7 Ways to Maximize an Offshore/Onshore Development Team

Posted by Josie Mangano on Dec 14, 2018 11:44:43 AM

LAST

A great acronym for a conference, right?

It stands for Lean, Agile, and Systems Thinking - three concepts close to my (nerdy) heart.

The LAST Conference is an invaluable forum for sharing software development stories and I was thrilled to be a speaker earlier this year.

I talked about the challenges of engaging and mobilizing a global development team - a situation faced by an increasing number of technology companies.

Here are 7 key takeaways from my presentation – I hope you find them useful.

Setting the Scene

A few years ago, GreenOrbit (formerly Intranet DASHBOARD) faced the all-to-common conundrum of implementing an extensive development roadmap within the confines of a fixed budget.

To address this, we chose to expand overseas while at the same time retaining our Australian team (many of whom worked remotely).

Instead of contracting the offshoring work to an external organization, we decided to handle recruitment and project management ourselves.

This decision forced us to re-examine our work culture and day-to-day processes – and we’ve learned some valuable lessons along the way.

Global

1. Commit to your decision

Taking ownership of offshoring gives you complete control (including the ability to mess things up).

At the outset, it’s crucial to make sure leaders are on the same page and 100% committed. 

Do all you can to encourage onshore teams to support the decision. This involves articulating and reiterating what you’re trying to achieve and then supporting your people through the journey.

2. Choose a winning location

Choose an offshore location that you and your onshore team are eager to visit. Make sure it’s close to the airport and easy to get to - with good universities and similar companies nearby.

Take time to explore the options for offices, infrastructure and internet access.

Choose an area where staff are keen to live.

go-team-8

3. Take an agile approach to recruitment

Conduct face-to-face interviews – you want prospective staff to get the best possible impression. Learn about the language, culture, job market and university intricacies.

Figure out how to ask the right questions – this will become clearer as you review and adjust your interview approach.

Technical know-how is a top priority, but it must be combined with communication skills and cultural fit. It can take time to find the right people.

Don’t give up!

go-team-7

4. Build multi-locational teams

As far as possible, include someone from each location in every team. Foster the habit of video meetings – this forces all team members to speak-up and communicate clearly.

Run these meetings at a time that works for all locations.

Encourage team members to get to know each other outside of meetings.

Your company intranet is great platform for this – use channels like #MyWeekend and #MyFamily to break the ice and build relationships.

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5. Aim for frequent face-to-face contact

Visit the offshore team as often as possible.

Immerse yourself in what they’re doing, thinking and feeling. Run team days, celebrate company milestones and observe cultural holidays.

When you can’t be face-to-face, talk frequently and ask direct questions.

Provide ample opportunity for staff to voice concerns.

6. Focus on strong leadership

For offshoring to work, leaders must share and commit to a united vision.

They should visit offshore staff regularly and be present in all locations.

Look to promote from within (including offshore employees) and clearly define what you expect from a leader.

go-team-8-1

7. Treat everyone equally

From a company culture perspective, it’s important that onshore and offshore staff feel equally valued (even though you may pay them differently).

Keep everyone in the loop and enjoy the ride!

GreenOrbit is an intranet solution with everything you need built in. It empowers businesses to communicate, collaborate and get real work done.

To see how GreenOrbit can get work going in your organization, download our eBook: Steps to Building a Great Intranet

 

Topics: offshoring, software development, teams

A Day in the Life of a Strategic Intranet

Posted by Kath McNiff on Nov 29, 2018 11:23:03 AM

 

If I asked you to describe your current intranet in four words or less, you'd probably say something like:

  • Bloated and clunky

  • Chaotic and unloved

  • Old school

  • Wait. We have an intranet?

You're not alone - according to  survey by Prescient Digital Media, only 13% of employees report participating in their intranet daily—31% say they never do.

Why?

Is it because employees have no use for tools that make collaboration and communication easier? Is it because they enjoy using a million different platforms to get things done?

Not likely. 

Fast and effective communication is more important than ever. It drives productivity, innovation and employee engagement - a must-have trifecta in today's competitive market place.

Maybe it's time to flip the script on intranets. Maybe it's time to stop thinking of them as dumping grounds for stale documents and, instead, focus on the value they are perfectly positioned to deliver.

For a deep dive into leveraging your intranet - check out our e-book:

3 Ways Your Intranet can be a Launchpad for Success.

Set the Scene

So what would a day with an effective intranet look like?

Let's say you're a designer - working on a logo for your company's latest new product.

You can't work in a vacuum. What steps do you take to get communication and collaboration flowing?

1. Go gather your team

You know that you'll need buy-in from stakeholders across the company - so you start to build a logo taskforce. 

Searching through your intranet's profile directory, you easily zero-in on the right people. 

GreenOrbit-Staff-Directory-Search02

2. Make a collaboration space

Next, you setup a separate space in your intranet where your stakeholders can come to discuss requirements and collaborate on ideas. To kick things off, you welcome people to the new group and explain its purpose.

You upload the brand guidelines, along with inspirational images from your mood-board - a great way to get the logo conversation started.

blog- Mood-board11

3. Book a brainstorming session

You know that face-to-face contact is important too - so you use your intranet to book a meeting room and invite your new taskforce to a brainstorming session.

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Then, you post the agenda in your private group so that everyone is on the same page.

blog_agenda11

Your post sparks a few comments - people want to add items to the agenda. 

During the actual meeting, ideas begin to flow and you capture them on a whiteboard. At the end of the session, you take photos of the whiteboard so you can upload them to the private group later on. 

4. Gather Feedback

Back at your desk, the creative juices are flowing and the logos begin to take shape.

You settle on three potential designs and upload them to your intranet to see what people think.

For fun, you create a Quick Poll to see which one is most popular.

 blog Quick Poll

 

Most people seem to like Logo1, but they have a few comments related to color, size and font. The conversation continues back and forth - you take the feedback on board and refine the logo (uploading changes as you go).

5. Spread the Word

Finally, you have a logo that your stakeholders love!

