‘’Doing good by people is also good business.’’ – Kevin Campbell.
Are you looking to create a positive space for employees but don’t know where to begin? If so, this episode focused on data analytics and people experience is a must-listen! Joining Aoife on the show this week is special guest Kevin Campbell. Kevin is the founder of Lifted Leadership LLC and is an employee experience scientist at Qualtrics, where he helps people fall in love with their work.
In this episode, Kevin dives into how you can boost your business with data analytics and enhance employee experiences to create a happier working environment for people to thrive in. Throughout, we learn about the multiplier effect, the outcome of putting people first and how data can help solve business problems and achieve business goals. Kevin also shares his effective ABC 123 approach to cultivating greater employee engagement. Further points discussed include:
– An introduction to Kevin Campbell.
– Identifying and closing gaps in the employee experience.
– The impact of putting people first in business.
– The rising issue of talent retention and competition in wages.
– Learnings from employee engagement data.
– Experience data VS operational data.
– The stages of an employee journey.
– Why a pulse check is a must for all businesses.
– The U-shaped Road to recovery of employee disengagement.
– The value of autonomy and belonging at work.
– The Pygmalion effect in management.
– Acting on employee experience data.
– Kevin’s guide to getting started with people analytics.
– What Happiness at Work means to Kevin.
THE LISTENERS SAY:
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Blog: The ABC’s of Employee Experience Action Planning and Six Roadblocks to Avoid:
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Aoife O’Brien, Kevin Campbell
Aoife O’Brien 00:00
Are you looking to improve employee engagement and retention? Do you struggle with decisions on who to hire or who to promote? I have an amazing opportunity for forward thinking, purpose led, people first organisation to work with me on the first pilot Happier at Work program for corporates. The program is entirely science backed and you will have tangible outcomes in relation to employee engagement, retention, performance and productivity. The program is aimed at people leaders with responsibility for hiring and promotion decisions. If this sounds like you, please get in touch at Aoife @ happieratwork.ie. That’s A O I F E @ happieratwork.ie. You’re listening to the Happier Work podcast. I’m your host Aoife O’Brien. This is the podcast for leaders who put people first, the podcast covers four broad themes; engagement and belonging, performance and productivity, leadership equity, and the future of work. Everything to do with the happier at work podcast relates to employee retention, you can find out more at Happieratwork.ie.
Kevin Campbell 01:11
What data can really provide for us is the gift of focus, of all the good things that we know we ought to do. What direction is the data pointing us into to say that this is where there seems to be a relationship there and want to act on that one thing.
Aoife O’Brien 01:27
Hello, and welcome back to the Happier at Work podcast. I’m your host, Aoife O’Brien and my lovely guest today is Kevin Campbell, or you can call them Kevin G. Campbell, if you want to try and find him on social media on LinkedIn, because there’s a lot of Kevin Campbell’s out there. So Kevin is an employee experience scientist at Qualtrics. And he’s also the founder of a company called Lifted Leadership LLC. And in Lifted Leadership he coaches fortune 500 executives on how to acquire, develop and retain their most valuable asset, which is their people. He spent the last decade of his career building leaders and teams for companies like Stryker, PF Changs, Amazon and has worked for Deloitte and Gallup as a consultant as well. Prior to this, Kevin received a master’s in organisational psychology where he studied under and forgive me in the pronunciation of this name Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, co founder of positive psychology and the first researcher to recognise and name the mental state of flow, which is the optimal experience of total engagement. Now, I think you will agree that this episode is so practical, it’s so insightful, we dig down a lot of different kinds of avenues. What started as a conversation about employee experience and how to use data to improve the employee experience. We have some really, really practical insights for you. Throughout the entire episode, we talk about different things like the employee journey, and the different touch points in that employee journey and what that means and, and the difference that we can make to create happier working environments for employees. As always, I will do a synopsis at the end of the episode. So do listen out for that. You know, and do get involved in the conversation. If you have any questions about what we talked about, do feel free to reach out and ask me any questions that you might have. You can connect with me on LinkedIn. I’m Aoife O’Brien that’s A O I F E O apostrophe B R I E N on LinkedIn or you can also find me on Instagram happieratwork.ie or reach out through the website as well, which is also firstname.lastname@example.org and I look forward to hearing from you enjoy today’s episode. Welcome Kevin to the Happier at Work podcast, I’m delighted to have you as my guest today. Do you want to give people a little bit of a flavor of your background and how you got into what you’re doing?
Kevin Campbell 04:04
Yeah, absolutely. First of all, thank you for having me. I got into what I’m doing because about a little bit over a decade ago, I found myself working as a headhunter a recruiter for Google. And at the time, it was considered one of the best places to work according to all the workplace lists. And I expected that people would be walking around in a state of perpetual bliss. But that wasn’t the case, there was still a high degree of variance in terms of how happy people were at work and how engaged people were in their job. So that really led me to want to understand employee engagement, employee experience and employee happiness. And I studied Organisational Psychology with one of the cofounders of positive psychology. And since then, I’ve been on a journey, recovering consultants. So I worked with the Gallup organisation and Deloitte and now I work in tech and as an employee experience scientist with Qualtrics, and my role is to help organisations identify and close gaps in the employee experience to help them get from where they are to where they want to be.
Aoife O’Brien 05:14
Yeah. It’s I think that’s a really nice synopsis. And it sounds I don’t know, the word to use is like, it sounds like a really noble profession. And it sounds, exactly what you’re doing is making creating happier working environments so that employees can thrive so that their experience at work is a positive one.
Kevin Campbell 05:32
It’s very fulfilling, especially when you can point out that to organisations and to leaders that doing good by people is also good business.
Aoife O’Brien 05:41
Yeah, yeah. Maybe we can start there because, you know, I’ve had a few conversations recently, where we’ve talked around this idea that putting people first, you know, it seems to be this big shift in mentality globally for organisations, but there are still some out there who insist on putting profits before people. What kind of data do you have to backup? Do you have any, you know, maybe anonymised data that you can share around to creating a better employee experience or creating a happier working environment, actually impact on the bottom line.
