Posts Tagged ‘engagement’

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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Posted in Attracting and Keeping Employees, Creating organizational conditions, Emerging from the Recession, Employee Engagement and Spirit at Work | Comments (0)

What makes social workers happy and what keeps them in the field?

April 6th, 2011

Social workers experience higher than average levels of attrition, stress and burnout than other helping professions such as nursing and teaching. Whereas 6 per cent of American nurses and 8 per cent of teachers left their occupations in any given year from 1992 to 2001, the figure was 15 per cent among social workers. Researchers at the University of Calgary suspect similar findings in Canada.

Common issues faced by social workers include scope of practice, perceived freedom and flexibility, work-life balance, support mechanisms in their workplaces, the physical workspace itself, as well as their relationships with clients and colleagues, including supervisors.

“Social workers, by their very nature, care about people,” says John Graham, a U of C social work professor. “People in human services . . . suffer from high caseloads (and) need the support to do their jobs.”

Given this concern, Graham, along with PhD Candidates Andrea Newberry and Micheal Shier teamed up to investigate what made social workers happy and what kept them in the field. This positive and affirmative approach is in high contrast to the traditional problem-based approach such as studying sources of stress and burnout.

Surveys were sent to 2500 social workers in Alberta. Of the 700 returned, the researchers completed in-depth interviews and job shadowing with the 13 “happiest” social workers.

The happiest social workers reported higher levels of fulfilment in areas such as flexible work schedules, better work-life balance and a stronger sense of engagement.  Having a high degree of freedom built into their jobs gave them the flexibility to manage the demands of their jobs with their personal lives including the opportunity for “self-care.”  This behind-the-scene support made a big difference and enabled them to do their jobs well.

“We’re much better at helping others when we’ve learned to find satisfaction and happiness in what we do, and to develop organizational cultures that reinforce these principles,” says Graham.

Their findings have implications for a variety of career fields. Our experience and research tells us that when employees get to the heart of what matters about their work, when they feel like they are making a difference, and they feel like they are part of a community, employee spirit at work –that sense that we are fully engaged and fulfilled by our work – increases. When employers create the conditions to foster spirit at work, the effects can only multiply.

We have demonstrated that not only can you increase spirit at work, as it increases so too does personal well-being, job satisfaction and organizational commitment. Client service and productivity goes up. And absenteeism and turnover goes down.

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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Posted in Attracting and Keeping Employees, Creating organizational conditions, Employee Engagement and Spirit at Work, Employee Wellbeing: Refilling the Cup, Getting to Spirit at Work | Comments (0)

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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Posted in Attracting and Keeping Employees, Creating organizational conditions, Emerging from the Recession, SAW and Organizational Outcomes, Seeing Work as an Act of Service | Comments (5)

Why has the public sector gone from being a noble calling to having the highest absenteeism rate?

August 10th, 2009

Working for the public sector used to be considered a noble calling. Today, Statistics Canada reveals that employees in the federal public service have the highest rate of absenteeism in the country. They are followed by health-care and social service providers, provincial public servants and municipal employees. Absenteeism is lowest in the private sector.

Absenteeism rates have been rising in all sectors since the late 1990s. The average days lost to absenteeism due to sick leave, family demands, and other personal reasons has gone from 7.4 days per worker in 1997 to 10.2 days in 2007. For public service employees, the rated jumped to 16.2 days per worker per year on average.  These days are on top of vacation time, maternity leave and other scheduled time off.

Why the difference? Statistics Canada points to an aging workforce, increased women in the workforce, higher stress levels, and more generous sick and family-related leave policies in the public services.

Others point to low morale as the cause. In a recent poll by Angus Reid, one-third of Canadians think it is more honourable to work in the private sector as compared to 15 percent who believe the working for the government is more honourable. Given a choice, 43% of those surveyed said they would choose careers in the private sector, whereas only 33% would choose the public sector.

Those interested in the private sector are drawn by the creativity, salaries and mobility. Those attracted to the public sector say it is because of the generous benefits and job security. Only one-quarter say they were drawn by a “vocation of service.” I believe that this is the root of the absenteeism concern.

While benefits and job security are important, particularly as we weather the recession, they do not give us that deeper meaning and fulfillment so many of us are seeking. They do not give us the feeling that our work is honourable. We need to know that our work matters, that we are making a difference through our work – to have something we call spirit at work. Others call it work engagement, happiness at work or flow, but it all refers to feeling good about our work and the contribution we are making.

Spirit at work can be developed. I took a team of workers through the Spirit-at-Work Program and it dramatically reduced the rate of absenteeism and turnover. Not only did we see an improvement in retention, our research pointed to an increase in job satisfaction and commitment. Morale improved and the group began working together as a team. Why? Employees began to see their work as a noble calling. They appreciated themselves and the work they did. They began to think about their work differently.

