Employee Interaction? Challenge Accepted.

Interaction among colleagues is the essence of workplace Happiness and Productivity.
Cabaana triggers interaction in fun and engaging ways.

By Victor Ruiz

Everyday interactions we have with others are contagious, in terms of happiness – Nicholas A. Christakis, American sociologist and physician
Everyday interactions we have with others are contagious, in terms of happiness – Nicholas A. Christakis, American sociologist and physician

Have you tried spending one day without talking to anyone? In one of my former jobs, you didn’t even have to try. It just happened on a regular basis. It’s not that the workers were extremely shy or hermit-like, but such were the characteristics of the tasks and they required certain isolation to concentrate on the work.

Strange things happen when you have little contact with the people around you. While working for that company, I didn’t feel that we were going anywhere. I mean, each employee performed his/her tasks individually, but there was nothing remotely similar to a team or any sense of belonging. We rarely had meetings or events in which we could put our knowledge together and try to solve problems.

It goes without saying that it wasn’t the best possible working environment. I had the feeling that the specific conditions of the work there had gradually flooded everything, consuming the spirit of the people working there, turning them into lonely souls who were trapped, like some kind of prisoners of their forced solitude.

In Cabaana, we believe that interaction between the members of the team is the foundation on which teams can bond and culture can grow. Through Cabaana’s well designed and easy-to-use communication features, interaction among colleagues is streamlined well for maximum efficiency.

Behind all these is Cabaana’s Engagement Engine – a powerful hub for triggering and monitoring engagement. One of the features of the Engagement Engine is to trigger interaction between peers on a regular basis using a set of configurable rules.

Happiness Challenges

Within Engagement Engine is “Happiness Challenges”, a feature designed to promote interaction between employees.

In all fairness, these Challenges are just the icebreakers of sorts when it comes to generating interaction.

Challenges help the employees get to know each other, find similarities and interests in common, which increases the level of confidence among them. Little by little, this confidence creates a positive background in which situations, anecdotes and jokes contribute to build a collective imagination, that strengthens happiness and the team spirit of the workforce, thus helping the growth and progress of the company to reach its goals.

This is how an invitation to a Challenge looks like on the platform
This is how an invitation to a Challenge looks like on the platform

Now some details.

You may ask, “How do you choose the challenged employee?”.
We select them from using these configurable criteria: ‘any member’, ‘any team leader’, ‘only non-team leaders’, ‘only hut (*1*) owners’, ‘member of a public hut’, and ‘member of a private hut’.

I can see you go, “Well that’s ok. But how do you select the targets?”.

We select them again using a set of criteria that in future releases will be made further configurable.
Criteria include, ‘no target’, ‘any other employee’, ‘any direct contact’, ‘any peers’, ‘one of its managers’, ‘someone followed’, ‘someone following them’, ‘someone on the same city’, ‘someone on one of your huts’, and ‘someone with the same interest/skill as you’. We will continue to develop this algorithm we have right now, so as to give more weightage to certain criteria such as employees/team members with whom there has been minimal interaction, etc.

Challenges can be configured and Rules can be set as below:

Weekday: What day of the week a specific challenge should be sent
Frequency: On what frequency a specific challenge should be sent to challenged
Max_number: Related to how many times the same challenge should be sent every day to the whole company/team
Priority: The priority of the challenge
Reward: Either for the challenged or for the target (Kudos)
Max_time: The maximum period of time a specific challenge stays relevant, so it is not sent after the expired time. For example, lunch challenges are configured to be relevant only before 13:00
Rewarded by: Who awards Kudos for a specific challenge? Usually the company/team (that is, Caba), but can be set to be awarded by the challenged or by the target as well

In addition, Cabaana can give more visibility to the challenges through these reports.

● Report challenges accepted (Newsfeed or Private)
● Report challenges completed (Newsfeed or Private)

Cabaana comes with the following out-of-the-box Challenges (Be ready, the list is huge!):

having a meal, sharing a coffee, sharing trivia involving movies, books, music, sport and work, having a walk, offering water, offering help, sharing jokes, portraits and handshakes, asking about superpowers, solving issues, wishing ‘niceday’, afterwork, sharing candies, Dilbert comic, selfies, decoration, articles, and compliments.

Now that you’re familiar with this feature, are you ready take up the Cabaana challenge?
Be brave and stay tuned for more…!

(*1*) ‘Huts’ are the centre of all collaboration. You can organize your team’s collaboration activities either through private or public huts, use threads to filter specific topics that are being worked on, or share files and other data within Huts. In short, Huts are used to get work done.

Keep Your Team on Track!

Checking on your team’s daily mood is important to look out for early warning signs when things are “going south”. Cabaana has a simple but an effective survey feature that allows you to collect feedback from the participants and the survey can even be customized.

By Victor Ruiz

It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog – Mark Twain, American writer
It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog – Mark Twain, American writer

It’s curious and sometimes sadistic, how minor and apparently insignificant things can affect our mood dramatically for the rest of the day.

It was as recent as last week. I woke up in good spirits as usual. The sun was shining, the weather was sweet, made me want to move my dancing feet (1), I was taking a shower… but the water wasn’t sweet at all. In fact, it was freezing cold.

