How to Encourage Lifelong Learning in Employees
Career growth and upskilling are some of the most significant factors behind employee retention. The HR Reporter reveals that nine out of ten Canadian employees feel stagnant in their roles, leading to hesitations on whether they should stay at their current workplace or find another job. It isn’t for lack of trying, though, as almost half of the current workforce has expressed the desire to develop their professional skills. The problem is that many employees don’t know where to begin. As such, it’s up to an organization’s leaders to provide opportunities so employees can learn these new skills. This way, they’ll have a chance to grow professionally and become lifelong learners who are also more engaged in their work. Below, you’ll find some tips on how to accomplish this as a business leader.
Include learning as a performance goal
Employees must have work targets in order to succeed. It guides them on what is expected of them, essentially serving as motivation in the form of objectives to hit. Considering that workers would be focused on this, it would be highly beneficial to include a learning aspect in performance goals. In fact, a survey revealed that 88% of Canadian employees believe that goal setting impacts their job performance. Examples of accomplishments that fall under this category are a license or a certification from platforms like Coursera or Google, proving that they studied and learned how to do a specific skill. By incorporating these into their goals, employees would have something concrete to work towards, and it would also serve as a measure of their growth.
Provide access to learning resource platforms
Effective leaders invest in the development of their employees, most often in the form of seminars or digital tools, as outlined in our post "How To Stay Ahead of the Curve". Apart from the more common group programs, self-directed learning opportunities have also been proven successful as long as employees have the proper resources. One such platform that provides world-class learning materials is Studocu. Available online, it offers over 20 million educational resources from an active study community across the world. Signing up opens up a selection of higher-education course materials on a variety of topics at different skill levels. This allows employees to easily tailor the study materials to their needs. Employees can also benefit from a platform like Scribd, which hosts millions of eBooks, journals, and audiobooks. Giving your employees access to these avenues equips them with the tools that can help them learn at their own pace and personal style.
Create social learning opportunities
Although leaders play a huge part in the growth of employees, over 55% of Canadian workers report that they also learn a lot from their peers, as per a recent Canadec survey. This is the social learning theory in practice. Introduced by Canadian-born psychologist Albert Bandura, this theory states that people learn behaviors from interacting with and observing others. It’s highly useful in a workplace setting as employees will typically have a diverse pool of peers to learn from. With this, employees can be more competent and well-rounded as they gain insights by watching others work. Thus, it’s the role of a leader to provide avenues in which employees can engage with one another. On top of encouraging in-person breakout sessions, providing communication platforms such as GSuite and Slack can streamline communication efforts and give employees a tool to learn from their colleagues.
Recognize employee achievements
A report from Benefits Canada found that 57% of employees feel that meaningful professional recognition can increase the likelihood of them staying in a role. Similarly, feeling valued by bosses can increase engagement, which is critical for better productivity. That being said, in terms of encouraging lifelong learning, it can be worthwhile to acknowledge when an employee has finished a course or a training program. A service like Qarrot can help you reward employees who contribute to your company in various ways. For instance, you can track and appropriately incentivize an employee who finishes an upskilling course. With an employee recognition program, your employees can be further motivated to continue performing and learning for their roles.
As a leader, it’s important to prioritize the growth of your employees to get the best out of their performance. Follow the tips above to help them engage in lifelong learning. For more ways to strengthen workplace engagement, try Qarrot today.
Building a Solid Foundation: How to Create Core Values for Your Company
Core values are the guiding principles that define the identity, culture, and purpose of a company. They serve as a compass, directing employees' behaviors, decision-making processes, and interactions with stakeholders. Creating well-defined core values is crucial for aligning the organization, attracting like-minded talent, and fostering a positive work environment.
In this article, we will explore a step-by-step approach to help you create meaningful core values that resonate with your company's vision and mission.
Step 1: Define Your Company's Vision and Mission:
Before diving into core values, it's essential to have a clear understanding of your company's vision and mission. The vision represents the long-term aspirations and goals, while the mission outlines the purpose and how the company aims to achieve its vision. These elements provide a solid foundation for developing core values that support and reflect your company's overarching objectives.
Step 2: Identify Your Company's Beliefs and Principles:
Gather key stakeholders, such as founders, executives, and employees, to engage in a collaborative discussion about the beliefs and principles that define your organization. Ask thought-provoking questions like:
- What values do we hold dear as a company?
- What behaviors and characteristics do we want to encourage and embody?
- What principles guide our decision-making processes?
Encourage open and honest conversations to ensure diverse perspectives are considered. Aim for consensus and focus on selecting values that are authentic and relevant to your company's culture.
Step 3: Keep It Concise and Memorable:
While it's tempting to create an extensive list of core values, it's important to keep them concise and memorable. Three to five core values are generally sufficient to ensure clarity and ease of understanding for employees and stakeholders. Avoid generic or clichéd statements and strive for specificity and uniqueness that truly differentiate your company.
