Category Archives: employee surveys

Stop employing Managers

Times have changed. The way we work has moved on. I think the role of Manager has had its day.

Unfortunately not many organisations have moved with the times. They’re offering new products and using new technology but  still servicing customers using the same old rules and tired, bureaucratic ways of working.  I don’t believe they can keep up with customer demands by working that way.leader_postit

New technologies have influenced what we do and the way we do it – organisations are offering a huge variety of products and service in ways we wouldn’t have thought of  just 10 years ago. Our customers see the convenience and efficiency of new technology as just the norm and are demanding even more. No longer satisfied with ‘average’ service;  they want more than just their query answered; they want choice, they want personal service.

In order to satisfy your customers I believe you have to focus on your employees. In my opinion they are in the best position to give your customers what they really want.

Stop controlling employees with overly complex and detailed rules. Instead give them the autonomy and responsibility to make decisions resolve problems and complaints themselves. Give them the tools, information and freedom to make decisions.

Stop telling employees what to do.  They are the ones doing the job so make use of the knowledge and relationships they have built up. They know how stuff actually works. They can tell you what works well and what’s getting in the way. You just have to ask. Your customers already (probably) tell them what they really think. Enable your people to use their knowledge and skill and you should see them, and your business grow.

Stop employing Managers to control things. Organisations need Leaders who focus on people. But you don’t just need leaders at the ‘top’ of a company. Everyone should be a leader.  Because Leaders motivate and inspire their people and encourage them to engage. And when employees are engaged they will motivate, inspire and engage your customers.

How many Leaders do you employ?

To hear more on how to create the right working environment and conditions to retain employees with valuable IT/Technology skills, employee engagement, customer engagement or ‘The 3Ease Standard’ and bespoke surveys email; follow us on @peopleessential or sign up to receive our blog/occasional newsletter.

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The only reason NOT to spend money on Employee Engagement

I’m not suggesting employee engagement is a waste of money. There are plenty of freely available studies that demonstrate the Return on Engagement (RoE) is potentially huge and would force me to withdraw a statement like that very quickly!

money in binBut I do believe spending lots of money on initiatives to drive up levels of engagement is wasteful.

In my opinion the things that drive up engagement don’t require a lot of financial investment. Engagement is about actions not words. You can write whatever you like on the side of a mug or in a glossy brochure. You can say whatever you want at your company conference or customer meeting. But no-one will be convinced until they see that what you say matches what you actually do. If you don’t have trust then you won’t get engagement.

Small and medium sized companies have been slower to adopt the idea of employee engagement. This is of course for a number of reasons but cost is definitely a significant factor. Most of the research in to engagement is based on the experiences and results of big companies. And that’s made smaller employers question whether they can afford it. My experience of employee engagement and increasing numbers of studies say they’re wrong.

There is just one reason NOT to spend money on employee engagement – you don’t need to.

What are your engagement tips?

If you’d like to hear more on how to create the right working environment and conditions to retain employees with valuable IT/Technology skills, employee engagement, customer engagement or 3Ease ‘Standard’ and bespoke surveys… you can email; follow us on @peopleessential or sign up to receive our blog/occasional newsletter

Five simple actions to attract and retain Techies

knee jerk employee engagement

If you work in the IT sector then you already know supply of IT skills isn’t keeping up with demand.

It’s a competitive market and your employees know it. The 2014 Tech Industry Survey suggested that one third of technical employees are job hunting and 80% are keeping an eye on what’s going on.

(Because the internet is fundamental to how a lot of us manage our businesses and service our customers this could be a concern for more of us than we think).

The typical reaction to employee resignations (if you want to retain them) is to offer more money.  But while pay may be a method for attracting new staff it’s only a short term fix (even if you were paying them peanuts) for existing employees.

Job satisfaction and engagement is what keeps IT people happy, loyal and productive.

Ask them what they want.

Yeah I know you asked them in their last appraisal but they didn’t say anything much.  In a fast moving sector like this employees interests, needs and requirements can change just as quickly. You’ve got to keep on top of things and that means more regular conversation. Besides would a conversation once every six or twelve months convince you that someone was really interested in what you had to say?

Listen to what they say.

