Category Archives: Employee Engagement

HR Happy Hour #199: Employer Branding from the Inside Out

Recorded Tuesday January 20, 2015

Hosts: Trish McFarlaneSteve Boese

Guest: Jason Seiden, CEO Brand Amper

Jason co-founded Brand Amper, an employer branding platform that builds brand equity quickly and sustainably by putting employees—the most trusted source of information about a company—at the center of brand creation. For 20 years, Jason has been making professional communication more genuine and productive.  You can find him on Twitter, he’s @seiden.

Listen to the show HERE

In the latest HR Happy Hour Show, we welcomed back our friend Jason Seiden, CEO of Brand Amper, one of 2014’s ‘Awesome New Startup’ technologies from the HR Technology Conference to get an update on what has been happening with Brand Amper, and to talk about engaging employees in the brand and mission of the organization. Often ‘brand’ initiatives are drawn up in corporate boardrooms or by expensive external consultants without much thought or acknowledgement of what the actual brand messengers and deliverers, the employees, think or feel or believe. Jason talks about the importance and power of leveraging actual employees and what they actually think and believe and aspire to in creating, communicating, and executing the brand promises and delighting customers.

Additionally, we lamented the sorry state of Email in the workplace, (it is NEVER going to die), and Jason shared why he wears the same black H&M shirt everywhere he goes. Steve is 100% with Jason on this strategy, while I has some concerns about the mental well-being of both of the gents.

You can listen to the show on the show page here, and using the widget player below, (email and RSS subscribers will need to click through)

Check Out Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Steve Boese Trish McFarlaneon BlogTalkRadio

 

As always, you can listen to the current and all the past shows from the archive on the show page here, on our HR Happy Hour website, and by subscribing to the show in podcast form on iTunes, or for Android devices using Stitcher Radio (or your favorite podcast app). Just search the iTunes store or your podcast app for ‘HR Happy Hour’ to add the show to your subscriptions.

This was a really fun show and I hope you enjoy listening!

Workplace Observations for 2015: The Year of Employee Aptitude

queens-winning-horseOn this final day of 2014, I’m making some observations about the workplace for the coming year.  Why observations and not predictions?  Recently, I talked with Steve Boese about predictions and trends on an episode of HR Happy Hour.  I am very particular when it comes to using those terms.  I think those words are powerful when backed up by research or data that leads to the prediction and I’ll leave that to my work with my colleagues at Brandon Hall Group.   That research viewed over several years can possibly become a trend.  But without actual data, I don’t give much credence to predictions.

Since I’m thinking about just one year ahead, I prefer to make some observations based purely on what I have seen and heard in 2014.     

I think 2015 will be the year of focus on employee aptitude.

Why aptitude?  Well, by definition, aptitude is about capability, talent and readiness and speed in learning.  I think all that boils down to employees taking control of their own careers and not expecting organizations to do all the work when it comes to keeping them engaged or trained.  How might this play out?  In several ways:

  • Upskilling for retention.  Instead of approaching it as training the company provides (or forces), employees today are taking responsibility to improve their skills in non-traditional ways.  One example is online training through sources such as Kahn Academy, MIT, YouTube, etc.  With greater availability of free or inexpensive courses and information, employees can stack the deck in their favor when it comes to promotions.  The faster companies recognize and reward these types of efforts, the better retention rates will be.  
  • Wearable health and wellness-  The last year or two, wearable technology has seen an uptick.  Why?  There are several likely drivers.  First, with an aging population, you will see more people start to monitor their health in order to live longer with better ability.  The other factor could be the focus on national healthcare and people fearing that employer-provided healthcare could be coming to and end in the near future.  Either way, there is a greater focus on personal health and wellness and it’s easy to get sucked in.  Personally, I joined the FitBit ranks.  Being able to track my health habits on my phone or computer has been an eye-opener.  I think we’ll see this become even more common in 2015.
  • Empowerment-  If you’re looking for your leadership team to have the ability to focus more on strategy in the future, you’ll need to provide a culture of empowerment for the managers and staff.  Employees like having more control over their work and if empowered to make more meaningful decisions, they will become better collaborators and more willing to stay with the company.
  • Availability of usable data-  Organizations have an abundance of data, but it is not typically usable because they have no means to gather it together in an effective and efficient manner.  With HR tech capabilities today, it makes it more easily accessible and able to be combined.  What this can mean for employees is they will be able to see where they stand in relation to other employees, they can make better business decisions and they will have the ability to make those decisions faster than ever before.

