Tag Archives: employee engagement

Tailoring Jobs

Tailoring In The Workplace May Lead To A Better Fit

A good fit between employer and employee ups the chances that the employee will find his or her job fulfilling and be more productive. This was confirmed by a study sponsored by WorldatWork, “Organizational Culture and Total Rewards: Person-Organization Fit (2010),” which found that employees who share similar values with their organizations tend to be more satisfied with the total rewards packages offered by those organizations. And that kind of employee satisfaction enhances employee engagement.

But wait, it’s not as simple as it sounds. Surprisingly, the same study found that employees who are more satisfied with their organization’s standard benefits package are less likely to be engaged in their work. That’s because benefits packages, which are uniformly distributed among employees of a similar classification, are perceived differently than other rewards such as bonuses, which are performance based.

“This research has several practical implications for employers,” said Ryan Johnson, vice president of research for WorldatWork. “If organizations want to have engaged employees, it makes sense for them to attract and hire people who share similar values to the organization. It’s also important for them to offer a total rewards package tailored for their employees and not just a standard benefits package.”

Employee engagement is a key ingredient among workers who are committed to the mission and goals of their organization. Employees are more committed to organizations whose values align with their own. If an organization is socially minded, it would do well to hire employees who value corporate social responsibility. If a hospital’s mission is to provide integrated health care, it will have an easier time attracting and retaining physicians who value collaboration. If a company’s goal is to revolutionize digital music, it ought to hire creative people with an appetite for some risk.

Sounds like all one has to do to ensure productivity is to hire employees with similar values to begin with, right?  Not necessarily, says Johnson.

“For innovation-driven companies, hiring like-minded employees could have a negative impact on innovation within the organization. You need to consider all the factors.”

In & Out Box, Ready for Recovery - AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Businesses Tasked With Retaining Key Talent In Months Ahead

Anne C. Ruddy, president of WorldatWork, an Arizona-based professional association of human resources practitioners, has extensive experience leading and managing large organizations at the highest level. A talent innovator, she uses her organization and its staff of 130 as a laboratory to test new practices and transfer new ideas to its membership regarding human capital. Here, Ruddy shares a few key strategies for managing talent in this economic recovery.

What kind of impact has the recession had on work forces around the nation?
In a word, negative. Employers are painfully aware that cost-cutting measures deployed to stay afloat during the recession adversely affected workers. One of our recent studies — “The Global Talent Management and Rewards Survey by WorldatWork and Towers Watson” — confirms just how gravely the cost-cutting measures taken during the financial crisis impacted employees’ workloads, their ability to manage work-related stress and overall employee engagement. As a result, companies can expect greater difficulty in motivating employees and retaining key talent during the economic recovery.

What can organizations do to ensure a smooth post-recession recovery?

The very first thing is to identify your top performers. Who are your high-value contributors? These include not only those who drive the most revenue, but also those who play crucial roles in areas such as product development and human resources, or those who help build the employer brand and reputation. Forget the rear view mirror — you’d be smart to base decisions on future business priorities, not just recent performance. Sales employees, for example, who have generated less income than usual during the economic crisis, will continue to be highly valued given the central role business development plays in most post-recession recovery plans.

So you inventory talent and now have a list of pivotal employees. What’s next?

Show pivotal employees they matter. A-players want to know they have a future place in the company. While promotions are one way to send this message, they’re not always possible in this economy. Special assignments, involvement in high-visibility projects, skill-building opportunities, and formal or informal recognition can be equally powerful engagement and retention tools. Also, keep top performers informed about evolving business strategies. Too often, top performers join competitors simply because inadequate communication has left them feeling unappreciated, uncertain about their roles or uninformed about changing business needs.

Many employers were forced to freeze or cut pay during the financial crisis. What should they do for the recovery?

Return to pre-recession pay practices as soon as possible, and differentiate based on performance. Failure to do so can result in high performers being demotivated, demoralized, or worse yet, cause them to look at other options for employment that seem to offer greater rewards for their efforts. Organizations need to make hard decisions, both in rating performance and allocating compensation dollars. If there isn’t enough cash to go around, don’t go spreading it like peanut butter!

Given current high unemployment rates, is the war for talent over?