Listening isn’t just about nodding your head every now and then – people only believe they are being heard when they can see their feedback has had some kind of impact. I’m not suggesting you commit to anything elaborate. Focus on one or two little things you can do and are visible (almost) straight away.

Let them get on with it.  

Techies want interesting and challenging work to do. That doesn’t automatically mean using the latest technologies or working on the biggest/most important customer project. Make things interesting by giving them control over what they do. Give them the autonomy to make decisions and be creative.

Don’t compromise

There’s no doubting the positive effects of working with people you like. But for techies it’s more than that. They want to be in an environment where they can learn and develop. That means working with talented people who they can trust and respect. So don’t accept second best.

Stay friends

There are two reasons to stay in touch and on good terms with your leavers. First it’s a small world, especially when you use social media, and word gets round. Second you may not be able to offer that leaver the opportunity they want now but you might do in the future…

What are your engagement tips for techies?

If you’d like to hear more from us on retaining techies, employee engagement, customer engagement or 3Ease surveys… you can email; follow us on @peopleessential or sign up to receive our blog/occasional newsletter.

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Can you hear me now?

In the last fortnight I’ve heard more than 10 talks including some great ones from Steve Cram, Brad Burton and 3Ease Partner Sian Perham.

Now since joining Hungerford Speakers Club I’ve taken a much more, critical, interest in ‘talks’ – I’ve learn’t just as much from evaluating them as I have from delivering them.

I can’t really understand why I look forward to going to the meetings. Who’d have thought I’d actually want to stand up and talk for 2 minutes on a topic that I have had no time to prepare for!

I joined Hungerford Speakers because I want to improve my public speaking skills; I want to be more confident at speaking in front of large groups. And I’ll be honest I feel some pressure, when my subject  is ‘engagement’, to be engaging!

Communication Hierarchy

Of course I know that the more engaging my talks are the more likely people will listen and act on what I communicate.

My ice-breaker speech (the name given to your first speech at Speakers Club) was about mindset. I suggested that there was no such thing as luck and that luck is actually a state of mind. Funny really I could have substituted the word luck with confidence ( at speaking) and reached the same conclusion.

The most engaging talks are those that persuade and inspire. Now, you may not like his style, but when I saw Brad Burton he did exactly that. Unconventionally dressed in jeans and t-shirt, speaking at pace and using the odd swear word, his confident delivery quickly built credibility. He tells you right up front his intention is to make you ‘get off your arse’ and makes powerful use of personal stories to connect with you, his audience, and get his point across.

In my experience too few of us aim to persuade and inspire. We set our sites much lower; most of our communication focuses on giving information. It’s safe. It’s quick. It’s boring. It’s ineffective. When you fail to keep peoples interest or attention they stop listening.

Statistics about engagement suggest that for the average UK organisation:

  • 30% of employees are engaged ie. motivated, committed and performing their best
  • 40% are not engaged ie. doing just enough not to get noticed and either looking or waiting for something better to come along
  • 30% are actively disengaged ie. unhappy, demotivated poor performers spreading disatisfaction

If you apply those statistics to communication in the workplace (communication being one of the main drivers of engagement)  it means;

  • 30% of messages are understood and inspire people to act on them
  • 40% are unclear and lead to confusion, inconsistent or incomplete action
  • 30% of messages are completely misunderstood and result in no action being taken or people doing the wrong things

How much of what you communicate is unwelcome, irritating background noise?

Good communication is free. Bad communication is very expensive – for every organisation.

If you want to improve your customer experience improve the way you communicate with your employees.

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small is beautiful

When I worked in big corporates we looked down on small and medium size organisations.

big-giant-stepping-on-a-small-company1At that time I’d never even worked in one.

Working in a big company just bred a certain arrogance; we ‘knew’ we could do everything better. We used our muscle to buy more cheaply from suppliers and we could sell more cheaply too – if we wanted to. Our products and services were more easily and readily available. We could afford the latest technology. We attracted the best and most talented people because we offered better pay, more benefits, a  training plan and promotion prospects.

The tide is turning.

Today it’s better to be an SME.

Today being a big company is a problem.

Technology is no longer a barrier to entry, products and processes are more easily ‘copied’.  Small organisations can compete with big organisations on everything from price, quality and in recruiting staff.  And when it comes to customer experience – they’re outclassing them.

