Saturday, August 29, 2015

How to Assess Employee Morale

After reading guest author Ankita's item about keeping employees happy, it reminded me of the necessity for larger firms to periodically run staff climate surveys.

In my human resources roles, I was involved on several occasions running focus groups and writing questionnaires to gauge staff morale.

Focus groups are useful for providing an insight into the issues that are top of mind with employees and thus, what to write in the questionnaire.

I found that when I held focus groups, I'd hold different meetings for management and line staff. This allows both groups to provide open and honest feedback without the fear that the other group will resent it, or in the case of the line staff, not willing to raise difficult issues in front of senior staff.

Holding separate meetings also allowed me to gauge the relationship between senior and junior staff - how big or small the gap between "them" and "us" was.

The questionnaire needs to be well written and have maybe several parts, but not be too lengthy. It must also be anonymous.

The first part should ask several questions about the level of the respondent, the years they have been with the employer, and the type of work they do.

Next, some issues about the general management of the organisation, whether it is considered sound or unsound. How people manage, how much support, resources etc are provided and if they are sufficient.

Last, feedback about what needs improving and how it could be achieved are useful. Also, some questions about whether the respondent is happy in the job and what their future intentions are.

Staff should be told that they will be given a copy of the questionnaire summary and that should be done as soon as practicable while the experience is still in their minds.

Staff feedback with other data eg, turnover statistics, can help keep a business functioning well and achieving it's corporate objectives.


PS: Have you ever answered a staff climate questionnaire? What do you think of the process?

Image from

Thursday, August 27, 2015

5 Best Ways to Keep Employees Happy

By Ankita Kaushik

No company can function without employees as they form the crux of every company. This means that keeping employees happy should be the one and only goal of a company. 

However, with changing times this has also changed. Very few companies (like Google, Microsoft & Facebook) make an effort to keep their employees satisfied. But not all of them!

Some companies (rather management) never realize that their employees are unhappy with the way things are running in that organization. And many do not give attention to employees being unhappy with their job ‘till the time they are doing the work. This is the biggest mistake any company can make because unhappy employees means increased attrition, which also means losing out on talented and experienced employees. Hence, it is apparent that companies should put in more effort to keep their employees happy. So how can an organization keep their employees happy?

Respect Them

This is all an employee wants and needs, especially for all the great work they did in a day. There have been many instances where ex-employees of big organizations came out stating that the management never respects them or their work. Management or an organization as a whole should make efforts to acknowledge employees for their talents and hard work, and not necessarily trash them for a mistake they made.

Open Communication

Many times, you can read how some big companies came crashing down because they lacked transparency between employees and management. For employees it is important that managers and team leaders are open about important events/news going on in the company. Sometimes, a big deal is cracked and employees never get a whiff of it. So management needs to try and be more transparent and have more open conversations with employees. This is not only to get important messages across but also bridge a gap between the organization and employees. Also, this helps  employees feel they are respected.

Regular Feedback

A lot of employees complain about not getting regular feedback. Also, they complain about management being open about negative feedback but nothing on the positive feedback front. This is where organizations go wrong. If you want to whether a  manager is efficient, just see how he communicates with his employees in feedback sessions. Balancing the negative and positive is crucial - appreciate the employee if they did something splendid. Pointing out the mistakes all the time will only degrade and demotivate employees.

Clear-cut But Realistic Goals

If you do not provide a goal, a realistic goal, to employees there is no way they  will achieve what is expected of them. The goal of an employee should be specific, clearly planned with reasonable targets. No sales employee will come to work (even if he is brave enough to work) for you who will be able to give 50 leads in a week. So try and keep the expectation reasonable.

Future Growth

Every employee wants to grow with a company if given a chance. If a company is expanding in leaps and bounds no employee would want to leave but, if there are  no good future prospects in that company then they  might just leave. Any career expert will tell you that an employee who has proved to be there in an organization  looks forward to having career growth in the same organization.

You can find many other ways to keep employees happy but these five factors play an important role. Apart from this, having a good working environment and incentives also keeps employees happy.

Amazon offers amazing working environment for its employees (flexible work times) and an Indian company called Freecharge provides amazing incentives to its employees.

