tag:workerscount.posthaven.com,2013:/posts personal time (the official workerscount blog) 2015-08-20T02:11:07Z WorkersCount tag:workerscount.posthaven.com,2013:Post/591612 2013-07-31T19:10:02Z 2015-08-20T02:11:07Z The proof is in the pudding

The proof is in the pudding

A lot of ink has been spilled over the relationship between worker engagement and customer satisfaction.  In some of the WorkersCount and NursesCount blogs we have touched on this (“the secret to driving service as a business differentiator” and “which comes first, customers or employees?”).  In healthcare it is a widely accepted linkage, as it is also in retail and most personal-service industries.  Yet it has been limited to “truisms, common sense, wisdom from experience and anecdotes.”  It has indeed been an elusive connection to document.  Until now.

WorkersCount and NursesCount (and PatientCount) simultaneously monitor both worker engagement and workplace satisfaction directly against customer (patient in healthcare) service satisfaction and outcomes.  This is an industry-first in healthcare and all of general industry in terms of data modeling and actionable insights.  And unlike any data service, this data is gathered is in real-time, on a daily basis.

A Case In Point

Warning signs and risk areas

In a healthcare client of WorkersCount, the challenges were several.  The first challenge:  Move the general customer engagement index from 4.6 (out of 5) upwards towards 5.  Even a small increase in this index is very difficult, yet executive management felt strongly that this was a mediocre score, and signaled problems. 

The next challenge:  Address a recently exposed problem of engagement in a particular cohort (in this case, workers with over 5 years of tenure).  There was a plateau and even a slide in job satisfaction.  Executive management felt that this was a particularly high-risk item, as these workers represented key experience, expertise and were in leadership roles working on business-critical projects and programs.  Turnover in this area would be particularly painful and potentially disasterous to the organization.

The WorkersCount (and NursesCount and PatientCount) process

The exec team implemented WorkersCount’s daily check-in service, which was done without the need to dig-into the HRIS system or any proprietary or sensitive system in the healthcare organization, including HIPAA or HCAHPS areas.  It runs independently in the cloud and uses social sign-on to make daily check-ins (a hallmark of WorkersCount’s services) fast, fun and easy.  It’s a daily reminder with a link, and a 30-second check-in process that’s anonymous.  It asks workers only two questions:  a baseline “how is your life at work today” question, and a second “question of the day” that rotates among a broad list.  Only two questions are asked per daily check-in, so it’s fast and fresh every day.

A bit of fun on the way to 30-50% daily participation

Workers were encouraged to participate (voluntary), with the pledge from management that this was a safe, anonymous way to make their voices heard, and to help drive a better workplace for all (workers and “customers”).  Using simple gamification to inject a bit of fun, and keep things interesting, individuals were rewarded with lunch, or cinema tickets, or dinner at random, or from groups that had high participation.   The system does not link any particular user “votes” or input with a user identity.  It is completely anonymous.

With a daily pulse on employee engagement, managers could actively manage employee engagement and make adjustments in days, not weeks or months. They could see where they were strong and where they were weak. They could see where they had engagement gaps, take actions, and actually see whether their actions resulted in real improvement.  The system became a daily and weekly insight or “pulse” of the organization that could be used as a true management tool.

Startling results

By the end of the measurement period some startling discoveries were made, both from the raw data and more importantly from the interpretation and insights of the reports and data by the management team, working groups and nursing staff.

Here are some highlights:

Eliminating “hell days”

Wednesdays and Thursdays were particularly low days.  Upon review of the data week-over-week and in context with benchmarks, the nurses council and the exec team hit upon an obvious, but hidden issue.  Surgeons were scheduling elective procedures on Monday and Tuesday. Backlogged procedures were stuffed into Wednesdays and Thursdays because many surgeons had a habit of taking time off on Fridays.

Quick and effective adjustments

These are the simple and inexpensive fixes that were able to be made immediately (not months after complex analysis):  Manage overall scheduling more carefully to spot “stuffing” trends like this, and manage doctors more closely to prevent mass exodus on Friday (or any day)  -- for whatever reason. 

Cost- nil.  Impact:  Great.  Timing:  Immediate.

Diagnosing the “happiness plateau”

A completely hidden set of issues emerged with respect to the more experienced managers.  These were the ones with over 5 years of tenure, and had the lowest scores around overall job satisfaction. In fact only 29% of this group reported being happy about work.  This was a huge risk area.  What the service quickly exposed were several gaps that executive management did not see coming:

·      40% had to work long hours to get things done

·      53% were not satisfied with the recognition they received

·      50% did not feel they had a positive work environment

and the most alarming bit of information that workers willingly shared:

·      43% were regularly taking calls from recruiters 

These were the most experienced and seasoned managers in the organization.  They had apparently been “suffering in silence” for some time—perhaps years.  Yet the exec team had not been able to surface these straightforward management gaps until now.  And it was done in weeks, not months.

Swift, simple and inexpensive solutions

Solutions were swift and obvious.  Re-evaluate project timelines and expectations.  Get more frequent feedback on staffing levels for projects and departments.  Make it a formal priority to give recognition and credit for projects that may have been “invisible” to all but a few.  Go deeper about ways of creating a more “positive” work environment.  Track workers into career paths that were exciting and meaningful within the overall organization.

Cost:  nil.  Impact:  Tremendous.  Timing: immediate.

Update—this group posted an immediate 17 point gain in satisfaction, dropped their “willingness to take a recruiter’s call by over 50% and contributed greatly to the overall organization's 13 point overall general engagement improvement.

This was in just 120 days.  The process is still accelerating and improving at this organization. 

When the “standard” customer survey was tabulated, management was able to post the increase they were looking for and more.  In just 120 days the 4.6 score jumped to 4.75, which was a very big single-period swing, and it continues to edge upwards.

What about customer satisfaction?  Did the elimination of “hell days” (Wednesdays and Thursdays) impact “customer” satisfaction as well?  It did.  The external customer satisfaction index climbed substantially during this period, after a pattern of decline.  Here’s what it looked like when compared together: 


We have mounting empirical evidence that links worker engagement to customer satisfaction.  More importantly, using the WorkersCount methodology, reporting and check-in data, management has shown that hidden issues emerge quickly, causes are identified more rapidly and fixes or changes can be implemented (immediately in some cases) that are inexpensive and have high impact across the organization and customer base. 

It doesn’t have to be hard, and the adjustments and "course corrections" need only be small, as long as they are part of a continuous improvement drive from good to great.  All organizations need to do is decide, then make a commitment and then listen to workers and customers.  It's astounding what your customers and workers will tell you ---if you only listen and give them a voice.   The rest will quickly emerge from the talented and committed teams across the organization

In the journey from good to great, this is one of the lasting lessons: listening works.

What's your view?
tag:workerscount.posthaven.com,2013:Post/586877 2013-07-03T09:09:26Z 2013-10-08T17:26:57Z Systems of Employee Engagement - Are we acting like fossils?

Is it possible that living in the most highly connected, wired and always-on world, we persist with processes and business customs that were “current” at the turn of the last century?  (no, we mean 1900 not 2000)

Geoffrey Moore used the term “Systems of engagement” to describe how employees communicate with one another, which he believes is driven by technology in new ways.    Gary Hamel suggested that the industrial age has reached its limits of improvement.

What does this mean for today’s worker engagement and quality organizations?

Just listen to a recent real-life discussion at a major healthcare organization in the context of driving real improvement in engagement and quality:

Manager 1

“I don’t get to spend enough time with top leaders.  The organization has grown so large that I no longer have the access I had, and I feel I can’t share my big ideas about ways to improve.”

Manager 2

“We have employee engagement surveys, but they’re too infrequent, the information is dated and the working groups change by the time we can see the results.  We want to work on “continual improvement” but our information won’t support this.  We’re stuck. “

Individual contributor 1

“Why do we have to have infrequent surveys that have stale questions?  Why can’t we collaborate on the questions, conduct shorter surveys more often, and use technology more effectively?”

What are some of the take-aways from this discussion?

a)     Workers, managers and customers have a common interest in driving better quality, better employee engagement and better methods of feedback.

b)     All parties recognize the value of more current, (optimally something closer to real-time) information to drive continual improvement efforts

c)     It is widely recognized that the current feedback “systems” are broken, outdated and provide stale and relatively non-actionable data.

It’s not all bad news.

Survey 2.0 and WorkersCount is inside these meetings with daily feedback from workers and customers, using mobile technology and friendly, simple check-in style behavior.

Look out Geoffrey Moore, we’re about to leverage small technology (phones and tablets) to drive big changes in the “systems of engagement” across groups of workers, managers and customers in real-time.  It’s about time we started acting like it’s 2013 and not 1913.  Fossils?  No more.

And for Gary Hamel and having reached the limits of the industrial age’s improvements?  We think he is spot-on.  We’re moving on to what’s possible with the tools and behavioral customs in our new digital and mobile age.  Lots of room here.  

More like a wide open road.

What do you think?

tag:workerscount.posthaven.com,2013:Post/582504 2013-06-04T11:38:42Z 2013-10-08T17:26:05Z The secret to driving service as a business differentiator

Remember when Service was the “only” differentiator?  That was when most all business was local business, and most of it happened on Main Street in your town.  It wasn’t the packaged goods at the grocery, or even the produce. It was your friendly and knowledgeable grocer.   Was the whisky at the bar or the coffee at the café or the ice cream at the diner the differentiating factor?  Nope.  It was the barista or the soda jerk or the bartender that knew your name, your favorite beverage or treat, and knew your dog’s name too.  Great companies know this.  Great brands leverage and exploit it.

Large and small service organizations are challenged on many fronts today. They need to improve service, control delivery costs, maximize business revenue and reimbursements, and attract and retain customers to grow.

But as the leader in an organization where service is the most significant differentiator, where should you put your emphasis?  Is there a business case or example where tangible return was driven from the people and dollars invested?  It has been difficult for many organizations to “connect the dots” between service quality and specific bottom-line results. 

Introducing the Service-Profit Chain

This very academic/scientific diagram is based upon the work of Service Profit Chain Institute. Does it make common sense, or do thoughtful people really even question the relationship of corporate financial success to company processes (policies) and worker satisfaction and engagement?  What is your experience in business on this matter?  Do most executives “get” this connection?

Healthcare is an interesting case in point.  Lots of money, lots of risk, and many high-value customer “events” or “interactions.”  Recently we met with a healthcare executive who asserts that everyone in their hospital needed to be focused on the quality of the experience of those being cared for.  This executive understands that employee engagement and satisfaction is the gating item for the quality of each and every customer interaction.  In this industry, worker engagement and satisfaction is widely accepted as the primary drivers of performance across each and every customer transaction and interaction. The message is clear for healthcare and every industry: put your attention on employee engagement.   Bottom-line will follow.

Back to our diagram: What are the “inputs” to service employee satisfaction? Is there a formula or rule-book?  Is it really just good common sense for experienced and inspired managers?  We believe it is good common sense that every organization can access.  It’s basic blocking-and-tackling fundamentals. Yet they often get lost in the hectic day-to-day and Quarter-to-Quarter chaos.  These include the following:

-Workplace design

-Employee job design

-Employee selection and development (and training)

-Employee rewards and recognition

-Employee tools for serving the customer

-Frequent feedback mechanisms for consistent “listening” by management

We recently asked users at WorkersCount whether they felt that they were getting the training and help they needed to succeed. Only 21% said this was frequently the case; and 58% said it was only occasionally the case. Great organizations put strong emphasis here.  Yet why was this receiving such a mediocre result from workers across over 300 enterprises?

To be clear, it is important to improve the quality of “business processes” for employees and the customers that they interact with.  What are these “business processes?”  They are the way leadership has designed the day-to-day “standard operating procedures” (both formal and informal customs and ways of doing things and handling customer interactions and policy). 

Put simply:  Are leaders making it more efficient and effective for employees to work with customers in front and back office environments, or are they making it harder to deliver positive interactions and outcomes?  What would employees say about their level of empowerment to do the right thing for the customer?

Combining all this determines employee satisfaction, engagement, empowerment and ultimately, employee retention.  One great organization can’t even say in a few words “what exactly” makes them excellent, because their sense of customer interaction spans over 100 individual “touches” over the course of a transaction.  It is holistic for them.  Customer retention, satisfaction and referrals are their metrics, and the organization only feels those impacts after-the fact or indirectly over time.  Not at the end of each transaction.  The small insight that keeps this company at the top in earnings, brand value and customer loyalty—they understand that their business results are driven by employee engagement, empowerment and job satisfaction.

