Measuring the Employee Experience

There are many tools on the market that purport to accurately measure the customer experience.  They focus on such topics as action management, customer segmentation, feedback management, sentiment analysis and trend analysis, just to name a few.  Then there are whole CRM systems whose goal it is to manage a company’s interaction with current and future customers. The CRM approach tries to analyze data about customers’ history with a company, in order to better improve business relationships with customers, specifically focusing on retaining customers, in order to drive sales growth.  If we want to understand the employee experience, we have to pursue it with the same gusto and metrics that we do our customer experiences. In general, great experiences don’t just happen, they have to be consciously designed.

We need to start with the belief that a strong correlation exists between the quality of the employee experience and work productivity, which ultimately drives engagement and, hopefully, the delivery of more value to your end customer.  However, there are challenges around measuring workforce experience because no single person, department or function owns the whole experience. Organizations use many tools to understand the experiences, positive or negative, their employees are having — pulse surveys like Waggl, annual employee surveys, quarterly or annual performance reviews incorporating self-reviews, weekly management meetings, talent and succession planning, town hall meetings and so on. The issue is that these tools and the feedback received from them can offer a fragmented and often misleading view of how good the employee experience is.

Forrester has a Workforce Experience Model that is worth reviewing.  It is built around Engagement, Productivity and Impact.  The only issue I would take with their assumptions is that I believe productivity actually drives engagement and not the other way around.  

Productivity

Being able to measure productivity assumes that you have done studies to understand what acceptable levels of productivity are by function.  It isn’t the measuring piece that is difficult, it is understanding and creating the “what” to measure and the scale that makes it challenging

Engagement

An engaged workforce willingly invests time and energy in the success of the business and the degree of engagement will impact business results. Everyone has discretionary engagement that they may choose to deploy at their job or elsewhere. Your mission is to ensure that it is deployed at the job to the benefit of the customers.  To my point, Daniel Pink’s secret to high performance and satisfaction  – the deeply human need to direct our own lives (autonomy), the desire to get better at something that matters (mastery) and the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves (purpose).

Impact

The positive business outcome of productive, engaged employees is a loyal customer. Customer-facing employees, customer service, for example, have the greatest potential direct impact on the customer experience and satisfaction. What about those employees that don’t usually engage with customers directly, like Accounting, Finance or HR, where the potential for positive impact on customer experience is harder to quantify? They know how the processes really work in your organization and may be the best ones to identify and rectify problems for customers quickly.

The conventional eNPS  (Employee Net Promoter Score)  is a standardized tool that you could benchmark your organization against year over year and,  benchmark your ratings against other companies of your size or in your industry. The issue is that it is one question and for most of us, does not really provide value when wanting to delve into the specifics.  There are also multiple surveys you can conduct through Fortune, OC Register or other organizations, but they are quite expensive and questions can be tailored so they do not provide an apples to apples comparison across organizations.  Eventually, it would be great to have an industry accepted employee engagement scale that could be used to drive the employee experience and, ultimately the customer experience.

(From Forbes) “Want To Get Noticed By Recruiters? Honing These 10 Skills Can Help”

I was recently featured in a Forbes article on recruiting. You can find an excerpt from the article below. For the full article, click here

 

6. Automation

In order to stand out, you need to be ahead of the trends. Experience in and being able to talk intelligently about AI and RPA ( Robotic Process Automation) is important in any field to which you are applying. Ensure that you have some examples of how AI has streamlined a process, created efficiencies and delivered measurable results. Discuss what you were able to achieve by freeing up resources. – Sherrie SuskiTricon American Homes”

Workplace Certifications

We recently embarked on a fact-finding mission around workplace certifications.  I felt strongly that we had done an amazing job internally creating a world class work environment for our employees who are spread out over 10 states and 19 different locations, but few outside of the company were aware of that.  In today’s competitive global job market, being a well-known organization or having a famous consumer brand name is not enough to attract and retain top talent. Organizations need to build an agile and connected workplace, create amazing employee experiences, nurture feedback and dialogue, actively focus on innovation, and embed their businesses into the future.

