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Posts from the ‘Employee Retention’ Category

Podcast: Are You Ready for Unlimited Vacation Time?

kayak with kids

Vacation time is a scarce and precious commodity for most employees.  When we use it, we want to make the most of it.  The picture here is me with my children in New Zealand a few years ago.  We saved and planned for a long time for that trip – including banking the vacation time we’d need.  But employees who have paid vacation time off aren’t just using it for vacations.

For many workers, the need for that time isn’t so much about multi-week trips as it is about having the means to get their work done while still having the flexibility to attend to personal priorities.  They’re using it to take care of obligations in their lives that occur during working hours – from child and elder care to visiting city hall when it’s open.

Unlimited vacation time is still a rare benefit, with fewer than 2% of US organizations offering it to their workers according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2016 Employee Benefits report.  Organizations who do implement unlimited leave need to prepare both employees and managers for that change.

In the absence of a policy that limits vacation leave, some managers may feel ill prepared to manage leave fairly across their teams.  Employees may be unsure as to how much leave is too much – and some may end up taking even less leave than before.  On the upside, in organizations where high trust exists between employees and managers, the flexibility that is possible with unlimited vacation leave helps to drive engagement and retention.

I recently interviewed two of our board members who have deep insight on this topic.  Sharlyn Lauby, also known as the HR Bartender, talks to lots of HR leaders who are contemplating this change.  Dave Almeda, Chief People Officer at Kronos, is already a year into the implementation of an unlimited vacation policy at Kronos.  Listen in below while we discuss:

  • What are the benefits of unlimited vacation time?
  • How should organizations prepare for this change?  How did Kronos do so?
  • What are the biggest challenges this change presents?
  • How do you train managers to have these conversations with employees; i.e. balancing employee requests for time off with productivity objectives?
  • How does this work in jobs that require presence vs. those that can be done on a laptop?

Listen in on our conversation then add your own comments.  Have you considered this policy at your organization?  If you haven’t implemented this change, why not?  If you have, what are the benefits? What would you have done differently?

The Future Workplace – Are You Ready?

Future Workplace ExperienceThe following post is by WFI board member, Jeanne C Meister, Partner at Future Workplace and Co-author of The Future Workplace Experience: 10 Rules for Mastering Disruption in Recruiting and Engaging Employees.

The future of work is about developing a workplace that emotionally connects to employees and customers, understands the impact of technology on the workplace and provides myriad ways to learn and grow on the job.

This is the call to action of my latest book, written with my colleague Kevin J. Mulcahy, The Future Workplace Experience. In our book, we include findings from The Future Workplace Forecast, a survey of 2,147 global HR leaders and Hiring Managers across seven countries and ten industries probing new practices companies are using to adapt to the future workplace.

We summarize these practices into ten rules to master disruption in the workplace. Here are three of those rules:

1. Make the Workplace an Experience: The essence of making the workplace an experience is to integrate all the components of work—the emotional, the intellectual, the physical, the technological and the cultural – into one seamless experience. The goal: the employee experience should mirror the best customer experience. Companies that excel at making the workplace an experience listen to what their employees and customers are saying, and then makes changes based on that feedback. One example of this is the Empathy Lab at Facebook, which gives Facebook engineers the chance to experience for themselves how employees and customers will use their products giving them an emotional connection to their customers. There is growing evidence that businesses are more profitable when they are empathetic to the needs of their customers. In fact, the top 10 companies in the Global Empathy Index 2016 increased in value more than twice as much as the bottom 10 and generated 50% more earnings.

