And so it continues. Miley Cyrus, who has become everyone’s favorite person to trash on the internet over the last several months, popped up this past weekend on Saturday Night Live where she did her schtick (it has become a schtick, btw) of rolling her tongue around on the side of her mouth while flashing some sort of pop star gang sign with her long lacquered fingernails.
I still don’t get it although, to be fair, I think she does. It appears she’s moved into self-deprecating territory and, thankfully I guess, has quickly become a parody of herself.
One bit of good has arisen from all the Miley chatter though in that it has served as yet another catalyst for cultural discussions on feminism, women and the patriarchal culture in which we still live.
- Gloria Steinem has chimed in. A few weeks ago at the Women’s Media Awards, Le Steinem, when asked if she thought some of Miley’s recent activities were setting the feminist movement back, answered “I don’t think so. I wish we didn’t have to be nude to be noticed, but given the game as it exists, women make decisions.” (Blame to society)
- Sinead O’Connor, who learned that Miley claimed her “Wrecking Ball” video was based on O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares to U” video, wrote an open letter to Miley in which she said “Nothing but harm will come in the long run, from allowing yourself to be exploited, and it is absolutely NOT in ANY way an empowerment of yourself or any other young women, for you to send across the message that you are to be valued (even by you) more for your sexual appeal than your obvious talent.” (note – as of this writing, the open letter has been removed from O’Connor’s website but you can read the full letter here). (Blame to Miley. And sort of to society).
Now I don’t think many of us can argue that the global society in which we live is patriarchal; centuries and eons have laid that foundation. And while I’m all for making money and being a capitalist there is, at the core of capitalism, a whiff (just a whiff) of male privilege as evidenced by the fact that it’s usually a bunch of rich white men who are calling the shots. And those are the same dudes who dictate, to a fairly large extent, what women can and/or should do. Miley is just going along and playing the game the best she can in the world in which we live.
But should she? Or, perhaps the better question to ask becomes “is it even a game that’s being played?”
Feminism is about providing equal opportunities for women yet it empowers men as well as women by allowing all of us to cast aside pre-conceived notions of “the way things should be.” It allows us as women (not the men who are in power) to determine what is best for us and ensures that we all have the freedom to make our own choices. Sometimes it takes the collective group to get those options on the table in the first place (i.e., the right to vote, have equal funding for sports) and sometimes it’s individuals making a decision for themselves about how they want to live their lives. Shall I wear pants or dresses? Have short or long hair? Enter the workforce or be a stay at home parent? Use an IUD or the Birth Control pill?
While I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about Miley’s spank-fest on the VMA awards I fully supported her right to do it. She sparked some discussion. And while crappy teddy-bear costumes may not be cause for revolution one spark can start a fire – or at least keep it burning.
So yeah – if Gloria, Sinead and Miley walked into a bar I would certainly buy all of them a drink; and that’s not just a punch line.
Disclaimer: I am no fan of Ms. Cyrus although I do admit to finding “Party in the USA” strangely intoxicating and have, on occasion, found myself singing along.
Do you like your job? Are you fully engaged in it? Though this question is one that may seem like it depends on your personality, there is a certain part of this that is hard-wired into your gender. Though it may seem like old-fashioned thinking, there is more and more evidence linking sex genes and the ability to fully engage yourself in certain tasks.
In the post-World War II era, the “typical” family dynamic had dad at work and mom at home. Though this was not always the way of the world, it was pushed to be the way things should normally be, for several reasons. The idea that women were best served as providers and should be caring for their family was often stated, and the man’s job to go out and work for the family’s income was expected.
These lines began to blur in the 1960′s and 1970′s, as the women’s lib movement pushed back, claiming the right for women to also work outside of the home, and shifting the cultural view to the idea that women can do everything that men can do, and should be expected to try.
Fast forward to the nineties and the turn of the twenty-first century, and the two-family income household had become the norm for married couples. Worker productivity and employee satisfaction became buzzwords, and companies began looking at efficiency consultants, who considered not just the best layout for a business to get the best product for its investment, but the corporate culture, and improving employee engagement.
