Optimizing Engagement Through Employee Listening

w/ Shane McFeely

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Transcript - Optimizing Engagement Through Employee Listening

Rich: On this episode of team building saves the world

Shane: a push and pull a little bit between employees and organizational leaders And I think both are doing so in good faith, right? You know if you give our employees a voice they’re going to be integral and you know kind of have that buy in into Shaping our culture then what you see is about year two or three you start to what i’ve lovingly started to call the pit of despair Which is about Two or three years into that employee life cycle.

Rich: Hello team.

It’s me, your old friend, Rich Rininsland host of team building saves the world. The show where I speak to thought leaders from around the world, discussing variable strategies and tools to help you and your team build a better work environment. And today, Hey, can you hear me? Cause we’re discussing.

Employee Listening Strategies with Organizational Psychologist and Lead Workplace Researcher Shane McFeely. But first, I need to share some love with my supporters at Team Bonding. If your team is ready to experience teamwork through the power of play, then visit teambonding. com to learn more. Now, team, join me in welcoming my guest.

From Quantum Workplace, it’s Shane

McFeely. Shane! Hello, sir!

Shane: Yes, sir. Yes. Thousand people applauding from under my desk, just for you. How are you

feeling today? Friend’s uncomfortable. It’s a spacious desk. They’re fine. That’s

Rich: great. That’s great. So Shane, let’s start off like I usually do. Uh, let’s tell my team out there all about yourself, where you got started and what exactly an organizational psychologist is.

Shane: No, that’s great. So yeah, I’m an industrial organizational psychologist by training and kind of formal education. And now I’m the lead researcher at Quantum Workplace. But really, an industrial organizational psychologist really just takes research methods and statistics and applies them to the workplace.

So really, the goal of an organizational psychologist is to identify what are the evidence based practices that really helps with workplace management? What are the ways in which we can really engage our employees and make sure that we have high performance, you know, throughout our organization. So really, the organizational psychologist, they’re gonna be, um, the person who’s, you know, building selection instruments.

They’re the ones that are gonna be identifying what’s the right survey to ask employees. You know, when we talk about this thing of employee listening, and then they’re also gonna be the ones that kind of Look at that data, integrate it with other data that they have throughout that organization. Kind of look at the quantitative as well as qualitative kind of understanding, you know, putting their Fingers on the pulse of what’s happening in that organization.

So that’s kind of the, the gist of what an organizational psychologist does. And how long has

Rich: this been going on? Because for the longest time, I mean, I, as I tell everybody who comes on the show, I’m an actor and a director and a writer, I’m, I’m, I’m an artist, which means that I have had jobs that pay for my career and for the longest time, when I was in the workplace, uh, in an office space, what have you, uh, in that model, no one ever seemed to care.

So how long has the strategy of actually, cause when we talk about of course. Employee listening strategies. We talk about actually methods of listening to the employees, not making sure the employees are listening to us, which is what a lot of managers wish would just be the only issue.

Shane: Just do that.

Just listen to me and I don’t need to worry about your feedback. No organizational psychology has really been around for, for decades, you know? So, and I think originally it started as a more academic kind of exercise, but now we’re starting to see this sort of push towards being both academic, you know, having this scholarly articles and kind of the research behind it, but also applying that research to practitioners in the field.

So, you know, there’s organizational psychologists that are integrated in many HR teams, um, across, you know, organizations, both small and large. So it’s kind of a. an H. R. Professional with some of that scientific mindset that’s going to and kind of that rigor that’s going to really make sure that we can kind of identify what is the signal here from the noise and and hopefully, you know, coach our leaders and our managers about what to do next.

Um, so I think they’ve been around and but I agree with you that, you know, a lot of the perception is that not a lot of Folks care about this, you know, the work stuff and how employees feel about it. And so, you know, I think we’re trying to, to really turn the tide on, on some of those perceptions. Okay.

Rich: Uh, and you mentioned surveys are, I understand that as an old school methodology for, uh, finding out where your employees stand, are there any better methods that have come about?

Or do you still personally like to go back

Shane: to the surveys? So I think, uh, you know, surveys are an important and I’d say, you know, kind of a foundational part of what I consider a comprehensive employee listening strategy, you know, but what you’re going to also have in there are things like one on one meetings with your manager and your employees, you know, it’s going to be that meeting that you have where you’re setting goals for what we’re going to do, identifying those barriers as well.

Part of it is, is also, you know, being able to identify, you know, certain for certain demographics at certain kind of moments that matter, when is the right time to kind of deploy a, you know, a short, quick, efficient survey, that’s going to get us just the information that we need. So I see it as, you know, more than surveys because, you know, that’s just the start of it.

