Category: Business and Workplace

Vacation Strategies for Busy Working Women

Posted on September 2nd, by Amanda Andrade in Business and Workplace, Personal & Professional Effectiveness. No Comments

Most professional women I consult with feel guilty about taking time off work for a variety of reasons. Some of the ones I hear most often are:

“I have so many responsibilities in my job that if I take time off it just means that when I return I have to work a mass amount of hours to get caught up. It makes the time away seem like it’s not even worth it. I end up feeling punished for being away.”

“I don’t want time away from work to hurt my reputation, jeopardize my position or impair my promotional opportunities. I’ve worked too hard to be perceived as not entirely committed or reliable.”

“I love being productive and informed. It feels like when I’m away from work for more than a day or two, I lose out on knowing what’s going on and it makes me feel out of the loop and out of control.”

“I need to save all of my time for the ‘in case of emergency’ or ‘sick parent/kid’ situations.” (Note: most of us need a cushion of time on the books for unforeseen emergencies, but saving all of your time isn’t healthy.)

The problem with this rationale is that we short change ourselves, our careers, and in the long run even our employer. If we neglect to balance our time at work by taking time off, we risk diminishing returns for ourselves and our organization. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Stepping away from the day-to-day activities of the job gives your mind an opportunity to dream, create and innovate, providing fresh new ideas for how to tackle your responsibilities when you return.
  • Women need to view their jobs from multiple perspectives. Vacation and relaxation is a vantage point that can give a person a whole new sense of self (both professionally and personally).
  • Burnout occurs when there is too much of any one thing in a person’s life. All work and no real play contribute to an inability to see beyond the next task at hand. It creates an unhealthy cycle of reactionary behavior (too much work – not enough time – not enough energy – more backed up work, repeat).
  • A temporary hiatus from the job is not just a nice-to-have, it’s essential to take time away from work to give your brain and body a break:

-Research shows that being constantly under pressure floods the brain with stress hormones, wearing down the high performance brain function that needs to occur at work to maximize our jobs and performance.

- Recent studies have reaffirmed that leisure time, including vacations, contributed to higher positive emotional levels, better coping skills, less depression and lower blood pressure.

- Women who reported that they vacationed less than once every two years were more likely to suffer from significant episodes of stress than those who took vacations at least twice a year.

So what can a dedicated, hard-driving business woman do?

Simply put, start small. Work your way into taking your vacation time by:

  • Try 2 hour vacation slots in the early morning, extended lunches or late afternoons.
  • Take half days during lower volume times (e.g. Thursdays and Fridays).
  • Build up to extended weekends (Mondays and Fridays).
  • Use vacation around the holidays or slow work cycles, when others are out too and business processes slow down a bit.
  • Take time off to volunteer with charitable organizations (you likely won’t back out of the commitment and you’ll feel good about yourself for having helped others out).
  • If you’re afraid to go cold turkey, then limit yourself to staying connected to your email/phone for certain periods of time while you’re out. Check in every morning and afternoon if you need to, but give yourself the rest of the day to disconnect.
  • When you get back in the office, pause long enough to acknowledge that even though there may be additional short term stress, the office survived and so did you.

Set your sights to build up to big:

  • Reserve time on the books in advance. Do whatever you can to force yourself to take the time off – buy the plane/train ticket far in advance, book a non-refundable hotel stay, create commitments to friends and family so there is an expectation of follow through.
  • If you can’t disconnect on your own, consider visiting a place that has limited technology reception so you are forced to really take the time away, to power off and enjoy. It will reinforce for your body and mind that time away is actually advantageous to your mental health.
  • Invite friends and family to your home or city for visits in order to obligate yourself to spend time away from work with additional people you care about (yes, there are so many people at work that we care deeply about, the time off is often for the others that we unintentionally neglect spending quality time with).
  • During your time off do activities that really make you happy and excited, or peaceful and rested. This will make the time away seem worth it.
  • Anticipate the break from work and routine. Allow yourself to really look forward to the day(s) off. The anticipation will help your brain get accustomed to the idea that time away is fun and healthy.
  • Understand that it comes down to this: what you mentally project about your work and time away is a strong component of what becomes your reality. Your personal perception of what you deserve is part of what you will project to your employer. Keep in mind that it’s appropriate to use the time that your employer gave to you as a benefit. Take the time and use it as an investment in your overall health and an investment in your professional self.

