Tag Archives: Employee Satisfaction

Diana: A Lesson in “Discretionary Effort”

23 Aug

The receptionist said: “You look lost.  Can I help you sir?”

I travel a lot for my work, and am often in foreign places where, in truth, I am lost. This was one of those days.

Lots of receptionists have seen the “gee-I-hope-I’m-in-the-right-place” look on the face of people they encounter. Some turn a blind eye to we directionally challenged people or, even worse, make us feel like we’re bothering them by asking for help. But on this particular occasion the receptionist, Diana, actually seemed concerned that I was lost.

“Thanks for asking. I’m supposed to be joining a meeting here, and I need to find my host”, I said.

To my surprise and delight Diana got up from behind her desk, smiled, and said: “The meeting is upstairs. Let me walk with you.”

As we were proceeding up the stairs she asked me where I was from and how long I would be in town. For an old road warrior like me such kindness is a true gift. As we neared the top of the stairs I saw my host. I thanked Diana and said goodbye, my day much the better for her efforts.

In our profession we talk a lot about “discretionary effort” as the critical outcome of a more engaged workplace. Here’s how a 2006 study conducted by The Conference Board describes employee engagement:

A heightened emotional and intellectual connection that an employee has for his/her job, organization, manager, or coworkers that in turn, influences him/her to apply additional discretionary effort to his/her work.

That term “discretionary effort” is descriptive, but feels a bit clinical to folks. Diana was showing the behaviors of an engaged employee. That’s why encounters like I had with her can serve as a reminder of what employee engagement is all about. Diana made several choices (discretionary effort) in her interaction with me—getting up from behind the desk and walking with me up the stairs with me is beyond what I had expected from our exchange.

By the way, the meeting I was attending was part of the leadership development program for an organization that had me as a guest speaker talking about —you guessed it— employee engagement. The organization is doing a lot of great things in building a more engaged workplace. I told the group of my encounter with Diana. They were pleased to know that their efforts to build on great place to work are making a difference.

Most workplaces have these moments, these glimpses, of an engaged employee making a difference for a customer or client, who show their appreciation by coming back often and telling their friends—the payoff for the efforts in engaging employees. Those whom we profile In Re-Engage are better at creating an environment where they happen far more frequently.

How are you managing to those moments?

Yet Another Study Linking Engagement & Patient Satisfaction

21 Aug


Yet another study reported by PR Newswire of the relationship between employee engagement and patient satisfaction:

“In the health care industry, as in other service-related businesses, having engaged, empowered, loyal employees can lead to increased retention, lower costs, enhanced reputation, and a profitable business picture,” said Forum President Michelle M. Smith, CPIM, CRP, vice president, business development, O.C. Tanner Company. “And now, we are finding that having satisfied employees leads to higher quality of patient care and overall better patient experiences.”

Some key findings from the study, found at www.performanceforum.org, include:

  • Patients that have higher levels of satisfaction are most likely to recommend the hospital to others when they are treated by highly-satisfied employees. Word of mouth, more than any other source of marketing promotion, is a primary driver in patient care decisions.
  • As the popularity of electronic testing and monitoring expands, health care employees, more than ever, need to exercise “the personal touch” in caring for patients.
  • In addition to what health care workers do, emphasis needs to be placed on how employees feel about what they do. Patient experiences will not be good if employees are not happy.

It’s beyond my pay grade to sort out all the reform that we need in our health care system, but it’s above anybody’s pay grade to see the evidence that more engaged employees is one key factor to the success of our health care delivery model– more engaged employees leads to more satisfied, healthy patients.

Case closed.

Want Lose Millions In Minutes? Disengaged Employees Will Do That

18 Aug


According to a study posted at DestinationCRM.com disengaged employees are a growing problem in the financial services industry, one that cost a company dearly:

The problem created by disengaged employees is that it affects how they perform their tasks. This goes from the customer-facing agents dealing with consumers to the fund managers and traders. “For fund managers, lack of employee engagement may not necessarily mean losing a customer, but rather $4 million in five minutes,” says Aaron Horenstein, research analyst at ORC Guideline. “To have those employees disengaged or not fully engaged would have a tremendous impact on the industry.”

As the saying goes, now we’re talking about real money. The ROI is quite clear- disengagement can cost an employer dearly– leaders have to stop giving this lip service and start managing to engage.

