The Role of Safety Climate During the Pandemic

By: Donald M. Truxillo, Ph.D.

Donald Truxillo is a Professor at the Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick, Ireland. He studies the methods employers use to hire workers and the experiences of job applicants during recruitment and hiring. In addition, he examines issues related to workplace safety and health as well as age differences at work.

When returning to the workplace in the midst of the pandemic, employers and employees are all concerned about safety. In fact, people’s willingness to return to work will largely be affected by how safe they think it is to do so. As we know, many workplace safety issues can be addressed through the use of a physical redesign of workplaces in order to reduce contact with objects and increase the physical distance between people. And of course, the organization must give employees the proper tools and equipment to maintain their safety.

However, in addition to these approaches recommended by medical experts, there are other ways that organizations can support the safety and health of their workers. Research has shown that the organization’s safety climate, or the shared value that organizational members place on safety, is one of the most important determinants of worker safety and health. Organizational safety climate is particularly important during the Covid-19 pandemic since safety is largely dependent on the behavior of organizational members – employees, supervisors, and managers.

Luckily, the research also prescribes a number of ways that organizations can support a strong safety climate and safe behaviors among their employees. Let’s talk through some of these ideas and how they might be applicable during the Covid-19 pandemic.

  1. Management as role models and leaders. One of the best ways to promote a climate of safety and health is for top managers to communicate the importance of safety to employees. This comes in the obvious form of top management messaging the importance of safety – everything from emails to web materials. But one of the most important factors, often overlooked by managers, is the importance of modeling safe and healthy behaviors themselves. For example, if top management were to promote a new safety training program, they would need to be among the first to take the training as well. By the same token, if management wants to promote hand-washing, physical distancing, or mask-wearing, they need to adhere to these protocols themselves. Furthermore, managers cannot promote production over safety (e.g., “Yes, I know there’s a safety problem, but let’s talk about it later since we need to get the product out today.”) And managers need to be willing to listen to employee concerns and show that safety is just as important as production. This includes being willing to take actions that may impact production when safety issues are identified.
  2. The critical role of supervisors. Direct supervisors play one of the most critical roles in promoting safety and health. Like top managers, they need to communicate and model safety – and they should be given the proper supports to do so, such as training. In fact, one of the most important determinants of safe behavior by employees is whether they perceive safety as being supported by supervisors. During a crisis such as the current pandemic, supervisors need to be trained on what the organization’s safety protocols are and how to communicate these to employees. They also need to be trained in how to support and address the concerns employees who may be fearful of returning to work or who may be at high risk. Relatedly, supervisors should listen to employees’ concerns and ideas about safety and pass these back along to management in order to address these concerns. And if training is needed to help supervisors know how to talk to employees about safety, that training should be provided. When leaders show genuine concern for their team it can lead to conversations with employees that help everyone to stay safe.
  3. Employees as a safety resource. Obviously, employees are key to workplace safety. But they also provide a valuable resource to supervisors and managers for understanding safety problems so that they can be solved quickly. Employees may be the first to spot safety and health problems in the workplace, and encouraging them to communicate these to the organization is critical for developing solutions. Part of this is that employees need to believe that supervisors and managers aren’t just giving “lip service” to valuing safety. Leaders at all levels need to be willing to have often difficult listening sessions and conversations with employees about problems that need to be addressed. Doing so creates a safer environment for employees, and it can often make employees more willing to return to work.

In short, many organizations have found that a strong safety climate is the secret to successful safety programs. Without such a climate in place, other safety programs and training may be for naught. With a good safety climate, the other pieces of the safety puzzle click together.

Getting them back and doing it safely is your challenge. Preppio is here to help.


Going Back to Work Post-COVID: Reboarding Best Practices

By: Talya N. Bauer, Ph.D.
Chief Scientific Advisor, Preppio

Onboarding is the process of helping new employees learn the requirements, expectations, and culture of their new organizations. It is a process that is critical for getting new employees off to a strong and productive start and when done well, it leads to employees feeling more clear on role expectations, connected to their colleagues, confident in their ability to successfully do their job and navigate the organization and to understand and embody the organization’s culture. It also means that employees are more engaged, have better job attitudes, and are less likely to leave the organization. I began studying onboarding over two decades ago.

In 2010, I created the “C’s of Onboarding” framework compliance, clarification, confidence, connection, and culture. Compliance refers to things that must be done when new employees start things like getting paperwork completed, the badging process, and provisioning tasks like equipping new employees with computers and phones as well as a workspace.  Clarification refers to how well new employees understand their roles and performance expectations. Confidence refers to how much new employees feel like they can do the job well and tackle new challenges. Connection refers to how accepted and valued new employees feel. Culture refers to how well new employees understand the norms, values, stories, and symbols of their new organization.

The 5 “C’s” of Effective Onboarding include a focus on compliance, clarification, confidence, connection, and culture. Organizations that focus on the 5 “C’s” demonstrate more successful onboarding and business outcomes than those that do not.

Post-COVID, onboarding will continue to be an important part of successful organizations and their success, but a more pressing concern is that of reboarding. Millions of people have been placed on work-from-home (WFH) status due to company and government decisions for sheltering in place and social distancing. Before COVID, it was not unusual for some people in some industries to work remotely at least a few days per week. Now, the droves of new workers have learned how to successfully navigate the challenges of working remotely. This has led organizations such as Twitter to announce that employees will have a choice to return to the office or continue working from home forever if they are able.[1] And, in the short run, large organizations such as Google and Facebook have announced that employees will be working remotely at least until the end of 2020. Estimates range from 25 to 41% of employees estimated to work-from-home post-COVID.[2]

As the Twitter announcement indicates, returning back to work post-COVID will not be business as usual. In order to prepare for reboarding, organizations should consider key factors, and looking to best practices for onboarding can be helpful in addressing reboarding post-COVID.  While there are many factors to consider, I am focusing on the following employee needs following the 5 C’s of Onboarding framework to help with employees returning to physical offices as well as furloughed employees returning to work.

