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Employee Engagement

Denise Shull, inspiration behind “Billions” character Wendy Rhoades, discusses the psychological effects of leadership

DISCOVER why employees need to be taking advantage of benefits packages to achieve financial wellness

BROWSE more stories online, including the top five tips for employee engagement in education


Why Employee Benefit Packages Are Essential Why should employers provide benefits? Why not take the money spent on benefits and use it to increase wages? Forty years ago, most profit-sharing programs gave awards based on an individual worker’s productivity or based on organizational profits. However, today’s typical profit-sharing plan allows for 401(k) employee contributions and provides an employer match that is not calculated based on profits or productivity. Before the Tax Reform Act of 1986, worker retention was favorably impacted through lengthy vesting schedules — most pension plans limited benefits to workers who completed 10 years of service. Today’s broad-based benefits are usually provided without regard to a worker’s skill set, talent or performance. Despite consulting firm assertions, it is only a coincidence when today’s benefit plans correlate with worker productivity or an organization’s financial performance. In fact, broadbased benefit plans have not been proven effective at differentiating talent because they must meet eligibility and non-discrimination requirements.

5 Steps for Actively Engaging Your Employees Feeling connected comes down to whether or not employees like coming into work every day. If the answer is affirmative, you have the foundation for building a strong and healthy organization. True engagement

The sense of connectedness emerges through three factors: vision, mission and values. When people feel a part of something greater than themselves (the vision) and feel they are contributing to it (the mission) — and the values of that organization matches their own — they feel truly engaged. They feel like they belong. One way to promote such connectedness is to find ways to foster a culture of service where people not only work to achieve the mission, but also work to serve one another. Here are some suggestions: John Baldoni Executive Coach, Author

Jack Towarnicky, Executive Director, Plan Sponsor Council of America

help as well as offering it. 2. Replace “have to” with “want to” when it comes to doing

In ensuring employee engagement at your company, it is essential to create an environment that promotes connectivity.

So why provide benefits?

Broad-based benefits, including 401(k)s, significantly improve the total rewards value each worker receives due to the combination of tax preferences, group dynamics and economies of scale — a value that is not available through any other means.

1. Listen, don’t judge. Keep an open mind toward receiving

“Employee engagement” is a term folks who work in human development use like flypaper to catch a client’s attention. And it works because every employer wants to know how adhesive their workplace is — that is, if their employees want to stick around. Engagement scores are metrics that measure employee satisfaction and dissatisfaction. As with any metric, we equate good results with high scores. However, the metrics do not reveal the most basic of human emotions: connectedness.

the work. Think about ways to draw people into activities rather than pushing them into it. 3. Promote benefits over activity. Ask, how does what I do help others? 4. Adopt a “me last” attitude. Be humble. People want to work with those who know their limitations as well as those who realize it’s important to work with, rather than against, others. 5. Share credit and take blame. Step out of the limelight so that others receive praise. Conversely, accept responsibility when things don’t go well. Look for solutions rather than blame. Connectedness is engagement for one employee at a time. n

Publisher Amanda Deutch Business Developer Joelle Hernandez Managing Director Luciana Olson Designers Chris Espino, Tiffany Pryor Copy Editor Lauren Hogan Director of Sales Shannon Ruggiero Director of Business Development Jourdan Snyder Director of Product Faye Godfrey Lead Editor Mina Fanous Production Coordinator Josh Rosman Cover Photo Cyndi Shattuck All photos are credited to Getty Images unless otherwise credited. This section was created by Mediaplanet and did not involve USA Today. KEEP YOUR FEED FRESH. FOLLOW US @MEDIAPLANETUSA



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financial well-being and their preparation for a financially healthy retirement: 1. Not building retirement savings early

The earlier you start on your retirement savings, the more likely you’ll build a retirement account that will meet your expectations. 2. Not understanding debt management

4 Obstacles Hindering Employee Financial Well-Being When employers build awareness around benefits packages, they can help employees achieve financial wellness.



common stumbling block to employee happiness is their financial well-being. Employees work to maintain their current lifestyle, but most also look forward to a financially healthy retirement. The problem is many employees don’t know how to achieve that financial well-being both present and for the future, a n d e m p l oye r s a re n’ t d o i n g enough to help their staff meet their financial plans.

