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57: Hearing the Unheard: The Imperative of Employee Insights

In this episode, we dive deep into the world of employee insights.

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The UK’s Premier Event for Mental Health & Wellbeing Leaders

In this episode, we dive deep into the world of employee insights. We’re exploring what they really are, how they can mold our workplace strategies, and why they’re more important now than ever. As the working environment undergoes rapid transformation, these insights provide a beacon to guide us.

To help us, we’re joined by three incredible expert guests.

Charlie Coode, Founder at Culture15

Charlie brings a fresh perspective from Culture15, a business championing the cause of embedding culture at the heart of performance.

Alun Baker, CEO at GoodShape

Alun, from GoodShape, joins us with the conviction that prioritising the health and well-being of employees directly boosts organizational productivity.

Ali Khan, CEO, SHAPE Global

Ali brings the expertise of measuring employee experience from SHAPE Global. With a keen focus on quantifying experiences, Ali’s insights into creating an optimal work environment are both timely and essential.

  • Join the conversation as we as and answer:
  • What Exactly Are Employee Insights?
  • How Can Insights Shape Workplace Strategy?
  • How Can Employee Insights Support Managers?
  • What Mental & Physical Health Insights Should We Be Looking At?
  • How Can Insights Help in the Changing Workplace?

A special thanks to our incredible guests for their invaluable contributions. As we move forward, remember that these insights are not just numbers or data points, but the heartbeats of our organizations.


Connect with Charlie Coode

Connect with Alun Baker

Connect with Ali Khan

Connect with your hosts

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The Transcript

⚠️ NOTE: This is an automated transcript, so it might not always be 100% accurate!

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Speaker 1 0:00
engagement platforms which measure aggregations of sentiment and organization don’t measure culture, they measure just the average of how people are feeling. If you look at culture as how work gets done, behaviors, it’s different and engagement platforms don’t give you that

Leanne Elliott 0:24
Hello, and welcome to the truth lies and workplace culture podcast, brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network, the audio destination for business professionals. My name is Leanne. I’m a Business psychologist.

Al Elliott 0:34
My name is Al I’m a business owner.

Leanne Elliott 0:36
We are here to help you simplify the science people and create amazing workplace coaches.

Al Elliott 0:40
Yeah, we got a special message if this is your first or second time listening, we’ve been looking at the analytics we know that there’s a very large percentage of you who are say the first time listening suddenly, September seems to been a hell of a month. Firstly,

Leanne Elliott 0:53
I know Yeah, I wouldn’t have maybe it was somebody’s like, like goal over summer to like kickstart autumn with some with some podcasts or welcome, new listeners. We’re very, very excited to have you here.

Al Elliott 1:04
We are so deep back through our back catalogue. And you’ll see that we tend to like once a month we do a founder story, as well as speak to someone who’s built an amazing culture or amazing workplaces. We had Manisha recently, then we had stellar. We’ve had all kinds of amazing people on them. There’s plenty in there for you just dive back and let us know. We’re always on LinkedIn, you can we haven’t got a team of people on LinkedIn. He’s just us. Well, actually, it’s just us. It’s not even me. It’s Leanne. So if you really want to talk to us, then just jump on LinkedIn search for truth lies and work. And you’ll find some of our posts and just give us some feedback. We’re really looking for any kind of feedback and talking feedback, give us that give us a rating. Give us a review. Five stars. These guys are great. Just a suggestion. Yeah.

Leanne Elliott 1:42
Anyway, what we talked about today out.

Al Elliott 1:44
So today is all about employee insights. We have three have we spoken about that much before? Now employee insights? Yes, you might say Oh, not again. But the fact is that we’ve got three amazing guests with us. These are three of the people who are kind of at the forefront of employee engagement or sorry, employee insights programs. And they all have a platform that measures them in slightly different ways, which is why we wanted to put all three of them together. But before we get into that, it’s our favorite time of the week. Let’s round up

Leanne Elliott 2:12
to the Django

Al Elliott 2:14
What do you got laying?

Leanne Elliott 2:16
Well, I have a bit of a mixed bag of news roundup this week. First of all, I did want to remind people, our regular listeners and let our new listeners now if you are listening in real time, we are co hosting a webinar in the map webinar series this Monday 25th of September 2023 at 10am GMT with Craig Taylor from true worth, which is a specialist specialist tech recruitment firm. So we’ll be talking about how you can build awesome workplaces, great workplace coaches. It is specifically aimed at leaders in digital tech and creative but there is lots of transferable lessons if you’re not following those fields. And basically three main things that we’re going to do in that hour help you better understand how to find the right people, keep the best people and reignite love for your business. We are also going to be joined by a previous guest on the podcast Sonya shallot who is co founder of ride the wave coaching awesome awesome episode with her back in or probably six months ago now but I will leave a link in the show notes. She’s gonna also chatting about how you can train managers to be awesome and we will be talking about the exclusive training program that we hear oblong allies business are partnering with ride the wave to deliver it so come along the link to register will be in the show notes.

Al Elliott 3:36
Absolutely Sonya such an incredible lady you definitely want to tune into that so make sure if you’re in the US you want to get up get up a bit early but is it recorded lady and I

Leanne Elliott 3:44
imagine it is recorded so

Al Elliott 3:46
you can watch it over your cornflakes on Monday morning. Okay, what else we got?

Leanne Elliott 3:51
My next little segment is all about the tick tock, tick tock. What’s going down at tick tock the organization not the platform?

Al Elliott 3:59
Yeah, apparently I saw I thought it was something I thought this is this sounds like Leanne needs to investigate. So I sent her over an email saying, I’ve seen this. What the hell does it mean? So in a nutshell what we’re talking about really?

Leanne Elliott 4:10
Yep, so the New York Times has reported that tick tock is deploying a new employee badge monitoring app. As part of renewed effort to pressure its workers spend more days in the office. Basically, employees at tick tock have received a notice about this new tool called My RT O and it’s going to monitor badge swipes into an office and may ask employees to explain absences and absences on days when they were expected to be in the office. Staff have also been told that and this is a quote, any deliberate and consistent disregard may result in disciplinary action. These deviations could also impact workers performance reviews, and impede a path to promotion. I mean sigh. Apparently a representative from Tiktok has basically said the ultimate goal of my RTO is to provide greater clarity and context to both employees and leaders regarding their RTO expectations, return to Office, and in office schedules as well as help foster more transparent communications. Bullshit. Tick tock isn’t alone, lots of other companies are doing this matter, are talking about a similar thing as our apple. You know, I guess on one hand, I’m like, I understand managers are starting to freak out because we’re seeing this dip in productivity. And we’ve seen a different productivity over the last couple of years, do you know else causes drops in productivity?

