Category: Business and Workplace

Diversity: Is it Still on the Menu for 2015?

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

Diversity. What does it mean to you (aside from a pretty handy street dance troupe)? It’s an important topic to mull over because the modern workplace is expected to employ a diverse workforce, with HR departments obviously playing a crucial role in the process.

 

But as with so many valuable concepts, the risk of the principle being lost in the rhetoric and its substance replaced by an empty corporate buzz word is high. As HR employees – dealing with the people behind the labels – it is our duty to clarify the recruitment process we are expected to implement and highlight any practical issues that arise.

 

Diversity and the ‘tick box’ culture

One of the measures of a diverse workplace is how closely it reflects the make-up of the society in which it operates. This has led to government statisticians compiling lists of percentages where citizens are divided into their ethnic group, gender, sexual orientation and numerous other categories and the numbers compared – often unfavourably – with the make up of the company.

 

If we’re not careful, this can lead to diversity being treated as another item to be included on a growing list of corporate targets. ‘Do we have a disabled guy? Good. Five per cent ethnic minorities? Great. We’re running at 55-45 gender split though; need to even that up a bit.’

 

Here we stray into that contentious issue of ‘positive discrimination’, and whether it is ever right to recruit someone on the basis of their age, gender, sexual orientation or cultural background. Whatever your position about that, it is a very real dilemma that the Human Resource department has to grapple with – diversity in the real world rather than a utopian concept.

 

Do we still have an appetite for diversity?

Recent world events have even cast doubts on the value of diversity itself. Struggling economies have led to high levels of unemployment and the accusation by some disgruntled citizens that their jobs are being taken by people from minority backgrounds. And there is no doubt that recruiters in many fields have sought to actively import talent where there is a perceived lack of it from amongst the local employment pool.

 

With the media highlighting the negative aspects of muticulturalism and the dangers of excessively liberal policies, and the rise of nationalist parties in the political sphere, even the politicians’ are displaying quite schizophrenic behaviours as they reflect the public’s ambivalence over diversity.

 

Companies as diversity in action

The modern workplace, to varying degrees, mirrors the situation in society at large. People from different backgrounds come together for a common cause and while there are inevitably culture clashes and disagreements there is also a lot of solidarity and shared identity.  A company’s success seems often to be related to  the extent to which its workforce has been integrated, enabling everyone to pull together. But is there more that a diverse workplace can offer up?

 

Attack of the Clones

In our drive for diversity, we must ensure that the people we recruit are given the support and freedom to actually express their unique qualities and perspectives. In a modern workplace we need to utilise the full richness of each individual’s experience and tap into their irreplaceable skills and strengths, if we are to remain relevant and competitive as a unit.

 

Employees are not just representatives of particular demographics in society, they are living, communicating windows into the minds and hearts of the people who share significant elements of their background. If one of our employees uses a wheelchair, he or she will be invaluable in assessing how accessible our company is to other wheelchair users. If a female employee objects to the chauvanistic workplace culture then ignore her at your peril. It is highly likely that sexism is coming across in our products and services, alienating women in society.

 

In some ways, a diverse company is a gift which gives us the opportunity to interact with society at a deeper, more inclusive level. But we must still make the most of the richness at our disposal by treating employees as respected individuals. Otherwise we risk creating a sham diversity rather like the clone troopers in the Star Wars stories. Here, the individual troopers are largely identified by surface differences alone (hairstyle, uniform trim, etc.) to compensate for the fact that they are all cloned from one source.

 

Is diversity still on the menu? Absolutely, but only the best restaurants can combine all of the flavours into one appetizing dish.

 

About the Author: Nicole Dominique Le Maire has gained a reputation as a highly valued leader within the female business and Human Resources Industry. As a multi-talented woman entrepreneur and a global people connector, she is also the co-author of two books, including “The Female Leader.”  As a result, she has gained tremendous experience guiding startups and entrepreneurs which has supplemented her MBA, MAHRM, and MCIPD and this has catapulted her to become one of the top leaders in the Human Resources industry.  Get in touch via twitter @NicoleLeMaire or one of the business websites,  humanresourcesglobal.com, newtohr.com, thefemaleleader.biz

 


2015….Welcome to the Future

Posted on January 13th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace, HR Technology. 1 Comment

By now inevitably you’ve seen some sort of media coverage detailing how the “Back to the Future” franchise got it both wrong and right.

 

That’s right, the future is here. In the second installation of the 80’s trilogy, Marty McFly travels to the far-distant future of 2015.  Or at least the 1985 version of what 2015 would look like.  Though some of that 1985 speculation wasn’t that far off (video calls, biometric payment options, huge flat screen televisions), much of it was certainly ambitious thinking (home fusion energy reactors, flying cars, self-sizing clothing).