You create a News article on your intranet to share the final version company-wide.

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In the article, you explain the thinking behind the logo and show its evolution from a whiteboard scribble to a polished work of art.

You sit back and smile as the Likes and positive comments come rolling-in.

6. Celebrate!

The Product Owner is excited about the new logo and decides to celebrate with a delicious lunch. He posts an invitation on the #celebrate channel and adds the event to your intranet's company calendar.

blog-celebrate-success01

Now, you deserve a break.

How do you apply for leave? Use your intranet of course.

blog-annual-leave

Your intranet is key to success

This is just one scenario where an effective digital workplace can be the wind beneath your wings.

It's time to take your intranet seriously - don't put up with a bloated digital workspace that slows everyone down.

Look for an easy-to-use platform that has everything built-in. One that drives productivity and delivers real competitive advantage.

Want to learn more about leveraging your intranet for better business outcomes?

Read our e-book - 3 Ways Your Intranet can be a Launchpad for Success.

Topics: company intranet, communication tools

Welcome to GreenOrbit

Posted by Stewart Bairstow on Nov 12, 2018 11:36:22 PM

Today, we publicly announced that Intranet DASHBOARD has been re-branded as GreenOrbit.

For over 20 years we have been helping customers build great intranets - and we continue to do so. 

Why the change?

Why mess with something that's loved by over a million people worldwide?

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Right?

Unfortunately, that approach only gets you so far and we wanted to go further. Much further. We wanted to get out there and tackle the complexity of the modern digital workplace. We wanted to deliver a new intranet with everything built in. An intranet that would calm the chaos of disparate tools and fractured processes. An intranet that would get your people going and put your organization ahead of the pack.

That's why we're so excited about launching GreenOrbit.

We've taken all the best parts of Intranet DASHBOARD and re-imagined them for today's workplace. We've made features easy on the eye and even easier to use. We've streamlined tools and processes so that your people can be up and running...and creating...and collaborating in no time.

 

Collaboration - Build a thriving workplace culture (1)

A new direction

We've updated our software, that's for sure. But we've also renewed our focus. We don't want to be everything to everyone. We want to zero in on what you need to be successful and on what your people need to make the most of their work day. 

We know that clunky, bloated intranets slow everyone down. Not only are they counter-productive and costly, but they undermine even the best employee engagement efforts. We also know that complicated add-ons and integrations are really just black holes for time and money. 

We wanted to up-end these frustrations one by one. But it's hard to be revolutionary and forward-facing with a name like Intranet DASHBOARD. Sure a dashboard may have been exciting back in 2004, but these days it conjures up images of boring control panels not dynamic communication hubs.

A new name

We needed a name that better reflected our new direction.

Going places.

Not afraid to explore.

Fun and inventive.

With our partners at The Starr Conspiracy we tried out all sorts of names. Some made us laugh, some made us cry and, frankly, some made us scratch our heads in confusion. But GreenOrbit was the one that stuck. It's friendly and adventurous - daring to journey out among the stars (orbit) but also down-to-earth and practical (green).

Rebrand-in-action

We love our new name, but it's not about us. It's about you. We hope it resonates with you and that 'GreenOrbit' becomes synonymous in your mind with 'get work going'.

A new look

After refocusing our attention and choosing a name, it was time for a new look to bring it all together. 

The GreenOrbit logo emerged organically as we worked with The Starr Conspiracy - it started as a squiggle and slowly morphed into a living, breathing symbol of our explorer mentality and 'get going' ethos.

Evolution_of_logo01-639325-edited

Despite what they say, looks do matter - especially when it comes to inspiring confidence and communicating the right message. Our new color palette is bold and decisive and there's nothing diluted about it. Our illustrations show people working together or looking outward to a bright future - embraced by swirling orbits of neon green. 

All of this is the result of intentional design - a design that supports who we are and where we want to go.

GreenOrbit_illustrations

New offices

New direction, new name and new look. What's next?

New offices of course.

Last week, the Melbourne team said goodbye to their previous location of 14 years and made the move into sparkling new offices in Abbotsford. Now the physical setting matches our emotional state - fresh, innovative, and ready for the future of work.

New_home_for_GreenOrbit

Meanwhile, it's all systems GO in the US as our team expands to fill bright new premises in Raleigh, NC. 

Raleigh_team

A new world order

The GreenOrbit global footprint now extends across North America, Europe, Australia, India and Asia. The upshot of all this action? We can serve you better with more frequent touch points, localized on-the-spot support and greater access to qualified technical talent.

Of course, we'll never forget our heritage. We'll always remain focused on delivering effective intranet solutions to the world's leading companies - but now we'll do it with renewed energy and vigor under the banner of GreenOrbit.

Documents, workflows, collaboration and productivity - we're committed to moving the digital workplace forward with everything enterprises need in one single comprehensive solution.

It's all about respecting the past and moving boldly into the future. We can't wait to take you with us.

Oh, the places we will GO!

Topics: business growth, corporate changes, intranet

Your intranet needs are changing

Posted by Stewart Bairstow on Nov 12, 2018 10:51:00 PM

And so are we.

Intranet DASHBOARD is now GreenOrbit.

Driving productivity in today’s complex workplace is becoming more and more challenging. Your intranet needs are changing. And, we’re changing, too. We’ve re-imagined our brand to reflect our new focus.

Intranet DASHBOARD is now GreenOrbit.

We’re taking the complexity out of digital workplaces and moving the intranet industry forward with everything enterprises need in one simple, comprehensive solution. We’re doing this in the following ways.

Brand and platform experience

New brand look and website
Updated UI/UX (limited release)

Client and partner relationships

Micro-focus at regional and local level
More frequent touch points

Market expansion

Four new offices: USA - Phoenix, AZ and Raleigh, NC; UK - London; Australia - Abbotsford
Global footprint across North America, Europe, Australia, India and Asia

Talent pool

Greater access to qualified tech talent

Why

We need many different tools to get work done and get your organization where it needs to go —document collaboration, content sharing, group chats, on boarding forms and processes, leave requests, calendars, surveys — the list is endless, and so are the possibilities for errors, wasted time, and system failure.

