Will Current Employee Engagement Trends Continue Into Next Year?

employee engagement, organizationsThere is a scene from the movie, “Office Space” where a co-worker asks Peter if he has a case of the Mondays. If you have ever seen the movie, you know that Peter is far from engaged in his work. In real life, it isn’t exactly news that productivity depends on employee engagement either.

Some companies get it right

There are probably a large number of companies who have engaged employees but we tend to see more examples such as shown in the comic, Dilbert Two examples that have been highlighted in the news are Diamond Pet Foods in the US and Dah Sing Banking Group Limited in Hong Kong.

The Diamond Pet Group, featured in this Inc article,  enable higher levels of employee engagement because they believe in ROB (return on benefits). Their health insurance is paid for, emergency leave is granted without questions as well as receiving bonuses and profit sharing. Their pay is not substantially better but the benefits are. According to the example set by Diamond Pet Group, employees who aren’t worrying about their insurance costs or other financial concerns are more likely to stay longer with the company, offer ideas about how the company could operate better and maintain higher productivity levels.

In the case of Dah Sing Banking Group Limited, they were recognized by The Best Practice Management Group and received  “The Best Practice Award 2013 in Employee Engagement.” They believe that providing an environment where the employees are stakeholders and participants in strategy formation, implementation, accepting responsibility for their behavior and emphasizing alignment, transparency and communication.

Current global employee engagement trends

An interesting study by Aon Hewitt which looked at employee engagement around the world from 2008 to 2010. They surveyed 6.7 million employees in 2, 900 organizations. Overall there is a mixed picture geographically. Employee engagement is down in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific and yet no change in Latin America. Globally, employee engagement is beginning to improve and as was noted in the report,

While organizations acknowledge the power of engagement, many struggle to make progress in this area. Our research shows that employee loyalty and engagement is waning, especially in Europe. At a time when organizations are looking to employees to help them reduce costs, identify areas for growth, streamline processes, and innovate faster than their competitors, employees in many organizations are showing fatigue in response to the lengthy period of stress, uncertainty, and confusion of the economic downturn.
As long as employers do not offer (or offer on a limited basis) professional development or career opportunities, there is little to motivate employees from re-engaging or engaging more deeply.

Some of the current trends being noted in research by both Aon Hewitt, McKinsey and Company and BlessingWhite:

1. Career opportunities
2. Constant distraction and demanding workloads
3. Financial rewards matter
4. It helps if you are higher up in the organization
5. Companies with higher profits have better levels of engagement
6. Millenials are moving into leadership positions
7. Remote work is becoming norm
8. Intrapreneurship is encouraged to spur innovation
9. Women are gaining momentum

Employee engagement is an ongoing process of change and adaptation

The goals of attracting and retaining talent haven’t changed. However, employees are looking for more. As we’ve discussed on #KaizenBiz before, work and lifestyle choices are being integrated more frequently as the people are connected via smartphones and other devices. This changes how employees engage and what they want to make the engagement more enticing. Even employees with lower level positions are looking for their organizations to invest in them as well.

Do you have some thoughts on employee engagement? What are the trends telling us? Join us on Twitter and use the hastag #KaizenBiz to join the conversation on Friday, November 23, 2013 at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT.

How is employee engagement defined by different generations?

What 2013 employee engagement trends will continue into 2014?

What do these trends have in common?

In real terms, how do you link employee engagement with accomplishing an organization’s business goals?

How could redefining management as facilitation rather than order-giver affect levels of employee engagement?


So Twitter Has Gone Public, What’s Next?

Twitter, IPO, futureSocial media is a fascinating phenomenon. It can create careers, destroy careers, help you live newsworthy stories as they happen, spark new startups, make friends and open your eyes to alternative perspectives that you didn’t see before. Perhaps one of the most amazing sites is Twitter. This real-time platform is ever-changing as an amusement and tool among other things.

So, Twitter went public

Startups all have different reasons for going public. Some of it is more about ego than necessarily business. Some have to pay their investors. Some want to be acquired. Some want money for bigger plans. It seems that Twitter is is the latter category.

It’s a business. It has to make money.

Clearly, Twitter has to find ways to make money. So far, it has between sponsored tweets, data licensing and promoting certain accounts. If you’ve noticed certain brands, new releases of movies or names showing up in your stream when you don’t follow them, you’ve seen how Twitter gets its revenues.

It has changed the world

Twitter has changed the world in a number of ways. People witnessed (and continue to witness) historical events. Remember how people’s experience of the Arab Spring was tweeted in real-time? Aside from the news stories, there are countless stories of how people have connected with one another for any number of reasons. Connecting people was something Jack Dorsey wanted to do An interesting post in Fast Company notes how storytelling has been changed despite the brief moment that each message lasts in front of someone’s eyes. For myself, I’ve seen business and personal opportunities crop up simply because I had a conversation with someone. This very post exists because a group of people on Twitter want to go a bit further than the soundbite and look at business ideas while still communicating in 140 characters.


