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Bee School Leadership and Followership QA

Bee School Session 6: “Leadership and Followership” Q&A

Class is dismissed! Sadly, Bee School has ended with Dr. Herkenhoff’s lecture on “Leadership and Followership,” but we have a few more insights to share. This educational series has been a great success and we couldn’t have done it without your participation!

Leadership

In the final session titled “Leadership and Followership,” Dr. Herkenhoff explains the qualities of each, why they are essential, and how to improve in both areas. First, she dives into leadership—the act of guiding and directing others. She explains the differences between formal and informal leadership, and identifies the four types of leaders with examples, pros, and cons of each.

Leadership Styles

leadership styles

Expanding on her last lecture on “Emotional Intelligence,” she reveals her research findings that good leaders have the technical know-how and high IQ, but great leaders have those and a high EQ. That is the ultimate differentiator, along with knowing how to build communities.

Below are what she deems as the most important leadership skills:

  • Tolerance for ambiguity
  • Frazzle factor (stress)
  • Risk-taking
  • Feedback
  • Remember: People join companies, but leave managers. Be a great manager and you will retain your people.

    Followership

    On the flip side of leadership, followership is the process of being guided and directed. Many people consider the term “follower” as negative, but that it simply not the case. Effective followers have the power to improve organizations and influence their leaders. We are all followers at some point, so these skills are essential for each and every one of us.

    The professor outlines the four types of followers and pros and cons of each to prove her case.

    Type of Followers
    Types of Followers

    There were two great questions asked during the presentation and below are Dr. Herkenhoff’s responses. If you have any further questions or feedback about Bee School, or want us to send you the recording, email us at beeschool@beekeeper.io.

    Q&A with the Professor

    1. Do good leaders need to be good followers?

    Absolutely. Being a good follower doesn’t make you a sheep. There are many traits learned as a follower that make better leaders.

    Collaboration is the key to success. Leaders who have learned how to work with people and bring out the best in them will create a strong culture and have an easier time motivating teams to accomplish goals. Similar to collaboration, diplomacy means knowing how to get along with those who have differences while not ignoring those differences. Leaders can’t afford to be oblivious to the attitudes surrounding them.

    It is this awareness that is learned while being a follower that allows leaders to take into account their various audiences including colleagues, board members, customers, and coworkers. A good leader knows each of their stakeholder groups well enough to know what it will take to bring them along for the ride.

    Collaboration, diplomacy, and awareness are great, but critical thinking and knowing when to stand up to their leaders is an admirable trait learned as a follower. It is this motivation, intelligence, and competence that inspires followership.

    Standing up to your leaders at every point in your career when you think things are heading in the wrong direction takes courage. This requires critical thinking and awareness of the situation to get your point across with the conviction and energy needed to change what is wrong, as well as support a leader or manager who is doing things well.

    2. What is the best process for delivering and receiving feedback?

    Delivering feedback is one of the most difficult things for people to do, so when you receive feedback, the first thing you should say is “thank you.” The courage that it takes to give any feedback is significant. The fact someone took the time and effort to make you better deserves to be treated with appreciation.

    After receiving feedback and thanking the person, take a minute to reflect and do your best to remove your personal emotions from any response. If you need more time to digest the feedback, let the person know you would like to sleep on their comments before responding.

    Giving feedback can be accomplished in three simple statements:

    1. Deliver the data – not your opinions.
    2. Let the person know how this made you feel.
    3. State your wish for how you would like to see things changed for the future. If this is a manager giving performance feedback, this is the time to also deliver a fitting consequence if the situation is not resolved.

    Here is an example:

    1. Mary, last week in our team meeting I requested you submit your TPS report by this Monday. It is Wednesday and I still haven’t seen your report.
    2. I am frustrated that I wasn’t heard asking for the report or informed about a delay in the process of delivering it to me.
    3. My wish for the future is that you meet deadlines that are asked of you or you communicate in advance why you can’t meet the deadline. I would like this report submitted by noon tomorrow. If I do not receive your reports on time, I will not approve your future requests to leave a few minutes early.

    You can finish by thanking the person for accepting your feedback and be willing for it to work the other way around (minus the consequences part).

    Bee School may be over, but we have another webinar around the corner! Sign up for the next one with employee engagement expert, Jill Christensen, who will share her four-step strategy to immediately engage employees.



