Tag Archives: Employee Engagement

Measuring Employee Engagement

Trending seems to be the new buzz word. Today on Twitter, Mischief Managed, Mrs. Wesley, the British Open and Thanking God are all trending. In the world of work, Employee Engagement is definitely trending. 

In a previous position, I managed a large department of 44 people. At one point I had recently promoted members of the team to supervisory positions. Wanting to measure the level of communication and presentation of clear objectives, I sent a survey to all team members soliciting their feedback.  I was pleasantly surprised by the responses (which thankfully meant that I was clearly communicating with my new leadership team – whew).  

If you haven’t solicited feedback from your staff in a while, here are 12 questions  to spark a conversation.  Right Management also has a white paper called How do you engage with, retain and motivate employees? But remember, these kind of questions  can do more harm than good if you don’t take action on any deficiencies that might be uncovered.   


The Power Behind the Power Hour

I recently read an article by Tony Schwartz called, Working Harder Doesn’t Get You Ahead.  

By the end of the article he suggested tackling “your most challenging task first thing in the morning, for 60 to 90 minutes, uninterrupted.” I don’t always have free time first thing in the morning. In fact I usually have my first meeting between 8:00 am and 8:30 a.m.  However, it made me think about the list of Guiding Principles (how we define who we want to be and how we conduct ourselves) that my staff and I created last fall, one of which is, Power Hours – Permission to Focus.

The idea behind the “Power Hour” is to block out a specific amount of time to “power” through a task or project. This uninterrupted time can be an hour or it can be thirty minutes, whatever block of time you need depending upon what you hope to accomplish.  Because this is one of our organization’s Guiding Principals, there’s a great deal of consideration given to an individual who is taking their “Power Hour” and encourage team members to do so often. It’s one way we support each other and tackle those projects that have that looming deadline which appeared out of nowhere.

Let’s face it, our work days are busy enough, so giving your self permission to take a “power hour” may provide you with a bit of calm that we all need in our work days. Try it. Schedule a set block of time on your calendar to focus on your project and power through. You’ll be surprised at how much you can get done.

What’s your engagement resolution?

Now that 2009 is in the history books, it’s time to turn our attention towards the prosperity we all hope the new year will bring.  Traditionally, this is a time that we confidently look forward and make resolutions designed to better our health, relationships and lives in general.  Maybe you’ll give up the smokes, or drop those extra pounds that have been hanging around for entirely too long.   I wish you the best!

When it comes to your workplace, your resolutions will take the same level of diligence if you intend to succeed.  Chances are, you’ve already been forced to trim down and are as lean as you can be.  The new battle will be maintaining the staff you’ve fought hard to preserve, and keeping them engaged (or re-engaged) as the job market improves and their alternatives increase. 

According to BlessingWhite President and CEO, Christopher Rice, the following steps should be part of your resolution for success:

1. Quit or commit. You need to decide if you are ready for another year leading your company. You have been bruised, so make sure you are ready for 2010. If feel like you are working at Dunder Mifflin, then you need to move along because you cannot lead unless you are fully engaged. Your employees deserve more than a leader who is half-in.

2. Communicate the vision. You need to create excitement and trust in your leadership. You should highlight the initiatives of 2010 and create faith that your company is on the right path. Your employees now have a choice about where they work. The large majority want more than ‘just a job’. You had better inspire them to be part of your future.

3. Talk about careers again. The top reason employees leave a company is a perceived lack of career opportunities. Don’t be fooled into believing that your leaner organization can’t satisfy those cravings. You have more priority initiatives than employees, so there are plenty of opportunities for individuals to build skill sets, acquire valuable experience, or try something new! When you scratch the surface of what people mean by ‘career’ you often find it’s all about meaningful work and personal growth. Today’s careers are built not on promotions but on assignments.

