Employee engagement is being used by Human Resources for several years now, to promote productivity and performance. Today that focus is expanding to influencing retention and employer branding. Partially through designing an employee experience without discomfort. Due to the digital Transformation and Industry 4.0 , this will increase the importance of internal communication & technology, making a digital employee experience design possible.
The Employee Engagement Issue
According to the State of the Global Workplace report of Gallup, only 15% of employees worldwide are involved in their work. This means, that 85% would not have invested emotionally in the use of their time, talent and energy, in adding value to their team or in promoting the initiatives of the organisation.
More Gallup research shows that this 85% in the United States costs more than $ 550 billion a year in lost productivity. For the UK, CBfinancial mentions that uninvolved employees are responsible for a productivity loss between £ 52 and £ 70 billion a year. They’ve also calculated that unengaged employees cost their employers between £ 3400 and £ 10,000 in salary.
On the Employee Engagement Index ™ , a survey in over 54 countries and +100k employees, the global score is 7.0/10. Both Americas have the best average score of 7.5/10, Africa comes in second and scores 7.4/10, Europe and Asia have a shared third spot with 6.9/10, closely followed by Australia with 6.8/10.
When adding up the growing cost of recruitment in a war for talent, it is understandable why Employee Engagement is high on the agenda for most leaders and managers. It is also a great opportunity to evaluate the current culture of the company and to adjust to the needs of the employees.
Employee Experience completes the Employee Engagement Strategy
Today, experts talk about addressing the entire Employee Experience, giving more dimension to that culture, to the processes and indicators that determine whether an employee is (and remains) engaged – throughout his career from before the start. This overall process is called The Employee Lifecycle.
Using a bottom-up approach to design the experience of the employees is not always a guarantee for more smiles on Monday morning. However it could take away the work related headaches and delivers purpose, engagement, productivity, employer (brand) loyalty and the culture that fits the organisation of the future.
Investing in a good Employee Experience can be understood as merely investing in the wellbeing of the employees, but goes much further than that. It even goes beyond Human Resources.
“At HR we have to get rid of the idea that we only have the experience of the employee.”What we can do is the “sponsoring” strategy, researching and collecting data about what people are at work, and a multidisciplinary team that tackles the problems at work one at a time. We are in a unique position here because we have so much empathy for all these issues. That is why our role as sponsor and leader is of vital importance. “ – Josh Bersin (Deloitte)
HR and Internal communications: blurred lines
The role of Internal Communication is not to be underestimated and it affects the reputation of the organisation among employees and customers.
“A reputation in business is a complex concept that goes beyond how a company on the outside The individual behavior of employees – their personal brand – and how the rest of the organization looks at your department can all be influenced by effective internal communication. “ – Institute of Internal Communication
When handling the challenges from above along with the opportunities it can create, Internal Communication is changing its focus to employees and their personal (brand) awareness. Topics like wellbeing, feedback, personal development and career opportunities are appearing on the agenda.
Employee Engagement , on the other hand, is more socially rather than hierarchically determined; the voice of the employee gains in importance – especially when their experience is the fundament of their engagement and has the potential to become the new employer branding.
While Human Resources is introducing rewarding career choices, organising the work life balance, the regular recognition and continuous feedback, Internal Communication learns about enterprise social networks in addition to the standard intranet or collaboration platforms for remote workers and staff.
Moreover, Internal Communication also gains more insight into (human) resources and talent management, which is fuelled by the gig-economy.
Digital Transformation as an advantage
Everything can be done better, considering a score of 7.5/10 in engagement still results in a productivity loss costing over 500 Billion dollar a year in the USA only. Not to mention Europe, Asia or Australia who all have lower scores according to the Engagement Index ™ .
Due to the Digital Transformation, there is a significant increase in the market supply of tools and technology to support the entire employee experience process and thus the employee engagement process, giving the T in ICT a new dimension.
This blurs the line between Internal Communication and other departments, such as Human Resources, which is forced to reinvent itself. Creating the opportunity to tackle multiple HR-related issues in one strategic and operational plan: a design of the employee lifecycle that can be digitally supported in combination with the methods and bottom up approach used in employee experience design: a digital employee experience design.
This way employee engagement can be optimised during a time of digital transformation. Not only by giving employees the tools and training they need, but also by giving them a say in implementing the right technology for the right job and using a more personalised approach during their lifecycle.
In my opinion, when HR is done automating it’s processes with an employee centric approach, it will benefit with (predictive) people analytics. After all, if you can make your employees enthusiastic about the digital change in their employee lifecycle and go into the implementation process together with them, you are in for an engaging ride into a future proof organisation.
I am always curious to hear about the challenges you have to face to deploy a digital employee experience design in your organisation. Do you have any?
HR trends and the opportunities for learning organisations
On June 7, 2018, I gave a presentation about “HR trends and the opportunities for learning organisations”. I tried to cover 18 trends in 45 minutes, and as the beamer lost connection a couple of times, the actual presentation time was less. I realise it was probably a bit too much for some people in the audience to digest, at the end of a long and intensive conference day. For the audience of last week, and for all others who are interested in the subject, I prepared a summary, that can be digested as slow or fast as you want.
