Tag Archives: Employee Engagement

Employee Enragement: Why people HATE working for you

By now some of you may or may not have realised, I’m working on some cultural change in my workplace at the moment- and it isn’t easy. No one expects it to be, but then I guess you never realise how hard it is when you have people in a particular industry that aren’t quite like those in the private sector.

In terms of the LSI, the primary styles of the people that I work with are:


• A strong tendency to deny responsibility for one’s own behaviour
• Feelings of guilt over real or imagined mistakes
• Fear of failure
• A pre-occupation with one’s own concerns
• Lack of self-disclosure that eventually leads to emotional isolation


• Low self-esteem
• Pre-occupation with opinions of others
• A tendency to be too agreeable, “wishy-washy” and compliant
• Difficulties with conflict, negotiation and confrontation


• The ability to ask tough- probing questions
• A tendency to seem aloof and detached from people
• A need to look for flaws in everything
• A tendency to make others feel uncomfortable
• A negative, cynical attitude
• A sarcastic sense of humour

Sounds fun hey…

I was reading “Employee Enragement; Why people hate working for you” by James Adonis and I thought I might share a few key things that I have personally experienced in my working life so far that you may find humourous/appaulling/entertaining (or not!).

Just to give you some background, the book outlines 50 of the top reasons for employee disengagement and while some are quite funny- it is something that our people managers are doing every single day.

#49- Care and compassion: In one of my jobs there was a problem with the air conditioning. You know the story; some people near the glass are sweating while the people in the middle are freezing. Well they did do some testing, and I was sitting in a section of the office that was 14 degrees. I tried to stay warm but I ended up being really ill with a virus after no one would do anything to help me. Despite working really hard for 10 and sometimes 12 hours a day, when I took two days off sick the Senior HR person demanded to know why I wasn’t there and a colleague explained the situation. When I came back she said ‘had a bit of hay fever did we?’. What a cow.

#45- Empowerment: One HR director had to approve everything. And we’re talking down to invitations to induction. If you can’t empower your senior specialist then why are they there?

#41- Office psychopaths: haha so many examples coming to me right now. One I will share that happened to me this week. My workplace has hard floors and long corridors. I am female and I wear heels. This is what was put on my door this week. It is kinda funny, but at the same time- very, very weird. Passive Aggressive much?

quiet shoes

#27- Overworked: Nothing is more important then a person’s health and wellbeing. Sure deadlines will pass, but we are talking about people here. A manager once told me I couldn’t go home after 12 hours and I felt like I might be sick from exhaustion. Please managers- watch your employees and put them first.

#5- Negativity: Everyone must have worked with a Negative Nancy or Debbie Downer at some stage. They are draining, exhausting and may or may not be labelled an ‘oxygen thief’ in the team. I’ve encountered many of these and even been one myself at various times. One teammate I worked with threw a tantrum because we were presenting to the management team and I had printed some slides to explain my section and hadn’t told her. It was a last minute thing on my behalf, but I didn’t think it warranted her screaming, throwing things and swearing at me. Not acceptable. For any reason. Ever.

And the number one reason is lazy and underperforming co-workers according to James Adonis. He says that in a lot of companies many people just get paid for turning up rather than on how they perform, and this is very disengaging for the ones who work really hard. This is particularly true for government organisations whose remuneration scales are generally very transparent.

Out of necessity sometimes, managers end up spending more time on the bad employees when they should be dedicating time with the good performers. So what do you do then?

James suggests that you:

1) Train them
2) Motivate them
3) Nuture them
4) And if that doesn’t work sack them!

What do you think??



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Filed under Change Management, Recommended Readings

Employee engagement- can you do it on your own or should you get help?

Happy Monday everybody! I can hear the groans already. Mondays are a bit of a pain but then again, you have to start somewhere.

Aside from being a morning person, I opened my mail this morning to find this little gem inside!


A few months ago at the Twitter Beach Meet, I met Elinor Green and Lucie Snape from ‘the face’. We chatted about twitter, its uses in organisations and spoke about why we were there. I was so interested in what they did, we swapped cards. Again, disclosure- I haven’t been paid for these comments and I’ve only spoken with Lucie and Elinor on twitter since we met. I just wanted to share a great idea with the rest of you.

So I open up the card and inside it reads:

Dear Boss,

This is your star employee speaking. I don’t mind working for you, but I don’t love it either, When you talk about the future, all I hear are just words. And my colleagues feel the same. Wouldn’t you want us totally engaged and working at peak efficiency?

