APA Center for Organizational Excellence: Good Company

Resources for Employers

Good Company Blog
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Social media is a way of life and work. It connects us to each other and to people and resources that we wouldn’t have access to otherwise. But the distinction between personal and professional lives on social media is often blurred, making the enforcement of equal employment opportunity laws complex.

Should an employer have the right to request an employee’s Facebook password? Currently, 12 states ban the practice. The issues of social media in the workplace span across HR, legal and management, and involve concerns about discrimination, recruitment, screening and background checks, hiring, harassment, social media policies and discovery for legal proceedings.

“Equal employment opportunity law is increasingly touched by the advance of social media,” said Jacqueline A. Berrien, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Chair at an EEOC meeting this past March. The meeting focused on the legal issues surrounding social media in the workplace and included a panel of attorneys discussing how social media complicates the enforcement of equal employment opportunity laws.

According to recent research by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), only 30 percent of the organizations surveyed that use social media or online searches as part of their recruiting and selection process have used information that came from online search engines and/or social networking websites to disqualify job applicants.

It’s important to remember that regardless of where employers obtain information about a person’s race, sex, disability or other protected status, hiring decisions cannot be based on that information, even if it did come from social media.

It’s difficult in ways that aren’t always apparent to separate personal and public lives for people who use social media for work, as their profiles are linked through various platforms. This is especially true of milliennials and employees who work in the world of online media and communications.

Of course employees and job applicants should use social media responsibly because even posts that you think are private are out of your control once they are online. Of note is that the EEOC does not plan to issue any regulations or guidance on the use of social media in the workplace, rather, the purpose of their meeting was to open a discussion about the importance of social media and its impact on employment law.

Renee Jackson, an attorney with Nixon Peabody in San Francisco, shared sage advice for employers to use social media as part of a recruitment plan that also includes traditional media and referrals. Jackson further advised employers “not to ask applicants or employees for their private user names or passwords and insert language that encompasses social media into the employer’s code of conduct and harassment policies.”

Social media changes at a pace faster than most people who don’t work in the field can keep up with. It is important to ensure employees, especially supervisors and managers, understand that their friendships with subordinates on social media may encumber them with additional responsibilities under the law.

Access to the EEOC meeting transcript, video and Twitter feed is available online.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasonahowie / CC BY 2.0

The American Psychological Association once again conducted a national public opinion poll just in time for the Labor Day holiday in the U.S. The press release and survey report both provide a variety of insightful results. For me, though, there are a few really important takeaways to which I wanted to call attention.

First, less than half of respondents indicated that their employer recognizes individual job performance. In fact, only 46 percent indicated this was the case, while only 29 percent indicated their organization recognizes team or work unit performance and only 21 percent indicated their organization recognizes its own performance. That means more than half of workers are expected to perform well strictly due to intrinsic motivation, rather than because someone – anyone – is going to formally recognize that performance. That is a troubling statistic, especially given that only 51 percent of respondents even reported feeling valued by their employer, and only 39 percent reported that their organization recognizes employees with salary increases. It’s no wonder there are some concerns about employee work engagement.

Second, we hear lots of talk about verbal or written appreciation as a low-cost form of recognition, and according to the APA survey results, approximately 28 percent of workers value that form of appreciation. However, substantially more workers value monetary forms of recognition, including salary increases (62 percent), fair monetary compensation (47 percent) and performance-based bonuses (43 percent). Hence, money may not be everything, but according to the results of this poll, money is valued by substantially more workers than are other forms of recognition.

Finally, in my view, the most profound results concerned recognition outcomes. Though we hear a lot about the importance of the supervisor in providing recognition, the results of the poll suggest that it may not be the most important predictor of recognition outcomes.

Instead, when it comes to predicting overall satisfaction with recognition practices, the feeling of being valued by the employer and motivation to work harder because of recognition received, it turns out that the strongest driver was employee perceptions that their employer’s recognition practices were fair. When it comes to predicting employee motivation to do their best and overall job satisfaction, the poll results suggest that the strongest driver is the extent to which employees value the recognition they receive.

