Employee Well-Being Redefined

sherrie suski 2021 wellbeingWe typically define well- being in terms of emotional, physical, social and financial wellbeing and while employee wellbeing has always been the purview of HR professionals, it has been taken to a stratospheric new level moving into, what some are calling, the 13th month of 2020, January 2021.  

Never in most of our lives have our employees needed more care, empathy and information that they do today.  At every turn they are struggling with at least one, if not, multiple of the above areas that define wellbeing.  They no longer get the immediate feedback that was part of their everyday office life, where a simple smile, or gesture of reassurance was more than welcome on the days that were difficult.  They had opportunities to use the gym, stay physically active, to socialize with family and friends and to feel some sense of control around their financial future.  If any one of the above areas is in question, it can cause employees not to be able to bring their best selves to work, but when all four have been impacted and the same time, some fee they are driven to distraction by what feels like an out-of-control life.  

Employers need to step up and step in at every opportunity and this is NOT just the purview of the HR function.  This is every people leader’s role.  Your employees need to know that you care, and they need to know that you are there for them, as a beacon in the night, assuring them that life will return to normal and that you are there to support them with whatever resources are at your disposal should they and their families need them

Emotional Support

  • Make it simple for people to connect and do their jobs no matter their circumstances
  • Gauge employee sentiment via a pulse survey to understand where people are struggling
  • Bring to light information and opportunities that are specific to them so employees can thrive amidst uncertainty
  • Employee needs haven’t changed, just evolved.

Valuing every person, every day goes a long way in honoring employee needs and understanding motivations.

Physical Support

  • Offer a wellness platform, like Vitality,  that all employees can engage with virtually
  • Create contents that employees can participate in on socially distanced teams or individually
  • The COVID 15 is no joke.  Being overweight can increase health risks, so help employees to shape up by offering education on healthy eating

Social Support– 

  • Nurturing new hires to accelerate their productivity
  • Providing employees access to relevant learning and development to foster their growth
  • Enabling meaningful manager feedback and coaching to boost performance
  • Increasing motivation by recognizing employees when and how they want to be spotlighted
  • Keeping a pulse on how employees are feeling

Financial Support

  • Offer financial planning courses on subjects of interest to wide ranges of employees
  • Talk openly about the benefits of Living Trusts, saving for retirement and the benefits of a 401(k)
  • Ensure employees, if you are able, that their job is secure.  The stress created form an uncertain financial future is keeping many people up at night.

HR leaders have an opportunity and an obligation to get this right.  Now is the time to reach out to your employees and ensure they know that you care about them not only as employees, but as human beings.

Did You Forget Your Brand?

sherrie-suski-brandCrafting and supporting a meaningful and aligned external and internal brand identity requires us to be proactive in nature. COVID-19 required us to be reactive in nature.  While we were busy reacting to the imminent threat in front of us and scurrying to move our workforces’ home, figure out testing, manage through a reduction in force in some cases, many forgot their brand.  

Brands do not only require management during the good times but require even a more significant effort during the difficult times.  This is the opportunity to have your vision and guiding principles be more than just words on a wall.  This is the perfect opportunity to show your employees that you value them and not just say the words.  In many cases, when our economy and our companies return to “normal”, there will be significant repair work to be done by those that did not understand that a pandemic is not a good excuse for exiting your internal  employer brand.  The good news is, however, you can get a head start!

Reduction in Force

Think long and hard about your need to do a RIF.  While cost savings are typically the primary motivator, who has created the spreadsheet and calculated what will be lost on the other side?  Good employees may not want to return and will have moved on. They will also have told a dozen of their closest friends not to work for you as you will be viewed as a Fairweather Friend.  Those employees who are still with you, may choose to seek out other opportunities when the economy picks up as they will have seen how committed to the employees you really were and believe that they will fare no better during the next tumultuous event.

