5 Things Your Employees Want You to Know

Date: May 24, 2012 | Shawn Herbig | News | Comments Off on 5 Things Your Employees Want You to Know

One of the areas of research we do at IQS is employee satisfaction and employee engagement and research to assess the organization’s processes and culture. Over the years we have garnered a few insights that might help you understand and better serve your staff.

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First and foremost, all employees want to do a good job. Everyone defines this a bit differently, and each person has individual abilities, limitations, and potential. But when they walk into the door, they want you to know this fact—all start at this same base line of wanting to succeed.

Second, employees need a clear, consistent message. Senior leadership teams and managers often lose sight of the importance of the continuity and integrity of the message or direction they communicate. Employees constantly watch and look for direction from both immediate supervisors as well as senior leadership. At all levels of management, it’s their job to communicate the company message consistently and often. Employees require consistent direction and open dialog about where the company is headed. When this belief is absent or inconsistent, it creates uncertainty and that’s a big problem.

Third, employees want to be informed. Every research study we and other professional market research companies have done around the employee/employer space shines a harsh light on one specific and often glaring issue: communication.

Employees are hungry for information, and there always seems to be a shortage of it in the workplace. And they want meat, not garnish. Newsletters about birthdays and community events are fine, but feeding your staff significant, job-affecting information is something that will empower them to be more effective in their work..

But of course, on the flip side, the constant barrage of emails and memos from every far corner of the company can have quite the opposite effect, especially when they convey nothing of importance. Effectiveness of the message and the delivery method is key.

Coworkers are another important workplace issue. When a company is moving forward and has strong leadership and message, employees feel this and respond by working harder. But they want to work harder alongside their coworkers. Most people are usually fine working some overtime, but when they stay till 7 every night and everyone else is gone by 5, it can cause a great deal of resentment. It’s also a sign that the work is not distributed evenly. Fairness is one aspect here, but management seeing clearly is vital to find the right balance.

Fifth and finally, recognition is a big deal. Many companies struggle with this. For one reason, it means different things to different people. In one employee study we conducted, an insightful employee said, “Paychecks pay the bills, but recognition pays the heart.” You can’t have emotional bankruptcy any more than you can have financial bankruptcy within your employee base. Everyone wants to be compensated fairly, but they also want to be recognized. And it doesn’t have to be a big ceremony, just a pat on the back by management or senior leadership as well as from coworkers can cause a delight factor that carries employees through the rough times.

Every work situation is unique but employees are people too. They want to have their needs fulfilled and be listened to and respected. While these 5 items won’t fix every situation, they will give you a head start over your competition.

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Why Companies Shouldn’t Do Their Own Research

Date: May 10, 2012 | Shawn Herbig | News | Comments Off on Why Companies Shouldn’t Do Their Own Research

Mathematical Analysis

Companies are notoriously bad at doing their own research. Even if they truly understand how to design a survey instrument, conduct the data collections, perform the mathematical analysis and compile the findings, they still have to account for numerous pitfalls along the way that will make the data inaccurate and the conclusions misleading.

Let’s say your company president decides the company is going to have a town hall-style meeting, because he wants to know why sales numbers have been dropping over the last three quarters. You know exactly why the sales team hasn’t been performing, and it has directly to do with the president’s decision to put a certain consultant in a pivotal position who really doesn’t understand the business process and has been causing no end of trouble. But the president is putting all his eggs in this consultant’s basket and believes she is going to revolutionize the company.

So what do you do? Should you be honest and tell him just what the problem is? Or are you more concerned with keeping the peace so you can keep your job? Just how difficult is it to be honest?

This difficulty is part of why companies shouldn’t do their own market research. There’s the intimidation factor at being honest with people you know. It’s one thing if a complete stranger is asking for your employees’ critiques. Then they get to be anonymous and protect themselves. But it’s quite another when their boss, or boss’ boss, or even a colleague is asking directly.

The emotional factor rises high here…employees can be scared away from brutal but vital honesty because of the fear of stepping on the wrong toes or being pegged a troublemaker. This is where a neutral third-party anonymous questioner is beneficial. They can protect and account for that emotional, fearful reaction, and you can be sure that you are getting unadulterated input.

The other side of that situation is the “friendship factor.” If clients and vendors are the sources of information, especially when they’re being asked by members of the company, there’s really no motivation to say anything that might rock the boat. If there is a problem that’s somewhat manageable, maybe they don’t want to get anyone in trouble or hurt a contact’s feelings because of their personal/professional relationships.

Again, in this case, a professional market research team can help the company get the whole truth and work around the fear factors that exist. This lets management get the crucial information they really need to make the best decisions.

Including getting rid of the incompetent consultant.

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Don’t Leave Employee Success to Chance

Date: March 13, 2012 | Shawn Herbig | News | Comments Off on Don’t Leave Employee Success to Chance

When I say “new hire interviews,” you think of one thing: picking the right person for the job. But as a conscious and forward thinking employer, there are additional layers of new hire interviews that can be put into place that will do immense good for the staff and company as a whole and can bring incredible insight into places your processes can be improved.

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Most of the time, here’s what happens: New people are hired, they’re given the tour, a desk, and a handshake, maybe shown a few basics, and then they are left to fend for themselves, with the constant stream of company emails flooding in with changes, updates, and new policies and new people to meet and work streams to learn each day. Talk about a whirlwind. It can work, though, in time, and the acclimation process does happen, albeit with a few bumps and bruises. But if we study this, there’s a treasure trove of information that can be gleaned from the new hire’s process.

Consider for a moment: What if you had interviews at different milestones in the new hire’s employment: 60 days, 90 days, 180 days, and 365 days. On these days, you would conduct new hire interviews through which you could measure several protocols? First, how well is the person acclimating to the company’s environment and business processes? Also, how can the company improve the new hire process? Last, are people resonating with the culture and values of a company and not just going through the motions of the work itself? And when and how do they come to the place of stability and confidence in their roles?

One way new employees’ level of acclimation can be measured is by subtly observing their “vocabulary.” Are they, by 60 days in, absorbing the culture, terminology, and goals of the company? Individual success is tied directly to company success, and if you can get a pulse on your new hires early to make sure they’re on the path to success and becoming part of the team, everyone benefits.

Then as you progress in the interview process, you find things to measure regarding performance metrics—are they understanding their jobs, are they handling the work flow and pace and the multi-priorities required to get their jobs done? Basically it’s getting the employee to engage in dialog about how they feel they’re fitting in, including things like comfortability, getting along with management and coworkers.

We have worked with a resort hotel that used this service to identify a major problem with employees with 6 to 12 months of tenure. In the hospitality industry this is a high turnover point. Training programs historically had tried to tackle this problem with rewards and gimmicks, or even additional training at the beginning. The problem was that when the employees were hired, they were treated really well, they were trained, they were even a little bit spoiled. But after that first month, they felt forgotten. By month 6 they either fit in or they gave up.

Once this was attitude discovered two things happened. 1) the early training was tweaked so the new employees felt good but still understood that they needed to perform (no more spoiling the new people – make them feel good but no spoiling). And 2) the hotel implemented a follow-up training to take place at 6 months. This gave another opportunity to fix any issues that had arisen and also reinforce the information that was learned during the first few weeks but may have been forgotten.

Most business people know how expensive it is to attract, interview, train, and manage new people. Turnover is an incredible drain on a company’s bottom line, so if it were possible to select specific points of measurement, observed from these interviews, the company could adjust training, communication, and priorities to best fix or fill any gaps new employees experience that might lead to an increased turnover rate.

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