Kevin Campbell 06:17
So Qualtrics has an organisation within Qualtrics called the x m Institute of the Experience Management Institute. And we’ve done surveys of organisational leaders. And they found that there’s a multiple, a multiplier effect, when organisations really focus on employee experience and customer experience. And when you add the two together, you have this multiplier effect in terms of revenue, profitability growth. And that all goes back to putting people first customers or people to Yeah, and and thinking about what’s the impact that you want to have on the world as an organisation? And how does that connect back to profitability? You know, the, the more you can retain good people, the longer they stay with your organisation, the better they get at their ability to serve customers, the better they get at their ability to serve customers, the more customer retention and customer loyalty and customer recommendations you’ll have. And I think a lot of it, if we’re talking about an in a real business sense, it also has to do you know, with the switching cost, right, if you’re in an organisation or a business where there’s very little competition, and the cost of switching is very high, then you know, maybe your people experiences and employee experiences and customer experiences don’t have that big of an impact, because you kind of have a captive audience. But for the majority of us, we’re in a competitive market, where consumers and employees have a choice in terms of where they want to go. And in an environment with rising prices, if you can’t, or won’t compete on wages, or you can’t or won’t compete on prices, the only thing that you can really compete on is the quality of the experiences that people have. And that’s what’s going to make the difference between you and the other people that you’re competing with in that particular industry.
Aoife O’Brien 08:11
Now use this term impact. And I’m curious about the idea of impact and how much people buy into the impact that the organisation has. I’m not sure if I’m explaining that very well. But I’m thinking about companies that that are perceived to do good in the world versus companies that are maybe they’re not doing bad, but they’re not kind of actively doing good, or does that vary? Like is that perception very subjective? Or is there a difference between the experience of employees in those different types of organisations?
Kevin Campbell 08:46
You know, I think it does have an impact on the experience of employees. But you know, there’s research on people that have so called Dirty Jobs, you know, people who are debt collectors, or people who literally work with garbage or trash collection or work at morgues. And, you know, the, the, the idea that some jobs aren’t doing good in the world or some jobs or some businesses are, in a sense tainted, what I find is that people that in those professions, they they tend to think about it in a different way. Okay. They tend to think about it in terms of, you know, if you think about a defense attorney who represents criminals, right? When you talk to folks in that line of work, they’ll tell you that they’re here to uphold a system of law and justice and that everybody deserves a proper defense right? Yeah.
Aoife O’Brien 09:36
Really interesting that you use that example I’m I’ve just started watching How to Get Away with Murder, and that is that it describes her exactly. She’s upholding the law. It doesn’t matter whether her her client is guilty or not. She’s upholding the law and she’s she’s doing the best job that she can on behalf of her client, essentially.
Kevin Campbell 09:57
Yeah, yeah. Or you know, when you talk to people that are debt cult actors that actually enjoy being a debt collector, could you imagine what, uh, that was one of my first jobs at high school. But you know, being a debt collector, you can look at it as your strong arming people that are in hard situations for the money that they owe. Or you can look at it through the lens of actually, I’m tough enough to be able to handle this kind of work. Or, you know, people that work at morgues, you know, they might not focus on the fact that they handle dead bodies, but maybe they focus on the fact that they’re helping families through a really hard time in their life. Yeah. And I work with with folks in the energy industry is an example who really, there’s a lot of really well intentioned people in oil and gas and energy. And, you know, a lot of them really do want to make a positive impact in the world. And despite some of the negative externalities of the work that they do, the world is in its current state powered by the work that they do. Right. So yeah, literally. Yeah. So So I think a lot of it is the way that you frame your work and the within the way that you think, and at the end of the day, no business happens without a customer at the center of it. Right. So everybody’s serving a customer. And ideally, you’re making some sort of an impact on that customer. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be something that that on the surface feels completely altruistic. But but there is an impact there.
Aoife O’Brien 11:30
Yeah, yeah. And I did read something recently about that, that doing good in the world, it doesn’t have to be the entire world, it can be the one impact that you have on your one customer, you know that you made their day better, or something like that in in the kind of the context of what you’re doing. It doesn’t have you don’t have to be working for a company that’s having this massive impact all over the world. I just thought that was quite an interesting perspective. And thank you for sharing that. The other question that or the other kind of topic that came up there was if we’re not able to compete on wages, and I know this is kind of a hot topic, and especially now, I’m not sure what it’s like in the States, Kevin, but certainly here, people are being offered, you know, 30,000 more to switch roles. And it’s a really competitive market at the moment, it’s a candidate market. But at the same time, I’m a true believer that it’s not, it’s not about the money, it is more about the experience. Do you have any data that kind of backs that up?
