March 2023 marks The Omnia Group’s 38th anniversary and our 38th year calling Tampa Bay our home. Those who live here know what a special, vibrant community the Tampa Bay area is. We always welcome opportunities to thank our neighbors for making this area so special by giving back in some way.
During the pandemic, our leadership team decided to select an organization that we could contribute to and support with a long-term commitment. We asked our employees to tell us what issue/cause made their hearts sing or ache, and we received close to a unanimous response about concerns for the homeless or unhoused.
We reviewed our options, and because of the important work Habitat for Humanity does in building and strengthening our community, we were eager to partner with the Hillsborough County chapter when the chance arose. They have a local and active presence and a great reputation, and they were one of the organizations that had very little overhead, where donations and work go directly to those who need the benefit, which was really important to us. The leadership team spent a lot of time reviewing various charities looking to avoid ones that had huge overhead with executive salaries and administration fees or were on the toxic charity list. Habitat lived up to its excellent reputation and stood high and above many others.
Habitat for Humanity is a global nonprofit organization that seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness. It works by partnering with community businesses, volunteers, and recipient families to build safe, decent, and affordable housing. Habitat for Humanity believes in providing “a hand up, not a handout.” The organization also works as advocates to change existing systems and policies which create barriers to safe and affordable housing.
For the past two years, the Omnia Group has donated a portion of our annual profits with a cash donation to Habitat that we send on behalf of our clients (we no longer send a corporate gift to clients), and we are now committed to doing more of these local builds and home preservation programs as an opportunity to get our remote team together where we can bond, put in hard labor together, and leave the day feeling like we’ve made a difference.
When most people think of Habitat for Humanity, they think of its work building new homes for deserving families in need of decent housing. That is their main mission, but did you know Habitat also helps with repairs and restorations? The Home Preservation Program partners with homeowners and community volunteers and uses donated materials to help eligible homeowners live more independently and securely in their homes. In addition to working alongside volunteers (sweat equity), homeowners repay some of the costs, allowing the program to serve other members of the community. The program is currently open to area veterans only, although there may be additional availability starting next January.
It was a Home Preservation project that brought Omnia’s ten-member team of employees and their family members together with an area veteran and his wife bright and early on the first Saturday of March.
After meeting the Habitat for Humanity representatives and learning the mission (painting the home’s exterior and trim, raking leaves, and helping to remove debris from the yard), the team got to work.
The Omnia team had the opportunity to work closely with the homeowners and get to know them. They also learned new skills, leveraged their existing skills, enjoyed the beautiful Tampa weather, got a great work out, and earned an excellent night’s sleep!
Eager to get the job done, many were able and happy to stay beyond the end of the 2:30 pm scheduled end time to see the finished product.
Naomi Viglas, Sales and Marketing Coordinator, who also coordinated the event, said “I think one of the most special things about participating in a Habitat for Humanity project is getting to work alongside the people who are benefiting from the program. The experience is both rewarding and humbling. Everyone should try to participate at least once.”
Tony Curtachio, volunteer and Omnia’s IT Application and Systems Administrator, found it gratifying to be able to help a veteran by making his family home and property more enjoyable.
The Omnia Group has been honored to take part in a number of wonderful volunteer opportunities from toy drives, shoe drives, harvest gleaning, and mentoring. All have been rewarding, but volunteering with Habitat for Humanity was such a remarkable experience, we hope to repeat it soon.
If you are interested in getting involved with Habitat for Humanity of Hillsborough County, you can visit their website at www.habitathillsborough.org or go to https://www.habitat.org/volunteer/near-you/find-your-local-habitat to find a local branch and learn more about their programs, volunteer opportunities, and ways to donate.
Empathy is an important element in growing and nurturing strong connections, in both our personal and professional lives. When someone takes the time to understand another person’s perspectives or emotions, it can cause a deeper relationship to bloom between the two. In a job setting, empathy can foster productive conversations and help resolve conflicts. A workplace that encourages empathy helps employees feel valued and appreciated, which can contribute to stronger engagement, loyalty, and productivity. It begins with understanding what empathy is.
