Strategies for Greater Retention Rates for HR Managers

For an HR manager, the costs of creating and maintaining a staff can be plagued by employee turnover and disengagement. For most companies, revolving doors are a destructive force for financial growth, considering the cost to replace an employee is roughly 50% of that employee’s annual salary. An effective HR department, therefore, needs to hire appropriately, work to engage employees in the success of the business and constantly monitor observable measurements to ensure that they are on track.

So how does an efficient HR department gauge their progress and ensure best practices for employee retention? How do companies evolve past the everyday, worn-out methods of keeping employees engaged and make the work environment a place where employees can truly thrive?

Hiring Process

The trickiest part of the hiring process is ensuring that HR brings on the right person for the role to not only fill in missing personnel, but foster growth. The person needs to fit the values, short and long term goals of the company. A mismatch of skills, values, and commitment can create loss for a company. For hiring members of HR, there is a host of resources out there for hiring managers who want to maximize their hiring potential and run their small business like a larger corporation.

Primarily, hiring managers need to think about the kind of skills they need to bring into the company as opposed to simply filling a slot or replacing someone who has moved on. Is the company facing challenges? What skills would be the best counter to those challenges? A potential area of growth? It’s easy to fall back into patterns of hiring to replace, but hiring to grow benefits the company far more.

Observable Metrics

A handful of easily observable paper metrics can give HR departments an idea of how engaged and happy their employees are. Turnover is one of the most obvious metrics. If a company is perpetually bleeding employees, there is something seriously wrong. Likewise, the average length of employment can help indicate employee engagement. If most employees leave within a year, or conversely, stay for many years, these are indicators of the company’s ability to engage. The amount of sick or personal days taken can indicate an employee’s level of involvement in their job as well. Finally, the revenue per employee can help companies determine how engaged employees are on the clock.

Observable metrics are just the beginning of the story. An employee can love and be dedicated to their work, but also have a sick family member that leads to absences. When an observable metric indicates disengagement, look past the numbers into the human element. Is there a solution that would allow the employee to contribute in the way they’d like while acknowledging the issue? Would working from home allow them to care for the relative while hitting goals?

Greater Employee Engagement

Once the right employee is hired, the key to maintaining that employee’s performance and commitment is growing their engagement in the company. The best tool for engagement is communication. It’s important for management to keep lines of communication between themselves and their team open. Fostering trust and making employees feel heard helps them feel important, both to the company and as people. That level of emotional engagement is invaluable.

Help employees understand their role in the company — how their efforts aid the company’s success, and how the company’s success affects them. The ability to draw a direct line between cause and effect, both for the company and the employee, creates real stakes that encourages a better work ethic.

Goal Creation and Attainment

Realistic, attainable goals encourage greater engagement and growth of abilities, output and capability. Achieving goals can be rewarding in themselves; they can also be steps for future growth within the company. Goals should be appropriate for the company and for the employee — they should be a marriage of the interests of both parties. Is this something the employee is passionate about and finds rewarding? Is this an area of interest that benefits the company? Do they have the skills to achieve this goal, in a way that benefits the company?

For the employees, goals can include growth of current abilities, or the push to finish a project. Potential rewards for employees can include extra benefits, like a day off, the chance for a promotion (or more eligible to promotion), or a treat of some kind, like free lunch. Whenever a company uses a reward as an incentive for achieving goals, they should be clearly communicated and legitimately achievable. Carrot-and-sticking rewards like promotions is a dishonest method, and will ultimately lead to decreased morale.

Avoid Demotivation Pitfalls

Demotivation can come from many fronts. Lack of communication and transparency between management and employees creates a vacuum of information — one that is bound to be filled with speculation and guesswork. In a workplace without healthy feedback and communication, that guesswork can be powered by anxiety and untruths, which barely benefit anyone. Recognize employees, listen to their feedback.

Make sure the employee who puts her all into her job is recognized and rewarded fairly. Don’t feel the need to treat everyone the same. Follow through on commitments and promises. Show employees why certain team members are celebrated, and help the others find ways to be celebrated as well.

The bottom line is this: HR might be about acquiring and maintaining people as a resource, much like paper or computers, but remember that you and your crew are not robots. Metrics are useful, and numbers don’t lie, but everyone involved is a human. They have human feelings and human motivations, which don’t often conform to spreadsheet analytics. Address the human side of the equation to balance the metrics, and make the most of your skills as a leader to address real, human concerns to foster greater employee retention and engagement.

