Could These 3 Reasons Be Behind Your Failing Employee Engagement?

 

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Encouraging employee engagement with health benefits

In a competitive economy, a robust package of employee health benefits is one of the key elements that employers need to attract and to retain a skilled, experienced workforce. In fact, according to statistics gathered by Collective Health and Harris Poll, 78% of adults in the U.S. say healthcare benefits strongly factor into their decision on where to accept a job. However, once employees have these benefits, most do not take full advantage of the complete range of services and support available. Only 25% of employees questioned in one survey said they have used all the preventive care benefits offered by their employer.

Another survey, conducted by the American Psychological Association, found that only 33% of employees report participating in employer-provided health promotion programs. The failure to engage with and use the benefits available can have an especially significant impact when employees or their family members face serious or complex medical issues, such as a cancer diagnosis or recommendation for surgery. When employees don’t use the full spectrum of benefits available to them, such as second opinions and case management, the risk of poorer health outcomes and higher employer and employee healthcare costs increases, with more than $210 billion a year spent on inappropriate and unnecessary treatment according to an Institute of Medicine report. Several factors contribute to employees’ failure to use all the health benefits available to them:

Problems with the benefits selection process: Although the choice of benefits can have wide ranging effects on both physical and financial health, 77% of employees spend 60 minutes or less choosing benefits, while 46% spend 30 minutes or less on this important decision, according to an Aflac poll. Another survey noted the high stress levels associated with making benefit decisions, finding that 49% of employees say making benefits decisions is always stressful. 

Not understanding the options: A survey by the International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans found that approximately 80% of organizations reported that employees do not have a high level of understanding of their benefits. This lack of understanding comes at a financial cost. According to 42% of employees in the Aflac survey, the estimated cost of errors employees make understanding and choosing benefits can cost them up to $750 per year.

Complexity of benefits: When faced with multiple benefit providers and contact points, employees often do not know where to find the information they need to understand the benefits available to them and how to access them. As a result, employees fail to access the information, resources and support that can help them make informed medical decisions. This can have a negative impact on health outcomes and healthcare costs.

—benefitnews.com


Strengthening the Relationship between Education and Employers: Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., Appointed Chair of President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs

From the SHRM CEO, here is his opinion on the newly appointed Chair of President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs.


Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, president and chief executive officer of the Society for Human Resource Management, was appointed chair of the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) at a White House ceremony today.

In accepting the volunteer advisory appointment to the White House Initiative on HBCUs by President Donald Trump, Taylor gave these remarks:

Thank you, President Trump and Secretary DeVos.

I appreciate the trust you have placed in me to chair the President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs. It has been my life’s work to unleash talent — in all its forms, from wherever it originates.

As CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), I work with employers across the country.  No matter their industry, size or longevity, today’s organizations all share the same challenge — closing the skills gap while building diverse, inclusive, engaged workforces.

For each of them, the “War for Talent” will never end and, thanks to this incredibly strong economy we’re experiencing, it is now a way of life. And today, people are an organization’s only competitive edge.

Employers depend on our country’s educational institutions as a reliable source of the multi-faceted talent they need. HBCUs are a critical conduit for this talent. Every year, over 300,000 students turn to these institutions for their education and to prepare them for their careers.

This President’s Advisory Board can be the nexus between higher education institutions and employers. As a CEO (in both non-profit and for-profit businesses), a former Fortune 500 chief HR executive, and someone with over 7½ years of experience in the HBCU space, I am up for this very challenge.

At SHRM, we are the experts on people and work and on building powerfully diverse organizational cultures that drive success. SHRM’s 300,000 members impact the lives of over 100 million people in the American workforce. SHRM is also an experienced academic partner, currently providing human resources curricula through 465 programs on 354 college campuses.

By working together, across all sectors, the HR profession, HBCUs and this Advisory Board can strengthen the relationship between education and employers. This Advisory Board can facilitate this critical relationship and support innovations in work-based learning opportunities for HBCU students. And as the world’s largest human resources association, SHRM can work with CEOs to connect industry to the diverse talent at these institutions.