In A Recession, Bad Managers Make Things Even Worse

3 Aug


I recently analyzed employee engagement surveys for two different employers. In both cases I found a group of employees who had significantly lower results than the rest of the company. As I dug deeper into the results, including the anecdotal comments, the same problem in both employers become clear:

Bad, rogue management.

What sickened me most was what these rogue managers were doing to “motivate” employees in the midst of this economic crisis. In both cases they were telling employees:

 “you better keep your nose to the grindstone, because if you don’t I can hire a dozen others just like you who don’t have a job. And don’t making any demands, because I’m in charge here.”

Could someone please tell me why ANYONE would think this strategy is going to make sense for these businesses now or, importantly, in the future?


Our research tells us there are other employers who are not subscribing to this kind of fear mongering and are, in fact, managing in a more engaging manner and, in doing so, achieving outstanding results.

The “you-bet-your-job” attitude on the part of some so-called leaders isn’t the cure to our economic woes.

For more information on what some outstanding employers are doing to engage employee in difficult economic times please read Beating the Bear Market with Engaged Employees

Survival Tips For Layoff Survivors

17 Apr

Excellent post by Susan M. Heathfield at About.Com if you are one of the so-called “survivors” of a layoff. Please read carefully and share with those who may find themselves in this situation. We often worry (as we should) about those who lose their jobs, but should also consider what can be done to assist those who may have more work on their desk because of the reduction and are wondering when the pink slip will hit their desk:

  • Recognize that your emotions are legitimate and that time passing is necessary for the intensity of your current emotional response to die down. In organizations where managers recognize and acknowledge this emotional component in a downsizing, employees return to productivity much sooner.
  • Recognize that you may need to experience each of the stages of loss described in Kubler-Ross’s groundbreaking studies about grief.
  • Seek access to your supervisor; assuming your supervisor is readily available and perceived by you as concerned about employees, and honest, reliable and competent, your time with your supervisor should help you feel reassured.
  • Attempt to recreate the daily patterns you experienced prior to the layoffs. While much time in an office is invested by employees in talking about the situation after layoffs, the sooner you can recreate your prior patterns, the better for your mental health.
  • Treat yourself with kindness. Now is the time to eat a portion of your favorite comfort food. Got chocolate? Share with coworkers. Bring in a casserole or cookies that coworkers can share. Small gestures mean a lot in the post layoffs workplace.
  • Talk out your feelings with coworkers who are likely experiencing loss just as you are. You can comfort one another. Your significant others outside of your workplace make good sounding boards, too.
  • Pay attention to the needs of the coworkers who were laid off. These are your friends and they are experiencing serious issues with self-worth and loss, too. So many people tie up so much of their identity and self esteem in what they do for a living that a layoff is a major blow to their sense of themselves, their competence and self worth. You do them a kindness, and you will feel better, too, if you continue your weekly lunch date with your laid off coworker. Let your laid off former coworker vent and listen to see how you can lend support. Sometimes, active listening is all they need.
  • You will feel as if you have a proactive mission and purpose when you connect your laid off coworkers to your connections on Facebook, LinkedIn, and the other online social networks. Anything you can do to help them expand their networks and effectively job search will be valued by your friends.
  • Communication is critical following a layoff. But, remember that the middle managers who would generally communicate are also experiencing loss and concern about their own jobs. (Often managers are the first to be laid off.) If you are not receiving the communication you need from your manager, seek it out by asking questions and spending time with him or her. Go after what you need; don’t wait for communication to flow downwards.
  • Hopefully, your organization has recognized the importance of valuing the remaining employees. But, if the opportunities for reward, recognition and valuing seem slim, volunteer to head up an employee morale committee. The committee can do much to bring fun and motivation back into the workplace following layoffs. Think ice cream socials, popcorn machines, and potluck lunches; the activities don’t need to be expensive.
  • If you are taking these steps but you are feeling increasingly worried and depressed, seek professional assistance through your Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) or use your private insurance to cover counseling.

Being Flexible To Employee Needs Takes Great Management

17 Mar


I just returned from working with my co-author Leigh Branham at an event where we judged employers on how “family friendly” they were. The event allowed us to review employee survey data on the topic and interview leaders and employees of participating companies.