This is a trend that has continued, and as genetics research continues to become a larger and larger factor in looking at how humans perform, gender-based accomplishment studies have come out. One of the things that has been suspected for a long time is that women are predisposed to be better multitaskers. A number of studies have confirmed this, showing that when asked to do several unrelated tasks in a short period of time, women vastly outperformed men. Men, however, are better at focusing on a single task to the exclusion of another. A famous study often quoted in psychology classes looks at men and women who were given two different stories that were simultaneously read to them, one in each ear. When they were asked to choose one story and listen to it, to the exclusion of the second, men were able to do so. Women were not.
So how do these natural brain differences translate to work engagement now? A lot of it depends on the kind of tasks that men and women are expected to do, and the varying skills needed to complete them. Traditionally, men at a management level were often required to perform many of the larger tasks, but have an assistant to help them perform the smaller, variable tasks that were expected. As the gender playing field has leveled more and more, the high-level jobs have been shown to be performed equally well by both men and women. An engagement survey would likely show equal satisfaction for both genders. Instead, the discrepancies have been shown to be more at the low income and education levels.
At the blue-collar level, there is still a gender bias when it comes to certain jobs. Technical service and repair jobs are more often chosen by men, and jobs like office manager are more often chosen by women. Though this has been partially dictated by the cultural history of these positions, the tasks expected in each job type dovetail nicely with what the brains of men and women are naturally best, and likely most fulfilled, at doing.
What do you think? Is there a notable difference in engagement based on gender? Is the difference more or less pronounced based on income and education level?
About the Author: Louise Gregory is a human resources professional specialized in employment engagement analysis and pensions management at AON. When Louise isn’t working hard in the big smoke you will find her sunbathing on the East coast. She loves cooking, writing in her new blog and trekking with her family and Benson, the house dog.
I got a tad worked up recently when I received some information about a local event that is being advertised as a “Job Fair for Women.” The employers participating are primarily in the retail and hospitality industry although there are other industries represented. The communication included the line “If you know any women seeking employment please refer them to our Job Fair. Bring copies of your resume and bring a friend.”
I pondered what would happen were I to show up, as a female job seeker, and bring a male friend? Would he be turned away at the door or would he be allowed to enter? Is the organizer (who shall remain nameless) implying, by lack of invite, that men neither want nor need jobs? Or is this an indication of a belief that men, for some reason, are neither equipped to perform these particular jobs nor will they deign them worthy of their efforts? And why, I wondered, are these high profile employers participating in an event that is excluding an entire gender?
Now I’m in a region of the country that has a very heavy petrochemical, gas and oil industry presence where, obviously, many jobs have traditionally been held by men. I worked in that industry for several years and had numerous conversations with Joe the Foreman and Bob the Unit Supervisor about providing the same opportunity for everyone – male or female – to apply for jobs and receive equal consideration. They went along…albeit grudgingly. So what, I wondered, would happen if Joe and Bob were to attend a “Job Fair for Men?” I’m convinced they would like that option…even as we sit here in 2013.
And then, as my mind went off on a tangent, I got to ruminating how we (the collective ‘we of society’ that is) determine that it’s okay to continue putting working women in one silo and working men in a separate silo.
Have you, as I have, ever received notices from certain training providers that offer courses designed exclusively for women? There are session topics like “Communication Skills for Women” and “Assertiveness Skills for Women” and “Conflict Management Skills for Women.” So this tells us what exactly? That men have the market cornered on these skill sets and won’t be interested? That women will be able to attend these sessions and not be ashamed when they get emotional or share their weaknesses or admit to, as one provider puts it, “… deal<ing> with trembling hands, “butterflies,” and other nervous symptoms?” What the hell is that? A 1931 pamphlet explaining menstruation?