In addition, it turns out that when workers have been recognized more recently (such as within the past year), they tend to report more positive perceptions of their supervisor’s effectiveness at providing recognition, the perceived value of the recognition they receive and the fairness of the organization’s recognition practices.

So, what can organizations take away from these latest poll results regarding recognition? Well, since you asked:

  1. Employ recognition practices regularly. When less than half of workers even report the presence of a particular form of recognition, that indicates a lack of consistency in the use of various types and forms of recognition. However, you should also ensure that employees do not have to go a period of years before they are recognized.
  2. Provide recognition that employees value. While no organization has unlimited financial resources, it is clear that financial forms of recognition are important. Rather than spending tons of money on forms of recognition that employees do not value, survey your workers, find out what types of recognition they do value and find a way to implement recognition practices consistent with those preferences.
  3. Ensure recognition practices are implemented fairly. Look for ways to improve the transparency of your recognition practices.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/striatic / CC BY 2.0

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DC Psychological Association now accepting applications for its Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award

Organizations headquartered or located in the District of Columbia can apply now for the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award, which recognizes employers for understanding the link between employee well-being and organizational performance and taking steps to create a positive work environment where employees and the organization can thrive. Large, small, for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, as well as government agencies are eligible to apply.

Since 1999, Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards have been presented to organizations by state, provincial and territorial psychological associations across the U.S. and Canada with support from the American Psychological Association. Applicants are evaluated on their workplace practices in the following areas: employee involvement, health and safety, employee growth and development, work-life balance and employee recognition.

Award winners will be honored at a special awards event and may be featured in the media, recognized by community leaders and nominated for national recognition.

Demonstrate your commitment to the health and well-being of your employees and get your organization the recognition it deserves.

For more information about the application process, employers can call APA's Center for Organizational Excellence at 202-336-5900 or email phwa@apa.org. Deadline for entries is September 22, 2014.

Apply Now!

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/highboom / CC BY-NC 2.0

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As millennials (defined roughly as those born after 1979) have entered the workplace, they have been accused of self-centeredness, short attention spans and a sense of entitlement. The implication of these stereotypes is that millennials at work are unlikely to be invested in causes bigger than themselves. Yet, the 2014 Millennial Impact Study begins to debunk these myths. This report focuses on the extent to which millennials are inspired and motivated by their company’s engagement with social causes. In fact, millennials ranked a company’s involvement with social causes as the third most important factor in deciding whether to apply for a job. Coming in at #1 and #2, respectively, were “what the company specifically does, sells or produces” and “the company’s work culture.” Notably absent from the top three were pay and prestige. It is time to stop defining millennials as “generation me” and to start seeing them as “generation meaning.”

In other words, instead of solely working for personal gains, millennials are motivated by engagement with colleagues and causes. For millennials, work, community and relationships are all intricately linked, rather than distinct spheres of life. While older generations may have preferred to keep their values and friendships separate from the work that they do to “pay the bills,” millennials make no such distinction. The report found that the majority of millennials want to engage in volunteerism through their company and with their coworkers. Millennials want to share their authentic selves and their unique knowledge and skills with their organization and their communities.

For companies that want to fully engage their millennial employees, this report yields several important take-aways.

  1. Challenge the assumption that millennials are “generation me” and start seeing them as “generation meaning.” From initial recruitment throughout the employment relationship, assume that millennials are searching for meaning in their work and their company.
  2. Create a culture of authenticity and openness. Millennials don’t want to check their values and passions at the door. By creating opportunities for employees to express their authentic selves at work, they will find greater meaning and commitment to the organization.
  3. Use social engagement as a way to strengthen relationships at work. Millennials want to develop meaningful relationships with their colleagues. Cause work can be a great opportunity to develop high-quality relationships – which will then translate to more effective communication and collaboration on work assignments.
  4. Use engagement with social causes as an opportunity for employees to stretch their skills and hone their talents. Pro bono work can facilitate employee development and growth in a way that benefits the organization.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hadesigns / CC BY-NV-ND 2.0

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Join Kyra Cavanaugh, president of When Life Meets Work, for the pre-conference training session at our 2014 Work & Well-Being Conference in Chicago.

