Tag Archives: Employee Engagement

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.

Selecting a Mentoring Software: Critical Success Factors you must consider

Mentoring Software for Corporate Mentoring Program
Selecting A Mentoring Software for Corporate Mentoring Program

The fact that you are here means that you are already an avowed advocate of the power of Mentoring in the workplace. And now you are looking at enabling your Mentoring Program with technology for ease and effectiveness.

Here is a quick blueprint on some of the critical success factors you must consider before zeroing in on the right software for your internal Mentoring Program:

The Right Mentee-Mentor Matching

The key to success of a corporate Mentoring Program is right Mentee-Mentor matching. The software should have a facility for matching based on skills, interests and strengths. This allows for a comprehensive matching leading to great outcomes of your Mentoring Program.

Does it have the necessary features in line with the current Mentoring practices and Technology trends?

Often Mentoring programs fall through the cracks because Mentors and Mentees are not able to find time to meet or talk in the midst of their work. A software that allows them to schedule sessions, pushes reminder notifications and even have quick chats through a messenger can be a great way to keep the Mentoring Program on-course.

It should also allow users (read Mentees and Mentors) to share feedback about the program through quick Pulse Surveys. Pulse surveys allow you to capture the feedback of the employee based on instantaneous  experiences.

Also, the Mentoring Program co-ordinator should be able to track the program health across geographies, departments in the Mentoring cohort to ensure the objectives are met and take necessary course correction. Further, the Mentoring software should allow you to measure the ROI of your Mentoring program. A visual data analytics dashboard in the software is a surefire way to do all of that.

Is it Customizable to your needs?

The software platform should be customizable to meet your specific mentoring objectives. Whatever be your objective  for running a Mentoring Program – whether you are running it for leadership development, succession planning, diversity & inclusion, knowledge transfer the  software should be agile and robust to support all your needs.

Is it Scalable for the size of the Mentoring cohort?

You could be initiating a Mentoring Program for a small cohort in a department or a large cohort across business units, the software should be scalable to support any number of users in your organization. It should allow flexibility to accommodate more users as the program gains traction inside your organization.

Is it backed by Research and Expertise?

While internal Mentoring Programs have been around for a few decades now, current mentoring practices are in line with the changing workforce demographics and realities of businesses facing competitive pressures. The software shouldn’t just be a technology tool and should be backed by a deep understanding of what kind of mentoring is aligned with the changing organizational landscape. It should also have a Customer Success Process to ensure that you are able to accomplish your objectives of the Mentoring Program.

Does the price justify your investment?

Last but not the least, the price of the software should be worth your investment. It’s also important to ensure that the pricing is simple and transparent.

Make yourself aware right at the beginning of your purchase process that it doesn’t have any exorbitant fees over and above what you pay per user. It’s advisable to schedule a demo with the software provider to understand the software platform well enough and make yourself aware of the price you are going to pay.

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.

Don’t Abolish HR Yet!

Data driven HR

In an article written in Harvard Business Review, Dave Ulrich, a Professor at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, and co-founder of the RBL Group, addressed a raging debate – ’Should we do away with HR? He goes on to say,

“The debate arises out of serious and widespread doubts about HR’s contribution to organizational performance. It is often ineffective, incompetent, and costly; in a phrase, it is value sapping. Indeed, if HR were to remain configured as it is today in many companies, I would have to answer the question above with a resounding “Yes—abolish the thing!”

In the light of the economic crises in the corporate world in the last few years and the changes that have also been precipitated by emerging start-ups, HR has to become future forward to stay relevant. HR professionals can help turn aspirations into actions by focusing on three things:  talent, culture and leadership.

HR professionals should then be the architects of talent, culture, and leadership as they help line managers deliver what they promise.

In the course of NxtSpark’s work on Talent Development, I work closely with organizations on challenges faced by them with their people – ranging from change management, competency development, leadership building, mentoring, etc.  Most of the times, our clients approach us not with the problem per se but with the manifestation of the problem. During our conversations, on how the interventions designed and deployed by us is going to help them, I have realized that their focus is usually on the episodes where the business manager has faced the challenges with his people in executing and implementing and they want overnight solutions. As is the case with any behavioral change, it takes time, a process and an environment that sustains the change.

