Keep Them Happy Before January

Keep Them Happy Before January

I grew up in a pretty traditional Southern California home where most Friday nights we ordered pizza. Pretty standard pie, with pepperoni and sausage. In fact, that is still my husband, Matt and my son, Ethan’s go-to, although Matt loves to take half of it and add black olives (which, ugh, I’m a no olive kind of gal). It’s fine though, because my daughter, Reese and I, we love margherita pizza, that’s our favorite!

In fact, when our family goes on trips, if we’re gone for a few days, we often try to find a pizza place and Reese and I have to order margherita pizza. It’s like we’re on this quest to find out who has the best margherita pizza. And so far we have found it’s actually the place in our own neighborhood; we love their margherita pizza!

A big reason why is a lot of these other places we’ve gone to, they try to add all these other ingredients, trying to be really fancy and creative. And even though Reese and I love those ingredients, they just don’t mix with a margherita pizza. We will leave saying, “Why would they mess with this? Just stick to the basic ingredients – the ingredients that make a margherita pizza amazing.”

And why do we keep going back to our same pizza place? Because they keep it simple.

They stick to those ingredients that make it so great. I see organizations making the same mistake. They want to keep their employees coming back, they want to retain them. So what do they do? They try to throw in all of these fancy “ingredients” to try to get them to stay. And guess what? That’s not what works. A fancy game room, the ping pong tables.

I mean, the organization I worked at, we had food trucks across the street on Fridays. And yes, that was really cool, but it’s not what made me stay at the company I worked for. So stop trying to find all these fancy “ingredients” to keep your employees coming back and staying engaged in your company, and just stick to the basics. I’m going to give you four, the four ingredients that are going to help you retain your employees.

Number one, humanity. You’ve probably heard me talk about this over and over again. Your employees are human beings, stop treating them like numbers. They have their own experiences, thoughts, feelings, and emotions; get in touch with them and know what makes them tick. Treat them as individuals, as human beings.

Number two, is flexibility. Flexibility. I know that we are going into a lot of hybrid situations – that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re offering flexibility as the employee or the individual would like to see it. Are you allowing them to choose which days they can come into the office? Maybe it’s not every week that they get to choose, but once a month, can we have some flexibility in those decision-making processes?

The number three ingredient is opportunity. Do your employees see opportunity for development, for advancement, for growth? When employees think that they’re going to be stuck in their same skill set, their same position, or possibly the same team, they will leave. So you’ve got to be able to show that there’s opportunity for growth and development.

And finally, the fourth ingredient is intentionality. Kind of a fancy word here for our basic ingredient, but intentionality. Are you as a leader being intentional with your interaction with your employees, with your team members? Are you intentional in how you treat them with humanity? Are you intentional about how you work with them on flexibility and individuality? Are you intentional with how you talk about their development, their opportunity for growth?

It’s not enough just to randomly have these conversations. Are they intentional, are they scheduled? Are you having them on some sort of a regular, consistent basis? Those are your four “simple ingredients” that are going to retain your employees, versus all of this fancy stuff that can be fun at times, but it’s not the stuff that’s going to make them keep coming back and be happy every time.

Keep Them Happy Before January

4 Ingredients to Keep Employees Happy

I grew up in a pretty traditional Southern California home where most Friday nights we ordered pizza. Pretty standard pie, with pepperoni and sausage. In fact, that is still my husband, Matt and my son, Ethan’s go-to, although Matt loves to take half of it and add black olives (which, ugh, I’m a no olive kind of gal). It’s fine though, because my daughter, Reese and I, we love margherita pizza, that’s our favorite!

In fact, when our family goes on trips, if we’re gone for a few days, we often try to find a pizza place and Reese and I have to order margherita pizza. It’s like we’re on this quest to find out who has the best margherita pizza. And so far we have found it’s actually the place in our own neighborhood; we love their margherita pizza!

A big reason why is a lot of these other places we’ve gone to, they try to add all these other ingredients, trying to be really fancy and creative. And even though Reese and I love those ingredients, they just don’t mix with a margherita pizza. We will leave saying, “Why would they mess with this? Just stick to the basic ingredients – the ingredients that make a margherita pizza amazing.”

