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Manufacturing and Production Companies Step Up for Their Employees

Great Place to Work has just released its list of the Best Workplaces in Manufacturing & Production, and today’s employee experience  in these industries is miles apart from how many of us picture it. We may think of how it used to be. It’s apparently pretty great in 2016.

The top-rated company is Hilcorp, which garnered a 96% approval rating from 1,108 employees. (Curiously, the #2 company, Tactical Electronics, had a 100% ranking.) Hilcorp had plenty of competition, with the top 11 companies all having ratings of 90% or higher. The survey questioned 34,900 randomly selected employees at companies in the manufacturing and production sector.

As CEO of Great Place to Work Michael Bush told HRE Daily, “The best workplaces in the industry know they can’t just churn out their products with warm bodies. They need to focus on attracting and retaining top talent by putting people first, in a high-trust culture.“ Forget about the old image of factory workers laboring tirelessly and never getting ahead. Hilcorp, for example, awarded each of their employees $100,000 (based on their hire date) after the company met a five-year goal.

Hilcorp is the largest privately held oil, natural gas, electric and power company in the U.S., headquartered in Houston, Texas, with offices in Maurice, Louisiana, North Slope and Anchorage, Alaska, and Refugio, Texas. They have 1,400 employees. Here are four things the company does to keep its workers so engaged:

Buy-In Incentive Plan — Full-time Hilcorp employees can participate financially in company projects, allowing them to build wealth over time.

Bonus Program — An employee’s yearly bonus is tied to company goals, and bonus payout percentages are the same for everyone. During the past five years, employees bonuses have averaged 36% of base pay.

The Hilcorp Giving Program — The company offers to establish a $2,500 charitable trust that allows employees to support any U.S.-based 501(c)(3) organization, and helps employees give by providing ongoing matching gifts of up to $2,000 a year.

Mega Plans, or “BHAG’s” — A BHAG is a ”Big Hairy Audacious Goal,” and every five years Hilcorp sets one. It’s a stretch goal with outsized rewards. The most recent, for example, sought to double the company’s rate, reserve, and value by 2015. (This was the $100,000 employee reward mentioned above.)

Dora Wang

Dora is an employee engagement reporter for TINYpulse. When she's not busy digging into and covering the latest workplace trends, she's wrangling with her three (yes, three) cats and rooting for the Seahawks.

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What to Do About ROAD Warriors In Your Office

We’re not talking Mad Max here, or Furiosa. The ROAD warrior we’re talking about here is a R.O.A.D. warrior, with the initials standing for “Retired On Active Duty.” This is the employee whose motto would be “Just in it for the paycheck.” This type of worker may technically be doing his or her job, but only by exerting as little effort as possible. Excellence is totally out of the question. If they do something well, fine. If they don’t, just as fine as far as they’re concerned. One ROAD warrior is a concern; when you have multiple ROAD warriors, your office culture has a serious problem. These people act as motivational black holes, taking zero initiative, and setting an utterly dispiriting example for coworkers with whom they’re not likely to connect anyway.

Jason Forrest, writing for Builder, says companies needs to fix a ROAD warrior problem, one way or another. He says, “I believe wholeheartedly that with enough coaching from their leaders, everyone will either be coached up or coached out. You don’t have to go around firing everyone.” He sees two things that should be done.

Forrest believes the ROAD warrior’s direct supervisor is the key to revitalizing the employee’s interest in the job. “People don’t quit on companies so much as they quit on managers,” says Forrest. A manager needs to invests enough time in developing a stronger relationship with a ROAD warrior to create a feeling of being cared about, supported, and empowered. This can, in turn, stimulate the ROAD warrior’s personal loyalty to the supervisor and thus a desire to excel.

Second, Forrest points out that the best employees feel a sense of camaraderie with their coworkers, and a ROAD warrior’s relationships need to be strengthened. He suggests team-building efforts that have the ROAD warrior needing to collaborate with others to accomplish an achievable goal — this gets the coworkers to work together, learn to depend on each other, and then cement their bond with a feel-good success.

