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Whether we’re new to a team or have been in the biz for years, we all like to think we’re experts at our jobs. We strive to build confidence in what we do among those who manage what we do. Very few of us want someone looking over our shoulders while we work.
Take, for example, the global positioning system (GPS). Decades ago, it was an exclusive way to track U.S. submarines carrying nuclear missiles. But now, it’s used throughout most of our everyday lives. We use it to check in on social media. We definitely use it to navigate an unknown area. Even employers are using the capabilities to track their employees while they’re on the clock.
Yup. GPS tracking is no stranger in the workplace, and it can benefit both employers and employees. But it’s easy to see why GPS tracking might seem unsavory to those it’s used on. Doesn’t it breed resentment and distrust? Let’s explore this together.
TSheets by QuickBooks, a time tracking software company, commissioned an independent survey of 1,585 employees over the age of 18 throughout the U.S. to learn more about their experiences with workplace GPS tracking. And attitudes toward the seemingly invasive practice might surprise you.
GPS is more about safety, less about privacy invasion
When employees think of a GPS tracking policy at work, the term “micromanage” may enter their minds...
In a 2014 survey by Accountemps, 59% of respondents said they’ve worked for a micromanager at some point in their careers. For many employees, their employer’s desire to track their location could not only be an invasion of privacy, but a glaring distrust of their abilities. For employers, GPS tracking could provide some peace of mind about the efficiency of work being done.
But the line between micromanaging and monitoring can get a bit blurry. And while micromanaging may be true for some cases of GPS in the workplace, most employers have the best intentions behind tracking an employee’s whereabouts. Here are the top nine reasons employers gave in the GPS survey:
Plenty of industries—construction, transit, utilities, sales—have employees out in the field and at multiple job sites during all hours of the day. Making sure an employee is where they’re supposed to be not only ensures their safety but also helps prevent time theft, which, in turn, could help an employer save money or even help an employee earn what they should.
Companies with large fleets might implement GPS tracking to ensure driver safety, which also helps out with insurance costs. One cable company implemented a GPS tracking solution and within six months of deploying was able to improve driver behavior by 68%.
If an employee is running late for a job, their manager can give a waiting client a real-time update on the employee’s arrival. If a company car isn’t returned, an employer can see where it was last used. If an employer needs someone to go to an emergency job site, they can dispatch whoever might be the closest. GPS just makes sense for businesses in the 21st century.
Employees can warm up to GPS tracking
Most employers who want to implement GPS tracking are nervous to do so because of one thing: resistance. “My employees will never go for it.” Well, the TSheets survey found that’s not exactly true.
The majority of employees surveyed (57%) said they have concerns about GPS. It’s understandable. There are a lot of things to consider. What rights do employers have? Can an employee be tracked off the clock? What about breaks?
While invasion of privacy—especially off the clock—is a concern among employees, there are a slew of other things that have them a bit apprehensive about using the technology. Almost 21% of respondents said that battery drain was always a concern. Another 14% were always concerned with data usage when being tracked by GPS. Smaller percentages were concerned with inaccurate GPS locations and getting in trouble for not being where they’re supposed to be. Here’s a full breakdown:
However, understanding how the GPS technology works is essential for a warm reception by those it’s used on. What we don’t know or understand innately makes us uncomfortable. But here’s the good news: Nearly three-quarters of employees surveyed say they have a strong or very strong understanding of the technology. And because of that understanding, 78% said they are comfortable with GPS tracking. In fact, 82% of the respondents believe GPS tracking at work is not an invasion of privacy. And of those who actually have experience being tracked, 65% reported a positive experience with it! Only about 4% said the opposite.
Also noteworthy: TSheets conducted a similar survey in 2017 and saw a 10% increase in employees saying their experience with GPS was positive between then and now. This could indicate that discussing GPS tracking with your employees will be easier than you think, and the technology is well received (more on that later).
For employees, the appeal of GPS is in the money. The top benefit for them, according to those who have used it, is ensuring they get paid what they’re owed. It’s a bonus for both employee and employer that the feature holds both parties accountable. Checks and balances, people.
The answer for GPS acceptance is easy—communication
Creating a company culture that openly discusses GPS policies—including concerns from employees—is essential. So employers and employees, listen up.
