Tag: human resources

When Diversity Hurts Employee Engagement with Kate Bischoff

The need for a diverse and inclusive workplace has become a research-based fact. A workforce that have a generally the same background and experiences isn’t going to be as competitive as organizations that bring true thought diversity.

But is there such a thing as too diverse? Well not really, no. That doesn’t mean, however, that we should just hire folks just because they bring the desired element of diversity to the workplace. There is one characteristic that we should never diversifyin the workplace – respect.

Any group, team, or company can work around any potential misunderstanding or miscommunication that will naturally occur when people from different backgrounds come together to accomplish a task, if there is a mutual foundation of respect. This mandatory shared value of respect is so critical that those individuals who show frequent patterns of disrespect should be let go immediately.

The negative impact that a lack of respect has on an organization cannot be countered with any other measure.

Respect, however, does not preclude feedback. In a recent podcast, Kate Bischoff spoke to this idea that feedback is a healthy part of any organization. She commented that part of maintaining a culture of respect is that idea that feedback can (and should) be provided when individuals disagree. Furthermore, organizations must absolutely ensure that they have implemented multiple methods of feedback. Everyone has their own preferred median for providing feedback to the organization. To find out more and listen to the full episode, visit Forging Employee Experience. To keep in contact with Kate, visit her at LinkedIn or on Twitter (@k8bischHRLaw).

Organizations must commit to hiring and retaining employees how are devoted to promulgating respect without diminishing a willingness to provide feedback. Without feedback companies and teams will not be able to find the growth and traction necessary to see continued success.

Most Feedback Hurts Employee Engagement with Joe Hirsch

In an effort to further the development of direct reports, management often attempts to provide effective feedback. While these efforts are usually accompanied with the best of intentions, by and large, they act as a detriment to the overall employee experience. Feedback is one of those tools that when not done intentionally is often done wrong. Part of this intentionality is the idea that it has to be consistent and with a proper understanding of context.

One of the first big mistakes of feedback is that it just happens when necessary. Well, this presupposes that all feedback is corrective – which is a huge part of the problem. We seem to be hardwired to wait for some negative performance to kick off the feedback-flag in our brains. When a direct report does something incorrectly, our old-school management mindsets are ready to swoop in and provide feedback. This type of behavior contributes to a reinforcement of the idea that all feedback is bad. These patterns are recognized almost instantly by employees and once rooted in the mind of a direct report, it’s a tough uphill battle to try and initiate any feedback conversation where the employee doesn’t automatically get defensive. In most companies, this pattern of feedback-on-mistake is all too common (although it’s better than waiting till a month later to correct the mistake…). It is unclear which management training guide is responsible for indoctrinating all our managers with these detrimental practices. Regardless, we must retrain ourselves to think of feedback moments as opportunities to both praise and correct our employees. This is done by providing feedback on a consistent basis. When, as is most often the case, there is nothing corrective to discuss, use these feedback moments as an opportunity to pour sincere praise on employees for the good work they’ve been doing. This consistency will ensure that feedback doesn’t become taboo.

In recent podcast with Joe Hirsch Managing Director of Semaca Partners, we had the opportunity to discuss the ever popular, Feedback Sandwich. One of the most common ways to provide negative feedback is to “soften the blow” by sandwiching the negative feedback between two compliments. While a cursory review of this practice may reveal an amount of merit, the poor context this form of feedback provides ends up doing more harm than good. Joe discusses how by repeatedly providing feedback in this same format, most employees leave the conversation unclear about what to do next. He goes on to say that when folks leave these types of conversations, they are typically hanging on to the last thing that was said. This is the worst-case scenario. Now there is a manager who thinks he/she has provided effective constructive feedback and an employee who think he/she was just praised for a job well done, missing the need for improvement. To hear the rest of the podcase, visit Forging Employee experience. To stay in touch with Joe, visit him on LinkedIn or at his website. His amazing book on feedback is a must read and available on Amazon at The Feedback Fix.

Efforts to bolster the employee experience must include better feedback. To be successful, managers must provide consistent feedback given with the right context (either positive or negative). This will allow for an atmosphere of feedback that doesn’t inherently bring with it an overabundance of negativity.

People Analytics Can Distract From the Employee Experience with Lewis Garrad

Over the last couple of decades, Employee Engagement has started to become more and more important to companies. Early data showed how much time and energy companies lost to a disengaged workforce. In recent years, organizations have started making huge efforts to fix the Employee Engagement problem. Yet despite millions of dollars of investment, the average number of engaged employees has only risen 3% in the last almost 20 years. So, what’s the problem?

At a fundamental level, employees don’t feel a connection with their companies. The relationship cultivated from their first day on the job perpetuates a feeling of obligation. Employees tend to feel like once they have provided the work their companies have paid them for, then they have fulfilled their obligation and are typically content provided the minimum to get by. Employees don’t feel connected with their organizations on an emotional level. If organizations want to see real change, they’ll have to start focusing on curating a working relationship such that employees feel truly connected with the company.