Post-COVID Reboarding Considerations and Best Practices

  • COMPLIANCE:
    • Provide clear guidance regarding new rules and policies A huge part of new employee onboarding is learning what the requirements are for the new job and meeting those. This might include filling out paperwork or signing legal documents and forms with HR. Post-COVID, organizations are likely to have new policies and procedures in place. These new rules will

Focus on health and safety– Related to the need for clear guidance regarding new rules and policies, organizations that focus on the health and safety of their returning employees are likely to be concerned for their physical health and safety. Organizations that make it clear, through their words and actions, that this is a priority for them as well will go a long way toward helping employees re-engage and feel a sense of obligation to reciprocate to support their organization.

  • CLARITY:
    • Support work-family considerations– The lines between work and family have become more and more blurred over time with the increase in online access and cell phones making us available more now than ever. However, physically being at work did help with the clarity in terms of such lines. During the COVID pandemic, this has not been the case for many employees who have worked while juggling family members, roommates, and even pets in real-time along with their work. We have all seen meetings and interviews with pets barking and kids interrupting their parents with a question. As employees return back to work, part of the challenge of reboarding will be helping them to navigate these blurred lines now that “professionalism” has been tempered with “humanism” and the idea that we are all doing the best we can in terms of our work and our families.
  • CONNECTION:
    • Provide emotional support– Helping employees engaging in reboarding the organization post-COVID will require a focus on helping employees manage their emotions and anxiety. More now than ever, employee assistance programs and other benefits are necessary to offer and make accessible to employees who may need them. Openly addressing the issue and normalizing emotions is a potentially useful and healthy approach to help employees get back to normal and feel more connected to one another and the organization.
  • CONFIDENCE:
    • Rebuild trust– Some organizations have done a good job of showing empathetic leadership in the face of challenging circumstances. Others have not done as well. Regardless, the physical distance and record global unemployment we’ve experienced as a society will mean that some confidence and trust has been lost and will need to be rebuilt so that it does not erode further.
  • CULTURE:
    • Support cultural evolution– Organizational culture is not a static thing. It is intangible and it evolves. Every new employee who joins an organization is influenced by it and also has an influence upon it. Post-COVID, a big part of reboarding success will depend on how well an organization supports cultural evolution. In other words, the creation of new norms, new stories, new rituals, and new ways of getting work done and connecting with one another at work. While this cultural evolution will happen with or without organizational support, those who are able to help facilitate a healthy dialog about cultural changes and evolution will be poised to come out stronger on the other end of the pandemic recovery process.

Conclusion

The points provided here are easier said than done. They are worth the effort. By focusing on these considerations and best practices will likely set organizations apart from those who evolve and emerge stronger than before the pandemic and those who see engagement erode and employees leave as soon as other opportunities are available.


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Onboarding Checklist: Connections and the Need to Belong

By: Talya N. Bauer, Ph.D.
Chief Scientific Advisor, Preppio

I believe that relationships matter primarily because they connect us as human beings. Few would actively disagree with such a statement. However, successful relationships often require intention and effort. Interestingly, when it comes to onboarding, many organizations assume that a new employee’s need to belong and to connect with colleagues will simply “work itself out” with time. It might – but then again, it might not. Therefore, I’ve made it my mission to help organizations develop proactive and strategic onboarding approaches that cultivate a sense of connection and belonging for new employees.

I first became exposed to the three levers (confidence, clarity, and connection) of successful onboarding over 25 years ago as a doctoral student pursuing my Ph.D. in business at Purdue University. Our early work, which examined research scientists working toward doctoral degrees, indicated that these three levers were important keys to onboarding leading to engagement, effectiveness, and retention. Subsequent research has consistently confirmed these findings and expanded these initial levers to the 5 C’s of onboarding (compliance, confidence, clarity, connection, and culture).

Helping new employees feel more confident, have greater role clarity, and feel more connected all matter. More importantly, when individuals feel more accepted and connected to those around them, it is easier for them to ask clarifying questions and gain confidence. Thus, when I am working with organizations to help them maximize their onboarding program success, I recommend that after they have dealt with the basics of strong onboarding, they focus on specific ways to help new employees feel welcome and to jumpstart the process of their connections even before they arrive on the first day of their job.

The manager holds a special key to the connection process. In research I conducted with a colleague, we found that being unable to establish meaningful connections with coworkers led new engineers to seek less information. However, if the new engineer and his or her manager were able to connect, the newcomer could overcome this hurdle even in the face of conflict with coworkers. In other words, the relationship the new employee has with his or her manager was crucial to establishing a sense of belongingness in the organization and this relationship enabled them to freely seek information from the supervisor. Hence, these employees were positioned to succeed in the organization.

When it comes to onboarding success, relationships matter. Relying on new employees to “sink or swim” when it comes to connecting with coworkers and managers is a risky strategy. Organizations can help new employees maximize success by engaging in onboarding best practices which I have developed and presented below which are based on research, consulting, and observations regarding new employee success. And, when you invest in new employees, they invest back into their co-workers, customers, and the organization.


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Reboarding in the Midst of a Global Pandemic: How to Decrease Stress and Build Resilience

By: Julie McCarthy Ph.D 

Dr. Julie McCarthy is a Professor of Organizational Behavior and HR Management in the Department of Management at the University of Toronto. Julie’s research examines strategies that individuals can use to build resilience and achieve success in their work and home lives.