The most important long-term trend, in my view, is personalisation. It is related to the employee experience. I have also labelled this trend “From Please the boss to Employee Intimacy”. Do organisations really take the effort, to get to know their employees (and other people, who are not necessarily on the payroll). What do people aspire? What are their capabilities, what do they want to learn? Generally, organisations do not take a real effort.
In the two pictures below, I try to outline some elements of personalisation, in relation to learning. In the “old” situation: groups of people (new employees, high potentials, leaders) are treated as a group, and receive basically the same learning intervention. Often in a classroom, away from the real work.
In the new situation, employees (and other people working for an organisation) are treated as individuals. Most learning takes place on-the-job (the lower part of the picture). Tailored to the individual needs, a wide variety of micro-learning solutions is offered. Of course, when people must learn something new that will take a considerable effort, this will happen off-the-job, but preferably not as collective as in the old situation.
Jimmy Vanasbroeck tweeted, after my presentation (see picture below): “I am fed up with all these trends. Why do we have to try something new every year? What is new about treating people as individuals?”. I totally agree with Jimmy, this is nothing new. The question is: why doesn’t it happen more in organisations? Fortunately, in my view, the movement is in the right direction (but slowly).
2. Selecting for the future
Based on research by the University of Kent, Headway Recruitment made a nice infographic summarising the skills that are best suited for the (short term) future. As some of these skills are not so easy to develop, it is worthwhile to take them into account when selecting new people.
Fior HR, and learning and development, a key question is: who do you consider to be in scope for your activities? Only the people on the payroll, or also all the other people who contribute to the organisation (the flexible workforce, students, alumni etc). When organisations work with self managed teams, there is an opportunity for HR to give shape to the important role of personal coaching (see also 14, performance consulting).
4. From individuals to teams and networks
Teams are the main building blocks of most organisations. Learning and development is probably the part of HR that gives most attention to teams (Read: From individuals to networks of teams). In some organisations, HR professionals are transforming into agile coaches. Organisational Network Analysis (ONA) is a technique that can be very helpful in the learning and development domain. For example, to help finding specialists, who can be part of wider learning networks. Some people who are the go-to person in their team for specific problems, can be very valuable in improving the capabilities in other teams as well.
The slow shift has been going on for years now. The Tayloristic organisation, where everybody has a clearly defined and assigned job, often does not work so well. Especially when the assignments are not so clearly defined, more flexibility is required. The jobs become more flexible, and employees get the opportunity to craft their own job, to make the best fit with their wishes, needs and their capabilities.
Learning content is more and more made available in small chunks. On elearningindustry.com I found the following definition: “Microlearning is a way of teaching and delivering content in small, very specific bursts”. Microlearning is also related to the trend from just-incase to just-in-time learning: you learn new skills and knowledge best when you really need it and can apply it immediately.
7. Real ‘on-the-job’ training
It makes a difference if an employee must search actively for a learning module that he or she needs, or that the module is offered at an appropriate moment in the workflow, based on real time observations of the behaviour the employee. If there is a meeting with company X in your diary, your personal learning aid might ask: “Do you want to learn more about company X?”. If you are stuck in designing a difficult Excel macro, the Excel chatbot asks you: “Can I help you to design the macro?”. If you have a meeting scheduled with an employee with a low performance rating (the computer get this information in the HRIS), you are offered a short module “how to deal with under-performing employees”.
The solutions become even better if your individual learning style and the level of your capabilities are considered.
8. The Learning Experience (LEX)
The employee experience has many facets. The learning experience is one of them. How do employees experience learning and development? Do they feel an individual approach? Are the learning activities and the learning tools up-to-date and are current technologies used?
Many HR practices were designed in the last century, when many things were a lot slower than today.
Have you adapted and redesigned your practices? An annual personal development plan is probably not very helpful when it comes to being faster.
10. Granular feedback and 11. Smart technology
Football clubs track their players almost 24/7. On the field, during the training, and while they are sleeping. The data is used to give the players feedback they can use to improve their performance. The combination of data gathered by intelligent devices combined with the observations of the trainers, increases the quality of the feedback. Gathering real-time data on the individual performance of employees is still not widely used. There are privacy issues, and if the data is misused by the employer the trust of the employees goes down. Making sure the data is only used for development can help. Using individual trackers in the workplace will increase, and if the organisation does not provide them, employees will bring their own (like the FitBit and the iWatch). Some tools that show a glimpse of the direction learning tech tools can take are Joonko and Rescuetime.
Chatbots are rapidly entering the HR domain, also in learning and development. The chatbot as the interface between employee and learning solutions. “I see you are struggling to complete this article? Can I help?”. Onboarding solution provider Talmundo, for example, is now providing an onboarding chatbot.
Social Learning uses the principal, that people can learn and change their behaviour by observing others. With the current technologies, you can observe many more people than the people who are close to you in the office.
Working Out Loud is a concept (or a movement) developed by John Stepper. The basics: you work in a transparent way, share your knowledge, connect to other people and develop new relationships, and learn from your new connections.
Especially for developmental purposes, feedback needs to be very specific. I refer to an earlier article, Improving Performance Consulting, for more details. I think it is too ambitious to expect all team leaders to be able to give high quality feedback. Maybe it is better to rely on people who have really developed this skill. These performance consultants can be very helpful, especially in helping top performers to become better.