Thursday, September 11, 2014
8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

The Westin O'Hare
Chicago, IL

In this era of overwork, with client demands, shrinking margins and changing technology, businesses have increasingly focused on individual performance and 24/7 availability.

Focus on individual productivity is not sustainable long term. It’s time to reinvest in the power of team. This session will show you how encouraging conversation around six aspects of “team life” with your team will improve client service and help you retain your best talent. With a special emphasis on improving the flexibility, collaboration, resilience and communication practices of your team, you’ll walk away with a roadmap for delivering value to clients while meeting employee needs.

This session will help you:

  • Improve communication and connection in dispersed teams
  • Enhance individual and organizational resilience
  • Reduce stress, overwork and disengagement
  • Increase internal mobility across departments and office locations

For more information about the conference, or to register online, click here.

About the Presenter

Kyra Cavanaugh serves as President of Life Meets Work, where she has helped hundreds of companies think differently about how work gets done. She works with organizations of all types to incorporate innovative workforce practices into their day-to-day operations. She specializes in helping organizations prepare for the future of work through consulting, training, speaking and coaching services. Life Meets Work clients have included Deloitte, CenturyLink, Toyota Financial Services, WellStar Health System, Turner and Astellas.

Kyra authored the book Who Works Where [and Who Cares?], a hands-on book that shows managers how to boost collaboration and performance even when their teams don’t work together in the same time or space (2014). She is a key advisor to the Families and Work/SHRM partnership to drive awareness and support for workflex as a business imperative. She’s a nationally-recognized speaker, blogger and commentator on workforce issues and the recipient of the 2011 Work-Life Rising Star Award by Alliance for Work-Life Progress. Her expertise has made her a go-to media resource for publications such as Crain’s, Chicago Tribune, Market Watch and Working Mother Media.

managers suck

In many organizations, the role of the manager takes on a great deal of importance. After all, managers are expected to achieve results for their departments or work units. They receive credit when the department does well, and they take the blame (and sometimes rationalize it away) when the department does poorly.

Folks from Gallup recently posted a blog entry on the HBR Blog Network to explain the “traits” that differentiate great managers from the not-so-great managers. The five traits discussed involve ability to motivate others, assertiveness, culture (of accountability), relationship building and productivity-based decisions (as opposed to political decisions). Furthermore, according to Gallup, only 1 in 10 managers possess all of these “traits.” Apparently, most managers just plain and simply suck at their jobs, right? And if only organizations would do a better job of selecting managers, we could have more great managers.

However, there are some serious flaws with the assertions:

  1. Traits” are defined as “Enduring personal qualities or attributes that influence behavior across situations.” Most of the “traits” listed by Gallup are actually behaviors or outcomes (with the exception of assertiveness).
  2. Good leaders do not motivate others, but instead create an environment where employees can find intrinsic motivation. After all, intrinsic motivation, not extrinsic motivation, is the precursor for engagement. So, no matter how motivating a manager may be and no matter how assertive that manager is, if the people doing the work are not intrinsically motivated to perform that work, performance will not be optimized.
  3. While leaders can influence and build cultures, cultures can also influence and build leaders. Just ask the preeminent culture expert, Edgar Schein. Most managers do not create the culture of their department or unit. Instead, they typically behave in ways that are consistent with the established norms of the department/unit and the organization.
  4. Many managers fail because they lack the competencies necessary to manage the stress of their new role. Johnston and Lee found that within two years of a promotion, most managers’ well-being deteriorates. Hence, while some people may have some innate talents that might make them effective managers, most people still need training and developmental experiences to prepare them for the new demands they will face. This goes beyond just a matter of selection.
  5. Manager effectiveness exists along a continuum, and most managers probably actually fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. I’ve never read a study that suggests that 90 percent of managers are horrible at their jobs, while the other 10 percent are great at theirs. However, this article seems to suggest just that. “Very few people are able to pull off all five of the requirements of good management. Most managers end up with team members who are at best indifferent toward their work — or are at worst hell-bent on spreading their negativity to colleagues and customers.” Hence, the implied conclusion here is that if the manager is not great at all five of the supposed traits, then workers will become negative and disengaged. That seems like an awfully long leap to me, and one not at all supported by a single empirical study I’ve ever seen.