Research suggests, even in this climate, that price is not top of the customers wish list especially when it comes to selling B2B.

Customers still want value for money but expressed as a combination of personal, friendly and polite service, knowledgeable and available staff, responsive after sales support and finally price.

Customer service has never been more important to customers (and businesses). The 2012 American Express Global Customer Service Barometer found that 68% of those surveyed in the UK spent more with a company when they had good customer experience.

The best organisations recognise that really good service can’t be achieved by just following a process or supplying a product. That just makes you the same as everyone else. Your reputation for service comes from the whole customer experience and is reliant on the day to day activities of each and everyone of your employees. Successful organisations understand that to deliver consistently good service that wows their customers then they have to wow their employees first!

Big companies have traditionally seen the customer service department as an overhead, the place customers go when things go wrong.  Their emphasis has been on decreasing costs by implementing automated call centres or out-sourcing the function overseas. Their size means that they are slow to adapt to these changes.

Smaller organisations are in their element. They can and are reacting to changing customers demands. They are flexible enough to ensure that everything they do is based around doing the very best for their customers.

Based on your experience, how much do you agree or disagree that each of the following accurately describes customer service in small businesses?

  • 71% agree that small businesses know their business/product better than large companies
  • 74% They understand their customer better than large companies
  • 81% provide a more personal customer service experience than large companies

Considering a small independently-owned business and large company that both provide excellent customer service – which type of company are you willing to spend more with?

  • 48% Willing to spend more with a small business
  • 7% Willing to spend more with a large company
  • 44% No difference

(2012 American Express Global Customer Service Barometer -UK)

Small companies are winning customers because they’re good not because they’re big.

Does your organisation still think big is best?

Do you know what kind of service your customers want?

As an employer are you giving your people the kind of employee experience that encourages, enables and motivates them to provide the best customer experience?

For information on how  3Ease can help you find out what your customers and your employees want talk to / 01635 246214 /

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It doesn’t have to be like this

I’ve just got back from a weeks skiing in France.

We flew out of Bristol with Easy Jet.  Our flight was at 0700 and that meant a very early start. When we booked we didn’t realise the clocks went back the night before – that made it a really, really early start!

We arrived on time, checked in and went in search of breakfast. It was quite busy but we found a place to eat and joined the queue. It took some time but we made it to the front of the queue behind the till and waited to be served.

We must have been waiting there, patiently, for 10 minutes. OK maybe 5. Not one member of staff acknowledged or approached us. Finally we caught someones eye;

‘Excuse me… we’ve been waiting here for about 10 minutes’


That was it. That was the response. It was so shocking it was funny. He simply said ‘why’ and told us to join the end of the adjacent queue. He didn’t care one jot what we did. Even worse not one of his colleagues batted an eye – that’s obviously just how they do business. That’s how they treat their staff and how their staff treat their customers.

I like to think it was because of sleep deprivation however  (muttering under our breath) we joined the other queue.

bad service

We may have looked complacent at the time but in true British fashion and like 89% of other people who experience bad service we won’t go there again. We will also tell at least 10 other people about our experience – with 4 Adults in our party that’s at least 40 people. If like David Carroll however I use  you tube (United Breaks Guitars) to share my displeasure I could get my message to 500,000 people in only 3 days!

In this technological age it could take just one bad experience to wreck your reputation and your business.

That was the only instance of bad service we had ( considering we were in France and at the end of the season, that was actually very surprising!).

We had a wonderful time and returned with the usual stories of falling off lifts and wipe-outs. We also have an interesting couple of food related tales to do with a cheese fondue and profiteroles!

Snow and sun were plentiful but what made the holiday special was the people looking after us.

This was our first skiing holiday for a few years and we chose to go with a company called Ski Bonjour who promise the ‘ultimate chalet experience’. They delivered.

Hannah and Lou,  our ‘Chalet Girls’ were a delight.  Very welcoming, attentive, confident and good company. Nothing was too much trouble for them. One of our party is on a gluten free diet – every day gluten free cakes/biscuits were on offer after skiing and every meal was adapted.

