New Year, New Resolutions with an Organizational Twist

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    Happy New Year!

    Indeed, it’s that time of the year — a time for looking back, and more importantly, looking forward. It’s a time to reflect on the changes we want (or need) to make, and to resolve to follow through. As you think about possible changes in your personal life, consider some changes for your organization as well.  This write up is a bit lengthy, but it’s for good reason. Here are 6 of the top perennial resolutions, with an organizational twist:

    1. Foster Relationships that Matter to You

    Gallup stirred controversy with the inclusion of “I have a best friend at work” among its famous Q12 – the 12 Elements found to drive employee engagement and organizational success.  Few issues are more controversial or confusing than the connection between friendships in the workplace and employee productivity. Gallup has said that it would have dropped the statement if not for one stubborn fact: It predicts performance. Something about a deep sense of affiliation with the people in an employee’s team drives him/her to do positive things for the business he/she otherwise would not do.  Large-scale, multi-organizational analyses confirm that friendship at work is a scientifically salient ingredient in obtaining business-relevant outcomes, including profitability, safety, inventory control, and — most notably — the emotional connection and loyalty of customers to the organization serving them.

    Even when convinced of its importance, managers often wonder, “What am I supposed to do about this ‘best friend’ question? I can’t mandate friendships, and It’s not like I can be everyone’s buddy. I am the manager, after all.”

    The best managers encourage friendships in the workplace by creating the conditions under which such relationships thrive.  Executives and sales teams use retreats and sales trips to build relationships among key performers.  Many organizations are re-configuring office facilities and processes to create collaborative work spaces that foster teamwork and relationship-building.

     What are your strategies for creating socially supportive relationships at your workplace?  Prove the value of human relationships!

    1. Commit to Fitness

    The evidence is in for fitness. Regular exercise has been associated with more health benefits than anything else known to man. Studies show that it reduces the risk of some cancers, increases longevity, helps achieve and maintain weight loss, enhances mood, lowers blood pressure, and even improves arthritis. Employers often focus their time and money on identifying and trying to fix the obvious causes of poor employee health (smoking, overeating, lack of exercise, etc.) that are driving up costs.  Unfortunately, in part, this is an example of missing the forest for the trees. Yes: These unhealthy lifestyle habits must be addressed. But, it’s how, when, and why employers address them that determine the likelihood of success.

    To create a healthy, high-performance workforce, employers will have to dig deeper to identify and address the many and varied factors that affect their employees and influence their health and wellness.

    Ultimately, this means that employers will also have to examine the role that workplace culture plays in employees’ overall well-being because health and wellness don’t happen in a vacuum. We know that social factors play a significant role in peoples’ well-being.  It isn’t just a matter of choosing the right gym program, introducing a dynamite team challenge, or changing the cafeteria menu. It’s a matter of making sure that health and wellness are woven into the cultural fabric of the organization.

    Supporting health and wellness necessitates a culture shift for many organizations.  The most successful organizations make health and wellness a clear and expressed part of their corporate values.  They recognize that each organization is a unique ecosystem in which each individual plays a role and exerts influence, whether consciously or unconsciously, overtly or covertly.

    Are you creating conditions that foster employees’ sense of autonomy, master, control and meaning?  Foster employee wellness!

    1. Tighten Your Belt

    Whether you need to tighten the belt or loosen it depends on your organization’s vantage point.  Certainly, Federal agencies are facing very significant cutbacks as the Trump Administration fulfills its promise to trim the size and scope of Big Government.  On the other hand, private sector firms are watching the Tax Reform legislation, touted as an opportunity to reinvest corporate funds into growth and expansion including the creation of new jobs and career opportunities in the US.  Leaders of America’s largest companies expressed strengthening confidence in plans to ramp up capital investment and ultimately productivity over the next six months, contingent on Congress’s tax legislation.

    Despite reports of corporate optimism, the indicators are mixed.  Chief executives’ plans for capital investment rose to their highest level since the second quarter of 2011, according to the Business Roundtable’s fourth-quarter 2017 survey of CEOs.  Yet chief executives’ hiring expectations for the next six months are slightly less robust in the fourth quarter than in the third quarter. The share of firms planning to reduce staff over the next six months rose slightly, while the share planning to increase hiring held steady. The share of firms planning to reduce staff over the next six months rose slightly to 18% from 13%, while the share planning to increase hiring held steady at 43%.

    Whether you are reducing or expanding, the challenge continues to be “rightsizing” in its truest sense – ensuring that you make the right choices about both the level of resources needed as well as the mix of talent that aligns with the evolving needs of the business.

