Disengaged Employees cost you US$2246 per employee every year

Profitability drives the actions of all organisation, even not for profits as they at least need to break even, as such senior leadership teams are constantly reviewing regular reports on the health of their organisation through financial, operational and people metrics. Unfortunately a majority of these metrics are looking backward at what took place during the last month, quarter or year.

Especially when you start looking at metrics such as Employee Engagement/Satisfaction which usually result out of an annual survey. Following the actual survey period is at least a month of analysis after which the result are usually distributed back to managers over a period of weeks if not months. Afterwards the long drawn out process of implementing the recommendations takes place. This can actually disengage employees as they do not see positive outcomes from the survey for many months.

At best organisations will have engagement figures that are only 90 days old, at worse over 12 months, resulting in executives using a historical view on the “health” of their largest expense for decision making.

Over the last few years serious financially based research has been taking place around how employee engagement impacts organisational financial performance. Alex Edmans’ most recent findings are:

Companies listed on the “100 Best Companies to Work For in America” generated 2.3% to 3.8% higher stock returns per year than their peers from 1984 through 2011.

Leading expert on employee engagement David Zinger provided an interesting fact; a disengaged employee is actually costing you US$2,246 per year. David’s source as a lovely infograph created by ADP in the US based several different bodies of research. Some other facts from the infograph include:

  • 67% of employees are not engaged, this is less than Australian estimates of around 80% not engaged
  • 49% of employees feel their executive do not create an environment that drive engagement
  • Engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave
  • Removing roadblocks and access to resources can improve employee performance by 25%

It is research like Alex Edmans and figures like the type from the ADP infograph that make it not surprise that switched on organisations take this seriously and are finding year old data on engagement just not “cutting the mustard”. Really switch on ones are doing something about it like Atlassian’s Mood App.

Employee Engagement and Social Media

Over the last 2 weeks I have been giving a series of presentations looking at how social media (and Enterprise 2.0) can drive employee engagement. While the slides are available on slideshare for download I wanted to give a bit of context.

As part of preparing the presentation I came across a presentation by Susan Scrupski from Soco Partners (I also lifted several other ideas from one of her presentations to the 2.0 Adoption Council, thanks Susan!), where Susan introduced the concept of 2.0 Zen:

  • Collaboration
  • Trust
  • Authenticity
  • Transparency

This struck a chord with me. If someone had asked me to describe good social media these are the words I would have used. But I started looking at this a little further, from an HR point of view, and from my research on engagement. I have found five general attributes that enable employees to feel valued and therefore engaged:

  • Involvement in decision making
  • Feel they are able to voice their ideas, & managers listen to these views
  • Have line of sight between employee performance & company performance
  • They have career development
  • When the organisation is concerned for employees’ health & wellbeing

While looking at this it occurred to me that an organisation that had a highly engaged workforce exhibited the same attributes as Susan’s 2.0 Zen:

  • Collaboration
  • Trust
  • Authenticity
  • Transparency

From this I built the rest of the presentation, which you can find below.

How to Motivate Employees to Succeed

This guest post is contributed by Melissa Tamura.

Every employer wants to get the most productivity from their employees. If you push too hard, though, you risk making employees unhappy, causing unwelcome turnover and costing you money. So the question remains, how do you motivate your employees to work their best?

Praise

Employers are often amazed how well this one little trick, which costs nothing, can so strongly motivate employee behavior. Bosses often think that their employees are only motivated by money, but the truth is, employees want to like their jobs. They want to like their bosses and the companies for whom they work. This can be a huge leverage for employers, especially in tough economic times when money just isn’t there for performance bonuses.

Every employee performance review should highlight two or three positive aspects of the person’s performance for every negative aspect. Show appreciation for the work the person does for you every day while asking for better performance in certain areas. Don’t make performance review time something to be dreaded, but rather something the employee looks forward to.

Make the employee newsletter a chance to praise and highlight high performing, rank and file employees. Institute “Employee of the Month” or even week programs. Rewards can be as simple as a preferred parking spot, but it’s the recognition that will gain you loyal employees.

Talk to Your Employees

Something as small as time spent with company management can help motivate employees. Have a weekly brown bag session with randomly selected employees. Allow them to give feedback and feel like their voices are heard. Let them ask questions, and answer those questions seriously.

Take time to walk through your production areas, greeting employees and chatting for a moment. If your production is industrial, then do this in the lunchroom. Better yet, eat in the lunch room once or twice a week. Be present to your employees. The more you show that you care for your employees, the more your employees will care about you and your bottom line.

Invest Employees in the Bottom Line

Many companies have a performance bonus plan, but it’s often limited to management. Why not provide performance bonuses to all employees, at least at some level. Employees will be more conscious of the bottom line if they have some stake in the company’s quarterly and annual outcome. Watching waste in the little things can add up to big numbers at the end of the year. Finding ways to streamline production, save steps, or use less can have a big impact. If every employee is invested in finding ways to make the company more profitable, instead of just management, your company can make a big turnaround.