Sympathy and empathy can both be important factors in helping promote that human connection in your organization, but they are not the same thing. Sympathy involves feeling concern for someone, such as “feeling bad” about another person’s misfortune or pain, but without really knowing what it is like to be in their specific situation. Your emotions about the matter come from your own perspective. Empathy takes it a step further; empathy accentuates the giver’s compassion by trying to understand what a person is going through based on that person’s unique experiences or views.
For example, sympathy means you feel sorry for your colleague Tom whose family member is dealing with a difficult illness. A sympathetic response can look like expressing your support to Tom, sending him a card, or making a donation to a charity that funds research for the illness — all of which are great things to do. Empathy, however, helps you dive deeper into what Tom is feeling and why. You may see how Tom’s close relationship with his family member makes the illness hard on him, that Tom feels stressed over large medical bills and the ability to pay them, and other issues unique to Tom’s situation. Empathy gives you a more well-rounded idea of what another person is going through.
And empathy is not only for problems or difficulties; it also helps drive understanding when teams are discussing ideas, developing plans, and trying to come to an agreement about how to move forward with projects and strategies. When people feel that their ideas and views are given true consideration and that their managers and co-workers are interested in understanding the reasons behind those views, then collaboration and compromise often come much easier.
Empathetic leadership can have a trickle-down effect that impacts everyone in the organization. When employees know that management genuinely prioritizes understanding and relating to personnel, it inspires them to do the same for their colleagues. In addition to discussing the importance of an empathetic workplace to your staff, show empathy in tangible ways by asking questions, considering different points of view, and offering to help with problems or conflicts.
Institute an open-door policy for your team, and make sure they know you are available and willing to discuss any issues they may be dealing with, without judgment. Emphasize this idea by having regular meetings, in person or virtual, with your staff, and encourage open, respectful dialogue.
Knowing the communication styles of your employees is helpful when conducting these meetings. You can use a personality or behavioral assessment to show you who on your staff is expressive, outgoing, and prefers to talk through their ideas or problems and who are more reserved and need time to flesh out their thoughts internally before conveying them to others. Some people, especially in the reserved group, may prefer putting their ideas in writing more than verbalizing them in front of the group. Recognizing these differences and allowing employees to voice their perspectives or ideas in their own style can help facilitate richer discussions and stronger understanding within the team.
Employees might not be comfortable bringing certain topics up to management or in a public meeting, which is why having an empathetic peer group on the job is crucial. Leadership should encourage colleagues to set aside time to talk and share with each other in a low-stress way.
Empathy involves a genuine desire to understand someone else, and you cannot accomplish that if you do most of the talking yourself. Whether you are a manager interacting with your staff or working peer to peer, listen attentively to what the person is saying rather than thinking of how you should respond.
Pay attention to their non-verbal cues, like tone, facial expressions, and gestures, which can be easily missed if you are not focused on the other person. Additionally, make sure your own body language conveys that you are fully present and not distracted. Only after taking in all of what the other person has said should you consider how to respond.
Start out by repeating what the other person has said but in your own words to be sure you are not misunderstanding anything. Try starting with the phrase, “What I’m hearing you say is…” and rephrase the main points of the conversation. This gives the other person a chance to correct or clarify what they are trying to convey.
It can be tempting to say, “I know exactly how you feel. I had the same experience when…” but resist this impulse. You may intend to use this to build a connection, showing how you understand what the person is going through, but doing so can make it feel like you are making the conversation about yourself. When trying to show an empathetic response, recognize that the person’s experience is unique to them; you are trying to understand them and their perspectives, not merely trying to draw parallels to your own life.
Remember, empathy isn’t about fixing someone’s problems; it’s about building a connection through understanding. It’s fine to offer your thoughts or ideas if the person asks for them, but sometimes being there to listen without judgment can provide exactly what the person needs while growing a sense of trust and appreciation.
Omnia has helped organizations recognize and understand their employees’ unique attributes, strengths, and motivators for nearly 40 years. Our dedicated Client Success Managers act as trusted advisors for our clients, helping them learn how to take this valuable knowledge and use it to enhance their workforce. Let us partner with you to put the power of insight to work in your business.