Quite the opposite. Companies should prepare to compete for the best and the brightest. Don’t be lulled by a perceived surplus of post-recession talent. While it’s an employers’ market for some positions, demand remains high for critical skills. Impending baby-boomer retirements and projected shortages in critical technical disciplines will only intensify the competition. To get ahead, you need to measure the talent that exists in your organization today, in order to find the talent gaps you need to fill so that the organization can get where it needs to go.

What do successful companies know that others may not?

Progressive companies, what we often refer to as “employers of choice,” know that keeping those people who are critical to success is a lot easier than going out into the market and trying to find new people, train them, mother them, and get them ready to really be productive, which usually takes a year from their date of hire.
In good times and in bad, the best companies look beyond talent management to talent innovation. They are on a perpetual quest for the best and the brightest employees, who can truly elevate the organization as opposed to passively watching the organization grow.

Arizona Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

organized desk

Creating More Efficient Workspaces Can Increase Productivity And Reduce Costs

Bracing for austere times ahead, office leaders have two obvious places to cut back: payroll and real estate. No one would suggest that cutting staff is an easy or enjoyable thing to do, but it can be an opportunity. Space freed by reductions in payroll can be reorganized to improve workplaces, bolster worker morale and raise productivity.

Even before the recent financial crisis took hold, Gensler’s research found that 36 percent of U.S. office space is considered by the workers using it to be ineffective. This is in large measure because the nature of work is changing. Formerly the domain of so-called creative industries, collaborative meetings and group work scenarios have assumed priority over individual focus time.

Reducing office space as a cost-cutting strategy can actually create inefficiencies if you simply shrink space and continue with the same workplace model. Gensler’s recent workplace survey found that firms that provide appropriate workplaces for the type of business conducted have higher levels of employee engagement, brand equity and profit, with profit growth up to 14 percentage points greater than those with less effective work environments.

If layoffs have left you with too much space for too few people, look into whether you can unload space through subletting or simply returning it to the landlord. There can be a real negative psychological impact among employees who always are aware that there’s an empty desk next to them. At the same time, a little more breathing room can boost spirits and productivity.

Before making any plans, take a look around the office and really understand how space is being used. Observe how people are working in the office, how areas are really utilized. What’s empty? What’s overcrowded? Where have people been doing workarounds to make space effective? Look for wear patterns, improvised equipment and furnishings, over-flowing desks, unused conference rooms, etc.

When you’re ready to take action, consider these possibilities:
Make sure you’re getting the most out of your space by converting as many spaces as possible from single-use spaces into multipurpose spaces. A reception area can double as a client area, employee café, community space and optional work area. This approach will require furniture that supports multiple uses.

Wireless capability makes your office one big workspace. Anyone can go to any corner of the workplace to huddle in groups or get away from everyone for some solitary focus time.

By strategically locating amenities, you can increase the opportunities for incidental, as well as intentional, collaboration among staff members.

Branding the workplace nurtures corporate culture and improves a sense of teamwork and pride in the work produced. Color, art, graphic images and printed messages used in strategic locations can be powerful.

Improve visual connectivity among colleagues to promote collaboration and social interaction. This can be achieved in several ways: employ an open office plan, install low-panel workstations and reduce the number of closed offices.

Create space by increasing density and clustering meeting rooms. Create collaborative social zones in the space outside of those areas. This energizes public areas while reducing space taken up by circulation paths.

Place workstations and open collaborative spaces along window areas, and put offices inboard to bring light deeper into the space. Natural light in workspaces raises productivity and reduces energy costs.

Accommodate telecommuting when appropriate. You can save on real estate, energy costs and demonstrate an interest in your employees’ work-life balance. With mobile workers, be sure you have space in the office that gives them easy access to the tools they require and the people they need to connect with.

Perhaps before going all in, make small changes and monitor the results. It is important to assess your workplace layout before making any changes and to evaluate the results after implementation. Observation and surveys are effective ways to validate what’s working. Once your workplace environment changes are complete and have been occupied for a few months, verify that your design is advancing workplace goals. Consider evaluating your space every two to three years to help keep your workplace effective.

Ask where you’ve captured real estate efficiencies. Have you been able to get double and even triple use out of some spaces? Is every part of your office space being deployed in the service of supporting work activities? Are your employees more connected, informed, collaborative and productive? Ultimately, your new design should deliver improved business performance.

Creating a more efficient, collaborative and accommodating workplace is something that pays dividends even in financially distressed times. A proud organization with employees who enjoy going to work and who feel the company cares about them will work harder and more effectively no matter the state of the economy.