Provide Careers, Not Just a Job

Providing opportunities to grow in their career is a great motivation for many employees. Have plans in place for a career path for your employees. Talk to them about what is required to grow from one level to the next. Help provide training for those who with to move up in the company. Whether it’s sending your assistant to a yearly professional conference or having a tuition reimbursement plan, helping your employees’ careers helps you in the long run.

Remember, employees are not just motivated by money. They spend almost half of their waking time working for you. They want to feel like that time is an investment, not just a necessary evil needed to pay the rent. Employees want to enjoy their work and their work environment. They want to feel good about their work and the company they work for. Filling these needs can go a long way to motivating long term, loyal, and productive employees.

Tips on managing social media in the workplace

Last week I did a short podcast with Nick McCormick, author of Lead Well and Prosper, looking at tips for managing social media in the workplace.

We spoke about implementing guidelines/policies within the workplace along with some of the potential issues and how to manage them.  However given the short format of the podcast, it is only 8 minutes,  it is hard to cover everything but makes the podcast very easy to listen too.

I thought it would be good to also cover some of the tips for creating guidelines/policies here to help you out. The resulting document, in whatever format, needs to achieve five major things:

  1. Have people stop and think before posting, both professionally and personally.
  2. Focus people on thinking about what they are doing and the implications.
  3. Highlight that while disclaimers are good, you cannot hide behind them.
  4. Remind people to keep their online interactions real and authentic.
  5. Ensure people respect the culture of the tools and services you are using.

If you want to learn more about social media in the workplace you can watch my presentation from RecruitTECH 2009 over on Inspecht TV or contact me for more information.

Given the press coverage we have had in Australia, and overseas, this week I would suggest everyone needs to implement these five tips when online.

It’s all about the message

A lack of clear communication is cited as a common cause of many relationships failures, be they personal or professional.

Many a study has shown that clearly communicating the employment deal up front is a critical first step in having an engaged employee.

This should be obvious, no one likes to buy a product only to find out that the advertising misled us. If you have not been watching The Apprentice Australia, spend a moment and watch the video below, skip to 3:30  and see what one of Australia’s top businessmen thinks of misleading advertising. Even if it is slightly grey.

Which is why if an employee is sold a deal that does not meet the marketing you are battling up hill to reengage them!

Make sure your job ad, career web site and interview process does not sell something that is not.

While employee testimonials are a great way to provide insight into what it is like to work for your organisation, they tend to be staged, not to mislead but to put forward the best image. Another idea, let your employees blog. Employees who blog openly and honestly will allow prospective employees to see what it is really like in your workplace.

54 Percent of Companies Have Bad Management

These types of articles really really get me going.

54% of Companies Ban …

I’m sorry but I am not surprised that 77% of employees who had access to Facebook used it during the work day! Ok how many logged onto personal email accounts, made a personal phone call, used their personal mobile phone, had some non-work related discussion in the kitchen while getting a coffee.

Given that 63% of Australian employees are not full engaged at work it is not surprising that they are looking for a distraction. Close down Facebook, Twitter, MySpace whatever you will not see an increase in productivity.

We know from academic research that companies that engage their workforce perform better. Research from Alex Edmans, a business professor from Whartons School, has shown that engaged employees do in fact drive company performance. He looked at Fortune magazine’s list of “100 Best Companies to Work for in America”and found that an annually rebalanced portfolio returned 14% between 1998 – 2005 compared to the market in general of only 6%.

So let’s ignore the research found that employees who “surf the Internet at work” are 9% more productive than those that don’t. Or the productivity benefits of engaged employees? Or the real life statements from employees of Australia’s largest employers.

If your employees are spending too much time using social media I would question do you have a management problem or a technical problem?

Internet usage at work makes you productive

Flickr Photo by : dietpoison
(Source: Flickr dietpoison)
An Australian report released yesterday found that employees who “surf the Internet work” are 9% more productivity than those that don’t! The study was conducted by Dr Brent Coker from the Department of Management and Marketing.

The study covered 300 workers and found that 70% engage in what has has termed “workplace Internet leisure browsing” and helps with their concentration.

“It’s the same in the work place. Short and unobtrusive breaks, such as a quick surf of the internet, enables the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a days work, and as a result, increased productivity.”

The Deacons Social Networking Survey found that a majority of Internet users (91%) felt they use the internet appropriately while at work. It could be said that not only are people who have access to these sites more productive a majority use the tools appropriately. To all those organisations that are blocking sites such as YouTube, Facebook etc due to productivity issues, well you might in fact have it the wrong way around!

Let me push this thinking further.

Trusting and respecting your employees provides a foundation for engagement. With somewhere in the order of 20% of Australian employees actively disengaged and 62% general not engaged. Organisations need to work on engagement, part of this is how to motivate employees and improve employee morale, ok this is not news to most.

What if you trusted your employees that they would ‘behave’ on the internet and allowing them “workplace Internet leisure browsing”?

You might find that not only are they more productive, more engaged, motivated and have a higher morale.  Also don’t forget that companies with highly engaged employees tend to out perform (financial returns) their competitors by 2:1.

Of course there is always a flip side, the study also found some of us are addicted to the internet and as such “workplace Internet leisure browsing” just feeds the addicition. Oh well maybe it is time for some IAA meetings.