Posts tagged Employee Engagement
Should Employers Give Employees Time Off to Vote?
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Voting is a civic duty, and a privilege. It’s something that all of us should have an opportunity to do, and I believe employers build trust, engagement and loyalty among their employees when they provide opportunities for their team members to get to the ballot box. That includes providing time off work, if needed, for everyone to ensure they can get to their designated polling place within the hours it is open.

Some states require that employers give time off to vote. In this list, compiled by the organization Workplace Fairness, all of the requirements are laid out so you can check out what requirements apply to employees in the states where your organization does business. The rules do vary by state regarding when an employee is required to be given time off, when it must be paid, and what the penalties are for non-compliance. For instance, in Colorado, if an employee has three non-work hours to vote while the polls are open, no time off is required.

While following the law is not optional, are employers obligated to make their employees aware of their rights? Many employment laws also require posting to raise awareness, but the time off laws do not seem to mandate this. But should employers make employees aware, or even exceed what the law compels them to do when making it easier for their team members to vote?

Nancy Lyons, of Clockwork, not only decided to give her employees time off to vote, but made the bold decision to close the entire office on election day. In her announcement, Nancy explained that it was a strong statement of the company’s values, in an age where our personal, political and work lives are increasingly intertwined. Nancy shared, “I see this simple act of closing for the day as us demonstrating our values, not just here at work, but in our neighborhoods and greater communities.”

It isn’t always practical to close an entire work location. But in the spirit of encouraging this critically important civic duty celebrating our democracy and valuing our freedom, why not show your employees you value them as well by giving them the opportunity to make their voices heard?

Your Employees: You Can Pry My Mini Fridge From My Cold, Dead Hands

I was exhausted last night, after an amazing but busy week, so I was curled up in bed ready to watch Netflix when I realized that my two grown children were taking up the spots, kicking me off the service. (Funny aside: Netflix will tell you what your family members are watching when this happens. My son was viewing Always Sunny in Philadelphia and my daughter was on Star Wars-Rogue One). I was mildly irritated, but not too worried about it-I turned to the Wall Street Journal to catch up on the news I’d missed from yesterday.

I didn’t expect to see it in the WSJ but apparently Sean Spicer really wanted a mini-fridge in his office, and wasn’t willing to spend $80 and wait for Prime delivery. The story, as reported in the Journal, is that he sent someone to the tiny, cramped room where junior research employees are housed in a nearby office building, and asked them to give up their fridge instead-and they refused. That alone is a supreme example of poor relationship skills.

What happened next is the kicker-the article reports that he went back to their office after dark to steal the fridge and bring it back to his office. This is the stuff of legendary office lore-if this happened in any other organization, it would be epic: the senior VP who stole the mini fridge from the minions’ office. What isn’t clear from the article is that there are probably some very mundane details that preceded these juicy events. Here’s how I imagine this played out with Mr. Spicer, and with other leaders who have poor emotional intelligence:

Step 1: Leader says, “I need a mini fridge. I need one right now.”

Step 2: Someone in Leader’s circle (we’ll call her “Deputy”) says, “The Research Department bought one last year for the junior employees next door. Let me go get it. They can ask for another one later and someone will replace it.”

Step 3: Leader says, “Okay, go get it.”

Step 4: Deputy goes to see Junior Employees and asks for the mini fridge full of gas station burritos in their office, expecting them to say, “okay, of course, you can give it to Leader-he’s more important than us.”  

Step 5: Junior employees unexpectedly revolt and say, “Hell no! He makes enough money to go out to lunch and unlike us, he has access to the White House Cafeteria. Let him get his own f*cking mini fridge.”

Step 6: Deputy goes back to Leader, fuming that Junior Employees refused to give up the mini fridge for their Leader, one they don’t personally own and that was provided to them by their employer.

Step 7: Leader gets pissed. Who do these Junior Employees think they are? They should know that his need for a mini fridge is primary here. They don’t own that mini fridge. They’re lucky to have a g*ddamn mini fridge in the first place!

Step 8: Leader is working late. He’s in a rage because his cold brew isn’t cold and he is working a 20-hour day while Junior Employees are at the bar.

Step 9: Leader bops on over to the Junior Employee office, takes the mini fridge, and moves it to his office.

Step 10: Junior Employees discover the heist, know they have no power to do anything about it except lie in wait until the right time to leak the story to the WSJ, Glassdoor-style.

Guess what? Your employees do this every day. They suffer thoughtless indignities and reminders of their lack of importance to your organization. Yes, the mini fridge is the company's, not theirs. But it makes a long day in a difficult job a little easier, so they feel ownership over it. And as hard as you work as a leader, taking action that makes clear you think you’re more important than your employees are is not a good look. Resources like technology, work flexibility, headcount, physical space, and, yes, mini fridges and coffee can become a lot bigger deal than you think they are, because the decisions we make around these things send messages to our employees, like whether they are important, and whether the work they do is valued. That goes double for when you take these resources away from someone and give them to someone else, much less yourself. When we’re not mindful of the message, we can end up with a much bigger story than we wanted, and the negative financial and brand impact goes a lot further than the cost of an $80 mini fridge.