The final, and maybe most important piece, is to remember to put it all into perspective. At the end of our lives while many will be satisfied to have had a successful career, our most important reflections will most likely be on the big ticket items: the way we lived, the people we touched, the adventures we had, the friends and family we loved. Spending all of our time at a desk or wired up to others won’t afford us the experiences we need to minimize regret and to feel great about the lives we’ve led.

 

Photo Credit

 

About the Author: Amanda Andrade is the Chief People Officer for Veterans United Home Loans – Fortune magazine’s 21st best medium workplace and one the fastest growing companies in the United States according to INC magazine. Amanda has led human resource organizations in both public and private sectors. She also has a doctorate in Environment and Behavior, focusing on highly profitable, employee-centric work environments. Connect with Amanda on Google+.


The Benefits of Work-at-Home Businesses

Posted on August 26th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. No Comments

As of 2012, an estimated 13.4 million people were working from home. With fast internet connections, cloud technology, and free online phone services like Skype and Google Voice, it’s easier than ever for company employees and the self-employed to work from the comfort of wherever they want. If you’re running a business, there are plenty of reasons why you and your employees might be happier and more productive working from home. Here are six benefits.

No lengthy commute. According to US Census data, the average work commute time is 25.4 minutes. That might not sound so bad, but that’s close to an hour to get to and from the office, and many workers in large cities have an even longer commute. In fact, 600,000 US workers have a commute time of around 90 minutes. People who work from home are able to save time, gas money, and their sanity. Fewer commuters also means less of an environmental impact.

Fewer distractions. Co-workers on the phone, noisy printers, doors opening and closing… there are all kinds of distractions in a traditional workplace, especially if you work somewhere with an open office environment. Although home offices come with their own set of distractions, many people find that they’re more productive in the privacy of their house or apartment.

Fewer sick days. When you’re working with a large group of people in close quarters, colds and other viruses spread like wildfire. Allowing employees to work remotely, especially on days when they feel like they might be coming down with something, is better for everyone in the organization.

Less stressful environment.  Although many businesses still operate under the belief that their employees need to be monitored, most people are actually more productive when they don’t have a manager breathing down their neck. As long as there’s a way to hold employees accountable for getting their work done, letting them work from home on their own schedule can go a long way to reduce stress.

Opportunity to personalize home office. Sure, you can decorate a cubicle, but you have more opportunities for personalization when you’re working out of your own home office. And, thanks to sites like Sheepbuy and Craigslist, telecommuters can furnish and decorate their home office without having to go outside of their budget.

More room for creativity. Creativity is largely subjective, so it’s hard to say whether working from home helps, but there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that it does. People who work from home have more freedom to pick up and move if they need inspiration, whether that means going to the coffee shop down the street or taking a trip to another country.

Better work-life balance. A survey presented by Microsoft found that the number one benefit cited by people who work from home is the opportunity for greater work-life balance. Working from home can be especially good for people with families, because with the greater flexibility of their schedule and an eliminated commute, they’re able to spend more time with their loved ones. And, of course, when people are more satisfied with their work-life balance, the quality of their work will be higher.

Telecommuting isn’t the best model for all companies, but if most of your business’s work can be performed remotely, it may be a good way to improve employee productivity, job satisfaction, and retention.

 

Photo Credit

About the Author: Juliana Weiss-Roessler is a work-at-home writer who frequently contributes on the topics of career and human resources. You can learn more about her blog writing and other internet marketing services at WeissRoessler.com.


A Call for HR Practitioner Input!

Posted on August 14th, by Rowena Morais in Business and Workplace. No Comments

Editor’s Note: Though it is not typical for us to promote surveys on our site, we’re offering our readers the opportunity to participate in this one because it is specifically targeted at HR practitioners, and is being run by one of our regular Women of HR contributors, Rowena Morais.  Rowena’s publication, HR Matters Magazine, is an excellent resource for HR professionals, and we encourage you to check it out!

 

Would you like to discover key IT Learning and Development trends in 2015?

Would you like to find out the different organisational preferences and trends in the areas of learning and development, particularly, technology training? Would you like to see the kind of key differences in these training purchasing decisions across industry verticals or geographical boundaries?

If so, then the Key IT Learning and Development Trends 2015 Survey is just right for you. This Survey runs now till December 2014 and I’d like to invite you to participate.

But only if you are a HR practitioner… by this, I mean, either a Head of Department, director, manager or senior executive in HR or a HR sub-sector like change management, recruitment, training or OD, for example.

To get the practitioner input, all HR consultants, trainers, recruitment agencies, software vendors and anyone non HR are not part of this survey.