Without the right intranet solution, your employees become burdened with unnecessary administrative tasks, reducing their productivity and dragging your business down. Give your people the intranet they need to go further and go faster — GreenOrbit. Everything you need to get going, built in.

When

The new brand will go live on November 12. Sign up to get a first look or learn more at greenorbit.com.

Get going — with GreenOrbit.

Topics: corporate changes, business growth, technology

The secret to writing intranet articles that employees love

Posted by Kath McNiff on Sep 26, 2018 11:11:44 AM

 

write_intranet_articles_your_employees_love

People are busier and more distracted than ever.

We live in a world where attention spans are 9 seconds long and 'content fatigue' is the new normal.

How do you entice time-poor employees to read (and act on) your carefully crafted intranet articles?

Here are 5 over-looked fundamentals that can make all the difference.

Know your audience

Maybe you've heard the adage:

"If you're marketing to everyone, you're marketing to no one"

Well, the same is true for that intranet article you're trying to write.

Start by asking yourself:

"Who am I writing this for?"

If your answer is "the employees in my company" -  then your canvas is too broad.

You need to zero-in on the employee segment you want to engage. What are their particular needs, passions or pain points?

For example, let's say you want to tell everyone about the new office that just opened in Japan.

You could create an intranet article titled 'New Office Opens in Japan' and then go on to describe when it opened, where it is and include information about what the expansion means for the business.

Nice enough.

But, as an employee, why should I click to see beyond the headline?

Sure, I'm happy we have a new office but unless I can see what impact it has on me or on others in my department - I'm not likely to be drawn in.

To encourage engagement, look at how you can deliver the content in a more personal way - by targeting specific employee personas. 

What's an employee persona? Glad you asked because here's a neat explainer video:

 

 

By understanding what motivates and inspires the different types of people in your organization - you have a better chance of engaging them.

Now, back to the Japanese office example.

Based on your new personalized approach, you could write an article targeted at the sales team:

Japan opens the door to new prospects

Or one that appeals to those in customer support:

What keeps our Japanese customers awake at night?

Think about ways to position your article to hit the sweet spot for a given persona.

To get started, you'll need to do a little research:

  • Check employee intranet profiles and make a list of job titles and interests.

  • Interview staff from different departments, cultures and age groups. You'll learn what kind of content resonates - you can also create great articles from the interviews themselves.

  • Conduct a staff survey asking people about their challenges, topics of interest and how they like to consume content.

Know your objective

Now that you know who you're writing for - it's time to think about what you want your article to achieve.

There are two main questions to ask:

  • Does it align with your Internal Communications strategy? If you have one, that is. According to a recent report44% of organizations don't.

  • Is your article addressing a business objective?

It's easy to fall into the trap of writing content for content's sake - but you should use your publishing power to make a difference.

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While all organizations are unique, most are focused on one or more of the following:

  • Productivity

  • Profitability

  • Customer Service

  • Employee Engagement and Retention

  • Growth

  • Change Management

Does your article move the needle on any of these objectives?

Does it help employees to do their jobs more effectively? Does it make them feel connected to their peers or part of a vibrant culture?

Purposeful content that is clearly aligned with your company's mission is more likely to engage employees (and win the approval of senior management). 

Respect your reader's time

"I didn't get time to read that"

Sound familiar?

Lack of time is one of the major reasons your content goes unread.

With so much competition for their attention, employees often put internal communications on the back-burner.

Instead of lamenting this fact, look at ways you can lighten the cognitive load:

  • Make headlines clear and specific so that readers know what they're getting into - this free headline analyzer can help.

  • Have a point and get to it quickly - don't be that person who tells meandering, pointless stories that never seem to go anywhere.

  • Avoid slabs of text and use plenty of white space.

  • Break up the content with scannable headings, videos, images and pull-quotes. 

  • Drop the jargon and use every day conversational language.

  • Take time to proofread (typos not only reflect badly on your credibility but they break the reader's flow).

Be people-focused

We've already looked at ways to personalize content based on employee personas but actually writing about people is another sure-fire way to improve engagement.

Tell stories about individual employees and demonstrate their value to the business. This doesn't have to be 'heavy' content - you can ask employees to describe their morning routines, give their productivity tips or share favorite recipes.

Also, write articles that bring customers into focus - this helps employees to see why their work matters and goes a long way to fostering employee engagement. 

Use faces in your imagery - and, where possible, choose real people over stock photos. 

According to Sally Hogshead, author of the New York Times Bestseller, Fascinate

Faces are so key to our survival, in fact, that we're born to be fascinated by them.

Get the message out

So now you have a persona-driven, easily digested, people-focused article with a catchy headline and fascinating imagery. Well done!

The next step is making sure people know about it.

Take care to add the relevant keywords, meta-data and #hashtags so that your article can be pushed out to the appropriate channels or found via search.

When you share the article on your intranet's social network, be sure to @mention individuals who might find it particularly useful. 

Although you want to avoid broadcast email -  you might consider sending out a round-up of the month's best articles.

What engagement strategies have worked for you?

We'd love to hear about your successes in the comments below.

Topics: internal communications strategy, company intranet, intranet, Internal Communications, employee engagement

7 Bad Habits HR Needs to Break

Posted by Kath McNiff on Sep 6, 2018 11:46:38 AM

notes-from-AHRI-we-can-do-it

HR Professionals from around the world gathered at the AHRI National Convention last week to talk about the future of work.

So many insightful presentations and eye-opening ideas. In some ways, it felt less like a conference and more like a call to arms. 

A single thread running through the sessions was the idea of repositioning HR - from a deer caught in the headlights of workplace transformation to a united professional body leading the way to better human-centered outcomes.

But how does HR take on this leadership role?

According to many of the presenters - it has a lot to do with what HR should stop doing.

As keynote speaker, Herminia Ibarra, so brilliantly pointed out:

"What got us here, won't get us there". 