And why do we keep going back to our same pizza place? Because they keep it simple.

They stick to those ingredients that make it so great. I see organizations making the same mistake. They want to keep their employees coming back, they want to retain them. So what do they do? They try to throw in all of these fancy “ingredients” to try to get them to stay. And guess what? That’s not what works. A fancy game room, the ping pong tables.

I mean, the organization I worked at, we had food trucks across the street on Fridays. And yes, that was really cool, but it’s not what made me stay at the company I worked for. So stop trying to find all these fancy “ingredients” to keep your employees coming back and staying engaged in your company, and just stick to the basics. I’m going to give you four, the four ingredients that are going to help you retain your employees.

Number one, humanity. You’ve probably heard me talk about this over and over again. Your employees are human beings, stop treating them like numbers. They have their own experiences, thoughts, feelings, and emotions; get in touch with them and know what makes them tick. Treat them as individuals, as human beings.

Number two, is flexibility. Flexibility. I know that we are going into a lot of hybrid situations – that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re offering flexibility as the employee or the individual would like to see it. Are you allowing them to choose which days they can come into the office? Maybe it’s not every week that they get to choose, but once a month, can we have some flexibility in those decision-making processes?

The number three ingredient is opportunity. Do your employees see opportunity for development, for advancement, for growth? When employees think that they’re going to be stuck in their same skill set, their same position, or possibly the same team, they will leave. So you’ve got to be able to show that there’s opportunity for growth and development.

And finally, the fourth ingredient is intentionality. Kind of a fancy word here for our basic ingredient, but intentionality. Are you as a leader being intentional with your interaction with your employees, with your team members? Are you intentional in how you treat them with humanity? Are you intentional about how you work with them on flexibility and individuality? Are you intentional with how you talk about their development, their opportunity for growth?

It’s not enough just to randomly have these conversations. Are they intentional, are they scheduled? Are you having them on some sort of a regular, consistent basis? Those are your four “simple ingredients” that are going to retain your employees, versus all of this fancy stuff that can be fun at times, but it’s not the stuff that’s going to make them keep coming back and be happy every time.

Well-Being Plans Aren’t Enough!

Well-Being Plans Aren’t Enough!

Hallelujah, Amen, whatever joyous thing you would like to shout out – I just want to give kudos and a round of applause to all the organizations who have finally woken up and said, “Our employee well-being is important.” Thank you! I am seeing so many more programs and departments, even at the C level.

In fact, I recently saw a major organization hire a Chief Well-Being Officer. I mean, talk about apparent commitment to people’s well-being. So, I just want to acknowledge you. However, it’s not going to solve it. In fact, these programs and these positions could potentially do more harm than good.

Because no matter how amazing the support and these programs are, they will not kill the root cause of your employee’s low well-being.

Whether that’s stress, burnout, mental health, whatever it is – these programs will not kill the root cause. The root cause is bad managers. Bad managers, they infiltrate and they get across the entire subculture. These well-being programs do not stand a chance against these bad managers.

Unfortunately, I know this first-hand; I spent a significant period of time reporting in to a really bad manager. Who, in the final months of me working with him, exhibited full bullying behavior. Unfortunately, we found out it had been going on for 15 years. The behavior became so bad that I don’t even know if my company offered any sort of well-being programs or mental health support, I just had to go out and find it on my own. I was investing my own time and money, going to therapy every single week.

And I will tell you, the therapy was amazing, but it did not help me once I set foot in the office. Once I was there, the bullying behavior by my manager was like a dagger straight into my heart. And though I had a shield to deflect some of it, it would not rid it completely. I was unable to really show up to be the best version of myself that I could, in order to give the best contribution to the company.

And so until we all wake up and look at the root cause of the problem, which is bad managers who are living within your organization, these well-being programs are going to offer some support, and they will be great when there are good managers and these employees need this additional assistance, but do not allow this to have you go blindly.

