Top five technology trends that will shape the workplace in 2020

Improving the employee experience (EX) continues to be a top priority for organizations across the world, second only to improving customer experience, according to a report by Ecosystm. “In order to boost employee experience and make their organization as attractive as possible for potential new recruits, senior managers are turning to technology to boost productivity,” Ecosystm’s Audrey William and Tim Sheedy write in HR Director. They outline the top five technology adoption trends that will shape EX in 2020: 1. Wider adoption of consumer collaboration tools. 2. Increased investment in workplace analytics to boost EX. 3. 5G adoption will cause a rethink of networks. 4. A growing focus on knowledge management platforms. 5. A rise in adoption of communications platform as a service—CPaaS. “It’s important that senior managers take the time to understand these trends and implement strategies that will add value to the EX of all current and future employees,” the authors conclude.

Three ways to drive employee engagement

Keeping your employees engaged is just as important as hiring top talent, yet many employers fall short, Adam Robinson argues. He cites a recent study from Achievers, an employee recognition platform, which found that fewer than one in five employees (19 percent) consider themselves “very engaged.” In this Inc. blog post, Robinson shares three steps to drive employee engagement: 1. Set intentional core values that will become ingrained in your organization on a daily basis. 2. Recognize employees for their work on a weekly and annual basis with awards and compensation. 3. Give employees opportunities to grow and advance their career paths. “Engaged employees are more likely to positively contribute to your overall goals and stay with your team long-term,” Robinson writes. “By having a plan in place to keep employees engaged, you can set your organization up for continued productivity and profitability.”

How HR can help combat holiday stress

HR has a key role to play in helping employees weather the personal and professional stress of the coming holiday season, claims Maura Ciccarelli. “The end of the year can also be a time to start the cultural shift, if needed, to acknowledge that seeking mental-health help is normal, instead of being stigmatized,” she writes in HR Executive. “Even during busy December weeks, it’s possible to provide workers with the space and opportunity to talk about coping with holiday stress over a brown-bag lunch or in other gatherings.” Ciccarelli believes organizations also can reduce stress by emulating tech companies that provide many services and programs that support their employees and promote productivity. “Flexible schedules, working from home, providing easy access to healthy food and snacks, and promoting increased activity such as standing, walking, getting outside for some sun and fresh air—all of these help associates better manage their energy levels,” she writes. “Organizations also should set realistic expectations and encourage everyone at all levels to focus only on top priorities through the end of the calendar year—and avoid taking on additional initiatives unless absolutely crucial.”

Six employee wellness trends for 2020

As 2019 comes to a close, more predictions for the new year are starting to make the rounds. In this TalentCulture blog post, Meghan Biro lists the six employee wellness trends for 2020: 1. Holistic benefits, such as managing mental health conditions and college loan assistance, will become commonplace. 2. Equal benefits for alternative families and identities will continue to expand. 3. A focus on mental health and stress reduction benefits will become a part of employee wellness programming. 4. Companies will continue to allow employees to give back by volunteering. 5. Financial wellness programs will start going beyond lunchtime seminars to in-house financial counseling and customized programs. 6. Artificial intelligence will help firms predict evolving employee needs and investments better. “Concepts of wellness, particularly employee wellness, are evolving, and in 2020 we’ll see a lot of organizations working to meet their employees’ needs better,” Biro writes. “Pay attention to these six trends. I predict we will be hearing a lot about them.”

Why leading with fear is not sustainable

While fear can be an effective mobilization tool in the short term, it is, at best, a shortsighted business strategy, claims Harrison Monarth. In this Fast Company Article, he lists the top three reasons why leading with fear will fail to bring out the best your team has to offer: 1. Fear stifles employee initiative and creativity. 2. Fear yields employee obedience without buy-in. 3. Fear disrupts employees’ ability to think rationally. “When employees face fear, they typically clam up. They hold back rather than take the risk of voicing a contrary opinion or proposing a novel approach,” Monarth writes. “Workers need a sense of safety to be creative. As a leader, you can cultivate this kind of culture by frequently interacting with your employees and encouraging diverse opinions.” Positive leadership creates a culture of psychological safety, where employees are encouraged to express opinions and think outside the box. “A leader who can inspire her staff with her vision can get their full commitment without resorting to scare tactics,” he concludes.

