Archive for the ‘Emerging from the Recession’ Category

Employee Engagement in 2011

April 12th, 2011

To fully achieve the benefits of a more engaged organization, the entire workforce needs to be accountable for their piece of the ‘engagement equation’.  Each individual is accountable for his or her own engagement.  Supervisors and managers have a role to coach team members to higher levels of engagement and manage his or her own engagement. And executives set the tone and create the culture fosters engagement. While employee engagement starts with the leader, everyone in the organization shares responsibility.

Not surprising, employee engagement continues to be a top priority in 2011. BlessingWhite is one of many organizations researching global employee engagement. I thought you might be interested in the key findings from their 2011 Employee Engagement Report.

  • 31% are Engaged, 17% are Disengaged and the rest fall in between.
  • There is a strong correlation between engagement levels and age, role/level, and tenure in the organization.
  • More employees are looking for new opportunities outside their organization than in 2008.
  • Engaged employees plan to stay for what they give; the Disengaged stay for what they get.
  • Employees worldwide view opportunities to apply their talents, career development and training as top drivers of job satisfaction.
  • Trust in executives appears to have more than twice the impact on engagement levels than trust in immediate managers does.
  • Managers are not necessarily doing the things that matter most. The actions most correlated with high engagement are not always the ones that receive the most favorable ratings.
  • Executives appear to struggle with key leadership behaviors, especially what’s required to create a high-performance culture.
  • Engagement surveys without visible follow-up action may actually decrease engagement levels, suggesting that organizations think twice before flipping the switch on measurement without 100% commitment for action planning based on the results.

So what do you make of these findings? Where do you fit in the engagement equation? And what are you doing to fulfill your part?

Similar to BlessingWhite, we find that the creation of spirit at work – that sense that we are fully engaged and inspired by our work – is a shared responsibility between the employee and employer. It is when each individual takes responsibility and the organization as a whole does its part that the magic and the results become evident.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will explore spirit at work and its contributing factors in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and inspirational speaker, she helps renew employee wellness and increase performance and retention by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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Communicating with Employees Helps Boost Engagement during Difficult Times

March 11th, 2010

With employee engagement continuing to take a dip, employers are grasping at ways to turn it around. A recent study by Towers Watson – Capitalizing on Effective Communication: How Courage, Innovation and Discipline Drive Business Results in Challenging Times – points to communication as a key driver of engagement. Especially in difficult times.

Communication arises as a concern in almost every consulting project I am involved in. Employees simply not being informed. Not understanding how their work fits in with the big picture. The lack of communication clearly contributes to employee disengagement. Yet it is often overlooked as a contributor to employee engagement.

Employers that keep the lines of communication open are in the best position to keep employees engaged, retain key talent, provide consistent value to customers and deliver superior financial performance. In fact, companies with the most highly effective communicators had 47 percent higher total returns to shareholders over the last five years compared with firms that had the least effective communicators. Now that is worth taking note of.

To best position themselves to succeed in an uncertain future, Towers Watson conclude that employers need internal communication programs that are courageous, innovative and disciplined.

Successful organizations have the courage to talk about what employees want to hear. They explain the rationale behind difficult decisions, provide leadership training and actively address the impact on employees.

High-performing companies are innovative. By delivering messages on customer feedback and increasing productivity, they make sure employees see how they affect the business.  

They make greater use of social media to reach a diverse workforce in real time than do other organizations. They understand that failing to focus on these objectives now will compromise their ability to move ahead quickly when the business environment improves. 

High-performing organizations are disciplined. They take the time to document their communication plans and develop metrics to assess their success and identify areas for improvement. The best tie their measures to the organization’s strategic business goals and have a communication advisory group.

How is the communication in your organization? Is everyone clear about the direction your organization is going? The changes that are taking place?  The impact that will have on the employees and the people you are serving? How long has it been since employees were told that they were appreciated for their contribution?

 Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will explore this topic in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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What impact will the recession have on the employees of tomorrow?

January 7th, 2010

Many of us have experienced the dark side of the recession. Loss of jobs. Cut-backs. Fear. But what about our teenagers and young adults? Like adults, they, too, had a hard time finding work or staying employed. But is this the only impact?