Al Elliott 5:43
Would it be having to swipe a bad gene or go into an office?

Leanne Elliott 5:45
Yeah, managers that don’t trust you not having autonomy over how you work, or indeed high levels of stress caused by something I don’t know, like job insecurity that people may be feeling in the tech industry, giving them given the mass layoffs we’ve seen over the last 12 months. And bored, I don’t I just I think all I want to now I want to make sure is any small business owner that is listening, please know. And you’ve heard this from me. You’ve heard it from Professor sicheren. Cooper. And you’ve heard it from Dr. Craig as well, from our clock well episode, the big deck tech companies are no longer the best practice blueprints to follow. When it comes to how you treat and engage your people. They are losing the plot.

Al Elliott 6:27
And I think there’s a couple of things that means you sprung to mind when you were explaining that was the first of all, if the big the big data, I mean, Apple aside, although I think they have got some ideas about this. But the big the biggest companies, they’ve been known for tracking their users, for using their users information for leveraging the data they collect on the users. So it’s no real great leap to say they’re gonna do the same with their employees, surely. I mean, we’re looking at Google. I like Google, we use Google products here, but I know they’re tracking the shit out. I know, they’re trying to sell me something. And I just think they were they ever really the ones to put up on a pedestal and all these other companies should be working for

Leanne Elliott 7:09
fairpoint. Maybe they started that way. But as they as they grew up into these big monsters that they are maybe not. Yeah, it is worrying, because I think we’re then we’re very much kind of entering this isn’t them territory, this very much kind of, you know, you do, as I say, and the thing that really bugs me about it, you know, if there’s another pandemic or something else happens, where we all need to work from home again, like, Oh, come on, guys, you can do this. We all need you to go out and work from home. They’ll be like, Screw you, mate. Joe, I mean, it’s like, I just think it’s so much short sighted here. Yeah,

Al Elliott 7:43
I think I think in simple terms, and this is not psychological terms. This is the way that I understand that Leanne’s explained things to me is that you’ve kind of got like a bank of goodwill with your employees, you can either withdraw or you can deposit and by doing shit like this, you’re withdrawing, and you under withdrawal probably counts twice as much as the deposit you have to put 10 pounds in to withdraw five pound out doesn’t seem to make any sense to me, particularly with the younger generation. And every single day, we’re getting more and more people who are from Gen Z and Millennial in the workforce and random, fewer and fewer people from Boomer and, and Gen X. So why are you doing it guys.

Leanne Elliott 8:18
And as always, you know, it’s not about the decision that you’re making, if you would prefer as a business leader, to have an organization that is on site to build your culture on site, that is your prerogative that will come with with plus sides, and it’ll come with downsides. How you execute that decision. And basically saying that you know, these deviations even though language is very aggressive, I don’t think that’s gonna help. It’s just gonna it’s just gonna push people push people away. People want trusted, don’t form if you treat my child, I’m gonna want my child.

Al Elliott 8:50
Absolutely. Love it. So what else you got laying

Leanne Elliott 8:53
speaking of the children, Gen Zed. I didn’t have a word of the week this week, and I know you like them. And then I remembered our quizzes that you quite like so come up with another quiz from his article that I found. So why have come up with another quiz for you based on this awesome, awesome article that I found. It’s basically you remember when we did the corp talk? Yeah. This is basically like Gen Zed jargon Corp talk. So I’m gonna jargon is that we’re gonna call it Zargon. So I’m gonna give you the word. Yeah. If you want to take a guess you can do if you’d like me to use it in a sentence. I can.

Al Elliott 9:29
This is gonna make me feel really old, isn’t it?

Leanne Elliott 9:31
Ideally? Yeah.

Al Elliott 9:33
Okay, let’s go. What’s the what’s the first word?

Leanne Elliott 9:35
First one, is this probably an easy one? Start off extra, extra.

Al Elliott 9:39
I think I know this, as in all Samantha’s been a bit extra at the moment is would that be the correct usage? So I think the definition is that someone’s being a little bit more flamboyant, a little bit more perhaps dramatic than they would normally be.

Leanne Elliott 9:52
bang on. Absolutely. Yet. Another example. He wants us to present the slides and do a separate recording of them. That’s so extra

Al Elliott 10:00
I see right okay, so it’s not necessarily about being dramatic is just just being bit demanding

Leanne Elliott 10:05
can be dramatic over the top. Yeah, both Okay, second one low key.

Al Elliott 10:11
Oh see now see now I think I know this because because I’ve heard so many people use it I had to google it because I didn’t know what it meant. If he’s low key excited about an event that it means that he is excited about the event, but he’s not making a big deal of it.

Leanne Elliott 10:28
Very nice. Exactly. Yeah. Being on the download of being secretive or understating your your interest in something Another example might be I Loki want to volunteer for social committee, but I haven’t spoken to anyone about

Al Elliott 10:41
it yet. Okay, cool, too. For to cheer for

Leanne Elliott 10:45
cheer the next one. I think you’ll guess this one if only for my love of my love of drag race. T. Sorry. t te Atea.

Al Elliott 10:57
No, not really. Not a clue. Spelt. Hey, can you use it in a sentence?

Leanne Elliott 11:02
Did you attend the strategic planning meeting on Monday spill the tea?

Al Elliott 11:07
Oh, well, in that context, it sounds like beans. Spill the beans. Tell me what happened? Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Tea. Why have you come up with Gen Zed? Why have you come up with another phrase went spill the beans is absolutely fine.

Leanne Elliott 11:19
It’s quite UK centric. Other isn’t it? Spill the beans.

Al Elliott 11:23
spill the tea. That’s just they

Leanne Elliott 11:25
just come from very much from queer culture. Drag queens. For the tea. Hot tea. gossip news. juicy information. Yes. Spilling tea.

Al Elliott 11:34
Well, I disagree with you. But But I still I respect your decision. I respect your decision. Okay. Thank you. I really enjoy.