 

For all of the fun that it is to compare what the movie got right and wrong, there’s also another side to the discussion that hasn’t been explored.  For each of those speculations that have not come to fruition, there are just as many every day components of our reality that could probably never have been imagined in 1985.

 

In 1985, could we have imagined that through the power of smart phones, most people would hold in the palm of their hand more computing power and access to information than was available to entire governments then?  In 1985, clouds were strictly a weather phenomenon; today “the cloud” holds a whole different meaning.  Tablets were pads of paper, a very different definition than what you think when you hear that word today.  There was no concept of or hint to what social networking would become through the vast digital networks and tools we now have available, and how they are being applied not to just our personal lives, but to business effectiveness and productivity as well.

 

For everything that did not happen as predicted in the movie, other technologies have been developed and subsequently improved at rates we could never have anticipated in the mid-80s, or even more recently for that matter.  In many ways, our lives are completely interconnected through technology.  Technology enables the average person today to receive more information in one day than someone would receive in their entire lifetime in 1900; that’s not going to slow down any time soon.  And over the holidays, I had a moment that was a powerful reminded me of that.

 

My 2 year old nephew received a tablet for Christmas.

 

Now you could argue that the “tablet” he received was a simplified version of a fully-functional “adult” tablet.  But that’s not the point.  The point is that my two-year old nephew instinctively knew how to use that tablet.  That he knows how to access Siri on an iPhone – he can’t talk to her yet, but he knows how to find her and what to do with her.  He has seen his siblings doing these things from the time he could comprehend, and is now using these technologies before he can even put a full, intelligible sentence together.

 

We are living in a “future” where kids are using technologies in some cases before they can even talk.  These technologies are ingrained into their lives right from the beginning.  This is certainly not a new phenomenon this year, it’s a shift that’s been occurring for a little while now, as evidenced by the term “digital native” that’s been in use for several years is discussions of generations.  But it’s becoming something that as business professionals we can no longer afford to ignore.

 

As employers, we are soon going to be hiring these same kids who have used technology since before they could talk.  Even sooner for those of us who work in industries that tend to employ teenagers and young adults (retail, food service, hospitality).  Yet as businesses, many still lag pitifully behind when it comes to technology.  Maybe not in the technologies we use to connect with the outside world and our customers, but with how we connect with our employees and future or prospective employees.
We insist on subjecting employees and candidates to mind-numbingly long manual processes, or if we do have digital ones in place, they are exceedingly complex, contrary to the digital simplicity present in our app-laden world.

 

Why do we do this?  Because we can?  Because THEY want to join OUR organization so we call the shots?

 

That mentality can be our downfall.  As we continue into the future, if we as HR pros allow our businesses to remain out of touch and outdated, we risk losing talent to those who keep pace.  It’s our job to be aware, to understand the pulse of those we want to employ, and translate that back to our businesses.

 

The future is here.  It may not look like what we thought it would in the 80s, but in many ways, it’s more than we imagined.  And we need to keep up.

 

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 acquisition and development 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.

 

 

 

 


Teamwork as a Customer Experience

Posted on January 8th, by Bonni Titgemeyer in Business and Workplace, On My Mind. 1 Comment

Crayons of popcorn

For the right consumer experience these days, teamwork is necessary.

 

On New Year’s Day, hubby and I went to the movies.  For certain reasons I won’t mention the name of the Cineplex theatre on Winston Churchill at the QEW in Oakville, Ontario.

 

We arrived 40 minutes early for a movie that is newly-released but not a box office smash, and planned on using a gift certificate.  

 

This means that we had to stand in line at the box office.  A hopelessly long line.  The line was long because their new ticket distribution kiosks don’t allow for gift certificates and it seemed everyone had a gift certificate.

 

If we had planned this differently we could’ve avoided that line and purchased our tickets on line instead of redeeming the certificate, but it was expiring that day and we wanted to use it.  Besides, there were long lines at the kiosks too.  It doesn’t seem like anything was gained by reconstructing the entire front entrance of the theatre to remove the ticket agents and allow for these kiosks, especially since while you can order online, they don’t yet have tickets via smartphone available yet.

 

Why they might choose to expire a gift certificate on the busiest day of the year is beyond me.  Why we chose to wait until the last day to redeem it is also somewhat of a mystery but it has something to do with cleaning the basement and finding the certificate just before Christmas.

 

Once we got in the theatre we went our separate ways. . .hubby to the concession stand and I to the theatre to stake out seats.  

 

It takes teamwork to get the right seats and the concessions before the movie starts, especially if you are using a gift certificate on a holiday.

 

Why do companies put us through these things just to get what we want?  Even though I earned an A in microeconomics in university and am the life of the party during any discussion of guns and butter, in this case I still don’t get this intersection of supply and demand.