I despise exclusion – based on gender, race, age, religion, etc. – in any form. Some will say that the gals want to hang with the gals and the guys want to hang with the guys. Fine – get your groove on and segregate yourself at the corner pub with the dudes or at the nail salon with the ladies after a long week of toil and labor. But please don’t bring that mindset to the workplace or professional environs.
Every time you do it makes me die just a little.
With 25 years of HR Management experience, Robin Schooling, SPHR, has worked in a variety of industries. In 2013, after serving as VPHR with a Louisiana based organization, she left corporate HR to open up Silver Zebras, LLC, an HR Consulting firm. She blogs at HRSchoolhouse and you can follow her on twitter at @RobinSchooling where, on football weekends, you can read all her #whodat tweets.
Photo credit iStockphoto
Over the years I’ve had a handful of people reach out to me to find out what my thoughts are on workplace flexibility–namely, for men. Many people still seem to be stuck in the thought process that women need flexibility for work and family time, but men don’t.
And that sucks.
I have a wonderful wife and twin girls running around at home. My wife works full time as a teacher, and if she ever has to be off work it takes several hours of advance planning and preparation for a substitute. Guess who has the “easy” job when it comes to flexibility? Yeah, I drew that straw.
The great part is that I work for a wonderful company. The not-so-great part is that as the resident HR pro, I have to be vigilant about fighting off the insidious mediocrity that lurks around the corner. A manager starts talking about “core work hours?” I coach them in the other direction. Another leader starts talking about eliminating the ability to work from home? I discuss the retention of key people due to our flexibility in the past.
99% of the time these discussions aren’t difficult or malicious, and in every instance thus far I’ve been able to guide the manager back to the reason we offer these accommodations to our staff in the first place. We want to be different. We want to focus on our people. We want our people to trust us so that we, in turn, can trust them with our customers.
Whenever my focus starts to slip, I think back to the day when the girls were born. We had been expecting it for a few months, obviously, and I went in to tell my manager that I needed a week off to help with the girls. The look of disgust on her face has never left my mind even after several years.
That’s why I fight for our people.
That’s why I fight for flexibility.
That’s my battle cry. What’s yours?
About the Author: Ben Eubanks is an HR professional, author, and speaker from Huntsville, AL. During the day he works as an HR Manager for Pinnacle Solutions, an award-winning defense contractor. After work hours, he writes at upstartHR, an HR blog focusing on leadership, passion, and culture.
Do women think and behave differently than men when making ethical decisions? Are we really the exemplars of good decisions and good deeds when we occupy leadership positions?
Women aren’t ethical simply because they are female. Carol Gilligan, psychologist, asserts that women do operate with a unique ethical perspective because of cultural conditioning. She states that men are more concerned with issues of rules and justice, while women focus more on caring relationships and are less likely to judge others. Such concern does not in itself lead to ethical (wise) decisions. The practice of ethics takes a lifetime of learning and we are only as good at it as our history indicates. Those striving to be ethical start over every day, hoping to do it right.
Both genders share some common misconceptions about how to activate ethics in the workplace. Whether a decision is ethical or not is not defined by expressed beliefs or a values statement, but by behavior—what is actually said and done—and its impact on others. Women should prepare to maintain an ethical perspective backed by actions once in the midst of corporate demands. Understand that “good people” can do the wrong thing. One slips down an ethical slope one small step at a time. Understanding the laws of behavior make that slip less likely. Here are a few practical steps to help you maintain your balance:
Step 1: Learn about behavior.
Once you begin to see ethical behavior as a function of the consequences that have surrounded that pattern over many years, you see how much you can do to help a person learn new ways to demonstrate values. To increase ethical behavior, don’t look to what people say they do, rather, look at what they do and the impact of their behavior. Learn how to pinpoint, measure, and reinforce the patterns that count.
Step 2: Make open dialogue possible.
As women, we tend to think that we are great listeners and conversationalists. But we, too, may be guilty of closing the door on dialogue when we’re in charge. To sustain ethical patterns of behavior at work, telling the truth is essential for all employees. Therefore, leaders at all levels must understand their role in promoting, not punishing, truth telling. That is where ethical leadership does the most good—you must always be ready to influence the ethical conditions, or lack, in your workplace. The freedom to discuss issues without negative repercussions is a sign of an ethical workplace.
