Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

JetBlue and Jenny are Both Signs that The Workforce Mood is Changing

People who quit their jobs with flair are the new folk heroes. The overwhelming public support for both the JetBlue flight attendant and the young woman (Jenny with no last name) who supposedly quit her brokerage job with a series of bold messages on a dry-erase board is a not-to-be-ignored sign that the wind is beginning to shift direction.

A year ago, the employee trend was to put up with anything,  just to keep a job. Companies were undergoing massive layoffs, freezing salary increases and eliminating employer funding of 401(k)s, all with little complaint from the employees who managed to remain on the payroll. The CEO of a global consumer goods company we were pitching, when asked if he was concerned about low employee morale, replied, “Where else are they going to work?”

They’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. It doesn’t matter what made airline attendant Steven Slater crack or whether Jenny the HOPA was a hoax. What’s noteworthy is the way the American public has responded with such fervor.

This is a signal to the corporate employers who are paying attention. The economy will improve, sooner or later. Meanwhile, Boomers are retiring, and the Gen X generation following on their heels is not large enough to fill all the positions they’ll leave behind. It won’t be long until the tables are turned in the workplace and the jobs outnumber the people available to fill them.

The companies that will win star talent in the coming competition will be the ones able to create high employee engagement. Does your company have a clear vision at the top? Is that vision communicated to and embraced by employees? Do you have a strong corporate culture that makes the company a good place to work? Have you actually managed to turn rank-and-file employees into brand ambassadors? Otherwise, you’ll need to keep a close eye on those emergency chutes. Not to mention the beer.

My Experience at Tribe

While other kids my age are spending their summers by the pool, visiting universities, and preparing for their senior year of high school, I am here interning at Tribe. I have learned a lot about being in an office environment, and I can honestly say, there is no place I’d rather be.

I’ve always known I wanted to be an artist, but the question was, what kind of artist? In the last three or four years, my passion for photography has grown. In the last couple of years, I’ve found Graphic Design to be the most interesting thing in the world.

In the two and a half weeks I’ve spent here at Tribe, I’ve learned so much from account coordination to ad design. I’ve watched Lindsay edit ads and build websites and brochures for the team to review. I’ve watched presentations being put together and everyone attend meetings.

Yesterday, I had the honor of attending Coca-Cola Enterprise’s on-line yearbook launch. The yearbook gives CCE employees the ability to create a profile and sign their co-workers’ page. They can also acknowledge how much they appreciate them through the form of a shout out.

In the last couple of weeks, I watched and listened to the team plan for this event. Lindsay and Jennifer spent a lot of time putting together the website while Alexis communicated with CCE to make sure they were ready for the launch. When we arrived at CCE’s offices, I watched everything come together. CCE employees filed into the room, and our team began to hand out pennants to build excitement (tying back to the yearbook theme) and encourage them to sign-up for the on-line yearbook.

While Jennifer, Alexis, Lindsay, and Miles were enthusiastically informing everyone of the new on-line yearbook, I walked around the room and took pictures. I was able to get shots of CCE employees mingling, eating ice cream, playing trivia, getting their yearbook pictures taken, and even signing up for the on-line yearbook (thanks to the laptops CCE provided). The yearbook launch was a huge success.

I’ve enjoyed my time here, and unfortunately, only have a few days left. Working at Tribe has exposed me to a small office environment. I’ve learned a lot from being here. I appreciate the opportunity I was given and would do it again if I am given the chance.

This blog was written by Shayna Patel, an intern at Tribe who is about to enter her senior year of high school.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

Are You Following Complete Strangers on Twitter?

I looked up one day and realized I was following over 1,500 people on Twitter. And I could count the ones I actually knew on two hands.

There’s no logical explanation for most of them. Why would I be following the guy called something like Wisconsinjobs? Or so many people in India? Or some very glamorous Parisian woman who only tweets in French?

