Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

Consumers and shareholders are watching the CEO — but so are employees

That must have been one hell of a conference call. A Who’s Who of CEOs, including Indra Nooyi of Pepsico, Virginia Rometty of IBM, Mary Barra of GM, Douglas McMillon of Walmart and Laurence Fink of BlackRock, all dialing in to discuss the appropriate reaction to Trump’s remarks regarding the Charlottesville tragedy.

Consumers and shareholders were waiting to see how CEOs responded, but so were their employees. These companies depend on a diverse workforce of employees from all walks of life. If the company claims internally to value diversity and leadership, if the corporate values include things like integrity and respect, those principles theoretically  apply to the top executive as well as the rank and file.

But, in practice, does the CEO actually make business decisions based on those principles? Most employees of those companies will never meet their CEOs. They may have little understanding of what their chief executives do from day to day. They may not even bother to read the chief executive’s blogs or attend their town halls or watch their videos on the intranet.

But employees identify with the companies they work for, and they see the CEO as the figurehead for the company. As the heads of global companies, these CEOs were being watched not just by employees in the U.S. but in countries around the world.

These business leaders aren’t politicians. One could make the argument that serving on an advisory council for the president is a business decision and not a moral one.

But CEOs depend on the hearts and minds of their employees to move their companies forward. It matters to employees to know their CEOs took a stand against moving backwards in our country’s ongoing stop-and-start progress towards equality.

Interested in CEO communications for your employees? Tribe can help.

 

How Internal Wellness Programs Can Help Your Corporate Environment

Health and wellness are hot topics in today’s culture and have become an important part of company culture as well. Many are adjusting their eating, exercise and stress management habits to live a better and longer life. But forming these healthy habits don’t just create benefits for people’s personal lives, they can see positive changes within their professional life as well.

Companies are choosing to encourage employees to lead healthier lifestyles by creating wellness programs for all to participate in. Whether it’s a full-fledged program in an on-site gym, or simpler program like a Fitbit competition, group walk at lunch, or a midday stretch, there are plenty of benefits to be seen by a company when it invests in its employees’ well-being.

Below find 4 reasons why you should consider a wellness program for your company:

1. Higher rates of retention. When companies build a culture based around support for employee well-being, studies show that 83% of employees enjoy their work more and 91% of employees are less likely to leave the company.

2. Increased productivity. Associates who exercise regularly see an increase in concentration, which, in turn, helps increase productivity and performance during the workday.

3. Better atmosphere. Developing healthier habits improve moods and decrease stress amongst associates. This creates a better working environment that fosters good relationships and a collaborative culture.

4. More employee engagement. Participation and engagement can be difficult to develop when it comes to organizations and their employees. Constructing a wellness program can be an easy way for employees to engage and connect more to the company and people that they work with.

Want to increase engagement with a wellness program at your company? Tribe can help.

 

 

 

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

What to Tell Employees About Robots Taking Their Jobs

First the good news: A recent Forrester report estimates that automation will create about 15 million jobs over the next decade. Now the bad: the same report says it will also eliminate 25 million jobs.

It’s reasonable for employees to feel some anxiety about the prospects of automation in the workplace. For many companies, from paper mills to hotels, robots are already on the job.

So what do you tell employees? What you don’t tell them is that it will never happen in your company. It likely will, and you never want to promise employees an easy answer that could prove false.

Be honest. If there are ways automation can cut labor costs, it would behoove the company to take advantage of that. It will be better for employees, in the long run, to be working for a company that’s profitable and competing successfully in the marketplace.

But honest doesn’t mean the future’s all doom and gloom. Many experts believe this will be more of a transformation than a gutting of the workplace, and that automation will create new jobs that didn’t exist before. 

What’s more, these new jobs may be more fulfilling. The grunt work that people don’t enjoy is the work that’s easy to delegate to a robot. Rather than being replaced by robots, many employees will be working side by side with them. And while there are robots being developed that can interact with humans, the most important customer service will still happen person to person.

Person-to-person interactions will also remain a primary reason employees choose to stay at a company or leave it. Their relationships with their coworkers and their bosses will continue to impact whether they’re excited to get to work or dreading it.

Stress the importance of your company culture. As always, communicate the vision you’re trying to achieve. Point to real-life examples of the values being applied to day-to-day work decisions. Celebrate and recognize the people doing the important work of the company — not just in the C-suite but on the frontlines and manufacturing line as well.

Make certain your internal communications make employees visible. Interview them, photograph them, acknowledge their accomplishments. When employees know that their individual contributions to the company’s success are valued, they may be less inclined to fear automation.

Interested in internal communications that make employees feel recognized and appreciated? Tribe can help.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

Balancing Collaboration and Efficiency

A premium is placed on collaboration in many, if not most, large companies. As knowledge and expertise become increasingly specialized, collaboration across functional areas becomes even more critical for successful business results.