Workplace trends and buzzwords may have you thinking that 2023 will be all about the word quiet. I mean really – how much more can we take? Everywhere we look there are LinkedIn posts, Tik Tok videos and articles about quiet quitting, quiet firing and quiet hiring.
In a world where employee engagement is at an all-time low, this is no time to be quiet. The need for open, transparent communication has never been greater. Let’s dig into what employee engagement and motivations trends we should pay attention to in 2023 to make an impact.
First, a little bit of bad news. According to the most recent Gallup surveys, U.S. employee engagement continues to trend downward. After trending up for several years, this was the first annual decline in a decade. According to the most recent data:
Every time I look at this data the group that concerns me the most is the large number in the middle who are neither. They can be swayed either way. In other words, they are coming to work each day, doing the basics of the job, not actively trying to make the company better, but not actively trying to sabotage it either. These are your potential quiet quitters.
Anyone actively disengaged isn’t doing it quietly. Our job as leaders is to make sure we retain, reward and grow the actively engaged, while focusing on what we can do about that group in the middle to keep them positive and productive. Unfortunately, the actively disengaged can take up most of our emotional energy and time on any given day. So ask yourself, where is your time and focus best spent.
Here are 5 things to pay attention to this year to help drive engagement and productivity in your workplace.
There was a lot of talk in 2022 about companies requiring employees to return to the office. Employees went looking for other jobs and shared open willingness to take pay cuts to keep their flexibility with working remotely. I recently heard a job seeker say that the first question they ask of the recruiter is if the job is remote and that they won’t consider anything else.
Gallup’s recent data shows that remote and hybrid workers are more engaged than on-site workers. Employees who work exclusively remote or hybrid tend to have higher levels of engagement (37% engaged in both groups) than those who work exclusively on-site (29% engaged).
Even if your business model doesn’t support a fully remote scenario, companies that take a remote first approach make employees more motivated by seeing their leaders show flexibility. The key to this is also shifting focus from efficiency to effectiveness. It’s no longer about how many hours an employee works, but more about how much value and impact they create.
Organizations are looking at new ways to track and evaluate employee performance. They are shifting from quantity to quality which leads to a win-win scenario where employees feel more valued and trusted, and leaders feel more confident that their employees are doing great work. Which leads us to the next trend of improving people analytics.
Google knows that I’m more interested in Jeeps than Volvos and that I’m more likely to click on a picture of a monkey than a cat. Email marketers know that I’m looking at stand up desks and fill my social feeds with suggestions. This same kind of data can be used to help understand when people are most likely to call in sick or what functions have employees feeling most disengaged.
The next generation of technology tools use data to shine light on employee productivity, well-being, and satisfaction using A.I. and an innovative combination of collaboration analytics and peer polling for a rich understanding of employees, teams, and their work environments. Visier’s Workplace Trends 2023 report outlines several approaches HR teams and executives can take to let people analytics to do the heavy lifting and leave the guesswork behind.
At the individual level, using behavioral science is critical to understanding what motivates and demotivates your staff. Employee behavioral assessments, such as the Omnia Development Report, provide tremendous insight into how a person prefers to communicate as well as what motivates and demotivates them.
Experts predict that wage and salary transparency will play a leading role in 2023 workplace dynamics. We continue to see a surge of TikTok salary transparency videos emerging with every kind of professional imaginable sharing what they make for a living. Seventeen states have implemented laws around payroll transparency with more to come. If you haven’t already, your business should be to address this trend. You can get in front of it by posting open positions that include salary ranges.
Another people-first trend emerging is unlimited PTO and the rise of the four-day work week. These practices may not work for your small or mid-sized business but consider other flexible work arrangements for your staff and get creative by focusing on the quality of work output instead of time.
According to a recent study by SHRM, managers were 2x more likely than individual contributors to be looking for a new job. Corporate managers are burning out rapidly finding their jobs 10 times harder than before the pandemic. They’re struggling across the board with staff retention, hiring and team performance. And with the growing focus on the employee, managers are sandwiched between the employee's and the organization's needs.
Front line managers are the key to driving performance, team dynamics, culture, and engagement. In small and medium-sized businesses managers wear multiple hats and are typically asked to not just manage all aspects of their team’s work but perform many of the same functions themselves. When is the last time you brought your front-line leaders into a forum and asked them how they’re doing? Listen to their stories and emphasize helping them first.
