Tag Archives: employee engagement

Microsoft reveals its new employee engagement tool

Microsoft has revealed its latest employee engagement tool: huge treehouses.

The tech giant believes moving employees closer to nature will help improve “creativity, focus and happiness.”

The result?

See for yourself:

As you can see, the usual stuffy conference rooms and corporate rows of desks have been swapped for wooden beams and pinecones dropping on the newly built deck.

Based at Microsoft’s 500-acre Redmond Campus in Washington, the outdoor meetings spaces are home to several treehouses and an elevated meeting point called the Crow’s Nest.

It has Wi-Fi, of course, as well as plenty of places to plug your tablet or laptop in too.

So how do all these inspire employees?

Microsoft is keen to point towards the work of Harvard physician Eva M. Selhub, co-author of Your Brain on Nature.

She wrote: “Nature stimulates reward neurons in your brain. It turns off the stress response, which means you have lower cortisol levels, lower heart rate and blood pressure, and improved immune response.

“Trees and plants secrete aromatic chemicals that impact our cognition, mental state, and even our immunity.”

Microsoft treehouse

With this in mind, Microsoft saw the opportunity to re-imagine how employees go about their daily tasks.

Shanon Bernstine, a business manager who helped plan the spaces, explained to the Microsoft blog: “The first thing [you notice] when you walk into the space is that everyone is really quiet. You stop talking and are just present.

“It’s fascinating. People absorb the environment, and it changes the perception of their work and how they can do it.”

Being closer to nature does bring disadvantages too – as some colleagues have already pointed out.

Microsoft treehouse

Bret Boulter, who headed up the project, said: “A lot of people are like, ‘where’s the AV?’ And I’m like, it’s a treehouse.

“We wanted people to intentionally unplug, because they are sitting in front of screens all day long.

“Being more creative and flexible with our workspace allows us to be more creative and productive in our work and the products we create. It’s like a little getaway.”

Money doesn’t always equal happiness – especially at work

It’s no secret that workplace atmosphere affects productivity and happiness. But how exactly do employers create a positive atmosphere?

What actually motivates employees, and what role can internal communication play?

Wildgoose – a leading provider of employee engagement and team events – helped shed light on this by surveying people from 120 UK companies about whether financial reward or happiness in the office was more important to them.

And their findings reveal some great opportunities for IC professionals to make an impact.

61 per cent of people value happiness over salary

How much money could your organisation be wasting on financial incentives that don’t incentivise?

How much talent is being lost to competitors for the want of some simple changes to the work environment?

Speak to your people. Find out what motivates them and ask questions that uncover what drives those who value happiness over wages.

Good IC could reveal lots of effective, cost-friendly ways to make employees happier at work.


This proportion increases with seniority

In fact, 70 per cent of entry-level interns and executives say happiness is more important than salary.

If you’re trying to connect with younger people, use the right channels. Instant messaging apps are a favourite among millennials and Generation i.

Email remains moderately popular, but talking on the phone has fallen out of favour among youngsters.


57 per cent of people said having a best friend in the office makes work more enjoyable

And that isn’t all. 32 per cent said this makes them more productive and 22 per cent said it makes them more creative.

Can internal communication create workplace friendships? Probably not, but it can contribute to an environment in which friendships naturally flourish.

Share news updates that serve as conversation starters.

Set up website profiles so colleagues know a little about each other. If people are shy or retiring, encourage them to come out of their shells by sharing their more extraordinary stories, whether work-related or not.


Mandy Chase, PA to the Board and Office Manager at Wildgoose, told Headlines: “While comparing internships to full-time established roles is difficult, it’s always worth managers spending time getting to know their workforce and what constitutes reward and recognition to each individual.

“While some employees would regard monetary reward as the highest form of recognition, others would highly prize a more personal gesture, whether that’s a gift, a day out or some form of team recognition.”

Click here to find out more about Wildgoose and the survey.

UK brands ‘lag behind US customer experience – due to employee engagement’

A lack of employee engagement is the main reason why UK firms struggle to compete with US businesses on customer experience, new research claims.

British organisations lag behind American firms on customer experience ratings, according to latest findings from workplace culture specialists KPMG Nunwood.