 

Why are all the new releases during the holidays?  Why couldn’t I redeem my gift certificate online?  Why do they have to so understaff the theatre that it takes 20 minutes to get through a relatively simple concession line?  As I was sitting in the theatre by myself waiting for hubby to get through that line, these questions were burning for me.

 

Recently, my good friend Michael VanDervort directed me to an article on Salon.com,  are Killing Us.  In it there are some scathing truths and conspiracy theories about why it is so important to keep the wages of restaurant workers so low.  While I could write many blog posts responding to the suggestions of the article, there was a key point of relevance to the HR professionals who read blogs on this site.  That is this, we are increasingly mechanizing the most entry-level jobs, making them quickly-trained and easily-replaceable.  There is no need to pay them more.  If the apocalypse they propose in the article is real, very shortly there’ll be no true entry-level jobs left, not just in restaurants but in everything that is in the service industry.

 

This is a big deal to those who view customer experience as important.

 

A few years ago I worked on a project to set up a manufacturing plant in Mexico.  As part of the project, I immersed myself in Mexican employment practices, to understand how everything there works. I wanted to avoid an implementation failure by mis-anticipating culture and customs.  One of my take-aways from the experience is that in Mexico there is a focus on jobs. From an HR planning perspective, the advisors tell you to increase the staffing numbers from what it takes to produce your product in America.  Their unions, tax incentives and way of thinking make that a winning formula.  There’s another discussion here about underutilization of talent there, but let’s leave that for a different blog post. 

 

Stop right now and ask yourself about customer service at your company.  Are you over-mechanizing the process?  In the name of efficiency have you taken out too many people?  By doing so, do you make it difficult for your customer to have a good experience?  Do people really have to plan how they are going to access your service by going to extremes to make the stars line up?  Like in the case of hubby and me, do they have to employ teamwork just to make things work out?

 

If yes, unless you’re Costco, you need to rethink this.  After all, if I want to make my own popcorn and pour my own cola, I might as well stay home and slouch on the couch.

 

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.

The New Rules of Engagement: Digitization

Posted on December 16th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

Yvonne Sell and Georg Vielmetter recently wrote Leadership 2030, a new book outlining how 6 powerful trends are impacting life as we know it. They identified these 6 megatrends as Globalization 2.0, Environmental Crisis, Demographic Change, Digitization, Individualization and Technology Convergence.

In this series of blog posts, Monick Evans of the Hay Group will cover each of these trends in turn and share her thoughts on how they impact engagement, and what they might mean for us as professionals as well as for us as employees.  The first in the series covered Individualization.  Today she discusses Digitization.

 

Digital Help or Digital Hindrance?

With the powerful megatrend Digitization already upon us: what does it means for you and your job and for the way you manage others?

 

Digital Help

You can do anything you want in the virtual world.  There are apps for pretty much everything, insomniacs can find people to talk to any time of the night and you can get advice whenever you ask for it (and even when you don’t if you look at Twitter!). So all this digital stuff should be making our lives easier right?

In many ways yes it should.

Digitization is all about the blurred boundaries between our work and personal lives as a result of technology. It’s about being “switched on 24/7” and it means many of us can work flexibly from anywhere at any time, which helps us find the work/life balance that works for us. Living 2 ½ hours away from my office means I regularly work from home just to stay sane!

In the workplace, Digitization can definitely be a huge advantage; advances in smartphones, apps, Facebook and Twitter for example are a great way to stay connected to our clients and our colleagues across timezones in a simple, engaging and fast way. They keep us agile and flexible, we can react in an instant to the latest bit of news.

 

Digital Hindrance

So what’s the downside? Well if like me, you weren’t born into a world of Clouds, I-phones, Lync, Messenger and Twitter, you’re not a Digital Native. My kids will be (they can already work the Sky TV box better than I can). That means there’s a whole heap of training we need to make sure that we use technology to save time in our jobs, rather than waste time.

And what if you feel you should constantly be “wired” so you can respond immediately to your client’s late night emails? Aren’t you at risk of getting stressed or burnt out? And if you only communicate with your manager on email, how will they spot the signs and be able to help you?

Then there’s the problem of being discreet. How do we know what’s appropriate for us to share online? The world of social media is so quick that it’s easy to act on impulse, but by doing that we could be damaging our company’s brand – or even our client’s brand – just by a click of a button.

 

Digital Ready

If you work in a role in HR, then these problems are soon going to be your problems. What training do people need and how can you keep them up to speed with new technologies and digital trends? How can you prevent employee burn out? And how can you best engage your people around your brand so that they want to protect rather than damage it?