Even before the current COVID-19 pandemic hit, the fast-paced nature of today’s corporate world was placing increased demands on employees and triggering high levels of exhaustion, disengagement, and illness. Today, more than ever, people around the globe are experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety as they try to navigate the new world of work. Many of us have been working from home for weeks and are eager to return to the workplace. At the same time, there is a great deal of uncertainty and anxiety about this re-boarding process. The goal of this blog post is to highlight strategies to help you re-enter the workplace in ways that will minimize your stress and build your resilience.

BE PATIENT

The first important consideration is to be patient. As we return to work it is essential to understand that everyone’s pandemic experience is different and we can’t assume others are feeling and/or reacting to things the way we are. We also know that tensions have been running high, with many of us feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, and burned out. Therefore, being patient with coworkers and making sure that lines of communication are open is critical.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

During times of stress, it is critical to take care of ourselves but paradoxically it is also during these times that we are less likely to do so. As we return to work we want to ensure that our daily routines include daily exercise, healthy eating habits, and sufficient rest. It is also critical not just to obtain physical rejuvenation, but to couple this with psychological rejuvenation. This means that we need to detach our minds from our current sources of stress and instead allow it to relax. This can be accomplished by selecting activities that you truly enjoy or engaging in activities with family members or friends so that you can really keep your mind in the moment.

TAKE BREAKS

Remember to incorporate breaks into your daily work schedule. The science of breaks tells us that we need a 15-20 minute break for every 1 ½ hours of cognitively demanding work. It’s also important to recognize that we are most productive in the morning and have the least energy between 2-3 pm. So, don’t wait to take breaks in order to rejuvenate!

BOOST THE POSITIVE

Human nature is such that we have a tendency to focus on the negative - particularly during times of threat. This evolutionary mechanism enables us to prepare for danger, as it prompts the fight or flight response. During this unprecedented time of stress, it is very easy for us to slip into negative moods, with feelings of anxiety spiraling quickly into outright panic. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that emotions are contagious – our anxiety can easily spill over to our coworkers. Thus, as we return to work we must take active strategies to minimize these negative emotions and boost positive ones – like joy and optimism. We can do this by priming positivity: actively smile when in the office, incorporate positive music into the office environment, and focus conversations on things that you are feeling positive about.

SHIFT YOUR MINDSET

It’s not always the negative events that happen to us that are the problem – it’s our interpretation of these events. Therefore, as we shift back to working from the office we need to ask ourselves some core questions about the problems that we encounter. This first is whether this problem or issue something that will last forever. Most of the time the answer is no – this issue is unlikely to on your plate a month from now, let alone next year. Second, ask yourself if this problem or issue is affecting your entire While it may seem like it permeates everything, often our problems are focused on a specific aspect of our work and/or home lives. Finally, ask yourself if you are solely responsible for this problem. The vast majority of the time the answer is a resounding no – there are other individuals, environmental factors, and situational factors that are at play. In sum, take a step back and positively reappraise the problems that you encounter as you return back to work.

SLOW DOWN

As we return to this new world of work it is also essential that we protect and rejuvenate our energy so that we don’t end up with high levels of burnout. An important way that we can do this is by slowing down. Many of us have so many things happening at once that we are in a state of “continuous partial attention”, where we have several balls in the air that we are trying to juggle. This leads to distractibility, frustration, and lower productivity. Try to slow down and focus on one thing at a time. Take time for reflection. Consider mindful breathing exercises.

HELP OTHERS

Finally, it is important to recognize that strong interpersonal connections are a source of resilience. Be sure to foster strong relations with your coworkers by engaging in active listening and helping them when you can. Research indicates that when we help others we subconsciously and inadvertently help ourselves. Thus, acts of compassion build our personal resilience. This phenomenon is known as ‘helpers high’.

CONCLUSION

As we slowly return to work, it is essential to engage in strategies that will minimize our stress and build our resilience. This will not only boost personal well-being but will result in increased personal and organizational productivity. It will also spillover to result in higher levels of personal and home satisfaction. Finally, it will have significant and positive effects on your coworkers and family members.

Getting them back and doing it safely is your challenge. Preppio is here to help.



The Employee Onboarding Process: 5 Keys to Success

By: Talya N. Bauer, Ph.D.
Chief Scientific Advisor, Preppio

Onboarding matters.

I strongly believe this statement based on years of observing and documenting the power of onboarding for new employees and organizations alike. Globally, onboarding has evolved into a mature HR practice. Successful strategic onboarding is especially important given the increasing pace of change and mobility. Research has shown, over and over again, that onboarding has the power to influence whether new employees decide to stick with or leave an organization with 80% of new employees deciding whether or not to stay with their new organization within the first few months, yet most organizations do not believe they do it well. In fact, when Gallup asked employees about onboarding, 88% indicated that they didn’t think their organization was good at onboarding.

And managers agree, with only 76% of HR leaders reporting that they believe they are ineffectively onboarding their new employees. The top reasons managers gave for neglecting onboarding included not having enough time (57% of the managers surveyed noted this challenge), the absence of tools to measure its effectiveness (55% of the managers surveyed noted this challenge), and the lack of digital onboarding technology to automate the process (39% of managers noted this challenge).