Mountains | The HR Tech Weekly®

4 Common Mistakes Uber Made & How Companies Can Overcome Them

Smith Rock

The recent news that Uber Founder Travis Kalanick will be stepping down as CEO hasn’t come as much of a shock to the public. A number of scandals rocked the hypergrowth company this year, revealing the toxic organizational culture that has grown internally. The scandal that began Uber’s spiral downward came on February 19 when Susan Fowler, a former engineer, wrote about her Kafkaesque experience at the company.

Sadly, this is not an isolated story. The most common reasons cited by women who leave the tech industry are a lack of opportunities for advancement, a hostile work environment and dissatisfaction with senior leadership. In fact, studies show that 40% of women with engineering degrees quit or never enter the profession, with the vast majority leaving due to hostile work environments. But how do so many young tech companies, like Uber, develop these types of toxic atmospheres and what can we learn from cases like these? Here are 4 common mistakes Uber made and how companies can overcome them:

  1. Toxic people

It’s not only technical skills that are needed in a manager, the ability to coach, empower and help employees develop are essential. It goes without saying that there are certain behaviors, including sexual harassment, which are never acceptable. So many tech companies are focused on holding onto their star employees but if you allow toxic people to remain and wreak havoc on your team (especially in management positions) you’ll create an environment in which your workforce will not be able to grow, innovate, share their ideas and ultimately will leave.

Don’t sacrifice your future top performers for current ones who are keeping others down. As Fowler explained, Uber had become a competitive “Game of Thrones” style environment in which people were undermining their superiors, peers and reports to get ahead. When a highly competitive and unethical work environment emerges, it’s even more likely that toxic behaviors will be overlooked or ignored. The fact is that these behaviors start somewhere.

Indeed, according to an article in Harvard Business Review, “It’s better to avoid a toxic employee than hire a superstar”, 46% of employees who have worked with toxic workers had a higher chance of being fired for misconduct. If this kind of behavior is silently accepted, especially when displayed by managers, it can lead others to emulate toxic and unethical practices resulting in the very common instances of “boy’s clubs” we see in the tech world.

This means that not only are toxic managers creating a hostile environment for female employees, they also implicitly encourage toxic norms to develop within the rest of the team.

Keeping on toxic employees can result in $12,500 in turnover costs. When taking into account litigation fees, fines, low employee morale and unhappy customers the resulting cost could be up to $25,000 or even $50,000. Though the study found that toxic workers are often high performers, with star employees only adding an extra $5,300 to a company’s bottom line, the long term consequences of keeping them on seriously outweigh the extra revenue they can bring in.

  1. Checks and balances

In her blog post, Fowler explained that she was given the choice to either be moved to a different team or possibly face receiving a negative performance review from her manager. As we also saw in the case brought by Ellen Pao against Kleiner Perkins in 2015, when women report an incident about their manager they’ll often face backlash in their performance review. If their manager (or managers) is the only one reviewing their performance, speaking out can easily result in the victim being blocked from any future opportunities.

Rather than simply having one top down review, allow each person to receive feedback from multiple perspectives including peers and reports. Having 360 degree reviews allows for checks and balances enabling people to receive a wider range of perspectives on their performance. Upward feedback is another essential and something that should also be taken into account. As Fowler mentioned in her blog post, her’s had not been the first complaint against the manager in question.

  1. Transparency

Another incident Fowler mentioned in her post was the denial of her request for a transfer, despite having two excellent past performance reviews. The first time her request was denied she was told first that there were “undocumented performance problems” blocking her transfer.  After waiting for the next round of performance reviews, she was informed that her review and score had been changed without her knowledge. For the review process to be fair and effective it must be completely transparent. Changing a performance review or including “undocumented performance problems” only creates mistrust and the potential for it to be used as a tool against, rather than for employees.

A number of studies have shown that bias and inequality can often become entrenched through vague feedback and intransparent performance review practices. A number of studies have shown that while men are described as confident and assertive, when women display the same behavior, they are more often described as abrasive, irrational and aggressive. What’s more, women are more likely to receive critical feedback without any suggestions of ways they could improve or develop.

Managers must be trained to give feedback that is truly constructive and objective. This includes basing comments on specific examples and facts, rather than vague character assessments. One way to do this is to focus on verbs rather than adjectives. Furthermore, it must always be actionable. If feedback doesn’t include some way the person could improve, it’s a sign that it could be based on subjective conclusions.

Employees should always be allowed to respond to feedback and be given complete information about the reasons why they were given a particular score. If a manager is genuinely giving their employee feedback that is meant for improvement this will be followed up by regular 1-on-1 coaching conversations.