For 15 minutes of your time, you will get :
1. A one year digital subscription for 2015 to HR Matters Magazine;
2. This exclusive Survey Report once the Survey is over.

And whether you complete the survey or not, I’d like to send you two complimentary digital issues of HR Matters Magazine – a globally recognised quarterly magazine for HR professionals – just for the heck of it. Just email us your details (with the code TS2014) to get this sent.

All your personal information will remain confidential. I hope you will see value in this and take part, thanks for your time. More info on the survey.

Sincerely,

Rowena Morais
Editor, HR Matters Magazine

P.S. If you know someone who might find value in this, please feel free to share this.


How Can Women Can Be More Inspiring Speakers?

Posted on August 12th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

Strong public speaking abilities can be a great asset. They enable you to express yourself clearly and confidently, getting your points across to the audience in a powerful manner. Good speaking skills give you the ability to persuade people to your point of view, and encourage them to take action. When you apply these skills to something you are passionate about, you can influence people and bring about real change. In our society, women need to be even more skilled than men in order to be excellent public speakers.

 

How can women prove a point in front of men during a public speech?

Women face a dilemma. In order for people to take them seriously, then need to be assertive without being aggressive. This is a fine line, however, and it’s easy for assertive women to be viewed negatively, with some in the audience deciding they are obnoxious or harsh. However, if a female speaker tries to be polite and ladylike, then they lose the power that a passionate, assertive voice can have. Men do not face the same problem. They can be as forceful in their speech as they want, without anyone deciding that makes them unmanly.

 

If you want to be taken seriously, and viewed as a strong leader, you need to be able to express your views forcefully in your public speaking. The “masculine” trait of assertiveness is required, for women as much as men. Studies of debates have shown that this is very important in shaping the decisions of who won the debate. Even though assertiveness may be deemed by some as inappropriate or out of place for a woman, it is mandatory for success.

 

 Women can be remarkable public speakers

In spite of the inherent difficulty, there have been some remarkable women public speakers who have delivered powerful speeches with passion and purpose. Eleanor Roosevelt and Margaret Thatcher are both examples of strong women who were excellent public speakers.  Michelle Obama also demonstrated her skills with a superb speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2012. Unfortunately, some of the media paid more attention to her dress than to the content of her excellent presentation.

 

Hillary Clinton has faced this problem in her public speaking, too. When she was running for president in 2008, the media, the public, and other politicians sometimes criticized her as being “cold” and “too aggressive.” She didn’t have the warm, friendly demeanor they thought a woman should display. Her style of speaking relied on facts and figures, and she developed logical arguments in her attempts to persuade people. While many male politicians also use logic, facts, and figures, this style was viewed negatively for Clinton, and people said she was “shrill.”

 

Both men and women have different speaking styles

The key is that everyone has different strengths, both in their personality and their speaking style. Some are more analytical, while others are more passionate. Some appeal to reason, while others lean to emotion. Rather than forcing yourself to fit another mold, it is more important to build on the natural skills that you have.

 

As women struggle to find their way into positions of greater power in politics and business, they need to find a way to deal with this double standard effectively. Though more than 50% of the US population is female, only 17% of our members of Congress are women. Female leaders have been elected in other countries from the UK to Brazil and South Korea, but that step is taking longer in the United States.

 

How can women be inspirational speakers?

First of all, public speakers who are women can inspire other women. One of the most common subject a woman can approach is domestic abuse. This is a delicate and rather shameful subject to approach, but when an abused woman talks about her experience, she can persuade other women to take action. Many accomplished speakers come from broken families, and some have chosen this career path to help other women survive the horrors of domestic abuse.

Of course, there are other subjects women can approach in a public speech. Unlike men, women tend to be more subjective when speaking in public. They like to interact with their audience, they’re likable and they have the ability to draw attention faster than men through their looks, posture, and attitude.

 

Photo Credit

About the Author: Christopher Austin is a regular contributor at many sites and mainly focuses on business related topics like negotiation, speaking, employee engagement, etc. Moreover he is also writing for a site http://londonspeakerbureau.com/ which is world’s leading speaker and advisory network.

 


A Roadmap To Stronger Teams

Posted on August 7th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. 2 comments

Building a team is not easy, leading a successful one might be even harder. No reason to sugar coat it or make it seem like a piece of cake. Building and maintaining a strong team is hard work.

