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September 19, 2012

What Keeps You Hanging Around?

Do you feel pretty sure about what makes people want to work at your organization?  Feeling pretty comfortable that you are a great place to work? The American Psychological Association recently released the  “Workforce Retention Survey” as a part of its Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program.  It contains some interesting findings about why American workers choose to stay with an employer.

There were some notable differences in opinion between genders and between age groups.  In particular:

  • More women than men said both work-life fit (72% vs. 62%) and enjoying the work (72% vs. 63%) were reasons they stay with their current employer.
  • Women were more likely to say they stay with their current employers because of their co-workers than men (55% vs. 48%).
  • Just about half of women surveyed (46%) say their boss is a reason they stay on the job, while about one-third of men (34%) report they stay with their current employer because of their manager.
  • Fifty-seven percent of women said they stay with their employer for the money as compared to 62 percent of men.
  • Of those surveyed age 55 and older, enjoying the work (80%), work-life fit (76%), benefits (66%), feeling connected to the organization (63%) and having an opportunity to make a difference (57%) were cited as the top reasons for staying with their current employer.
  • On the other hand, those surveyed age 18 to 34 were least likely to say that enjoying their work (58%), work-life fit (61%), and benefits (54%) kept them with their current employer.  They did say that co-workers (57%) and managers (46%) were reasons to stay.

And finally, employees who say they plan to stay with their current employers for more than two years reported the biggest drivers of this longer term view were enjoying the work, having a job that fits well with other life demands and feeling connected to the organization.

What keeps you hanging around?


August 8, 2012

Driving Employee Engagement

Last week I took a look at the findings from a MetLife Benefits Survey showing the link between employee benefits and employee engagement.  Seems to be a very important topic of late – what does it take to engage employees? And how does that engagement drive an organization’s success?   As economies move through different phases (industrial to technological, for example) and different generations move in and out of the workforce (Gen X vs. Baby Boomers, for example), what’s important to workers is bound to change.  I often wonder though if employers over-complicate the idea of employee engagement.

Yesterday I attended an interesting lunch meeting where the keynote speaker was Don MacPherson, founder and CEO of a company called modernsurvey.  modernsurvey conducts and publishes a semi-annual survey:  “Employee Engagement across the U.S. Workforce”.  The findings of the study are compelling, be sure to check it out:

One of the critical ideas that Mr. MacPherson presented was ways in which managers, on a day-to-day basis, can drive engagement in an organization.  The list includes:

  • Personal engagement;
  • Recognition and appreciation on a regular and ongoing basis;
  • Career development;
  • Belief in the future of the organization; and
  • Compensation.

His research shows that belief in the future of the organization is the most important item on that list.  Without current information about vision, strategy, goals – both long-term and short-term – employees are likely to fill in the blanks themselves.  Honest, timely information about what’s happening, and engaging employees in that discussion, is powerful.

Really, how complicated is that?

Let us know what you are doing in your organization to drive employee engagement.


June 12, 2012

Employee Recognition: No One is Special

Have you ever had someone tell you that you’re “one in a million?”  It sounds like such a nice compliment on its surface, and I have no doubt that whoever told you that was sincere.  But, when you stop and realize there are 7 billion people on the planet Earth that means you have 6,999 other people that are just like you.

David McCullough is an English teacher who was asked to give the commencement speech to students graduating from the Wellesley, Massachusetts high school where he teaches.  The speech has gone viral for this phrase: “You’re not special.”

Mr. McCullough’s message is much more than that.  As I watched the speech, I couldn’t help but remember what is arguably one of the most inspirational movie moments of my lifetime.  If you didn’t make the same connection, you can watch it here.  I’ll give you a hint: you may address me as “O Captain, my Captain.”

What messages do you send to your employees?  I know recognition is important.  People want to know that what they’ve done is good.  Deep down, we’re all still looking for approval from somewhere.  But, if you tell everyone they’re special – whether it’s with a stellar performance review or a celebration every time a project is completed – pretty soon, no one is special because everyone is special.

“Exercise free will and creative, independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others, the rest of the 6.8 billion – and those who will follow them. And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special. Because everyone is.”   – - David McCullough


March 30, 2012

HR Fact Friday: How Flexible Is Your Workplace – Part 1 of 2

Following is Part 1 of 2 from HRN”s March HR Industry White Paper. Part 2 will post on Friday, April 6.