4. Forget about performance reviews. You need to do ‘engagement reviews’. You already got rid of the people who needed their performance ‘fixed’. And when using the right definition, engagement actually covers off on performance: Fully engaged employees are at their peak — of maximum contribution and maximum satisfaction. When you focus on engagement, results — and retention — follow. Engagement reviews are vastly different in tone from appraisals. There is a lot more dialogue, and the manager is more likely to end up with a rating than the employee. Engagement reviews explore:

    a) The strategy of the company
    b) The importance of the employee to the success of the team and the company
    c) What’s important to that employee (overall job satisfaction, meaning at work)
    d) The employee’s career aspirations and growth goals
    e) Focus and alignment of the employee’s talents and goals with critical organizational priorities
    f) Your own engagement and commitment (unless, of course, you aren’t sure of your answer to ‘commit or quit’ above!)

Your challenge: Your employees don’t wear labels that declare their engagement level on their foreheads. And you can’t assume that the chronic complainer is totally burnt out and disengaged or that the team member who never makes waves is fully satisfied and aligned. Engagement reviews enable you to exchange information to ensure that the employees you rely on are connected to your organization’s larger purpose, getting what they’re looking for at work and applying their unique expertise to carve out a successful future in 2010.  See full story…

Now’s the time to start making sure that your organization is as fit as it can be for the year(s) to come.  The journey to success isn’t a sprint, it’s more of a triathlon.  With the proper training and execution, almost anyone can get there.  Me, I’m going to start by working up to ten sit-ups!

Employee Discontent Expected to Reach Crisis Level Next Year

 Employee turnover is expected to rise next year as a new survey shows that many workers are unhappy with their present jobs. Sixty percent of employees intend to leave and an additional one-in-four are networking and updating their resumes, according to research from Right Management. Right Management is the talent and career management expert within Manpower, the global leader in employment services.

Right Management surveyed more than 900 workers in North America and asked: Do you plan to pursue new job opportunities as the economy improves in 2010?
— 60% – Yes, I intend to leave
— 21% – Maybe, so I’m networking
— 6% – Not likely, but I’ve updated my resume
— 13% – No, I intend to stay

“The study provides a barometer of employee engagement in the workplace, with results that might alarm and surprise many employers,” said Douglas J. Matthews, President and Chief Operating Officer at Right Management. “Employees are clearly expressing their pent up frustration with how they have been treated through the downturn. While employers may have taken the necessary steps to streamline operations to remain viable, it appears many employees may have felt neglected in the process. The result is a disengaged and disgruntled workforce.”

Matthews cautions that the best workers are mobile in any economy. “We know that people are attracted by career development opportunities, attaining work/life balance and working for an innovative company culture. If management doesn’t provide employees with these opportunities, then workers are going to take their knowledge and skills elsewhere. Talented staff can change jobs because they can and want to, not because they have to.”

“As leaders, we need to accommodate different lifestyles and work choices and find ways to balance these with business needs to ensure high levels of productivity and performance,” states Matthews. “This influences how organizations attract, engage and retain talent. A segmented, customized and flexible talent strategy is critical to stem the alarming levels of employee turnover anticipated next year.”

Right Management surveyed 904 employees in North America via an online poll. The survey ran between October 19 and November 5, 2009.

Economic Downturn Rattles Younger Workers While Older Employees Tough It Out


Younger workers are bearing the brunt of the current economic crisis, while older employees show greater resiliency in a recession-battered workplace where employers seek to do more with less, according to a new study by Boston College’s Sloan Center on Aging & Work.  

The onset of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression has negatively altered perceptions about job security, supervisor support, job quality, inclusion and overall employee engagement in the workplace, according to the new report, “The Difference a Downturn Can Make,” part of the Center’s far-reaching Age & Generations Study. And as businesses strive to cut costs and increase productivity, American workers are reporting they are overloaded.

 Looking across different generations of workers, researchers found employees of all ages reporting a drop in employee engagement, a measure of how invested and enthusiastic employees are in their work. While employees overall report declining engagement, older workers in this study appear to be weathering the economic storm better than their younger peers.

 Workers among “Generation Y” — ages 26 and younger — report the greatest decrease in engagement. Those slightly older workers in “Generation X” — ages 27 to 42 — reported less of a decrease, while Baby Boomers and older “Traditionalists” — ages 43 or older — reported that their levels of engagement hardly changed at all.

