I recently wrote a blog about re-skilling the workforce to prepare for technology, which got some traction amongst readers. This is an extremely popular topic lately, due to the nature of the changing work economy and the proliferation of technology in all aspects of our lives.
Companies are turning to technology, robots, apps and kiosks to streamline their service, automate simple tasks, save money and increase profits. Technology can be a great option for organizations to improve their processes and procedures; however, it is important that leaders consider all the implications that technology can have. And it is important for individuals to consider what they should be doing to re-skill and grow to make themselves irreplaceable.
Answer this question honestly, would you rather interact with a computer/robot, or a friendly, caring, human being who can personalize your service? Please take note, the friendly, caring and personalized part are extremely important to this question, because not all human beings are going to deliver the service interactions that their colleagues and customers desire. That is why as a leader it is critical that you focus on re-skilling your talent with soft-skills such as authenticity, friendliness, fun, and hospitality, that 1. A robot cannot duplicate and 2. Makes them the most desirable to interact with.
I’ll give you a scenario to consider. Have you ever been at a grocery checkout and noticed that the line for the self-checkout was shortest? But once you proceeded to check out, you had trouble with the scanner, an “unidentified object” in the bagging area and your points card wouldn’t scan properly. This has happened to me on many occasions, and I’ve noticed the customers around me who chose the human cashier have typically gotten out much faster.
Technology can be great in some circumstances, but often, organizations are trying to implement technology in place of humans to reduce costs at the expense of the best service.
In a recent interview with Quartz, Bill Gates floated the idea of the government taxing robots which replace human workers to potentially slow automation and fund other types of employment for humans (Quartz, 2017). Right now, robot automation is primarily effecting front-line roles such as customer service agents, phone center reps, warehouse workers, and probably drivers in the future. Re-directing some of the funds in some sort of tax would still net a profit for those companies changing to robot automation, but it would also support the re-skilling or re-focusing of the humans being displaced by robots.
What do you think of a robot tax? Could it work to slow down automation and help re-skill workers into new jobs? Share in the comments below!
Check out my latest book The Seven Personalization Principles to find out more about how you can re-skill yourself and your employees with 7 soft-skills focused on personalization that will make you irreplaceable, not matter what job you’re in.
Last year I released a book called The 7 Personalization Principles, which profiled 7 outstanding organizations that aligned their company mission and values to create exceptional, personalized experiences for both their employees and customers. Through that research, I noticed many patterns in the perks that these top companies were offering their employees to engage them. Gallup also recently released The State of the American Workplace, which reported many of these same perks through their data.
Based on that research, here are the top 6 company perks to consider implementing in your organization to engage your talent in meaningful ways:
- Flex-Time. Netflix was one of the companies that stood out most in this category. They have an extremely flexible work environment where they set high performance expectations. With this they offer their employees a lot of flexibility when it comes to their hours worked. Additionally, they have unlimited vacation time and unlimited maternity/paternity leave during the first year of a child’s birth.
- Remote work. Gallup found that 39% of employees work remotely in some capacity (Gallup, 2017). Allowing your employees to work remotely either full time or part time can be beneficial for both the employee and employer. For example, employees can be flexible with their time, reduce their commuting hours, and have a quite space to concentrate on more demanding projects without interruption from their colleagues. For employers, remote work can reduce real estate overhead costs, serve as a motivator and form of engagement, and show your employees that you give them autonomy and trust.
- Autonomy. Autonomy treats employees to act like owners and make good decisions within a framework of the company values. This serves as a powerful motivator and engager, by enabling employees to do their jobs authentically the way they want to, without micromanagement. Nordstrom, for example, is one company that offers their employees a lot of autonomy to interact with customers how they see fit. They only have one rule in their employee handbook – to use their best judgement at all times.
- Learning and Training. Learning is one of the key drivers of employee engagement, so it is no surprise that your talent want opportunities to learn and grow in your organization. In fact, Gallup found that millennials especially want to be given these learning and professional development opportunities to accelerate their careers.
- Professional Development. Starbucks is an excellent example of a company who consistently emphasizes and encourages learning, training and professional development. They offer full tuition reimbursement to their partners and encourage them to continuously develop themselves. They also strongly encourage promoting talent from within the company, which gives partners incentives to continuously develop their skills.
- Monetary bonuses, rewards. It’s important not to underestimate the power of a bonus or allotment of recognition points to recognize high performance. In fact, 54% of employees said they would switch jobs for a company that offers monetary bonuses as a perk (Gallup, 2017).