Author Bio:

Ankita is an editor cum writer with an education background of mass communication and journalism. She is passionate about dancing, fanatic about shoes and avid fashion follower. She always yearns to learn new things to widen her knowledge. All her interests help her contribute more to her work, where she manages content and branding for Foodpanda coupons.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Communication 101: Why You Should Use Plurals for Client, Customer and Student

When I worked at one of Australia's Big Four banks, I had the interesting task of training 90 odd staff members to write letters in response to customers' complaints.
Examples of letters provided to me by senior management were in a word, woeful. They reflected very badly on the bank's image and were unsuitable from a bank with such vast resources.
Notable during my interaction with the learners was the wide use of "the customer" when referring to the bank's customers.
"The" in English is called the definite article and always refers to one of something unless the noun to which it refers is plural as in "the boys' hats." Otherwise it's one boy, one winner, one school, one something.
The constant use of "the customer" sounded as if the bank had only one customer, not several million.
I'd picked up on this peculiarity when listening to people talk about the client, the student and the patient.
Referring to "the student" when you mean all students leads to problematical syntax and expression.
For example, if you begin a sentence talking about the student, you need to retain singular case throughout the rest of the sentence. It's not good form to write something like, "The student should always beware of traffic when they leave the school." Instead, "Students should always beware of traffic when they leave the school."
Another issue, not now as common as it was, is the "his/her" dilemma. It's common practice now to use "their" when gender isn't an issue. Previously, it was sub-standard to write something akin to, "The student should bring his/her computer to school." If you know which student to which you are referring, perhaps you should use his/her name. If you mean all students, say so; "Students should bring their computers to school."
Further, if you know what a customer's gender is, use gender relevant language rather than gender neutral language.
For example, if referring in an internal document to a female customer, don't say, "The customer was advised to... " Instead say, "She was advised to... " or use the person's name and title as in, "Ms Brown was advised to... "
There is nothing inherently wrong with stating "The customer was advised to... " in the above example, if you have written one or more instances of the latter expressions. It helps to reduce repetition.
Makes sense doesn't it?
It produces much more fluid and accurate writing if you use singular when you are dealing with singular topics and plural when dealing with plural topics.
My advice to the bank employees was to:
1. use a customer's name if addressing an individual customer whose name was known
2. use plural for everything that correctly refers to all customers
3. prefer gender-based language when gender is known
4. retain the same case throughout a sentence
The course I designed and delivered turned out to be very successful and led to the development of a large bank of standard letters that could be used as is or modified for specific purposes.
What do you think? Have you run into this communication challenge before?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Skimming Long Winded Sales Blurbs

If you are going to display long-winded sales blurbs, it's good to have alternatives.

Either give readers options up front eg, click here for video, to read about this, or hear audio.

I haven't heard any with an audio option, but it should be an option because people can be doing something else while listening but not if they are stuck watching a "video" presentation of written slides.

Some of the slide presentations I have watched don't let one go ahead, but they do have a pop-up that tries to convince you from leaving their page should you try to exit.

How do I deal with them?

If I'm stuck in a lengthy slide presentation, I exit and if a pop-up appears advising me I can read the content, I begin reading it. But I skim. I get a general overview of the topic and then go straight to the end of the document only stopping to read something if it is riveting enough to grab my attention.

When I get to the bottom I can see what is being sold, for how much, and decide if I'm interested. If I am, I may then return to read some of the blurb.

If there are no alternatives, I simply pull the plug and move on.

What do you do?


Monday, August 10, 2015

Fail: The Long-winded Sales Blurb

With a background in adult education, I'm good at reading. After all, I have read thousands of student assignments. I love reading. 

Working with assignments taught me to read by skimming first and then by reading successive sentences, paragraphs and pages.

I use the same technique when I proofread a client's work. First I do a quick skim to get a general idea about the content and the writing style. Next, I read the whole document(s) from top to bottom. As I progress, I mark-up errors.

This brings me to the topic of sales blurbs. Here's an example of what I mean.

Some internet marketing "gurus" say that long sales blurbs are best. I say they are a bloody nuisance. I hate long sales blurbs and videos.

Perhaps you've been victim to them. You find a nice little ad that promises to tell you the, "10 Ways to Skin a Cat" if only you would spend a few seconds and read this very important message.

So, you click on the link and one of two things happens:

  1. There is a presentation video or PowerPoint-type slide set with or without a talking head
  2. You are taken to a text blurb
In either case they go on and on, ad nauseum, all the while telling you they are going to explain the 10 ways to skin a cat.

After what seems forever and a lot of waffle about how great their idea is and how it's been tried and tested by dozens of people, the article gets to the crunch. If you would only subscribe to this course, download this ebook, or buy this product, all your dreams will come true; you will be the best cat skinner in Australia. Yeah, that's right.

You've been lied to. You haven't been told the best 10 ways to skin a cat, you've been invited to buy a product. You click the x at the top right of your screen and leave. Thoroughly disappointed and disenchanted.

When the video style presentation runs on and on, I usually get bored to death and simply leave the site.  I imagine many others do too.

There is a better way to do this which I will discuss in my next post.

Have you come across these long-winded sales blurbs? What do you think of them? Comment and let us know please.