Wikipedia defines nudging as follows: “Nudge is a concept in behavioural science, political theory and economics which proposes positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions as ways to influence the behaviour and decision making of groups or individuals. Nudging contrasts with other ways to achieve compliance, such as education, legislation or enforcement”.
An example of workplace nudging: an organisation wants to improve the collaboration between different departments. They could have designed a workshop: “Cross-functional collaboration”. They choose to redesign the office interior in such a way (more open space, only one coffee corner per floor etc) that the employees from the different departments inevitably had more ‘casual encounters’.
Continuous measurement is also the norm in the learning and development area. Measure, measure, measure. Most organisations are still at the first maturity level of people analytics (reporting). Predictive analytics and prescriptive analytics are the holy grail for many. A nice example of the application of predictive analytics can be found in a very nice 2015 documentary (in Dutch) about the protocols they use in an emergency call centre (“According to Protocol”). The call center operators must follow the protocol, that was developed based on the analysis of many calls and the ways accidents were handled. Some people find the protocol a relief, for others is feels like a strait-jacket.
Working and learning can be a lot more fun. Using gamification in learning and development is becoming more main stream.
Many learning and development initiatives are initiated by the organisation. Often the approach is top-down. What do new employees need to learn? What is the knowledge we expect all the people on this level to have? How can we disseminate the global health & safety standards? Often the approach is not only top-down, but also very generic. Learning solutions are designed for groups of people, and not tailored to the individual needs, wishes and learning styles of individual employees. In our article “8 major HR trends for 2018” we noted two trends that are relevant in this context. We called them “Power to the People” and “From Please the Boss to Employee Intimacy“. Employees will start to look for solutions that can help them to become better. Not only for their current assignment, but also for future assignments (maybe at another employer).
Employees will want to become more independent of organisations, and they will take their own initiatives. The other day, I came across an interesting example in football. There is a company, Your Tactical Analyst, that helps individual players (who pay them) with a thorough analysis of their matches, and giving tips on how to improve their game. The players do this independent of their club, as they feel the club does not focus primarily (and understandable) on their development. These types of services will also appear more and more in the business environment. Power to the people!
On May 16, 2018, Tom Haak gave a presentation about trends in recruitment at the HR Masters Summit in Bucharest (part of the Bucharest Technology Week). In his presentation, Tom covered 12 trends in recruitment.
During the employee journey, there are critical moments that are important in establishing the employee experience: moments that matter. Jacob Morgan, is his book The employee experience advantage, makes a distinction between three kinds of moments that matter: specific (like the first day on the job), ongoing (like the interaction between employee and supervisor) and created (like the annual office party). I also like the three kinds of moments that matter that are mentioned in an article on the blog of I4CP: obvious, opaque and invisible. An example of an invisible moment they describe: “Walking across the parking lot on a rainy day, an employee sees an executive pull into reserved, covered parking”.
A collection of 50 “Moments that matter”.
1. The job of your father/ mother
“My father was working for a large electronics company. He was always tired, and never talked about this work”.
“My mother is a doctor, and since I was five years old, I wanted to become one as well”
2. The dominant employer in your hometown
“I grew up in Eindhoven, and all the people we knew, worked for Philips”.
3. A look at the website
“I had a look at their website; all the photo’s were stock photo’s, you could clearly see that”.” On the website I found a lot a stories of people who work there, and if I wanted, I could even mail with them!”
4. Online application
“It took me almost an hour to complete the online application form, and they asked a lot of information that was also on my cv”
“Applying online was easy. Just adding a link to my LinkedIn profile, that was basically it”.
5. Some funny tests
“The first part of the recruitment process, I could do from home. I had to complete some funny tests, and then I answered some questions via my phone. Fast and easy”.
6. Carla the chatbot
“After my application, I was contacted immediately by Carla, the recruitment chatbot. She said I could expect a reaction within two weeks. If I had any questions, I could ask her. Somewhat impersonal, but at least I know whom to contact!”.
7. A short e-mail
“After two weeks, I finally received a reaction, a very short e-mail. I was addresses as “Mr”, although I am “Ms”. I hope they know who I am!”.
8. Rescheduling the interview
My first interview was rescheduled three days before it was planned. They did not say why”.
9. The office building
“The office was very difficult to reach with public transport, it took me a long time to get there! I nearly turned around immediately”.
“On the ground floor, there was a kind of Starbucks, very nice! The people I saw there, seemed to have a lot of fun”.
10. The recruiter
“The recruiter was really grilling me; she looked at het watch a couple times and after exactly 45 minutes she stopped”.
“The recruiter was super nice. She contacted me later via Whatsapp, to let me know she already got positive feedback!”.
11. The interviews
“In the end, I was interviewed by seven people, at two different days. Many asked the same questions, like: can you mention three strong points? Or: where do you want to be in five years? Boring”.
12. A personal message
“One of the managers who interviewed me, send me a message a day later: You would really well fit well in our team. Please contact me, if you have any questions”.
13. The job offer
“After I waited a while, the assistant collected me, and brought me to the top floor. There all the people I met and some others were waiting for me, with champagne. I got the job! The lady in blue on the left side will be my new boss”.
“After I signed the contract, I received a link to the onboarding app. I can introduce myself to my new colleagues, and learn a lot already about the new organisation. I immediately feel at home, although my start date is six weeks from today”.
