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A Better Workplace


Employee Engagement

Employee Engagement

Today’s Most Innovative Employee Benefits


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By Nives P. Covnik

Part of the draw of each year’s CNN Money/Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list is learning about the sweet perks big business is offering to their employees and all the reasons why exactly we want to land the job at one of the companies on the list. This year, Fortune selected the companies by conducting employee surveys in over 300 companies. Workplace environment and culture, job satisfaction, management credibility, hiring, healthcare and other benefits, pay and perks, communication, camaraderie, and diversity were all addressed in the surveys. SAS, Boston Consulting Group, Wegmans Food Markets, Google and NetApp climbed to the very top of the list.

According to the surveys, perks are still available even during a time of budget cuts and higher stress. Many wonder how sweet these perks really are, at a time when temporary jobs are in and permanent jobs are out. According to federal data, 2.3 million Americans held temporary jobs in March, up from 2009 when only 1.7 million worked temporarily, what is clearly indicating that companies are not in favor of long-term commitments, as reported by CNN Money.

Nevertheless, a report by Quantum Workplace [PDF] revealed that after 2010 passage of the health-care overhaul bill, favorable perceptions of employee benefits increased. On the best benefits list are telecommuting, compressed workweek, 100% healthcare coverage, on-site gym, on-site childcare, gym discount, paid sabbaticals, and gay-friendly policies.

Employee Engagement

How Wellness Programs Can Nurture Corporate Budgets


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By Maria Woehr

The popularity of corporate wellness programs is on the rise as more businesses recognize that incentivized corporate gym memberships and exercise programs keep employees healthier, more productive, and also lower healthcare costs. Wellness programs can come in all forms and sizes including corporate gym memberships, smoking cessation support programs, stress management programs and even massage. Usually employees who use these programs are incentivized and can win awards or discounts when they use these programs wisely to achieve life changing goals.

Close to 50 percent of a business’s health care costs are due to poor diet, lack of exercise and smoking, according to The Pennsylvania Department of Health [PDF]. With healthcare costs raking in around trillions every year, and more employees helping shoulder the costs of healthcare expenses, businesses and individuals are finding wellness incentives a necessary and attractive option. Businesses that spend on adding a corporate gym program to their health care benefits are actually cutting down employees’ health care costs and benefit from the healthier lifestyles of their employees.

A recent study done by Discovery Holdings, a health insurance company, found that corporate wellness programs reduce business health care costs and improve employee health – a business case for corporate wellness programs.

Employee Engagement

Three Reasons Your Employees Need Better Feedback


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By Melissa J. Anderson

According to a new study by Gallup, employees say they are receiving little feedback and recognition on the job. But, the research shows, feedback is necessary for a well-functioning workforce. In a recent article in the Gallup Management Journal, Steve Crabtree wrote:

“Personalized feedback and recognition aren’t just ‘frills’ that make workers feel good. Rather, they are crucial predictors of positive workplace outcomes such as employee retention and productivity. These attributes may not seem necessary to keep a workplace functioning — but they do increase the chances that it will function well.”

But based on Gallup’s global survey focused on the Q12, the organization’s “12-item assessment of engagement,” across almost every region, employees reported receiving a lack of feedback. The two lowest ranked questions were “In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work” and “In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.”

According to Crabtree, this means employees across the globe aren’t performing at their highest ability. Here are three reasons to make an effort at giving employees better feedback.

Employee Engagement

Work/Life Balance Across Time Zones and Technologies


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By Elizabeth Harrin (London)

I took some time off work recently for a long weekend in Italy. As I was packing my hand luggage, I didn’t hesitate. My company mobile phone and my BlackBerry both went in. After all, someone might need me. It wasn’t until later that weekend (when I’d been exchanging texts with a colleague from the bus driving along the Ligurian coast) that I realised the boundaries between my work life and my personal life had blurred so significantly that it felt normal to be working on holiday.

Technology makes it possible for us to work at any time of the day and night. With financial markets opening and closing at all hours, and team members spread out across the world, it’s a surprise we ever get any down time at all.

