Innovation and Employee Retention

source: Futurestep

source: Futurestep

Innovation has long been cited as a driver of  long-term revenue and profit growth in organizations.  However, studies are now showing that there is also an increasing relationship between innovation and employee retention.

In a recent study published by talent solutions provider, Futurestep, the more than 4,000 skilled employee respondents seemed to be sending companies a very clear message: that innovation seen in strategies for recruitment, employee development and employee retention greatly impacts the employee relationship.

According to Futurestep CEO, Byrne Mulrooney, the study defined innovation as change, improvements and forward-thinking.  Employees were seen to be looking for innovation from the very first encounter with the organization during recruitment. Then they expected to continue seeing it in the organization’s employee development plan. And finally, it was equally important that they saw innovation in the company’s retention programs as well.

Of the respondents, only 36% thought that their current companies were innovative. And in another survey done on over 800 HR professionals, over 74% said that they believed their organizations could do more to foster innovation for them to attract and retain talent.

The demands on innovation may seem particularly high. But not taking this message to heart could have huge detrimental impacts to the total organization. In recruitment, innovation is more likely to create a successful impact on a potential recruit.  Even happy employees are not immune, with 55% saying they would consider leaving their satisfying jobs if they were approached with innovative recruitment methods.

In development, 44% of employees say that they will leave their jobs if they see no innovations in store of them.

And don’t forget that all human to organization contact points that perceive innovation has a bearing on the overall company brand.  Employees and recruits are possible consumers too. And they can advertise so much by the virtue of word of mouth. So an organization’s innovation or lack thereof, can give either a benefit or detriment, respectively, to your company’s total image as well.

For a slight counterpoint, see this post on the danger of employment branding.

You can download the full report from Futurestep here.

HR Geeks: Using Losada Lines To Drive High Performing Teams

Today’s popular post of the day on LinkedIn is an uplifting story about executives at LinkedIn thanking staff and staff returning the favor by thanking ‘upward’ – back to the executives.  One point in this post stood out as its something that comes up a lot when we’re discussing employee recognition programs with clients.

What is the right balance of positive praise vs. negative feedback to give an individual in your organization?

The article referred to a mysterious term called the “Losada Ratio“.  We did some digging to find out more…

It turns out, three key researches have done extensive research into the right balance of positive praise and negative or constructive feedback in organizations.  Marcial Losada, Emily Heaphy and Barbara Fredrickson have contributed greatly to the body of research around the positivity ratio around feedback.  Losada’s research found high performing teams have a P/N (Positive to Negative) feedback score of 5.6, medium performing teams are at 1.9 and low performing teams are at 0.36.  What do these numbers mean? Losada’s study indicates that for every one piece of negative feedback that is given to individuals in high performing teams, they receive 6 pieces of positive feedback.

As Mary Poppins famously sang: A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.

Looking at the P/N ratios of high performing teams vs. low performing teams, you might naturally ask, is more positive feedback always better? The answer in Losada’s research is resoundingly No.   Fredrickson and Losada published an upper band of proper ratios as well. Once you get beyond a P/N ratio of 11.6, the quality of the relationship will languish, just like it can languish on the lower end of P/N ratios.  Therefore, Losada and Fredrickson state that there is a band of optimal ratios.

Keep positive-to-negative feedback ratios between 2.9 and 11.6 to allow your teams to flourish.

Too much positive praise and you reduce the impact of it; too little praise and you demotivate your employees.

It is worth noting, there is a lot of criticism around the Losada line hypothesis and way in which the research was conducted.  Key criticism implies the lower and upper levels of the range may be somewhat arbitrary and may be different for each individual.

Regardless of the exact P/N ratio that you use in managing your team for high performance, the research is directionally clear.  Make sure you delivery more positive feedback than negative feedback, and that ratio should likely be in the 3-to-1, 5-to-1 or even higher range depending on the individual that is receiving the feedback.

Peer To Peer at Work

Your peers. Regular employees. People like yourself.