If it all goes well, your ROAD warriors may find unexpected satisfaction in their jobs, and be great for the company. If it doesn’t, since no one really wants to be a ROAD warrior, the employee will probably wind up hitting the, um…well, you know.

Naomi Thalenberg

Naomi is a reporter for TINYpulse, living and breathing everything employee engagement. She does this by always keeping her workstation fully stocked with dark chocolates.

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Employee Support Is Strong for Closing the Gender Pay Gap

If companies wonder how workers feel about compensation adjustments that level out pay between men and women, a new Glassdoor study finds that 93% of American employees surveyed are in favor of seeing the wage gap between men and women closed. Worldwide, the number’s 89%.

Workers often don’t think their own companies are the problem. 7 in 10 people on average worldwide believed their own company paid equally, though women were less likely to make that assumption. In the U.S. there’s slightly less confidence in one’s own company, with 70% overall choosing to believe the best — 77% of the men and 70% of the women. A third of U.S. women surveyed believed their employers were part of the problem, nearly twice the number of men who thought so.

Around the world, women are concerned about whether or not they were being payed equally. In the U.S., about two thirds think they’re being fairly compensated, while a third feel they deserve to be paid more. (5% of women don’t think women deserve equal pay.)

Though the percentages shift slightly a bit across the countries in the survey — United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, The Netherlands and Switzerland — the story’s the same everywhere: More men feel they’re being paid fairly and don’t think their company has a pay gender gap; more women feel they’re not being properly compensated and that a gender gap does exist at their company.

The survey points to some things companies offering equal pay should do. Glassdoor suggests they promote their equal-pay practices since, for example, 67% of U.S. workers surveyed wouldn’t even apply for work at companies with a gender gap in pay. Worldwide, 81% of women wouldn’t apply. For companies that do still have a gender gap, that leaves a vanishingly small talent pool to draw from. (63% of workers older than 55 may apply to such a company, but 81% of people from 18 to 24 won’t.)

Employees are eager to see companies step up, with 45% of U.S. workers ready for new policies that close the pay gap, and two thirds looking for more transparency in how compensation is calculated anyway. About 20% think female employees should request raises more frequently to help close the gender gap in pay. And 39% approve of the government stepping in to force companies to pay men and women equally.

Dora Wang

Dora is an employee engagement reporter for TINYpulse. When she's not busy digging into and covering the latest workplace trends, she's wrangling with her three (yes, three) cats and rooting for the Seahawks.

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Treating Employees Like Grownup Humans Is The First Rule of Engagement

Lucy Adams writing for Personnel Today wonders if we make successful employee engagement more complicated than it needs to be. After speaking to her share of CEOs, HRDs, and communication directors, she’s identified three simple principles she believes are all a company needs for engaging employees.

Treat Employees Like Adults

Many companies act as if they think employees are children who need to be protected, controlled, and amused.

Adams cites things like Casual Fridays and restroom reminders to wash your hands as indicators of a paternalistic attitude towards employees. We might add micromanagement, mandatory self-appraisals, and other such infantilizing measures.

Rule-laden employment contracts and mandatory trainings can also have the effect of alienating the vast majority of good employees while failing to protect the company from bad ones anyway.

Think of Employees as Customers

For many companies, an annual engagement survey is the extent of the effort made to keep track of employees’ feelings. It may take departments months to agree on the survey questions that are likely to garner a mere 60% participation rate.

Companies invest in understanding their customers, collecting and analyzing data that describes their actions and preferences. They should consider leveraging their data-parsing systems to understand employees the same way.

And just as different customers require different enticements, so do employees. The one-size-fits-all approach of the annual review/bonus structure doesn’t recognize the human differences between people, and can’t be expected to successfully motivate all employees.

Engage Employees As Human Beings

In world of “VUCA” — volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity — the value of connecting on a human level can hardly be overstated. Inspiring leaders consider it part of their job to make themselves available to employees who need to vent, share ideas, or just connect.

Such efforts can fail, though, when leaders talk to employees like made-up characters whose corporate-speak checks all the boxes while failing to make a human connection. Adams says you don’t need to “dialogue” with employees, or “interact.” Just talk. Use the same words you’d use with your friends and family as a sign of respect, a recognition of common humanity.