15. The job title
“Junior trainee…., what do you think?”.
16. The lease car
“I can choose any car I like, as long as it is a Volkswagen Polo”.
17. The first 15 minutes on day 1
“The receptionist did not see my name on the list. They let me wait 15 minutes in the canteen”.
18. Day 1
“Day one was a bit chaotic. Everybody was very busy, and they just gave me some reports to read. My laptop was not ready yet, but I could use another one”.
“They planned a welcome lunch with the team in a nearby restaurant. This really made me feel welcome!”.
19. My first boss
“I learned a lot from her. Although she was very busy, she always had time for me”.
“I hardly ever saw him, he was in meetings most of the time”.
“She was very empathic when my father died”
20. The Big Boss
“The big boss came to my cubicle on Day 1 to welcome me. Please call me Bill, he said”.
“The big boss always parked his golden Jaguar on parking spot number 1. When he took an elevator, we were supposed to take the next one”.
“Big Boss? We have no Big Boss”.
21. Open plan, but not for the boss
“I hate to work in the open plan. There is too much noise, and I cannot concentrate. The boss has a nice corner office”.
22. My first assignment
“They really needed me, and I had to jump in from the first day”.
“It took three weeks, before I was put on my first assignment. I almost left”.
“I go downstairs to buy a cup of coffee, what comes out of the machine is undrinkable”.
24. The first pay check
“Today I received my first pay check. I don’t understand why it is such a low amount!”.
25. The challenging assignment
“I was asked to go to India, with Beth, and investigate some potential targets. We learned a lot!”
26. An expensive dinner
“When the new client signed, we were all invited to celebrate in this fantastic restaurant. A bit over the top, I would say. They ordered wine that costed US$ 200 per bottle!”.
27. No work today
“There was no work today, I could do something for myself. Going home was not option”.
28. Missing on the schedule
“Everybody’s name was on the schedule, but I could not find mine. The planner had forgotten to plan me in, I found out”.
29. The international trip
“We went to the US, to meet the clients. The partner traveled business class, we were in the back of the plane”.
30. A vacancy in our team
“There was a vacancy in our team, but I was not asked what my views were”.
31. They rejected my friend
“I told a friend about a good opportunity at our organisation. He applied, and he received one of those standard rejection letters. I never heard back from HR”.
32. Talks at the coffee machine
“I avoid the coffee machine, they are always gossiping about other colleagues”.
33. The crisis
“We nearly lost a big client. The management team was in the board room for days, but they never communicated with us, or asked our help”
34. Why did they fire her?
“Monique was one of the best. Why was she fired?”.
“I find his jokes disgusting, but everybody else seems to like them”.
36. Conflict with a colleague
“Jack is always picking on me. I mentioned it to my supervisor, but he said: Jack is Jack”.
37. I really need a day off
“I need to take a day off to go to the hospital with my mother, but I am afraid to ask”.
38. The performance review
“The annual performance review was disappointing. My boss said, I am not “charismatic” enough. Look who is talking!”.
39. The conference call
“We were in the conference call with 12 people. Kurt said something the boss did not like, and he (the boss) became very angry. It was embarrassing”.
40. Burned out
“Liz is the third person from our department, who is home. Burned out, they say. Don’t they see the workload is too big?”.
41. A new account!
“When we acquired a new account, it is always celebrated, with coffee and cake”.
42. A possible promotion
“Doris was promoted to team leader. Why was I not considered? I am sure I can do a better job than Doris”.
43. Salary increase
“My performance rating was a three, and my salary increase 1.5%. I must be glad, because many people got less, he said”.
“Yesterday I received a nice bonus for the work I did on Project X. I was called into the office of the director, and she gave me the bonus and a nice bottle as well!”.
45. One more month, please!
“They know I want to work in another team, but again they asked for one more month, as the client is so happy with me….”
46. Working overtime
“I promised to be home by six, but we had to work overtime, again”.
47. My last day
“There were some tears on my last day. I have had a great time at this company, but it is time to move on. I can always come back, they said!”.
“I asked my old boss for a reference, but his secretary says he is too busy”.
49. Catching up
“I went to my old office yesterday. Great reception, many of the old team are still there. We went to lunch together, and we will keep in touch”.
50. I have got some work for you
“I referred some clients to my old company. They never thanked me”.
When was the last time you were offline for a whole day?
When was the last time you were offline for a whole day? Or even an hour, non-stop, besides from the obvious of being asleep at night or during a flight? Although the latter might not even be obvious anymore, hence now already eight airlines offer free inflight Wi-Fi.
These days they say that being offline, having tech-free hours, is the new luxury. From your work life, to your personal life. Have you ever tried, or denied, to change your digital habits?
I am talking about the so called digital detox, better known as “a period during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers, regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world”.
Since the beginning of 2018 every week – or two weeks, I decide to digitally disconnect for a day from the hyper-connectivity to be able to real-life reconnect. Last week, when I had my “offline day”, it was so busy on the digital highway on my iPhone I decided to stay offline for a little bit longer.
Why, you might ask yourself.
“…once she stopped running through life, she was amazed how much more life she had time for.”
