How to Increase Employee Engagement: 7 Successful Strategies

 

You can increase employee engagement with the right ideas and strategies
You can increase employee engagement with the right ideas and strategies

Do you want a happier, more committed and hardworking staff?

Then you need to increase employee engagement.

Unfortunately, employee engagement is scarce, both in the U.S. and around the world.

Gallup has been tracking employee engagement in the U.S. since 2000, and today, only 32% of employees are “engaged” in their workplace.

The number of engaged employees is even worse globally. Only 13% of employees around the world are considered “engaged,” according to another report from Gallup.

This means that most of the people in your agency aren’t committed to your mission, aren’t enthusiastic about the work they do, and aren’t motivated to participate in improving your workplace beyond the bare minimum work requirements.

But what is “employee engagement?” What motivates employees to become engaged? How can you increase employee engagement?

We’ll answer all these questions by giving you practical tips on creating an environment, setting policies, and working with your team for optimal employee engagement.

What is Employee Engagement?

Before you can increase employee engagement, you have to know what engagement means.

The Wikipedia definition of an engaged employee is:

A person who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and who takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests.

An employee who is emotionally invested in your agency and its goals can be considered “engaged.”

The most important part of Wikipedia’s definition of employee engagement is “action to further the organization’s reputation and interests.”

Engaged employees work harder without being asked. They stay late because they genuinely want to perform well for their department and agency. They don’t complain about playing catch-up on work because their coworker was out sick – they gladly shoulder the load.

Engaged employees are the best employees. But what drives employees to become engaged and invested in their organization?

What Motivates Engaged Employees?

Money engages employees to show up for work and do their jobs…

But money doesn’t help employees live up to the definition of “employee engagement.”

Instead of speculating on what does create employee engagement, we can go straight to the inventor of the term employee engagement, William A. Kahn.

In his seminal paper, “Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work,” Kahn recognized 3 major factors that influence how much of themselves an employee is willing to give to their workplace.

Here are the 3 factors:

  1. Psychological meaningfulness
  2. Psychological safety
  3. Availability

Psychological meaningfulness refers to employees feeling like what they do at work has purpose – that through their efforts they made a meaningful difference.

Psychological safety refers to employees feeling valued, trusted, accepted, respected, and safe within their work environment.

Availability refers to employees feeling secure and self-confident in their workplace relationships and in their ability and competency in performing their jobs.

This is all heavy-duty psychological stuff.

But it’s not all that difficult to foster these mental and emotional states in your employees.

You just need to know what to do.

Employee Engagement Ideas

We’ll show you how to effectively increase employee engagement and make your staff feel safe, confident, and important by offering a few ideas for you to test in your workplace.

Distribute Surveys and Apply the Answers

If you want to know how to increase employee engagement, you need to know what your employees currently think about you and your organization.

If you want to know what they think about your organization, ask them.

A good way to ask them (and get honest answers) is to distribute surveys and questionnaires.

But the survey shouldn’t include multiple choice or yes/no questions.

You should ask open-ended questions that allow your employees to fully express themselves, comment on real issues, and suggest original ideas for improvement and innovation.

Then, hold a meeting, formal or informal, and discuss the answers to the questions.

Afterward, implement any workplace changes you decided were necessary. Implementing ideas your employees suggested is one major way you can foster “psychological meaningfulness.”

Give Constant Feedback

Employee surveys are a good way to understand how your employees think and feel.

When it comes to their work performance, however, you’ll probably know more than they do about how well they’re doing at their jobs.

And you need to tell them if they’re doing a good or bad job right when you spot good or bad behavior. Don’t wait for annual reviews if you want real-time improvement.

The funny thing about giving feedback is that employees desperately want it and managers absolutely hate it, according to research conducted by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman.

All the more reason to “eat that frog” right away, instead of allowing employees to continue developing bad habits or toiling diligently without being given the pat on the back they deserve.

Let your employees know that you’ll be giving regular, daily feedback, and that you’re doing it because you genuinely want everyone, including yourself, to improve within the agency.

Allow Your Employees to Offer Their Opinions and Ideas

While surveys are great for allowing employees to express themselves formally, you should also encourage them to offer their opinions and ideas to you regularly.

One, because this fosters their “psychological safety” and “availability.”

Two, because they may have great ideas you would’ve missed if you hadn’t encouraged them to speak up.

Develop an open-door policy to foster a safe, inclusive environment for open communication.

Throw Employee Parties

What’s better than giving your employees a pat on the back?

Throwing them a party.

Picnics, catered lunches, and team building afternoons can infuse your workplace with life, laughter, and loyalty.