Sabrina Son

Sabrina is the editor in chief for TINYpulse news. She's dipped her toes into various works of writing — from retail copywriter to magazine editor. Her work's been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg BNA, and Tech.co.

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Constituency Statues Protect Companies’ Ability to Innovate and Thrive

In this world of incredible pressures to produce short-term profits, business leaders can become understandably skittish about taking a longer view that encourages both innovation and their company’s long-term health. With anxious stockholders demanding one dazzling quarterly report after another, and with the constant threat of hostile takeovers, it’s hard to devote the time and patience required to develop new products and services. To remedy this, 34 states in the U.S. have enacted little-known “constituency statutes.”

A constituency statute is a state law that offers companies that legal right to consider stakeholders other than their stockholders, in particular employees and the community within which a company resides. Aleksandra Kacperczyk of MIT recently released a study that examines whether these laws, which first started appearing in the 1980s, actually work. Spoiler alert: They do.

Kacperczyk used patent records as a concrete way of measuring how constituency statutes protect and encourage innovation, more and more a top priority for business. But there’s a difficult “trade-off that you face between short-term profits and the long-term view, in that innovation takes longer to develop,“ as Kacperczyk puts it.

The report — co-authored with Caroline Flammer, assistant professor at the Ivey Business School, University of Western Ontario — found that in states with constituency statutes, the average patent rate rose by at least 6.4 percent. And, ”There were not only more patents, but they were more original and influential,” says Kacperczyk, with the number of citations — other companies incorporating innovations they contain — increasing by 6.3 percent, according to the study.

Constituency statutes were initially designed to protect local communities from losing their businesses due to hostile takeovers by stockholders impatient for profits. According to Kacperczyk, “Hostile takeovers can be detrimental to workers and communities, so they really needed this. This is precisely when the interests of shareholders are being pitted against the interests of stakeholders. You need the stakeholder supremacy model to protect the interests of stakeholders.” The first state to adopt a constituency statute was Ohio in 1984, while Texas was the most recent to do so.

Robby Berman

Robby Berman is a reporter, father, and musician who creates and discovers good stuff for the Internet world.

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The Secret to Keeping Millennials Engaged Sounds Familiar

Companies have been wondering what they have to do to successfully manage and retain millennial talent. According to FastCompany, millennial women are especially of concern to employers, so the International Consortium for Executive Development Research decided to find out what they want. Respondents’ requests boiled down to:

  • Know me — Invest the time to understand me as a person and what interests me both inside and outside of work.
  • Challenge me — I want to have continued opportunities to learn and grow.
  • Connect me — Relationships are important. I want to interact and collaborate with a wide network of people.
  • Inspire me — I want to derive a sense of meaning from my work.
  • Unleash me — I want to take good risks and have autonomy over my time and projects.

Interestingly, none of what the respondents said is very unusual. In fact, here’s what other researchers have previously said are the behaviors of “centered leadership”:

  • Meaning
  • Framing — adapting to change and building self-awareness
  • Energizing — tapping into the our natural energy reserves and rhythms
  • Connecting — interacting and collaborating with a wide network of people
  • Engaging — taking good risks and using your voice

Even more intriguing, the PERMA study of well-being found that well-being consists of these components:

  • Positive emotions
  • Engagement
  • Relationships
  • Meaning
  • Achievement

It’s all pretty much the same thing, so there maybe there’s no reason to obsess over millennials. They want what everyone wants. FastCompany suggests three things that can work especially well to keep millennials and everyone else engaged.

Give More Than You Take

There are givers and takers, and who you are can help generate positive relationships with employees. One study showed that being a boss who’s a giver enhanced the sense of meaning employees ascribed to their work.

Make Decisions Count

Employees can careen from the beginning to the end of the day, changing tasks with no method or reason, and the effect can be exhausting. Help employees maintain their energy by offering “decision-point” training that enables them to be more conscious of how frequently and why they shift gears.