“I’ve done a lot of work with people in different time zones and have many clients in this predicament,” says Carolyn Thomson, Director, Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP. “There are many ways you can alter what some might consider a ‘traditional’ work schedule to accommodate the globalisation of business. One is to split up your day in an unusual way that accommodates both your personal schedule and your professional demands. When I was doing a lot of work in Singapore, I left my office a little earlier, had dinner with my family, then got back online for a couple of hours in the evening to deal with what I needed to for my clients who were just getting to work there. That gave them several hours – while I slept – to do what they needed to do on their end, then when I got up I started a couple hours earlier than I needed to so I could wrap up with them at the end of their day.”

It takes a certain kind of organisational ability to be able to structure your day like this. It also takes the ability to use technology to the best advantage.

Employee Engagement

Three Reasons Holistic Leadership Means Becoming a Better Employer


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By Melissa J. Anderson

Recently Starbucks’ Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz published his newest book, Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul. Schultz is credited with growing the company from a small Seattle-based chain to the huge multinational company it is today. After stepping down from the company’s leadership in 2000, Schultz returned as CEO in 2008 to prompt a turnaround.

While the company had been faltering – as a result of “carcinogenic growth,” Schultz said – the company is now enjoying record-breaking profits.

Schultz has explained the reason behind the company’s turnround was a strong investment in the customer experience. At a very basic level, he explained, Starbucks has focused on its people, rather than strictly on its profit margins. Here are three ways the company leveraged relationships to fuel its success.

Employee Engagement

The Case for Telecommuting Shows Benefits of Sustainability


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By Melissa J. Anderson

We’ve discussed on Evolved Employer in the past how telecommuting is a great way to cut back on costs and improve employee engagement significantly. As Karyn Likerman, SVP, Human Resources at Citigroup, recently told us:

“We do an annual employee survey every September, so our most recent one is hot off the presses. By and large, people who self-report that they have a flex schedule are more satisfied on almost every index – they are clearly more engaged.”

Workers who have the option to work from home report being more satisfied with their jobs. But, as Ram Nidumolu, C.K. Prahalad, and M.R. Rangaswami wrote in a recent Harvard Business Review article “Why Sustainability Is Now the Key Driver of Innovation,” teleworking can have real advantages from business and sustainability standpoints as well.

Employee Engagement

Accountability in Energy Companies: Building a Culture of Trust for Increased Safety


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By Melissa J. Anderson and Nicki Gilmour

In the same month as the Japanese nuclear crisis, BP released its sustainability report for the past year.

While the report has gotten plenty of press for what it hasn’t mentioned (the amount of oil spilled and figures for the carbon dioxide and methane released in the Deepwater Horizon disaster last year), the report does include some interesting information on the company’s plans for safety and accountability going forward.

Employee Engagement

Report Watch: McDonald’s Builds Values-Based Employee Retention Program, But Which Values?


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By Melissa J. Anderson

Last Week McDonald’s released its 2011 Corporate Responsibility Report, which detailed its work toward in the areas of community relations, nutrition and wellbeing, and environmental progress. Indeed, the most reported news to come out of the report was the global company’s new commitment to improve the sustainability of its supply chain – for example, making sure its palm oil (in which is fries are fried) is certified sustainable by 2015, and working toward ensuring that its beef and poultry wasn’t raised in deforested parts of the Amazonian jungle.

The company chalks up its new environmental commitment to its values, 7 principles the Corporate Responsibility report mentions frequently – particularly the one about operating the business ethically.

The report also covers, in detail, the issues around employee retention, learning and development, and diversity. What is interesting is that while the values are frequently called into play in this section as well, the section dealing with employee experience is largely devoid of any references to sustainability.

It appears the company’s sustainability strategy – while considerable – is reserved for outreach. But internally, it’s a different story. The company focuses its internal efforts at retention, it’s Employee Value Proposition on “Family & Friends, Future, and Flexibity.”

McDonald’s acknowledges in the report that, as part of the fast food industry, turnaround is a problem for the company. So it works hard to provide an environment where staff feel emotionally connected to the company (and individual location) – whether that means providing learning and development opportunities, upward mobility, or morale-boosting activities.

For example, in 2009-2010, the company held its first global employee singing competition, the Voice of McDonald’s Contest, which included nearly 10,500 participants from 51 countries. The grand prize of US$25,000 was awarded to Chenee Capuyan from the Philippines.