A case study that proves the point: Quality of service becomes a business differentiator

Several years ago, Sue Nokes moved T-Mobile from the bottom to the top of the JD Power survey.  Sue did this by implementing a simply philosophy: “Making the customer happy is a lot easier to do when employees actually like their jobs and feel that what they do matters.”  With consistent focus on her employees, customer service became a key business differentiator for T-Mobile.

So how bad was it at T-Mobile? Before committing to accepting the job, Nokes visited a few call centers and was horrified. Absenteeism averaged 12% daily; turnover was a staggering 100%-plus annually. The company used "neighborhood seating," a common technique at call centers in which employees didn’t even have regular desks but instead dragged their stuff from cubicle to cubicle.

In her first meetings with her direct staff, Sue asked her managers, 'Are you losing any good people?' They said, 'yeah’.  She retorted, 'anybody feeling bad about that?” She then asked them two questions: “What's going well, and what's broken?" Nokes also, launched a listening campaign, asking what customers were complaining about and what employees needed improved in their workplace. In one focus group, everybody came out crying. The people said they had never felt so inspired in their lives, and that they had never met with any leader at that level who cared.

Nokes then gave employees their own seats and got $17 million to bring salaries up to the 50th percentile. She also overhauled the training process (reps receive 132 hours of training and team meetings each year) and began hiring based more on spirit and attitude than experience. She created a standard set of metrics to measure reps on tracking call quality, attendance, and schedule reliability along with the speed of the call resolution. Nokes told her team that she would never hold them accountable for “things that don't matter to your customer or to fellow employees.”

Finally, to motivate employees in what has long been considered the service desk a dead-end job, Nokes promised that 80% of promotions would eventually go to existing employees. She even put in a "rewards and recognition” system in which high performers were rewarded with fun trips to Las Vegas or Hawaii and prizes. Today absenteeism is at 3% and attrition is at 42%, a very low number in call centers.  And most importantly, employee satisfaction moved to 80% - the highest it's ever been.

One of the big techniques Sue and other great brands leverage is the often-forgotten one of listening.  It’s easy, and it’s one of the least expensive ways of discovering what’s working in an organization and what’s not working.  Both discoveries are like gold.  Yet companies stumble over the process, often making it a burden, or a chore, or a scary process filled with threats or “remediation.”

The best leaders are always the best listeners.  Do you have a mentor that listens to you?  Are you committed to engendering a workplace that values listening and authentic, frequent feedback?  Do you have an organizational value system that holds your workers in trusted positions as “experts” in their respective roles?  If you do, you’re among the vanguard of top leaders.

At WorkersCount we’re all about enabling and empowering workers to have voice, and companies to hone their listening skills.  By creating daily, real-time feedback channels that are safe, simple and easy to implement, companies that use WorkersCount become ninjas at listening and acting on the advice and feedback of their best experts--- their workers and customers.   And that always hits the bottom line in a positive way. 


tag:workerscount.posthaven.com,2013:Post/578373 2013-05-10T18:34:58Z 2013-10-08T17:25:14Z Being connected

 "I feel connected to my organization"

How do you feel about this?

Many of us feel that our work-life balance is a bit of a challenge.  This can impact how "connected" or grounded we feel - at work and at home.  Sound familiar?  

Many of us feel rushed-around and pulled in many different directions. It's natural to feel like we're always "running" at full speed non-stop.  But it's not healthy.  We can't "connect" and get perspective when we can't see context and stop to take a breath.

It's very important to feel "grounded" and connected at work and at home. Today's question asks about our "connectedness" at work.   Ever feel like you don't know what's coming aound the corner at work?  Are you feeling like you're frequently "surprised" at events and task / project requests and organizational changes?

You're not alone.  You're probably being hit with "tunnel vision."  It's common with hard workers.

Great leaders are good at spotting this and help their super-workers avoid this. It's simpler to alleviate than you might think.  The easiest way to do this is to "over-communicate."  If you're a worker that feels disconnected or out of sync, hang in there!

If you're a leader here's what you can focus on, when you conduct all-hands "info-sessions" and communications

  • recap of our company's status, direction and even overall mission
  • discuss our group's role and how it contributes to overall company progress
  • be specific about daily/weekly/current projects and relate our tasks to company progress
  • showcase and celebrate recent wins and achievements, give group and personal credit when possible
  • invite group leaders and managers to discuss their projects to the rest of us
  • keep people out of their cubes and offices at lunch and get people talking 
  • recap this in a weekly all-hands communication to keep everyone connected to the group's contributions and successes

If you're a leader, try to do this at least once a month if not weekly.  If you're a co-worker, encourage your team leaders and company leaders to over-communicate in this way.  In fact, insist on it!

There's no doubt, It's a lot of work to keep a working group or office team in-touch and connected.  But it's the only way you can ensure everyone is engaged, closely coordinated and highly motivated.  

We've broken it down to some simple ways to "over-communicate." That's one important step.  

Group activities, anonymous and frequent group feedback (direct to leadership) and self-direction are steps that great companies and great leaders embrace and encourage.  

More on those in another post.


tag:workerscount.posthaven.com,2013:Post/578146 2013-05-09T14:29:45Z 2013-10-08T17:25:12Z Active Listening

Active Listening

"My manager listens to and values my ideas"

Are you a great listener?  

Everyone wants their manager to value their ideas, and to be a good listener.  It’s a two-way street.  Think about your listening skills and habits. 

One of the best ways to get others to value your opinions is by listening to theirs. 

If you are in a situation that makes you question whether or not your ideas are valued, consider ways to acknowledge others’ ideas and recognize their contributions.  This is a great exercise and it may also help you discover new insights about the way you communicate and are perceived by others.

One exercise that was recently suggested in our office is called mindful listening.  Its very simple to understand but very difficult to do consistently.  All you have to is wait.  Three... Little...Seconds.  

The exercise is as follows:
Whenever you are with someone, simply wait three long beats (one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi) before you speak.  No exceptions.  It forces you to focus and pay closer attention to what your colleague is saying. And here's the kicker-- if you are angry or upset, you have to count to six. 

Try it and let us know how it goes for you.

tag:workerscount.posthaven.com,2013:Post/411458 2013-04-17T08:08:11Z 2013-10-08T16:50:23Z It’s easy to change lives. Just check-in daily and spread the word.

What's amazing about WorkersCount is the power each of us has to help drive a better work environment.

Yet we don't realize how simple it is for us to make that influence and power felt.

The workplace is an important part of our lives.  If we're happy at work, we carry that home.  We make more money.  We get promoted and advance.  We're happy people.  Better parents.  Better spouses.  Better human beings.  

If we are not happy at work, we bring that back home as well.  It's impossible to make separations.

Our leaders in industry know this, and want us to be happy, motivated, engaged and psyched to be at work at their companies.  For all the right "human being" reasons.  And also to help them drive better company financial performance.  This makes a lot of common sense.

Yet the tools, systems, and even measurement processes fail them.  It's not that they don't try.  It's that the measurements are flawed.  For example-- would you check your bank accounts just once or twice a year?  Would you check the gas in your tank every 3 months?  Would you look to re-stock your refrigerator once a year?

This sounds absurd and comical.  Yet that's exactly what most of our leaders are doing when it comes to checking-in on their workforce.  Once per year, and in a perfect world, once per Quarter is as good as it gets.  We appreciate and applaud their efforts, but it's too little and too far in-between.

You can change this.  And many of you are already changing this.  Checking-in daily at WorkersCount is as simple as looking at your smartphone or laptop for 30 seconds.  Getting the word to your friends at your company and at other companies is as simple as making a comment using the built-in Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter post inside the WorkersCount app.

Getting "critical mass" at more companies each week, WorkersCount is rapidly becoming the daily standard for workers at all levels to make their voices heard, and for leaders to listen and respond.

WorkersCount is now being used by hundreds of companies, including major healthcare organizations to help drive better workplaces, better business and medical outcomes and more engaged, happy people, customers, patients and workers.  

Corporate Amercia, medium-sized businesses and even small companies are using WorkersCount to compare their experiences with others in similar industries, roles and backgrounds.  This information is being used by company leaders, group supervisors and business owners to help them understand how to create great workplaces and get their companies from "good to great" places to work.

There's a war for talent happening these days, as we slowly climb out of tough economic times. The great people will migrate to the best companies and best working groups.  Smart companies want to listen.  Smart workers want to be heard, and drive better workplaces.  It all makes sense.

WorkersCount is the simple yet powerful way to provide daily and consistent feedback to ensure that this happens for all of us.

Please continue to tell your co-workers and everyone in your life about WorkersCount.  It helps everyone.

Remember to go to www.workerscount.com  and check-in every day.  It's free, secure and safe.  All data is anonymized.   It's a way for workers at all levels to provide daily feedback and help drive a better workplace.

That's it! 

Keep up the great work, and thanks for being a WorkersCount member.  You are helping all of us make history, and change lives.

 What do you think?

tag:workerscount.posthaven.com,2013:Post/411459 2013-04-05T11:07:00Z 2013-10-08T16:50:23Z Spotlight Blog: Healthcare and the “healthcare profit chain” – what it is and why it’s important

Today’s blog entry is one in our “spotlight” series where we focus on a particular leading-edge thought leadership topic.   It's a bit longer than usual, and dives a bit more deeply into an important and current topic.

Healthcare delivery is in a state of dramatic change, driven by forces inside and outside of the industry.  “ObamaCare” or the “affordable Healthcare Act” is but one of the many new forces driving rapid and sweeping change. 

One thing is certain – the changes are inevitable and will result in winners and losers in the coming years.  What will define the winners?  One factor we can be confident about is “quality” and the many measures that define it, both from the patient satisfaction standpoint and from the new types of objective “outcomes” and “cost of service” measures.

This post discusses some of the concepts around quality, accountability and some of the areas that healthcare delivery organizations at all levels can take to measure and manage to this new quality imperative. 

If you’re in a business relating to healthcare this is familiar territory to you, although some of the new measures, metrics and dynamics may be new.  If you’re in another industry or another type of business, this post can be helpful to you as both a cautionary tale (quality and accountability will always win, and those that ignore it will pay dearly), and also as an inspirational or visionary touch-point- in that quality and the driving values around it will always win… 

Let’s dig-in.

Like any business or process, healthcare has it’s components of value and elements in the path to “deliver” these services to customers.  We call this the “Healthcare Profit Chain” or value chain.  

It’s not surprising that this involves the sequence of experiences and person-to-person interactions around the holistic or comprehensive experience patients have in receiving their care, treatment and follow-up.  What’s new and quite interesting is the “value-based-pricing” that the Affordable HealthCare Act has set up around reimbursements.  

The “bad apple” is only part of the problem

We see this in any other product or service-based business.  The quality of the apples leads us to examine the source and handling of the apples on their way to the grocery store… Equally so, the demeanor and response of the Produce Man at the grocery store (when confronted with “bad apples”) really defines whether or not we forgive him and the store for our bad experience (and whether it’s an opportunity to build loyalty and trust, or to spread the word and “punish” the brand for their poor process and bad outcomes).

For the first time the “patient experience” (and related to that, the caregiver experience) is a measurable and measured component of care ---and now payment.  This is what one industry expert calls a watershed moment for healthcare – a moment that demands huge cultural change.  Healthcare organizations can no longer measure themselves on outcomes alone. 

Today, the holistic patient experience matters as much as outcomes (to the healthcare organizations).  Perceptions matter more than ever.  Brand value and revenue now depend on it.   And now these perceptions have a direct and material impact on the money side of this business. 

But there is good news here:  much of this “healthcare profit chain” is well-understood (if not well-managed) and as a result it’s going to be much simpler to succeed in the new world than was perhaps once thought. 

In this new reality, managers at every level must manage all components of this profit or value chain in order to, as the Kaiser Permanente ad campaign says, “thrive.”  In your business or industry you might consider how this is parallel to your way of driving quality and accountability. 

Introducing the Healthcare Profit Chain

The flow above is loosely inspired by the work of the Service Profit Chain Institute, except that in this view of the value or profit chain, we exchange the role of “employee” with “caregiver” (reflecting healthcare). 

In a recent discussion with a “Chief Patient Experience Officer” at a leading healthcare organization, he asserted that

“…Everyone in the hospital is now officially in the “field” of nursing because everyone must be focused on the “experience” of those being cared-for...“ 

Given this, the most important component of “quality” of each and every patient interaction is the overall satisfaction relative to the caregiver.  This is a groundbreaking recognition and one that turns the traditional “respect” and “recognition” of nursing and caregiver on its head, from a “rank” and “influence” standpoint in the industry. 