Leanne Elliott 11:43
Yeah, dead.

Al Elliott 11:47
As in the dead air we just had. Oh, can you use it in a sentence?

Leanne Elliott 11:52
Did you see they tried to promote the company with a tick tock trend from two years ago. I’m dead.

Al Elliott 11:58
Not ashamed. But you’re taking that you’re like, I can’t believe they’ve done that.

Leanne Elliott 12:03
Well, I think would be the wouldn’t be the millennial equivalent. Love ya.

Al Elliott 12:07
You know what the Gen X version. But LMA Oh, love my so we always have ROI. Brilliant. Another great news roundup loved it. Leah. Have you looked forward to these ever? I think I think I like them as much as we as the guests. I just love it. So shall we get on and meet these amazing guests. Okay, so we’re gonna start off with Charlie Coode, who’s got a company called culture 15. He is editing out here. Just want to say Sorry, Charlie is Charlie code. Not Charlie code. Sorry, me. Charlie. He’s so cool. He’s a helicopter pilot. When I was interviewing him at the water cooler. I was just sat there. And I’m trying to I’m trying to act cool. But inside I’m going. You’re basically I want to be you. It was so cool. Anyway, so Charlie’s company has this proprietary platform easy for me to say that can help you actually put a number on culture. So let’s go meet Charlie code.

Speaker 1 13:05
And building a team. At the moment I’m on a bit of a mission to convert the way people think about culture and the way organizations address culture.

Leanne Elliott 13:11
Our next guest is Alan Baker from good shape which specializes in employee absence and wellbeing insights. Alan was one of my most favorite people. I met at the watercooler a true gent very passionate about what he does an incredible background and story as well. Let’s go meet Alan

Speaker 4 13:29
good shape had its roots in absence management leaning into well being but what we’ve done is built a platform on an app that integrates all of the well being services companies have but puts meaningful data behind it. And last but

Al Elliott 13:45
certainly not least, Ali Khan from another company called shape. Shape. is their website, and nothing to do with Alan. But what shaped does it stack is an acronym. I won’t spoil it, go to the website, you’ll see what it stands for really cool. And what I what Ali’s platform does is measures lots and lots of different data points, 1000s and 1000s of them to give you this holistic view of your culture. So let’s go meet Ali.

Speaker 5 14:08
So Ali Khan, I am the CEO of a company called shape global. We are coming out of stealth a couple of years, we’ve been figuring out how do companies measure employee experience? And can we put a number on

Leanne Elliott 14:23
it? So today we are delving into the world of employee insights, something very close to my heart. Now what exactly sets them apart from your everyday feedback? And how can insight shape the modern workplace, either from our office spaces to the very nature of our work life balance? And of course, what impact has mental health have and what did the pandemic change? How can we use these insights to build an amazing workplace?

Al Elliott 14:50
So we’ve got five questions that we’re going to ask first of all, what are employee insights? Exactly? Secondly, how can employee insights shape the workplace strategy particular around culture. Thirdly, how can employee insights help managers be better managers? Fourthly, what about mental and physical health insights? How did they fit into things? And fifthly? How insights can help us with this whole changing workplace? So let’s get cracking. Number one, what are employee insights? So we need to get into this before delving deeper, let’s just establish this clear understanding what we mean by an employee insight, because, in my opinion, like employee insights, maybe 10 years ago would be like, you know, the anonymous suggestion box used to have in the kitchen where someone just put in like, you know, called smiles or the biscuits or shit or something like that. And that was the extent of employee insights about 1015 years ago, modern employee insights, a very different layer over to you give us a synopsis of what a modern employee insights look like,

Speaker 2 15:51
employee insights are, I guess, the physical manifestation of employee voice, which we talk about a lot employee voice giving people a say, over how their workplace looks, how people interact in the workplace, what their career trajectory looks like. This is all employee voice and employee insights, we should represent if don’t well, it should represent employee voice. And with those insights, we can make strategic decisions, operational decisions about our people and culture. And more importantly, if they are robust employee insights, we should also be able to use that data to predict what the impact will be on our people. And on our business performance.

Al Elliott 16:34
There’s a phrase which I don’t know whether I’ve just made up or I’ve read somewhere and think I’ve made up and I’m calling it e x, which is employer X employee experience. There’s an existing,

Leanne Elliott 16:46
quite vague thing actually, that does this thing I like to call customer experience.

Al Elliott 16:52
Well, I was gonna say this customer experience does user experience UX is developer experience for coders dx. So this brand new idea, I’ve just made up his ex employee experience. And, and the whole point of this is that you are trying to make the expense of the employee, just amazing. Now, Ali Khan’s platform, remember shape we talked about before? Ali Khan’s platform measures? Lots and lots of different things exactly. Get a measure of what this employee experience is.

Speaker 5 17:18
So what we’ve been looking at, under the guise of what does employee experience mean? And how do you measure that? Well, it turns out, you need to understand things like job satisfaction, engagement with other people, around you, co workers and managers relationship with the manager, are you committed to the company? What about your work ethic? What about the factors outside of work, because we know, in an imbalance in work, life affects your ability to be your very best at work,

Al Elliott 17:49
Charlie from culture. 15 believes that once you’ve measured these things, once you’ve got these insights, you can actually use them to build the culture and the experience that you actually won.

Speaker 1 17:59
So for instance, we measure trust, we do have an engagement module only to make sure that organizations if they historically measured engagement, they don’t have to stop doing it. So we import their data. But it but we look at how do you describe your culture, most organizations have three or four themes, we can measure those behaviors against those themes. And so they get a platform and so managers can then see. And I should say that the leadership or leadership with the organization is able to define their target. So they get a essentially a framework. And the real value is not in the platform, it’s in the conversations that it stimulates. I spent the last 10 years consulting to organizations on cultural transformations and cultural alignments. And time and time again, we found that one of the limiting factors is that they didn’t have a common framework to talk about culture in a way that was objective in a way that was practical and not overly theoretical. And in a way that you could then practically apply to changing an organizational culture, they just didn’t exist. engagement platforms, which measure aggregations of sentiment and organization don’t measure culture, they measure just the average of how people are feeling. If you look at culture as how work gets done, behaviors, it’s different. And engagement platforms don’t give you that

Al Elliott 19:16
and Ally’s platform actually looks at the environmental insights as well, because those have more of an impact than you might think.