Step 4: Make Them Actionable:
Effective core values go beyond mere statements on a website or office walls. They should inspire and guide employees' actions on a daily basis. To make your core values actionable:
- Define observable behaviors associated with each value.
- Provide examples of how these behaviors manifest in various aspects of the organization.
- Integrate core values into performance evaluations, hiring processes, and employee recognition programs.
Step 5: Communicate and Reinforce:
Communicating core values consistently and regularly is crucial for their successful implementation. Use multiple channels, such as company meetings, newsletters, intranets, and training sessions, to reinforce the importance of core values and share stories that exemplify them in action. Leadership must lead by example, embodying the core values and integrating them into their own decision-making and communication.
Step 6: Integrate Core Values into Processes:
To truly embed core values into your company culture, integrate them into various aspects of your organization. Incorporate them into recruitment and onboarding processes, performance evaluations, employee recognition programs, and internal communications. Reinforce the values through storytelling, sharing success stories that exemplify the values in action.
Step 7: Embrace Consistency and Accountability:
Consistency is key to fostering a strong culture based on core values. Leaders and managers must consistently model the values in their behavior and decision-making. Encourage open discussions about the core values and provide regular opportunities for feedback and reflection. Hold employees accountable for upholding the values and address any behaviors that are not aligned with them.
Creating core values for your company is a deliberate and collaborative process that sets the foundation for your organization's culture. By aligning core values with your vision, involving employees, and ensuring that the values are actionable and integrated into various processes, you can create a shared sense of purpose and guide your company towards success. Embrace the power of core values as a driving force that shapes behaviors, decision-making, and the overall identity of your organization.
Reinforce your company culture with a value-based peer recognition program - book a demo with Qarrot!
Inclusive Communication in the Workplace: Why it Matters and How to Achieve It
Inclusive communication is a language style that actively acknowledges individuals for who they are and demonstrates respect for people from various backgrounds. It ensures everyone's perspectives are respected and that each employee has access to equal opportunities.
Inclusive communication employs neutral, non-discriminatory, and unbiased language and communication techniques to develop a friendly, polite, and egalitarian environment where people feel appreciated and heard, regardless of their differences.
What is inclusive communication in the workplace?
Inclusive communication creates a work environment that feels supportive and genuine. This type of communication helps employees feel at home at their place of work. Companies that prioritize a culture of inclusive communication have a greater chance of success, often surpassing their competition in crucial areas like hiring, employee engagement, employee satisfaction, and business growth.
Communicating inclusively goes hand in hand with diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. The more leadership commits to DEI initiatives, the stronger the culture of inclusive communication will become.
At the root, inclusive communication is about promoting an atmosphere of respect at work and fostering open communication where employee differences are honored and respected. Workshops on topics like unconscious bias and the harmful impact of prejudice and stereotyping can cut off hurtful communication habits at the source.
Other components that create an intentional culture of inclusion include routinely evaluating and eliminating barriers to inclusivity and actively working to promote a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Businesses prioritizing inclusivity position themselves for long-term success and have happier, more engaged employees.
A variety of inclusive communication modes exist in the workplace, including:
- Non-verbal: Body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice all significantly impact fostering an inclusive work environment.
- Verbal: Potentially the most prevalent method of communication at work.
- Written: All written communication, including emails, memos, and company reports.
“Isms” that undermine inclusive communication
Communication cannot be inclusive if the work culture allows prejudiced language or hate speech. Here are four common “isms” that actively prevent inclusivity:
- Sexism: Sexist language that degrades or stereotypes an employee based on their gender.
- Ageism: Terminology that singles someone out due to their age.
- Racism: Racially charged language that is insulting or stereotyping.
- Ableism: Stereotypes or insults someone due to their differing abilities.
Why is inclusive communication important?
Organizations can build an inclusive, respectful, and equitable workplace culture for all employees by promoting inclusive communication awareness and education.
Creating a culture of inclusive communication shows the company’s effort to utilize language that contributes to a more equitable world while condemning the misrepresentation and institutional discrimination that plague our workplaces to this day.
Inclusive communication breeds a culture of acceptance and opportunity for all. This triggers a domino effect that can improve productivity, employee engagement, and even customer satisfaction.
Multiple factors make inclusive communication in the workplace necessary:
- Respect: All people should be treated with respect, regardless of gender, color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or ability, as demonstrated by inclusive communication. It produces a friendly and encouraging work environment.
- Diversity: Inclusive language shows a company values diversity within the workforce.
- Legal obligation: Companies are required to provide a work environment free from harassment and discrimination. Inclusive communication is a crucial part of cultivating an equitable company culture.
- Communication: Everyone can better comprehend one another and collaborate more successfully when speech is free from bias.
- Reputation: Businesses that prioritize inclusive language are more reputable in the eyes of potential employees, investors, and customers.
- Employee engagement: When employees feel valued, metrics like engagement, morale, and productivity improve.