In the end, the blog post proposes a variety of conclusions and assumptions that are really not scientifically established. The fact is that there is no one best type of manager. Each context, each situation, each organization and each work unit is different. I find it difficult to believe that we would ever conclude that what it takes to manage, for example, soldiers within the U.S. army would be the exact same sets of traits and behaviors that it takes to lead a team of synchronized swimmers. I’m pretty sure that someone like the late General George S. Patton, Jr., would have been horrible at leading a team of synchronized swimmers, but his behaviors and tactics led to some very effective management given his time and context.

The truth is, there isn’t going to be a magical set of factors that predict effectiveness in every context. Almost every contemporary theory regarding leadership and management emphasizes the importance of the fit between a leader/manager and his or her environment. Hence, to assume that we can boil down great managers to a list of five supposed traits harkens back to the early days of leadership theories – the great person theories – which have largely been pushed aside by more valid perspectives.

Photo Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Suljo

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On Wednesday, July 2, 2014 the Arkansas Psychological Association will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The purpose of the event is to raise awareness of the impact of discrimination in the workplace on those groups named in the 1964 Civil Rights Act signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 2nd.

A committee appointed by the Arkansas Psychological Association Board reviewed the effect of discrimination in the workplace on race, ethnicity/nationality, gender, sexual orientation and religion supported by scientifically-based psychological studies. A public statement has been prepared that summarizes the effect of workplace discrimination on disenfranchised groups and will be read during the event. This statement also addresses the resolve of the Arkansas Psychological Association to work to create a healthy workplace environment for all populations.

Dr. Gwen Keita, Executive Director of the Public Interest Directorate and Dr. David Ballard, Assistant Executive Director for Organizational Excellence will present on the work of the American Psychological Association regarding this initiative. APA has specifically dedicated efforts and program towards fostering employee health and well-being while enhancing organizational performance. A number of Arkansas companies have received awards over the past decade through APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award Program, recognizing their workplace practices.

The commemoration will also honor icons of civil rights advocacy from this community. Awards will be presented to Dr. Terrence Roberts, psychologist, and one of the Little Rock Nine and Mary Brown “Brownie” Williams Ledbetter, posthumously, for her work through the Arkansas Public Policy Panel. The event is free and open to the public with a reception to follow the program.

The event will be held at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, 9th and Broadway in Little Rock from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Click here to RSVP for the event.

The event is sponsored by the Office of Governor Mike Beebe, the City of Little Rock, Central High Historic Site, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, Philander Smith College - Social Justice Initiative and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock - Institute on Race and Ethnicity.

Source: Arkansas Psychological Association

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If you are a student interested in healthy workplace issues, consider working with APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence on our 2014 Work & Well-Being conference in Chicago at the Westin O'Hare on September 11-12. Students from all disciplines, especially industrial-organizational psychology graduate students, psychology undergraduates, students studying business, HR, nursing, medicine and more will find value in working with us on this engaging conference.

