Organizations Must Tap Into Worker Passion to Address Competitive Pressures
To address perpetually mounting competitive pressures, organizations need workers who bring passion to their jobs to navigate challenges and accelerate performance improvement. Yet only 11 percent of U.S. workers surveyed by Deloitte possess the necessary attributes that lead to accelerated learning and performance improvement. These and other insights are highlighted in a new report from Deloitte’s Center for the Edge entitled "Unlocking Passion of the Explorer."
The effect of mounting competitive pressure is visible in the downward trend in Return on Assets (ROA). According to Deloitte, ROA for U.S. organizations has been declining for the past 47 years, despite gains in labor productivity, and it shows no signs of stabilizing. The data suggests that the typical corporate response of reducing costs and squeezing more productivity out of the remaining workers by making them work harder is not a long term solution to competitive pressures. Recruiting wars have typically focused on finding particular skills, but Deloitte uncovered that the typical modern work skill becomes outdated within five years.
Instead of recruiting skillsets, organizations would be better served by recruiting passionate people and fostering passion in existing workers. However, the passion of the explorer – workers who embrace challenges as opportunities to learn new skills and rapidly improve performance – is rare in the U.S. workforce, and outdated practices and structures are to blame. Many organizations squelch rather than cultivate the passion of the explorer. In the fall of 2012, Deloitte Center for the Edge surveyed approximately 3,000 full time U.S. workers (more than 30 hours per week) from 15 industries and across various job levels to measure their levels of passion."
The survey notes that one of the fundamental considerations for any business leader is how to create a passionate employee population. Recruiting employees with passion and creating work environments that foster this elusive characteristic will help enterprises effectively respond to the diverse challenges of a globalized marketplace. Workers who demonstrate passion are more committed to their employers and are more likely to see new opportunities for success. In fact, 79 percent of workers who demonstrate the most robust passion say they already work for their "dream" organization even if they are not currently in their dream work role.
While only a small minority of U.S. employees possess the passion of the explorer, 45 percent of U.S. employees demonstrate at least one or two of the three attributes necessary to build passion – long term commitment to a specific domain (those that maintain long-range goals and perspective, despite short - term disruption), questing disposition (those that embrace challenges as opportunities to learn and get stronger), and connecting disposition (those that seek to build strong, trust-based relationships essential for collaboration and rapid feedback) – just not all three. Individuals with any of these characteristics are important to organizations since these attributes can provide a foundation for cultivating the passion that drives accelerated learning and sustained high performance. Creative approaches to work environment redesign can help to catalyze and amplify the passion of the explorer among employees – executives should not view passion as a given quantity but rather as something that can be nurtured and expanded over time.
Interestingly, these characteristics are not equally distributed across the workforce. The passionate tend to work for smaller organizations, and the prevalence of workers with the passion of the explorer drops, from 13 percent to 9 percent, in organizations with more than 1,000 employees. The research revealed that differences in the level of passion across industries were not statistically significant.
Moreover, the most passionate workers are likely to be in the management and marketing functions (17 percent and 16 percent, respectively) and are least likely to reside within the customer service (5 percent), accounting / finance (7 percent), human resources (7 percent), or manufacturing (7 percent) areas.
Furthermore, the survey notes that passion of the explorer correlates with compensation. Higher pay brackets have a higher concentration of passion; among those making more than $150,000, 44 percent are passionate versus just 15 percent or fewer in lower income brackets.
Survey Finds Significant Opportunity for More IT Support of Mobility at Work
CDW, a provider of technology solutions to business, government, education and healthcare, announced its Mobility at Work Report, a close look at issues of integrating mobile technologies into work environments, based on a survey of 1,200 IT professionals across eight industries and 1,200 workers who use personal smartphones and tablet computers at their jobs. While security around mobile devices is a constant issue, CDW’s survey found that managing mobility in the workplace presents a much broader set of challenges. IT departments and users alike agree that there is a “support gap.” Asked to grade their organization’s IT policies and technical support, only 41 percent of individuals using personal devices at their job give IT an A or a B. IT professionals had a more positive view of the support they offer, with 64 percent giving their own departments an A or a B, yet only 18 percent said they deserved an A.
Looking ahead, 90 percent of IT professionals surveyed expect growing use of personal mobile devices to have major impacts on their organizations’ networks, including:
Increased bandwidth requirements (63 percent)
Increased network latency (39 percent)
Increased server requirements (44 percent) and storage requirements (37 percent)
In fact, many (39 percent) say they have already seen network performance suffer.
“Mobility has edged its way into the workplace, increasing and complicating IT’s workload, and often leading to frustration on all fronts. Securing devices, along with the data and networks they use, will always be a significant concern, but protecting users and employers is only one of five key aspects of mobility management at work,” said Andrea Bradshaw, senior director and general manager, mobility solutions, for CDW. “The network impacts confirm that IT needs a systems strategy to accommodate mobility. Our research also shows that users and IT alike see room for improvement in the level and quality of support that IT provides for mobility today.”
Bradshaw noted that the key aspects of mobility management other than security are: planning a strategy; enabling the strategy efficiently; supporting users and IT alike, and empowering users.
Customer Contact Centers' Criticality During Disasters Necessitate Business Continuity Strategies
Customer contact organizations are at the heart of business continuity/disaster recovery (BC/DR) strategies, as they are the go-to information centers in times of calamities and disasters. Due to the vital role they play in disseminating information, there are wide arrays of BC/DR-enabling methods and solutions available to handle all kinds of events.