Bee School Session 5: “Emotional Intelligence” Q&A

Bee School Session 5: “Emotional Intelligence” Q&A

Everyone knows what an IQ is, but not many know what an EQ (emotional quotient) is and why it’s critical for successful leadership. This week’s Bee School lecture focused on “Emotional Intelligence” which determines your EQ. This concept is defined as the ability to recognize and regulate your emotions and those of others around you. Emotional intelligence (EI) includes the following:
emotional intelligence chart

Although the term is relatively new, the concept has been around for a long time. MBA professor and host of the Bee School educational series has conducted a significant amount of research on the topic. She found most managers have roughly the same amount of technical skills, and what sets good managers apart from exceptional ones is a high EQ.

Results consistently showed this was the main differentiator and, by having these skills, managers could be miles ahead of the average manager. By honing these skills, you can relate to people of different backgrounds and bring out the best out in yourself and colleagues by being aware of behaviors and how they impact others.

Dr. Herkenhoff shared some of her own examples of how she used emotional intelligence to solve complex challenges at global organizations. Her findings showed there is a positive relationship between emotional intelligence and job satisfaction. It’s directly responsible for increased retention, productivity, confidence, innovation, and lower stress levels. Alternatively, a low EQ can result in a lack of commitment, loyalty, organizational values, safety, and poor customer service.

During the seminar, there were two questions for the professor and you’ll see her responses below. If you have any further questions about the class content or Bee School in general, email us at beeschool@beekeeper.io.

Q&A with the Professor

1. What do I do when I discover emotional destructive behavior from an employee? How do I address this issue in a dialogue?

This is a tricky question to answer without any background or context, but I’ll do my best. If the issues being brought into the workplace are personal in nature or have escalated to the point of potential physical threats, I would advise consulting your HR department or someone else within the organization to discuss a plan of action that would result in the best outcome for all parties.

I would also advise against getting into a deeply personal conversation with the person. You are a manager, not a therapist. Your goal is to help your employee find the resources they need to be happy and whole so they can successfully perform their job.

If the destructive behavior impacts others within the organization, it must be addressed before it becomes a spiral of negative or toxic energy within the organization. Focus on the merits of the issues and seek a win-win solution first.

If it’s not as serious in nature, take a step back and try to recognize where your colleague is coming from and understand their pain. You can look at the factors in Hofstede’s model to help fine-tune your response and determine the way that particular person would like to communicate.

Address these during in-person meetings as they have the richest context. Before the first meeting, I would document the performance issues you’ve noticed that are related to the destructive behavior and review each within the context of job performance. List dates and times of specific job issues followed by your wish for how these issues would be handled in the future.

Once you have the meetings, make it clear you understand their side and also articulate how negative emotions affect company operations as a whole. Maybe they didn’t realize the impact they’re having and how much you genuinely care about their happiness at work. Ask the employee if there is anything he or she needs to accomplish your wishes.

Be careful that you are not asking what you as a manager can do to get them there. It is up to the individual to make the decision to change and it is up to you to provide the resources, if possible, to help accomplish your wishes as well as theirs. It is not up to you to fix or take on the emotional burden of an employee. It is your job to identify the problem within the context of the workplace and work on a collaborative solution where you are supporting the employee, but not fixing the issue for them.

Once the issue has been discussed and the employee has expressed what they need to adjust their behavior, make a plan to revisit the conversation weekly to check in on progress.

Your goal should be to avoid:

  • Lost productivity
  • Theft
  • Sabotage
  • Lack of commitment
  • Lack of loyalty
  • Low personal safety
  • Perception bias- pessimistic outlook
  • Poor customer service
  • Toxic work environment

2. Does EQ take precedence over normal intelligence?

Depending on the job duties, a healthy mix of both should be there. When it comes to normal intelligence, employees should be able to adequately perform all of their job functions and have the ability to extend their scope to adjacent functions with ease. If the person can accomplish their role, the level of EQ can make the difference between a C player and an A player.

A players are a must on every team. Their self-awareness, empathy, adaptability, and self-confidence can be motivating and contagious for your B players striving to be A players. To excel as a leader, both are important. From my research, I’ve found managers are generally the same technically, but it’s the emotional intelligence that sets them apart and makes them the best leader.

First time hearing about Bee School? It’s not too late to sign up for the last class! Reserve your spot below for this free educational series and we can email you the sessions you missed.
Can software disrupt the workplace safety world too

Can Software Disrupt the Workplace Safety World Too?

There were 4,836 workplace deaths in 2015, according to the latest data from OSHA. And approximately one in five of those fatal accidents took place on a construction site. Despite advancements to improve workplace safety on construction sites, safety hazards still exist. They probably always will.

The construction industry is one of the most reliable generators of blue collar jobs that can’t be outsourced. So how can we make construction sites safer for our workers?

New Software Has Disrupted Taxis, Hotels, and Even Dating – Is Workplace Safety Next?

