Category Archives: Employee Engagement

How To Make The Most Of The Year-end Performance Appraisal Process

The spectrum of treatment that the Performance Appraisal Process is meted out in various organizations ranges from complete indifference to overpowering fear.

Year end performance management appraisal process
Performance Appraisal Process

Let’s visualize the Performance Appraisal Process for once. Your Manager schedules a meeting with you and other team members to have a one-on-one where he will ‘appraise’ you. Using his extraordinary memory, he recalls every bit of contribution that you made at the workplace during the last 12 months. He superhumanly collects all the feedback you should receive from all the important stakeholders, painstakingly analyzes it and then weaves that into your performance appraisal. He then follows it up with a detailed feedback to you on where you did well and where you missed a few opportunities. He takes time out to connect you with individuals who are doing well in areas where you can develop. Well, none of this truly ever happens!

Often, Performance Appraisal is treated as just another process in the workplace.  If you are lucky, your Manager will spend a few minutes to tell you about the quality of your contribution and give some feedback, based on the “recency effect” – things that he can recall from top of his mind. You end up thinking whether you got a fair chance of being ‘appraised’ and you stop looking forward to such discussions. You perhaps end up doing the same to your team when it comes to appraising them. And in the end, the entire Performance Appraisal process suffers.

Performance Appraisal process can really get a fillip with feedback on employees from multiple stakeholders. A lot of organizations do collect ‘360º Feedback’ once or twice a year. A few of them use some tools while others do it through just emails. It becomes so difficult to keep track of these emails on one hand and on the other hand, collecting feedback a few times a year is not enough to appraise an employee for her year-long efforts.

A robust Performance Appraisal process is one which runs throughout the year with continuous feedback streaming in for every employee

and is bi-directional – seniors can also get insightful feedback from their junior colleagues if there has been a meaningful collaboration over a project or assignment.

The advantages of a continuous feedback are its real time characteristics and takes the burden off the Manager to go through the cumbersome process. A real-time continuous feedback can collect feedback through everyday tools like email and collaboration platforms like Slack to give deep insights into a Manager’s team. By being available in everyday tools, employees are keen to click a few options within these tools to give feedback and the feedback giving rate dramatically goes up to 70-80% as opposed to using traditional survey tools which have a meagre 20-30% It thus allows the Manager to do coaching conversations to truly engage his team members and embark them on a path of productivity and enhanced performance, and help them realize their true potential.

Continuous Feedback system with real time analytics
Continuous Feedback Process

The other important stakeholder, besides the Manager, is the HR. HR department can come under tremendous pressure pushing people to complete the process within timelines and then collating all the data that flows in from multiple functions throughout the organization. A true Continuous Feedback system comes power-packed with real-time Analytics that present sharp insights into the organization. HR department can easily take data cuts of every function, every hierarchy level to proceed with a successful completion of the Performance Management Process.

So it’s now possible with a Real-time Continuous Feedback System in place, the Performance Appraisal process can move from zones of sheer indifference and overwhelmingly fearsome to one of truly-deserved importance and impact.

Real-time Employee Insights for Effective Learning & Development

HR guru Dave Ulrich once famously said ‘Abolish HR!’ ringing the alarm bells for the imminent loss of credibility of HR in organizations. To view it in the right perspective, out of all the functions in an organization, HR is the only one farthest from access to and usage of any form of real-time data. Sales has real-time customers and lead funnel data, finance has revenue and expenditure data and production has inventory, work-in-progress and finished goods data at their fingertips at any point of time. Unfortunately, HR has no real-time data around the employees on their competencies, skills, behaviors or values that the organization expects them to exhibit.

While HR is the custodian of competencies, there is no way for HR to know at what level the competencies are at a point in time in the organization. In the absence of credible data, many an HR initiatives fall flat on their faces.

Data driven HR, HR Analytics, HR Insights
Data-driven HR

However, with the advent of next-gen feedback solutions it is now possible to collect data around employees through feedback gathered from their peers on a continuous basis. Feedback can be collected seamlessly from employees which increases higher response rate and collects data that is contextually relevant. This data can then be analyzed using Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning methods to give important evidence-based insights into many facets of HR viz. Performance Management, Reward & Recognition, Learning & Development amongst many others. This article focuses on how continuous feedback can be used to power success of Learning & Development in organizations.