And, and really the part where I think things kind of start to go haywire is, is really following up on those surveys and kind of what to do next.

Rich: Yeah. Cause I was going to say, the next question is what’s the difference or how can you ascertain? The difference between the employee who is answering as truthfully as they can in the survey and the employee who’s giving you the answer they think the boss wants to hear.

Shane: Yeah, no, I, and, and that is, you know, an issue when, when it comes to surveys. So I think, you know, a few things that I think organizations can do to make sure that they’re getting the right signal and they’re not just getting this kind of elevated noise or these kinds of positive perceptions, you know, tell me how good I am as a boss or, or as a leader, um, you know, so.

So one is just kind of making sure that you have that trust all the way from leadership of starting with the why, why are we doing these surveys? Um, you know, why are we listening to employee feedback and voices? I think also having a little bit of confidentiality when when it comes to those surveys, particularly for sensitive topics.

Making sure that that feedback, you know, if an employee is going to give you feedback, if they’re going to go out of the out of their way to say, you know, here’s what where I think we can improve. Here’s where I think what’s going well. If they’re taking that time to do that, they need to see that you’re pulling up on those surveys.

They need to know that they’re not going to have negative retribution on them after those surveys and that, you know, I don’t know. Kind of that, you know, tall nail gets pounded down. You don’t want those people who, you know, probably care a lot about that workplace and I, but just want to see it do better that those voices aren’t, aren’t the ones that are kind of being kind of negatively impacted by those, um, through, through, um, you know, confidentiality and then, and then trust.

Rich: Okay. And now we start getting into it. Why is a psychologist important in these kinds of things? It is, is it those kinds of factors? Figuring out how to actually tell or, or to create the safe work environment, uh, that we need psychologists involved.

Shane: I think I think that’s part of it. I think the psychologist, you know, a really good one is, is really apt at psychometric.

So not every survey question is created equal. Some are more powerful than others. Some are more impactful. Some are more clear. You know, sometimes we get, uh, there’s, I’ve seen some surveys where you’re like, okay, imagine the data comes back to us. What are you going to do about identifying where the problem is?

Because, you know, the questions are worded so vaguely. Um, so, you know, it’s a, it’s a lot. I think the, um, The real critical role of a psychologist in this whole employee listing thing is kind of aligning your, your kind of business challenges and opportunities with the survey, aligning the action with the results that we see, and then integrating that data with performance metrics.

So identifying, you know, how, you know, how do these employee perceptions, how do they impact how they’re. Performing in their job, how does it impact our return on investment in what we’re doing in terms of employee listening, as well as performance management, where’s that kind of ROI app? Is this something you still do with clients yourself?

Rich: You, you still go out to workplace or reach out to a workplace and give them these surveys and so forth to work with. So

Shane: that’s kind of the purview of the people on my team myself anymore. I’m really doing kind of more research where I’m listening to kind of all employees, not for a particular customer.

You know, that’s kind of the way that I came from is consulting and doing a lot of advanced analytics work with consultants where I’m taking their data and I’m in the trenches with their Excel documents. And I’m trying to make sense out of, you know, their KPIs, their key performance indicators and kind of understanding what are the things that they care about most.

So. But now I would say, you know, one of the best things that quantum is we, we have the best places to work contest. We’re kind of the operators of that. So that gives us over 800, 000 different voices that we get to listen to across, you know, 8, 000 some companies who are telling us about, you know, what is their culture like, what is their engagement levels, how do they feel about their managers and their, and their team?

So, you know, today I would say I’m, I’m looking more at. kind of engagement trends. And I’m looking at, you know, what is the what is the evidence based way to do things like employee feedback and employee recognition? Um, and and some of those kinds of things.

Rich: I don’t want to get you in trouble, so I’m not gonna ask you where the best place to work actually is.

But let’s talk about what that place looks like. So yeah, no. Yeah. What is that? What is the best shop that somebody needs to go looking for? Especially if they’ll give her a new job.

Shane: Yeah. I think when you’re, when you’re thinking about what, what makes an organization a best place to work, I first look at is

their culture. I look at, you know, how are they being intentional with their organizational culture? How are those leaders getting involved in actively creating and being bought into that culture? When I look at something like a strong employee value proposition, uh, an employee value proposition is essentially if I’m gonna, you know, spend a lot of my time at an organization, what do I get back?

So For everything that I’m, I’m giving to my organization, what do I get back? Sometimes that’s mission and purpose. Sometimes that’s really good pay. Sometimes that’s being recognized for what I do. Sometimes that’s, you know, being able to work with my friends in a fun environment. But each organization I think is very different on what their EVP is or their employee value proposition.

