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.

TWS23.600.pickupshiftToday's post is from our board member, David Creelman.  David is CEO of Creelman Research, and a frequently published expert on human capital management issues.  Following is his take on why organizations should balance the productivity benefits of scheduling software with the needs of the human beings whose schedules are being managed.

In Leslie Perlow's book Sleeping with your Smartphone she relates the tale of Boston Consulting Group consultants who recognized that one of the major drawbacks in their life was that they never knew when they'd have to work late. They decided to fix that by committing, as a team, to having Wednesday as a predictable night off.  Not only did they succeed in improving their work-life by sticking to this commitment, they became more productive as they figured out how to avoid the kind of crisis that might lead to a late night.

Hourly workers might have a good laugh about consultants complaining about unpredictable hours. Hourly workers would agree that it can be a real drag never knowing when you will have to work. Unfortunately, unlike the consultants, they can't just make their own rules about when they work.  Setting schedules is up to management.

Managers are often tempted to set up schedules that minimize visible costs without worrying about how it affects employees' lives. However, optimizing on visible costs while creating high hidden costs isn't really optimization at all. The hidden costs show up in fatigue, turnover, low morale, and unplanned absences. Ignoring these costs hurts the bottom line.

Technically, modern scheduling software has the power to optimize on both visible and hidden costs. If for example, you want to promise employees predictable time off, well that is easy enough to do. The only challenge is someone coming along and saying, “Hey you seem to be costing us money by pampering employees.”  To counter this there needs to be at least a back of the envelope calculation on how much value is created by setting employee-friendly schedules. For example, one doesn't have to improve much on turnover to pay for any sub-optimization of visible costs. It is also worth noting that customers like seeing the same faces, so employee-friendly scheduling is probably customer-friendly as well.

Managers need to recognize that intangibles like fatigue and morale have tangible costs.  Failing to include consideration of intangibles in scheduling is fiscally irresponsible. Let's do the right thing for employees and for the organization by making the extra effort to set up scheduling so that it really optimizes work.

What's your organization doing to balance worker rights and productivity?  



Today's guest post is contributed by our board member, Sharlyn Lauby.  Sharlyn is the president of the ITM Group, a training company focused on developing programs to retain and engage talent in the workplace.  She also writes the very popular HR Bartender blog.

If you haven't been paying attention to the drama going on at Market Basket, you should. It's a living, breathing case study about employee engagement and its impact on the business.

Market Basket is a chain of 71 supermarkets located in the Northeast U.S. According to Wikipedia, their primary competitors are Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. They were founded by the Demoulas family, who still owns the company today. Market Basket employs approximately 25,000 people and annual revenue is around $4B.

Being a family-owned business, Market Basket has seen its squabbles over the years. But it's the latest one that has put them in the national news. Here's a quick rundown of the saga to date:

June 23                The board of directors ousted company president Arthur T. Demoulas (aka Artie T.)

July 12                  A Market Basket store starts stuffing shoppers' bags with a “we need your help” flyer to raise customer support for Artie T.

July 15                  Executives in the corporate office “demand” that Artie T. be reinstated.

July 18                  Thousands of employees rally outside of Market Basket HQ for Artie T.'s reinstatement.

July 20                  New Market Basket leadership team fires 8 employees who were coordinating the rally.

July 21                  Another rally with greater turnout. Warehouse workers stop making deliveries to stores.

July 25                  Another rally. This time 100,000 signatures are collected to reinstate Artie T.

August 4               Employees start refusing to come to work.

And the fight's not over. The Massachusetts Attorney General has started an employee hotline, part-time employees have seen their hours cut, and Market Basket sales are down 90%. Think about it. In 2006, Arthur T. Demoulas was named the 8th wealthiest Bostonian with a net worth of $1.6B. His employees are willing to lose their jobs in order to keep him as their boss.

When I read the news about Market Basket, it's a classic case study. Here's a company that built its reputation on giving customers great value and employees good jobs. It sounds so simple but the reality is … it's hard. It's difficult to build and maintain a world-class workforce. And Market Basket doesn't appear to be one of those companies that went out and bragged about it. They just did the work and made customers - and employees - happy.

It wasn't until Artie T. was fired that most of us even heard of Market Basket.

Organizations all over the globe could and should use what's happening at Market Basket as a teachable moment. There are three big takeaways so far:

  1. A “good jobs strategy” creates engagement. If you haven't read the book, “The Good Jobs Strategy” by Zeynep Ton, it's worth the read. Ton makes the case that companies that rely upon a low-cost strategy are not confined to creating jobs with bad pay and no benefits. In fact, Ton suggests that “good jobs” are ones that create operational excellence, where customers benefit from low prices and employees are ensured good pay. Companies that employ this strategy, like Market Basket, see higher profits and greater customer satisfaction.
  2. Engaged employees will stand up for what they believe in. I can't help but think the situation at Market Basket isn't about Artie T. It's about what Artie T. stood for and created - the Market Basket culture. Part of a company's success is directly attributable to their culture. Employees become invested in the culture and are willing to fight for it. They are also willing to leave when the culture changes to something that appears less desirable.
  3. Engagement extends to customers. In the timeline, I mentioned a petition with 100,000 signatures. Since Market Basket only has 25,000 employees, it goes without saying that many of those signatures came from customers. That means the Market Basket corporate culture wasn't only felt and embraced by employees. It was embraced by customers. I saw a tweet from a customer saying they drove twice the distance and spent twice the money to buy groceries because they are boycotting Market Basket.

We talk about employee engagement all the time and the importance of having an engaged workforce. Sometimes, that can be difficult to define and visualize. Market Basket is an example of a company that had successfully designed good jobs, created an inclusive culture, and reaped the benefits of it with customers.

No doubt about it - Market Basket is currently experiencing a public relations crisis. But we can all learn from the culture that Artie T. and his management team created. We can also learn from what's happening right now regarding the strength of employee engagement. And lastly, we can learn by watching how they emerge and rebuild from this situation.

Boston is awash in Red Sox fever today after last night's stunning win at Fenway.  My colleagues and I are remarking on how light the traffic was this morning coming in to work.  The sports hooky survey we did last year indicates that 11% of Americans will admit to having skipped work to watch a sporting event or to recover from staying out late after having watched one.  It certainly seems like a lot more than 11% of my fellow commuters are taking it easy this morning.

What about you?  Do you think the World Series had any impact on your commute or your productivity today?


zombiesSome of you may look at this and see "Halloween costume", but maybe others see another day at the office (store, plant, hospital, etc.).  Our new "Forgotten Workforce" survey asked hourly workers in the UK how they felt about their jobs.

The results indicate that 61% of workers either feel neutral or unhappy about going to work most days.  The key sources of their dissatisfaction?  Low pay (36%), little or no variety to the job role they perform (25%) and unpaid overtime (22%).

Only 25% of workers think their employer is very good at ensuring the right people are in the right place and the right time, and 48% of workers say their employer underestimates the number of people needed for a particular shift at least once a month, making things harder for those on duty.

What do these workers think their employers can do to improve these conditions?   Over 80% are happy to record when they start and finish shifts, but would also like to see their employers using technology to give them  more flexibility and control over their schedules.  Two-thirds of workers have difficulty requesting shifts and 65% have difficulty swapping shifts with colleagues.

Are your employees walking dead like our friends above, or are they dancing in the streets like Michael and his friends?


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