Posts tagged: root cause of low employee morale

Five Steps to an Effective People Strategy

By John Schaefer, June 7, 2016 12:50 pm

In today’s economy there are few things a company can do that will have greater financial benefits over time than developing an well thought-out, comprehensive and compelling People Strategy. Here’s a five step plan that may help you get a sense of how easy this can be to implement at your organization:

Step1 – Know Who You Are
The trick to it is in first making sure that your strategy is in line with the company’s overriding Purpose, as well as your Mission, Values, Goals and Growth Plans. This is easier said than done, because many organizations find at this stage that they don’t yet have a good feel for why they exist and the best types of people to attract that will help them achieve their goals. I suggest going through this exercise before attempting a formal People Strategy.

Step 2 – Recruiting
Once you know why you exist and what you’re really about as an organization, it’s helpful to create a recruiting methodology that coincides with your Purpose, Culture and Style, so you attract people with a share vision and views. This will insure greater retention and reduce costly turnover of employees who don’t fit comfortably within the company. While we work with clients on a wide range of award and reward programs to improve employee engagement, performance and value, we can show that a small reduction in turnover alone will pay for the bulk of your investment in recognition; so this is a big deal!

Step 3 – Awards/Rewards and Incentives
A good strategy should combine all of the ways you touch employees. This includes everything from simple, no-cost day-to-day appreciation to periodic recognition that thanks people for their efforts, and then a series of well formulated performance management incentives. While this may take time to develop, as you don’t want to overwhelm people with too much too soon, we suggest picking the “low-hanging fruit”; the hand full of behavioral initiatives that when improved, will have the greatest impact on savings or profit. This will get things rolling in the right direction, so leadership will be open to adding more measurables to the platform and yield even more returns over time.

Step 4 – Training
Finally, it’s important to properly train your managers to understand both How and Why to use recognition effectively. If you launch your program with well-informed leadership, excited about the program and ready to use it, you have the best chance of coming across as believable, winning employee trust and launching a long term People Strategy that has high levels of participation, as well as provable ROI. You’d be surprised how many companies spend a ton of time creating the perfect program with a balance of all the right messaging and measurables, and then miss the mark by launching it with minimal gusto and low enthusiasm.

Step 5 – Rinse and Repeat
The most overlooked part of most programs we review is the Measurement & Analysis. If you don’t actively track, measure, tweak and work to optimize your program content and communications on a regular basis, it will likely to lose momentum and the results will slow. We see a lot of situations where elements of an initially vibrant recognition program have decended to nothing more than entitlements, being dangled to entice activity, not properly rewarding positive growth. A support team that monitors and manages your program to keep it fresh, relevant and engaging is key to getting the most out of your People Strategy.

We call this entire process an Umbrella Recognition Solution. When you’re ready to embark on this project for your company, we would be happy to offer some thoughts and ideas that may help you make it the best it can be.

To learn more about Awards, Rewards and the best ways to use them to optimize our investments in your people visit http://www.SchaeferRecogntionGroup.com or email me personally at john@SchaeferRecognitionGroup.com.

Cash Just Isn’t Enough When it Comes to Recognition and Engagement!

By John Schaefer, October 5, 2015 12:27 pm

Ask your employees what they want for recognition and you’ll tend to hear some from of these answers:

1. Cash
2. Time off
3. Something I can use

Interestingly, these answers are all a form of cash; none of them hitting on what research shows employees actually need to become more engaged, productive and fulfilled – to be Loved and Respected.

Why? I think it has to do with the question. Nothing against surveys, but most employees, when asked how they prefer to be recognized, don’t fully trust the question, tend to offer the answer they think you want to hear and won’t ever admit they earn enough money. In a way, this is a set up question and not likely to ever get answered honestly with the secret to what employees want from their leaders.

This article may help better explain the place for cash in recognition and offer you some things to consider as you strive to optimize your most important resource – people! http://www.schaeferrecognitiongroup.com/vocationalblog/?p=61

If you have any questions about recognition, employee engagement and performance management, feel free to email or call and I’ll share what I’ve learned over the past 27 years as a passionate student of what makes your employees want to become all they can be.

To learn more about Awards, Rewards and the best ways to use them to optimize our investments in your people visit http://www.SchaeferRecogntionGroup.com or email me personally at john@SchaeferRecognitionGroup.com.