Speaker 5 19:22
If you look at wellbeing and you look at for example, as I’ve been learning more about facilities, and facilities, managers, real estate, they’re looking beyond just the building, they’re looking at the people in the buildings. And when you start to look at the people in the buildings, it comes down to experiences. So this centralization and this realization around, what does an experience constitute? And can we standardize that? That’s what we’ve been figuring out.

Al Elliott 19:49
Suddenly, just before we round this off, I want to find out when did it actually start becoming a thing that we started measuring insights

Speaker 2 19:57
in some way it’s been around for About 100 years now, the Hawthorne studies quite famous workplace studies that were done, I think it’s their 100th birthday coming up very soon it’s the 1920s are done. And they were the first set of empirical studies that showed that our working environment can influence how we think, feel and behave. And that in turn can influence things like our productivity and performance. So insights in some way have been around for about 100 years, I think they’re really gained momentum probably around the 90s, when we start look a lot more into predictors of work performance predictors of work engagement, predictors of product productivity, the impact that resources have on, on our ability to do our work. And that’s when lots of different famous models came out, like the job reef resources demand model, which is still very dominant today. And I think they’re really started to gain momentum in 2008, when the MC Lloyd report came out. And this was a huge government commission, UK government commissioned study longitudinal study that looked at the state of employee engagement within the UK and found that it was a multi billion pound problem across sectors, across industries for everybody, everybody was disengaging, and it was costing businesses a lot of money. So yeah, so at that point, then insights became important, particularly predictive insights, where we can see here are people feeling a certain way, then we should see that reflected in our performance in a certain way. Therefore, if we can, if we can increase some decrease some we should see that the corresponding shift in our performance as well. So yeah, 100 years, all in all, I’d say the last 30 years with a bit of gusto, the last 15 years with some some real intention.

Al Elliott 21:42
Interesting, interesting. And so what we’re talking about here is nothing is absolutely brand new. But what we’ve got now is the wearables, which are controversial, but we’ve got that we’ve got ways of measuring all kinds of different things much easier, we’ve got AI to help us to interpret results. So that now concludes our section one, which tells us all about what are insights we’re now going into? Why do we need them? What can we do once we get these insights? What do we do with them? So Lee, you’ve now got a nice big pile of insights, what the hell are you gonna do next?

Speaker 2 22:15
Well, the truth is, we can’t really develop a decent workplace strategy. Without insight, it’s a bit like, you know, we need to put the light on, if we’re gonna find something cool, we need to, we need to know where we are to effectively measure our return on investment further down the line. So really, it is any organization that is thinking about people and culture as a strategy, you know, a key commercial aspect of their business, and they should do, you’re going to need employee insights.

Al Elliott 22:44
So what’s interesting about the insights there is each of our three guests, they measure very slightly different things. But the commonality is that they are all designed to produce tangible results that will give you something you can actually act on. Now, going back to Alan Alan’s company in good shape measures, a lot of predictors that will help manage ABS absenteeism, easy for me to say.

Speaker 4 23:05
So what we saw is after COVID, everybody cared about the people in the workplace for the first time, we saw people obviously ill, and therefore productivity drops through the floor, people started to resign if they didn’t think they’d been looked after. So organizations rushed to spend money on well being. But he was also a little bit like, you know, all the spots solutions you’ve ever seen in tech, or buy lots of things that are not joined up? I don’t know, the efficacy, I don’t know where they’re working. I don’t know if I’m getting results. And I don’t know if I’m getting an ROI. So our platform provides minute one intervention pushes people through to a service gets people returned to work safely and quicker, drives productivity up and massive, massively reduce his absence in the workplace and improve people was wellbeing. And I think that’s the big problem. You see all the people here today that lots of people are well being offices in large organizations, and they can’t prove and justify the investments they’re making. And that’s what we do. It’s different. And we also provide the service by the way to large hospitals and everything else. So believe it or not, our nurses actually provide health and wellbeing support for nurses and doctors because they are really bad at looking after themselves.

Leanne Elliott 24:25
Alan is clearly doing some great work here. What’s interesting about Ali Khan shape is the ally isn’t afraid to ask questions. I mean, the obvious thing for an insights app to measure is productivity. But Ali wants to look deeper,

Speaker 5 24:39
we spent quite some time figuring out should we even measure productivity? And the truth is you can’t put a direct number and productivity so easily because we are talking about so many variable factors in the models. But what you can do is you can understand of these areas we talked about earlier, job satisfaction, engagement and so forth. With how many of those factors affect productivity, affect performance? So do they help or hinder. And by measuring how much a person is being affected by job satisfaction, engagement, commitment, work ethic, etc, you can then pinpoint not just putting a number on culture as a scored mechanism, you can go beyond that you can make those questions actionable. And now you can provide really, really good performance support, if you like to that person, and it can be really super hyper personalized to their particular needs as well.

Al Elliott 25:39
Whatever part of the data they’re specializing in each of the guests believe that what gets measured gets managed was interesting to Charlie’s to work for GE, under Jack Welch, if you remember him, he was like kind of the poster child for management back in the 80s, and 90s. But Jack was famous for this phrase, what gets measured gets managed? Charlie is a huge believer in that. But also he’s finding though, strangely, one of the most difficult things to get across to his clients or potential clients is that culture can actually be measured.

Speaker 1 26:09
And one of our biggest challenges is actually convincing people that you can measure culture, most people have this attitude of oh, you can’t measure it, can you? And anyway, we measure engagement. And there’s the sort of underlying subconscious belief that culture is intangible, therefore can’t be measured. My view is, and this is Jack Welsh talking, I guess is that if you want to if you believe it’s important, point, one, great, therefore, you must manage it closely, and therefore in order to manage it, you must measure it. And in order to measure it, you have to make the intangible tangible and that’s what cuts 15 does, it makes the what appears intangible it makes it breaks it down into collective behaviors, makes it measurable. And then does analytics based upon that and fundamentally asked organizations, what do you need? And what do you have the culture gap?

Al Elliott 26:53
Certainly, I know, you can’t really talk about the specifics of the clients you work with. But can you think of an example where maybe insights have helped to address maybe a common workplace issue? Yeah.