Employees need to take advantage

Many organizations offer a lot of different benefits, ranging from health care to 401(k)-matching to wellness programs, according to Chris Luongo, vice president of product marketing and business development with ADP Retirement Services. It’s up to employees to take advantage of these benefits. If they aren’t paying attention to them, don’t think they are important, or just don’t understand them, they are missing a big opportunity. Also take advantage of the payroll deduction to participate in these benefits, especially retirement, Luongo advised. Contributions to a 401(k) are deducted pre-tax, reducing an employee’s taxable income in the current

year, so try to maximize your contribution. It might mean a slightly smaller paycheck now, but you’ll most likely adjust to the income you receive, all while building for the future. Employers need to drive awareness

It’s up to employers to make sure their employees drive awareness surrounding the offered benefits and to promote the programs they have. This could include financial literacy programs to build basic skills and take action on financial wellness. “This provides a benefit to the employee but also the employer in reducing employee stress related to their finances and being able to attract and retain top talent because of a competitive benefits package,” said Luongo.

ADP offers retirement benefits that allow employees to achieve their goals and tailor plans based on age and need. Someone who is 25 will be thinking and planning f or retirem e n t mu ch di ffe rently than someone who is 55, Luongo added.

When employees better understand the true cost versus true spend, they can then manage those costs on a regular basis, putting themselves in a better position to manage their benefit programs. “The longer you wait to address issues like credit card debt and other debt issues, the more difficulty you’ll potentially have reaching your retirement savings goals,” said Luongo. 3. Not paying yourself

In terms of retirement, explained Guido, being able to pay yourself towards future savings is critical. How much you invest in yourself will depend heavily on how much you can reduce your current expenses. 4. Not letting the money grow

Once the money is put aside, leave it there. It’s tempting to look at benefits accounts as emergency funds, but if you dip into it early, you’ll pay penalties now and won’t have the funds later for a financially healthy retirement. n

Be simple, be concise

Financial management is stressful for most people, said John Guido, president of Retirement Insights, LLC. It’s important to communicate financial well-being in a simple and concise manner to get employees to buy in. Focus on how to meet financial goals rather than tell employees what their financial goals should be. Here are some of the obstacles employees face that hinder their



Busting the Myths Surrounding Employee Retention It’s not always easy to discern fact from fiction, but one of the biggest myths surrounding employeeemployer relationships is that people don’t leave organizations; they leave managers.

A leading employee feedback company recently tested the claim that when people leave a company, it’s because of their manager. The company used employee data from over 300,000 e m p l oye e s ( f ro m a r a n g e o f industries and geographies) who

completed employee feedback surveys that included manager ratings in the last year. In this study, it was discovered that yes, people leave bad managers, but it’s not the No. 1 reason people leave a company. They also found out that the three highest predictors of employee attrition are: • Alignment • Leadership • Learning and development Organizations that believe the “leaving because of managers”

Over 1,700 companies from startups to Fortune 500s use Culture Amp to power employee insights Learn more at | The Employee Feedback Platform

myth focus their attention in the wrong areas when they’re trying to address their retention problems. Direct managers have a role in leadership, but people have separate experiences with each of these groups. The data found that company leaders have a much stronger effect on an employee’s commitment to stay. In fact, leadership, alignment and development had about 50 percent of a higher impact than managers on employees’ intention to leave.

