Agility

Want to Fuel Agility? Understand Employee Skills

Sponsored by: Empath

In today’s world of work— agility matters — and how we enable our own employees to meet our company goals, is vital. This isn’t possible without a mechanism to understand the held skill & experiences among our own contributors. In today’s world, seeking talent externally could be considered an outdated and ineffective response to fulfilling talent needs. 

The future of work demands that we explore the weaknesses of this strategy.

Our Guest: Carlos Gutierrez

On the latest Worktrends podcast, I spoke with Carlos Gutierrez, the co-founder, and CEO of Empath, a SaaS technology platform that uses machine learning to transform the way talent is managed and grown internally. Previously, he served as chair of Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategic advisory firm. Carlos spent nearly 30 years with Kellogg, a global manufacturer of well-known food brands.

Let’s open the conversation about the relationship between agility and skills. First, there is no doubt that organizations need to embrace agility. However, if a foundational strategy isn’t in place to respond to rapidly changing internal and external environments, achieving agility will remain elusive.

Agility Requires a Different Mindset

The thing about agility is that it’s sort of the opposite of the way companies used to run where you develop a plan and you stick to the plan. Agile, an agile methodology or agility, is just the opposite. You don’t stick to a plan because you know that your environment will be changing very rapidly. And what we can do is change departments, change teams, move around, redeploy people and do that very quickly if you have a skills inventory of all your employees. So you can do an agile methodology even quicker than it would if you weren’t able to measure skills.

Powering Agility & Upskilling

As the saying goes: Information is power. To manage & deploy the skills to carry out vital initiatives, organizations must know what skills are actually present and those that are missing:

…So you need to have the information of the employee skills, proficiency levels, and the skills required to go to other jobs. And that’s where you get the gap that you need to fill, the upskilling gap. And we do that for every employee in a company.

A Solution: An AI-Powered Internal Skill Library

Capturing existing skills within your organization is critical. People evolve much more quickly than their resumes — and so do the roles they hold. A more sensitive, dynamic mechanism to capture this is required. Applying cutting-edge technology simply makes sense. Moreover, companies that fail to take people skills into consideration when projecting future business needs will inevitably fall short. 

Companies can create more accurate plans if they understand the skills they seek could already exist internally.

…What we tell companies and what companies have found who use skills, who have accurate skills inventories, that the person they’re looking for is already inside the company. They just don’t know it because they don’t have visibility into, say, 20,000 people.

The Wave of the Future: Machine Learning to Establish Skills

Resumes simply aren’t enough to help organizations understand skills and become agile. The language is much more complex than we realize. We need to be less subjective and listen with more powerful tools.

…I hear sometimes about, well, are you going to have machine learning and AI determine the skills of a person or infer? I can assure you that we will be more accurate in companies in this business than the subjectivity of human nature. So our algorithm, our machine learning algorithm captures signals…The machine can infer what the skills are. It’s actually a very complex technology, but you will never notice it. It’s like picking up a phone and calling, you don’t know what’s behind the call.

I hope you found this episode of #WorkTrends helpful. I know that I found the discussion fascinating.

Subscribe to the #WorkTrends podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. Also, for more great conversations, be sure to follow #WorkTrends on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram!

Talent Management Strategies

5 Effective Talent Management Strategies

A talent management strategy is a blueprint for optimizing and broadening employee performance within a company. It allows a company to map out a plan to improve and revamp the organization’s most valuable asset – its people. The goal is to boost the company’s talent pool efficiency and retain and attract talented employees.

However, the concept of talent management is constantly evolving as time and technology change the nature of work itself, making it challenging to build and sustain a strong talent pipeline. Consequently, it has created the need for a new paradigm associated with talent management.

Businesses must adapt to changing demographics and work preferences, establish new capabilities, and rejuvenate their organizations. All this while simultaneously investing in new technology, globalizing their operations, and competing with new rivals.

Now more than ever, companies should use talent management strategies to achieve their goals and remain competitive in today’s fast-paced business environment. With this post as your road map, you can establish an integrated approach to managing all areas of your organization’s recruitment and development processes.

Below are 5 effective talent management strategies you should try.

1. Set Clear Objectives

As a manager, it’s your job to ensure that the company’s goals and objectives are in sync with the goals of your workforce. First, employees must understand their responsibilities and the company’s expectations. Then, through efficient communication and teamwork, they can focus on the company’s primary objectives.

With defined goals in mind, your team will become more involved in their work, commit to meeting milestones and achieve higher performance. Furthermore, it increases the efficiency and effectiveness with which your company can carry out business strategies and deliver outcomes significantly.

5 Effective Talent Management Strategies

For instance, when hiring new talent, you should set clear expectations by drawing out a detailed job description that includes the abilities and tasks required to fill that position. In addition, you should also keep in touch with new hires regularly to establish what is expected of them.

2. Offer Training Opportunities

Quality training programs should be a priority for companies to provide employees with opportunities for career advancement. If you haven’t incorporated training into your talent management strategy, you might want to think about developing a training program tailored to your employees’ unique line of work. Investing in your staff’s professional growth can be accomplished in one of two ways: by sponsoring them to participate in an outside training program or organizing an internal training program.

Most companies have shifted to online training programs, allowing employees to learn at their own speed and time. They produce and distribute interactive learning content using training tools.  Notable training tools could include micro-learning platforms, video training software, learning management systems (LMS), etc.

The other approach involves developing a training curriculum specifically for use inside the company. You can accomplish this by providing mentorship programs with access to resources and training sessions. Coaching your employees will ultimately help them learn more, improving their overall performance.

3. Conduct Performance Evaluations

As a manager, you must evaluate your team’s performance. Reviewing your employee’s performance allows you to offer constructive criticism. If an employee has been doing their job duties to a high standard, you should seize the chance to acknowledge and reward them.

Many companies have switched from annual performance assessments to conducting them more frequently as a part of their talent management strategies. They use key performance indicators (KPIs) to evaluate past and current performances and readjust to meet their goals. Monitoring (KPIs) also enables you to gain insights into prospective knowledge gaps, identify current shortcomings, and fix them. This will help you acquire executive support and the opportunity to modify the process when necessary.

5 Effective Talent Management Strategies

For example, if your company aims to improve its search engine performance, you need to track and measure your SEO campaigns’ return on investment (ROI). If the efforts do not bear any fruit, you should resort to other tactics to drive the desired outcomes. Alternatively, you can hire an SEO company that will improve your online visibility and traffic and boost your website’s bottom-line metrics, like leads, sales, and revenue.

4. Focus on Employee Experience

A company’s talent management strategy should include a holistic employee experience with ample growth opportunities. Therefore, it’s essential to figure out how your employees can best contribute to the company’s long-term goals and overcome specific challenges. However, this may vary depending on the company’s work culture, working hours, and employee benefits. 

5 Effective Talent Management Strategies

If such situations arise, you’ll have to determine if you need to hire more people or if you need to implement a new benefits scheme for your current employees. It will also require you to establish a strong corporate culture that encourages your employees and fosters a sense of community. Doing so will provide them with a workable framework in which they can grow and develop.

5. Adopt a Flexible Attitude

Workplaces nowadays are unpredictable due to rapid technological advancements, global market changes, and political shifts. Therefore, if your organization undergoes a significant change of one kind or another, it’s more important that you are flexible and responsive to sudden change.

You can effectively deal with unanticipated challenges or tasks by adjusting to change quickly and calmly. To sum up, a manager adapting to change means to: 

  • Adapt to the face of ever-changing external challenges for your company.
  • Adjust your management style in response to changing circumstances.
  • Accept changes as positive.
  • Revise strategies as necessary.
  • Take into account other people’s concerns during a transition phase.

Flexibility has become an increasingly valuable skill in today’s highly competitive setting, where unpredictability and change are often constant. However, flexibility isn’t just about reacting to situations when they arise. It also requires significant adjustments to how you think, conduct your work, and act.

Conclusion

Companies must develop strategic talent management strategies to help them retain their best employers for longer. This requires setting clear objectives,  offering training opportunities, conducting performance evaluations, focusing on employee experience, and adopting a flexible attitude. Using these talent management strategies effectively will keep your employees happy and motivated.