I have been studying onboarding for nearly three decades. A lot has changed during that time. Onboarding began as what we now think of as orientation programs that were utilized to complete paperwork and begin to orient new employees to their jobs. These orientations were rarely considered a source of competitive advantage. That changed as onboarding became the increasingly hot talent management topic that it is today. My own research, and that of many other scholars, has consistently shown that effective onboarding leads to faster adjustment, better job attitudes, more customer referrals, better performance, and stronger retention. 3 But that’s only the case if it is done right. As more and more organizations focused on onboarding and began considering the need to rethink their onboarding process, best practices began to be discovered and shared. That’s great news for those interested in helping employees and organizations create vibrant and effective workplaces together.

Over ten years ago, I took a look at the academic research that had been done on onboarding in terms of what really worked in terms of effective onboarding. Based on this, I developed the 5 “C’s” of Onboarding which are: Compliance, Clarification, Confidence, Connection, and Culture. Compliance refers to things that must be done when new employees start things like getting paperwork completed, the badging process, and provisioning tasks like equipping new employees with computers and phones as well as a workspace. Clarification refers to how well new employees understand their roles and performance expectations. Confidence refers to how much new employees feel like they can do the job well and tackle new challenges. Connection refers to how accepted and valued new employees feel. Culture refers to how well new employees understand the norms, values, stories, and symbols of their new organization.

Consistent with the 5 C’s of onboarding, there are many best practices when it comes to onboarding new employees effectively. The five key points which I have seen as onboarding best practices from India to Indiana and from scrappy startups to Fortune 500 organizations and everything in-between include:

1) An onboarding plan should be developed to maximize onboarding success.

Some organizations are hiring new employees every single day. Others hire less frequently. Either way, the key to success is to think through an onboarding plan for every new employee BEFORE they are even hired. Doing this in advance helps to ensure a seamless and welcoming process for new employees. The best organizations are aware that poor onboarding can be costly turnover which can be as much as twice the employee’s annual salary. And, a study of newly hired employees found that new employees were 58% more likely to remain with the organization 3 years later if they had a structured onboarding experience. 5 The worst thing that can happen to a new employee is to feel like an after-thought. You’ve invested a lot in the recruitment and selection of your new hires. Having an onboarding plan ready to go for them shows them that you are going to continue to invest in their well-being and success within the organization.

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2) The right people are involved in the onboarding plan including the new employee, managers, and other key organizational members such as buddies.

Successful onboarding does not consistently happen by accident. Microsoft studied their onboarding process and found that new employees who had one-on-one meetings with their managers during their first week had a 12% larger internal network within 90 days than new employees who hadn’t met with their manager. They also found that these new employees had higher-quality meetings, and they spent nearly three times more of their time engaging with their team in collaborative ways.

6 Microsoft also found that having an onboarding buddy assigned was related to better role clarity, higher productivity, and 36% higher new employee job satisfaction within 3 months on the job. 7 And, new employees play an important role in their own onboarding as well. Research has consistently found that when new employees are proactive, they are more successful.

3) The onboarding plan is consistently implemented. All new employees receive an onboarding plan.

When it comes to onboarding, consistency is a key metric for success. We know that planning is important. We know that having the right people involved is important. But, it is not just important for some employees. It is important for ALL employees to be successful. By consistently implementing the onboarding plan and sharing it with new employees, they are empowered to move quickly toward engagement and productivity. Automation can help with this so that every new employee receives the same information at the same time in their onboarding journey.

4) The onboarding plan includes clear objectives, specific timelines, and outlines the roles and responsibilities of the new employee and the organization.

The power of these simple best practices is illustrated by an experiment conducted at Google. Google shared research-based onboarding best practices with managers who had new employees starting via a simple, 37-word automated email sent right before new employees started their employment. They found that this increased productivity by 25%. The emails emphasized the need to have a roles and responsibilities discussion with the new employee, the importance of matching the new employee with a peer buddy, the need to help the new employee build a social network, the importance of setting up regular onboarding check-ins once a month for the first six months of the new employee's tenure, and the need to encourage an open dialogue. 8

5) The onboarding plan is evaluated and tracked over time (for at least six months).

The adage “what gets measured, gets done” applies to onboarding as well. By tracking and evaluating your onboarding process over time, you will be able to adjust to changes, make improvements, and better meet the needs of new employees. Moving beyond the first day or week and the orientation program, organizations have the ability to increase retention, productivity, employee job attitudes, and engagement. By automating this process, everyone gains time and efficiency and no one forgets to evaluate and track the onboarding process.

While these five key points may seem simple, getting the entire organization to engage in these steps for every new employee can be a challenge. It is a challenge well worth the effort. Technology, good internal communication tools and automation can help with many of these best practices.


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The 5 C's of Onboarding

By: Talya N. Bauer, Ph.D.
Chief Scientific Advisor, Preppio

Understand what it takes to create an onboarding process that maximizes the new employee experience for success.

I began studying onboarding over 25 years ago. In fact, my dissertation included a study of new college graduates entering a variety of jobs. My prediction was that what happened during the recruitment process, what the manager and onboarding did while the new employee was being onboarded, as well as what the new employee did themselves were all going to be related to important outcomes such as new employee performance, job satisfaction, and retention. Luckily, after spending a year of my life following new employees into their new jobs and studying their onboarding successes and failures, many of these predictions turned out to be true. In fact, over the past decades, I have been amazed at how powerful the onboarding process is in terms of these important outcomes.

When onboarding goes well, individuals and organizations thrive. When onboarding goes poorly, the negative outcomes can be equally powerful with high levels of dissatisfaction, low engagement, poor performance, and high turnover.  The statistics are sobering with half of all hourly workers leaving their new jobs within the first 120 days and half of all senior outside hires failing within 18 months in a new position.

