It’s been just over a week since the 2015 SHRM Annual Conference wrapped up. When I attend a conference that’s so large, so overflowing with various ideas, concepts, and best practices, sometimes it takes a few days for me to process what I’ve heard and learned. One of the sessions I attended that I’ve mulled over for the past week was Lance Richards’ concurrent session on “Work 4.0: The Future of Work.”
There’s no shortage of these types of futurist musings of late, but I always find value in hearing various speakers’ takes on how exactly they see our workplaces changing moving forward. There were two key concepts that I took away from this particular session.
The Untethered Workplace
As technology becomes more prolific in both our work and personal lives, we’re shifting into a world where work doesn’t necessarily need to be tied to a specific location. The concept of a “sit, stay” culture no longer resonates with workers who are connected via smartphone 24/7. Lance Richards cites millennials as apt to sleeping with their phones nearby; the first and last thing they do each day being check work email. I’m not even convinced that’s unique to that generation any longer. Regardless, in a world where this is the norm, why do we get so caught up in where and when the work gets done, rather than focusing on whether or not it is? If I’m handing work emails at 6:00AM or 11:00PM, why should I feel bad if I need to leave the office at 4:00PM? Furthermore, if we find ourselves in a situation in which we simply can’t afford to lose the talent that we have, why not consider moving the work to them rather than forcing them to come to the work? If we have the technological capabilities to facilitate this, what’s the hold up?
The implications of this for managers is that it’s going to become essential that they, well….manage their teams more effectively. As HR pros, are we ensuring that our supervisors and managers have the skills they need to more effectively manage remote workforces? Do they have the necessary planning & organization, shepherding, and communication skills? Do they have the ability to rally their teams around collective goals when their teams may not be all in the same place? Do they have the skills to build effective working relationships when they are not face to face?
Talent Supply Chain Management
The “War for Talent” is as ubiquitous of a phrase as any in the world of HR and talent; Lance Richards suggested that in reality there is no shortage of people in the world, however people does not equal talent. The question is how do we convert people into talent? In a world where 10,000 Boomers per day are retiring, and 6000 people per day are dropping out of high school, how are where do we find, develop, and retain the talent we need? Richards suggested that HR pros need to become masters of talent supply chain management. This could include better workplace planning through analytics; building better working relationships with local schools and colleges to help shape curriculum, ensuring that the future workforce has the skills we as employers need; building alumni networks and doing a better job of tracking what our former employees are up to; and learning to leverage “on-demand talent” – as we shift into a reality where more workers will deliver work on a more compartmentalized basis (i.e. performing various jobs for different companies concurrently), we’ll need to become better talent engagers. We won’t necessarily need to own the talent, as long as we know where to find and engage it when we need it.
And that may require a completely different mindset about how we structure jobs, job responsibilities, and teams.
Some Final Thoughts
Though I do believe we are and will continue to see these types of shifts, and as HR pros we need to not only be aware, but also able to effectively leverage and adapt to these changes, I also struggle with how this plays out in all industries. What about retail and healthcare, where it’s absolutely necessary to have certain employees onsite at specific times? What about manufacturing? When you have teams who are physically building or assembling something, there’s not as much of an opportunity for flexibility there.
But yet the world continues to change, and people’s expectations about work/life balance/integration and the nature of work continue to change. Even in these types of industries I believe we need to figure out exactly how we apply some of these concepts. Maybe it’s not a remote workforce, per se, but are there other ways we can leverage flexibility? And how do we leverage on-demand talent in these types of industries…. seems like that could be a natural fit in industries such as retail, where labor needs tend to fluctuate with seasons.
Moving forward, no matter what type of industry we work in, as HR pros we will continue to think bigger…about who constitutes our workforces, what they desire out of an employer/employee relationship, and how we sync that up with what our business needs require.
About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP 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.
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.
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?
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Much has been said and written about the Millennial Generation, much of which is untrue or highly exaggerated. This group has often been criticized for being lazy, entitled and self-obsessed, but that’s not quite right. And, anyway, isn’t that always how the older generations describe “kids these days”?