Encourage fun at your workplace in general, and keep the mood light and friendly. Your employees will be happier, more productive, and of course, more engaged.

Encourage Health and Wellness

Researchers from the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO), Brigham Young University, and the Center for Health Research at Healthways found that healthy eating habits result in more productive employees.

The study was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Here are the results for the organizations who implemented wellness programs:

  • Absenteeism was 27% less in healthy-eating employees as compared to those who didn’t eat healthy and exercise.
  • Employees who ate healthy throughout the day were 25% more likely to have higher job performance.
  • Employees who ate 5 or more servings of fruit and vegetables on four or more days in the past week were 20% more likely to have higher job performance.
  • And employees who exercised for 30 or more minutes on 3 or more days a week were 15% more likely to have higher job performance.

If you want to reap the productivity benefits of healthy living in your agency, then offer healthy snack foods in the office, promote exercise, and/or implement a wellness program.

Rally Your Employees Around Your Agency’s Mission

Your employees want to feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves (psychological meaningfulness).

How do you inspire such a feeling?

Well, as Simon Sinek would say, by rallying your organization around your big “why.”

Your mission statement, your agency’s culture, your belief in what you’re accomplishing in the world should be understood and loved by everyone in your organization.

Find that, and your employees will find meaning.

Teach the Way Your Employees Like to Learn

Your employees don’t all learn in the same way.

You shouldn’t treat them as if they do.

Creating learning alternatives, finding a happy medium between microlearning vs. long-form learning, and considering the cost of eLearning can help you create individual development plan goals that cultivate the skills, knowledge, and attributes your employees need to succeed and grow within your agency.

Encouraging them to upgrade their skills and providing the resources they need to improve in their work will tell them you’re working for their best interests – which will certainly increase employee engagement.

If you want to give your employees the freedom to learn at their own pace without breaking your budget, we can help.

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

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8 Cybersecurity Tips Your Employees Need to Know

 

Every Government agency needs to teach their employees basic cybersecurity tips
Every Government agency needs to teach their employees basic cybersecurity tips

Your Government agency is in danger.

Sam Kim, the Chief Information Officer of Clark County, told Government Technology that “Local Governments are attractive targets [for cybercriminals]…regardless of how big or small you are, you need to be vigilant.”

These remarks underscore the necessity of actionable cybersecurity tips, advice, and knowledge that so many agencies lack.

But it’s not you – IT professionals – that are lacking in this knowledge.

It’s everyone else.

The end user is the most dangerous IT security liability in your agency.

The IBM Security Services 2014 Cyber Security Intelligence Index report found an incredible and disturbing trend:

Of nearly 1,000 clients in 133 countries, over 95% of all cybersecurity incidents involved “human error” as a contributing factor.

According to the report, “The most commonly recorded form of human errors include system misconfiguration, poor patch management, use of default usernames and passwords or easy-to-guess passwords, lost laptops or mobile devices, and disclosure of regulated information via use of an incorrect email address.”

With Cybersecurity Awareness Month beginning in 2 days, it’s the perfect time to help your co-workers brush up on their IT security knowledge.

8 Cybersecurity Tips for Protecting Your Agency

Here are 8 cybersecurity tips that you can use to help the end users in your agency recommit to cybersecurity best practices.

We’ve also included a few ideas on how you can educate your employees on these tips to help you create a basic program for educating, training, and encouraging everyone in your agency to play a proactive role in protecting your organization from cyberattackers.

Create Strong Passwords

This is an essential cybersecurity tip for people who don’t quite understand the nuances of IT security and the risks of an easy-to-hack password.

Let them know that one of the most powerful security organizations in the world, the Department of Homeland Security, specifically suggests these tips:

  • Never use your name, or the names of your kids or pets, or any other easily findable information about yourself
  • Don’t use common passwords
  • Break up your passwords with marks and symbols like @, !, #, 1, 9, etc.
  • Always use a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters

You should also consider implementing a “password change policy” that mandates a routine password change every 45-90 days, with an explicit rule against using the same password over and over again but with a different number or character at the end (we’re sure you’re well aware of THAT guy).

Lock up All Your Devices Whenever You Leave Them

When your employees leave to take a lunch break, go to the bathroom, or go home at the end of the day, you need to make sure they always remember to lock their computer, tablet, phone, or other device that stores sensitive information.

The few minutes it takes for them to grab a snack or smoke a cigarette is just enough time a malicious insider needs to steal valuable data.

There are 2 things you can do to get your employees in the habit of locking their machines:

You can play the “Donuts Game” and/or you can encourage “Goating.”

Both are humorous, fun, and effective ways to get everyone involved in identifying bad security practices.