Speaker 2 27:03
So I mean, culture can be measured if we measure things that we can control. And we know that those things have an impact on how our people think, feel and behave at work. Because how people think, feel and behave will impact how they perform, how they engage, how they experience well being. So a common workplace challenge might be something like employee turnover, we’ve got people who are leaving the business, we can sit down as a leadership team and maybe come up with all the reasons why we might blame market, we might think it’s all that we have that monitoring, but they’ve left now so that’d be okay. We could we could sit here and we could we could chat about why we think our employee engagement is is low and our turnover is high. The reality is that when it comes to the science of people, there are lots of different elements, different factors that influence employee engagement, and therefore employee turnover. And it could be anything from the relationship they have with their managers, the relationships, they have repairs, their the demands in terms of workload, it could be how they are experiencing role, clarity and more purpose, whether they feel that they know what they’re doing, they feel confident to do it, and they know why they’re doing it. There are many different reasons why people will disengage from a job or an organization and leave insights will help us pinpoint the exact problem. It’ll help us understand or indeed, the combination of challenges that we’ve got the are influencing employee turnover, it’ll help us pinpoint where the issue is. So we can create a strategy that is going to target that problem. It’s treating the core problem, not the symptoms. And that’s where insights can be phenomenal for any common workplace issues such as high turnover, low productivity, or burnout.

Al Elliott 28:57
Nice, nice. Okay, talking of burnout, one of the biggest things that happens around burnout is managers. So what are we going to talk about Nextly.

Leanne Elliott 29:07
So now we know how insights can be used to improve our cultures. On to my favorite subject matter after the glorious Gen Zed managers,

Al Elliott 29:17
your favorite expression, Lian is it’s the manager. In fact, I think you’ve even got a book, which has got that title. And you believe that 90% of workplace issues come down to the manager is 90 Too many?

Speaker 2 29:28
I’m not I mean, I’m wouldn’t damn sure I’d put a number on it in terms of that, but a lot of them do. And I think actually, what the data shows is about 60% of the variance in employee engagement comes down to the manager, which basically means what what’s what six out of out of 10 times the issue with employee engagement will probably be manager. So yeah, they do cause a lot of a lot of a lot of tricky situations for business owners. And here’s why when your people feel that their manager cares about them, then they are more happy

Speaker 4 29:58
as long as people think that you showing and demonstrating cane and investing in them as people and not a number, then then you’re going to get better results. And I think you’ve got to be genuine in what you’re trying to do, you’ve got to be genuinely more you’re trying to strive for, and people have got to feel it. And if you get that you get a brilliant organization that’s more successful than the ones that don’t feel like that. Do you

Al Elliott 30:20
know what’s funny is and tick tock on Reddit, like subreddits, like anti work, Instagram, there’s loads of like posts about how the manager screwed you over and how the boss has made you come into work and how much of an asshole your boss is. And that’s the problem is, I think that a lot of people see their manager as their blocker to success. They’re the people, they’re the someone who’s standing in the way to what they actually want. It shouldn’t be the other way round, it should be the manager who is supporting the employee. Here’s Ali Khan’s talk a little bit more about that.

Speaker 5 30:51
The other thing that we found from a workplace perspective was you wanted to ensure that managers were also supported managers, that a lot of lot of people look at them as hindrance, but they’re not. They are the gateway to helping employees in their teams perform. So if we just change the way that we can support them in a better way, because they are not specialists, you might have somebody who’s amazing at technology running a technology team, but they may be highly introverted, and a number of the other aspects of the note feel so comfortable with what we’ve got to support them with that. So by having these kinds of assessments like shape, for example, we’re able to help them discover for themselves in a totally private, confidential, confident way on where would I go and get help if I or what kind of help would I get? And then where would I get that from? Now,

Al Elliott 31:45
Alan has this amazing story about when he works in the Ukraine for a previous company that was involved in where he was a good manager, and he actually got some tangible results from it. So if

Speaker 4 31:54
you focus on the right metrics and the right outcomes, you get better results. And in doing that, I look at every technology wave and say, what’s next? What’s happening? And where can my experience help? So when I was out in Ukraine, I had nearly 1000, people almost all under 35. They were amazing. They’re just not longer independence, they were all striving for a better life. And I had hundreds and hundreds of both anonymous and personalized note saying I changed their life because they were proud to work with the organization. And given the meaning.

Leanne Elliott 32:29
What’s amazing is when you start to involve your team and conversations around coach, when you start to empower employee voice, people get really passionate and that passion translates to belonging, it translates to attachment to the organization, it translates to discretionary effort, it translates to so many good things you would have heard us talk before about so many times about employee insights, but one that definitely sticks with me is Mel Murphy from birdie, who talked about how they build and refine culture through various retreats do go back and listen to that. That’s an art human centered workplaces episode just a couple of weeks ago. Charlie himself has also had the culture conversation recently, with his own team as felt liberated

Speaker 1 33:12
as fascinating. Even the conversation, we had it yesterday, the conversation amongst the eight of us in the team around okay, what culture do we really need? How are we going to describe it, and what does it look like, is incredibly powerful, but also liberating, because it exists in the invisible until you have that conversation. So the real value, yes, you pay for the platform, and its monthly subscription. Not hugely expensive. But in enables that conversation at the initiation but also on an ongoing basis. So managers can track their progress over time.

Al Elliott 33:43
But there is a practical aspect to this too, because if you know someone’s going to be absent, you can plan for it. Allen has his great example in the hospital or hospital, the medical industry, where explains that our company, if they can predict when someone’s going to come back to work, then it makes things just run so much smoother, we had

Speaker 4 34:01
billions of data set. So we’re now able to predict long term absence with an 82% accuracy. We’re able to predict staff turnover within 78% accuracy. So we’re bringing AI to this field as well. So if you’re able to see trends, you’re able to get ahead and be preventative. That’s amazing, right? Now, if you think about how often for example, if you go into hospital tomorrow, and you’re getting prepped to go into the theater, last minute somebody says to you, there’s no bed, your operation gets canceled. That’s hiding some truths, right. So what often happens is that expecting any citizen to be there is not all the surgeon to be that they’re not because they knew that that person was off on Monday last week, and he said he was coming back because she was coming back on this Monday. We’re able to look at that and 82% probability they’re not going to come back on Monday. They’re gonna come back three weeks From now, therefore have alternative plans and actually reduce things like, you know, surgical waitlist on canceled operations and stuff like that use of bank staff, which is hugely expensive hospitals.