How to communicate with inclusivity in 2023
Here are some actionable ways to make workplace communication more inclusive this year:
Replace stereotypical and culturally insensitive language with inclusive alternatives
Many expressions commonly used in the workplace are exclusive in nature. Encourage employees to consider what language they use that, while not overtly offensive, does not reflect everyone in the office. People often use slurs without even realizing it.
Even the most seemingly innocuous words can be rooted in discriminatory language. For example, the word “dumb” is commonly used to reflect someone who isn’t intelligent but is actually defined as someone who cannot communicate verbally. And while commonly used to say someone behaves erratically, the term “spastic” actually references the muscle tightness and contractions resulting from cerebral palsy and/or multiple sclerosis.
Commonly used idioms like “blind leading the blind” and “falling on deaf ears” are also exclusive in nature.
Understand employee identities
People's identities are primarily shaped by their race and ethnicity, meaning misidentification can be damaging and invalidating.
Make an effort to understand and learn whatever race, ethnicity, or national origin employees identify to avoid making assumptions and lumping everyone into one racial group, such as Asian or African. Encourage employees to communicate openly about the language they do not perceive as inclusive.
Communicate openly about language preferences
Ableist language can indirectly define a person by their disability status and propagate harmful stereotypes.
This is incredibly dangerous, considering the discrepancy between employment rates for people with and without disabilities. In 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 21.3% of people with a disability were employed. That is less than a third of the employment percentage for those without a disability (65.4%).
Companies can actively combat ableist language by communicating openly about what language employees with disabilities prefer. Some people prefer person-first language like “person with a disability”, while others prefer identify-first language like “disabled person”. Genuine inclusivity means recognizing that not every person perceives language the same way and prioritizes respecting each and every employee’s definition of what is and isn’t inclusive of their identities.
How to drive inclusive communication rewards and recognition software
Building a culture of inclusivity in the workplace is no small feat, but injecting inclusive language into rewards and recognition programs is a good place to start. You can make your organization a hub for inclusive collaboration by standardizing the process of rewarding and recognizing employees.
Qarrot empowers employees to nominate each other, all while providing managers with advanced insights that weed out any potential biases. Interested in learning more? Book a demo to see Qarrot in action!
The Case for Employee Engagement
Gallup estimates that low engagement costs the global economy US$7.8 trillion and accounts for 11% of GDP globally. Gallup’s analysis of 112, 312 business units in 96 countries found a strong link between engagement and performance outcomes, such as retention, productivity, safety and profitability.
In its Global State of the Workplace: 2022 Report, Gallup makes a compelling case for employee engagement. In fact, the research firm goes so far as to describe employee wellbeing as the new “workplace imperative”.
Whereas many organizations today measure ESG - their commitment to improve environmental, social, and governance metrics - the report asks if these same organizations know whether their employees feel respected or cared about. It’s a compelling question and one that is very much on the minds of human capital professionals as they struggle with the effects of poor employee engagement.
And while the global level of employee engagement was trending more highly until 2019, the pandemic brought about a significant increase in negative emotions felt by workers everywhere. In its report, Gallup reports how workers respond to questions about emotions like stress, worry, and anger to name a few. For example, 44% of workers reported feeling stress “a lot of the day” at work yesterday. Not only are the levels of negative emotions higher since the pandemic compared to previous years, but Gallup found these figures are 46% to 83% higher than for engaged employees
Globally, only 21% of workers are engaged at work. While marginally higher than in 2020, this level should cause employers who aren’t already focused on this issue to seriously reconsider their priorities. Poor engagement costs companies lost revenues, reduces worker productivity, increases involuntary staff turnover, worsens safety, and lowers customer satisfaction.. In fact, Gallup estimates that the aggregate cost to the US economy is $7.8 trillion dollars per year - the equivalent of 11% of GDP.
That is a shocking figure.
Put in simpler terms, the report states that business units with engaged workers have a 23% higher profitability than those with miserable ones.
Given the causal relationship of employee engagement on commercial outcomes, Gallup goes on to recommend that executive dashboards include wellbeing metrics in addition to the ESG, financial, commercial, and operational ones already in place. They also propose that wellbeing be part of organizations’ brand promise.
This recommendation isn’t entirely new, however. The business of measuring and tracking employee engagement is now well-established with tools like pulse surveys that aim to regularly gauge workforce sentiment. More sophisticated survey tools go so far as to enable their client organizations to ask specific questions and allow for anonymous comments so that staff can provide feedback about their work environment and manager without the fear of reprisal.
And while wellbeing metrics may not yet feature as prominently as commercial and operational ones in company dashboards, there is a growing body of evidence that leaders are paying attention. The sheer growth of employee engagement practices, tools, and solution vendors is proof of this.
But what should organizations do once they uncover poor engagement amongst their ranks?
The Gallup report isn’t prescriptive. But from the larger body of research done by the firm, it does mention the strong correlation between the caliber of their people leaders and the engagement levels of their employees.
