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An Agile Approach to Office Layout

In the modern world, business happens fast. Office life has become a constant balance of managing customer needs while simultaneously managing your resources. Keeping your business’s integrity all the while dealing with a constantly changing market. Accomplishing your company goals while keeping your employees motivated and happy. Now, more than ever before, businesses must able to meet constantly changing customer needs in an incredibly dynamic and fast paced world. Today’s businesses need speed, responsiveness, and adaptability. A successful business must be agile, and the first step to an agile business is an agile office.

But how does a company create the ideal agile work environment? In a recent article from the Velocity Counts web site, they discuss how to build the ideal agile team workspace. Before one can begin creating an agile workspace, an agile team must be constructed. This is a team that is dynamic, collaborative, and there is a strong sense of camaraderie amongst its members. It has been found that smaller teams, 5 to 10 members, have a stronger sense of membership and as a result are often more collaborative than larger teams. Because collaboration is key to agile, the office must be designed to encourage this.

People love to ask questions, and are more productive for it. An agile office needs to have the space and openness to allow team members to quickly share ideas with the swivel of a chair. Yet, there must also be the availability to allow team members to zone in on their own work. A collaboration center located centrally within the office space is ideal for this. Here multiple team members can quickly organize a meeting to discuss ideas and then quickly return to their own stations. Finally, members must be happy. Happy team members are more open to sharing their ideas and communicating with other team members. Keep the room bright, with plants and art, and spending a little extra to keep employees happy (like a stocked refrigerator), has also shown to increase productivity.

In the modern business world, companies must be agile and their office should facilitate this. Communication and collaboration are key. Sharing ideas not only sparks creativity but also increases employee productivity. An open office allows team members to comfortably ask questions and solve problems together as a team. Communication accelerates your business, and with an agile office your business can easily master the fast paced and dynamic business world that exists today.

Written by Paul Lovy, .Net Software Engineer 1
For more on this topic please visit Velocity Counts

 

 

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Christmas in July

Big ships are slow to turn.  Large enterprise customers make very deliberate and careful decisions.  The benefits of measuring and improving employee email communications using Outlook email analytics are often understood within an hour.  The process of making business cases, technical and security reviews, and procurement cycles in companies of 25,000, 50,000, 100,000 and 300,000 employees occurs, due to the very nature of their size, in slow motion.

Which is why the end of the fiscal year and the beginning of the new one is so exciting.  Communicators may have been waiting literally years to get modern email communication tools.  The approval process crawls forward, as the email analytics project slips through the hoops to arrive as an item within the enterprise budget cycle.  Then, seeming suddenly, this month and next, the flood gates open.  Email measurement finally has a budget, the technical and data security light is green, we’re moving ahead.  Now, after months or years of evaluation, the question becomes how fast can we get it implemented?  Yes, it’s a joy to tear open the wrapping isn’t it?!

Study Reveals Recognition Drives Employee Engagement

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Study reveals money is not the driver of employee engagement.

A recent study by BambooHR reveals what drives employee engagement and job satisfaction, and its not what you think.

The study, which polled more than 1,000 employees nationwide, revealed that money is not the driver of employee engagement.

Instead, employee recognition, a promotion without a raise, and employee perks can be just as, if not more, effective at boosting employee  engagement than a small raise or bonus.

Vice President of HCM strategy and intellectual property at BambooHR, Rusty Lindquist, said:

“Recognition needs to feel personal. If you strip away the personal nature of the recognition, you can also lose impact. So some of the most effective recognition approaches are also the easiest… simply pull someone aside and say thank you”.

The survey has also found that a fifth of employees would rather receive a promotion to a higher position without a 3% raise in salary instead of a pay raise without a promotion to a higher position.

Even something as simple as employee recognition can boost engagement within your company.

According to the survey, a third of employees would rather receive a company-wide email from an executive recognizing their accomplishments than receive a $500 bonus that isn’t openly publicized by a superior to their colleagues.

One interesting find from the survey shows some discrepancies between male and female workers when it comes to what signifies a career advancement. Female employees ranked “more money” and “a higher title” higher than men.

In comparison, male employees ranked “more direct reports,” “expanded responsibility,” and “more face time with company executives” higher than women.

The survey definitely shines a light on other ways we can recognize and reward employees other than monetary incentives. We encourage you to get creative and let us know how you recognize and reward employees at your organization. Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

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Recognizing and Rewarding Staff: 3 Tips

A recent article on the iMedia Connection website explains how and why modern businesses should acknowledge the achievements made by their teams.

In today’s face paced business world, taking the time to recognize and reward employees for their hard work can significantly impact their engagement levels- and, as a result, how much effort they are likely to put into their next big task or project.

Numerous studies have found that having a clear recognition program not only boosts the morale and job satisfaction of those already working for you, but it can help attract new talent too.

Although this has been proven in many studies some leaders are still unaware of the benefits of recognizing and rewarding staff for their accomplishments. Also common is that leaders are having difficulty monitoring which member of staff has done what. This is becoming increasingly challenging as workforces are becoming more dispersed and remote.

By finding solutions that help leaders and managers track and reward these accomplishments, an organization can enjoy improved morale, increased productivity and higher retainment figures.

Here are some solutions:

Software that Offers Macro- and Micro- Visibility
Intelligent work and project management systems can provide a more detailed perspective on workloads, by capturing data such as completion timeframes and collaborative input. Managers and leaders can assess whether projects were completed on time and on budget, and who the top performers of each project were.