Top Workplace awards

If you treated your workforce well, if you stood behind your employees and did not succumb to panic, now is the time to showcase that by crafting an entry for Best Places to Work, Energage or one of the many other employee engagement surveys. Your employees will know how fortunate they are and will want to tell the world what a great place your company is to work.

While Glassdoor may be the bane of their existence for many in HR, you can learn to leverage the site to your advantage.  Actively ask your employees to write a review.  It is always the hope that they have something positive to say, but even when they don’t think of it as a learning opportunity for how you can improve.  

Keep in mind that what you do today will remain a part of your employee culture for much longer than COVID  will be a pandemic and ensure you are making the right decisions for the long term.

When HR Reporter asked participants to rate how challenging 12 major workplace issues might be in 2021, more than six in 10 (66 per cent) said recruiting and hiring would be challenging.  Make sure that you are doing everything you can today to set a successful stage for tomorrow for your current and future employees!

Human Capital Management (HCM) Platforms

sherrie-suski-hcmHuman Capital Management System (HCM) is a one-stop solution to manage HR needs, to streamline processes, to provide visibility into the global workforce, and to provide a user experience that’s accessible from anywhere. So we can keep your people engaged while helping them adapt and grow. It covers the whole employee lifecycle: onboarding, recruiting, learning, compensation, payroll, benefits, time off, analytics, planning, etc.

How can an HCM benefit your organization?

There are a number of variables and considerations when selecting a new Human Capital Management (HCM) Platform.

  • What is the size of the company?
  • What are the platforms other functions are using?
  • Does your company plan to grow?
  • Are you global or domestic?
  • Do you have field teams that require mobile capability?
  • Do you need customized reporting capability or is standard reporting sufficient?
  • Are you looking to integrate payroll?
  • Which modules will you need?
    • Learning Management System
    • Applicant Tracking System
    • Performance Management
    • Compensation
    • Does it offer machine learning capability?
    • Do you require a cloud based solution?

The majority of providers today have cloud based solutions.  A cloud based solution refers to on-demand services, computer networks, storage, applications or resources accessed via the internet and through another provider’s shared cloud computing infrastructure. One of the key benefits of cloud-based software is the flexibility it offers. Cloud doesn’t tie you or your business into a single location. You will be able to do business from all over the world. This kind of flexibility can also help with employee satisfaction and productivity.

Selecting the right HCM for your business now and in the future provides a one stop shop for you and your employees to be able to access all information in one place.  Designed correctly, HCM’s save a tremendous amount of time and manual manipulation.  Value propositions include:

  • A single platform to manage and develop a diverse workforce with transaction history and operational metrics in a single system providing real-time global visibility.
  • Organizational flexibility and agility to adapt to change (M&A activity and shifting business models).
  • Operational efficiencies, freeing up more time for employee services and strategic HR initiatives.
  • Consumer grade, modern mobile experience for managers and employees.

Choose wisely as HCM subscription and implementation fees are not inexpensive and the time devoted to bringing one up is significant.    

Forbes Excerpt: “Getting Ready to Join the Workforce …”

I was recently featured in Forbes Human Resources Council’s “Getting Ready to Join the Workforce: 13 Tips for High School and College Seniors.” Below is an excerpt of the piece. Click here for the full article.

“7. Identify What Makes You Unique

Help employers understand why you stand out from the crowd by focusing on accomplishments or attributes that make you unique and of which you are exceptionally proud. Be willing to take risks and put yourself out there. If employers aren’t connecting with who you are, those are not employers with whom you want to align yourself. You have a right to find an employer who values you! – Sherrie Suski, Tricon American Homes”

Do you feel Proud?

sherrie-suski-proudWe had an exercise recently with Simon Sinek’s organization to re-visit our Purpose Statement and Guiding Principles.  For us they are not just words on a wall, but the very essence of who we are and why we exist.  The exercise started off with sharing stories of what made each of us feel proud to work where we do.  As we shared the stories around the table, it became clear that each person was passionately engaged in what we were creating.  

