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Your Formula for Employee Engagement

Periodic Table of Essential Elements of a Highly Engaging Workplace Culture Infographic FINAL

Today we released the third and final study from our Employee Engagement Lifecycle research.  For this series, we targeted three different respondent groups – HR professionals (601 respondents); people managers (604 respondents); and full-time, non-managing employees (602 respondents) – who responded to an online questionnaire about various aspects of workplace culture and employee engagement.  Our previously published results focused on Boomerang Employees and an examination of  Who’s the Boss of Workplace Culture?

We’re reporting the summary results of this research framed as a periodic table of elements for a highly engaging workplace culture.  You need the right formula for your organization to create employee engagement. Good chemistry with employees starts at the top with senior leadership identifying the elements of workplace culture that will support their strategy. Just as important is ensuring this formula is well understood and executed by people managers throughout the organization. If managers cannot deliver on the promises made by leadership and HR, mission statements, values, and perks won’t generate your desired outcomes. While this periodic table of essential workplace elements is in no way exhaustive, it is a reminder that our workplaces are a complex equation of people, programs, and policies that each have a daily impact on employee happiness and engagement.

Our periodic table of essential elements for engaging workplaces is categorized into five core categories: People & Relationships; Leadership; Benefits & Perks; Work-Life Balance; and Learning & Development.  These are described in more detail below.  You can access a full sized version of the infographic above by clicking on it or by clicking here.

Group 1 People & Relationships:

  • Culture Trumps Performance (CtP) – Nearly 60 percent of HR professionals say they would fire a high performer who did not fit into the company culture or get along with their team.
  • Appreciation (Ap) – As Kronos revealed in its previous “Do You Feel Appreciated at Work?” survey, 55 percent of employees say receiving a simple “Thank you” from their manager gives them a high sense of satisfaction at work.
  • Friendships (F) – When asked how important friendships at work were to impacting their performance, 64 percent of employees say they were important or very important.
  • Boomerangs (Bm) – As the first installment of this series explored, nearly half of HR professionals claim their organization once had a policy against rehiring former employees, even if the employee left in good standing. However, as the war for talent has heated up, 76 percent say they are now more accepting of hiring so called “boomerang employees” than in the past.

Group 2 Leadership:

  • Leadership (Ld) – HR professionals and managers both say that the most important aspect of their workplace culture is having managers and executives who lead by example.
  • Innovation (In) – Everyone agrees that innovation is a critical component of a successful organization, but there is a disconnect when it comes to how employers encourage innovation. While 63 percent of managers and 62 percent of HR professionals say their organizations encourage employees to bring new ideas to the table, only 40 percent of employees agree – and a full 39 percent of employees say their organizations “aren’t innovative.”
  • Active Feedback (Af) – Nearly half of both HR professionals and people managers actively seek feedback from employees to preserve and strengthen their workplace culture.
  • Empathetic Managers (Em) – Nearly one-quarter of employees say a flexible manager is an important part of supporting their work-life balance.
  • Customer-First (CuF) – More than 40 percent of both HR professionals and people managers say they look to their customers and the market to seek insights for innovation.
  • Mentoring (M) – Millennial employees say mentorships are important, as 20 percent claim having a mentor or sponsor was a useful aspect of their employer’s onboarding strategy.

Group 3 Benefits & Perks:

  • Pay and Benefits (Pb) – Nearly a quarter of employees say that, excluding pay, better benefits elsewhere is the top reason they would leave their current company. And 36 percent of managers say that paying employees more is an important strategy for retaining top talent.
  • Rewards and Recognition (R2) – HR professionals (45 percent) say offering more rewards and recognition to top-performing employees is an important strategy for retention.
  • Wellness (FiT) – Wellness programs are an increasingly popular piece of retention, with 23 percent of HR professionals and 25 percent of managers citing the importance of health programs.

Group 4 Work-Life Balance:

  • Flexibility (Fx)  Flexibility emerged often as a critical component of any desirable employer, with 24 percent of HR professionals and 35 percent of managers recognizing that providing employees with more flexibility is an effective strategy for retention.  Additionally, 26 percent of employees, 27 percent of HR professionals, and 30 percent of managers say flexible scheduling contributes to improving work-life balance.
  • Me Time (Me) – A whopping 83 percent of employees say their workload does not prevent them from engaging in personal activities at home or in the office, a sign that employers and employees recognize the importance of maintaining meaningful personal connections in and out of the office.
  • Generational Awareness (Ga) – More than 40 percent of HR professionals claim they change how they promote the company and its culture when recruiting candidates across different generations, highlighting different aspects based on what they feel will appeal to the candidate.
  • Time Off (To) – Almost one-third of employees say time off – whether paid or unpaid – is the best way their employer can support their work-life balance.
  • Work-Life Balance (Wl) – Work-life balance was the third most important aspect of workplace culture cited by employees (40 percent), behind only pay (50 percent) and co-workers who respect and support each other (42 percent).

Group 5 Learning & Development:

  • Retention (Re) – A pleasantly surprising 86 percent of HR professionals and 79 percent of managers are confident in their ability to retain current talent, while 44 percent of employees say they have no intention of leaving their current workplace.
  • Career Development (Cd) – More than 40 percent of HR professionals say funding career development courses is an important strategy to retain employees.
  • Onboarding (On) – Most organizations claim to have a formal onboarding strategy, with 67 percent of HR professionals saying they use components such as an employee manual, on-the-job training, and online courses as part of onboarding. Yet only 13 percent of employees agree that their companies have a formal onboarding strategy – exposing a major disconnect.
  • Travel Opportunities (OOO) – A quarter of HR professionals and 21 percent of managers say offering employees the opportunity to travel was a strategy used to retain employees.
  • Work Exchanges (Ex)  Nearly one-third of HR professionals and 25 percent of managers say offering rotational programs, whereby employees can “try out” different roles within a company for a determined length of time, is an effective strategy for retaining workers. 
  • Younger Professional Programming (Yp2) –  HR professionals and people managers agree that younger generations, Millennials and Gen Zers, are the hardest to retain. Developing employment programming designed with this group in mind and actively seeking their input in these programs can help keep younger workers engaged.
  • Internal Promotions (Ip) – One-third of HR professionals and 31 percent of managers say that hiring more internally is a strategy they use to retain employees.