    Will your human capital strategy provide robust, agile, data-driven methods for continuously assessing and responding to the needs of your organization? Become a world class employer!

    1. Learn Something New

    Have you vowed to make this year the year to learn something new, and to ensure that your employees are developing critical skills and knowledge for future? To succeed in an era of constant change, organizations are continuously reinventing themselves to respond to innovative technologies, emerging business opportunities, and the competitive landscape. Critical to corporate reinvention is employee development. Employees must continually acquire new knowledge and skills to help drive success.  Some forward-looking learning institutions have identified the values overarching the learning they enable, often shifting emphasis from acquiring knowledge to ways of thinking and doing such as critical thinking, creative problem solving, and effective communication.

    Analysts predict that technology will play an increasing role in corporate learning and development.  They note that learning is becoming more personalized and focused on the individual learner. For example, software can offer learners context-aware learning experiences and allow them to be involved in content creation. Social learning and learning from colleagues and subject-matter experts will play bigger roles within organizations. Therefore, it is extremely important to assess and prioritize learning needs to invest wisely in learning solutions that support all types of learners and all forms of learning.  Organizations should ensure that their learning solutions enable the pursuit of knowledge anywhere, anytime, with any device. Like any other business function, it is essential to be able to measure the effectiveness of organizational learning.

    What is your strategy for meeting these corporate and individual needs? What kinds of learning programs are most effective for supporting continuous change?  Unleash the potential in your workforce!

    1. Give Back, Help Others

    A popular, non-selfish New Year’s resolution, volunteerism can take many forms. The Corporation for National Service lists 72 types of services needed by community groups across the US, and many more are needed abroad.  We’ve seen an outpouring of volunteerism in 2017 – record charitable donations for victims of disasters, corporate responsibility for environmental protection, search and recovery in communities ravaged by floods and fires, and advocacy for social change – to name just a few.  Whether you choose to spend time helping local schools or libraries, mentoring children, or building a house, there are many nonprofit volunteer organizations that could really use help.

    As you consider starting or expanding corporate responsibility or volunteerism, consider six types of corporate social initiatives:

    • Corporate philanthropy: company donations to charity, including cash, goods, and services, sometimes via a corporate foundation
    • Community volunteering: company-organized volunteer activities, sometimes while an employee receives pay for pro-bono work on behalf of a non-profit organization
    • Socially-responsible business practices: ethically produced products which appeal to a customer segment
    • Cause promotions: company-funded advocacy campaigns
    • Cause-related marketing: donations to charity based on product sales
    • Corporate social marketing: company-funded behavior-change campaigns

    Organizations engaged in corporate volunteerism and social responsibility generally set goals and guidelines to ensure that these activities are done with a purpose and operate within boundaries.

     Do you have an engagement plan for reaching your community stakeholders and other desired audience(s)? Have you designated a corporate social responsibility individual or team to plan the goals and objectives of the organization? Have you set a defined budget to demonstrate commitment and scale your program’s relative importance?  2018 may be your year to start!

    1. Get Organized

    Getting better organized appears on just about every New Year resolution list.  At home, we may set our sights on organizing our closets and garages.  At work, we need it too.  You may be losing time and money.  Reports indicate that the average worker wastes close to two weeks a year searching for things she or he has lost or misplaced, resulting in thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars in business losses depending on the size of your business. Other surveys suggest that the numbers, both in lost hours and lost dollars, are even higher. And in today’s economy, these are numbers we can’t afford to get buried under.  You may want to recommit to the things that every manager knows:

    • Updating Your Work Space so that it is as clean, efficient and attractive as can be, with files and materials easy to find.
    • Managing Time (for yourself and others) is critical for efficiency since time is one of our most precious resources.
    • Organizing Work Processes, with the help of those who actually perform the tasks, will eliminate waste, redundancy and inefficiency.
    • Providing Supervision on a regular basis, perhaps every day in one form or another depending on the type of work you do, increases clarity and performance of employees. Waiting to give instruction, feedback, and reinforcement diminishes the impact.
    • Tracking Tasks enables you to see the full array of tasks that you and your team are supporting. Tracking progress is essential to successful task completion and accountability.
    • Prioritizing ensures that everyone is aligned, working on common goals that are most important to the overall organization goals.

    Are your work spaces and processes as efficient as they could be?  Time to clean your desk! 

    Hopefully, you were able to gain some knowledge and you’re now better prepared for 2018. Visit our website at www.a-gassociates.com to find out more about how we can help your organization have a productive and successful year.

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