quiet quitting

Newsflash. Quiet quitting has been around for years. The term might be new, but the phenomenon, unfortunately, isn’t.

In 2016, 50% of employees were looking for another job within the first year of employment. Before the so-called “Great Reset,” only a small percentage actually followed through and changed jobs. The remaining people felt stuck in their jobs, unmotivated, and often actively disengaged.

The cumulative loss in productivity, profits, and personal well-being is straight-up bad.

Identifying which employees are motivated — and to what extent is — possible. The results could be used for job crafting, internal mobility, coaching, and much more.

Currently, those insights are rarely generated, let alone applied. Companies are often forced to react when it’s too late. The potential gains of mapping employee engagement proactively are enormous.

backwards innovation

How to crush innovation in reverse.

Often, the path towards innovation looks like this; a novel idea is conceived or embraced. The processes within organizations are adapted to facilitate this novel idea, and finally, the novel idea gets executed.

Sometimes, oddly, it’s the other way around. Sometimes, a particular way of working shifts automatically due to market demand. The procedures are adopted upon realizing that the current processes in place don’t foster the new way of working. Until finally, the novel idea manifests itself in a crystal clear manner.

For example, the way we used to hire people largely depended on a job description. Many companies hiring people for themselves — or intermediaries such as recruiting agencies hiring people for other companies — are now somewhat forced to move away from the classic job description. Why? The chances you’ll find other purple squirrels (white ravens) in times of labor market scarcity — let alone keep them — are zero to none. Especially starting from the job description that the purple squirrel is currently fulfilling. As it turns out, they often combine multiple jobs. Should we then create a new job description that combines multiple jobs?

Looking at required skills (both hard skills and soft skills) instead of sticking to relatively static job descriptions might prove to be a solution. The downside, though, is that if the purple squirrel were to be replaced, or the capacity should be increased, one purple squirrel might add up to two or more purple squirrels.

Due to labor market scarcity, the skills-based approach is currently being embraced, albeit ad hoc. Now it’s time for companies to adopt the processes that should go along with skills-based hiring so that the ideology can ultimately thrive.

white raven

That one employee that, when he/she/x leaves causes the company to collapse. These so-called white ravens, black swans, or purple squirrels aren’t only a dream to work with; they’ve gathered so much knowledge and expertise in your company that they can’t be missed.

HR departments often (try to) anticipate a catastrophe such as the departure of white ravens by trying to hire exactly the same kind of profiles. Now, signing the first white raven probably involved moving heaven and earth. Let alone finding another one. Moreover, keeping them.

The classic approach to starting from function profiles is rather rigid and tough to scale. Starting from, which hard-skills and soft-skills are required for a job on the other hand, is a leap many HR departments and their companies have to take. When it turns out that these white ravens combine multiple jobs or function profiles within one job, and thus can’t be replaced by one other person, that’s where the biggest challenges are.

without knowing

Would you allow your salespeople to meet with an existing customer without them knowing how much money they’re spending with your company?

Why would we allow HR to coach employees without them knowing what they’re working on?

better recognize

The fourth and final pillar in an employee engagement framework for the banking industry is reward and recognition. The model, beautiful in its simplicity, can be relatively easily applied outside of the banking industry.

Earlier I described training and career development, co-worker relationship, and perceived organizational support. Now, let’s take a look at reward and recognition.

Reward and recognition.

A very straightforward yet complicated principle. Credit where credit is due, and a sincere thank you will get you a long way. Back in 1998, Flynn claimed that rewards and recognition activities help the organization build up the confidence level of the employees and improve their motivation and morale. The ultimate aim of a recognition and reward program is to make the employees believe that the organization truly values their contributions.

If done well, this will boost employee engagement and productivity.

The challenge for larger organizations is to reward and recognize their employees sincerely, at scale.

A system that maps professional preferences and soft-skills, is required so managers or HR professionals can tailor their rewards and recognition to a market of one, the employee on the receiving end.

support felt

Perceived organizational support is about as important as training and career development in the employee engagement mix. One particular conceptual framework to map employee engagement in the banking industry is built on four pillars: training and career development, co-worker relationship, perceived organizational support, and reward and recognition. The model is beautiful in its simplicity, and there aren’t many barriers to apply this model outside the banking industry.

