Executive Development Blog

Accelerating Diversity for a Better Bottom Line

Posted by Kip Kelly on Dec 9, 2014 10:43:00 AM

Below is an excerpt from a recent white paper written by Horace McCormick, a program director here at UNC Executive Development.  The paper explores the value of diversity and offers tips to help organizations leverage diversity to boost the bottom line.


Organizations rich in ethnic, gender, and sexual orientation diversity are more innovative, creative, and demonstrate better decision making and problem solving, all of which leads to an improved bottom line (Philips, 2014). Josh Greenberg from The Multicultural Advantage website also notes that diversity boosts an organization’s adaptability because it helps employees generate a better variety of solutions to problems and allocation of resources than more homogeneous workforces. Diversity also helps employers more effectively offer a broader range of services because they retain employees with a deeper set of skills and experiences (like language and cultural understanding) that can give their organizations a competitive advantage by providing more effective services on a global basis (Greenberg, n.d.). Diverse organizations also foster a variety of viewpoints, and when CEOs and leaders really take heed, can generate better ideas that lead to improved creativity and innovation (Blanchard, 2014).

There have been a number of studies that demonstrate the benefits of workforce diversity. A 2012 study by business professors Cristian Deszo from the University of Maryland and David Ross from Columbia University found that having women at the top management levels led to an increase of $42 million in firm value. The study also examined “innovation intensity” and found that organizations which promoted innovation intensity experienced more financial gains when women were part of the top leadership team (Philips, 2014).

Diversity white paper from UNC Executive Development

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Topics: leadership, Gen Y, UNC, talent management, talent development, high-potential talent, leadership development, multigenerational workforces, learning and development, diversity

Maximizing Millennials in the Workplace

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Nov 6, 2014 12:11:00 PM

Check out this summary from a white paper by Jessica Brack:

Maximizing Millennials in the Workplace

They are known as Millennials, Gen Y, Gen Next, Echo Boomers, the Baby-on-Board Generation, Screenagers, Facebookers and the MySpace Generation, to name just a few. They are the nearly 80 million young adults born between 1976 and 2001 who have already joined or are preparing to join the workforce. By 2014, 36 percent of the U.S. workforce will be comprised of this generation and by 2020, nearly half (46 percent) of all U.S. workers will be Millennials. The sheer number of Millennials combined with the increasing retirement of Baby Boomers means that employers will be facing leadership gaps and they will be looking to Millennials to fill those gaps.

By all accounts, Millennials are unlike preceding generations. They are tech-savvy continuous learners, team players, collaborators, diverse, optimistic, achievement-oriented, socially conscious and highly educated. Employers wanting to groom this group to be their organization’s next generation of top-level leaders must keep these attributes in mind when designing leadership development programs.


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Topics: Gen Y, talent development, millennials

What Does Employee Engagement Sound Like?

Posted by Kip Kelly on Oct 11, 2013 3:06:00 PM

Earlier this year, Gallup released their 2103 report, State of the Global Workplace: Employee Engagement Insights for Business Leaders Worldwide.  The report includes some troubling insights, prompting legitimate concerns about workplace productivity and employee retention - and encouraging many companies to look for solutions to improve employee engagement.

So what is employee engagement? Employee engagement measures whether you feel invested and committed to your job, and whether you're motivated to contribute to the success of your organization. Gallup identified three categories of employee engagement: Engaged, Not Engaged, and Actively Disengaged. "Engaged" employees feel inspired by their work, with a sense of passion and commitment to their company. Then you have those who are "Not Engaged" - they have checked out, putting in the time but not the energy or enthusiasm.  Finally, you have the "Actively Disengaged" - employees so unhappy that they are actively undermining the success of the organization. According to a recent Gallup study, only 30% of employees are Engaged, and the other 70% are Not Engaged (50%) or Actively Disengaged (20%).

Note that employee engagement is not the same as employee satisfaction. Employee satisfaction focuses on whether you are content with your job and work environment. In contrast, employee engagement focuses on whether you feel committed to your work and your employer. Employee engagement is a measure of whether you feel inspired and passionate about your work; it is about feeling energized and enthusiastic about your contribution to the organization.

They say music is what feelings sound like - so what does feeling engaged sound like?  It's hard to say, but guaranteed it is a positive, feel good anthem.  Engaged employees may be singing James Brown's "I Feel Good" or maybe The Pointer Sisters' "I'm So Excited".  Younger workers may relate more to U2's "Beautiful Day" or maybe the Owl City/Carly Rae Jepsen collaboration, "It's Always a Good Time".  You get the idea. Those who are Not Engaged may be feeling more like Dolly Parton's "(Working) 9 to 5" or maybe Loverboy's "Working for the Weekend."  Meanwhile, you're Actively Disengaged may be plotting to the tune of "Take This Job and Shove It."

It is important to recognize that every company is different and every employee is unique. What inspires and motivates one person may have no impact on the next. Extrinsic factors, like salary and bonus, can reward performance - but engagement is often driven by more intrinsic motivation. Employees will go above and beyond when they find the job to be personally rewarding.  This suggests that companies hoping to improve employee engagement should avoid a one-size-fits-all solution, and adopt a more dynamic approach that will be relevant to different employees in different ways.  For example, the Gallup report identifies a number of generational differences with regard to employee engagement.

According to Gallup’s research, the generations at the beginning and the end of their careers tend to be more engaged than those in the middle of their careers. That means Baby Boomers on the verge of retirement are more inclined to be sing along to the Turtles' "Happy Together" or the Beatles' "Getting Better" instead of The Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction". Generation X on the other hand, in the middle of their careers, may be making a mixed tape featuring the Talking Heads' classic "Life During Wartime" or perhaps REM's "Its the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Actively Disengaged)."

Millenials, at the beginning of their careers, may have Taylor Swift's "Stay Stay Stay" blasting on their iPods, but the Gallup research says they are also the most likely of all generations to say they will leave their jobs in the next 12 months if the job market improves.  So, they may be changing their tune to "We are Never Ever Getting Back Together".

So, what does employee engagement sound like in your organization? Let us know.  #workanthem

You can also download one of our recent white papers on employee engagement if you want to read more:

Powering Your Bottom Line Through Employee Engagement

Focusing on Employee Engagement: How to Measure and Improve It

Embracing Open–Book Management to Fuel Employee Engagement and Corporate Sustainability

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Topics: employee engagement, actively disengaged, executive development, leadership, Gen Y, executive education, HR

Leadership Development Challenges for Gen Y

Posted by Kip Kelly on Sep 10, 2013 9:34:00 AM

A new research study from EY reveals a significant increase in Generation Y moving into management over the past 5 years.  87% of Gen Y managers moved into the role between 2008 and 2013, and dramatic increase over the previous 5 years. The increase is somewhat predictable as Gen Y (age 18-32) gains the knowledge and experience needed to fill the widening talent gap as Baby Boomers move into retirement.  However, the research reveals a number of challenges and opportunities for this generation of managers.

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Topics: EY research, leadership, Gen Y, UNC, Kenan-Flagler, executive education