How To Thrive Now That Work-Life Balance Is Dead

By John Schaefer, January 20, 2015 10:00 am

I just read this new article by Louis Efron (www.LouisEfron.com) in Forbes and wanted to share it with you all. It really hits right to the core of what our lives are all about and whether we think about it or not, it is a big part of how happy and fulfilled we will be.

The constant corporate buzz and push for work-life balance is well intentioned, but the concept no longer exists. In the olden days – before smart phones, email, text and voicemail – it was possible to draw a line between work and personal time. You could leave an office at 5PM on Friday and not physically or mentally return to work until Monday at 8AM.
I work a lot because I love what I do. But because I love what I do, I don’t consider it work. This is both good and bad. It is good because I am living my purpose in life. It is bad because I sometimes don’t know when to shift focus elsewhere.
In today’s world, your conversation needs to focus simply on life balance. That is, how you balance and integrate everything you need and want to do each day, week, month and year. This includes making a living, time with your family, friends plus time for you and time for anything else you want to accomplish. Even the traditional concept of retirement is different. There is no escaping our connected world.
The whole idea of balance in life can appear elusive or even unimportant. When it comes to equilibrium, a number of studies discovered poor physical balance is significantly linked to an increased risk of sports injuries. Not surprisingly, the same applies to your personal life balance and health risk. Study after study confirms poor life balance is directly related to both physical and mental sickness and unhappiness.

Reminders To Recalibrate Life Balance
A recent New York Daily News interview with seventy-two-year-old X-Men actor Patrick Stewart drove the importance of life balance home for me yet again. Like so many people in today’s busy world, Stewart, revealed during his third marriage that he regretted focusing on his career at the expense of his family. This is not uncommon. Many people feel the same way late in life. I have worked with countless executives who lament on similar regrets approaching retirement.
Of course there are days when I let my career pursuit steal more focus than it should from my family and other important and enjoyable activities in my life. Stories like Stewart’s remind me what I need to do next. You won’t have to look hard to find other examples which will relate to your situation in life.
Signs Your Life Balance Is Off
When your life lacks balance, it is painfully obvious from the outside looking in. Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees when in a rut.
Luckily, self-diagnosing your life balance is easy. Just pause to take inventory of what is going right and wrong in your life.
In this short pause, identify if you are experiencing any of the following challenges:
• Frequently tired or sick
• Difficulty sleeping or waking
• Hearing frequent complaints or jokes about the attention family and friends receive from you
• Feeling guilty about time allocation
• Regularly distracted from your current task
• Making simple mistakes
• Generally unhappy with your life
Many of the circumstances on this list can also result from depression. However, the question still remains as to the root of the problem. Depression can be and frequently is brought on by poor life balance.
Six Questions About Life Balance
Access to effective tools is helpful in all human endeavors, including achieving life balance. When my life is out-of-sync with the balance, success and happiness I desire I ask myself the below six questions to recalibrate. If I can’t answer, “yes” to all six, I investigate why. Then I work towards a solution to solve that issue.
1. Does my life balance contribute to the career and personal success I desire?
2. Does my life balance give me more energy in my day?
3. Do I sleep well and wake up refreshed?
4. Do important people in my life feel they get the attention they deserve from me?
5. Am I able to fully focus on a task at hand?
6. Does my life balance make me happy?
How many of the six questions did you answer yes to?
At the end of the day, life balance is about a commitment to more success and happiness. As the self-help guru Tony Robbins says, “Where focus goes, energy flows.” Commit to your six yeses now. Start realizing your true potential in life. You will be amazed at the positive life transformation which will follow.
For more information on Life Balance and how it impacts Recognition, Employee Engagement and Performance Management visit http://www.SchaeferRecognitionGroup.com

“If you can’t say it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”

By John Schaefer, June 23, 2014 8:14 am

Just read a great new article in Forbes by my friend Larry Myler, it’s called -”You’ve Got .00193 Nanoseconds to Sell Me. Go”.  http://onforb.es/UAnNZ2  He’s using the 1979 Skylab Early Warning story as an example of just how little time we all have to get the attention of our customers in today’s busy business climate.  I tend to think he’s not far off!