Likewise, it outlines the most common causes for burnout, which not surprisingly also have much to do with people leaders. For example, themes such as “unfair treatment at work”, an “unmanageable workload”, “unclear communication from managers”, and a ‘lack of manager support” are amongst the top reasons cited by employees who experience burnout.
In that regard, the report does emphasize the importance of people leaders and managers as being at the core of a thriving workplace. And it proposes that successful managers are skilled at being coaches, listeners, and collaborators, amongst their other trademark roles and responsibilities.
This is a compelling vision for the next generation of people leaders and managers, who will find themselves responsible for an increasingly hybrid workforce. One which will be more geographically diverse in many cases as well.
In this regard, we believe it important to consider the tools that people leaders and managers will require to be better in the areas that Gallup identifies - whether or not staff are working in the same office location, at a coworking space in another city, or their living room halfway across the world.
And while team messaging, collaboration, and video conferencing tools have become commonplace in most organizations, they often lack some of the components that leaders and managers need to foster a strong organizational culture and the feeling - as an employee - of being appreciated.
This is where recognition programs can be of help.
Recognition programs provide the ability for managers and, often regular employees, to easily express their appreciation for a job well done. Programs of this kind also often emphasize the organization’s core values and put them at the center of the recognition process.
The mere act of recognizing a direct report or a coworker can have a significant impact on their sense of feeling appreciated and respected within their work environment. Moreover, programs can target other critical and highly desired behaviors, such as collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and teamwork.
And like many of the tools that are now commonly used by geographically distributed teams, recognition programs like Qarrot are available as web and mobile applications so that workers can send and receive kudos regardless of their location or proximity to their coworkers.
To learn more about how Qarrot can help your organization improve employee engagement, click here.
What defines a good employee experience in a hybrid/remote work environment?
In early spring 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic upended life as we knew it. Schools shut down, toilet paper disappeared, and thousands of employees suddenly found themselves working from the kitchen table. As many of these impromptu remote workers and their employers soon found out, however, not all work-from-home environments are created equal. Remote work sounds like a cushy gig, but it takes the right combination of factors to make virtual employment beneficial for both parties.
If you’re thinking about hybrid or fully remote work for your staff, take note of the qualities that make for a productive, morale-boosting virtual work environment.
1. Flexibility is a cornerstone.
Not everyone wants to work from home all the time, and some don’t want to work from home at all. Rather than dealing in absolutes, giving your employees a choice empowers them to make the decision that suits their needs and preferences.
This may or may not be possible, depending on your industry. Teachers, for example, can’t easily switch back and forth between the classroom and the home office. But accountants, attorneys, and even therapists can perform at least some of their duties without physically coming to work.
Consider how flexible you can be in extending remote work options to your staff. When you can, let your employees choose if and when to take advantage of the opportunity to work virtually.
2. Expectations are clearly defined.
Employees are more likely to perform at their best when they know what’s expected of them, especially when the work environment changes or when they don’t have managers or supervisors nearby for direct guidance.
If you opt for a hybrid environment, where employees are sometimes in the office and sometimes at home, your staff needs to know what days they can work remotely, when they’ll be required to show up in person, and what protocols to follow when they choose to stay home.
Even for a fully remote setup, make your parameters crystal clear. Do employees still need to report at a certain time? If so, how will they let you know that they’re “clocked in” from home? How will you ensure that they’re taking legally required breaks but not taking advantage of minimal oversight?
Figure out what a successful hybrid or virtual work situation looks like from your company’s and stakeholders’ perspectives. Then, develop easy-to-follow guidelines for your employees.
Make sure your expectations are fair, however. One of the great appeals of remote work is its freedom, so avoid micromanaging unnecessarily. Requiring staff to dress professionally for Zoom meetings is reasonable, but telling them not to wear pajamas while they send emails is a bit much.
3. Employers help with the logistics.
Especially if your company has only recently shifted to remote work, your employees might not be totally prepared. Believe it or not, not everyone has a computer or WiFi at home, nor does everyone have a distraction-free workspace outside the office.
Get ahead of these issues by directly asking employees if their homes are prepared for remote work, and take inventory of how you’d be able to help them get there. Can your company afford to give out remote work stipends? Is there any tech you can invest in, like wireless headsets or laptops?
It’s important, too, to be aware that W2 employees can’t deduct any work-from-home expenses on their taxes. If they have to pay for equipment, furniture, software, or extra utilities in order to perform the job they do for you, you’re the only one who can reimburse them for those costs. Take care of your staff–particularly if working remotely is a requirement–and they’ll take care of you in the form of company loyalty and heightened productivity.
4. Support is extended proactively.
Aside from stipends or reimbursements, remote employees need to know that the same resources they had in the office are still available from home. Don’t assume that no news is good news in a hybrid or remote work environment–your staff might be struggling but not be comfortable enough to tell you.
Periodically reach out to and check in with your employees. Let them know how they can access human resources, supervisors, upper leadership, and tech support. Ask how they’re doing and what would make the remote work experience better overall.