While requiring GPS tracking when employees are off the clock isn’t legal or ethical, it can happen. When asked how employees would respond to such an event, 42% said they would have a conversation about it with their boss. But not all employees are so forgiving. One in 4 employees said if they were tracked off the clock, they would take legal action.
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) says that aside from understanding the legal requirements and ramifications of implementing GPS tracking, you should be able to demonstrate that there is a legitimate business rationale behind the decision, such as:
- Trying to improve response time and efficiency of routes.
- Maintaining accurate timekeeping records.
- Increasing safety and/or productivity and helping to prevent theft.
But here’s another important part of the equation—don’t be afraid to talk about it. This part is important for both parties involved. TSheets found that only 37% of employees who were unsure of the whole GPS thing actually raised their concerns with their employer. And of the 37% who did raise their concerns, only 41% said their employer fully addressed their concerns. This leaves nearly 60% with concerns that were never addressed. Here’s the breakdown of responses from employees when asked if they’ve ever raised GPS concerns with their employers:
SHRM agrees on open communication. They recommend that employers provide clear notice to employees before implementing GPS tracking to avoid privacy (and other) lawsuits.
“One important practice is to implement a policy stating that there should be no expectation of privacy when using company-owned equipment and/or vehicles,” the organization says on their site.
Moreover, GPS monitoring should be limited to work hours and activities. And employers, don’t forget to address non-privacy concerns, like smartphone battery life if GPS data is collected by a mobile app.
Despite challenges, many employees have noted benefits of using GPS technology at work, namely peace of mind that they’ll be paid for their hours and increased accountability for themselves and their employers. With data showing an increase in positive employee experience with GPS in just two years, the practice is sure to not only be used more, but accepted.
Originally published on June 04, 2019 → Last updated June 4, 2019
Healthy businesses need healthy employees, and when companies prioritize employee well-being, its benefits are reflected in the well-being of the company. The two go hand-in-hand. 🤝
More companies than ever are implementing employee wellness programs, typically as an effort to reduce health insurance costs. In this article, we’ll dive into how these wellness programs benefit your bottom line—and everything above it.
How do we define employee wellness?
Bridget Juniper defines wellness as “a subjective, multi-element state that considers physical, material, social, emotional, developmental, and activity dimensions.”
In simpler terms: it’s a holistic way to look at employee health, that includes both physical and mental health. Employee wellness programs are not a one-size-fits-all—the success of your program hugely depends on how your business leaders would define employee wellness within the context of their unique workplace needs.
[Too many organizations] avoid asking themselves what they mean by well-being in the workplace in the first instance... there is a tendency to jump straight to enacting a menu of tactical initiatives that have only minimal relevance to the real wellness issues experienced by their workforces... It is not surprising that many become passing fads that eventually wither and die.
–Bridget Juniper, Work and Well-Being Ltd
Different workers have different needs. For example, a welder has considerable physical demands due to the nature of their tasks, so they’d benefit from a wellness initiative that includes more frequent work breaks or complimentary massages. A more sedentary office worker could enjoy a standing desk or a gym membership, whereas a paramedic might find regular counseling sessions helpful.
Employee wellness programs and the perks that come along with them seem like a new trend, but it’s actually a concept that’s been around for quite some time. Wellness programs began to emerge in the 1970s when corporations introduced exercise regimens as a way of improving the physical health of their employees. Over time, employers realized that employee wellness is affected by much more than just physical fitness, and they began to tackle mental and emotional needs as well.
That brings us to today, where it’s common for workplaces to offer a wide range of wellness options like subsidized transit passes, guided meditation sessions, healthy snacks, more flexible work schedules, and HRAs (Health Reimbursement Arrangements).
Need more ideas around wellness programs? Our friends at SnackNation compiled a list of more than 100 wellness program ideas that tackle a range of different employee wellness needs.
Improved employee wellness improves the bottom line
Now, let’s take a look at the real benefits of employee wellness programs for a company’s bottom line. For starters, wellness programs lead to fewer sick days taken at work. Supporting your employees’ wellness is tied to better communication and improved managerial transparency.
When employees feel that their wellness needs are a priority, their job satisfaction improves—a key factor in reducing turnover. Most of all, these programs have been proven to improve overall morale, resulting in increased productivity.
Wellness programs, including financial wellness programs, help increase productivity by reducing absenteeism, presenteeism, and by retaining employees.
–Dr. Martha Menard, behavioral health scientist and researcher
This is a win for the bottom line, but it’s not the only aspect of the company that improves as a result of employee wellness programs and wellness challenges.
