Employee engagement – where do I start!?

The term “employee engagement” appears in leadership and HR literature the world over. It is a topic which comes up in every one of our client conversations, however the term seems to hold a very different meaning from one organisation to the next.

A Google search for employee engagement will yield a myriad of definitions, for example UK voluntary movement Engage for Success, defines employee engagement as “a workplace approach resulting in the right conditions for all members of an organisation to give of their best each day, committed to their organisation’s goals and values, motivated to contribute to organisational success, with an enhanced sense of their own well-being.” While other definitions might vary from this, the overarching theme is an emotional connection between an employee and their employer organisation.

When addressing employee engagement, an organisation should aim to strategically implement sustainable programmes, initiatives and tools which will result in an employee having a sense of purpose and belonging. Something which will challenge the success of even the most holistic engagement strategy, is a lack of definition around company values and purpose. Engagement is intrinsically connected to the values of an organisation, so when considering engagement, the first place an organisation should start is with their own values.: the glue which will keep people invested (long-term) in the overall business mission.

With clear values and purpose, tools such as an employee survey can be leveraged to gain insights into the culture and mindset of a workforce. The eNPS (employee net promoter score) will provide a very basic understanding of engagement; how likely your workforce is to recommend your organisation as a place to work. Detailed survey questions assessing; workplace inclusion, wellbeing, communication, recognition and career development will provide a greater understanding of an organisation’s needs.

For organisations of all sizes and industries effectively administered surveys will help guide better business decisions. Utilising the feedback, an organisation can determine clear engagement objectives and a strategic approach to boost employee satisfaction. While the prospect of an employee engagement strategy might be daunting at first, with the right building blocks in place the planning process becomes easier and more systematic.

At Wrkit we specialise in the creation of better, healthier working environments using our online suite of data driven employee engagement and retention tools – Surveys, Recognition, Wellbeing (POWR), Learning and Lifestyle Savings. Headquartered in Dublin (Ireland), with offices in London and Boston, we serve local and multi-national companies around the globe. Let our experience guide your next steps, get in touch today info@wrkit.com.

 

Author: Sara Glynn, Marketing Manager, Wrkit

The Secret to Successful Collaboration

Collaborative workspaces have their merits; they encourage team work, reduce needless e-communication and foster a culture of inclusion. However different people like to work in different ways and a collaborative environment isn’t always the most suitable. Depending on their role, personality, current mood or task, the most suitable environment for an individual will change.

In an open plan office which promotes collaborative working it is important to find ways to allow for quiet time and privacy, facilitating your team to work at their best. Here are our top tips to create quiet:

Encourage the use of signals: Encourage your staff to use headphones, earplugs, desk signs and even body language to clearly signal that they do not want to be disturbed. The system of signalling needs to be respected by the team and managers to work.

Establish protocol: In a truly open plan office where quite zones cannot be separate spaces, rules or protocol such as quite times or no email times can be implemented – limiting distraction from within the team. Any protocol such as this needs to be well communicated with rational.

Designate a quiet zone: If the office layout allows for it, a designated quite room with hot desks can add real value for the whole team. Like a library, a quite zone in a workplace needs to adhere to strict silence, once the rule is abused the value of the room is gone.

Allow for flexible working hours: When suitable allow people to choose hours that provide the best environment for their needs. If the office is quiet in the early morning or late in the evening and this arrangement can work for an employee allow them to choose their own hours.

Make remote working part of the culture: Allowing for flexibility in working environments can boost engagement and productivity. When it is suitable allow for remote work be that at home or the café down the road. A change in surrounds can have a high impact on productivity.

Add outdoor spaces: While they might be weather dependant, outdoor spaces can provide great alternative workspace and solitude for those seeking silence. Claim whatever out door space you have available and make everyone aware that this is an option.

Intelligent furniture: Re-evaluate some of your furniture choices. Where possible replace some standard desks with privacy pods. While these can help provide seclusion for an individual, they don’t go against the concept of an open plan collaborative environment.

For a collaborative environment to be effective, flexibility in the working environment must be an option. Try new things until you find what works for the majority and for the business.

At Wrkit we specialise in the creation of better, healthier working environments using our online suite of data driven employee engagement and retention tools – Surveys, Recognition, Wellbeing (POWR), Learning and Lifestyle Savings. Headquartered in Dublin (Ireland), with offices in London and Boston, we serve local and multi-national companies around the globe.

Let our experience guide your next steps, get in touch today info@wrkit.com.