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Kronos 5K – Fueled by Inspiration

Last Thursday, Kronos held its second annual 5K walk/run in Chelmsford, Massachusetts (home to our headquarters). Participation was complimentary and open to all Kronos employees and their families.


Our now-annual 5K is a great way to get Kronites outside and active together – whether you’re an experienced runner or you’d just prefer to walk the 3.1-mile loop.


Leading up to the event, we held a Desk to 5K program for anyone who wanted to get fully prepared for the race. (It’s Kronos’ version of the popular Couch to 5K program). In addition to engaging employees, this program also successfully increased participants’ endurance for race day.


Although the 5K is a great incentive to get Kronites active and engaged, we’re lucky that it’s only one element to Kronos’ breadth of healthy living benefits. From our on-site, fully-equipped gyms to the Quit for Life program to Weight Watchers discounts (to name a few), Kronites throughout the world are constantly encouraged to live healthy, happy lives – inside and outside of work. (To see all the photos from this year’s 5K, visit Kronos’ Facebook page).

What are your tips for staying healthy – and active – inside and outside of work?

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Are You Ready for an Enterprise Social Network?

jumping fishThe following guest post was written by one of my Kronos colleagues, Lynne Levy.  She offers good advice here on how to manage change – at any level of your organization.  Thanks, Lynne!

In today’s competitive environment, organizations need to be innovative, efficient, retain great talent and continuously change and evolve. One key to success for an organization is understanding how to effectively go through the change management process.  How can an Enterprise Social Network (ESN) help facilitate organizational change?  Here are some best practices around change management and how an ESN can help facilitate change.

Setting the Vision

A key part of change is communicating the vision including why change and why now. Leadership needs to take the time to walk the organization through the business case for change and the urgency behind it.  According to Kotter, “without taking the time to create this sense of urgency, leaders and employees will not have a call to action to get on board with any change initiative” . An ESN can help with this process.  For example:

  • It provides a communication vehicle for the vision including the ‘why change and why now’.
  • An ESN enables people to ask questions around the change and for both leaders and others in the organization to start to contribute to communicating the change.  If it’s a safe environment, employees should be comfortable asking the management team to provide further detail or color behind the change vision.

Translate the Vision

Another part of change management is understanding ‘what is in it for me.’  Until employees start to understand what the vision means to them, it’s difficult for them to get behind the change.  An ESN can help with this process:

  • Communities of Practice can take the vision, and start to collaborate and translate what this means to their purpose.  This helps an employee become more comfortable with the change and start to understand how it impacts what is important to him/her.
  • Groups can start to share ideas and collaborate on how the change vision translates to their organizational purpose.  It can start at a functional area level (e.g. EVP) and then drill down to an individual team.
  • It’s when employees participate in the change discussion, that they will start to buy into the change vision.

Take a Pulse on the Change

Change management is not a set it and forget it process.  It requires continuous evaluation, pivoting and adjustment.

  • Through an ESN, management and the change team can keep a pulse on the conversation and be able to refine the wording of the vision message based on real time feedback.
  • Through an ESN, the change management team can see questions people have, who has bought into the vision, and who are the skeptics.  An ESN provides a way for the change team to get a pulse across the entire organization on how the change is being absorbed.
  • Resistors can be identified through an ESN.  The change management team can then put together a plan for how to get the resistors on board with the change.  The ESN provides a vehicle to not only identify who are the resistors but why they are resisting.

First Follower

This is one of my favorite videos to explain how organizational change happens.  It shows how a lone dancer along with the first follower can create a movement.  An ESN provides a platform for the lone dancer and the first follower.  It’s through an ESN that the one employee can take the risk and start to ask good questions.  And then when another person chimes in on the ESN, it’s suddenly safe to start to ask questions.  Once people start to participate in the movement, they become part of the change.

Stakeholder Analysis

Another key practice in change management is a stakeholder analysis.  An ESN can provide insight into who are the influencers in the organization and where are they on the change curve.  What an ESN can provide you is insight into those with informal power and influence.  These are the employees who may not be in a leadership position but whom many trust and listen too.  An ESN can help you identify these informal leaders based on ESN data such as postings, followers, comments and influence within the ESN.  You can then focus on getting these informal leaders on board with the change.

Celebrate Small Wins

To build momentum, it’s key to celebrate small wins.  As people start to embrace the change, adjust processes and/or mindsets, celebrating small successes helps build momentum in the process.  An ESN can be leveraged to celebrate small wins.

  • Leaders can share wins along with who participated in the wins for everyone to see.  An ESN can be leveraged to highlight the specific win, and provide detail on how it helped contribute to the change.
  • Others can then chime in and give virtual ‘high five’s to the groups or individuals.
  • An ESN can be used to find success in the change process. An ESN gives the change team broad insight into changes that are occurring as well as employees sentiment towards the change.  They can pull out from the ESN successes to highlight to the organization.

Questions to Consider

  • Would an ESN help with your organizational change process? What are the downsides and upsides to leveraging an ESN?
  • Is it ethical to find resistors to change through an ESN? Would this impact the overall change process?
  • To what extend does safety and trust impact how an ESN can be leveraged as part of the change process?
  • How can communities of practice help with the change process?
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