Don’t use this as a mask, but really continue to dig deep and find the root cause; to find those managers who need training or course correcting, whatever it needs to be for those individuals. I implore you to please make sure that while you are making this amazing effort towards well-being, that you are still seeking where you can find those managers that you can course correct in whatever manner works best for that individual and your organization.

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Quit

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Quit

McKinsey, in partnership with the Lean In organization, recently released their “Women in the Workplace” report for 2020. Now women have always had a unique journey, to say the least – but 2020 hands down disproportionately affected working women. In fact, McKinsey reports that one in four women are considering downshifting their career, or leaving the workforce altogether; something many would have never even considered the year prior.

You may be that one in four women who are considering leaving the workforce. I faced that same dilemma at the end of 2013; I believed my only option was to quit my job and completely leave my career in order to save myself and my family. But before you seriously consider that, before you initiate any type of action toward leaving your career, I want to offer the three questions you should be asking yourself before you quit your job.

So, number one: have you asked for changes in your workload or additional support? You may be completely overwhelmed and feeling the burnout at your job because you have too much on your plate. You have more priorities and more tasks than you can possibly manage, which is causing you to work extended hours, bleeding over into your personal life. But have you had a conversation and asked your manager for either some changes in the support, additional people, maybe something is pushed off to someone else?

Have you delegated some of your work to somebody else who’s on your team, or possibly a peer? Just because the current workload was assigned to you, it does not necessarily mean that that’s how it has to stay. So have you had a conversation with your manager about reducing or changing your workload, or having additional support with it?

Number two: have you asked for any type of flexibility? Whether that means reducing your hours, potentially working part-time, or working from home. We know that this is an opportune time to have some sort of hybrid situation, or potentially permanently work from home. Or is it possible to maybe take a leave of absence? I know there are some organizations that offer leaves or sabbaticals, have you researched that?

Is that a possibility? And that may be scary; it may be absolutely scary to think about asking for that or researching that. But look, if you’re a highly valued employee in the middle of what is “The Great Resignation,” where people are leaving in droves, you may have some leverage. So if you’re going in and kicking ass every day, you may be able to ask for some of these modifications.

And then finally, number three: before you quit your job, ask yourself, how will this impact your future? Oftentimes we believe that leaving the workforce for a year means you’re just losing one year’s worth of salary – but that is not the case. Research has proven that over and over again, it could be three times your annual salary that you’re losing.

Because now you are reversing your experience, so now you’re losing years in the field, you’re losing contributions that were potentially made by your employer toward your retirement, you yourself aren’t contributing toward your retirement so you’re reducing that compound growth, and you’re possibly missing out on other medical benefits. Have you realistically sat down, crunched some of those numbers, and not just from a financial standpoint, but in regards to your career aspirations, where do you potentially want to go in the future, and how could quitting your job, taking time out right now, impact those aspirations?

Before you quit your job, ask yourself those three questions!

The 3 C’s of How the Office Can Make Work Life Easier

The 3 C’s of How the Office Can Make Work Life Easier

The question has to be asked – is working from the office an antiquated concept? Well, many organizations are requiring employees to return to the office, and these same employees are resisting this policy. The challenge is that many of the benefits of working from home are good for the individual, while many of the benefits of working from the office are good for the organization.

Now, we find that mandates rarely work; they oftentimes backfire on companies. However, what you as a leader must realize and understand is that there are many benefits to you, your team, collectively, as individuals, working in the office. So I’m bringing to you the three C’s of how the office actually makes your work life easier. So the first one is creativity. You know that creativity is essential for problem-solving, for innovation; good creativity, good innovation can actually mobilize and take an individual, a team, perhaps even an organization in an entirely new direction.

When working from home, the environment is more distracting than the office can be. And it’s simply because the home environment is in a different mental space. It is not set up necessarily to be just about work. Versus when you’re in the office, the boundaries are clear, the focus is clear. So you are allowed to have more of that intention around work.

Now, this creativity in the office isn’t necessarily you sitting behind the computer. It’s up while you are walking around, it could be even that you’re outside of the office building; but it’s all creating boundaries that this is your work time, and providing that space for creativity. In fact, when employees are inspired and feeling creative, they actually want to get up and go work with other employees, and it becomes more restricted when working from home. So the office environment provides opportunity for more creativity. The second C is collaboration.