 

Having said that, does it mean that this is only a man’s job? Absolutely not. It is a true challenge for every leader in business, and more great women should take charge of their teams and face the exciting road ahead.

 

Whether in a well-established enterprise or in a small start-up, making your team stronger is probably the most important thing you can do to increase your chances of success. Unless you are one of 29,494 lucky ones that have been able to create a million-dollar one-person business, you need a team around you.

 

So, how to turn a great team into an even stronger one? How to leverage the assets that are already available and ensure that a strong team is built?

 

Practice supportive leadership

There are so many leadership styles and methods emerging that it often makes it difficult to take a stand on one style. What about returning to the basics and giving supportive leadership a chance? Professor Schyns has explained supportive leadership as a leadership style that is associated with a concern for the needs and well-being of followers, and the facilitation of a desirable climate for interaction between leaders and followers. Therefore, the emphasis is on the needs of the employees and increasing their satisfaction.

What is more, a research conducted by Schyns indicates that there is a positive relation between employee job satisfaction and supportive leadership climate. Employees are willing to do extra work for the leader if they feel trusted, appreciated and evaluated.

 

Engage your people

According to statistics, one of the biggest problems managers around the world face is declining employee engagement. A staggering 70% of workers are not reaching their full potential. Due to various distractions in the office, on the Internet, and in personal-life, it is increasingly difficult to engage the team. This is an alarming fact, and the best thing for every leader to do is to engage your people.

 

Engagement starts from supportive leadership and ends with little modifications around the office. The most important thing to do is to find out what your team truly needs. Whether it is a flexible work schedule, staying connected through remote locations, or reorganizing the office layout, there are always compromises that can be achieved which will strengthen engagement in return.

 

Align goals

Each person on the team has goals, and one of the best things you can do as a leader is to align their goals with company objectives. An employee who wanders without a specific goal needs immediate attention. Pay special attention to people that seemingly move in a different directions. The others need to understand the overall vision and see how each contribution will be a big step towards the company’s future. No one wants to deal with unimportant or irrelevant tasks that have no meaning whatsoever. So, give meaning to each task, even the seemingly unimportant ones.

Behavior that has a purpose is beneficial to everyone. Employees feel like their actions truly have an impact, and leaders enjoy the fruitful outcome. Ensure that each member of the team is on the same page when it comes to objectives, because without proper alignment chances of success are diminished.

 

Stay in the loop

Whether the team is independent or not, the leader needs to stay on top of things. One way you can achieve this is through the use of a weekly reporting tool.  This can give the team leader proper insights to everyone’s achievements, tasks, problems and happiness. The advantage is that you can get an automated report that sums up all crucial information and delivers it in one document. So, no need to dive into your mailbox and desperately pull out important information. By using online tools with the whole team, everybody is aware of the current situation and are able to collaborate when necessary.

 

An organization is all about groups of people moving together towards  a vision. If you are not directing a “one man’s show,” then building a strong team should be your number one priority. Stronger teams are not built in days, but through constant work and attention. At times you might find the road to stronger teams paved with obstacles, but rarely are we faced with problems that do not have solutions. So, be a supportive leader and do everything you can to engage your team. Keep an eye on the goals and make sure these goals are also obvious to the team. Always know what the team is currently working on and use the right tools to enhance their performance.

 

 Photo Credit

About the Author: Külli Koort is currently working at Weekdone, a  weekly reporting startup, where she is focused on introducing the easiest and most efficient weekly reporting tool to the world. She likes to write about time management, productivity and employee engagement.


The Grass is Greener When the Field is Mowed

Posted on August 5th, by Bonni Titgemeyer in Business and Workplace, Career Advice. No Comments

LawnRecently I was out for a walk with my husband and we decided to take a different path through the nearby school athletic fields. It was a beautiful evening and there were teams practicing and kids having a great time.

As we were walking, I looked down and I noticed that there was a distinctive line between an area that had been recently mowed and one that had not. You could tell where the unmowed area was because even though there really didn’t appear to be much of a difference in grass height, on one side all the flower heads on the weeds were still there. It was so apparent that I decided to take a picture of it and committed to try and find a way of incorporating this into a HR blog.

Here it is.

In the world of HR advice-giving, we encounter those who seem to want to bail because they think it is better elsewhere. Many of us offer the same advice to those thinking of leaving their workplace. . .the grass is always greener. . .

According to Urban Dictionary this expression “refers to the way we tend to look at other people’s lives and other things that we don’t have in general through rose colored glasses. Comes from the idea of looking at a neighbour’s lawn and seeing it as better looking, healthier and overall greener then your own when in reality you’re just ignoring anything negative about it and downplaying everything positive about your own.”