Kevin Campbell 12:32
Yeah, I’d say that. I’ll give you a really interesting example of, you know, sometimes it’s not money or experience. I was working with, I was working with an organisation that found that their traditionally underrepresented groups, so at this organisation, the majority of employees are white or Asian. And they found that people of color outside of the Asian community had higher employee engagement scores, than the majority of the organisation, but they were leaving at a higher rate. Okay, interesting. That was really puzzling. Like, why are they leaving? Are they leaving? Because it’s such a competitive market? Or are they leaving because the data’s inaccurate in some way, like, perhaps they’re not as engaged as they they’re showing in the in their employee surveys, maybe there’s something related to inclusion, that’s aside from employee engagement, that’s, that’s driving this. And when I when I looked at the data, their their exit interview data, as well as their employee engagement data, what we saw was, first of all, you couldn’t look at that group of employees as as a monolith, right? Because the experience of Latin Hispanic employees and why they left was different from black folks, was different from women. And what we saw was that for the Hispanic folks that had left it was the competitive market, they were often going into higher level roles and getting increases in compensation. But for black folks and women, they were often leaving for things that had nothing to do with employment, or money at all, it was childcare responsibilities or family responsibilities, or they wanted to make a career change. So you know, is going to be individualized. So I think the more important question is not what’s the trend in the market, although that is helpful to put into context. Yeah. It’s what is it for the particular employee population that is attracted to the kind of employment that we offer? And what’s that marketplace look like? What is our specific marketplace of employment looks like? What does our talent pool look like? Another example that comes to mind was two healthcare organisations. One was a hospital system and the other was a medical device. based company, and the critical employee populations for the hospital system was nurses. And the critical employee population for the medical device company was sales folks. So the both of these organisations had assumed different things about their the talent pool, the hospital organisation assumed that nurses were going to be driven by mission and purpose. And the medical device company assumed that salespeople were going to be driven by compensation and the ability to make money. But actually it was there was the opposite, that there was flipped, right. And the reason for that is because nurses are able to find meaning and purpose in any kind of role, right? Ubiquitous within that industry. So the differentiator, was actually compensation, medical device sales people, these are really, really highly compensated people that can make seven figures in the role. So money was sort of just table stakes. The differentiator was the belief in the product and the mission and purpose, the ability of that product to save lives. Yeah. So it’s, so I think, you know, asking that question of his money or purpose, well, you know, I think it’s both, and it’s going to be the percentage of the pie, right? It’s going to be different for each person, but it’s also going to be different for each talent pool. And calibrating, according to the talent pool that you’re after is going to be more important than then then getting the overall trend.
Aoife O’Brien 16:34
Yeah, yeah. I mean, that makes total sense. And it’s a really powerful example. I think it’s really, really well illustrated in that example. So thank you so much for sharing that. Now. We’ve kind of talked around analytics, but we haven’t kind of explained exactly what it is or how people access it. And I have a feeling that in Ireland, for sure, we are behind on this journey. I think the UK are better ahead of us. But we’re talk to me about what’s going on in the States at the moment in relation to analytics and
Kevin Campbell 17:11
I think it starts with recognising that the data is already there. Yeah. And it’s really about asking questions of that data, to help you solve business problems and achieve business goals. So the data that probably already exists within most organisations is the operational data. The number of people that have been hired the time to fill those roles, the turnover metrics, demographic metrics, anything that sits in your HR is, so in most organisations, that data is there might not be clean and might not be easily accessible. I think that table stakes is just, you know, the operational data, you have that? And you can you can, you can do a lot with that. Right? You can, you can, you can say, based upon the source of hire, how long is that person’s time to ramp? You know, based upon the part of the organisation that they sit in, there’s going to be differences in terms of turnover. And I think that that understanding in and of itself, can can add to a lot of insight that can help you improve the way that your business works. But the the thing, that’s the trend, and the future, is thinking about not just the the operational data that we call a Qualtrics, the O data. It’s also connecting the X’s and O’s. So the x data, that’s the experience data. Right? So so you can the operational data tells you how many people left your organisation. The experience data through employee feedback, or or listening and scraping information on indeed or Glassdoor or other social media channels tells you why those people left, what the experience of leaving is. The operational pieces around, did people have their laptop on day one? Well, this nine I can relate. Can we all I mean, I think so many people have have an example of like, an onboarding experience that sounded more like waterboarding. If you’re not collecting experience data around that you might be missing a big piece of the picture around what’s happening, right? Because if you’re just tracking whether or not the laptop went out, you might not know whether or not that person was able to log in and actually felt empowered to do their job. Yeah. And then when you think about the business impact on how long it takes that person to ramp up, and whether or not they turn over within the first six months or a year because their onboarding experience was felt like a hazing experience.
Aoife O’Brien 20:03
Does someone have a camera as someone’s secretly filming here? Yeah, yeah, brilliant. And, yeah, I mean, everything that you’re saying I suppose the writing that makes sense. And we spoke before we started recording about this idea of the employee journey. Do you want to talk more about like, what are the stages in that employee journey? And how can we look at those stages slightly differently? And how can we tweak the experience that employees are having at different stages using data?
Kevin Campbell 20:35
Yeah, so in my space, a lot of people traditionally, and still look at metrics like employee engagement, you know, the the degree to which someone intends to stay in their role and the extra discretionary effort that they apply towards their role. And that’s usually done through some sort of a point in time survey of the employee population. But that’s just that particular point in time. Right, it’s, it’s the pulse check.