In really paying attention, I believe you will probably or at least potentially run into beautiful things that might have been there all along, but escaped your eye because there were enough distractions happening in the same moment. Sometimes you hear that “standing still is going backwards”; I think that we don’t stand still often enough, because everybody always seems in a rush. If you ask someone how they are, answers will often begin with “busy” or “tired” (…but good). Just out of curiosity: what were your last three answers to that question?
I know: to get where we want to be, must be determined, persistent and continuously experiment (and to add the obvious: have fun). But I’d like to believe that I don’t have the time to rush nor hurry and that strength shows not only the ability to persist, but also the ability to stop and/or start over. Think about it: nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. So, I think it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.
Mindful, not Mindfull
Because for me, this exercise was about being mindful (instead of mindfull) and having a growing sense of curiosity towards my surroundings. For example, at an airport, where I was earlier today. It is one of my favourite places to look around as a spectator of life, to simply enjoy what’s happening around me. Wondering where everybody’s going, what I would find in the suitcases of my fellow travellers, things they can’t cross the border without. So many people, so many story’s… Where traveling can leave you speechless, it then turns you into a storyteller – right?
But I also noticed once again, that our daily interaction is mostly via a screen. We wake up to them, we come home to them, and we carry them around in our pockets all day. Even people traveling together aren’t holding hands – they’re holding their phones. And while having a quick bite before take-off, the devices are on the dinner table, screens facing up. Instead of making eye-contact to interact, they are looking down on their screens that lights up asking for their attention. It’s probably next to their pillows when they go to sleep tonight too… with the excuse they need it to wake up in the morning, like actual alarm clocks don’t exist anymore. And as soon as they reach to turn it off in the morning, they’re just one swipe away from checking messages… What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
And in a way, we can’t help it. Every new notification or text triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that drives us to seek rewards; so, you keep coming back for more. And of course, technology may be incredibly useful – it allows us enjoyment and connectivity, it can help us learn new things, save time and work smarter – but it can also be detrimental to our wellbeing in unhealthy doses. Did you know the pressure to be constantly connected has been linked to burnout? It’s time to break free from this constant exposure of digital overload.
The right to disconnect
Probably that is why the past few years several organizations and even countries worked on ways to avoid the compulsive lure of technology. As of 2011, Volkswagen’s servers don’t send or receive emails from company-owned smartphones between 6:15 pm and 7 am on weekdays and weekends. In 2014 Daimler introduced an ‘out-of-office’ auto-delete option, whereby all emails that are received while on holiday are automatically deleted. Or as Adam Atler described their message in his TedTalk “Why our screens make us less happy“: “This person’s on vacation, so we’ve deleted your email. This person will never see the email you just sent. You can email back in a couple of weeks, or you can email someone else.”
And since 2017, French companies with more than 50 employees are even required by law to guarantee workers the “right to disconnect” from technology when they leave the office at night.During my own five days of being “disconnected”, I found myself drinking a nice latte macchiato in a cafe downtown. On the coffee table a magazine, Flow; a magazine of unhurried time, all about doing things differently and making new choices. Small happiness, daily life and the beauty of not always managing to be perfect. Staring at the cover, I tried to remember the last time I sat down to read something else than my work e-mail or a textbook about HR to prepare for a lecture… Then my phone rings. It’s my mom, wondering if I am still alive. Because although she knows I sometimes have my DDD (digital detox day), she was getting worried now because this was ‘next level’ online absence. Talking about disconnect to reconnect.
One of the things I learned was that the more that you slow down your life, the more you fall in love with it each day. That besides the noble art of getting things done, there is a (maybe even) nobler art of leaving things undone. Like one of my favourite proverbs writes: there is a time to run and there is a time to rest. It’s the true test of the runner to get them both right.
Try digital detoxing!
Now you’re about to finish reading this article – ironically via a screen – I invite you to try some digital detoxification for yourself. You don’t have to say goodbye to the digital world altogether or quit using your device, but try to use it less and more conscious by unplugging periodically to start with. For example, take 10 minutes and get away from all screens every 90 minutes to two hours during the workday. Charge your battery to only 50% and leave your charger and power banks at home when you go out. Leave your phone in your bag or pocket during business meetings, meals with other people, or conversations. Keep your phone out of sight while commuting. Don’t take your phone with you into the toilet, or when you go to the supermarket. Turn off all pop-up/banner-like/sound alerts and push notifications. Maybe even delete social media and other time-wasting apps from your phone. Leave your phone outside your bedroom overnight or start with simply putting your smartphone on airplane mode – from an hour before you go to sleep, till an hour after you wake up. Find a detox buddy and tell everyone what you’re doing. And don’t give yourself a hard time if you fail at first or when you experience nomophobia (short for no-mobile phobia).
Have you successfully completed your digital detox? Noticed effects on your sleep rhythm, concentration, energy and stress levels? What benefits of your digital detox are you going to introduce into your everyday life? Let us know what you did and how you felt afterwards.
Regularly I receive questions, via e-mail or LinkedIn. Sometimes I answer. Some of my answers I will collect in this post. The answers will be edited a little bit, to make sure organisations and people cannot be recognised. Questions can be asked via LinkedIn or e-mail.
1. We need an engagement survey, quick
One of our consultants is doing some work at a mid-size client. She is looking for someone who can help with design and execution of an engagement survey. Do you know somebody/ Do you have some quick advice?