We’re all “customers” and we’ve all been patients.

As patients ourselves we have long known this and been aware of it.  However if we’re honest with ourselves, we also know that nurses and other caregivers are also historically some of the most underpaid, under-recognized and overworked professionals we know. This has unfortunately been a driving force behind the perceived necessity of nurses and caregivers to seek unionization and collective bargaining protection. 

Collective bargaining as the symptom, not the solution

Bank Tellers, Fast Food workers and even theme park works have experienced this reality.  Obviously whenever a group of workers is forced to consider or implement unionization it’s a clear sign of a catastrophic break between perceived value of their work and its impact on quality and profitability of the organization.  In healthcare it’s a bit more frightening.  Do you want the caregiver of your premature infant to be brooding over an unfair shift change and a freeze on overtime?  Would you be happy about your surgical nurse worrying about longer hours and shortened lunch breaks during your procedure? 

This upside-down paradox is finally in the open, as a new financial (reimbursement) connection is made at just this point of “interaction and satisfaction.”  As patients (“customers”) we should celebrate it.

Translating to the workers and the workplace

So how does this largely academic diagram relate to the way we manage our organizations?  In healthcare it’s not particularly complicated.  However it’s just as clear that these basic management touch-points are being ignored or allowed to wither.  Consider these factors (and translate them to your industry if you’re outside of healthcare by substituting “caregiver” for “employee” and “patient” for “customer”):

-Caregiver workplace

-Caregiver job design

-Caregiver selection and development

-Caregiver rewards and recognition

-Caregiver tools for serving the patient 

We asked the workers

We recently asked users at WorkersCount whether they felt that they were getting the training and help needed to succeed. Only 21% said this was frequently the case; and 58% said it was only occasionally the case.

Great (healthcare) organizations assign a huge value to this point of training and help.  As an industry and as an individual organization, it’s important to ask:  “are we making it easier or more difficult for our front-line patient (customer) care teams to deliver great quality?” 

A break in the value chain results in a cascading break in the profit chain and introduces high risks

This leads to measurement (and now much more effective understanding) of the drivers of caregiver (worker) satisfaction and for that matter, caregiver retention.  Notwithstanding the obvious primary expense of experienced, skilled caregiver turnover, we now have direct correlation to patient satisfaction, team cohesion and outcomes.  This cascades into a huge set of risks for healthcare delivery organizations and now directly throws financial projections into question at all levels.

It’s also about brand risk and brand reputation

One aspect that is not lost on savvy healthcare marketers is the concept of quality of care, patient-to-caregiver interaction and satisfaction and loyalty or “preference” in a brand sense.  In this case it’s the brand of the hospital, healthcare organization or even a specific “rock-star” anchor in a practice.

Yet the components of person-to-person “quality” and loyalty are subtle and hard to pinpoint.  It may be the sum of 100 or 1000 special touches and empathy at each interaction.  A few words, or a lack of being rushed or harried.  A simple smile and a gentle act of reassurance.  Taken together, these drive patient retention and loyalty, CMS evaluations (ratings at hospitals that determine reimbursements) and of course brand value by way of referrals and reputation.  Connecting the dots, this means revenue growth and increased profitability in the new world order of satisfaction and quality-based reimbursements. 

Leaders no longer able to just talk the talk….New imperatives to walk the walk.

The tipping point has been reached.  What was once considered “nice to have” and “thought leadership” but still “soft benefit” and marketing-speak has now become hardcore financial stewardship and risk management. 

Top executives in these companies are not only espousing, but are now expected to put solid policies and “mission-vision” prescriptions into place to act on the age-old lesson from other service industries:  Your business results are directly determined by caregiver (worker) satisfaction, as this is the most direct and manageable factor relating to patient (customer) satisfaction and good outcomes.

How do you manage this so you can improve?

Clearly there is a lot already happening in the effort to improve hospital and healthcare delivery processes.  It’s a red-ocean in many ways.  Crowded with “experts” and fancy consultants (with pretty graphs like the one above) and lots of measurement and process.  Yet the most important piece of this puzzle seems to be lost in the furious effort to “control” the process.  The missing piece is a simple one, yet an elusive one for outsiders to “control” with rules and requirements—Caregiver satisfaction. 

It has been long said that you cannot “fake a smile.”  And what a difference it makes to every patient (and customer) interaction!  If we accept the equation that the sum of patient interactions determines patient satisfaction, there are two simple and easy-to-implement ways to get started. 

Real-Time VS Stale data.  Which would you rather use?

The first is to start to measure caregiver satisfaction regularly.  Just as the weatherman and economic advisors forecast “early and often” so must healthcare workers’ satisfaction be measured.  This is the front-end of the value-chain or profit-chain we saw at the beginning of this post.  

Big Fix Projects VS Continual Improvement philosophy

The second is to move from periodic measurement and “remediation” and drastic break-fix cycles to an approach of continual improvement, feedback and small, frequent adjustments.  If you are a sailor you know this well.  Small, frequent adjustments in the tiller and the sail will always be better than once-a-day measurement and wide swings in direction and remediation.  People work that way too. 


Annual, Quarterly or even Monthly surveys don’t cut it.  The data is stale and the working groups are scattered or re-arranged by the time the “remediation” or “analyses” get to the right place.  It’s not a bad idea to do deep self-evaluations periodically.  It’s just impractical to try to manage something as subtle and ever-shifting as caregiver and patient satisfaction that way.  And now it’s clear that it’s also financially reckless (if not derelict) to do so, as these measures form the foundation of multi-billion dollar financial projections and swings of millions of dollars in top-line reimbursement revenue at any given facility.  We need something that keeps satisfaction results in front of the managers all time, because transparency makes improvement happen.


Actionable data in a digestible format

Finally, we need a way to manage against quality discrepancies as they happen. Depending on paper surveys that are weeks or months old does not allow managers to find gaps and improve.

Caregiver satisfaction and patient quality of care is not an exercise in history.  It’s real-time.  As real-time as and EKG.  History is nice, but in an “event” it’s irrelevant.  Real time is what matters to the patient.

We need to be able see daily how well are doing and find gaps in performance and then be able drill into where the quality of patient experience is succeeding or failing.

Correlating the two sets of data with ease

At same time, we need to have what we call “temporal concurrence” between patient and caregiver data so leaders can cross-reference between patient and caregiver data. This is the best way to reveal the root causes and gaps that are doing damage in near real-time.  And by the same token, reveal the bright spots in the value chain where everything is working brilliantly (and presumably what we want to replicate). 

WorkersCount is leading the industry in this practice of correlating these two sets of fresh data for the benefit of organizations (including healthcare), workers (including healthcare caregivers of all types) and the patients (customers) they serve.


To learn more about how to do this in your organization, write to us at info@workerscount.com and start following us at @workerscount on twitter

tag:workerscount.posthaven.com,2013:Post/411461 2013-03-07T05:35:11Z 2013-10-08T16:50:23Z Which comes first, customers or employees?

Recently we encountered an article with the very same idea in Inc. Magazine, written by Steve Tobak. What fascinated us was the question as to whether there was a clear relationship between customer and employee engagement.  Did companies that we think of as providing great customer service necessarily treat their employees (or in the case of healthcare—caregivers) better?  Is there clear evidence that employee engagement the secret sauce for great customer engagement and satisfaction?

To explore this a bit more, we asked a series of experts what they thought about the topic.  But before doing so, we wanted to take a quick poll to find out how many people in the WorkersCount community actually felt empowered in their jobs to deliver extraordinary customer service.  One of our co-founders tells an amazing (and true) story about this engagement and empowerment and a major credit-reporting bureau. So we asked our daily users at WorkersCount what they thought about their experience.  Interestingly only 58% felt regularly so empowered.   

Like most of you, we would love to get a list of the organizations which provide this secret sauce (or not) to their employees.  As WorkersCount community members already know, we can’t disclose the exact responses.  But we’ll report them in aggregate in the “Grass is Greener” section of the app.

Armed with these aggregated survey results, we reached out to the experts. We were surprised by what we heard.

The Customer Comes Second

Our first expert referred us to a book by Hal Rosenbluth. The book’s title says it all. “The Customer Comes Second.”  It’s this sort of “hard-boiled” reality about how brands have to behave that gives us pause.  Pragmatic voices in this area point out that customers can’t get world-class service and products when the very people that provide front-line service and care are in agony.  Makes sense, but it’s eye-opening that big brands are also aware of the need to bump the priorities of end-users in favor of focusing on worker priorities.  This gives us pause, yet also hope.

Companies shouldn't have to choose

Our second expert disagreed with the first by saying companies don't have to choose between putting employees or customers first.  

“But if you don't have highly engaged employees, you won't have customer engagement or loyalty. So I would argue that if the company doesn't put employees first, the employees won't put the customer first”.

We loved this comment from this expert. How many organizations really have this perspective?  He concluded with:

“so many still don't get it, that employee engagement is not about making your employees happy by giving them expensive perks but more about treating them like adults and evolving them in decisions that affect them”. 

Well-said and words to live-by for both companies and families, as all of us with children already know.

Employees come first in sequence, not importance

Our next expert said that he agreed 100%. Both are important, and they are, but employees come first because they then deliver the desired customer experience. That's when differentiation starts to happen.   So employees are the first place to focus effort because the customer is “down-stream” and thus second mainly in sequence and impact, not in priority.  This starts to make sense.

Getting Culture Right Makes everything else fall in place

Our next expert, however, didn’t flinch in his position that it starts with workers.  Citing how great customer-focused brands includiing Starbucks, Zappos, Southwest Airlines, USAA, Amazon have a set of values that put both on equal footing.  That said, it’s the workers at these great companies that have the role and primary mission of delivering this service.  So that’s the first place to focus a company’s training, resources and overall attention.   It’s “first” in sequence, not pure importantce per-se.

So while workers come out “first” in this in terms of sequence, it’s not suggesting winner and a loser and in fact the evidence shows that they both “win.”  As Tony Hsieh said

"If you get the culture right, most of the other stuff, including building a great brand, will fall into place on its own."

Employee Engagement is not the same thing as Employee Happiness

Our next expert agreed by saying great employees are a prerequisite to great customer service/loyalty. The big difference in perspective however is that employee engagement is not the same thing as employee happiness. “Meaning” is the key component of employee engagement.

A question every employer should ask themselves about “Meaning”

“Do you know why your employees are doing what they do for a living?”  Too many companies never bother to connect with the “motivations” of their front-line workers.  Thus they never really know where to focus their engagement efforts.  It’s hard work to get to this truth.  And the truth can sometimes be scary to employers.  It’s easier to create catchy slogans about “customers come first” than it is to take the time to figure out what motivates, excites and really drives the very workers charged with delivering this great service.  Sounds odd, doesn’t it.  But it’s the reality at most companies.  Marketing slogans don’t drive worker engagement efforts.  They are too often in different silos.

Coming back to our question -- companies don't have to choose between putting employees or customers first. " Our experts agree that If you lose one, you 'll lose both.  What’s often lost is the “meaning” part of the discussion.  Workers must be addressed and engaged as individuals that “want” to provide great service and have pride about their contribution to a great brand.  Within that, it’s important to connect with the “why” of worker engagement—why are they working for your brand?  What is driving them to do their particular role/job?  For those that directly (personally) impact the customer experience, what emotional drivers are at work? 

When brands connect with these emotional drivers, and marry worker engagement efforts with accountability and ownership of customer satisfaction metrics, they win.


The question of who comes “first” is an interesting debate with many nuances, our experts agree as a group that it can’t be “either-or.”  Great organizations- from industrial equipment makers, to retail organizations to healthcare delivery giants – all have one thing in common in this global marketplace—the most powerful and effective way to create durable competitive advantage is to deliver world-class customer care.  And the obvious (but often lost) correlative to that is the “who” of this service delivery is their great employee base.  Giving lip-service to “customers come first” is a great branding and “internal company meme” but it misses the mark if its not accompanied by real and meaningful attention to worker engagement and the “meaning” of their jobs, roles, and personal experience vis-à-vis “their” customers.

And of course we conclude with the coda of “WorkersCount.”  A brand can’t deliver world-class customer service without a group of highly motivated, empowered and “happy” workers.  Customer loyalty comes from interactions with actual workers.  And because this means real human beings connecting with others, we can’t ignore the impact of happy people on others.   We’re all customers.  Which kind of worker would you rather encounter?

That’s what we thought.

tag:workerscount.posthaven.com,2013:Post/411464 2012-11-26T09:57:20Z 2013-10-08T16:50:23Z Searching for meaning in one’s work: the truth about employee engagement

The existential crisis of this millennium is around work.  Does it have meaning, value or purpose?  Why do we do what we do, and what contribution or difference will it all make when we’re gone?