All it takes is understanding which tools, or levers, are available to the organization to help new employees thrive. As I conducted research and reviewed what worked and what didn’t, I realized that the key levers could be identified and broken down into core components.

In 2010, I wrote a professional practices white paper for the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) where I laid out a number of onboarding levers based on years and years of research, consulting, and observation of onboarding. These have since evolved into the 5 “C’s” of Onboarding: Compliance, Clarification, Confidence, Connection, and Culture. While each of the 5 C’s is an important component of onboarding, the higher up the scale from compliance to connection and culture that your organization is able to go, the more effective your onboarding program becomes.

The 5 “C’s” of Effective Onboarding include a focus on compliance, clarification, confidence, connection, and culture. Organizations that focus on the 5 “C’s” demonstrate more successful onboarding and business outcomes than those that do not.

The 5 “C’s” of Effective Onboarding include a focus on compliance, clarification, confidence, connection, and culture. Organizations that focus on the 5 “C’s” demonstrate more successful onboarding and business outcomes than those that do not.

Comply with Legal Rules and Obligations. Compliance refers to things that must be done when new employees start things like getting paperwork completed, the badging process, and provisioning tasks like equipping new employees with computers and phones as well as a workspace.  Organizations, even those who claim they do not have a formal onboarding program, have to get compliance right to stay in business. Because of this, many employees spend their first day on the job filling out forms. This is a missed opportunity for organizations. Organizations spend millions of hours and billions of dollars working through the recruitment funnel of attracting candidates, identifying qualified candidates, assessing candidates, and then finally hiring them and hoping they join the organization. But, they spend much less time thinking about ways to help make the employee experience better.

The Recruitment Funnel in Relation to the Stages of Recruitment

The recruitment funnel decreases the number of candidates considered from the time of recruitment through hire, leaving the very best candidates to hire.

A first step in helping create a unique and powerful employee experience is to spend the valuable first day on the job working them up the onboarding funnel to generate the biggest onboarding ROI on their first hours  You can’t do that if all they experience is a stack of papers or online forms and waiting in long lines to get their badges. This is a huge wasted opportunity to move down the onboarding funnel toward the high-value activities with big ROIs.

Clarify Roles and Expectations for New Employees. Clarification refers to how well new employees understand their roles and performance expectations. Of course, organizations hire new employees to do specific jobs so clarifying what they need to be doing, how to do it, and how the organization functions in terms of rules and policies is important. And, we know that structure and clarity are important for individual and team success. But, spending time learning the basics certainly isn’t the most exciting way to spend your time when you’re new. So, build in ways to help new employees understand what is expected of them but the goal in doing this should be squarely focused on helping them feel equipped and confident in their choice to join your organization and their own ability to do a good job.

Build Up New Employee Confidence. Confidence refers to how much new employees feel like they can do the job well and tackle new challenges. It is a state of mind. While an organization cannot directly help new employees feel better about themselves, they can design onboarding experiences that help build up employees rather than tearing them down. When employees feel more confident, they are more likely to feel good about those around them as well as the choice to join your organization. Research conducted by Dan Cable and his colleagues found that onboarding, when done right to focus on the value of the new employee and encouraging them to share themselves at work, can immediately increase performance and retention.

Help New Employees Build Meaningful Connections at Work. Connection refers to how accepted and valued new employees feel. When new employees feel connected to their colleagues, they feel safe. Research has consistently shown that leads to all sorts of good individual and organizational outcomes. When new employees feel connected and safe, they ask questions. They try new things. And, they engage more fully with their coworkers, role, and the organization. And, they appreciate it. It is a factor which help new employees feel that they made the right choice to join the organization. Gallup has consistently found that having a close friend at work is related to a 50% boost in job satisfaction and that those employees with a best friend at work were seven times more likely to fully engage with their work. This starts with onboarding. If new employees feel alone and isolated on their first day, it can be challenging to recover as researchers found at Microsoft.

They Share Your Culture, But Remember That Cultures are Always Evolving. Culture refers to how well new employees understand the norms, values, stories, and symbols of their new organization. Onboarding is one of the key ways that organizational culture is formed, maintained, and changed. When I was working at Google and we focused on onboarding as a key KPI in People Operations, it was because the number of new employees at Google was anticipated to double within 18 months. That turned out to be true and the work done to identify what the Google culture was and how it would be impacted by such a huge influx of new employees was top of mind. One important thing for us to keep in mind was that while the stories of how the company was founded, its norms, missions, and its goals were evolving all the time. Onboarding is a great way to teach about what matters within your organization. It is also a great way to learn about how your organization could evolve for the better over time because new employees are the organization’s future.

Understanding what the 5 C’s of Onboarding on is the first important step toward ensuring that you have a robust onboarding program and that your onboarding program is best in class. No matter where your organization is in terms of its onboarding program, there is always room to make it stronger. With the technology available now that wasn’t available when I first started studying onboarding, it has never been easier or more rewarding to maximize onboarding success.


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Peacetime CEO, Wartime CEO, is now the time for Empathic CEO?

Employees pay attention to how the CEO communicates and supports them in this crisis. It speaks volumes to their core ethics! Any company story for the next decade is going to include how they handled this crisis.

If you haven’t had a chance to watch Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson deliver a powerful message to staff during this challenging crisis yet, it’s highly recommended you take the time now. It’s a masterful display of authentic leadership during an unprecedented event for the hospitality industry. The video message is included below and you should keep reading for our breakdown. Learn how you can incorporate strong leadership communication into your own organization during a crisis.