And experts believe the UK’s inability to get to grips with understanding how to engage employees is a decisive factor.

David Conway, senior partner and chief strategy officer at KPMG Nunwood, told Marketing Week: “US brands are very focused on how employees interact with customers, the type of behaviours they use and the service levels they aspire to.

“Their target for a great experience is far higher than companies in the UK.”

The US Customer Experience Excellence report, which was conducted in March, saw 100 US brands score an average of 7.75 out of 10.

The UK equivalent happened in September and saw British companies score an average of 7.33.

Tellingly, 58 US organisations scored more than an eight. Only four UK firms managed the feat.

“At the last count, 30% of Fortune 500 companies have organised themselves around customer needs rather than departments or functions,” said Mr Conway.

“There is a substantial difference in how those companies are going to market and managing the experience delivery.”

He added employee engagement plays a crucial role in this, which is something UK brands “haven’t quite caught hold of.”

Mr Conway points to W Hotels, a new entry in 6th place in the US research, for reaping the benefits from an engaged workforce.

Employee engagement

He added: “It doesn’t call people staff or employees, it calls them talent, and it doesn’t refer to the maid as a housekeeper, she is a stylist.

“It’s got a really interesting set of words it uses that make people think about what they do.

“W is totally focused on delivering a great experience for employees and then encouraging them to behave in the right way for the customer.”

To read the full article, visit Marketing Week here….

Employee engagement ‘to help save RBS £3m’

Banking giant RBS is planning to make £3m in energy savings – through employee engagement.

Encouraging employees to switch off lights and air con is the target for RBS chiefs as the organisation embarks on wide-ranging cost-cutting measures.

The scheme – named the JUMP behaviour change project – encourages employees to engage in energy saving, cutting waste and other sustainability actions like car-sharing.

Specifically built leaderboards rank employees’ efforts to help the organisation reduce its environmental footprint with top performers earning rewards like iTunes and Marks & Spencer vouchers every month.

Mike Lynch, the bank’s sustainable workplace culture manager, told Edie.net: “Colleagues can earn points for their team for simple actions like switching off electrical equipment, reporting leaks, travelling sustainably and encouraging others to get involved.

“RBS is committed to reducing the environmental impact of serving customers and JUMP brings all our target areas together under one cohesive programme.”

The bank, which is almost three-quarters owned by the taxpayer, trialled the sustainability project in recent months. It led to a five per cent average reduction in electricity usage and 500,000 disposable cups being correctly recycled.

JUMP is part of the bank’s ongoing drive to go green with new technologies and innovations.

Overall, it expects to save more than 40,000 tonnes of CO2 and 200m litres of water each year, resulting in savings of £7.5m.

Your employee survey: when positive can be negative

The way you report your organisation’s employee engagement survey results is as important as the survey itself, according to research just published by Engage for Success.

The report warns of the risk of stifling the employee voice through percentage positive reporting.

The infographic [below], created by Headlines – the Internal Communications Agency to accompany the report, highlights this common pitfall and how to avoid it.

Engage for Success infographic

Click to view full-size Engage for Success infographic.

The report, Engaging the Engaged?, is based on research into employee engagement in the not-for-profit (NFP) sector.

Its title is prompted by the finding that many of the 827,000 people employed in the NFP sector in the UK are engaged more with the cause than their organisation as a place to work.

This means their employee survey results can show artificially high levels of engagement. The report offers insights and tools that can help organisations in any sector get a more accurate picture of their employee engagement levels – and learn how best to act on them.

James Court-Smith, of Stillae Ltd, one of the contributors, explained how percentage positive reporting – the common practice of grouping together the percentage of employees who have responded ‘strongly agree’ and ‘agree’ – denies employees of their voice: “Say I had scored ‘strongly disagree’ on a question last year, but then we’d made significant progress so this year I scored ‘neither agree nor disagree’. That’s a huge shift upwards but percentage positive reporting would totally ignore this.”

David MacLeod, Engage for Success co-founder and chair, said organisations ignored the employee voice at their peril: “It’s one of the cheapest and most effective ‘smoke alarms’ you can get because it means little niggles can be caught and acted upon early on.”

Download Engaging the Engaged? the full report
Download the infographic