An exciting future for the EEA

I am delighted to share some exciting news about how we are strengthening the Alliance team.

Firstly, I am very pleased to announce that in 2017, the Alliance will be led by Ruth Dance.

Ruth Dance is one of our Founding 40 and has been committed to the Alliance from day one. Ruth has been at the forefront of employee engagement for over a decade. She has worked nationally and internationally for Christie’s, MITIE and, more recently, News UK as their Head of Customer & People Development. Her roles have focused on developing strong internal cultures. Her years working within Employee Development have allowed her the opportunity to design and deliver a diverse range of training programmes as well as becoming a qualified business coach and Myers Briggs practitioner. She is also a judge for the Employee Engagement Awards.

Ruth will join us towards the end of January. She has asked me to pass on this message to our members and supporters:

“The Alliance is fantastic in bringing like-minded people together to focus on the positive impact that employee engagement has on business success. Having been involved with the EEA since launch, I am now incredibly excited to be leading the organisation into the future. You can be sure that all my energy will be focused on two things – ensuring that all our members are getting full benefit from their membership and working with our members to prove the value that employee engagement delivers to organisations and to individuals.”

Although Ruth doesn’t start work until the end of January, please feel free to contact her @ ruth@the-eea.com.

Secondly, Dan Coulthard has joined the Board. Dan will be responsible for overseeing our digital and online presence as we seek to make our services even more accessible to members  in 2017.

We are also strengthening our team in a number of other areas and we have a range of exciting plans to improve our events and other services. You can be reassured that the Alliance will be true to its founding goals and that 2017 will see increased momentum in our drive to be the standard bearer for professional development in employee engagement.

To make sure our plans reflect your needs, we have created a short feedback survey. It should take no longer than three minutes to complete. We will send the survey to you in a separate email.

May I take this opportunity to wish you a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous 2017.

Kind regards

Crispin Manners
Chairman

For more information on the Employee Engagement Alliance, visit our website at the-eea.com.

Winner of The Political Cartoon of The Year.

Winner of The Political Cartoon of The Year.

by James Murphy – The EEA

One good thing to come from all the unexpected events in the world of politics this year for the was the content for some great political cartoons.

I was lucky enough to attend The Political Cartoon of The Year Awards last night curtesy of Ellwood Atfield, the communications and advocacy headhunter.

The evening was kicked off by Ben Atfield, before passing over the host for the evening, straight from Strictly Come Dancing, Ed Balls.

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The very well deserved winner depicted the moment when Michael Gove stabbed Boris in the back by deciding to run for leader of the Tory part after the Brexit vote.

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The winning artist was Peter Brookes Political cartoonist for @TheTimes

I would like to say congratulations to Peter and a massive thank you to Ellwood Atfield for the invite.

Our next event Employee Engagement Technology Debunked on Feb 09 will be held at The Ellwood Atfield Gallery, we hope to see you there.

All that is left for me to say is thanks for all of your support this year, have a great Christmas and I’m looking forward to seeing you in 2017.

Why Every Chief Human Resource Officer Should Become Chief Employee Experience Officer

by guest blogger Katarzyna Kowalska of emplo

Everyone realizes the importance of good customer service. You do too, don’t you? Providing outstanding customer service is a great way to differentiate your business. While products are easy to copy (especially in today’s highly commoditized world), customer service still isn’t.

Do you know where great customer service starts? It starts with your employees because your employees are your most important customers. If you don’t treat them the way they want to be treated, they won’t become your brand’s advocates.

The most successful companies value employee experience as much as they value customer experience. Are you one of them? I hope you are!

What does it mean to be a chief employee experience officer?

 

Some time ago, Airbnb has turned their chief human resource officer into a chief employee experience officer, and not without a reason. You might think that it is just a fancy job title, and you are right—it sounds really good, but it is much more than that.

According to Bersin, “A chief employee experience officer’s job is to make sure that HR is thinking about what is making employees productive at work and making sure that the tools that they are receiving at work from IT are helping them get their jobs done. That’s a very new role for HR.” 