Jon R. Katzenbach, suggested in his book “Why Pride Matters More Than Money” that pride grows out of “the relentless pursuit of worthwhile endeavors.” This “intrinsic pride” becomes “institution-building” when it “prompts the kind of effective, customer-focused behaviors” that distinguish an organization from its rivals. Commitment based on “self-serving or materialistic gains,” he adds, is “short-term, transient, and risky.” It doesn’t unleash “the kind of emotional commitment” that builds “long-term sustainability.”

Knowing that the values of the company you work for align with your own individual values is an important indicator in the number of proud moments you will experience there and likely an indicator of your level of potential engagement and commitment.  

It would be difficult to work for former Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh who was recently charged with wire fraud and tax evasion and feel proud  of the company you were keeping. She is accused of ripping off nonprofit organizations and taxpayers by accepting payments for tens of thousands of books she never intended to deliver. Pugh used the money, according to court papers, to fund her mayoral bid and to buy and renovate a house in Baltimore.  Very few of us would wish to work for an organization that exhibited these values, and, if we did find ourselves in this position, would probably feel compelled to put in as little time and energy as possible, while feverishly looking for another job.  

Figure out in advance what makes you feel proud and what stories you would want to recount about why you felt proud of the company you work for.  It likely has little to do with their financial results or their share price. It likely does have to do with how they treat people and the value they place on doing what’s right, not what’s easy.  

Some of the stories that surfaced for us revolved around caring for an employee in a very difficult personal situation, making a choice that we felt was right but certainly not financially prudent, volunteering, caring for our residents in ways that went above and beyond what anyone would expect.  

Each company will have its own unique brand and style, but the next time you are contemplating switching jobs, ask the recruiter what some of their most proud moments have been and ensure that they align with what would make you feel proud.

Mid-Year Crisis

We have all heard of the proverbial mid-life crisis where people in their 40’s or 50’s start to take stock of their lives, celebrating or lamenting what they have or have not accomplished.  Many of us go through the same feelings, albeit on a smaller scale, when the mid-year hits. It signals that it is time to take stock of what we and our teams have accomplished to date and determine how to prioritize our goals over the course of the rest of the year to ensure that we finish where we want to be, having accomplished everything we set out to do in January.  

Take stock

For those without an automated goal planning platform or for those of you have a platform that you don’t check into and update very often, now is the time.  Review what you committed to in January, update what has been accomplished and decide now what shouldn’t still be on the list. Business priorities change constantly and initiatives that seemed critical in January may not be so any longer.  Or, conversely, there may be projects that need to be added.

Prioritize

Align with key stakeholders in the organization to ensure that you understand not just HR priorities, but organizational priorities.  Where can you make the most meaningful contributions?  Whose buy in do you need? Ensure that you communicate these priorities to your team so they clearly understand which projects have the most visibility and are in a critical path.  

Assess resources and expertise

If there are significant changes to the plans that were carefully laid out in January, you will need to re-assess both the resources you have at your disposal and the expertise that exists within your team. In most cases there will be options.  You will be able to make a case for leveraging external resources if required to get the job done.  If it a training and expertise concern, now is a good time to explore additional training opportunities for your team members to ensure they are better prepared in the future.  

Develop Training Plans

To ensure that everyone on your team is prepared to tackle their new assignments for the remainder of the year, you may need to add “Training Plans” to your own goals. Assigning responsibilities to employees who are not adequately trained is a lose lose proposition.  No one wants to appear incompetent. Remember that training and development is a process that takes place over time. The plan itself is not the end, but rather the means to achieving a skill set or competency.

July 1st, just like January 1st, is a time to take stock of what has been done and what is still to come.  Re-assessing our priorities now assures that we finish out the year proud of what we and our teams have accomplished on behalf of our organizations!