I believe that the answer to high absenteeism rates lies in helping public servants see their work as a noble calling and to feel good about their work. How can they do that? By rethinking work. Here are four ways to begin rethinking your work:

  1. Get to the heart of what matters about your work.
  2. Be on purpose at work.
  3. See your work as an act of service.
  4. Cultivate a spiritual value-based life.

Absenteeism has a huge effect on morale, productivity and profitability. It can and should be halted. We will talk in more detail about these four ways in our subsequent blogs.

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Posted in Attracting and Keeping Employees, Purpose and Meaning In Work, SAW and Organizational Outcomes, Spirit at Work Program, Spirit at Work in the Public Sector | Comments (1)

Work-Life Balance is Bunk

July 21st, 2009

On July 11, 2009, Eric Lam of the Financial Post asked, “Whatever happened to touted work-life balance?” I say that it doesn’t exist, probably never did. I prefer that we aim for work-life integration. Work-life balance presumes a clear separation between work and the rest of our lives, which is impossible. Creating rigid boundaries often increases stress and a sense of being fragmented.

Work-life integration removes these boundaries. When we are integrated, we see how everything we do, including our work, is related to our deeper purpose. Everything is connected. It is not fixed. There is give and take. We accommodate. We integrate. So when we are called at work by the daycare to pick up a sick child, we pause our work and pick up our child or make alternative plans without guilt. We are clear that caring for our child is part of our deeper purpose. Similarly, when we need to bring some work home or stay late to finish a project, we expect to do so, because that too is part of our purpose. When we are integrated, there is an ebb and flow so that all priorities are accommodated. This is important because there needs to be room for all our priorities. If we focus all our energy and attention on one priority, we begin to cut ourselves off from the things that matter to us and we begin to lead a fragmented life.

This is not to say that we give equal attention to all priorities in our life all the time. That is the concern I have with the notion of living a balanced life. It assumes that everything is equal. When I think about balance, I think about trying to balance a teeter-totter. It is very difficult to get the exact balance where both sides of the teeter-totter are at the same height from the ground. One side is always higher than the other. And the energy expended in trying to make them equal can be enormous. Not to mention the frustration that goes along with “not being in balance” or the guilt about “not living a balanced life.” Not everything is in balance. Not all priorities carry equal weight. There are times in our life when we are called to give more attention to particular areas, be that raising children, helping elderly parents, developing our career, pursuing secondary education, living our passion or regaining health.

Practicing integration is different than striving for balance. People view family, work and personal interests, for example, as part of a larger and connected whole, rather than as separate and competing parts. Moreover, each of these life tasks provides an opportunity to fulfill our deeper purpose. Rather than attempting to maintain an equal balance, we need to give varying emphasis to each responsibility as need and priority dictates over time.

To the employee. Is your life fragmented or integrated? Is your work and the rest of your life separated or connected? Give yourself permission to let go of the need for a balanced life and live your life in line with what you have identified as your priorities. Honor what you know is important to you.

To the employer. During the economic recession, many employees are happy just to have a job. In these situations, they often put aside other priorities and focus solely on work. Some tolerate working conditions and expectations that are less than ideal. While this is understandable, it can and will take a toll – on both the employee and the company. The recession cannot be used as an excuse to take advantage of or ill-treat employees. Instead, companies need to find ways to support work-life integration. To show employees that they care. The number one driver of engagement is a sense that senior management is sincerely interested in employee wellbeing. It is time for employers to rethink work in spite of the economic situation. For more ideas about how to rethink work, order Rethinking Your Work: Getting to the Heart of What Matters.

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Posted in Creating organizational conditions, Employee Wellbeing: Refilling the Cup | Comments (0)

International Happiness Day and Spirit at Work

July 10th, 2009

Today, July 10, 2009 marks the first ever International Happiness Day. How appropriate given that it has been 10 years since Martin Seligman, a psychologist from the University of Pennsylvania launched the field of positive psychology. Rather than looking at deviant behavior and what doesn’t work, positive psychology focuses on what does work, what makes people happy and what makes a fulfilling life.

Spirit at work goes hand in hand with positive psychology. Rather than looking at burnout, stress and everything that is wrong at work, spirit at work consider what is right, what contributes to our sense of well being at work and how to become more fully engaged in work. Essentially, rethinking our work!

What is spirit at work? Spirit at work is about finding meaning and fulfillment and being fully engaged in our work. It is about making a contribution through our work and seeing how that contribution makes a difference. Spirit at work is accessible to everyone. It does not matter if we hold administrative, blue-collar, the trades, professional or management positions. Research has shown us that spirit at work can be developed and when it is present, everything changes. Job satisfaction and commitment to work goes up. Teamwork and morale jumps. Absenteeism and turnover goes down. Why? In short, people with spirit at work are happier.

The purpose of this blog is to help you rethink your work. We will do this by sharing stories, telling you about the latest research, and giving you ideas about how to create spirit at work.

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Posted in Creating organizational conditions, Employee Engagement and Spirit at Work, Employee Wellbeing: Refilling the Cup | Comments (0)