Category Archives: Employee Engagement

Halloween: To Dress Up Or Not To Dress Up

To dress up or not to dress up, that is the question…

Today is Halloween and thousands of employees are dressing up in costume across this great country.  They don their scariest, most political or cutest costumes in hopes of winning the office costume contest.  But just how many people actually participate in this ritual?

Well, from the looks of my FaceBook sream, I’d say that a ton of my friends work at companies that celebrate the holiday. After all, it’s fairly non-controversial, save for the occasional employee that shows up in a not-so-work-appropriate getup.  So, why do companies participate and why do some avoid it?  I found a fun survey on GlassDoor that gives us the scoop.  Consider the facts:

  • The survey shows that two out of five companies (40%) celebrate Halloween in the office.  The downside is that 48% of HR professionals, office managers or administrative assistants are likely to be on point for planning any celebrations.
  • More than half (52%) of employees say they are likely or very likely to participate in employer-hosted Halloween fun.
  • Nearly half (46%) of employees aren’t sure if their employer has a policy around work-appropriate Halloween attire.  So here we are, back to the HR policy creation.
  • Nearly one in three (29%) hope their boss will dress up for Halloween at work.

So, what say you?  Do you work in an office or company that celebrates the ghouls?  Does it lead to some HR horror stories?  Be sure to share it all in the comments and for more fun Halloween survey results, check out the GlassDoor blog.

Managing others is about…..YOU

Too often in my career I have the discussion with a manager that starts off, “Trish, my employee won’t listen to me.  He is disrespectful and undermines my authority.  He doesn’t do his job.  Tell me what I can do to get him to comply.”  To this, I explain to the manager that the approach should not be how to change that person.  Managing others is about YOU:

  • You have to give a critical look at how you interact with this employee.
  • You have to take ownership for what is working as well as what is not.
  • You have to figure out when and how to modify your behavior to elicit different responses from your staff or colleagues.
  • You have to tell the employee what the expectations are in a clear and concise manner.

You cannot change others, so don’t focus your time there.  If you rethink your approach to the person and try another way, it will elicit a different reaction.  It still may be a negative one, however, a majority of the time it throws that person off enough that they are more likely to actually show more respect or at least listen to advice on how to perform better at their job.

Managing others is not about how we get someone else to change.  It’s about how we change and adapt our approach for maximum success with many different personalities.  They ultimately have to take personal ownership for their behavior.  And, if they are not able to improve performance and respond positively to your approach as the leader, they will face the consequences of their own behavior.

Finding The Rhythm of Work

*Sharing a post from the archives…

I was on my way to work and thinking about how I get some of my best post ideas while driving.  The other day I was thinking about the rhythm of driving.  When you drive somewhere, you really have to figure out the rhythm of the traffic around you to get there most efficiently and effectively.  It’s about how you as a driver fit in with the people around you.  And, if you don’t, you might pass them, slow down, or move over a lane to the right or the left.  Work is not really different than that.

When you get to work, you need to figure out the rhythm of the workplace and whether or not you fit in.  And if you don’t, it’s a tell tale sign, a red flag, even in this economy.  People may have felt like they had to remain in a workplace where they don’t fit in with the rhythm but we’re starting to see that change a little.  It’s ok to still be out there looking for opportunities so that you can find a workplace that has the rhythm that you need in order to be successful if you don’t fit in with the rhythm and flow of your current organization.

If you are someone who is happy at organization, the challenge becomes how can you influence the behavior of others to increase the chance that they are fitting with the flow if they are not.  This comes up more and more often as people take on greater workload and they get burned out.  I”m hearing from managers that they are struggling with what to do when you have someone on your staff that has lost that spark, that passion, that fire.  How do you get that back  and have them fit into the work-flow so they are productive?    It goes beyond what you can do to motivate them though.  It is a lot about their self-motivation, so you need to focus on what you can do to provide an environment where that will flourish.

If you are in HR advising the leader, or if you are the leader, I’d like to hear in the comments what you do to help re-ignite that passion and help that employee fit into the rhythm of work.  If they are a good employee, what can we do to get them back into the work-flow? Thanks for your thoughts.

It Takes Top HR Talent to Recruit and Manage the Best Talent

(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is the third in a series being sponsored by Allied Van Lines, one of the world’s largest moving companies. The 2012 Allied Workforce Mobility Survey asked human resources professional about strategies, practices and performances related to mobility in the workplace.)

For the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at the results of the Allied 2012 Workforce Mobility Survey.  We’ve examined how recruitment, retention and onboarding are all viewed by HR leaders across the country from companies of varying size.  As we wrap up the findings, today we are asking the question:

How much better would your HR department function — in recruitment, relocation,
onboarding and retention — if more staff members were “experts”?