And so understanding, you know, You know, how do we make sure that we’re kind of creating a magnetic culture that people want to be at and that top talent really stays out and retains. And I think that’s been more important than ever as great resignation things that are happening. And, and, you know, we’re still in this era where we’re kind of, people are competing for talent.

Rich: Are we still in the great resignation? I’ve always, I’m so glad you’re here because I’ve been meaning to ask this for four years now. Are we still there?

Shane: So, you know, I would say that, you know, as we saw in 2021 and 2022, we’re not still at those levels where we start, where we’re still seeing, you know, we were, we were seeing people quit about 4 million a month there during, you know, a little bit more than that.

And so this is actually this past month when the new BLS numbers came out, this is the first month where we’ve seen that number. dip below 4 million quits in terms of that. So, so we’re, we’re starting to come back down from the great resignation. We’re still above pre pandemic levels. We’re starting to match that.

But then if you go all the way back to like when I graduated undergraduate, you know that that in the 0809 kind of great recession era, you know, it was very low. So, so we’re, we’re kind of Resignations are up from there, but we’re still not in that great resignation moment. But where I say that there’s kind of this tight labor market, we still have twice as many job openings as available candidates that are looking for jobs.

So this 2 to 1 ratio, if you look back to, like I said, when I graduated that 6 to 1, we had, we are in. 2008 2009. We had basically six applicants fighting over one open position in terms of of how tight that labor market was. And so now it’s kind of gone the other end where we have more jobs than we have applicants that are actually looking for it.

And so we’re starting to see a little bit of rebalancing from where we were at in 2001 or 2021 2022. But you know, still tight.

Rich: There were those people that were saying that the entirety of the one thing that the pandemic gave to us was A swing of power coming from the c suites down to the employees Is this your way of telling me that it’s swinging back again?

Shane: You know, I think it’s I here’s what where I I don’t see it necessarily as a pendulum a little bit of maybe This is the same thing But I guess a push and pull a little bit between employees and organizational leaders And I think both are doing so in good faith, right? Right, you know if you okay If you take, if you take one example, like, um, like remote work, say, you know, I think it comes from this movement of a lot of people in good faith said, I can, I can be just as productive, if not more productive at home and even save you some money.

And then we also have, you also see kind of the, the pull from organizations saying, no, we need you in the office and, and trying to identify the reasons why, and there are good reasons why folks should be in the office and collaborating and. Some of those kinds of things. So, you know, I think there’s going to continue to be this push and pull between workforce and organizations.

And, and so we’re just kind of seeing this dynamic play out. I, I don’t know if I, I have enough information to say that the pendulum is going to swing back and forth and back and forth. Okay.

Rich: You know, thank you. And it’s just buzzing in my ear. I do have a question. I swear to God, we’re going to come right back to it, but I need to step away.

Just for a quick second. I hope you don’t mind Shane. Absolutely. Cause I do need to tell my team out there about a company. I am very proud to be a part of team bonding. Team bonding was found over 20 years ago with one simple question. How can employees have a great time while fostering strong, authentic bonds between people who work together?

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Well, we’ve been talking about where the market is currently standing. And, uh, Shane, again, love having you here, but how does this research actually work? I mean, for example, share some of the insights that you’ve seen from research about the impact of the employee voice on organizational culture.

Shane: Yeah, absolutely.

So, you know, when I run a research panel and so part of that research panel, we get to hear from 1000 voices every single quarter about a specific topic. So we’re looking about, you know, taking action on employee surveys. We’re looking at kind of that cadence and, you know, what is the right cadence for employee surveys?

So I think one of the things that we know is that, You know, when when we give people a voice when we give our employees a voice, they’re going to be integral and, you know, kind of have that buy in into shaping our culture. They’re going to be able to say, you know, because you have our input. I know that you respect me.

You’re kind of trusting and valuing that. I have positive things or I have critical things that can, that can go into the workplace. You know, when I think about the research really around employee listening, one of the things that we’ve found is that people enjoy giving their feedback on, on surveys.

It’s, it’s not necessarily, you know, we don’t see a whole lot of, of survey fatigue. What we actually see is a lot of people who are kind of tired of. Giving that feedback and it not being properly followed up on. We call that kind of, we call it loafing, the lack of action fatigue. So that lack of action that those managers or leaders are having, that’s the reason why we start to see fatigue when it comes to the listening process.