Author: Sara Glynn, Marketing Manager, Wrkit

Surveys: Understand And Improve

Employee feedback is essential for an organisation to understand and improve employee happiness. In an increasingly competitive world, retaining talent is more challenging than ever, hence utilising employee surveys is becoming more important.

Often organisations will implement tools to help them nurture talent, improve engagement or support employee wellbeing without first assessing their needs. When sufficient internal research isn’t conducted to support decisions it can result in a culture of box-ticking and inevitably wasting money.

Wrkit surveys offer employers an opportunity to leverage regular pulse surveys and/or design their own custom surveys. The pulse survey, a fixed regular survey, is trackable over time. Organisations can choose from twenty set questions, including a single eNPS to assess the company mood on an on-going basis. For a deeper dive into cultural specifics the custom survey offers greater flexibility. A large bank of industry validated questions can help shape the survey, or the questions can be written by the survey driver.

While it is important to use feedback to drive business decisions it is not the only reason surveys are valuable. Using surveys to gather employee feedback can have several positive knock-on effects including:

  1. Improved communication: When employees participate in the process of improving their workplace environment it opens the lines of communication. This can make them feel more empowered, regardless of their position with the company.
  2. Creating psychological safety: Encouraging employees to speak up, share their likes and dislikes it contributes to creating a non-threatening work environment.
  3. Cultivate a culture of honesty: Surveys provide anonymity and privacy which allows employees to honestly share their opinions.
  4. Increased loyalty: If an employee feels that they have a voice they are more likely to have an emotional commitment to the organisation.
  5. Increased trust within the organisation: Letting employees know that it is policy to conduct online employee satisfaction surveys can increase trust and confidence with management.
  6. Identifying motivational factors: Survey insights can highlight what motivates your team, providing an opportunity to leverage this and boost motivation.

Contact us today to find our more about the Wrkit Survey module and how it can benefit your organisation.

E: info@wrkit.com

T: 00353 1 6624170

Author – Sara Glynn, Marketing Manager, Wrkit

There’s No Better Benefit Than Health

The way in which we receive healthcare hasn’t changed significantly over the past 100 years. With the average waiting time for patients to see a GP on the rise, and with our increasingly “on-demand” society, it is little wonder that patients and employers are turning to online doctor alternatives.

New research commissioned by VideoDoc, revealed that almost 45% of employees said they do not receive any healthcare benefits from their employer. Of those who do, as many as 43% state this is insufficient to cover the cost of their private health insurance.  Furthermore, over half (52%) of people questioned had delayed seeking medical advice as they were worried about taking time off work. The research also found that more than a quarter of people (27%) admitted that the most likely reason for having to take a day off work would be for a GP appointment – with one in five going on to say they had actually used a full day of annual leave in order to see their GP.

Where there was a fear of having to admit the need to see a GP during ‘office hours’, the national poll showed that excuses started to creep into the workplace with ‘lies about train delays’ or ‘having to work from home to look after a sick child’. The NHS themselves say that 60% of everything during an in-surgery visit in general practice can be dealt with over the telephone and this is before you add the benefit of a secure video consultation platform and specially trained doctors.

Online doctor services such as VideoDoc are bringing the doctor’s house call into the 21st century, offering timely, safe and effective online healthcare services. There are huge advantages for people who work within conventional office hours in a location that is often some distance from home. This smart solution means people will no longer have to take time off for GP appointments. They can access the service 8am – 10pm, 7 days a week.

So-called “sick days” are resulting in millions of lost working days each year, costing the UK economy £100billion a year (CIPD) and the Irish economy €1.5billion a year (IBEC). On average, employees are absent for six-and-a-half days every year with the main cause of a sick day being ‘minor’ illness. Providing on-demand access to an online GP for immediate diagnosis, and swift prescribing of necessary medication could play an important and innovative role in bringing these figures down.

For Wrkit clients and their employees this on-demand service is readily available. Within the Wrkit Lifestyle Savings module employees can avail of VideoDoc services for up to six months free of charge.

“This is a great service for us to be providing within the platform and we are delighted to be working with VideoDoc. The service compliments our other wellbeing resources, helping our clients nurture a healthier and more engaged workforce.” – Peter Jenkinson, Business Development Director, Wrkit 

For more information about Wrkit and VideoDoc get in touch at info@wrkit.com

Author: Nicki Labram, Head of Communications, VideoDoc

 

8 Tips To Create A Psychologically Safe Work Environment

Psychological safety describes people’s perceptions of the consequences of taking interpersonal risks in a particular context such as a workplace” Amy C. Edmondson

The phenomenon of psychological safety first appeared in organisational literature in the mid 60’s. A key researcher in the area, Edgar Schein believed that when individuals feel psychologically safe they are free to focus on collective goals and problem prevention rather than on self-protection. According to Amy Edmondson, a leading academic in the field, “organisational research has identified psychological safety as a critical factor in understanding phenomena such as voice, teamwork, team learning, and organisational learning.”