First blow.

But I’m not so easy to bring down. After the shower, I recovered my previous good vibrations and got ready to have breakfast. I was about to drink my first sip of coffee with a smile on my face, but what I didn’t know was that the cup contained lava just bubbled from a volcano that burned my mouth and spilled on my shirt. Oh, come on, life cannot be so unfair.

Second, but DOUBLE blow.

I must recognize that I hardly smiled after the coffee incident. However, that morning still had something nice for me. I missed my bus. That was the third and final blow. R.I.P. to my mood for the rest of the day.

Well, this was just an example of a disastrous morning (that I hope it doesn’t happen again!), but sometimes you don’t need nothing special to happen to just feel sad or without the right energy to start your day and go to work. For example, Monday mornings. I guess we all agree on this infernal period of the week…

Effects on productivity

Apart from Monday mornings and the comeback after holidays/vacations (who doesn’t feel depressed?), since a team is composed of individuals, it is difficult to know about their individual mental or emotional states, or their mood flow through the week, like something cyclical. It depends on many things and most of them are personal.

According to Sophie von Stumm, senior lecturer in Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, “from a biological perspective, we know the brain structures and neurotransmitters that are involved in mood, but very little is known about the genetic origin of fluctuations in mood.”(2)

However, something we have no doubt about is that the mood of employees has a crucial effect on the working environment and consequently on the performance of the company. A positive mood is related to happiness and qualities like proactivity, creativity, resilience, productivity or energy. On the other side, a negative mental state drives to sadness, apathy, lack of willpower, low energy, indolence and laziness.

Both moods can cause a chain reaction in the workplace. In the first case, it means paradise. But if the negative case happens to spread, then companies may be in big trouble.

Mood surveys

To help you keep a check on your team’s daily mood and, thus, catch the early warning signs on when things are “going south”, Cabaana has a simple but an effective survey feature that allows you to collect feedback from the participants and the survey can even be customized.

Mood surveys are a daily/periodic check to know about the employee’s mood. Surveys provide three moods: ‘Sad’, ‘Meh’ and ‘Happy’ (see screenshot below), but they can be customized in such a way that the admin can establish the specific time in which the survey will be sent, or set up the different options (for example, instead of ‘Sad’, ‘Meh’ and ‘Happy’, he can create other ones that he considers to be more appropriate).

In the front end, you will find the survey as follows:

Screenshot 1: Don’t you think our mascot ‘Caba’ is adorable?
Screenshot 1: Don’t you think our mascot ‘Caba’ is adorable?

All the answers from employees are stored in what we call the ‘engagement engine’, where we also use certain engineering and artificial intelligence to offer information extrapolated from all this data.

In this first version of Cabaana, what we offer are the results through what we call a ‘Mood Board’. It is a dashboard with a series of graphs/charts. You can access the ‘Mood Board’ by clicking on the smiley button on the upper part of the page, next to the ‘Kudos Leaderboard’ button.

Screenshot 2
Screenshot 2

Inside the ‘Mood Board’, you will find the ‘Average Company Mood’, and then the ‘Daily Mood Levels’. These two graphs obtain their data directly from the mood survey, but each one of them shows different statistics.

The first one (‘Average Company Mood’) shows the daily evolution of the mood of employees in the last 30 days, that is, one month. In the near future, we will be able to show any period that the user demands. What is more, users will be able to download the data and use it as they want.

The arrow inside the box indicates the difference from the day before. In case of the image, it means that the mood has increased 0.25 points compared to yesterday. However, the average mood is within the parameters of ‘Meh’ (yellow color and face of indifference).

Screenshot 3
Screenshot 3

The ‘Daily Mood Levels’ are shown in the image below, where the empirical results of each day are expressed as percentages, that is, the percentage of users that each option has. Like the ‘Average Company Mood’ statistic, for the time being, these results only reflect the mood results from the last 30 days.

Screenshot 4
Screenshot 4

You already know that employees are the foundation of any company. Now you have a tool that helps you to know when things are going in the right direction or when some things need to be improved.

But this tool is just part of a series.
Cabaana has much more to offer… So do stay on track with us and we will keep you updated!

1) Adapted from ‘Sun is Shining’, a song by Bob Marley & The Wailers
2) ‘Unraveling The Surprising Relationship Between Mood And Productivity’

The Importance of Being Recognized

Ever felt the effect of a simple “Thank you” on your mood or the effect of a well meant suggestion?
Cabaana makes it easier to appreciate one another in a fun and an engaging way.

By Victor Ruiz

Brains, like hearts, go where they are appreciated - Robert McNamara, former President of Ford Motor Company
Brains, like hearts, go where they are appreciated – Robert McNamara, former President of Ford Motor Company

Some years ago, a friend of mine was working at the Publishing Department of his university. His work consisted of filling in different kind of forms regarding the check-in and check-out of academic books and proofreading of texts. He used to describe his job as “very boring, lonely, mechanical and thankless.” One could tell he wasn’t excited at all.

It must be very sad to tell somebody that your work is thankless. Leaving aside factors such as low salaries and excessive working hours, right now I cannot think of anything sadder than that. And the saddest aspect of all this is the reason why he felt that way.