The truth is that the notorious Millennials, or members of Generation Y, are more socially aware, innovative and worldly than any generation that came before, and they’re up against a lot more. This group is entering an extremely competitive, slim workforce with huge amounts of student loan debt, yet they’re highly optimistic about their futures.
Instead of thinking of ways to “deal” with Millennials who enter your company, you really ought to be coming up with ways to attract more of these creative thinkers – after all, in 10 years, Gen Y will make up three quarters of the workforce.
1. Be Different
Today’s college grads are not satisfied with their parents’ workplace. They take one look at a staid, old-fashioned office with its bland cubicles and depressing break room, and they run the other way. Millenials are turned off by the idea of working at the same, isolated desk all day.
Tim Buchenberger, designer at Whitney Architects, a firm that designs many modern workplaces, said, “We encourage companies to choose designs that promote flexibility and allow people to easily move in and out of different work environments. The spaces need to encourage personal and professional connections – they should create a sense of belonging.”
If you really want to attract the best and brightest young people, you have to build a physical environment that suits their work preferences and reflects the way technology has changed the way we communicate. Hip, modern companies eschew the culture of private offices and closed-off cubicles of yore in favor of open-concept spaces and meeting rooms that are conducive to collaboration.
2. Be Flexible
Millenials view the traditional work day in the same way they see the traditional office: outdated and irrelevant. Technology has completely transformed the way we work, and Gen Y understands that more than anyone, especially considering the fact that they don’t remember a time before the internet. Much of what necessitated the classic 9-5 schedule no longer applies.
If it was up to this new generation, all companies would allow workers to be flexible about when and where they work, as long as the work was getting done. They also prefer more casual dress requirements, which helps them feel like they can be themselves. An MTV study called No Collar Workers, found that 81% of Millennial employees think they should be able to make their own work hours and 79% think they should be able to wear jeans to work.
The point is that this generation is looking for a workplace that breaks down the strict barriers between work life and home life. The benefit to you is that, by creating a more inviting and flexible work environment, you get employees who actually want to be in the office and who thrive in an environment that encourages personal freedom and expression. It might all sound a bit foreign and new-age, but this is where things are headed and early adopters will find themselves ahead of the pack.
3. Mentorship Matters
Critics accuse Millennials of being dependent and in need of hand-holding, but these nay-sayers may just need to shift their perspective. In the past, many companies would essentially throw new team members into the deep end – their ability to learn to swim was their first test. This generation, however, works better with nurturing mentor relationships and frequent feedback. And is that so bad? Why shouldn’t we do everything we can to assimilate and educate new employees in order to help ensure their success?
You can make a Millenial feel right at home in your company by assigning them an official mentor from the start – this person would be responsible for showing them the ropes and facilitating regular check-ins where the newbie would be allowed to ask questions and seek feedback on their performance. This kind of system will not only attract workers of Gen Y, it will increase new employee retention and help decrease the inevitable learning curve that slows down productivity.
4. Raise Responsibility
This may surprise you, but Millennials are not motivated by money. Sure, money matters, but not as much as opportunities for growth, leadership and influence. Ultimately, today’s young workers would rather have a lower paycheck that comes with greater satisfaction than vice versa. And they want their voices heard and their input valued – 76% of those surveyed in the No Collar Workers study said that they believed their bosses could learn from them.
Perhaps because of the fact that they’re more in touch with technology than their older superiors, Millennials don’t prescribe to the belief that a strict hierarchy should dictate whose ideas matter the most. Your company can accommodate this belief by doing things like holding group brainstorming sessions that let all team members contribute equally. You can also tap young employees to train older team members on technology – this makes logical sense and it allows them to feel useful and valuable.
5. Make a Difference
Despite the bad rap they’ve gotten for being self-involved, Millennials are actually quite socially conscious and look for employers that are doing their part to give back or improve the world in some way. A 2014 Deloitte study on Millennials in the workforce concluded that this generation believes that a company’s success is not just measured in profits, but in contributions to the world at large. This was based on the fact that large percentages of them volunteer their time and money to charitable organizations and sign political petitions.