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The Power of Face-to-Face
(even when we can’t meet face-to-face)

Video can’t replace the intimacy of face-to-face meetings, or the more traditional company town hall format, but it’s still a powerful alternative. Many companies are handling CEO-communications in the form of generic company-wide emails or blog posts. While this message might be easier to disseminate, it can’t replace the connections employees feel while looking into the eyes of their leader.

This video production is polished, but it doesn’t need to be

There’s high production value in this specific example, with the CEO dressed in suit and tie - which you don’t really need either. With the majority of employees working from home these days, it’s perfectly acceptable for the CEO to deliver such a video message right from their own living room. Lose the tie and even let the house cat stroll around in the background. It’s better to be authentic and let the employees see that their CEO is at home and with them in solidarity.

Don’t sugarcoat the reality of the business today

The Marriott CEO quickly gets to the reality of their business today. Revenue is down 90% in markets like China, and it’s down 75% globally. He reveals in terms of impact to the business that COVID-19 is worse for their industry than both 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis *combined*. There is no sugar coating going on here. We have seen other CEOs communicate less directly, implying that things are not so bad. This can become a communication challenge later if tough decisions are required, such as a staff reduction. You want your employees to get a realistic picture of the health of the business so that the question “I thought they said everything was OK?” does not occur. Those tough situations and decisions need to be communicated.

Nailing the action points

We get a very clear and almost bullet-point breakdown about what Marriott is doing to navigate the crisis as a business:

  • Controlling business costs such as non-essential travel
  • Pausing all hiring
  • All new hotel development initiatives are stopped
  • Turned off all brand marketing and advertising
  • Temporary leaves are being put in place and those affected are informed directly

With an organization as large as Marriott it’s challenging to speak to the entire staff and not get bogged down in the nuances of every department or geography. However, Mr. Sorenson does incredibly well to succinctly share what universal actions that are taking place that the entire organization should know about.

On top of these key actions, he also reveals that he is forgoing his own salary for the remainder of the year while his executive staff is taking a 50% salary reduction. In such times, we’re all having to make sacrifices so it’s commendable to see the CEO and executives doing the same.

Closing with hope and emotion

As Mr. Sorenson finishes his message, he highlights some of the hopeful signals they are seeing. He sets clear expectations and cautions as these are still early signs, but he's still giving his staff some much-needed optimism for the future. It’s fair to say the hospitality industry faces the most uncertainty right now due to this crisis. However, as you listen to this CEO message and even as a consumer of their services you can’t help but see some light at the end of the tunnel.

Finally, and perhaps the most important part of this communication is the emotion we see from the CEO. You can hear it in his voice, and you can see it in his eyes as they water up ever so slightly. This is not something we typically see from Fortune 500 CEOs and I think we can all agree it’s incredibly refreshing to see. If a CEO of a company as large as Marriott can show such emotion than you can as well in your own organization, big or small.


Looking for more support in your CEO-communications?

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6 insights you need to know about chatbots in Workplace from Facebook

By: Amin Fard


Since the start of Workplace from Facebook in 2017 Prepp has made it easy to create chatbots that delight employees. Based on over 100 chatbots implemented and 4 million messages sent to over 200.000 employees, we have learned what works and what doesn’t when it comes to chatbots for Workplace from Facebook!

 

Insight 1: Frequently asked questions chatbot:

The holy grail of chatbots! Save time for management and employees by reducing time spent on answering the same questions to employees over and over again! Just ask the chatbot and it will give the answer.

Sorry for being a party pooper, but it is not that easy. First of all, employees do not know the chatbots exist!! "What was the chatbot called? Where do I find it?" If they do find it and start to ask questions - the chatbot rarely knows the answer. Do not build a conversational chatbot unless you have a very specific use case in mind. Make sure that the employees find the chatbot when they need it, and most importantly; you need to invest time writing in all the answers you want the chatbot to reply with. And constantly add more content as you go.

 

Insight 2: Chatbots that integrate with other software:

Sounds smart, and it is. We expect chatbots to reduce the problem of having so many apps and software in your company so employees do not need to work in several systems all the time. Need a task in Workday to be filled in? Just type it into the Workday chatbot in Workplace. Even better, the chatbot asks the employee in WorkChat proactively and the employee answers to the chatbot. The chatbot fills out a reply in Workday without logging into Workday.

But, the world is not ready for it yet based on our experience. Very few software companies are built "API first". The software solutions still need a year or two to build stronger API`s so interfaces between solutions can get stronger.

 

Insight 3: We can create our own chatbots

Maybe you are an IT person yourself reading this, so please stop reading if you have a big ego.

I have not seen nonsoftware companies building chatbots in-house with success unless it has a very specific purpose or is business-critical. I have talked with 20+ companies that have tried and failed. Please challenge me on this, but internal IT people rarely have the capability to build a software solution that is user-friendly or updated on a regular basis to keep track of the latest developments.

 

Insight 4: Chatbots instead of paper forms

It is actually an amazing use case if your employees are spending a lot of time on forms.
There are companies in the insurance sector that have gone from paper-based forms to employees taking pictures and sending it to chatbots where AI auto-fills the form and sends it digitally - thousands of hours are saved.

 

Insight 5: Broadcast chatbots:

Let’s face it, getting a large group of employees on the same page when it comes to important information is a pain. Especially the front line workers that meet with the customers and represent the brand on a daily basis. New products, marketing, sales pitch - alignment on communication is key for success.

Email open rates or low. Emails are boring and often not relevant. E-mails are a long read for today's generation. Workplace is great, but not all posts in Workplace from Facebook are read by employees when they scroll down their newsfeed or if they do not check-in very often. Messages in chat are read because it is less time consuming and you actually get a message that you can read at any time. But remember, for broadcast chatbots to work, you need chat adoption to be at a certain level.