Oxford study finds happy workers are more productive

Employees are more productive when they are happier, according to new research by Oxford University’s Said Business School. The research collected data from around 1,800 call-center workers employed by British Telecom (BT), one of the UK’s largest private employers, over a six-month period. The employees were asked to fill out a simple survey each week, with emojis used to denote their level of happiness. The researchers then compared the happiness data to the measures used by BT to gauge productivity: call length, the percentage of calls converted into sales—for example of broadband or phone contracts—and the extent to which employees adhered to a work schedule. They discovered that workers were on average 13 percent more productive in weeks when they self-reported as being very happy, compared to those weeks when people reported being very unhappy. “There seems to be considerable room for improvement in the happiness of employees while they are at work,” says Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, one of the study’s co-authors. “While this is clearly in the interest of workers themselves, our analysis suggests it is also in the interests of their employers.” The researchers also found that happy workers do not work more hours than their discontented colleaguesthey are simply more productive within their time at work. “This new research also underlines an important truth for managers. There are hard-nosed business reasons to want to keep your people happy,” Jessica Stillman notes in Inc. about the study.

Three employee-engagement methods that are better than perks

Shiny perks such as catered lunches and wellness programs keep employees satisfied, but not engaged, argues Santiago Jaramillo. “Satisfied employees feel comfortable. They do the bare minimum to earn a paycheck,” he says. “Engaged employees feel challenged and energized by their work. They go above and beyond to help the organization accomplish its mission because payday isn’t their main motivator.” In this Inc. article, he shares three tried-and-tested methods to engage and retain employees who actually work: 1. Revisit your company’s mission and how you communicate it to help employees find meaning in their work. 2. Invest in focused manager training and development, especially in how to give feedback without fear of negative consequences. 3. Mobilize employer brand advocates to spread the good word about your company.

One financial firm’s bold move toward vulnerability

Speaking of mental health issues taking a toll on talent retention, Marianne Harrison, the CEO of John Hancock, believes that a sense of belonging and vulnerability can help decrease the chances of stress and burnout. She recently created a new initiative, the John Hancock Signature Series, to highlight the inseparable link between the employees’ personal and professional lives. “Our goal is to address the stigma around vulnerability in the workplace and really try to encourage people to bring their whole selves to work,” Harrison told Forbes in an interview. “We believe the more we can share our humanity, the more we can inspire each other, change perceptions and create meaningful change.” She believes that people need to feel comfortable in order to work together and collaborate. “I think the best advice that I can give is talk to somebody,” Harrison said of people experiencing burnout and stress. “Sometimes, we don’t want to say that we’re struggling and that we’re having trouble because it may look like we’re failing. There’s so much we try and keep to ourselves.”

What HR can do to deal with the effects of Hurricane Dorian

Considering the risks that major storms such as Hurricane Dorian present to life and property, HR has a key role to play in helping organizations prepare for and cope with the aftermath, claims Andrew McIlvaine. He notes Walmart’s example, in which the company has established ways to update contact information, offer employees work in other locations, and provide licensed counselors at no charge to them. “HR should also be ready to help their companies avoid public-relations disasters,” McIlvaine writes in HR Executive. “During Hurricane Irma last year, some Florida residents complained of being coerced by their employers to report to work regardless of the storm or else be fired.”

Employee wellbeing a top priority for UK banks

Facing strong competition from challenger banks and fintech start-ups, top financial institutions in the UK are placing more emphasis on employee wellbeing. According to a new survey by Bishopsgate Financial, a majority of banks are focusing on flexible working (68 percent), diversity (66 percent), and implementing development and training (61 percent). Nearly three quarters (72 percent) of UK banks identified the need to implement agile working conditions as central to achieving high performing teams, while corporate social responsibility (CSR) continues to be a significant area of focus across the financial sector (76 percent of respondents). “Attracting and keeping the right people and talent has always been at the heart of the UK’s successful financial services sector. More so than ever, there is an increased focus on the employee and their continuing wellbeing within an organization,” Mike Hampson, CEO of Bishopsgate Financial, told Finance Digest. “Our research shows that banks are taking their commitment to diversity seriously, while they also appreciate that their CSR credentials are central to long term business success.”