Another finding from the Gallup survey shows that engagement is higher for organizations that focus on culture and well-being. Work and life are becoming more blended for your employees and just like the managers, employee burnout continues to rise. Workers who are healthy in body and mind are likely to stay motivated and perform better. They may also be less likely to take sick days.
There are many creative and relatively inexpensive ways to demonstrate your commitment to employee wellness in the workplace. Consider offering gym membership reimbursement or access to meditation apps. Encouraging frequent breaks during the workday. Track time off to be sure people are adequately using their PTO. Offer lunch-and-learn sessions that provide education on well-being, nutrition, and mental health.
And remember, like they say before takeoff, put your oxygen mask on first. Be sure that as you launch into 2023, you are ready mentally and physically for the road ahead.
Omnia is here for you. Whatever your hiring and onboarding challenges, Omnia can help! Our skilled Customer Success team is available to provide guidance throughout the employee lifecycle. Our behavioral assessments are quick, powerful, and now mobile friendly. Let us know how we can help you navigate this evolving world of work and drive success in 2023.
While there are a lot of components that go into employee retention, one of the most intriguing finds from last year’s Talent Trends survey is how employees’ sense of belonging can impact retention and productivity. It seems like a no-brainer when you think about it – feeling connected to an organization and enjoying quality relationships on the job can make an employee feel like an integral part of the group, making them more likely to stay with your company. And our Talent Trends Survey results show leaders have started taking note of how employee belonging is vital for employee retention.
When Covid hit and turned the business world (and the world at large) on its head, many companies turned to a remote or hybrid work model, and like Omnia, many of them have continued with that model. WFH offers many advantages: less overhead and increased productivity for employers (Forbes) and less commuting and more flexibility for employees, among other benefits. But a big drawback can be the lack of human connection. Missing the sense of camaraderie from watercooler discussions, passing each other in the hall, and impromptu lunch outings among colleagues can feel demotivating for many employees. This can be especially challenging for employees who are socially driven and thrive when they are able to interact with others regularly. And even though more reserved people may have an easier time flying solo on the job, they often still appreciate hearing the buzz of chatter in the office and seeing a friendly face, and they can miss the sense of connection those aspects of in-person work offer.
Cultivating a sense of belonging within your company doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it does have to be intentional, especially when employees are working remotely some or all of the time. At Omnia, we hold quarterly meetings in person to both update employees about everything happening in our company and to give opportunities for us to reconnect and catch up with each other, often in fun, different locations. In addition to these meetings, we have a holiday party at the end of the year, and we are excited to start participating in volunteer events where local employees can work together on projects that help our community.
But building solidarity doesn’t just happen a few times a year. And while an organization’s leadership must set the groundwork for creating the sense of belonging that retains employees, planning activities doesn’t always have to come from the top. When leadership encourages connection, it inspires employees to take action themselves to grow internal relationships. Recently, an Omnia colleague began hosting a monthly 30-minute Teams meeting so whoever wants to join can catch up with their coworkers and discuss what’s going on in everyone’s lives. It’s a fun opportunity to see others during the workday like we would if we were in the office. Another colleague has created a book club that meets virtually every month after work. This is another chance for people to connect around a shared activity that grows the sense of belonging within the organization.
It's important to note that these meetings and events aren’t mandatory and growing employee connections can’t be forced. Some people need more time than others to build rapport and feel at ease interacting with their colleagues on a personal level. That’s why knowing your employees and how much – or how little – interaction motivates them is critical.
On the Omnia behavioral assessment, someone who is driven by having a great deal of interaction with others has a tall column 3, while those who prefer solitary work and do not need as much ongoing interaction display a tall column 4. Requiring an employee with a very tall column 4 to attend frequent social events – especially if they are a new employee who does not know many people within the organization yet – might be just as demoralizing as not allowing a column 3 employee to participate in any social opportunities at all. Instead, an introverted employee might feel more connection by having one-on-one conversations with a colleague or by meeting with just a few other people at a time. Feeling understood in and of itself can go a long way in making employees feel connected to your organization.