Sometimes, a job can be thankless because the general public or your consumer may ignore it, as they don’t understand what it takes to get that job done. But at least those who know (coworkers and managers for example) about what it takes will understand how hard it is make the employee enjoy the respect of his profession.

Carrying the burden of a thankless job

The case of my friend was different. The main reason for him to suffer a thankless job was – yes, you guessed right– his boss.

My friend’s boss was neither a grumpy nor a bad person. In fact, he was proud of his employees. Outside the workplace, he used to tell his friends and other managers about the great work that his employees were doing.

The thing is that he just happened to never tell his employees about it. Inside his mind, may be he perceived that to openly tell an employee that he/she was doing well was a sign of weakness and hence he surely would begin to lose their respect.

Instead, he would walk by the office looking at his employees with disdain: not because he despised them, but because he thought that by showing this attitude, his workers would feel that they should work harder to please him. He confused appreciation with complacency.

Can a manager be more wrong?

In the beginning, my friend, as well as his peers, used to work hard for the Services. They thought that they had a demanding boss, but believed that it was good to prove that they could put a lot of effort and eventually be recognized for their work.

However, as months passed by and as nothing changed in the attitude of their boss, they began to lose their faith in what they were doing. One day, as usual, my friend was focused on his work and the boss was having one of those walks. He stopped by his desk and put his hand over his shoulder.
My friend thought this perhaps was the moment. Finally, it had come.

The manager bowed down and whispered in his ear: “Come on, you need to move on!!”

That was all he got from his boss after many months of committed work. For him, this was the final blow to his confidence.

A question Ff empathy

This boss was a clear example of how not to treat your employees. Though his intentions weren’t bad, his ineptitude gradually broke the moral of his employees and dispelled them from the aims and the spirit of the company. He had full responsibility for the disengagement of his workers.

In the end, employee recognition is a question of pure empathy. Besides, taking into account that your employees are the ones in charge of the success of your business, it is a matter of how important it is in your scale of values. The more you care about your employees, the more you care about your success.

Managers must raise awareness of the importance of recognizing the work of their employees. With little effort and no cost, they can achieve big wins if they keep workers motivated and engaged with just a few sincere words of encouragement.

After all, maybe the only thing that we seek is to be recognized for what we do. As simple as that.

This was just my friend’s case, but the lack of recognition is a complex issue that can affect all kinds of teams and team members, including managers themselves.

Kudos!

In order to help anyone in the team recognize and appreciate the work of their colleagues, Cabaana provides its own employee recognition system – Kudos.
Within Cabaana, recognition works in all directions:
– From managers to employees
– Among employees (peer to peer recognition)
– And even from employees to managers.

Kudos are based on a scoring system, which has been currently categorized as follows:

5 Kudos: Thank You!
10 Kudos: Good Job!
20 Kudos: Impressive!
50 Kudos: Exceptional!

As you can see below in screenshots 1 and 2, all these metrics are managed from the Kudos panel, where you can choose one or more employees to receive Kudos.

Recognition SS2

Recognition SS1

Each month, each user is awarded a finite number of Kudos to spend by the admin through the admin panel. At the end of each month, Kudos be reset to zero. If an employee has any unspent Kudos from the previous month, it won’t count just to avoid idle users to accumulate a large number of Kudos.

Ability profile for each employee

Within Cabaana you don’t simply award someone a certain number of Kudos. Instead, you have the ability to set a context for the Kudos you are awarding. The user gets to pick from eight attributes which are completely customizable by the administrator (both the adjectives and its value) to go with your Kudos. These attributes will define the KQ (Kudos Quotient) of the employee, which you can check on their profiles (see screenshot 3 below).

The employee profile shows the three most appreciated attributes of the employee. Thus, we try to build a more meaningful profile for each team member/employee inside the company to help assess the true potential of that employee through a 360 degree feedback of sorts, for future promotions or inter-department transfers.

Recognition SS3

The sharing of points is carried out following in the following basis:

For example, if an employee receives ‘10 Kudos – Good Job!’ and the attributes chosen are Proactive, Timely, and Helpful, then each of those attributes will get 10 points. These values will not be reset every month.

On the Kudos panel, users can also set up the following (see screenshot below):

Visibility – Decide whether you want your action to be viewed by the rest of the company or just by the employee that will receive it

Message – to explain your team member/manager the reason why you are appreciating his/her work

Image – you can also attach an image to cheer up your peer

Recognition SS4

Each time a user receives Kudos from a colleague, if he decides it to be visible for the rest of users, a post like the following will appear on the general Cabaana Newsfeed.

Recognition SS5

The Kudos system has a second way of indirect employee recognition and it is through an informal ranking among employees. If you click on the trophy icon that appears on the upper section next to the browser bar, you will find the ranking of employees based on the number of Kudos they have and that won’t be reset. This Leaderboard is a fun and a gamified way to promote peer to peer appreciation.

Recognition SS6

Last, but not least, there is another way to obtain Kudos – By simply completing the daily “Challenges”. For each accomplished challenge, the employee obtains ‘5 Kudos – Thank You!’. In the following screenshot, you can see a Newsfeed post informing that ‘Caba’ has awarded the user with 5 points.

