Making resolutions for 2015

As we make resolutions for the upcoming year, we should look to make ourselves happier and more productive at work. This article from FastCompany suggests ten ways we can all be better—and more satisfied—employees in 2015.

Stand out in crowd

On their list of to-dos? Replace your bragging about number of hours worked with your level of efficiency, be open about what you need from your boss and other employees, and give and receive feedback gracefully, among others.

And if you’re looking to be a better boss in the year ahead, check out this list of leadership resolutions for 2015, too.

Do high performers have different wants and needs?

With our survey data, we broke out data for high performers—employees who were ranked highly in their last performance review—from average and low performers. Karie Willyerd, the co-author of The 2020 Workplace:How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today and a valuable partner in this research project, recently published an article on what these high performers want at work.

How prepared are companies to meet the needs of their best workers? How satisfied are these employees today? According to Karie:

As you would expect, high performers as compared to low performers are more satisfied with their jobs and less likely to leave their jobs in the next six months. But in looking deeply into high performers specifically, you’ll see that the numbers aren’t as comforting as we’d hoped…one in five high performers are likely to leave in the next six months (versus one in four of employees overall who are likely to leave in the near term), and less than half are satisfied with their jobs.

You can read the full article at HBR—read it and join the discussion here.

Using vacation days is good for everyone

Over the past few months, we have talked a lot about what benefits and incentives matter most to employees. Perhaps unsurprisingly, employees are focused on competitive compensation and other cash-based rewards. But what about the benefits that employees need, but don’t rank as highly?

While vacation days are ranked lower on the list of benefits most important to employee satisfaction, we hear in the news over and over how important it is for employees to recharge out of the office—and how difficult it is to actually take that time. In fact, a recent Oxford Economics study finds that American workers lose 169 million days of paid time off each year. Yet our analysis reveals no clear payoff for employees for sacrificing their time off, as workers who do so are not more likely to get pay raises.

Using paid vacation days is good for everyone. Not only is it beneficial to employees’ health and productivity, it also allow the company to learn to function in their absence, says Megan McArdle in this article from Bloomberg. This raises some questions for management: How can companies ensure that employees are getting away from the office? What can employers do to create a culture that encourages taking well-earned time off?

It’s up to senior leaders to boost employee engagement

We’ve been talking a lot about the relationship between employee happiness and productivity and the factors that contribute to engagement—topics that are in the news more and more as companies realize the value of cultivating a positive corporate culture.

Last Sunday, The New York Times published an article (“Why You Hate Work,” Tony Schwartz and Christine Porath) from the leaders at The Energy Project, a consulting firm built on the idea that “the way we’re working isn’t working.” The company recently teamed up with the Harvard Business Review to survey 12,000 employees about their engagement and productivity levels.

Their study found that employees whose physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs are met at work report higher job satisfaction and levels of focus. The researchers also found that, while senior executives are typically aware of the correlation between engagement and performance, most are not investing in meeting the needs of their employers or promoting work/life balance as much as they probably should.

 The energy of leaders is, for better or worse, contagious. When leaders explicitly encourage employees to work in more sustainable ways — and especially when they themselves model a sustainable way of working — their employees are 55 percent more engaged, 53 percent more focused, and more likely to stay at the company, [The Energy Project’s] research with the Harvard Business Review found.

As evidence that engagement leads to productivity grows, senior leaders should plan to in the wants and needs of their employees in the years ahead—to ignore worker satisfaction any longer may be detrimental to the overall health of the business.


2020 Workforce news roundup

Wearables may increase worker productivity (Telegraph): A new study from University of London looks at the effects of wearable technologies—including devices that monitor posture, brain activity, and motion data—on employee productivity and satisfaction.

Corporate social responsibility as a driver of employee engagement (Associations Now): According to a study published in the American Marketing Association, CSR initiatives can positively impact employee performance.

HubSpot relies on non-traditional interview tactics to find employees (FastCompany): Tricks like waiting to see if an job candidate picks up trash left on the table after the interview or dedicating the majority of an interview slot to a candidate’s questions are used at HubSpot to determine if someone’s personality would work well in a given department. Are these interview tactics a factor in the company’s 85% retention rate?

Google will release stats about diversity of its workforce (USA Today): Tech giant Google will release this employee next month as a response to backlash against tech companies for hiring too few minorities and women. Google’s transparency should lead the way for other tech companies and help the industry define strategies for building diverse workforces.