 

Mentoring

Mentoring and the Employee Connection

Podcast Sponsored by: Together

According to a recent Harvard Business Review article, experts believe that high levels of loneliness and disengagement at work caused by the pandemic could be addressed by mentoring. Additionally, surveys have shown that more than 90% of professionals who work with first-generation college students through mentoring and career development programs believe their experience as a mentor has helped them become better leaders or managers at work.

Our Guest: Matt Reeves

On our latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Matt Reeves, CEO of Together, a software platform focused on enabling companies to run best-in-class internal mentorship programs. Together Software helps organizations run internal mentorship programs that intelligently match every employee with the best person for them to learn from. We asked Matt to tell us what a mentorship program is. He explains:

A mentorship program within an organization is where you’re pairing two colleagues together, usually a more junior employee who’s the mentee with a more senior employee who’s the mentor, for career development and career guidance. Typically, these employees meet on a particular cadence like once a month over a year or even more.

Mentorship programs are becoming more and more in demand by employees who crave a better employee experience and career guidance. In addition, mentorship programs can help companies with employee retention, which helps drive bottom-line results. But, programs are evolving as the workforce changes. Matt:

We’ve seen companies breaking the mold and experimenting with different types of mentorship programs with the common thread being helping their employees learn from their colleagues through conversations.

The Flavors of Mentorship

There are different types of mentorship approaches. Some are more traditional, and some are more out of the box. The best match for a company depends on the needs of the employees.

The traditional approach is a one-on-one program. You have a more senior mentor mentoring a more junior mentee for a specific period. Certainly, peer programs are very common, as well as reverse programs where you have a less senior employee who’s perhaps more experienced in a particular topic mentoring a more senior employee. And then where we see many organizations have a lot of success in breaking the mold is on the duration piece of the program and adding flexibility for the participants.

Benefits for the Mentor and Mentee

Both mentor and mentee have different reasons for wanting to participate in a mentorship program. Matt explains:

I think most people understand why a mentee would want to participate – to learn, develop and progress in their career. I think they want to participate on the mentor side because they are more senior. When you’re more senior in an organization, you are expected to be a people developer and culture carrier.

This is also something participants can bring to performance reviews and use in conversations around promotion and compensation as part of a company’s overall performance assessment of their employees.

Technology and the Mentorship Experience 

Our final question to Matt – we asked him his thoughts on using technology to keep mentors and mentees connected. He answered:

From an administrative standpoint, it significantly reduces the workload. From the employee standpoint, there is a much-improved employee experience. For example, a manual program can take time to match mentor and mentee. Not a great experience if you’re paired with someone who has left the organization. Something easily avoidable if you’re using technology.

I hope you found this recent episode of #WorkTrends informative and inspiring. For tips and ideas on what a mentorship program could look like for your organization, go to togetherplatform.com.

Subscribe to the #WorkTrends podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. Be sure to follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on LinkedIn and Facebook, too, for more great conversations!

Military Hiring

Utilizing Partnerships to Improve Military Hiring Practices

Sponsored: Orion Talent

As organizations – specifically hiring leaders – look to fill their talent pipeline, the US Military is an unrivaled source of talented, experienced people. Decades of research and hands-on experience underscore that military training results in well-rounded employees who serve as an asset to any workplace.

The military has a well-deserved reputation as an extremely effective employer, with its firm commitment to training; it teaches people about persistence, mentorship, innovation, leadership, and success. Let’s face it: the military leads the pack in cutting-edge training programs. This fact has long been embraced by organizations that are champions of military hiring, such as Booz Allen Hamilton and Lockheed Martin.

Follow the Leaders

A SHRM report indicates accelerated military hiring initiatives at major companies including Siemens, AT&T, and Allstate Insurance. Here are some excellent stories from Starbucks about the success of their military hiring program. These leading organizations offer a wide variety of resources to veterans and their families. 

There are also more than 230 firms involved in the Veteran Jobs Mission coalition, which plans to hire 1 million vets by 2025, having already hit its earlier target of 100,000. Many other organizations see the value in military hiring but aren’t sure where to begin.

Here’s a tip. The key to an effective military hiring program lies in the utilization of partnerships. Savvy organizations tap the expertise of those who know the intricacies of military candidates and their families. It’s nothing less than wise to have partners help navigate government programs. In addition, speak the military language, define effective communications channels, advise on the transition to civilian life, and more.

Provide a Positive Candidate Experience

It’s no secret that I love a great candidate experience. Members of the military and their families deserve a positive and promising journey. Veteran job programs are created, funded, and maintained for a reason – to help bridge the gap between the military and the workforce. From employer branding to onboarding, people desire and deserve a smooth process that makes them feel valued.

By coming together and utilizing partnerships with similar goals, it makes the process that much better. Let me refer to the 2021 North American Talent Board Candidate Experience (CandE) Benchmark Research Report, published by The Talent Board.  

When they ranked the Primary Areas Where Companies Plan to Contract with External (3rd-Party) Service Providers to Enhance Recruiting Efforts in 2022, veteran/disability services came in at number 3 with 26% of respondents wanting to invest there. 

Reaching Goals through Partnerships

Many businesses are new to the military hiring landscape, and others haven’t even scratched the surface. Regardless of what stage you’re in, capitalizing on partnerships in this area is critical to the success of military hiring.

The SHRM Foundation and USAA recently conducted research to better understand what employers should do to more effectively recruit and retain veterans, especially during challenging economic times. They found that over one-third of employers (36%) said that they do not think their organization has been effective in hiring veterans since the start of the pandemic.

Here’s some data from that research that I find telling: 

  • 43% of employers don’t know where to post jobs to target veterans
  • More than 1 in 3 employers say recruiting veterans is more difficult than civilians
  • 40% of employers don’t know where/how to sign up to exhibit at veteran job fairs

In a situation where employers feel ill-equipped to tap a talent pool, there is a natural call for help. This research indicates a gap in the process that can be filled with the right allies. It’s best to align with organizations that have already established a foundation of trust and employ communications techniques that work. 

The SHRM research referenced above states, “Many employers…struggle to understand the unique circumstances that impact workforce readiness beyond experience and skillsets when veterans transition to the civilian workforce.” 

This challenge underscores the need to utilize partnerships. Partners like SkillBridge, Onward to Opportunity, Hiring Our Heroes, and MilSpo Academy are great examples of partners who would be able to help employers understand these unique circumstances and adequately address them.

Tapping Expertise is Smart Business

Understanding the nuances of military hiring can make a tremendous difference in the approach. Fortunately, there are many organizations dedicated to helping military personnel find gainful employment after service. Tapping these organizations inevitably saves time, money, and resources. 

Recruiting and talent experts Orion Talent understand the importance of expertise in this space. The company has a rich military DNA and provides a full suite of technology-driven talent acquisition solutions. As part of their offerings, they have a partnership program built on more than three decades of experience. One of their many useful solutions helps organizations understand complex government programs, including the Department of Defense’s SkillBridge, as well as other veteran and military spouse training and upskilling programs. 

Here’s a fact that I would want to know if tasked with military hiring: The U.S. Department of Defense pays the service member’s salary and benefits. The service member participates in a SkillBridge program during their final 180 days of service. There is no cost for leveraging and upskilling this unique talent pool.

Build Support Internally and Build Partnerships Externally

In a recent podcast, I was able to speak with Sarah Peiker, CEO at Orion Talent. Sarah shared, “Get the buy-in you need from decision-makers, talent acquisition professionals, human resources, and operations managers. It’s also important to make sure everyone supports hiring military candidates. Track and measure results. This includes metrics on hiring performance data and retention rates. Do your homework before determining your hiring model. Build a hiring process that works towards a positive candidate experience.”

I highly recommend the eBook: Military Solutions for the Business of Work: Unexpected Lessons in Getting the Job Done & Getting Ahead for more on this topic. 

Military hiring provides an excellent opportunity to bring strategic assets into a company’s workforce. I recommend you open your arms to the vast opportunities for rewarding partnerships that focus specifically on veterans and their families. By doing so, you are exponentially broadening your reach, increasing the quality of your talent pool, and building a stronger workforce. 

Massive amounts of talent + partner organizations eager to help both organizations and job seekers = a win-win in the talent war.