Be Aware of Phishing Emails

This is an essential and easily forgotten cybersecurity tip:

Be hypervigilant regarding your email and links in your email – you might be getting “phished.”

You have to repeat this over and over and over again to people who don’t live and breathe cybersecurity.

Educate your employees about phishing and tell them that it’s one of the most common email scams out there.

Let them know how it works:

  • The “phisher” poses as a legitimate business, agency, or person and sends you a spoofed message.
  • The message is usually urgent, and the sender will almost always ask you to click on a link to resolve the issue.
  • Once you click on the link, it will either install malware on your device or send you to a spoofed website that steals the information you input into it.

And let them know how to avoid being phished:

  • Double-check the sender to verify it’s an email address you recognize.
  • Look for blatant and consistent spelling errors in the body of the email (this is a hallmark of both spam and phishing emails).
  • Contact the sender directly, either in person or by phone, to verify that they actually sent you an email.

Install an Antivirus

We know some IT security experts don’t use antivirus, while others argue that antivirus is still important.

One thing we can all agree on is that the end user absolutely needs an antivirus because they’re far more likely to engage in riskier behavior than you are.

The 2017 Government Internet Security Threat Report offered a staggering statistic that you could pass on to your employees:

The number of detections of ransomware increased by 36% from 340,000 in 2015 to 463,000 in 2016.

Bottom line:

Don’t allow your employees to work on their machines without the antivirus running, and make sure it’s set to update automatically.

Use a VPN

Setup and strongly encourage the use of a VPN.

Let your employees know how critical a VPN is to their security and safety, especially when accessing data remotely.

Enforce a policy that simply states “every employee must access the company’s network using their VPN.”

Enforce Strict Access Privileges

Your staff should only have access to information that they need to access in order to perform their job functions.

Any access beyond that point puts your agency at risk.

Financial data, other employees’ data, official information, etc. should only be accessed by particular team members and managers.

Use access control on your organization’s intranet, on commonly used software, and on any other work-related programs.

Develop a Disaster Recovery Plan

A disaster recovery plan (DRP) is a set of procedures and resources to control the fallout of an unexpected attack, accident, or disaster.

A good DRP eliminates guesswork and enhances your team’s response effectiveness during an emergency.

To develop a solid plan, make sure to:

  • Take inventory of all your hardware, software, devices, and data
  • Ensure everything is consistently being backed up
  • Ensure you have the appropriate hardware and software required to perform a backup if needed
  • Assign a project manager to oversee the creation and maintenance of your DRP
  • Test your plan regularly to ensure it can appropriately respond to unexpected threats
  • Get your whole team involved in creating and executing your DRP

Provide On-Going Cyber Security Training to Your Staff

Use our cybersecurity tips to begin engaging your employees in an ongoing effort to protect your agency from cyberattackers.

Attempt to cultivate a cybersecurity awareness culture amongst all of your employees. Make it so that it’s not just October when everyone starts practicing good online behavior – they take cybersecurity seriously all year-round

If you want to secure your agency against serious threats, then get serious about training and educating your staff about the importance of cybersecurity.

Of course, only IT professionals need IT exam preparation tips to prepare for certification tests to upgrade their skills and knowledge

But your employees could benefit from formal courses in order to help defend your agency from serious threats.

Now, it’s true that it’s not easy to find good IT security training materials and instructors. And it’s also not easy getting your employees to learn – what with some people preferring microlearning, while others preferring long-form learning.

But the effectiveness and cost of eLearning changes all of this.

Now, you and your non-IT staff can continually educate yourselves and stay up-to-date with the latest threats and threat prevention tools and procedures.

Where can you find all this information?

Right here at Enterprise Training Solutions.

Cybersecurity Tips On-Demand

With videos, ebooks, and courses on topics ranging from phishing to malware to ransomware, we give you access to all the knowledge you need to improve your current security posture and prepare for any future threats.

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

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How to Become DoD 8140 Compliant and Boost Your IT Career

 

 

To get a job in information assurance you’ll need to be DoD 8140 compliant.
To get a job in information assurance you’ll need to be DoD 8140 compliant.

 

Are you an IT professional trying to work for the Department of Defense (DoD) or other Government agency?

Then you’ll need to be officially certified. And you’ll need to know about the recent changes in regulations.

The newest directive to be released from Washington is Department of Defense Directive 8140, also known as DoDD 8140 or DoD 8140.

Its purpose is to update and expand the established policies and responsibilities managing the DoD cyberspace workforce which were introduced in the 2005 manual on information assurance (IA), DoD 8570.

