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Q+A with employee engagement expert and best selling author

Q+A With Employee Engagement Expert and Best-Selling Author

The most successful companies in the world have the highest levels of employee engagement, yet engagement initiatives are frequently put on the back burner. Or, they’re put solely in the hands of HR when senior leaders from every department should be involved.

What are the most effective ways to engage employees? How are operations and employee engagement related? What’s the cost of a disengaged workforce? We have a special guest here to tell you. Since employee engagement is such a hot topic, we’re honored to share insider knowledge from expert, Jill Christensen, who sat down with us to answer some questions.

With three decades of consulting, speaking, and global Fortune 500 executive-level experience under her belt, Jill has dedicated her career to engaging employees to improve productivity, retention, customer satisfaction, and revenue growth with clients like AT&T, Nokia, Crocs, and Novartis. She is Founder/President of Jill Christensen International, a best-selling author and international keynote speaker, and was recently named a Top 100 Global Employee Engagement Influencer for 2017. She also led Global Internal Communications at Avaya and Western Union.

Needless to say, she has some great insights about challenges and solutions in the employee engagement department. Now let’s hear from Jill herself!

1. Why did you decide to dedicate your career to employee engagement?

As a consultant, I got the opportunity to work in many different industries. In virtually every company where I worked, employees were unhappy and the company operated in a dysfunctional manner. I thought to myself that someone needs to fix this, so I dedicated my career to teaching leaders how to change their cultures and re-engage employees.

2. Tell us about your book and what inspired you to write it.

I want to fix every broken business culture in the world, so I thought the best way to reach everyone is to write a book about how to re-engage employees and make it available on Amazon! My book, “If Not You, Who? How to Crack the Code of Employee Disengagement,” focuses on a proven four-step process to re-engage employees, which people can execute on immediately.

3. You were a judge and keynote speaker at the Employee Engagement Awards. What criteria do you look for in the winner?

The most important criteria is innovation. As a judge, I look for companies that have developed creative solutions to re-engage employees. In addition, I’m looking for sustainability. Employee engagement is not a program or an initiative. It’s a journey that lasts for decades, so I’m looking for companies that create and execute on a long-term strategic plan.

4. How are employee engagement and customer engagement related?

There is a direct correlation between employee engagement/satisfaction and customer engagement/satisfaction. When your employees are engaged, they go above and beyond the call of duty and give you a lot of digressionary effort, which flows through to the customer experience.

5. How are employee engagement and operations related?

Operations management involves ensuring that business operations are efficient in terms of using as few resources as needed and effective in terms of meeting customer requirements. When employees are engaging, they are more productive, efficient, and aware of customer needs. They are on the ball, on top of things, and make fewer mistakes, so clearly, a business will operate more effectively when your employees are running on all cylinders and giving it their all.

6. What are the biggest consequences of a disengaged workforce?

Decreased productivity, creativity, customer satisfaction, and retention; increased absenteeism, theft, mistakes, safety, and quality issues. And the granddaddy of them all? Stagnant or decreased revenue growth, because we know there is a direct correlation between engagement and bottom line results. The most profitable companies in the world, and the companies that are growing the fastest, have the highest levels of engagement.

7. What extra challenges do companies face when trying to engage their non-desk workforce?

When you have a large non-desk workforce, you must ensure that your communications are mobile optimized. I don’t believe companies face additional challenges in this space. Why? Because desk or non-desk, all employees are people and all people are human beings. And at their core, human beings are wired the same way. For the most part, what motivates and inspires you, motivates and inspires me. What deflates and discourages you, deflates and discourages me. Very few people are motivated by money. In order to engage employees, you need to fulfill their basic human needs.

8. What are three tips for companies looking to drive engagement?

I have four, as presented in the strategy in my book. 1. Hire people whose individual values align with the company’s values. 2. Ensure that every employee has individual goals that align with the CEO’s goals. 3. Create a two-way communication culture. 4. Recognize people. When you do these things, it drives trust in senior leaders and causes employees to feel an emotional connection to the company, which is the definition of engagement.

