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This insight is Part 1 in a two-part series on employee engagement and the power of employee surveys.
Sudden departures are disruptive. Being able to predict when an employee will leave can make the difference between a smooth transition or a sudden, potentially unsettling change of plans. What indicators do employees give us before they leave? Peakon, a people analytics company, has released a new study that reveals that it is possible to determine if an employee will leave up to nine months in advance. The study examined over 32 million survey responses in 125 countries, finding that nine months before an employee leaves, their engagement and loyalty starts to fail.
An employee’s engagement is typically measured through the Employee Net Promoter score, which is calculated based on a strategic question: “How likely is it you would recommend [company name] as a place to work?” This one question reflects the employee’s entire spectrum of experience at the company across organizational culture, work environment, and career prospects. As this engagement dips, the intent to stay with the company starts to drop as well.
What leads to sudden dips in engagement? Managers could be a deciding factor. A Gallup poll of more than one million US workers found that 75% of employees who left jobs did so because of their managers and not the job itself. In particular, poor leaders and overbearing managers reduce the morale of their teams, eventually leading to dips in employee loyalty. This is echoed in the Peakon study, as the researchers found that “[w]hile peer relationships are a crucial part of a positive and engaging work experience, when compared to management support, they don’t seem to have as much of an impact on an employee’s likelihood of quitting.”
The Peakon study also indicated some other major drivers behind the dips in engagement, including when people felt:
Think one of your employees is pondering a change? While you can’t quite use employee survey information to pinpoint a specific employee, according to a Harvard Business Review study, there are 13 behavioural signs that you can look for, including decreases in work productivity, exhibiting less team spirit, having a negative attitude about work, expressing dissatisfaction with colleagues and managers, and poor timeliness.
Stay tuned for next week’s issue, where we explore three common pitfalls to conducting employee surveys.
With more organizations focusing on developing sustainable businesses, there has been a renewed focus on boards using Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria to discuss performance. How do board members feel about ESG? A recent article in Harvard Business Review finds that there are gaps in attitude toward sustainability within and between corporate boards. The authors interviewed 25 experienced European non-executive directors from 50 well-known, large companies. They found that there were five different types of board members:
The authors also provide suggestions of how to approach each type of board member to help shift attitudes toward sustainability. “Either way, as sustainability takes on more weight globally, and as investors continue to reward companies for improvements to material ESG issues…it is only a matter of time before board directors find that bridging the gap between aspirations and action is a requirement of fiduciary duty...”
While behavioural biases and their effect on investment decision making may not be easy to capture in real-time, it is nevertheless important to understand the sources of how and why our brains can trick us into making sub-optimal investment decisions. This article from the Collaborative Fund explores some of the lesser-known behavioural biases and how they can impact decision making. One of our favourites is the act of remembering events better than they actually were, which is referred to as “rosy retrospection.” You may often hear the phrase on business news networks “the easy money has already been made”; however, the “easy money” being referred to is always ex-post, and the person making the comment has likely forgotten the inherent uncertainty that is always embedded in the present. At the end of the day, “the long run is just a collection of short runs, each of which has uncertainty, volatility, and decisions that have to be dealt with.”
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Get Moving to Improve Concentration
Want to increase your focus and concentration on tasks? An article by Physiologist Greg Wells suggests that “for your mind to be engaged, your body needs to be energized.” We’ve discussed past research in previous issues that has found physical activity improves brain functionality, leading to increased creativity and problem-solving ability. “Even simple movements such as walking get you physically energized and open up the possibility of creating beta-wave activity in the brain, which is reflective of the brain state you need to be in if you have to work at a task or perform an action that requires your concentration.” This is opposed to our traditional approach to work, in which the average person sits from 9-5. While it may be difficult to get to the gym mid-day, the author suggests that you can obtain similar benefits from short spurts of micromovements throughout the day. “As little as 15 minutes of exercise improves mental performance, so add this to your day before important tasks that you have to do.”
A recent science report suggests that shifting from coal to gas is not only central to meeting emission targets and halting the global temperature rise, but that “the benefits of this cleaner-burning gas outweighs its possible risks.” A study published in Nature Climate Change finds that while natural gas is not an end goal, it can act as a bridge while we move toward more sustainable forms of energy. Despite debates about potential methane leakage, “natural gas power plants have both smaller short- and long-term impacts than coal power plants, even when high potential methane leakage rates, a full array of greenhouse gases and air pollutants, or uncertainty issues are considered.” The researchers even controlled for regional differences and carefully selected multiple metrics to evaluate environmental impact. “Our study uses a set of metrics jointly, unlike many studies using just one, to consider climate impacts on different time scales – one metric for a few decades, and another one for approximately a century.”
Fortune Magazine has released their 6th annual World’s 50 Greatest Leaders list. “In business, government, philanthropy, and the arts, and all over the globe, these men and women are transforming the world and inspiring others to do the same.” Bill and Melinda Gates, Jacinda Ardern, Robert Mueller, Pony Ma, and Satya Nadella round out the top five. Interestingly, the authors suggest that many of the leaders in the list share one emotional quality – hardiness. “Hardy individuals don’t see the world as threatening or see themselves as powerless against large events; on the contrary, they think change is normal, the world is fascinating, they can influence events, and it’s all an opportunity for personal growth.”
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