Recognition SS7

As you have seen now, Cabaana makes it easy to recognize and appreciate the work of your employees in a fun and an engaging way.

If the well-being of your workers is so important for the success of your business and, I believe, it is, why not invest a bit on addressing it?

But our journey of exploring all the features of Cabaana has not yet ended… So stay tuned for more!

Make it Simpler, Make it Easier

Messaging has become the most preferred way of communicating in our personal lives – Cabaana helps you to take it to your professional lives as well.

By Victor Ruiz

Image Courtesy: IT Donut
Image Courtesy: IT Donut

In the last two decades, from the rudimentary chatroom based web chats of the mid-nineties to WhatsApp and Snapchat messages of 2016, instant messaging has gradually increased its importance in our lives. Nowadays it has became an essential part of our day-to-day routine. We use it constantly to communicate with friends and relatives.

Who doesn’t text every day, at any given point of time, for some reason or the other?

This messaging habit is usually more prominent in our personal lives, but in our professional lives, it can be a powerful solution to address the communication necessities of modern workplaces, since it allows employees to interact amongst themselves in real time.

According to the author Mary Ellen Guffey, in her book Essentials of Business Communication, IM is “a convenient alternative to the telephone and is replacing e-mail for short internal communication.” It is not by chance that “French IT giant Atos switched its in-house communication entirely from e-mail to a Facebook-style interface and instant messaging.”

Statistics also appear to support this idea: “more than 2.7 billion IM accounts worldwide attest to IM’s popularity. Sixty-four percent of business professionals use IM.”

Benefits of IM

In Guffey’s words, “the major attraction of instant messaging is real-time communication with colleagues anywhere in the world –so long as a cell phone signal or a Wi-Fi connection is available.” Moreover, “IM allows people to share information immediately and make decisions quickly,” which explains why “its impact on business communication has been dramatic.”

It knows no frontiers, since “group online chat capabilities in enterprise-grade IM applications allow coworkers on far-flung project teams to communicate instantly.” Guffey also expounds that instant messaging and texting are considered by many people as a “productivity booster because they enable users to get answers quickly and allow multitasking.”

Not surprisingly, this kind of communication is related to immediacy and it helps to increase efficiency. “The immediacy of instant and text messaging has created many fans. A user knows right away whether a message was delivered.” In addition, “messaging avoids phone tag and eliminates the downtime associated with personal telephone conversations. Another benefit includes presence functionality. Coworkers can locate each other online, thus avoiding wild goose chases hunting someone who is out of the office.”

Other benefits of IM that Guffey underlines are “low cost, speed, and unobtrusiveness.” As she writes, “both IM and texting can be low-cost substitutes for voice calls, delivering messages between private users quietly and discreetly.”

Be Happy, Cabaana is here!

All things considered, there is no doubt that any tool that enables this kind of communication is bound to help employees reduce the amount of time they spend on performing daily tasks and thus making their job easier and more pleasant.

But how can you get access to a tool that lets you do all of the above for your work?

Enter Cabaana.

In Cabaana, users can use Instant Messaging in two ways:

1) Individual Chats – This is ideal for ‘one to one’ communications
2) Group Chats – This is ideal for group chats and is done through ‘Rooms’, where communication is ‘many to many’.

Needless to add, ‘one to one’ communication is private (see screenshot below).

IM Screen on Cabaana Web
IM Screen on Cabaana Web
IM Screen on iPhone
IM Screen on iPhone

In the current version of Cabaana, users can only create public “rooms”. This means all team members can access any room that has been created. However, private rooms will be implemented in a future release of Cabaana. Once this feature becomes available, team members will be able to access only rooms to which they have been invited to.

The conversations in rooms can only be read by those who are invited to be in those specific rooms (currently all rooms are available to all team members). To that end, the only thing you have to do is to access your room of choice through the list of rooms that appear once you click on the button ‘ROOMS’ (see screenshot below), which is located on the left sidebar. Once you are in, you are privy to all communication that is taking place there.

Room Selection
Room Selection

All team members on Cabaana can currently create rooms by means of the modal window that opens up when you click on the icon ‘+’ that appears when you place the mouse pointer on ‘ROOMS’. Just type a name for the room you want to create, and click on ‘Create’ (see screenshots). It will immediately appear on your list of rooms (remember left sidebar?). Other team members can immediately access the same room.

Room Creation
Room Creation

In global terms, Cabaana defines instant messaging as a fast and an effective communication channel that acts as a substitute for the traditional e-mail. In future releases, we will enable sharing of documents/files through these messaging channels and even will integrate third party file sharing services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Google Calendar among others.

Don’t these features sound powerful enough to make your work related communication more efficient?

But, I hope you already know that Cabaana is much more. The main advantage of Cabaana and the unique added value that Cabaana offers is that Instant Messaging is just one of the many services available on this platform.

Are you eager to know more about what else is available?

Stay tuned…

Building a Stairway to Happiness

Cabaana provides a full-fledged ‘Who is Who’ feature to help you get to know your team

By Victor Ruiz

Stairway to Happiness

After years of committed hard work, one day the boss calls your name. The last time he did so was when you signed your employment agreement. He wants you to go to his office. Maybe this could be your time. As you leave your little shabby desk behind, you realize that something is going on out there. Your beloved peers are clapping and cheering, standing up as you walk through their desks on your way to face your destiny. The boss is waiting outside his office with the door opened and a smile from ear to ear, inviting you to enter. Once you are inside the room, he gives you a warm hug and shows you the papers you have been waiting for so long:

“Congratulations!!”