9. What is the best employee engagement initiative you’ve seen a company roll out?

The best initiative is one that is strategic and long-term and championed by senior leaders vs. tactical and short-term and championed by HR. As I’ve said, employee engagement is not a program or an initiative. It’s a strategic journey that lasts for decades.

10. What do you think sets Beekeeper apart from other employee engagement tools?

Beekeeper’s differentiator is that it is geared toward geographically distanced employees. The tool enables field and remote employees to seamlessly connect and communicate with the entire organization in a simple, intuitive, and unified manner. It allows peer-to-peer messaging for team collaboration, as well as top-down communication for organizational alignment.

Looking to use employee engagement to increase motivation levels and your bottom line? Fill out the form below to get a free personal demo of our employee engagement app, Beekeeper.

Top 10 International Retail Events to Grow Your Business

Retail events are crucial for brand exposure, staying ahead of industry trends, meeting the right people, and shopping around for the latest technologies that bring value to your stores. With so many retail events out there, it’s hard to pinpoint which ones give you the biggest bang for your buck. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 international retail conferences and expos that specialize in a variety of areas.

You’re bound to find at least a few events that are right for your retail organization. Mark your calendars folks, here are some hot retail events you don’t want to miss!

1. NRF Retail’s Big Show

As NRF’s flagship event, Retail’s Big Show is a three-day expo and conference taking place January 14-16, 2018 at Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. It’s regarded as the largest retail event of the year because it draws the largest gathering of industry executives, thought leaders, and vendors to discuss industry trends and how to keep up with the digital transformation.

This event has everything from marketing, merchandising, mobile retailing, growth hacks, and so much more. You’ll get the opportunity to rub elbows with the biggest retail players and get the first glimpse of the upcoming technology solutions catered to retailers. Like the name suggests, this is where BIG things happen!

2. ICSC RECon

The ICSC Retail Real Estate Convention (RECon) is a three-day event (2018 date TBD) specifically geared toward retail real estate professionals from around the world. With over 37,000 attendees and 1,200 exhibitors, it’s the largest industry convention that provides a wealth of networking opportunities.

If you’re looking to expand your business or find new store locations, this is a great place to connect with professionals who have a breadth of experience in this area. This is also the place where deals get made, so come prepared with your pitch! Make sure to download the app prior to the show to get the most out of the weekend. Like the others, this event is packed with educational sessions and workshops so be sure to plan your time accordingly.

3. Retail Congress Asia Pacific

The Retail Congress Asia Pacific, a tradeshow and conference for retailers in the Asia Pacific region, will be held October 10-11 of this year at the Kerry Hotel in Hong Kong. It’s the premier information and networking event for retailers in this area. The Congress provides the opportunity to meet and build relationships with key decision makers from 25 countries. More than 350 delegates are set to attend the event this October and provide a fresh direction for the retail market.

This year’s theme, “Reshaping Retail in Asia Pacific: Survive and Prosper,” aims to prepare businesses for the unknown and better understand the modern customer. It will have a new format this year including the Ideas Factory that has 20-minute sessions designed to challenge and inspire, seven-minute presentations leading into heartier panel discussions, and Q&A/roundtable discussions. Bring your networking game to the next level by attending the gala dinner, cocktail reception, and retails awards. Be sure to download this year’s Congress App to connect with confirmed attendees and pre-book meetings.

4. HR Retail

HR Retail is an annual training conference for HR executives, specifically in the retail industry, that will be held April 10-12, 2018 (you’ve got plenty of time to prepare) at the Rancho Bernardo Inn in sunny San Diego, CA. It’s the perfect event for innovative HR professionals looking for new tools and strategies to address HR’s biggest challenges like how to attract top talent, development, employee engagement, and turnover and make a change to their people strategy.

The agenda is full of rich content from keynote speakers who are HR leaders from top brands like Levi Strauss, Macy’s, Lush, and Gap. They share their tips and tricks to help retailers implement successful HR initiatives. After this three-day event full of actionable sessions and unique networking opportunities, you’ll be prepared to tackle your day-to-day and strategy challenges head-on.