One of my favorite quotes is from Albert Einstein – “If you can’t say it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”.  I keep this in mind whenever I’m developing content for my web site, a flyer, PowerPoint or any other materials that I’m hoping a potential client will read.  It’s got to be brief, imformative, unique, timely and relevant or you’ve lost them and it takes somewhere around .o0193 Nanoseconds or so.

In this time of social media, instant Tweets and the ability for your content to be found, copied, revised and repurposed immediately, it’s no wonder that everybody is using the same buzz words, soundling a lot the same and ultimately confusing the heck out of their prospects.  The challenge is in being fresh, catchy and quick.

If you’re lucky and you gain interest in the first few Nanoseconds, you might get the opportunity to make your case in 5 to 15 minutes or so, so keep it tight, make it strong, and be different!

Is HR Ready For the Economic Recovery?

By John Schaefer, March 22, 2014 10:13 am

New study shows leadership changes, new approaches to retention and engagement and reskilling the HR function may be the keys to success.

In the lengthy, new Deloitte University Press report about Engaging the 21st-Century Workforce, there are over 150 pages of valuable information. I thought it would be helpful to break it down to what are most relevant and, more importantly, what it means to busy HR executives who may not have time to study it front to back.

The authors describe the young, Millennial worker as global, highly connected, technology-savvy, and demanding. Demanding…? Do Millennials think they’re demanding? Probably not, so while they may be by current management standards, we don’t want to appear as if we don’t understand them or worse yet, create and “us against them” scenario.  I submit that the first rule of engagement is inclusiveness.

Delloitte shares that as the world’s population grows, the global workforce is getting younger, older, and more urbanized. Millennials are projected to make up 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025, and they want to be creative, run their own businesses, expect an accelerated career and in the words of one manager: “They don’t want a career, they want an experience.” Add to that a growing number of Baby Boomers that for financial and professional satisfaction reasons are not leaving the workforce, we are seeing the most multi-generational workforce in history.

Next, you have to consider technology. It’s now possible for teams to work in remote locations, easily access experts within and outside the organization, and get information almost instantly.  The skills we need today and in the future are dramatically different

than what they were only five years ago; Millennials and Boomers react to this in somewhat different ways and at very different rates.

With all of these changes happening all at once and their impact on leadership, retention and engagement, learning and development, analytics— executives

recognize the need to take action, but express reservations about their team’s ability

to deliver results. Deloitte’s research suggests that today companies have to manage people differently – creating an imperative to innovate, transform, and reengineer human capital practices.

Researchers set out to identify the top 12 global business challenges in talent management, leadership and HR. They drew upon more than 15 years of research to examine the range of issues and the most effective solutions in the market, as well as surveyed 2,532 business and HR leaders in 94 countries around the world.

The findings show that as we exit the recession, the ways that organizations will grow may be dependent on skill sets and management styles that are quite different than traditional approaches.

The three biggest areas of change outlined in the Deloitte study are:

1. Leadership – 38% of survey respondents noted building leadership is important. This is the highest of all categories, showing that many companies acknowledge that they aren’t ready to embrace the necessary changes to their leadership style. The old, autocratic view that employees are lucky have a job should be glad to be here and are expected to simply well up a high level of morale and performance won’t work anymore.  As the economy turns, the best employees are looking for engaging career paths and challenges, not just a job.

2. Retention and Engagement – 26% responded that redefining their engagement strategy is key to attracting and keeping key people. Perhaps this is due in part to a lack of understanding of the terms.  In reality, no company can make people stay; retention is the result of a number of both emotional and logical engagement initiatives.  The danger is when management does things to “Satisfy” employees rather than “Engage” them.  As Bob Kelleher, founder of The Employee Engagement Group puts it, “Satisfied employees are her to GET … Engaged employees are her to GIVE”. The distinction between those two characteristics is huge, and it’s all based on your employee’s perception of your management, recognition, retention and engagement style as well as the overall company culture.  Everything must be cohesive and management has to all be on the same page to make this work.  Sadly, most company cultures are far from ready to embrace this challenge effectively.

3.  Reskilling the HR Function – The third largest response, at 25%, suggests that HR talent functions are in need of transformation. We’ve come a long way from the good old “Personnel Department”. Employee demographics, higher diversity, new technology and economic concerns are rapidly changing the demands on traditional HR.  Over 36% of respondents feel that they are not ready, so we have a major education and training issue before us.  The good news is that this may offer the opportunity to simplify HR’s approach to people and keep an eye on what employees think more than just rules and policy.