I agree that using the grass is greener expression is a good strategy for those thinking of leaving, but I think we have an opportunity to take that concept a little further. It is worth reminding people that all fields, green or not, have weeds of one kind or stage.  Some just haven’t had their flowers mowed off yet.

The ideal field is not uniformly green. In fact, if we accept some weeds and their flowers, we can avoid the use of pesticides. We can minimize the risk of land erosion because weeds help to hold in soil better than grass generally due to their longer roots. Weeds use less water than grass.

What goes on above the surface is just as important as below the surface. Or to put it in a workplace context. . .

The ideal workplace is not uniform. Don’t mistake gloss for perfection. Every workplace has weeds. It needs weeds. Getting the most out of those weeds is an important step for workplaces today.

 

About the Author: Bonni Titgemeyer is the Managing Director of The Employers’ Choice Inc. She has been in human resources for 20+ years and works in the international HR arena. She is the recipient of the 2012 Toronto Star HR Professional of the Year Award.  You can connect with Bonni on Twitter as @BonniToronto, often at the hashtag #TEPHR.

Getting More From Millennials: Developing Your Employer Brand

Posted on July 24th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. No Comments

Getting the most from your workforce has never been easy. Doing it in a way which gets workers to buy in to corporate values and objectives is at the core of the challenge.

Understanding and promoting your employer brand in ways which attract, engage and inspire employees to do more will set you apart from competitors. Identifying new challenges, benchmarking your branding efforts and creating an inspiring workplace will help your company gain that competitive edge.

The urgency of this challenge is not just about creating a culture of excellence and the associated ROI. Its more fundamental than that.

 

Rise of Generation Y and the Need For Better Engagement

The immediate need for an attractive employer brand which encourages loyalty is created by the new priorities and work cycles of Millennials.

Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that the average worker stays at each job for 4.4 years, but the expected tenure of the workforce’s youngest employees is a little over half of that.

Generation Y’s preference for shorter tenure presents a big challenge to employers looking to retain and develop their top talent. For companies, losing an employee after a year or two means investing time and resources on training & development, only to see the employee go to a competitor before that investment of product and industry understanding really starts to pays off.

If workers can make a personal connection to their organisational culture and its identity, they will consider it as attractive or unique. This type of emotional connection will not only promote a strong sense of membership but it also brings a sense of loyalty to an employer that they won’t want to leave.

 

Creating Two Way Conversations

Cascading values and goals, investing in professional development and creating two way conversations will inspire workers to feel valued and promote a desire to repay investment you’ve placed in them.

Increased loyalty will, in turn, create a culture where employees are more likely to go that extra mile because they buy in to corporate objectives.

 

How Does Your Employer Brand Measure Up?

So how do you create the metrics to ensure your on the right path to engage with your employees and maximize productivity?

A good exercise to help you stay competitive and on track is to answer the below handy checklist. By going through these considerations, you’ll get an idea of how your employer branding initiatives measure up against best practice organizations.

Answer yes or no to each of the following questions and then total your score out of 20.

  • We have created an employer brand strategy
  • We have developed a social media strategy
  • We have conducted research to determine the perception current employees have about our company
  • We have done research to understand the perceptions prospective employees might about our company
  • We monitor what is being said online about our brand
  • We have identified the leadership competencies we aspire employees at all levels to have
  • We have created a database of talented employees who we’d like to hire when the time is right
  • We have got a careers section on our corporate website
  • We have at least two of the following working closely on our employer brand strategy – HR/Marketing/Communications/IT
  • Alignment to brand values is part of our performance management system
  • We have an active coaching and mentoring program in place to transfer knowledge and build internal capabilities
  • We have defined our employer brand metrics
  • Managers have access to a leadership development program
  • We have defined our employer value propositions (EVPs)
  • We have reviewed our EVP’s in light of the Global Financial Crisis
  • We have an employee referral program which we promote to staff and stakeholders
  • We conduct an employee engagement, satisfaction and/or climate survey at least once per year
  • We participate in an external annual best employers and/or employer of choice survey
  • We use an online system to automate our recruitment process and rank candidates against weighted criteria
  • Each employee has a documented career development plan that is reviewed at least annually

  

So How Did You Rate?

0-5 = Very early stages
6-12 = A good start
13-17 = Some tweaks are needed
18-20 We are Employer Branding experts!