Types of certifications

Great Place to Work

This is a certification connected to Fortune. The survey is actually conducted by their research partner, Great Place TO work.  The survey is made up of about 60 questions and an additional lengthy questionnaire needs to be completed by Human Resources.  They tell you 4 hours, but we easily spent 5-10X that. Should be fortune- ate (😊) enough to be certified, this opens up the door for you to participate throughout the year in a number of other certifications including:  Top 100 Companies, Best workplaces for Diversity, Best Workplaces for Parents, Small & Medium companies, People’s Companies that Care Best workplaces for Millennials, just to name a few.

Aon Best Employers

The program salutes the achievements made by organizations that create sustainable competitive advantage through their people. Aon Best Employers program looks into the health of your organization from the inside, using the most objective measure possible – your employees’ opinion. Backed by more than 18 years’ worth of data on employee experience, Aon Best Employers program measures and recognizes extraordinary employers. It differentiates on people factors which are the key to success: high employee engagement, profound agility, engaging leadership and maniacal talent focus. Aon looks at 4 key areas:  Engagement, Agility, Engaging Leadership, and Talent Focus. They offer both a ready to use on-line survey, as well as a tailored engagement survey that you can customize.

Glassdoor Best Places to Work

Although considered a necessary evil by many to whom I have spoken, there is no arguing that prospective employees turn to Glassdoor to see what others are saying on the inside.  Glassdoor automatically selects those employers that obtain the highest average number of stars given in the reviews by their own employees.  I am proud to say we are at a 4.6, but 1/10th lower than we needed to be to win a Best Small & Medium Places to Work for 2018.  

Next time we will talk about the reasons why, both internally and externally it makes sense to participate in Work Place certifications.

Candidate Success Models

Predicting a candidate’s success on the job used to be primarily focused on whether they had experience doing the job you were interviewing for and whether you could accurately discern if they had been successful. Little thought was given to behavioral or cognitive attributes or specific job competencies that differentiated one position from the next.  Fortunately, those days are far behind us.

In today’s world we have a vast array of tools to better predict candidate success including assessments, behaviorally based interview techniques, established company core competencies.  While these tools are valuable in terms of prediction capabilities, we also need a model to evaluate whether our predictions are accurate or not and allow us to tweak the models going forward.

Behavioral assessments

There are many behavioral assessment tools on the market today.  Some have been around for decades like the DiSC. Others are newer onto the scene like the Predictive Index.  Some are a quick 10-minute assessment which give a solid overview of the candidate’s personality match to the position and others, like the Hogan are in in-depth 3 hours assessment that enables employers to assess personality in the workplace. Additionally, these assessments measure personality characteristics, characteristics under stress, risk of career derailment, core values, and cognitive style

Cognitive assessments

Cognitive assessments are not necessarily appropriate for every job. While they are not IQ tests, many measure the candidate’s ability to quickly learn information and to adapt to changing circumstances.  The general pre-employment aptitude test that measures problem-solving abilities, learning skills, and critical thinking. The thought being that the quicker a person can get up to speed in a job, the more quickly they can start contributing to the organization.  

Behaviorally based interviews

Structured or behaviorally based interviewing has long been thought to be a better predictor of success on the job than either yes/no types of questions or those that do not require a candidate to tell you what they did or would have done in a specific situation. Behavioral interview questions focus on how you handled various work situations in the past. Your response will reveal your skills, abilities, and personality. The logic behind this interview tactic is that your behavior in the past reflects and predicts how you will behave in the future

Core competencies by position

Not all positions require the same set of competencies to be successful. That is why it is important that interview guides be developed for each position that specifically state and ask you to comment on and rate a candidate’s suitability for the position relative to each core competency.  

Once the candidate has been selected for the position, additional work needs to be set in motion to assess whether they are truly successful on the job.  Success can be measured by your Performance Management systems, your talent or succession planning platform, which measures potential, or a combination of both.  Once data has been collected over time, you will be able to better predict an individual candidates’ likelihood of success in a particular position.