Al Elliott 35:13
So if we use these insights to help our managers, then I’m guessing we can just create the sort of the environment where everybody thrives.

Leanne Elliott 35:21
Yeah, and I think what’s really cool about really great insights really love insights that are based around a predictive model of employee engagement and well being is we know exactly how well our managers are doing exactly how our investment in them in terms of training is, is paying off and exactly how our people are experiencing this change, enhance productivity, performance, wellbeing, engagement, they’re also closely linked, it’s unlikely that you invest in your managers, you’re just going to get a boost in productivity, you’re more than likely almost certainly going to see a boost in employee engagement, in wellbeing. In collaboration, innovation, ideation, there’s so many different things that hinge on having a great manager and why because great managers create psychological safety. And we know all about psychological safety. Don’t worry lessness

Al Elliott 36:14
if you are interested more in empowering your managers, and definitely email the and that’s what she does on a day to day basis. Also in conjunction with Sonia, who we talked about before who’s got an amazing program?

Leanne Elliott 36:25
Yeah, so come on Monday. If you’re listening, come on Monday,

Al Elliott 36:28
come on Monday, come on Monday, or watch the recording. If you’re not watching or not listening live,

Leanne Elliott 36:31
we’ll leave that link somewhere.

Al Elliott 36:33
Let’s look at a slightly more controversial thing to measure. We alluded to this at the beginning. Can we should we be measuring mental and physical health as part of this whole process? This is what I’m thinking. It seems a little bit intrusive, to start measuring physical and mental insights are looking into the physical and mental health of our employees. Am I just being a bit old fashioned here?

Leanne Elliott 36:58
interested? In what way? What would feel intrusive?

Al Elliott 37:01
I’m thinking that if you’re a wearable that told you what your mood was, and that format that push that back to an app that your manager could see, that’s intrusive, but also at the same time, like if you’re feeling down it, we talked about financial issues about three episodes ago? My biggest question was, should the manager even get involved in that situation? Because is it any of their business? Same with this, you’ve got a physical ailment, you’ve got a mental health problem? At what point is it going to be that the manager is diving into your life in a way that you don’t really want?

Leanne Elliott 37:32
Well, I think I think it’s fine. The balance is net is as a leader, physical and mental health is your business. Because if your employees don’t experience positive physical and mental health, and it is going to impact their work, and it is going to impact their performance and potentially impact your business. So I think it’d be naive of any leader to think that’s not my problem. Because it’s going to be anything that impacts your business is your problem, right? And I think the other thing is, how do we frame these things? How do we ask about mental and physical health in a way that is not intrusive, that is safe? And that is appropriate? And I think the thing is, there are if you’re if you’re planning on launching your own survey, using Survey Monkey asking people about physical and mental health, maybe not, there are very many validated question banks out there to ask employees about physical and mental health has have been tried and tested. I think what

Al Elliott 38:31
I’m saying there is in short, don’t make up your own mental and physical health survey. One person who was an expert at this is Alan Baker at good shape. Now, one of the things that they do is so interesting, because he measures absenteeism, he can predict absenteeism, but it’s not just about absenteeism, as you’ll find out,

Speaker 4 38:49
and it’s formalized, 72% of your workers will be absent in least once a year. So we again 70% engagement. And when you got that engagement, you’re able to push them out to mental health support, occupational health support, and actually measure the efficacy and the effectiveness of our services. Because we know if you went into that service, and then you return to work quicker, you can see it actually had a material impact. So we’re able to use absence as a measurement of improvements in well being in the workplace. So that’s why with a couple of billion data points, we’re able to do things like use absence is the measuring rod for presenteeism, and for absence and well being effectiveness. So absence is a great way of mentioning it. presenteeism is a way of measuring it. Productivity is a way of measuring it right? So 35 days are lost to presenteeism. So that means a huge chunk of your workforce is either physically or mentally unfit to be in the workforce or if they’re in the workforce, and you’re aware of it you will not get Being any allowance to that problem. So imagine if you’ve got a mental health issue and you’re not focused? Well, while you can imagine what it’s like if you’re a surgeon or something like that body for operating heavy equipment, what if you’re doing something physical in the workplace, and you’ve gone back to work because you need the money, but nobody’s made allowance for the fact that you can’t lift or move heavy equipment around now, or there’s so much health and safety issues attached to this, that says being present, because we’re forced to be present, because that’s the economic pressure, most surrender. And it’s also sometimes the duty many of us feel need to return to work.

Leanne Elliott 40:38
I was talking to somebody, at some point in the last six months, they said to me, you’re not getting me at my best today. I’ve got a virus, I’m really struggling. But you know, the show must go on. And I thought, well, that’s a red flag. That’s a red culture flag there, isn’t it if you as a leader, are turning up. And I understand if you’re the business owner, there is added pressure. But even even that, you know, just seeing that having the expectation of yourself, are you? Are you passing that on to your people? And I know it’s tricky. I know, it’s hard. But for me, that was like a red flag.

Al Elliott 41:19
Well, talking to leaders, I think a lot of leaders want this ROI. They’re very, quite rightly to they’re like, yes, we want an ROI on this stuff. And Leanne’s always been really open about this and saying that if we get the insights, then we’ve got the data, then I can prove an ROI for you really, really easily. What was interesting is each one of our guests talked about an ROI. In fact, they, they compared insights into mental physical health into engagement into any kind of insight you’re measuring. He said, that’s like doing some kind of financial analysis, here’s alley to explain a bit more.

Speaker 5 41:51
So what we’re trying to do is help businesses take an empirical, objective view. And by democratizing those data points, if you like, that means it’s privacy based, it’s absolutely producer based, we are making sure that it’s, it’s got to be GDPR compliant, people are in charge of their own information, they can choose when, and, and if they want to provide it. But what we are giving back to individual employees is a really powerful set of guidance notes on here are what the best practices look like in order to improve personal activity, improve your mental cognition, and so forth. And then when they require further support, that’s where we can pinpoint them, you know, in in into their intervention support that they might require as well. We’ve just taken the guesswork out.

