers and employees can suggest ideas to improve the Starbucks experience and see it happen. Such employers suck the wind out of the union-organizing sail!
  6. Giantnerd: This company sells equipment for outdoor activities like hiking, biking and snowboarding. They created a social network within their website. You can join it with just one click upon which you will receive a five-percent discount. If you click the Like button on the site or join its Facebook community, you get exclusive deals. Since adding the Like button, Giantnerd’s average order has increased by 50 percent.
  7. San Chez Bistro: This tapas bistro and restaurant uses social media to be in sync with its customers. You can use Twitter to reserve a seat, which is known as “tweet-ahead seating.” Once you tweet, the online hostess tweets back to confirm. They also use their Foursquare page to offer incentives to patrons.
  8. Hootsuite: This popular social media dashboard regularly posts its employees’ photos on Instagram. It tags the employee in the description. Acknowledging and applauding employees improve employee morale and can be a positive union-avoidance method.
  9. Marsh Inc.: When this global risk management and insurance broker wanted to teach finance to a group of employees, it approached its finance experts, who created a 27-part blog series that included both written content and videos taken using phones.
  10. Deloitte: The multinational professional services firm has an internal social network, D Street. Each employee gets a personal landing page at D Street, complete with a photo gallery, an “about me” section and a blog. D Street also has online communities where employees can interact with each other. You can be sure they don’t discuss union card signing there!
  11. Southwest Airlines: This major US airline gets its staff to share stories on its blog, Nuts About Southwest, and post things about the firm on social media. Its social media actions were much appreciated in July 2016, when a technical outage brought the company website and email system down and Southwest’s social media team worked nonstop to respond to frantic queries.

Companies use social media largely to increase brand awareness or as marketing and sales tools. However, it can also be an excellent way to engage your workers meaningfully.

Conducting an HR Audit

Creating a More Engaged Workforce With Improved Policies

Creating a highly engaged workforce has become a vital aspect of business success. Statistically, employee engagement has been poor in the last few years. According to recent data from Gallup, nearly 70 percent of the American workforce is disengaged; around the world it’s worse, with only 15 percent of workers engaged. When employee engagement is low, it can harbor dissatisfaction in employees, making them susceptible to reduced productivity, turnover and an increased presence of labor unions. Therefore, all organizations must have a system for checking that their labor and employment practices are conducive to a highly engaged workforce.

Our comprehensive guide to conducting an HR Audit can help you form a plan of action for making sure that your company is on the right track. Here are five incredibly easy (and practical) first steps you can take to develop workforce policies that promote improved employee engagement:

1. Review all Recruitment and Hiring Processes

The journey to greater employee engagement can be a difficult one, but it is easier to manage with a clear roadmap. This often starts before an individual actually begins work — in the pre-hire stage of their experience. When a company’s brand reputation emphasizes a positive culture where employees feel valued, it sets things up for long-term success.

What you can do now: The applicant tracking system and way candidates are treated throughout the interview, hiring and on boarding process makes a huge difference. Use the audit guide to help you to identify any areas that need to be corrected.

2. Improve your Compensation and Perks

All human resource teams must ensure that employees are receiving the best possible compensation and benefits in order to remain competitive. The 2017 PayScale Compensation Best Practices Report indicated that 32 percent of top performing companies have changed their compensation strategies as a result of employee engagement feedback. More employers are actively listening to what their employees are asking for and taking steps to ensure they get what they need.

What you can do now: Take the time to conduct a brief survey of your employees to find out if your compensation program needs improvement.

HR Audit Guide

3. Ensure Secure and Accessible Information

In today’s business world, everything from customer data to employee information is stored in a digital format. This often includes the use of scheduling, payroll, performance and benefit platforms. Ongoing monitoring is needed to ensure that data is accurate and up-to-date and that people are paid correctly.

What you can do now: Your organization should verify that all information systems are secure from information breaches, and accessible and easy-to-use for employees. A third-party auditing firm can often pinpoint potential issues.

4. Improve the Work Environment

Working conditions make a big difference in how employees view their employer. There are too many toxic conditions invading otherwise good companies. The aspects that human resources can control include: having clearly written policies to deal with things like employee grievances, anti-bullying, drug use, union card signing, and more.

What you can do now: Review employee handbooks and update labor law posters in employee break areas. For some objective feedback, ask employees during exit interviews what the company can do better.

5. Boost Employee Performance Management

When employees are recognized for their efforts at work, they tend to stay more engaged in their careers. Having a professional development program to guide employees through the various stages of career growth is one step in the right direction.

What you can do now: Review job types with management and create structured learning paths for each department.

By following this checklist , any human resource team can help to elevate employee engagement, productivity, knowledge and morale.

Looking For More? Download our FREE Guide to conducting a Labor & Employment Audit to help you make your workplace more positive & productive!