There are also some perks that Gallup found employees expect and are considered “basic benefits” including: a retirement plan, health insurance, paid leave, paid vacation, insurance coverage other than health insurance (Gallup, 2017).
GES’s Global Learning and Engagement solutions can help you meaningfully engage your workforce and will check off many of the top perks listed here. To learn more about how you can implement these perks in your organization get in touch for a free 15-minute demo of our Employee Engagement Solution.
In our age of fast-growing technology, personalization has become one element that will humanize your customer service and differentiate yourself from other people and organizations. When it comes to service (both internal and external) people want fast, friendly, hassle-free experiences. They want those authentic human-to-human interactions that they can’t get from a robot, app or kiosk.
There are two things to focus on if you want to protect your job from technology:
- Re-skill your workforce to continuously stay ahead of the technology curve (read more here).
- Provide personalized experiences to your customers that will make them stay longer, buy, more, and positively refer others.
Here are 7 prescriptions to continuously have fast, friendly, hassle-free, personalized service interactions:
- Be Authentic. Are you real and genuine in everything you do? Authentic people speak the truth and communicate openly with their colleagues.
- Be Hospitable. Do you make your colleagues and customers feel welcome at every touch point? Start with a positive attitude.
- Be Empathetic. Can you understand and share the feelings of another human being? When you have empathy for your colleagues and customers, you are better able to make decisions that are fair for both parties.
- Be Committed. Are you willing to do whatever it takes, no matter what? Being committed means living your values each and every day, even when it’s uncomfortable or inconvenient.
- Be Competent. Do you have the skills and ability to excel in your role? Being competent means you are enabled with the learning and skills to do your job well and solve your customer’s problems.
- Be Friendly. Friendliness is learned at a young age. Being nice and friendly to your colleagues and customers can create decades of loyalty.
- Be Fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Having fun at work can de-escalate stressful situations and make interactions with colleagues and customers much more fulfilling.
What are some of the ways that you personalize your internal and external service interactions?
To read more about these principles, check out The Seven Personalization Principles: Learn the Principles to Thrive in These Disruptive Times.
The concept of Employee Engagement has become increasingly propagated in our culture, and yet with many companies it is built on empty promises and a lack of substance.
To be effective, employee engagement should focus on enabling and motivating talent with both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards that are personalized for each individual employee. When you get it right, employee engagement can create decades of loyalty, increased productivity and exceptional customer experiences.
Here are the top things that your engaged employees will do differently:
- They seek ongoing feedback.
- They want to continuously grow their skills and competencies.
- They seek out opportunities to further develop within the organization.
- They communicate openly and authentically with their leaders and colleagues.
- They look for ways to improve processes and share that with senior leadership.
- They exceed goals and expectations.
- They refers others (as both colleagues and customers).
Your employees want to be co-creators in their engagement and development. The above are some of the ways to identify those highly engaged employees in your organization.
If you’re employees aren’t exhibiting most of the characteristics above, you should stop and examine how you can adjust your employee engagement program to better foster a culture of engagement. If your employees aren’t exhibiting ALL of the characteristics above, you should think about how you can use your engagement program to personalize engagement for each individual to sustain high performance in all these areas.
Get in touch if you’d like to see a demonstration of GES’ Global Engagement Solutions, which 98% of learners complete with significant measurable results.
No matter what you do, no matter who you do it for, no matter how much you get paid, robots and technology are going to affect your job again and again.
Technology impacts every aspect of our lives. It can make our lives better and more efficient – from computers doing complicated calculations, to being able to skype with a loved one from afar, to ordering your favourite meal delivery without having to make a phone call (and much, much more).
Conversely, technology can have a negative impact on our relationships and ability to connect with other humans meaningfully, impacting our privacy, and disrupting the workforce by making some jobs obsolete.
That is why it is critical for leaders and independent contributors to focus on re-skilling their workforce to stay ahead of the technology curve. Technology is fast and always developing and growing, so it’s important that your workforce is always learning, re-skilling and innovating to remain relevant.
One way you can do this interpersonally is with personalized service interactions. Technology has raised our expectations of service – setting a precedent of being able to access everything within arm’s reach. But more and more people are craving personalized interactions that only humans can provide. When you personalize your service interactions, you provide an experience no robot can provide.
Another way to stay ahead of the technology curve is to make innovation a core principle of your organization. It helps to revisit your goals and mission regularly (not just once a year), this way you can assess what is going on in your industry, locally, globally and pivot to stay at the top of your professional game.
Lastly, protect your job from technology and robots by committing to ongoing personal and professional development. Network with other leaders, read about what is going on with the economy, and keep up to date with the trends in your industry. This will allow you to assess where you need to update your knowledge and what areas to focus on with regards to learning and development when re-skilling your workforce.