 

Better Branding and Bigger Results

Creating or developing an employer brand which considers the needs of a changing workforce, lowers staff turnover and inspires better performance is no easy task.

The benefits, however, can be huge. Developing strong company goals and showing your staff that you want to go the extra mile to help their professional development will pay dividends in the years ahead!  That’s because understanding changing cultures, the role of communications and being able to benchmark initiatives will help your employer brand attract, retain and grow top talent and the leaders of tomorrow.

 

Photo Credit

 

About the Author: Jilaine Parkes is a knowledgeable and passionate HR / Organization Development Professional with nearly 25 years combined experience in large, dynamic organizations and independent HR / OD Consulting. While holding senior HR management positions in Bombardier, Kraft Foods, Canadian Tire, Lavalife and Cineplex Entertainment, including a one year stint in Prague, Czech Republic, Jilaine has designed and driven initiatives in Business Planning, Leadership Development, Employee Development, Succession Planning, Performance Management, Learning & Growth Strategy and Team Chartering.

In addition to having worked as part-time faculty at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario she has also worked within the Fanshawe organization in the areas of Leadership and Performance Development. In early 2009, Jilaine partnered with Bruce Croxon (Co-Founder of Lavalife and a star of CBC’s Dragon’s Den) and launched an online Performance  Management software company featuring the automated Performance Management module known as Sprigg. In addition to driving Sprigg’s expansion across the US, Canada and UK, Jilaine is an accomplished public speaker and facilitator with a humorous, very direct and down to earth style.

 

 

 

 

 


Human Resources & Marketing: Not So Different After All?

Posted on July 22nd, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace. No Comments

It’s been about a month since the 2014 SHRM Annual Conference in Orlando.  By now, those of us who attended have settled back into the realities of our jobs and day to day life.  We’ve probably filed away our notes and stashed our swag, but have we thought about what we actually learned?  Have we spent any time at all considering how we can take some of the ideas we gathered and put them into practice?

 

One of the concepts that particularly rang true with me was the notion that Human Resources professionals need to start thinking more like marketers, an idea offered by David Novak, CEO of Yum! Brands.  Maybe I’m partial to this idea because my college degree was in Marketing, and though I’ve been practicing HR for over 16 years that marketing mindset has remained with me.  Or maybe I just believe the idea is not only genius, but necessary in this age of social media and transparency.  Either way, the concept really resonated with me.

 

I think that whether we realize it or not, Human Resources professionals have always been (or at least should be) more similar to marketing professionals than not.  Marketing professionals promote the business brand to the outside world; HR professionals must be the keeper of the employment brand and the story of what it means to be an employee of our companies to both the outside world (potential candidates) and inside world (current employees).   However, that line is even more blurred now, thanks to the ubiquitous nature of social media which allows nearly every employment related decision we make to be broadcast or challenged, and every claim we make about the reality of working at our organizations to be either be validated or debunked publicly.  Everything we do within our organizations, decisions that we used to generally be able to keep tightly under wraps, can now be put on display for the world to see.  Take the recent employee termination at Cracker Barrel, a story that caused quite a bit of an uproar on social media, and one of just many examples in recent years.  Perhaps we’ll never be able to prevent these types of stories from leaking, and every good HR professional knows there are always two sides to a story with the truth usually somewhere in the middle.  But good HR professionals should also realize that perception becomes reality, and with that we now also have the opportunity to be more proactive with our efforts, to assume the mindset of a marketer and shape the employment story that’s on display to the world.

 

Branding the Employment Story

Just as our marketing departments promote our business’s brand to the outside world, HR should be promoting our employment story to the outside world.  And ideally, that story should align with the business brand so a cohesive, united message is being disseminated.  Here’s the value proposition that our brand offers our customers, and guess what?  There’s a similar proposition as an employee.  A company’s social properties, both general company platforms and employment related platforms, are perfect places to shout out what it means to be a part of our companies.  Facebook pages, LinkedIn pages and groups, Glassdoor pages…good HR departments should be leveraging all of these to tell our stories.  But it doesn’t stop there; if we are truly thinking like marketers, we’ll realize that our messages need to be part of an integrated strategy with our story being told in any communication we have with our potential candidate public, and that includes our career pages, every job posting, and even our message in any interview we conduct.  We need to be promoting our employment story at every possible opportunity.