Heavy stuff.    Especially as we reflect on the year as it comes to a close this Winter.  What does “belonging” have to do with “meaning” and connectedness?  And how does that relate to worker engagement?

Carolyn Jolly says, “Employee motivation isn’t really a mystery, but many managers seem to be mystified about it. Employees perform best when they are appreciated, comfortable and feel like they belong.” So we asked our users at WorkersCount whether they feel that they “belong” in their organization.  We found that only 54% feel that “magic” regularly.  And 16% even say it is a rare phenomenon.  

Given this, we are left with lots of questions. In particular, how should leaders and managers drive a greater sense of belonging and thereby improve engagement within their organizations?   So we kept asking. This time we asked a few experts, and they shared some interesting insights…

Belonging drives engagement; Small things count. 

One expert said “I would agree that workers need to feel they belong in order to be fully engaged. How do any of us feel when we know we belong?  We feel valued just for being who we are.  Managers can do many small things like smiling when someone comes into the room, saying Good Morning and Good Night, asking staff what they need from them as their boss to get their tasks done that day or being sure to spend time with employees when things are also going well instead of only when there is a problem!” 

Belonging makes us part of something bigger

“In very simplistic terms, whenever an employee has a sense of belonging to a team or work group and feel that their work provides value or has meaning I believe that engagement is possible. Part of the human condition wants to be part of something bigger than the individual.” 

Managers need to articulate value to employees

Pulling from research from Harvard Business School, another expert said this “shows clearly that possessing a sense of meaning in one's work is key to engagement. The best course of action for managers is to look for opportunities to articulate the value of their employees' work to their employees. While the meaning and values of some jobs is obvious, e.g. ER nurse, this is not the case with most jobs.  Managers should not assume employees fully understand the value and impact of their jobs. To remedy this, managers can regularly reinforce how valuable their employees are to any number of entities: the team, the organization, the customer, the community.  It doesn't matter, as long as employees understand their work matters and that message is consistently communicated.”

 Issue facing organizations is not apathy but rather futility

Another expert weighed-in on the Existential Crisis this way: “the terms "meaning", "belonging", "connectivity", etc. are focusing on attitudes, habits of thought, are they not? What is the role of accountability in engagement?  That it seems to me is a foundational component.  In his book "Team Covenant" Randy Hopkins makes the interesting point that apathy, as some writers may suggest, is not the core issue in engagement. Apathy suggests people don't care. People generally do care. The issue facing organizations is not apathy but rather futility. Futility occurs when people are not kept informed, they are not allowed to think and make decisions on their own about what they are doing, their creative problem solving is discouraged, and they have no voice. Employees who are told to be compliant rather than accountable see their role as futile and futility stands as a barrier to engagement.

Research looking into how we stay connected

Our final expert added on by saying “there is a growing interest and research into "how we stay connected" (I.e. belong) it concerns understanding how and the quality of the "relationships" that individuals form and maintain in the workplace. There are several studies that looked at hospitals and nurses in particular! My own research shows that "secure" relationships have significantly higher levels of engagement than those that are "insecure”. It's called Attachment Theory and is highly predictable in determining the strategies people use to stay connected (belong) at work and then, based on those strategies, you can determine their level of engagement. “


In these five different perspectives we see the heart of the problem is “belonging” in the context of many small, but very important things that any manager can start to do overnight.  And in that sense it is encouraging and exciting.  Engagement simply means recognition, empowerment and meaning.  If this is really the case, there is hope, and lots of it, for our millennial workers and our society at large.

And with 46% of those responding at WorkersCount not feeling the magic, it is a place for enlightened managers to start.   Low-hanging fruit for those who can open their eyes and see it.

What do you think?

tag:workerscount.posthaven.com,2013:Post/411465 2012-11-12T10:36:00Z 2013-10-08T16:50:23Z When less of a good thing is better


The use case for more frequent measurement of employee sentiment

Most medium and large organizations do some form of employee survey on a yearly basis. Some even up the ante by doing a few spot surveys throughout the year. But for some organizations, their whole world can change over 3 or 4 months.  Customer service is one of these sensitive areas.  Healthcare is another.  Large organizations with shift-work and high turnover costs are common hot spots.  The immediacy of the relationship between workers and the bottom-line (quality, costs, outcomes, customer loyalty, operating risk) is well-accepted.  And there are many other examples where this close relationship is both obvious and well-understood by executives. 

Yet we see again and again how these same organizations and great leaders continue to “measure” these drivers of enterprise health and risk using outdated and “stale-dated” data and methods.  Why is this?  And what connections can we make for these otherwise-great leaders and organizations to encourage and enable them to measure these key drivers of organizational health more frequently?

Everybody loves taking tests, surveys and trips to the dentist

For decades the gold standard in employee measurement has been the dreaded survey.  Whether administered by management, consultants or unions, these have traditionally been “bad medicine” – yet the only option most business leaders feel they have.  Billions of dollars are spent each year trying to upgrade, re-brand, or sugar coat these customs.  Making them shorter, coming up with catchy names “360” or putting them online, are among the “upgrades.”  As good as it gets, it’s too often a perfunctory “check-box” that top executives have to live with .  They must go through the process, yet they admit freely that the results are “stale dated” and “DOA” most of the time, even after spending millions on “employee engagement” professional services experts that sift, sort, interpret and “implement” the results. 

Blow-up the old process and join the digital age, along with your millennial workers

A root canal is still a root canal

One thing is clear about today’s workers:  more and more they are calling-out their employers and flatly refusing to take and re-take the tired old employee surveys.  Today’s worker and customer survey industry is in turmoil, as today’s workers and customers “just say no.”  The industry is flopping around with “incentives” and gamification and even paying survey-takers.  The truth is that in its current format, it’s still a one-way transaction and often a sink-hole for one’s time as well.  Busy workers can’t be bothered. 

Back to trust, and lipstick on a pig

According to Stephen Covey, distrust of management doubles the cost of doing business and triples the time it takes to get things done.

Trust is a huge driver here.  The industry’s big improvement was “automation.”  This meant that the surveys now came in online form, with complex authentication, and a whole stream of “reminders” for tardy response.  Same long, drawn-out survey.  The technical term for this is “lipstick on a pig.”  It’s still a pig.   This “automation” of the survey backfired, and the “reminders” to complete the surveys call anonymity into question.  The ridiculously late and mostly irrelevant “results and insights” that come back 6 or 8 months later (or sometimes not at all) make a farce out of the whole exercise, as line workers often see their mid-level supervisors scrambling to “create a plan” based on completely irrelevant and outdated data… and wasting valuable time in the process.

The crisis has reached a point at which the industry leaders are forced to admit that it’s almost like the old communist lament:  “we pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us.”  In this case, the workers pretend to report honestly on their surveys and the executives pretend to accept the results and the related “process and plans to improve” as effective and accurate.  In fact all parties know that this is flawed. 

To be fair, nobody wants it to remain this way.  And there are many great leaders at great companies trying to fix the process.  In fact, innovation is happening around the issue, but it’s uneven and it disrupts the overall system, so it’s slow going.

“Survey 2.0”  - One new approach:  frequency, simplicity, real-time insight, and mobility

It's no longer a survey  It's a real-time management tool.  It augments the pre-existing survey.  What if traditional surveys wouldn’t go away, but instead would be updated…. Daily.  And cut down to one question.  Quite a challenge, yet there is a model for this.   Today, in 2012, billions of people check-in (in a way) each day using some social network, or check their email… and most people are now doing this via their mobile device (phone or tablet) on the go.  We take this for granted, and it’s almost “native” behavior.  Just look at the number of people on the street walking - but staring at a tiny screen.

Why not take this simple, known behavior and create a daily check-in and simple worker sentiment service that works on a phone, laptop or tablet… from anywhere.  That’s what WorkersCount is all about.

If you take the concept of worker surveys (“sentiment” measurement), strip-out the annoying “survey” format and reduce the number of questions to 1…. And use a radio button and a fun mobile app (with rewards and total anonymity)… it’s possible to augment the dreaded annual survey with a simple daily check-in.  And voila! You have a daily pulse of the workforce.  Add-in simple worker-facing insights and comparisons and it’s no longer a one-way street.  All parties get value, insight and transparency.

Who wins?

Workers win, because everyone sees the external trends and can help drive accountability for the companies.  Workers can instantly compare their company to another, and drill all the way down to a job or role.

Companies win when they use the Enterprise service, which is a “private” instance of the WorkersCount service.  In this situation, workers participate in a “private” check-in service (same level of anonymity) and the company can work out it’s most serious issues (and find its most wonderful internal successes) in private.  The powerful adjunct is that the company can also compare some of its private results to selected public results and benchmarks established anonymously via the overall service.

What might this look like?

As readers of this blog already know, the service is in public release today.  Workers from over 450 companies are checking-in daily to report their sentiment, and answer a single “question of the day” on their mobile device or laptop.

So go to http://www.workerscount.com today and experiment with the service.  Think about what this might look like in your organization.  And think about the valuable (and fun) insights you and your colleagues will have as you compare your experience to benchmark information and other companies as well.

Whether you’re a business leader or a new employee, knowledge is power.  The best thing you can do for yourself or for your employees is create trust, authenticity and transparency.

And it’s much more like enjoying a hot fudge sundae than taking a survey.

We promise.    With a cherry on top.

tag:workerscount.posthaven.com,2013:Post/411468 2012-10-31T09:12:45Z 2013-10-08T16:50:23Z Career Development Opportunities: boondoggle or survival skill?

"I am provided career development opportunities"

How about you?  Are you satisfied with the range and quantity of career development opportunities for you at work?

What does “career development opportunities” mean, anyway?  And if you don’t have “enough” of them, what can you do about it?  Plenty!

“Career development” can mean anything and everything that helps you advance in your job or role, your long term career and path in the company or industry, or it could mean something as pragmatic and important as time management and life/work balance. 

How can you get it?  It can be in the form of classes or seminars internally or externally.  It can be in the form of mentoring and coaching from others.  It can be in formal management development programs at the larger companies, or it can simply be in an apprenticeship with a “master” practitioner (if you’re lucky enough). 

What if your company is lacking in programs and formal offerings?  Go out and grab the opportunities yourself!  Sign up for industry and trade seminars and programs.  Go to conferences.  Help organize and volunteer at industry and trade events.  You can do so and get entrance free in most cases.  Take the initiative to set up a speaker series in your company to have internal experts and external gurus share their experiences and expertise and advice.  It gives you personal exposure and relationships with these amazing leaders.  Find a mentor and ask for coaching.  Be a mentor.  Teach others what you know.  All of this adds-up and creates confidence, builds a reputation for you as a leader, and puts you on a great track, no matter who you are or what your goals.

So don’t wait around for your company to come up with a menu of career development opportunities!  Make up your mind and start taking advantage of the many local activities and rich content available in your industry, and start reaching out to assemble your own program of tutoring and leadership coaching.  

Its easy and in most instances it’s free or nearly free.  Stay away from boondoggle "business courses on cruise ships" but aside from that, once you start to explore the possibilities you'll see more than you can possibly take advantage of.  Most employers will pay for costs you do incur even if there is no formal “program” in place.  Just ask.  Great companies and great leaders know this is the best expense they can ever cover.

And remember to offer to help others and share what you’ve learned.  It’s the fastest way to the top--- helping others.  It’s rewarding and it’s a lot of fun!

tag:workerscount.posthaven.com,2013:Post/411470 2012-10-29T10:07:00Z 2013-10-08T16:50:23Z The little things that matter for worker engagement

At WorkersCount we measure sentiment daily using a fun mobile app.  Additionally, we ask a single Question Of The Day.  Recently we asked our users (who report-in from hundreds of companies each day) whether or not their employers buy coffee, donuts or other treats.  We were very surprised when 53% of our users reported “rarely.”

We shared these overall results with some of the many WorkersCount workers for their comments.  What follows are comments from 20 of them we felt were enlightening and insightful.  There are lessons for leaders at large and small companies, departments and working groups.

Pam-The small things matter. It is a way to thank employees for their hard work and it helps management bond with their employees. Pam shared about her group receiving bagels and cream cheese at end of the work week.

James-It’s not surprising that employees cherish the small things like food and refreshments. And it is disappointing to see such a high number of employers not taking advantage of this. In the end there is no excuse for not taking care of your employees or customers.