I I’ve told you. Three times that this is the challenge with my particular team, and I’m not given the resources or I’ve told you that our technology is, you know, outdated from 2001 and I still need that update, you know, and unless that’s being acted up upon, I think people kind of. Get tired of get tired of that quite a bit.

And so that would, when it comes to strictly employee listening, that is probably some of the biggest research findings that we’ve had, you know, those that do a best, I think, are really, you know, listening, you know, every quarter to to in some sort of way. I’m not saying I’m not saying you send out a. Uh, a survey every quarter, but you know, you’re at least having one on one meetings.

You’re at least having, you know, maybe a pulse survey about a training you did. Maybe you’re, maybe it’s your annual employee engagement survey, those sorts of things. So kind of continuously keeping a pulse on what employees are doing is what is most effective. Well, has your

Rich: research shown, uh, any changes that are actually taking place due to

Shane: employee listening?

Absolutely. So, I mean, I think. Particularly on the on the research level, we see it. We see that there’s um, you know, I think it was I think it’s 43 percent of employees have said that they’ve noticed a positive change after their employee survey and due to their employee survey. So, you know, that’s kind of 1 positive thing.

We also know that. Like, I think it was about two and three somewhere in the neighborhood of 66%. We’re saying that, you know, my, my manager is really effectively, you know, reviewing these results there. We’re having good conversations about about our results. You know, we’re trying to action plan as much as we can.

Um, and that’s what’s really helping for, for kind of the effectiveness of those employee surveys. If you go through that kind of post survey process in, in kind of a strategic way, you start to see that employees I think that those surveys are more effective and, and you’re going to see that that data is, is kind of, as you said, it’s more realistic.

It’s more, you’re getting more signal than you’re getting noise.

Rich: Yeah. Going back a bit, cause you were talking about that. There’s a two to one openings in, you know, people coming out of college ready to begin work. Whereas jobs that they have to offer, how come they’re not being filled? What about onboarding when it comes to this kind of

research?

Shane: Uh, yeah, absolutely.

Rich: What are we finding there?

Shane: Those, those early perceptions of those employees are very important. You know, we, we talk about being realistic of, you know, is your culture when you come into your organization, is it reflective of what you’re sold during the recruiting and kind of a trend application phase and, and kind of going through that process, does it match with what, what your experience macular.

More high level trend is we start to see early in employees tenure, you start to see this kind of honeymoon period where everything’s great. I’m going, I’m getting to know my team. I’m getting to know my job. Oh, gosh, I can’t wait till I can, you know, really get my feet wet and get in there and work on my job.

Then what you see is about year two or three, you start to what I’ve lovingly started to call the pit of despair, which is about two or three years into that employee life cycle. where things aren’t looking so rosy anymore. You might have had issues with your manager. You might have not been successful in a role.

You might have gotten a negative performance review. You, um, maybe aren’t getting along with with your team. And each one of those kinds of things could really diminish that employee engagement. So we start to see, start to see where that and and that’s where really one of those inflection points where we start to see resignations.

Start to skyrocket as well. So, so when we talk about the great resignation I don’t think it was the people that were just coming into the office It was those that had had been there had been able to and we’re suddenly at the point where they

Rich: thought that you go get something New something better.

Shane: Exactly They knew what was what was out there and I think we’re starting, you know With the the move towards pay transparency as well, which is another dynamic that’s been kind of growing in the past few years We’re starting to see where people know what the the market looks like out there. They know what other jobs are out there for them.

They know if their skill sets are in high demand right now or what skills they need to kind of develop to get into high demand. So, um, you know, all those things I think are part of employee listening. It’s part of how you can kind of uncover where you might have risks within your organization. So just Keeping an eye on some of those dynamics is important for the leaders.

Rich: That sounds like huge challenges, especially new ones that are coming in. What other kind of challenges are these organizations facing?

Shane: Right now we’re seeing a lot of organizations talk about change. So change management, you know, the study that I’m doing right now is specifically to understand the dynamics of change.

I really feel like change management is kind of a word that is maybe outdated a bit because you’re not really managing change. And this idea that like, That change has a start point and an end point. And oh, we’re just going to manage that part. I think is maybe a false kind of premise. I think what we’re seeing in terms of change is this idea that we’ve been maybe stagnant or our organization isn’t being as productive as we would like it to be.

And so we’re trying to look for new ways to do that and it’s. I think those organizations that are kind of making those changes without that proper input without that feedback from their employees, they’re going to have misaligned change. And you’re also going to have change that employees really aren’t behind because you’re not communicating that.