Do-It-Yourself might seem attractive, but I think this is generally a bad choice. You lose a lot of time, and the effort is often greater than you think. Of course, you can build a quick survey with Google Forms or SurveyMonkey. Using one of the above mentioned tools might cost a little more set-up time, but you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, and you have a more sustainable solution.
Response bias has to be taken into account. There seems to be a natural order of subjects, if you arrange them from positive to negative. Employees are most of the time relatively unhappy about their packages and the internal communications (especially from top management). Of course they are happier about their own contribution and their immediate colleagues. Far away is more negative than close to home. If you just start working on the aspects that come out of the survey as most negative (pay, communication), you might be wrong. Benchmarking helps, even if it is only internal.
The responses also vary greatly per nationality. People from Japan and UK are on average a lot more negative than people from Mexico or Italy. Also here, it helps to have good benchmarks.
Jacob Morgan is an employee experience guru. He has developed a nice short questionnaire you can use to calculate the Employee Experience Index. It is available on his website.
2. How does individualisation work in teams?
A question was asked in relation to the infographic 15 HR Trends.
“How do machines and chatbots make things more human? How does individualisation work in teams? How do you improve internal performance when your getting your talent everywhere and how does HR become strategic when there are all these contradicting trends?”
We can learn a lot from dilemma reconciliation. You view some things as contradicting, but maybe they are not. Focusing on the needs and wishes of individuals, for example, can help us to create better teams.
Many people who apply for a job, get an e-mail like “Thank you, we have received your application and you will get a reaction within two weeks“. And then they never hear again. Maybe it is more human, to be contacted by a friendly chatbot. “My name is Jack, I am the recruitment chatbot of company X. We have received your application, and hope to finalise the first selection within two weeks. Do you have any questions for me? You cal always contact me, I am available 24/7. If I do not know the answer to a question, I will find someone who can”.
Maybe you can improve performance a lot, if you have access to a wider pool of people to staff your projects, not just the internal pool.
3. How to organise content?
Hi Tom! How are you ? I have very simple question for you…
I’m trying to find a good way to organise inputs and contents. By process, technology ? I don’t know… I have an email folder structure and use pocket with categorised articles …
I like the Bersin frameworks or categories… but I haven’t found the best “container” or tag list.
Some remarks on organising content.
The best advice is: do not organise, but trust on your search engine. Just throw all the content in one big basket, and if you are looking for something, just search. It requires some discipline and trust, but I think it can work.
I am a big fan of Evernote. I use it both mobile and on my desktop. If I see something interesting, I put it on Evernote. If I am at a conference, I make notes on Evernote. If you want, you can tag and put information in different notebooks. I started to do that, but now I just rely on the search capabilities of Evernote (which are good).
To put HR Tech solutions is a basket, we use the employee journey as a guiding principle. Have a look at https://hrtech.community to get a view.
The Big 5 factor model is widely used in personality tests. In its traditional format, you must answer many questions in a questionnaire. People responsible for selection, in organisations and agencies, are looking for simpler and more attractive ways to conduct personality testing. Speed and visual attractiveness are high on their wish list.
The “Swipeable”: easy and fast testing
Peter van der Bel, of the Centre for Applied Product Personality Research, showed me an interesting new development, “The Swipeable” (working name). He and his team developed an adaptive Big 5 personality test, that can be completed in a couple of minutes. On your smartphone, you are presented with a series of each time two pictures, and you must choose the picture that fits you best. After you have made 10-15 choices, your report is ready.
This new test has been validated, and is now ready to be launched. As it is possible, to determine which Big 5 personality profile matches best with certain jobs and professions, the test can be a worthwhile element in HR profiling, matching and selection processes.
Peter and his team would like to test the Swipeable’s matching functionality with a group of HR professionals, and I would like to give maximum 250 people in my network the opportunity to participate.
How can I participate?
Participation is simple:
You complete the test (see instructions below)
After around 10 days you will receive:
Your individual report
The best practice report for the Senior HR Professional role
The percentage that indicates how your individual profile matches with the best practice profile of a Senior HR Professional (as established based on subject matter expertise)
On May 1, 2018, or when we reach 250 participants, participation is no longer possible.
After a presentation yesterday, I spoke to some senior HR professionals of big multinationals. They liked my preaching about the virtues of HR tech, but warned me that maybe I should also spend some attention to the other side of the coin: the virtues of less technology, combined with the virtues of less HR. In their organisations the assignment to all staff groups was: stop with using (wasting) more and more time of the employees and managers in the organisation, please give us some time back! An example that was mentioned concerned performance management. In this organisation they calculated that all the work around the performance management process for one employee costed manager and employee around 10 hours (preparation, two formal meetings per year, completing the online forms, meeting with HR to review the results etc.). By simplifying the process (no mandatory meetings, no forms, no review meetings, just one annual rating to be submitted per employee by the manager), HR was able to give back many hours to the organisation (to the relief of managers and employees).
Especially with regards to big HR systems the promises have always been big, but most of the time the implementation of these systems and the related standardised global processes, result in more work (and agony), for employees, for managers, for HR and for the implementation partners (who are fuelling this machine, as this is the way they earn their money).
How can HR give back time to the organisation?