Karen-I agree. I buy bagels and donuts on the first Monday of each month. I also bring in birthday cakes and flowers. I think the most important thought is remembering to thank each one of my staff at the end of each day!

Tom-Treats are simply a method of demonstrating that employees are valued and that is all any wish to feel.

Fred-I believe that treats and food are even a substitute for a raise/bonus because it simply says employers care.

Terry-Treats are a great way to thank employees, it costs very little, but the payback is huge in morale. Personally thanking employees is, also, huge in showing your appreciation at work. But don’t forget to ask how they are once in while, they want to know they matter as much as their work.

Tommy- Saying good morning to each person and asking how they are today…and above all really listening...tells you lots of things…and yet personalizes each person’s day by making them feel you care about them.

Judy-In our office we treat ourselves. It would be nice if management would show a little appreciation with a treat now and then.

Sue-Our company has a treat day each month. We celebrate the birthdays and work anniversaries for that month. Everyone brings in a dish/treat to share. When we have a milestone birthday, we decorate their office/cubical with a fun theme. Our President will surprise us with cookies or Frosty Fridays on these occasions as well. We appreciate the treats and the atmosphere is definitely more relaxed and fun in these days, and yes work still gets done.

Kate-Many companies fail to realize the importance of recognition these days. They tend to focus on the negative aspects of their employees' work rather than what the employee have achieved. It is important to realize and reduce the negative aspects of someone’s work of course, but there is the important part about how you approach it. I know many who constantly feel stressed, unappreciated and aggravated in their work place because they never get a simple "Thank you" or a treat. This small gesture would change their feel for their work, their loyalty to the company they work for and their drive to prove that the recognition placed in them was justified.

Kathy-I don't call these things "treats", I call them "Thank You". As a mid-level manager, I don't have the authority to give a bonus or any other monetary recompense. I do have some input into the amount of the annual raise. I do, however, have the authority to say "Thank You".

Terry-Yes, we agree that the little things do matter. Providing treats to your employees shows that you appreciate them, which in turn puts them in a better mood. A better mood usually means higher productivity and more pleasant work environment.

Judy--I had a manager who thought that you should not reward people for the day-to-day. That's what a paycheck is for. He thought you should only treat for people who go above and beyond. I don't think I ever saw him treat anyone. I agree that it does increase the bond between management and employee, and it is a great way to say thanks for a job well done. That being said, he was one of my favorite managers I have worked for. He was a great mentor with a good sense of humor. I could always count on him to put a bright spot in the day.

Dave--Treats do boost up the morale of employees. I worked for a real estate company where the managers were often stressed out from the job they had to do day in and day out - property management. Management was very supportive in having buffet lunches from time to time.

Hope--Treats do boost up the morale of employees. I worked for a real estate company where the managers were often stressed out from the job they had to do day in and day out - property management. Management was very supportive in having buffet lunches from time to time.

So at the end of the day, what we learn is that several things impact worker engagement and loyalty:

-Little thinks including sweets, coffee, and food... as a symbolic gesture of respect, acknowledgement and a bit of fun

-Those magic two words:  "Thank You" mean more than anything

-Many managers don't "see" the relationship between these small and relatively inexpensive things and the impact on worker enthusiasm, and "chemistry" in the workplace

Next time you see a big pink box in the coffee room of an office, look for the boss.  You can be sure that he or she "gets it" with respect to those little things. 

Conversely if you are visiting a friend at another company and you see pay vending machines for chips, candy and snacks, and pay vending machines for soft drinks and/or coffee.  Beware!  It's a sign that these "little things" are not respected or understood.

What's it like at your office?

Tell us how you'd rate your office in comparison to peer-group companies.

tag:workerscount.posthaven.com,2013:Post/411471 2012-09-15T04:04:00Z 2013-10-08T16:50:23Z Is that “million-dollar smile” really worth a million bucks? Now it may be.

“Just The Facts” research insight series

From time to time we will use “personal time” blog space to share insights about working and workplaces with our community.  Today’s post is dedicated to healthcare workers and how this impacts the quality of your care.  If you happen to land in the hospital or urgent care, these are workers upon whom you depend for treatment, care and handling and well-being.  Sometimes your very life depends on their care and their “engagement” with their work.

"When that “million-dollar smile” from your nurse or healthcare worker can really mean a million dollars"

Hospitals and healthcare delivery organizations have long since been “local” one-off affairs, with long-term workers and friendly, familiar workers (many of whom may have been your neighbors).  Sadly, these organizations have consolidated, the healthcare system has expanded, and these are now outposts of extremely large and complicated corporations. 

This is not to say that the great folks who dedicate their time to treatment and care of others are not wonderful.  This is simply to suggest that life “inside” of a huge healthcare organization is no longer simple, nor is it free from many conflicting priorities, complex paperwork procedures and legal mandates…. Which all contributes to a sometimes frustrating working environment, to say the least.   And this is what you walk-into when you are ill or injured.

Is “attitude” and “engagement” and workplace happiness relevant to healthcare delivery quality?

Yes it is.  That nasty front desk receptionist, or that grouchy advice nurse can really do damage.  Similarly, that angelic nurse practitioner or on-duty physician’s assistant can turn disaster into “problem solved” for patients.  It’s that important.  But what about the “bottom line” in terms of finances?

Research clearly shows that workplace happiness can affect the bottom line of most enterprises.   As we said, hospitals and healthcare delivery facilities are now large enterprises.

Until now, it has always been more anecdotal to say that it also affects the business top line. Whether you agree or disagree with what is known as “ObamaCare” (The Affordable Care Act), there are new rules inside that act that have changed this equation forever for healthcare organizations.

For the first time ever, patient care, and the level of quality they report (patients) will directly impact the reimbursement (payment) received by healthcare delivery organizations.  This is such a dramatic change we’ll say it again:  The healthcare organizations with above-average patient satisfaction scores will stand to earn more money, and those with below-average patient satisfaction scores will earn less.  Much less.

A whole lot of healthcare industry administrators just got a new metric, and they now share it with their CEO, CFO and Board of Directors.

Let’s now connect the dots.  Happy workers result in happier “customers” and a higher level of satisfaction.  Happy workers = happy customers (patients) = more revenue / earnings to healthcare organizations.  Unhappy workers = unhappy customers (patients) = less revenue/ earnings to healthcare organizations.  And this is more than pride.  This is a matter of millions of dollars.

How this new “carrot and stick” concept works:

Through the Affordable Care Act that goes into effect this year, Medicare’s reimbursements to hospitals will be partially dependent on patient satisfaction scores, including bonuses that will be paid to the hospitals that show the highest rates of patient satisfaction.  The “winning” hospitals will be determined based on patient satisfaction surveys.  Patients will rate how well their doctors and nurses communicated with them, how responsive hospital personnel were to the patients’ needs, how clean and quiet the hospital was, how well their pain was managed, even how accurate and easy-to understand the accounting and billing was.

All of a sudden this “happy workers = happy patients” is of central focus.  While we suggest that most great healthcare organizations have always put “happy patients” and superior patient care at the top of their priority list, this gives the entire topic a new and super-charged level of importance.

Worker satisfaction and happiness is now a leading indicator for patient satisfaction and thus a leading indicator for financial performance and reimbursement trends at these organizations.

Can you “track” and “manage” worker happiness with an annual or Quarterly survey?  It’s possible, but as sailors know, making frequent, small adjustments to direction is much better than discovering you are hundreds of miles off-course after a few days or weeks between measurements.  The same applies to worker satisfaction and happiness measures.  Daily polling, using simple, short (and even fun) reporting experiences, will give everyone a much better read of (pardon the medical pun) the “pulse” of the organization’s happiness.  With such an early warning (or affirmation), it’s much simpler and easier to alter course, or do more of what’s working.  It’s just common sense.

WorkersCount is such a daily service—and it provides the daily “pulse” of the organization’s worker satisfaction and happiness.  Using a fun, simple mobile experience, the WorkersCount service enables workers to “check-in” multiple times in a day (or just once if they wish), and make their voices heard.  If they’re excited about work, it shows.  If they’re frustrated, that also shows.  All anonymously and safely.  Games that reward users for prompt regular check-ins and other fun interactive features keep it light and engaging.  Users are in-and-out in under 30 seconds…. So they can get back to their work providing amazing care to patients!

Here is an example of a WorkersCount check-in screen.  Just 2 radio buttons and no typing.  A simple “how do you feel about your life at work today?” and a single “question of the day.”  That’s it.

People are naturally curious about how their experiences compare to others.  After pressing both radio-buttons, workers can then see the previous day’s results for the “whole world” and also for people with profiles just like theirs.  Again, all of this is aggregated and anonymous.

Workers get tremendous validation, as well as super-important “context” about their feelings and experience.  For example, a worker may be able to see that their overall organization is well-rated by workers, but their individual experience is poor, perhaps due to a conflict with their direct supervisor.  This may mean that as a worker, I’d be willing to “stick it out” and try to find a way through the current issue, or look for another boss (rather than look for another job).  Most importantly however, this may give a worker more perspective, and remove some of the drama.  The benefit of perspective and “context” is that they (workers) may be less likely to be prickly or grouchy to patients.  And that makes all the difference here.  Engaged and focused healthcare workers make fewer mistakes, do better work, and provide overall superior patient care.  Just that simple.  Think of your own experience at home—when you have a rain-cloud over your head, how focused are you on detailed matters?  Now translate this to your doctor or the nurse about to take blood or perform a delicate procedure. 

How can we help healthcare delivery organizations manage this on a wide-scale basis?  Simple again.  We provide dashboards and reports that display just this type of “early warning” or “confirmation” of great results.  It’s kind of like a blend between an “early warning system” and a “magic mirror into the future.” 

Here is one look at a dashboard:

Things to notice include the fact that the average happiness level is down for the week of September 7.th Additionally, something occurred on Thursday in particular. The “question of the day” shows some interesting variance from the average or benchmark level.  It’s evident that Employees do not feel that problems are resolved in an innovative manner.  Meanwhile, it appears that management could use some training on criticism and debate, as well as expressing how valuable the team is.  

All of this from two radio-button questions per day per worker.

In summary, there is no better way to measure worker happiness and satisfaction than walking around and watching and listening and engaging with workers.  But this is difficult to do on a daily basis in today’s reality.  One tool to keep an eye on the “pulse” of the workforce is the WorkersCount service.

And in the context of the new healthcare Act and the “carrot and stick” consequences, this kind of inexpensive, fun (did we mention games and rewards for participation etc?) and simple engagement measurement is a no-brainer, in terms of “diagnostics” and “prognosis” for a healthcare organization’s financial performance and worker happiness level.

The next time a healthcare worker gives you a million-dollar smile, a pat on the shoulder and a kind word, remember that, in fact, it could very well be a million-dollar smile if that’s what you walk away wearing as well.

tag:workerscount.posthaven.com,2013:Post/411472 2012-08-30T10:15:25Z 2013-10-08T16:50:23Z Is Work Life imbalance a personal choice?


Is Work Life imbalance a personal choice? Or does it just reflect a changed work environment?

We recently asked the users at WorkersCount about their Work/Life Balance. 38% responded that they do not have a positive work life balance. A slightly higher number earlier said they are frequently at the office at 8pm. We assume this means virtually as well.  What’s amazing is that 80% say their organization actually supports work life balance. What can explain this disconnect?


An always-on generation

The discrepancy fascinated us so much we asked a series of workplace engagement experts. Our first expert said that the notion of the 9-to-5 model was an outdated construct of the industrial revolution. As we have almost all become knowledge workers, it is increasingly difficult to "leave work (and especially work problems) at the office." Simply put, we work in our head - which travels with us everywhere.   And so does our smartphone, email and SMS. 

Beyond this is the issue of an increasingly global economy where business partners, suppliers and customers often are in different parts of the world – and different time zones. When economies were not on global time, everyone worked with “colleagues” in the same time zone and went home at the same time.   Today, someone is always awake, working and sending work-related communications to others.  “It’s five O’clock somewhere” has been changed to “It’s 8:30 AM somewhere.”


A greater work ethic than previous periods or obsessive-compulsive?

Our second expert suggest that many peoples’ personality and work ethic are such that that they devote themselves completely to work when they are "on the clock." However, because of their level of commitment and focus, they find it hard to leave work at work or obey “the clock.”  Selfishly, some employers take advantage of this and encourage working groups to “continue to collaborate” from home and after hours.  This essentially extends the workday from 8 to 10 to 12 hours and more, as workers receive communications from colleagues and bosses that they feel obligated to return in real time.


