Category Archives: Employee Engagement

Employee Engagement & Relations

The Dark Side Of Apple’s Retail Empire. ~BEST OF THE WEB:

Apple’s retail chain has been one of the biggest industry success stories over the past decade. When Steve Jobs originally pitched the idea to the board back in 2000, they thought he was crazy. Now, it has hundreds of stores worldwide and is one of the most profitable companies per square footage.

When new products are released, hundreds – even thousands – of people line up for hours to get a glimpse. The stores are always full and employees are run off their feet.

And as it turns out, they’re not too happy about the situation either.

This piece in The New York Times has taken some time to speak with some of the company’s 30,000 retail employees, and they’re not too happy. For one thing, they claim they’re not being paid enough.

“I was earning $11.25 an hour,” he said. “Part of me was thinking, ‘This is great. I’m an Apple fan, the store is doing really well.’ But when you look at the amount of money the company is making and then you look at your paycheck, it’s kind of tough,” former employee Jordan Golson told the publication.

Part of the problem is that there’s a never-ending stream of employees lining up to join the company’s ranks. And unlike other companies, these employees actually believe they’re helping make people’s lives easier. They work there because they’re fans of the Apple product range in the first place.

“When you’re working for Apple you feel like you’re working for this greater good,” says a former salesman. “That’s why they don’t have a revolution on their hands.”

That’s also why they’re able to pick from hundreds of resumes, and why they’re able to turn away candidates from group interviews if they are no more than three minutes late, according to the story.

But on the flipside, having Apple on your resume can be a huge boost. The team receives excellent training, and they can help develop interpersonal skills used at any job.

“And we told trainees that the first thing they needed to do was acknowledge the problem, though don’t promise you can fix the problem,” former manager Shane Garcia said. “If you can, let them know that you have felt some of the emotions they are feeling. But you have to be careful because you don’t want to lie about that.”

But at the end of the day, some Apple employees just aren’t happy and can’t wait to get out. According to a survey distributed among employees, and referenced by the publication, staff were asked to say whether they’d recommend Apple as place of work to friends and family – a “1” was marked as a “not likely”, with a “10” interpreted as a “promoter” of the company.

The results, taken from two cities, came back with fives and sixes. But as one employee points out, it’s not necessarily a problem.

“There was never a shortage of resumes,” he said. “People will always want to work for Apple.” Source/Credit: Patrick Stafford for smartcompany.com.

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HR Excellence Awards 2012 – Outstanding Employee Engagement Strategy: AmicusHorizon.

From HR Magazine-UK.

HR Excellence Awards 2012 – Outstanding Employee Engagement Strategy: AmicusHorizon

HR Editorial, 26 Jun 2012

In a fiercely contested category that received the most entries of all, picking a winner was always going to be tough. But AmicusHorizon’s story – what it described as going from ‘woe to wow’ – gripped the judging panel and gained it the top prize.

Taking a housing association in the grip of a financial crisis, with the consequent poor morale, poor performance and hugely cynical employees, and persuading said staff there was not only a future, but also a successful future, was a tall order. But AmicusHorizon CEO Steve Walker (pictured above, addressing the troops) and his crack strategic executive team did the two things so few senior managers genuinely do: they asked employees what they thought the barriers to doing a good job were and how they would define ‘great’. And they listened.

Each member of the staff was involved in shaping the future of the business. And the strategy was developed by harnessing staff commitment: a perfect circle that created trust and openness, motivated staff and created a culture of respect and accountability.

This was a comprehensive engagement strategy, not a one-off programme. It engaged staff through investment in skills and world-class training, showing AmicusHorizon valued and appreciated them. The charity invested more than £1,000 per employee, utilising everything from professional actors to Mary Gober and her language of customer service. L&D engagement groups were established.

An adversarial union group turned into the Partnership Forum, engaged in putting things right. Niggling inconsistencies were aired and dealt with positively.

People engagement groups (PEGs) were also set up, the first ones reviewing HR policies, benchmarking and benefits. All four senior executives led from the front. Staff satisfaction improved, people felt committed and optimistic, they understood the values and believed leaders were performing. All the metrics showed a huge leap in engagement.

The judges loved the accessible language being used, the story-telling approach and how the executive team had put engagement right at the heart of the business. The impact has been impressive, on staff, customers and the business overall: satisfaction in handling complaints is up from 57% to 92%, empty homes are let twice as fast as they were before, rent arrears are down and days lost to staff absence are down, from 7.07 to 5.16.

But this is not the end of the story. AmicusHorizon’s staff are now shaping the three-year strategic plan and setting the next round of Big Hairy Goals.

