Archive for the 'News and Info' Category

Change is Really in the Air!

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

We all know that there is significant political change in the air, but there also appears to be some notable changes in how companies in the U.S. are approaching human capital management during the recent economic downturn.

Towers Perrin recently released the results of their “Compensation in Crisis” pulse survey, which features responses from more than 450 U.S. organizations. The survey was conducted in October 2008 and the companies surveyed are from a wide range of industries and sizes.

Towers Perrin’s Ravin Jesuthasan explains that the surveyed firms’ “commitment to the retention of key talent is a significant shift from past national recessionary periods, when a slash-and-burn mentality reigned. Companies are entering this period with leaner workforces and the knowledge that across-the-board mass layoffs can create significant long-term problems.” 66% of respondents believe a significant organizational headcount reduction is somewhat or very unlikely, while 46% think a more targeted head-count reduction is probable.

Most importantly, 54% polled stated that they are somewhat to very concerned about turnover of their high-performing and business-critical employees as a result of the way their company handles the economic crisis. As a result, many firms are taking a more proactive approach (including cash retention awards and targeted salary increases to help retain and motivate top performers).

To read more about this very interesting and suprising survey (from’s Market Watch), click here.

Getting Back to Basics

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

The American Management Association‘s always interesting and timely podcast series, AMA Edgewise, recently featured an interview with two leading subject matter experts on the topic of employee engagement/retention. The featured interview is with Beverley Kaye, co-author (with Sharon Jordan-Evans) of “Love ‘em or Lose ‘em: Getting Good People to Stay “. In addition, there are some highlights from an earlier interview with Judith Bardwick (author of a number of great books, including “One Foot Out the Door: How to Combat the Psychological Recession That’s Alienating Employees and Hurting American Business“). If you are new to the subject of employee retention, the two will provide you with an excellent introduction. If you are experienced, the podcast provides an excellent “back to basics” refresher. I recommend taking 20 minutes out of your busy day to gain some exposure to the critical insights from these two thought leaders! You can find the podcast here.

“Life-Saving” at Starbucks

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

How Starbucks Saved My Life

I just finished reading a great book that very effectively describes the power of engagement from the employee perspective.  How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else is a highly entertaining story of Michael Gates Gill, a Yale-educated, former J. Walter Thompson advertising executive with a highly privileged family background. At age 63, Gill found himself in a predicament: his business and marriage were failing, an affair had resulted in the birth of a newborn son, and he was diagnosed with a brain-tumor (without health care coverage). Serendipitously, he finds himself having a coffee in a Manhattan Starbucks during a new employee recruiting event. He strikes up a conversation with the manager and gets offered a job. Working at Starbucks turns out to not only be a temporary “life-saver” for Gill, but ultimately turns out to be the best job he has ever had!

The book is a very engaging read and I recommend it highly. After reading the book, I noticed that the AMA had done an interview with Gill on their always interesting Edgewise podcast series. You can read more and listen to the podcast here.

Zappos Gets It!

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

As Gillian Welch sang in her 2001 song Everything is Free: “I never minded workin’ hard, it’s who I’m workin’ for…”.
There has been a ton of deserved recent press concerning the online shoe retailer Zappos. From extraordinary customer service to a firm commitment behind taking long-term approach to its business, the retailer seems to be making all the right moves.

Most impressive, though, seems to be their approach to recruiting and maintaining a dedicated and engaged workforce in a business (call-center-based online retailing) plagued with disengagement and high employee turnover. I recently read a story featured in Bill Taylor’s Game Changer Blog on Harvard Business Publishing’s Discussion Leader Online entitled “Why Zappos Pays New Employees to Quit and You Should Too”. One highlight on the piece was regarding Zappos‘ policy of paying new recruits who are uncertain whether working for the retailer for the amount of time worked/trained, plus a $1,000 bonus to quit. According to the article, if a new recruit is on the fence about whether the company is a good fit for them, they are likely to take the offer and leave sooner rather than later. This provides the company with a employee-friendly tool that allows them to “weed out” those recruits who do not appear to possess the strong sense of commitment actively sought in a long term Zappos employee.

For more on Zappos story, be sure to take a look at this article from the New York Times and Taylor’s follow-up blog entry on the subject found here.

The Mind-Body Adventure

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

Although this is not directly related to the subject of employee engagement, it is important when one of the contributers to TMIE gets a very public “shout out”! Tom Fleming (one of the folks behind “The Most Important Element” and my consulting partner at Integrated Elements) is featured in the June 2008 issue of Experience Life Magazine. Tom, who is a marathoner and general outdoorsman, discusses the importance of keeping a strong mind-body link, framed by a recent adventure he had mixing kayaking and yoga in Mexico. You can read the article, “Mind Body Adventure” online by clicking here. In addition, Tom recently successfully completed the Boston Marathon with his friend Gavan Goodrich. Out of the 21,963 runners who completed the race, Tom & Gavan finished with identical times of 3:44:05. Nice job, Tom!