Mid-Career

Mid-Career Employees and Their Impact on The Great Resignation

The Great Resignation has not hit the world of work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rates of resignation are highest among mid-career employees. Many of these workers are leaving their jobs and fields to pursue a new career path offering better job security or greater flexibility.

Mid-career workers are attractive to companies because of their skills and life experience. Skills like leadership, problem-solving, and multitasking transfer well to new roles and often give seasoned hires an advantage over younger workers.

It’s almost as if the entry-level openings don’t exist anymore: Thirty-five percent of “entry-level” openings require years of job experience. That’s higher in skill-heavy industries like tech, with 43% of college graduates leaving school without a job lined up. This will affect us for years to come.

We must tackle the dual-pronged issue of investing in these entry-level employees while also retaining our mid-level workers. Younger, less experienced hires need a chance to enter the workforce and get learning, and mid-level employees need to feel valued and cared for within their current roles.

Growing Your Retention Rates

Company leaders need to recognize that both mid-career and entry-level employees have essential roles to play in the success of their business. If they can nurture both experience levels, they can retain and onboard successfully and simultaneously.

To start, leaders need to acknowledge the hurdles that mid-career employees face. Forty-five percent of caregivers said they had considered leaving the workforce because of personal demands on their time, while 34% said they had “lost critical skills” in the past year.

To combat this life stress, mid-career employees need flexibility and understanding. Companies must develop permanent, sustainable methods of retaining talent via flexibility, including remote work, in-office childcare, and flex time. These employees also need the opportunity to gain skills (or grow existing skills) in an accessible, low-cost way.

Helping Employees Grow Their Skills

 Eighty-nine percent of employees are willing to reskill, but too few get the chance. Providing opportunities to learn new skills and develop professionally shows the company is invested in growth. Give employees of all levels some opportunities to skill up, and they will show their worth.

Teaching your employees will lead to better engagement — 2.9 times higher engagement than employees who don’t see opportunities to learn and grow. Upskilling opportunities are also a win for your company. It allows you to move existing employees into roles that are often difficult and costly to fill.

Be a Mentor

Mentorship programs have positive effects on both mentor and mentee, so even mid-career employees who aren’t interested in upskilling can still benefit. Taking a junior employee under their wing creates a sense of loyalty among mentors, boosting retention rates. A program could increase mentees’ communication skills, community engagement, goal-setting, and a sense of purpose — even if the mentee isn’t an entry-level worker.

Furthermore, mentorship is currently underutilized. That means companies adopting mentorship programs will stand out among competitors. As a result, you’ll gain another layer of protection against poaching while also making your business stand out from the crowd.

Companies don’t need a gimmick to make it through the Great Resignation; they need to evolve alongside our changing world. Changes to how we work and train workers are necessary to make it through this event. Utilizing a mentorship program will gain more engaged employees and gain better career outcomes.

Tips for Jumpstarting Your Talent Acquisition Strategy

Terms like recruitment and talent acquisition are used synonymously, but they aren’t the same. Recruitment is a short-term fix for most “big-picture” employers, whereas talent acquisition is a long-term solution. 

While you may need to fill a vacancy quickly, organizations should focus on long-term planning if they want to improve their culture and work towards a unified vision.

Talent Acquisition Vs Recruitment

Recruitment is about filling vacancies. Talent acquisition is an ongoing strategy that focuses on finding leaders, specialists, and future executives. For HR to run a successful talent acquisition strategy, they need to plan and find candidates well.

There are other subtle differences, Talent acquisition:

  1. Requires a lot of planning
  2. Uses metrics and data to improve the recruitment process
  3. Focuses more on skills and experiences. Recruitment concentrates on the position.

Although employers hope their employees will give 2-weeks notice before quitting, there are plenty of times where that isn’t possible. Of course, an employee suddenly leaving is why employers prefer the recruitment strategy, but planning can make talent acquisition possible.

Should I Be Recruiting or Acquiring?

Not every industry needs a recruitment strategy, but how do you know if your position requires the acquiring method? Generally, the more specialized and high-demand roles should take an acquiring approach, regardless of urgency.

Some would argue that all positions require talent acquisition, and employer review websites like JobSage prove this. For example, a fast-food cashier is still challenging to fill long-term because front-of-house workers handle angry customers. You’ll want to hire talent that fits your corporate culture to reduce turnover rates, even for easy-to-fill positions.

How to Create a Talent Acquisition Strategy

A poor talent acquisition strategy can impact your organization as a whole. To ensure the right talent fills your vacant positions, follow these steps to create your acquisition strategy.

Start With the Right Communication Strategy

High-quality talent wants to work for companies that offer great benefits, an incredible corporate culture, and growth opportunities. Therefore, it’s essential to communicate your total benefits package and differentiators when promoting career opportunities.

Don’t Forget About Competitive Pay

Inflation has hit hard. The recent 7.5% increase has made even the most well-paying jobs insufficient for people with families. That means salary and salary growth potential are more important than job seekers.

If you’re consistently losing out on talent at the last possible second, look at the salary your competitors offer. Be competitive.

Consider Contractors and Employee Referrals 

Employee referrals are one of the best ways to find new talent. Consider implementing an employee rewards program to make it attractive.

Alternatively, you could seek out independent contractors to fill positions. Not only are they less expensive to hire, but they can work remotely and jump into a job at a moment’s notice. 

Remove Bias From the Hiring Process

Diversity in the workplace leads to increased productivity, creativity, cultural awareness, and marketing opportunities. However, unconscious biases can cause us to choose candidates based on their sexual orientation, race, religion, age, religious affiliation, or gender. 

To make your recruitment process more diverse, use Applicant Tracking Systems, non-bias workplace tests, and a more structured interviewing process that focuses on skills.

Keep Past Applicants Engaged

Keeping a passive talent pool will allow you to pick from it when necessary, but you can’t just promise a job at a later date. Instead, you need to stay in contact with your applicants by telling them you’ll contact them should another position become available.

Create a separate email sequence that speaks to your potential hires to let them know what’s happening in your business. 

Offer a Remote or Hybrid Work Environment

A PwC survey found that 72% of workers prefer to work from home at least two days a week, while 32% want to work from home full-time. Since remote employees are more productive than their in-office counterparts, it makes more sense to offer remote employment options.

By removing geographic barriers, you open up your talent pool beyond your physical location. As more businesses switch to the hybrid office, you’ll need to do the same to be competitive.

Regularly Speak to Students

Your strategy’s unconventional talent acquisition step should include university and college students, especially in fast-moving industries. While students won’t have the experience you’re looking for, they will have new skills and a go-getter attitude.

You can start by sending recruiters to job fairs who can speak to students. Then, consider partnering with specific schools for internships or on-the-job career training to scope out top talent.

Ask for Candidate Feedback

Organizations rarely ask their candidates why they wanted to apply for a position or why they declined an offer. However, you must gather this data to know what kind of candidates you’re attracting and how you can be more competitive.

Make sure the survey is anonymous as not to discourage participation.  You’ll also make your candidates feel like their opinion matters, improving your brand by asking for feedback.

Promote From Within

The best thing about hiring from within is you already know your candidates. Additionally, they already fit in with your company culture and have the skills to move into their new positions. Finally, hiring from within is great for long-term talent retention.

Career Narrative Examples

The 2-Minute Career Story Every Executive Jobseeker Needs

How to Hone Your Professional Career Narrative (And Why It Matters)

Have you met these executive jobseekers? What do they all have in common when it comes to having or not having a professional narrative?

Most of us recognize these stereotypes. Furthermore, many of us inadvertently fall into the same traps when asked to introduce our skills, experience, and career goals.

  • The Historian. Shares every bullet point on her three-page, 25+ year resume. This overwhelms you with details.
  • The Opportunist. Emphasizes so much willingness to do “anything and everything.” You have no idea where he’d be the right fit.
  • The Generalist. Downplays her true skills with generic accomplishments like “building great teams.” Leaves no lasting impression.
  • The Reactionary. Treats you as his therapist. Allows emotion about his last employer drives the conversation until you’re screaming for the exit.

For executive jobseekers, the stakes are high. Recruiters, hiring managers, and networking contacts need a clear picture of your unique strengths and ideal role. All in just a few short sentences.

Enter the professional narrative.