Those are my observations.  What do you think?  Do you have other observations of what 2015 will bring?  Be sure to share them in the comments.

 

HCMx Radio- My New Podcast Brings Research to HR Pros

BHG-HCMx-Radio-Logo-1400Today is an exciting day at Brandon Hall Group; it’s launch day for our radio podcast, HCMx Radio. It’s the only podcast in the HCM arena that weaves current market research, HR technology, and industry leaders into each episode.

As the show’s host, my goal is to bring something unique to the HR industry. When I was an HR leader and practitioner, one of the things I always needed was data and understanding how to use it. Now, with this show, that is what we’ll be giving to our listeners.

HCM practitioners such as CHROs, CLOs, CTOs, VPs, directors, and managers will find value in the show’s ability to provide current research data laced with rich perspective that they can use in discussions with their internal organizational leaders. They will also benefit from hearing solution providers describe their product roadmaps and how their solutions can benefit organizations.

Solution providers will gain value by being able to interact with analysts as well as by showcasing solutions that are advancing the HCM market.  Finally, industry influencers will find value in being able to get information quickly that they can turn into compelling content.

New episodes will be shared at least twice a month and will be available on Blogtalkradio as well as www.brandonhall.com and iTunes. In the first episodeStop the Insanity: How to Get Different Results with Your Employee Engagement,

I welcome my colleague, Madeline Laurano, VP and Principal Analyst of Talent Acquisition for Brandon Hall Group, who will discuss her recently completed research on employee engagement and how organizations can leverage the power of their relationships to drive business results.

Other topics in the coming weeks include Recruitment Marketing, Performance Management, and Planning for HR Technology in 2015. I hope you’ll join us and I welcome feedback on each episode as well as what you’d like to hear about in future episodes.

 

Get Rid of Birthday Parties at Work

Happy birthday to you!  You’re fifty-two!

What? 52?

workYes, believe it or not, this kind of song happens in many workplaces each day.  I don’t know when organizations decided that  reverting back to a practice we all had in elementary school would be a good thing.  Maybe some “expert” told them that it would engage the employee.  Maybe they felt that planning employee birthday parties, complete with cake, would be a good use of the HR pro’s time.  Either way, I say enough is enough.

Frankly, I never liked walking in the kitchen at work only to have people gather around the monthly birthday cake to sing.  Why not put that energy into celebrating something that employee did that was work-related?  Why not celebrate teamwork in the department?  Personally, I’d rather have a boss recognize me on my annual anniversary with the company. I’m all for recognition, but let’s get real, unless you are 10 years old, I don’t know that we need a birthday party at work.

I know I’ll anger all those employees who start telling you several weeks in advance that their birthday is coming.  I just think that celebrating them at work is becoming less popular as our workplaces become more diverse.  Many employees do not celebrate due to religious or cultural reasons.  Singling them out either by celebrating them without understanding their beliefs, or by having to exclude them is not a good way to build engagement.

What do you think?  Do you celebrate your birthday at work?  How do you handle employees that do not celebrate birthdays?  

Consumption Without Context

*This post is dedicated to my friend Janet Swaysland, SVP of Global Communications and Social Media at Monster.  She inspired this post with a story she relayed to me about the Farm to Table movement.  This is a movement to address sustainability from a food perspective.  Participants travel to local farms to eat food grown at that location or other nearby farms or dairies.  This sustainable agricultural approach is growing in popularity because it supports local farmers and merchants as well as cuts down on the chemicals needed to keep the food fresh as it is shipped across the country.

