Jobs as Games: Implications for Employee Engagement

A few weeks ago, I tweeted “What if work is like an online game and how would it impact employee engagement?” Many people favorited this tweet and retweeted it. It must have struck a chord.

Really, what if work is like an online game? How fun and engaging would it be? Wouldn’t it be cool to design jobs such that they feel like online games?

According to Gallup’s most recent workforce survey, only 30% of U.S. employees are engaged. One way to improve employee engagement is to start with job design and engage employees with what they do on a daily basis.

Here are some tips for making a job more like an online game: Continue reading “Jobs as Games: Implications for Employee Engagement”

Workplace Design and Employee Engagement

Gallup’s latest State of the American Workplace study found that 70% of U.S. employees are not engaged. That’s a high percentage! What can you do to improve employee engagement?

Besides identifying more career development opportunities and recognizing employees’ work regularly, workplace design is a less recognized but important factor in facilitating employee engagement.

An effective and inspiring workplace can facilitate collaboration, promote social learning, and accidental interactions that could spark innovative solutions. I curated several articles on how workplace design impacts employee engagement. These articles show case companies such as Google, Pixar, Skype, Deloitte, and creative office designs in Japan, Slovenia, and Spain.

Do you work in an inspiring workplace or a drab-looking office? What is your observation about employee engagement at your company relative to their workplace?

Six Tips for Conducting a Successful Employee Survey

success by Altaher Altabet FlickrClients often ask me what they can do to make their employee survey a success. Over the years, I’ve consulted with big organizations as well as smaller ones. Clients who are successful at their employee surveys share some commonatities in how they approach their project and how they keep the momentum going throughout the process.

Here is what I found:

1. Get senior management buy-in. This may sound like a no-brainer. But if you don’t do a good job getting senior management buy-in, your effort will fall flat. Read more…

Turning Insight Into Action

Online survey
I presented at CalCPA recently about how to design clear and relevant employee survey questions, draw insights from survey results, and turn insight into follow-up action.

I began by going around the room and asking participants what they wanted to take away from my session and what challenges they faced when conducting employee surveys. Here’s what they told me:

  • How many survey results do we share with our employees?
  • How do we decide what follow up actions to take?
  • How do we increase survey response rate?
  • How do we make sure that we are measuring what we intend to measure?

These are the same challenges that I’ve heard from my clients.

You get valuable results only when you ask relevant and valid questions. To that end, I invited participants to work in pairs and asked them to create a question about employees’ training or career development needs. The participants experienced first hand the challenge of designing good questions. “It’s harder than I thought!” was the unanimous comments among participants.

Try this exercise yourself and share your experience! I’ll be happy to take a look at your questions and provide feedback.

Download my presentation to learn about tips for how to design clear and relevant questions, draw insights from your survey results, and how to prioritize follow-up actions.

What are your experience in crafting employee survey questions and implementing employee surveys at your organization? What works for you? And what would you do differently?

Simplicity: Key to Conducting Successful Employee Surveys

Flickr photo by Daniel HurstIn a world of complexity, people crave simplicity. In fact, simplicity is the new luxury. How can you apply the philosophy of simplicity in your employee survey design and data collection process and still get valuable results?

Simplify the topics. How many topics does your employee survey cover? Do you need to assess all these areas at once? An employee survey with focused topics yields relevant and just-in-time data. It’s more manageable. You are less likely to be overwhelmed by tons of data spread across multiple topics. Continue reading “Simplicity: Key to Conducting Successful Employee Surveys”

Is Remote Work Bad for Productivity?

Business and Morning Coffee

The recent Yahoo internal memo that requests employees to work in their offices has stirred up quite a lot of discussion on the Internet. And it’s no wonder – most knowledge workers and Gen Y employees are accustomed to the flexibility of working from home sometimes. People are increasingly working on-the-go. The boundaries of office, workspace, home, and third-places are increasingly blurred. Enabled by the latest mobile devices, tablets, and easy access to the Internet, work is more about what you do or accomplish, not where you get it done.

Numerous studies have shown that people working away from their offices are more productive because they are less likely to be interrupted by coworkers who drop by their cubicles, take fewer sick days, and save time on their long commute. These positive results extend to call center employees as well. People who telecommute are also more satisfied with their work/life balance as they are better able to control their workflow during the day.