Each individual’s past feedback and performance reviews should be kept in a documented report that is accessible to both the manager and the employee. This should stand as the official report which HR can reference in the event of an incident.

  1. HR

There should always be a direct way for employees to contact and speak freely with HR, without fearing potential backlash. This case clearly shows the power of the Glassdoor Age, with CEO Travis Kalanick now coming out to say he had no idea of what was going on in his company and calling on the Chief of Human Resources to investigate the claims.

Today employees have the power to bring everything from sexual harassment to unequal pay to the public view via personal blogs, Glassdoor and other platforms. In one day the case was already picked up by the New York Times, Fortune and Bloomberg. Rather than working against individuals, HR should be genuinely helping to stamp out negative practices and create a positive work atmosphere.

Sweeping this kind of behavior under the rug can impact a company in multiple ways: increase turnover (especially of female employees), deter talented female hires, lower engagement and morale, push back talented employees from advancing within the company, and ultimately impact a company’s bottom line with customers becoming disenchanted with the scandal which will sooner or later hit the headlines. Taking these points into account and learning from cases like Susan Fowler’s will help companies create a positive work culture that encourages, rather than undermines diversity.


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5 Ways Companies are Delinking Performance Management from Pay

Written by Andrea Hak, Content Writer at Impraise.

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Awarding higher pay and bonuses to top performers seems like the straightforward way to incentivize and retain great employees. The most popular format being performance based bonuses, which keep base pay manageable and provide incentives for better performance. However, research shows us that this may not be as simple as it seems.

A study by Willis Towers Watson found that only 20% of employers in North America actually believe merit pay is effective in driving high performance.

Traditionally money was seen as the main incentive used to motivate employees. Higher productivity results in higher salaries and bonuses. For companies, it’s been used as the main tool to attract, retain and engage employees. Today we’ve learned that the key to motivation is much more complex than that.

What psychologists and thought leaders have found is that money can actually demotivate employees from working at their peak performance by leading to a prioritization of rewards over learning and innovation. In one of the most widely viewed TEDTalks, career analyst Dan Pink explains that it’s actually intrinsic motivators like autonomy, mastery and purpose that drive real motivation.

To provide their employees with more opportunities to grow and develop, many companies are now moving to continuous, peer based and ratingless systems. The key question that many of them face is how they can continue to make compensation decisions, without inhibiting the feedback process.

In a recent eBook we identified five trends companies are following to delink performance from pay. Here is a summary of what we found:

1.  Keeping one annual review for compensation decisions

The most commonly used method is to introduce more continuous informal feedback and quarterly performance reviews, but continue to keep one annual review specifically for making compensation decisions. Rather than being in the dark until the annual review, employees will know where they are and how they’ve improved at each quarterly check-in. Compensation is still linked to end of the year feedback but the feedback they receive throughout the year is focused on growth and development.

2.  In ratingless systems

With more and more companies switching to ratingless reviews, this question has emerged as the main obstacle: without ratings how do we calculate compensation? Some companies have taken the position that ratings based reviews leave too much potential for bias. For example, a person’s communication skills can often be assessed differently depending on how communicative the rater is or how much they value communication within the team. However, when compensation decisions are based on a qualitative review the potential for rater bias actually increases, giving managers more leeway to decide how they want to award pay. Here are two ways companies are overcoming this:

Performance Calibration

Calibration meetings include a group of managers who discuss the performance of each employee.Together they come up with the best way to allocate pay and bonuses. Including multiple perspectives into the decision process is meant to separate rater bias from reviews and allow for a more accurate allocation of pay

Peer Reviews

Who better to ask about an individual’s performance than their teammates? Instead of depending on managers to make the majority of the decisions, some companies are basing pay solely on peer reviews. To avoid introducing ratings, employees are asked a series of questions about their peers, for example:

  • “How much did this person grow over the past 3 months? Please provide examples.”
  • “This person is your strongest team member. Explain why.”

3.  Objectives and Key Results

Setting Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) is the process made famous by companies like Google, Intel, Adobe and Linkedin. The idea is that allowing employees to set their own goals provides greater clarity in what’s expected and what needs to be done to perform well. On top of this, individual OKRs can more easily be aligned with team and company objectives. How these companies set compensation:

  • Employees regularly set their own OKRs with manager approval.
  • At the end of the performance period, compensation decisions are made by assessing whether and how well employees reached their OKRs.
  • Employees may not always complete their OKRs but assessing how they went about achieving them is taken into account.
  • This is combined with a review process during which information is gathered about their performance from their self-assessment, manager and peers.
  • Compensation is then decided based on OKRs, plus factors such as skill development, collaboration, leadership abilities and their contribution to the team/company.