This is an easy and beneficial change for any company to make. Not only does company-wide philanthropy help those in need, but it also does wonders for building team morale and creating a more solid company culture. Taking the whole team to a food bank or an animal shelter for a day says, “We are a company that cares and values giving back to the community.” This makes all employees, not just Millennials, feel good about the place where they work, which in turn, creates more loyal and productive team members.
Millenials will soon take over America’s workforce. When that happens, companies won’t be asking themselves whether or not to adapt in order to suit their preferences – the adaptations will simply happen out of necessity.
The companies that choose to begin evolving early will be the ones that rise to the top, while the stragglers will find themselves running to catch up. As Bob Dylan sung in his epic ode to the power of youth, “Your old road is rapidly agin’, please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand, for the times they are a-changin’.”
Want to see where you fall on the Millenial continuum? Take this quiz, developed by the Pew Research Institute.
About the Author: Rod Miller is the Head of New Program Development of Corporate Award Source, an online supplier ofcustom corporate awards. Rod is also a frequent contributor to several career blogs and is passionate about educating professionals on workplace morale and leadership. For more information, visitCorporate Award Source or connect with Rod on Google+.
“I praise loudly, and condemn softly.” Catherine the Great said that and it’s not bad advice. HR is overloaded with responsibilities, from minutia to policy issues, yet all tasks are important. HR has a significant role in shaping the company culture and thus the success of a company. Their behavior impacts perception, branding, turnover, and profit by the processes they put in place. How HR manages their role with upper management peers significantly impacts their ability to implement positive changes and morale.
HR continually must balance multiple functions. Two crucial areas are:
1. Recruiting, hiring, and onboarding, and
As a leader, I’m all about empowerment and engaging others. Here are my tips for staying in the loop, managing information, and solving problems at the first sign of trouble to prevent larger problems. HR is in the business people risk management.
Hire the best person for the job, not the most available one.
Recruiters learn to manage the process by asking questions and listening closely to the answers given. Insist on genuine engagement with candidates and co-workers alike. Look directly into a person’s eyes when asking for information. Be direct. Be kind. Speak with purpose and authority. Ask for help when you need it. Say, “Thank you”.
Verify skills and discover what a candidate feels they need to stay at your company 3 – 5 years. Listen to how they define management habits they respect and what motivates them to do a good job and contribute to the goals of the entire operation. Can your company meet the ideal candidate’s expectations?
The typical interview HR has with applicants may not touch on what a candidate believes is significant. In the rush to get to the next task it’s easy to treat candidates like one of the herd. An extra few minutes spent uncovering and discussing the needs and career aspirations of an ideal candidate will go along way to winning them over in a competitive market. Be personable, not gooey or pretentious. Be authentic and sincere.
When 50% of the population says they would change jobs today if they could, taking a few minutes to qualify candidates properly can reduce turnover. Employee retention is risk management.
HR has a responsibility to model excellent communication skills for the whole company. They set the tone. Saying one has an open-door policy is one thing, but being specific leads to actual conversations.
“Tell me when a recruiter contacts you. I want to know! What salary range did they mention? Help me keep our salaries competitive!”
“Tell me when you’re having trouble handling an issue with a manager or co-worker, I can help you prepare for a meaningful conversation.”
“Tell me what you like about our company!”
“Tell me what stinks, what works, and what does not work, not once a year but all the time.”
“What can we do to improve a process? What process in place now slows you down?”
If someone does not feel comfortable going to their manager, having them come to you rather than quitting, informs you of a systemic, or broader issue. Use your expertise to empower employees to have direct conversations within their department. Continue to offer varied communication skill training.
Surveys demonstrate, “90% of people report they experience stress due to ongoing issues with someone who matters at work.”
If HR can help chip away at that problem they will be outstanding.
“Let’s use critical thinking skills to make this a better place to work.”
“If you could improve one thing, what would it be?”
“What would you like to develop about yourself?”
Celebrate success! Yeah us! People love short newsy announcements.
“This many people completed their MBA coursework, congrats!
6 people completed the communication skill-training this month…thank you!”
“We changed a minor process this week (weekly reports are suspended for one, end-of-month report). This will make all our lives easier. It took a multi-department collaboration but it was worth it!” Success breeds success.