Researchers are suggesting not. They predict that many teens and young adults may be scarred for life. In fact, some of the research is suggesting that the recession may have much the same effect as the Great Depression had on the youth of the 1930’s. Several of us have heard the stories from our parents or grandparents.  Because of their difficult experience, many youth of the dirty ‘30s were grateful for employment. They hung onto their jobs. Didn’t take risks. And, they turned into conservative spenders.

The research suggests that people between the ages of 18 and 25 are most likely to be affected for life because they internalize their family and friend’s struggles. Moreover, because of the experience, they are questioning whether they have control over their careers and destiny. They tend to look at career success as luck rather than a result of personal action. How is this going to impact their view of work or their experience of work?

Of course, the impact is greater and longer if the person experiences job loss him or herself. In the US, unemployment among 16- and 19-year olds is at a high of 26%. Students are graduating with huge debt and facing difficult job prospects. The hiring of this year’s graduates is down 22%.

In addition to their own employment experiences, youth and young adults are feeling the impact on their family. Unemployment rates are high, threat to job loss is always present, investment values have declined, and many are struggling to make ends meet, if they can. What impression does this leave on a young person?

As I read this research, I couldn’t help but wonder how going through the recession was going to impact this group’s work experience – today and tomorrow.  Are we going to see a shift in values in the Gen Yers or will we see a new generation being born? Will young people impacted by the recession feel grateful to have a job? Or will they be angry? Will they work any differently? Should they be managed any differently?

 

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and inspirational speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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Emerging from the Recession: How to Keep Your Employees

November 6th, 2009

Prior to the recession, employee retention was a top concern of employers.  Many organizations experienced a reprieve during the recession, simply because most employees weren’t looking for a new job. They were grateful to have work.  But now what?

Will retention become an issue again now that we are seeing signs that the recession is turning around? I suspect so. Recent research by Watson Wyatt found that the recession has had widespread and unprecedented impact on employers and employees.

Employers have seen a drop in employee engagement due to the actions employers have taken in response to the economic crisis. Watson Wyatt found that overall engagement has dropped by 9% over the last year. The shocking news was that for top-performing employees, engagement dropped by 25%. And this will most certainly impact whether employees will stay or go.

Not surprisingly, a recent study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity shows that most firms are once again thinking about ways to retain talent. What are their plans?

  • 18% of high-performing companies have already increased compensation levels (as compared to 7% or low-performing companies)
  • 18% of high-performing companies plan to implement pay increases (as compared to 24% of low-performing companies)

But is offering money the preferred strategy? Companies report that they have been taking other action to reduce further turnover.

  • 81% of all companies are increasing internal communication
  • 77% have increased their focus on talent management
  • 59% are focusing on succession planning

I have found a key to employee retention is helping employees become fully engaged so that they experience spirit at work – that sense that work is meaningful and fulfilling and an awareness of the contribution one makes.

Below are three ways to foster spirit at work used in our spirit-at-work program. More are found in my book Rethinking Your Work: Getting to the Heart of What Matters.

Help employees rethink about their work by:

  1. Getting to the heart of what matters about their work. Be clear about the deeper purpose of their work, what they are here for and the real point of their work.
  2. Seeing their work as an act of service. It is not so much about what we do and how we do it and how we think about our work.
  3. Appreciating their contribution.  Understanding and appreciating how we make a difference through our work and celebrating our contribution helps us to be more enthusiastic and inspired.

These three ideas are at the core of my spirit-at-work program which we know positively impacts employee retention.

What is your organization or company doing to retain talent? Is it working?

 

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and inspirational speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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The Upside of the Recession, but . . .

October 15th, 2009

We have all experienced the negative impact of the recession, but what about the positive? A recent survey shows that the recession has made significant numbers of Canadians re-evaluate what’s important to them. And, less than 10% say making more money and career success are their top priorities.

Canadians are saying that the recession had caused them to rethink what is important in their lives. They are making time for themselves and creating their own personal vision of meaning and fulfillment. In fact, 77% of Canadians said that they were more focused on their personal lives than their careers. So they are doing charity work, embarking on a second career, pursing a holiday, spending more time with family, or going on adventure travel trips in order to bring more meaning and fulfillment to their lives.

The upside is that employees are re-evaluating their priorities. They are choosing to focus on that which matters. The study also indicates that they are taking time to refill their cups – an important factor in creating and maintaining spirit at work.

The downside is that respondents weren’t looking at work as an avenue for meaning and fulfillment. Yet that is where we spend most of our waking hours. And if work isn’t fulfilling, it is depleting.