Our recent report, “Putting Trust to Work,” addresses similar employee-wellbeing concerns.

Why banks must be bold on talent

With the disruption of traditional business models and rapid technology shifts, the financial services industry needs to adapt by revitalizing the system from within, and seizing new ways to drive innovation, productivity and performance, argues Mona Malone. “Banks must be bold on talent, creating the conditions for human and machine partnerships, and building a culture that encourages learning, growth, creativity and innovation,” she writes in an op-ed piece in American Banker. “One of the most powerful ways to do this is to think of skills as a ‘new currency’ for the new world and focus on developing the employees we already have through upskilling, reskilling and broad experimentation.” Malone suggests using a multipronged approach that combines implementation of dynamic learning streams, provision of meaningful work experiences and targeted upskilling, and increased support for employees.  “Targeted reskilling is about managing the supply and demand of talent by effectively identifying, developing and moving employees,” she writes. “This is especially critical for employees in roles that are vulnerable to automation, from existing jobs into future opportunities.”

Employees as marketing assets for banks of all sizes

While the debate on the fate of local bank branches continues, Dave Martin advises banks to step up their internal marketing efforts. “Banks of all sizes, but especially smaller operations, need to help their team members realize and/or remember what makes them a uniquely better banking choice in their markets,” he writes in American Banker. “This must go beyond simply redistributing the mission statement. In many ways, a bank’s own employees are its most important target market.” For Martin, it’s a healthy reality check. “If a bank’s leadership cannot clearly explain to its own team what makes their bank the best choice in their markets, it’s hard to expect teams to be able to make the case to others,” he writes. “The goal is not to pretend that new or bigger competitors aren’t a threat. Denial isn’t a strategy. It’s also not about pretending to be something you are not.”

The U.S. ranks last in parental leave benefits

When it comes to family-friendly policies, the U.S. is one of the worst, according to a new study by UNICEF. The study measured 41 high- and middle-income countries across four categories: paid leave available to mothers, paid leave available to fathers, childcare enrollment for children aged three and younger, and childcare from age three to school age. Going up against the 40 other developed countries, the U.S. came in dead last in terms of paid leave available to mothers and fathers. It was also the only OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] country that offered a whopping zero federally mandated weeks of maternity leave. “It is the latest disheartening study showing the true picture of being a working parent in America,” Mary Beth Ferrante writes in Forbes. “The U.S. was saved from a definitive last-place finish solely because UNICEF did not have access to U.S. data for the other two categories: childcare enrollment.”

How employee benefits will evolve

The days of cookie-cutter benefits packages are coming to an end, predicts the TalentCulture editorial team. In this blog, they outline the major trends likely to emerge in the next few years. 1. The use of predictive data for health and wellness. For example, Springbuk offers employer-facing health analytics software designed to identify gaps in care and opportunities for savings. 2. Non-traditional benefits to reduce financial stress, such as student-loan payback assistance, supplemental insurance products or more robust retirement planning services. 3. More individual customization. The MetLife Annual Benefits Survey found that only 37 percent of employees strongly believe their benefits package meets their personal needs. But the survey also identified a seven-percentage-point increase in employers committed to offering a wider range of benefits. “Employee benefits will continue to evolve to follow closer to each individual’s unique lifestyle and choices,” says Rachel Lyubovitzky, CEO of EverythingBenefits, a benefits administration software firm.

How to keep employees engaged at work

Autonomy, collaboration, and mindfulness activities are just a few of the ways to keep employees engaged at work, according to a new study published in the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology. “We found that employees who were encouraged to proactively craft their own jobs, such as by taking on a challenging new work project, learning a new skill, or brainstorming with a colleague to problem solve, were more likely to stay engaged at work,” said lead author Caroline Knight, from the Future of Work Institute at Curtin University. The research also found that health activities such as mindfulness, stress management, exercise or relaxation programs help employee engagement. Knight advises leaders to encourage and endorse these activities. “In addition, work engagement research suggests that employers and managers who are able to provide social support feedback, and development opportunities for their employees, and help them manage their workload, time pressure, and emotional demands, are more likely to see positive outcomes,” she said.