Overcome Talent Scarcity by Widening the Talent Pool

A professional narrative captures your career story at its most memorable level. Ideally, that’s about two minutes in conversation, and less than 200 words when written. It’s a power-packed paragraph. When done right, clearly differentiates you in the job market. It identifies your target role and keeps you top of mind.

The professional narrative forms the foundation of a successful executive job search. It addresses the most important questions for career transition. Specifically:

  1. Who are you as a senior leader?
  2. What do you do best?
  3. Where do you add value to an organization?
  4. What is your ideal next step?

Those questions can seem straightforward. However, taking time for self-reflection, and getting outside perspectives from colleagues or your outplacement firm, results in a stronger, more succinct story.

Avoid Clichés and Forgettable Phrases

Here’s an example of the transformation:

  • Original summary: “I started my career in brand management about 20 years ago in California, after getting my MBA from Stanford. I also have a B.A. in business from UCLA. I bounced around for a bit and had really good opportunities to travel and build some wonderful teams. Then about six years ago I moved back to the Midwest. I joined a startup, a really scrappy organization, and this time I had far more responsibility for product development. I’m good at making things work better, putting strategies together, and leading teams. I’m ready to take my leadership to the next level—maybe a chief marketing officer role—where I can have a significant impact on the business.”
  • Revised professional narrative: “As an energetic, consumer-led brand marketer and general manager, I develop strategies that unlock marketplace success. Leveraging my experience in strategic and new product development, P&L ownership, and cross-functional team management, I quickly assess business conditions and apply proven best practices. I am recognized for developing insightful strategies that are rooted in deep consumer knowledge, flawlessly executed, and able to garner winning results. In my next role, I will leverage my passion and skills as a senior member of a marketing team driving superior performance. I will apply my leadership at both strategic and operational levels to create new opportunities for growth.”

Focus on Career Specifics

Where the original version lacked a hook to grab attention, the winning narrative shows personality from the start. It emphasizes specific accomplishments and demonstrates the candidate’s strengths instead of centering on overused clichés, rambling career history, and forgettable descriptions.

A great professional narrative also takes a forward-looking approach. It focuses on a precise next role. The audience can picture immediately while emphasizing the impact a candidate can make rather than what the job seeker expects from their next employer.

This clarity makes it easy for others to spot opportunities.  It makes it easier to facilitate networking introductions. It also uses a recruiter or hiring manager’s limited time wisely.

Professional Narrative Versus Personal Brand

Personal branding gets a lot of buzz with job seekers. It’s common to mistake a personal brand as “enough” to support your job search. While there’s a definite intersection between what you stand for as an individual and your career aspirations, these are two distinct elements. A personal brand applies in many situations and stays constant across your life. A professional narrative speaks to a clear goal and focuses more on your work identity.

In either case, senior leaders often waste space calling out skills and experiences that are baseline expectations, rather than true personal differentiators. For example, at a C-suite or vice president level, we expect robust leadership abilities and proven team-building.

A smart professional narrative drills into attributes that truly set a candidate apart. This can seem counterintuitive, but you will stand out less the more you try to look good at everything.

Enlist Outside Help to Assess Your Strengths Objectively

Creating the ideal career story can be challenging. Especially when working alone. It’s challenging to step back and assess your strengths objectively. Emotion can also derail your overview. Especially if you’re not in transition voluntarily.

These are all good reasons to tap firms like Navigate Forward. Ask to help identify your top strengths. Job seekers often overlook their best assets simply because these traits come so easily.

Once you’ve crafted a winning professional narrative, use it often and consistently across your resume, bio, and LinkedIn profile. It’s also suitable for conversational introductions, cover letters, and “about” statements in emails. This repetition of key themes will reinforce your message and help fast-track your next career opportunity.

Gamification in Recruitment | How it Can Help You Attract and Hire the Cream of the Crop

The traditional hiring process has relied on the basic model for many years. Collecting resumes, sifting through them, evaluating candidates with assessments, and then shortlisting candidates for interviews. However, the hiring landscape has shifted, and employers need to find new ways to attract and assess applicants.

Enter gamification. A concept that uses game theory, mechanics, and game designs to engage and motivate people to achieve their goals digitally. Let’s see how gamification in recruitment can convert dull and frustrating tasks into fun processes for recruiters and candidates.

Top Reasons why Gamification in Recruitment works

Overcome Talent Scarcity by Widening the Talent Pool

Most recruiters select candidates from a very limited talent pool, making for a severe skill shortage. As companies struggle with not having enough candidates to pick from, hiring managers also face the dilemma of separating the wheat from the chaff, even with a small candidate pool.

History will tell us that gamification has helped solve these problems time and time again. Using data analytics and AI to analyze and process more than a billion data points, hiring teams can access people in places they wouldn’t have been able to reach otherwise. Moreover, they can rapidly screen candidates and pick out the best without spending energy and effort on manual resume-sifting.

Level the playing field for all applicants

The right candidate comes in all shapes, sizes, and packages – white, black, old, young, neophyte, or experienced. The recruiter needs to look for talent and ignore the wrapping they come in. That, however, can only be done if the hiring team puts aside unconscious and conscious bias.

Research shows that more than 75% of employers believe the unconscious bias has an impact on their hiring decisions. This results in the loss of top talent. Luckily, this is where talent assessments backed by gamification step in.

Talent assessments, powered by gamification, assess people based on their skills, knowledge, and personality rather than their background and other socioeconomic factors, thus giving every individual an equal opportunity to shine forth and reach their full potential.

Build brand awareness

Knowing where to find the right talent isn’t enough to build a healthy talent pipeline. You need to differentiate yourself from other competitors by building a strong employer brand to attract high-quality candidates. 75% of job seekers consider an employer’s brand before applying for a job.

With gamification, companies can boost their brand and showcase themselves as innovative and tech-savvy employers, making the organization more desirable to talent.

Entice the Digital Natives

The utilization of digital tools plays a significant role in the attraction and retention of talent. The millennial cohort will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, so knowing what attracts and motivates them is essential. Millennials are essentially a tech-savvy generation and have grown-up playing games.

As a matter of fact, the game designer, J McGonigal, believes the average western millennial will have spent 10,000 hours on computer-generated gaming by the time they are 21. A company’s reputation as a digital leader also enormously affects job seekers’ decision to join the company.

Adopt a Mobile-First Approach

More than nine-in-ten Millennials own smartphones and spend a significant amount of time using them, which is why it becomes easier for them to explore exciting job opportunities on the go. It also makes sense why about 45% of them use their phones to search for jobs.

Employers should, therefore, optimize their assessment processes to accommodate the needs of the tech-saturated generation and improve their perception of the company.

Gamification platforms that offer talent assessments typically follow a mobile-first approach, thus giving job seekers the convenience to complete the job application on their phones

Conclusion

In a nutshell, gamification presents itself as a comprehensive solution, allowing employers to establish themselves as digital leaders, pique individuals’ interest in job positions, and accurately predict potential hires’ future job performance.

Author bio: Paul Keijzer is the CEO and Co-founder of The Talent Games. A seasoned HR and Leadership Management expert, Paul is a versatile business leader delivering extraordinary results for organizations globally.

HR in Healthcare | The Crucial Role HR Plays in Urgent Care

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, health care job openings are expected to grow by 16% from 2020 to 2030. This rate is significantly faster than the average growth for all occupations, making healthcare HR an important industry to watch.

Part of this growth is due to the Baby Boomer generation needing more care as they age. However, the healthcare industry is experiencing a shortage of clinical staff workers. Many nurses are of that age group and will be retiring as patient care needs increase.

In addition, millennials leave this industry because of low satisfaction and lack of training.

With ongoing staffing deficiencies, providing quality health care will be one of the main concerns for many organizations. As a result, hospitals need HR (human resources) more than ever to meet demand, replace retirees, and close the gap.

The Importance of HR in Urgent Care

HR can effectively recruit and train employees while implementing safety measures within the workplace. HR in healthcare is crucial for the industry for many reasons. From providing staffing efficiency to maintaining an effective workforce, these are some of the benefits urgent care clinics can receive with HR. Knowing that the Healthcare Industry has been forced to change– organizations needed to take a fresh look at workplace healthcare trends and rehaul their programs.

Furthermore, a high-quality HR management program can develop worker satisfaction while patients receive exceptional service.

To overcome the challenges of staffing deficiencies, hospitals need effective staff training, which will be one of the most critical tasks in the health care sector.