Approximately 84% of construction workers who sustained head injuries weren’t wearing work safety gear at the time of their injury. And 50% of all fatal workplace falls occurred from altitudes of 25 feet or less due to poor fall protection. Personal protective equipment and fall protection is essential, but in the Information Age, more companies are looking at digital tools that can help prevent accidents before they happen.

Digital workplace software can help you manage the safety hazards in your workplace where your EHS department can’t quite reach. Digital workplace software allows for better internal communication and promotes a better culture of safety. Consider the following ways digital workplace software can reduce occupational injuries.

Improved Information Distribution

According to a study by the Center for Construction Research and Training, up to 27% of construction workers who sustained an occupational injury didn’t report their injury. Failing to report important safety information because your office is still relying on paperwork can increase hazards in your workplace.

Digital workplace software improves information distribution by providing automated alerts to workers, allowing follow-ups and updates, and ensuring routine communication, all on mobile. What’s more, it’s easier to send out alerts and notifications from a single software platform, thereby improving your manager’s leadership and the accountability of your workers.

Improved Data Analysis

Searching for correlations in data via paper records and spreadsheets is not only tiresome, but it’s not cost efficient for any company. However, the analytics dashboard of a mobile collaboration platform can help users find correlations between data far more efficiently. This saves time, company money, and helps you as a business find the areas in safety culture where you need to improve.

Improved safety culture

It’s easy for a workplace not to take safety seriously until a fatal workplace accident occurs. Therefore, it’s essential that, as a leader, you make safety culture a priority. When the leader of the company sees safety culture as important, the rest of the workforce will also.

A digital workplace app can help make safety culture as important to your workers as it is to you. For instance, your workers will know how to handle the safety issues in the workplace should you utilize safety observation reporting via your digital workplace software.

Accidents happen in the construction industry. However, many of these accidents can be avoided by implementing a mobile tool to promote communication, workplace data analysis, and safety culture.

By shifting to a digital workplace, you can monitor safety regulations, notify workers of safety concerns or issues, and help your workers stay accountable for their own safety, as well as others’. Through improved employee communication, you can reduce the number of both fatal and non-fatal workplace accidents.

To see a demo of Beekeeper’s digital workplace app used for employee communication and safety, fill out the form below to speak to one of our app experts.
bee school sessions 3&4 QA

Bee School Sessions 3&4: “Professional Culture” and “Organizational Culture” Q&A

We had to skip a Q&A post for Thanksgiving, but we are back on track! The last two Tuesdays we hosted the third and fourth sessions of our educational series, Bee School. Thank you to those of you who joined or plan on joining us for the final two classes.

The topics for the last two lectures were “Professional Culture” and “Organizational Culture” where Dr. Linda Herkenhoff discussed the differences between the two, how to measure them, and ways to ensure your organization is strong in both. She delved into how these cultural values increase commitment and provide a sense of identity for employees, allowing for a more productive workplace.

You had some great questions and we appreciate you taking the time to send them to us. Below are the questions from other managers and you can read Dr. Herkenhoff’s responses. If you have any further questions about the class content or Bee School in general, email us at beeschool@beekeeper.io.

Q&A with the Professor

1. What are the main differences between professional and organizational culture? Should the emphasis be placed more on one than the other?

Organizational culture is a pattern of basic assumptions that are considered valid and are taught to new members as the way to perceive, think, and feel in an organization. Organizational cultures are learned over short periods of time since people have to adapt to the new organization they’re entering quickly.

Alternatively, professional cultures are learned over long periods and are more inherent. In fact, most professional culture is learned even before employees start a new job. Since organizational culture is more difficult to learn, the focus for a manager should primarily be placed in this arena. That’s how you’ll get new hires to become familiar with the team and corporate culture so they feel comfortable and aligned. Those qualities poise them to be a more successful contributing member.

2. What are some immediate steps I can take to start enhancing our organizational culture?

Through role modeling, teaching, and coaching, leaders can reinforce the values that support organizational culture. Here are six guidelines to help establish corporate culture:

  1. Create a clear and simple mission statement.
  2. Create systems that ensure an effective flow of information.
  3. Create “matrix minds” among managers. In other words, broaden their minds to allow them to think globally.
  4. Develop career paths that allow employees to rotate between offices.
  5. Use cultural differences as a major asset.
  6. Implement management education and team development programs.

Since every company is different, you’ll need to tailor each one of these to fit your business needs. Start by assessing your current status in these areas and finding where there’s room for improvement.

3. How should culture be a part of the onboarding process?

Newcomers learn culture through organizational socialization. This is the process by which newcomers are transformed from outsiders to participating, effective members of the organization. There are three stages of socialization:

1) Anticipatory socialization
This first stage encompasses all of the learnings that take place on the first day on the job. On the first day, storytelling is a great way to set the right tone.