For as much focus as organizations place on hiring the best talent and being able to keep them, they are not necessarily hiring human resource professionals who are “experts”.  Hiring professionals in any field or industry means you will need to pay more for the skills.  Since the HR function is viewed as a pure expense, organizations tend not to pay top dollar.  The problem with this is the organizaiton does not necessarily have HR pros with both the ability to strategize and execute on a vision.  Many only know how to execute.  This is why you hear time and again about HR just being in place to carry out the wishes of the C-suite.

According to the 2012 Allied Workforce Mobility survey, the level of expertise among the HR professionals participating varied substantially. But, it did not vary predictably.Larger-company HR departments are not more likely to be staffed by “experts”.  For example, when asked about familiarity with recruitment:

Small companies – 27 percent of HR professionals say they are “expert.”
Midsize companies – 19 percent say this.
Large companies – 25 percent say this.
Mega companies – 23 percent say this.

I’ve said before that organizational retention is a group effort.  The same can be said for recruiting and bringing new hires onboard in a way that makes them feel valued and wanted.  After all the results are in, it’s clear that organizations need to take a holistic approach to finding and keeping the best talent.  

What are you seeing in your company?  How are you doing compared to our survey respondents?  Please share with me in the comments.

Using Social Media: Strengthen Your Employer Brand with FourSquare

A few weeks ago I started a series called 10 Easy Ways to Build Social Media Into Your HR Practice.  Since then I’ve shared some specifics on the ideas I suggested.  These ideas are written with beginners in mind because there are so many professionals who are hesitant to jump into using social platforms for business.  I want to show that it can be easy when you start with small steps.  Today, we’re going to cover a few ways you can use FourSquare or location based apps at your organization

First, what is FourSquare?  FourSquare is a free tool for your smartphone that allows you to connect more easily with businesses in your area (or wherever you are) as well as your friends.     Launched publicly in spring 2009, it has grown to a community of over 20 million users globally.  There are more than 750,000 merchants already using FourSquare to connect as well.

With this app, you can easily search for businesses nearby, find their locations and any “specials” that they are currently offering.  Users who have been to that business before may post tips about the business so you will know if a restaurant has good food or prices, if service is poor, etc.  You can also use it as a tool to show you what your friends are up to and if they are nearby.  For example, I recently arrived at an airport in another city and checked in on FourSquare.  It showed me other people who were checked in, one of whom I was friends with that I didn’t realize was having a layover in the same airport at the same time.  It was nice to connect with that person.

Another use is to take advantage of specials that businesses offer.  On a recent trip to Napa, I was able to gain big discounts at several wineries, restaurants and spas all by checking in on FourSquare.  I’ve also use it at the mall, right at the checkout, to save as much as 30% off my bill at certain stores.


From the standpoint of using it for your organization, there are ways you can encourage and even reward your employees for helping strengthen your employer brand.

  • Make sure that your organization, or each of the locations, is listed on FourSquare.
  • Encourage employees to “check in” each day when they arrive at work.  This will help them connect with other employees and even with customers, if you have the type of business where customers come onsite.
  • Encourage employees to leave “Tips” on why it’s great to work there.
  • Have your recruiters or HR professionals leave “Tips” on jobs that are available or other positive information about your company.

Once you have your employees checking in and leaving tips, you can easily set up rewards to acknowledge the ones who use it the most, who share the most productive and relevant data, etc.  In my previous job in healthcare HR, I would often check in and see customers (patient families) who had checked in multiple days.  It was a good way for me to reach out to them to introduce myself and tell them about resources available to them that could make their stay a little easier.  I could also refer them to our guest services group to help them with any needs they had while on the premises.  Lastly, you can reward your frequent customers by offering special discounts for those that check in most often.  It’s a win for your company and a win for the customer.

Are you using FourSquare?  Do you use it to promote your business?  Share your tips and ideas in the comments please.

Retention By The Numbers: How Does Your Company Measure Up?

(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is the second in a series being sponsored by Allied Van Lines, one of the world’s largest moving companies. The 2012 Allied Workforce Mobility Survey asked human resources professional about strategies, practices and performances related to mobility in the workplace.)

The second set of results in the 2012 Workforce Mobility Survey are out and the lead topic is onboarding.  Sharlyn Lauby, the HR Bartender, kicked off the analysis of the data with a valuable article on Employee Turnover Caused By Bad Onboarding Programs.  I encourage you to give it a read because retention is something all companies struggle with from time to time.

I want to build on Sharlyn’s post and talk about some of the other staggering survey results:

  • Companies lose on average 23 percent of new hires before the one-year anniversary. Thirteen percent of companies lose half or more of their new hires in the first year.
  • In addition, one-third of employees fail to meet company expectations in terms of productivity, and only 26 percent go on to become corporate influencers/ leaders.