4.  Getting Employees to give more feedback

Rather than trying to separate pay from feedback, some companies are actually using bonuses based on peer feedback to boost engagement. A joint study by SHRM and Globoforce found: “Peer-to-peer is 35.7% more likely to have a positive impact on financial results than manager-only recognition.” And dramatically, “When companies spend 1% or more of payroll on recognition, 85% see a positive impact on engagement.”

  • To implement this, some companies are allocating budgets to each employee. They can then use this to award cash bonuses to peers along with positive feedback. Rather than leaving pay solely up to managers, this system includes everyone in the decision process.
  • One of our clients came up with an innovative way to gamify peer feedback. Employees are given the opportunity to award gold, silver and bronze ratings to each piece of feedback they receive. Those who have shared the top most helpful feedback with their peers receive a bonus.

5.  Complete transparency

Some companies are rejecting individual performance based bonuses altogether in favor of complete transparency. For example, Buffer has come up with their own salary formula based on the person’s role, experience level and loyalty (years with the company). This essentially eliminates the compensation question altogether. In this type of system, everyone knows exactly where they stand and feedback can truly be focused solely on growth and development.

Alternatively, some companies have decided to slash the idea of individual rewards altogether, instead basing pay on team performance. Keep in mind that a study by PWC found that the ideal team size in this type of system is under five employees, with 60% of people becoming demotivated over five and 90% becoming demotivated in a team of over ten. Familiarity with team members was also an important factor.

Conclusion

It’s important that you find the best system for your culture and company objectives. Whether you place emphasis on teamwork or want to give individuals more autonomy over their personal development, it’s essential to research and understand which method will work best for you. No matter what you choose, the most important thing is that you clearly communicate to your managers and employees how this new system will work and how it will impact them.

About the Author:

Andrea Hak

Andrea Hak works as a content writer at Impraise, a web based and mobile solution for actionable, real-time feedback at work. Impraise turns performance reviews into an easy process by enabling users to give and receive valuable feedback in real-time and when it’s most helpful. With Impraise, employees can better analyze their strengths and learning opportunities, track their progress and pursue their personal and professional goals all year long. Managers can easily set up 360 degree feedback for their team or themselves, resulting in more meaningful 1-on-1s and more engaged people.

Contact Details: andrea@impraise.com


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Customer Success | The HR Tech Weekly®

Journey Science in Telecom: Take Customer Experience to the Next Level

Journey Science in Telecom: Take Customer Experience to the Next Level

Journey Science, being derived from connected data from different customer activities, has become pivotal for the telecommunications industry, providing the means to drastically improve the customer experience and retention. It has the ability to link together scattered pieces of data, and enhance a telco business’s objectives. Siloed approaches are becoming obsolete – take call centers as an example – there is only so much that you can do with data from only one system.

By using insights from customer journey analytics, telco businesses can better measure the user experience, and make informed decision for refining it. The data not only allow them to take proactive approach towards customer satisfaction, but enable the prediction of future failures as well. With customer journey analytics, you can evaluate the touchpoints to journeys, and revamp your strategies to better cater to customers’ needs.

In the telecom industry, it is difficult for a business to effectively manage the massive volume of data with the existing systems and technology. There are several aspects where telecom companies need to make improvements, such as reduce costs, improve customer experience, increase conversion rates, and many more. To do so, they need to derive meaning from the collected data by finding connections among them. This linked data is also known as journeys. Journeys provide you with relevant data that enable you to make well-grounded business decisions by looking at customer transactions as a whole, and determining where direct improvements are needed.

Customer Journey Analytics is Transforming Telecommunications

Many leading telco businesses are embracing the Journey Science concept, and deem it to be the best way to make greater impact on the target audience. One good way to better understand digital journeys is through a multi-channel, end-2-end, view. Journey Sciences, at its best, provides enhanced data accessibility and increased analytics agility, and helps in weaving together disparate pieces of data. This makes it possible for telco businesses to link together structured and unstructured data back to their strategic objectives, and quickly modify them to ensure they cope with the evolving customer demands. However, in order to get insight into customer experience through journey analytics, it is critical to focus not only on the individual moments but the customers’ end-to-end experiences as well.