I was fortunate recently to be a guest of Monster Worldwide at a dinner at Carnevino in Las Vegas.  This dinner was prepared by Chef Mario Batali (of Molto Mario and Iron Chef America fame) and his outstanding fellow chefs.  Chef Batali also dined with the group and told some amazing stories about the food and how he personally chooses Monster to assist him when he is looking to fill positions.  I was especially impressed when he said that the Monster 6Sense search technology is important to him.

Beyond the exquisite food offerings I was seated with some of the finest dinner companions from across the country.  Kevin Grossman and Janet Swaysland, just to name a couple.  It was a conversation with Janet that made me think about consumpion without context.  As she relayed her experience participating in the Farm to Table dinner movement, I was fascinated.  By experiencing not only the local fare but also knowing how things are grown, how the animals are treated and the processes that are followed, it makes the context of the meal that much more meaningful.

When thinking about how this applies to business, communications, and human resources, our consumption of information or sharing information without context can cause critical mistakes.  For example, the types of messages that flow from human resources are often pushed one-way and that is out to employees or leaders.  If you’re in an organization where that is the primary approach, I challenge you to begin thinking about how to make it more about the context around each message and the reasons behind needing that particular bit of information shared.

Boosting the context

  • Provide a place where more details can be found on many of the messages related to policy or procedure.  Employees like to know why doing something a certain way is important.
  • Validate the information.  Without context, you leave room for misinterpretation of the information.
  • Allow employees to give feedback.  Messages will receive greater acceptance when two-way communication is present.

Better understanding comes from knowing not only the function but also the meaning.  What are you doing to boost context in the way you provide information to employees, clients or via social media?  Share with me in the comments….

 

Business Impact of The Five Love Languages

I’m a believer that our personal lives and professional lives are intertwined and that it’s nearly impossible to separate or compartmentalize them.  So, when a manager or employee comes to me for advice, I try to look for clues to the big picture instead of just that situation.  Often when I’m assessing a situation, whether it is in my personal or professional life, I think back to a book I read ten years ago.  The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman.   Dr. Chapman is a well-known and respected pastor, author, and speaker.  And, while this book was written to assess and address the language of love that is meaning to someone on an individual level, I”ve found that there are many business uses for the book.

The basic premise Dr. Chapman asserts is that there are five “languages” of love and that each one of us has a primary language.  If your partner speaks a different “language”, there is a good chance you will not feel loved.  So, the idea is to identify your primary love language and your partner’s, then work to use the language the other person responds to best.

The five love languages

  • Words of Affirmation- This person identifies most with compliments and other words that say you value them.  If you insult this person, it will affect them more deeply than other people.
  • Quality Time-  This person values your undivided attention.  If you miss a meeting or appointment  with this person, they will truly be hurt.
  • Receiving Gifts-  It’s not just the gift that is important to this person, but the thought behind it.  If you miss this person’s birthday or anniversary, they may be crushed.
  • Acts of Service- This person feels happiest when you are showing your love by helping them.  Whether it’s pitching in on a chore at home or helping with a big project at work, this person will feel valued and cared for.
  • Physical Touch- This is not a language just about sexual contact.  The person that speaks this language feels important when they are hugged, get a pat on the back, or your hand on the shoulder.  This one is harder to demonstrate at work due to sexual harassment laws, however, it can still be demonstrated in moderation.  The pat on the back, fist bump, shaking hands, or high five can fill in and still show this person they are valued by using physical contact.

If you think about the people you work with; your team members, colleagues and peers, subordinates, try to figure out which language seems to apply most to each person.