 America’s older workers show all the signs of being more resilient in the face of threatening economic conditions, drawing on hard-earned experiences from the downturns of the past and a battle-tested perspective on the peaks and valleys of the market.

 “Some older workers have seen it all, and that gives them experiential resilience,” says Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, director of Boston College’s Sloan Center on Aging & Work. “Younger workers just don’t have the depth of experience, which leaves them feeling less engaged in their jobs. But younger workers bring energy, enthusiasm, and idealism. In a workplace where older and younger employees work side-by-side, the give and take between young and old is a valuable resource employers should leverage to survive the downturn.”

 Researchers at Boston College’s Sloan Center on Aging & Work report other findings from the Age & Generations study that suggest: 

  • Perceptions of engagement, supervisor support, inclusion, and job quality declined after the onset of the economic downturn for employees who felt that their job security had decreased, but it stayed the same or only slightly declined for those whose job security had stayed the same or increased.
  • Those whose job security decreased or stayed the same experienced a slight increase in work overload after the onset of the economic downturn, whereas those whose job security increased experienced a slight decrease in work overload.
  • Those whose job security decreased perceived a slight decrease in team effectiveness after the onset of the economic downturn, whereas those whose job security increased experienced a slight increase in their perceptions of team effectiveness.
  • While younger workers felt the effectiveness of their work team as a whole dropped as their job security declined, older workers felt the effectiveness of their team held steady even though they too reported a decreased sense of job security. 

In tough economic times, the multi-generational American workplace requires employers to take cost-effective steps to support their workers. It isn’t enough for employees to be grateful for their jobs; according to one researcher, employers need to show they are grateful to the employees that keep them in business.

“Employee engagement can be greatly enhanced by simple and cost-efficient efforts,” adds Christina Matz-Costa, research associate at the Sloan Center and one of the study’s authors. “Providing strong training and development opportunities, encouraging work team inclusion, and promoting a culture of workplace flexibility and supervisor supportiveness are all effective strategies that can maintain or boost engagement.”

To download a PDF copy of the full report click here.

Developing the Manager Within


Below is an article that I wrote for the Des Moines Business Record on Talent Management. Specifically on how to manage and help your up-and-comers.


There is one nice thing about working and living in America – OK, actually there are a few nice things. But one in particular is an individual’s ability to pursue his or her dream. With the right determination and skills, someone who starts in the mailroom could someday end up in the CEO’s office. Or someone who starts on the manufacturing floor a few years later ends up being the production manager running the floor.

There are tons of examples of how this plays out daily in America’s work force. The only requirements to participate are to have a dream, a solid work ethic and the right attitude. Although, with these scenarios there is a problem that might not be evident at first but eventually becomes more apparent.

The problem is twofold. First, companies believe that because someone is great at one thing, he or she will be great at another. For example, some companies believe that if someone is great at sales, he or she should be the sales manager. That is terrible thinking, because it assumes that the person would be a great manager of people. In the case of sales, if people are great at selling, let them sell and leave them where they are.

To continue reading click here.

Samsung Gets the Value of Employee Development and Training, Do You?


Samsung Electronics North America is on a new journey. Although well established as a global organization, it wasn’t until 2007 that Samsung established a full-time training function for its 10,000 employees in North America.”We’re really just starting to look at things like providing learning opportunities to employees at all levels, not just high-potential leaders,” says Randy Mase, director of training and development for Samsung Electronics, a North American subsidiary of Seoul, South Korea-based Samsung Group.

The company is making up for lost time. Samsung is increasing its reliance on e-learning to buttress instructor-led classes. And possibly by the end of 2008, the company plans to issue career maps to all employees.

“As you can imagine, that’s an extensive project. But we think it’s going to give people a vision [for career growth] that will help us with retention—and in the long term, with recruiting as well,” Mase says.

These road maps will spell out the knowledge, skills and experiences employees would need to pursue different assignments at any of Samsung Electronics’ eight North American subsidiaries. But employees who continually develop their skills won’t necessarily be in line for promotion.

“There are lots of ways a person can progress and develop within a job. What we want to do is make people’s jobs richer,” Mase says.

If you are wondering what resources are out there to help you up-skill and develop your employees at an affordable cost, click here.