Drivers of Sustainable Workplace Engagement

Drivers of Sustainable Workplace Engagement

Companies that rank high for employee engagement are more profitable, more productive, have better customer ratings and fewer safety incidents (Gallup).

Here are five tips to help fire up employees engagement.

Before you take any of these steps, consider this a building exercise. In other words, these steps should be taken sequentially and over the course of a year or so, with each step building on the progress and momentum created by the ones before. This will protect from immediate rejection (too many new practices to absorb at once) and lead to a sustainable culture change.

1. Connect with employees. This starts with telling the story – this is the big picture vision of where the organization is going and why this particular company is uniquely able to get there. In addition, leaders should explain the roadmap – the plan for achieving their vision, including what it means for employees and their jobs. Establish an open communication environment by inviting, acknowledging and responding to employee questions, concerns and ideas. Importantly, leaders must keep the dialogue – and their visibility – going so that it becomes “the way we do business around here.”

2. Establish expectations. Set the workforce up for success by establishing behavioral expectations for managers and employees and providing the necessary resources and recognition to win. Objectives should include general business metrics (e.g., gross margin, productivity) as well as those reflecting key drivers of success, such as customer service levels and loyalty and recordable safety cases. Training in communicating and engaging employees can be provided to managers who wield the most influence over employees’ behavior.

3. Develop a Customer First mentality. Introduce the customer as the company’s “raison d’etre” (reason for being) by bringing them – and their ideas – into the company. Invite groups of employees to observe focus groups of customers and competitors’ customers discussing the pros and cons of the organization’s products or services. Hold follow-up meetings with the same employees to hear their reactions and brainstorm how the company can incorporate some of the new ideas. Ask these employees to go back into the workforce to assemble teams and see which team can come up with the most suggestions. Celebrate all of the suggestions by inviting all employees to a “Customer First” party.

4. Share best practices. Establish a mentoring program, matching high performers with those who are not as high performing (but don’t bill it this way publicly!). Ask the partners to identify and focus on two things that each partner can work on to improve, and ask them to commit to specific actions and monitor progress.

5. Make it personal. Engage employees in building a winning team by holding a “What’s the coolest part of working for ABC organization” contest. Submissions should be posted in a highly visible, high traffic area, such as the employee entrance or break room and employees can vote for winners in categories such as Most Creative, Most Practical, Most Customer Focused.

5 Keys to Successful Portal Development

5 Keys to Successful Portal Development

intranetforum-updated-11-6-16There’s a lot of confusion between the terms digital workplace, intranets, portals and hubs. To me, they all describe the same thing – a collection of digital tools, and/or a common digital space, that helps employees stay focused and on top of relevant information, provides access to the work tools that keep them efficient and which also connects them to the colleagues they need to interact with, no matter if they are around the corner or around the world.

Here are the five keys for a successful hub or portal:

  1. Strategy: The most successful hubs have a strategy – a reason for being – that matches business objectives. Without a clear, workable strategy your hub will quickly dissolve into chaos. It needs that business reason for being which will keep the site on point.
  1. Collaboration: This is where a true digital workplace comes into play. Your hub needs useful tools and designated space for online collaboration. This space is where teams will do their work and where innovation and knowledge transfer will take place. What kind of tools? Which types of space? Your strategy – and your audiences – will tell you that. But you have to ask, and listen.
  1. Governance: We’re often asked who should “own” the intranet? The answer is: Everyone and No One. Intranets work best when they have clear and simple policies. Good governance means active representation from all functional groups, most especially Communications, Human Resources and IT. And yet Everyone must have a stake in contributing and maintaining the content, or No One’s needs will be filled. Effective hubs are not a service provided to your employees, they’re a healthy collaboration and mix of relevant content and open space to create.
  1. Relevance: Content is still king. If you can’t provide relevant, compelling content that meets your users’ needs, your hub is already dead. Spend time thinking through what content and tools employees need to be effective, and continue to be interested, and then organize the hub so they can find them. And assemble cross-functional teams to keep it going.
  1. Customization: Or What’s in It for Me (WIFM). The ability to customize a portion of a common corporate homepage leads to better and more frequent usage of a hub. Set aside room for a user’s local and/or business unit news, and allow users to choose links for the homepage to the tools and resources they use most often. It’s their hub too; let them mold it to their own hands.
A final word – on mobile apps. Mobile apps are the new buzz word. Everyone wants one because our smart phones let us choose our own apps and so, hey, why can’t we have fun apps like that at work? When looking at mobile app development, you want to be sure that: (a) the app meets a business need; (b) it links back to your intranet or hub, (c) it’s extremely easy to use, (d) you have tested it with a pilot user audience before launch. Mobile apps work best when they are highly focused and do no more than three things. For example, an HR app might provide 1. paystub information, 2. a link to job openings and 3. enable benefits enrollment. A retail manager app might provide a dashboard that tracks three key items and/or compares that store’s metrics to other stores in the region.

