Today's post comes to us from the executive director of The Workforce Institute, Dr. Chris Mullen, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP, SPHR.

This past Friday was an exciting day for the more than 12,000 employees of Kronos Incorporated and Ultimate Software (you may remember hearing about the merger of the two companies back in February) as we officially announced our new combined company name: UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group). You can see a launch video and read the press release here.

As anyone who has ever been through a merger knows, there is a certain amount of uncertainty as the companies come together, and having a name we can all identify with and rally around feels really good. The name will become official on October 1st and there will be more to come on how The Workforce Institute's brand and look may change to align with UKG.

One thing that won't change at The Workforce Institute is our focus on helping organizations drive performance by addressing human capital management issues that affect both hourly and salaried employees. This has been our mission for the last 13+ years and we're as committed as ever to it. Through primary research and the insights of our spectacular external board of advisors we plan to continue to focus on empowering organizations with practical ideas for optimizing the 21st century workplace. In fact, UKG's new tagline, “Our purpose is our people”, squares nicely with where The Workforce Institute's priorities have always been.

I hope that over the next thirteen years and beyond, we will continue to hold your interest as we talk about the issues that are affecting workers and how to make your workplace and your career better. I've always loved the Socrates quote, “The unexamined life is not worth living” and I think it applies to our work lives as well. Rather than just going through the motions day-to-day, we should always be looking at what we can do better and how we can make a positive impact on our co-workers and organizations.

I look forward to continuing this learning journey with you, our board and our new UKG family!

tweetchatWe had a very engaging tweet chat today regarding workplace culture and who defines it, based off our recent survey data. We had quite a few thought leaders weigh in on why HR, managers, and employees have very different opinions about workplace culture; who drives it and why; what's important to creating a great one; and what can destroy workplace culture.

You can view the entire tweet chat below (as well as here), or search via #KronosChat on Twitter. We'd love to know what you think about workplace culture and who defines it - tweet us using #KronosChat, or comment below to share your thoughts.

KronosTwitterChatWe had a very engaging tweet chat today regarding what workplace topics and issues will be the most prevalent in 2016. Based off of The Workforce Institute predictions for 2016, we had quite a few thought leaders weigh in on what they think will be most critical in the coming year - especially when it comes to subjects such as millennials, benefits, recruiting best practices, and employee engagement, to name a few.

You can view the entire tweet chat below (as well as here), or search via #KronosChat on Twitter. We'd love to know what you think, and what your predictions are for 2016. Tweet us using #KronosChat, or comment below to share your thoughts.

//[<a href="//" target="_blank">View the story "Workplace Trends for 2016 Tweet Chat" on Storify</a>]

Gamification-GUIToday's post is courtesy of our board member, Sharlyn Lauby - also known as the HR Bartender.

One of the top issues that my colleagues on the Workforce Institute board said will impact workforce management this year has to do with the cycle between human resources, engaged employees and satisfied customers. Research is showing that organizations are ready to make investments in those areas that will help increase employee engagement. Because engaged employees deliver better customer service. And better customer service improves the bottom-line.

Those investments will be in areas such as training and development, benefits and compensation, and rewards and recognition. According to India Lossman, product manager at Kronos, organizations are using gamification strategies to reward and recognize employees when it comes to time and attendance.

Gamification is the concept of using game mechanics such as incentives, rewards, and healthy competition to promote desired behaviors. A common example is the gamification techniques used in fitness bands (i.e. Fitbit, UP24). According to Gartner, for businesses to successfully engage employees using gamification, the activity must have three things: 1) clear objectives, 2) be meaningful, and 3) create change. Now, use that idea for attendance.

Employee attendance is critical to the business. If you haven't seen the study conducted by Kronos and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), you can check it out here. It specifically addresses the impact that absenteeism has on the business and on the other members of the team. When employees are late, it impacts the operation. Employees aren't ready to greet customers. Employees have to shift their schedules to cover for someone. Productivity suffers when employees aren't at work when they're supposed to be.

During KronosWorks 2014, I learned a few ideas about how gamification could change the way employees view attendance and improve productivity:

Design leaderboards showing team attendance. When everyone comes to work on time, they can start working right away. It has a positive impact on productivity. Allow teams to see who's performing at a high level.

Create custom categories. Employees can earn bonus points when they work extra hours or when they do an exceptional job of maintaining their timecard. (Oh! And don't penalize employees for legitimate time off situations such as vacations, PTO, or sick time.)

Give employees the opportunity to see how they are performing. Create an attendance performance scale (i.e. amazing, excellent, great, good, okay, etc.) to give employees some sense of how they are performing.

Provide managers the ability to recognize excellent results. Instead of putting managers in the position to chide employees about being five minutes late, put them in a position to recognize employees for their continued excellent attendance.

During a demo of Kronos' gamification module, India shared that companies are using the leaderboards to promote core values that are important to the company, things like completing time cards accurately and arriving to work on time. They are also using the leaderboards to inform employees about safety goals such as number of days without an accident. India says initial customer feedback is that the intuitive user experience and modern design are creating a level of engagement not seen in the past.

We all know the most effective way to change employee behavior is by using regular feedback. There's nothing saying that regular feedback has to be in the form of face-to-face conversations. Gamification techniques, such as leaderboards, allow employees to see where they stand at any given moment in time. In addition, this allows managers to focus their coaching conversations on recognizing good performance.

