Over nearly two decades, the annual percentage of engaged U.S. workers has ranged from a low of 26% in 2000 and 2005 to the recent six-month high of 34% in 2018. On average, 30% of employees have been engaged at work during the past 18 years. (Source: Gallup) These numbers suggest that employers have been actively working towards creating an engaging work environment. This motivates the employees to be more connected to their work. Productivity has increased and efficiency has also seen a rise. 30% of the workforce in the US is engaged may be the highest ever but in reality, this is very small in comparison to what it should really be! That is why people like Karin Volo work so hard on creating work environments that promote employee engagement and participation.
We recently got the exceptional pleasure of interviewing Karin Volo. She is an expert in engagement, career, personal and organizational development, and is known as Chief Joy Bringer and the CEO of Evoloshen. She is a co-author of the international best selling book, Engage! With over 15 years of experience working with international Fortune 500 companies globally, she has insights on business building, cultural transformation, and high performance. Karin works with cultural development, employee engagement, leadership mentoring, professional inspirational speaking and writing. She uses her professional skills and draws from her personal experiences to help individuals and companies thrive.
Karin’s opinions on Human Resources and how the workforce is changing resonates with leaders across the globe. Her futuristic ideas and core values of joy, inspiration, and evolution are shining examples of how leadership is diving deep into elements of morality and support. Being a company that is constantly working on building future of work, we couldn't agree more with Karin when she says businesses can experience growth by investing in the most valuable assets of the company - its employees.
On Culture and People
The culture and people that are part of the firm, matter and should be cared for, as they are the most valuable assets of the business. When asked about the driving factors for consistent and positive company culture, she explains that the first step is to make sure that the CEO and the management team have a complete ‘buy-in’ in the company. This establishes that the company is driven by individuals who want it to grow and have an impact. Doing so also creates a base on which the company can rest its mission.
After establishing the buy-in from the leadership, the next step is to have solid values and a purpose that has support from the employees. This starts shaping the culture around positivity and keeps the employees driven. The work from there then should be the third element to systematize the culture so that it becomes embedded into the culture of a company.
Like any changes made in the company, implementation is the key to success. If done well, the culture will have a life of its own and will live beyond the leaders and changes in employees. It becomes a part of a living entity in the company.
Her take on how business leadership is changing across the globe is nothing short of a model that leaders should be following in the coming future.
Human resources as a department are moving away from the administrative functions as artificial intelligence and technology are doing more of those while the department focuses on the coaching roles to develop people and create an engaging atmosphere in the company. Furthermore, HR executives need to understand that working on culture and people has a direct and profound impact on the bottom line.
This focus on passions and values is also manifested in the workplace as well as offices become more flexible, remote, and focus on values. This is setting up companies to become purpose-driven along with being profit-driven which allows for the success of businesses in the long game. She says “Recruit for values, train for skills - not the other way around”.
On Companies Accepting Change
“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them” a quote by Albert Einstein that Karin credits to have helped shape her thinking long-term. This is clearly reflected in the way she passionately talks about how companies are changing.
She verbalizes that every person and company is on a journey and are at different points in that journey. These people and enterprises show us new ways of thinking, growing and developing. In her book ‘Engage!’, 15 companies that are operating businesses in a new and progressive way are featured. These act as the precedent of how working on culture, engagement, purpose, and trust truly makes a difference.
Her recent interviews on her podcast, The Most Amazing Leaders, with Garry Ridge, CEO of WD-40, Bob Chapman, CEO of Barry Wehmiller, and Vineet Nayar, former CEO of HCL Technologies, demonstrate that working on company culture corroborates success. Her belief is that the fastest transformations happen from progressive CEO’s leading the way with strong CHRO's to support on the journey. Top management buy-in is essential to doing the work. One of the biggest mistakes is that the CEO will make culture solely an HR issue—it needs the support of all management.
The younger generations that are already in or coming into the workforce are quite motivated by development, growth and a sense of belonging. Companies that are investing in developing their people will most likely attract top talent. These generations are also much more adaptable to using technology. So a company with a younger workforce is a great place to implement using technology solutions.
Companies are finding smarter ways to mine and analyze employee voice from various data sources. And yet employee satisfaction remains a tight spot for most organizations. Employees need to know that leaders truly care about them otherwise they won’t really care about any sort of surveys or questions. When there is a high level of trust within the company, then employees will be more likely to answer truthfully and be more engaged.
On Revolution of the Workforce
Karin is actively supporting many entrepreneurs, young people who take great risks by helping them build and develop their business. The workforce will be 75% of the millennial and gen Z’s by 2025 so it’s forcing a lot of changes in how the workplace will be functioning. These generations easily adapt to using technology and act as an amazing foundation to deploy technical solutions. They are also looking (conditioned) for immediate feedback and providing them with it is possible with the help of technology.
Another quote that resonates with Karin is “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” by Buckminster Fuller.
A quote that is as applicable today as it was in the 20th century. The current reality is that the workforce is changing and trying to fit people into working similarly to their predecessors is not going to work anymore. There is a need for newer models to be created that work more efficiently and focus on passions and values instead of productivity.
The use of technology, artificial intelligence, and machine learning is going to be a game-changer in creating such models. Data-Analytics is also going to play a key role while making decisions to change the current models to suit the incoming generations better.
To Sum it Up
There is no stopping the incoming change in the labor force and the older work models are slowly becoming obsolete. The incoming change is going to be a factor that drives how people take recognition of work.
These changes are accompanied by technological innovations like cloud computing, AI, machine learning, and deep learning. As businesses become more people-centric, the workforce’s motivation, dedication, and commitment are going to drastically improve.
Recruitment is going to target values and other personality traits instead of skills and training in skills are going to surge due to the presence of online learning modules. There is also going to be a shift in work culture from offices that have cubicles and strict rules on the hierarchy to open spaces, lenient schedules, and mutual understanding.
Her recent interview, The Most Amazing Leaders, On Karin’s website www.TheAmazingLeaderSeries.com, we got to watch her interview Garry Ridge, CEO of WD-40 company and the interaction between these two powerful leaders had us in awe. The way both Karin and Garry talk about leadership is laudable and a path of hope for the future where workplaces are filled with passion, compassion, trust, accountability, empathy, and personal growth. They set an example of the kind of change the world is progressing towards and how optimistic one has the capacity to be.
Karin concludes our interview by saying,