Here are a few ideas of different stories to weave into the content of your first day:

  • Tell new employees something about how their bosses are human and espoused one of your corporate values during a stressful time.
  • Everyone is worried about not making the grade on the first day.
  • Recounting a story about the company’s hiring and firing history will be better coming from you and put your newcomer’s concerns to rest about job security.
  • If applicable, you can tell stories about how the company deals with relocation or other major life changes that happen in an employee’s personal life.
  • Stories about how lower level employees rise to the top are always motivating.
  • Explaining how leadership dealt with a crisis situation will often speak volumes about that company’s culture. It starts at the top!
  • Stories about how status considerations work when rules are broken. For example, when one of the former CEO’s of IBM wasn’t wearing his badge, a dutiful security guard confronted him and required the correct credentials before allowing him to pass!

2) Encounter
The second stage of socialization is when newcomers learn the tasks associated with the job, clarity in their roles, and establish new relationships at work. In this stage, be sure to set firm expectations to avoid ambiguity for the newcomer and, possibly more importantly, existing employees.

3) Change and Acquisition
Here, newcomers that are successfully socialized begin to master their domain and should be exhibiting good performance, high job satisfaction, and intend to stay with the organization.

Don’t miss Tuesday’s lecture, “Emotional Intelligence,” where you’ll find out how to look beyond basic emotional intelligence and fine-tune your approach by taking all three types of culture into account.

First time hearing about Bee School? It’s not too late to sign up! Reserve your spot below for this free educational series and we can email you the sessions you missed.
Technology's Impact on Non-Desk Employee Productivity

Technology’s Impact on Non-Desk Employee Productivity

Non-desk employees, also referred to as frontline employees, significantly impact a company’s success. Especially since they are the people that interact with your customers most frequently.

At many companies, however, these employees are often recognized or prioritized less than their office counterparts. Even if not intentional, non-desk employees can feel out of the loop when not at least somewhat integrated with the rest of the company.

Luckily, there are ways to efficiently integrate non-desk employees with the rest of the workforce, and this is how things should be. Not only is this more respectful for everyone involved, but we’ve also found that integration improves employee productivity, due to improvements in communication, employee satisfaction, and overall efficiency.

Improvements in Communication

Communication should encompass more than “email threads” and one-on-one meetings. For one, neither of these forms of communication prove all that useful for non-desk employees. Often out and about or otherwise distanced from other workers, these employees can be more difficult to reach with traditional forms of workplace communication.

This “distance” between employees in the same company can be significantly reduced with peer-to-peer and group messaging with the proper internal communication platform.

Peer-to-Peer Communication

Peer-to-peer communication — which conveniently doesn’t require exchanging details or phone number swapping — gives all of your employees the ability to quickly and easily message anyone in the company. In addition to text-based messages, employees can also share links, documents, images, and videos.

Quicker response times and increased availability directly translate to improved efficiency (and fewer headaches).

Group Messaging

When it comes to group messaging, you have the option to create dedicated channels. This enables you to engage and share information with specific groups of employees in a way that is more specific and personal than other forms of communication.

Say goodbye to the days of annoying email chains which never fail to include either too many or too few relevant employees. Instead, messages and updates can be shared with only those who need them.

You can also engage with the company as a whole and include non-desk employees in the sharing of company updates, news, and events. This isn’t only good for keeping everyone on the same page — it’s also good for morale.

Improvements in Employee Satisfaction

Working at a company that doesn’t communicate with you very often, or that doesn’t communicate on a somewhat personal level, can cause feelings of exclusion. Nothing says “you aren’t a vital member of this team” like receiving zero communication from the rest of the organization.

Include all your employees with the utilization of company-wide notifications regarding policy changes, workplace incidents, and anything else that could benefit all employees.

Plus, giving your non-desk employees access to the same sources of information and avenues of communication as other employees can keep them feeling respected and included. Providing all employees with the same platform works towards creating the team atmosphere that leads to a company’s success.

It goes without saying that most employees also want to have a voice. Instant incident reporting and safety feedback give everyone the ability to voice concerns and ask questions effortlessly and at their own convenience.

Naturally, employees that feel like valuable members of a company will be more productive than employees that feel excluded or inferior.

Improvements in Efficiency

With improvements to communication and employee satisfaction, an improvement in efficiency will naturally result.

Employees will be able to contact anyone they need to instantly, which can, in turn, make all the difference between a satisfied and unsatisfied customer, or between a job done well and a poorly done job.