This Board has an incredible opportunity to highlight HBCUs as wellsprings of the diverse talent American employers want and need today. HR and education, along with the support of this administration, must move together, forward.

Read the article.

Source:
 SHRM (27 February 2018). "Strengthening the Relationship between Education and Employers: Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., Appointed Chair of President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs" [Web Blog Post]. Retrieved from address https://blog.shrm.org/blog/strengthening-the-relationship-between-education-and-employers-johnny-c-tay

Algorithmic Bias – What is the Role of HR?

How should HR professionals deal with the forthcoming algorithmic bias issue? Find out in this article.


Merriam-Webster defines ‘algorithm’ as step-by-step procedure for solving a problem…In an analog world, ask anyone to jot down a step-by-step procedure to solve a problem – and it will be subject to bias, perspective, tacit knowledge, and a diverse viewpoint. Computer algorithms, coded by humans, will obviously contain similar biases.

The challenge before us is that with Moore’s Law, cloud computing, big data, and machine learning, these algorithms are evolving, increasing in complexity, and these algorithmic biases are more difficult to detect – “the idea that artificially intelligent software…often turns out to perpetuate social bias.”

Algorithmic bias is shaping up to be a major societal issue at a critical moment in the evolution of machine learning and AI. If the bias lurking inside the algorithms that make ever-more-important decisions goes unrecognized and unchecked, it could have serious negative consequences, especially for poorer communities and minorities.”What is the role of HR in reviewing these rules? What is the role of HR in reviewing algorithms and code? What questions to ask?

In December 2017, New York City passed a bill to address algorithmic discrimination.Some interesting text of the bill, “a procedure for addressing instances in which a person is harmed by an agency automated decision system if any such system is found to disproportionately impact persons;” and “making information publicly available that, for each agency automated decision system, will allow the public to meaningfully assess how such system functions and is used by the city, including making technical information about such system publicly available where appropriate;”

Big data, AI, and machine learning will put a new forward thinking ethical burden on the creators of this technology, and on the HR professionals that support them. Other examples include Google Photos incorrect labeling or Nikon’s facial detection. While none of these are intentional or malicious, they can be offensive, and the ethical standards need to be vetted and reviewed. This is a new area for HR professionals, and it’s not easy.

As Nicholas Diakopoulos suggests, “We’re now operating in a world where automated algorithms make impactful decisions that can and do amplify the power of business and government. As algorithms come to regulate society and perhaps even implement law directly, we should proceed with caution and think carefully about how we choose to regulate them back.”

The ethical landscape for HR professionals is changing rapidly.

Read more.

Source:

Smith R. (15 February 2018). "Algorithmic Bias – What is the Role of HR?" [Web Blog Post]. Retrieved from address https://blog.shrm.org/blog/algorithmic-bias-what-is-the-role-of-hr

Miserable Modern Workers: Why Are They So Unhappy?

It's a new year, which means working to improve the bad. What's so bad about today's work environment? Employees are more disengaged than ever. So, how can employers fix that? Let's take a look at the basic facts and possible first steps.


Today's workers are disengaged. They lack motivation. They're bored. They're stressed. They're burned out.

Researchers at Gallup, Randstad and Mercer conducting survey after survey have come to these conclusions. In fact, these surveys seem to paint an increasingly bleak picture of life at work.

At a time when technology has arguably made the workplace more efficient than ever, laws are protecting employees better than ever, and companies are offering benefits perhaps more generous than ever, why would U.S. workers be so checked out?

"One could argue that today's employees are as equally stressed as their predecessors, but for different reasons," said Jodi Chavez, president of Atlanta-based Randstad Professionals, a segment of Randstad US, which provides finance, accounting, HR, sales, marketing, legal staffing and recruitment services. "They fear having their jobs outsourced to another country, have anxiety about how best to work alongside new technologies such as automation and robotics, have increased financial pressures with rising student loan debt and late retirement, and feel pressure to be 'on' and answering e-mails 24/7."