Aoife O’Brien 21:08
Yeah, and I would argue that most companies are doing at the very least an annual pulse check. And, you know, maybe some smaller organisations that are not doing that. But you know, take this as your cue that you need to start doing that, at the very minimum is, you know, checking in finding out what’s going on with people. But I’ll let you continue. Sorry, Kevin. No, that’s
Kevin Campbell 21:29
great. But I mean, that’s just the you know, most people are doing that. But the part that’s, that’s usually missing is that there’s that one point in time. But as you know, your day to day experience, is going to impact that momentary sense of engagement, either positively or negatively ever. Right? Like, the, you know, if you think about these, these moments that matter in the employee journey, onboarding, is one that we talked about. But it starts even before that, you know, what’s your experience of finding out about this opportunity? And what’s the experience of how you are recruited into the role and hired into the role and the interviews that you’ve had. And then we talk about that onboarding experience, then there’s usually some sort of time to ramp experience. And then as you progress throughout your career, your needs are going to change, right? A lot of times in organisations, what we’ll see is employee engagement usually follows a U shaped pattern, where new joiners and people that have been there, you know, it’s different for every organisation, sometimes the dip happens at two years. Sometimes it happens at three or four years. But we typically see very engaged employees early on, and then they become less engaged after a certain point of time. And then we usually see that jump back up, sometimes it’s five years, sometimes it’s a 10 years, sometimes it’s a 20 years, right. So there’s this, there’s this other pattern that happens. And what’s happening is that after a year or two, people start to grow restless, they want to try new things, they want to move up or move into a different role. And then you have the experience of going down on leave for them to care for a child or to care for a family member or because you’re sick, and then returning from leave. And all of these are moving into a management position, from an individual contributor position or moving to a higher leadership position. And all these different points on the employee journey, have an impact on other points in the employee journey. So your candidate experience impacts how engaged you’re going to be six months, a year later, how engaged you are today as an individual contributor, is going to have an impact on how effective you are, as a manager. Your onboarding and training as a new manager is going to have a downstream impact on the employee engagement and intent to stay and turnover metrics for your team. So you know, table stakes is doing that yearly survey. The next maturity level up from there is to think about this, not just in terms of that point in time, but what are all the different experiences that are happening along the way. And then the next level up from that is to be able to draw the connections between the different points. I’ll give a real simple illustration of we worked with a retail client that broke down manager behaviors on day one for new employees, and they could use that information to predict how included and how much people felt like they belonged six months later. And in this retail environment, they’re onboarding a lot of people that have a ton of turnover. So sometimes, the first connection that they have with a new employee is at text message or an email. Sometimes it’s over zoom. Sometimes it is a one on one meeting. And what we found is that only zoom, and one on one meetings made a difference. If that on that first day, someone add a human to human connection, face to face connection, whether that’s digitally or in person, six months later, they felt like they belonged. And they felt included in the organisation. Any other way of introducing a new employee to their manager, led to significantly lower instances of belonging and inclusion. Right. And that’s, that’s a huge finding, right when you but you’re not able to be able to find something like that, unless you’re connecting multiple touchpoints. In the employee journey.
Aoife O’Brien 25:49
Yeah, that was really interesting. And I think everything that you’re saying makes a lot of sense. But I still have this kind of underlying, like, maybe it’s a really simple and basic question. But it makes sense intuitively, but how do you know and, you know, if I had, let’s say, and I’m thinking to specific organisations, where I was recruited into the experience that I had, I can see how that led me to have subsequent experiences that I had, let’s say, in those roles. But why is that?
Why why is that? Yeah, yeah. Tell me more. Yeah.
Aoife O’Brien 26:26
Is it? You know, I suppose from my perspective, it’s I didn’t have the best experience of being recruited. I didn’t have the best experience of being on boarded. And subsequently felt less engaged throughout my entire the entire employee journey that I was on.
Kevin Campbell 26:45
Yeah. Yeah. And I think the reason is, is because humans aren’t robots. Yeah, I think I think we, you know, the employees have workplace needs, that when that they they give, above and beyond? I think most people, and I think the data shows this, most people are good people. Most people are hardworking, want to do a good job. And it’s, it’s only when those things are absent, that you you people become disempowered. People, people tend to give less of themselves. It’s really just about making sure that you’re doing the care and feeding and stewarding the the people that that choose to spend their time with your organisation.
Aoife O’Brien 27:35
Yeah, yeah, no, I mean, it makes sense intuitively, but I was like, well, but why but there, there’s a lot that I would like to unpack within that I want to take a step back now and talk about disengagement U shape. So you’re saying it’s a U shape, and that the kind of awkward part of the second part of the U where it goes back up, again, could be anything from two years could be 20 years. But what’s driving that? So what’s driving the increase in engagement after a long period of time of kind of, you know, disengagement, let’s say, or less engagement.
Kevin Campbell 28:10
So this was an interesting study that I did for organisation where they they noticed that U shaped curve, and they noticed that one of their key drivers of employee engagement was that sense of career progression. Okay, yeah. as measured by the question, I believe I have great career opportunities that this organisation, and you saw that that U shaped curve with that question. And what we found was that after about two years, when if people got promoted into a new role, that career progression metric jumped up. And that’s like, okay, that’s nice to know. But we can’t go around giving everybody a promotion. But another piece of analysis that we did was to look at it and say, Okay, well, what about when they don’t get promoted, they make a lateral move, but they move into a different role. And what we see is that for those folks, their career progression metrics, jumped up not just as high as the people that got promoted, but even higher. And, you know, we call this the honeymoon effect. Right? And when things are new and novel, you start to see the possibilities, the opportunities for growth. But But once you’ve been there for a while, all those things that are new and novel and exciting, they fall out of the foreground, and they go into the background, right when you buy a new car, you know, you have that new car.
Aoife O’Brien 29:49
It’s got the new, the new car smell, it’s all shiny.
Kevin Campbell 29:53
Yeah even with the new used car, right, it’s new to you and you start to notice all the other cars of that brand and that make on the road and you compare like, actually, mine’s a little bit nicer than that one, right? And you have a little bit of a, you know, a skipping your step as a result of that. But yeah, human happiness has this thing called the hedonic treadmill, where when things are new and novel, they tend to impact us. But over time, those things fall into the foreground, right, like, they’ve done research where people move from from the iciest parts of Michigan to the most beautiful parts of California, and vice versa. And in the first few years, the folks that moved from Michigan to California will love the weather. I think another good example might be like Ireland to Sydney or something, right. But yeah, the first few years, it’s like you so much happier because the weather is so much better. Exactly, yeah, about two or three years, that that novelty falls away, and other things are to be more important to you. So that’s that’s probably what’s happening with that U shaped curve.