This is also a great way to keep tabs on if remote work is worth offering long term. If your employees adjust well and maintain or exceed their in-office performance, you will have successfully modernized your company’s work model.
5. Patience is a company pillar.
The transition to remote work, even in the best of situations, will inevitably come with hiccups. It also comes with an understanding that the lines between your employees’ personal and professional lives blur somewhat. Their Internet may go down from time to time, or the occasional toddler may waddle past the camera during an important Zoom meeting.
These things are bound to happen–even to you–so you may as well take them in stride. Your employees will appreciate your recognition of the fact that they are indeed human, and they’ll be grateful to see you acknowledge your own humanity, too.
This doesn’t mean that expectations for decorum and responsibility go to the wayside; it simply means that you intentionally cultivate a company culture that acknowledges the reality of a hybrid or virtual work environment.
By resisting the urge to wield discipline where you can use humor or compassion instead, you’ll improve the remote work experience for both you and your staff. By viewing these moments as opportunities to build connections, you’ll strengthen rapport, learn more about your employees, and make an unforgettable (and inexpensive) investment in your #1 resource: human capital.
Some companies have used a hybrid or fully virtual work model for the last two years, while others are just now making the switch. Either way, it’s become abundantly clear that remote work is here to stay.
Implementing virtual work options is a learning process, though, for leadership and staff alike. Don’t be afraid to innovate and adjust as you go. As long as you remain patient and flexible, you’ll ensure a good experience and healthy environment for employees working remotely.
8 ways to empower employees to take charge of their personal development
Free lunches and gym memberships are great, but they’re not enough to boost your employee retention rates. On average, losing an employee costs 33% of their salary. Considering how difficult it is to find new talent during the current labor shortage, losing even one of your employees could wound your bottom line. If you want to keep your employees around, you need to show them you truly care about them. Empowering them to take charge of their career and personal development is one way to show your employees you genuinely care about their success and wellbeing.
1. Goals in the onboarding process
Use the onboarding process to help new hires define goals for their career and personal development. By starting at the beginning, you can guide your employees through the process of creating a tailored learning path to help them succeed in their role (and beyond). If you use skills assessments in your recruiting process, you can use those insights to inform areas for improvement.
Empowering employees to tackle self-development from the start of their time at your organization will show them that they are in control of their future. This perspective shift can help them view their new role as a growth opportunity instead of feeling like they are a slave to your bottom line. The more in control of their future they feel, the more likely they will want to continue their journey at your company.
2. Promote a culture of lifelong learning
Inspire your employees to keep learning, no matter their stage of life. Consider handing out a new personal development book for employees to read each quarter. Hold a meeting dedicated to discussing takeaways. Make sure you guide your team through the process of converting their new knowledge into actionable steps that will push them toward their goals, both personal and professional.
3. Implement learning into everyday work
Investing in your employees by providing them with the tools and time they need to learn while they do their jobs is a valuable investment for your company. Try integrating learning into your employee’s day-to-day workflow. Consider offering platforms like LinkedIn Learning or SkillShare where employees can learn new skills in an interactive way, tracking their progress. Employees will especially appreciate online courses that will bolster their resumes, and LinkedIn Learning certificates can be added directly to their profiles.
4. Give employees more autonomy
When employees are micromanaged, they feel suffocated. And, even worse– they feel like you don’t trust them to do their jobs well. Data shows that allowing employees their autonomy makes them happier, more engaged, more motivated, and better performers overall. Switch to a hands-off management approach by creating all the conditions your team needs to succeed, then stepping back so they can show you why you hired them in the first place. Giving employees more autonomy helps them improve their creative problem-solving and decision-making skills. This will create a noticeable change in confidence.
5. Outcomes-based work
Instead of counting the hours employees spend tapping away at their keyboards, try counting productivity and performance based on outcomes. Every project should have a goal for each person involved. Reward employees for the outcomes they achieve rather than the time they spend on the job. This creates another shift in perspective. Instead of feeling like they are running on a hamster wheel, your team will feel like they are accomplishing goals for the company. Each outcome achieved will be viewed as a personal achievement.
6. Listen to employees and build trust
Open communication and empathy are key to empowering employees. When managers are more approachable, teams are more comfortable sharing ideas and challenging one another to find the best solutions. Research shows that 93% of employees say they’re more likely to stay with an empathetic employer. Empathy shows your team that they are understood and valued.
When employees trust that you genuinely care about their personal development, they are more likely to achieve their goals, and there’s data to back this. Companies with high-trust cultures report stock market returns two or three times above market average, turnover rates 50% lower than competitors, and increased employee engagement, innovation, and satisfaction.
7. Encourage problem-solving- assign problems rather than tasks
By assigning problems rather than tasks, you show employees that you believe in their abilities and trust that they will land on the best possible solution. This boosts confidence and helps employees learn the skills they need to excel in their careers. Of course, there will always be times when employees fall short of the solution you would have picked. It's important to maintain an open line of communication where you can provide honest feedback without killing the employee’s motivation. After all, making mistakes and fixing them is how we learn.