 

 

Ensuring a Cultural Match

A good HR department will also realize that promoting a great employment story is useless if our reality doesn’t match what our story asserts.  There may be some debate as to whether or not HR really has control over the culture of a company, and though we may not be able to entirely create it, we can certainly guide it.  We can do this through hiring for cultural fit; by advising and guiding our managers to make decisions in the spirit of our culture; and by helping our managers see that the culture they create within their individual departments ultimately plays into the overall culture of the company.  It is generally accepted wisdom that people don’t leave companies, they leave managers; stories of bad employment experiences, typically attributed to bad managers, can permeate our employment brand through Facebook posts or Glassdoor reviews, making good old fashioned word of mouth sharing multiply exponentially. Human Resources departments alone may not be able to create a culture, but we can certainly be keepers of that culture; a collective conscience of the organization.

 

 

Engaging Our Employees in the Story

Ultimately HR alone can’t tell our employment story, at least not as effectively as it can be told.  We can’t neglect the value of using our employees as brand ambassadors, or conduits for sharing our employment story.  Those social properties mentioned before?  It’s one thing for an official company or HR message to be shared, but how powerful when that message comes directly from your employees?  What’s more believable – a slick, programmed message from a corporate department, or real-life stories and experiences shared by the very people living and working within that company culture every day?  It again comes back to that concept of word of mouth marketing or personal endorsements, whether they be stories on your careers page, blog posts written by employees, YouTube videos featuring employees on the job, or positive Glassdoor reviews.

 

We’ll likely never eliminate all of the negatives, and we’ll probably never make every employee happy, but by thinking like marketers we can ensure that we’re leveraging and promoting all of the positive stories waiting to be told and buzz waiting to be shared about our organizations.

 

Photo Credit

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.

 

 

 


3 Ways Women Business Owners Are More Innovative Than Their Male Counterparts

Posted on July 17th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. No Comments

Throughout the world there’s a huge gender gap in regards to business, and even in modern society women are still heavily discriminated against in the workplace. However, according to Inc., in the United States and Asia female entrepreneurs are both more innovative and more successful than their male counterparts. Here are the top three reasons why.

 

Women Take Fewer Financial Risks

A study conducted by the International Finance Corporation states that women are “less risky” than men. Taking fewer financial risks often leads to less debt and a slower rate of growth. Rapid expansion, however, can drive businesses into bankruptcy. This is because as expenses grow, so do costs, and they will often find themselves unable to cope with the demand. Women often prefer to keep their businesses smaller so they can focus on delivering a quality service and retain a better work/life balance.

A recent trend in this regard is the lack and women signing long term lease agreements for offices; and instead, opting for short term serviced offices. Unlike traditional office spaces – which often require a contract term of 3-5 years – serviced offices can be rented for as little as 1 month; provide services and facilities without overheads; provide a more prestigious working address; and most importantly, lower financial risk. Skyline Offices have compiled a case study exploring the benefits of serviced offices.

 

Women Often Seek Advice During the Startup Stages

70% of women who start businesses will seek advice prior to investing any time or money in their venture; and many partake in some form of government run business course. In addition, women are known to develop more thorough business plans and give their ideas more thought than men. Business leaders that prepare significantly increase their chance of success.

While seeking advice isn’t an innovative approach to conducting business, it can certainly help boost confidence and trigger more innovative ideas; especially in today’s remote working environment where high proportions of female entrepreneurs are starting new businesses online.

 

Women Place More Emphasis on Social Media

According to Forbes, women use social media a lot more than men; therefore, women business leaders tend to place more emphasis on social media marketing. It’s estimated that most female entrepreneurs invest roughly 79% of their online marketing budget on social media. While this may seem high; unlike other forms of online marketing, social media is a one-time investment because when a lead “follows” or “likes” a social network page or profile, they’ll be subject to free marketing in the future.

In addition to this paid traffic, Google looks favourably upon businesses that have an active social media presence and will reward them with higher organic rankings in the search engines. This can lead to a constant steam of free exposure.

 

Conclusion

Sadly, women are 18% less likely to believe that they can achieve success in business, which puts many talented individuals off the idea altogether. It’s going to take more than statistics to change narrow mindedness and gender discrimination; however, if women continue to yield successful results in the future, perhaps the faces of up-and-coming businesses will start to change.

 

Photo Credit: Jodie Womack

 

About the Author: Helen Wallis is a 30 something mum of one who enjoys reading and is a passionate blogger. Having worked in the big smoke for many years,  Helen now enjoys a quieter lifestyle and indulges in her passion for writing and cooking.