So what are the habits HR needs to break? Here's a round-up of the top 7, gleaned from presentations across the conference.

1. Don't Age Stereotype

In her persuasive keynote, Lynda Gratton asked us to drop the unhelpful and potentially damaging generational labels we insist on using.

Sure, millennials may want "meaningful work" but so does everyone else.

According to Professor Gratton, "age stereotyping is more endemic than gender stereotyping" - it can threaten diversity and lead to workplace inequality. 

HR needs to understand that 60 really is the new 40. People are working for longer and this requires a flexible approach to recruitment and retention.

For example, if you're interviewing someone in their fifties and you see they've taken a year off - don't jump to negative conclusions. Gap years or "periods of recovery" are crucial, particularly when most of us will be working well into our 70s.

Instead of leaning on stereotypes, Gratton believes that HR professionals should strive to change perceptions and should help CEOs to "build a narrative about the future of work."

2. Don't use jargon

CHRO, Fiona Michel called for an end to 'HR-splaining' not only because it hinders communication but because it adds fuel to the fire of "Why we hate HR".

To recast itself in a more positive light, HR should stop all the jargon and simplify the language used in contracts, policies and other types of communication.

As an inspiring example of what's possible, Michel provided this visual leave policy created by the HR team at Aurecon.

aurecon-visual-leave-policy

She also shared this funny video demonstrating just how ridiculous jargon can be:

Other speakers were also on board with this keep-it-simple idea. In fact, some took an even more heretical stance asking HR to "burn the policies" and "break the rules'.

In his keynote, Peter Cheese supported these radical ideas as way to "put the human back into human resources." 

Make your intranet a jargon-free zone. Use it to open a clear line of communication between leaders and employees.

3. Don't (just) be yourself 

Leadership expert, Herminia Ibarra, told the story of how her early lecturing style was falling flat with students. A colleague suggested that she needed to 'work the room'.

"But that's not me" she told him, feeling sick at the thought of performing - surely the content should stand on it's own?

Deciding to give it a try, she stepped out of her comfort zone to engage with her audience. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Acting in this new way, changed Ibarra's perception of her 'authentic self.'

Her story illustrates the challenges that HR professionals are facing right now.

They need to take action - trying fresh approaches and pushing the boundaries because as Ibarra says:

"You are more likely to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting."  

4. Don't get tied up in 'busy work'

Dr Jason Fox, motivation design expert (and hilarious wizard-rogue), talked about the "rich pantomime of busyness" that governs so much of our working lives.banner-jason-fox-AHRI-2018

Fox says it's this curse of efficiency that can prevent HR from thinking strategically or from making meaningful progress. For example, this might mean defaulting to the comfort of 'administrivia' - writing policies, shuffling emails or compiling reports that no one reads.

Herminia Ibarra calls it the 'Competency Trap' - things that we're good at doing, so we keep doing them.

According to Amantha Imber (Innovation Psychologist at Inventium), we should also stop multi-tasking. She explained that it is actually 'task switching' and it can cause things to take 40% longer.

We did a fun exercise to prove it:

Multi-tasking 1With your stopwatch on, write one word of Happy Birthday at the top of the page, then one number (counting backwards from 20) at the bottom - keep going until the song and numbers are complete.

Now try it again but this time write the whole song, then write the numbers. Which takes longer?

GreenOrbit is a intranet software that gets your people going and takes care of the 'busyness' around forms and policies, leaving you to focus on what matters.

5. Don't sit in your Ivory Tower

Another gem from Fiona Michel's presentation - she explained how important it is for HR to understand what's going on in the business as a whole.

Take time to get out of corporate headquarters and sit with customer facing staff to better understand their particular challenges. Do the work, if possible, in order to 'feel' what it's like.

It's also important for staff to see HR on the ground - not just during recruitment interviews or performance appraisals. 

6. Don't Stagnate

Meant as a message for HR, it applies equally to anyone who wants to succeed in the modern workplace.

Keep moving. Try new things, prototype and iterate.

Lynda Gratton extolled the virtues of lifelong learning - particularly in the context of an aging workforce. HR professionals can apply this to their own careers and can create a context in which learning is fundamental part of employee engagement.

To get yourself started, here are a few thought-provoking books (written by AHRI presenters):

Peter Cheese also highlighted the importance of becoming certified and "respecting ourselves as a profession" - a crucial pathway to staying in touch with the latest issues.

Feature Checklist

7. Don't miss the next AHRI Convention

Be sure to register for next year's AHRINC (in sunny Brisbane) - because who knows what changes will be afoot by then!

The world is moving at a breathtaking pace and this convention is a great way to catch up.

Share your bad habits

What would you add to this list of don'ts?

Feel free to expose your bad HR habits in the comments below.

Go on - we won't judge.

GreenOrbit (formerly Intranet DASHBOARD) was proud to be an event sponsor of 2018's AHRI National Convention. We look forward to seeing you all again next year!

 

 

Topics: hr, employee engagement

15 Low Cost Ways to Improve Employee Engagement

Posted by Annabelle Willis on Aug 24, 2018 4:36:11 PM

15 low cost ways to improve employee engagement

Unless you've been living under a corporate rock, you know that Employee Engagement is crucial to business success.

Countless studies prove that it encourages innovation and increases productivity.

It's also common knowledge that engaged employees deliver a positive customer experience and stand up as ambassadors for your employer brand

Most importantly, they drive profitable business growth.

But Employee Engagement is a journey, not a destination - so it makes good sense to look for cost-effective ways to engage your people on the daily.

Here are 15 low cost strategies to get you started.

1. The Essentials

Before you can address the more complex factors of employee engagement, you’ll
need to
get the basic 'hygiene factors' sorted out.

No, we're not talking about clean bathrooms (although these are super important).

We're talking about the fundamentals of job satisfaction - things like pay, benefits, safe working conditions and job security. Without these, your employee engagement efforts are doomed to fail - no matter how many perks, bonuses or carrots you dangle.

Give people the right conditions and access to the tools they'll need to get their work done.