5. Retail Business Technology Expo

If you’re a European retailer looking for innovative tools, services, and other solutions that can help you grow your business, boost productivity, and enhance the customer experience, the Retail Business Technology Expo is the event for you. Held May 2-3, 2018 in Olympia, London, this expo offers numerous conferences and seminars where attendees can learn about transformational ideas, information, and products to run your retail organization more effectively.

The expo covers issues in numerous categories including ecommerce, finance, marketing, merchandising, supply chain, and the list goes on. It’s a must for anyone responsible for purchasing decisions, including IT, eCommerce, payments, marketing, loss prevention, finance, supply chain, profit protection, operations, HR, and security.

6. World Retail Congress

The World Retail Congress event, hosted April 17-19 in Madrid, Spain next year, brings together over 1,000 global industry leaders to address the evolving consumer demands and the future of retail. There are countless reasons to attend, including those we named in previous events, but this one has some unique offerings.

Here you can network with retail leaders and decision makers from more than 65 countries and be a part of an exclusive CEO program. This is an invitation-only program throughout the three-day event designed to connect CEOs, discuss each day’s biggest learnings, participate in leadership mentoring, and gain exclusive access to keynote speakers and intel for off-site networking events. Past speakers include the CEO of Neiman Marcus, Head of Future Retail for BMW, Global Managing Director of Alibaba, and Global VP of Coca-Cola.

7. NG Retail Summit

NG Retail is a three-day summit held October 18-20 of this year at the Fairmont Mayakoba in the tropical Riviera Maya, Mexico. With three summit themes, 15 workshops and 150+ retail executives, this event provides a more intimate setting and comprehensive/collaborative approach to learning.

Programs are tailored to helping attendees implement their key projects more effectively by gaining an in-depth understanding of project needs, desired business outcomes, and challenges they face when trying to hit their goals. If you have forward-thinking projects in mind to take your business to the next level, this is the place to get the implementation strategies you need from those who have already mastered it.

8. Shop.org Digital Retail Summit

The shop.org Digital Retail Summit, happening September 25-27 this year at the LA Convention Center, is a key event for anyone who wants to learn more about ecommerce, online marketing, and mobile commerce. Its main focus is on techniques and technologies that will help you increase ROI and profitability in the digital retail space.

Attended by thousands of retail professionals annually, this event offers educational and networking opportunities for merchants of virtually any size or industry. The event boasts an impressive lineup of speakers including CEO of DSW, Director of Digital Merchandising for Kohl’s, and even Kobe Bryant. They’ll discuss their own successes and failures and how you can apply those learnings to your retail organization. If your business relies heavily upon digital, this is the event for you.

9. Independent Retailer Conference

The Independent Retailer Conference is the only conference that exclusively supports small, independent retailers. Open to any type of independent retailer, the event is more of a pop-up conference within a tradeshow that covers issues surrounding store operations, marketing, management, merchandising and more.

If you own or operate an independent retail store or chain, you’ll get very relevant and tailored insights directly applicable to your needs. You’ll be surrounded by like-minded people who have been in your same position and have great insights to share to help you thrive in the independent retail space. IRC provides the perfect environment for small retailers looking for custom, one-of-a-kind solutions and indie-style strategy ideas.

10. Business Startup

For those of you starting a retail company in the UK, the Business Startup event in Olympia, London November 16-17 is the place to be. Known as “the UK’s biggest exhibition for anyone starting or growing a business,” this event will give you the right know-how to launch and grow your startup.

With 250 seminars, 350 exhibitors, and 12 workshops, the hardest part will be deciding which sessions to attend. You can also participate in training sessions, speed networking, and other activities that will help expand your network and industry knowledge. Perhaps the most valuable part of the event is that you get to pitch your business at the Angel’s Den where venture capitalists are searching for the best new idea to invest in. Guaranteed you’ll walk out of here energized to expand your business, or even have a new investor!

Interested in more information about improving your retail organization? Check out some of our retail-centric blogs How to Reduce Retail Turnover with Better Internal Communication and 3 Ways to Improve Retail Employee Performance. Or fill out the form below to get a free personal demo with a Beekeeper expert who can walk you through how our digital workplace app can help streamline your operations.
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