Finally, here it is – your desired promotion.

Suddenly, the alarm rings. Forget about your sweet promotion. It’s seven o’clock in the morning. On any ordinary day, you would add five more minutes of sleep, asking yourself if that early morning is worthwhile, but this time you jump out of bed. For the first time in a long time, you have an exciting day in front of you. After years and years of unbearable work in a soulless company, in which the employees have been unhappy and complete strangers to one another, and several months in desperate search of a better place to work and be, it seems that finally you have found the light at the end of the tunnel.

The boss was nice during the interview. He praised your experience and skills and told you that he would facilitate an easy adaptation and provide everything for you to reach your full potential. That man definitely trusts you. The conditions are great too – The company headquarters is not far from home, but enough to escape the pollution of the city. The building is new, with clear and bright spaces. From the glass window of your office, you can see the green hills and the cascades that surround the structure. And if this isn’t enough, you will earn three times more than in your former job. For less hours.

Welcome to the stairway to happiness. Could it be more perfect?

The importance of getting to know your colleagues

The moment you shake hands with the boss after signing your brand new employee agreement, you cannot be any happier.
Are you sure? Wait a moment. Who are all these people smiling at you?
I almost forgot. Teammates, Colleagues, Co-workers…

The final step of this stairway to happiness.

The earthly paradise that we have described could be shattered into pieces without a happy and a healthy working environment. In fact, the only thing that can turn that heaven into hell is a bad or non-existent relationship with your colleagues. Make no mistake about that. On the other hand, a strong bond with your teammates will allow you to get over difficult and stressful situations, as well as undesirable working conditions.

Try to imagine. What if all your days at work were like the first day? The feeling of loneliness, the “maybe I don’t belong here” thought and that insecurity that affects your daily tasks. Without a shadow of a doubt, whether you are new at the company or not, getting to know your colleagues and working on bonding as a team is arguably one of the most important things to do at work.

Who on your team has a birthday this month?
Who on your team is a creative thinker?
Who is more analytical?
Do they enjoy contributing using these skills?
Can you name one hobby or favorite activity of each of your team members?
Do you know what is most important to your team members in their job?

The above questions (1) are essential to the development and growth of your team and knowing the answers mean that you are in the right direction.

Toc toc. It’s Cabaana!

However, getting to know your teammates requires effort, and sometimes the working routine makes it difficult to invest the time it deserves to share a coffee with your colleagues.

Don’t worry! Cabaana has a full-fledged ‘Who is Who’ feature that helps you getting to know your team.

Firstly, we provide a Team Directory. The ‘Who is Who’ of your team, where you can find details of your team members/colleagues. In addition to a list view, the directory provides an individual profile view with many useful data, including some interesting common factors you and that team member share. You can easily access the Directory from wherever you are in the application.

Inside the ‘Who is Who’ service, you will find a list of users/employees who are registered on the platform. To discover the full profile of the different users, simply click on their names.

Once you do this, you will be able to get to some key information such as:
Full name; Job title; Department in which the employee is working; Address; Skills (those technical abilities of the employee, for example: JavaScript, marketing, sales, Android development…); Interests (hobbies or personal interests of the employee, like reading, running, hiking…); Contact information (here you will find contact data such as telephone numbers, email, and links to the employee’s social network profiles); KPIs indicating the number of following and followers, and the number of huts (2) in which the employee takes part, and Activity feed, which you’ll find at the bottom of the same profile, showing all the activity of the user on the platform.

Individual users can edit their own information through the Edition panel located in their profile page.

Alongside the directory, one of the most important features of the platform in terms of encouraging the interaction between employees are “Challenges”. Our ‘Happiness Challenges’ in Cabaana are a great way to trigger effective, yet light-hearted interactions within your team. We’ll talk more about these in one of the upcoming posts.

As you can see, Cabaana aims to encourage interaction between colleagues & team members, so that they get to know each other in an active way. We are sure this will help build and strengthen bonds in your team.
How better to Happifying your workplace?.

But this is just the beginning. Want to know more about Cabaana?
(To be continued…)

(1) ‘Why Leaders Should get to Know Team Members’
(2) What is a hut? Please, be patient and wait for the next posts in this series.

Employee Engagement: The Ultimate Strategy

Shredding the mother of all employee engagement surveys

By Victor Ruiz

Employee Engagement
Employee Engagement

When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute (Simon Sinek) (1)

What about both, Simon?

Anyway, a lot has been said and written about employee engagement. Indeed, it is one of the hottest topics in the current business world. Although there are some discussions focused on redefining the rules of employee engagement(2), a good start point could be the definition of the concept itself.

Among the many definitions that can be found after a quick search, there is one by the CEO of Employee Engagement Network, David Zinger, that particularly sums up the spirit of the concept: “Employee engagement is the art and science of engaging people in authentic and recognized connections to strategy, roles, performance, organization, community, relationship, customers, development, energy, wellbeing and happiness as we leverage, sustain, and transform our work connections into results(3).”