What I say versus what I do

Another expert relates the discrepancy to the difference between what is written versus reality.   He said: “Many companies also have codes of ethics and conduct that aren't worth the paper they're written on. I've found the work life balance not to be as much the interruption of electronic means or being always on so much, but rather from things like workplace bullying where people get work dumped on their desk with no consideration for their capacity, or where junior staff have to fix up the mess their bosses have made, because they'll be blamed when the wheels fall off anyway, despite their seniors being the ones at fault. More fair play leads to better work life balance.”


Lacking a subordinate experience = lacking management skills

The last expert claims that many senior managers and executives have jumped levels, moving from being individual contributors and “ super-workers” directly to becoming managers of many people and processes.  Thus they have not been working as subordinates in any real sense.  This means that they have very little empathy or experience setting reasonable work-life balance limits.  They were those obsessive-compulsive, super-workers and thus they don’t know anything different. 


So what is reality?

It is probably a mix of what each of our experts had to say. Clearly, we can be “always on” –which is to our detriment ultimately.  Is there any pure “down time” in today’s Generation Y worker?  Perhaps not if we define it as being “OOO” or the old “Out Of Office” Outlook auto-reply to email.  For many of today’s workers there is no “OOO” –ever.  Additionally, today’s workers (especially Gen-X and Boomers) are so afraid of “failure” that this is mistranslated into “always being available is a great work ethic.”  The consequence of this misalignment are that personal limits are gone; workers don’t know when to push-back, set limits and shut off the “office.”  Burn-out is more likely to happen, and productivity drops.


The prescription? 

Create limits, know your own addictions, and force yourself to shut-off.  If you must, carry 2 phones.  Give your laptop and phone a nice home in your apartment or house that is far away from the dinner table and family room.  Turn your ringer to “vibrate” or “silent” when you have family time.  Resist the urge to check email five times an hour.  Set your phone’s email notifications off when you leave the office.  Take walks with the dog, friends and family and don’t carry a phone.  Insist on leaving the office and make up an excuse like “I promised my family I’d be home for a special dinner by 6:00 today.”  Get a buddy in the office or in your building to carpool or commute with you and use that as the excuse to stand up and announce you’re leaving for the day.  You’ll earn big-time respect and people will magically figure out how to work with you to get the work done.  It’s amazing how that happens.

Want to read more about how some workers are achieving work-life balance?  Read this interesting article from Business Insider @businessinsider :

“HOW TO HAVE IT ALL: Advice From 10 Rockstar Startup Executives Who Are Parents”


We think it should be re-titled however to read:  “Rockstar Parents who are also executives.”  Think about it, and consider which is the more important job.   No question about it. 




tag:workerscount.posthaven.com,2013:Post/411473 2012-08-22T07:27:51Z 2013-10-08T16:50:23Z I have time to listen to what is happening with people in my organization"

"How are you doing?"

On Fridays and in the summertime, people tend to drift into ad-hoc conversations about their weekend plans, soccer games, football season and end-of-summer last-hurrah vacation plans.  Sound familiar?  

Much of this "water cooler" coffee-break conversation is fantastic.  It's what we've been talking about when we mention "a good cup of coffee" at the workplace, and casual hallway chats.  All very healthy things for an organization.

Avoid the core-dump
What happens when "listening" becomes more than a 2-minute update or rave about a restaurant or beach?  What happens when that "how are you doing today?" results in a core-dump about everything that's not working in your co-workers life, including kids, spouses, love life, politics and the state of the world?  >Arghhh<

Be human, and set limits
There is a happy balance and it's important to be a real human being, to have empathy and be truly interested in what your co-workers are saying and feeling.  Knowing how to draw the line and cut-off this kind of cascade into total productivity sabotage is important.  Perhaps you can say "hey- I'm really interested in your sister-in-law's car problems, but I've got a 9:30 call.  Can we pick this up at lunch?"  Make up an appointment and beg-off so the person is not offended.   

Think of 140 characters 
If the "how's it going?" results in a tirade about work, and the unfair or unjust state of affairs, this is different.  To be frank, when most people ask "how are you?"  they don't want the "real" answer if it's complex or lengthy. It's a cultural courtesy, akin to a friendly waive and smile.  They really don't want to hear any bad news....or any great news for that matter, if it takes longer than the verbal equivalent of 140 characters.  Really.

Listen for real work-related issues
However, if you hear real pain in a co-worker's lament about "what's happening" in their work-life, listen carefully to make sure you're picking up cues that may be consistent across your entire organization.  Resentment about perceived unequal treatment or unreasonable expectations can build and blow-up important projects, teams and even offices.  It's not pretty.  So be on the lookout for this, whether you supervise others or not.  

Re-direct and be neutral
Now what to do about it.  That's a bit more tricky.  You don't want to sink hours or even dozens of minutes into this murky area, so it's important to listen, but be empathetic to the point of asking some leading questions such as: "have you brought this up with So-and-so?"  And: "would it make sense to share your feelings with XYZ?" And: "what do you see happening if this doesn't resolve itself?"  

Act cautiously and carefully
Should you surface these "complaints" and issues back to your management?   Typically not, unless what you're hearing sounds like hot issues such as harassment, discrimination, tyrant bosses, bullying, or unreasonable expectations.  You should not advocate for the complaining person.   You should just share "hey, I think I was hearing something that was unsettling.  I may be wrong, but I wanted to share it with you to follow-up."  You don't want to be manipulated by someone else's drama, and yet you also don't want to allow colleagues to suffer really bad situations that need remedy as well.  It's a tough line to walk.

Bottom line, you want to make time to listen to "what's happening" with others at work. 

Here are some tips to set limits:
-Set a time limit and defer gory detail and pictures to a break or lunch
-Restrict topics and defer conversations about love life, politics and other juicy items to a break or after work
-Avoid "complaining" sessions about co-workers, bosses or others 
-Never offer to solve someone else's problems.  Never.
-Do not get sucked-into others' drama.  Listen and help direct them to take their own actions.
-Focus on work topics, projects and other positive or "appropriate" topics that are worth spending talk-time.
-Be positive and try hard to remind your co-worker that you have to get back to your work.

Be friendly, patient and open.  You'll learn a lot.
Follow these guidelines and you will be a "friendly listener" and also get a good sense of what's happening inother projects, working groups and get valuable new perspectives about your projects.  Everybody likes to talk about themselves.  That's okay.  Just set limits.  Remember that when someone asks you "hey, how's it going with you?"

Have a fantastic weekend!   (And please just send a link to your photos so I don't have to waste time at work looking at them with you).  :) 

tag:workerscount.posthaven.com,2013:Post/411474 2012-08-15T09:43:00Z 2013-10-08T16:50:23Z How important is a great cup of coffee to your company’s employee engagement?

Clearly not every business can afford to have a cafeteria like Google.   And everybody can’t stock every break-room with Peet’s or a super-expensive espresso machine.  But what about having a good, simple cup of java?  And how important is this to business anyway?  To find the answer, we started by asking our users at @WorkersCount whether they felt they are getting great coffee at their offices.  We then we asked a series of employee engagement experts about this information and the implications.

So let’s start with the results. As you can see in the graph below, only about 41% of WorkersCount users are frequently happy with their coffee at work.  And about 36% are sometimes happy with it. So our conclusion is that 59% of @WorkersCount users say they are not often excited about the quality of their office coffee, and by extension the “coffee talk” around it.

Engagement Experts Say:

One expert said, “go to any office environment and you will notice that many of the employees bring coffee with them, spurning the free stuff you offer them.”  This often means that they stopped at Starbucks, Peet’s, or Dunkin’ Donuts—good news for those businesses.  This expert went onto say that usually this is because commuting has become so lengthy that many employees simply can't wait until they get to the office to have their shot of Java.  Not much you can do about that.

But what’s the big deal about having mediocre coffee on hand in your break room?  The big deal is that coffee is often a social behavior as well as a dose of stimulant.  People get a chance to talk to one another.  People from different departments and working groups often exchange thoughts, have impromptu discussions and learn a lot about what’s happening during a quick break.  This is “the water-cooler” of today, and it’s not trivial.  You want those conversations and interactions to happen at the office, not necessarily down the block. 


Another expert said, "I am not at all “excited” by the coffee at work (nor at any previous workplace, for that matter); it is however a critical requirement to have, for employees to be productive. 

So while many workers will suffer dishwater-quality coffee because they have no quick (and free) options, you’ll make a huge impact on the quality of life in the office by making a few inexpensive changes to your “fueling station” and it’s supplies.   Don’t force them out of the building for a fix and a breather.

How much impact does a great cup of coffee have on engagement and retention?

The expert went on to say: “But before you pack away the free coffee, tea, hot chocolate or bottled water just to save a few bucks, keep in mind that these niceties represent powerful symbols about how companies view their workers as well as a barometer about the health of the company. Employees will always view the removal of free (and quality) coffee as a dramatic step...and a sign that something isn't quite right.

You may take it away (pardon the pun) to wake-up people, and get them to realize the seriousness of a company's financial predicament, but be careful.  If employees don't share your same sense of urgency, they will simply view management as “cheap.”  It’s not smart to use coffee as a stick or a carrot to motivate or get the attention of your workforce.  It will usually backfire.  Don’t get between a worker and their java! 

And remember, a good cup of free coffee means that each worker “saves” between $3 and $4 per cup, per day.  That can add-up for many of your top workers.  If it’s not coming out of your office budget, it’s coming out of their wallet.  And that’s not good for morale.


Coffee time as a tradition or ritual

Another expert said something really important. “If a manager/supervisor sits down and has a cup of coffee while talking with their people, then that's an important cup of coffee!”  If done right, it could become a ritual or tradition that people (even non-coffee drinkers) could get excited about.

So think twice about ignoring the value of a good cup of coffee and a good down-home tradition of coffee breaks as socialization, team-building and overall good times.  It’s a real American tradition and something worth keeping inside the building if you can.  If you have no facilities or just can’t pull it together for a good coffee station, consider bringing-in quality coffee hot from a local Starbucks, Peet’s or local merchant on regular days.  Your team will look forward to it, and it will be a fun experience. 

You are now free to talk amongst yourselves.



tag:workerscount.posthaven.com,2013:Post/411476 2012-07-11T09:05:00Z 2013-10-08T16:50:23Z Are Your Accomplishments Recognized?

Today's question of the day:   "My accomplishments are recognized"

Do you receive recognition for great work?  Even if it's "expected" that you will do great things and produce top quality work, break sales or production records, or produce incredible projects, it still helps to get that recognition, doesn't it?  

Some old-school leaders used to say "hard work is its own reward." What do we make of that today?  We think it's just silly, selfish and mean-spirited.  Some managers and leaders are reluctant to give too much praise and recognition.  They subscribe to the out-dated idea that everyone can't get the trophy and the "A+" grade.  

Or can they?  In today's world, it should be possible for the entire team to receive hearty recognition for work well done.  There is no zero-sum game.  Is it possible for the whole team to win a trophy? Of course!  

So when you see someone do great work and accomplish great things, take a moment and recognize them in front of others.  They may protest, but deep-down they're flattered and happy for the recognition.  It will make you feel good too.  And that's a nice bonus.

What happens in your office or company?  Do workers receive recognition for great accomplishments?

Let us know anonymously on www.WorkersCount.com and if you are inspired, share your story on our LinkedIn discussion page, on our Facebook page or on our blog!

tag:workerscount.posthaven.com,2013:Post/411477 2012-07-10T16:41:17Z 2013-10-08T16:50:24Z Do you develop new social and professional relationships at work?

Have you ever heard the expression "trapped in my cave" or "I'm too busy to socialize" or "I'm in tunnel vision right now" from colleagues at work?   These people eat at their desk, stay late at work and generally aren't available for after-work activities, office get-togethers and even informal small-group lunch gatherings.

Why? Don't they like people?  Well, they do, but the're trapped.  Sometimes great workers and great people get wrapped-up in projects and get in over their head and are just trying to catch-up.  Their project may be in crisis mode. Other times they fear making "connections" with co-workers because of the possibility that personal relationships may cloud professional interactions and make any "possible" conflicts or unpleasant events in the future a bit more messy or full of even more discomfort. 

As a leader, how can you help prevent this from happening in your team, or to you?  For the people who seem too swamped to "come out of their cave," take a look at their workload and figure out if they need help or if they are being buried by work.  

Then take steps to help them get a balanced workload.  Another way is to "force" them to interact by "bringing the break to them" by dropping-by during lunch (they will be eating at their desk) and "kidnapping them" to lunch, or to the office lunch-room (in a friendly way).  