Research on this new megatrend shows that people’s expectations are changing about how they use technology at work and that if companies want to keep their talent motivated, they’ll need to adapt fast because:

  • Younger workers – or Digital Natives – want to be connected all the time. Removing a Smartphone from someone when they turn up for work is like removing an arm. (Interestingly, a major retailer in the UK that banned mobile phones on the shopfloor is now piloting the use of them again to keep people motivated)
  • People will demand that their company supports them with different devices and technical support to keep them working, especially if employees are travelling for their jobs
  • A pressure to always be online could lead to stress and burnout for some, that managers still need to look out for and manage
  • Employees can easily find out online how their salaries compare to other firms (and then they can easily apply for another job if they want to)
  • People want to work when they want to work – that might be in the middle of the night, whereas your manager wants to speak to you when the sun’s still out. Managers will need to measure ‘outputs’ differently and look at performance rather than just hours
  • We’re all human and we still need some personal contact. Managers can’t rely on virtual communications and meetings – we still want to see people face-to-face

 

Digital Balance

So stop and have a think about your own job for a moment. How do these changes to the workplace affect you or the people you manage? How can you get the best out of using technology and mitigate the worst?

Try answering a few questions to see how well you think you’re doing amidst Digitization:

Yes / No
Digital Help?
Is technology helping you save time in your job?
Does technology help you stay in touch more easily with your clients or colleagues?
Do you feel technology gives you more flexibility to work from anywhere at anytime?
Do you have the technical support you need to keep those devices working at all times?
Are you using technology to showcase how great your company’s product or ideas are?
Digital Hindrance?
Be honest, are you slightly addicted to checking your messages? (even if someone is talking to you)
Does your Smartphone go wherever you go (including to bed)?
Have you ever had an online ‘rant’ about something or someone then instantly regretted it?
Does your manager expect you to answer emails 24/7? (and do you expect the same from your direct reports or colleagues?)
Have you ever felt totally exhausted and at risk of burnout because you never really switch off from using technology?

 

How did you get on? If you generally answered “Yes” to more Help than Hindrance, then you’ve probably found a great way of using technology in your life.

But if you answered “No” to any of these questions, maybe now’s the time to put that device down and have a proper conversation in the real world rather than the virtual world. Given that when I see my kids playing, they’re often copying Mummy on the phone sending messages and moaning when a webpage won’t load fast enough, then maybe it’s time I did just that….

See you next time, I’m off to meet a real friend for a real drink and a real chat rather than a virtual one, it’s much more fun.

 

How well do you think people in your organization are adapting to the digitization trend? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

Photo Credit

About the Author: Monick Evans is an Associate Director at global management consultancy Hay Group. With 20 years experience in organizational research, HR and change consulting, Monick has worked with some of the world’s best known multinational companies to deliver leading edge employee engagement programmes. Monick works closely with key stakeholders, including CEOs, Executive Teams, HR, OD and Communications professionals to help align their employee survey programmes with business strategy. The topics she is discussing in this series of blog posts can also be found in the Hay Group report The new rules of engagement.


The New Rules of Engagement: Individualization

Posted on November 18th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. 3 comments

Yvonne Sell and Georg Vielmetter recently wrote Leadership 2030, a new book outlining how 6 powerful trends are impacting life as we know it. They identified these 6 megatrends as Globalization 2.0, Environmental Crisis, Demographic Change, Digitization, Individualization and Technology Convergence.

In this series of blog posts, Monick Evans of the Hay Group will cover each of these trends in turn and share her thoughts on how they impact engagement, and what they might mean for us as professionals as well as for us as employees.

 

“I want, I need, I get”

A new megatrend called Individualization is coming: here’s what it means for you, your job, and for the way you manage others.

 

I Want

Usually it’s my 6-year old daughter saying “I want, I want, I want” when she sees the latest ad on TV for a new doll or toy. When you’re her age, it seems fine to just ask for what you want. But as we grow up, many of us stop asking.

But that’s about to change. Soon it’ll be okay for you to ask for exactly what you want in your job, whatever your age, background or role. Why? Because there’s a big new megatrend that’s here called Individualization.It’s one of 6 global trends that two of my colleagues have just written about in their new book, Leadership 2030.

Individualization is about how we want to be treated at work as unique and valued. It means we want managers to care about us as people, to really know us, know what our strengths and development areas are (and to use those skills), and to do whatever it takes to help us achieve our full potential as well as help us fit our work around our life. We don’t just want to be “one of the team” anymore; we want to feel special and be treated like we are.

But there’s a small problem. If you work in a role in HR, OD or employee engagement, you spend most of your time thinking about how to help other people in your business – how to make employees feel more motivated or more productive, or how to develop your leaders.  We spend hardly any time thinking about ourselves or our own needs and development. We seem to forget that we’re employees too and sometimes we need a bit of motivation and attention.