Improvements to communication and morale reach further than your employees. After all, your employees interact with other employees, as well as customers, in many instances. A satisfied, well-connected employee is better equipped to positively interact with customers and other employees than an unsatisfied, disconnected employee.

Non-desk employees can have a significant impression on others (and especially on customers), so it only makes sense to consider their productivity and well-being as being as important as that of other employees. Doing so gives your company an advantage, compared to competitors content on using outdated, fragmented technology.

To find out more about integrating your non-desk employees with the rest of the organization to improve employee productivity, fill out the form below for a free personal demo of Beekeeper’s mobile-first internal communication app.
BYOD - how to manage employee demands and cybersecurity

BYOD – How to Manage Employee Demands and Cybersecurity

Allowing your employees to BYOD – “bring your own device” – is a cybersecurity concern, but you don’t have to let it keep your company from a secure cyberenvironment. Once you understand the benefits of implementing BYOD, you’ll be less hesitant to let your employees use their hardware to run company software.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to smooth over the tension between your employees’ BYOD desires like unrestricted access and your company’s cybersecurity needs, which are typically at odds with free-roaming device usage.

The two biggest factors we’ll discuss are employee education and smart policymaking, both of which rely on your tier of the company to do what you do best: take the lead.

Teach Your Employees About Cybersecurity

If we’re talking BYOD, we’re typically talking about smartphones. Your employees take their smartphones with them everywhere they go, and they’re amenable to mixing business with pleasure so long as the business portion doesn’t interfere with the operations of the device’s other uses. Therein lies the problem.

Smartphones, while the primary target of most BYOD initiatives, are also the biggest vectors for data leakage or loss, representing almost 70% of cases according to a cybersecurity trends report. If you want to prevent your organization from leaking data through every personal device’s sieve, you’ll need to control certain aspects of your employee’s devices.

Imposing control on employee devices is bound to make your employees unhappy, so you’ll have to use a lighter touch than a software-based lockdown. We’ll explain how to develop and implement a formal BYOD policy a bit later in the article, but first, we want you to realize the importance of changing your employees’ perspectives if you’re going to have a successful BYOD policy while maintaining security.

Your employees are more likely to implement reasonable BYOD practices if they understand the consequences of cybersecurity on the rest of the organization. BYOD can carry a risk to your employees, which you should be forthcoming about during your educational discussions.

The trick to BYOD is educating your employees that BYOD is a way for their device to peek into the larger corporate system upon which the entire organization relies. The scope of the peek—be it a keyhole or a cinema-screen—is directly linked to their ability to get the things done efficiently, while maintaining the security of the company’s data and the integrity of their device.

Depending on your industry, your educational regimen may be more technical, or more oriented toward non-specialists. Try not to throw the tech talk at the people who aren’t going to be interested in hearing about the technical detail. Instead, offer a few examples of good BYOD practices, a few examples of bad BYOD practices, and then showcase your company’s BYOD policy.

When showing examples, it’s important to link user behaviors to larger consequences. People respond best to realistic examples, so avoid scare tactics. Not every data breach caused by a BYOD-centric mishap is going to bring down the entire company, but be sure that everyone knows it’s a remote possibility.

By creating a workforce of informally savvy cybersecurity employees, you’ll be adding value to your employees’ skill set and providing them with tools to be vigilant while using their devices.

Create A Smart BYOD Policy

Now that we know the solution to BYOD issues is an explicit BYOD policy and an informal, yet detailed educational program for your employees, what are the concrete steps your company can take to put the wheels in motion?

First, resolve to follow through on making an explicit BYOD policy and talking through it with your employees who need it most. Don’t be like the majority of companies who leave BYOD policies to the realm of the informal or the socially-enforced, yet unencoded. You should pair good BYOD practices by your employees with rewards, and poor practices with mild consequences.

The better you craft your company’s BYOD policy, the more likely your employees are to follow it, and the more likely your company is to retain a strong cybersecurity perimeter. Remember, a policy is only effective if people are motivated and capable of following.

Draconian BYOD policies, while perhaps appealing to larger organizations, will result in more unhappy employees and higher turnover, hurting your bottom line. There’s no reason to let something that’s supposed to be a money-saver like BYOD become a point of loss.

Software as a Cybersecurity Solution

There are some ways that you can incorporate useful software into your BYOD policy for the betterment of your company. Software that can act as a soft barrier between your user’s device and your company’s important data, without getting in the way of the user’s job, is exactly what you should be looking for.

It may seem foolish to introduce an additional step in the already-complicated cybersecurity process, but using an app that’s designed to smooth the BYOD cybersecurity dilemma as part of your BYOD policy is a large step forward relative to trying to go at it alone.