“We’re looking to fill 3 positions in engineering. Who do you know with a background in engineering? If each-one-refers-one we’ll have these filled by the end of the week!”
Set the tone. Promote a policy of, “Don’t complain”.
Instead of complaining to a co-worker, let’s fix the problem; tell me!
Sometimes people need to vent. The problem with venting is the negative energy brings down the person who must listen. Encourage people to vent to you. Issues can be identified and fixed once they’re voiced. More importantly, the poison of negativity does not spread to contaminate the ranks.
Negativity is insidious.
Negative talk is a time waster and work preventer. It’s distracting. Empower people to stop complaining and turn the situation around. People grumble when they don’t know how to proceed productively. We’ve all been guilty of this until we learned a better way.
HR can inform employees on how to alleviate stress, and negativity. Continually talk about the benefits of positive thinking, practicing pro-active problem solving, or positive brainstorming. Discuss positive alternatives like yoga, and provide skill training to help employees grow professionally, intellectually, and consciously.
Think and talk in terms of solutions.
Encourage employees to voice their ideas on how to improve processes. Will everything be implemented? No. But studies show when management asks for input, workers feel heard, validated, and believe they made a contribution. They did what they could to help, even if they were ignored, and that makes people happy.
If someone voices a solution to a problem management does not want to acknowledge, and thus they punish or reprimand the one who spoke, communication shuts down. Prevent the ‘us vs. them’ atmosphere. People leave unhealthy, negative environments when the opportunity arises. We are sensitive and want to feel respected and valued. It makes sense.
HR has a powerful role in tending the garden that is the culture and soul of a company. Empower people to contribute more. Demonstrate how to engage and lead by modeling how problems can be discussed and solved. The act of discussion is healthy and productive work. Watch your garden grow!
About the Author: Kimberly Schenk is an entrepreneur and executive recruiter. She is author of the book Top Recruiter Secrets and provides recruiter training for organizations and individuals. Get more recruiting tips and tricks at her blog http://www.toprecruitersecrets.com/blog.
I had the opportunity recently to participate in an employer and student roundtable discussion at a local college. The purpose of this project was to connect business leaders and HR professionals with college students to discuss the perceived and actual gaps in college level curriculum in preparing students for jobs and careers after graduation. In other words, as business and HR leaders, what did we wish students knew, or what skills did we wish they had upon graduation that would make them more valuable contributors to our businesses much more quickly?
The concept of this roundtable was great, and the discussions enlightening for both sides for the most part. But one part of the discussion bothered me, and still does several weeks later; that was the discussion about “business etiquette.”
You see, there was a belief in the room among many of the business professionals that students come into the workplace ill prepared for the realities of the workplace, that they don’t understand how to act in a professional setting. I do think this can be true to an extent, and there’s nothing wrong with setting expectations about dress code, or providing guidelines or reminders that it may be inconsiderate to take a conference call on speakerphone when you’re working in a cubicle situation. There are many appropriate and helpful things that we can do and steps that we can take as employers throughout the onboarding process to help them to acclimate. However, rather than a discussion about learning to navigate corporate culture and/or politics, it became a discussion that I could only describe as a lack of adherence to “work rules.”
The example was raised of a new employee who was found wearing headphones at his desk (presumably listening to music as he worked), and the discussion became a little heated with strong convictions about how new employees need to learn that this is not acceptable. But I question….why this rule in the first place? Are the headphones truly inhibiting productivity? Unless this employee was working in a call center, or the headphones were preventing him from hearing his phone ring, is there really any harm? Is it possible that he does a lot of independent work (writing, coding, etc.) and music motivates him? Maybe his work requires a great deal of concentration and the headphones/music blocks out the distractions around him?
What was particularly bothersome to me is that the professionals who were in the room represented some very highly respected companies. They were all obviously very successful, and offered a multitude of excellent advice in other aspects of the discussion. Yet when it came to work rules, the opinions were clear.