Employee Engagement in Action

Employee Engagement must be close to the top buzz word for 2019 or perhaps even the last decade.   While everyone can speak eloquently about the benefits of encouraging employee engagement and the importance of it to producing top business results, ask more specific questions and those once vivacious people go silent.  Few actually spend the time to detail the specifics of what activities actually do increase employee engagement in the workforce. Before we increase our spending in 2019 by 45% on increasing employee engagement as predicted by G2 Crowd, let’s figure out exactly how we should be allocating those additional dollars.

Productivity 

Productivity yields employee engagement. A novel concept as most would argue that it is the reverse; a previously engaged employee yields better productivity.  However, this gives us a significant opportunity to ensure that we provide our employees with every opportunity to not only produce, but to understand how what they do fits within the framework of the organizational objectives.  Establishing waterfall goals is an easy an effective way to assist employees at every level to understand their ability to accomplish objectives and feel proud of their contribution to the organization, thus yielding more productivity.

Employee Recognition

Employee recognition can come in many forms, individual, team or even Company.  We use a peer to peer recognition program called Good Gotcha’s. Anyone can nominate anyone else for doing something good.  A subset of those are then chosen and announced at our quarterly all hands meeting. We also have quarterly awards structured around our Guiding Principles, an annual President’s award and Community service award.  Don’t forget about company awards, there is Great Places to Work and the corresponding Fortune awards, AON Top places to Work and many local awards.  Employees feel proud to work for a company that is recognized nationally as one of the best places to work!

Promoting Wellness

Healthy employees are happy employees!  While only about 10% of employers have implemented a formal wellness platform, they provide opportunities across a host of health initiatives for your employees.  We use Vitality and could not be happier.  Employees have the ability to earn points for individual or team fitness challenges, for taking healthy actions like getting a physical of biometrics performed, buying healthy food and participating in physical, mental, emotional and financial wellness opportunities offered by the company.

Continuing Education/Learning

Almost all employees want the opportunity to develop their skills whether that be through lattice, vertical or ladder, horizontal learning opportunities.  We offer a three fold approach to learning that encompasses action steps, which are specific projects an employee can tackle to enhance their value to the company, internal training opportunities through custom content and courses and also through Franklin Covey’s All Access Pass and external training courses or certifications.

The list is likely endless.  Almost anything you do with the employees’ best interest in mind can be utilized to enhance employee engagement, and, ultimately, company performance!

(Forbes) – “Meet the New Breed of Inspirational Leaders”

Sherrie Suski was recently featured in Forbes, commenting on the next generation of inspirational leaders. See below for an excerpt of the piece, and click here for the full article.

 

“In an organization, the word ‘mentor’ conjures up the image of a wise person offering sage advice — someone who has lived through ups and downs while learning valuable lessons along the way. Those early in their career are frequently told to seek out a mentor, someone experienced who could take them under their wing and provide the tutelage needed to navigate the fast track to success, while sidestepping the landmines.

While mentors still have a role in the workplace, the concept is giving way to a new breed: the idea of the inspirational leader. Employees today are looking to be part of companies that are giving back, and not just to employees, but to their communities and to society as a whole. The inspirational leader brings that broader impact and perspective.”

Continuous Feedback

sherrie-suski-reviewAn increased number of organizations are moving away from the annual review process to a feedback process that incorporates more frequent or real-time feedback. How frequent the review process depends on the scale, culture, and needs of the organization.  Although the process sounds simple enough, there are a number of considerations to be debated prior to implementing this type of change, from systems and platform changes to training associated with the new process.

Quarterly Feedback

Some companies choose to take an interim step between annual reviews and real-time feedback.  Enter the quarterly review. Quarterly reviews can be as simple as creating a comment box where each of the managers composes a brief summary of accomplishments for the preceding quarter or as complex as an annual review process, with ratings against core competencies, and comments for each conducted quarterly instead of annually.  Whether simple or complex, this process alleviates the employees’ common concerns around being surprised at the end of the year with feedback that they had never heard.