Employers are in a key position to help employees rethink work by making the link between work and meaning and fulfillment. One way is to create the conditions for employee engagement and spirit at work. We have found that spirit at work can be increased and when it does, employee satisfaction goes up, commitment to their work and organization increases, retention increases and productivity improves. Simply by rethinking work! Learn more about the strategies in Rethinking Your Work: Getting to the Heart of What Matters.

 

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” An inspirational speaker, consultant and writer, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. She is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now.

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Is Your Organization Playing Defence or Offence?

October 2nd, 2009

Is your company or organization reacting to the current economic situation or is it responding? Is it playing defence or offence? There is a difference. When we take into account the situation we are in, along with our vision and goals, we are able to step back and choose to act. Act, rather than just react to the latest challenge facing us.

Aberdeen’s recent study: “Mid-Year Insights 2009” point to the development of existing talent as a top priority for the coming year. Organizations need to ensure that the workforce has the skills and ability to face the challenges and uncertainty of the future. These development opportunities can benefit both employees and employers.

Opportunities to improve skills and capabilities and challenging work assignments that broaden one’s skills have been shown to drive engagement. Not only do engaged employees plan to stay with their current employer, a correlation between high levels of engagement and strong business performance have been demonstrated.

It is time for companies to rethink how they are developing existing talent. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What is the company’s deeper purpose?
  • What is the vision for the future?
  • What are the desired outcomes?
  • What needs to change in order to achieve these outcomes?
  • What are the goals?
  • What is no longer needed and can be let go?
  • What skills and abilities need to be developed to achieve the vision, goals, and outcomes?
  • What training or development is required and how does that fit with the new direction?
  • How can employees become more engaged?

Development of existing talent is a key factor in employee wellness, retention and productivity. But it cannot be done in isolation. Organizations who help employees to become more engaged and develop talent that is in alignment with the organization’s deeper purpose, vision and strategic plan will realize remarkable results.

 

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” An inspirational speaker, consultant and writer, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. She is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook.

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During a Recession, Is it More Important to Save Money or Nurture Talent?

September 10th, 2009

In our challenging economic times, many organizations are opting for saving money over saving and nurturing their talent. But at what cost? A study on the effect of organizational downsizing on the health of employees found that employees who survive major job cuts are twice as likely to take sick leave. They also reflect a fivefold increase in backaches and muscle problems and are five times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease within the next four years than employees who work for companies who do not undergo major job loss.

In addition to downsizing, many of these companies have reduced their training and learning budgets. The Learning and Development Survey, recently released by the Conference Board of Canada, states that “spending on training, learning and development continues to decline slowly in Canadian organizations.” The report indicates that in 2008, Canadian companies “spent an average of $787 per employee on training, learning and development.” In real dollar terms, this level of expenditure is 40 per cent less than what was spent in the mid 90s.

Why? One reason offered is that Canadian organizations are now learning more informally. Another is that organizations are reducing training budgets to save money. Decisions that often cost more money in terms of emotion, talent, engagement and the bottom line.

Successful organizations are typified by those that have a long-term focus on employee development. A recent study by the Cranfield School of Management found that successful organizations are those that identify, develop and maximize the effectiveness of their employees. The study results showed that nurturing talent has the benefits of improved motivation, lower staff turnover and being more cost effective – factors that increase productivity and improve the bottom line. Yet despite the benefits highlighted in the study, only a third of employers have a formal training strategy.

There are lessons to be drawn from those firms that clearly set out to nurture their talent by strategically planning their training. The outcome shows, for example, that successful organizations are typified by using formal training policies to nurture talent, while less successful organizations are more likely to train staff on an ad hoc basis.

Despite the uncertain economic situation, the development of workers is necessary to engage employees and remain competitive. I would argue that nurturing talent is saving money.  It is time to rethink work and begin nurturing our talent by helping employees become more engaged.

 

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” An inspirational speaker, consultant and writer, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. She is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook.

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What does Blink-182, a Pop Punk Band, have to do with Spirit at Work?

July 31st, 2009

While the music of Blink-182 may not be your favourite, this band’s story illustrates how a brush with personal disaster can transform our experience of work. Faced with a personal crisis, we have a tendency to re-evaluate our priorities and our way of being, putting us on what I call, the transformative events path to spirit at work. When we have spirit at work, we are fully engaged in our work, we find meaning and fulfillment in that which we do and we see how our work makes a difference in the lives of others.