At the same time, efficiency is also a priority. Companies feel the pressure of delivering improved speed to market, quick response to changing business factors and the ever-increasing demand to be faster than before.

The challenge is that collaboration and efficiency work against each other. To collaborate requires rounding up people in diverse roles across the company, and usually across geography. Coordinating the schedules of everyone in the group for an in-person meeting or conference call is no easy feat. It’s not always going to happen this week, or even this month.

It’s much faster for one functional unit to make decisions and move on. In Tribe’s national study on collaboration, many respondents cited this time drag as a reason why they often skip the step of getting input from other areas in the company.

But are the right decisions being made? There are no doubt insights the sales team can share about what customers are really looking for; that the programmers can clarify in regards to what the software can really do; or that one division of the company can offer regarding a key customer they share with another division.

This tension between collaboration and speed isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It forces people to set priorities, to weigh the need for one over the other. In most corporate cultures, the pendulum will swing towards one over the other.

One principle for maintaining a balance between the two is to separate the two functions of collaborating and making decisions. When people come together to collaborate, it should be for the purpose of providing their unique expertise, input and feedback. The collaborative meeting is not the place to make decisions. Trying to reach consensus on a decision is not only difficult, it’s unlikely to result in the best decision.

Give everybody a voice, but not a vote. The happy medium – or the Middle Way, as the Buddhists would say – is to invite many different perspectives but not give away the power to make the final determination. The responsibility for decision-making should remain with those who own the project or initiative under discussion.

Interested in balancing collaboration and speed in your company? Tribe can help.

Brittany Walker

Three easy ways to improve your intranet

Your company’s intranet should be a reflection of its culture. Culture is not only about your mission, vision, values, logo and formal rituals, but it also includes employee beliefs about the company, myths and ancillary symbols that develop over time. Reviewing your intranet should shed some light on the intangible areas of your company’s culture. Analyzing your site doesn’t need to be a formal process, but by taking some time and reviewing a few basic elements, you will also gain a better understanding of your culture.

1. Site design should be reflective of your external brand and your desired internal culture.  Look at the design element of your internet and intranet.  Are they of the same quality? Do they look similar?  Does it appear that the company invested in both? Does your intranet reflect your desired culture in terms of being fun or potentially a more formal culture? If the answer to some of these questions is no, it may be a good time to improve the design.

2. If work/life balance is something your company values, give employees the opportunity to share information about their personality on the site. Rich employee profiles are a great way for employees to connect on a more personal level and improve their working relationships with co-workers. The underlying message that employees will receive is that the company cares about them as individuals, not just for the skill set they bring to the company.

3. Review your values, culture attributes and other brand elements to see if they are reflected in the site. Your intranet is a great tool to communicate and sustain elements of your brand, which in turn help develop your culture.  Look for interactive ways such as spotlighting employees that live your values or promoting events on the site that help build camaraderie.

Do you have other ideas of how to analyze your intranet for insights on your culture?  Tribe can help.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

Connect Employees to Something Bigger by Telling the Company Story

Do your employees feel like they’re helping to write the story of the company? Perhaps the most important goal of internal communications is to help employees see how their individual roles connect to the big picture. They need to connect the dots between the work they do every single day and the success of the company.

The company story can be an invitation for employees and prospects to join the experience. Make the story relevant for corporate employees but also those in the manufacturing facilities, distribution centers and other production jobs. People on the factory floor should know that they’re creating a product that provides people with something that makes their lives better in some way.

Look for the golden thread of purpose that has always run throughout the company’s history. Although business strategies and even the organization of the business may have changed dramatically since the beginning, there’s likely a perennial purpose that’s been there year after year. For instance, an IT company may be using entirely different technology and providing new sorts of services than it was even a few years ago. But look for the reason why the company exists, the need it fills for its clients. In that example, maybe the company purpose is and was to help clients’ technology work flawlessly so they can focus on their own business instead.

What channels would you use to tell the company story? Tribe often creates what we call vision books for clients, in which we help the company articulate the vision and values of the company. This is an ideal tool for telling the company story, for a variety of reasons.

The company narrative can also be told in almost any other channel. Tell it in the employee magazine, on the intranet, as part of a company anniversary event. We’ve even incorporated colorful gems of company history in digital signage.

The importance of the story is that it connects employees to something larger than themselves. Being an integral part of the whole makes work more meaningful, and more meaningful work builds employee engagement.

Interested in telling your company’s story? Tribe can help.

Ignite collaboration by promoting casual interactions

Encourage your organization’s employees to interact on a less work-related, more personal level. This can increase productivity, efficiency and even quality of work. In Tribe’s research, employees tell us it’s easier to collaborate with people they know. Creating human connections allows coworkers to account for someone’s personality or how they might respond to certain ideas. People are just more comfortable and open when they are familiar with the people that surround them day-to-day.

It’s all about who you know. One of the most common hurdles Tribe encounters with our clients is when employees need to reach out to a different department and don’t know who to call. Employees chatting with coworkers they don’t usually work with are opening doors and creating networks within their organization.