Starting Out on the Right Foot

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

I recently read an interesting article on the business section of Canada’s Globe and Mail website called The article is entitled “Rolling Out the Welcome Mat” (4/26/08) and in it, author Kira Vermond discusses the critical importance that a strong “onboarding” experience during a new employee’s first 30-60 days of employment plays in ensuring their long term engagement. The article also contains some great examples of how some forward-thinking companies (such as Bayer, Inc.) are coming up with innovative ways to make an impact in those first few critical months.

Have you seen any interesting and effective “onboarding” techniques? If so, we’d love to hear about them!

Blessing White’s “The State of Engagement 2008″

Friday, April 18th, 2008

According to a recent article found in the Michigan’s WWJ Newsradio 950 “Daily Dash” Column (“Survey Reveals Low Employee Engagement in U.S. Workforce” by Jennie Cromie, April 16th, 2008), the Skillman, NJ-based HR consulting firm Blessing-White is readying the release of the 2008 version of their annual employee engagement report, “The State of Employee Engagement 2008″.

The survey, which is scheduled to be widely released in May of 2008, reflects that only 29 percent of employees are “engaged” and 19 percent are actually disengaged from their jobs. The article goes on to point out that, from the 7,508 respondents worldwide (including 3,342 U.S. respondents), the top three factors that influence employee job satisfaction were:

  1. additional opportunities to use talents
  2. better career development
  3. more training

and the top three reasons employees leave were:

  1. lack of career growth
  2. dislike of the actual work
  3. bad management

The article also points out that organizational trust appears a factor (just 53% of the employees surveyed trusted their company’s senior leaders). To read more about the upcoming survey results, the WWJ NR950 “Daily Dash” article can be found here in its entirety. Interesting stuff!

The Employee Engagement Network

Friday, March 28th, 2008

There’s a really exciting new web community, only a few months old, that is focused on the topic of employee engagement. David Zinger has created The Employee Engagement Network and the site’s robust membership of thought leaders, practitioners, managers and other interested contributors is growing rapidly. Built upon the familiar formatting foundation of popular social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, navigating around the EEN is a breeze and the clear focus on the member community easily allows for informal networking, the seeking and sharing of ideas, sharing of resources, etc. Members can set up a customized profile, blog, and join/participate in groups, such as “Manager Tools for Employee Engagement“, “Employee Engagement Writers“, “Engaging Quotations“, “Engaging Books“, and even “Engaging Films” (with more to come).

Kudos to David and all of the pioneer members for initiating this great site. I strongly encourage you to check it out!


Monday, February 11th, 2008

I recently had the pleasure of hearing a wonderful webcast from the AMA featuring the notable management expert Charles A. Handy (author of The Age of Unreason, The Elephant and the Flea, and most recently, Myself and Other More Important Matters just to name a few). This was an extremely thought-provoking presentation from a very insightful man. AMA Edgewise has posted an additional free podcast featuring Handy – you can download it from here.

In his webcast, Handy uses a concept derived from Aristotle – “eudaimonia“, to describe what success in work truly is. In a recent article (Spring 2007) from The Business Strategy Review of the London School of Business, Handy defines the term in this way:

“My definition of success is basically borrowed from Aristotle. He called it “eudaimonia”. I translate it as doing the best at what you’re best at, for the good of others. That sounds trite and easy, but it is very difficult to know what you’re best at.”

You can read more of the interview here. Here’s another quote from Handy regarding leadership found in a short interview he did last year with BBC TV reporter and communications coach Katie Ledger (from Katie’s Blog):

“The secret to great leadership? It’s simple: 1. Know yourself. 2. Know and trust your people. 3. Know what you’re about and make sure your people know what you’re about.”

Do yourself a favor…take a little time to get better acquainted with Charles Handy.

Growing Great Employees

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

I recently discovered a fine book that aims to provide managers with a simple and straightforward approach to all of the key phases of talent management. Growing Great Employees: Turning Ordinary People into Extraordinary Performers by Erika Andersen, utilizes the metaphor of tending a garden to illustrate techniques for effective management and employee development. I found it to be extremely clear and spot-on in its approach, and recommend it very highly.

In addition to being an author, Ms. Andersen is speaker, OD consultant and co-founder of Proteus International, a company that specializes in products and services that help their clients “to build the organization they want”. She also writes an interesting blog called The Simplest Thing That Works. I encourage you to check both the blog and book out!