What are some of the approaches that HR professionals can take to close the growing talent gap within the industry?

1. Training

HR professionals are equipped to identify the staffing needs of a workplace. However, with the rapid advances of technology, existing staff members require training to fill in the gaps and run an organization efficiently.

Moreover, HR can maintain talent recruitment by partnering with training institutions and monitoring enrollment for future candidates. Many health care organizations support training through a hands-on teaching approach. HR professionals can design these programs to help with future staffing needs and ensure quality service.

A properly trained health care workforce is paramount to meeting the public’s needs.

2. Targeted Recruitment

Recruitment involves identifying staffing needs, determining a targeted source of new workers, and advertising the jobs. Meeting the needs of recruiting requires unique solutions.

Since 79% of job seekers use social media to search, social recruiting will be a more effective strategy. One of the primary benefits of social recruiting is its cost-effectiveness for organizations. A strong social plan can generate reach when done correctly and avoid a cost-per-click expenditure.

3. Career Development Strategy

Worker career development plays a vital role in retaining and attracting a solid workforce. The proper employee management strategy sustains success by incorporating leadership, culture, and talent insights. Furthermore, it should involve offering workers the opportunity to grow and learn.

Some strategies that enhance a worker’s development should start immediately within orientation training. This focus helps new workers understand the organization’s behaviors, culture, policies, goals, and missions.

Likewise, a development strategy should integrate new health care technology and patient care methods. Regular leadership workshop scheduling can help workers acquire leadership and management skills in urgent care.

4. Retention and Compensation

To improve worker retention, urgent care centers should define competitive compensation. Compensation plays a significant role in worker motivation and retention. To attract top talent, it should either match or slightly increase what is currently available on the labor market. Essentially, this will increase organizational competitiveness.

A good retention plan involves more than a basic salary and benefits. Attractive benefits include paid holidays, comprehensive retirement plans, scholarships, and good medical insurance.

In addition, retention rates are determined by an organization’s culture, involving both worker and management behavior. Maintaining open communication will be one of the best strategies for detecting problems and preventing turnover.

The Possibilities of Recruiting Qualified Personnel

An effective human resources management plan will determine the hospital’s growth and performance. Health care organizations can utilize creative solutions to find and retain qualified workers. However, HR professionals must employ all possible measures to retain top talent.

Recruitment strategies and an effective resources management plan will be the solutions to developing and retaining qualified talent in a healthcare organization, ultimately promoting HR in Healthcare properly.

developing a training program with better ROI

Developing a Training Program With Better ROI

Despite the economic downturn, training and professional development expenses in large companies rose from an average of $17.17 million in 2019 to $22 million in 2020. Similarly, small businesses also increased their investments in training by over $100,000. With so much money being spent, it would be easy to assume that companies of all sizes are seeing clear returns on their investments (ROI). Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. One study found that only 11% of employees actually end up applying the training they receive to their day-to-day work. Why is there such a disparity between spending and results? Is training at work even worth it? The answer is yes, and it’s time for companies to shift their focus to developing a training program with better ROI.

How Training Programs Fall Short

The problem isn’t with training so much as the way many organizations approach developing and implementing a training program. All too often, companies rush into these programs without reflecting on what’s really needed to support their objectives. Consequently, not enough work is done to understand the challenges employees face, how they learn best, and what sort of follow-ups are required.

As an HR leader, you must transition from implementing professional training for training’s sake to analyzing each program’s effectiveness and ROI. Even moving the needle a few percentage points could have a significant impact on employees’ success and your company’s bottom line.

Achieving Better ROI in Professional Training

Putting the focus on ROI isn’t as difficult as you might think. Actually, it just requires a little more planning before rushing into training implementation. The goal is to figure out what training methods work best for your organization and calculate the true costs of that training ahead of time.

Set up key performance indicators to measure the success of training programs. Additionally, employee assessments can be used during the training process to more accurately analyze organizational data and the benefits of training and development. The important thing is to turn training from something good in the abstract to a practical, measurable, and mutually beneficial process.

Focusing on ROI will help you create effective training strategies. With this in mind, here are a few steps that can help you focus on developing training programs with better ROI:

1. Develop an integrated education and talent management framework

There’s no silver bullet when it comes to the perfect training program, but the right framework can ensure a strategic alignment of objectives and outcomes. Select and align programs to the specific needs of your organization. If you currently have training programs that don’t fit into this new framework, cut them. Every initiative should be moving your employees in the right direction for your business.

2. Create a digital strategy.

Up to 77% of organizations in the U.S. already use e-learning. A digital approach to training is more flexible, easier to access, and more engaging. Today’s digital learning platforms incorporate a variety of different techniques to keep employees interested, including interactive quizzes, videos, and games. Tailor E-learning to each employee’s specific needs as it pertains to their position or role. Using assessments prior to training can better determine individual learners’ needs, motivations, and preferences. Far too often, the learner’s perspective is not captured when it comes to training. The right digital strategies can fix that.

3. Favor flexibility.

Training needs to adapt fast to the changing needs of consumers and the economy itself. The ability to rapidly adjust resources to serve learning needs as they arise is crucial. Locking into a top-down formal approach doesn’t accommodate this. Instead, emphasize flexibility in your content and delivery modes to stay agile.

4. Keep an eye out for silos.

Silos in training can result in duplicate programs and inefficient use of data. So, be sure to thread learning throughout the day-to-day operations of a business so it works alongside its objectives. Many training programs use what’s known as a 70:20:10 learning framework to address this. This means 70% of training occurs while working, 20% happens during collaboration, and 10% takes place through more formal means, such as classroom sessions.

You can reduce the silos that pop up by fostering intentional connections between training programs among different business units and HR programs. This will promote learning networks and help ensure stakeholder alignment when it comes to rollouts. You should also remove the silo between theoretical training and practical application by implementing real-life applications and leadership encouragement.

The Importance of Resiliency

Be sure to implement resiliency alongside other strategies in order to make the most of training. This has become a key human skill across HR departments as agility and adaption have become essential to survival.

Resiliency in the business world means drawing actionable insights out of a variety of different sources. The goal is to be ready to change course quickly while also planning for a longer-term evolution. Effective training strategies should incorporate resiliency in order to prepare employees for real-world work.

Teach your employees resiliency through individual virtual training and group activities. These methods not only help employees learn resiliency, but they also give you a better idea of how each person handles tough situations. From there, you can apply additional training where necessary.

Training is not a set-it-and-forget-it type of thing. Therefore, employers must reevaluate training regularly and adapt it accordingly so that it remains applicable to both your company’s and your employees’ goals. By emphasizing resiliency and focusing on creating flexible, practical training programs, you’ll see better results.

How to find your leadership DNA

How To Find Your Leadership DNA

What is your leadership DNA? It is your authentic self. The concept of authentic leadership is often bantered about. In my experience of working with leaders from the best of the best global companies, the most impactful definition is being the leader you were designed to be. How do you do that? Find your leadership DNA.

There is no one characteristic of a great leader. There are actually millions. The best characteristics for you are already hard-wired in you.  You just need to identify, build and leverage your strengths, passions and experiences to be that kind of leader you were designed to be.

Why is being an authentic leader so powerful?

People gravitate to authentic leaders. However, so many people want to copy an admired leader. This is unlikely to work for you for your brain is not hard-wired for this style. It may, in fact, focus you on your weaknesses. 

It takes great effort to fix a weakness. Instead, take that effort and focus it on further developing your strengths. Leverage the way your brain is hard-wired.

We are uniquely created. Each of us possesses a unique set of gifts, talents, strengths and weaknesses, emotions and passions. Whether it is handed down to us though our parent’s genes, taught to us as we are raised from childhood to adults, or bestowed upon us from a higher power; we are who we are. There is a reason why we act, think and feel the way we do. Who we are is hard-wired into our brains.

In “A User’s Guide to the Brain,” Dr. John Ratey writes: 

“The brain is not a neatly organized system. It is often compared to an overgrown jungle of 100 billion nerve cells, or neurons…The neurons form an interconnected tangle with 100 trillion, constantly changing, connections. The connections guide our bodies and behaviors, even as every thought and action we take physically, modifies their patterns. Our neurons are constantly competing to make connections and these connections are what make us who we are.”