By introducing a layer of protection, your employees can rest assured their device will stay safe and also stay useful in the course of their work. Even more importantly, you won’t have to worry about data breaches or malware infections slipping into your corporate network as a result of a permissive BYOD policy.

The trick is that an intermediary between your employees and your data lets your employees retain full control of their devices, while allowing your company to maintain full control of its internal perimeter. Your IT team will thank you, as will your BYOD users.

Download our “How to Minimize BYOA Risks When Rolling Out Your BYOD Policy” white paper for more information or request a demo with one of our app experts.
internal communication trends

Internal Communication Trends in 2018

This year, we had the privilege of attending CEB/Gartner’s Internal Communications Summit in London, where business leaders across many industries gathered from around the globe to share internal communication trends to pave the future of workplace correspondence. Over the course of two days, high-level delegates convened to take a dive deep into the various ways in which internal communications will technologically evolve starting in 2018.

ceb internal communications summit

Prevalent throughout the conference was the changing attitude towards the strategic importance of internal communication, with a strong focus on providing outcomes instead of output. This consensus mirrors comments made by research scientists Peter Weill and Stephanie L. Woerner in their 2015 MIT Sloan Management Review feature in which they observed, “Most of the productivity increase seen in organizations nowadays originates – directly or indirectly – from digitization and big data analytics. […] the future of internal communication should be determined by the needs of future employees.”

In recent years, it has become increasingly clear to executives that investing in a centralized digital workspace is a core pillar of fostering employee engagement. When the backbone of an organization is rooted in a rich sense of purpose and positive company spirit, a workforce will be far more likely to perform at their peak to execute upon any deliverables at hand.

2018 Trends With the Biggest Potential Long-Term Impact

Many trends were discussed that will help organizations run smoother and more productive operations.

Mass Digital Migration with Mobile Apps

It is reported that 80% of our time on our mobile devices is spent using an app. With this metric in mind, CEB Summit attendees hypothesize an increasingly widespread adoption of mobile workplace tools that give employees instant access to company news, operations tools, workflows, communication channels, media sharing, and beyond.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Programs

With the rise of mobile communication apps for the workplace comes the expectation that messages will be responded to in real time, or at the very least, in a timely manner. While it is up to your company to establish rules of engagement so that employees don’t burn out or rack up overtime while dealing with off-the-clock internal communications, it’s also important to make the digital workplace app as accessible to all employees as possible. For many, this means using whatever mobile phone is in their possession. It is of critical importance, then, to ensure that the digital workplace provider you find can function on a wide variety of devices.

The Importance of Engagement

Throughout the Summit, the critical importance of fostering high levels of workforce engagement came up again and again. Employee engagement leads to rich company culture, a vested commitment to the success of colleagues, and a sense of pride working for a brand that cares about its people. Summit attendees observed that just as managers value the ability to provide timely and productive performance feedback to their teams in real time, more junior employees value the ability to give bottom-up feedback to the company leaders.

The consensus among conference-goers was that feeling heard helps workers remain connected to their colleagues, and that digital workplace platforms allow workers to meaningfully connect with colleagues that they may not interact with otherwise. Hosting digital interconnectedness within in a robust, well-design multimedia forum is a surefire path to employee satisfaction.

Anticipated Budget Trends for 2018

Throughout the event, many budget trend forecasts for 2018 were brought to light. Despite all the noise around what we may or may not be able to expect to see next year, the four anticipated trends below are certainly ones to watch:

anticipated budget increases

Social Media

Strategic social spend is a great way to stay on top of digital marketing trends. Allocating resources to explore the current roster of popular social apps allows companies to constantly put their best creative foot forward. Thinking long and hard about your company’s public persona will help you further define your key verticals and customer cohorts, ensuring that all digital marketing efforts going forward are supported by hard and fast data.

Employee Communications

As mentioned above, the importance of carving out time and resources to perfect employee communications processes was a common and emphatic sentiment we heard throughout our time at the CEB Summit. Apart from budgeting in resources to procure and onboard the tool itself, it is important to assign a core internal stakeholder to all digital workplace management, troubleshooting, integrations, and useage trainings.

Corporate Website

As SEO and SEM technology continues to iterate quite rapidly, spending time and resources to refresh and perfect web copy, meta tags, and backlinks will likely prove to be a worthy arena of spend for most organizations who rely on e-commerce or digital word-of-mouth in any way. Building a strong visual and written corporate identity will encourage both employees and customers to feel proud of their association with your brand.

Corporate Intranet

Whereas digital experience platforms will become an increasingly important fixture for ensuring employee engagement, maintaining a traditional CMS or intranet hub will continue to be a tried and true method to host more static company assets.