HR undertakes several Learning & Development activities for the enhancement of competencies necessary for carrying out the jobs well by employees. These activities are then calendarized for the year and communicated to various departments for them to nominate employees. While a lot of effort goes into this exercise, such activities are often plagued with no visibility of what programs will work the best to address skill gaps, loss of retention of learning objectives after the activities are over and no investment in competencies necessary for the future skill roadmap of the organization.

With continuous feedback, it is now possible to have real-time data that sharply focuses on programs that enhance the skills of employees, increase retention by continuous inputs around manifested competencies & behaviors and apportion budget on ‘missing’ skills in the organizational skill inventory. Such insights are available through rich analytics which the HR can use to be really future ready.

Continuous Feedback System
Continuous Feedback System

The continuous feedback system is a great way to enhance the L&D effectiveness of an organization. The cloud-based solution is easy to deploy, upgrade to keep up to the changing organizational dynamics and comes at a fraction of cost compared to conventional enterprise HR software.

It’s time for HR to take cognizance of the power of real-time data through continuous feedback and be in step with the other functions like sales, finance & production in the organization.

Why and how should you promote Diversity & Inclusion at your workplace?

While Women’s Equality Day was being observed on August 26 to commemorate the voting rights being conferred on women in US in 1920, somewhere in France a controversy was playing out over women wearing burkini or burqini. These unrelated events reflect a wide range of public conscience around diversity & inclusion around gender, ethnicity, race in our society.

Diversity & inclusion are not just restricted to our society at large as we see these occurring in our workplaces too. Having said that, according to research published in American Sociological Review, workplace diversity is among the most important contributing factors of a business’ sales revenue, customer numbers and profitability.

In his outlook on HR Trends for 2016, Josh Bersin talks about Building an inclusive culture is now the No. 1 predictive strategy for global financial performance, bringing this topic into the focus on CEOs and senior execs. Further, management consulting firm, McK

insey reported that companies in the top quartile for diversity financially outperform those in the bottom quartile. “Gender-diverse companies are 15 percent more likely to outperform” their industry average, “while ethnically diverse companies are 35 percent more likely to outperform” the industry average. And diversity is probably “a competitive differentiator that shifts market share toward more diverse companies over time.”

Diversity & Inclusion in the workplace are important for bottomline
Diversity matters

 Despite all the data and the awareness around the significance of Diversity & Inclusion available with us,   upward of 95 percent of large corporate diversity recruiting efforts routinely fail to meet their modest diversity goals. In fact, the EEOC (US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) reports that diversity employee representation percentages at corporations have barely budged since 1985.

There are multiple ways through which Diversity & Inclusion can be built and sustained in the workplace.  I am listing out a few which you can choose from depending on your organization’s context and policies:

Create internal awareness

Create an internal marketing program for people to know about Diversity & Inclusion, the benefits of it and the various initiatives your organization is taking for it. Right information leads to right decisions being taken by managers and employees of your organization.

Diversity is important for company's bottomline
Diversity is important for bottomline

 Focus on data-driven Diversity hiring

It is important to use data while hiring for diversity. You can look at what programs are attracting candidates more, what kind of social is more effective, what is the right choice of words when advertising for jobs to promote diversity. Data based decisions can then be tracked to focus on the one yielding better results in diversity recruitment ratio.

Engage them gainfully

Give new hires a reason to stay. Devote an equal amount of time and effort in retaining new employees. Familiarize them with the new job and company culture. The first few weeks can be the most difficult time for any employee. It’s important to show they have a future in the company. Clearly communicate opportunities for advancement. Set up mentoring programs to build close working relationships. Finding mentors that share personal interests can foster new friendships.

Customize initiatives in line with your workforce

From setting up day care to extended leave for mothers with new-borns, listen in to what your workforce is asking for. Fine tuning your initiatives to meet your workforce requirements is one of the best ways to create diversity in the workplace.