So I decided to start fresh. I set out to unfollow every single person I didn’t know or have some real interest in following. Nobody in my office could figure out a way to mass delete on Twitter (if you know how, please do tell). So I started plugging away at them, one by one. The first day I deleted 500, mostly while I was on the phone. I went home with a headache. The next day I deleted 300. Again, the headache. So I turned the project and my twitter password over to my assistant Amanda, who knocked out the last 800 for me.

The next step was to decide who I did want to follow. When I first started using Twitter, not many of my friends or business contacts were on it. The great majority of the people I knew who did use it didn’t know what they were supposed to use it for. Most of the people out there tweeting regularly seem to think the point of Twitter is endless and shameless self promotion. But my friend Aliza Sherman, who was probably one of the very first people to tweet in the history of tweeting, says Twitter is a conversation.

What kind of conversations did I want to have on Twitter? More to the point, what did I want Twitter to do for me? To my mind, Facebook is for keeping up with friends far and wide. LinkedIn is how I stay connected with business acquaintances. But any nerdball knows you don’t post random day-to-day updates on LinkedIn. That, I decided, would be a good use of Twitter. I’d love to read 140-character comments from my LinkedIn brethren.

Twitter very helpfully provides an easy way to find which of your LinkedIn contacts are on Twitter. Just click on Find People and then on Find Friends and you can scan your list of contacts in LinkedIn or the major email services. Click the ones you want to follow and you’ve got yourself a whole new bunch of old friends on Twitter. Suddenly, Twitter looks like fun again.

Does Saying ‘Thank You’ Online Count as Recognition?

Yes, thanking someone in person is the best way if that’s what makes sense. But it’s not so black and white in today’s business world.

What if your choice is thanking someone in person two weeks from now or sending a note via the intranet or emailing seconds after an employee does something great? Oh, just pick up the phone and call, you say? What if the person is simply unreachable? Is a voice mail better than an email? I don’t know for sure, but I know that I’m not alone in intensely disliking long voice mails. I feel like I have to listen just because I don’t want to miss something important, even though it’s pretty rare for people to leave big news on a voice mail.

Of course, I’m not saying that online recognition should completely replace all other forms of recognition forever. Online recognition has the best results when it’s part of a comprehensive recognition program that includes all sorts of interactions – from formal memos to live town hall meetings and informal discussions.

Here are three reasons to expand your recognition program online:

1 – If you operate on a global level, your employee relations program has to operate on that same level, and technology is a big part of that. The bottom line is that employees appreciate recognition, and when they feel appreciated, they’re more likely to leave your customers with the same feeling.

2 – Online communications are preferred by younger generations and by some older ones. I’ve been with many clients who keep checking their emails while saying something like, “I’m sorry. I have to check. I’m waiting for my boss to tell me how the launch went.” When the email comes through, they say, “Oh, she said it went great. That’s a relief. Now I can move on and focus on what I’m doing now.” Another lesson: Sometimes any communication is seen as recognition.

3 – The world operates on immediate gratification these days. Just as your customer wants whatever it is they want immediately, employees crave almost immediate gratitude for getting the job done well.

What qualifies as online recognition? Tribe works with a number of big global brands to launch micro-sites for giving global “shout-outs” up and down the ranks to sharing stories that make heroes out of employees who don’t usually win the spotlight and providing training for managers on how to make the most of online recognition.

Do you have someone who pushes back on recognition programs? We hear a lot of, “Managers just need to say thank you. We don’t need a program for that.” Actually, not all managers are created equal. Some have a natural talent for recognizing people, and some don’t. Having multiple methods for making sure someone gets the recognition they deserve is a good way to hedge your bets and make sure everyone wins.

There are tons of books on recognition, but an interesting read is The Carrot Principle about a ten-year study of 200,000 managers and employees. This research says that companies in the top quartile for employee recognition, as determined by the surveyed workers, “earned a significantly higher return on equity, return on assets, and operating margin.” (You can read all about the study in The Carrot Principle, out in 2007, a New York Times best seller. The second version came out last year.)