As Maya Angelou noted, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This sentiment echoed throughout all the remarks made by our esteemed colleagues about the communities and cultures they aim to foster within their organizations. We walked away from the Summit feeling more optimistic than ever about the future of internal communications.

At every turn, attendees across the board made it clear that companies must start thinking about how they can expand company correspondence programs and technologies to encourage productivity, community, and mutual respect among their entire workforce population. Budgeting resources and time to onboard new digital tools and analytics will help ensure that employees feel a fundamental connection to the company mission, and to each other.

Since you’re interested in internal communication, download our white paper to learn how to craft a successful internal communication strategy.


how retailers can conquer black friday with a digital workplace app

How Retailers Can Conquer Black Friday with a Digital Workplace App

Retailers large and small prepare all year for the most important weekend in November—Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. Simply put, just a few days out of the whole year can make or break a business. While retailers want to utilize every competitive edge, the high stakes often mean many retailers are also unwilling to experiment with new ideas.

This reluctance makes sense on the surface. What if a retailer embraces a new technology, marketing strategy or other trend – only for it to backfire during the busiest shopping weekend of the year? Many retailers prefer to stick with the safety of tried-and-true methods.

Unfortunately, an unwillingness to adapt to “the new” can result in a significant drop in sales and traffic. Customers are eager to embrace new technologies and methods when shopping both online and off. Retailers who are able to respond to their customers changing shopping preferences will be able to stand out from the competition.

The Black Friday weekend is all about big crowds. Embracing new technology in the form of a digital workplace app can help you draw those crowds towards your space and away from the competition. Using a digital workplace app can open doors, both metaphorically and literally, for a wide range of new customers during the busiest shopping weekend of the year.

What is a Digital Workplace App?

Although the under-the-hood technology is incredibly sophisticated, the purpose of a digital workplace app is actually very simple. In a retail environment, a workplace app connects all employees in a natural, systematic way.

Corporate offices can connect with frontline employees. Colleagues can share information throughout the organization. Specific team-based communication channels can be created.

The information shared extends well beyond messaging. Predefined communication channels allow for product updates, inventory arrivals, and real-time insights from the sales floor. This allows for always-current management and analysis, even during the busiest shopping periods of the year.

Beyond day-to-day operations, digital workplace apps can help motivate and excite employers. A dynamic, engaging corporate culture doesn’t just increase retention of current employees, but also helps attract a top-tier workforce for the future. Digital workplace apps help facilitate sales competitions, team building exercises, and other methods of boosting employee morale.

Empowering Employees During Black Friday

Black Friday advertising and promotions will drive customers towards your store. But once inside, everything depends on the actions of your employees. Unfortunately, Black Friday crowds can be large and notoriously difficult. Employee morale needs to be carefully monitored and managed.

A digital workplace app can help boost morale even during periods of great workplace stress. Because the app can be accessed from anywhere using a mobile device, employees can be given more freedom both at work and during off hours. For instance, employees of a store can create a group chat to discuss schedule changes or even coordinate off-hours morale building get-togethers.

The ability to use an app to connect with a supervisor or manager quickly helps increase employee confidence and autonomy. This is especially useful in appliance and electronic retail where employee knowledge is likely wide, but relatively shallow since there is so much technical information to remember. An app allows employees to quickly seek out the answers to any technical questions asked by a potential customer without having to leave the sales floor.

How Mobile Apps Help Prepare Employees for Black Friday Promotions

On a corporate level, promotions for Black Friday weekend may need to be changed quickly and often. Retail competitors will be trying to out-maneuver one another right until the last minute with constantly changing prices, price matching bonuses, and other customer engagements.

Keeping employees up-to-date on the changes is easy with a digital workplace app. Changes can be instantly sent to all employees within a designated channel. Plus, training updates can also be quickly communicated. A digital workplace app lets employees read training manuals and other instructions at their earliest convenience, which tends to promote information retention.

Mobile communication helps promote employee autonomy. When an employee feels trusted and valued enough to operate without constant supervision, they’re far more likely to enjoy and remain engaged with their work.

Digital Workplace Apps are Quick and Easy to Implement

While a workplace app can greatly enhance the customer experience, customers don’t directly engage with the app. This means most, if not all, of your customer-facing practices can remain unchanged. Instead, the digital workplace app is intended for use by every employee within the retail environment from the sales floor to corporate.

The digital app revitalizes your entire employee structure, allowing for faster and more efficient communication. Plus, digital workplace apps help empower your employees, which boosts morale and promotes retention.

The Black Friday weekend is important, dynamic, and stressful for retailers. A digital workplace app can be an important tool in improving the experience for both customers and employees. Turn this Black Friday into the biggest retail success yet!