Step 3: Live the example.
The workplace is not a democracy, but a venue in which some are reported to and others report. This hierarchal structure can create situations in which those in charge forgo common courtesies. If it is unacceptable for your employees to slam doors, yell, or make derisive remarks, then don’t do so yourself. When you use negative techniques to get what you want, employees are afraid to tell the truth about things that matter. Such aversive tactics are doubly unethical when you are in a position to control the consequences for another person.
Step 4: Be accountable.
Currently, there are now more discussions of caps for executive compensation—a pay for performance notion. Imposed regulations will escalate if individuals don’t stand up for reason and fairness on this issue. Watch the perks of the office. Be alert to who got you there and take care in how you exercise your ‘rights’. Male or female, we learn to justify inequities that are in our favor one step at a time. If you ask your employees to make sacrifices, make those sacrifices yourself; that may not be the rule, but it is the ethical choice.
Step 5: Reward yourself and others.
Employees need to know what you value. People aren’t all alike and don’t want the same types of recognition. Some people love public hoopla; others hate it and might just appreciate a sincere thank you. Find out the differences and let people know what is important to you as well.
Treat yourself the way you want to be treated. Make decisions seeking a balance between the rights of others, justice, the common good and self-interest.
Gilligan concluded that women are not inferior (or superior) in their moral development, but different, because we focus on connections with others and lean toward exercising an “ethic of care” over an ethic of mere justice. It is this unique difference that we should use and integrate into our workplace interactions.
About the author: As internationally known consultant and president and chief executive officer of Aubrey Daniels International, Darnell Lattal designs and implements behavior-based business strategies to achieve core initiatives. In partnership with her clients, Darnell has expertly contributed to organizational redesign and change management and other core business processes. Darnell has authored several books.
Photo credit: iStockphoto
The glass ceiling is a very real challenge that many professional women face at some point in their careers. Long described as an invisible cap on women’s earning potential in the workforce, it’s been a headline-making topic since the mid-50s – and for good reason. With the current shift in HR toward objective, automated assessments, the gender-based playing field may really start to level out.
Despite high-powered women taking on major executive roles – Marissa Mayer of Yahoo!, Meg Whitman of HP, Denise Morrison of Campbell Soup – roughly 97% of publicly traded US firms are still run by male CEOs. Does this mean that men are naturally better cut out for executive leadership? Not at all. But it does indicate that men have the upper hand.
There is currently a major shift taking place in HR that may very well move our hiring process away from such male-preferential hiring, as well as from other prejudices. While in the past HR has been heavily reliant on conventional wisdom, gut feeling and personal references, recruiters and hiring managers are now interjecting behavioral science and job-relevant benchmarks into their assessment processes. Not only does this improve the efficiency of their hiring, but it also allows them to more accurately assess candidates’ competencies and overall job fit in an objective manner.
What’s more, automated assessments generate candidate reports in a way that cannot be manipulated. In other words, hiring managers end up with validated hard data on each candidate’s potential rather than mere notes compiled from a recruiters chicken scratch on multicolored Post It Notes. Information gathered through the latter method is much easier to undermine or ignore, especially for bias-motivated reasons.
Let’s consider a more explicit example of how this change can and will help break down a significant hurdle for women in the workforce.
Ten years ago when Susan applied for a position, she submitted her resume to a highly subjective resume scanning process. Recruiters would often peruse the document for a mere 10-60 seconds before making a judgment call. Naturally, many of the keywords and qualifiers that the recruiter was using offered little in the way of job-relevance. Likewise, this sort of system left the door wide open for bias at the very top of the hiring funnel. In other words, Susan, who was often a potential top performer for the jobs she applied for, would be nixed before she was really ever even in the running – and for subjective or unsubstantiated reasoning.