Too often, we as HR professionals get so fixated on the rules or the policies that we lose sight of why those rules are even in place to begin with, and fail to question whether or not they should be. There is absolutely a place for workplace guidelines, and some policies need to be in place to protect our employees (workplace violence, sexual harassment, etc.) Burt why do we continue to be fixated by arbitrary work rules? Because that’s how it’s always been? Because “our” way of working is right and “theirs” is wrong? Why aren’t we talking about teaching and coaching our new employees on the importance of building relationships and internal networking? About how to assess a corporate culture and learn how to navigate politics….and not politics in a bad way, but politics in the sense of learning who knows what, and who your best sources are when you need information, help, etc? Why are we so worried about who is following which arbitrary rule, instead of learning how to get the best and most productive output from our new employees?
My contribution to this discussion and advice to the students was the following: not all cultures are the same. Some will allow certain things, some won’t. Some will be more rigid, some will be more flexible. Not every culture is going to be like Zappos or Google, but don’t think every workplace with be rigid, either. Figure out the level of rigidity you think you would be able to tolerate, and then learn how to research company cultures to find employers where you know you’ll be comfortable and be able to do your best work.
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.
Job seekers often underprepare for the interview. Understandably, it can be difficult to prepare answers for the millions of different questions they might be asked by an HR professional or potential boss. And that’s probably why the answers to my favorite interview question vary so greatly.
The Interview Question Candidates Get Wrong
My favorite interview question is this: If you had a blank canvas and could paint your ideal job, what would it be?
I guess it’s kind of quirky, and perhaps that’s why I get quirky answers. When I’ve been in a position to hire people and I’ve asked this question, the candidates never described the position they were interviewing for. It didn’t matter what position it was or how experienced the candidate was. They never described the job duties outlined in the job description for the position they were interviewing for.
Why It is OK to Get It Wrong
Our true selves don’t want to work where we are every day; very few people are doing what they’d be doing if they didn’t have obligations such as family and mortgage payments due each month. I understand that as the person in a position to hire you. Although it would seem that the “right” answer would be the position that the candidate is applying for, I see a lot of value in the other answers I have heard in response to the question, “If you had a blank canvas and could
paint your ideal job, what would it be?”
The responses I’ve gotten have detailed positions in other industries, the candidate’s interest in creating their own company, and even a desire to work at a restaurant on the beach in the Bahamas. These answers might surprise and disappoint a less experienced interviewer, but I know that these answers reveal more than they seem to. These answers, though they seem random, show how a candidate thinks, whether or not they’re innovative, and what their values are.
As an HR professional, I’m most interested in hiring authentic people, and when candidates give unfiltered answers to my questions, especially the blank canvas one, I get a good look at who they really are and that helps me figure out how well they’ll fit into the company I’m hiring for.
About the Author: Kimberly S. Reed, CDP, Corporatepreneur™, Managing Partner and CEO, Reed Development Group, LLC (RDG), has earned a reputation as one of the most dynamic speakers and trainers. Reed ignites audiences internationally on topics ranging from entrepreneurial leadership, leadership, professional and personal development, diversity & inclusion, personal resiliency and presentation skills. For nearly fifteen years Reed has helped executives and professionals develop a “Y.E.S.” (You, Empower, Self) mentality. After over a decade as a diversity and inclusion strategist for some of the largest companies in the world including PwC, Campbell Soup Company, Merrill Lynch and Deloitte, Reed had the ability to develop innovative solutions to identifying, attracting , retaining and developing top diverse talent. Reed has acquired key skills that have enabled her to position organizations and business units to increase recruitment, retention, deployment and the management of talent for Women and People of Color in record growth.
Three things needed for a long term relationship are commitment, caring and communication. Just as partners in a successful marriage, who are committed to one another, understand the benefits they receive from one another, employees and employers require the same. Employees need to achieve results and employers to provide stability.
Caring is not a word used often in employment agreements but love has a place in the corporate world. The best employers treat their employees well by providing competitive salaries and benefits, training supervisors to manage effectively, giving employees the tools that they need to do their jobs, and, most important, letting employees know how they are doing. Employees show that love back by being passionate about quality and loyal to the companies for whom they work.