Being a chief employee experience officer focuses on people and their experiences rather than on processes. HR officers are evolving from process developers into designers and experience architects; it’s a really powerful role! But with big power comes big responsibility.

You have to rethink every aspect of work: the physical environment, human interaction, recruitment processes, communication, and employee evaluation. All of these factors impact how employees perceive their workplace.

Why is the chief employee experience officer role so important?

 

The quality of employee experience shapes the future of your company; it’s a serious statement but it’s true. The rules of the workplace have changed, and employees are becoming more and more demanding. Tempting them with higher salaries, a cool office space or unlimited free coffee is no longer enough to keep them engaged and motivated. I know you have heard it many times before, but Millennials are becoming the largest share of the American workforce, and they are a tough crowd to impress.

However, it’s not just about Millennials; all employees, irrespective of their age, are equally important. Since on average, an employee in the US spends 47 hours a week at work, with 4 in 10 workers saying they work 59 hours a week, the least you can do is to make sure they enjoy the experience. Right? But that is easier said than done.

Many great companies are already doing it!

 

Companies such as Airbnb, Adobe, DuPont, Autodesk and New York Life have already realized the importance of creating a great employee experience, and it has really paid off. 90% of Airbnb employees are likely to recommend Airbnb as a great place to work. How did they achieve it? Mark Levy, the head of employee experience at Airbnb, says they focus on creating a memorable workplace experience; they treat their employees just like they treat their customers. Their office resembles a home; employees can work from anywhere they like and whomever they like. Airbnb Co-founder Joe Gebbia says that “everything at Airbnb is a continuation of what it’s like to be a guest in somebody’s house.”

However, it’s not just about the office space. They pay a lot of attention to their recruitment process. They analyzed the best and the worst hiring moments (focusing on emotions) and learned from them. They also hugely value employee development. However, they don’t just assign training to employees; they let their employees co-create talent development opportunities. This enhances engagement and motivation.

 

Take advantage of collaborative technologies

 

Part of every employee experience officer’s role should be to ensure effective communication. Nowadays, people use social technologies to communicate, which have become an inseparable part of our daily lives, so why not use them to communicate at work? The way you communicate should reflect your company culture. Are you dynamic and innovative? Then dive into the world of social technology just like Airbnb did. They perceive social technologies as a powerful tool for communication and for understanding local differences between Airbnb worldwide offices.

Of course not every company has a budget as big as Airbnb or Google that allows them to spend lots of money on their office space. But you know what? This definitely shouldn’t stop you from creating an awesome employee experience. As mentioned earlier, the physical aspect is the least important. Use collaborative technology to your advantage. There are many solutions available; emplo is one of them.

emplo not only allows you to enhance internal communication by significantly reducing the number of internal emails, but it also brings your employees closer together. Thanks to such features like the personalized newsfeed, groups, or the knowledge base, your peers can exchange ideas, share knowledge and cooperate on projects. All of this will help you significantly in creating a remarkable employee experience that your employees deserve—of that I am sure.

Have you decided who the chief employee experience officer is going to be in your organization? If not, then you better start thinking about it. Good luck!

 

Employee happiness and success

by guest blogger Lottie Gunn

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The Employee Engagement Alliance hosted another interactive, very informative session – The Employee Happiness Event.

The session was kicked off by Gautam Sahgal from Perkbox who talked about the huge employee engagement challenge that we have – 61% of people in the UK are disengaged. He said that the UK is in the midst of an employee disengagement crisis which can cost our economy a lot of money through retention and recruitment, sick days and low productivity. This can be £3k, plus, per employee a year.

Gautam discussed the results of a recent survey they had conducted which highlighted the main reasons for low engagement:

  1. 26% of people cited lack of reward and recognition
  2. 21% of people cited a negative culture
  3. 17% cited being micro managed and a lack of autonomy
  4. 15% cited a bad boss
  5. 15% cited long working hours

Gautam highlighted that recognising employees just twice a week – a simple thank you and recognition for effort – can have such a vast impact. And it’s free!