Beautiful.

However, when it comes to measuring the impact that employee engagement has on business, ink dries up and quotes are not so easy to find. Fortunately, recent years have witnessed an increase in the number of studies in this field.

According to a report on this topic from Demand Metric Research Corp(4):

“Yet in many organizations, employee engagement is not a recognized, serious initiative that is viewed as having a measurable return.” This leads to an underestimation of engagement among managers.

To avoid this, how can we translate this philosophy into the managerial universe of statistics, figures and data?

Converting words into numbers

Gallup has been tracking the engagement levels of the U.S. working population since 2000. In 2013, they published the State of the American Workplace(5):

Employee Engagement Insights for U.S. Business Leaders, a comprehensive report which condensed the findings of the study they carried out between the years 2010 and 2012.

The study consisted of 12 key questions asked to nearly 1.4 million employees from almost 50.000 business/work units, statistically calculating the relationship between employee engagement and performance outcomes. They divided workers into three categories: ‘engaged,’ ‘not engaged’ and ‘actively disengaged.’ Engaged employees “work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company”. In the middle of the spectrum, ‘not engaged’ workers are just present, “they are putting time –but not energy or passion– into their work.” Completely opposite to engagement are the ‘actively disengaged’ workers, who “aren’t just unhappy at work; they are also busy acting out their unhappiness.”

The results that the analysis brought are alarming: only 30% of the workers are engaged and inspired in their jobs. This means that 70% of them are either ‘not engaged’ (52%) or ‘actively disengaged’ (18%).

As you can see, the vast majority of U.S. workers are not performing at their best, but what implications does these statistics have for the companies?

Disengagement is costing money

Gallup research found that disengagement is costing the U.S. companies an estimated $450 billion to $550 billion each year in lost productivity, since these ‘actively disengaged’ workers “are more likely to steal from their companies, negatively influence their coworkers, miss workdays, and drive customers away.”

Researchers discovered that companies with an engaged workforce have higher earnings per share (EPS) than the ones with lower engagement levels. In particular, the report states that “organizations with an average of 9.3 engaged employees for every actively disengaged employee in 2010-2011 experienced 147% higher EPS compared with their competition in 2011-2012,” whereas “those companies with an average of 2.6 engaged employees for every actively disengaged employee experienced 2% lower EPS compared with their competition during the same time period.”

In addition, the analysis established nine performance outcomes to study its connection with employee engagement: customer ratings, profitability, productivity, turnover (for high- and low-turnover organizations), safety incidents, shrinkage (theft), absenteeism, patient safety incidences and quality (defects).

Those firms with strong employee engagement proved to have interesting advantages compared to lower engaged companies. For instance, 10% more satisfactory customer ratings, while they experience 22% higher profitability and 21% higher productivity. What is more, they are way less likely to suffer from shrinkage –its rate is 28% lower.
The most engaged companies have lower rates in absenteeism (37%) and turnover (25% lower in high-turnover organizations, and 65% lower in low-turnover organizations).

Engagement also goes hand in hand with an improvement in safety and health conditions. For example, higher engaged companies report 48% fewer safety incidents, 41% fewer patient safety incidents, and 41% fewer quality incidents (defects).
Maybe Gallup provides the most important and exhaustive report connecting employee engagement and business performance, but it is definitely not the only one.

More evidences

In 2012, Engage for Success(6) – a voluntary movement which aims at promoting employee engagement in the United Kingdom– published The Evidence , a paper with the purpose of setting out “the evidence for the effectiveness of employee engagement in raising performance and productivity across the UK economy.”

In order to accomplish this mission, they did an academic research, also using data compiled by research houses such as Towers Watson, Kenexa, Hay, Aon Hewitt and Gallup.

What they found out was that “organizations with engagement scores in the top 25% of those surveyed had twice the annual net income of those in the bottom 25%.” Moreover, “those high engagement organizations also returned a staggering seven times more to shareholders over a 5-year period than the lowest quartile.”

Another research was carried out by The Harvard Business Review Analytic Services when they published, The Impact of Employee Engagement(7) on Performance in 2013. The survey was conducted among 568 executives (mainly senior-level) from organizations of North America, Europe, Asia, Middle East and Africa and South/Central America.

The highlights of this survey showed that almost three-quarters of the respondents agreed that employee engagement is very important to achieve overall organizational success and that recognition given for high performers has a significant impact on employee engagement, whereas only a quarter of them said that employees in their organizations are highly engaged.
What is the reason for this shocking lack of correspondence? Considering the huge benefits for employers, employees and customers, it is nonsense that companies are still struggling to foster engagement.

No wonder that employee engagement offers an enormous competitive advantage that has a decisive impact on the profitability of organizations, but remember that “measurement without targeted action is useless” (Gallup).
There are no excuses to delay the implementation of actions aiming to concede engagement a central role among the strategies of companies. As the introduction of The Evidence states, “it is a must-do, not a nice-to-have.”

So, once and for all, let’s place employee engagement where it deserves to be. Shall we?