Our Work & Well-Being student volunteers have come away from our conferences with new connections, presented their research in front of future employers, published their writing through our communication channels and more. Below is a list of opportunities for students – see which one is right for you…

STAFF THE CONFERENCE

If you like to network, consider volunteering your time to staff our conference sessions where you will be responsible for conference registration, handing out name tags, distributing handouts, answering questions from participants about the schedule and sitting in on sessions to make sure they run smoothly. We will work with you to find hours that fit your schedule. Each conference is different, but typically our volunteers work 3-6 hours over two days.

PRESENT YOUR RESEARCH

We invite graduate students with research on psychologically healthy workplace topics to submit proposals for presentations at the conference. These will be brief (ten minute) presentations that will be part of a special conference session. Topics can include, but are not limited to: workplace wellness and health promotion, employee involvement, work-life balance and flexibility, employee learning and development, occupational health and safety, job stress, diversity, industrial-organizational psychology, occupational health psychology, management and employee recognition.

Guidelines for Presentation Proposals

  • Proposal must be submitted via email no later than June 27, 2014
  • Proposal must be in Microsoft Word, follow APA format and be no longer than 300 words
  • Please include the presentation title, statement of problem, study design, sample size and composition, measures used, analysis method, results and conclusions
  • Also include a one-page bio with the presenter’s credentials, academic affiliation, education, research and work experience, statement of career goals, mailing address, email and phone number

Presentations will be selected and students will be notified by July 15, 2014.

WRITE FOR US

If you are an experienced writer and interested in covering the conference, please consider writing a newsletter article or blog post. We will work with you ahead of the conference to go over your topic and discuss interviewing our presenters. In general, our articles and blog posts should follow these guidelines:

  • 500-800 words 
  • Tone and style blend psychology and business writing
  • Use headings breaks, short paragraphs and clear/concise language 
  • Provide links, bibliographic information, and primary sources for any and all cited content – we need to be able to access exactly what you’re citing 

Suggested perspectives and other tips:

  • Connect presentations to the categories of psychologically healthy workplace practices (employee recognition, employee involvement, health and safety, employee growth and development, and work-life balance)
  • Discuss sessions as they relate to key issues of employee well-being, productivity, communication, organizational outcomes
  • Comment on related economic trends and workplace conditions
  • Read past issues of the Good Company newsletter
  • Access blog posts

The deadline for submitting articles/blog posts is September 30, 2014.

TWEET ABOUT THE CONFERENCE

For those of you who are active on Twitter and interested in tweeting from the conference, please send us your Twitter handle so we can determine if it would be mutually beneficial for us to work together this way during the conference. You can check out our 2013 Chicago conference tweets here. Check us out on Twitter, where we post as @APA_excellence. We are also on LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest and more if you are social media savvy – so pitch us your creative ideas soon so we can formulate a plan ahead of time.

PHOTOGRAPH THE EVENT

If you are an experienced or skilled amateur photographer with your own equipment and interested in taking photos during the conference and would be willing to release the photos to us, we would love to have your help. Send us a link to your portfolio or flickr page so we can take a peek before signing you up!

BENEFITS FOR STUDENT VOLUNTEERS

In exchange for volunteering for our conference, we will waive your conference registration fee ($399 value) and you will be able to attend the main conference sessions you are not scheduled to work for free. You will be fully responsible for your travel, hotel stay and miscellaneous costs, like parking, cab fare, although some food and beverages will be provided.

NEXT STEPS

If you are a current student and interested in working with us on our Chicago conference, please review the opportunities listed above and email us with your name, email address, cell phone number, school name, program/degree expected, date of expected graduation and a commitment to the conference time frame (September 11-12, 2014) and clearly state which opportunities you are interested in and why you are qualified. Once we receive this information from you, we will forward a registration form that must be returned to us in order for you to volunteer. If at any time your availability changes, please let us know ASAP so we may offer your spot to those on the waiting list. Please note that you must be a student to volunteer with us.

The American Psychological Association’s Center for Organizational Excellence works to enhance the functioning of individuals, groups, organizations and communities through the application of psychology to a broad range of workplace issues. To learn more, please visit: apaexcellence.org.