In 2015 Google published findings from their own research in the area. Following a four-year study looking at the dynamics which influence team performance (psychological safety, dependability, structure, meaning of work and impact) Google identified that Psychological Safety was by far the most influential dynamic affecting team performance. Furthermore, it was identified that those who were part of psychologically safe teams were less likely to leave Google.

The research tells us that psychologically safe environments yield better results, higher performance and greater revenue. With the bonus of reduced staff turnover, it is something which should be instilled in company culture at board level. Typically, in environments which are not felt to be psychologically safe team members will not be eager to share ideas, discuss problems or disagreements. When communication doesn’t flow freely there can often be a knock-on effect, employees can become disengaged, feel undervalued and will inevitably leave the organisation.

Improving the psychological safety of your team will have an immediate impact on employee experience and enable individuals to perform at their best. There are several ways a leader can improve the psychological safety of their team environment;

  1. Encourage Learning from Mistakes – it’s important for your team to know that they can make mistakes. Failures should be shared and learned from
  2. Admit Your Own Mistakes – it’s uncomfortable to say, “I messed up” but as a leader if you can admit to your own mistakes then your team will feel more comfortable doing the same
  3. Be Inclusive – in an increasingly diverse workforce including everyone is more important than ever. In team huddles and meetings ask people by name if they have any questions, feedback etc.
  4. Encourage Questions – no matter what stage a project is at encourage questions and appreciate those who are forthcoming with questions
  5. Ask Questions – the more questions you ask of your team the greater their involvement in find solutions.
  6. Be Open Minded – when you encourage people to share ideas and ask questions it is important to be open minded when you receive the feedback. Not everything has to be acted on but all ideas should be encouraged.
  7. Establish Accountability – People feel safe when they are confident about who is doing what
  8. Be Available – Always reiterate that you are there to help and support your team and your door is always open (if you have a door)

 

Author: Sara Glynn, Marketing Manager @Wrkit

 

Why Employees Don’t Use Vacation Days

Across the global there is an increasing trend in the number of untaken vacation days. In 2016 Project: Time Off conducted comprehensive research examining the vacation habits of American employees. The study found that more than half of American workers (55%) left vacation time unused. Over a twelve-month period that resulted in a whopping 658 million unused vacation days.

In support of these findings Expedia.com, one of the world’s largest full service online travel sites, also found that US employees were among the worst in the world for taking their valuable vacation days. The Expedia Vacation Deprivation report identified that 9% of Americans said they worried that taking their full allotment of days off “will be perceived negatively” by their employer.

Two years previous Glassdoor conducted a similar study which found that UK employees were also taking a mere 77% of their allocated vacation days. Employees the world over say they both want and put high value on having more vacation time. In fact, almost a quarter of American employees reported that the prospect of additional vacation days would motivate them to change jobs.

Increasingly we are also made aware of the value vacations have for both the company and the individual, notably the importance in avoiding employee burnout. So why are people not using the vacation days they have?

Studies have identified multiple factors influencing whether employees do or do not take their allocated leave, these include;

  1. Returning to a mountain of work
  2. Feeling that no one else can do their job
  3. Can’t afford to go away
  4. Feeling they will be “on the clock” when they are on holidays
  5. Worried they will appear like a slacker to colleague and managers
  6. Their manager doesn’t take holidays
  7. Unable to get the same dates as their partner
  8. Leave is not talked about as a part of work-life or spoken of as a negative

It is a common belief that employees who take leave will be less likely to be promoted or receive a pay rise. In contrast to this perception employees who take 10 or fewer days of vacation time are less likely to have received a raise or bonus in the last three years than those who took 11 days or more.

While some of these factors may be more difficult for employer organisations to influence, every business should encourage and normalise vacation time. Taking time to recharge and unwind is essential for the individual and the organisation. Communicate internally the benefits of taking time off and of course ensure your senior management are leading by example.