People Analytics

 

sherrie-suski-analyticsPeople Analytics is about using a data-driven approach to inform your people practices, programs and processes. Analytical techniques, ranging from reporting and metrics to predictive analytics to experimental research can help you uncover new insights, solve people problems and direct your HR actions. People analytics can help you to understand how knowledge of social and data sciences can help you make more informed, objective people decisions. The mindset shift that needs to occur is moving from a reporting of lag measures, like employee turnover, to a reporting on lead measures, like employee engagement or satisfaction and eventually to forecasting to being able to predict turnover down to the individual level

In a recent Deloitte survey on the topic, they found a mature analytics approach is not possible without data accuracy, security and consistency.  Things that many organizations struggle with. Therefore, your first step has to be to define which data you want to use, ensure that the data is as clean as possible and decide how you will capture that data.   The top drivers of people analytics maturity were:

  • Mature organizations are 2x more likely to have a data council responsible for data governance.
  • Mature organizations are 3x more likely to have strong partnerships with business units and corporate functions.
  • Mature organizations are 3x more likely to have an organizational culture of data-driven decision-making.

The problem is not just “having the data” but “knowing how to use it” and understanding how to explain it, visualize it, and put it into action in front of a business leader. HR leaders and their teams are expected to be knowledgeable enough in the use of statistics to be able to understand the data, determine the trends and make well thought out recommendations to improve the business.

Here is a great example of a trend that HR can be on the forefront of and lead the business!

Defensiveness

sherrie-suski-defensivenessDefensiveness is defined as the quality of being anxious to avoid criticism and/or the behavior intended to defend or protect.  Some have even defined it as reacting with a war mentality to a non-war issue. While none of us relishes criticism, it is a necessary part of growth.  To be able to see ourselves as others see us is a gift that allows us to leave old habits behind and adopt new, healthier ways of having relationships with others.  

An Open Heart

Changing defensive behavior stars with being able to listen with an open heart to what is being said.  Assume the person has your best interests in mind and is sharing something that you need to hear. Try and clear you mind so that you are truly listening and not rehearsing your next defensive statement in your mind while they are speaking.

Express Your Feelings

Being able to openly express your feelings is requisite to becoming less defensive.  Letting people know in a calm manner when they have upset you is not being defensive.  Lashing out with an inflammatory statement is. 

Building Trust

Working through conflict builds trust in any relationship.  It assures both partners that they can trust each other; they can be honest and acknowledge that any relationship is a work in progress, not fixed or defined on just one person’s terms or one moment in time.

Toxic Comments

Bottom line: if we don’t learn how to deal with our grievances head on, inevitably we deal with them indirectly, most often in more toxic forms: by teasing or making snide comments, holding grudges, or by growing more indifferent over time. 

Of course, it’s difficult to give and receive healthy criticism if we’re clinging to a defensive attitude. If you feel yourself become defensive, try to see if you can simply acknowledge it, and work through the conflict as honestly and generously as possible.

Self- esteem

Temperament, history, and, most importantly self-esteem can impact how we respond to criticism.  Some people have so much negative self talk occurring in their heads that they feel they just can’t accept any more from someone else.  Realizing that just because someone is criticizing one issue, does not mean you are a bad person overall is key to building better relationships

People who are more prone to defensiveness may perceive an attack in certain situations in which people with resilient and calm temperaments would perceive none. Experiment with viewing the situation from different vantage points.

Overall, defensiveness in life will hold you back from building better relationships and from growing as an individual

Human Resources Strategy

Once you have assessed your Organizational Culture and understand where you stand, you can move on to HR Strategy in support of that strategy.

The journey toward assessing and implementing your HR strategy may follow the same below five stages.