Basis experience of working with the clients, I have sifted the crucial observations and parameters of making HR interventions work. Here are the top pointers on how to get the best out of such HR interventions:

Solve the problem, not the manifestation: Getting to the root of the problem is important. Most of the times the attempt is to address the manifestation rather than the problem itself. One of our clients had a challenge around their managers not being able to do ‘Next Level Thinking’. The workshop was then designed on what’s causing this challenge, providing conceptual frameworks for the participants to get equipped on the skills to overcome this challenge and simulating case situations to enable them overcome that problem in the workshop.

Align the intervention outcomes with the business objectives: This is perhaps the most important criteria to ensure success of any HR intervention. Without linking the outcomes with the business objectives the training becomes an ‘offsite’ to relax, network with other colleagues in the organizations and only to go back to their work with no clarity on what has been learnt and how to use in the workplace. E.g. if a communication skill improvement has been planned through a workshop, it should be linked to in what sphere the communication needs to improve – whether it is with the customers or internally with other colleagues of the team or another department. Having clarity around this ensure that the workshop has enough activities and modules to simulate the real situations in which those skills will be tested.

Don’t look for quick fixes: Business managers want overnight solutions to problems that have persisted for ages. When dealing with HR interventions, one has to realize that people base their world views based on their background and that has been built over years of experience. Once the change has been set into motion in a workshop, it takes a little bit of time and constant encouragement to reinforce and continue the process of change in the individual.

Ensure follow-through happens: After the training or the workshop, it’s imperative that the business manager provides necessary projects and assignments to the people who have gone through the workshop. These projects allow the people to implement the concepts that they have learnt and receive feedback on how they can improve.

Identify and track post intervention metrics: Metrics for measuring the success of workshops need to be identified in advance and then tracked at regular intervals. Feedback from peers, managers and customers can be taken to track the progress on the identified metrics. These metrics can then be processed further through Analytics tools to give insights on what can be done to improve performance, achieve business objectives, have sharply-focused training programs, design better compensation structures etc.

Setting Goals is Not Enough for Success of Mentoring Program

Mentoring Coaching Onboarding Software

What are SMART Goals?

The concept of SMART Goal appeared first in 1981 in Management Review and is now widely used for setting career, business, financial and health goals. SMART Goal helps in setting goals that are relevant and realistic.

While SMART method is a great way of setting a Goal, it per se doesn’t guarantee achievement of the Goal. What is required is a Process to achieving that goal.

Process for achieving SMART Goals

Scott Adams, the famous creator of Dilbert, in his book ‘How to Almost Fail At Everything and Still Win Big’ describes that the Process is more important than the Goal when it comes to achieving success.

The Process has all the steps built in that ensure incremental progress towards the goal. When the process is followed, one can work towards the seemingly  far goal and achieve it ultimately. Without the Process, one may just lose track especially when encountered with obstacles or distractions.

While setting Career Goals, a similar scenario may crop up. With so many distractions at work and demands on one’s time, it is possible to lose sight of the goal one is working towards. The Process ensures one can pick up the chips and start from where one left.

Further, with disruption happening all the time and all around us, the Process helps in ensuring goal achievement through a step-by-step approach of revisiting some of the inbuilt steps and modify them if necessary.

Process of Breaking down SMART Goals

The Process breaks down Goals into two sub-levels – the first level is near term which could be achieved over 3-6 months e.g. a certification required for achieving the Goal – and the second level is what could be done on a daily or a regular basis at workplace to achieve the first level objectives.

This Process ensures visibility of progress and enabling one to do course correction or bringing one upto speed on Goal achievement.

NxtSpark’s online Mentoring software is based on the underlying Process of Goals and breaking them down to two sub-levels to ensure maximum Goal achievement by mentees, because the primary purpose of the Mentoring Program of an organization is to achieve Goal achievement as many mentees as possible. The Mentoring software also has a way to record and indicate progress at each of the three levels.

NxtSpark’s intuitive, online Mentoring software is a combined effort of understanding Mentoring as a science and using latest technology, to bring the benefits to organizations and its workforce when conducting Mentoring, Coaching and New-hire Onboarding Programs. NxtSpark’s Mentoring software has been appreciated by industry leaders at CXO level and Mentoring Experts like Prof. Kathy Kram of Boston University.