2. Environment

You don’t need to install a Google-style golf course to make a tangible impact on employee engagement in your workplace.

Focus on the small but effective wins.

Common indoor plants are 'feel-good factories' that can calm stress and boost mood. According to NASA, they also filter the harmful toxins that plague our synthetic-filled offices. 

Office plants

A recent study by the American Society of Interior Designers showed that 68% of employees are dissatisfied with the lighting at work  - too dim and it strains the eyes, too harsh and it causes headaches and fatigue.

So unless you're working for Vampires Inc - it's worth assessing the lighting in your office to see if you could make use of task lamps and dimmer switches or improve access to natural light.

As far as other essentials go, never underestimate the miraculous power of good coffee and healthy snacks.

3. Clear values

In an ideal world, engaged employees work for more than just a pay cheque - they work to achieve your organisation's mission.Using the tools you have at hand, you can make sure that people understand the mission and feel connected to it. 

  • Make your values visible - on your website, your company intranet, on the walls of your building, everywhere!

  • Regularly talk about these values in meetings and CEO addresses, and how new projects and tasks will serve to uphold them.

  • Publicly recognize staff who best represent your values in the work they do

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4. Transparency

Transparency isn’t just good ethics - it’s good business.

Research shows that organizational transparency is the highest determining factor of employee happiness. So, it’s time to start sharing!

Open communication between management and employees establishes a relationship built on trust. And when there is trust - there is an emotional commitment to the company. 

The best thing about transparency is that it’s completely free. Here are some ideas to get started:

  • Encourage regular communication from your CEO, whether it be a weekly internal blog post or a news article.

  • Share stories of what’s happened around the business that week, particularly within upper management, and tie it back to your organizational mission.

  • Host a quarterly company-wide meeting to discuss upcoming developments, departmental updates, strategic objectives and initiatives, and financial performance.

5. Recognition

It can be difficult to ‘switch off’, and many of us take home some of the feelings we experience at work.

Essentially, the happier our work experience is, the happier we are.

One of the most powerful determinants of employee happiness is simply being thanked.  And what are the other effects of leaders acknowledging staff’s efforts?

Employees feel a stronger connection to those leaders. Culture expert, William Craig, reports that “90 percent of employees who received recognition from their boss in the past month indicated higher levels of trust in that boss. Among employees who received no recognition, only 48 percent indicated they trusted their higher-ups.”

So, how can you start saying thanks?

  • In meetings, verbally thank employees that contribute strong ideas or that actively demonstrate your core company values.

  • For exemplary work, send a thank you email to the employee and CC a relevant manager or leader.

If you have an Enterprise Social Network or intranet, give the employee a ‘shout out’ in the appropriate forum.

6. Have a voice

Disengaged employees adopt the mindset that “What I say doesn’t matter." In contrast, an engaged employee contributes their ideas, and is confident that they will be heard respectfully. When employees give feedback, it shows that they truly care about the direction of the project or organization. 

  • In meetings, leaders should encourage two-way communication. Ask questions and show that you value the input of others. Where appropriate, action suggestions and credit the contributing staff member.

  • A well-designed intranet is another fantastic way to enable communication across all corners of your business and to help employees find their voice. To encourage adoption, set clear guidelines around which conversations should happen where and what kind of content is appropriate. Have senior staff lead by example via regular contributions and to respond to posts where appropriate - remember, there’s only value in staff voicing their ideas if you’re actually listening.

7. Relationships

Harvard Business Review reports that close friendships with colleagues boosts employee satisfaction by 50% and “People with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work.”

Help facilitate employee connections by:

  • Encouraging staff to connect with their colleagues by offering communal spaces, team lunches and outside of work activities.

  • Forming a team to enter a fundraising event or a social sporting competition to help personal connections flourish.

  • Assigning a mentor or 'buddy' to each new starter - a great way to build relationships and share knowledge.

8. Social cause

A 2017 survey by O.C. Tanner found that “Charitable giving is an opportunity for companies to reinforce their purpose - their greater cause, beyond just products and services- and help employees connect to that purpose.”

The data further confirmed that when employees participate in corporate charity, 78 percent of employees express support for their company values.

To get started, you might enter a team in a fun-run, hold a fundraising event, or volunteer at a local shelter.

9. Mental health support

With 6.7 percent of US adults having at least one period of severe depression per year, a 2003 study by Stewart, et al found that mental illness costs business approximately $225 billion annually. Those battling the black dog are likely to struggle to feel passionate about their work or perform at their best. 

Any mental health initiative must be authentic to be successful. People can sense insincerity from a mile away, so don’t offer to help if you have no intention of following through. Instead, put tangible measures in place to support your staff.

Let’s look at some actionable ideas to supporting your team:

  • Run an anxiety management or mindfulness workshop.

  • Embrace initiatives such as World Mental Health Day and direct employees to who they can talk to for help.

  • For those that are suffering - work with them to put a plan in place, including provisions for time off to attend counselling/treatment.

Encourage employees to keep an eye out for each other, and reward those that demonstrate camaraderie.

10. Wellness initiatives

The ROI of investing in the health of your staff can be seen beyond just employee engagement levels.

Harvard Business Review found that, on average, employers who invested in health and wellness initiatives reaped $6 in healthcare savings for every dollar invested.

For employees, wellness initiatives such as office yoga classes, gym membership deals or step challenges, are both enjoyable and beneficial for their overall health.It shows that you care about staff wellbeing, - and makes people feel supported and appreciated.

11. Inclusion

Embracing gender, cultural and LGBT diversity within the workplace is key to creating a vibrant, innovative workforce that can tend to a broad range of customers’ needs. In fact, businesses that operate in an inclusive culture outperform others by an incredible 80 percent.

For staff, it goes without saying that feeling safe, accepted and respected is imperative if they are to be engaged, and thus high performing, at work. Stephen Frost, author of The Inclusion Imperative, writes that “When LGBT people remain in the closet, they are 10 percent less productive than when they feel able to be themselves.”