Integrating traditional values with a modern mindset
Regarding the implementation and goals of wellness programs, Andrea Lane, Well-Being Strategist at MVP Healthcare, says:
The traditional view of employee wellness programs is centered around return on investment. The idea was that the company would end up paying less, the bottom line would be improved and the population would be healthier. Today, we understand that there are many more factors that impact wellbeing beyond just physical needs. Mental health and social needs are just as important as physical health; they both impact each other. So the focus has shifted from return on investment to the value of investment. Employees want and need to feel that their employer cares about them, and when they do feel this way, there’s a huge improvement in retention.
Visualizing wellness as a hierarchy of needs
Employees are motivated by different factors depending on where they fall on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Maslow’s well-known hierarchy proposes that so-called “deficiency needs,” which include physiological needs, safety needs, a sense of love and belonging, and esteem, take precedence over all other needs.
Unmet deficiency needs lead to personal dissatisfaction and discomfort. Only when the four levels of deficiency needs are fulfilled will an individual feel motivated to seek out the higher level needs of esteem and self-actualization.
Because lower level needs must first be met before higher level needs become salient, wellness programs ought to be geared towards meeting those lower level needs first, so that employees will then become motivated to seek out higher levels of personal well-being.
Taking a look at the graphic below, you can see how a program that provides nutritious meals for employees appeals to the lower-level (physiological) needs, while a personal development class addresses esteem or self-actualization.
Sitting on top of the hierarchy are self-actualization needs—the crown jewel of human motivation. Being motivated by self-actualization means wanting to fulfill our highest potential. Self-actualization is the peak of the pyramid, the point to which we want our employees to climb.
Putting wellness theories into practice
A company can help employees meet safety needs in a variety of ways, including making the workplace psychologically safe as well as physically safe.
Psychological safety is an essential element that fosters optimal personal and interpersonal functioning among employees. For example, if a person does not feel psychologically safe in a relationship, they can feel defensive, which can also constrict or censor their self-expression. Conversely, when a person feels psychologically safe, they’re able to take risks, express ideas that are off the beaten path, and exercise their creativity.
Facilitating an environment that encourages open, non-hostile communication and feedback has a huge impact to an employee’s sense of psychological safety. Companies that place a high priority on psychology safety have employees that feel comfortable in their workplace, assured of the value of their role, and are more likely to stick around.
What would a program that addresses psychological safety look like in practice? Check out Bonusly! 👋
Bonusly's peer-to-peer recognition program encourages employees to treat one another mutual respect and appreciation. In turn, inter-employee relationships and overall morale are improved, which has been proven to benefit companies in numerous ways in the long run.
Remember that the purpose of recognition is to drive greater levels of 'discretionary effort.’ Such discretionary effort comes when we, as people, feel inspired to do more.
–Josh Bersin, Contributor at Forbes
Josh Bersin at Forbes defines “discretionary effort” as the extra motivation we feel when we are inspired to go the second mile in our work. Looking back at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we can see that increased discretionary effort falls in line with the concepts of belonging and esteem. A peer recognition program can help with each of these social and psychological needs, thus improving wellness at work and at home.
The impact of wellness on company culture and beyond
A 2013 study by Population Health Management found that companies with successful wellness programs not only encouraged employee participation, but also emphasized the concept of wellness as an integral part of their company’s culture. This finding implies that while the financial benefits of healthy employees are undoubtedly a plus, it’s important for companies to treat their employees’ wellness needs as a top priority.
“When people are healthier, they’re able to actually be present at work; their attention and productivity improves. This leads to a happier, more productive population with not just improved attendance but people who are refreshed and excited to work for their companies.”
–Andrea Lane, Well-Being Strategist at MVP Healthcare
Aside from the economic rewards of putting employee wellness at the top of a company’s priority list, these initiatives contribute to the quality of life for individuals and to the well-being of society at large. Wellness in the workplace has a ripple effect into employees’ personal lives: healthier employees are also healthier citizens, who can more actively participate in and contribute to their communities.
Employee wellness just feels good—for everyone involved. For more ways to engage employees and build strong company cultures, check out our latest guide:
How do you approach wellness in your life? Are there any wellness initiatives at your company that makes your workday better?
Originally published on May 10, 2019 → Last updated March 2, 2022
High turnover is a major concern for many organizations. In 2018, over 40 million people quit their jobs in the US compared to just 30 million in 2014.