Customer Experience Boost

The main benefit of customer journey analytics for telco companies is that it enables them to better recognize customer needs, and assess their satisfaction level. While most people think Journey Science is all about marketing, it mainly focuses on the services domain. For example, a customer seeking technical support for their device has multiple paths to resolution. Journey Science enables businesses to evaluate each step of the journey experience, and figure out the critical points that could negatively impact customer experience. With this kind of information, businesses can develop strategies to overcome hurdles customers face on all such touchpoints, resulting in improved customer experience.

Improving Customer Journeys through Transparency

Connecting the Dots

For improving customer experience, it is essential to connect all the data down to the individual customer level to fully understand the required changes. For telco businesses to completely understand customer journeys, they must gather data from many different channels, and track the individual journey the customer experiences. Typically, more than 50 percent of customers make multi-channel journeys; meaning, in order to understand their behavior, establishing connection among all the data is extremely important. Because of the deep roots of technology in today’s common lifestyle, many journeys start from digital channels, but eventually go into a human channel for completion.

Utilizing Aggregate and Raw Data

Apart from giving a complete picture of customer journeys, the analytics let you tap into different levels of aggregation, allowing you to view raw data as well. With journey mapping, telco businesses can benefit from both in-depth data points and aggregated data sets. Since a single customer journey can compile hundreds of thousands of data points, having aggregated views makes it much easier to pinpoint and prioritize the problematic areas. On the other hand, some journeys may yield unclear results, for example, unusual behavior of a customer on a webpage. In such a case, having access into the raw data renders the ability to focus on one key area and get invaluable insights.

Making Changes through Data Availability 

Effective utilization of data from customer journey analytics allows telco to revamp their strategy as well as make smaller improvements on a continuous basis. Getting immediate feedback regarding a certain change is critical for understanding its impact. You can determine whether the intended results will be realized, or should you scale-up or sustain the change. However, a manual, project-based approach that only provides an overview of the required data will not be enough to transform journeys successfully. Instead, you should opt for an agile, iterative, analytic approach that uses continuous data availability.

It won’t be wrong to say that all those ad-hoc, manual, project-based approaches using snapshots of data have severe limitations.

Better data accessibility to more than 18 telco raw data sources as a prerequisite 

How the Customer Journey differs in both Fixed and Mobile Telco

Mobile (mobile data usage, subscriptions, charges, and mobile data access)

Several small customer journeys can be linked together to make improvements to a mobile telco operation. One great way is through customer engagement, i.e. moving down to individualized journeys of each customer instead of mass-segmentation. Journey Science opens doors for mobile telco companies to take personalization up a notch, and provide customized recommendations based on the journeys of each customer. You should also utilize real-time context to enhance customer engagement for better results.

Mobile customer experience comprises of several touchpoints where a subscriber interacts with a service provide agent – it can be during retail, billing, customer support, visible marketing campaigns, and others. Consider three customers below that have 3 different journeys to perform the same action.

Fixed line providers (phone, internet, entertainment)

Fixed line providers have an additional interaction channel with field technicians being deployed to customers’ homes for service. These field service appointments are a major part of customer experience and often have significant variability for different customers. Consider the following journey which involves multiple appointments, agent phone calls, and delays:

Improve key journeys for fixed Telco’s

Journey Science is Moving towards Predictive Analytics

The Journey Science concept is increasingly becoming popular across the telco industry, as it greatly benefits by assessing journeys of individual customers and allow them to develop customized strategies. Moreover, it allows telco businesses to anticipate the potential pitfalls leading to negative customer experience and prevent it altogether. By tapping into the data from customer journey, telco can streamline their operations and provide a better, more satisfying experience to their customers.

Derived value from Customer Journey data by Journey Science & Journey Analytics

In today’s world, customer satisfaction is the keystone for success in every industry, including telco. Businesses should turn to the Journey Science movement, and optimize their processes by carefully analyzing customer journeys and making improvements accordingly. Effective utilization of customer journey analytics leads to better redesigning efforts, ultimately reducing costs, enhancing customer experience, and stretching bottom-line.

About the Authors:

Want to talk more about Journey Sciences? Connect with Rogier van Nieuwenhuizen, Executive Vice President, EMEA region at ClickFox, on LinkedIn and join Journey Science movement on Twitter by following @journey_science and the Journey Science’s LinkedIn Group today.

If you would like to read more from Ronald van Loon on the possibilities of Big Data and Journey Science please click ‘Follow’ and connect on LinkedIn and Twitter.


Source: Journey Science in Telecom: Take Customer Experience to the Next Level | Ronald van Loon | Pulse | LinkedIn