Five steps to ensure employees’ happiness

Companies all over the world are prioritizing employees’ happiness because it’s proven to boost productivity. Steve Bushnell, leadership coach and founder of Charles River Careers, tells Business Insider that there are five steps every employer should take to ensure employee happiness in the workplace: 1. Listen to your employees with intent. 2. Understand the importance of a work-life balance, and give employees flexibility. 3. Give employees regular and ongoing feedback on their work. 4. Connect employees’ roles to the larger picture by making the goals of the company clear. 5. Offer fair and reasonable compensation. “Though it may seem obvious, employees are most happy when they are getting paid well. If a worker feels like they are not getting paid fairly, they could feel underappreciated and taken advantage of,” writes Frank Olito in BI.

Key trends shaping employee engagement

In 2019, the key trends shaping employee insight will be people analytics, the employee experience (EX), a high performance culture, wellbeing, and agile thinking, claims Stephen Young. “The focus on the employee experience is becoming more commonplace, and for good reason—it’s the acid test that the strategy, policies, systems and programs being worked on actually have some impact,” he writes in this Willis Towers Watson blog post. “Increasingly, clients are employing heads of EX tasked with taking a holistic view of the end-to-end experience and ensuring it is placed center stage as they introduce change.” Young also highlights how more companies are developing strategies that connect the physical, financial, emotional and social components of wellbeing. “Indeed we know that companies with higher levels of wellbeing achieve significantly higher revenues per employee, lower healthcare costs, and fewer days lost,” he writes.

How to make employees your best customer advocates

Brands that focus their time, attention and resources on improving the employee experience (EX) ultimately get better results in the customer experience, claims Paul Phillips. “My mantra has long been that people build brands, and brands build businesses,” he writes in a Forbes blog post. Phillips outlines three ways to develop an employee-centric approach to business: 1. Build real relationships with employees by regularly checking in with them and engaging in honest conversations. 2. Consider ways to turn employee feedback into actionable results. 3. Offer the best-in-class digital tools to unleash employee potential instead of dragging it down. “If you aren’t 100 percent confident that your employees are having the best brand experience possible, it’s a good time to evaluate and start taking these essential steps to bring the employee experience to the forefront of your brand,” he writes. “Your customers will thank you for it.”

How the gig economy can transform banking

As more workers transition into the gig economy, their banking needs and expectations are rapidly changing, writes Avery Phillips in the Bankless Times. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 68 million workers are part of the gig economy workers on demand or independent contractors. “Instead of waiting until a scheduled weekly, bi-weekly, or bi-monthly payday, gig economy workers often receive payment as soon as services are rendered” Phillips writes. “This on-demand payment system renders brick-and-mortar banks unnecessary.” She also claims these new digital banking customers have also led to the emergence of challenger banks and open banking platforms. “They are similar to credit unions, in that they encourage bank competition and lower banking costs, yet provide the same services as a traditional financial institution,” she writes. “Many open banks don’t even have a storefront, helping to drive efficiency and cost-effectiveness.” Phillips notes that these platforms do create new challenges in payment security and suggests on-demand workers take extra precautions to keep online accounts and payments secure from hackers.

Nine in 10 workers in the UK affected by mental health

Last week, at This Can Happen, a workplace mental health conference held in London, Accenture’s Barbara Harvey announced the results of a new study that found almost nine out of 10 workers in the United Kingdom are affected by mental health in some capacity. The survey of more than 2,000 workers found two-thirds (66 percent) had personally experienced mental health challenges, and that 85 percent had someone close to them, such as a family member or close colleague, who had experienced them. Of the respondents who reported they had spoken to someone at work about their mental health, 15 percent said they had talked to HR or a wellbeing specialist. This Can Happen conference brought together more than 750 delegates from 120 companies to discuss employee mental health. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, also attended the conference as a panelist, and spoke about his personal mental health issues experienced while working as an air ambulance pilot. He encouraged more business leaders to speak up and share their experiences of mental health challenges at work. “It’s about setting a culture and environment in the workplace where HR is a door people feel they can go and see,” William said.