Create More Positive Emotions

Research shows positive emotions lower blood pressure, enhance creativity, build resilience, and make it easier to bounce back from stressful situations. Do your best to project a genuine positive attitude, not one that’s so over-the-top that it causes stress instead of relieving it.

Naomi Thalenberg

Naomi is a reporter for TINYpulse, living and breathing everything employee engagement. She does this by always keeping her workstation fully stocked with dark chocolates.

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Your Future at Your Job May Depend on the Box You’re In

It’s not like your boss wants to put you in a box, but talent management professionals might. According to Enterprise Investor, there’s a widely used nine-box employee rating system many of us have never even heard of. The amount of effort a company puts into developing an employee — say, you — may well depend on the box they’re assigned to.

The nine-box grid has two axes. The vertical axis rates an employee’s potential. The horizontal axis describes the employee’s current performance.

Where-Do-You-Fit-on-Your-Organizations-Nine-Box-GridII

Figuring out the box management thinks you belong in can help you see where you need improvement and understand what, if anything, may be holding you back at the company. Obviously, if you’re in the lower left corner, it’s time to look for another more suitable job.

Most employees are in one of seven boxes.

  1. Low Potential, Average Performance: The person in this box is a reliable, all-around employee who should be encouraged to specialize. The goal for this person is retention, not growth.
  2. Low Potential, High Performance: This is probably a specialist or expert in some area, and that’s where that person will remain. They can be helpful in the development or training of others. Keep this person engaged so they’ll stay with the company and continue developing their expertise.
  3. Average Potential, Low Performance: This person may represent an opportunity. Try re-evaluating whether or not the current position is a good fit, and see if more training or coaching shakes something loose.
  4. Average Potential, Average Performance: This may seem like a medium rank, but it’s actually the box for the solid employee who keeps the company running and should be nurtured, motivated, and rewarded.
  5. Average Potential, High Performance: This person is currently valuable to the company and needs to be kept engaged so they don’t leave. Stretching this employee’s skills and challenging them may be productive.
  6. High Potential, Low Performance: This box means someone with potential is in the wrong job, on a dysfunctional team, or under an ineffective manager. Figure out and fix the problem.
  7. High Potential, Average Performance: This person’s future deserves cultivation with assignments that stretch the employee, coaching, and skills development. This person needs to be engaged for retention; after all, they may be a company leader someday.

Dora Wang

Dora is an employee engagement reporter for TINYpulse. When she's not busy digging into and covering the latest workplace trends, she's wrangling with her three (yes, three) cats and rooting for the Seahawks.

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Who Has the Right to Argue Politics at the Office?

In this presidential election year, the old adage about the two things you should never discuss in polite conversation — religion and politics — has never been more true, especially considering how they’ve overlapped lately in the United States political discourse. In the workplace this is especially an issue. When people talk about about hot-button issues, passions tend to run high, and productivity-busting arguments occur.

The Houston Chronicle recently reported on some of the tricky office free-speech issues surrounding politics. “Employees have no right to free speech,” attorney David Barron told the Chronicle. That’s because freedom of speech applies to public spaces, not private property. He says it’s completely legal for employers to limit what employees are allowed to say in the office. In fact, he says “When it comes to things like race, gender, ethnicity, and religion, those are issues where an employer has a legal duty to take action if an employee complains.” All four of those topics are under discussion in Election 2016. The only free speech employees have is the right to discuss workplace issues under the National Labor Relations Act (NRLA).

However, though employees may not be able to express their political views, employers can push their point of view freely.

If a CEO invites a political candidate for a factory-floor campaign event, employees can be required to attend and even applaud for TV cameras. A boss can also encourage the display of a favored candidate’s posters or other campaign materials, and prohibit display of an opponent’s. The 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United ruling even allows employers to spend company funds to support candidates, regardless of employees’ views.

While this kind of thing undoubtedly bothers some employees, there’s no legal recourse because, Barron says, “Being offended by someone else’s political views is not illegal harassment the way it is for gender, race or ethnicity.” There’s some comfort in knowing, at least, that employees can’t legally be fired for how they vote.

Given how super-charged politics is at the moment, it’s probably best to keep them out of the office altogether. There’s no research, after all, suggesting that arguments and the bad feelings they leave behind are good for generating profits.