Why? You’re not kind of getting that feedback about. Here’s the challenges to change. The second thing that I think that a lot of organizations are dealing with right now, and it kind of relates to some of these buds buzzwords that we’re seeing, you know, productivity, paranoia, and quiet quitting, and kind of all of those fun buzzwords, but I think it really relates to, you know, burnout, wellness.

well being. And so I think what we’ve seen, a lot of our customers have been listening to employees deploying things like wellness and well being surveys, pulse surveys to kind of understand what resources do you need? What kind of what are some things within our work environment or our scheduling that we could be doing to really relieve some of that burnout?

You know, how is what are some creative ways that we could be more efficient with our time? What, you know, kind of honestly, that innovation by By, um, removal. So, you know, what can we remove? And I’m just going to be just as productive as, as I was before. And so kind of identifying some of those, I think is important to, you know, getting those challenges.

Rich: But for management, um, how is it best for them or, or what can you give to them to, so that they can help find that balance? That, that letting the employee know that they’re being listened to, that employee, you know, their needs are taken into consideration, but we still have a bottom line we have to meet every month.

Shane: Absolutely. And that’s that push and pull that I think I was talking about early. And I think that there’s again, I think there’s people are in good faith here. You know, I think when when employees are talking about, you know, their own work life balance or or their their needs outside of the workplace, you know, they’re coming from, you know, a place of, you know, kids need to get somewhere.

You know, I need to take care of my own health, um, and well being. Um, but then we also on the on the skip side of that, we also have managers who have things that need to get done. Right. And so, so I think one of the best things that managers can do is, is let their employees do do their best, you know, kind of get out of their way a little bit, identify, you know, be there for for barriers that are in their way to be there for resources and support that they need.

But you hired those employees because they are the best on their team. I mean, ideally. right? And so if you can get those employees on board with doing the things that they already know how to do and kind of remove some of the bureaucracy, remove the meetings, remove the kind of the intrusive patterns of of the workplace that that aren’t really leading to productivity and let those employees kind of work.

I think that’s one of the best things that they can do and then be there for the for the support and kind of You know, you also I think managers also need to protect employees from themselves. You know, some of those employees that are the most burnout are also the most engaged, your most engaged employees.

And when we talk about employee engagement, we’re talking about the strength of the mental and emotional connection that employees have with their work, their team and their organization. So all three of those need to kind of have that check in order for someone to really Feel engaged. And so what we see is that those engaged employees are so passionate about what they’re doing.

They look, they love their job. They’re probably very good at it that managers sometimes need to protect employees from themselves, you know, signing up for everything, you know, under the sun and, and being able to, to have that reinforcer, that’s also going to say no for you a little bit too. So that’s, I think those are two great ways that managers can help.

Rich: And what’s your research showing on a multigenerational in the workforce. Are we still seeing a lack of communication between, you know, the greatest generation and the baby boomers down to the millennials and Gen Z’s?

Shane: Yeah, I think I think about their stage of life a little bit. You know, when you think about kind of what those younger employees want in their in their career, they’re really wanting a place where they can learn, where they can grow, where they’re probably going to get their first paycheck.

And so some of those needs and expectations are different for younger workers than it might be for older workers. Those older workers, you know, I think they’re probably a little bit trepidatious about about the work right now. So this idea that, you know, we have more flexibility than ever and and, you know, some of that kind of stuff.

I think older workers are really, um, you know, trying to get on board with that and and and some of those kinds of things. But, you know, so one of the things that I this is maybe my own, um, personal is, is when it comes to generations, I often think about generations in terms of stage of life and not necessarily that there’s something particularly different with Um, From baby boomers to millennials.

Cause I, you know, I was in the millennial group and I’ve, I’ve written a millennial report. So I’m right there with you. And I’m not, I’m not here to say that that generation don’t exist because I, I do think that it’s an important dynamic, but I also think that you also need to treat employees kind of on an individual basis.

So what’s right for every millennial. Isn’t going to be right for the next one. Right. Uh, same, same as baby boomers as well, or, or, or Gen X or any of those folks.

Rich: What about technology? Do you have any of your any favorite tools you want to share with us about, uh, how to make sure that the information that’s coming in from the employee is fresh?

Shane: Yeah, absolutely. So I think that’s one of the best things about technology is we’re getting real, real time feedback. You know, when, when folks used to do this a couple decades ago, it used to be paper and pencil and we’re scanning scantrons and we’re, and then, you know, it’s a month later. And now that data.

Stale and we’re not sure what to do about it. So that’s one of the best things about technology right now is it’s real time. You know, we can, we can close a survey and we have immediate insights right away. And so one of the things that I think is, you know, if you’re looking at any platform, it needs to have some of those.