 

Insight 6: Onboarding chatbots:

25% of all company turnover happens first 12 months? For hourly employees, it is 50% in the first 120 days. According to Society for Human Resource Management(SHRM), onboarding is key for employee retention. If you think about the cost of hiring a new employee - there is a huge potential for improving retention and employee engagement. Chatbots can automate and bring the onboarding checklists to life, making the transition into the company easier.

Research tells us that managers are the key role, but they do not have time. With onboarding chatbots, you can make life easier for new hires and save time for HR and managers. For example, having the chatbot ask the new hire to introduce themself in Workplace from Facebook to kickstart the socialization process. What we learned is that chatbots are great for nudging and coaching managers into becoming better at onboarding. But do not forget, you need to have a proper pre-boarding phase as well. What to do when new hires do not have access to Workplace?

 

Interested in learning more?

Book a 15-minute call with me here: https://app.hubspot.com/meetings/amin to learn how you can get started with chatbots :-)


Why Micro-Learning Will Improve Your Employees Performance


By: A.J. O’Connell

Your Employees Want Training But Have No Time For It. Micro-Learning Is the Answer. 

Tell your employees that they have to find the time in their workday to take a course on your organization's learning management system (LMS), and you're likely to hear groans.

It's not that they don't want to be taught — most workers do. A recent study from Deloitte suggests that younger employees don't feel they got the skills they need from college — and they expect their employers to provide it.

It's simply that most employees don't have time for traditional workplace learning.

According to recent research, employees have just 1 percent of their work week for learning — for someone who works a typical 35-hour work week, that's about half an hour of training a week. If your training is any longer than that, then you're asking them to either ignore their work responsibilities or complete their learning during their own time. 

Neither of those is reasonable demands to make on your employees. 

Enter micro-learning. 

What is micro-learning? 

Micro-learning is exactly what it sounds like — small amounts of intensely focused learning. 

Rather than log into a company's learning management system (LMS) for a full-sized course, learners are served smaller chunks of learning — either on mobile devices or on their desktop. They take very little time — often less than 10 minutes — and are designed so that the learner can accomplish some important task after the lesson is over. They can be delivered in several ways, from an LMS to a video, to a chatbot. 

This approach is useful because it complements the way humans actually learn. Think of a traditional training session. There's usually a lecture and some questions to prove that learners have ingested the information. While most learners do remember the lecture long enough to pass a quiz shortly after, the human brain isn't designed to take in a half-hour lecture and remember it forever. Micro-learning boosts retention by teaching one relevant piece of information at a time. 

Before you start carving up your existing lessons into chunks of five minutes or less, it's important to note that micro-learning is more than a traditional course or a pre-existing module, cut into small pieces — the purpose of micro-learning is to teach the learner how to perform a specific task or achieve a specific objective. These chunks of learning must be intentionally designed so that they offer exactly the right amount of information necessary to help the learner perform that task successfully while tying into the overall arc of a company's learning and development strategy.

Micro-learning in the workplace

Because these tiny lessons can be delivered to learners on their phones, it's a particularly effective way to train employees who aren't chained to a desk

This sort of learning has been used well with retail employees; rather than pull workers off the floor for training modules, retailers use mobile apps to train workers quickly. For example, home decor retailer At Home has used gamified micro-learning served in 3-5 minute chunks to successfully improve knowledge of safety topics, while sports retailer Gresvik AS, has used mobile micro-learning to teach workers about upcoming sales campaigns. 

Those results are causing micro-learning to gain traction; according to ATD, 92 percent of organizations using micro-learning plan to increase their use of it while more than 67 percent of organizations not using it plan to start.

Because the learning is served up with one objective and is tied to a task that's likely to be completed during or soon after the training takes place, it’s an excellent way to get new skills and new information, like new regulations, recently-updated policies, and compliance information — into learners' hands quickly.

Take the example of Lyse AS, a Norway-based power company, which recently adopted Workplace by Facebook.

Because of the nature of its industry, Lyse's employees must be upon compliance, policies and other information, but its customer service branch, Lyse Dialog, handles more than a million customer interactions annually — the team is too busy to stop for periodic training, and information sent through other channels, like email and Workplace by Facebook, is at risk of being lost in a deluge of other messages. 

Lyse addressed the problem by using Prepp's chatbot Anna to cut through the noise of other posts and help get workers up to speed. It worked — more employees read the message from Anna than read the regular Workplace post.

Chatbots like Anna tend to deliver results because unlike regular Workplace posts, Anna engages the learners by asking for an answer. And, if a learner doesn't respond to the chatbot, there's a record of that, and the supervisor can use the chatbot to follow up.

Chatbots meet people where they are

As we mentioned earlier, there are a lot of ways to provide micro-learning to employees. You can send a video, use your LMS to deliver tiny courses, or ask a retail employee to download an app.

But there's a problem with all of those items — they add at least one extra step for your busy employees. If your employees only have about 30 minutes for training a week, you don't want them blowing their daily training time on downloading apps or managing multiple sign-ins. The hassle of having to move from one platform to another will cost your employees time and attention — it takes workers about 23 minutes to get back to work after an interruption takes them off-task, according to research on interruption.

That's an unrelated interruption, however. An interruption related to whatever a worker is already doing, however — like a quick burst of relevant micro-learning — is good for productivity because the learner's mind is still on their work.

That's why a chatbot is so valuable. It can meet your employees where they already spend time, like on Workplace by Facebook, where they're already logged in, or by texting them. Without having to log into a completely different system, your learners are being presented with micro-learning they can complete quickly, that relates to their work, and which will improve their performance as soon as they complete it. 