 

Author – Sara Glynn, Marketing Executive, Wrkit

A Case For Diversity

A Case For Diversity

Employers are dealing with the most diverse workforces in history. For the first time ever, workforces are spanning five generations, with people from a wide range of racial and ethnic backgrounds with different gender and sexual identities. There are also different attitudes and expectations from employees who may live a variety of different lifestyles, as well as operate on and employ a variety of cognitive styles in the workplace.
Although such diversity can present challenges in day-to-day operations, there are undeniable benefits to having a multicultural and inclusive workforce. In a 2014 study Forbes identified diversity as a key driver for innovation. Furthermore, Entrepreneur considers diverse teams to have greater creativity, while Lu Hong and Scott Page’s research identified that groups of diverse problem solvers can outperform groups of high-ability problem solvers.
The diversity of an organisation is increasingly a consideration for job seekers. According to Glassdoor “when it comes to the recruiting process, minority groups value diversity even more than the average job seeker” – subsequently having a diverse workforce makes the recruitment process easier.
The same Glassdoor study also found a correlation between staff turnover and diversity, with 57% of respondents believing their employer should be doing more to increase the diversity of its workforce. If this isn’t justification enough, research from McKinsey identified that companies with diverse executive boards enjoy significantly higher earnings and returns on equity.

Fostering An Inclusive Work Environment

Human Resources must provide an infrastructure that allows diversity and inclusion to thrive as a part of the culture. It is not merely about filling quota but about creating a culture where people from all walks of life work harmoniously and thrive at work and life. There’s several practices managers can implement to embrace diversity in the workplace:

• Learn about the cultural backgrounds, lives and interests of employees outside of the workplace. Building relationships through increased understanding and trust helps to foster inclusion.
• Include opportunities for staff to interact in settings outside of work so that employees feel more comfortable. Be creative, flexible and look for new ways of doing things that will appeal to a broad audience.
• Ensure employees have the opportunity to take part (or are sufficiently represented) in decision-making and planning of social activities.
• Be aware of (and provide time off for) culturally significant events and holy days.
• Offer a flexible float day for employees to use at their own discretion to observe events or days relevant to them.
• Create an intranet-based multicultural calendar to avoid scheduling important meetings on major cultural holidays.

There are hundreds of research papers highlighting the benefits of diversity at work and the most successful companies are those embracing the modern (changing) workforce. Take inspiration from success stories, define your end goals and develop a suitable strategy to foster an inclusive environment in your organisation.

Author: Sara Glynn – Wrkit Marketing Executive

Linking financial difficulty and mental health at work

A recent research project by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, sponsored by SalaryFinance, sets out the case for employers to provide practical support to employees experiencing financial difficulty, and how this could boost the mental health, wellbeing and resilience of their workforce.

The analysis found a clear link between financial difficulties and poor mental health. Not only do 45% of UK employees report at least one sign of poor mental health, but those with money worries are 50% more likely to report signs of poor mental health that affect their performance at work.

The research found that even less intense financial strain can have an impact on both wellbeing and productivity. 41% of employees who identified themselves as financially comfortable reported at least one sign of poor mental health. However, this number rises to 51% for those just about managing and to 67% for people in financial difficulty.

This is perhaps not surprising when considering the fragile financial situation of a large proportion of the UK workforce. Nearly 17 million working age people across the UK have savings of less than £100, meaning that something as simple as an unexpected repair bill can create a significant issue. Those with lower credit scores will often pay higher interest rates, exacerbating the issue and triggering a cycle of problem debt.

The consequences on an individual’s ability to work caused by financial worries include struggling to concentrate, losing sleep, feeling additional pressure and reduced motivation.

The results highlight a two-way street between concerns about money and mental health, suggesting action to improve financial resilience and alleviate problem debts could play an important role in preventing mental health problems in Britain’s workplaces.

The report suggests actions that employers can take to alleviate these issues for their employees:

  • Boost short term savings: Access to savings of just £1,000 could protect half a million households from problem debt.
  • Support access to affordable credit: Over half of the research participants suggested that the provision of affordable credit products through payroll would have helped them.
  • Foster financial capability: Access to financial tools and apps can help people manage their money more successfully.

The full research report – Overstretched, overdrawn, underserved – can be found at: www.moneyandmentalhealth.org/financialwellbeingatwork/

The Many Benefits of Pet-Friendly Workplaces

There are many studies attesting the benefits of having a pet friendly work environment.

According to Banfield Pet Hospital’s Pet-Friendly Workplace PAWrometer 2016 survey, pets in the workplace can help:

  • Work-Life balance
  • Lower stress and absenteeism
  • Reduce guilt about leaving pets home alone
  • Boost morale
  • Increase productivity
  • Improve relationships among co-workers
  • Positively impact group dynamics: team-building/bonding
  • Increase loyalty to company

Allowing pets in the workplace can create a real competitive advantage. It’s a fringe benefit which is increasing in popularity as more companies bring it to the table in a bid to recruit top employees, especially millennials.