Disasters account for more than a thousand deaths and billions of dollars of damages in the United States annually, according to sources such as the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), the National Fire Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Labor. The sources range from natural events, such as storms and fires, to workplace violence.
With the rise in mobility and advent of social media, customers expect real-time updates on delays, disruptions and changes to the products and services they purchase. However, Frost & Sullivan's survey of more than 250 IT managers in 2012 revealed that only 31 percent of the respondents claimed their organizations are prepared to handle outages and disasters.
Customer contact organizations face two challenges when devising and implementing effective BC/DR programs. The first is balancing the potential risks and losses from adversity and the investments needed for putting in place effective BC/DR solutions. The second challenge pertains to enterprises' lack of motivation to deploy these solutions due to the unpredictability of these events.
The BC/DR solutions that will find the highest uptake are those that support customers, employees, and operations and yet minimize capital investments and operational costs. Some of the methods to achieve this include selecting sites away from vulnerable areas, "multishoring," enabling employees to work from home, placing applications and data in the cloud, employing multiple backup and response tools and channels, alerting customers through proactive customer contact, and improving contact center access control.
Effective BC/DR depends on the development and maturity of cloud/hosting to supply and support applications and data. The solution's success also rides on cloud vendors' deployment of redundancy, including active-active server backup, geo-redundancy, and onsite generators.
For BC/DR to be wholly functional, wireless communication should be prevalent. While social media has proven to be a useful alerting and interaction tool, it is effective only if the recipients have Internet access. Nevertheless, even with Internet access, the bandwidth can fluctuate wildly in the aftermath of a disaster. Hence, there is a huge need for a multilayered approach, such as inbound and outbound interactive voice response (IVR) and SMS/text.
Apart from these external threats, contact centers also must prepare for employee violence, especially aggression against women. This is all the more relevant in the light of the fact that women account for more than two-thirds of customer service representatives. Furthermore, contact centers will do well to initiate military veterans into the workforce, as they have proven abilities to assess and respond to sudden and difficult situations.
US Consumers Want Today's Companies to be Proactive in Customer Service
inContact, a provider of cloud contact center software and contact center agent optimization tools, announced the findings of their July 2013 customer service survey, that examined the preferences of consumers when it comes to incoming calls and other proactive communications from companies.
The study, conducted online by Harris Interactive, on behalf of inContact, among 2,034 U.S. adults aged 18 years or older, shows that consumers are open to being contacted proactively by companies. According to the findings, 87 percent of U.S. adults want to be contacted proactively by an organization or company.
Yet a major hindrance to proactive customer service is the initial pause or delay that often occurs in traditional legacy predictive dialers. The inContact survey uncovered that the pause is not only common, but it prevents customers from talking to companies. The most common initial reaction to a delay or pause, among those who answer calls from unfamiliar numbers, is to simply hang up (49%).
Customers would be more receptive if the pause could be eliminated. Over half (55%) of those who answer incoming calls from unfamiliar numbers say that if there was no delay or pause they would be more receptive to what the caller might have to say and/or more interested in hearing who’s calling them from an unfamiliar number.
Additional Key Findings Include:
Nearly one-in-five (17%) of those who answer incoming calls from unfamiliar numbers believe the delay/pause conveys that they are not important to the caller.
The most popular reasons why U.S. adults would want to be contacted is about fraudulent activity on their account (65%), for setting appointments or reminders (53%) or with questions about an order they placed (51%).
Nearly three-quarters (73%) of those who have had a pleasant surprise or positive experience with an incoming call from a business/service provider report they had a positive change in their perception of the organization calling them.
62% of those who have had a pleasant surprise or positive experience with an incoming call from a business/service provider have taken an action as a result of that positive experience.
Employee Engagement Insights for U.S. Business Leaders
While the state of the U.S. economy has changed substantially since 2000, the state of the American workplace has not. Currently, 30% of the U.S. workforce is engaged in their work, and the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is roughly 2-to-1, meaning that the vast majority of U.S. workers (70%) are not reaching their full potential — a problem that has significant implications for the economy and the individual performance of American companies. Gallup’s research shows that employee engagement remains flat when left unmanaged.
This report includes an overview of the trend in U.S. employee engagement, a look at the impact of engagement on organizational and individual performance, information about how companies can accelerate employee engagement, and an examination of engagement across different segments of the U.S. population.
Key finding from the report include:
Engaged workers are the lifeblood of their organizations. Work units in the top 25% of Gallup’s Q12 Client Database have significantly higher productivity, profitability, and customer ratings, less turnover and absenteeism, and fewer safety incidents than those in the bottom 25%.
Gallup estimates that active disengagement costs the U.S. $450 billion to $550 billion per year.
Engagement levels among service employees — those workers who are often on the front line serving customers — are among the lowest of any occupation Gallup measured and have declined in recent years, while engagement for every other job category increased.
More than one-third (36%) of managers and executives were engaged in 2012, up 10 percentage points from 2009. By contrast, professional workers overall saw a modest two-point increase in engagement levels from 2009 to 2012.
Gallup has found that managers who focus on their employees’ strengths can practically eliminate active disengagement and double the average of U.S. workers who are engaged nationwide.
Although certain policies such as hours worked, flextime, and vacation time do relate to employee wellbeing, engagement levels in the work environment eclipse corporate policies.
Despite not always having a manager nearby to monitor their productivity, remote workers actually log more hours at their primary job than do their on-site counterparts.
Only 22% of U.S. employees are engaged and thriving. When employees are engaged and thriving in their overall lives, they are more likely to maintain strong work performance — even during difficult times.
Only 41% of employees felt that they know what their company stands for and what makes its brand different from its competitors’ brands.