They will likely appreciate it, even if they protest.  Just respect their situation and be aware that they may really feel overwhelmed.  If they are a peer worker, think about probing to see if you can help them find a way to speak up about being overwhelmed.  Great leaders don't want teams to feel buried.  Your team leader will likely be keenly interested in resolving this situation. 

What about people that seem to "fear" developing friendships at the workplace?  Look at the office or company history, and at their history in particular.  Have there been painful re-orgs or even layoffs that resulted in close friends being separated?  Has this person lost a close co-worker to a sudden layoff?  To understand them, remember that it can seem less painful to isolate yourself than to lose a close friend to a re-org.  Encourage them to connect "generally" with groups of co-workers.  This is an easy way to get them to ease-into socialization and into building relationships.   Groups are "safer" than 1:1, and can be a good way to get these people to connect more frequently with the greater team. 

Watch your own behavior.  Are you (or are others) *very close* to co-workers?  That's great, however it can be a bit intimidating to shy or introverted workers.  Try to be sensitive to wall-flowers, and invite them into your group activities and spend time asking them lots of personal questions to get to know their story.  You will be surprised how much even "shy" people enjoy it when others are genuinely interested in them. 

tag:workerscount.posthaven.com,2013:Post/411479 2012-04-30T09:19:45Z 2013-10-08T16:50:24Z Tell us what you do to alleviate stress in your office!


Does it often seem like time is in just two modes--- either passing so quickly that you can’t possibly keep up with deadlines and projects….or inching so slowly that each minute seems like an hour (meetings, anyone?)….

The biggest source of stress in the workplace is related to time.  Time management on the part of the manager or on the part of the person doing the bulk of the work.  Often it's nobody's "fault" - a situation just comes up.  And everyone has to scramble. 

And the pressure mounts and stresses people out, right?  Of course!

So what happens when we get stressed-out?   We lose focus, we make mistakes, we get cranky. 

What do experts tell us to do?  Yes, get into that zen-like place.   Sure.  But what about in “real life?” 

Those same experts have some more practical tips as well.  Get up from your desk.  Take a brisk walk around the office.  Leave the building .  Use the stairs if you have them.  Move to decaffeinated coffee.  Turn off email and turn off your phone for a while. 

When you’re back into your project, go “off the grid” for a  block of time, say 30 minutes.  No incoming email, no phone calls.  Just you and your projects.

Engineers call this “maker mode” and it is a great way to cut the stressors out of your pressure-filled day.    One way to “hide” from interruptions is to borrow a colleague’s office if they are gone (with permission).  Since it’s now Spring, take advantage of the gorgeous day and sit outside on a bench or on the grass and work for a while if you can. 

Find a friend and take a nice walk together around the building to clear your head.

College professors have it all figured out.  They can work “outside the office” on a beautiful green lawn and still get just as much work done. 

So find your “zen” place – in the office or outside.  And take a breather, unplug and move around a bit when the stress gets to be too much. 

Tell us what you do to alleviate stress in your office!  

Share your tips with the WorkersCount community.  

Because together, we make workers count.

What do you think?

tag:workerscount.posthaven.com,2013:Post/411481 2012-04-07T09:24:00Z 2013-10-08T16:50:24Z Friends at the office

Friends at the office

Back in the day, it was deemed “preferable” to separate personal and business life.  Many companies even had policies forbidding dating in the same company (even if the pair did not work in the same division or reporting lines).  Those were also the days when people went home at 5:00, had “separate lives” from work, and of course, did not have email chasing them home via their phones and tablets.  A simpler life indeed.

Yet even then it was obvious that we spent as much or more time with our work family than with our “real” family.  Today’s reality Is that close friendships do blossom and last lifetimes.  Romances occur and for better or worse, run their course.  Companies no longer meddle in worker romances, except when there is a direct reporting line.

Do you have close friendships from work?  Platonic or otherwise?   Do you go on vacation, go to concerts, participate in sports or even just play poker with some of your office-mates?

If you’re like most of the WorkersCount community you do.  In fact over 80% reported this week that they have workplace friendships. 

With good friendships at work, it can seem that together you can conquer the world!  Difficult projects become bearable, even fun.

What is the impact on this “chemistry” at work when flex time and teleworking occur?  Yes it’s convenient and satisfying to work from home and at cafés etc.  But what do we sacrifice when we give up “face time” and “hallway conversations” at work?   What do we give up when we forego casual lunchtime conversations, coffee break chats and chance introductions to co-workers from other divisions or work groups made by mutual friends at work?  A lot!

Hijinx is a way to blow-off steam that you just can't do via a video conference line, for example.

That VP you wanted to meet may be a good friend of one of your work-mates that went to school with him/her.

That killer UX engineer may be sitting by herself at lunch, and your good friend from your last project can introduce you, so you can ask her about a project you’re supervising.

And so it goes.

And here’s some hard evidence:  A recent study showed that people with three close friends at work were 46% more likely to be satisfied with their jobs and 88% more likely to be satisfied with their lives.

That’s a big parachute.

Before celebrating the benefits of working outside of the office, consider what you need to do to build “relationship equity” by being present and being part of the team in person.

And as we discussed in a prior post here, it is essential to continue to reach out, build new relationships, make yourself a known quantity to build your “parachute” internally.  You will make new connections, and some of them will become friends.  A few of those will become good friends and if you’re lucky, lifelong ones, inside and outside of your company.   But it won’t happen unless you consistently practice little steps to expand your circles.

Enjoy the holiday weekend and here’s to seeing all of our WorkersCount community have fun expanding their personal and professional circles, and also making time for the friends we’ve already made.  These will be the ones that introduce us to the friends and colleagues we don’t yet know about.   Serendipity.  Kismet.  Fate.  Luck.  But it’s really not random and it’s really not by pure chance.  Make your own luck.  Get out there and expand your “footprint.” 

See you on twitter @workerscount, join the beta and make your voice heard, and post on Facebook.  We also have a Pinterest page.  Come visit and pin / re-pin!

tag:workerscount.posthaven.com,2013:Post/411482 2012-04-02T23:16:00Z 2013-10-08T16:50:24Z Do “connected” people have an advantage at work?

"John, Congratulations!  See what Mr. Big is up to... You and Mr. Big are now connected...."

Sound familiar?  So what's the big deal?  Is this just another time-waster, narcissistic activity?

Or do "connected" people really have an advantage at work?  What's a "relevant" or "real connection" anyway?  

The real answer is that a "connection" is nothing more than a real relationship.  And it takes time, authenticity and a willingness to give, to build a real relationship. The fact is, people who are more truly "connected" seem to get lucky, land on their feet more often in times of great chaos, and adapt to major changes more easily.  Why is that? How can you get some of that goodness and "insurance" for yourself?

Growing your network of colleagues and connections helps you pack your parachute for a soft landing, no matter what.  It’s also fun and easy to do.  Even if you think you are an “introvert.”

Here we are back at the home office.  Dead of Winter.  Deep in projects and racing towards “Q2” numbers and deadlines.  Do you have time to spend on networking?  Why bother?  You’re not in “sales” and you don’t have that “extroverted personality” that seems to thrive on networking.  And besides, you are too busy on your deadlines and projects for anything that “squishy” and non-core to your work.

Here’s the news flash:  You can’t afford to stay as isolated and heads-down as you’ve been.   But how can you start?  Especially if you’re more “introverted” than not.

If you’re constantly expanding your network of colleagues and relationships at work, you are in good company.  58% of those across the WorkersCount community report that they make a concerted effort to reach out to others at work.  Why should this matter?

It matters because expanding your circle of colleagues makes you a stronger team member in your core group or department.  How?  You have access and relationships with others outside of your team.  This makes you a “connector” -which is a valuable and powerful role to play. It makes you much more aware of the bigger picture at your company, and again it makes you a much more valuable team member when you “see the whole field” –instead of just your small section of the world. 

Most importantly, it makes you a “known quantity” outside of your core working group or department.  This is really important when you start to think about lateral or other changes inside the company (or outside).  You also start to build a wider reputation outside of your company as these “extended network” co-workers depart to other companies.  You are at the top of their minds, should a need for someone like you arise there.  And that’s always a great phone call to receive!

Here’s a great way to get started.   Make it a point to volunteer for projects that involve cross-functional or cross-organization teams.  This will force you to meet others outside of your core role and group.  You can start to build real relationships working together.  You’ll learn more about their world (if you ask) and you’ll build credibility and trust with them as you work together.  You add to your “connections” and network without doing much outside of your comfort zone.  Consistently offer to provide valuable insight about your “side of the world” to your new colleagues, and they will likely do the same.   You will find that you start to be “requested” on these team projects and you are more valued in your own group as someone with “understanding” of the greater picture.

You don't need hundreds or thousands of contacts to make this work. You may only need a dozen or two to make your network effective. Building a wider network isn’t necessarily hard work.  It’s a little bit of work done consistently over time.  Keep volunteering for those projects.  Keep meeting people and offering to add value.  Keep putting them in your contact list and staying in touch via LinkedIn, Facebook, by following them on twitter or internally.  Send them good ideas, articles and other valuable insights whenever you can, to show them that you understand their world and are offering something valuable.  This will make you a “connector” and build a wider external reputation. 

This is how you assemble your parachute.  So that if the plane you’re flying in develops engine trouble (for any reason), you have more options and a great network to help you out.

By staying active in the WorkersCount community you can find where people like you thrive, and where they struggle.  From insights like that, you can call on your network (be it large or small) and get help to find the right place for you. And we hope you also reach out to help others find their "best place" if you're happy and excited about where you've landed.  

It's paying-it-forward time.

Come check-in at WorkersCount today.  Vote your sentiment. Make your voice heard.  Drive a better workplace for you and for your peers at your company and others.

Your voice counts.




tag:workerscount.posthaven.com,2013:Post/411456 2012-03-28T23:18:00Z 2013-10-08T16:50:23Z What do you do with your 3 hours and 51 minutes each day?


How much time do you *really* spend working per week?

Google today introduced an “addition” (also being referred in snarky fashion by some bloogers as “addiction”) to their service that reports “account activity” usage to users. 

Hmm.  That means I can now track just how obsessive-compulsive I am being about work.   But I love my work!  What's the problem?

How much time do you think you spend “at work” or online doing “work” things per week?

Would you be surprised to know that the average Google user has this type of graph? 

At work:  23 Hours on Google apps

At Home:  62 Hours on Google apps

Out:   83 Hours (presumably not on Google apps)

How do you compare??   Are you "always" plugged-in and checking work-related email and texts?  

Ok let’s break that down:

7 days at 8 hours of sleep is 56 of those “Out” hours, meaning that all but 27 of your waking hours are on Google’s apps.  An average of 231 minutes or something around 3.8 hours per day.  I suppose this means that you are “on” during meals, drive time etc.  Do your friends and family sometimes get annoyed because your "best friend" seems to be  your phone or tablet?  

Have you ever checked email during a family dinner? During a child's performance?  

If you only had 3 hours and 51 minutes to do "X" each day, what would be on your list?

Check your email?  Better check your priorities.

How would your employer react if you went online during a meeting to check your child's school Website - just to take a peek at their chorus rehearsal?  Never going to happen, right?  So what's the difference?

What does this mean to WorkersCount and our community?  It means that we had better be enjoying the work we do.   Because if Google (and your employer) has their way we will be performing more and more of our “work” in their cloud.  Which is not necessarily a bad thing.  But if these baseline stats hold, we see in this startling chart that we are spending all but 3.8 hours of our waking time there.  So we need to figure out how to say "no" to 24/7 work connection.  Even if we love our work.  

Is your "best friend" disposable?

So much for “personal time.”  Of course we all do “personal” things on gmail, docs, G+, hangout rooms, photos etc.  And yes it does include time wasting on YouTube... which is becoming more and more of a substitute or supplement for many consumers -especially Millennials- for TV.

So in summary you could use your brain to consider this mystery:

Or this one:

You pick.

Thanks Brad Goldpaint @goldpaintphotography

How does your work boost your passions and give you energy?

Let us know!   Post what you'd do with your 3 hours 51 minutes to our Facebook page.

Your friends at WorkersCount

tag:workerscount.posthaven.com,2013:Post/411457 2012-03-27T19:37:00Z 2013-10-08T16:50:23Z What does your brand (and company) stand for? Do you own that?

At WorkersCount we are watching an interesting debate. 

We have been watching the recent marketplace (and worker) reaction to the latest Harris Poll of RQ (reputation quotient).  This is just one of many external/internal brand reputation "rankings" and index reports. 