The more you encourage your employees to problem-solve on their own, the better they’ll get at figuring out the right course of action the first time. If you’re really worried about the outcome of assigning problems, have your employees come to you with a proposed solution prior to taking action. This gives you the opportunity to tell your employees why you do or don’t agree with their decision. You can even have your employees defend their decision to you as another great learning opportunity.
8. Give recognition where it’s due
When employees reach their goals, recognize and reward them. This is another way to show you genuinely care about their successes and that you are cheering on their progress. Rewarding employees for their successes helps motivate them to continue working on bigger goals. Plus, it’s a good way to get all employees involved in your personal and professional development initiatives– even those who may not be as enthusiastic about empowerment.
Being a manager is about more than leading your employees through their day-to-day operations. It’s about empowering employees to be the best version of themselves, providing them with the tools they need to grow within the company. This outlook creates trust and improves relationships within the organization, creating a productive, goal-oriented work environment. Leaders who empower employees are more likely to have team members who peers perceive as highly creative and helpful. When you foster a culture of personal development, you encourage your employees to lift each other up. This makes it easier for everyone involved to continue learning and growing.
How to survive the great resignation
Like a newsworthy political scandal, The Great Resignation is emerging as one of the most discussed labor trends of 2021. But what is it exactly? And how does it concern employers of different stripes?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a record number of Americans quit their jobs in April 2021. However, this was just the beginning. In July over 4 million Americans left their jobs, setting yet another all-time high. And then both August and September set further records.
The common perception was that remote work - with its more flexible hours, non-existent commute times, and family meals - was leading workers to quit their jobs in favor of a lifestyle with greater passion and purpose. According to Forbes, surveys made headlines declaring that 40% of workers planned to quit their jobs - and soon. And when 4.3 million Americans left their jobs in August, this grim forecast seemed to be coming true.
Despite these all-time records, the figures are much less scary (from an employer’s perspective) than at first glance. The number of workers quitting their jobs represents something closer to 3% of the total workforce. A far cry from the 40% announced earlier this year. That said, the U.S. has over 10 million open jobs. So while some perspective helps to calm nerves, the pressure is real for certain industries.
The Great Retirement?
Moreover, the reasons why more people have been leaving their jobs seems less problematic (in some sense) than the theories being bandied about earlier this year.
Fully two-thirds of the departures were not due to workers “quitting” per se. According to new research from Goldman Sachs, they were retiring. However, here the picture gets interesting. Of those workers retiring, about 1 million were “normal”. The balance - about 1.5 million workers - were taking an early retirement.
Given the generally permanent nature of retirement, the majority of workers leaving the labor force likely won’t return. As Goldman notes, retiring "tends to be stickier" than other reasons someone might leave the labor force. Because of that, "we therefore expect that the participation shortfall from early retirees will unwind relatively slowly through fewer new retirements going forward."
While some portion of older workers may return to the workforce once they feel conditions are safer for them to do so, most economists are expecting effects of the “Great Retirement” to be felt for a while, leaving a tight labor market across the U.S.
Strategies for Retaining Older Workers
While the recent trends may have brought early retirements into focus as a strain on the labor market, many companies already employ strategies to retain their older workers for longer.
As noted by Forbes, the first step to retaining older workers is to count them. Until your company has a firm grasp of its workforce demographics, it’s difficult to assess the impact of future employee retirements.
With an understanding of the age distribution of your workers, you can develop programs to keep them engaged and actively working.
For example, training programs that are ‘inclusive’ of older workers such as the Talent is Ageless initiative at CVS are a great way of developing older workers, while signalling their importance within your employee base.
Signalling this importance is also quite important as most Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs expressly overlook this segment of the workforce and, so, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many older workers are opting for an early retirement when work conditions aren’t ideal.
A further way of combating early retirements is to meet your older workers half-way, by letting them have more flexible work hours. This greater flexibility is ideal for both employee and employer alike as, in many cases, companies can retain the experience and knowledge of their older workers longer, while employees who would have otherwise had to abruptly adjust to retired life can follow more of a gradual transition.
Under this structure, it’s important to ensure your culture supports more flexible hours and doesn’t discriminate against those who take this option. A great example is the U-Work program offered by Unilever. The program effectively offers workers a contract and not a job, whereby they receive a minimum monthly retainer and health benefits. On top of this, workers earn additional amounts for the projects they participate in.
Although The Great Resignation affects industries and companies differently, it is undoubtedly a wise strategy to assess the age distribution of your workforce. As those workers who are 50 and over are increasingly likely to take an early retirement. But as demonstrated above, it’s never too late to employ programs that engage, develop, and retain your workers regardless of how old they are.
5 remote-friendly employee wellness program ideas
“We are embedding health and well-being at the heart of our business strategy because our people are our greatest asset, and we recognize that a healthy, happy, and committed workforce is vital to our business success.”
- Alex Gourlay, MD, Boots UK
Leaders around the globe have started to recognize the importance of employee well-being. They understand the array of benefits employee wellness brings with itself that can prove to be high-yielding for the company.