One employer particularly impressed me with their willingness to be flexible when it came to allowing employees to attend to family needs. There was little resistence to reasonable requests to time off, even at the last moment. I was told a story of how a valued employee was given a day off before a big customer event the next day when the business would likely be quite busy– the manager didn’t seem to even break a sweat about the matter. As you might expect, employees were genuinely appreciative of the committment of the management, and little was reported in terms of employees taking advantage or “gaming”– most employees were grateful for the kindness and returned the consideration with increased productivity and retention.

That’s all fine and well, but what really struck me was how much effort had gone into the results I was observing. The ability to be flexible was the outcome of years of great management. A few observations:

  • The ability of management to be flexible to employee requests required that many employees had been cross-trained for different roles in the business.
  • Employee turnover was very low. You can cross-train employees more effectively in a stable workforce.
  • The philosophy of the leadership in this business was to trust employees. If there were performance problems those would certainly be addressed, but giving trust to employees brought trust back many-fold.

Some managers may like the idea of being more family-friendly and have a desire in accommodating the personal needs of those whom they manage. To effectively implement a concept may require years of carefully designed management– time to get to work.

Winning At Wellness

11 Mar


The online Insurance Journal showcases a company, Texas Mutual, that was one of ten companies recently recognized for their wellness programs.

Our research continues to show concern on the part of an employer for the well being of employees to be a significant driver of overall employee enagagement. Developing and implementing a wellness program is only one way an employer might show care and concern for this engagement driver, but we think it’s an important effort in this category.

I’m pleased that my new employer, the Silverstone Group, actively promotes wellness in the workplace. I’ve already seen the benefits of their efforts up front and personal. I encouage all employers to seriously consider wellness as a key component of their overall engagement strategy. Besides, the cost-benefit to an employer, regardless of impact on employee engagement, is more than worth the effort.

(Graphic courtesy of www.lumaxart.com)

Defining Employee Engagement Continued

9 Mar


In an earlier post I offered my defintion of employee engagement. Researchers at Hewitt have arrived at a similar conclusion. Findings reported in Business Standard indicate they see three behaviors:

Engaged employees stay — they have an intense desire to be a member of the organisation; say — they are passionate advocates for their workplace and speak positively about the organisation to co-workers, potential employees and customers; and strive — they go beyond what is minimally required to produce extraordinary service and results for customers and colleagues.

Look at this example of how P&G employees act like an owner of the company, treating the company’s assets as their own. During a period of heavy rain which had caused severe flooding, the government declared a holiday for all its offices, but a lot of P&G material was awaiting clearance at the customs office. The plant engineer had valid reasons to wait for a day, but he took the initiative: He braved the rains to pick up a customs official from his house and took him to his office to authorise its clearance. He then made sure that all the raw materials were delivered to the plant on the same day. As a result, the production lines didn’t have to stop.

Would your employees go to such lengths to help your business achieve its goals? If the answer is yes, you have done your job as an employer. If not, take the Kelly survey seriously before it’s too late.

I think we’re getting some consensus around this idea of employee engagement– that’s good. More importantly, we’re hearing examples, such the one cited above, of specific behavior we can clearly observe that shows us when employees are engaged. Would love to hear your stories of engagement and disengagement.

Graphic courtesy www.lumaxart.com

Employee Engagement And Well Being– Two Sides Of The Same Coin

26 Feb

Consultant News has published a research study by Hewitt that shows yet additional evidence that well being and employee engagment may be two sides of the same coin– very much linked together:

“Research carried out in conjunction with the 2009 Best Employers in Canada study has established that highly engaged employees experience better health and overall well-being. This finding reinforces the benefits for both employers and employees of increasing employee engagement, according to Hewitt Associates, the global human resources consulting and outsourcing company that conducts the annual study.

“The 115,000 employees surveyed as part of the 2009 study clearly revealed that high engagement goes hand-in-hand with better health and well-being,” said Neil Crawford, leader of Hewitt’s Best Employers in Canada study. “Employees at organizations with high engagement reported better physical health, lower job stress and work overload, and greater financial security. In addition, they also believe that their employer’s benefits plan contributes to their overall well-being, although there is room for improvement with respect to retirement savings programs.”

I read of the governmental plans to “reform” our health care, which is all fine and well. But perhaps the most important reform we can make would be to create better workplaces which, amongst other things, cares about the health and well being of employees. According to this study this may be, as they say, exactly what the doctor ordered.

Southwest Airlines– Let’s Listen And Learn

25 Feb

This video is twenty-five minutes long, but worth your time. Southwest’s long-time president “schoolin us”…