Typically HRN refrains from posting our White Papers on our HR News & Views blog but this one is just too good not to share. Thanks to our very own Joyce Campbell for doing the research and writing.

To receive quality HR topical content like this each month [for no cost!] simply sign up at: .

How Flexible Is Your Workplace?
Work-Life Balance as an Effective Tool for Retention

Have you thought about how flexible your workplace is?  No, we’re not talking about how many yoga poses your employees can perform, but flexibility in terms of offering flexible schedules, job-sharing, telecommuting, etc.  As summer approaches, you may have requests from employees to work a flexible schedule due to changing day care arrangements; or you may have employees transitioning to a different phase in their work-life where they would prefer a part-time schedule.

As the challenge of balancing work and personal life is a reality for most working families, employees are attracted to companies which provide some flexibility in the workplace.  Although not a new challenge, the increase in dual career families, single parents, the “sandwich” generation of employees caring for both children and aging parents, and a stressed economy has accelerated the challenge into the forefront.  Work-life balance (WLB) has become an area of concern for both workers and their employers.  For employers, it can be a key component in attraction and retention of employees.



March 8, 2012

Listen to Your Mother

Last week, we spent several hours locked in a room together talking about performance management.  Dull?  Hardly.  Waste of time?  Only if the great ideas are not acted upon.  Bottom line?  The tenets of performance management really are the fundamental drivers of an organization’s success.

Sustainable growth in an organization comes about through:

  • Fully engaged customers, which come about through:
  • Fully engaged employees, which come about through:
  • Great managers, who:
    • Hire for talent;
    • Engage those talents and focus on success; and
    • Keep the focus of individual employees on company-wide goals.

Although it may seem obvious, the main job of the manager is to align the focus/productivity of each employee with organization-wide goals.  Success for a manager is measured by how well the team performs.   Often, managing employee performance becomes a peripheral – something managers do if their work at hand is complete – instead of a core competency.

Yes, even giant innovators like Google, see the value in developing managers.  Adam Bryant wrote about Google’s efforts to understand its best and most effective managers in The New York Times last year:   “. . . . the ability, say, to write computer code in your sleep — ranked dead last among Google’s big eight. What employees valued most were even-keeled bosses who made time for one-on-one meetings, who helped people puzzle through problems by asking questions, not dictating answers, and who took an interest in employees’ lives and careers.”

HRN Performance Solutions can help your organization with its performance management needs.  We offer in-depth, hands on training for managers and an online performance management system, Performance Pro, which provides managers with a tool to assist them in being the great manager they were hired to be.


March 5, 2012

Another Annoying Day at the Workplace

We all have those little things that drive us crazy at home.  It seems there are a lot of people who also have their list of things that drive them crazy at the workplace.  A new poll by Fitness magazine and Yahoo! Shine reveals pet peeves in the workplace as identified by over 2,000 men and women.  It seems that personal behavior and work habits top the list.  Following are some of the top items on the list, along with breakdown between male and female responses:

Pet Peeve



Co-worker body odor 41% 38%
Stealing credit for your ideas 36% 39%
Loud, personal telephone conversations 31% 33%
Stealing from the break room fridge 27% 27%
Eating stinky food in the office 13% 12%

Interestingly, LinkedIn also completed a survey last September and had different results.  LinkedIn surveyed 1,900 people in the U.S.  It seems the common denominator in both surveys involves the office fridge.  Their results, in order of votes, are as follows:

People who don’t take ownership of their actions.
Constant complainers.
People who don’t clean up after themselves when using the fridge, the microwave or other common areas.
Boring meetings that start late or go way too long.
People who consistently seem to miss your email.

Other advice from the survey suggests that if you are the peeving offender and confronted about a pet peeve, it’s best to say thank you and make changes.

What are some of your workplace pet peeves?



February 22, 2012

What Would Make You Stay?

Recently in our blogs, we have been discussing the subject of turnover and effective tools to utilize in reducing turnover.  Our blogs have included capturing turnover and other items using HR metrics, effective interviewing skills, and onboarding practices.   During the termination process, something that always puzzled me was why companies went to such great lengths to conduct elaborate exit interviews.  At that point, who cares why the employee is leaving and what really happens with the information once it is gathered?

So when I began reading about stay interviews, I was really intrigued.  The most important and proactive approach to finding out what people want is to ask them while they are still there.  After all, as part of ensuring employees have a positive experience after joining the organization; it is management’s responsibility to check in with employees.  The responses given during an exit interview are sometimes simple fixes that could have been resolved prior to the departure of the employee.  If only we had asked.