Aoife O’Brien 30:57
Yeah. The other thing that occurred to me as well, Kevin, is that and, you know, I was going to ask when you were saying about, well, it’s a progression, and people see career progression as something amazing. And I thought, well, it could be that the people who were into promoted left the organisation, and therefore those who were there for longer are the ones who are getting promoted, and therefore, that’s why it’s going up. But I love the explanation as well around. It’s not just about promotion, it’s about those lateral moves. And I know the importance of lateral moves, and a novelty and challenge in a role. Because if you’re doing something for two years, and there’s nothing really left New to learn that there that you’re kind of you’re getting a bit bored and complacent in what you’re doing. There’s no real challenge in what you’re doing anymore. But when you take on a new role, and you have to learn new systems, and you have to learn new people and new ways of doing things and new challenges, new problems and issues that you encounter in the role, I think that can Yeah, gives a great sense of kind of refreshment. The other thing I wanted to touch on was this idea of workplace needs. That’s something I talk about all the time, I’m hugely interested in this concept of needs. I did my dissertation research as part of my master’s in looking at this concept of fit. And what drives our center fit in an organisation. And the kind of primary driver is is values and values alignment. But actually, underlying that is our needs satisfaction that work. So I love that you kind of brought that up that it’s we’re humans, we’re not robots. And actually, as leaders, we need to make sure that our employees needs are being met at work. And that’s, you know, that’s our primary role is to make sure their needs are being met and that they’re being developed essentially. Any any thoughts or any any ideas around expanding on this concept of needs or their particular needs? You know, what I looked at it as part of my dissertation where they autonomy relatedness and competence, but I know there are additional needs that people have in the workplace as well as Do you have any research around that?
Kevin Campbell 32:58
Well, yeah. So anecdotally, but also, from from a research perspective, I love the piece around well, belongingness relatedness. That that’s, that’s huge to the fact that, you know, we at Qualtrics on the employee experience scientists team, sometimes we talk about whether belongingness should be considered part of the engagement index, because high statistical relationship between the two. Okay, yeah, but I think there’s, I think from a from a diversity and inclusion perspective, it is useful to think about it as a separate metric. But it’s so related. It’s so it’s so intertwined. Mastery, I think that’s that’s, you know, and going back to this idea of fit. You know, Gallup did some research back in 2016, where they asked people to rate, what would cause them to think about looking for another job in this, this has changed. Wages are much higher on that list now. But at the time, the number one thing was the ability to do what they do best every day, to use their strengths. Yeah. Yeah. And I think, and I think there’s a dispositional element to that around around mastery. But there’s also that growth component related to that, right around really, really getting good at what you do. And then autonomy, there’s, there’s so much depth to that, that piece of autonomy. And going back to, you know, self determination theory, right, like, yeah, and to think about autonomous motivation, as some people will think about it in terms of black or white, right, like it’s either extrinsic or intrinsic. But that middle piece around identified motivation, right, so it’s like, it is it is, you know, I’m doing this because it’s good for me, I’m doing this because it’s the right thing to do. I’m doing this because I feel like it’s the right thing to do. And it’s part of my values, as you mentioned values, right? And I think that identified motivation is an underutilised part of the employee experience, when it comes to things like goal setting, and motivation and even onboarding, right, are you are you giving goals to the employee? Or are you co creating goals with the employee? And that that can really tap into that basic psychological need of, of autonomy, and mastery? And belongingness? Right, because it’s a it’s a cooperative conversation. You can identify personal growth goals within that conversation, and you’re expressing your sense of autonomy by virtue of CO creating those goals.
Aoife O’Brien 35:49
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And I’m really interesting. The other aspect I wanted to pick up on, I wanted to get your thoughts on, you mentioned that most people are hardworking and wants to do a good job. Now, that’s something that I believe, however, I’ve been challenged on that recently, where people say to me, I’m not sure that everyone is like that. But there are some people who are kind of coasting, they want to get away with not doing very much work, or they’re not motivated by hard work, things like that. Do you have any data around that? Or do you have any kind of personal thoughts or anecdotes to share around that?
Kevin Campbell 36:20
it’s one of the oldest findings in Organisational Psychology and it’s, it’s Theory X and Theory Y. So so I can’t answer the question of are people fundamentally good or bad? I think that’s, that’s less of an empirical argument and more of a philosophical discussion, or maybe even theological, depending on your orientation. But I think the the idea of whether managers and leaders believe that people are fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, okay. Yeah. So your impact on people’s performance? Yeah, managers that that believe theory Y, I forget, which is which. So you have to forgive me. The theory X managers believe that people are fundamentally lazy and don’t want to do their best
Aoife O’Brien 37:09
and they need to use the stick to get them to do stuff, right? Yeah,
Kevin Campbell 37:13
Theory Y managers believe that people are fundamentally self motivated and responsible. And there’s also this this, you know, this this thing that they call the Pygmalion effect. You know, there was some research done on the Israeli military, where they told a group of generals that were in taking a new class of cadets that they were working with an exceptionally high performing group of people that had been specifically selected based upon their aptitude to be excellent soldiers. And they built another group of generals working with another group of cadets that these folks are just about average. And sure enough, the high performing highly selected group outperform the other group. The only thing is, is that they were randomly assigned to the to group. Yeah, you know, you the expectations that you have of how people are and how they’re going to behave, changes the way that you approach and speak with them and deal with them in subtle ways that will have a big impact. So I guess this is this is interesting, as a, you know, someone who calls himself a scientist to say, but but whether or not people are good or bad matters less than the mindset of whether or not you fundamentally believe people are good or bad.
Aoife O’Brien 38:30
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So whether and as a manager, how you behave based on those beliefs that you have about the people who are working with you. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Love that. Love that. Now, again, before we started recording, we touched on this idea of using employee experience data to have more actionable outcomes in organisations. Do you have any examples that you’d like to share that we haven’t already touched on during our conversation?