DoD 8140 is pretty much the most important document to understand if you want to get a job or keep your job in IA with the Government.

We’ll show you exactly what DoD 8140 and DoD 8570 are, what they mean, what you need to know about the changes, and how to confidently move forward and succeed in your career.

What is DoD 8140 and DoD 8570?

DoD 8570 was created in 2005 to prevent the influx of unqualified and inexperienced professionals from performing highly technical and challenging information assurance jobs within Government agencies.

It laid out the requirements for all IA professionals hoping to competently perform their respective roles.

But, since the technology used to access and interface with DoD networks has dramatically changed since 2005 – with the introduction of smartphones, cloud, and wireless – the Government needed a new framework.

DoD 8140 was designed to replace DoD 8570 and is an essential step toward the better organization and clearer delineation of job functions and tasks.

Essentially, DoD 8140 provides the newest guidelines and builds upon the established policies of DoD 8570.

What Does DoD 8140 Mean for Your IT Career?

The DoD 8570 Manual gave all personnel 4 years to become compliant with the required commercial certifications, such as CompTIA Security+, CompTIA Network+, etc.

Under the new rules of DoD 8140, all personnel are required to become compliant within 6 months of employment.

That means you better know what certifications you need and how you’re going to study for them before you even get a job.

But there won’t be a DoD 8140 manual until 2018 or later…

How Can You Become DoD 8140 (DoD 8570) Compliant?

The only way to become DoD 8140 compliant is by adhering to the updated standards of the DoD 8570 Manual.

Thankfully, this is pretty straightforward.

Here’s a summary of the workforce qualifications for DoD 8570 and DoD 8140:

dod 8140 summary of workforce qualification requirements

Here are the DoD approved baseline certifications:

dod 8140 baseline certifications

If you want to obtain any of these IA baseline certifications, you’ll have to follow a few specific steps:

  1. Contact your Information Assurance Manager (IAM) and follow your Component’s procedures to identify your position, level, and certification requirements.
  2. Obtain training for the IA certification you want to complete.
  3. Request a certification voucher from your IAM.
  4. Once you pass your certification, register it in the Defense Workforce Certification Application (DWCA).
  5. Notify your IA manager once you’ve completed your training and received your certification.

Steps 1, 3, 4, and 5 are clear-cut and rely on you going through the appropriate IASE channels.

But step 2 requires a little extra effort on your part.

You have to find high-quality training that gives you the IT exam preparation materials you need to obtain an IA baseline certification.

Without it, there’s no way to meet the 6-month certification requirement, and there’s no way to move forward in your career.

If you want proven training materials for nearly all of the IA baseline certifications and beyond, we can help.

Become DoD 8140 Compliant and Accelerate Your IT Career

From CompTIA A+ to Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), we have all the course materials, study guides, ebooks, and video courses you need to learn at your own pace, on your own time. We cover nearly all of the baseline IA certifications, and our staff is ready and willing to help you find the information you need to succeed today, and into the future.

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

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6 Proven IT Exam Preparation Tips That Will Help You Pass the Test

With the right tips, IT exam preparation can be fun and easy.
With the right tips, IT exam preparation can be fun and easy.

To receive a career-making IT certification, you’ll need some proven IT exam preparation strategies.

Many professionals today still treat exams like they did in college:

  • Read (or skim) the book and study materials once
  • Pull an all-nighter
  • Take the exam

You’re going to be sorely disappointed when you apply this strategy and fail.

Instead of doing what rarely works, why not try a few strategies that almost always work?

We’ve compiled 6 tips for effective IT exam preparation. If you apply them to your studies, you’ll be much more likely to pass the exam, get your certification, and move forward in your career.

6 IT Exam Preparation Tips

Create a Study Plan

There is a well-documented technique for remembering information over the long-term.

It’s called the spacing effect, and it’s critical for IT exam preparation.

If you know when you’ll be taking your exam, you can break down your course materials to determine how much you need to study each day, and when you can review that information a few more times before the exam date.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Create an outline
  • Mark relevant pages of books you’re studying
  • Mark times on videos you’re watching
  • Gather all your class materials
  • Create flash cards
  • Create a timeline
  • And forget about cramming

Stick to your study plan, and you’ll be much more likely to retain most of the information you learn, as opposed to your last-minute, late-night friends who will forget what they were studying by the morning of the exam.

Sleep Well

Speaking of late nights, it’s best to avoid all-nighters and inefficient sleep patterns altogether.

Students who regularly pull all-nighters end up with lower GPAs according to a St. Lawrence University study.

You’re better off studying regularly and sleeping well then cramming and not sleeping at all.