Functional

Minimal overarching strategies direct the HR team’s efforts. The HR team is largely reactive to the business stakeholders with respect to independent processes (talent acquisition, training, succession, compliance, compensation, etc.) The scope of HR’s roles and structure hold the function back from understanding the business and the employees. Several HR systems may still be manual. The team is focused on the day to day activities without understanding their impact on the organization.

Cross- functional

Strategies regarding critical HR functions (talent acquisition, management development and performance management) are project managed and process-driven, but they are not integrated. There may also be differing degrees of maturity. All functions within HR begin to engage more proactively with the business to ensure alignment, but efforts are not consistent, and change tends to happen slowly.  There are no launch plans and programs introduced, while valuable, may seem disjointed.

Building

Key HR processes start to become integrated as the organization recognizes the need for greater adaptability. Better alignment between the HR strategies and the business strategies is starting to take place. The cascading of organizational goals as a way to guide individual and team objectives and development begins to become pervasive.  Employees start to see the alignment between HR programs from various functions.

Enhancing

HR Programs such as talent acquisition, management development, succession, engagement and incentives are connected to one another in order to heighten the output of the organization. The business strategies are routinely translated into HR strategies, so the HR team remains in-step with the company.  There is a path that HR is capable of walking the organization down. An understanding of how each program introduced flows into and builds upon the one before.

Optimized

Sophisticated and integrated near and long-term HR strategies exist, usually in the 3-year range. Strategic objectives, which are typically cross-organizational, require HR leaders to collaborate cross functionally, creating shared goals and actions. Collectively these behaviors drive successful business outcomes. The strategy is continually reviewed to ensure it is on track with the business and averting unnecessary risk. When necessary, the strategy is rapidly altered based on data-driven inputs to stay on course.  Automation and data based decision making are key at this advanced stage.

Not every organization will achieve the optimized state, but it is, nevertheless, a worthy goal.  HR gains their seat at the table by being able to positively impact the business and align their processes to business outcomes.

Tech and Analytics Set Top HR Departments Apart

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According to recent research from The Hackett Group, an IT service management firm, “World-class HR organizations” achieve more than other HR operations by spending 26% less, relying on 32% fewer staff and embracing digital transformation.  The adoption of digital technology could help HR departments reach world-class status in fewer than five years and see progress in less than two years. To be honest, HR departments who fully embrace the use of tech and analytics can see progress in as little as 6 months.  

The study went on to find that top tier HR organizations are better at developing people and moving them into new roles; two-thirds of open managerial positions at these organizations were filled by internal candidates. The Hackett Group said world-class HR departments contain an estimated 33% fewer transactional employees and 34% fewer staff dedicated to employee lifecycle activities.  The old rule of thumb of having 1 HR person per 100 employees is falling by the wayside with the introduction of technology. Technology not only makes the bottom line look better, but offers opportunities to employees, previously solely devoted to administrative work, an option to focus on more meaningful activities and the opportunity for real growth and career path.

Among the study’s takeaways, authors found that world-class organizations use digital technology to improve the customer experience, develop analytics capabilities, transfer resources from low- to high-value initiatives, and provide expertise and insights to business leaders. Use cases include recruiting, compliance, staffing services and outsourcing.  

Imagine:

  • Being able to predict turnover down to the individual level
  • Having zero errors in your administration because all of it is automated
  • Guiding each of your employees through their own personal benefit enrollment process focusing on only the items important to them
  • Creating a flawless candidate experience where each candidate gets a “red carpet” treatment

World-class HR leaders understand the need to provide other business leaders with HR data and insight affecting their individual operations. This technology-based capability demonstrates HR executives’ knowledge of the business and financial sides of an organization, which can seat them alongside other C-suite executives and shore up employee trust in HR program.  Top HR departments around the globe are moving to not only use but embrace these tools. Have you started?

Workplace Anxiety

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The numbers of people who are affected by anxiety are on the rise.  Recent reports estimate that 40 million people are affected by anxiety, roughly 18 percent of the nation’s population. 

While it is hard to tell whether this rise is an actual increase in those affected by anxiety or simply an increase in those willing to report it, one thing is for sure, uncontrolled anxiety impacts a person’s quality of life both at home and at work.  