But how do you know if your turnover really is an issue? And if it is, how do you focus your efforts to improve? Let’s take an analytical approach to retention.
Identify the symptoms
Turnover is a key HR metric and tends to be understood by leadership as a serious risk. If you are looking to leverage people analytics, employee retention is a great place to start.
Key areas of focus
A high turnover rate is likely to catch your eye, but what else should you be paying attention to?
The most important symptom to watch for is an unexplained change in internal historical trends or an unexpected difference relative to the rest of the organization. A number on its own tells us little out of context.
To better understand turnover, dig deeper into why people left and how much control the organization had to prevent it. Exit surveys and interviews are now a standard part of HR practice and remain an important source of insight.
Also look at which segments see different retention rates, such as department, role, manager, and/or location. And within the historical trends, look at times of the year or month at most risk. For example, companies often see a turnover spike in January.
Pre-turnover red flags
Turnover may soon become a problem when you see decreases in:
- Employee engagement, which can be measured in surveys
- Volunteerism in workplace projects or activities
- Completions of employee development plans
Surprisingly, a red flag can be fewer complaints. Less feedback on how things could go better might be the quiet before the storm, meaning employees have given up trying to improve the situation in the workplace and are now looking elsewhere.
Some organizations do "stay interviews" in addition to exit interviews, meaning asking the questions we only think of when employees leave, in order to prevent unhealthy turnover.
"Typically it's not until the exit interview that you're given perspective on what went wrong, and by then it's too late to change the person's mind." Mandy Gilbert, Founder and CEO, Creative Niche
Diagnose the disease
Data sources and relationships
Combining retention data with other relevant metrics may uncover reasons behind turnover issues and give clues as to how to address it.
Key sources of data include:
- Basic employment data (e.g. tenure, manager, training completed)
- People data (e.g. employee experience, engagement, recognition)
- Business data (e.g. sales performance, error rates, operational efficiency)
- External data (e.g. company review sites, government statistics, consulting firm studies)
Simple analysis and insights
The goal of collecting and analyzing this data is to diagnose root causes. Solutions will depend on the problems identified.
Before you consider investing in new technology, take a look at the software you already use. There may be analytics capabilities to leverage in your HRIS. Lightweight tools like Excel are often enough to track metrics and chart trends. They often include capabilities like conditional formatting or a correlation matrix of variables to highlight trends. Platforms like Bonusly can provide insights on engagement trends and connections within teams.
Of course, data analysis should be informed by human insights into what is going on inside and outside the organization. Quantitative data is also best used together with qualitative data.
Surveys and focus groups help you ask the right questions to understand issues and their underlying causes at a deeper level. Survey design and focus group facilitators are key to using these methods effectively, showing employees that you care about what they have to say and that you are invested in providing them a positive work environment.
More advanced analytics
In the same way analytics can identify elements that drive success in a role, retention risk analysis can analyze the profiles of employees who quit to identify current employees with similar profiles.
For more on the subject, The Data Driven Leader walks through the steps of applying people analytics to a detailed example of strategic recruitment and employee retention. An important reminder, whenever working with employee data, is to respect privacy and consider the ethics of analyzing information in a new way.
Some companies are experimenting with aggregate analysis of communications. One firm applied artificial intelligence to emails over five years and found that “employees who veered away from the culture in their messages were more likely to quit."
Organizational network analysis identifies the flow of information within your organization, including informal paths. In Bonusly, for example, the Organization Graph helps to visualize and understand connections between your people and teams. It can identify connectors, those who play an essential informal role in bringing people and information together.
There are exciting analytics tools designed specifically for HR, like Visier. This technology helps target and tailor retention efforts based on root causes and business impact. For example, Children’s Health found that certain hospitals had a higher than average first-year turnover rate that they were able to reduce with a small increase in hourly wages.
That said, algorithms are not necessary to enhance your retention strategy or make your people practices more data-driven. Just asking strategic questions with the data you have is a great start.
Assess the prognosis
With an understanding of your current retention state, the next step is to decide if you should continue on your current path or make a change.
Is turnover a problem?
Traditionally, organizations separate turnover into categories based on the reasons people left.
Most companies distinguish between voluntary and involuntary separations, and often will separate out retirements because employers tend to have less control over whether employees retire than whether they leave for another employer. Spikes in voluntary turnover tend to signal a problem.
