Employee-Centered Job Design as a Way to Create Meaningful Work Experiences and Retain Employees

The US economy continues to do well and the unemployment rate continues to decline. Healthcare and information technology will feel the most acute talent shortage. What can you do to motivate and retain your key talent?

A recent Korn Ferry survey of 4,900 professionals found that the number one reason professionals want to switch jobs is because they are bored at work (33%). In contrast, only 19% of respondents reported higher salaries as a reason for changing job.

This result is not surprising. Our research with our clients consistently finds that doing challenging and interesting work and having opportunities for development are two key drivers of employee engagement. Pay is a hygiene factor that is needed to keep employees from feeling dissatisfied but not a motivating factor. Continue reading “Employee-Centered Job Design as a Way to Create Meaningful Work Experiences and Retain Employees”

What Improv Teaches Us About Employee Engagement

Photo by Pi Wen Looi
Photo by Pi Wen Looi

This past Sunday we went to see our friend, Linda, perform in Stories in Motion directed by Nina Wise. The performers told their stories with hand gestures and body movements. They also synchronized their movements, made sounds, and sang. As in any improv performance, they built on each other’s stories.

One woman told a story about her dad who, when he was on duty in the Philippines, wrote a love letter to her mom. It was to be read only after her dad passed away, but her mom never read it because she passed before her dad. Guided by her hand gestures and narratives, I could “see” her living room where clutters of magazines, letters, and newspapers were. My heart stopped a beat when she finally pinned the letter, written on onion-skin-thin papers, to her bulletin board.

Another performer told us how he tried to meditate, but his mind kept wondering off to his unfinished work. His story was juxtaposed with another performer’s story about how she found out, while vacationing in Germany, that she was pregnant. These were two very different stories, but they were beautifully interwoven together and became a story that could stand on its own. In the finale, all the performers repeated a phrase or a word from one of the performances of the evening, unified by synchronized gestures and repetitions of some phrases. The finale looked amazingly integrated and well rehearsed, although everything was improvised!

Listening to your partners, building on each other’s stories using “yes, and” instead of “yes, but,” and going with the flow are basic principles of improv. These principles are equally valuable in our everyday interactions with employees and peers.

Listen to your partners.
How often do we really listen to the people we are talking with? Many of us are guilty of checking our computer for incoming emails or mindlessly surfing the net while having a conversation with a colleague. To really listen is to show respect for your coworkers and employees. Respect is the foundation for all relationships and for employee engagement.

Build on each other’s stories. Make it a commitment in 2014 to say “yes, and” instead of “yes, but.” You’ll be amazed how much more cooperative your team members are, and how many more creative ideas you can generate from your meetings. “Yes, but” is limiting. “Yes, and” is freeing. Which option would you choose?

Go with the flow. Have you ever experienced a conversation or a meeting where one of the participants kept stating his or her points regardless of what is being discussed? How did you feel? Nothing kills a great discussion more than when someone is not staying on point with the discussion and tries to reiterate his/her own agenda. Go with the flow means staying in the present and practicing giving the benefit of the doubt. While there is still a place for playing devil’s advocate, too many devil’s advocates will kill creative ideas prematurely.

At the dawn of 2014, let’s build on each other’s ideas, practice active listening, and celebrate each other’s successes.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Simple Things You Can Do To Improve Employee Productivity

Recently, I updated my website and switched my hosting company. What seemed like a pretty harmless operation turned out to be quite a headache. Along the way, we encountered slow load times and unfriendly plug-ins. I was not able to use my email for a day and a half.

All these issues are taken care of now. My new website loads fast. It’s mobile friendly. I’m back on my email.

But that one and a half day of interruptions was a big hit to my productivity.
Continue reading “Simple Things You Can Do To Improve Employee Productivity”

Collaboration: A Competitive Advantage

Photo by Flickr user love4platypuses123

Our 2012 Mobile Workforce Survey found that more than half of our respondents’ time is spent on collaborative work, which includes face-to-face meetings, conference calls, and online collaboration including Skype’ or other screen-sharing technologies. Furthermore, two-thirds of our respondents are either mobile within their company’s facility, working at a client’s office, working from home, or working on-the-go at an airport lounge, a cafe, or a library.

Collaboration is the way to get work done and maintain your competitive edge.

Are your workplace and people practices conducive to collaborative work? At the same time, do they provide enough privacy so that your employees can do solo work, think, and be creative?

Take Action to Facilitate More Collaboration at Work

Collaborative work is here to stay. With people increasingly using mobile devices and social networking tools to communicate with each other, find information, and conduct research, you simply cannot ignore this trend. Strategic leaders who take action to shape a work environment and culture that foster employee collaboration will gain an edge over their competitors and see improved business results.

Here are some questions to get you started on creating a conducive work environment and culture that encourage collaboration:

Resources and Physical Work Environment

  • Do you have online tools that facilitate collaboration across time zones, geographical locations? Are they accessible to all or most employees?
  • Do you have workspaces where employees can get together for collaborative work?
  • If so, how would you describe this space? Is it bland and boring or does it have toys and props that can stimulate creative thinking?
  • Do you have individual workspaces or offices employees can reserve if they need some quiet thinking time to work on their projects?

Organizational Culture and People Practices

  • Do your employees feel most productive if they are “busy” working?
  • Is “thinking” frowned upon or encouraged in your office?
  • Do employees have the flexibility to determine how and where to best get their work done?

Employee Trust and Team Cohesiveness

  • Do your leaders know how to build and maintain a cohesive team environment?
  • Do you organize social activities outside of work to build employee relationship and trust?
  • Do you know what your employees are thinking and why?
  • Are you asking the right questions in your employee surveys about collaboration and innovation?

How did you encourage collaboration at your workplace? What worked? And what are the lessons learned? Let me know.