Look, the pure fact is that it is harder for knowledge to be transferred in a remote environment.

It is, information sharing happens much more fluid than that, through short, informal conversations. So we are limiting the opportunity for collaboration in a remote environment, because nearly all conversations have to be scheduled or they’re happening over text, versus an impromptu conversation where maybe you’re walking to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee and you notice a colleague is maybe struggling. Or you have a question and you can just jump up and reach out to somebody. So the opportunity for collaboration in more of an impromptu way and allowing stronger information-sharing absolutely happens in the office.

Again, through very short, informal conversations that are not scheduled, like work from home would have to be. So collaboration is your second C. And finally, number three is culture. Look, so much about culture is about feeling – how you feel about the organization, the company, the team that you work on. And it is simple fact that the feeling is more strongly generated when you’re physically near one another. It is much harder to have a physical-feeling connection through video, through a remote situation.

So by bringing people physically near one another, we are already generating that feeling of collectiveness. And when people are together, there is a sense of the same mission and the same purpose. The longer that you are separated from your colleagues, the longer you as a leader have your team members separated, the more distant that mission and that purpose becomes.

So we want to bring people together so we have a sense of a common mission, common purpose, and we’re generating that feeling, which is simply what generates a strong culture: creativity, collaboration, and culture. Those are the three C’s of how being in the office will make your work life easier.

What’s the Risk of Busy Work?

What’s the Risk of Busy Work?

CNBC recently reported on the amount of time employees believe they spend on busy work. Just think about it for yourself, your day-to-day on average or over the course of the week, how much of your time is spent on busy work? Well, after surveying over 10,000 employees, they found that over half of the day is spent on busy work, or “work about work.”

So communication about work, chasing down status updates, switching between apps – work about the work that needs to be done. And among that time, they are estimating that about five hours per week are absolutely wasted time. If we take that five hours per week and we compound it over the year, that adds up to six weeks; six weeks that employees are feeling like time is wasted.

Okay – do you even take six weeks of vacation?

Now imagine that you’re spending more time on complete wasted activity compared to even your vacation; time that could actually be well spent to make you more productive. So, besides the obvious reason of lack of productivity, lack of efficiency that this busy work and time wasted adds up to, what’s really compelling is that this busy work, this wasted time, is making burnout worse.

We have been sitting on this peak of burnout over the past two years, yet things like wasted time and busy work are just making it even worse as we’re trying to come out the other side.

One of the top reasons, one of the top causes of burnout is unmanageable workload. So if we have true priorities as a leader that you have given to your team, and it’s already unmanageable, when we pile on things like useless meetings, meetings that could have been done over an email or done within 15 minutes versus an hour, or when we pile on duplicate tasks, things that we’re asking people to do when the process already has somebody else doing it. When we pile these meaningless, useless, waste of time things on top of an already unmanageable workload, we are making burnout out worse for the employees.

Not to mention that employees now feel that they’re not using as much of their time for the skilled work that they were even hired to do. They need to be engaged, challenged, and developed. We’re in the middle of a resignation, a reshuffle. We need employees to feel like they’re contributing to the skillset they were hired to do.

And finally, a small percentage of their time is used for strategic planning. They’re spending less time on strategic planning than they are on busy work. Yet, a second cause of burnout is unclear communication. So if we have employees who are not spending an adequate amount of time on strategic planning, working hand in hand with you as their leader, this lack of communication about planning and priorities and goals of the organization, again are just compounding this burnout when we want to be coming out the other side of burnout.

As a leader, I challenge you to really assess where duplicate task are, where are these meaningless meetings? And I spoke about this not too long ago, so if you’re looking for some ideas on how to make your meetings more productive and effective, take a look at that video. We need to help support our employees, our teams to get on the other side of burnout, versus staying up here at this peak, or even worse, increasing their levels of stress and anxiety with a bunch of busy work; a bunch of meaningless tasks.