What trends do you see affecting employee retention in your organization or industry? Add your voice to the discussion by taking our 2nd Annual Talent Trends survey (Click Here) by December 31, 2022.
Due to some miraculous time warp, the holidays are suddenly here. Wasn’t it just Labor Day? This week, the US will be celebrating Thanksgiving, and (when we’re not rushing around shopping and cooking or looking for a place to lie down after the meal) many of us will be reflecting on what we’re most thankful for. Maybe your family has the sometimes-nerve-wracking tradition of going around the table and announcing it to all assembled. If you’re like me, you want to think of something meaningful but not too heavy. Or maybe you’re the one jokingly announcing your gratitude for all the pies. Admittedly, most of us are probably not going to be talking about work. We’re grateful for our paychecks, of course, but those of us who are fortunate to have time off may be most thankful for this little break. But if you are not already doing so, now is the perfect time to reflect on the contributions your employees make to the success of the team (before the turkey coma hits), and to practice gratitude for them as fellow humans.
According to gratitude expert Robert Emmons of UC, Davis, “…gratitude encourages us to identify some amount of goodness in our life… We can appreciate positive traits in ourselves, but …true gratitude involves a humble dependence on others: We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.” Research shows practicing gratitude has many physical, emotional, and social benefits. It can lower stress hormones, reduce inflammation, lower depression, improve sleep, and lead to healthier habits. Despite the science, we may feel uneasy talking about touchy-feely concepts like “goodness” and “gifts” and “humbleness” in the context of work. We usually try to avoid emotions when discussing business. We all know that objectivity is essential, and it’s important not to take things too personally. This is all true, but as beneficial as it would be to switch off our emotions, we humans do not yet have that feature. Whether we like it or not, we can even benefit from practicing gratitude on the job. In the Gratitude at Work Playbook, Steve Foran notes:
If you currently have a motivational strategy or incentive program in place, you may feel that you are already fostering a culture of gratitude. That is a great first step, but gratitude goes a little deeper than just appreciation. Instead of thanking people for what they have done, you are thanking them for who they are. The result is a greater level of connection.
1. Make yourself known as someone who looks for good. When you’re mentoring and managing employees, make a habit of noticing everything good you see in each employee. You don’t always need to comment on it but make a habit of looking for it, and do comment when appropriate. People can tell if they are being judged harshly or positively.
2. Avoid negativity. The news right now is loaded with negative stories about labor: the great resignation, the great reshuffling, plunging productivity, quiet quitting. It seems there is a new buzzword every week to rile up fear and frustration in employers. This is not to suggest that you shouldn’t stay informed but do stay mindful of the intent behind the headlines – to get you to click. Though they seem eager to pit employer against employee, the reason there is any story to report at all is the same: Employees Matter! Don’t vilify them because you read article number fifty on the evils of quiet quitting. Your employees are critical to the success of your business – be grateful for them, and actively work on engagement.
3. Acknowledging what it is about the person that makes them a valued member of the team. You can and should always reward goal achievement, but also take advantage of opportunities to acknowledge personality traits and soft skills that make someone a valued member of your team. For example:
4. Make work meaningful. Once you have identified and appreciated what makes an employee special, one way of showing gratitude is by giving them work that is in alignment with those qualities. If the person excels at showing compassion, consider assigning them to work with clients who need more attention. If someone is extremely organized, have them help build efficiency into processes. Obviously, this isn’t always possible, but doing so when you can lets the person know you understand and appreciate them as a person. The flipside to this is to avoid assigning work that contributes in no way to the organization other than to keep the employee in motion. Remember, activity doesn’t automatically equal productivity.
5. Going to bat for your employees. Supporting, advocating for, and backing up your employees is key to showing gratitude. They will understand they matter to you if you can take a firm stance for them, and if they know you are actively trying to make their jobs better.
Gratitude is like a perpetual motion machine. If you foster it, feel it, and show it, it’s going to come back to you. Your team will be grateful for you and the company, and it will show in reduced turnover, reduced absenteeism, and increased performance. Speaking of gratitude, The Omnia Group is so grateful to you, our clients, partners, and readers. Thank you for your commitment to your employees and for working with us. We wish you and your families the happiest Thanksgiving.