These are just the top notes. How you use your portal, your hub, or what you design a mobile app to do, depends on the make-up, the business needs and usage of your audience. That can be a daunting task. You don’t have to go it alone.  Consider partnering with us here at OTSP.  We have the experience, we have the skilled technical partners, we can help you benchmark with others, and we will be beside you as you navigate through the process, from strategy to development to launch. You can reach me via email at: Kim@on-the-same-page.com.

Asking Questions Shouldn’t Be Scary

Asking Questions Shouldn’t Be Scary

What is it that employees want from their managers? Simply put – timely, respectful and relevant communication. And even more precisely, the April 2015 Gallup study finds that employees want to know that they can approach their manager with “any type of question,” indicating the importance of an environment of communication openness.

Asking for help shouldn’t be scary. Here are four tips managers can implement to help create a not-so-spooky, more open and collaborative work environment.

5 Ways to Build a Culture of Engagement

5 Ways to Build a Culture of Engagement

Connect with Employees

A Gallup Business Journal article states that “only about one-third of U.S. workers are engaged at work and just 13% of employees worldwide are engaged.” That’s a problem – especially since engagement has a direct effect on business results. Compared to their less engaged counterparts, companies that rank high for employee engagement are:

  • 21% more profitable
  • 17% more productive
  • have 10% better customer ratings
  • experience 41% less absenteeism and
  • suffer 70% fewer safety incidents

(Source: Gallup)

So how do you create engagement? Leadership communication is key.

Research shows a culture where leaders demonstrate trust, fairness and open communication are most effective at attracting and retaining top talent.

Where to start? Bite off one big initiative at a time. Here are five tips from Aon on how to build a strong culture of engagement:

  1. How You Operate: Reduce frustration…people want work that is enabled by the right resources and tools. Set them up for success. Make sure employees have what they need to get their jobs done — equipment, training, tools and resources, and a clear understanding of the task, the process and expectations.
  1. How You Communicate: Create a magnetic employer brand that attracts and motivates. Do you have an employee value proposition? Does your communication strategy embody your organization’s values and mission/vision? Do employees understand and connect with your strategy? Do you use your external marketing messages internally? Do you use storytelling to inspire and motivate?
  1. How You Compensate and Acknowledge: Pay and recognize people in alignment with individual and company performance.
  1. How You Develop: Build a clear path and options for horizontal or vertical growth.
  1. How You Strengthen Relationships: Provide opportunities and feedback that enables talent to grow and develop. What can you do – within your team – to enable productivity by making sure people have the tools and resources to get the work done? How can you connect your work with the strategy and business outcomes? How can you provide strengthen your team by providing feedback and opportunities for open conversation?

Every organization is different. Where would you start?  What are you hearing and seeing? If you’d like to start a conversation on where you would start, contact me at kerrigan@on-the-same-page.com.

4 Tips to Engage Hearts and Minds

4 Tips to Engage Hearts and Minds

Superior leaders lead through effective communication. The “secret sauce” is engaging hearts and minds to inspire action.

Did you know that many of the so-called “rational” decisions we make – and the way we behave – are governed by our emotions, and that our emotions have projective power over our thoughts? Emotions act as filters to form our desires, furnish our capacities, and to a large extent, rule our immediate thoughts. As we encounter fresh situations, become faced with novel problems or grapple with new ideas, our emotional response to each of these sets in motion the initial allocation of our mental resources. In essence, our first “read” of a new situation is always centered in our emotions, feelings and attitudes. As such, our emotions are laying the groundwork for the thinking that is to come.

Creating a powerful connection and compelling your stakeholders to take action requires engaging both the head and the heart – the mind and emotions. And for employees, engaging heads and hearts delivers higher levels of business impact faster. Here are four tips for more effective employee engagement:

1. Tell your story. Explain your organization’s vision and strategy to inspire and motivate. How? Simplify the strategy or vision in a way that resonates with employees (is personal and meaningful).

2. Set expectations. Employees want and need to know, clearly and specifically, what is expected of them. This includes both job tasks and organizational culture behaviors.

3. Actively listen. Everyone wants to be heard. Show your leaders, peers and employees that what they have to say is important by really listening. Put down your phone, turn to face whoever is speaking, avoid distractions and summarize what is said to you. Remember to take action after the conversation is over, if necessary. Actively listening shows respect and builds trust.

4. Communicate effectively. Provide the tools and coaching to help leaders and managers effectively communicate, fostering more productive and engaging relationships within their teams.

Build Trust by Staying Ahead of Visible Signs

Build Trust by Staying Ahead of Visible Signs

People notice visible signs before you “officially” tell them anything. These signs constitute anything out of the ordinary, everyday experience, including:

  • Frequent closed-door meetings in an environment where doors are almost always open
  • Unannounced visits by executives who spend the day in meetings with onsite leaders
  • Unannounced visits by guests who appear to be closely examining people, processes and activities
  • Posters or advertisements for anything that hasn’t been announced to the workforce
  • Changes to the perks — free breakfast or lunch that’s no longer free, or when the kitchen isn’t stocked for a while
  • Questions that go unanswered or projects that are postponed without explanation

As humans, we naturally look for pattern changes. When something changes and we’re not sure why, we make up our own reason. Here’s an actual example:

There was a For Sale sign on a fence facing the highway of near a manufacturing plant.