You can also recognise people through gamification which means that recognition is more likely to be spread far and wide and also prevents people getting disheartened if they’re not recognised at the weekly/ monthly team meeting. Also a lot of people don’t like being recognised publically – it may be a British thing, I’m not sure… Recognition for a job well done is very powerful and often more powerful and lasts longer than an extrinsic/ monetary reward. (See Dan Pink’s book entitled Drive along with studies that have been conducted which are referenced further down this blog).

 

Emma Bridger from the People Lab

Emma discussed the psychology of happiness and engagement. She said that if we focus on being happy first – success will come. Emma highlighted that happy people are more likely to:

  • Be more productive
  • Have less burnout
  • Sell more

She discussed positive psychology and that being in a positive brain state releases dopamine that makes us feel happy, which turns on all our learning centres in our brain so that we work harder, smarter, faster.

So if someone does something nice, it makes us feel happy (dopamine is released) and we work harder, smarter, faster – you get the picture…

Emma highlighted that it takes 21 days to re-wire our brains into a more positive state, by doing just one of these things every day:

  • Say three gratitude’s a day
  • Write a journal
  • Exercise
  • Meditate
  • Do a random act of kindness

Doing one or a few of these a day can re-wire our brains to scan for the positive. Emma also discussed writing a Playlist of activities that make you feel better. This may be watching a fun film, reading a book, going for a walk or to a gig, being mindful, etc.

She stressed that we’re all different, so what engages/ motivates one person is not going to be the same for others. We need to understand what good looks like for an organisaiton and how to engage people (what works in your organisation).

Emma also cited Daniel Pink, the author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, and how people need to have purpose, it motivates us and helps make us happy.

(From Wikipedia 2016) Drive is the fourth non-fiction book by Daniel Pink… In the text, he argues that human motivation is largely intrinsic, and that the aspects of this motivation can be divided into autonomy, mastery, and purpose. He argues against old models of motivation driven by rewards and fear of punishment, dominated by extrinsic factors such as money.

In his book Daniel Pink has made a 140-character summary of what the book is about, in the style of Twitter.

“Carrots & Sticks are so last Century. Drive says for 21st century work, we need to upgrade to autonomy, mastery and purpose.”

Based on studies done at MIT and other universities, higher pay and bonuses resulted in better performance ONLY if the task consisted of basic, mechanical skills. It worked for problems with a defined set of steps and a single answer. If the task involved cognitive skills, decision-making, creativity, or higher-order thinking, higher pay resulted in lower performance. As a supervisor, you should pay employees enough that they are not focused on meeting basic needs and feel that they are being paid fairly. If you don’t pay people enough, they won’t be motivated. Pink suggests that you should pay enough “to take the issue of money off the table.”

To motivate employees who work beyond basic tasks, give them these three factors to increase performance and satisfaction:

  • Autonomy — Our desire to be self directed. It increases engagement over compliance.
  • Mastery — The urge to get better skills.
  • Purpose — The desire to do something that has meaning and is important. Businesses that only focus on profits without valuing purpose will end up with poor customer service and unhappy employees.

People who feel like they have a purpose in life are found to be happier than others. It’s often the same at work – finding your purpose and role to play. If you know what you’re there to do, what your purpose is (what your organisation’s purpose is and how you fit in) this inevitably motivates and inspires you more.

Emma concluded by discussing how you shouldn’t make assumptions about what engages people. Different things will engage different people. Think about what your engagement survey is measuring, the questions that it’s asking. Is it asking the right questions and measuring the right factors for your employees and what your business is trying to achieve? There is an argument for bespoke surveys and not buying one off the shelf.

 

Andrea Callanan from InspireMe

Andrea discussed how engagement is about making someone feel something – about having a connection. At InspireMe they help people be the best that they can be through workplace choirs, people development, training and engagement. She asks clients to answer:

  • What would your people look like if they were inspired?
  • How would they behave if they were engaged?
  • How would they feel?
  • How would your business benefit?

Andrea talked about how your company values will determine how people behave and behaviour (how things are done around here) will determine your culture. She discussed how happiness at work is to do with a connection. You need to connect with your company, what they’re about, its values and purpose and your role within that. It has to connect and align with you. It’s not about a gym membership… Your company really needs to help feed the core sense of who you are, so you feel part of something and gives you meaning.