Ready to conquer Black Friday with your own digital workplace app? Fill out the form below to speak with one of our retail experts to find out how.
bee school Q&A

Bee School Session 2: “National Culture” Q&A

On Tuesday we hosted the second session of our new educational series, Bee School. Thank you to those of you who joined or plan on joining us in the upcoming weeks!

The topic of this week’s lecture was “National Culture” where Dr. Linda Herkenhoff discussed why understanding national culture is so important and how ignoring it can negatively impact your bottom line. As a manager, recognizing cultural differences can help you redesign motivation systems for a more satisfying and productive work environment. She also described the power of taking the qualitative concept of culture and building it out as a more quantitative variable. Something tangible that can be measured and used in the workplace.

Some of you had some questions for Dr. Herkenhoff and you can read her responses below. Your questions are not only helpful for us so we can get to know your needs and challenges better, they also enrich the learning process for everyone in the program. So keep them coming!

Hopefully these answers help you apply these theories to your own team.

Q&A with the Professor

1. How can you apply this knowledge to the differences in national cultures when communicating about benefits?

No matter where your company is located, paying your employees fair wages and benefit packages is always in style. I would recommend speaking with similar companies to yours to get a better understanding of salary ranges and benefits offered in your city or region as a benchmark to work form. Then you can consider cultural values to determine if your employees place a higher value on things like time off versus larger bonuses or higher pay.

 

In a global organization, creating a pay and benefit structure that motivates all nationalities can be difficult. Since I’ve been working with Beekeeper, let’s use them as an example. Their employee base includes people from 22 countries and one of their core values is Bee Open which allows employees to give and receive feedback in a constructive manner.  When there are major changes that happen within the company,  employees care enough to give honest and direct feedback on the initiatives rolled out. This feedback is discussed within the executive meeting and action is quickly taken.

There are so many types of benefits to consider that extend beyond the standard ones we think of. For example, some cultures have dietary restrictions so benefits can even be in the form of providing free snacks that are aligned with their values. Many cultures place a high value on continuing education so you can provide internal workshops where everyone is invited to share knowledge and aid in professional development. Assess the varying national cultures and find out what benefits are important and survey your team to craft and communicate the best benefits plan.

Stay tuned for next Tuesday’s lecture, “Professional Culture,” to learn the importance of a professional culture and what steps you can take to ensure yours is sustainable.

First time hearing about Bee School? It’s not too late to sign up! Reserve your spot below for this free educational series and we can email you the sessions you missed.
seaboard foods

Seaboard Foods Wins PRISM Award for Employee Communication App

Seaboard Foods was recently awarded two PRISM Awards from the Public Relations Society of America of Greater Kansas City for their employee communication app. They won the “Smartphone Apps” and “Infographic” categories showing the lifecycle of pork production.

Seaboard Foods is one of America’s top ten pork producers and processors and a Beekeeper customer. Their 5,000+ employees are spread over six states, including more than 500 pig farms, a pork processing plant, two biodiesel plants, feed mills, and a full logistics infrastructure consisting of 170 heavy-duty trucks and 400 light-duty vehicles.

At Beekeeper, we focus on connecting people through technology and the success of our customers mean everything. We are very proud of how our clients use Beekeeper to make everyone feel like an equal part of their organizations. So, we are always thrilled when they are recognized for their hard work and accomplishments for creating a better workplace!

About SBF Connect

With more than 5,000 employees dispersed in hundreds of locations, Seaboard Foods’ human resources and communications departments sought a way to communicate with employees and share information throughout the connected food system.

SBF Connect, powered by Beekeeper, received accolades for the way it assists in two-way communication between employees, managers, corporate communications, and executive leadership. It also received recognition for the way the mobile app helps employees feel connected to what they do, fostering a more productive and informed workforce.

“Employee engagement numbers made this a strong entry,” says one of the 2017 PRISM Awards judges. “Great write-up and analysis of the campaign, really enjoyed reading it.”

With SBF Connect, employees get notifications, can easily access information, and ask questions on their smartphone, anywhere at any time. Since the app’s implementation, employees have shared and learned about business and HR information, safety tips, weather updates, and use it for employee recognition.

“Content is great on SBF Connect. I love reading it and knowing what else is going on in the company,” said one employee in a recent communications survey requesting feedback to improve SBF Connect.

Huge congratulations to the entire Seaboard Foods staff for winning these awards! The organization’s commitment to building such a strong, transparent workplace and listening to employees’ and customers’ needs is truly inspirational.

To learn more about how Beekeeper transformed Seaboard Foods’ employee communication, download the case study.