Employees driving to work passed the sign, then exited the highway, parked their cars and walked into the building entrance.

That’s when they saw the Now Hiring sign.

What do you suppose they were they thinking?

The reality was that the company had some land it wasn’t using adjacent to the manufacturing plant. So it decided to sell the land. At the same time, it happened to be hiring to expand its workforce.

Rather than communicate these two issues to the workforce so they could feel good about what was happening, they put up the signs and didn’t anticipate the resulting confusion.

What visible signs could your team be misinterpreting right now?

This is especially important when your team, function, business unit or organization is going through any kind of change. As you think through your change management plan, think about what visible signs your employees will see throughout the process. Are you timing your communication to align with visible signs? When leaders and managers tell employees what’s happening before they start to see the signs, they build trust, credibility and confidence.

For more information about employee engagement and change programs, or communication training, email me at kerrigan@on-the-same-page.com.

How to Succeed in Business

How to Succeed in Business

What is it thaSIX SECRETS OF TOP PERFORMING COMPANIESt makes businesses succeed year after year? Top performing companies have these six things in common:

Focus on the Customer

This should be the number one priority of all businesses and organizations. You can support a “customer first” culture through communications. Customer stories that reflect the company mission or strategy are especially inspirational to employees.

Engage Employees Using Two-Way Communication

Employees receive a lot of information from their manager, function, business unit and corporate — emails, quarterly meetings, team meetings, etc. Listening is key to keep employees engaged. It’s crucial to have formal and informal ways to get feedback, through surveys, meetings or skip-level meetings. And as important as listening is, make sure you show employees that you hear them and tell them what actions were made based on their feedback.

Train Managers to Communicate Effectively

When it comes to making the connection of strategy to getting the job done each day, managers and supervisors can build alignment and deliver results with the essential everyday communication skills that make a difference.

Involve Internal Communicators in Managing Change

Change is here to stay, and to a certain extent, it is always disruptive. The key is to apply communication skills and processes to compress the transition and minimize the disruption.

Measure the Performance of Communication Programs

Goals should be tied to metrics that matter — employee engagement survey scores, the number of employees who have adopted some new system or process, or the number of times articles are read or links are opened.

Brand the Employee Experience

In our experience, an organization has one brand — to be used inside and outside of the business. Remember that often times, employees are customers, too.

How does your organization stand up in these areas? For more information on leader communication, communication training and change and engagement programs, email me at kerrigan@on-the-same-page.com.
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Tips to Navigate Change in Your Organization

Tips to Navigate Change in Your Organization

Tips to Navigate Change in Your OrganizationChange is here to stay, and to a certain extent, it is always disruptive. Regardless of whether you are planning a large change or an update of some kind, engaging employees through effective communication is key. It can compress the transition and minimize the disruption. Check out our tips for navigating change here: http://bit.ly/298p7Nf. What would you add?

For more information about leading change and communicating to engage your employees, email me at tracy@on-the-same-page.com.

The Workforce of Tomorrow

The Workforce of Tomorrow

As the workplace landscape continues to evolve, here are some key trends to watch for. Are you prepared? For more information about employee engagement and leadership communication, contact me at beth@on-the-same-page.com.

Workforce of Tomorrow

For more insight check out ADP Research Institute’s ® 2016 Evolution of Work study, a global look at workplace trends across 2,000 individuals in 13 countries: http://bit.ly/1p393QV.

When It’s Time for a New Direction…

When It’s Time for a New Direction…

It takes courage to move your business in a new direction, and change can be difficult. Change is also an opportunity for great success — individually, as a team and as an organization. Here’s what else you need to change direction. For more information on communicating change, email me at tracy@on-the-same-page.com.

Change Communication - New Direction

Four Tips for More Meaningful Communication

Four Tips for More Meaningful Communication

One of the most practical, highest return on investment activities is communicating to engage. A Dale Carnegie infographic on employee engagement states that companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%. The infographic goes on to list tips for employee engagement and each tip is directly related to leader and manager communication.

“People leave managers, not companies,” writes authors Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. The best leaders understand that engaging people’s hearts and minds is the only way to compel them to action. Your employees – and your customers – will thank you for it. Here are four tips to help you engage your employees through more meaningful communication. For more information on Communicating to Engage, email me at tracy@on-the-same-page.com.
How to Make Communication More Meaningful

5 tips to build effective virtual communities

5 tips to build effective virtual communities

Building Effective Virtual CommunitiesCorporate communications is no longer just about talking TO employees. It’s also about building internal digital communities that facilitate communication AMONG those employees. In today’s world, we have to be able to foster and maintain effective virtual communities to help connect employees in different business units, geographic locations and time zones.

Here are five things successful communities have in common: http://bit.ly/1U6IrM5. What would you add?

For more information about employee engagement and leadership communication, contact me at elizabeth@on-the-same-page.com.