Al Elliott 42:45
Now, Charlie from culture 15 says exactly the same thing. Before we hear from Charlie, I just want to talk about a couple of phrases which you may or may not have come across in the financial world. And I learned this from the amazing Paul our bonds at map, who taught me this, there are two types

Leanne Elliott 43:00
of CO hosting the webinar was on Monday should really Congo isn’t they

Al Elliott 43:03
said, that wasn’t even planned, how smooth was that. But Paul bands at Mac o’s and accounting firm, not like the rest of the county firms amazing go and check it out. We are But what he taught me was that there’s kind of like a lag indicator. And that’s things like your profit and loss sheet. That’s the thing that tells you up until this year, you’ve made X amount of money. And then there’s a predictive indicator. And that’s the bit of going look. Based on this. Your budget says that you’re going to run out of cash in three months time, so you need to do something about it. Charlie talks exactly the same way about the whole predictive versus lag indicator idea.

Speaker 1 43:41
There’s the p&l, there’s the balance sheet, you and I looked at the balance sheet and p&l I imagine we’re both be able to read it we’ve got okay, we know common language, common framework, common way of describing the health of the organization, there’s no such thing for culture. And yet the intangible assets tend to be much more valuable on a brand’s value than the tangible assets. So therefore, why not? And so culture 15 is specifically designed to address that. So essentially be a cultural balance sheet. But to do so through the lens of behaviors, not sentiment,

Speaker 2 44:12
it might seem a bit dispassionate to talk about your pupil in terms of assets. And it is and there are there are lots of terms that now, people are starting to question that have been well used terms in the HRM people and culture world but of course, you know, as we as we live and learn these terms, get get reimagined people’s assets, human capital, two examples of ways of looking at your people as a business owner. My only thought would be you know, if you do think about them as an asset, people aren’t humans, they’re purely assets. If you had an asset in your business, let’s say a machine and it costs you 100k a year to run, you would ensure that maintenance was up to date. You would make sure that that wasn’t being pushed, you would make sure that it wouldn’t break. Are you pushing your People to breaking point. And if you aren’t, then you’re not even treating them as assets, let alone humans, we should be thinking about people. In the same way. In some cases, they are 10 times the cost of machinery.

Speaker 4 45:14
And yet companies have been throwing this line around for ages going. People are my number one asset a day you call people an asset, or, Hey, Charles, called Human Capital Management, which says people are capital and assets. And I’m going well, if you’re going to use that almost that derogatory term for human beings, at least treat them as well as you do the equipment in your business as well. Look after them, do preventative maintenance, make sure that you understand their tolerance levels, they don’t break. And so I think for me, it is all about, people need to trust that what you’re doing is in their best interests, and of course, there’s got to be an economic factor behind it. Because we know one simple fact, happy people are more productive, you’re happier if you’re feeling healthy, whether physically or mentally.

Al Elliott 46:00
Now, I think we’re proving there’s a direct correlation between happy and healthy employees and present employees. But it’s more than just being present. There’s something called the flow state, which I think might have been counting up loads, who have originally came up with his idea. And it’s where you sit down and do some work, you look up and go, Oh, my God, I’ve missed my lunch, because you’re in that flow state. Well, Ali Khan talks, he talks about this, and he just describes it as a flourishing

Speaker 5 46:25
flourishing is that, to me is the ability for you to feel supported, for you to feel engaged for you to have great satisfaction with what you’re doing. And what with with X over the last two to three years, I’ve been focused largely on a great piece of work called the mind health index. So that’s measuring in many ways, and in keeping it short, the mental health of a nation, a population, so a representative sample of, of the people in that country. And so there’s statistical methodologies behind this. And we’ve followed that through right down to the last level of the science. And we’ve made sure that we understand in that population said, if we were going to look at the demographics, can we understand how young people feel? Can we understand how older people feel when it comes to their mental health? What about working populations? What about unemployed people? What about males and females, and you can cut the data in a different way. And so this is where we get into his understanding some of those skills also overlap with a state of flourishing, EQ, self awareness, self confidence, and so forth. So you can have a look at these in more detail in the report. And if there’s an organization, you are trying to help your staff get to a place of flourishing. And in flow, these are the kinds of attributes that you’d be looking for. And these are the kinds of skills you’d want to develop in them. So on

Leanne Elliott 47:53
to our last question, how can insights help with changing the workplace

Al Elliott 47:59
Change is the only constant is cheesy, but it’s what is kind of true, because whether we have to react to pandemics or remote working, or hybrid working, or this new generation of employees, and let’s be honest, in 20 years time or 15 years time, we’re going to have Gen alpha, who are going to entering the workplace. And that’s going to be a challenge for everyone, as a one thing is for sure that you, you just need to be adaptable.

Speaker 2 48:22
For a business owner, it might seem that this new way of thinking about culture came up very, very suddenly. And the truth is, it has been bubbling and evolving for a good 1520 years, at least, if we think about the global financial crisis 2007 Lots of people were made redundant from what they thought was secure jobs, jobs for life, that in itself, a job for life doesn’t exist anymore. You know, people weren’t left with the feeling that they had, they had the loyalty of their business, if they provided loyalty in return, that idea went out the window, then, you know, the last 15 years as well, we’ve seen so much we’ve seen the pandemic, we’ve seen the metoo movement, it’s in the Black Lives Matter movement. So many different things have influenced how people are viewing organizational culture at the moment. And so as science progresses, the research progresses. We know it’s not just about being a responsible business, it’s about being a successful business, investing in your people investing in the science of people is quite frankly, good for business. Here’s Charlie,

Speaker 1 49:25
there was an awakening of understanding of the importance of culture around 2008 2009 as a result of that, which has been great, so and that and I think then you’ve got this sort of iterative process of me too, and Black Lives Matter and all this sort of, but it’s it’s a Zeitgeist Moving towards a more individualized realization of humanity. The real interesting question for me is, how does that then plug into how organizations work? Because if you extend that line, they become chaos, right? Everybody’s self determined. And actually organizations are about the whole. The whole reason organizations exist, is because it’s more efficient to do complicated two tasks together, though there’s individually, in order to do complicated tasks, particularly in different sites and different disciplines, you need to have a common way of working,

Leanne Elliott 50:08
and also talks about the changes we need to implement. Now, a lot of that has to do with working remotely or hybrid,

Speaker 4 50:14
we work remotely. Now, there is no division between our home life and our work life, right. It’s now encroached in a home life. So now employees have responsibility for workers and their workplace that extends outside a building, it’s now at home, it’s therefore affecting relationships, it’s affecting the way you’re bringing up the kids. So there’s a duty of care here to make sure they are at their best, you get a huge gain from it as an employer. But if you look after your people, we suddenly have this responsibility now, right. And when you see the stats that I’ve just been explaining to you, you realize a new workplace, this is going to happen. And you’ve got to ask yourself as an employer, am I going to put my best foot forward to support people when these events happen? And if you know you’re doing that, well, I think you can look in the mirror and go, You know what, I take a profit, but I’m also looking after my people. And I think that’s the important thing you’ve got to drive.