Treat employees as customers to build a strong company

Retaining employees is crucial to a company’s success. And the best way to achieve this is by treating them like customers, with value and care for their experience, argues Stephanie Harris in this Human Resources Today blog post. HR departments looking to build a rich and attentive employee-experience strategy need to focus on three areas, she writes. 1. Work around their lives. Respecting the work-life balance of employees and allowing for flexible schedules builds loyalty. 2. Speak to employees in their own language. “You offer user manuals, product descriptions, menus, and websites in your customers’ languages, so why not translate and localize the material that your employees engage with?” Harris asks. 3. Involve your employees in decisions. “Top-down decision making isn’t likely to cultivate employee buy-in. It’s useful to think of your employees as the first “customers” for company culture decisions,” she writes.

Why high-tech banks still need people-savvy workers

As more banks roll out state-of-the-art branch prototypes with cutting-edge layouts and new digital technologies, it’s the teams of employees that influence their initial and long-term success, argues Dave Martin in this American Banker opinion piece. “The new designs may be brilliant. The new technologies may be brilliant, even transformational, and yet without informed and engaged teams, these branches tend to be less than brilliant or transformational in their performance,” he writes. Martin shares an anecdote about a “cashless” branch that was initially a failure due to the lack of enthusiasm of the staff about the self-service technologies the branch offered. After a new manager was allowed to make the necessary team changes, the location became a top performer within six months. “Instead of apologizing to customers for the new technology, the team enthusiastically showed people how these changes were going to make their banking experiences easier and more rewarding,” Martin writes. “There is no denying that the design, placement, technology and staffing models of our branches are changing. I would argue, however, that what is not changing is the central role our best employees will play in growing customer relationships and driving our branches’ success.”

Employee experience impacts customer experience in financial services

“Does the experience your employees have at your financial institution match the experience you want your consumers to have?” asks Mark Arnold in this CUI Insight blog post. He recommends that leaders in finance ask these three employee-driven questions to get a better idea of the consumer experience their firm is delivering. 1. Do employees feel welcomed from day one on the job? 2. When was the last time the employee break room got a sprucing? “If your public bathrooms look like Ritz Carlton while your employee break room looks like McDonald’s, then you have more than a brand gap issue,” Arnold writes. “You have an employee appreciation issue. Employees need to feel they’re part of something, not used for something.” 3. What do our employees say about us? “What your employees say about your credit union or bank is what customers are going to hear first. When our team runs mystery shops during a marketing audit, we ask the question, “Why should I bank here?” By giving employees an amazing, brand-centered experience on the job, you create brand ambassadors who don’t have any trouble delivering a positive answer to that million-dollar question,” Arnold writes.

Today’s top talent looks for social, corporate values

“Millennials give greater weight to a company’s social mission–or lack thereof–when deciding whether to buy from or work for a certain company. It’s no longer enough for a company’s HR strategy to hinge on spun PR, a few photo-ops and campus visits, while throwing money and short-term perks at new recruits,” writes Yuri Kruman in this Entrepreneur guest column. In the competitive race for top talent, he believes companies need to optimize the employee experience (EX) to remain compelling to millennials. He recommends elevating the EX by personalizing salary and benefits packages for each employee, while adding other strategic perks. “Beyond this, founders must create a mission-centered culture of transparency with clear organizational values,” he writes. “They should encourage optimal utilization of talent internally by facilitating internal mobility, opportunity creation and side-project involvement by employees.” Kruman also underscores the importance of diversity for building a better employer brand. “This starts with hiring under-represented talent that thinks, works and sees the world differently than over-represented demographics–then getting out of their way, so they can do their best work and help your brand access new markets and customers, to create new revenue,” he writes.