Advanced analytics already there waiting for you. You know, what is what is the top, you know, headline that I need to be reading about this survey result? What are some of those correlations? You know, if I look, do I have an easy way that I can segment my data and look at, look at different groups, look at particular divisions or business units?

Um, and how they’re in for positions. How are they doing? So I think that’s one thing that technology has helped. I also think that technology has helped a lot, especially more recently with looking through employee surveys. So, you know, anybody who’s anybody who’s done employee surveys knows that employee comments is probably one of the richest.

Places where you can identify data. Now, the thing about that is, is if you have thousands and thousands of comments, it’s just so tedious to go through. So AI has really helped that a lot in terms of being able to summarize some of those comments and get, get it down to bullet points or the summary of here’s what we’re hearing by and large from, from the majority of the comments here.

So that’s been very helpful. I also, and then finally, I think, you know, just integrating different. So, you know, employee survey data alone tells you one side of the story, but at the minute you can integrate that with something like key performance indicator data or any type of productivity metric or other things that are happening within that organization.

Maybe it’s one on ones, maybe it’s recognition. You can kind of identify, okay, look at these, these managers here who are having weekly one on ones. This is what’s happening to. the employee engagement on their teams. Here’s what happening to the retention on their teams. Here’s how their performance has, has, has also increased, you know, some of those kinds of insights and it allows you to kind of share those best practices.

So when managers see that, okay, I’m not just doing one on ones just to make sure that, you know, rich is doing what he’s supposed to do. I’m having this one on one so that, you know, he can be more productive in that, you know, he’s going to be more engaged on it. But I think one of the most interesting findings from our research is.

The fact that one in three employees say that they would prefer monthly or more often one on one meetings with their manager. That to me was mind blowing because I felt like. A lot of employees were like, get out of my way. I can, I can do this, but you can kind of see where they’re actually wanting that guidance.

They’re wanting a coach. They’re wanting someone who’s going to be able to say, here’s the strategies that have worked or, or make connections to other parts of the organization where you can kind of get some help or, or, or, um, kind of learn some lessons from other business units throughout the organization.

So, um, you know, I think that was, yeah. Pretty telling to me about how much feedback employees want to give, but also get about their own work.

Rich: You mentioned the comments that you’re getting from these employees. Where are you taking these comments from? Are they part of the surveys or is this just things that are being brought up in meetings?

I mean, where exactly you get this information from.

Shane: Yeah. So through employee survey, so when we, when we put out a survey, we always like to do a combination of, uh, you know, kind of those regular survey items that are, you know, it would take a lot to get me to leave. You know, we call those liquor style items.

You can strongly agree or strongly disagree with whatever they’re saying. But I think, you know, some of the ways in which we, and, and that’s really good for quantitative data, right? Cause we can look at correlations. How much does each one of those items, how much do they drive engagement? And that allows you to know, Okay.

Okay, where do I focus? I’m not gonna focus on these things that don’t impact engagement or performance. I’m gonna, I’m gonna just focus on these, these items that really impact performance. But at the end of those surveys, what we do is we have a whole list of open ended comments. So things like we kind of have these standards that we call start, stop, continue.

So it’s what are some things that this organization should start doing? What is this organization should stop doing? What are some things that we should continue doing? And, and some of those will really get to what to go do next. And so when you can take kind of on an aggregate thousands of those start, stop, continue responses, and you can say, okay, you know, 60 percent of our company says we should start employee resource groups, you know, or, or we should stop our annual performance reviews, or we should.

You know, whatever we should stop rank filing our, our entire, um, workforce, those kinds of things.

Rich: Okay. And let’s look to the future. You’ve seen where we’ve been when it’s come to this kind of research. You see where we are now. What are you hoping for, for the future?

Shane: I think really, when I look at the future of employee listening, I think it’s going to be more focused on business challenges.

So, you know, I think when, when we can focus on and kind of study something that we’re really trying to focus on, maybe it’s innovation, maybe it’s being more efficient, maybe it’s being more creative or, or, or having better technology or something like that, you know. Starting with that business problem and then aligning your survey to, to what you’re trying to accomplish is going to be one of the things that I think really happens more often in the future, primarily because of technology makes it so easy for us to send out a pulse survey.

Now, the other side of that coin is it makes it so easy to send out a survey that sometimes people just get a million surveys, you know, some of our competitors and some probably well meaning organizations. Are starting to send post surveys every single day. You know, one question that they’re that they’re posting every single day or every week.