Andrea discussed Simon Sinek and his book ‘Start with Why’ which explains how to inspire with ideas. Andrea cited contribution, purpose and value being the biggest drivers for people.

And if you’re having a bad day, remember that Churchill repeated a year at school and Einstein’s teacher told him he was academically subnormal.

How employee engagement can help your employer brand

by guest blogger Lottie Gunn, Ellwood Atfield

Another great Employee Engagement Alliance session that Malcolm Cotterell kicked off, by defining what an employer brand is:

The CIPD states that Employer Branding: promotes the attributes and qualities, often intangible, that make an organisation distinctive, promise a particular kind of employment experience and appeal to those who will thrive and perform best in its culture.

Malcolm discussed how every business has an employer brand (by default) whether it’s written down or managed in some way. On this basis employees can be a company’s greatest advocates or your most damaging antagonist. Especially with the rise of social media. Glassdoor is a prime example of this, as is Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Malcolm stated that the litmus test is: How would your employees talk about your business in a pub? He also discussed how you can use engaged employees to spread the (good) word through internal and external channels:

  • Blogs
  • Testimonials, not just about the company but also the location
  • Videos

Amongst other thing…

Read more on The Role of Reward and Recognition in Effective Employee Engagement.

Malcolm also discussed how recruitment, development, policies and procedures all need to be in line with the vision and values of a company. Find out what connects a company and what disconnects it and work with that.

 

‘How things are done around your business’ IS your business

Tanya Harris who is the CEO of ICOM4 discussed: The Power of Living Your Brand and how culture represents your brand, which people sometimes forget: ‘How things are done around your business’ IS your business. How your employees speak to each other and customers, represents your brand.

As Warren Buffett once proclaimed: “It takes 20 years to build a good reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” 

Everything your business does needs to be linked to your vision, strategy and values: your recruitment; employee’s development; policies, etc. They all need to reflect what your organisation is trying to achieve.

From a recruitment perspective it is so true. Organisations/ hiring managers/ HR need to think about the behaviours that they want someone to demonstrate, which fit with what your organisation is trying to achieve. An organisation’s recruitment process must reflect this – from overall branding, adverts (their tone, etc.), interview style and process. When  you’re looking to hire someone into your team it’s important to also think about what type of person will complement your team, and this might not necessarily be the person that’s exactly like you… Belbin’s team roles can provide a useful guide. It suggests that a team must consist of different roles/ types of people to achieve maximum performance.

 

Internal Environment

Amy Brann who is a Director at Synaptic Potential which is the first company dedicated to bridging the gap between scientists and organisations and helps organisations understand how their people actually work/ tick.

Amy discussed the highlights of their White Paper on How to Get Board Buy-in for Employee Engagement and the importance of organisations clarifying what they want people to be engaged in – what do you want people to do – what behaviour are you looking for? What are the results that people should be generating? Then designing an internal environment to best support that. So if you want people to be innovative, if this is one of your values, create an environment that stimulates innovation in people. She discussed the way that our brain works and how certain things, like playing with lego, for example, will stimulate innovation in someone.

Amy also highlighted how TRUST is key and quoted Stephen M R Covey: “The first job of a leader—at work or at home—is to inspire trust.”

She also discussed that to get Board buy-in for employee engagement you need to speak their language.

 

The Panel

The session then finished with a panel discussion where the speakers were joined by Chairman of the Employee Engagement Alliance Crispin Manners and Louisa Moreton from Instinctif, where it was highlighted that an Employer Brand must be two-way: the organisation must set clear expectations of what they will provide the employee and also what is expected from the employee in return.
It was also highlighted that if people are voicing their opinion, even if it’s negative, then at least they have the passion to do this. It’s those who aren’t speaking up who are the hardest to connect with. As long as there’s a dialogue then things can be changed and when they are changed it can’t be a one-off. People need constant communication and if initiatives start they need to continue, otherwise employee’s will lose trust.