If you want to read more about how to remain relevant in the age of technology, check out The Seven Personalization Principles: Learn the skills to thrive in these disruptive times.
Click here to download the image above: Humans vs Robots
OfficeVibe has released a report that shows The Global & Real-Time State of Employee Engagement. They found that organizations are not helping their employees enough to learn and grow. In fact, 53% of employees say they haven’t improved their skills significantly in the past year (OfficeVibe, 2016).
This is a huge problem for organizations because learning and development is one of the key drivers of employee engagement. If your employees are not given the opportunity to continuously improve their skills to make themselves more marketable (now and in the future), one of two things will happen: 1. their engagement levels will drop (or remain low), and they will give mediocre performance or 2. they will leave you for someone who will invest in their future and development. Both options have dire consequences for your organization.
Why do employees want learning opportunities? When you provide your employees with learning they feel acknowledged and they feel connected to your company’s growth and vision. When you invest in your employees, they will want to invest their motivation and energy back in to your organization. This sense of purpose motivates them to feel part of something bigger than themselves.
Plus, when you invest in your employees’ skills and competencies, they will be able to provide better service internally with their colleagues and externally with your customers, both of which improve your bottom line with increased productivity, loyalty, and sales.
To find out what your lack of employee engagement is truly costing your company, get your free personalized report here.
If you’re ready to start investing in your employee’s learning and development, get a quick 15-minute demo of our global learning solutions that seen incredible results.
A leader’s primary function is to empower all employees to achieve desired customer service standards and exceed customers’ expectations.
If you’re a leader or an individual contributor reflecting on your success and failures from 2016 and are ready to leap into 2017 with a killer employee engagement and development plan, here are 7 tips to get you started:
- Listen to Employees and Customers. Develop listening tactics to determine where you stand with all customers. Develop your associates to become listening posts or data miners to maintain a pulse on the customer interactions and the customer experiences. Make it a habit to listen to your associates and look for obstacles to remove. One way you can do this is to schedule regular ongoing meetings where your associates can bring up internal and customer concerns in a safe, receptive environment. Then as a team, create an action plan of how you can address these concerns and be sure to follow up and reinforce these principles.
- Continuously Improve the Quality of Information. Find ways to improve the quality and quantity of customer information that each associate receives. The best organizations and inspirational leaders understand that 80% of the focus of information should be directed to the front-line associates who are serving their customers. Remember, people without information cannot act; people with information are compelled to act.
- Remove Obstacles. Remove restrictive rules, unbalanced performance measurements, lack of resources, inadequate learning and development, influences of compensation, and other areas that inhibit superior service performance. Start with simple things that can make a big difference for your associates such as strict dress code policies, flex or vacation time, or work from home policies. When you give your employees some flexibility and control over their environment it will pay huge dividends in their engagement and motivation.
- Allow Room for Autonomy. Give employees flexibility to make responsible decisions and use judgment and allow them to handle routine deviations of normal customer transactions/interactions. Develop your employees to think and act like owners and become inspirational leaders. The only way to do that is by giving people the autonomy to use their brains.
- Lead by Example. Provide accountability and “walk the talk”. Remember, focus and goals are set not by words, but by actions. Inspirational leaders have the habit of leading by doing, and then educating, enabling and providing room for empowerment.
- Measure Delight, Not Processes. Create effective service and loyalty measures to allow employees to understand how to be successful in serving your internal and external customers. Focus on outcomes, not recipes or procedures.
- Recognize and Celebrate. Catch people doing things right and recognize and reward them for it. Celebrate great business outcomes. Recognize employees who create value for customers and others will follow. Inspirational leaders have learned to catch people doing things right, moment by moment, not just once a year in their performance review. Establish an organizational engagement program to recognize your employee’s exceptional performance in a personalized, ongoing way. (Find out more about GES’s Organizational Engagement solutions here.)
If you want to establish alignment throughout your organization, motivate your employees to higher levels, and improve your bottom line in 2017, it starts with your leadership!
When leaders invest a small amount of time on bettering themselves and providing recognition and appreciation, it will produce a significant and lasting positive impact on employee performance and the customer experience!
I hope the tips above are helpful for setting your 2017 leadership goals!
When it comes to designing your learning and development program, you want to make sure that it’s designed to effectively engage and motivate your employees to use it.
Here are 4 things learners consistently tell us they want in a Learning and Development program:
- To learn in their own language from someone they can relate to. Employees want their learning in their language, not subtitled or voiced over, with culturally relevant examples. Although your global company serves one umbrella mission and has unified values, learning scenarios, customer problems and internal processes may be different depending on global location. It is important for learning to take this into consideration to have the best engagement outcomes for all global employees.