For example, say Jeff from IT hops on an elevator with Tim from Marketing. After chatting about their weekend they realize they both like the same NBA team, live near each other, like the same beer – it could be anything. Two days later, Tim is working on a project and needs insight from IT and doesn’t know who can help him. Then he remembers his new buddy Jeff from the elevator. Now he has at least somewhat of a starting point for finding a solution.

Besides boosting collaboration, casual interactions create a stronger culture within your organization. Allowing casual conversations every now and then can lighten the mood even at the most stressful times. Everyone needs a little break throughout the day and quick “meet and greet” style conversations are a great outlet for that.

Need help boosting collaboration in your company? Tribe can help!

Employee engagement during the holidays

Large organizations sometimes see the holiday season as a distraction for their employees. From the week of Thanksgiving up until New Years, most employees are focused on the holidays and may not be quite as productive as usual.

Instead of dwelling on the pitfalls to productivity, you might consider some of the engagement opportunities that this time of year presents. Here are three tips that might help you take advantage of the holiday buzz.

  1. The holidays are a great time to connect employees across different silos. There’s more to a holiday party than meets the eye. Parties get employees communicating about something other than work. This creates a more personal connection among those employees that can have a positive effect on the organization in the future.
  1. Show employees they’re appreciated. Encourage managers enterprise-wide to cascade that appreciation. Something as simple as a handwritten note can go a long way for employee engagement. If managers aren’t inclined to do that, a shout out at a team meeting for those who’ve gone above and beyond, or even just an appreciative email or comment can make a big difference. Employees like knowing their efforts have been taken into account and appreciated.
  1. Use this time to take stock and look toward the future. Have your employees write down the top goal they accomplished that year. After they’ve decided, have them one-up that goal for the following year. This lets employees call to light something that maybe was overshadowed during the year or plan to improve on an unproductive year.

These are just a few things that you can capitalize on during the holiday season. Looking for ways to engage employees? Tribe can help!

Using wellness to build employee engagement

Wellness can play a powerful role in employee engagement. Corporate fitness programs not only improve employees’ health and productivity, but can also help break down silos and build stronger connections between employees.

Wellness programs also provide a way to humanize your executive management, if they’re willing to participate. There’s something about seeing your CEO or manager in running shorts that reminds employees, “Hey, they aren’t that different than me.” As soon as employees start to make realizations like this, they feel more of a human connection with company management. Something like a fitness competition or even a company wide 10k could spark a conversation between a frontline employee and CEO that leads to the next big idea.

One interesting provider of corporate wellness programs is Exos, known for its work with top athletes on performance training, nutrition and physical therapy. In their corporate programs, Exos takes an initial assessment of a company’s employees and then targets the key areas that inhibit them from achieving their goals

Intel reports great success from their participation in Exos’ new trials in corporate wellness. Besides the obvious ROI of healthier employees, Intel no doubt benefited from increased engagement and productivity as well.

To read more about Exos’ new health initiative follow this link: More on Exos’ health initiative here.

At Tribe we know wellness. Not only do we take wellness hours from time to time to get a workout in during the workday, we also just began our annual fitness competition. The competition takes place throughout February, March and April. Each member of the Tribe team set a weekly goal that must be completed to get credit for that week. After 3 months, the weeks are tallied up and the person with the most completed weeks wins the grand prize of $500, funded by Tribe. Now, I have never been at Tribe during the fitness competition but I hear it gets pretty competitive. I’ve already started engaging my fellow employees more about their weekly fitness, which often shifts to a productive work conversation. Bring it on fellow employees!

Interested in communicating wellness to your employees? Tribe can help.

Communicating Culture of New Management

Changes in a company can be difficult. Even more so when the change revolves around a switch up in a management position. Processes change, new people come in, other people move on — it can be a bit of a whirlwind. That’s why when your company begins to feel it’s the right time to make a change in management, that’s also the right time to develop a plan for how to introduce this to your employees.

It should start with a discovery session. It should review the history and current culture of the company and ask the incoming manager what changes (if any) they want for the company moving forward. Available internal communications vehicles and how they’re currently being used should be examined at this point as well.

Based off of the discovery session, a change management strategy should be developed. The strategy should provide specific goals and objectives and summarize the demographic and psychographic needs of each audience. It should also put a timeframe in place that clearly outlines the communication resources that will be needed. New channels and programs can be introduced to help connect the new manager with their employees. This could involve the development of a blog or webcast that employees turn to for information directly from the new manager.

Then comes the time to put the wheels in motion. Once all the homework has been done and the path has been laid out, the execution portion of the plan should go into effect. Timelines should be adhered to, but not so strictly that they ignore new developments or unforeseen outcomes from communications. Although change can make for scary times for employees, it also has the potential to be a real positive force that helps the company reach much higher levels than ever before.