Horrible Bosses: Qualities We Don’t Want In Our Leaders

Posted on July 15th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

With great power comes great responsibility, said Spider Man.

A good leader embodies a number of highly-desired traits. He or she is focused, flexible, empathetic, ethical, and is engaged in a strong pursuit of success. There are different types of leaders and many leadership styles. Each might approach a situation or a problem in a different way but the outcome should always be the same: success or solution to a problem. Being able to get things done is the sign of a good leader.

Leadership has been much discussed. Thousands of books, articles, and blogs have been dedicated to studying different and efficient leadership styles. So how is it that despite such a wealth of information available on being a good leader, every organization has its own set of bad leaders? How come every employee has at least once endured that dreaded thing called “bad boss”?

No one starts off with the goal of becoming a horrible boss, but one picks up undesirable qualities along the way and gets stuck in self-defeating patterns of words and actions that earns one the label of ‘the boss from hell’.

So what are the things that lead to people getting this not-so-coveted title? Here are some of the qualities that we absolutely do not want in our leaders.

 

Credit Snatcher Alert!

This is for all those bosses who can never appreciate the fine work of their juniors and waste no time in making it their own. So your juniors may be less experienced and less skilled than you but when they do a good job they do deserve appreciation.

While taking credit for someone else’s work could be unintentional at times, especially when you feel that you came up with an idea which your subordinates simply executed, the least you can do is give them the credit for their part of work. That is what a good mentor does.

 

Is an Opportunistic Communicator

Being a good communicator is one of the key qualities needed to become a good leader. But good communication is not limited to conveying what you want from your employees and giving them their targets unambiguously.

It is about keeping them motivated and positive at all times. You cannot be an aggressive and empowering communicator only when you need your subordinates to work for you. To be a good leader you should be an informative, enthusiastic and encouraging communicator at all times.

Many leaders do not let beneficial and important information trickle down to their juniors as they fear that access to such information may help their juniors outshine them. This is bad practice. Such leaders never earn the trust or willing support of their subordinates. You cannot lead a team with a need-to-know-only attitude towards your juniors.

 

Lacks Vision and Focus

Leading through action and direction is the mantra for most successful leaders. Nobody can trust or rely on a leader who does not have a vision for himself or for the growth of his team. A leader needs to be clear about his goals and be meticulous in his approach towards attaining these goals.

Such a leader is focused and leads through example. On the other hand, a leader who lacks vision and focus will not set long-term goals. He cannot induce passion or commitment towards work in his or her subordinates. The best leaders are those who inspire others to go ahead and achieve their dreams. Such leaders infuse positivity, discipline and focus in their subordinates.

A bad leader lacks vision and fails to plan properly. They are not connected to their employees and remain clueless about the goings-on at work. They also fail to remain accountable and often blame their juniors when something goes wrong. Most people don’t stick around for long under such leaders.

 

Lacks Empathy and Flexibility

Kindness and humility go a long way. A leader that always says ‘NO’ to all that a junior asks, refuses to accept any innovation put forth by young blood, and is dominating and dictatorial in his approach gets a thumbs-down form us.

One becomes a leader only when he or she has followers. A boss that does not empathize with his workers is a bad boss and won’t win any hearts.

When your subordinates feel that you care for them, they want to give you their best. On the other hand, if they only receive indifference and coldness from the boss, their productivity will decline and understandably so.

 

Is Self-Absorbed

These are bosses with excessive ego, pride and arrogance. They usually possess all of the above mentioned qualities. In addition to that, they are bad listeners. They believe that they know everything and will discourage you to speak up or express your views. And if you do manage to do so and rub them the wrong way, be ready for some serious payback. Yes, they are vindictive too.

 

Engages in Favoritism

Now this is the boss who irks us the most. They will shower favors on those they like. They love people sucking up to them and if you don’t, you are in deep trouble. By now you might have guessed that they play an active role in office politics and deliberately underplay your talent and hard work. They also pit employees against each other and create a bad working atmosphere.

 

To Conclude,

If you are a leader and have been deliberately or unintentionally exhibiting any of the above behavior, check yourself now. A good leader brings out the best in all his followers; he is fair and unbiased and gives wings to his followers’ dreams. If you are working under a leader who does not inspire you to give your best, you need to recognize the signs and find a way out to receive guidance from a better boss.

 

Photo Credit

About the Author: Lura Peterson is a freelance writer for Topmobility.com and loves to write on mobility. Besides writing, she also enjoys shopping, traveling with her family to far-off places and time spent with her husband.