Robby Berman

Robby Berman is a reporter, father, and musician who creates and discovers good stuff for the Internet world.

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Studies Suggest How to Improve Onboarding

In December 2015, ADP released the results of a major employee onboarding survey. They’ve distilled their findings into an infographic packed with intriguing insights (click infographic to magnify it).

When asked if they think their companies have a good handle on onboarding, 91% of managers said no, as did 81% of HR administrators, and 75% of employees. Given that just 8% of managers make the process a priority, and only 49% of companies even bother to measure their success at it, it’s no surprise that 79% of employees feel there’s room for improvement in their companies. And according to a study by Learnkit, 89% of employees wish their bosses would make more of a priority of onboarding.

ADP suggests that the key to doing onboarding right is to humanize it by keeping three core concepts in mind.

  • Connection: Satisfaction and integration into the workforce that leads to retention.
  • Comfort: Personal bonds between employees and management that lead to productive working relationships
  • Culture: Clear workplace expectations and values that help employees succeed.

Heather R. Huhman writing for Entrepreneur distills the lessons of ADP’s study into five onboarding rules:

1. Make your employees feel like their needs and satisfaction are a company priority. Companies should approach onboarding with enthusiasm and a genuine interest in what the process is like for employees.

2. Make onboarding a rewarding learning experience. Make sure it contains truly useful material and teaches worthwhile skills rather than getting lost in dull process.

3. Feel free to customize onboarding for specific employees. While there will always be certain information a company needs to impart before onboarding is complete, pay attention to the idea that everyone’s an individual, and that people learn in different ways, at different paces, and enjoy learning at different times of day.

4. Take onboarding online so that new hires can share their onboarding experience with other trainees. By adding a shared element to the experience, work friendships are made, and the process can be more enjoyable.

5. Make employee engagement a primary goal. As onboarding curriculum is developed, keep in mind that making employees feel engaged is as important as the specific information that needs to be communicated.

Sabrina Son

Sabrina is the editor in chief for TINYpulse news. She's dipped her toes into various works of writing — from retail copywriter to magazine editor. Her work's been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg BNA, and Tech.co.

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Performance Reviews Are Getting Their Own Performance Review

For the last several years, companies have been getting increasingly skeptical about the value of annual performance reviews — particularly the ones with numerical employee rankings — and at this point are seeking a better way to assess employees’ work.

Among the first companies to move beyond the annual review was Adobe, who came to consider the review process a “soul-crushing exercise,” losing often valuable employees every year right after review time. As senior VP of global people and sales Donna Morris told SHRM, “We hired the very best, and then we brought them into an organization and on an annual basis said, ‘You were exceptional when you came in, but now, relative to your peers, you’re only average.’ That doesn’t feel good.” The company switched to more frequent, less formal conversations back in 2012, and the company considers them far more useful.

Manjur Ahmed, writing for The Daily Star, sums up five good reasons performance reviews don’t work:

  • They’re time-consuming: Since it can take a manager up to 12 hours per review. Multiply that by the number of employees and add on the time it takes to do the HR paperwork.
  • There’s no follow-up: Until next year’s review.
  • The reviewer is biased: When the personal relationship between manager and employee can’t be removed from the appraisal, leading to unfair rankings.
  • The reviewer is afraid of spoiling relationships: When the reviewer doesn’t want to hurt employees’ feelings so criteria are applied inconsistently sometimes having as much to do with individuals’ sensitivity as performance.
  • Different review techniques by different departments: Make company-wide comparisons meaningless.

Ahmed suggests four things to do instead of these reviews:

  • Create a feedback-rich culture: Where people are free to provide feedback to each other.
  • Encourage employees to continually self-assess: And to informally share those assessments.
  • Hire the best people possible: And support them with a constructive culture.
  • Invest in leadership development: So managers have the skills required for bringing out the best in their staff.

Sabrina Son

Sabrina is the editor in chief for TINYpulse news. She's dipped her toes into various works of writing — from retail copywriter to magazine editor. Her work's been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg BNA, and Tech.co.

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