Above all, constant monitoring of all Diversity & Inclusion initiatives need to be done by concerned business leaders to ensure any course correction required to sustain the multiple benefits of a workplace Diversity & Inclusion strategy for the organization.

How to Succeed with Mentoring Programs in Corporate

Are you planning to start a mentoring program to improve employee engagement? That’s great! Whatever might be the reason, mentoring is a great way to support, develop and grow your employee in a much more impactful way for your business.

Another important aspect is employee retention. as per 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey, 60-70% of your Millennials workforce will leave your organization by the year 2020. This is a cause of grave concern.Employee Engagement is important else they will exit your organization

If we look at what Millennials are looking for, Harvard Business Review has put it well very in this compact infographic below. To summarize, they are looking for a constant dialogue for meaningful conversations and feedback. Mentoring can be great tool to support that need.

What Millennials Want

But before you go too far in implementing mentoring program in your organization, here are a few key aspects you need to look at:

Is your organization ready for Mentoring?

Most of the companies are still led by Boomers and Gen X people. For them to understand the need of a Millennial can sometimes be difficult. The whole concept of social, collaborative work environment is very new for them. Boomers, grew up in an environment of societal upheaval where challenging authority and the status quo were the norm. They come to the workplace confident, prepared to work hard, and expecting to be rewarded for their efforts. On the other hand, Millennials grew up in an environment of adult attention where monitoring, recognition, and support were the norm. This difference keeps creating a conflict in the organization and relationship between Boomers and Millennials.

That said it’s not impossible to put an end to this. Given the right training and setting expectations, we can have a very committed and successful relationship. So before you start make sure you are doing the due diligence to find out the pain points and addressing the issues.

Have you defined a Process for Mentoring?

Adhoc attempts without proper planning and process to support your program can definitely cost you. Process always helps you keep focused on the tasks in hand and guide you on the next steps. There are also great tools available for you to retrospect if you feel something went wrong. You may want to read this blog post which explains the D.E.L.T.A. process of NxtSpark which aids and guides your internal Mentoring program.

Figured out a way to Mentee Mentor Matching?

Getting paired with the right mentor is crucial, this will probably define whether you will be able to sustain the momentum of the program and have a ROI of the significant time and investment you have made. Read this blog to understand more on how to get it right.

Are you tracking the progess?

Most of the companies, who have successfully implemented mentoring, had a strong tracking system to measure the pulse of the program. Getting insights into whether employees are realizing the value or if the Mentoring pairs is spending enough time with each other is very important for the success of the program.

However, there’s an important aspect to bear in mind. The specific details about a Mentoring relationship are supposed to be confidential to enable them to open up. Crossing that line can result in breach of trust of your employees, which can cause a monumental issue and can cause more damage.

To conclude, Employee engagement is one of the hardest issues corporates are facing today. Mentoring/Coaching, Peer mentoring, mentoring 2.0 are different names and ways to solve the problem. But at the end of the day we are talking about human relationship. If solutions are used as a checklist item, they are bound to fail. Make sure you are reading the pulse of the employees well and you are prepared to take on the problem head on. Most of organization need help, so don’t think twice if you feel help is required.

How to Start A Mentoring Program Successfully and Sustain It

A Mentoring Program is a proven method for employee development and retention, succession planning, knowledge transfer and promoting diversity & inclusion in the organization.

While the benefits of Mentoring are innumerable but how to go about creating a successful Mentoring Program in the workplace?

Through deep research backed by experts, NxtSpark has designed the DELTA Process for not only starting but creating a sustainable Mentoring Program. DELTA stands for Define, Evangelize, Launch, Track and Analyze is based on deep insights into the science of mentoring in organizations.

How to Start A Mentoring Program

Define: Define the objectives and the success factors of the Mentoring Program that you are rolling out in your organization. This is very crucial for tracking of outcomes against the initially laid-down objectives. These objectives may become the super-ordinate goals /overarching criteria for the employees getting mentored. They may use these to decide on their own professional goals.