2. Pilot Artificial Intelligence in HR: Artificial intelligence (AI) is a huge market, predicted to surge from $8 billion this year to $47 billion by 2020, according to IDC. Some say it resembles the Internet in the mid 1990’s, and will be built into all kinds of products and services. Marketers are already using chatbots—or artificial intelligence computer programs designed to simulate a conversation through written or spoken text—to deliver personalized conversational experiences. One interesting new use case for chatbots is as learning assistants in MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) where the number of learners can range from hundreds to thousands. In 2016, Georgia Institute of Technology used chatbot Jill Watson as a teaching assistant for a MOOC entitled, Knowledge Based Artificial Intelligence. According to Dr. Goel, the professor leading the MOOC, chatbot Jill Watson was able to answer 40% of student’s most frequently asked questions within one year, freeing the human Teaching Assistants to answer more complex questions. In addition to providing intelligent assistance during a course, AI can also help personalize the learning experience by capturing data and applying machine learning algorithms to create a Netflix-like learning experience where learning opportunities are recommended based on a user’s specific areas of interest.

3. Create Accessible On Demand Learning: According to the World Economic Forum Future of Jobs report, 65% of children entering primary school today will work in jobs that currently do not exist. This indicates that being a serial learner, constantly looking for new ways to grow and develop on the job, is now a requirement to stay employable. To enable serial learning, a growing number of companies are creating virtual corporate universities that combine a company’s proprietary courses with curated, publically available learning from MOOCs, Ted Talks, podcasts and blogs, to create a personalized learning pathway for learners. Creating more opportunities to access on-demand learning will continue to grow in importance as CEO’s like Randall Stephenson of AT&T challenge workers with this mandate: “Spend 5-10 hours a week learning online or become obsolete.” The message is clear: being a serial learner will help you to avoid technological unemployment.

The new world of work is not something we see in the future: it’s here. HR leaders must take action to prepare themselves, their teams and their organization for a workplace which requires constant upskilling, piloting new technologies and creating a culture where the workplace is an experience valued by both workers and their leaders.

I love the idea of the “Empathy Lab” at Facebook that helps employees acquire insight about how their customers experience Facebook. What’s your organization doing to get ready for the workplace of the future?

Human Middle Managers

office-620823_1920 Today’s guest post is courtesy of our board member, China Gorman. China is a consultant, speaker, writer, and former CEO of the Great Place to Work® Institute.

If you read any business publication – print or online – you’ll know that organization culture has become a critical advantage when competing for talent today. If the CEO and her C-suite commit to organizational values that promote the value of purpose, the building of trust, and the meaning of work, as well as the commitment to create real, personal relationships with colleagues – human-to-human rather than boss-to- subordinate – there is virtually no downside from an organizational performance perspective.

The tremendous productivity gains and culture-enhancing benefits promised by putting technology to use are huge. But using technology to create more human relationships and cultures at work is irony at its finest. Is there really an app for that?

Here’s where we need to focus: if we allow technology, Big Data, and predictive analytics to make it harder – rather than easier – for us to relate to each other on a more human level, we’ll have abdicated our responsibilities as leaders and missed an epic opportunity to improve our business outcomes.

If we miss this opportunity, it will most likely be because we neglected to set our first line supervisors and middle managers up for success. We’re notoriously ineffective at equipping these folks to be good relationship builders, behavioral leaders, and approachable partners with the human business of our businesses. We focus, instead on “hard” skills development, if we invest in their development at all.

As we maximize the benefits of technology, Big Data, and people analytics, we also need to invest in developmental opportunities for all of our managers – with a special emphasis on middle managers and first line supervisors. If these critical leaders aren’t focused on creating more personal relationships with their employees – including being equipped with skills, abilities, and attitudes to relate on a human level – if they aren’t approachable, if they aren’t trustworthy, if they aren’t human, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. My belief, though, is that what you’ve always gotten won’t be enough in 2017, 2018 or beyond. Bringing humanity into your culture through your first line supervisors and middle managers is a critical next step. But to do that will require focus and investment. Perhaps one of the most important investments in your 2017 plan.

What’s your organization doing to enable your first line supervisors and middle managers to become more effective leaders?  Are they able to coach and develop your employees?  Do they make the time to do so?