Kevin Campbell 39:01
Yeah, you know, I think a lot of it. So I, I recently published an article with the excellent Institute on taking action on employee experience data. And the argument is that acting on this data is actually as easy as A, B, C 123. Okay, so A stands for action oriented, B stands for business relevant, and C stands for conversation based. So it begins with that a around action orientation. And that starts with the way that you collect the data. And the reason that you have behind collecting the data, and being intentional about the reason behind you collect the data. Or you can go back to things as simple as what questions you ask on an employee engagement survey. Yeah, a lot of times people ask outcome questions like, I feel like I belong at work. I go above and beyond in my job. And those are all great questions. seems to have, but you also want to ask actionable questions, like, do I have the tools and equipment I need to be successful? Do I know what’s expected of me at work? Yeah. And put as much emphasis on acting on the information, as you do on collecting and yielding the information. You know, there’s there’s organisations that have all these tools and tricks that they use to drag the participation rate. But they don’t put those same tools in place when it comes to finding out whether or not people have taken action on the information. So I think that’s part of it. But action orientation piece, the other piece is making it business relevant. Right? Are you asking questions, because they’re interesting to people like us who live in HR and people analytics and data science? Where you asking questions that are relevant to the business? What’s the what’s the burning platform that you have going on at the business that people data can help you make decisions around? One great example is I’m working with a quick service restaurant that wants to go from 4000 locations to 7000 locations. Well, turns out that of their 4000 locations, only about 50% of their location managers feel fully equipped to be managers. So if they’re gonna beef that up to almost doubling in a short period of time, they’re going to have to think about what they’re going to do to train it enable managers, right. And even though we all intuitively know, as you said, we all intuitively know that these things connect, you can never over communicate that to your frontline people, because a retail manager, a store manager, they’re thinking about how do I make sure I have enough people staffed to operate the floor today? Right? How do I deal with that person that just quit the other day? How do I deal with this angry customer. So the more that we can help them connect the the dots between the data and the outcomes, the better it will be for them, so business relevant, and then see conversation based or conversation driven. You know, a lot of times well intentioned leaders, HR people, analytics folks will take the data and go to the drawing board in the corner by themselves, and analyse everything to the nth degree and then come back with an action plan that they then dictate to the organisation. But it’s better to co create that plan in a conversation based way, so that, you know, I love how many people like they have a finding in their data. And they’re like, Okay, well, now we want to run focus groups to understand what’s what’s happening behind here, which isn’t a bad thing. But it’s like, okay, well, how about you call that focus group and action planning session? And you have every manager have that conversation with their team? Yeah, investigation base, that’s the ABC, and then the 123, covers communication, I think in the rush to try and do all the things, we can really dilute the impact of the effort that we have. So what data can really provide for us, is the gift of focus of all the good things that we know we ought to do. What direction is the data pointing us into, to say that of all the things that we could do this is where there seems to be a relationship there. And when to act on that one thing, but to act on one thing, and put all of your effort into it than than to try to do all the things so act on one or two things about it. Because you don’t necessarily know what’s going to work. Maybe you even try and a B tests but act on one thing, do two things about it. And communicate what you’ve done three times through three different channels. It’s not everybody looks at Slack. And everybody looks at Microsoft Teams, not everybody looks at emails, not everybody pays attention during team meetings. So you have to have multiple channels of communication, because oftentimes, there’s a lot of work that well intentioned HR folks are doing that is connected back to people analytics and employee data. But they never communicate that that’s the reason why they’re doing those things. Where they do communicate it, but it gets lost in the noise. Right. So yeah, as many times as you can repeat like a drum. We heard you all say x, for we are doing why.
Aoife O’Brien 44:14
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Because oftentimes, the difficulty is that we ask questions. But it seems like we’ve asked the questions for no reason whatsoever, because the people who answered those questions don’t see the results of the questions that were asked. There was no direct link made between Okay, so you said, you know, we asked you these questions. And now here’s the answer, based on, you know, or here’s the conversation to exactly as you said, co create the answer based on the data as it came back and trying to kind of dive into that a little bit more. And oftentimes, I think we’re guilty of asking the question, but not actually sharing the results.
Kevin Campbell 44:57
Aoife O’Brien 44:59
Or doing nothing about it at all, just asking the question for the sake of asking,
Kevin Campbell 45:05
if you’re gonna ask the question just for the sake of asking the question, don’t ask the question, right, like
Aoife O’Brien 45:11
Exactly it’s a waste of everyone’s time.
Kevin Campbell 45:13
Especially, you know, it’s like, the classic examples is if you don’t intend to raise wages don’t ask people aout their satisfaction with wages.
Aoife O’Brien 45:22
That would just annoy them. You know, everyone says that the wages are way too low. But we’re not doing anything about it.
Kevin Campbell 45:32
How’s the temperature in here, actually, it’s kind of cold. Oh, let’s do that. I can’t change the thermostat, it’s broken.
Aoife O’Brien 45:36
Don’t, don’t go down that road. personal experience with that as well. Measurement of the temperature and let’s leave it the temperature and people sneakily changing the temperature. And yeah, it’s a huge bone of contention, I think, especially now, with people going back into office working, it’s going to rear its ugly head. Again, I know, it is.
Kevin Campbell 45:59
You know, early on, when there was this exodus of people from the office to working from home, there was a transition period where there were the technology wasn’t quite there. And now that people are going back into the office, there’s also that transition period where people aren’t used to using the conference room technology. And it’s just funny how it’s changed so much.
Aoife O’Brien 46:18
I can’t remember how to turn on the lights. Yeah, all of that kind of stuff. And now, it’s interesting what you’re saying, by co-creating the action plan I was involved in, in that in the last organisation I worked in we we did a Gallup q 12. Survey and exactly that we, we took the results, but we created teams of of, you know, manager led teams to talk about what the results were and what we individually as a team could do differently based on the results at, you know, at the lowest level that we could go down to, essentially, so it was really interesting to, for us to to actually be creating those, those solutions for ourselves. I think that was really empowering for us for sure.
Kevin Campbell 47:02
Yeah, it is. And it’s it can happen so much more quickly than the organisational changes, right? If you think about like the, we call it the XM Institute, the different loops, right, so there’s that inner loop, which is the loop. And then there’s the outermost loop, which is the organisational processes, and policies. And you know, there’s organisations that overemphasise one versus the other. I love the manager oriented action planning. And it’s part of my DNA as a former Gallup employee. And I also recognise that sometimes there are systemic issues that can only be handled by the uppermost leadership within the organisation. Only, you can only make the most impact by driving both at the same time. And then there’s the inner loops that are more like, you know, specific product or experience owners, right? Like who’s who’s like the talent acquisition team for candidate experience, or the onboarding team, if you have one for the onboarding experience, things like that.