5 Reasons Why You Should Use an Enterprise Social Network

by guest blogger emplo

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Most of us are familiar with some form of social media that we use for various reasons both business and personal. In this day and age, it’s hard to even go outside without hearing about the latest on Facebook or Twitter. Many networking opportunities have also opened up with businesses as job seekers and hiring managers have come together on LinkedIn. The hot topic this year, however, is something of an inside-out version of social media, though it is a bit more complicated than that. Enterprise social network is revolutionizing the way many companies do business and facilitate collaboration between management and employees.

So why should companies be paying more attention to this trend? Well, a few reasons come to mind.

1.Increased Employee Morale

It’s no secret that a happy employee is a good employee. When employees enjoy their jobs and are happy where they are they are more likely to be productive, to bring fewer conflicts, and of course, they are more likely to stay at their jobs. Employee retention and productivity are vital to a company’s success and most agree that low or standard turnover rates are a big plus.

So what does this have to do with an enterprise social network? Employees are more likely to be happier if they know that their voices and ideas are heard by management. Aside from that, however, there are studies that at least suggest that in general people are happier when they’re connected to social media. Judging by this couldn’t one say that an enterprise social network could also have the same effect, that an employee will be happier at his or her job if they’re connected to the company?

2.Improved Communication Between Employees and Management

One of the areas where many companies fail to successfully implement an ESN is in the area of listening. Often an enterprise social network fails to engage employees and no one ends up using it. For this reason, many companies give up on the idea before they even begin. On the other hand, those with the business savvy to do so, have very successfully engaged in the art of listening. So why is this important? Who knows better than the employee what happens on the floor? Some of the best ideas come from seemingly the most unlikely of places, and when those ideas are heard, listened to, and receive a real response – companies thrive. Take for example JobCloud – a Swiss recruitment company. Since they have started using an enterprise social platform – emplo, communication between their German and French-speaking branches has become much more effective. Employees are up to date with what’s happening in different offices, they express their opinions more freely and are more keen on sharing ideas.

3. Enhanced Collaboration

As you probably know, the most important aspect of effective collaboration is communication. Communication failure is the most frequent problem that businesses face which cripples companies to the core. This includes communication within departments, between departments, and of course communication between management and personnel. When the lines of communication are both solid and open it empowers the employee, which empowers the organization. In addition, employees are more productive, and happier at their jobs when they are informed and connected.

4. Reduced Internal Emails and Increased Productivity

Many companies that implemented an ESN have stated that a few of the goals include reducing the overall volume of company emails as well as reducing the need for company meetings. These traditional forms of communication can often be lost in translation and they take up time, effort, and ultimately money in implementation that could be used building profits. So what’s the solution? A social media platform! An ESN allows companies to distribute company-wide information at a fraction of the cost, in a fraction of the time. For example, Smart MBC after implementing emplo have managed to reduce the number of internal emails by an overwhelming 97%. It also had a very positive impact on the employee productivity.

5 . Geographically Dispersed Teams Brough Closer Together

In the case of larger companies, time and space tend to complicate things a little in the way of communication. How do you get an idea or an important bit of information to members of a company that crosses international borders? Even with the advancements of internet communications, that’s still no easy endeavor. It turns out thatCoca-Cola and a few other companies used these platforms to do just that, and have never regretted it.

Earning employee respect: the first key to engagement

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by guest blogger Deb Lavoy

Recently we conducted a survey to explore differences in how employees and executives view issues around employee engagement. We learned a lot and we shared our findings in a white paper. We observed that the strongest predictor of employee engagement turns out to be a tie between the level of employee respect for executive leadership, pride in working for the company, a positive feeling about the company culture, and a sense that your work matters.

That’s not very surprising. What may surprise you is that the presence of an employee engagement program is not nearly as strong a predictor of engagement as these other factors. In other words, we learned that you must invest your efforts in building leadership respect, pride, meaning, and a positive culture. That’s what makes the difference.

That’s easy to say. But what can you do about it?