Photo credit: glenngould via / CC BY


The Lifers

So, I’ve shared that I recently started a new gig at a big company that has a long, long history. Like other organizations I’ve worked in, it’s poised on the precipice of big change, so “change management” is front and center.

In my role, I get to see people every day who have worked with the organization for their entire careers. They aren’t at retirement yet, but they’ve been there for more than twenty or thirty years. They’ve seen HR people come and go, and heard about this or that change initiative that’s also come and gone. Some of it may have stuck, but mostly not.

Some of them know that they should get on board, but they are just tired: tired of working so hard to take care of their families, tired of worrying so much about whether they will be able to pay for their medical bills, and tired of hearing about this new idea that’s going to make things so much better. They also suspect that all this change will put money in the pockets of the people at the top, but won’t bring a lot of great things to them.

But others are actually energized by the change, even if they’ve been at the company for a long, long time. They know that the changes will make the company stronger and better, and when the company is stronger and better, we all benefit from greater security, pay raises, good working conditions, and the pride that comes with doing a great job and making the company successful.

Others still are just saying, “Let me do my job.” I don’t want to hear about any of this, and I just want you to leave me alone. And by the way, keep it down. You are disturbing my peace and quiet, and I was here first, long before you.

You can’t put the Lifers all in one bucket. They have different ideas, different feelings, and different motivations. But one thing they all have in common? They want you to recognize what they’ve already contributed and respect them for still being there. And I do.

Now, about those changes I mentioned…they’re still coming our way. And I’ll be there to help the Lifers negotiate them, the best I can.

Photo credit: Tim Pearce, Los Gatos via / CC BY

Thanks for the Engagement-But We Don't Need You Anymore

Bill of Rights I read a fantastic article today from Rodd Wagner, author of Widgets: 12 New Rules for Managing Your Employees as if They are Real People, and called “Thank You for Laying Me Off, Said Almost No One.”

Rodd brilliantly explores the major contradictions between the current engagement and retention push, where companies want truthful answers on engagement surveys, genuine and passionate commitment to the mission of the company, and “best friends” at work, but then when it comes time to “remix” (Marissa Mayer’s creepy term for layoffs) then the company responds: “Sorry, it’s just business.”

The quote below from Rodd’s piece is something I have seen personally at companies where I’ve worked:

One of the biggest contradictions of the current unwritten employment contract is that many companies simultaneously expect traditional corporate-family-for-life loyalty while reserving the option not to reciprocate it.

I have been vocal in HR against this hypocrisy—it doesn’t do any favors for true engagement to perpetuate an imbalance in the loyalty factor. I believe it’s possible to be real, transparent and trusting without overstepping the boundaries with employees.

Yes, we should celebrate when we’re in the zone, doing great work towards a mission we all believe in, and enjoying the relationships we have with one another. We should always be doing everything we can to support this feeling and energy at work.

But when it comes time for someone to move on, I am strongly against the natural tendency of some (unhealthy) organizations bashing those who jumped ship for a better-fit opportunity. When I hear inaccurate statements like “she wasn’t really committed,” or “these Millenials like to job-hop,” or even “he was just looking for more money” (who isn’t?) my response is always the following:

Did I miss something? I didn’t realize the company was promising to employ me as long as I continue to be totally engaged and committed and doing great work. I’m really happy to know that I can count on a job as long as I want one.

And everyone just laughs. ;-) Then the real conversation begins.

Visit Solve HR, Inc.

Photo credit: tomblanton1957 via / CC BY

Friends at Work

Friends A survey from SHRM found that having friends at work is an important factor in employee retention. In my case, I have the most amazing and real relationships with some of the teammates I left behind when I went out on my own to begin my consulting business. So it certainly contributed to my happiness and engagement level while I was with that employer, but it didn’t keep me from leaving when the time was right. What’s so wonderful is that I’m able to keep in daily contact with them, and have regular lunches and happy hours to keep from feeling like I’ve lost the connection.

I’m going to sound like an old lady now, but in the olden days when I began my career, during the dawn of the internal email system age (and before the Internet was widely available) AND, importantly, well before cell phones, when you left an employer, you really left.  There was very little you could do (without spending a ton of time and effort) to keep in touch with your work buddies unless you were still in their direct professional orbits.

So sad…I’ve lost touch with countless people that way over the years.  LinkedIn has helped-many of them have reappeared to connect with me so I can celebrate all of their rock-star accomplishments with them.

But back to today: I’m so grateful to be able to take my friends with me wherever I go. They’re only a text away. And they are, every one of them, critical to my success, wherever I’m working from. I need their support, sense of humor, and fresh ideas to inspire me. HR is like that…a tribe of folks who understand, who have been in the strangest of situations, and when they hear your stories, they just nod knowingly and touch your shoulder and say, “hang in there.” And then they laugh, and you do too.

Looking forward to meeting a new batch of great work friends at the SHRM Annual Conference in June. Be sure to look me up and connect on Twitter @solvewrites and on LinkedIn. See you in DC!

Visit Solve HR, Inc.

Photo credit: reader of the pack via / CC BY-ND