Why managers need mental health training

“Training managers to help care for employees’ mental health would turn a contributing factor of mental illness—the workplace—into a protective one,” writes Sarah Greenberg, a psychotherapist in this Quartz at Work editorial. Basic training doesn’t involve a two-year graduate degree, nor is it intended to turn managers into therapists, “a terrible idea,” she notes. “It is just awareness and human relations 101: How to be kind, how to listen, what to look out for, and how to create an environment of emotional (or psychological) safety,” she writes. A 2017 study published in The Lancet Psychiatry found giving managers a four-hour basic training course in mental health resulted in an 18-percent reduction in work-related sick time off. The cost-benefit analysis concluded that every dollar invested in training yielded a $9.98 return. Greenberg admits more research is needed to gauge the benefits in different work settings, but adds, “When something is as prevalent, stigmatized, and costly as is mental illness in the workplace, it demands solutions that are integrative and embedded into the fabric of daily life.”

Making employee training stick in the long term

Constantly training your workforce is crucial to taking your business to the next level, but it is just as important to make sure the training sticks in the long term, argues AlexK in this TrainingZone blog post. The biggest problem when it comes to teaching employees a new skill is too many people view it as a sprint, when in reality it’s more of a marathon. “Slow and steady training initiatives that gradually introduce workers to new concepts and give them plenty of time to review what they’ve just learned are much more effective than training regimes that attempt to churn out newly-minted employees on a daily basis,” he writes. Going digital will also help offset the cost of wide-scale employee training and provide a diverse array of options. “They can still produce lackluster results if the people in charge of implementing employee-training regimes don’t know what they are doing,” AlexK warns. “More so than anything else, making employee training stick in the long run is about getting the right people in charge so that your mentorship program can flourish.”

How to improve the candidate experience

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of job openings in the U.S. exceeds the number of jobseekers for the first time, standing at a record 6.7 million vacancies. “As a result, recruiters are now focusing on the candidate experience more than ever before,” writes Gaby Lanaro in this WilsonHCG blog post. Here are seven tips to improve your candidate experience: 1. Ask for feedback to find out if your company’s process lacks something which the competition provides. 2. Communicate with candidates to let them know where they stand in the process and what comes next. 3. Don’t underestimate the value of the information you provide on your career website. 4. Make the most of technology and social media to make candidates feel involved and valued. 5. Evaluate your applicant tracking system to make sure it is efficient and easy to use. 6. Stay connected with the candidate throughout the process, from the interview to the first day on the job. 7. Remember that happy employees do a great job at persuading potential candidates. “If you want to be ahead of the competition, you have to adjust your strategies, keep up with the market, and bring back the fun element, all while inspiring human connection,” Lanaro writes.

How mobile benefits apps help the employee experience

“With rising healthcare costs and increased competition for top employees, staying ahead of the curve is more important than ever,” writes Jennifer Riley in this HRDive blog post. “One significant source of employee dissatisfaction is failure to understand what a benefits package contains.” She believes mobile apps make benefits information easier to access, which allows employers to interact with their employees in a more meaningful way. “As employee benefits apps gain traction, employers are experiencing increased enrollment completions, higher engagement/retention rates and reduced healthcare costs,” she writes. Mobile apps also enable employers to actively demonstrate the value of their benefits throughout the year, not just during annual enrollment. With simplified access to personalized benefit information on their smartphones, employees gain an awareness of how much their employers value their wellbeing, which increases trust and loyalty. “The bottom line is a dramatically enhanced employee experience and tangible ROI,” she writes.

Embrace complexity for a better employee experience

Speaking of complexity, this Willis Towers Watson piece emphasizes the importance of the employee experience (EX). By effectively embracing the complexity of life and prioritizing the moments that matter, you can help your people and organization thrive. “People are messy things; they have emotions and feelings. That’s why, despite that new, fancy bit of HR tech or that detailed performance management approach, people don’t often behave the way we think they would,” Nigel McNeil writes. “In a digital, ‘always on’, fragmented, diverse and global climate, speaking to our people’s emotions and maintaining the human connection is difficult but vital.” He argues that EX can help connect people to purpose by tapping into their emotional core to build loyalty, excitement and passion. EX can also create the environment and culture that amplifies good emotion, allowing it to flourish. “Recognizing the emotional landscape and complexity of people means we can create human-centric solutions that feel authentic, have a personality and express the essence of the organization,” McNeil notes.