Additional information about the conference is available online here. If you have any questions, please call our office at 202.336.5900 or email us. We look forward to hearing from you!

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/--mike-- / CC BY 2.0

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Don't miss the chance to present your work at the 11th International Conference on Occupational Stress and Health.

May 6-9, 2015 at the Westin Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta, Georgia.

Sponsored by the American Psychological Association (APA), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Society for Occupational Health Psychology (SOHP).

The Call for Proposals (including online submissions) is available now, and can be found at the official conference website.

Submission deadline: October 6, 2014.

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If you are a student interested in healthy workplace issues, consider working with APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence on our 2014 Work & Well-Being event in Washington, DC at the APA Headquarters on May 30. Students from all disciplines, especially industrial-organizational psychology graduate students, psychology undergraduates, students studying business, HR, nursing, medicine and more will find value in working with us on this engaging event.

Our Work & Well-Being student volunteers have come away from our events with new connections, presented their research in front of future employers, published their writing through our communication channels and more. Below is a list of opportunities for students – see which one is right for you…

STAFF THE EVENT

If you like to network, consider volunteering your time to staff our sessions where you will be responsible for registration, handing out name tags, distributing handouts, answering questions from participants about the schedule and sitting in on sessions to make sure they run smoothly. We will work with you to find hours that fit your schedule.

WRITE FOR US

If you are an experienced writer and interested in covering the event, please consider writing a newsletter article or blog post. We will work with you ahead of time to go over your topic and discuss interviewing our presenters. In general, our articles and blog posts should follow these guidelines:

  • 500-800 words 
  • Tone and style blend psychology and business writing
  • Use headings breaks, short paragraphs and clear/concise language 
  • Provide links, bibliographic information, and primary sources for any and all cited content – we need to be able to access exactly what you’re citing 

Suggested perspectives and other tips:

  • Connect presentations to the categories of psychologically healthy workplace practices (employee recognition, employee involvement, health and safety, employee growth and development, and work-life balance)
  • Discuss sessions as they relate to key issues of employee well-being, productivity, communication, organizational outcomes
  • Comment on related economic trends and workplace conditions
  • Read past issues of the Good Company newsletter
  • Access blog posts

The deadline for submitting articles/blog posts is June 13, 2014.

TWEET ABOUT THE EVENT

For those of you who are active on Twitter and interested in tweeting from the event, please send us your Twitter handle so we can determine if it would be mutually beneficial for us to work together this way during the event. Check us out on Twitter, where we post as @APA_excellence. We are also on LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest and more if you are social media savvy – so pitch us your creative ideas soon so we can formulate a plan ahead of time.

BENEFITS FOR STUDENT VOLUNTEERS

In exchange for volunteering for our event, we will waive your registration fee ($299) and you will be able to attend the sessions you are not scheduled to work for free. You will be fully responsible for any travel, hotel stay and miscellaneous costs, like parking, cab fare, although some food and beverages will be provided.

NEXT STEPS

If you are a current student and interested in working with us on our Washington, DC event, please review the opportunities listed above and email us with your name, email address, cell phone number, school name, program/degree expected, date of expected graduation and a commitment to the conference time frame (May 30, 2014) and clearly state which opportunities you are interested in and why you are qualified. Once we receive this information from you, we will forward a registration form that must be returned to us in order for you to volunteer. If at any time your availability changes, please let us know ASAP so we may offer your spot to those on the waiting list. Please note that you must be a student to volunteer with us.

The American Psychological Association’s Center for Organizational Excellence works to enhance the functioning of individuals, groups, organizations and communities through the application of psychology to a broad range of workplace issues. To learn more, please visit: apaexcellence.org.

Additional information about the event is available online here. If you have any questions, please call our office at 202.336.5900 or email us. We look forward to hearing from you!

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/photophiend / CC BY-NV-ND 2.0

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