Steps you can take to achieve inclusion:

  • Incorporate diversity into your key business values, and promote this internally and externally. Your company intranet is a great place to share this.

  • Celebrate initiatives such as Multicultural Diversity Day. At GreenOrbit, we got in the spirit by each bringing a traditional dish to share with each other at lunch!

At work events, such as your end of year celebrations, encourage staff to bring their partners and families.

12. Rewards

Too often, incentives are used as a Band-Aid solution for employee engagement. Having read this far through the article, you’ll now know that employee engagement is a complex beast. While these initiatives undoubtedly have their time and place, they form a piece of a much larger puzzle. 

Rewards should be reserved for engaged employees who exceed performance expectations.

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Rewards should be reserved for engaged employees who exceed performance expectations, rather than as merely an incentive for under-performing staff to get their act together. Everybody loves cash, but there are plenty of ‘money can’t buy’ rewards that will truly excite and engage your team.

Jeff Haden, author of The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win, suggests:

  • Lunch with the CEO: This provides a rare opportunity for the employee to network with a senior leader and share their ideas and thoughts. On the flipside, your CEO gets to connect with staff they might not know well, and gain insight to the business from another perspective.

  • The premier parking spot: Let the high-performing employee park in the best parking spot for a week. Jeff suggests even placing a small sign with their name on it to make it ‘official’ and to really highlight your appreciation.

  • Free team lunch: Let your employee choose where they’d like to go, and bring their workmates along with them. They will get to enjoy their favourite food and connect with their team in a relaxed setting, strengthening their relationships.

13. Work flexibility

Gallup has consistently found that “Flexible scheduling and work-from-home opportunities play a major role in an employee’s decision to take or leave a job.” 

In fact, 64% of employees would choose a lower paying job if they could work away from the office just 1 day a week.

Why?

Because balancing work and life is hard. By offering flexible hours, people are able to work when and where they feel most productive. They can easier balance family commitments and other passions while they work, alleviating stress to increase their quality of life.

14. Education

Investing in the education of your staff is crucial to helping them grow and develop. In turn, your business will reap the rewards of their new-found skills.

So where do you start?

One of the easiest ways to educate your team is to provide online training, allowing staff to complete learning in their own time, while it’s both easier and more affordable for managers to create.

If running courses internally is not an option, there’s plethora of free online qualifications that staff can complete. Gather a team and schedule a meeting each week to work through the course together.

15. Career development

The LinkedIn Global Job Seeker Trends Report states that the number one reason employees leave jobs is due to a lack of career progression opportunities - and the top draw card for a new role is the ability to progress their career. 

As discussed above, education plays a big part in this and is a great first step to building skillsets and experience. Commit to annual performance reviews and quarterly informal catch ups to provide feedback and direction to employees - ask them where they’d like to progress in their career, and define a pathway with KPIs to help guide them there. 

A great way to encourage staff to adopt a long-term vision is to highlight the stories of those that have forged a successful path within your business. This might be in the form of networking events, as part of a podcast or a video series on your staff intranet.

Employee engagement infographic

When it comes to employee engagement, the results speak for themselves; productivity and profitability rise, while turnover and absenteeism decreases. A commitment to employee engagement really is a commitment to success. 

Remember, seeing and treating your employees as a collective group of humans is the first and most important step.

From there, wholeheartedly and consistently practising these 15 tips will ingrain employee engagement in your culture. 

 

Topics: company intranet, employee engagement, enterprise social network

Employee Engagement 2018: The Ultimate Crash Course

Posted by Kath McNiff on Aug 10, 2018 2:00:00 PM

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Search on the term ‘Employee Engagement’ and Google will serve up over 121 million results - a mind-boggling collection of strategies, statistics, trends and expert advice.

If you’re trying to get your head around the concept, it’s a lot to take in.

Maybe you’re even a little skeptical about the whole Employee Engagement thing – wondering if it’s a passing fad.

Or maybe you're on board with the idea but don’t know where to start.

The following lessons will lead you through the labyrinth, pointing out useful resources along the way.

Lesson 1. What is Employee Engagement?

Like Shrek and that proverbial onion, ‘Employee Engagement’ has so many layers.

  • For senior executives it has to do with culture, values and competitive edge.

  • For managers, it’s about building trust, facilitating relationships, recognizing accomplishments and empowering people to do their best work.

  • For individuals, engagement is wrapped-up in the neuroscience of motivation, well-being and happiness. It’s about being switched-on, proactive, enthusiastic, involved and driven by a sense of purpose.

This definition from the MacLeod Report succeeds in capturing the onion-like layers:

“Employee engagement is a workplace approach designed to ensure that employees are committed to their organization’s goals and values, motivated to contribute to organizational success, and are able at the same time to enhance their own sense of well-being."

This one, from author Daniel Cable, captures the spirit in a single sentence:

"Encouraging people to bring their best selves to work."

If you want to up-the-ante on Employee Engagement in your organization, you’ll need to create a definition that suits your unique challenges and goals – think of it as an Employee Engagement mission statement.

employee_engagement-mission

Lesson 2. What Employee Engagement Is Not

To make sure you’re using the right terminology, it helps to understand how Employee Engagement differs from other closely-related concepts.

For example, it's more than Job Satisfaction which tends to be measure of how employees feel about ‘hygiene factors’ such as pay, hours and flexible working conditions.

It intersects with, but is separate from, Employee Experience – a fairly new approach that involves tracking the employee journey and creating an environment that encourages people to do their best work.

Also, most experts agree that Employee Engagement it is not about ping-pong tables, free muffins or dog-friendly offices (though I don’t see how these could hurt).

Lesson 3. Why Employee Engagement is So Hot Right Now

Why has it taken us this long to realize that a highly motivated workforce is central to success?

It seems so obvious.

Somewhere along the line we lost sight of humans and decided to focus on Gantt charts, performance metrics and sales funnels instead. But the tide is well and truly turning.

Leaders are looking up from their spreadsheets and beginning to understand that people are at the centre of business success – both as customers and as employees.

Need evidence that Employee Engagement is trending?