Like all areas of people and culture, having good data can avoid costly errors in addressing retention issues. If people are leaving, examine whether they are aligned with the organization, if there is strong leadership and if they have access to learning and development opportunities. If so, a good manager can make a sizable difference. If not, removing the manager is not likely to address a high-turnover problem. n SOURCE: CULTURE AMP


Experts Explain Company Culture’s Role in Employee Engagement What is your definition of “company culture?” Didier Elzinga: At its simplest, company

Didier Elzinga CEO, Culture Amp

culture is “how we do things around here.” There is a lot of science in how to measure, understand and improve aspects of company culture, but one of the ways we like to think of it is that a brand is a promise to a customer, and culture is how you deliver on that promise. What is the experience you need your people to have for you to be successful? That experience is your company culture. Sarah R. Johnson: Very simply, com-

Sarah R. Johnson, Ph.D. Vice President, Enterprise Surveys & Analytics, Perceptyx, Inc.

pany culture represents the typical habits and behaviors of the company’s employees. In other words, this is how we act toward each other on a day-to-day basis, how we

communicate (or don’t), how we work together (or don’t), etc. There are many dimensions that can be used to describe a g i ve n c o m p a ny ’ s c u l t u re , b u t ve r y simply, culture reflects “what it’s like to work here.” What do you feel is the most important thing to know about company culture? DE: Company culture will never be perfect and will change over time. In order to see what’s changing, you need to measure it and act upon it. From a technology perspective, you can get tons of feedback, but the challenge is not the cadence of measurement, it’s the cadence of action. It’s what you’re going to do about it. You have to stop and ask what you’re willing to

Why offer commuter benefits to your employees?

change. From the top down, there has to be a commitment to using feedback to do that. Then, look for opportunities to create feedback loops. Culture is hard. Don’t just ask a question once, get an answer, and never do it again. To improve the culture, you have to commit to the iteration and the loop. SJ: Culture must match and support company strategy. I have seen many companies create a strategy to be more innovative, or more entrepreneurial, or faster-moving, and yet their culture, those daily habits and behaviors, don’t support a new culture. A company cannot become more innovative if the typical habits and behaviors are focused on limiting risk and keeping decision-making at the highest levels of the organization. Habits take time to change, so culture change happens slowly. ■

• Employees save on commuting costs while employers save on payroll taxes. • A great benefit that helps attract, retain and reward employees. • Easy, hassle-free sign up leaves more time for other important tasks. • Helps create a happier, less stressed and productive work environment.

Learn more at or


The Case for Investing in Employee Engagement Read about the three essential components to employee engagement that human resources professionals shouldn’t ignore.


Why Employee Feedback Is Crucial to Business Success the company is headed, are they excited about the future and are they working together as effectively as possible?” Some companies use a continuous listening strategy, encompassing annual census surveys, pulse surveys, onboarding and exit surveys and special topic surveys.

The case for employee engagement is made. Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace study found that companies scoring in the highest quartile of employee engagement had higher productivity, sales and profits. Consequently, companies are implementing programs that foster employee well-being. One critical component of this is diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) — three separate principles that, when applied together, create an intentionally welcoming workplace that fosters top talent. As a recent McKinsey study shows, companies that are more diverse are more likely to outperform their peers in profitability. The Great Place to Work® Trust Model© finds that employees who believe that their company cares about them as an individual were also most likely to describe their company as a great place to work. Corporate citizenship or corporate social responsibility (CSR) teams exist within corporations and have the expertise and partnerships that can help propel companies’ efforts in DEI. Here are three examples of how CSR teams are leading the way:

Finding the right approach

According to Johnson, effective survey questions drive action and positive change. “The best questions reflect the topics that are most important to the company today, either because the answers provide insights into achieving the organization’s strategy, enhancing the way work gets done in organizations, or helping employees be successful. When well-designed, surveys create a deep and wide database ideal for HR People Analytics, which drive good, databased decisions about people.”


Establishing employee resource groups — which allow people who share specific characteristics or life experiences to engage together in activity that lifts their voices — provides professional skills-building and encourages networking and teamwork. These groups can identify barriers to inclusion and proactively seek solutions.