So this got me thinking, what would happen if we started acting a bit more like a 6 year old (well, sometimes, maybe not all the time if we want to keep our jobs) and start asking more often for what we want to make us feel more motivated in our jobs?
I Need

So what do you really need in your job? Research on this new megatrend shows that people’s expectations are changing about work, and that if companies want to keep their talent, they’ll need to adapt fast because:

  • Fulfilment, meaning, self-development and recognition will all become much more important than salary
  • People will demand that their employers take note of their individual needs, their likes and dislikes
  • Managers will need to manage people as individuals; they’ll need to develop more empathy and flexibility to get the best out of each member of the team
  • The idea of work-life balance will be outdated; it’ll be about total lifestyle and how best to juggle different priorities (from doing a great job at work to finding time for that favourite hobby)
  • Career development will be a two-way street where managers will encourage us to research options and suggest new career paths, while they help us navigate existing career structures

Stop and have a think about your own job for a moment. Are these needs already met or do you think you need to ask for some changes?

 

I Get

So how can we start to get more of what we want in our jobs so we feel motivated to put more effort and energy into our work? (With 2 young children and a full-time job, I’m always looking for more energy as I’m sure most of us are!).

The key relationship will be with our manager. How can we change how our managers support us? Try answering a few questions to see how well you think your manager is doing on the Individualization trend:

 

Yes / No
Are your objectives really tailored to your skills and experience?
Do you have a development plan that’s unique to you?
Do you know what you need to do to get promoted?
Are you encouraged to manage your own career?
Does your manager really understand your unique skills and development areas? And does s/he make the most of them?
Does your manager spend time coaching you?
Can you work flexibly to fulfil your own unique work and personal commitments?

 

How did you get on? If you answered “Yes” to some of these (like I did), then you’re on the right path (you may even want to buy your manager a drink).

But if you answered “No” to any of these questions (which I also did), don’t be afraid to sit down with your manager, act like a 6 year old and say “I want, I want, I want” a few times  to explain what you need to be more engaged in your job. You never know what you might get.

See you next time, I’m off to have a chat with my manager…..

 

How well do you think people in your organization are adapting to the individualization trend? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

Photo credit

About the Author: Monick Evans is an Associate Director at global management consultancy Hay Group. With 20 years experience in organizational research, HR and change consulting, Monick has worked with some of the world’s best known multinational companies to deliver leading edge employee engagement programmes. Monick works closely with key stakeholders, including CEOs, Executive Teams, HR, OD and Communications professionals to help align their employee survey programmes with business strategy. The topics she is discussing in this series of blog posts can also be found in the Hay Group report The new rules of engagement.

 


Giving Feedback to Managers – Don’t Be Afraid To Speak Up!

Posted on November 11th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace, On My Mind. 2 comments

We women in HR definitely have plenty to say about what managers can (and should) do to be more effective.

 

In fact, we’re often so overwhelmed with what a few of our business or functional managers did and didn’t do, that we don’t know where to start. I have worked in the HR field, as a consultant in the areas of performance management and leadership development, and have plenty of crazy stories about leadership gaps observed by HR generalists–mostly women. These gaps range from legal exposures of all kinds to managers de-motivating, or failing to develop and retain employees. Although the outliers are only a small percentage, most leaders we know could do a lot better at the things we know most about.

 

After researching and writing a book about workplace feedback, I am giving myself feedback about how I give feedback. Over the years, I have learned a lot.

 

A few important conclusions:

1.  I wish I had been more honest and directive in my earlier days of HR consulting. When leaders asked me to do something that I thought wasn’t such a great idea, I was too accommodating, figuring my role was to “support management” by helping them do what they wanted to do. Don’t get me wrong; I never accommodated anything illegal or immoral. It was more like I said OK to things like training supervisors and low-level managers in a particular leadership skill, but letting the top executives get away with no training, buy-in or evidence of the skill themselves. Later, I pushed back at hare-brained requests and said–”Based on my experience, this won’t work.” My advice: Say what you know, loud and clear, upfront. I promise you, you will be MORE, rather than less respected for it. Of course you will give a business rationale, but don’t hold back your expertise.

 

 2.  I need to spend more time coaching leaders, because change is hard. Explaining everything once or twice won’t work. If they are adopting a new mindset and new behaviors, they will need many, many visits with you, to talk through what they are trying, what works, what doesn’t work, and how to address the setbacks. Focus each conversation on one or two things they plan to do differently, not a whole universe of competencies that would require a personality transplant. My advice: Plan a series of many incremental coaching conversations with leaders you are helping.

 

3.  What I know from the HR field is beneficial to business and I need to shout that from the rooftops! People from other functions tend to roll their eyes when the topic of HR comes up. Part of that is something we can change, if we do a better job of linking everything we give feedback on to their specific goals. I used to think that things like performance development and career development had obvious benefits for a leader’s goals, but I know now that I need to explain that linkage in no uncertain terms. For example, a manager’s feedback to employees, done earlier and more often, helps people learn from mistakes and positively impacts the team’s goals. Duh! We need to repeat that and explain it in a way that each leader understands. My advice: Be the one responsible for communicating the linkage of people strategies to business success.