They told us that they were well looked after by their Employer, Ski Bonjour, and it showed. Nothing appeared regimented or forced (although there were clearly some well established standards and routines).  And because they were happy so were we.

Next time I want something whether it’s a holiday, book or a cup of tea I’m going to buy it from the person with the smiliest face, or the smiliest voice. And like 86% of the population I’m prepared to pay extra for the service that goes with that smile.

For more evidence that happy engaged employees deliver better service take a look at engage for success. Then ask yourself if your employees make your customers feel the way you want them to?

…and if you need some help to find out just ask.

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5 Reasons to ditch appraisals

Whenever I mention the word appraisal I always get some kind of reaction from whoever I’m talking to. The response may vary from a shake of the head, to a sharp intake of breath or a few ‘well chosen’ words (which cannot be repeated here) but it is invariably negative. I could count on one hand the number of people who have something good to say about them.

I’ve worked in Human Resources for over 20 years.

I hate appraisals.

If they don’t motivate or engage people what’s the point. I’d ban them from all organisations if I could.

As you can imagine working in HR my personal experiences of appraisals have all been really positive. Of course not. We’re the ‘owners’ of the appraisal process and therefore on a mission to test it and break it; that’s the bit we do very well.

I can think of one job (two excellent and I recognise now, engaging managers Clare & Julie – thanks!) where I experienced positive, constructive and career enhancing appraisals. The rest have been pretty hit and miss.

Compared to other peoples experiences I consider myself fortunate. The greatest crime I experienced was that they either didn’t take place or were completed in 5 minutes as a paper exercise. That said there is the red neck issue that I’m still quite bitter about. Of course I accept some responsibility for that (I mean not having the appraisals) but let’s be honest I didn’t really see the point of pushing for anything more. I sought my guidance and feedback from others.


3 reasons to dump appraisals

I know what the problems are (I talk about them in ‘training’ sessions) and commonly it comes down to the fact that

  • Because they only take place once or twice a year (some) managers think its OK not to talk with their people at any other  point – that’s no feedback for over 5 or 11 months at a time!
  • The manager takes the role of  assessor and judge too seriously. The definition of appraisal is the act of assessing something or someone but you’re not supposed to take that literally.
  • Appraisals are still linked to pay rises and bonus’ and where that’s the case, if you actually manage a two-way discussion, it’s going to be quite narrowly focused and defensive.
  • Managers are not honest; they skirt over feedback to avoid potential conflict or what they see as difficult topics of conversation.
  • There’s no discussion about the employees needs, interests and aspirations; or that’s all that gets talked about.

You’ll see a theme emerging with these points and surprise it’s related to engagement!  Employee engagement isn’t rocket science and when you’re talking appraisals it’s simply about creating regular two-way dialogue, that meets the needs and interests of both parties; it’s about working relationships based on trust and honesty and aligning what you do (as an individual manager) with what you say (as an organisation in everything from your values to your policies).

If you want to engage your people ditch the appraisal. Definitely dump the name.

Don’t even have a ‘review’.  Just have an honest two-way conversation.

To find out what your people think, how to improve communication and achieve higher levels of engagement in your workplace then get in touch with – we’d love to talk with you.

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It ain’t what you do its the way that you do it

…and that’s what gets results (courtesy of  Ella Fitzgerald or Bananarama depending on your musical tastes)

These words have been popping up all over the place recently – it started with the (excellent) video on the website, then  the unfortunate playlist of a local radio station and more recently at a conference.

I couldn’t find the origins of this saying (other than song lyrics) but if you know different please let me know. I did however discover the origins of a few others in my search.

image‘Always a bridesmaid and never the bride’. That was apparently the result of an advert for mouthwash in the 1920’s!

Then I found two theories for the term ‘being on a good footing’. One is related simply to the size of your feet . The bigger your feet the greater your status. Interesting!

The other theory is that it goes back to trade apprentices; after their first day at work the apprentice had to invite their workmates for a drink. Of course they had to ‘foot’ the bill and it was said the more generous they were the ‘better footing’ they achieved with their new workmates!

These days it usually takes more than a beer to establish yourself at work. The relationship between Employer and Employee is more balanced too with the result that we are more selective about our jobs, the people we work with and the places we work.