We use different names to describe these work colleagues.   At MeritShare, we provide peer to peer recognition, allowing anyone in a company to give recognition and show appreciation.

The Connect Consulting Group is putting together a survey to gain more insights into peer to peer at work today. When you complete this survey, you will be able to enter their sweepstakes for a chance to win a $25 Gift Card and receive a summary of the results.    Please take a few minutes to complete this brief survey about peer-to-peer practices by Friday, August 30.

Connect is an award-winning, independent and specialized management consulting firm focused on helping leaders and their team turn their blue-sky ideas into green-pasture actions.  Connect was Founded in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2004 by Liz Guthridge.

Late Nights at MeritShare


Today we will be interviewed by one of the top HR bloggers Nisha Raghavan on Drive Thru HR and their lunch time show.  The topic: “What keeps us up at night”.  So to prepare for the show here are some of the items that are top of mind that I might discuss today.  In the spirit of the agile methods, continuous improvement, and real-time communication benefits I cover below, I am writing this 30 minutes before I speak and will update and adjust this after the show.   Please excuse any typos or grammar, this has not been proofed.

1.  Change is the only constant.  Here are some of the trends I see:

  • Millennials will be 50% of the workforce in 10 years
  • Baby boomers will not go quietly into the night and continue to be a key part of the workforce in both a full time and part time capacity
  • Remote employement will grow: outsourcing and project teams located in multiple locations will continue to match supply to demand
  • Organizations will continue to become flatter and more cross-matrixed.  Efficiencies will be achieved by cutting out senior and middle management overhead and empowering employees and teams with more decision-making

2.  How can we help HR implement change?

Given the above, the question I ask is what companies, leaders and organizations are doing to adapt to this change?  I think for the most part, the response is reactive and much slower than needed.  Why does it take so long?  A seasoned HR executive who runs her own company now and has served as a Board of Director for a large public company once told me, “every change and program in HR is an bomb that could go off”.  I recall several times at the various companies I have worked at where well-intentioned programs for the benefit of employees have back-fired.

3.  We need to give HR permission to fail

One of the most transformative principles used by hyper-growth companies like Facebook and Google is agile development —  where you ship new products and features quickly, measure the results, optimize, and fail fast if needed.  Every department from sales to operations is encouraged to test, learn, and optimize.  Executives, employees, and shareholders, need to give HR the same permission to innovate and fail.  Several of our clients have tested out MeritShare first by rolling it with teams and groups of people first to test and build support.

4.  How can we create great user experiences

Apple was not the first company to make a MP3 player or mobile phone, they won by creating great user experiences.  Up until recently, most HR software had terrible user experiences.  Now I’m starting to see some great user experiences.   Just this week I saw a demo from Trakstar which provides performance management software and one of the best sign-up experiences I have experienced at Bamboo HR.  At MeritShare we have followed a similar approach and constantly ask, what can we do to make this easier, how can we reduce the barriers to appreciation.  Our site is self-service and you can set up a recognition program in minutes and give a merit or thanks in seconds.

5.  What gets measured gets done

Companies track and measure the areas that matter most: revenue, expenses, and sales. On the HR side, their are diversity, compensation, and turnover metrics but how many companies are tracking employee engagement and recognition?  There have been several studies that show that companies with high employee engagement are more profitable, productive, and have less turnover.  Given this, how many companies are tracking these key metrics?  Metrics also drive behavior and make things fun.  We live in a “measured me” world with fitbit’s, runkeeper where tracking encourages people more to focus on the goals.  Ask your sales leader what would happen if he/she didn’t send out the weekly or monthly leader board showing ranking by sales rep.  At MeritShare we send out a weekly email to every user that shows their recognition score and ranking within the company and against our national index.  There is always a huge spike in activity after this gets sent out.  What get’s measured get’s done and makes it fun.