Evangelize: A Mentoring Program’s success is directly dependent on the participation from Mentees and Mentors. It then becomes very important for it to be marketed well inside the organization in terms of its benefits. Program co-ordinators understand this very well and the right evangelism of the program can make the right noise at all levels of the organization.

Launch:  At the inception of the program, user profiles of those Mentees and Mentors who have shown interest in the program need to made available from the HRIS records. NxtSpark’s unique strengths based / skills based Matching Algorithm matches the mentee with the right mentor to ensure with the necessary flexibility for the mentees to select the right mentor basis comfort and availability.

Track:  Interim tracking of the program is crucial for ensuring successful outcomes.  The Program Co-ordinating team can put in checkpoints for measuring progress and make helpful resources like videos, articles, etc. available to Mentees and Mentors to support the Mentoring Program.

Assess: Using NxtSpark’s superior visual data analytics, you can measure the health of the program, do necessary course correction and calculate the ROI. This data-rich dashboard enables the business leaders and HR Managers to take necessary decisions for gaining maximum mileage out of the program investment in terms of time, effort and dollars spent.

Organizations following this process have reported higher success rates in the achievement of their internal Mentoring programs.

What To Do After The Employee Engagement Survey

The article written by Soumen Chatterjee, CEO NxtSpark, originally appeared in CEOWorld magazine in Aug 2016. http://ceoworld.biz/2016/08/05/whats-next-employee-engagement-survey

Employee engagement is not a mere buzzword anymore and has gained attention of CEOs and top executives in companies. In an ever-disruptive economy business leaders know that having a high-performing workforce is essential for growth and survival. They recognize that a highly engaged workforce can increase innovation, productivity, and bottom-line performance while reducing costs related to hiring and retention in highly competitive talent markets.Employee EngagementAmong the findings of a new Harvard Business Review Analytic Services report of more than 550 executives around employee engagement, it was found that while 71% of respondents rank employee engagement as very important to achieving overall organizational success, only 24% of respondents say employees in their organization are highly engaged.

In a separate study by Gallup’s on the State of the Global Workplace, it has been observed that only 30% of employees worldwide are engaged at work –  employees who are psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be making positive contributions to their organizations.

But while most executives see a clear need to improve employee engagement, many have yet to develop tangible ways to measure and tackle this goal. However, a growing group of best-in-class companies says they are gaining competitive advantage through establishing metrics and practices to effectively quantify and improve the impact of their engagement initiatives on overall business performance.

Without effective Employee Engagement practices, a company is bound to lose it valuable employees to competition. As per industry estimates, it has been found that the cost of replacement can be as high as 400% of the cost to company (CTC) of a full-time employee (FTE). With such high costs of replacement in a highly disruptive economy, it can have serious repercussions for a company.

One of the proven ways of high-impact Employee Engagement is Mentoring and Coaching of employees. Mentoring and Coaching have a strong bearing on morale, productivity, leadership development and internal career growth. They can also be used for succession and planning and diversity initiatives.

Mentoring (and Coaching) is not only beneficial for the recipients but also for the people who are Mentors. Sun Microsystems (now a part of Oracle) ran a highly successful Mentoring program for over 13 years and saw higher retention and promotion rates amongst its Mentees as well as Mentors.

Mentoring Program in a corporate
Mentoring Program in a corporate

With the emergence of SaaS-based solutions, companies can now implement and run Mentoring and Coaching programs seamlessly across geographies. Right from correct Mentee-Mentor matching on strengths to real-time feedback and visual data analytics, such platforms provide insights into Employee Engagement initiatives of the company and assure a high ROI. Over a period of time, such data gets accrued and flow into useful Predictive Analytics for design of appropriate learning interventions, estimating employees-at-risk of attrition and crafting specific retention strategies.

These Employee Engagement platforms can also be used for Strategic On-boarding of New Hires to map them to senior leaders as buddies, ensuring they get into the “groove” early on in the company.

With rapid adoption of technology by HR teams, an increasing number of companies are using such Employee Engagement as a part of their People Management Strategy.  It’s time when any company which realizes people are its true competitive advantage will start investing its dollars in Employee Engagement platforms.