Employee retention as a science

“Thanks to the deep insights now available to the supervisors and HR managers in a timely fashion, employee retention is no longer a matter of chance but can become a science supported by algorithms of possibilities”, writes Uma Ganesh in this Financial Express article. As organizations struggle to find the right people and retain them, AI and cognitive computing have the potential to guide managers to understand employee motivation and their aspirations better than ever before, according to the article. “AI could help unravel the informal networks and connectedness employees have within the organization, highlight the potential risks, identify those who may be dissatisfied with work or with people they work with and their strong preferences and reservations with some of the policies of the organization—all of which could determine the probability of employees staying on or otherwise,” Ganesh writes.

How to onboard new hires the right way

In this blog post for themuse, Meghan E. Butler points to five fixes to avoid common mistakes that many managers make when hiring a new team member. 1. Prepare your team for their new co-worker by inviting them in to meet the candidates and making them a part of the decision-making process. 2. Define the boss-direct-report dynamic by hosting a welcome meeting to spell out the working relationship. 3. Set clear expectations of performance by scheduling weekly check-ins and providing regular feedback. 4. Acknowledge and plan for a learning curve by spending alone time with the new team member over the course of their first few weeks on the job. 5. Train them on the company etiquette by introducing them to the overall culture and filling them in on nuances they may not get from the employee manual. “Neglecting these steps will lead to a failure for the new employee, or for you as their boss,” Butler writes. “Just think how great it will feel to help a new employee grow into a star—all because of you!”

The value of improving the employee experience for insurers

In a commentary for the Insurance Innovative Reporter, Alex Glanz advocates for the importance of improving the employee experience, not only to increase customer satisfaction, but also employee engagement and retention. “The customer relationship is central to any organization, and the most adept companies understand that the well-being of the employees who manage these customer relationships is a mission-critical ingredient for success. Nowhere is this connection more crucial than in the insurance industry, where the employee/customer relationship is often especially close,” he writes. Glanz recommends insurers listen to employees more to understand customers. “Customers are good at telling insurance companies about what went wrong, but they have a harder time identifying the underlying root cause or management processes that led to that breakdown in the experience,” he writes. “That’s where an employee’s perspective, along with all their knowledge of internal workflows and policies, becomes invaluable.” He believes insurance companies can unlock tremendous value by activating the power of customer and employee insights. “More engaged employees have higher productivity and turn over less, which means they can deliver better experiences for customers. In turn, more satisfied customers typically stay with their insurer longer, are more likely to buy multiple policies, refer more business, and cost less to serve than their less satisfied counterparts,” Glanz notes.   

Four perks that are better than ping-pong tables

While ping-pong tables, free snacks and open floor plans are fun benefits, Heather Huhman argues that employees need more meaningful perks that have a real impact on their lives. In a guest column for Entrepreneur, she cites a 2017 Society for Human Resource Management survey, which found that 32 percent of HR professionals are increasing the benefits they offer. She suggests four health and financial benefits: 1. Consider supplementing employees’ health insurance with health concierge services – platforms that connect employees with healthcare resources. 2. Issue company credit cards and allow employees to redeem the points accumulated from business purchases. 3. Create exchange programs to study abroad or even in different national locations. 4. Offer sleep assistance through a sleep aid app or nap rooms in the office. “There are countless new employee benefits available. Thanks to the HR tech boom in recent years, employers can support nearly every important aspect of employees’ lives,” Huhman writes.

Why top employees quit

“The war for talent is a real one, and when a superstar leaves it can be very difficult to recover. Giving out free food and putting ping pong tables in an office are not enough to retain your best talent, much less any talent,” argues Betty Liu in this Inc. blog post. Among the top reasons for valued employees leaving are lack of challenges, lack of real engagement and surrounding high performers with low performers, according to Liu. “Some of the best talent simply want to do challenging, engaging work that expands their horizons. For those who do want to keep rising up the ladder, let them know what the next steps are,” she writes. When it comes to employee engagement, she recommends going beyond recognition: “Engagement means being truly invested in someone’s work and career, even if it means you’re giving them critical feedback.” Sometimes, Liu says, when employees leave it has nothing to do with the employer or the corporate culture. “It’s called the mid-life crisis and this happens almost to everyone. In that case, you buy those folks a bottle of champagne and wish for them a happy new life. You can only keep people for so long until you let them go.”