Research shows that we don’t choose our employers for just one reason. It’s not just about the money (or the beer). People, and especially the best people, even in this climate, have a variety of criteria and need to be persuaded that as an Employer you will meet their needs and wants.

At 3Ease we believe it’s SMEs not large companies who can offer the best candidates what they want;

  1. Interesting work – with less bureaucracy and more flexibility there’s more opportunity in an SME to take responsibility for a wider range of tasks and practice a variety of experiences and skills.
  2. To get involved – in a smaller environment ideas and feedback are easier to share so its easier to join in and feel you are making a real contribution to the business.
  3. To feel that their job is important – it’s easier to make a difference when you can see where your job fits in, watch your ideas being implemented and follow projects through from start to finish. That helps build pride too.
  4. Believe that their Employer cares about them – working in an SME means everyone is more visible enabling people to build more individual and stronger working relationships.
  5. By their nature SME’s tend to be more innovative, responsive and flexible – and in our experience that results in a better work life balance too.

Not every workplace is the same but SMEs have a natural advantage when it comes to delivering the right results for their people and their customers.

If you want to find out how other Employers are attracting the best people in to their business then take part in the 3Ease SME Benefits Survey.  Covering everything from pensions, bonus’, overtime and holidays to flexible working, medical insurance and child care vouchers  – all participating organisations receive a full report for only £25.

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The worst job you ever had?


What made that job so bad?

Apparently most people leave their jobs for at least one of the following reasons;

  • Poor relationship with Manager
  • No opportunity to grow or progress
  • Work life balance

When did you last feel like that?

Now, and be honest, how was your performance affected? I bet you weren’t doing your best – may be leaving work a little earlier, putting in less effort, making a few more mistakes and perhaps missing some deadlines.
It’s the New Year – traditionally the time people return to work with resolutions like getting a new job! So perhaps now is the time to ask how your employees are feeling about their jobs
  • Will the Christmas break have made them think they want to spend more time with their families?
  • Are they getting the training they need or want?
  • Are they doing the kind of work they want to do?
  • What do they think of their manager (and their colleagues)
  • Would they be willing to come in early, or leave late, just to make sure that job got finished?

What would it be like if they ‘loved’ their job and they were proud of what they did? They certainly wouldn’t be thinking of leaving would they?

What’s more scary – asking your people how they feel or watching them leave (and seeing the impact that has on your business)?

It’s not too late to find out what your people think. It’s not too late to encourage them to stay.

For further information on using 3Ease to ask what your people think talk to / 01635 246214 /

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Should work be fun?

Fun (noun) Enjoyment, amusement, light-hearted pleasure.

There are a couple of jobs that really stand out in my career and my over riding recollection is that they were fun!

Now, be honest, how many of you automatically said to yourselves ‘you can’t have been working very hard if it was fun’? More often than not ‘work’ and ‘fun’ are seen as exclusive. And fun is certainly not something you do when you’re under pressure to resolve a problem or have a deadline to meet.image

I can assure you I worked very hard. Part of a well respected team and successful company I thought nothing of regularly working 10  – 12 hour days. My job was varied, stimulating and very challenging; I was given complete autonomy, and responsibility, for some significant projects that took me right out  of my comfort zone. I learn’t loads. I worked with a great team of people and had a very supportive and encouraging manager. I did it because I enjoyed it. I was engaged.

It’s been recognised for a long time that having fun makes you a more efficient learner. (A principle effectively employed in playgroups and nursery schools but less prevalent as you progress through school to more ‘serious’ qualification focused learning). Research shows that when you enjoy what you are doing it stimulates learning and long term memory. When you are bored you are not having fun and you are not learning!

Fun helps create passion and energy and that’s what drives and motivates most of us to get things done.  We are more productive, effective and creative when we enjoy ourselves.

Having fun is an effective way to relieve stress, it enhances communication, helps build   relationships and a common identity.

Fun and engagement are inextricably linked with learning and performance.

As we approach the New Year perhaps now is a good time to ask yourself the following two questions

  1. are your employees having fun?
  2. how much more effective would your people and your organisation be if they were?

If you would like to see more fun and better results in your workplace then get in touch with we’d love to talk to you.


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