While automated assessments are unable to completely eliminate gender-based bias in the hiring process, they can significantly mitigate its impact. When a female candidate like Susan comes to the table with a strong job fit and high quality references, and a hiring manager is shown hard data to prove it, it will be that much harder to simply discredit her potential because of her sex.
About the Author: Greg Moran is the President and CEO of Chequed.com, an Employee Selection and Automated Reference Checking technology suite as well as a respected author on Human Capital Management with published works including Hire, Fire & The Walking Dead and Building the Talent Edge. Greg can be found blogging at disrupthr.com or on Twitter as @CEOofChequed.
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As a woman in HR, gender pay equality is a topic that fascinates me.
George Fox University sociology professor, and researcher, Melanie Hulbert, was gracious enough to allow me to interview her about the subject. With Melanie Hulbert’s interview and my subsequent research, the connection between paid parental leave, and closing the gender pay gap, became extremely clear to me as well as the need for US culture to shift the idea that parental responsibilities automatically fall on the mother.
Through paid paternity leave and the equal distribution of parental duties between genders, pay equality can be better achieved. While the culture of management is ultimately responsible, HR professionals can help by championing for better parental benefits on behalf of women and all new parents in the workplace.
According to the report, Paid Leave in the States, the US is one of four countries in the world that have no federal law requiring paid time off for new parents. Liberia, Papua New Guinea, and Swaziland are the other three.
Hulbert discussed the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the lone exception to the lack of US paternity leave laws. The FMLA mandated that companies with over fifty employees, were required to provide twelve weeks of unpaid leave to those who need time to take care of a family member. The act was a step forward, but still a failure in the sense that it doesn’t include companies with less than fifty employees and the leave provided isn’t paid.
A 2011 report by Janet Walsh, deputy director of the women’s rights division of Human Rights Watch, “Failing its Families,“ reports that while over fifty nations guarantee paid leave for dads, a mere estimated 10% of non-government workers have paid parental leave in the US.
Hulbert commended countries with paternity leave rights that extend to men as well. When asked about countries leading the way in gender pay equality, Hulbert points to Scandinavia. “You cannot help but look to Scandinavian countries. Sweden and Norway are the trendsetters when it comes to gender equality, in multiple realms,” Hulbert said. “Not just in the workplace, but in politics, religion and other major institutions,” she explained.
Sweden’s paternity-leave policy, instituted in 1974, is one of the best in the world. In Sweden, the government will pay new parents a maximum of 80% of their salary up to approximately $65,000, for thirteen months. Both parents are legally required to contribute, with fathers (or mothers, depending) required to take at least two of those months. As a result, government statistics indicate that almost all Swedish fathers take off the minimum two months, at least. That said, Sweden still has a long way to go, with women still earning less than men, and women taking 76% of the parental leave according to Statistics Sweden (SCB) in 2011.
It appears that in order for gender pay equity to move forward, we must not only be more flexible and accommodating to new parents, but change the cultural narrative that the responsibility of parenting is mostly the mothers. Researchers such as Hulbert and Walsh point to government mandated maternity leave as a step towards gender pay equality.
Pay equality should be a priority for women in HR, and one way to help aid the process is including better paternity leave in the HR discussion about employee benefits.
About the author: Emily Manke is an Outreach Coordinator and blogger for Online Human Resources. She frequently contributes to OHR’s HR blog. Her interests include, writing, HR, gender equality, workplace diversity, social recruiting, music, and being outdoors. You can find her on Twitter at @HRDegrees or on LinkedIn. Emily resides in Portland, Oregon with her boyfriend of five years, and her half Red-Heeler, half Pit-Bull Spud.
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Encounters with your boss aren’t really random, I guess, but I had an unexpected encounter with a boss when I was a young leader moving up in the organization.
I was one of a very few women in the middle management of the firm and was being promoted to the next level. After accepting the new job and agreeing to deliver the outcomes as described, I praised my boss for being one of two executives in the company who had a track record of developing and promoting women into management positions.