When I think about any organization I’ve worked for as in the HR capacity, I can assure you that those results would be enough to get anyone in a leadership position to buy into the notion that we need to spend some money in onboarding new employees.  I can also tell you that I don’t know that I’ve ever seen data quite so dramatic and easily available to HR professionals.  Knowing that companies seem to be doing the tactics of onboarding without the strategic thought behind the desired outcomes is a major eye opener.  The first step is to share this with your leadership team.  The second step is to look at your own company results and see how you measure up.  Do you need to focus more time and money in this area?

Retention by the numbers

What if your company does not measure employee retention and/or productivity? You need to find a way to start.  Companies that measure the effectiveness of their retention and productivity rates among new employees perform better in three areas:

Retaining new employees-  Do you know how many new hires are still employed after one year of hire?  On average, only 77%.
• Enabling new employees to reach productivity targets-  Do your new hires meet or surpass your company’s productivity goals?  Companies surveyed show that only 63% of new hires do and it takes an average of 8 months to see someone reach their full productivity.
Developing new hires into corporate leaders and influencers-  As few as 26% of new hires become influential in their new company.

So, as the results indicate, a valuable use of time, resources and most importantly, money will be in the onboarding process.  The ability to retain those top professionals your recruiters work so hard to convert from candidates to hires needs to be followed up with an equally strong retention plan.

What are you doing to promote retention and practice good onboarding at your company?  For more information, be sure to check out the Allied Van Lines 2012 Workforce Mobility Survey site.  You’ll also find strong analysis from Kris Dunn, Steve Boese and Sharlyn Lauby there on a regular basis.

The Burning Platform- How To Identify Truly Important Projects

As a leader, do you struggle to keep your team on track or are you able to guide them in a structured way in order to reach organization goals?  We’d all like to think we do more of the latter, but if that were true, we would have far fewer experts telling us how to do better with our teams.  The truth is, managing people is challenging.  It’s challenging because individuals are dynamic and have so many nuances in their performance.

They key I’ve found is to create a burning platform for change in order to ensure that each team member is going “all in” with me.  If you’re not familiar with the phrase, creating a burning platform is a way to describe the fact that many employees will not fully engage in any project unless you put a fire under them that causes them to change.  The “fire under their feet” must be great enough to give them no option but to change. The main steps of creating this fire are:

  • Knowing and communicating that there is a legitimate need for change.
  • Having a shared urgency that the employees either contribute to or have agreement about.
  • Assessing the opportunity.  Is there a revenue gain to be had or cost savings?  What are the goals of the organization?

Leadership works with employees to create the platform to motivate employees to want to reach the goals, then each leader should take a hard look at their team members.  What are the goals of the employees as individuals and do they align with the overall company goals?  What personal issues in an employee’s life can negatively impact their focus on the business goals?  If a leader can answer these questions about the team members, they will be more likely to be able to adapt the projects for the most successful outcome.

Once you create agreement on the need for change and assess the employee motivation and ability to step up, you can begin to identify the truly important projects that will aid in reaching the organization goals.  I once worked for a company where no matter how exciting a HR project sounded, if it did not align with reaching the organization goals, we did not do it.  It made prioritizing work very easy.

Do you set your team up for success?  What methods do you employ to inspire them to do their best work?  Share in the comments.



How HR Professionals Can Learn Social Media For Business

When I first decided to get involved in social media, it was considered a useless waste of time by many people I worked with.  I had colleagues and supervisors that could not see how building a network of HR, recruiting and other business professionals could possibly be a benefit.  I won’t say that I knew exactly how valuable it would be, but I did see the potential for greater collaboration, access to information and insight I did not have at the time, and the ability to learn from professionals I would have never been exposed to any other way.

Now, over four years later, more HR and recruiting professionals are beginning to gravitate to the social platforms in order to provide better business directives to their internal and external clients.  When I started out, there were hours of trial-and-error while learning because there were no classes or conferences where you could learn how to do it effectively.  The benefit for today’s professionals getting into the space or for those who are using the platforms but want to take that use to the next level is that there are events where you can go and learn more in a day than many of us did in a month.

If YOU are someone who wants to learn more about using social media platforms for HR and recruiting, you need to mark your calendars now for The Conference Board’sSocial Media Strategies for HR Seminar.  Join me in New York City on April 17- 18, 2012 as we discuss and learn how to:

  • Leverage social networks to benefit the entire organization
  • Implement and manage social networks to spur innovation and knowledge sharing
  • Use social media to increase employee engagement and bolster employer branding
  • Manage the legal implications of social media in the workplace

I’ll be leading a session on how you can use social media to strengthen your employer brand and bolster employee engagement.  My co-presenter will be Steve Boese, Director of Talent Management Strategy for Oracle and host of the HR Happy Hour radio show.

Use discount code TM1 to get $250 off the registration cost!  You can register for one day or both.  I hope you’ll join us, you won’t be disappointed.