Newer quality-of-attrition metrics to consider are “unhealthy” or “regrettable turnover.” Turnover is regrettable or unhealthy when it means losing people important to your business. In addition to identifying why people left, this is about who left.
It may be healthy turnover if there is no longer a skills match or it is just the nature of seasonal or project work.
Healthy turnover may also be the case where an employee without room to grow in the organization leaves before they become frustrated. In some situations, low turnover is a red flag that low performers or toxic employees stay with the company for reasons like job security or salary.
“When you lose your top talent, people who you’ve sincerely invested in, in the hope that they have long-term future with you, that’s a concern.” Alison Sibree, VP of HR, APAC and Japan, Oracle
Regrettable turnover is defined by how big an issue it is when that person leaves. If the employee had been identified as high potential, the loss is likely more regrettable. If the employee was offered a separation package, it may have still been costly to replace them, but the departure is less regrettable and likely better for the organization in the long term.
Other ways to identify if a resignation was regrettable is if the departing employee had a high number of reports, critical skills, or intellectual capital. Past performance evaluations and metrics can be considered as well. The bigger the impact of them leaving, the bigger the need to address and prevent losing them.
The amount you invest in retention depends largely on turnover costs and internal trends. However, looking outside the organization puts your retention in context.
Examples of benchmark sources include:
- The US Department of Labor’s quit rates by industry and region
- Mercer's survey, that found an average voluntary turnover rate of 16% in the US in 2018
- LinkedIn’s study based on half-a-billion members providing an end date for their position at a company
Consider region, economy, employment rate, labor market, industry, and types of roles that generally have higher turnover. For example, hospitality is known for high turnover rates.
Value of retention
The other question is whether turnover is costing you more than it should.
Most of a company's investment in its people is in recruitment and rewards, but ROI depends on retaining the people you recruit and giving them the training and tools to contribute more value to the company than the company spends on compensation overall.
Try out Bonusly’s cost of turnover calculator to estimate how much turnover is costing your own organization.
Want to learn more about employee retention strategies? Click here to download 11 Strategies for Building an Outstanding Employee Retention Program and send it to your coworkers!
Prescribe the treatment
Once you have identified the problem, the most important step is implementing a treatment plan.
Problem solving approach
To see impact quickly and maintain agility long-term, it is important to continuously ask questions and adapt based on the answers.
Design thinking is a framework to consider when approaching a problem to solve. It starts with the end user’s needs in mind and uses evidence and experimentation to determine the most effective and feasible solution.
If you are concerned you do not yet have the data or analytics capabilities, don’t worry. You can begin by addressing the common reasons that people leave, and then adjust your focus based on new and unique information on your people.
Take, for example, a top reason that people cite for leaving: opportunity for growth. Generally, it is worthwhile to invest in this area. However, it is possible you could find–based on surveys, focus groups, and data like internal job applications–your employee population may be happy with opportunities for advancement, yet they are leaving because of culture.
If the data or direct conversations indicate specific groups are at high risk of leaving, engage them in the problem solving. This could be in the form of a targeted focus group about why people stay, why people leave, and how to retain the best talent for collective success.
Strategies to increase retention depend on the root causes.
For example, new hires tends to be a group with lower retention rates. As a result, you can review your current onboarding practices against what evidence tells us about effective practices. One key ingredient in retaining those new hires is to recognize their actions, helping them feel included and engaged. For strategies and examples related to onboarding, check out this webinar recording.
You may have already identified specific individuals as presenting more risk of leaving. Sometimes the intervention is therefore individual, meeting one-on-one to discuss what would keep them engaged and committed to staying with your organization.
Appreciation and recognition are important factors in retaining top talent. Organizations that score highest for building a "recognition-rich culture" have 31% lower turnover rates than their peers. Following recognition best practices also helps to boost morale and productivity.
As with anything important to the business, retention must be monitored on an ongoing basis.
Track key drivers of turnover and maintain ongoing dialogue with employees and leaders. There will always be new information, so establish a simple process to stay on top of your retention and adapt accordingly.
Ensure leaders are having regular one-on-one discussions with their team members for continuous dialogue about their performance, development, and support.
To sum it up: listen to your talent to keep your talent. For more tips about fostering a fantastic company culture, check out this guide:
Originally published on April 10, 2019 → Last updated July 16, 2020