He looked at me like I was a little nuts and said, “Are you kidding? Any time I have a women who is even marginally qualified for a management job I’ll give it to her. She’ll work twice as hard and produce three times the results – for half the money!”
Heart stopping, right?
Now, he was a good guy. He had hired me and promoted me twice already. I knew he was pretty chauvinistic – what male boss wasn’t in the early 1990’s? But here’s the thing: he thought he was being complimentary. He thought that telling me that he noticed that I worked harder than anyone else and produced results better than everyone else was a good message. But you know, all I heard was the “half the money” part.
A few months later I got my bonus. It was fantastic. The biggest check I’d ever seen. But you know what I wondered? I wondered if this bonus was a “half the money” bonus. I didn’t know what anyone else got and I didn’t know the bonus formula. So even though I thought the check was huge, I didn’t know what it meant. And I always suspected that, although it was big, perhaps i
t was less than I would have received if I had been a man.
I came to peace with that pretty quickly. He really was a good boss. In the best way he knew, he was trying to acknowledge my performance and contributions. But I’ve always remembered that experience and have used it to be sure I’m clear in my communication with my team – communication about performance, money – and what it means, career opportunity and more. Making sure that highly valued – and other – employees know I value them for what they do, how they do it, the results they produce and how those dynamics impact their career progress is critical in building manager/employee relationships.
I think back to that time and am glad he promoted me – even if his motive was a little suspect. We all got what we wanted: the organization got a highly effective leader, he got a region that blew out its numbers, and I got higher into management with a larger compensation package. Win-win-win.
Funny how those random conversations can change your perspective forever. I chose to learn an important management communication lesson that I never forgot. I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said, “I can learn something from any man – even if it’s what not to do.”
About the author: China Gorman is CEO of the CMG Group, connecting HR to business and business to HR, and author of the Data Point Tuesday feature at www.chinagorman.com. Connect with her on Twitter as @ChinaGorman.
Photo credit: iStockphoto
Women, we have a vitally critical role that we must assert ourselves into now and for the long term foreseeable future. This role is hard to label and has many facets. We must take on this role. We must not shy away from it.
In the news there has an increase in the visibility of rapes and gang rapes, as well as sexual abuse. There are many stats regarding rape, one of the CNN articles I will link to later quotes a survey that 1 in 5 women are the victim of rape. As you start counting the women you know, you can start right here as one of the victims you know. But one in five says you know a lot more too. So we have a job to do. I found inspiration in this CNN article, Teach young men to treat women with respect.
But I want to push our roles as women further into the actionable details and broader in the scope.
- Our job is to teach boys to respect women.
- Our job is to continue to equalize the genders as partners on this planet.
- Our job is to teach women to be strong and build their self-esteem to help protect them.
- Our job is to encourage our brothers, uncles, male friends, fathers and spouses to be good role models for young men and boys. They can make a difference in the lives of boys that may feel the need to follow bad role models.
- Our job is to demand that coaches receive training on how to instill respect for women as part of their development of men.
- Our job is to demand that our military leaders receive training on how to instill respect for women as part of their development of men.
- Our job is to demand that their training is part of the exercise and education of our men.
- Our job is to make sure that men who evidently don’t really know what rape is, are not ever elected to public office.
- Our job is to educate our girls that being drunk can put you at risk of way too many things.
- Our job is to teach women to have each others back and to watch out for the ones that are treading into risky territory.
- Our job is to call out the males in our lives when they encourage the victimization image of women. (I am not talking about being prudish or Victorian about sexuality, that is counter-prod
- Our job is to be outraged and vocal about our outrage at any rape. It is actually a family discussion topic, if you have children that are teenagers. It can’t be swept under the rug, it must be discussed. It wasn’t long ago that we couldn’t discuss breast cancer, but we are now (or you better be).
Women, we have a job to do.
Our job is to help women build their own power and women’s power as a whole which will hopefully change perspectives and here is another great article from CNN, Women's Power: A story with sharp divide.