 

4. I will not always receive an immediate pat on the back for what I recommend, and that’s OK. What I learned is to align my work to my knowledge and experience about what optimizes the business through people. When I have done this, I have actually received MORE kudos than when I agreed with a suboptimal approach. Whether it was in the area of hiring right, designing a better leadership program, or facilitating a strategy session, everyone got better results when I trusted my expertise. My advice: Be your own positive reinforcement for your decisions and recommendations, and others will follow! 

 

You are a talented leader in your field. Allow yourself to fully contribute to your organization’s goals, through HR!

 

Photo Credit

 

About the Author: Anna Carroll, MSSW, is an organization development consultant, facilitator, coach, and speaker. She designs and leads training and group planning experiences and creates learning tools and assessments to speed up group success. Most recently Carroll has focused on the power of feedback loops and how leaders and team members can overcome their barriers to exchanging valuable feedback in the workplace. Her book, The Feedback Imperative: How to Give Everyday Feedback to Speed Up Your Team’s Success, was published in July 2014 by River Grove Press.  Her website is www.EverydayFeedback.com. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband Michael Wilkes.


Service Awards – Relevant or Passe?

Posted on November 6th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace. 6 comments

There was a time, not very long ago, when service awards as part of most companies’ recognition strategy was the norm.  Employees were regularly honored for a certain number of years of commitment to the organization with anything from a certificate, to a trinket, to the opportunity to select from a catalog of a variety of household or recreational items, depending on their total number of years of service.

Some argue that service awards are a dying breed; that in a world where loyalty (on both sides of the equation) is a commodity to be casually tossed around, where employee tenures are shorter and shorter, that there’s just no relevance in recognizing years of service.  Instead of rewarding employees for the number of years they’ve put in, something that is becoming increasingly meaningless to employees, we should be recognizing them in other ways, such as for specific achievements, outcomes, and contributions to organizational success.

This idea that service awards are no longer relevant may be true in some companies and certain industries; I would suspect that, for instance, in high tech, Silicon Valley type organizations where talent is regularly recruited away by the next up-and-coming start-up, or where contract work is much more common, and where tenure is measured in months rather than years, service recognition likely holds little value.

But what about those industries and organizations where long-term employment is more the norm than the exception? And yes, these companies and industries do still exist.  I work in the grocery retail industry and just recently we recognized over 300 (yes, 300!) employees who have dedicated 25, 30, 35, 40, and even 45 and FIFTY years of service to our company.  And though this year was an unusually large number of honorees, it is typical for us to annually recognize well over 200.  We do this through dinners in each of our operating regions, at which honorees and their guests are treated to a nice meal and a program which includes short bios of each of the honorees, personal congratulations by our executive team, and a small gift and token of appreciation.

I can honestly say, there is nothing quite like the look of pride and appreciation on the faces of these honorees; pride in making an life out of an honest day’s work from the simplest of beginnings in one of the simplest and most common places in all of our lives – a grocery store.  Pride in a job well done, pride in simple service to a specific community and regular customers.  You’d be hard pressed to convince me that service awards aren’t relevant…in our little corner of the world.

It’s very easy to get caught up in the latest and greatest trends in the HR space, as we should.  As good HR professionals we should make it our business to be in tune with what those trends are.  But it’s also very easy to want to just jump to conclusions based on what we read or by what various “thought leaders” are saying.  But as good HR professionals, we also need to learn to take what we read or hear, assess it, and make decisions based on what’s best for OUR organizations.  For me and my company, that means realizing that service awards are still VERY relevant.  They are an integral part of an overall recognition strategy that also includes various other components and rewards related to performance and other criteria, and foregoing them for just the other pieces of the strategy would be detrimental to overall morale.

Read.  Listen.  Learn.  Assess and apply your knowledge.  Then do what’s best for you, in your company and your world.

 

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.


What Do Job Search Sites for Women Offer?

Posted on October 28th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella got a whole lot more attention than he bargained for when he opined that women in technology could do more for their careers by being patient and relying on “karma” rather than asking for raises. The implication was that if they’d just hunker down and do their jobs, women would find that their pay would naturally rise to the right level and everybody could be spared the awkwardness of the dreaded “salary conversation.” Though Nadella backtracked quickly, it’s hard not to have the impression that he was sharing his honest belief: That in the meritocracy of technology, people are paid what they’re worth, regardless of gender.

Of course, no business is a pure meritocracy, and gender matters a lot. On average, women earn just 77 percent of what their male counterparts do, and hold just 5.4 percent of the top jobs in the Fortune 1000. The good news: The discussions about inequality are more open now. The bad news: We still have to have them.

Obviously, then, women who are looking for work face the prospect of gender discrimination. Sometimes, the discrimination is overt — we’ve all heard stories about the hiring manager who calls you “sweetheart” during the interview. But sometimes, it’s more subtle, entwined with a culture that penalizes those who even ask about family leave, or hidden in questions about children or aging parents.