Earlier this year, the annual Employee Engagement Awards ceremony was held in London's Wembley Stadium (think Beyoncé and FA Cup).  It sold out.

If you’re wondering whether your organization needs to get serious about Employee Engagement, here's a snapshot of the main drivers:

  • Disruption - Uber and Airbnb proved that you could change the world with a great idea and a small team of committed innovators. To compete, the big players need to leverage the creativity and enthusiasm of their people and innovate from the ground up.

  • Blended Workforce - Different ages, genders, cultures - including a mix of part timers, contractors and remote workers - has made it increasingly difficult to unite and engage employees. Also, many employees (especially those pesky millennials) are beginning to place a higher value on learning, growth and sense of purpose.

  • Sobering Statistics – From around 2006, Gallup began reporting on the crisis in Employee Engagement. They found (and continue to find) that 85% of employees are disengaged and that this has a catastrophic effect on productivity and profitability.

  • Economics - Falling levels of unemployment and a changing economic landscape have made it increasingly difficult to attract and retain talent.

Lesson 4. Who is responsible for Employee Engagement?

Building an engaged workforce takes a lot of effort.

Whose job is it?

The prevailing consensus is that we are all responsible for Employee Engagement – everyone, from the CEO (Chief Engagement Officer!) to the customer service people on the ground.While this rings true, it takes strong leadership to build a workplace where Employee Engagement is the norm. Here are the main instigators and torchbearers:

  • Senior Executives need to create a transparent and intentionally-designed culture where employees can easily see the connection between their day-to-day tasks and the vision and aims of the organization.

  • HR Specialists also have a crucial role to play (many of the websites and white papers dedicated to Employee Engagement have been written by HR consultants). As the custodians of hiring, onboarding and compliance – they are uniquely positioned to introduce and champion Employee Engagement strategies within an organization.

  • Internal Communication departments are also key to successful Employee Engagement programs. Getting everyone on the same page via a thriving intranet and making sure that communication runs freely between employers and employees.

Current thinking also suggests that we, as individuals, need to take responsibility for our own engagement – understanding what motivates and inspires us and taking the steps to make it happen.

Lesson 5. The Neuroscience of Employee Engagement

So, we are beginning to understand how and why Employee Engagement has captured the corporate imagination.

But how does Employee Engagement feel?

The psychology of human motivation is complex and widely studied – but it’s worth getting familiar with these leading theories.Maslow’s Hierarchy of NeedsA theory of human motivation based on a pyramid of fundamental human needs:

  • Physiological - water, food, sleep and shelter

  • Security – personal, emotional, financial and health

  • Social belonging – friendships, intimacy and family

  • Ego – recognition, status, importance and respect

  • Self-actualization – reaching full potential

In this scenario, basic needs must be met before employees can reach their full potential.

banner-employee-engagement-maslow

Flow

A state described by the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi back in 1990.

“The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”

Think about the last time you were truly engaged in an activity – work or otherwise.

A time when you were totally absorbed – in the zone. When time passed unnoticed and hunger pains went ignored. When your brain was firing on all cylinders and a clear goal was in sight.

Felt pretty good, didn’t it?

This kind of discretionary effort and intrinsic motivation is at the heart of Employee Engagement.

Drive (the surprising truth about what motivates us)

In his paradigm-shattering book, Daniel Pink ignited the discussion around Employee Engagement by suggesting that humans are not motivated by rewards like money.

Instead - based on decades of scientific research - Pink outlines the trifecta of human motivation:

  • Autonomy – the desire to be self-directed

  • Mastery – the drive to keep improving at something that’s important to us

  • Purpose – the sense that what we do produces something meaningful

Lesson 6. Practical strategies for Employee Engagement

The theories are great but how can individuals or organizations put them into practice?

The internet is awash with potential Employee Engagement strategies - here are the top 7:

  1. Encourage employees to play to their strengths, experiment and try new things - Atlassian runs regular ShipIt Days where ad-hoc teams can “drop what they’re doing and make something awesome.”

  2. Take an individualized approach to on-boarding. Ask new hires to articulate their personal view of Employee Engagement – what is unique about you that leads to your happiest times and best performance at work?

  3. Let employees invent alternative job titles to describe their unique values, identities and talents. For example, at the Make-A-Wish foundation, the CEO is known as “Fairy Godmother of Wishes” while the administration assistant is “Goddess of Greetings”.

  4. Adopt the Cultural GAME Plan as described by Christine Comaford - (a template for Growth, Appreciation, Measurement and Engagement).

  5. Run regular Employee Engagement surveys and be sure to act on the results – people soon become cynical when their carefully- considered feedback disappears into a black hole.

  6. Employ mentors to guide employees along their career paths.

  7. Provide a centralized digital workspace and social network where employees can absorb the culture, build relationships and keep up to date with the latest developments.

    Discover how your intranet can amplify employee engagement strategies - download the e-book 3 Ways to Make Your Intranet a Launchpad for Success

Lesson 7. Who is getting it right?

According to Glassdoor, these are the top places to work in 2018. The employee reviews give great insight into what it takes to attract and retain engaged employees:

USA:

  • Facebook – “Good work-life balance and flexibility” “An AMPLE amount of free food”.

  • Bain & Company - "High impact on businesses worldwide, extremely steep learning curve, supportive environment and colleagues you are proud to work with"

  • Boston Consulting Group - "Great opportunities to grow and shape your career"

  • In-N-Out Burger – “High paying, good team atmosphere, great management, lots of opportunities for promotion”

  • Google – “Free food and baristas in every building" “Amazing people, great benefits, interesting work and opportunities galore”.

UK:

  • Anglian Water - "With a clear direction from the top and a friendly working environment."

  • Bromford – “Empowering environment where you're supported and encouraged to achieve your potential.”

  • Facebook - "Empowered and Emotionally intelligent engineers."

  • Salesforce - "I really like the 1-1-1 model that allows us to volunteer up to 7 days per year."

  • Lookers – “They hire the right people, who are friendly and very proactive”.