If you want to be average, focus on fixing your weaknesses.

When I was a child, I was poor in math. My parents did what most Asian parents would do: they got me a math tutor. Every night with my tutor I went through hell. After three months of working hard, night after night of feeling stupid, I was able to take my math skills from poor up to… slightly above poor. 

Then I got into the business world. The end of the year performance appraisal surfaced that I was weak in my analytical planning. So, week after week, month after month I worked on it. I was able to get my analytical skills up to average.  

What am I becoming? Average.

Now, there is nothing wrong with average. If you want to be average, this is a good approach. However, many of us want to be exceptional at something. If you want to be distinctive, an authentic leader, you need to identify your strengths and leverage them by focusing on developing them even further. If your organization provides a training budget for you, sign up for training courses to enhance your strengths. 

McKinsey’s study on centered leadership shows: 

“Of all the dimensions of centered leadership, meaning has a significant impact on satisfaction with both work and life; indeed, its contribution to general life satisfaction is five times more powerful than that of any other dimension.”

Leverage not only your strengths, but also your passions. These combined with your experiences are a powerful combination. 

How to find your leadership DNA?

1. Identify your strengths and passions.

There are many tools out there that can help you find them. Here are a few to check out:

2. Drill down for specificity.

Whatever tool you use, it’s important to drill down to more specifically determine the who, what, where and when for each. This brings more clarity and breaks things down into bite-size, actionable pieces.

3. Take action, now!

In his book “Smartcuts”, Shane Snow writes about the power of the “Big Mo” (momentum). Momentum is key! 

Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile has found that the answer is simply progress. A sense of forward motion. Regardless of how small. Amabile found that minor victories at work were nearly as psychologically powerful as major breakthroughs. And momentum isn’t just a powerful ingredient of success. It’s also a powerful predictor of success.

Small steps add up! Use the power of compounding. One step forward brings you joy, especially if that step allows you to work on the things you are good at or love doing. One step forward gives you a sense of accomplishment and a positive feeling that you are getting closer to your goal of authenticity.

Get on the path of being an authentic leader, more of who you already are by taking action now, and moving down that path.

digital skills

Digital Upskilling to Close the Generation Gap

The enterprise and the workplace are increasingly influenced by technology and technology-driven processes. With digital upskilling becoming an increasing priority, this often comes with a new level of competency and a shift in demand on the skills required to fulfill the needs of a job.

This is particularly true in the insurance industry, where we are seeing a confluence of events. Such as accelerated digital transformation, rapidly-changing customer demands, and the migration to hybrid work models.

This has a direct effect on talent and the workforce.

As a result, many companies are increasing their investments in digital upskilling and reskilling their employees to prepare staff to capitalize on this golden market opportunity.

Building a Digital-Ready Workforce

With new digital tools, connected technologies, and better access to real time data, there is a balance between tried and true insurance methods. This includes new ways of analyzing information and insuring risk. Using new digital tools eliminates or automates repetitive tasks to free up talent to analyze and interpret client needs.

Reskilling, upskilling, and training employees is crucial for companies to build digital-ready workforces to carry their businesses into the future. This will lead to industry modernization and inspire teams to develop solutions that meet evolving customer needs.

Adopting Unique Learning Methods

According to Mercer’s 2021 Global Talent Trends Insurance Industry Outlook, insurance companies are 1.5 times more likely than other industries to develop skills related to innovation and adapting existing products. Additionally, insurers look to drive digital innovation and enhance the user experience to meet evolving customer needs.

This is great news for both current and budding insurance professionals. It is also a warning signal for carriers that are not investing the right time and resources in their talent.

New technology integral to the insurance industry presents an exciting ground for recent graduates. This is also true for employees from other fields looking to make a career transition. To take advantage of this opportunity, both employers and employees must take on a proactive learning mindset.

But appealing to everyone and their preferred way of receiving tools and technology training is a huge undertaking. When it comes to learning and development, teams have to think how to engage generations in the workforce today. While older generations are used to classroom learning, Gen Z and Millennials prefer YouTube videos or snippets of learning available. Companywide training programs incorporate different learning combinations, such as lecture, demo, and hands-on lab exercises.

Training to Suit All Ages

Incorporating the following steps, insurance industry leaders can train different generations across the tools required for learning and technology.

  • Determine the organization’s digital workforce goals: Identify the benefits leaders can expect from their digital upskilling investments and the steps that will be critical to the team’s success.
  • Connecting with the whole organization: Reskilling is not an individual project. Make sure training is available to staff across all levels and incorporate different learning styles to stay in tune with how everyone learns.
  • Provide recognition: Learning additional skills on top of an existing workload is not something that should be taken lightly. Rewarding staff for upskilling will help with employee morale, retention, and engagement.
  • Measuring success: Employees must embrace continuous learning so that reskilling does not fade. To mitigate this possibility, a digital workforce strategy must extend beyond learning and development to influence culture and ways of working.

Finding out which skills are missing across your organization and within specific teams will help you create a stronger workforce.

Embrace the Diversity of Different Generations

Having a range of ages on your staff adds value to the organization. As the age of retirement rises, companies need to explore adopting more inclusive policies to accommodate an older workforce.

Younger employees are more accustomed to rapidly developing technology and adapting to the changes it drives. Similarly, more mature employees have knowledge from the duration of their experience that can guide decision-making.

Creating an environment where all generations can learn from one another allows for mutually beneficial mentoring opportunities. When you have multiple generations in the workforce, those with more years of experience can advise younger employees on career development. Additionally, cross-generational mentoring will allow more junior employees to educate mature workers due to their familiarity with current trends and technology.

When it comes to reskilling and upskilling, it is not only about the generations already in the workforce, but companies also need to provide tools for those reentering the workforce. Reentering the workforce includes re-training of both technology and basic workplace skills.

Digital Upskilling is Here to Stay

As technologies evolve, the need for digitally skilled talent is not just for the short term. Insurers must foster a culture of innovation to develop skilled professionals internally – a culture that attracts them from the outside and helps retain them for the long haul.

One thing is certain: the insurance industry will continue to digitize to meet productivity goals and provide customers with an engaging experience. If companies can proactively address digital upskilling; customers, employees and the overall organization all benefit.

Future of Recruiting

The Future of Recruiting

Remember the olden days when potential candidates applied to a handful of jobs online and waited for a response? Remember in the stone ages when prospective hires mailed out paper copies of resumes and awaited a phone call or a letter? Well, according to an SHRM survey of over 1,500 talent acquisition professionals from 28 countries, COVID-19 accelerated a shift toward digital-first recruiting.

EBI has reported that the average corporate listing receives 100 to 250 resumes. But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job seekers who received an interview only have a 36.89% chance of receiving an offer. They apply to jobs widely in a ‘spray and pray’ mentality. For recruiters, the challenge is no longer finding applicants but rather finding the right people in this barrage of resumes. And with virtual hiring likely being here to stay, perhaps it’s time recruiting adapted for today’s hiring culture.

Our Guest: Ben Green, Hirect

On the latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Ben Green, PR Manager for Hirect. With over a decade of experience in journalism, Ben now plays a key role for Hirect. A free, mobile chat-based hiring platform that instantly connects startups, founders, CEOs, and hiring managers with candidates interested in the growing startup sector.

When asked about virtual recruiting in the COVID era and the future of recruiting, Ben suggests that the virtual trend might be here to stay.

“With more remote work and work from home flexibility, they (recruiters) can attract talent from pretty much anywhere and connect with them instantly,” Ben says. “Everything can really be done online, uninterrupted, and I believe it’s the future of work and recruiting moving forward.”

For those with less time and resources to meet every candidate in person, virtual recruiting also makes the job much easier. But with so many different recruiting technologies out there, how can organizations choose the right one for them?

“There’s definitely several factors to consider,” Ben explains. “Tech versus non-tech, seniority, the position, scale, size of your team. All these things will determine what your budget is and what the tool ROI can be as well.”

The Big Benefits of Virtual Recruiting  

There’s a lot of talk about bias right now. How does virtual recruiting help recruiters and hiring managers eliminate this from the hiring process?

“Ideally, the focus should always be primarily on candidates’ skills and experience, but really the true way to eliminate bias is through blind resume screens,” Ben says. “AI can certainly help with reading or grading applicants without taking into consideration a lot of the personal details and information.”