Highly Commended

DPD UK

Parcel delivery company DPD employs 4,500 people in the UK and delivers one million parcels a week. With a turnover of £327 million, its aim is to be number one in the domestic express parcel market by 2015. In 2011, DPD took a big step towards this by winning £50 million of new business (64% up on 2010), increasing turnover and profits in a depressed market. DPD puts this down to its biggest-ever employee engagement programme, resulting in a 5% rise in employee satisfaction, efficiency gains of £10 million, driver retention up from 65% to 75% and productivity up 7% year on year. Judges said DPD was a “standout” in its market.

Finalists

•             Arriva UK

•             Hastings Direct

•             Merlin Entertainments

•             Red Door Communications

•             Sainsbury’s

The Engagement Factor.

Efforts to cascade initiatives to increase employee engagement throughout an organization can be difficult. Some managers — who often have more influence with employees than HR professions — resist such efforts. Offering transparency and opportunities for involvement in company decision-making may help. 

By Andrew R. McIlvaine for Human Resources Executive online

By this point, nearly everyone in HR knows the importance of employee engagement. But do the line managers in your organization?

Gallup, the Omaha, Neb.-based polling firm, announced the 27 winners of its 2012 Great Workplace Awards earlier this year. The awards are given to organizations that it feels are doing the best job of, among other things, connecting employee-engagement initiatives to business results.

“The most important criteria is, not only are they doing the right things to engage employees, but are they taking a workforce that’s psychologically committed to their jobs and leveraging that to impact the business?” says Larry Ruhlman, Gallup’s global practice manager for workplace strategies, who helps oversee the awards.

Gallup chooses the winners from among companies that are using its tools for measuring engagement.

The criteria for even being considered is quite strict, says Ruhlman. Of the firm’s 250 clients, only 20 percent even meet the minimum threshold to apply: They must survey their entire employee population, not just segments of it; have survey-response rates of at least 80 percent; and cumulative engagement scores of at least 4.15 on a 5-point scale.

Among this year’s winners is Hendrick Health System, a group of hospitals and clinics based in Abilene, Texas. It’s the 2,800-employee organization’s sixth consecutive appearance on the list.

“Our culture emphasizes compassionate care for patients, and that carries over into the entire organization,” says Director of Human Resources Susan Wade. “We work hard to establish a friendly, family-like environment here.”

In addition to offering a plethora of wellness programs, leadership-development activities and employee-recognition awards, the organization periodically rents a restored, historic theatre in downtown Abilene for “family movie nights,” in which employees and their families can see a movie for free, she says.

Hendrick Health System also puts a priority on transparency, says Wade, giving employees regular updates on the organization’s financial health and getting feedback on its new, multi-million dollar expansion project.

“We solicited their input on things like office layout and equipment placement, and gave them a preview of the designs,” she says. “We try and get as much employee input on major decisions as we can.”

The organization credits these efforts with helping it to achieve high rates of patient satisfaction and low turnover, says Wade.

In general, HR hasn’t done particularly well in connecting greater engagement with business outcomes, says Will Werhane, vice president of Hay GroupInsight in Chicago.

“For HR leaders at our largest clients, this is at the top of their agenda: ‘How do we create a closer link between what we’re doing and business metrics?’ ” he says.

“But focusing on hard metrics alone will cause you to overlook some of the more qualitative measures that ultimately lead to better results,” Werhane says. “For example, do the people in your organization seem energized and collaborative, or are they just sitting in their cubes working in solitude?”

Efforts to link engagement with reducing healthcare costs can be especially tough for HR, says Erin M. O’Connor, HR practice leader at Cammack LaRhette Consulting in New York.

“People tend to listen to their boss, not necessarily to HR,” she says. “So to get those gains in productivity and reductions in benefits spend, you’ve got to have engaged managers and business leaders promoting health and well-being.

“The problem is, many managers resist this role — it strikes them as ‘nannyish’ and intrusive.”

O’Connor suggests finding ways to demonstrate the impact that poor employee health can have on individual business units, such as reduced productivity and high absenteeism rates, to get managers on board.

“It will certainly get their attention,” she says.

In most cases, the impact of engagement programs on the bottom line won’t be apparent for a while, says Werhane.

“Any sort of change takes time to sink in and then translate to business performance,” he says.

“If you’re looking to engagement as a short-term fix, you’re going to have a tough time,” Werhane says. “But if you’re in this for the longer term, as in two or three years, that’s the sort of timeframe and persistence you’ll need in order to see the connection between greater engagement and actual business outcomes.”

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