Increasing productivity


Creating a diverse talent pipeline by partnering with community groups to create and deliver educational programs that prepare historically underrepresented students with 21st century job skills. For example, establishing a corporate -funded STEM program with a Title I school or a coding certification program with a community college can help increase the pool of skilled candidates for tech jobs.


Supporting nonprofits that are focused on DEI issues. By funding the organizations that are working to create opportunities for all and encouraging employees to get involved in the nonprofit’s work, companies are building a more sustainable future for the company, its employees and the communities it serves. Ultimately, companies understand that investing in DEI results in highly engaged employees, more robust bottom lines and healthier communities. Carolyn S. Berkowitz, President and CEO, Association of Corporate Citizenship Professionals

Collecting the thoughts and ideas of the workforce is essential to employee engagement and organization success.


For managers and HR professionals, gathering employee insights and evaluating levels of engagement should be a priority to ensure future growth. A strategic survey program will serve as the basis of a strong people analytics practice, and when followed by meaningful action, the survey can become truly impactful and can spark change.

“At their core, surveys are about creating a conversation between employees and company leadership,” says Sarah Johnson, Ph.D., the vice president of enterprise surveys and analytics for the management consulting firm Perceptyx. “What is the work experience like, what is going well and what can be improved? Do employees understand where

“Employees have a lot to say, and the best companies make a point to listen and respond,” Johnson explains. “Employees are closest to customers, to how the work gets done and how the functioning of the company can be improved. Collecting that input and implementing changes based on those recommendations can only benefit the company.” It’s also important to remember that conversations aren’t always positive. “Surveys should address many elements of the work experience, including things that are going well, and things that are not going well, and managers and leaders must listen with an open mind. Honest feedback is essential to growth and improvement. Wh e n l e a d e r s a c k n ow l e d g e difficult messages and act upon them, trust and respect will grow in the organization. n Cindy Riley


Knowing where to focus your engagement efforts can feel overwhelming. We believe the path to greater engagement lies in the ability to identify and contrast the perspectives of engaged and disengaged groups. Every company and culture is distinct; there is no one size fits all approach to people analytics, so we deliver specific insights to uncover the unique barriers to engagement deep within an organization in real-time. As the people analytics and global survey provider to more than 20% of the Fortune 100, we help the world’s largest and most complex multinational organizations discover their own True North for Engagement. Learn more at PEOPLE ANALYTICS


Copyright 2018 Percetyx, Inc. All rights reserved.




The Inspiration Behind “Billions” Character Talks Positive Management Denise Shull, author and decision coach, discusses the psychological effects of incorporating emotion into effective business management.

How can employers more effectively incorporate emotion into management styles?

First, stop being afraid of so-called negative feelings. Psychological research consistently reveals that feelings and emotions underlie all perception, judgment and decision-making — whether we know it or not. Resolving to accept, understand and leverage all of the emotions involved in creating success offers a truly transformative opportunity. Ironically, the emotions with the most angst offer the biggest opportunities. From a psychological perspective, what keeps employees engaged at work, and, how can managers leverage employee engagement for positive reinforcement?

Trust consistently shows up as the pivotal feeling related to engagement. What creates trust? In a word, integrity. Managers can motivate their teams with honesty and reliability — both of which can be fostered through the skills associated with unpacking the employees’ fears and frustrations. Once you have trust, providing appreciation and opportunities for growth are key to inducing dedication to achievement. What qualities of the character Wendy Rhoades are you excited to see being showcased in “Billions?”

It’s exciting to see the way she has earned exceptional amounts of trust, as well as her deft way of dealing with the demons lurking in Axe’s subconscious. Think back

to the “Magical Thinking” episode of season one. Wendy spent the evening talking to Axe and leading him to see that his guilt over Donnie drove him to make ill-advised decisions that lost the firm oodles of money. That’s the kind of work I love seeing her do. How can employers use positive emotional management to increase/grow their business?

