Creating virtuous circles for employee retention

Research on reducing employee retention has found some interesting interaction effects that could play out as virtuous or vicious circles.  Such a circle is found when there are complex series of events that provide a feedback loop that tends to push behavior in one direction or another. 

 Agovino (2019) cited some disturbing trends in employee retention, not surprising in a tight labor market with unemployment hovering around 4%.  This gives employees more confidence to seek other opportunities and makes employers work harder to find an adequate supply of talent.  In 2018, average voluntary attrition increased by 8% over 2017, and by 2020, the average annual attrition rate could approach 33%.  Top reasons for leaving included opportunity for growth, work-life balance, and manager behaviors.

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Scientific immunity from harassment?

It’s been about sixteen months since Harvey Weinstein was dismissed from Miramax and the Academy over multiple complaints of sexual harassment.  Late last year the EEOC (2018) released a report of harassment claims in the workplace.  Complaints based on based on sex, race, color, disability, age, national origin, or religion are investigated.  A fraction of those complaints (66 in fiscal 2018) reach the lawsuit stage.  Among the reported findings:

Claims spanned all industries, with examples including United Airlines, G2, Del Taco, Happy Valley Nursing, Blackwater, Mediacom, and Piggly Wiggly.

Over 60% of those claims included allegations of sexual harassment.  This represents a 50% increase in the number of suits filed in FY 2017. 

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The changing face of diversity

In June, in an article entitled “Diversity, inclusion, and engagement in the workplace,” Schulzetenberg & Colihan (2018) reviewed some research showing lower levels of job satisfaction and engagement among cultural minorities as related to majority groups.  There is some evidence for this disturbing trend (e.g., Hofhuis, Van Der Zee, & Otten, 2012).  As a possible direct consequence, voluntary attrition rates appear to be higher for minority groups as well.

 

While many U.S. businesses have made good progress in increasing diversity of their teams when it comes to gender and ethnicity, inclusion is a much tougher nut to crack…. 

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Well-being at home and work: Two halves of a whole

Children are often taught from a young age that it is imperative to get enough sleep, ask for help when they need it, take breaks (remember recess?), and remain optimistic.  Society espouses the relationship between performance and physical, emotional, and psychological well-being for children, however, these values tend to be forgotten in adulthood. 

 

As mentioned in “Well-being at work: Worth a second glance….”

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Teamwork and performance management: Is your appraisal system putting the brakes on OCB’s (organizational citizenship behaviors)?

Teamwork and performance management:  Is your appraisal system putting the brakes on OCB’s (organizational citizenship behaviors)? The importance of teams for success has been widely accepted in behavior research for decades.  As part of teaming, connecting employees involves nurturing a sense of the big picture, or vision.  Once shared goals are analyzed and developed, employees can focus on success in their roles toward the big picture.  This diminishes the need for leaders to micromanage and define methods, which may not be the best use of their time. That’s why defining a vision and a set of operating values and principles is much more effective….

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Well-being at work: Worth a second glance

What comes to mind when you hear the term “workplace wellness”?  Many would list workplace additions like fruit in the common areas, stand-ups desks, yoga classes during the workday, or even programs to help employees combat body weight or substance issues.  While these examples may aim to promote and improve wellness, they are only one piece of the workplace wellness pie…. 

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Fairness in the workplace

Ideas about workplace fairness have evolved.  Early developments in equality and diversity focused on factors such as hiring and compensation; efforts were made to reduce or eliminate unfair practices based on race, nationality, and religion (to name a few).  These protections were enshrined in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a bookend year for the baby boomers. 

Other protections from discrimination based on gender, veteran status, disability, and sexual orientation have also been established.  Many companies have responded to these policies by promoting diversity in various ways….

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Keep your emotions out of it thank you

Generations of workers have thought it natural to relegate emotions to the home and personal contexts of their lives.  More recent research in I-O Psychology in the past two decades have served to bring emotions and the workplace together more consciously.  Perhaps it was understood that keeping your cool at work was a matter of regulation and not merely relegation.  Nevertheless, those in the boomer generation and earlier simply kept a lid on it.