Beyond helping to eliminate bias, Ben feels that integrating technology and AI in recruiting has vast potential. It benefits both recruiters and job seekers, particularly from a filtering, searching, and matching standpoint.

“With the AI matching algorithms that we have at Hirect, the candidate pool can be narrowed down almost instantaneously based on any number of factors,” Ben explains. “For candidates, AI can help them wade through a lot of the irrelevant posts… and find ones that match their specific or unique criteria.”

But Ben is quick to point out that you can’t rely on AI alone to find the right applicants. Making sure you have a really granular job description and an interview process that encompasses certain skills is also key. And these often require a human touch – something Ben believes there will always be a need for.

“There’s really an art to the close,” Ben says. “Trying to relay a founder or a CEO’s passion or vision to really inspire a candidate to join a young business or a startup… That just can’t be replicated through technology.”

I hope you enjoy this #WorkTrends podcast, sponsored by Hirect. In case you missed it, you can listen to the podcast here. You can learn more about the future of recruiting by reaching out to Ben Green on LinkedIn.

career development

Career Development, 2021 Style: Learning How to Learn

Think back to your first day of work with your first major employer.

You probably arrived early on your first day, ID card ready, and experienced a week full of inductions, walk-throughs, and hand-shaking introductions.

Now imagine if your first day took place in April 2020.

Your first day would probably be spent in your bedroom, opening a laptop and trying to figure out how to log on to Microsoft Teams or Google Workspace.

In a similar fashion, your mentors were also coming to terms with new technologies, new processes, and the dramatic events unfolding all around them.

It’s almost as if they were experiencing their first day in a new job, too.

The extraordinary nature of the COVID-19 pandemic impacted everybody.

But most notably, it had a profound effect on the career development of younger generations and those entering the workforce for the first time.

Focus on Young Workers

Grappling with personal concerns and anxieties during a global health crisis is one thing, yet young workers also had to cope with:

  • Organizational learning taking a back seat, with leaders focusing on surviving the crisis rather than integrating new workers or transferring skills
  • Lack of authentic relationships; communicating with and meeting coworkers and mentors took place virtually, without the benefit of in-person interactions
  • Absorbing a diluted, online version of company culture, without the benefit of informal coffee, lunch, or hallway chats
  • Learning to work with new platforms and systems without in-person support
  • Working from challenging environments–such as shared housing or in a multigenerational household

By concentrating on learning and career development, business leaders can help workforce entrants find their place within organizations and focus on building their skills for the future.

Organizational Learning

Why is organizational learning important for career development?

An organization that empowers people to learn will drive personal growth, job satisfaction, and loyalty. In turn, this leads to greater performance and in-house skills.

Indeed, at a time when employees are choosing to quit their jobs rather than go back to the office, organizations must find more effective ways to find and retain talent.

(Let’s not forget, this also comes at the time of a global health crisis, the worst recession since the Great Depression, and a dire skills shortage.)

That’s why it’s crucial to invest in learning and development in your organization, but this doesn’t just refer to hard skills.

The Need for Soft Skills in 2021

Organizational learning comes in many different forms. Developing soft skills is arguably the top priority during this unprecedented moment in history.

But, the soft skills required now are markedly different from those of just five years ago.

The World Economic Forum’s top skills for 2020 places complex problem-solving at the top of the list, followed by critical thinking and creativity.

In 2015, the top three included skills related to in-person interaction, such as coordinating with others and people management.

“Employers overwhelmingly agree that young employees need soft skills, such as communication, creative problem-solving and entrepreneurial thinking,” according to the World Economic Forum.

Positively, all of these skills can be learned. The key difference is that in-person learning has, for the most part, been replaced by distance learning.

This may be new for many workers, particularly those working remotely for the first time.

That’s where the process of re-learning comes in, or “learning how to learn.”

Learning How to Learn

In 2018, Ulrich Boser, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, explained how to become better at learning, tackle skills gaps, and enable career development.

“A growing body of research is making it clear that learners are made, not born … In short, we can all get better at getting better,” Boser says.

Boser outlined three key behaviors to help workers focus on learning:

  1. Organize your goals: First, set achievable goals and plan each stage. This strategized approach will help to strengthen the commitment to tasks while minimizing feelings of self-doubt. “By setting targets, people can manage their feelings more easily and achieve progress with their learning.”
  2. Think about thinking: Also known as metacognition, “thinking about thinking” is the process of being more inspective. How do you know what you know? Could you explain it to a friend? Do you need more practice or clearer goals? Push yourself to really think about what you’re learning.
  3. Reflect on your learning: Have you ever noticed that when you step away from a problem, you achieve greater clarity? This process of reflection and focused deliberation is crucial for understanding. This cognitive quiet, says Boser, also helps explain why it’s so difficult to gain skills when we’re stressed or angry or lonely: “… for us to gain any sort of understanding, there needs to be some state of mental ease.”

Learning Starts Now

Young workers are the next generation of leaders in your workforce.

The sooner you can integrate them into your organization through a process of organizational learning and career development, the sooner they will become embedded in your culture and a part of your company’s future.

Consider the benefit of providing a virtual office membership to your remote employees and leveraging coworking options for future in-person collaboration. Investing in the well-being of your employees is investing in your company.

While nobody could have predicted the health crisis or its legacy, a positive outcome is that we can turn it into a process of constructive learning and equip young workers with a unique and invaluable set of skills for the future.

AI

The Future of Work: AI Transforms Career Progression

What is the shelf life of your professional skills? According to research, not very long. In fact, one in three skills from an average 2017 job posting in IT, finance, or sales is obsolete due to continued digital innovation. If that stat doesn’t shock you, it should. The skills we have today are expiring fast, with some experts estimating their life expectancy at just two to three years.

While we can’t place blame solely on the global COVID-19 pandemic, it and other world events have accelerated us toward an environment of unrelenting business transformation and permanently pixelated work arrangements. Employers must now prioritize a more inclusive, purpose-driven culture through broader strategic skilling investments to retain and attract top talent.

Leveraging AI for skill proximity

As our skills become increasingly outdated, new skills will replace them. So, how can employees expect to excel in their careers when today’s business landscape is continuously evolving? It boils down to one word: visibility. A barrier many employees face in the workplace is a lack of visibility into career advancement opportunities. Employees are also largely unaware of the resources and connections available to help them achieve their career goals. This obstacle stems, in part, from a prolonged debate regarding who within a business owns career development. Difficulties aligning the needs and wants of the employee with those of the organization has also contributed to the issue.

Through skills proximity, employers can provide greater visibility. Companies should prioritize an employee’s distance between skills and identify how skills correlate to expedite development. If businesses can find a balance between where employees want to take their careers and where they might be able to take their careers within the organization, they can recognize and foster the skills needed to help them grow.

AI technology has a role to play here. For employees to proactively pursue a growth plan that accelerates career mobility, we need to leverage AI to make skills data and qualification information readily available. Resurfacing relevant learning content and development opportunities is also paramount to an employee’s future success. Done right, it can deliver a broad range of business benefits too. Improved organizational agility and workforce productivity, as well as increased transparency and DE&I, are all advantages attributed to AI.

In addition to AI technology, learning and development content is another tool necessary to ignite career development at work. However, human resources and talent leaders first need to identify a way to connect learning and development to performance results–and annual performance reviews aren’t going to cut it.

Employees and businesses each play a role

There is no one size fits all approach to employee engagement. For employers to maximize the success of their training programs, they must first personalize the content available to each employee. Lessons should be adapted according to an employee’s needs, learning style, and preferred delivery method, in turn allowing the employee to more easily navigate their own development and gauge how their skill-maturity aligns with their overall career goals.

Businesses also need to reconsider how they measure learning and development. Self-directed learning pathways require an element of unstructured exploration required for career growth. Currently, however, course completion and time in course are the metrics being utilized. While important, we need to pivot and explore other factors, including course engagement and the focus of content employees primarily seek out.

Ultimately, employee learning is the foundation of high performance and a key motivator for those wanting to stay at their current company. According to LinkedIn’s 2021 Workplace Learning report, managers are 3.3x more likely to still be with their company in two years if offered the room to learn and grow. Proof that when you invest in people, they will invest in you.