It has become increasingly important to focus on employee wellness when the world is in the middle of a pandemic and your employees are struggling with its consequences and the massive workplace shift as well.
This is where an employee wellness program can make a meaningful impact within your organization. Let’s take a closer look at what a wellness program is as well as how it can benefit your organization.
What is an Employee Wellness Program?
Wellness is a broad term with multiple dimensions (see image below). Employee Wellness Programs are initiatives offered by employers that target one or more of these dimensions for the benefit of their employees. Today wellness has become an integral part of employee engagement efforts at many organizations and has led to a significant improvement in employee engagement.
What makes an Employee Wellness Program important
The answer lies in the fact that a happy employee is more likely to be an engaged employee. They not only give more towards the growth of the company, but they are also more likely to be loyal and to help their colleagues reach their target potential at the same time. Employee engagement, therefore, is critical to support the overall health and growth of the business.
Here are some facts and figures -
- Employees who scored low on “life satisfaction” stayed home from work 1.25 more days per month than those with higher scores, adding up to about 15 additional days off per year
- A large majority (87%) of employers are committed to workplace wellness, and 73% offer a wellness program, according to a survey. In a survey of SFM policyholders, one-third of respondents offered a wellness program. This percentage went up to 77% for the largest employers
- In a survey, more than 60% of employers said workplace wellness programs reduced their organizations’ health care costs
- Studies show that well-designed wellness programs have a return on investment of $1.50 to $3 per dollar spent over a two- to a nine-year timeframe.
Source: (SFM Mutual Insurance Company (Aug 2018). 10 statistics that make the case for workplace wellness programs)
Today’s scenario (Lockdown/Work from home) and the need for the Employee Wellness Program
Needless to say, the COVID19 pandemic has massively impacted lives across the globe. Although thanks to technology, it is now possible for many workers to be equally (if not more) productive from home and to continue to collaborate with their remote colleagues. Conversely, the pandemic and the lack of direct contact with coworkers, friends, and family has deeply affected the wellbeing of many workers. People are facing not just physical health issues but a myriad of other challenges affecting their mental health, relationships, financial situation, etc.
Employers are increasingly aware of the impact of these challenges on their workers’ wellbeing. Many understand that they cannot expect employees to work at their best when they are simultaneously dealing with numerous personal issues. As a result, many employers are extending a helping hand to their employees in these tough times.
Let’s look at some of the ways employers are supporting their employees’ well-being.
Different Remote-friendly Employee Wellness Program Ideas and how they are effective -
1. Monthly wellness budget:
As part of an incentives package, companies are offering a monthly amount - say $100 - to employees for eligible wellness benefits. This amount can be reimbursed to employees upon presenting their receipts for eligible services, which often include gym memberships, a spa day, or any other rejuvenating activities.
2. Employee Assistance Programs:
An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) consists of many services, such as mental health counseling sessions, financial advice, relationship counseling, and legal advice. These services are related to some of the problems commonly encountered by workers in their everyday lives.
An employer-sponsored EAP can alone take care of most of the wellness dimensions. There are many organizations in the market that provide EAP services, and a company can choose to collaborate with the one it finds the most suitable.
3. It’s log-out time!:
With working from home as the new normal, extended working hours have also become a commonly observed trend.
According to a study by Gibbs, Mengel & Siemroth (July 2021) on 10,000 employees from Asia, employees are now working 30% longer hours from home. Thus, contributing to greater levels of stress and burnout.
It is therefore important for employers to understand the limitations of working from home and accordingly assign realistic daily goals to their employees. Send reminders to employees to catch a breath between tasks and use a time-tracking app such as Hubstaff, Toggl, or Harvest to track the number of hours your employees are working.
If you find someone working extra hours, reach out to them and try to understand the reason behind their doing so. This will help you understand if your employees are getting overburdened with work or if they are facing other issues that are causing them to stay at their computers longer. Target those problems and work with your staff to mitigate or resolve them. Help your employees create a balance between work and personal life. It will also improve the work-culture of your company.
4. Let’s work for society:
When you do good for others, it always brings a sense of serenity and happiness to your soul. Alas! With our busy schedules and deadlines, we often do not get enough time to engage in such activities.
Serving your community and doing good for the environment is also one of the dimensions of wellness. Many corporations are already all too aware of the responsibilities they have towards their communities and the environment.
And, so, engaging in projects and initiatives that help a local community or the environment, more broadly can be a great way to get employees involved in this type of wellness activity. Employees can be asked to volunteer a certain portion of their time on an ongoing basis or to participate in limited-time initiatives such as a neighbourhood clean-up.
This project will not only be food for their soul but will also be a great opportunity for your employees to bond, experience a change of scenery, and then be recognized by their colleagues for their contributions to a good cause.
5. Want to join a club?
Remember your college days, when you had different clubs catering to different interests of students? Why can’t that culture be taken forward in our corporate lives as well?