Of course you would. So, here’s a tip. If you want to get inside our hearts and minds, check out www.stoptalkingatme.com.au They really know their chit (and chat).

Now obviously it’s a clever ploy to get you to check out their website listing their services (which might I add is very cool), but it stopped me dead this morning and again I wondered what I could do in my workplace to improve both internal communication and employee engagement.

We know given the current environment that people are less likely to leave their current jobs, and given everything that is happening- they aren’t happy either.

Corporate Leadership Council Research (2008) tells us that disengaged employees are staying and they were 24% less likely to quit their jobs in 2008 than in 2006.

So given that we know that many employees are not engaged (some disengaged)- is it possible to turn this around internally or is it always necessary to engage an external provider to get things started?

Lots of companies use various tools like the Hewitt Engagement Survey, an organisational LSI or a company like ‘the face’ to turn things around. So if you’ve identified a problem in your organisation is it possible to go it alone or must we engage an expert? What are your experiences?

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Filed under Communication, Employee Engagement

Jann Gray- Winner of Best HR Strategic Plan speaks at 2Discover event

Yesterday morning I attended a breakfast seminar which was hosted by 2Discover in at Martin Place. They had organised for Jann Gray, HR director for Ecolab and winner of ‘best HR strategic plan’ to speak, and it gave everyone present an opportunity to follow the amazing 4 year journey of a company that needed to implement major change or perish to the competitors.

Ecolab is a leading provider of cleaning, food safety and health protection products and services. They employ over 400 staff in Australia and service over 8000 customers nationally.

Jann explained that Ecolab were in a bad situation. They were turning over more than 1/3 of their staff each year, revenue was decreasing and a Hewitt survey revealed a very low employee engagement score.

Quoting Jim Parker- CEO South West Airlines- Jann explains that

“The outcome of a successful strategy is having the right people in the right jobs focused on the right things that lead to the business outcomes required.”

Essentially, it’s the way I see talent management but coming from a CEO it really ties the HR strategy to the impact it has on the bottom line.

I’ll briefly take you through a few of the different pieces of the Ecolab puzzle.

Ecolab puzzle

Revamped recruitment and selection policies

After a review of the types of staff they currently had, and assessing what sort of staff they needed in the future, Ecolab realised they needed to revamp their recruitment and selection processes to ensure they were hiring the right people in the right jobs. Previously they were hiring applicants purely on the basis of the technical ability, industry experience and knowledge of the industry. They then realised that they needed people in the future with leadership potential, not just technical strengths. As a result, psychometric testing was introduced in addition to second interviews with senior management. They then looked to training these hires internally to get their technical ability up to the level required.

Talent management/succession planning

At Ecolab, they conducted a succession planning process using the nine box matrix below to identify leadership potential and leverage this potential to drive performance. While there is nothing ground breaking about this matrix, it was an important part of the strategy that was done well.

9 box grid


Another key part of this HR strategy was setting targets and holding people accountable to these targets. Part of this was utilising a scorecard for each business unit and publishing these results to hold people accountable to these newly defined metrics. For most business units, names weren’t published with scores; however for the Sales team publishing names and results was a motivating factor in achieving performance. This scorecard ensured that people were working on the right things.

Rewards and recognition

Additionally, Ecolab reviewed their compensation to ensure that they were rewarding the right behaviours.

I really liked the ‘Making a difference” program that Jann mentioned. Ecolab has six cultural values (and yes Jann was able to name all six!) and they wanted to recognise people that were living the values. In order to celebrate their successes, staff are able to nominate people have demonstrated the values through sharing the story. As a reward, the individual received a wine glass with the particular value printed on it. Funnily enough, this inspired staff to obtain a set of six wine glasses because after that you were given a bottle of wine to go with it!

What an effective and low cost initiative that celebrates the success of your people. In conjunction with an EVP like “the solution is you”, it is a winning strategy.

Finally Jann stated that communication was the key to the whole thing and with out communicating the key messages to people at the time they were happening, the strategy would not have been embedded in the way that it was.

So how do we tie this HR strategy to the impact it has on the bottom line? The results speak for themselves.


Congratulations Jann and the team at Ecolab, and thanks to the team at 2discover for presenting a fantastic seminar.

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Filed under Employee Engagement, Events, Talent Management, Values

How to get happy at work

A while back I came across Alexander Kjerulf’s blog (where he calls himself ‘The Chief Happiness Officer) and downloaded his book “Happy Hour is 9-5”. He claims to be the world’s leading expert on happiness at work.