Many companies are trying to do better, though, aggressively working to recruit women into their ranks. One approach they’re taking is to post open positions on job boards that focus on women.

These websites — which range from a handful of standalone offerings to postings on the sites of women’s professional organizations — don’t offer any kind of magic bullet. Employers can’t set aside specific jobs for specific genders, after all, and chances are each position’s been posted in more than one place. But by seeking out women through these sites, the company is sending a message that it’s serious about diversity.

How do you find these sites? Google is a good place to start. Enter search terms like “women accounting job postings” or “women technology job postings.” The results will usually include links to appropriate organizations and their career sections.

Practically speaking, many of the best listings are on the sites of women’s groups in specific industries. For example, the websites of Women in Technology and the National Association of Women in Construction offer full career centers, featuring job listings as well as the ability to post your resume. In many cases, you don’t need to be a member to view the postings.

Unfortunately, these sites still leave the seeker with a lot of work to do. A posting by itself says only so much about a company’s culture and workplace, so the onus remains on you to search out intelligence using your network, social media, online forums, and the Web.

Dedicated job sites provide women with a reasonable place to begin their search, especially when they’re hosted by an organization focused on skills that match the candidate’s interests. Does posting there prove a company’s commitment to gender diversity? No. But it’s a promising signal.

 

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

About the Author: Mark Feffer has written, edited and produced hundreds of articles on careers, personal finance and technology. His work has appeared on Dice.com, Entrepreneur.com as well as on other top sites. He is currently writing for JobsinVT.com, the top local resource for job seekers, employers and recruiters in Vermont.

 


Technology, Smechtology

Posted on October 14th, by Dorothy Douglass in Business and Workplace, HR Technology. 5 comments

What does the word “technology” do to your blood pressure when you hear it?  How about “digital space?”  “Social media?”

Your answer may be different depending on a few things:

  • Your age;
  • Your geography;
  • Your career choice; and possibly,
  • Any expectations you’ve been given for using (or not using) technology.

For the record, I’m 53.  I’m an HR professional – I am in banking, now for 13+ years, healthcare for 5 years prior, and in small business for 7+ years, with an even earlier working stint in the public welfare sector.  I remember when the fax machine came out – I was ecstatic over the ability to move information faster, but had to wait until some of our vendors and clients “caught up” and caught on to the efficiency.  I remember when I refused to use a computer mouse – I told my husband, “why should I, when  I have all the function buttons memorized?”  Remember F1, F2, F3?

I remember calling my husband (he was so tech-savvy back then!) from work so he could teach me this thing called ‘mail merge.’  Once I had a staff of 35 employees, I wasn’t going to type and retype names & addresses in my quarterly employee newsletter.  And finally, did anyone delete all those requests back around the years 2002 – 2005 to “connect with your colleague Joe Schmoe” on something called LinkedIn?  Yes.  I did.  I deleted them.

I live in the conservative Midwest, and in a smaller community.  Hence, our population in general may be behind in the learning curve and usage of social media.  My age group is, too – I’m often frustrated because I seem to still have close friends (who live thousands of miles away) who refuse to use social media.  Any of it.  I occasionally get a phone call, “did you know that Susie is fighting thyroid disease?  No one told me, I’m so upset.”  And actually, Susie posted the information herself on Facebook, Twitter, or elsewhere in the digital world. Ce la vie.

At a recent round table of HR banking professionals in my home state, we gathered to discuss HR topics. One of our frustrations was our trade association’s change of communication from a list-serv email to their website.  To ask questions and share dilemmas with colleagues, we need to now learn something new.  And different.  And that is hard – for everyone.  We HR professionals had to take a (difficult) look in the mirror and do what we often coach others to do – get with the program, learn new technology, adapt to change.  Tough one.

I have to say, even for an “oldster,” I was surprised to hear that some of my HR colleagues still use paper applications when recruiting,  aren’t engaged in the digital space, and aren’t on LinkedIn.   I believe I also heard some of our collegial competitors still discourage internet usage and social media usage in the workplace.  For me, I found that sad – even freely stating that I was NOT an early adopter, and I am still fairly tech-UNsavvy.

I contend that for HR to earn that proverbial seat at the executive level table (aka the C-suite), HR professionals need to be disruptors.  Using social technologies can be disruptive and when learned and used in a positive way,  a change agent.  We need to question the status quo, make some decisions then ask for forgiveness, and we need to step up and lead.  Human Resources has been administrative – almost forever, right?  The “Personnel” departments of old were there to support operations, process paperwork, deliver payroll, file employee records, administer benefit programs, and write policies.