However, stay interviews do not come without risk.  Oftentimes there is a gap between what employers believe are the reasons employees stay (mainly compensation) versus why employees do stay.  That is exactly the point.  We as employers cannot solve problems or issues we are unaware of.

Questions asked during a stay interview should focus on trying to find out how you can build a long-term employment relationship with the employee.  The manager should be asking the questions and it can easily be tied into an annual performance evaluation.  Typical questions include:

  • Why do you stay?
  • When you travel to work each day, what things do you look forward to?
  • What can we do to ensure you continue to stay with the company?
  • How can we make your work more satisfying?
  • What are you learning here?  What do you want to learn?
  • Are there specific reasons you can think of that could cause you to leave us?

Companies that have implemented stay interviews have realized decreased turnover by double digit percentage points.  These conversations should occur on an ongoing basis during the employee’s tenure, not during the exit interview.  This needs to be considered a necessary part of your retention strategy.



February 13, 2012

Effective Onboarding – Is it the Key to Employee Retention?

Throughout my career in human resources, I have had the fortunate experience of working for different organizations.  Some big, some small, some privately owned, some publicly traded, some in white collar settings, and others in blue collar industries.  I guess you could say I have a “diverse” background.

Just as diverse in these experiences was the method of onboarding, or lack thereof.  As we continue to explore the topic of turnover, I have been researching the subject of onboarding and the link it has to retention.  Statistics from the Aberdeen Group indicate that 90% of employees make the decision to stay at a firm within six months of joining, making the onboarding process a key to retaining talent.   That is certainly a percentage that caught my attention and made me wonder:  what happens in the first six months for an employee to form an opinion of whether to stay or jump ship?

Onboarding is defined as the long-term process of bringing new employees into the company, making sure they know what is expected of them and how to add value.   As organizations, I believe we do a great job in defining the items that are used to attract employees such as compensation, benefits, and work-life balance.   But once we get them in the door, we seem to fall short in the long-term processes.

Based on my experiences, the effectiveness of onboarding has nothing to do with the size of the company, the type of company, or how many people are in their human resources department.  It has more to do with the relationship that is established from the very beginning.  I’ll be expanding on this in next week’s blog.  But in the meantime, I’d love to hear some of your experiences in onboarding or what your company does to make it effective.


November 23, 2011

Are You Spending Thanksgiving with Your Coworkers??

Filed under: Engagement,General HR Buzz,Work/Life Balance10:31 am

Many years ago, I had the unfortunate experience of having a minor accident shortly before Thanksgiving.  I escaped unharmed, but my car had to go to the shop and parts had to be ordered to fix the damage.  The loaner car the body shop gave me was a four-door Comet, brown in color.  My friends and I affectionately named it “Crash Comet.”  It was one of those cars with a personality which appeared at unexpected times, such as the back door flying open while driving down the street.  However, it served its purpose of getting me to my college classes and to work at the bank.

As Thanksgiving Day approached, I was told my car’s repairs were not going to be complete.  My family lived 200 miles away and obviously Crash Comet was not in any condition to make a roundtrip of 400 miles.  My budget was tight so renting a car was not an option.   A coworker came to my rescue and insisted I spend Thanksgiving Day with her family.  It was a wonderful memory I will never forget.  I was thankful to have a coworker, and friend, to welcome me to their table on Thanksgiving Day.

However, that may not be the case of many individuals.  A recent survey by reports nearly one in five workers said they plan to celebrate the holiday with coworkers.  When coworkers were asked who they would rather spend Thanksgiving with, only 1% answered coworkers with 90% stating family, and the remaining 9% answered neither.  I’m assuming this survey’s responses are referring to those individuals who are spending the day with their coworkers because they have to, not because they are generously sharing their Thanksgiving table with them.  It is sometimes easy to forget the many occupations that never have a chance to have a day off, such as our hospital workers, policemen, and even cable television providers.  Heaven forbid our cable would go out during a Thanksgiving Day football game!

During the years, I have been fortunate to have coworkers that have become my very best friends.  I would welcome any of them to my Thanksgiving dinner table.  While my vote would still be with the 90% who prefer to spend Thanksgiving with family, I have also been in the 1% population spending Thanksgiving with a coworker.  I discovered there are reasons to give thanks, no matter who you are sharing this special day with.

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