 Here are their “winners” in the top segment of large brands:

At first blush, it's obviously a great line-up of brands:







Johnson & Johnson

Whole Foods



(thank you Marketing Charts and Harris Polls)

We know that many members of our WorkersCount community work for these great brands.  How do you feel about this blended external-internal "reputation" score or index?  

Is it just marketing hype or is there something deeper there?

Some of the heated discussions across twitter, Facebook and the many dozens of blogs we've been reading are about “who beat whom” and more school-yard, trash-talking friendly competition in nature. 

On the other hand, many of them are very serious, focusing on PR blunders, product gaffes and product superiority, social responsibility and community engagement wins etc.  Things that should "matter" to customers, workers and stockholders.

This includes topics that involve brand esteem or brand damage due to worker issues.  These include the highly-charged issues around labor abuses here and abroad (read: “Foxconn” etc).  

Some brands don’t seem to take a big hit in the overall brand reputation even though many workers seem to be reporting in blog posts and tweets that “all is not well” inside the beast.  And if workers are happy and satisfied, but their companies are committing grave sins, what is that all about?  And should workers at all levels care?  And how can they take direct action to reward companies that do well, and hold accountable ones that do not do well?

Does your company walk their talk?

When you look at another company (in comparison to your current one) as you consider a move, what factors are most important in your decision process?

The match between the corporate-speak and their actual behavior externally and internally

Their real life labor and community practices abroad and at home

The day-to-day experience you can expect to have right here right now

Your expected experience in your working group, with your peers and boss at work every day

The way your company’s product is respected (or not so much) by the general consumer public and the “brand” ratings and rankings

How do these things impact your well-being and satisfaction at work today, relating to your current company? 

Do they impact you a lot, or not so much?  Are you just to busy to worry about your company’s ethical practices abroad and in labor matters? 

Do you have any visibility into your company’s practices?

Does you company proactively share with you their values, practices and guiding ethical foundation for their business practices?   Is there a document? 

If there is such a policy, is it common thinking that the company adheres to it, or is this just a PR check-box that the exec team must check-off?  Real or fluff?  Is this "owned" at the executive level? The board level?

Talk about it right here.  Right now.  Every day.

This is what we want to invite our community to debate here at WorkersCount.   Check-in daily and come back often to see what's trending and what your peers are saying.

By sharing what matters to you we can enable the broad population of workers (at many levels) to make their voices heard and impact the way companies behave. 

If your company walks their talk, then we want to help you trumpet that.  If your company needs to be reminded to walk their talk, then we want to help them become more accountable, and to do better.

Your voice counts.

What do you think?

Comment here or on our Facebook page

tag:workerscount.posthaven.com,2013:Post/411462 2012-03-26T03:55:00Z 2013-10-08T16:50:23Z 5% of workers would give up their spouses in exchange for telecommuting

Do you ever work from home?  From the local Peets or Starbucks or even from the beach?  Where is "the office" to you?

 How important is flexibility in the workplace?  

Apparently it matters a lot!  

Here's what an independent study found they would give up in exchange for telecommuting privileges and a few comments about what that may mean about our society, our priorities, and of course, our Work, and what the "workplace" means in the new millennium.

We hope you have fun with this.  Tell us what you think it all means!

What workers are willing to give up in exchange for telecommuting:


Some of us think this would make the world a better place anyway.


Sorry, bad trade.  Can't give that one up.


Again, might make the world a more friendly place, but sadly we won't trade that one either.


Possibly.  But this author is not the shopping type.  Except maybe at a consumer electronics store.  We'll hold judgement on this one pending input from our WorkersCount community!

A raise:

I'd take the raise.  Just saying.

Half of their vacation days:

I never use all of my vacation days, so this is a good trade for me.

Daily showers:

Perhaps the people who give up daily showers should stay at home.

Their spouse:

Not me.  I'm a sucker for a great date, and a later-in-life dad.  Can't give up the spouse and would not want to.  But I respect the idea.


What would you give up?

What do you think?  Let us know on our Facebook page!

tag:workerscount.posthaven.com,2013:Post/411463 2012-03-26T03:09:00Z 2013-10-08T16:50:23Z What does an organization need to do to make us happy?

In our last post we looked at why happiness matters to you personally. 

And that’s no small thing.

In this post we’ll start to explore what actions an organization needs to take to ensure that you (and others) continue to be happy.  Of course, with your help we will discover at WorkersCount the underlying answers as you and others provide real information about life at work every day.

Having an interesting job matters!

Let’s look at what the academic research has to say.  According to Lise M. Saari’s and Timothy A. Judge’s work,   “one of the most important areas of the work situation to influence job satisfaction—the work itself.”  They call this the “intrinsic job characteristics.” This is interesting because a former boss of mine liked to say that it was a manager’s job to engineer—yes, he was an engineer—their employees’ work so that it was interesting to them.  He said it was the manager’s job often to personally take on the boring drudgery.  As a manager, I have tried to “pay it forward”.

Does your manager do this?  Have you ever found yourself doing this? 

If so, then Bravo!

In one study of workers, they ranked interesting work as the most important job attribute, and good wages ranked fifth.  Whereas when it came to what managers thought employees wanted, good wages ranked first while interesting work ranked fifth (Kovach, 1995).  

Of all the major job satisfaction areas, satisfaction with the nature of the work itself—which includes job challenge, autonomy, variety, and scope—best predicts overall job satisfaction, as well as other important outcomes like employee retention   (Fried 398 • HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT, Winter 2004 & Ferris, 1987; Parisi & Weiner, 1999; Weiner, 2000)

Work Life Balance Matters!

I don’t know about you, but I am “Always On” in my job.  However, this constant intrusion means that I need the ability to reassert my work and life balance.  Things like occasional or regular telecommuting and flexible work schedule--are important to whether we are happy or not with our jobs. http://bit.ly/GPPgsh

Knowing they care matters!

Herb Kelleher at Southwest Airlines is famous for saying that his business succeeded on the basis of one simple maxim: “You have to treat your employees like customers.”  Clearly, we all do our best when we feel appreciated and valued by our boss and colleagues.

Having a collaborative versus competitive environment

I don’t know about you, but I just hate workplace politics and competition.  It makes me have a terrible day, week, or even month. When groups compete for resources and jobs, it means the people in the company and the company as a whole loses. Putting it simply, being happy is not just about delivering: it’s about doing that within collaborative working relationships too.  http://on.wsj.com/GPs0Qn

Feeling you fit is important

We all want to feel resilient, efficient and effective.  Not surprisingly, performance and happiness at work are really high when employees feel they fit within the organizational culture.  Not fitting in a job is kind of like wearing the wrong clothes to a party.  Making matters worse, you feel like you always have to say you are sorry.  I am sure you hate it when others make your feel like you are skating on thin ice.  It is a manager’s job to make you feel like you belong and to stress the importance of diversity to their team.

Feeling you have management’s commitment

Have you ever had one of those managers that says: “we going to have to close things down if this thing or that thing doesn’t happen.”  You feel like they will be okay regardless, but that they are not in the boat with you.  Of course they claim all the credit when you succeed.  We all need it.  We need commitment to perceive what we are doing is worthwhile.  We need to feel that the vision of our organization resonates with our purpose.  According to Jessica Pryce-Jones, CEO and founder of the iOpener Institute: “without greater levels of self-belief, the backbone of confidence, there will be few people who’ll take a risk or try anything new.” And you can’t have confident organizations without confident individuals inside them.

What should I do to be happy?

Our list together will grow and narrow as you use WorkersCount.  However, today we have touched-upon six areas that matter in your workplace today.  If you want happiness, you need to take steps to make your place better or find another place that values its employees.  This is part of what we enable at WorkersCount.com.

Make sure to visit, vote and share your thoughts often because you will count!



tag:workerscount.posthaven.com,2013:Post/411466 2012-03-25T18:32:00Z 2013-10-08T16:50:23Z What should you be doing to recharge your batteries?


Being Happy At Work

Does it matter?

Only if you want to make more money, live longer and be a better spouse/parent/friend.

If you’re like most people, you spend a lot of time at work.  And work doesn’t mean just “that other place” you go each morning.  Work comes home.  It chases you around on your phone via email.  It invades your evening time as you “review” or check-up on things via your laptop, tablet or phone at night and on weekends. 

So you love this arrangement, right?

Did you know that “happiness at work” used to mean something different from “happiness at home and in life?”  Today it is well-understood that job satisfaction, general happiness and good feelings about life at work are closely tied to happiness in general.  It used to be pushed aside as some squishy academic theory.  Mostly because it was hard to measure and harder to act upon.  No more.

Big corporations, smart business owners and great managers already know this.  And not just in small sectors where there is a “talent war.”  It’s time all workers figured out that their job performance, their relationships with spouses, children and others are completely tied to their feelings about work.

We all have good days and bad days at work, and at home in life.  The only way to get perspective about this is to look outwards and see how what you’re experiencing “reflects” from the views of others.  This is a scary process.  Psychologists have built entire careers on it.  Career coaches are great at it.  

 So are good, solid, smart friends.  When it comes down to it, a bit of quiet personal time, spent reflecting on what is going on (at work and at home) can help a lot. 

Are you in the right place (company, role) at the right time for you right now?  How can you find out?  If you’re lucky, you’re happy, and feel relatively good about your work situation.  And if that’s true, you probably feel pretty good about life in general.  

In that case, you’re probably also doing a great job at work.  Here’s what the bosses have figured out (or are figuring out) about “happy workers” and why it’s not so squishy anymore:

Real research is showing that being happy makes you healthier, smarter, and even more valued. How valuable is a few more years of healthy living worth? According to Alexander Kjerulf, (http://bit.ly/GDpW9F) people working in happy environments tend to:

Be More Creative

Have more Energy

Be More Motivated

Make Fewer Mistakes

 Make Better Decisions

Do you have that?  If you don’t, don’t you want to have that?

Here are more non-squishy facts:

Mo’ Money

A 2005 research survey in the Psychological Bulletin showed happier people miss work less often and receive more positive evaluations from bosses.   Wow, in most companies that means making more money….

Psychologist Martin Seligman suggests in his research that happiness leads to higher pay.. How valuable is a positive evaluation and a higher salary to your life at home and work?

What does this mean on a Sunday afternoon, as you figure out when to check email, review your work deadlines, carpool, music lessons, soccer/baseball and workout calendar for the upcoming week?

It means that being happy at work equals more money, better and stronger relationships with the people you love, and, not surprisingly, a longer life to enjoy the whole trip.

Kick your feet up today.  Think about some reasons to be happy. 

 If you’re working, celebrate that first, because a lot of great people are still out of work. 

 Next, think about how much you enjoy your current job, and if you do, enjoy that.

Finally, if your present job “needs improvement” (to borrow a phrase), think of some burning questions and post them on our wall at WorkersCount’s Facebook page.   “Like” the burning questions others have posted if they hit a nerve with you.

If you’re like us, you’ll find a quiet place to sit-out the rain in front of a fire, take a walk on the beach in with your dog, join a friend to watch a game.   Or find a black diamond mountain full of fresh powder to shred.   Go work out.  Bake a pie. Learn how to bake a pie.  Find a great place to sit with a friend and eat pie (after you work out).

What should you be doing today to recharge your batteries?

Let us know what you do!  Post a photo on our Facebook page.

tag:workerscount.posthaven.com,2013:Post/411467 2012-03-25T17:58:00Z 2013-10-08T16:50:23Z Weekend = personal time (?) Well it should!

Weekend goodness and a couple of fun thought-exercises...

Welcome to Personal Time, the WorkersCount blog! 

If you are like most people, you need a break once in a while during your busy day.  We will try to make these short breaks a good use of your “personal time.”  Please share these posts if you enjoy them, make comments and use them to start great conversations!

This weekend we kick-off a series about being happy at work and why it should matter to workers (and bosses).  If you are both a worker and a boss, well then, you get a double-dose of thought-provoking goodness. 

We are also launching our “burning question” campaign.  We’re collecting (that’s “crowd-sourcing” for all the social and technical gurus out there) great questions that workers –at all levels- want to know.  These can be “obvious” questions that just don’t get asked (for whatever reason) or sensitive questions that you’d like to ask, but can’t – due to political or other reasons in your workplace.

Not to worry!  WorkersCount will ask them and your peers at thousands of companies (including yours) will help get them safely answered!

So happy reading and we look forward to hearing your “burning questions” so we can share them and soon ask them.

How to suggest a “burning question”

a)     Find our Facebook wall.  Post the question.  Like others’ questions. Share with friends.

b)     Write us a confidential email with your suggestions to:  burningq@workerscount.com 

That’s it.

Now on to our regularly scheduled blog posts.

Your friends at WorkersCount.