6.  Right-size social media

When the topic of social media comes up, most people talk about either the dangers of the the career-killing mis-guided tweet or the overwhelming flow of information streams created.  I look at the benefits of social media:  real-time communication, transparency, instant feedback loops, and giving every individual a voice.    Prospective employees are searching and looking at what is being shared on blogs and tweets, marketers get instant feedback on their new products, and everyone can voice an opinion.  For me the question is how can you make social media work for you, your goals and how much effort do you put into tweeting and blogging.  For business and the enterprise, I’m a big fan of blogging because it gives employees a voice, control for the company, and provides the potential for thought leadership.

7. What will I eat for lunch tomorrow?

I try to think one or two meals ahead.  The point here is that we are all human and achieving work/life balance is critical for both happiness and success.  Today it’s a spinach salad I made with heirloom tomatoes, avocado, ham, and corn.


5 Ways to Become an Extraordinary Leader

Boss vs. Leader

Some people are born leaders. They always know the right things to say and what needs to be done to achieve their goals. Naturally influential, they easily attract the respect of their followers and colleagues, able to motivate others to work towards a greater objective. But how do they achieve this? And how can others, especially those just beginning to take on a leadership role, emulate their success?

If you feel that you have been unsuccessful in gaining the respect of your employees, have been failing at motivating them, or just simply could not charm your way out of a paper bag, here are 5 ways you can improve yourself as a leader.

1. Do

Do rather than dictate. Just because you are a CEO, a supervisor, or manager, does not automatically make you a leader. Telling everyone what to do and making demands while you sit behind your desk is less than inspirational. Being active and involved in a project, actually getting your hands dirty, will show your employees that you know what you’re doing and that you care about the project. Rather than micro-managing or attempting to control your employees, be one of them. Work alongside them. Just as with team sports, seeing your team captain out there taking hits and putting his heart in the game will inspire you to play harder. Be an example of what you want them to be.

2. Listen

A lot of the time, following your gut and listening to your instincts can be extremely effective. But other times, what you may think is the best solution might not be. Before you make an important decision, get the opinions of others and open your mind to other ideas. What is pressing them? What works for them? What issues are they seeing that you are not? Not only is listening helpful to getting a better handle on the bigger picture and recognizing the existence of other factors, but it also shows your employees that their input matters to you. It shows that you care, and that you are not just out for your own personal interest. Working as team is important, and you must remember that not only are you leading a team, but you are part of that team.

3. Recognize

One of the best ways to bolster productivity and earn the respect of your employees is by showing that you respect them and appreciate the work they are doing. Effective employee recognition begins with finding meaningful and creative ways to make someone feel like the work they are doing is valuable to the company. You don’t have to be their best friend. Just show that you care. Realize that your employees are people who are trying to earn a living and have everyday struggles just like you do. Say thanks, and mean it.

4. Be Positive & Stay Calm

All too often I have dealt with Debbie Downer managers. People who have taken on so much responsibility that they become nervous wrecks, stressing out over anything and everything and taking out their frustrations on their employees as a result. I understand that work can be intensely consuming and overwhelming. With all the fires that need extinguishing, it is easy to forget about the feelings of others. Take a moment to realize that negativity can quickly permeate a room. If you are expressing yourself in an unpleasant way, others around you will might end up feeling anxious too. They will also be less likely to want to be around you or seek your advice. If you want people to follow you, and want to follow you, make it a positive experience. Don’t stress the little things, make yourself dependable and accessible so that others will give you the support you need. That way, everyone wins.

5. Be Extraordinary

As a leader, you are supposed to stand out. The greatest leaders are not just any Average Joes, but people who appeal to a crowd because they offer a new, exciting perspective that people want to be a part of. They are so passionate that they want others to share in it. They are inspirational because they demonstrate confidence and offer something that’s real. People should feel that, under your guidance, they can accomplish anything they strive to accomplish. And they can, as long as you truly want to share your dreams of success with them. Engage them. If you are extraordinary and allow others to be extraordinary, then extraordinary things will most certainly happen.

“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” —Douglas MacArthur