So why is Yahoo requiring their employees to return to work in offices?

It is hard to say what’s the ultimate goal of the new policy. Based on discussions on the Internet and blogosphere, it seems that some Yahoo employees have taken advantage of their telecommuting policy and are not performing at their jobs. The memo points to the benefits of having better communication and collaboration when people work side-by-side, and increased insights, speed, and quality when employees work in the same physical locations.

Regardless of the tone of the memo and how it’s communicated with Yahoo employees, let’s take a look at the key issues Yahoo raised: productivity, communication, and collaboration.

Productivity. By now, many studies have shown that doing work remotely or telecommuting does, in fact, increase workers’ productivity. The issue at Yahoo seems like a performance issue, not a telecommuting issue. If Yahoo employees abuse their telecommuting policy, it’s imperative that managers/leaders take action to hold employees accountable, recognize their performance, and follow-up with employees who do not perform. Perhaps this new policy is the first step Yahoo leaders are taking to hold employees accountable for their performance.

Communication. While it is true that the serendipity that happens at cafeterias, hallways, or water-coolers can lead to great insights, there are many technologies that facilitate effective communications, from smart-phone to online meeting tools. Regardless of whether you work in the office or in a remote location, there are ways to communicate with coworkers. The key is to ensure that access to the company intranet, relevant technology, and the speed of connection are not barriers to remote workers.

Similar to communication, there are many online collaboration tools that enable employees to work together while they are physically apart. Work is increasingly distributed. For companies that have dispersed geographical locations, it is impossible to require a team of employees to always work side-by-side in a conference room. There are stages of collaboration. Sometimes your team will need to work together to ideate, confirm objectives and strategies. Other times your team members will need to go off to do solo work or have quiet time to think before they get together and collaborate on ideas. Solo work and thinking may best be accomplished while working from home or in a space without constant interruptions.

The bottom line: remote work is here to stay. It’s the employees’ responsibility to earn trust from their managers, be accountable for their performance, and accomplish what they set out to do. It’s the management’s responsibility to have relevant people practices that facilitate remote work, hold employees accountable, and have clear consequences when employees do not perform. Last but not least, employees should have easy access to the information and resources they need, either in the cloud or on company servers, to enable productive work from anywhere.

What do you think? Is remote work a peril to productivity? How would you address the issues highlighted by the Yahoo memo?

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.

2012 Mobile Workforce Survey Results

We are pleased to announce that the Executive Summary of our 2012 Mobile Workforce Survey is now available for free.

The survey was conducted over the last several months; it reflects the work patterns and preferences of 204 mobile professionals and managers.

Here are the headlines:

  • Mobile work is the new normal.
  • Work is collaborative;
  • Email is the most commonly used communication method, followed by smart phone;
  • Social networking tools and online collaboration applications are seldom used;
  • Fax, large-scale video conferencing, and overnight delivery services are rarely used; and
  • Commonly used communication methods differ by company size.

Those might not sound like radical or even surprising findings, but there are some very interesting and important details behind these one-liners.

More importantly, we also found that mobile employees remain as engaged with their work and their companies as office-bound workers, and that they are significantly more productive. Finally, a majority of respondents reported that their job satisfaction would improve significantly if they had could create and manage their own work schedules.

You can download the Executive Summary for free right now. The full report will be available for purchase later this year.

The report was produced jointly by Novacrea Research Consulting and The Future of Work…unlimited.

The Art and Science of Designing Survey Questions

Survey Questions Makeover

Asking questions is easy, but asking valid and unbiased questions is not. What do you need to consider when drafting valid and unbiased employee survey questions?

A valid question should be clear, designed to measure what it’s set out to measure, and ideally, contains only one concept that you want to assess (i.e., no double-barreled questions).

Furthermore, you need to make sure that your rating scale is aligned with how a question is asked. I’ve seen questions where they ask “how likely are you to do X” while the rating scale shows a five-point satisfaction-dissatisfaction scale or agree-disagree scale. This is very confusing to the respondents and you’ll not be able to correctly interpret the survey results.
Continue reading “The Art and Science of Designing Survey Questions”