As a human resources professional, I've dealt with a lot of employee relations issues during my career. I've investigated bamboozling, hanky panky, and even some malarkey. But the number one employee issue I've dealt with is tardiness and absenteeism. Yep, attendance issues. Employee attendance is one of those issues that when it starts spiraling out of control, it's so hard to stop. Gamification strategies could be the way to help employees improve their productivity and create a higher level of engagement with the organization.


Artie T thanks supportersAn agreement was reached last night for Arthur T. Demoulas (ArtieT) to buy Market Basket from his cousin's family and take control of the company again as CEO.  Those of you following this story know that this has been a twenty year battle that in recent weeks has taken this company to its knees.  This is a remarkable story of how employee and customer loyalty can shape the destiny of a business.  In his first public speech since his firing in June, ArtieT thanked his employees and customers in this moving speech this morning.

One thing he said this morning encapsulates the spirit behind this employee led movement, "The workplace here at Market Basket is so much more than just a job."  Lots of leaders say this, but the trustworthiness of this leader led his employees to put their livelihoods on the line for him.  Congratulations to Market Basket for getting their company back in business.

Other posts on the Market Basket story:

Is Employee Engagement Ever a Bad Thing?

Market Basket According to the HR Bartender.  What Does Employee Engagement Look Like? This.

Market Basket Employees Willing to Fight for Leader


According to the US Census Bureau in 2009 (most recent number available),  approximately 4% of American workers work from home - about 5,000,000 people.  More recently, a 2011 Kronos survey found that 14 percent of respondents had the option of working from home, while 27 percent felt that given the necessary technology they could work from home.

I recently met with our board members Sue Meisinger and John Hollon to talk about the pros and cons of working from home, and what organizations can do to promote and support the engagement of their remote employees.  Sue and John, who both work from home, also have lots of experience working with organizations who've struggled with the balance between providing employees with flexibility while still engaging remote employees in the corporate culture and holding them accountable for results.

In the podcast at the end of  this post, we discussed the following questions:

Click here to listen to our podcast: Working from home - a conversation with John Hollon and Sue Meisinger

What do you think makes for a successful work-from-home arrangement?

In our most recent survey conducted in conjunction with Harris Interactive, we asked over 1000 US workers how they are faring as the recession reaches the one year mark.  Although there are some glimmers of hope being expressed that we've seen the worst of the recession, many of our respondents have already felt the impact in the form of layoffs, increased workloads and lower workplace morale.

Thirty-eight percent of our respondents said that there had been layoffs in the past year at their primary place of employment.  Forty percent of them further indicated that productivity had been negatively impacted by layoffs:

o 66 percent said that morale has suffered and people are less motivated;

o 64 percent said that there is too much work and not enough people to do it;

o 37 percent said the wrong people or departments were laid off, leaving inefficient systems and workflows; and

o 36 percent said they are concerned that as the economy picks up, they won't have the right resources to meet demand.

Employees also have some advice for employers on how to improve the work environment:

o 50 percent said employers should look for ways to improve morale.  The most frequently cited mechanism to do so is increasing hours or salary;

o 46 percent said their employers have processes that should be automated to be more efficient;

o 36 percent said their organizations should invest in new technology to help manage productivity - interestingly enough, more men (42 percent) than women (30 percent) believe this would help; and

o 36 percent of employees believe that organizations need to take a fresh look at how to redistribute the workload among those employees who are left.

In an upcoming webinar with Jim Holincheck of Gartner, he'll be offering insights into what organizations are doing to balance recession economics and productivity.  If you'd like to learn more, you can register here.

If you've felt the sting of cutbacks in your workplace, what's your employer doing to help you work smarter, not just harder?  If you're one of the optimists who believes the economy is starting to recover, how prepared is your organization to sprint out of the recession?

The latest chapter of the book we're writing on achieving your optimal front line  retention strategy is written by our board member, Mel Kleiman.  The focus of this chapter is the key role that recruiting practices play in ensuring that the right talent is available, willing and able to serve on your organization's front line.

For some organizations, the challenge may be finding an adequate supply of necessary talent.  For others, the candidate supply may be steady, but choosing those who are the right fit for the job may often seem hit or miss.  In either case, the organization will suffer if these root causes can't be addressed.  Mel's article addresses the supply question as well as the issue of assessing a candidate's suitability for the position in question, discussing the differences between candidate populations and how organizations can tailor their recruiting messages and approaches to different target candidate audiences.

I thought about this when I was shopping for a Mac Book for my son this week.  We went to the hyper-glossy Apple store on Boylston Street in Boston.  The floor staff have specialized roles, and gracefully handed us off amongst themselves as we sorted through the hardware and software requirements dictated by the NYU film department.  Our principal guide was Chris - who himself had a deep knowledge of film editing on a Mac.  We couldn't have had a better shopping experience.

When I was leading a recruitment outsourcing practice in a past life, we used to talk about three dimensions of fit: skills, willingness to do the job, and cultural fit.  Mel takes a similar approach in this chapter, exploring the assessment of existing candidate capabilities as well as an individual's willingness to do the job in the way the organization wants it done.  I don't know what Apple's approach is to recruiting and training their front line retail staff, but the results are impressive if Chris is a typical example.

You can read Mel's chapter here.  You can also hear a podcast of an interview between Mel and me regarding his approach to hourly worker recruiting.

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