Let me tell you a quick story about the worst boss and worst company I’ve ever worked for. I won’t give specifics to protect the guilty, but my boss was a nightmare. He was a micromanager who required three email updates per day on the progress of projects. He also spoke to people like they weren’t human beings. There was a level of respect sorely lacking in the entire department. People felt they had to compete with each other (I believe in a healthy level of competition, but this was destructive) and often threw each other under the bus to save themselves.
Want to report something to HR? They didn’t really care. The boss was the boss. The culture was absolutely toxic. People didn’t talk to each other. There was no comradery. The organization had no growth plans and no opportunities within for people to expand their roles or move into new positions. Education was an afterthought, and onboarding didn’t exist.
Who was responsible for the Great Resignation that happened in that New York City skyscraper in April of 2016? Ultimately, it was the company closing that caused us all to leave, though we were all actively looking for other opportunities. But, why did it close? Turns out our boss wasn’t just toxic to us, he was toxic to everyone. Clients fled and we were forced to shut our doors. Lesson learned. Keep reading though to find out ultimately who is responsible for The Great Resignation.
Retaining top performers has always been a focus in the workplace. Still, over the last year, it has quickly become a top concern for many organizations for one primary reason: The Great Resignation. Sometimes referred to as the Big Quit or the Great Reshuffle, it began in early 2021 and is an ongoing trend in which people have resigned from their jobs voluntarily–in droves.
You've likely felt the impacts of this even if you haven't quit a job yourself:
But are people, like the old adage goes, leaving their managers and not their jobs? Are they unhappy with their workplace's culture? Do they want more money? Is it something else entirely? Regardless of what fuels the Great Resignation, it's essential to consider how to retain your employees and who exactly is accountable for that task.
According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics' most recent Economic News Release, 4.3 million people quit their job in May of 2022, which is only down slightly from March of 2022, when 4.53 million people voluntarily separated from their employment. And in 2021, a record of nearly 48 million people in total quit their jobs. We're looking at a mass employment exodus, and the answer to it? Well, it's to figure out a way to retain those employees.
In 2021, a Pew Research study discovered that most workers report quitting for one of three reasons:
1) 63% of people leave because of low pay
2) 63% of people also reported a lack of advancement opportunities
3) 57% of people say they left their job because they felt disrespected.
Employee turnover is expensive. In a Gallup article, Shane Mcfeely and Ben Wigert report that "the cost of replacing an individual employee can range from one-half to two times the employee's annual salary–and that's a conservative estimate."
There are plenty of other reasons people leave their jobs–to go back to school, to take care of family, etc.–but an employer cannot mitigate those reasons. Luckily, they can address fair pay, workplace culture, and advancement opportunities, but who is responsible for this?
There is often particular stress on talent acquisition, managers with direct reports, and HR staff to focus and retain employees. But, in short, everyone in an organization is responsible for retaining employees.
Talent acquisition and hiring managers can help retain employees by developing both hiring and onboarding processes that properly reflect company culture and provide accurate job expectations and responsibilities. Managers with direct reports should help retention efforts by providing clear guidance on projects and support while maintaining a generally positive and compassionate workplace atmosphere. HR staff has a role in these areas, as well as some others, like upholding high cultural standards and providing conflict resolution when necessary. But ordinary employees–the day-to-day coworkers, the non-managers–also play a significant role in employee retention.
All of these organizational facets can and should work in tandem with one another, and that is only possible if a positive workplace culture exists.
One of the top reasons people left their jobs in 2021 was to pursue a higher-paying career, so it's crucial to consistently reevaluate things like compensation packages to ensure you're staying competitive. But there are plenty of other ways you can retain employees:
Now you have all the facts and stats about employee retention, but I challenge you to think about the other side of the situation as we all look for someone to blame for team transitions. I was in control of my situation in my formerly toxic environment. I control my own emotions and reactions. I contributed to the toxicity by not speaking up and standing up for my own beliefs. If I had a do-over, I would speak up about the silence. I would bring to light the hypocrisies. I would try to make an impactful change. I didn’t. I just left. Who’s responsible for The Great Resignation?
We all are. And that includes the people resigning.