Disengagement Can Lead to Bad Habits

Gallup has been measuring employee engagement in the United States since 2000 and finds that less than one-third of U.S. workers report that they are "engaged" in their jobs. Of the country's approximately 100 million full-time employees, 51 percent say they are "not engaged" at work—meaning they feel no real connection to their jobs and tend to do the bare minimum. Another 17.5 percent are "actively disengaged"— meaning they resent their jobs, tend to gripe to co-workers and drag down office morale. Altogether, that's a whopping 68.5 percent who aren't happy at work.

Recently, Randstad US found in its own survey that disengagement has led to some bad habits among the nation's workers: Unhappy workers admitted that while on the job, they drank alcohol (5 percent), took naps (15 percent), checked or posted on social media (60 percent), shopped online (55 percent), played pranks on co-workers (40 percent), and watched Netflix (11 percent).

"Some employers may see checking social media a few times a day as a small offense, while napping on the job or watching Netflix could be considered serious safety hazards for other employers," Chavez said. "Really, we found that these results are part of a bigger story—a trend of burnout and job dissatisfaction. Burnout is a natural human reaction to stressful environments, or long workdays, but it may also be a sign that an employee isn't the right fit for a position. It's important for employers to be aware of these habits, evaluate if they're a sign of a larger issue and identify what they can do to help employees feel appreciated."

Even if today's workers are no more disengaged than workers of decades past, three things may be making the "commentary on disengagement louder," said Ken Oehler, global culture and engagement practice leader with London-based Aon:

Scrutiny. "Management focus on people and talent is much greater now than in the past," he said.  "Three or four decades ago, studies could not find a link between job satisfaction and performance, and the concept of engagement did not even exist. There are now many studies establishing the link between engaged employees and better performance. With this we have seen a great increase in the measurement and thirst for understanding [of] how to maximize the employee experience, employee engagement and employee performance. So when the rate of disengaged employees does not seem to change much, management becomes dissatisfied and wants to know what can be done."

Expectations of work. "Employee expectations about work are dramatically different than a few decades past," he said. "Few workers sign up thinking they will be employed by the same company for life and be rewarded with a nice pension. Most Millennials don't want that. They thirst for development, advancement, movement, impact and purpose. So, when that doesn't happen, [discontent] can get loud."

Rate of change. The constant technological demands and steep learning curves of many modern jobs can overwhelm the senses, he said. "I believe many workers are worried about keeping up with this rate of change and having the relevant skills required for the future. Companies and employees need to be smarter and faster, and the technology involved in work is largely unchanged or inadequate. This is really stressful when the need and rate of change increases and the technology, tools and processes do not support this."

Are Small 'Fixes' Enough?

The "fixes" that employee engagement experts often suggest to make workers happier on the job, however, may not be making much of a difference—at least not if recent surveys measuring employee satisfaction are to be believed.

"Will simple things like getting a good night's sleep, asking for help or finding a creative outlet transform every employee's attitude?" asked Chavez. "No. But these small fixes are easy, actionable things that people can try if they're truly stressed, exhausted or having external problems, as these changes can boost productivity and overall happiness at work. If not, then maybe the employee needs to do some deeper exploring as to whether the job, employer or even career are a good fit."

The pressures put on modern workers to "do more with less" may be the result of business shareholders who—having grown cautious following the Great Recession—aren't willing to expand budgets to hire more people at companies or better compensate those already there, Chavez and Oehler said. Worker pay has remained relatively flat since the recession, with nominal annual increases even though the economy and markets are said to be booming.

"Ensuring that you get pay right is critical," Oehler said. "Perceptions of pay inequity will erode trust and engagement."

Said Chavez: "It's true that wages have remained relatively flat for the last several years. At the same time, there's more competition for top, skilled talent, so employers are becoming more creative when it comes to benefits. These benefits can come in many different forms—student loan benefits, access to telemedicine, stipends for commuting, flexible hours and remote work arrangements. While some may prefer higher salary over increased vacation time, some value robust learning and development programs. As for what makes work gratifying, every employee is different."

 

Source:

Wilkie D. (2 November 2017). "Miserable Modern Workers: Why Are They So Unhappy?" [web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/employee-relations/pages/employee-engagement-.aspx