This is the challenge Twitter faces now. There is an unknown future and lots of possibilities. Perhaps part of the future lies in the custom timelines. There are an assortment  of predictions in this Mashable post ranging from advertisement to selling hashtags. In a New York magazine post by Kevin Roose, the suggestion is that Twitter get into massification. Simply, make Twitter more attractive and usable to more people. According to the San Jose Mercury News, Twitter will be looking for more acquisitions. And then there are the Twitter cards, app installations or greater use of paid related content or links.

It’s early days

At the moment, it is uncertain what could be next for Twitter and its users. It may be that Twitter loses some of its character as it tries to be more attractive to more people. There are risks involved with devising new revenue streams. The users may be stakeholders in Twitter but their importance may dim in view of making shareholders happy.

What do you think? Share your thoughts with us on the Twitter chat, #Kaizenbiz on Friday, November 15, 2013 at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT as we look at what is next for Twitter now that it has gone public.

Why did Twitter go public?

To what degree could innovation decline at Twitter since going public?

What other ways could Twitter grow revenue?

How can Twitter maintain a positive relationship with its users when it has to make money for its shareholders?

What is your forecast for Twitter’s future?



Risk Management and Game Theory

risk, risk management, game theoryIn many of our KaizenBiz conversations, there is a reference to how turbulent the business environment is with the rapid changes in technology and access to one another. It is a time when small organizations can be major players in their industry (as noted in Killing Giants by Stephen Denny).  Thus, risk management is on everyone’s mind as they make business decisions for their company.

Definition of risk management

Clearly all businesses face varying types and levels of risk. Risk management is the process to identify, evaluate and plan for factors that could pose harm or obstacles to the organization.

Where game theory fits in

Many people are familiar with the “prisoner’s dilemma” which is one aspect of game theory. But game theory is more involved that just that one aspect. However, at its most basic level, it is the idea that people and organizations take into consideration benefits and risks to make decisions on what they perceive to be in their best interest. It is important to remember that there is an assumption of rational thought behind process and the decisions within situations of competition, conflict, cooperation and interdependence.

Game theory can be useful within business planning and risk management is how it illuminates connections between disparate information and provide discoveries about how trends could turn out in the future, how competitors might behave and propose multiple scenarios.

But real life is messier than academic scenarios

The Wall Street Journal reported on November 6, 2013 that in a national survey conducted by TD Bank “that middle-market and corporate CFOs are more confident about both their organizations’ ability to manage financial risk and the financial prospects for their companies, indicating the potential for increased business investment in the months ahead.” This apparent increased tolerance for risk may be another indicator of economic growth. Even so, some of the risks that are still prominent for decision makers are political uncertainties, cash flow and liquidity, emphasis on being innovative, potential interruptors from natural or human elements and sluggish economic growth.

The fly in the ointment for game theory

Since game theory presupposes that the people involved will make decisions from a rational basis, this makes things interesting. Now what is often overlooked is that rational in game theory is really about showing a transition from one  point to the next. For most decision-makers, they have a passing understanding of game theory and how it relates to the process of planning.

The challenge with risk management is trying to anticipate and set up a plan for those potential scenarios. The way game theory could be useless is in what Rob Duboff calls “atmospherics.” According to Duboff, there is a signficant gap between the decision trees and the way real-life decisions are made. This gap exists because our brains respond to sound, color, words or phrases and images which prime our later decisions. Even how or what is considered risky is subject to perception.

If risk management is susceptible to perception…

This may limit how useful game theory actually can be to identifying and managing risks. In a McKinsey and Company article, the writers noted that many managers are looking for a single or, at least, simplified answer to potential risks. The business environment is a highly dynamic place and expecting reasonable behavior and succinct solutions may be off base.

On the other hand, this same McKinsey and Company article proposes that game theory takes in various scenarios, factors and possibilities. This is actually multiple games. For those conducting the risk management, they might be looking a list of choices leading to choosing the “most robust.”

What do you think? Does game theory support better risk management or is it too academic to be useful? Join us this Friday, November 8, 2013 at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT to discuss risk managment and game theory.

How can underlying assumptions be made obvious during the decision-making process?

Are risks defined by some sort of objective understanding or are they influenced by geography and culture? Why/Why not?

What are the advantages of using game theory in risk management?

What are the disadvantages of using game theory in risk management?

What other decision making theories might be more useful to risk management?