Employers can start a poll to gather employees’ willingness to join clubs of their choice, for example - a book club, music/dance club, cooking club, sports club, etc.
Employees can join a club of their choice and meet fellow employees with similar interests. They can have short virtual meetings during breaks and they can have a dedicated portal where they can discuss things related to the club. For example, the book club can decide on a book of the month.
Bonds among employees are made when they are relaxed and able to discuss things that are not related to work.
Starting such clubs will not only help in forming bonds among employees but will also encourage cross-departmental communication and camaraderie, thus tapping into their social wellness.
How to make the employee wellness program successful?
It is not that you need to implement all the above 5 ideas in your company, picking up any one of these and implementing it in your company is enough. Just ensure that it is well planned and effectively implemented. Further, ensure that all your employees are aware of this initiative by using appropriate means of communication. Also, let them know the importance of wellness and self-care and how this initiative can help in the same.
Concluding the above points we can say that whether we work from the office or work from home, we as an employee and companies as employers should try to adopt a ‘wellness-first’ approach to working. Remember, your employees are an important asset to your company. You take care of them and they will take care of their work, contributing to the long-term success of your company.
To learn how to integrate wellness in your employee recognition program- request a demo with Qarrot!
Optimizing remote employee experience through feedback
The future of remote work has been a hot-button issue for managers ever since working from home became the new normal. The number of businesses operating remotely has skyrocketed in the last number of months—leaving leaders scrambling to figure out how this transition has impacted their employees. A large chunk of whom may have never worked virtually before. Transparent, honest, and open communication can be tricky on the best of days face to face —let alone remotely.
You’ve heard the saying, “No news is good news”—and while that may be applicable in some situations, remote work is not one of them. Effective communication, whether between managers or colleagues, is of the utmost importance for successful remote work. Feedback is one of the best, and often overlooked, indicators of gauging employee well being. So how can managers streamline communication and use feedback to optimize remote employee experience?
If you start to feel anxious or nervous when you hear the words “performance review”, know you are not alone. When managers only allocate individual meetings with employees once a year, or even quarterly, it can create a lot of stress. Going several months or longer, without discussing feedback on work or progress? Talk about intimidating. Instead, schedule regular check-ins with your employees. These do not have to be formal meetings. Rather, casual conversations to see if employees need any additional help or support. Not only is this a great addition for employee engagement, but anticipated discussions also empower employees to bring forward any concerns which may seem out of place in a traditional performance review. Managers want input and feedback from everyone. However, if an effort isn’t being made to include remote employees in that conversation, it’s easy for virtual team members to feel overlooked.
Empower with collaboration tools
Odds are your team was already using collaboration tools to some extent, but this year has kicked everyone’s reliance on such platforms into overdrive. Introducing tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Google Hangouts is an easy way to keep everyone informed and on the same page. Encouraging employees to stay connected despite distance boosts employee engagement, experience, and overall well being. Collaborative tools encourage all colleagues, not just employees and supervisors, to communicate with each other. In fact, 39% of remote employees cited difficulties in collaborating with team members during quarantine. The reality is that even after stay-at-home orders have ceased, many teams will continue to work virtually. Adopting tools that help streamline collaboration will help keep your team agile and connected.
Recognize and reward employees
While office gatherings and parties may be on hold for now, that doesn’t mean employee recognition needs to go out the window. Celebrating important milestones and achievements is a great way to keep employee morale up during these strange times, while simultaneously boosting motivation and productivity. Regularly socializing and recognizing team members fosters a culture of trust, transparency, and inclusion—which can be hard to achieve when team members are dispersed geographically. In addition to bringing remote employees together, virtual recognition programs enable managers to witness employee engagement in real-time. Employee recognition, or lack thereof, is a good indicator of how interested an employee is with their colleagues and the organization as a whole. By introducing peer recognition, leaders can collect insightful feedback to help spot wins or opportunities for improvement that may otherwise go unnoticed. Peer recognition is a great solution for strengthening internal communications while also keeping the pulse on employee engagement. In addition to strengthening workplace culture and motivation, recognizing and rewarding employees is an easy way to boost employee experience remotely.
What it means for (digital) employee experience
Employee experience was the top trending employee topic of 2020 and it isn’t hard to understand why. After the year we’ve had, and the likelihood of remote work staying around, many are now referring to a “digital” employee experience instead. In fact, 98% of employees would like to continue working from home in some capacity following the pandemic. While we wait for life to return to some form of normalcy, leaders need to use their employee feedback strategically so the employee experience can remain flexible. Strive to build employee experience strategies that consider remote team members so your organization can support virtual teams while staying ahead of the curve.
Employee feedback is the most powerful resource when it comes to understanding employee engagement and employee experience. While things may not necessarily be "business as usual", including your employees in the conversation is paramount. By simply listening to team members and giving them opportunities to articulate themselves, anyone can craft a killer remote employee experience.
Amplify your employee experience with recognition - request a demo with Qarrot today!