Research, as a reflection of society, also kept a lid on it.  While workers did not typically discuss emotions with co-workers, and certainly not with their boss, researchers focused on human behavior in the workplace also tended to ignore emotions….

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Transforming nations: education as an antidote to gender inequality and poverty

The statistics are sobering.  As of 2011, an estimated one billion people (roughly one of  seven) live in extreme poverty, with less than $1.25 USD per day to live on. 

One major factor leading to the perpetuation of poverty across the world is gender inequality; it is a powerful force holding societies back from potential progress.  As discussed in a USAID report from September 2015, women often suffer the greater brunt of poverty due to factors that “reduce their ability to participate fully in the economy and to reap the benefits of growth.”  These factors include taking on a greater burden of unpaid work, having fewer assets, being exposed to gender-based violence, and being more likely to be forced into early marriages….   

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Joe Colihan
Diversity, inclusion, and engagement in the workplace

It's happening.  Large movements are growing and bringing awareness to the inequalities marginalized populations are experiencing.  From Black Lives Matter to #MeToo, the United States is experiencing an uproar of voices that have been silenced for far too long.  NPR recently interviewed Johnny Taylor, CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, who stated, without hyperbole, that of the HR professionals he recently interviewed, all of them reported dealing with MeToo-related complaints (Noguchi, 2018).  The sexual harassment movement has sparked a deluge of other worker complaints such as pay inequality, discrimination, and bullying…. 

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Joe Colihan
Employee well-being. Engage. Make it so.

Employee well-being.  Engage.  Make it so.

Industrial-Organizational (I/O) Psychology has a long history with studying and influencing workplace climate toward the accomplishment of multiple, sometimes conflicting objectives.  One of the earliest and most popularly known of these efforts were the Hawthorne Studies at Western Electric in the 20’s.  A decade before, early personnel psychology was taken with the ideas of Frederick Taylor.  You may remember the father in Cheaper by the Dozen, an efficiency expert who….

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Joe Colihan
Agile as a panther

Agile as a panther

Agile has become all the rage in contemporary business and consulting.  It has been applied to manufacturing, software development, and even whole businesses as they strive to adapt to a logarithmically increasing pace of change in the modern competitive landscape. 

In one global company, frustration grew with processes around development of new applications….

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Joe Colihan
Another string theory

Another string theory

Theories linking different fields together often hold the promise of great breakthroughs in science and understanding.  Think of linking optics, math, and astronomy to the prediction of the motions of the planets.  The recently deceased Stephen Hawking worked for years help explain the nature of the universe through linkage of general relativity (the macro) to quantum mechanics (the micro)….

 

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Joe Colihan
When employees discuss pay

When employees discuss pay

Managers often discourage discussions of pay, for example, the size bonuses.  It has even been suggested that discussing pay against the wishes of a manager or organization could put an employee at risk of disciplinary measures, perhaps even firing.  This generated a lot of discussion in SHRM forums.

Katherine Brennan (2018) explored this issue in a recent article….

 

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Daily engagement you say?

Daily engagement you say?

Engagement has been all the rage in business climate research in the last decade.  Ideas of job satisfaction and motivation were reimagined, combined with energy and enthusiasm, and created a new holy grail for climate researchers....

 

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Gender equality in the workplace

Happy International Women’s Day!  March 8th was dedicated to this day since the early 1900’s.  As awareness of pay equity and harassment in the workplace grows, it is important to reflect on ways to make your workplace better for everyone through fairness and respect.

Some interesting research by Accenture can serve as guidance….

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Workplace policies on guns

With all of the renewed interest about gun policy in the country, a tangent involves what to do in the workplace.  Often highlighted recently is the idea of allowing school staff and teachers to carry a concealed weapon if they so choose.  For them, the school is the workplace, but the same is being debated across industries….

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