To make that change happens, organizations must stop focusing so exclusively on the numbers. Yes, employee engagement stats are an important metric. Yes, increasing retention is a huge bump the bottom line. But at the end of the day, it’s about the people. It’s not about the numbers. When organizations can honestly say that they care most about connecting with their employees, then they’ll find the engagement stats rise organically.

Furthermore, many of the past efforts of boosting engagement have missed the mark. Quick fixes like beer Fridays, snacks in the break room, or casual dress don’t move the needle. This failure stems from the lack of efforts that the company exerts when they do these things. While they think they are showing how amazing they are to work for, most employees see it as an attempt to make them more loyal. It doesn’t work.

In a recent podcast with Lewis Garrad, he discussed another major factor to employee engagement. He related that about 50% of the tendency for employees to be engaged at work can be traced back to their personality, and that those type of people that tended to be more engaged shared a similar set of cognitive characteristics. He warned that while it may be tempting to hire based on those characteristics, a workforce full of individuals who are all more inclined to be engaged would prevent cognitive diversity and promote group think tendencies. Listen to the full podcast at Forging the Employee Experience and follow Lewis Garrad on Twitter at @LewisGarrad or connect via email at lewis.garrad@mercer.com.

Employee Engagement can be boosted, but there is not shortcut to success. Organizations will need to look place the ineffective low hanging fruit, stop focusing on the numbers, and commitment to creating a workforce full of positive connections.

What is Employee Engagement?

Welcome to our podcast!

We’re here to help you gain a greater understanding of what employee engagement is and expertly craft the best employee experience.

Employee engagement is hard to define, and much more difficult to apply. That’s why we are digging deep into this crucial topic to provide you with practical and applicable results based on business research, expert advice and interviews, and giving you actionable best-practices to enhance your company culture and increase employee morale.

If you are concerned about your company culture or want to improve it, then jump in with both feet and learn what leading experts are saying about employee engagement.

Check out our first ever episode!

We’d love your feedback so feel free to leave a comment and we’ll be sure to respond.

We look forward to providing you with the most value possible.

Thanks for listening and joining us on the amazing adventure. We’ll catch you on next episode with Employee Engagement Rebel, Debra Corey!


Josh: Hello listeners and welcome to Forging Employee Engagement. Our official podcast and yes! this is our very first episode. I’m joined here with my co-host Alexander Noren. How are ya buddy?

Alexander Noren: Literally, couldn’t be better. It’d actually be a crime, it would be illegal if I was going better than I am right now. This is just exciting stuff that we are starting off here.

Josh: Wow! You sound like a puppy dog. Well, let’s get started man. What we are essentially striking out to do is we want to define Employee Engagement for the world. Let’s be honest if you’re listening to this, you have some sort of tie to the employee engagement space and it might be frustrating to look out there and find out that there is not much content at all around employee engagement. You might get people’s opinions and you might see some research articles that are very generic but when it comes down to it, nobody really knows how to define Employee Engagement.

Alexander Noren: Which is really a shame, right? This is a critical industry. We are talking about the future of how people work in the office. This is so important and yet we’re still not all on the same page. We are going to do our very best to help get everyone together here on one common ground to say, “All right. What does this stuff mean and how can we apply it moving forward.”

Josh: That’s right. Just to get us started, we want to address the idea that we don’t have a good definition of Employee Engagement. I actually have an article here from Harvard Business Review. This is done by Shawn Graber, I hope it’s the later because man that would be unfortunate.

Alexander Noren: Grabier? Perhaps.

Josh: Grabier.

Alexander Noren: Interesting.

Josh: Let’s go with that. This is Shawn Grabier.

Alexander Noren: Well, it’s Harvard so it’s fancy.

Josh: Or it could be French, it could be Grabee.

Alexander Noren: That could be, yes.

Josh: Shawn, could you please come on our show and clear this up for us. We can’t even define your name much less Employee Engagement. Anyways, he said this, “Each year, companies spend nearly three quarters of a billion dollars in an effort to improve employee engagement. That is a ton of money on employee engagement.

Alexander Noren: That’s a lot of money.

Josh: It’s a ginormous industry. He says, “Yet, you will get wildly inconsistent answers if you ask managers what that means. Academics, consultants and leaders have been grappling with this question for decades. Their working range is simple like Discretionary Effort to the mind bending complex nomological network encompassing trait, state and behavioral constructs.”

Alexander Noren: I understood next to nothing in that sentence.

Josh: Thank you Harvard Business Review. What he essentially saying is it can be a very personal thing for organisations and it can be very simple or it can be extremely complex. All I want to do on this podcast is to get down to the nitty and gritty and give you a nice solid definition. It starts with where did Employee Engagement even came from.

Alexander Noren: Yes, and it got an interesting story. Right? You turn the clocks of time back to the very beginning of the working world. When we started employing people, it was a very much, “Hey, you do this and I’ll give you money. Just do it right and that is it.” That is the extent of the relationship. As the decades have passed, we’ve come to realise that there’s actually more to this relationship than just an exchange of money and services. You started trying to develop this concept and that’s we are coming from. We are evolving as a society from this.