Let’s take them one at a time. Respect for leadership first. Executives themselves are key to deepening the level of respect employees have for them. Reading, research, and personal observation suggest that there are four things that make leaders respected:

  1. Competence

Needless to say, people respect competence. But when judging their leaders, people are not necessarily (or at least not only) looking for technical competence. People are looking for competence in decision-making and problem solving. They would like you to be someone that remains calm and capable even when things get hard or complicated.

If you know you have some leadership skills that need work, be bold enough to acknowledge the gaps to yourself, if not to others. Find coaches and mentors outside your organization who either exhibit these traits you want to build, or find other ways to focus on your strengths while finding ways to work with your challenges. Be brave enough to acknowledge both your strengths and your weaknesses within your organization. Also be aware that you may be blind to some of your weaknesses. Talk to people whose insight you trust and respect. You will be all the more powerful for it.

  1. Integrity

If what you say in “private” contradicts what you say in public, you will not be trusted. If you are known to enable and promote political shenanigans in the workplace, people will disrespect you for it. If employees believe that you are not acting in your customers’ best interests or in theirs, you will not be respected. If you say diminishing or demeaning things about people, you may be feared, but you will not be respected.

All this may seem obvious, but realize that it’s very easy for people to misinterpret your good judgment. Even if you know you’re making decisions in accordance with a strict code of values, it’s important to make that known. In cases where decisions are hard, because all options seem to compromise one value or another, it may be a great opportunity to draw attention to the decision. Explain how you see the pros and cons. Let people see that you will make a hard or unpleasant decision for the right reasons.

  1. Humility

People rarely respect people who think they have all the answers. People who ask great questions earn more respect than those who believe they are right about everything. But the key issue here is that you want your team to offer you their best. If you never ask for their ideas and input, you’ll never get most of what you’re paying for.

Two of the world’s most respected leaders – the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis – are known for their humility. While religious leadership and humility seem to make sense together, a lot of business leaders are not sure about their relationship with humility. How can you be humble and command respect at the same time?

Two things. First, remaining open-minded is a form of humility that most leaders can be comfortable with. Open-minded leaders listen and ask questions. They allow for the possibility that they may not be the smartest person in the room every day and on every topic.

The second component of humble leaders is that they make a point of discerning and respecting the strengths in others. A leader who can sincerely, rather than patronizingly, see and acknowledge the strengths in others rapidly earns respect. Even better, he or she sets an example of behavior that builds a very positive culture and organization. Beware though. People are very good at discerning the difference between sincere respect and lip service. They can tell when you’re trying to check the box. Employee appreciation, when honest and sincere, is deeply appreciated. Half-hearted, insincere or hollow praise is toxic.

  1. Visibility and transparency

If you’re a great decision-maker, remain calm under pressure, remain open-minded, and make decisions with only the best of intentions – you’re certainly a leader who has earned respect.

You will, however, only be as respected as you are visible. As an executive you’re a role model to your entire organization. You need to ensure that people can see how you make decisions and understand your reasoning. This is not a matter of self-promotion. This is how you earn the respect you need for your employees to feel engaged and able to do their best work.

Distrust and disrespect grow in dark corners unlit by information and visibility into what’s really going on. When people are left in the dark, they make things up. They rarely invent good and noble visions of what’s going on behind closed doors or back at headquarters.

Be in front of your team every day. If not physically, then digitally. Post a note, a comment, an essay, a status update, or an interesting article to your intranet. Ask a question. Be present. Be visible. Be known. Be the leader, not just of a company, but of a community.

Earning the respect of your employees is a worthy goal in and of itself. But it comes with the added benefit of winning the loyalty and dedication of your workforce. A well respected leader – according to our survey – has an average of 15% higher level of employee engagement. That translates into lower turnover, higher customer satisfaction, and greater financial performance. It’s also what leadership is about.

It’s satisfying to know that true employee engagement rests on building better leadership and approach to people. It’s not about picnics and awards. Some of these factors we’ve identified may seem hard to nail down. We’re finding more and more, however, that we can examine these issues more rigorously than in the past. We will publish more thorough analysis and practical advice on each of the core topics we found have meaningful impact: respect, positive culture, meaningful work, and pride in company.