Speaker 2 51:09
No conversation about the modern workforce would be complete without talking about my favorite generation, Gen Zed, what’s becoming very clear, even more so by the day, is that they are demanding a very different employee experience than previous generations. They want to experience positive wellbeing, they want to experience a sense of purpose and fulfillment and meaning in their work. They want career development opportunities, they want the opportunity to have side hustles and side gigs and diversify their experience. And that income stream as they know, they’ve seen it from their parents, nothing is certain. So they want to have as much flexibility in their working patterns as much control as much autonomy as they can. So I mentioned

Al Elliott 51:53
before that I might have some kind of weird man crush on Charlie, because he used to fly helicopters. But what’s really interesting is he started talking a little bit about his experience in the armed forces, or the services and he was explaining that because they tend to skew older in terms of leadership, and that you could see huge generational differences. Here’s Charlie talking about his work with the military around bullying and harassment.

Speaker 1 52:18
I used to be in the military and I’m still I have worked in the past with the military on with the army on. It was the actual project was bullying, harassment and discrimination. But I think their intention was to reduce instances of bullying and harassment and discrimination. It doesn’t sound like it. But the point was, they’ve got a real sort of macho, their role is warfighting. So how do you maintain the warfighting capability but yet, make sure people understand that certain behaviors and misogyny and violence and harassment and discrimination, bullying and not acceptable, that requires a real DNA shift? It’s accelerating. And many organizations between, particularly organizations with real longevity, like militaries, associations, UK pharmacies, they’re really struggling because they’re just not able to respond at the same speed. And the people in their 40s 50s and 60s at the head of these organizations have no real experience about what this means for them. So there’s real, there’s a lot of search for answers going on at the top of organizations. At the moment,

Leanne Elliott 53:14
Ali has seen a lot of change happen in the West Coast of America and Australia. And he thinks they’re really spearheading the change required to build a tangible culture.

Speaker 5 53:24
You know, if you look at the culture of culture itself, where did it come from? I don’t think in the UK, I’m yet you know, really yet to come across an organization that fully knows how to define it. If you go to the the real leading places in the world are Australia, for example, the US, especially on the West Coast, so you can physically feel a culture there, you can see a culture, can you see it over here? Is it ingrained in the brand of an organization? Is it something that you can physically feel when you walk into a place, and if you can’t see it there? It’s gonna you’re gonna have a hard time figuring out beyond that, right? It’s actually one of the most visceral things that you could, you could it’s one of those things that I define as a religion. It’s what you do when nobody’s looking. That’s the power of culture. And if truly people believe in an organization, that this is their culture, they will practice it.

Al Elliott 54:20
One of the phrases that has come into our vocabulary recently is that great resignation, Allen has a really good point of view on this and he knows how to to avoid losing great talent. So

Speaker 4 54:30
if you focus on individual and providing great outcomes for them. The reward you get from that is somebody more motivated in the workplace that somebody is more productive in the workplace because they’re enjoying their work and they feel respected and they feel like people are considering them. And if you demonstrate that culture in your organization, you will get more from your people. If you look at the great resignation. It’s staggering, right? So in the health service in Public, private companies as well. 35% of people were talking about leaving their jobs last year. And one of the big drivers behind it is they don’t believe that the company they work for gives a damn about them.

Leanne Elliott 55:14
One of the biggest questions we get asked when we run employee insight surveys is how we’re going to ensure confidentiality and priority. And it’s something we take hugely, hugely seriously. And we’re not alone, Ali from shape is all over this as well.

Speaker 5 55:29
And the single key word you’re looking for is privacy. So if you can protect and guarantee that the person is not going to be able to be identified, and this is where, you know, for the listeners out there who really want to dig into the detail where your randomized key values start to come into play, differential privacy comes into play. So these are constructs, we didn’t create them with following them, them the biggest and best companies in the world, in the phones that we are using. They are protecting us using these algorithms.

Al Elliott 55:58
Right. So that’s that’s it for today. We’ve gone through these five questions, which is what are employee insights? How can they shape workplace strategy and culture? How can employee insight support the managers remember what Leanne said it’s the manager 60% of variance, I think what you said was down to the manager, what mental and physical insights or health insights you should be looking at, and maybe what you shouldn’t. And finally, how you can use your insights to help with this whole, ever evolving, changing

Speaker 2 56:25
workplace. Yes, and I think my final parting words would be taken from one of my favorite psychologists joining me and she said, the most powerful thing you can know when you’re last is where you are. And that’s what employee insights do as a business leader, they will start by telling you exactly where you currently are in terms of your culture in terms your employee engagement, and in terms of your well being. Thank you so much to all our incredible guests today to ally to Charlie to Alan, we’ve loved having you. We’ve loved hearing your insights. And we look forward to having you on the podcast again. In the future. I

Al Elliott 56:59
strongly recommend you check out all of the platforms, all the links are in the show notes. Fabulous, fabulous platforms that will genuinely make a difference in your organization.

Leanne Elliott 57:08
We will be back next week with yet another podcast episode new listeners. We’re pretty predictable in that way. Every week we’ll be here are we talking about?

Al Elliott 57:16
Yes. I don’t know. We’ve got two that I’ve can’t show. We’re not sure whether which one’s coming out in short, I don’t know. But if

Leanne Elliott 57:25
we want to be surprised, it’s gonna be a surprise.

Al Elliott 57:28
Okay, so we will see you next time. One quick message before we go. Jane, Have you cleaned properly.

Leanne Elliott 57:34
Jamie missed you missed a bit. No, no, not there. Yeah, there you go. There

Al Elliott 57:38
it is. So we’ll see you next week. Bye. Bye.

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