Social Elements
Adding a social intranet or using other work management tools with social style collaborative features can help employees share ideas and praise each other on completed projects. With these tools all this information is available for company-wide viewing, allowing others to recognize the group’s effort.

Streamline Process
One of the easiest ways to improve employee engagement and productivity is by making systems and process more streamlines, reducing any frictions or frustrations that may emerge. By making it easier to teams to do their work effectively, you will be encouraging them to stay with your company.

 

Read the full article here.

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October Engagement Rates Remain Stable

We’ve talked a lot this year about Gallup’s Daily Survey to measure employee engagement rates in the US. Back in the beginning of the year we experienced some higher than normal rates, then followed by relatively similar rates since then. The survey shows for the month of October, out of the random sample of 7,273 employed US adults aged 18 and above, an average of 32.1% considered themselves to be engaged in their jobs.

Engagement is classified based on its key workplace elements including staff feeling that their opinions are listened to at work, having the opportunity to use their talents each day, and having support from leaders or managers who encourage their individual development.

Engaged employees are more enthusiastic about their own work and the success of the company as a whole, meaning that they can significantly impact a company’s productivity and success. According to Gallup’s previous in depth research, employee engagement is linked with business outcomes that directly affect an organization’s bottom line.

Interestingly, employee engagement in the US is experiencing its longest period of stability since the Gallup Daily Surveys began in 2011. As of March 2015, monthly averages have remains at a similar level- whereas in the past they have tended to fluctuate greatly over the course of the year.

In 2015 alone the engagement metric has been higher than it was between 2011 and 2013. So far this year it hasn’t fallen below 31%, and if the average above 31% continues for the final months of the year, the 2015 average will be slightly above last year’s average of 31.5%. The most engaged year yet!

Of course, while the stability and the figures are all positive, it still shows that the majority of the US workforce is not engaged- and on average, the nation has only two employees per “actively disengaged” employee. So it’s safe to say there is a ton of room for growth.

Read more about October’s engagement rates here.

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Why Positive Customer Experiences Hinge on Employee Engagement

Most business leaders will tell you that customers and their experiences are the most important part of business. They also acknowledge that employee engagement is pivotal to the success of their business. After all, employees are the ones who will help form a first impression of your brand- and if they are feeling demotivated it is likely that they will not delivery during the first interaction.

An article on the Entrepreneur website lists four ways leaders can ensure employees are primed to deliver first-rate customer experience:

  1. Shorten Feedback Loops
    It’s become the norm to only give employees feedback twice a year. However, the half-a year gap in between gives employees the impression that feedback is being provided only because leaders are being obliged to. As evidence for shortening the feedback loops, Forbes notes that 43% of highly engaged employees get feedback at least once a week, compared to 18% of employees with low engagement.
  2. Tap into Your Employees’ Customer Insights
    It is widely known that high employee engagement mutually benefits the company and its staff. This is particularly apparent by simply sitting down with employees and asking for their thoughts and ideas, based on their front-line customer experience. in doing so, they will be more appreciative of you taking the time to heat, discuss and consider what they say, while you will come away with some crucial customer insights.
  3. Adopt a Personal Approach
    There are a few ways to let your employees know that you appreciate all that they do for the business- however, it should go further than the standard note. In the digital age, everything seems to be done via email including “well dones” and “thank yous”. While any appreciative comment should be recognized, delivering it in handwritten form makes it a little more personal.
  4. Communicate Your Goals
    More than one in ten employees are disengaged at work, according to statistics. The reasons behind their disengagement at work might be more straightforward than you would think. Perhaps they feel they are not able to work to their full potential because they are not being included in essential project plans and goals.

Read the full article here.

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Improving the Enagement of Millennial Employees

This year the US Census Bureau predicts Millennials will outnumber Baby Boomers and members of Generation X. With the expected changes more and more businesses are adapting their strategies and operations to meet the needs of this demographic. A recent article on business.com offered some suggestions for how business leaders can engage Millennial workers, while ensuring future success for their company.

  1. Define Responsibilities and Expectations
    Being clear about your expectations from the very beginning helps to ensure that you are giving the employer/employee relationship the best possible start. From the moment they first read the job description, candidates should be aware of what their responsibilities are. As time goes on, keeping them up to date with individual and company goals will help them understand what they should be doing and how they can help the company move forward.
  2. Promote Collaboration (Not Competition!)
    Modern workforces are more about working together and less about competing with other colleagues. An intelligence Group study found that 88% of Millennials prefer to work in an environment that’s based on collaboration rather than competition. We’re all working towards the same goal, so why not work toward those goals together, faster.
  3. Think Beyond Traditional Management
    Managers used to be like supervisors, overseeing teams and ensuring that everyone performed their roles correctly. Nowadays, younger workers want their managers to be more supportive and involved, acting much like a coach or mentor. Taking this approach makes employees feel more cares for, and makes them feel like their boss wants them to perform at their personal best. This approach can often create deeper bonds and improves performance.
  4. Be Flexible
    Flexibility is key for the Generation Y workforce. Businesses should do their best to facilitate more of a work/life balance, such as offering flexible hours and telecommuting opportunities. As well as allowing your employees to have a life outside of work, which makes them more productive in the workplace, it helps foster a trusting relationship between staff and bosses. If you respect and appreciate them (and their time), they are more likely to offer the same in return.

Read the full article here