Josh: Yes, think of the evolution of industry in general. Back in the day, The Rockafeller’s and The Carnegie’s, we needed to build steel. We needed to create a railroad. We needed to hire people to come in and do a job. We needed to build two miles of railroad a day. I don’t care how I treat you or what it takes just get it done. We almost treated these people as tools and so we evolve in this workplace of “We still need to get the job done and you still need to do your job but we’ll pay you”, or we’ll compensate you so that you can at least feel that you’re doing something with you life.

Alexander Noren: Absolutely. What we’re looking at as we go forward into the future is saying, “Here we are, we are in a good relationship” where employees and organisations understand that there is a mutually beneficial connection between the two. How do we enhance that more to mimic real working relationships, if you take out the word employee and employer. Say person one and person two are in a relationship where person one tells person two what to do and person two is expected to do it. Person two receives an amount as compensation. That’s not a great relationship to be in; however, if you rephrase that. Well, person one and person two are in a mutually beneficial relationship where person one needs person two to do something and person two feels internally compelled to do it because they respect and appreciate each other. Now, all of a sudden that’s a positive relationship and that’s what really the future is in this industry is to have organisations treat their employees like their in a relationship. To treat them like a significant other or best friend.

Josh Drean: Person one, if you’re listening. You need to do a little bit better helping person two get through life in the workplace at least. You think about it, these people are dedicating a lot of time to being at work. They should feel satisfied, their work matters and that they’ve been taken care off. Let’s be honest, this evolution continues to happen to where now we have employee benefits, extra things like Google who lets you do yoga with your dog at work or Facebook. These are places that you want to work at because–

Alexander Noren: It’s a community.

Josh: –it’s a community and you feel taken cared off. In today’s world, we have not evolved yet. We are still treating people as tools. Here’s you contract and how well is that working? If you’re listening to this, you know it’s not working well at all. Did you know the average retention rate in companies is a year and a half.

Alexander Noren: Yes. It really is sad and with all of the research that has been done and all that progress has been made we know there’s a better do it. If you’re listening in, you know that too. You know there’s a better way and we are going to embark on this journey together to figure out how we can best navigate this space and make the most improvements and changes to organisations so that employees and employers can co-exist together in a harmonious way I supposed to this contractual obligation.

Josh: That’s right. We are seeing cool stuff done in the industry. Currently, we have Employee Engagement Software that lets you do surveys more than just one time a year. They complied the results and package it nicely so that you can look at it in a report. There are great companies doing that right now, we’re moving just passed self recorded data like sensory analysis. We can look at how people are feeling based on their communications via e-mail or another aspects.

Alexander Noren: Right.

Josh: The future is A.I. in compiling this data that we can now collect into a way that HR Tech is no longer just this fluffy alias talk to about work culture. We turned it into this thing were we can bring hard data to the table and we can show the CEO that the reason people aren’t staying because of X Y and Z. We have proof in the data and if we make these changes,we would end up saving thousands of dollars.

Alexander Noren: Millions of dollars.

Josh: Millions of dollars a year on a–

Alexander Noren: Internal review, training, finding new people, the stress. There are many reasons why financially, from a business point of view, it makes sense to pay attention to this data.

Josh: And Alexander, you mentioned quite often about the customer experience revolution.

Alexander Noren: Oh yes.

Josh: This is a huge deal, right? Now, we have to treat customers like people because we’re not the only option. We don’t have monopoly, they could go buy our product in five different places. We need to create an experience for customers that is untouchable.

Alexander Noren: Right.

Josh: If you look at it, the best driver for happy customers is happy employees.

Alexander Noren: Absolutely.

Josh: One can make that argument.

Alexander Noren: That’s an easy argument to make. Any product or service that you interacted with where you had to speak with a company representative. By enlarge, your impression of that product or service is greatly affected by how you interacted with that employee, airline is a great example for that. You can tell which airlines treat their employees terribly and which ones don’t. It reflectively takes a flight student to be nice or could not careless. The same thing translates absolutely to every industry. Make sure your employees are treated like they matter. Then they will in return not only work harder which is nice but they’ll be invonnvaters on the job. They will think about, “Hey, what can I do to help this organization that I worked in the best possible way” whether that’s customer service or product development, sales or even banking stuff like accounting. All these aspects would be enhanced as employers start helping the organisation, employees feel that they make a difference.

Josh: Helping your employees feel that they make a difference is going to give them a sense of significance and belonging. We don’t want to jumped too far from the psychology of this all yet. A happy employee tends to be a productive employee. What we want to do is very simply dive into some of this. We want to interview lead researchers, we want to take the top performers, we want to look at companies that are doing it right. Bring their CEOs onto this podcast and ask them what is the secret sauce. Let’s be honest, it’s not going to work for every single company but at least listeners have a place to go where you have all this information in one place and you can draw upon it in your own business, you can take the stuff that you like, you can throw out the stuff you don’t like and hopefully we can help you create a better and safe work environment.

Alexander Noren: Absolutely right. The good new is we already have lots of people lined up for our show and we are excited to take a real deep dive into this wonderful space and bring the most value to you. We’re excited to have you in this journey with us.

Josh: Stop listening to this episode because it’s just us rambling. Let’s get to the experts joining us on the next episode.