Aoife O’Brien 48:07
Yeah, yeah. No, I love that. And I’m also conscious that if people are getting started with this type of approach, for the first time, any thoughts to share on what they might do? Just to get started, you know, if they’re kind of new to this whole people analytics thing, what what might they start by doing?
Kevin Campbell 48:27
Do a baseline survey, use good technology to collect it. I work for Qualtrics. So obviously, I’m gonna promote Qualtrics.
Aoife O’Brien 48:34
Hashtag, hashtag recommend Qualtrics.
Kevin Campbell 48:39
And then use a pre-validated survey methodology or hire someone like me, or someone who has a depth of survey designed to design this survey for you. Because they will help you do things like ask actionable questions. They’ll help you vet the questions to give yourself, to answer that hard question of do we really want to ask this? Is this something that we’re really prepared to act on? And make sure that you design with the end in mind. So going back to that action orientation piece, what’s the action that we’re going to take? When we get this, these results back? Plan for that, and build that into your project plan. And I think that’s that’s that’s the first place is to do that kind of baseline, that first survey might actually be longer than you would normally do. Because you’re not going to know exactly what’s important to your people just yet. So you might want to test out a lot of different theories around what that is. And then based upon the results of that, you’ll start to learn what other listening touchpoints you might want to add. So if you see within that data, there’s something going on with manager effectiveness. Well, maybe you want to add another listening touch point around your your manager training program. So if you see within that, that there’s an indication that something might be happening on the onboarding side, well, then maybe you want to add another listening touch point on the onboarding side, but that that baseline, will start to give you an initial understanding of where you want to focus and where you want to go next.
Aoife O’Brien 50:17
Yeah. I think it’s, it’s straightforward and it’s really practical for people to start doing that straightaway. Is there anything else that you would like to share Kevin, before we start wrapping things up?
Kevin Campbell 50:30
No, I just say, you know, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn. I love to connect with people in this space. And check out my my most recent blog article on the XM Institute around acting on employee experience data use look me up Kevin G Campbell, the G often helps, because of
Aoife O’Brien 50:49
A common name. And brilliance, and we can link to that article in the show notes as well. So keep an eye out for that. Now, Kevin, the one of the questions that I ask everyone who comes on the podcast is what is being happier at work mean to you?
Kevin Campbell 51:05
Yeah, so I love that question. And you know, Ed Diener is kind of the the father, the forefather of positive psychology, and the measurement of happiness. And he used an instrument called subjective well being, or for measuring happiness, and it has three components. It has your day to day, moods and emotions that are considered positive. Your day to day moods and emotions that are considered negative. Some positive ones are things like exhilaration, laughter, interest, excitement. Negative ones are things like boredom and sadness. So there’s those those two components, positive emotions, negative emotions. And then the third component is life satisfaction. So how satisfied with with your life have you accomplished the things that you’ve set out to accomplish? And together, these three components make up happiness? Right, so high positive emotions, low negative emotions, and high life satisfaction. But for all of us, you can be any combination of those three things. So you can have high positive and high negative emotions, which means that you’re all over the place. Along with higher low life satisfaction, right? You can have really high life satisfaction, and have low positive emotions and low negative emotions and be just kind of flat. And I think for each of us, we have different weightings, in terms of what’s most important to us, is happening to us being not sad, is happiness to us having a lot of positive emotions, or is happiness with us having a really high appraisal of how we’re doing in one’s life. And for me, personally, I like to have a good balance of all three, I like to accomplish what I set out to do in life. And I’d like to do that while maximising my positive emotions. And minimising my negative emotions where possible.
Aoife O’Brien 53:04
Yeah, yeah, work with all those things. Just put those in. And I’m wondering, kind of follow on question to that. Does that change throughout life as well? So if you’re saying it’s maybe different for different people the weighting that we gave each of those, but perhaps it changes throughout throughout our lives as well, the emphasis that we put on each of those things, maybe early in our life, there’s less focus on the life accomplishments, because you have fewer of those?
Kevin Campbell 53:33
I think, I don’t know. But I think there’s some data that would suggest that. So one example is there’s some some some interesting research that’s come out of German data that has showed that new parents, especially women, have have a decrease in subjective well being after having kids. Okay, interesting. But but if you ask, most people, the overwhelming majority of us were parents, and I’m a new parent. I have a nine month old, nine month old daughter. I mean, yeah, maybe maybe I do experience a little bit more grumpiness from time to time. That man, I wouldn’t trade any of that for my daughter. Yeah. So yeah, I do think there are different components that get in emphasise the different life stages. And I think, for employees, right, different different points in your career, different things are going to be important to you.
Aoife O’Brien 54:26
Yeah. Really interesting. Really, really interesting. And thank you so much for your time. There was lots of different directions that we could have gone today but I think we ended up with really, really practical tips for people to take away and and really make a difference to their, their employees working experience. I think so appreciate everything that you shared and thank you so much for your time.
Kevin Campbell 54:47
I appreciate you. Thank you so much. Bye.