With a lot of work being done in the HR space on employee engagement because we know about the benefits of having engaged employees (i.e. better business results, growth in employee productivity, reduced recruitment costs etc), this book is based on those same premises. Happy employees get more work done, are more creative and create more value. This is then a significant competitive advantage for the organisation.

The book starts with this:

I want you to imagine waking up early on a Monday morning.
Picture yourself as you turn off the alarm clock, and lie in bed for a moment before getting up. Your bed is comfortable and warm and you really want to enjoy that feeling just a little bit longer, but just thinking about the workweek ahead of you is making you smile and get ready to jump out of bed.
You just know it’s going to be a wonderful week. You will get to do great work you can be proud of. You will get to make a difference, as you did last week and every week before that.
You look forward to having fun with your co-workers. You will help them whenever you can, and they will help you whenever you need it.

When you are happy at work you’ll be more motivated, enjoy better relationships, experience greater success, energy, health and more fun.

Feeling a bit cynical? Yeah I was too, but part of me was thinking, wouldn’t that be cool if it were possible?

So what is happiness at work? It’s when you:

● Really enjoy what you do.
● Do great work you can feel proud of.
● Work with amazing people.
● Know that what you do is important.
● Are appreciated for your work.
● Get to take responsibility.
● Have fun at work.
● Learn and grow.
● Make a difference.
● Feel motivated and energized.
● Know that you kick butt.

The Scandinavians even have a word for it- Arbejdsglæde (pronounced ah-bites-gleh-the).

The author then goes onto suggest six everyday actions that create a good mood and make us happy at work.

six actions that make us happy at work

What do you think? I personally think that anything that encourages positivity, openness, and learning is a winner in the workplace.

The book also has lots of great information about motivating and rewarding employees, and how to deal with things that make you unhappy at work, such as work stress, burnout and bullying. I like the fact that it additionally talks about health and wellbeing, and then walks you through an action plan to get happy at work.

Feeling a bit bummed about work at the moment? I recommend you check out www.positivesharing.com – you might get some great ideas for your workplace and spread the happiness around.


Filed under Employee Engagement

Could charity fundraisers be a way of engaging staff during the economic downturn?

Today is Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea which is a fundraiser for the Cancer Council and I organised an event at my workplace today. It’s such an easy thing to do- get your employer to put on morning tea and get your employees to donate a gold coin on the way in.

Simple enough concept- and it’s for a great cause.

But can the business benefit from these charity fundraisers as well?

I hadn’t really thought about it until this morning when I looked around at the huge crowd of people, enjoying a cup of tea/coffee- it was an extremely positive event.


So what does this have to do with employment engagement?

Employment engagement has to do with discretionary employee effort. Essentially it means that when employee’s have choices, they will act in a way that benefits the organisation. An engaged employee is someone who speaks positively about the company to other people, has an intense desire to be part of the organisation, and strives to achieve their very best at work (goes above and beyond to achieve objectives).

Think your people are happy and engaged? The stats say otherwise.
Check out this video (quite a good intro about employee engagement actually) which argues that in the average company, 59% are not engaged, 14% just show up for work (actively disengaged) and a mere 27% are actually engaged at work.

It’s something worth investing in because research suggests that benefits of employee engagement include higher productivity levels, higher profitability, and lower recruitment costs.

Additionally, with an ageing work workforce and the recession postponing many baby boomers retirements there is the potential that you’ll have more staff that just turn up to work because they feel they can’t retire yet. Dilys Robinson, principle research fellow at the Institute for Employment Studies, also notes that “Engagement declines as people get older and as length of service increases”. This could be bad news for the public sector!

So why are charity fundraisers a good way to encourage employee engagement?

On a very basic level if we think about the three steps in measuring employee engagement from Hewitt Associates, there are many ways a fundraiser can contribute to employee engagement.

The fundraisers are a great networking event where staff can talk positively to each other about things they are working on and meet new people
It makes people feel good about working at a place that supports the community and charity events.
Staff feel supported by the management team who have provided the morning tea free of charge for their people to support a good cause.
If the event is positive and a significant amount of money is raised, staff will talk positively about the event to others such as friends, family and clients- and may even ask them to become involved.

Staff may develop a greater desire to stay at a company that values its employees and their wellbeing.
These events make employees feel like they are part of something larger than their team/business unit and may allow an employee to see the bigger picture. Opportunities and objectives can be come more clear and achievable.

Events like this can make employees feel good about working at the organisation, the people they work with and the work they are doing. Overall, these things will make them want to worker harder when the choice is theirs, even when times are tough- because it’s a great place to be.

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Filed under Employee Engagement