Work-life balance improves for Singapore’s financial services

The balance between the professional and personal lives of Singapore’s financial services employees is improving, according to a new study by Robert Half. Staffing Industry Analystsoutlined the main findings of the study: 68 percent of financial services CFOs in Singapore say the work-life balance of their employees has improved, compared to three years ago, while 29 percent say it has remained the same and only 3 percent say it has deteriorated. Financial services employers in Singapore are actively encouraging a healthy balance (97 percent) with initiatives such as flexible work hours, additional leave, on-site amenities for childcare and exercise. “Organizations who prioritize and actively promote work-life balance initiatives have a competitive edge in the war for talent as they frame themselves as an employer of choice,” says Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard, managing director of Robert Half. “Flexible working arrangements and working from home are great ways for companies to allow their staff to work productively around family and personal commitments.”

Consider voluntary benefits to increase retention

According to a 2017 employee benefits study by MetLife, 72 percent of employees agree that the ability to customize benefits increases loyalty. “Now more than ever, employees want more from their employers when it comes to benefits. They want their companies to understand their unique needs, and meet them in different ways,” writes Will Giaconia in thisADP post. Voluntary benefits include anything from insurance products to lifestyle benefits and employee discounts. “Lifestyle benefits are key to engaging and retaining employees, particularly when trying to attract top talent,” he writes. “Employee discounts and other lifestyle perks are an equally effective method to engage employees and make a day-to-day impact on the quality of life of a workforce.” With the rise of the gig economy and tight labor markets, Giaconia believes having the right mix of benefits to offer employees is crucial to attracting and retaining top talent.

The evolution of workplace communication

Advancements in mobile technology have made it easier to rely on virtual teams, agile talent and remote offices spread out across the globe. In this Business2Community blog post, Paul Keijzer points out the pros and cons of instant communication in today’s workplace. On the up side, he claims the leap in technology has created a boost in efficiency and cross-functional engagement. “What’s simultaneously happening thanks to flexibility and enhanced communications is that people are able to balance their personal lives into their work schedule.” He adds that “flexibility is the new norm.” On the down side, he reminds the business community of the importance of mindfulness and etiquette when it comes to using swift communication tools. “There’s the pressure of responding immediately (after all, that’s the best use of these communication tools, isn’t it?). And in that, you’re just blurting out messages that pop into your mind. This increases your likelihood of responding emotionally and without thinking things through. Sometimes you may get into trouble for it as well.” In order to improve workplace communication, Keijzer recommends engagement activities, and setting clear communication boundaries and parameters that allow for personal time.

New study finds gig workers are underinsured

According to a new study, gig-economy workers tend to be underinsured, underestimate their risks and are uneducated about how insurance applies to the work they do, Insurance Business Magazine reports. “With nearly 40 percent of the U.S. labor market now comprised of gig workers, the insurance industry is already very behind in satisfying the needs of this market,” says Christina Goldschmidt, Cake & Arrow’s VP of customer experience and design. “Our hope is that our case study and the prototype we designed will accelerate some of the thinking and innovation that is long overdue in the industry.” Gig-economy workers would be receptive to insurers selling plans via digital apps, the study found. The apps used by gig workers would collect personal information such as work hours, hourly rates, etc., which would be beneficial to insurers creating custom quotes.

Fortune names “Best Companies in Finance and Insurance” in the U.S.

Speaking of work-life balance in the financial services industry, the editors of Fortunemagazine compiled their annual list of companies that “keep their employees happy with perks, benefits, caring managers, unplugged time and more.” Here is the top 10 in finance and insurance, in descending order: Edward Jones, Veterans United Home Loans, Pinnacle Financial Partners, PrimeLending, Capital One, Progressive, Credit Acceptance, Navy Federal Credit Union, USAA and Quicken Loans. Employees of Edward Jones pointed to the company’s onboarding process, as well as the culture of sharing success stories, among the reasons for its being a great place to work. View the full list, complete with employee feedback, here.