Real-time Feedback

The end goal in giving real-time feedback is to be able to provide continuous feedback to the employee so they can course correct in real time.  Normally this will be a two-way street where the manager can give feedback and the employee can ask for feedback on a specific project.  Many real-time systems will also provide an avenue to create Individual Development Plans ( IDP’s) in conjunction with the feedback to address any skill gaps that are identified so that training needs can be identified and a plan built to address

360 Feedback

Moving to 360 feedback, which entails feedback coming from the employee’s manager; peers; and subordinates, and is the most comprehensive of the feedback systems.  360 reviews should never be introduced without a training plan that encompasses all levels of the organization. Employees need to be coached on how to solicit feedback, how to give appropriate feedback and how to handle the feedback once it is received.  Criticism that is not truly constructive and offered with a pure heart, is almost never internalized.

Compensation

Organizations are frequently perplexed when it comes to implementing compensation reviews without an annual rating process that drives a matrix to calculate the percentage increase earned. After all, pay is one of the primary reasons employees show up to work each day. If you’re fundamentally redesigning how you determine their pay, then you need a clear plan that’s clearly communicated.  Many organizations have moved to a simplified approach where each manager is given autonomy to make pay decisions. Each manager is allocated a budget and is responsible for determining the pay/bonus of direct reports.

Ultimately, whichever review process and compensation model you choose to implement, your people leaders need to be trained to take an increasingly more active role in the management of their teams.  They need to understand that managing their people to be the best they can be is fundamentally what leadership is all about!

Driven to Succeed

sherrie-suski-motivationWhy do some push themselves to deliver the best and others are good with good enough?  What is it about the human psyche that pushes some to strive beyond good to excellent? Psychologists tell us that it is a convoluted web of past experiences, motivation and neurological make-ups that churn out individuals who constantly go above and beyond in every role they have in life, who are driven by achievement and being the best.  There are multiple reasons for this drive to excel and not all of them may be what you would initially think. 

Some psychologists tell us that these individuals are not so driven by the need to succeed, but by the need not to fail.

In fact, it is not the actual failure that they are so opposed to, but the shame that accompanies it.  These are individuals who usually care deeply about what others think of them. Certain messages are conveyed to the self when failure occurs, which motivate success in an attempt to avoid acknowledging them. Failure can lead one to have a sense of unworthiness and an expectation of abandonment or an unrealistic fear of complete ruin. In a paradoxical way, the desire to avoid a negative state or emotional experience is the impetus for achievement of your goals and great success.  

Neurologists provide us with explanations that are rooted in the brain.  When it comes specifically to motivation, one of the most important neurotransmitters is dopamine. Dopamine is one of the chemical signals that passes information from one neuron to the next. When dopamine is released from the first neuron, it floats between the synapses. Since dopamine is released before we ever receive a reward, its real job is to encourage us to act. It motivates us to achieve, while avoiding something negative. A team of Scientists at Vanderbilt found that the “go-getters” simply had higher levels of dopamine in the reward and motivation portions of the brain.

Those who do not hold advanced degrees with the letters Ph.D. or M.D. after their names suggest that the reasons for success are much simpler. People who are successful make decisions and choose to take action more quickly.  This increase their chances of success simply because they have tried more options.  They convince themselves to take on tasks they don’t want to do. Instead of avoiding them, they just power through them.  Inevitably this increases their odds of a successful outcomes. Just getting started in half the battle. Prioritization and focus also play a role.  Those individuals who are able to look down a list of to-do’s and quickly prioritize what is the most important, and then able to focus their attention on that task until completion, again increase their odds of success. Distraction is a key reason many people don’t succeed.  They choose to be a little bit accomplished in a number of different areas, but never follow through to the end on the one important goal.  Lastly, a big dose of positivity can go a long ways to accomplishing what you set out to do. People who are successful see themselves as successful at the beginning of the project.  They begin with the end in mind and have a good grasp on what success is going to look like.

Whether you believe success is driven by the fear of shame associated with failure, the amount of dopamine in certain centers of the brain or by the simple decisions you make on a daily basis, remember, if you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.  Jim Rohn