 

Strategies for coping with Anxiety

  • Ensure that you have a strong support system both at home and at work.  Spending time with family and friends is one of the best ways to ease the stress of the day.  People who develop strong emotional connections at work have built in safety nets for diffusing some of that stress before it becomes harmful.
  • Exercise before, during or after work.  Everyone has a time when they feel their best.  Some may prefer to get up early and for others it is the perfect release after the end of a long day.  Some are lucky enough to have company or company sponsored gyms that they can take advantage of during the workday
  • Take a different perspective, remembering that not everything is urgent. Learning to laugh a little at how busy things can get, automatically eases the stress level.  
  • Try looking at things a different way the next time you feel stressed.  For example: Instead of rolling your eyes when yet one more person walks into your office, think of it as how many opportunities you have to impact someone’s life in a positive way.  The more the better!
  • Do something to lighten your own mood.  Maybe it’s wearing a funny saying under your work shirt or leaving yourself inspirational messages.  Whatever breaks to constant stream of stress, even for a few minutes, will be helpful
  • Keep a journal of all the crazy, wacky, unbelievable things that happen.  Then, after a particularly stressful day, you will be able to review the past happenings and realize that today was no worse than some of the past days have been.  They passed and you got through them.
  • Fake it until you make it.  Pretend that you’re not anxious or bothered by what happens at work. Because of something known as cognitive dissonance, the mind can actually adapt to the way you act. If you act like a great, confident, happy employee every day even when you’re genuinely not, you can start to feel the very same positive emotions that you’re pretending to experience, and ultimately reduce your anxiety that way.

 

The way you handle the anxiety is not as important as finding the approach that works best for you.  Don’t be reluctant to reach out for professional help if you have tried numerous approached and nothing seems to be working.  Left untreated, anxiety has a negative impact on your quality of life and you deserve only the best!

 

Human Resources Outsourcing

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With more and more focus on driving the business, operating strategically and automating the mundane and repetitive processes that make up the daily existence of many HR departments, the focus has shifted to what, if anything, can be outsourced.  Outsourcing, contemplated and implemented correctly, can be a win win decision from both a cost and efficiency standpoint.  This type of arrangement is not the PEO “Professional Employer Organization” where you outsource all of your employees to another organization in the hopes of saving material sums of money while still being able to deliver exceptional customer service. In my opinion, PEO’s are a poor choice for almost every organization. Here we will explore the primary reasons that HR organizations consider outsourcing.

In a SHRM survey the top reason that companies chose to outsource HR functions are as follows

1) 6% of companies outsource to save money- someone who does just one thing but does it very well is often more efficient.

2)  23% of companies outsource to focus on strategy – spreading yourself too thin with all of the administrative tasks doesn’t leave a lot of time for planning and strategy.

3)  22% of companies outsource to improve compliance – it is increasingly challenging to stay in compliance and increasingly risky to not meet requirements.

4)  18% of companies outsource to improve accuracy – if you’ve got too much on your plate accuracy may suffer.

5)  18% of companies outsource due to a lack of experience in-house – knowing your weaknesses is as important as knowing your strengths, so handing off a task you know you can’t handle properly to someone with expertise is a great business decision.

6)  18% of companies outsource to take advantage of technological advances – with big data worth tapping into, but costly technology needed to really delve into strategic analytics, outsourcing can offer solutions without a significant investment.

 

Almost all HR organizations currently outsource some aspect of their responsibilities, but it has become so common that many don’t even think of it as outsourcing.  Below are some of the functions most typically outsourced:

  1. Temporary Staffing- although the mark ups can be high, sourcing and staffing temps is something many take off their plates
  2. Background checks
  3. Pre-employment Physicals
  4. Payroll 
  5. Providing mandatory training like Sexual Harassment 
  6. Benefits Administration

There are significant benefits to outsourcing if you do your homework upfront, identify your potential cost savings and thoroughly vet your vendors.