And that’s just too much. I mean, yeah, that’s gonna lead to its own burnout. Absolutely. And it’s just not realistic to say that I can follow up on that data or or that we’re doing something about that. That trend over time, you know, it’s kind of collecting data for data sake, which is really easy right now.

And so, you know, just because you have the data doesn’t make it valuable data. And so being able to kind of identify when is that time that, that is a good, what is that right cadence for us? And what are those kinds of moments that matter that we can really. Kind of have those listening posts and make sure that we’re getting the right information that we need.

That’s actionable.

Rich: Do we hope that some point in the future, that back and forth, we had been talking about between, between the C suites and the employees that we can find a true North and just be a comfortable medium between them.

Shane: I think so. I think I think I see it as a collaborative push and pull.

Still, I still see it as, you know, folks who have different goals, both for their career, for the organization, for their business unit, um, and them having that good conversation about what is the right strategic direction. You know, I think ultimately it’s up to the leader to point to that north star, but it’s also to that employee to kind of I’ll Help leaders know, okay, here, here are the challenges for us to get there.

Here are the real world technology implications, um, for us to get there. Um, you know, some of those kinds of things. So I think it’ll continue to be this push and pull. I also think, you know, the future will have, you know, the AI that’s. That’s happening. We’re starting to see it right now. Our own quantum workplace.

We’re starting to integrate AI into our into our tool. Like I said, we have something called smart summaries that really takes all of the comments and is able to kind of identify what are those kind of. Or if I bullet points that you need to know from from those comments, um, kind of almost in an instant and before that would have taken a team of folks and trainers to code and and, um, you know, create categories and themes and and and those sorts of things.

And I think I was just going to make that easier. So. I’m excited for that part. Okay. I’m not excited about, you know, the, the posting every week to, to figure out, um, how everybody’s feeling that particular week. Yeah.

Rich: Once you’ve submitted your job report for the day, here’s your poll. Uh, yeah, exactly. It’s more writing in the beginning.

You and I, in the pre interview, we had talked about a gotcha question and I’ve got it for you. Are you ready? Here’s a big, here’s a big gotcha question. Has your research shown anything about the effectiveness of actual team building as, as a methodology, as a coming together of people?

Shane: I think so. So this is a little bit of a good, this is a, might be.

Tangent to what to your question. But what we do see in terms of team building is that having a strong connection with your coworkers is critically important. We also know that fun at work, which isn’t often talked about, it’s critically important to be engaged. Now, I wouldn’t say that’s the only thing.

It’s not going to be the thing that makes people engaged. And in fact, if you’ve ever been to one of those team building. Exercises on a team that isn’t necessarily engaged. It’s quite toxic. I’ve been in an escape room before that I couldn’t escape and we never escaped. And I was afraid that we would never get out of that room alive.

Um, so I think that, you know, there’s, there’s certain aspects to having that team already kind of. Feeling cohesive, feeling like everyone belongs there, feeling like we can collaborate well is important before you even get there. You know, we, we also recently did a study on teams and teamwork. And one of the things that we found is that right now we have so many different types of teams.

We have matrix, we have hybrid, we have some where. I’m in the office. You’re not, um, some, you know, so geographically disperse. And what we found is each one of those teams can have equivalent engagement. So long as some of those things are in place, like having connections to their team, feeling like they belong, feeling like they can count on their team members to really.

Help them when they’re kind of behind or helping them, you know, um, maybe show them the ropes and learn something new, kind of develop and expand their skills. So I would say, you know, not directly tied to your question, but I mean, certainly this idea of having connection and having fun at work, I think, is something that is critically important.

And of course, when we think about, um, Employee engagement team is, is a big component of that. That’s that’s one of the major three components and you can’t have, uh, an engaged employee unless they feel engaged about their work, their team, and their organization.

Rich: Okay. You know, what could have gotten you out of that escape room?

A good facilitator. That’s all I’m going to say. All right. That’s what I

Shane: need. That’s what we need. And maybe a counselor too. Right.

Rich: Shane McFeely, thank you so much for coming on team. Please give him a big round of applause. Thank you so much, Rich. Thank you. Can you tell my team out there, um, where they can find more about you and about this really

Shane: important topic?

Yeah, absolutely. So, uh, LinkedIn Shane McFeely or quantum workplace. com. We have lots of blogs and you can find a lot of my research on there and just, um, identifying where, where our reports are. We have the trends and employee engagement as well as my, uh, quarterly reports that go out as well. Fantastic.

Thank

Rich: you so much, Shane. And I had a lot of fun being here today. Hope you did too. Good

Shane: because time has, and thank you to the folks at team bonding. I appreciate

Rich: it. Oh, thank you, man. I’ll let them know, but. You may not want to thank them after this. It’s time for my speed round.