Create desire — desire to achieve and desire to prevail over the competition. Motivation is desire. Feeling valued and trusted causes employees to want to fight for their leader who respects them. Simply listening well and truly considering concerns creates the desire that transforms into exceptional effort. Borrow from sports — help your team want to win for the coach. n


At a time of record unemployment in the United States, recruitment leaders across the country are having to look for new ways to engage and retain their organization’s top talent. Not only will having an engaged workforce help an organization keep its most valued employees, but it will also result in higher levels of productivity and radically impact the bottom line result. What’s interesting about employee engagement, though, is how it differs dramatically between industries. This raises two important questions: Why do you need to improve your employee engagement? What are the industry-specific challenges associated with employee engagement? In some industries such as tech, where the average tenure is as low as two years, the need to retain talent is so crucial to success that coming up with new ways to engage your staff is one of the highest business priorities. In the retail industry, brick-and-mortar stores are competing with both online giants and disrupter brands. Physical stores need to employ associates who are dedicated to providing differentiated customer experience. To ensure this, companies need to push for employee engagement. Consensus amongst HR professionals has long been that traditional employee engagement programs are no longer fit for purpose. Whilst this may be true, there are industry-specific constraints that mean taking new approaches to engagement is not always so straightforward. Tailoring engagement to industry

If you look at the hospitality industry, launching a company-wide engagement initiative for a workforce that is both geographically dispersed, but also made up of seasonal workers who have no real connection to the company, is a challenge the majority of HR leaders need to tackle. In traditional industries such as oil and gas, HR leaders must now evaluate forward-thinking engagement initiatives such as workplace flexibility in order to make up for the loss of trust felt amongst their workforce following several years of job losses during the industry downturn. Whilst each industry may have unique reasons for, and challenges associated with, enhancing employee engagement, one thing they all have in common is that if done right, the impact on business success will be second to none. n Jemma Boon, Head of Content & Brand Director, LEAP HR

Jillian Michaels Discusses the Future of Fitness Health and fitness guru Jillian Michaels is excited about how technology is changing fitness, and thinks you should be, too.


rom a workout regimen prescribed through your smartwatch to gadgets that count everything from steps to calories, technology has become an integral part of personal fitness. Health and fitness expert Jillian Michaels says that’s a good thing. “Technology provides access to expert instruction affordably, gives people access to detailed health and fitness info so they can make educated choices that yield powerful results and functions as a source of motivation that allows people to set goals and track progress.” Choosing an expert opinion?

For Michaels, technology is just another tool she can utilize to help people get healthier. “I’ll take advantage of any tool I can use to help people get healthy in an easily accessible and affordable way, and technology allows me to literally train millions of people around the world.” Everyday people are taking advantage, too. According to mobile analytics firm Flurry, health and fitness app usage in the United States grew by 330 percent between 2014 and 2017. However, not all fitness technology is created equal, and Michaels says it’s important to put quality and safety first, whether you use Nike Training Club, Lose It!, Michaels’ own My Fitness or some other product. “Like ever ything in life, there are true experts and then there are snake oil salesmen. Consumers should look at the source of the information behind the technology, because credibility is key.” She says a good way to gauge whether or not your chosen technology is working as it should is to simply compare real-life results with your device’s output. “If it doesn’t add up, consider getting a different device or app.”


Give Your Company a Competitive Edge by Retaining Talent


The future is bright

From shirt sensors that track your heart rate to cameras that can predict injuries before they occur, there’s no shortage of fitness-related innovation on the horizon. Michaels says possibilities — like virtual training with your favorite fitness personality, linking

up with friends online to work out at home and live-streaming your favorite workouts — are truly limitless. “In truth, I am sure there are amazing things in the pipeline we can’t imagine yet, but I can’t wait to find out.” n Jill Coody Smits

“I don’t have time.” “I hate the gym.” “I don’t know where to start.”

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Employee Engagement  

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