So, what do you do now to solve your Engagement and Retention Issues?

There are a few very simple steps that will facilitate the path to the solution.

1.  They’ve got to Believe your Motives. When it comes to your employees, it’s all about perception.  Whether Boomer, Gen X or Millennial, employees base everything about your organization on how much they believe what you say.  When you garner trust, show consistency, exhibit transparency in communication and engage them emotionally prior to logically, you will gain higher levels of discretionary effort.  Employees want to trade a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay, but only when they like, trust and believe in management.  When that combination of feelings and opportunities is made available, most employees will excel and you’ll get the benefits; all you have to do is set the path and get out of the way.

2. Get Organized. Most companies already have a number of recognition, employee engagement and performance management programs in place. The problem is that they were started at different times, by different people in different departments, so while they may be working, they are highly disjointed, politically protected and impossible to measure.  Every HR team I meet with is asking pretty much the same question … “How can I do more with less?”  In other words, how can we rein in these multiple trickles of money that are, in many cases, outdated entitlement programs, make better use of the money and prove that what we’re spending is yielding financial results?  Our Umbrella Recognition Solution is all about doing this and turning current expenses into profits, by making recognition part of your company culture, not just a bunch of inconsistent methods of throwing your employees a bone now and then.

3. Transcend the Four Generations. Earlier I shared a quote about today’s employees from the Deloitte study …“They don’t want a career, they want an experience.”  Perhaps this trend correlates with a growing dissatisfaction with many of the traditional forms of recognition awards and performance management rewards being used today. Employee awards used to be custom, symbolic and presented in meaningful ceremonies by highly engaged upper managers.  Today, recognition could easily be nothing more than a gift card delivered in an email link, by a faceless manager within the company’s computer network.  Any wonder why trust, believability and engagement is waning in many organizations?  We’ve seen a steady movement from true recognition to manipulative motivation, due to several corresponding factors:

a. companies are not happy with current recognition programs, so conduct employee surveys to find out what employees really want.

b. employees don’t trust the motives of the survey, so tell you what they think you want to hear; most ask for cash or cash equivalents.

c. gift cards are everywhere; you can grab one at the grocery store on the way to work, so appeasing employees is easy and everybody wins, right?  Dead wrong, and engagement studies show it!

Well known and respected research from Maslow to Gallup overwhelmingly demonstrate that you must engage employees emotionally by showing Love and Respect, before asking for behavior change to benefit the company.  When you jump right to “what have you done for me lately” thinking, employees feel manipulated and see your attempts to improve their work as more beneficial to you them to them.  In other words, they see the company winning more them the employees and they are left feeling a bit used. That comes across as unfair and feeds an “us against them” culture.

Here’s how we view the proper use of balanced recognition –

Recognition ð Culture

Culture ð Behaviors

Behaviors ð Results

Every company is unique and different, but people are surprisingly similar in how they respond to management.  The best companies use a simple, comprehensive, and consistent approach to recognition based on their Culture, Mission, Values, and Current Goals.  Then, they work from the employee’s Right Brain (where emotional messages such as Love and Respect are processed) to Left Brain (where logical calculations of fairness and value are determined).

When you create a proper balance of emotional and logical engagement and implement them in the right order, your build trust, confidence and believability, which make your performance management initiatives come across as meaningful, valuable and fair for both the company and the employees.  This leads to the high levels of cooperation, teamwork and morale, which directly impacts longevity, training compliance, safety, creativity, teamwork, productivity and ultimately profits.

In this new world of high technology where everybody is tossing around the same buzzwords, but not necessarily with the same meanings, it’s important to get back to basics, organize your tools and then measure your progress. So here are the steps in order:

1.  Organize all of your employee communications, recognition, employee engagement and performance management in to single, comprehensive strategy that makes is easy to understand that teach to both employees and supervisors.

2.  Engage your management team prior to program launch, so they are solidly and enthusiastically behind your program; then they’ll come across as believable to your employees.

3. Track, measure and report on the results, so you minimize costs, improve your results and can show provable ROI to your CFO.  Use the Three R’s – Recognize, Reward, and Reinforce; that’s the key to a program that will turn expenses into profits and optimize your most important asset – people!

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