No one's being asked to complete training on their own time. No work piles up while employees run off to a conference room for training. And management knows who is actually completing modules.


Have Trouble Connecting With Your Mobile Workers?

By: A.J. O’Connell

Have trouble connecting with your mobile workers? You might have a thing or two you can learn from the original remote workforce. 


When you think of getting internal communication to remote workers, what sort of workers do you think of? We’re willing to bet you think about telecommuters; full-time, white-collar workers, who work some or all of the time from home, usually on a computer.

If that’s who you pictured, it makes sense. Remote work is on the upswing. According to Globalworkplaceanalytics.com, the number of employees who work remotely has grown by 115 percent since 2005, nearly 10 times the rate of the rest of the workforce.

Those workers represent a communication challenge for companies. As with any employees, they need to be updated on important company information, but because they’re not all physically in one place, a manager can’t just walk over to them and follow up with them.

How can organizations make sure their remote team members are in the loop and aligned with their co-workers? They can learn a lot from industries that have always employed a remote, mobile workforce.

Employees in the service, tourism, food, retail, and transportation industries are members of the original remote, mobile workforce. These workers don’t sit at desks, have constant access to a computer, or work in one location. Their jobs require them to be on a factory floor, in one of several retail locations, or even in the sky.

The active nature of these workers’ jobs doesn’t mean, however, that they don’t need to be getting (and reading) internal communication.

 

Keeping employees updated at 30,000 feet

Businesses like airlines have always faced a special challenge when it comes to managing remote, mobile workforces: many of their employees are mobile by definition, and often not near a computer and unable to use a smartphone, especially while they’re working. Those employees do, however, need to read and understand critical internal communication to keep themselves and the company’s customers safe and comfortable.

The air industry has been solving the problem of communicating with remote workers in innovative ways for decades. One of the old ways of making sure everyone read a memo was a “read book,” a three-ring binder with memos and announcements in it. Staff had to initial each page to show management that they’d read it. That was back in the 1980s and ‘90s.

Now, however, there are several tools at the disposal of the Internal Communication Manager: SMS, compliance software, and of course, email is used at various airlines to push content out to the workforce and to make every employee in the company feel like part of a cohesive group.

Apps are the latest version of the read book. Many airlines use apps to control the schedules of cabin crews or to report safety issues. While cabin crews are obviously not checking their smartphones while they’re flying, they must check in before their flight so that scheduling knows if they’re flying on a given day (if they don’t check in, the scheduling staff starts looks for them), and then they can read the announcements.

Some of those apps are also used as a virtual bulletin board, a portal where crews can read announcements, notices,  memos, and other important internal communications, like videos, images, or even podcasts from management. Like the read book, those apps track and measure who has read what announcements.

 

Mobile tech for a mobile workforce

Measuring the read rates on internal communications is important in every industry, but particularly crucial for industries that employ a large mobile workforce; employees in the field might not come into an office for months, and may not read emails from the company at all. (Even if they are reading company emails, how would management know?)

That’s why apps and collaborative workspaces have become so important for companies with remote workforces; these platforms can deliver messages to employees where they are: on their phones. And they can show managers and internal communication directors who have read what.

Retailers, for example, have used apps to keep app store employees updated. Gresvik AS, a company which owns and operates a chain of sporting goods retailers in Norway, uses a mobile app to update its retail workforce to update them on weekly campaigns. (That app asks employees to confirm when they’ve read and understood a sales campaign). Rather than just updating store managers and hoping the managers will keep all of their employees updated, this app reaches everyone who works for the chain.

The service industry also uses mobile technology to communicate with employees in the field. Nelbud 360 Services Group in the U.S. is a fire prevention company whose employees are always on the road, traveling to clients’ locations to clean and maintain ducts. Because their employees sometimes don’t come into a field office for weeks at a time, the company provides its employees with smartphones pre-loaded with all the apps they need to communicate with the company, including campaign information, internal communications, and human resources.

 

A virtual breakroom for mobile employees

Sometimes when it comes to internal communications, a virtual message board isn’t enough. Companies with remote workforces also need a virtual breakroom; a platform that allows workers from across a company to communicate with one another in real-time.

Several companies (including airlines) have been using collaborative platforms like Workplace by Facebook to manage their internal communications. Workplace connects staff with senior management and employees in different departments or locations. Everyone gets a voice. And, like the airline read books of the ‘80s, Workplace offers a portfolio of information for every employee to read, and it also shows the manager who’s read what announcement.

There is a drawback, however, Workplace is a network, not a physical book, and because everyone can post in it, it can be noisy and inappropriate for important announcements that everyone must read.

Fortunately, there are tools like chat and chatbots that interface with Workplace. Chat is a natural way to deliver important communications directly to remote employees. Many employees (especially younger workers, who grew up with chat programs) communicate via chat in their daily lives. It makes sense to deliver important work-related information to them that way as well, rather than using email or SMS, or some other interface that takes them out of a collaborative platform like Workplace.

Chat also elevates internal communications over the noise of Workplace because important notices are delivered directly to an inbox, rather than in the platform’s newsfeed.

Think of it as a noisy airplane cabin; there may be a lot of chatter, people might be watching videos, reading books, or talking to their neighbors, but once the captain’s voice comes over the loudspeaker with an important announcement, everyone is forced to pay attention.

Remote workers are untethered by desks and computers, but they shouldn’t be untethered by internal communications. If anything, companies with a large remote workforce must have a better internal comms platform than companies with traditional workforces.

 

To be successful those companies must reach their workforce where they are, no matter where they are, even if they are in the sky.