Use Memory Techniques

There are a wide variety of memory techniques to help in your IT exam preparation.

Mnemonic devices like acronyms are particularly powerful.

Acronyms abbreviate a set of words down to the first initial of each word.

It works like this:

  • Choose a term, concept, or rule that you’re studying
  • Create an acronym using the first letter of each word
  • Memorize the acronym or make up a silly phrase for it

For example, the order of operations in math – parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction – can be memorized using the acronym “PEMDAS.” or can be expanded into:

Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.

Form a Study Group

A study group leverages the knowledge and skills of other people to improve everyone’s IT exam preparation strategies.

Here are a few ways to make a study group useful:

  • Do all of the studying together
  • Quiz each other every session
  • Take practice exams together and discuss the answers afterward
  • Set time limits for your study sessions
  • Set goals to focus on during study sessions
  • Use a quiet space that won’t be distracting, but try to study in different rooms for maximum results

Stay Physically Healthy

Multiple studies confirm that regular exercise, especially cardio, significantly improves the problem-solving and memory functions of your brain.

Eating foods that are good for your brain before and during a test is an easy way to prepare for a tough IT exam as well.

Making sure to take regular study breaks is also important. Your brain needs time to process the information you’re learning. Take a day off every once in awhile and do something fun and leisurely.

Use Practice Exams

While the rest of the IT exam preparation tips we’ve given you will be helpful to some, they’re not helpful to all.

One of the few proven tools for excelling on exam day is taking a practice exam, according to a study from Henry L. Roediger.

Practice exams give you a taste of what to expect when you sit down to take your real exam.

It helps you work through your anxiety, pace yourself, time yourself, and find out how much information you can recall from your studies.

If you’re trying to pass the gold standard of IT exams, CompTIA, then it’s imperative that you take practice exams.

But where can you find good practice exams?

Sure, there are plenty of practice questions all over the internet, but there are very few practice IT exams that will actually mimic CompTIA or something similar.

If you want train your brain to be ready for exam day, and take advantage of one of the most powerful study techniques, then we can help.

Enterprise Training Makes IT Exam Preparation Easy

If you want to take your IT career to the next level and need effective practice exams to do it, then we’ve got you covered.

We offer a wide variety of certification training and exam prep materials from industry leading vendors, including Project Management Institute, Microsoft, CompTIA, Cisco, Amazon, TOGAF, Six Sigma, ITIL, IIBA and more.

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training – explore our complete list of certification curricula today!Learn More

Women Leaders in Government: Why It Matters and How to Achieve It

Women leaders in Government are critical for helping agencies meet their full potential
Women leaders in Government are critical for helping agencies meet their full potential

According to a Pew Research Center survey on women and leadership, most Americans believe women possess the same key leadership traits as men such as intelligence and capacity for innovation. In fact, some people think women are superior to men in areas of compassion and organization.

Continue reading “Women Leaders in Government: Why It Matters and How to Achieve It”

How the Low Cost of eLearning Can Save Your Agency in the Age of Trump

The low cost of elearning has helped organizations worldwide save money while learning faster
The low cost of eLearning has helped organizations worldwide save money while learning faster

After Trump initiated his hiring freeze on January 23rd, it was clear he was serious about trimming down agencies in Government. Continue reading “How the Low Cost of eLearning Can Save Your Agency in the Age of Trump”

5 Individual Development Plan Goals for Improved Employee Success

Individual development plan goals will improve your employee's productivity and strengthen your organization
Individual development plan goals will improve your employee’s productivity and strengthen your organization

Individual development plan goals will improve your employee’s productivity and strengthen your organization. Many Government agencies don’t have individual development plan goals for each of their employees, which is a shame because an IDP is one of the most effective ways to retain employees and motivate them to give their best efforts. Continue reading “5 Individual Development Plan Goals for Improved Employee Success”

How to Use Microlearning to Increase Productivity in Your Agency

Microlearning offers quick, easy to understand lessons for maximum comprehension
Microlearning offers quick, easy to understand lessons for maximum comprehension

Microlearning has been revolutionizing employee training and development in the corporate world, but is it applicable to Government agencies? Continue reading “How to Use Microlearning to Increase Productivity in Your Agency”

Government Succession Planning: 5 Easy Steps for Great Results

Government succession planning is critical to maintaining a high-functioning organization.
Government succession planning is critical to maintaining a high-functioning organization.

Succession planning is critical to maintaining a high-functioning organization. Do you feel like your Government succession planning efforts are falling short of your expectations, and you’re failing to effectively backfill talent to take over for your retirement-aged staff? Continue reading “Government Succession Planning: 5 Easy Steps for Great Results”