- Quick. Not Boring. Your employees are busy. They don’t want to waste time with long, boring, irrelevant content. For them to be highly engaged with your learning program they want their information in short, succinct, bite-sized doses. This is easier for them to process, practice, and makes for better retention rates, so that they can apply their learning to real-life scenarios. Additionally, when you layer in that short, succinct content over time, repeated and reinforced, I promise you will have significant, measurable learning results.
- Content when they want it, where they want it. To piggy back on the short, succinct delivery, learners want their content in a format that is flexible and convenient for them. In our fast paced connected world, it is critical for your learning program to be mobile capable, so that your employees can learn in time and on demand, when and where it’s suitable for them.
- Skills that they will actually use. Learners want skills that will help them succeed and grow in their current positions. They want skills and competencies that make them more marketable. To make learning actionable the learner must practice, drill and rehearse in a safe environment, and commit to following up and reinforcing those principles. You need to spend 10x the amount of time, energy and resources on follow up and reinforce of your learning principles as you do designing and delivering them.
Find out more about GES’s global, mobile Learning Solutions which layer skills and competencies in bite-sized doses over time with a focus on action planning and reinforcing the learning principles. Here’s a quick preview of our learning design below. Contact us for a 10-minute demo to see the learning in action.
Yesterday I talked about how your workforce is increasingly more part-time workers. Read more about that here.
Many of you are relying more and more on part time or seasonal workers to deliver a stellar service experience to your customers. So how do you motivate them when you both know they might only be with you for a short amount of time? Although it might seem counter intuitive, you must invest in your employees, even though they might only be with you for a short time.
Here are 3 ways you can enable and engage your seasonal and part-time workers:
Provide learning and development opportunities. People want skills and opportunities that will make them more marketable now and in the future. When you provide your part-time employees with learning and development opportunities, several affects will happen. You will attract (and then retain) the best talent. You will give them skills to interact more effectively with your customers and provide better service. You will provide alignment with your company’s culture and values. You will teach and motivate them to provide better customer service.
2. Remove obstacles that get in the way of them delivering exceptional service. Many large companies have too many bureaucratic processes and procedures in place that get in the way of their employees delivering exceptional service to their customers. Because many part-time workers are part of the front lines, often they do not feel enabled to go the extra mile to help a customer; however, this can often mean the difference between losing a customer and creating decades of loyalty. Examine your policies and procedures and assure that they are absolutely necessary to function. Remove those that do not serve your higher company mission. Some of the most successful customer service companies place very little rules on their employees (e.g. Nordstrom, Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, Netflix, Apple, etc.) with very high success and exceptional performance. Plus, when you enable your employees with learning and development (as mentioned above), you set them up to understand your company values and deliver service with those values in mind.
3. Recognize and reward them for exceptional performance. Every employee wants to be recognized for their work and treated uniquely. To motivate employees to continuous levels of high performance you should have an employee engagement recognition program in place. The most successful recognition programs are customized and personalized so that your employees get the rewards and recognition they want, at every touch point. During the holidays, and in December specifically, many people have split focus – thinking about everything they must get done, tired and distracted from holiday parties – and their energy starts to wane. That is why it is critical to motivate them (and especially seasonal workers) with incentives, rewards and recognition to continuously keep their eye on the prize – making your customers happy!
For more information on how to engage your part-time talent check out our book Leading From the Front Line: Learn How To Create Exceptional Experiences on Amazon or learn about our Employee Engagement Programs here.
Today’s workforce is becoming increasingly more part time. What I mean by part time is not necessarily the number of hours per week an employee works, but more their tenure at your company. Today’s generation entering the workforce views jobs as opportunities to gather a portfolio of experiences, moving from organization to organization to acquire different skills, sometimes by choice and sometimes by necessity. This part time economy and part time workforce presents both unique opportunities and unique challenges for organizations and their leaders.
As a business leader, you are probably relying more and more on part time or seasonal workers to deliver a stellar service experience to your customers. So how do you motivate them when you both know they might only be with you for a short amount of time? Although it might seem counter intuitive, you must invest in your employees, even though they might only be with you for a short time. This is the key to enabling and engaging them to create an exceptional experience for your customers. And remember, one terrible customer experience can ruin decades of loyalty, so it is critical that you give your employees the tools to serve your customers, even if they will only be with you for a short time.
Tomorrow I will share with you 3 ways you can enable and engage your seasonal and part-time workers. Stay tuned!