We still serve some of those administrative needs, but HR can be so much more to the organization.  We need to ask the question “Why?”  Why are we doing it this way, why aren’t we adapting new technologies, why don’t we invest in an HRIS?  From my small corner of the world, we can help drive cultural shifts and mentalities, albeit slowly, and often with much assistance from other business drivers.  Some of that comes from learning to use technology – it’s not going away.

Here are some ideas for HR professionals to consider:

  • Have an open mind to change.   Most of us no longer hand out cash on pay day, and many of us no longer hand out paper paychecks either.  We have electronic means of delivering pay, so why wouldn’t we want to move along that continuum with everything HR does?  From recruiting to performance management,  HR is getting electronically delivered out there in many places – more efficiently, and often more effectively.
  • Get social.  Take a look, in your off-time, at the social spaces out there.  LinkedIn is NOT just a tool people use for a job search.  Not anymore.  Ease into social media, one place at a time.  It can be overwhelming.  Join Facebook and just look around for a while.  You don’t have to post.  Same with LinkedIn – see what other HR professionals are doing in the social space.  There are a ton of HR blogs out there, many are fabulous to read, and provide good tips.  Seek out one you like and follow them for a bit to get a feel.

To move the Human Resources profession up, each of us has a responsibility to be continuous learners, and mostly, to learn to live in the digital spaces.  Good luck!  You can do this!

[One of these days, I might even get that blog started…. Yes, change happens slowly.]

 

Photo Credit

About the Author:  Dorothy Douglass is Vice President of Human Resources & Training at MutualBank, an Indiana-based financial institution.  She began her career with Mutual in 2001 as Human Resources Manager, and is a graduate of Ball State University.  She is proud to have been in Human Resources now for more than 17 years and is continuing to “lean in” and working to influence the “people management” side of her organization.  She is passionate about managing and developing people; and I have yet to be bored in 13+ years in her current job.   She considers herself fairly tech-UN-savvy, though has immersed herself in Facebook and LinkedIn.  She’s still working on the Twitter-sphere & has goals to blog more in 2014.

 


Ten Facts About Women in the Tech Industry

Posted on October 7th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. No Comments

 

Men have always dominated the workforce, winning out over the fairer sex in both wages earned and positions held. Sadly, this trend is continuing in the tech industry today.

 

Even though Google has often been called one of the best places to work, it doesn’t appear to be for women who make up just 30% of their total employees. That number dwindles further to only 17% in departments that are specifically focused on technology.

 

Women seem to be fighting an uphill battle, but they are still climbing the mountain. Let’s look at ten facts about women in the tech industry that show both positive and negative figures:

 

1.  Women hold 51% of all professional occupations in the United States while only 26% of those are computer-related. While women are getting more white collar recognition, they aren’t gaining much ground in the tech arena.

 

2.  The CIO (Chief Information Officer) position with Fortune 250 companies is 19% female, but of the Fortune 100 firms, only four have a women as their CEO. Women are present in these companies, but not many of them are seated in the president’s chair.

 

3.  While women comprise only 7% of tech company founders, those led by women are have 12% higher revenues using 33% less capital. Those in top management roles are more successful than their male counterparts.

 

4.  Further figures show that twice as many women are leaders in successful startups over those ventures that failed or are failing. Women at the top in the startup game are again more successful than men.

 

5.  More than half (56%) of women in the technology industry leave midway (10-20 years) through their careers, but 22% of them go on to be self-employed in the same market. If you’re going to go out, then go out swinging.

 

6.  Men and women software developers start out with similar pay, but men have a higher upper range and end up earning more in the long run. Perhaps that is their motivation for women exiting the venture to pursue their own interests.

 

7.  The gender pay gap is less for computer programmers where women are down only 7%, but that is still better than some other professional occupations, where male lawyers earn 13% more and female accountants take home 24% less pay.

 

8.  Ethnically speaking, the numbers are very dismal. In 2012, only 3% of our computing workforce were African-American women, 4% were Asian and only 1% of these females were Latino. Adding race into this equation makes it even more difficult for the placement of women into tech fields.

 

9.  Even worse, these numbers are down from 2010 where 16% were African American, 9% Asian and 6% Latino. Let’s hope that 2013 and 2014 show more promise, but it is not looking good thus far.

 

10.  Facebook is mirroring that of Google and the rest of our leaders in technology, with a tremendous lack of both women and minorities in their employment diversity data. The overwhelming majority of tech workers are either caucasian or asian men.

 

Even though these numbers are depressing, thinly veiled underneath is the fact that women are more successful than men in the business and tech worlds. Take a second look at items three and four to see why businessmen should be taking a hard look at these statistics.   When leaving their tech positions, some women didn’t give up, they become self-employed instead, leaving their bosses behind and leading themselves down a better path.

 

About the Author:  Megan Ritter is an online business journalist and entrepreneur with a background in social media marketing. In addition to having a passion for technology, she also enjoys writing about business communications, globalization and online branding. Connect with her on Twitter.