Yesterday’s conversation triggered me. I was inspired by the conversation, also because it confirmed some of the trends I published end of last year (“Power to the People“). Some first ideas on how HR can start giving time back to the organisation (I stopped at seven, but the list can be a lot longer). Best way of course is to approach this in a more structured way. Measure the time a sample of managers, employees and HR professionals spend on different activities, and estimate the value these activities add to core activities of the organisation (e.g. serving clients and bringing in new clients).
1. Stop with the formal performance management process
As described above, a lot of time can be saved here. Rely on the employees and their managers to sort things out.
2. No more headcount reporting by HR
Headcount reporting is never easy. The headcount report delivered by the financial team out of the ERP system is always different from the report delivered by HR. Aligning the two reports costs a lot of time. For what sake? Maybe it is best just to rely on the report from Finance.
More general: what is done with all the reports that are prepared by HR?
3. No more talent- and succession management reviews
If I could get back all the time I spent on preparing talent- and succession management reviews, I would be years younger. Most of the time spend on these processes is a waste of time. Window dressing for the Supervisory Board. The outcomes are hardly ever really used, and if there is a critical vacancy good candidates are often brought in from outside. Read: 10 trends in succession management.
4. Reduce the number of HR business partners
I quote from an article I published earlier this week (“10 trends in HR organisations“): “The work of most HR Business Partners is not strategic, but operational. Most of their work can be split in three areas:
Work that should not be done by HR, but by the line managers/ employees (like talking to employees with performance issues).
Work that can be managed by a HR system (like managing the performance reviews).
Work that belongs in the HR service center (like answering all kind of questions from managers and employees).
Big organisations that are transforming their HR, move most of the HR Business Partners and their work to the HR Service Center (where you need less of these kind of professionals).”
5. No leadership credos and what have you
Some organisations are still busy crafting their leadership profiles, often with the help of external consultants. Stopping this is a big opportunity to give some expensive time back to the organisation. Most of these leadership models look very similar. For the communication department: same message, but replace “leadership model” with “purpose statement”.
6. No more “every manager should be a coach”
The credo “every manager should be a good coach” has cost many organisations a lot of time. This is like flogging a dead horse. Most managers are not good coaches and they never will be. Leave coaching to people who like it and who are good at it. Maybe you don’t need them inside your organisation, as there is a big pool of good coaches available outside.
7. Stop with most of the internal general management programs
The internal leadership and management development programs are big time consumers. The effect of these programs if often very difficult to measure, and looking at the average engagement level of employees the hypothesis is, that the effects are minimal. Scrap your leadership academy, and loads of valuable time will flow back into the organisation.
HR organisations are changing. What are some of the trends we are sensing?
1. HR is mainly HR Operations
Most of what HR does, can be captured under the label HR operations. World class HR operations are key, and many organisations are carving out and centralising HR operations. Outsourcing or partially outsourcing is certainly an option. Centers in Poland, the Philippines and India are delivering high level services at low costs. Outside the HR Service Center, what is left in HR? Maybe you only need high level HR strategic advice.
2. Focus on service and hospitality
The requirements for the people in HR operations are different, and probably we need a new breed of HR professionals who can run HR as a service organisation. In HR services both IT and hospitality are important. Organisations that measure how employees experience their journey, often find that employees are not very happy with how they can find relevant HR information (often on the intranet). A top-notch HR service centre is very important for a positive candidate and employee experience. 24/7. Friendly chatbots that help employees and managers. High level professionals that can help when the programmed processes do not offer a solution and when the issue is too difficult for the chatbot.
Read our posts: “HR Operations in the lift” and “HR, please give me a menu”
3. HR Business Partners in decline
Twenty years ago, Ulrich and Brockbank published their famous HR business partner model, in their book Human Resources Champions. Although not the intention of the authors, there were clearly perceived differences in status between the different roles. Especially on the dimension Strategic vs Operational, most HR professionals favoured strategic above operational. For years, the ambition of most HR professionals was to become a real strategic business partner. Unfortunately, many HR professionals did not have the skills and experience to realise their ambition.
Today we see the first signs of the decline of the HR Business Partner. The work of most HR Business Partners is not strategic, but operational. Most of their work can be split in three areas:
Work that should not be done by HR, but by the line managers/ employees (like talking to employees with performance issues).
Work that can be managed by a HR system (like managing the performance reviews).
Work that belongs in the HR service center (like answering all kind of questions from managers and employees).
Big organisations that are transforming their HR, move most of the HR Business Partners and their work to the HR Service Center (where you need less of these kind of professionals).
4. From HR to People to Workforce
HR as a term seems to last long. In the last years, you see ‘HR’ replaced by ‘People’ more and more. Chief People Officers and VP’s of People Operations are popping up everywhere. The next move is probably to ‘Workforce’. The workforce consists of people and robots/ bots of all kinds. The scope becomes bigger than just humans.
5. Specialists above Generalists
Most of the people that are needed in HR related professions, will be specialists. Specialists are needed in all kind of old and new areas. Old: recruitment, selection, comp & ben, training and coaching. New: people analytics, agile coaches and performance consultants.
6. EX = CX = Marketing
HR is currently embracing the employee experience (EX). Here HR can learn a lot from Marketing, who have for a long time been working on designing and enhancing the customer experience (CX). If Marketing is so good at this, why not assign the EX also to Marketing? Most HR efforts today are focused on employer branding and recruitment. Maybe this is better off in the hands of specialists.