1 – Simon Sinek on Twitter: https://twitter.com/simonsinek/status/230815510164545536

2- ‘It’s Time to Redefine The Rules of Employee Engagement’ (article on Forbes): http://www.forbes.com/sites/chriscancialosi/2016/02/01/its-time-to-redefine-the-rules-of-employee-engagement/#4c6896715d62

3 – The Zinger Model: http://www.davidzinger.com/zinger-model/

4- Demand Metric’s ‘Employee Engagement Benchmark Report’: http://es.slideshare.net/demandmetric/employee-engagement-benchmark-report

5 – Gallup’s ‘State of the American Workplace: Employee Engagement Insights for U.S. Business Leaders’: http://employeeengagement.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Gallup-2013-State-of-the-American-Workplace-Report.pdf

6 – Engage for Success’ ‘The Evidence’: http://engageforsuccess.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/The-Evidence.pdf

7 – ‘The Impact of Employee Engagement on Performance’ (Harvard Business Review): https://hbr.org/resources/pdfs/comm/achievers/hbr_achievers_report_sep13.pdf

Effects of Disengagement

By Ganpy

Very few studies have been done to quantify the actual monetary effects of a disengaged workforce. And even fewer studies have been conducted on the effects of a single disengaged employee in a team.

Why is it important?

It is important simply because unless organizations start measuring the effects of disengagement in true productivity and profitability terms, the importance of engagement will be very hard to be appreciated. This will result in leadership not valuing the benefits of employee engagement initiatives.

Even in smaller teams, one disengaged employee is enough to bring the productivity of the whole team down. Most of the productivity loss happens in a gradual manner, which often results in teams feeling the ill effects of that disengaged employee rather late in the process. I have personally experienced this in multiple teams and I am sure some of you reading this post would have experienced this as well.

A Gallup study projects that disengaged employees cost the American economy $450 to $550 billion in lost productivity. The study also finds that 69% of employers say that they have been affected by a bad hire in the past year, while 41% of employers say that this cost (the cost of a bad hire) is over $25,000 per year per such hire, and 24% say that this cost is over $50,000 per year per such hire for them. That’s a huge cost.

    Cost of a Disengaged workforce

Disengaged employees affect an organization’s/team’s culture. Employees who are putting time in but not energy or passion, completely undermine all the good work done by others. They affect an organization’s brand value. Statistics show people are likely to share one good experience with 3 people, but will share one bad experience with 10 or more people. And most importantly, they affect your bottom line. Disengaged employees are costing companies around the world millions if not billions.

How do you spot a disengaged employee in your team? In other words, What makes a disengaged employee?

Actively disengaged employees:

> Are Consistently Against Virtually Everything (CAVE)
> Believe they are doing everything they can and everyone else is wrong
> Close themselves off from anyone who challenges them to change
> Are not efficient
> They show poor judgment in their approach to work
> Consistently produce poor quality work
> Tend to accept anything that comes along
> Are essentially “checked out”
> Undermine what their engaged co-workers accomplish
> Are aggressively lowering morale and productivity

And what symptoms do they exhibit?

They tend to:

> Complain
> Make excuses (for everything)
> Show lack of enthusiasm
> Be irresponsible or Not take responsibility for mistakes
> Gossip (mostly spreading rumors or spreading negativity about others in the team)
> Not ask questions
> Not help others
> Be distracted
> Lie (even for trivial things)
> Be independent (don’t prefer to work with teams or don’t prefer to participate in team events)
> To take no initiatives/Not be proactive
> Exhibit no Growth (skills and overall professionalism)

Keep this list above handy.

If you see any of the symptoms above in anyone in your team, it is time to evaluate what is causing the disengagement. It could be your style of leadership, it could be the team dynamics and expectations, it could be any combination of factors, but it also could be a bad hire or a bad fit – a case of someone who truly doesn’t belong in that role in your team.

The sooner you recognize that, the quicker you will be able to turn your productivity around.

Don’t let disengagement creep in..Act NOW before it is too late!

Why Cabaana? – Part 2

By Ganpy

The Journey

Image Courtesy: Smashing Ideas
Image Courtesy: Smashing Ideas

Even if you don’t agree, as far as we were concerned, ‘not trying’ was never an option. A complex problem that can’t be easily quantified meant we had an opportunity to try to create a solution, which even if it doesn’t comprehensively solve the problem as a whole, we were sure, it would have the potential to reach many.
Thus began our journey!

(Here is the first part of this series..)

So, interaction is the key to a healthy workplace. And healthy interaction promotes happiness, which in turn has a direct impact on employee engagement, thereby increasing productivity.

This is the premise.

We wanted to develop a platform which addresses the core of workplace happiness, i.e, interaction, therein addressing a big & an important facet of employee engagement – the holistic issue in front of us.
As we started putting together the initial straw man version of the solution we were going to build, we started listing the main components that the solution was going to have on our design board. Interestingly, as we continued to make the design more and more robust till we kicked off the actual development process & continued to the point till we decided to freeze our scope for version 1.o, we realized our original main components still remained our main components. And that is saying something about our own core belief on what this product should be.

So, what did we think our solution should have as its main components?