And then there is communication. In order to sustain a long term and healthy relationship with employees, smart companies provide job descriptions, mission statements, vision, goals, and frequent performance feedback. And smart employees, who understand where the company is headed and what they need to do, offer innovation.
Just like a successful marriage takes work, the relationship between employers and employees requires the same commitment, caring and communication, not just offered once, but provided continuously over the long term.
About the author: Judy Lindenberger is the President of The Lindenberger Group, an award-winning human resources consulting firm, located near Princeton, NJ. They are experts in career coaching, customized training workshops, online training programs, mentoring, 360-degree assessment and feedback, HR audits, employee handbooks, and more. Learn more about them at www.lindenbergergroup.com.
Too many companies are not responding quickly enough to the expectations and needs of the workforce today. Turnover is costly so it’s time to focus on retention. In the continual rush to be productive we often fail to treat people well. Happy employees stay with companies longer. They’re less likely to be vulnerable to recruiting calls.
One obvious trend is employees are taking control of their careers and their life. Companies are not trusted to provide career longevity. Corporations hire and layoff unpredictably. Job security is a myth so employees have learned to style their lives differently. The truth is more employees are willing to walk away from employment scenarios that make them miserable.
On average it costs between $15,000 and $45,000 to replace a worker who earns between $40,000 and $110,000. While the figures may vary from industry to industry, for example the estimated cost to hire a nurse is around $60,000, the fact is companies can save a bundle of money if they have less attrition.
There are several things employers can do to improve retention and lower hiring costs.
1. Training. Give employees more skills. Employees want to increase their value.
2. Provide communication training. Encourage and expect constructive feedback to flow up, down, and sideways. Provide avenues for feedback. Surveys show the number one reason people are unhappy at work is due to an ongoing issue with someone who matters at work. Increased stress can certainly lead to turnover.
3. Mentoring programs. Help employees see the long view and career path options. How do they get to where they want to go?
4. Flexible schedules. Focus on what is expected of an employee. Be clear about what, when, and how they are to accomplish their goals. Define clear parameters. Younger people want a work/life balance and will quit their job to get it elsewhere. Define what fair, good, and excellent performance includes so employees don’t feel unfairly criticized and can improve their performance responsibly.
5. The ability to work from home a few days a week. This makes for happier, more loyal employees.
6. Ask for feedback. How are you doing managing your company? What are the perceptions of your staff on your performance? What are you doing to improve? New managers should know their staff will evaluate them regularly, and anonymously, where possible. Are they willing to improve their management skills?
Different issues arise as a company grows. Pay attention. When I owned an independent adjusting company in the Chicago area the outside investigators who worked for me were highly skilled. When we got together there was a great deal of ribbing and jockeying for some kind of superiority I didn’t quite understand.
I thought of us as a team. We were one exclusive, competent company who handled the toughest workers compensation and liability claims in the city, for the best insurance companies. I wanted to create unity not competition within. One Saturday I asked the investigators to come in for the morning. I had them each read two of their co-workers’ files.
I asked them to verbally critique the work of their peers. They worked independently being responsible for each assigned investigation until conclusion. The result was heartening. Each one was humbled and impressed with the caliber, professionalism, depth, and insights of the people they worked with. Never before had they seen the work product of their peers.
The compliments were genuine and respect sincere. There was an elevated sense of camaraderie. We all belonged to the same ‘club’ of outstanding service and talent. We were more united and the one-upmanship stopped. I knew we had the best investigators in the city but they didn’t know until they experienced it for themselves.
The result was we had no turnover for five years before I sold the company. The loyalty, integrity, comfort, and trust we enjoyed was unique. Situations arise all the time that require an individualized solution. If one approach fails to get desired results, think of a new strategy. Ideas are free, turnover is not.
Leadership is not hard if you’re willing to serve your employees the way you serve the customer. Lower hiring costs by increasing retention. Loyalty is not a given. Earn it and everyone wins.
About the Author: Kimberly Schenk is a recruitment coach and mentor. She trains both individuals and corporate staff. Kim teaches the full cycle recruitment process and has an updated book available online called TopRecruiterSecrets. Learn more by visiting Kim’s blog about corporate recruiting.