7. Shared resources for Analytics
Data analysts are in high demand. Organisations are gearing up their analytics capabilities in different domains. HR has been lagging, and is now trying to catch up. It makes sense to share the scarce data analytics resources. Create a central team, that can be used by different groups. HR knowledge and experience can easily be added.
8. Systems take over much of the traditional HR work
Although the promises of the big HR systems have been big, many of them have not lived up to the expectations. Early adaptors have spent a lot of money to tailor the systems to their needs, and often the implementation of the HRIS created a lot of work for HR and implementation partners. Persistence seems to pay off now. The HR systems have become a lot better, and organisations realise that if they want to reap the benefits, they better not tailor too much and they better spend the money upfront, instead of half-heartedly, resulting in slow implementations. Connecting innovative specialised hr tech solutions to the bigger systems is also becoming easier.
9. The CEO is also the CHRO
Modern CEO’s are also CHRO’s or Chief People Officers. Do these CEO’s need a CHRO/CPO in their top team? In many organisations the CHRO is basically the Head of People Operations, with the final responsibility for People/ HR Operations. The role of strategic advisor in the people and organisation domain, can also be fulfilled by others, like the big strategic consultancies or HR strategic consultants.
10. From PTB to EI
The tide is slowly turning, from PTB (please the boss) to EI (employee intimacy). Really understanding the wishes, needs and capabilities of employees is getting more important, and this employee intimacy is required to design relevant employee journeys. The question is, if HR can play an important role in this shift. There might be others who are better in designing the employee experience (see 6). The boss does not need pleasers but challengers, and this role might be better in the hands of high level strategic consultants.
In this article, I review 12 ingredients of what I consider good HR.
Good HR is HR that makes a major contribution to achieving the objectives of the business: HR with impact.
1. HR speaks the language of business
The HR handbook has many chapters. Many HR professionals want to implement the complete handbook. Much time has already been lost with the design and implementation of competency profiles. Because HR wants them so badly. However, the starting point for HR should not be the HR handbook, but the current issues of the business. HR must understand these issues, and then choose and design the most impactful HR intervention.
Question 1: To what extent does your HR team speaks the language of the business?
2. HR works multidisciplinary
In many organizations, the staff is divided into different areas. Finance, Legal, Strategy, Communications, Knowledge Management, IT, HR and special projects. This division can lead to silos and power struggles between the staff departments. Which department has the ear of the CEO and the Board? Which department has the largest budget?
Most issues today require a multidisciplinary approach. Example: how can we connect our employees worldwide on different themes? Global communities can only be created if IT, HR, Communications and Legal join forces. HR is in the position to act as a connector between the different groups.
Question 2: How good is your HR team in connecting the various disciplines within the organisation?
3. HR is more leader than follower
HR is often submissive. Submission is often accompanied by fear, and fear is a very bad adviser. Regularly I hear HR say: I think it is a good idea, but how do I sell it to my boss? Once I attended a meeting for HR professionals where a CIO told how in her organisation, using Google+, several effective communities were created. The questions from the audience were focused on control. Who decides which communities are created? What do you do when people do not want to participate or if abuse is made?
Question 3: Which description fits better with your HR team: leaders or followers?
4. HR has clear principles
Each organization will benefit from clear and transparent principles. The values of organizations are important and HR can be a good guardian of these values. ‘Integrity’ is in most organizations one of the published values. In translating the values of the organization in desired behavior for leaders and other employees, HR can play an important role.
Also in the design of compensation and benefits, it is important to be guided by clear principles.
If you ask HR a question, the answer is generally: this is not possible / this is not allowed. Equality and fairness are often important principles for HR. This makes it difficult for HR to make exceptions. Because if we do that for you, everybody will come along! If you want to promote diversity and if you want to get the best out of employees, it fits less and less to apply rules to which no exceptions can be made.
Question 5: Is your HR department sufficiently flexible and employee focused?
There is often too little laughter. We must hurry! We must move on! It helps if HR can take some distance, and adds some humor to the mix. What are we doing? Do we not take ourselves too seriously?
Question 6: Can you laugh with HR or do you laugh about HR?
7. HR likes to experiment
Too much time is wasted in developing and discussing plans. While you are discussing plans, nothing happens. What we want is often not so difficult to determine. We want motivated employees. We want the strategy to be understood. We want the best people in the right place.
It is more difficult to determine how we can achieve our goals. Experimenting helps. Do a test with a small group and see if it works. “Whatever works” could also be the motto for HR.
Many organisations want to copy other organisations. The benchmark thinking preached by many consulting organisations has done no good. Why would you want to do what others do? Why would you not want to be an innovator and front-runner? HR can take the lead, especially because many of the current HR practices need to be renewed.
The network of HR can work as an accelerator. If HR has quick access to partners with unique knowledge, HR can quickly implement creative and innovative solutions. HR as a spider in the network of change agents and key employees of the organisation, can quickly sense if changes can count on sufficient support. If the CHRO has a good network, she can build a strong HR team.
Question 10: Does HR have a large and strong network?
With the current computing power, it is possible to quickly analyse data. HR analytics provides the ability to produce facts and not opinions. Myths and prejudices can be unraveled. Predictions about the future can be made fact based.
Question 11: Does HR use of the opportunities offered by people analytics?