Earlier I described training and career development and co-worker relationship. Now, let’s look into perceived organizational support.

Perceived organizational support.

Emphasis on perception. Some organizations think they support their employees quite well, whereas, in reality, the employees indicate feeling little to no support from the organization. Sometimes the underlying reason can be as simple as a misunderstanding. For example, Samia is very ambitious, and naturally, she wants to improve her professional capabilities. Her employer offers courses, online learning tools, and workshops. Except they failed to mention it on numerous occasions. During hiring or pre-boarding, but no later than onboarding, crucial aspects like this should have been brought up.

Organizations seeking out (increased) employee engagement must support their employees. Period. From small, one-off initiatives like a birthday card to large career-spanning initiatives to fully support the people throughout their journey with the company.

One way to go about this is to just ask. Ask the employees what it is they need. Some employees might not be able to vocalize their needs well, which is fine; that’s why a framework to map professional preferences comes in handy.

co-worker combo

Co-worker relationship is the most prominent factor influencing employee engagement in the banking sector. One particular study provides a conceptual framework to map employee engagement in the banking industry, built on four pillars. Training and career development, co-worker relationship, perceived organizational support, and reward and recognition. The model is beautiful in its simplicity, and there aren’t many barriers to apply this model outside the banking industry.

Earlier I described training and career development. (link). Now, let’s look into the co-worker relationship.

Co-worker relationship.

It goes without saying that, depending on the type of job, the kind of co-worker relationships varies. A nurse may have other nurses as colleagues and doctors, to name a few. A junior engineer may be paired with a senior engineer, a project manager, and a tester.

One of the biggest employee engagement boosters is to identify and communicate team roles within a team. When companies help their employees understand their preferred roles within a team, they can build better matches with greater compatibility.

Some people naturally show more leadership characteristics, whereas others are more hands-on. More specifically, some people are helicopters, keeping an overview at all times. Other people are planners, maximizing efficiency within the team.

Different tasks require different team compositions. Start with identifying soft-skills and professional expectations regarding team roles to boost engagement and productivity.

true engagement

An IT support engineer recently asked me if he could call me with good news. I answered; yes, of course.

Amid a rather complex migration issue — one that he’d been working on for quite a while — a new solution manifested itself.

The support engineer said; I can’t tell you how happy I am I found this solution. The intonation and vibe only added credibility to the authenticity with which he relayed the message.

That’s what employee engagement looks like.

job tree

One particular conceptual framework to map employee engagement in the banking industry is built on four pillars. Training and career development, co-worker relationship, perceived organizational support, and reward and recognition. The model is beautiful in its simplicity, and there aren’t many barriers to apply this model outside the banking industry.

In the next few days, I’ll briefly describe each pillar.

Training and career development.

As time progresses, it’s becoming more apparent that one of the best ways to convince people to choose for an employer is the ability of the employer to provide perspective. Not in an old-fashioned kind of way, as in, if you work hard, we’ll bump your salary in eighteen months. If you keep working hard, we’ll bump it again in another eighteen months, and so on…

In this day and age, providing perspective means offering the candidate a map. A map with a pin showing the candidate, today, you are here. Tomorrow, proverbially, these are all the (career) routes you could take. 

Some of them might require hard-skills training. Perhaps additional degrees or certificates are necessary for a follow-on job. Some of them might require soft-skills training. When an employer moves into a managerial position, specific people skills, stress management, and responsibility become increasingly important.

Mapping the current situation, combined with suggesting multiple possibilities and future outcomes, is the foundation for training and career development.

Practical advice: map both people’s and jobs’ hard- and soft-skills to create a tree of internal career possibilities, alongside insight into which skills gaps need to be bridged to move between positions.

still fits

One of the three ways to get to know employees better, with the ambition to boost employee engagement, is to focus on the “talent fit,” according to this Forbes article.

According to the article, the way to focus on “talent fit” is to ask employees if the job still fits them.

Pretty straightforward and not a bad idea at all.

Additionally, companies should leverage a model, preferably academically validated, to build those insights at scale.