Lesson 8. The Risk of Getting it Wrong

The price of a disengaged workforce can be high – it’s important to understand the risks:

  • Bad reviews on sites like Glassdoor can be a red flag to new talent and can also put off prospective customers.

  • Poorly treated employees often take their negativity into new positions or onto social media – word travels fast.

  • Research shows that disengaged employees take more sick days and are less productive.

  • Being actively disengaged can lead to physical and mental health problems – Gallup reports that an alarming 54% of disengaged employees say that work stress caused them to behave poorly with friends or family members.

  • Investors are becoming wary of rule-driven cultures that “cause an organization to miss opportunities, miss how to allocate resources and misuse their talent”. (Gary Hamel)

Lesson 9. Tools and technology 

What technologies are available to support Employee Engagement?

Online Surveys – these can be used to ‘take the pulse’ of employee sentiment at regular intervals or gather more in-depth feedback over time. You can create your own or choose from a wide range of off-the-shelf offerings like Culture Amp or TinyPulse.

Data Analysis Tools - often, companies do an annual survey and the results (particularly the free form answers) languish in a spreadsheet somewhere. These are the words used by your employees and it's vitally important to "listen" to what this data is telling you. Tools like Interpris can help you organize and make sense of this crucial feedback.

Performance Management Software - helps you to set employee goals, manage one-on-one meetings (aka performance reviews), and give real-time feedback. Again, there is swag of tools to choose from – crewmojo, Bridge Performance Management and Cognology just to name a few.

Digital Workspace solutions – these are Intranets or digital workspaces that bring your people, documents and conversations together in a centralized platform. You can choose from a full-blown customizable solution like SharePoint or with an offering like GreenOrbit with everything you need, built in.

Lesson 10. Follow the influencers

Use Twitter to keep track of the latest thinking around #EmployeeEngagement.

Here are a few of the top influencers to get you started:

employee_engagement_beedupreemployee_engagement_danielpink employee_engagement_christine_comaford  employee_engagement_annamamalaki

Also, you can learn a lot from these Twitter #hashtags

#FoW or #futureofwork
#hrtech
#worktrends
#organizationalculture
#workplaceculture
#hrtransformation
#measureyourculture

Conclusion: Keep Learning

The concept of Employee Engagement, as workplace approach and cultural revolution, is evolving as we speak.

Hopefully, this crash course gives you a firm foundation for further exploration and inspires you to learn more.

What's your take on Employee Engagement?

Where are you in the journey to workplace enlightenment? 

Any articles, tools or influencers you would add to the mix?

Drop us a line in the comments below. 

Topics: employee engagement

Centralizing Communications: Thou Shall Not Have Broadcast Email

Posted by Terri McKinnon on Jul 3, 2018 1:09:28 PM

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Financial services organization VicSuper needed an internal communications strategy that was as dynamic and efficient as their 260 person team.

Led by the Learning & Organizational Development team, the company embarked on delivering a new company intranet with GreenOrbit (formerly Intranet DASHBOARD). The goal: To push information and knowledge away from email and into an open, centralized platform.

The organization’s preference for email communications was purely out of habit - as that’s the way it had been for so long. The company-wide reliance on email was taking its toll, making it time consuming and inefficient for working collaboratively. The only way to communicate company news was via an ‘all staff’ email, which failed to engage users and was easily lost amongst other content. They were suffering from serious email overkill.

When disparate systems kill the message

The restrictions email placed on information sharing were obvious to the team. A document would be created and then converted to PDF for emailing. It was too difficult to upload documents to the old intranet, and no one would share it on Yammer as they were two disparate environments. This disconnect fuelled the team’s case for a new intranet, and was identified as a key business challenge.

The vision for the new intranet was that it would be the place to access information, communicate, and collaborate. They were eager to move these activities away from email, and into a central platform where it would actually be read, understood, and engaged with.

It was important to have a system that could facilitate multi-dimensional communications, pushing different messages to audiences in different ways. Pushing collaboration away from email and into iD meant, having a tool that allows several conversations concurrently through news posts, forums, pages and activity feeds – getting messages out at the right time to the right people.

After relying on email for so many years, the team knew it was difficult for people to change their habits - even if they wanted to. Some of the strategies used by VicSuper to drive user adoption included pushing the intranet to employees as the browser home page and committing to “No more blast emails”. In turn, they have found, people have taken to social functionality like ducks to water.

The centralized model

From the outset, the benefits of centralized communications began to unfold. The team had been rolling out a learning program called Activate - about activating their brand. Traditionally, they would have let the business know through an ‘all staff’ email - the same message, at the same time, with the same instructions.

The issue with this was that the course meant different things to different departments, and had different calls to action. Through their new company intranet, this information could be targeted to different groups in different ways. Users could then ask questions, offer advice, and share. Information immediately became more meaningful, impactful, and known. It was no longer buried away in people’s inboxes.

You can learn more about VicSuper’s intranet through their full case study.

To find out more about how GreenOrbit can get work going in your organization - check out the GreenOrbit Feature Checklist:

 

Feature Checklist

 

 

Topics: company intranet, communication tools, Internal Communications, new intranet, Social Intranet

GreenOrbit (formerly Intranet DASHBOARD) Accelerates Growth Expansion on Three Continents

Posted by Terri McKinnon on Jun 21, 2018 5:42:13 PM

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At GreenOrbit we are experiencing unprecedented growth.  Recently we've opened three new offices across the USA, Australia and India, marking a significant leap in our company’s growth strategy.

Stewart Bairstow, CEO said, “This is an incredibly exciting time for GreenOrbit. By laying roots down in these regions, we are able to build even stronger relationships with regional clients and increase our presence in local markets,” 

“Another benefit will be the opportunity to leverage the density of technology talent in these areas and expand our dynamic team of development, consulting, marketing and management professionals.”

Our business now operates from nine locations throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Australia and services clients across six continents.

 

Topics: digital workplace, intranet, intranet dashboard, INTRANET INSIGHT, roi, sales, workforce, workplace, business growth

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