Here is Blink’s story. Having sold some 13 million albums, the pop punk trio was at the height of their music career. Then due to extraordinary pressure and irresolvable differences, the band took a time out, resulting in a four-year hiatus. Last year, drummer Travis Barker nearly died in a plane crash – a crash which took the lives of his assistant and bodyguard. It was that event that led the group’s singer-guitarist Tom DeLonge to re-evaluate his priorities and break the radio silence toward his band mates. In an interview, DeLonge said that “It was very clear to me after Travis’s (near-death) that all these forces of nature were pushing for (a reunion) to happen.” The group decided to put aside their differences and come together to play again. Blink-182 is now on a 50-date North American comeback tour. But it took a near-death experience to get them there.

My research has shown that there are four paths to spirit at work: always there, coming together, contextually sensitive, and transformative events. Members of Blink-182 are on the path of transformative events.

What is the path of transformative events?  Stuff happens. We get sick. We are diagnosed with a debilitating disease, maybe one that is terminal. Our marriage ends in divorce. Our children make bad choices with negative and long-lasting results. The company we work for downsizes or goes under, and our spouse loses his or her job. We lose a loved one. The path of transformative events occurs in response to a crisis or spiritual awakening and can precipitate spirit at work.

A personal crisis (as Blink experienced) demands a response before it results in spirit at work. It requires that we do something. Individuals often begin to question their values, life priorities and lifestyle, a process sure to affect their relationship with work. Often, they begin to question the meaning of their work: Why are they doing it? Who is it helping? What is the contribution? How does it related to their deeper purpose? This response can turn a difficult event into a transformative event.

Why should we be interested? The recession has led to an increase in job loss, organizational takeovers, and downsizing – a significant life event for those impacted by such a decision. But even how we respond to events that are unrelated to our work – such as serious accidents, divorce or the loss of a loved one – will impact how we do our work. Thus, all of these events become opportunities as well as challenges. Once the necessary grieving has taken place – and that is important – times of crisis offer the potential for growth, change and spirit at work. A personal crisis gives us the opportunity to rethink our work – if we take it.

What is the next step? It is important for employers to realize how actions taken during the recession – some necessary for the survival of the company – have impacted employee spirit, job satisfaction and commitment. Action needs to be taken to rebuild relationships and help employees gain a renewed enthusiasm for their work and increased job satisfaction. At the same time, employees need to take steps to foster their spirit at work – the first being rethinking work. Everything changes when we rethink our work.

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After the Recession, How Do We Get Back on Track?

July 15th, 2009

The Conference Board of Canada announced today that the worst is over and that Canada can expect to climb out of the recession this quarter. That is the good news. But as employment numbers lag behind signs of economic recovery, the bad news is that the damage resulting from the recession is well underway. Experts point to the shock waves of layoffs today and those that are anticipated tomorrow. Those who avoid layoffs are left with “survivor’s guilt.” Others go out of their way to show that they are worthy of their job – some to the point of damaging their health or their relationships.

Rather than working together for the higher good, many employees find themselves looking after their own best interests. They are in competition with their colleagues. Any why not? With families to take care of, mortgages and other financial responsibilities, it is natural for survival mode to kick in. And yet, everyone loses. Employers lose commitment to the company. Customers lose service. And, employees lose shared support and that sense of community that is the glue for an inspired workplace.

What is a sense of community? A sense of community is best described as feeling connected to others at work and through work. This sense of connection involves feelings of trust, mutual respect and a shared purpose with our co-workers. When we feel connected we feel like we belong at work. We are a part of a community, part of a team where others care about us and we care about them. We know that we matter. Everyone knows that their work is important and that they need to work together to achieve common goals. When this connection permeates the workplace, it doesn’t matter if you are the CEO, janitor, receptionist or someone in between; everyone shares the connection. Sharing a sense of purpose and meaning with our co-workers about our work contributes to feelings of community at work and of course, our spirit at work. Connection with others, along with a common purpose, goes a long way to achieving mutual goals and getting organizations back on track.

So what is the answer? It is time to rebuild the relationships damaged as a result of decisions made during the recession. To rebuild a sense of community and a shared common purpose among employees and employers. To help employees become more fully engaged in their work and the reason they took the job in the first place. It is time to rethink our work.

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