Alright, now you told me that you’ve heard a couple of episodes, so you know all this is. I’m going to set to music that’s going to play for about 60 seconds. That just keeps me in mind of how much time we have left. I’m going to ask you a series of completely innocuous questions. Your objective is to try to answer as many as you can in the 60 seconds that I’m giving you.

Now, if you’re feeling at all competitive, we have 15 as the number to beat this season. Boy, it’s a lot of questions, but we’re a team. I think we can do it. Do you

Shane: think you got it? Alrighty. All

Rich: right, pal. I’ll try my best. As soon as you hear the music start, I’m going to ask the first question. Away we go.

What’s your name? Jane. I’m

Shane: going to get you have one on the way.

Rich: Cool. Congratulations. How many pets? One name, biscuit. And if you could ask biscuit any question and get an answer, what would that question be?

Shane: What does she want to be when she grows up?

Rich: Nice. What did you want to be when you were a kid? It. I,

Shane: I have been always fascinated about the workplace, so I have been in a million different roles, so I love my job right

Rich: now.

What’s the worst thing you ever did as a child?

Shane: Ooh, I threw a smoke bomb in a car.

Rich: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you ready to be? Denmark. Name your favorite Disney movie.

Shane: Mulan.

Rich: What is your life most like? Drama, comedy, romantic comedy, action film or science fiction. Comedy.

If you were guaranteed to be successful in a different position, or profession, what would it be? Engineering. And… Oh, buddy. Uh, that would, you know what, I feel that was mostly me. I’m so sorry. We got ten, though. That’s a huge number 10. Good luck. Good job. See, they’re still excited for you, .

Shane: Yeah, you stumped me with a, what does my dog wanna be when it grows up?

I don’t know. . Lassy. I lassy, I suppose. .

Rich: Oh, I love it. Shane, thanks again my friend, and thank you. My team. That’s it. It’s time to wrap up yet another episode of team building saves the world. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, whether you’re new to the podcast or an old fan of the show, please be sure to share with everyone, you know, whether that your coworker, your friend, a family member, it helps us to share all this vital information, you can find out all about us, including past episodes of team bonding.

com slash podcast. You can also find us wherever you find your favorite podcasts, Google podcast, Apple podcast, Spotify, wherever you go, we’re going to be there. And don’t forget to look for all. On the social media is a Team Bond podcast. Leave me a message. Tell me whether you like the show or if you have an idea for a future episode you want to hear.

We want to hear from you. So before we say our farewells for this episode of Team Building saves the World, please, my friends, never forget if you are within the sound of my voice. You’re on my team now and I am forever going be on yours. It’s so long team. I’ll see you next time.

It’s been said that you learn more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. So why not put your co workers to play with the help of the team at Team Bonding? Team Bonding was founded over 20 years ago with one simple question. How can employees have a great time while fostering strong, authentic bonds between people who work together?

Their catalog of innovative events includes scavenger hunts, Jeopardy, and much more. Each activity, whether live, virtual, or hybrid, Maximizes the impact of team building with an accent on fun. Visit team bonding.com to schedule your event now. Team bonding when you want. Seriously, fun results.

An employee listening strategy is more than just a survey. It’s a process—asking employees for feedback, understanding and analyzing their perspectives, and taking meaningful action to improve employee experience and engagement. A survey alone does not improve engagement. Listen as Shane McFeely, Ph.D. speaks with Rich about what research shows employees want from their organizations when it comes to employee surveys and what organizations can do to create and improve upon their employee listening strategy. Don’t miss this episode packed with practical tips for crafting a more engaged and empowered workforce.

About Shane McFeely:

Dr. Shane McFeely is the driving force behind Quantum Workplace’s groundbreaking workplace research. He is an organizational psychologist and lead workplace engagement researcher. Shane has a passion for understanding trends in the workplace and making work better every day. He earned his Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He has served as both an internal and external consultant and researcher to organizations, including Quantum Workplace, Gallup, and Omaha Public Schools, for over a decade. His research focuses on the areas of employee engagement, performance management, organizational culture, employee retention, and the ROI of HR initiatives and programs.

Learn more about how to implement an employee listening strategy in our blog!

" When you're thinking about what, what makes an organization a best place to work, I first look at is their culture. I look at, you know, how are they being intentional with their organizational culture? How are those leaders getting involved in actively creating and being bought into that culture? When I look at something like a strong employee value proposition, uh, an employee value proposition is essentially if I'm gonna, you know, spend a lot of my time at an organization, what do I get back?"
- Shane McFeely

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