According to research by Purina PetCare, 42% of workers aged 18-34 across the UK enjoy, or would like, a dog-friendly workplace; 25% say it would make a company more attractive to them.  Such are the benefits that 28% of working millennials would give up other perks, such as yoga or gym membership, in exchange for dog-friendly policies.

Having dogs in the office goes beyond making the owners happy. A study in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management found that (where dogs were present) stress declined for dog owners and non-dog owners alike. In contrast, stress rose for dog owners who left their pups at home, and for non-dog owners working in a non-dog friendly environment stress also increased. This has been further backed up by research published by Central Michigan University.

Employers Leading The “Pet Friendly” Way

Google

Dogs are allowed daily inside the offices of Google:

“Google’s affection for our canine friends is an integral facet of our corporate culture,” the company’s code of conduct says.  “We like cats, but we’re a dog company, so as a general rule we feel cats visiting our offices would be fairly stressed out.”

Facebook, Amazon, and Ben & Jerry’s

Amazon even has dog biscuits available at the front desk and dog friendly water fountains scattered throughout the Seattle campus.

Nestlé

Through the Pets At Work (PAW) programme, led by Nestlé Purina, Nestlé Gatwick has become the first Nestlé HQ worldwide to become dog-friendly.

The programme forms part of Nestlé’s Health and Wellbeing agenda, with a recent survey by Purina revealing staff are happier and healthier when able to take their pets to work. Results showed 47% of 18-24 year olds view bringing a pet to work as a work perk.

Other Purina survey finds included:

  1. Happier and healthier staff (34%)
  2. Dogs get to spend more time with their owners (30%)
  3. Increased socialisation (28%)
  4. Encourage more physical activity (26%)
  5. Employees less likely to suffer from depression (20%)
  6. Dogs get to socialise with other dogs (18%)
  7. Reduced blood pressure and cholesterol levels (17%)
  8. Increased engagement and motivation (14%)
  9. Helps break the ice when talking to senior staff (10%)
  10. Helps break the ice when talking to an office crush (9%)

Thinking of implementing a #PetsAtWork policy?

If inviting dogs into work is something you are considering be mindful of those who do not like dogs. Planning must account for anyone who might be uncomfortable around dogs, be sure to include dog free areas.

Check out this free downloadable Toolkit from Purina Pets at Work Alliance for more tips.

Author – Gerry Molloy CEO / Founder www.WoofAdvisor.com

Keeping Employees Engaged This Summer

For many organisations employee engagement and productivity can decrease at this time of year. Summer months mean summer holidays, erratic working hours and a distracted work force. Here’s a few ideas to help keep your team engaged when there’s so much distraction:

  1. First Day of Summer Freedom – A common moral boosting benefit is to give employees the freedom to leave work the first day of the year that it reaches 20 degrees. This is a cost-effective way of lifting everyone’s spirits.
  2. Free Summer Fridays –In a recent article, USA Today said that of 200 employers surveyed in the USA, 42% were offering Summer Fridays this year. That being either Friday’s off or half days. If you notice your team lacking focus on Friday afternoons this could be something worth considering.
  3. Offer Flexitime – Make life easier for your employees by offering flexible hours and the ability to work from home one or two days a week. A May survey by staffing firm OfficeTeam found that 39% of workers are looking for flexible schedules at this time of year. Allowing employees to create their own work schedule facilitates all important family time and supports a better work life balance.
  4. Sports Day/Summer party – Remember sports day in school and how excited everyone got? Try this out within the company. Hire a local sports ground and arrange mini tournaments – three-legged race, potato sack races, five aside etc. Include food and drinks to make it a full-blown Summer party.
  5. Surprise them with Ice-cream: It’s an easy thing to do, in a small company just grab an ice-cream for everyone and surprise them during their working day. Larger companies, book an ice-cream van to visit the offices. It’s a clever way to bring a little joy to the workplace.
  6. Summer Dress Code – This won’t be suitable for every industry but if possible relax the usual dress code to allow for more casual and comfortable attire. Tried and tested by global leading tech companies this is a cost free Summer per that could make a real difference to employee attitudes.

No matter what you choose to do, be sure to take the company pulse so you know what your team are thinking. Meet for performance check-ups or use pulse surveys which provide invaluable feed-back and offer managers a great opportunity to stay ‘in-the-loop’.

Author: Sara Glynn, Marketing Executive, Wrkit