Aoife O’Brien 54:52
That was Kevin Campbell talking all things people experience and people analytics. And I hope you enjoyed that conversation as much as I did. It was an opportunity for me to totally geek out on data and analytics, and the people experience. Absolutely 100% loves that conversation. You know, Kevin really speaks my language as well. So really, really enjoyed that. So we started the conversation by talking about this multiplier effect and the multiplying effect of putting people first be they employees, or customers as well. But the impact that that has then on the bottom line, so it’s not just about looking at profits first. But really, I see businesses shifting towards putting people first instead of profits. One of the reasons behind this is the longer people stay, they better serve customers. So I really liked that, you know, just a little insight, which is quite intuitive, but maybe not something that had been directly compared. Before as well. We talked about this idea of how you frame your work. So it’s, it’s less about whether you find money more important or whether you find purpose, more important, but how you think about the work that you do. So it’s not that there is necessarily bad jobs out there. But it’s thinking about how it is that you do what you do. And the example that he shared was around the nurses, so the nurses can feel their sense of meaning and purpose in any hospital or in any location that they work. Whereas the differential for them is how much they get paid in those different locations that they work. And then conversely, for the medical device sales, were the perception was that they were going to be driven by money. It is they were expected to earn a great deal of money no matter where, which company they worked in. And so what they were really looking for was the meaning and purpose and really believing in what the company was doing. So I thought that was just a really solid insight to share as part of that. We talked as well about some practical, you know, tips and steps for actually looking at the data. And we were talking about typically HR operational data and using that, asking questions of the data in order to solve business problems, and determine some of the business goals as well. So some of the typical information that the systems have already will be things like time to fill, you will have demographic data as well, and information on turnover. But often what’s missing from that what data if you like is the why behind it. So that is coming from the experience data, the experience that employees are having within the organisation, and actually getting that feedback from the employees, as well. We talked as well about the moments that matter. So these are the moments in the employee journey, that kind of tend to stand out, and as we mentioned, are related to each other, but it’s about determining exactly how they are related to each other. And as I shared my own experience, you know, they they are related to each other intuitively, but actually, that’s backed up by data as well. So it’s interesting to hear about that. So we talked about, you know, the entire journey from finding out about the opportunity to being recruited, going through the interview process, the onboarding, the time to ramp up to become competent at actually doing the job, your needs change over time. You know, perhaps after two years, you start getting restless, you want to try out new things. And then you know, when you’re taking leave, or when you’re returning from leave, what’s the experience that you have of the organisation, maybe you have become a manager, or you’ve become a more senior leader within the business as well. So all of these different touch points and understanding people’s experience of those different touch points when they are in the organisation. It’s really important and linking between those as well. The other fascinating thing I thought was this, the engagement being U shaped. So the reason that it’s U shaped is the people who are in the organisation for a long time have seen a lot of career progression. So we talked about this idea of getting promotions, but not just getting promotions, the importance of lateral moves as well, and how important they are. We expanded then on this concept of needs, we went into a bit more detail around the needs that I often talk about the need for autonomy, relatedness and competence. We talked about one of the most important needs being this feeling that you get the opportunity to do what you do best every day. So that’s related to the need for mastery the need for for growth or in my language, the need for a sense of competence in doing what you’re doing so that there’s sufficient challenge in what it is that you’re doing. But it’s not too hard that you can’t actually achieve it as well. Now we we drilled into this idea that most people are hardworking and wants to do a good job. We talked about Theory X and Y again, I can’t remember which one is which but but basically we we got to the out on that, it’s not necessarily about whether people want to work or whether they don’t want to work, whether they’re a bit lazier, but more about our belief in people, and how we how we approach that. And we talked about this, the Pygmalion effect and the importance of the expectations that we have of other people. And when we have high expectations of people, they live up to those expectations. And conversely, when we have lower expectations of people, they live up to those expectations as well. Kevin shared some really interesting insights then about how to make the employee experience data more actionable, and he has something it’s really easy to remember, A, B, C. So A is for action oriented. And that means intentionally collecting data. And collecting not just the information, but but making sure that the there’s action data in there. So those items in there that you can actually take action on. So the example that he shared was like whether or not you have the tools, something we went on to talk about separately, whether you feel equipped to be a manager. So you can very obviously and very clearly take action on both both of those questions. So making sure that it’s action oriented. The next one in it, then is that it is business relevant. So B is for business relevant? And that means that an answer is a business question that you have. And it’s not just collecting data for interest or collecting data for the sake of collecting data. And, and making sure that you’re actually able to do something with it. So it’s not just, we think we need to do an employee engagement survey, therefore, we’re going to do it, it’s we’re doing an employee engagement survey. And we are expected to take business action based on the results of the survey. And C then is that it is conversation driven, that it’s about co creating the action plan, it’s not about one person sitting away in a room, analysing the data themselves. And coming up with an action plan. It’s about co creating with employees, what actions are going to be taken as a result of the data that has been collected or the results that you get from the survey. And then the second element of that is around communicating it. And what he’s saying is it’s 123. So focus on one area, share two things that you’re going to work on, and communicated through three different channels, really, really liked that approach as well. So so easy to remember. So when you’re only getting started, that is an approach that you can take to taking more action on the back of the employee experience data. Now to wrap up the conversation, we talked about what you might do to get started, because I’m very aware that there’s a lot of people out there who haven’t started using the employee data that they currently have in their business. So how do you actually get started with it, he shared some really great insights around that as well. So number one, setting a baseline number two, using the right technology to collect that data. Number three, designing the survey that has actionable questions and betting the question. So are you really prepared to take action on the things that you’re asking about, as an example would be don’t ask people what they think of salary if you have no intentions of increasing the salary. And then number four is starting with the end in mind. So what are the outcomes that you’re expecting to get from this? And what actions can you take as a result of this, I really, really love that I also loved his approach around the you know, talking about happiness at work and what that means and andriani happiness generally in life as well. So, you know, high on positive emotions, low on negative emotions, and high on life satisfaction generally and what we’re accomplishing in life. If you want to get involved in the conversation I do post about the podcast on social media. Mostly, I will be on LinkedIn and Instagram. So Instagram is happieratwork.ie that is the same as the website if you’d like to connect with me through the website, you’re very welcome to do so there or connect with me on LinkedIn as well. My name is Aoife O’Brien and I look forward to continuing the conversation with you there. That was another episode of the Happier at Work podcast by I’m so glad you tuned in today. If you enjoyed today’s podcast, I would love to get your thoughts head on over to social media to get involved in the conversation. If you enjoy the podcast, I would love if you could rate review it or share it with a friend. If you want to know more about what I do or how I could help your business head on over to email@example.com