At Kronos, our corporate social responsibility program is called GiveInspired. We make a variety of grants each year, a number of which are more significant and ongoing partnerships. One of these is UTEC, a non-profit organization whose mission is to “ignite and nurture the ambition of Lowell’s most disconnected young people to trade violence and poverty for social and economic success.”
UTEC serves as a great example of the mutual benefits that corporate social responsibility programs can deliver as they make a real impact on their communities while also inspiring their employees. To help me explore this partnership, I interviewed Ed Frechette, UTEC Director of Social Enterprise Partnerships and Barb Vlacich, Kronos VP of Global Sales Operations and Strategic Programs. Barb initiated our partnership with UTEC a few years ago.
The UTEC mission statement refers to “Lowell’s most disconnected young people”, people who’ve often been involved in gangs or have done jail time and are ready to make changes in their lives. UTEC provides them with education support and workplace readiness training, as do many youth oriented non-profits. One notable difference with UTEC is that they are running multiple businesses in the community in order to prepare these young people for the workplace while also defraying some of the costs of the organization not covered through donations. The picture in this post is of the cafe they run in Lowell. One of the ways that Kronos and others support UTEC is to patronize these businesses – which also include mattress recycling, woodworking, and a commercial kitchen.
In this podcast, Ed talks about UTEC’s history, mission, programs and the young people they serve. We also talk about some of the creative ways that Kronos and UTEC have worked together to involve Kronos employees in the mission. Whether you already have a mature philanthropy program or are just getting started with corporate giving, Ed and Barb’s conversation with provide you with some fresh perspectives. You can listen in by clicking the podcast player below. And if you are as inspired as I am by UTEC, you can learn more about their initiatives and how to support them here.
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?
Earlier this year, we conducted a global research project with Coleman Parkes Research to dig into the drivers behind employee engagement – and what a lack of engagement may be costing organizations.
One of the key findings from this research is that in the US, the average worker spends 3.4 hours per week on tasks that are not core to his or her core job role. These are tasks that are generally low value and administrative in nature. The opportunity cost of this no-value work adds up to $1,518 per employee per year in the US – for a total of $687 billion across the American workforce.
Other world regions are similarly impacted:
- China: $522 billion;
- Germany: $144.6 billion;
- France: $79 billion;
- United Kingdom: $78 billion;
- Canada: $66 billion;
- Australia and New Zealand: $35 billion;
- Netherlands: $34 billion;
- Belgium: $16.5 billion; and
- Mexico: $2.2 billion.
For more details about what the study revealed, you can access the full US report here.
To learn more about the study and the insights it reveals about drivers of employee engagement, you can view a replay of a webinar of my conversation with Research Director Ian Parkes here.
In this webinar, co-sponsored by HR Executive, we discuss the following topics:
- The increasing complexity of working life and the impact on employee engagement
- The high opportunity cost of time wasted on non-job-related administrative tasks
- How outdated technology is hindering employee productivity and engagement
- Why executives and HR need to focus on building a culture of engagement
Please tune in, then share your ideas about how to improve employee engagement by commenting here.