The company has also been recognized several times for its work in gender diversity and the promotion of women. In fact, nearly 50% of all of McDonald’s-owned restaurants are managed by women. In 2009 (the last year for which there is data) 26.5% of worldwide top management team (VP and above) are women.

The company hopes to increase its efforts toward diversity in the near future, in order to better reflect its customer base. The report quotes the company’s Global Chief Diversity Officer and V.P. of Inclusion & Diversity, Patricia Sowell Harris, who wrote in her recent book, None of Us Is as Good as All of Us: How McDonald’s Prospers By Embracing Inclusion and Diversity.

She writes:

“Any company that hopes to serve a diverse customer base across the United States, and around the world, must reflect that same diversity in the restaurants, where we meet our customers face to face, and throughout our organization, where we design our products and services with the distinct wants and needs of our customers in mind. And our business results reflect the validity of mirroring our customers throughout our System very clearly.”

Internally, the company promotes itself by focusing on the warm-fuzzies of diversity, learning and development, and morale-boosting efforts – all good things – but it seems the company’s corporate responsibility goals are not aligned.

Externally it’s all about sustainability and nutrition. Internally it’s all about employee engagement. Shouldn’t sustainability be built into these employee engagement efforts as well? If McDonald’s internal and external values aren’t aligned, what does it say about the company’s true aspirations in these areas?

Employee Engagement

3 Key Tips to Incorporate Social Media into Your Corporate Workforce


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By Melissa J. Anderson

Last week was Social Media Week, a global event taking place in New York, San Francisco, Rome, Paris, Toronto, Sao Paulo, London, Hong Kong, and Istanbul. All week long panels, workshops, and parties took place around social media throughout the world. At New York’s “How I Did It: Financial Services Social Media Champions Tell Their Stories,” panelists discussed how they persuaded their companies to incorporate social media into a strategic, community building function, and then how their projects were implemented. They gave key advice on the realities of incorporating social media in the corporate workplace.

Hosted by The BGK Group, and held at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness, the panel was moderated by Joyce Sullivan, Financial Women’s Association Board Director and Co-Founder of its Communications & Digital Media Committee, and a VP at a global bank. The panel included Esmee, Vice President, Digital Media & Content Producer, J.P. Morgan Asset Management; Lori Feldman, Director, Branded & Social Media Marketing, Citi; John Stepper Managing Director, Deutsche Bank; and Alexandra Tyler Vice President, Branded & Social Media Marketing, Citi.

Each of the panelists successfully initiated social media use within their companies, but more practically, they were able to use social media to strengthen internal employee networks. And while each participant came from a unique background, and worked on very different projects, they were able to unite around some key pieces of advice. Here are three big tips you can leverage to build your own company’s internal employee social network.

Employee Engagement

Report Watch: Is Bacardi Ignoring the Strategic Importance of Health and Safety?


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By Melissa J. Anderson

Recently, Bacardi Spirits released its 2010 Corporate Responsibility Report. Bacardi, the largest owned spirits company in the world, is based in Bermuda, employs 6,000 individuals, and has a global reach in terms of production and sales.

In the report, Bacardi discusses its efforts toward sustainability and responsible sourcing. For example, the company has recently installed wind turbines to power its Puerto Rico production plant. And it is working with the Better Sugarcane Initiative (as a member of its Management Committee) to “help raise production standards and improve conditions in the sugarcane industry.”

But the report also details significant work in improving employee engagement. For example, it has recently launched its ONE Bacardi initiative, which, according to the report will help align global employees around a a cores set of values and strategies.

In the report Séamus E. McBride, President and CEO of Bacardi, said, “Being “ONE Bacardi” is fundamental to our future success and sustainability as a company.”

ONE Bacardi is the first step in a business transformation the company is undertaking. In doing so, the company is emphasizing the importance of employees and leadership in the company’s growth. The initiative is a huge part of the report. The company is becoming more global, and the initiative is designed to unite employees across different regions to become more strategically aligned with the company’s goals.

A major part of ONE Bacardi is a commitment to leadership and development training of high performing individuals – and this commitment is admirable. But how does the company’s “people strategy” refer to the rest of its workforce?