Let’s imagine you’re the type of leader who is very busy and recognizes performance only with money (pay increases, spot bonuses, etc.).   You are speaking the Receiving Gifts language.  But if I am the person who works for you and my primary language is Quality Time, I will not feel valued or cared for.  The one thing that would make my day is to have you show up for a meeting on time or meet with me one-on-one.  Or, if I feel valued when you notice that I’m carrying a heavy workload and you offer to pitch in and help me meet a big deadline, you’re speaking my language of Acts of Service.

There are many benefits of learning your own love language and how you can use the love languages model to communicate more effectively with people in your personal and professional life.  You will build stronger relationships and have more engagement with the people in your life.  To take a quiz to find out your own love language, click HERE.  Then, tell me what your love language is in the comments. For anyone who has met me or knows me from reading my blog, there will be no surprise to my results.

Mine is physical touch and words of affirmation almost equally.  Must explain why I’m a hugger who likes compliments!  :-)

I Am Not A Cheerleader- Well, Maybe I Am!

I am not a cheerleader.

Well, I actually was as a young girl but I quickly determined that I am not the “type”.  I thought that being a cheerleader meant putting on that fake smile, making sure I had proper cheerleader form and basically doing something that I was not sure that anyone really appreciated anyway.  It just didn’t feel like me.  I did it for a couple seasons then, put my pom poms down forever.

Until now.

Turns out that I’ve learned I’ve been a cheerleader all along.

You heard it right.

I was recently asked to be a cheer coach for my daughter’s squad of girls ages 5- 11.  I accepted even though I was worried because the last time I performed a cheer anywhere was in 1982.  I am working with two other coaches, one who was a championship cheerleader and one who, like me, is not.  After talking with the other coaches, we determined what strength each of us brought to the team.  Then, we used that strength to coach our girls.  My strength is organizing, helping break down training into the most manageable size for the person learning, trying new techniques of teaching and finding a way to make each girl feel special.

I realized that I am THEIR cheerleader.

And, isn’t that the real role of a coach?  To teach and to let the learner try out the new skills.  To encourage all along the way.  These are the same ideas and principles I apply at work each day and the same role I try to play in projects I am part of like HRevolution.

I wish you could have seen our practice last night.  Girls standing in near-perfect formaton, working on sharper hand and arm movements, huge smiles on their faces.  I started by naming a “mini coach” for each cheer so that the girls can help teach and encourage each other.  I worked with my brilliant instructional coach to support her as she taught the team new techniques and cheers.  The girls kept practicing even after our normal practice time had ended.  They were feeling a sense of pride.

So, if you had asked me 24 hours ago if I’m a cheerleader, I would have said no.

Turns out I was wrong.  Go team!

Throw Out HR Terminology

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

The language we use when describing people, situations, and things is important.  I remember growing up and being told that sticks and stones could break my bones but names can never hurt me.  But, we all know that is not true.  Words hold meaning for people and sometimes that meaning is negative.  Other times it is ambiguous.  I’ve been thinking about this lately as I’m watching how the terminology we use in human resources can help or hinder the activities that we are responsible for.

Take the word engagement, for example.  Engagement from an employee standpoint is confusing.  It can have a vastly different meaning for each employee in an organization.  Some do not even know what it means.  But, when we pair that word with the word survey, we expect that employees will understand that leaders want to know how connected the employee is to the organization.  Since words do have an effect on perceptions though, I’ve started to think of other more clear words to describe what I’m looking for.  If you tell an employee that the employee engagement survey is designed to be a performance review they give the organization, they “get” it.

So, what do we do knowing that?  Throw it out when talking to employees.  We could also get rid of “total rewards” and probably several others.  Save those words for talking with other HR pros.

No matter what profession you work in, there will always be terms that flow from your lips easily that other people do not understand.  Be mindful of this.  If you really care about people understanding what you’re trying to tell them or what you’re trying to accomplish, be clear and use more general terms and phrases they can relate to.  After all, it’s about getting people to do what you need them to do or to understand what you need them to understand.  Don’t let your words be your barrier.