1) A social network — a place where there is social communication & a place where interaction takes place in a public sort of way, a place that encourages team members to get to know each other better.
2) A Collaboration portal — a place that provides an easy & an organized way to do information exchange, a place that gives a sense of control to the persons initiating/leading/managing collaboration with an option to decide who they specifically want to be collaborating in that space.
3) Private communication — Messaging feature which is secure, one on one, etc.
4) Appreciation — a fun way to appreciate team members/colleagues that also promotes a sense of healthy competition amongst them, because in the end, if the employees are competitive to get more appreciation from their colleagues, then the net result is going to be better work output and increased productivity.
5) Interaction Intelligence — a feature/tool within our solution that builds intelligence over a period of time to encourage interaction between colleagues/team members both within the tool (online) and in person (offline).

Once we had the design scope finalized (the first version), we couldn’t hold our excitement, as we were very sure we were on our way to build a new & a unique solution, one that potentially could change the way workplaces start looking at employee engagement.

We started expanding the functionality of the main components and started breaking them down into smaller features. As with any new product development, the energy we have within the development team can be termed as something that fluctuates between “high” and “very high” on any given day.

These features were then translated into user experience discussions, navigation aspects, technical dependencies, etc. After the feasibility of each feature was well analyzed, we started finalizing our functional and technical specifications with timeline estimates.

    Fast Forward to March 2016.

      Our solution, Cabaana is now about 3 months away from its official launch. And we are in the final stages of our development & unit testing. A beta version will be made available for all the early adopters & others who wanted to be part of this journey by signing up before December 2015. And needless to say, we are super excited.

      Any attempt to describe the sense of creative satisfaction one gets as one sees an idea transform into a real product through multiple phases, is futile because that sense is truly beyond words. And that’s exactly what we are going to through right now.

      So, what exactly is Cabaana?

      In short, “Cabaana” is a cloud based platform which has been designed for teams of any size to increase employee engagement by keeping the focus on overall Happiness.

      Communication, Collaboration, Interaction and Appreciation are the key components of Cabaana, but the gamified look & feel and the overall fun design makes it a unique solution for a diverse workforce.

      It is an “avant-garde” cross platform application, which can easily be accessed from the web through desktop computers, or tablets and through smartphones running iOS or Android.

      Cabaana is a subscription based service and the monthly cost depends on the the team size.

      In the coming weeks & months, we will continue to provide updates on the product launch and will share with you more descriptive details on the individual features.

      As Caba would like to say, Stay Happy!!

    Why Cabaana? – Part 1

    By Ganpy

    The Beginning

    Happiness

    About 75% of one’s job success is predicted by optimism level, social support system at work and his/her ability to see stress as a challenge as opposed to a threat. It is only the remaining 25% that is predicted by the individual’s IQ. And since most of us follow a scientifically broken formula of defining happiness in relation to success, we seem to be in a constant chase of happiness. Instead of saying we would be happy if we are successful, we should perhaps focus on the present and see how we can be happy right now. The happiness advantage, as scientifically proven seems to have a direct impact on our brains by increasing creativity, intelligence, energy level and by positively impacting how we respond to stress, thus increasing our overall productivity.

    According to the longest study ever conducted on Human Happiness, a study which is still ongoing and one in which after 75 years, they have enough data to draw some conclusions, Human Happiness is really all about healthy relationships. This may seem bewildering to most, as we have always associated other quantitative factors with happiness. Such as wealth and health, in that order. Robert Waldinger, Director of Harvard Adult Study, says that it is not just the quality of relationships that matters but also the closeness of these relationships for increased happiness.

    We have been doing our own qualitative study on workplace happiness for the past few years. Granted, we don’t have a scientific approach to our study, as we have been relying largely on our group of researchers observing and collecting data in a disorganized way, mostly in terms of direct anecdotes and paraphrased ones. We have been collating this data in a way we could use for our interest. When we launched our first mobile solution, employee engagement was a topic that fascinated us quite a bit and that was the beginning of this journey of ours to understand what causes employee disengagement at workplace other than the obvious.

    A fews years later since we launched that informal study, here we are. At the cusp of launching our brand new solution in the next few months. Our passion and urge to create Cabaana came directly from the findings of our disorganized study. The study may have been disorganized but our findings are very conclusive and we feel vindicated by the Harvard study.

    Well, our conclusion is this. Other than the obvious reasons such as compensation and benefits that motivate an employee to give his/her best at their workplaces and to stay engaged, surprisingly (or not so surprisingly), we also found out that there are critical soft factors that are equally and in many cases, more important for an employee to stay engaged or to stay motivated to give his/her best.

    They are:
    1) workplace environment (culture, office space, team dynamics, etc.)
    2) appreciation by coworkers — peers & leaders
    3) most importantly healthy interaction with coworkers

    It’s safe to conclude that (2) and (3) are essentially the same as Harvard Study’s findings, when applied in the context of a workplace environment.

    So, interaction is the key to a healthy workplace. And healthy interaction promotes happiness, which in turn has a direct impact on employee engagement, thereby increasing productivity. Simple. Right?

    Huh. How we wish the approximately 70% of the currently disengaged global workforce can be made to engage fully, applying the above formula! Now, if only someone can give us the formula for creating healthy interactions at workplace…..

    No. We realize it is not that simple. But, a complex solution doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Do you agree?

    (To be continued)