We as American voters just elected 20 women to the Senate, the largest number in history, but that just 20% of the seats. Not enough. I agree with the sentiment that it is sad that we are celebrating such a low number, but it is a start.
While I was preparing for this post I found a Facebook post from Mary Ellen Slayter that hit home and absolutely loved. It is about changing the perspective of women and empowering their image. It is about the different perspective of women in the fairy tales. It is much more light hearted then the rest of this post, but it is key. We must change the image of women at many levels. This is a great one for the early ages - Girls are Not Chicks Coloring Book.
We have a job to do and it is one of the most vital roles we can play.
About the author: Lois Melbourne, GPHR, is vice-chair to Peoplefluent, a leading social human capital management technology company. Co-founder of the global workforce planning and analytics solutions company Aquire, mom to one terrific young son and wife of co-founder Ross Melbourne, Lois maintains a strong personal commitment to career education and small business development and is a frequent speaker, author of industry articles, and an avid blogger and networker. Connect with her on Twitter as @loismelbourne.
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Remember when the exclamation “I’m engaged!” was almost always immediately followed by the question “when’s the wedding?” In today’s business environment, engagement takes on a whole new meaning, referring instead to how engaged, dedicated, and loyal employees are to their organization.
According to one recent article published in Human Resource Executive Online, HR leaders are increasingly preoccupied with engaging their workers. After all, engaged team members are more likely to exert discretionary effort, have lower absenteeism, and are more loyal to the organization. Engaging employees is in every organization’s best interest.
While it is evident that engaging workers is important, recognizing how to do so is a little trickier. Although many organizations realize the importance, only 29 percent of the population is actively engaged. Studies have shown numerous variables go into employee engagement and, based on Avatar HR Solution's Key Driver Analysis of over 3.3 million responses, include the following key engagement drivers,
- Organizational Culture – work/life balance, diversity, etc.
- Career Development
- Management’s Leadership Abilities and Relationship with Employees
- Strategy and Mission
- Job Content
- Open Communication
- Coworker Cooperation/Satisfaction
- Availability of Resources to Perform the Job Effectively
While these factors all play a role in engagement for most individuals, it is crucial to consider the fact that everyone is unique. Women, for example, may be driven more by different factors than men. Many past posts on this blog have discussed women’s desire to “have it all,” indicating the importance of work/life balance. Women may be more engaged and dedicated in a job where they have the flexibility to balance both their personal and professional lives. Additionally, research has shown that women tend
to focus more on building close personal relationships with other individuals. Men, on the other hand, dedicate more time to practicalities. This dichotomy could reveal that women are more likely to be engaged when they have closer personal bonds with coworkers/managers.
Thus, it is important for HR leaders to avoid the “one size fits all” approach to engaging employees. Every employee is different, and there is no key formula for engaging all of your workers. One of the most effective ways to truly understand what engages each individual is to ask. People appreciate the opportunity to provide input about their job, and it’s a straightforward way of establishing an engagement plan for your team members. Additionally, it allows you to further develop your relationship with your staff.
Questions such as “what about your job makes you enjoy coming to work in the morning” and “do you feel your skills are being utilized effectively” can help shed light on the drivers of engagement for employees. You’ll be surprised at what you find out. Remember, however, that the key is not in simply asking the questions, but actually putting what you learn into action. Your employees will appreciate the individual attention you are giving them, and their engagement will be a great reward for your efforts.
Engagement in the workplace may not be the same as a personal engagement between two people, but the key is that both are relationships, and relationships take work. Dedicating effort to understanding what engages your workers will allow you to create the most effective action plans to improve engagement. Don’t wait to engage your employees. Make the effort now.
Photo credit: iStockphoto
About the author: Melissa Herrett is Associate Marketing Project Manager for Avatar HR Solutions. In this role, she strategically works to position Avatar HR Solutions as a leader in the quality improvement services industry and contributes posts to their blog. You can connect with Melissa on Twitter at @EngageEmployees.