Employee experience is critical for overall company success

The bottom line is the best way to help employees achieve their full potential is to provide career growth opportunities. An AI-driven platform can provide employees with a unified view of skills. It can provide a measurement of the proximity of different skills. Also, it can provide continuous monitoring of the new skills required for continued career progression. Organizations that utilize comprehensive skills data will have a better understanding of their talent’s existing skillsets. Additionally, they’ll understand what will be required of them in the future to adapt.

Between artificial intelligence and the careful deployment of skills-oriented content, anyone with the intrinsic motivation to grow can benefit.

learning and development

Got Burned-Out Employees? Rethink Learning and Development

As we transition to a post-pandemic working world, I need my team to ________.

How did you fill in the blank? 

Many organizations need employees to focus on a host of skills and tasks to help their business bounce back from the pandemic. Priorities include improving communication, building resilience, selling, cultivating digital dexterity, and more. All this is important, yet there’s a major problem: many employees aren’t in learning mode.

It’s not that employees are lazy, unmotivated, or dispassionate about their development. It’s simply that they’re experiencing employee burnout, and as they transition back to the office, they feel can’t take on more. Having to learn new skills on top of reintegrating with teams, settling into a “new” office, and readjusting their work schedule feels like an overwhelming proposition.

Regardless, there are skills that teams need to develop right now for businesses to achieve both short-term and long-term results. 

To resolve this, businesses must embrace the reality that as the concept of work has been disrupted, so has the concept of learning. Traditional approaches to development–like face-to-face instructionneed to be re-imagined to ensure that employees can build skills at the right pace. What’s more, new ways of thinking and working must be introduced gradually to ensure they can become sustainable habits.

To achieve this, employers must integrate learning into a professional’s day-to-day work life and streamline it. Here are four ways to make this happen.

Abandon classroom training. 

Not forever. Just for now. Employees have zero appetite for cramming into a small room with their teams to listen to a PowerPoint lecture for hours. And lengthy learning games and ice breakers? Forget about them. During the pandemic, we learned how important our time is. Even the idea of sitting in a classroom can be un-motivating. For employers and safety restrictions, it’s also an unnecessary extra hurdle to prepare a room for learning. We now know there are other ways to learn. You can learn virtually, independently, through asynchronous methods, and more. Right now is not the time for classroom learning. Maybe in the future. But not now.

Think hybrid. 

Just as we now have a new appreciation for what a hybrid work environment looks like, learning should take the same approach. By looking at their learning methods (in-person learning, virtual learning, live vs recorded instruction, self-led development, book clubs, etc.) employers can create a mashup. Identify the skills that need to be developed and the time it takes to develop each respective skill. Then, be creative with how you can build the skill in micro-learning sessions over a set period of time. In regard to micro-learning, think about a learning session that takes less than 90 minutes.

For example, you can partner with clients to deliver cohort training, which leverages group, virtual learning, and one-on-one coaching. Deliver the group learning in multiple micro-sessions. The coaching serves as a supplement to ensure that the knowledge shared is both retained and customized for each participant. Make each group learning session 60 t0 90 minutes. Allow each coaching call to be 30 to 45 minutes. Deliver content over the course of three months to support development, while ensuring that nothing is more than any participant can handle. Have each participant schedule their coaching session at a time that best suits their schedule. Cohort training is ideal for time-constrained managers.

Leverage technology. 

We’re all gifted at leveraging Zoom, Teams, and Google by now. There are still different platforms we can utilize to share knowledge, like Padlet, Quizlet, Mural, and more. Help employees learn at their own pace with LinkedIn Learning and other sites like Udemy and Coursera.

It’s not all on the shoulders of employers to create and distribute content. You can design a self-paced course, complete with accountability metrics, to provide your employees with the right amount of learning at the time that’s right for them. Don’t make learning a time-consuming affair. Spread it out over a longer period of time. It also doesn’t have to be expensive, especially if you’ve got the right partner with the right platform.

Share the responsibility.  

Professionals showed creativity in the “getting stuff done” department during the COVID-19 crisis. Allow them to apply their ingenuity around their skills development. Provide the expectation, share the options, and then allow them to find their time to learn. Forced-fed learning is rarely effective. Setting a high standard, allowing team members autonomy, and reinforcing with accountability is a great way to generate engagement. As an added bonus, this method helps encourage on-the-job learning. This is more valuable because professionals get to apply what they’re learning in real-time, ensuring that the habits they’re building become lasting. After all, real-life learning is always more impactful than learning done in a laboratory setting.

Re-imagine learning and development. An incremental, micro-learning approach to development has never been more on time and on target.

career transition

Next Move, Best Move: Making a Career Transition You’ll Love [Podcast]

A career is more than just making money. It directly impacts your quality of life, reflects your values, and can affect overall life satisfaction.

If you find yourself wanting to make a career transition, while it may be a difficult task, it’s totally achievable–especially when we cultivate communities of support. By learning to appreciate the value of networking, a career transition could be much smoother than you think.

Our Guest: Career and Leadership Expert Kimberly B. Cummings

On the latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Kimberly B. Cummings, a career and leadership expert who helps women and people of color navigate the workplace, earn more money, and become industry leaders. Her leadership development company, Manifest Yourself, LLC, provides organizations with tailor-made solutions to hire, develop, engage, and retain women and people of color. She has spoken at SXSW, Warner Media, Princeton University, Salesforce, and Thurgood Marshall, and her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, MONEY Magazine, Business Insider, Fox 5, CNBC, and more.

Kimberly understands that a career transition can come in many forms, whether that’s moving from one industry to another or simply changing your title. But no matter what transition is occurring, the first step is to generate a positive mindset so as not to hold yourself back.

Many times if you’re feeling stuck in a role, that mindset is a reflection of you not understanding what the possibilities are for yourself. And not believing that you’re able to get to that next level in your career,” Kimberly says. “It’s easy to feel stuck when you literally have no idea what it is that you like, that you want, that you’re good at, or what that would even look like in the workplace every single day.”

One strategy to pull yourself out of that mindset is to focus on your good qualities and skills, then set goals for the future.

“We need to ask: What are our strengths? What would happen if we built a career and a brand based upon what our strengths are?” Kimberly says. “What do you want to be known for?”

Network and Be Realistic 

Once you’ve determined the career transition you want to make and the strengths you want to highlight, the best course of action is to continuously share that path and your goals with the world of work. Develop relationships that recognize your value and help promote you, and make sure those connections are varied and wide-ranging.

“You need peers, so people who help you day-to-day in your job,” Kimberly says. “These are the people you’re collaborating with. And I always say, you need internal and external connections. You don’t want to just build your network in your current company.”

Once the networking has reaped its benefits and you find yourself in a job interview to make that transition, it’s important to be realistic about what you have to offer and how you could appear valuable to potential employers.

“Ask yourself, are you qualified for the job you want? What transferable skills could you use to help you make your next move? And think about the stories you can tell that could connect you to that job more deeply. What have you done that will help you navigate that opportunity better?” Kimberly says. “When you’re interviewing and really convincing an employer that you are prepared for that job, it’s really all about storytelling. Putting yourself in the shoes of someone who would be able to navigate that workplace environment.”

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends. You can learn more about networking for a career transition by reaching out to Kimberly B. Cummings on LinkedIn.

training content

Is Your Training Content Ready for a Hybrid Workforce?

When it comes to training today’s hybrid workforce, traditional content formats fizzle. Their limitations in flexibility with UI, design, integrations, and analytics can cause learning and development (L&D) initiatives to fall short of expected goals. Improving worker skills in a hybrid setting depends on rethinking the document status quo. To drive experiential learning, adopt interactive training content technology.

It’s a Hybrid World

The future of the workforce is hybrid.

A hybrid workforce is a blended workforce where some work in the office full time, some people are remote full time, and others are in the office part-time and home part-time. As society begins to open up after the pandemic, hybrid workforces have become the norm. For instance, over half of the workforce intends to be in the office 10 days or less a month, according to a Webex study, while Upwork estimates that 26 percent of workers will be working remotely through 2021. Furthermore, they estimate that 22 percent of the entire workforce will work remotely by 2025. That’s roughly 36.2 million people.

So what does this mean for L&D professionals? That complexity will increase the difficulty of running traditional training programs. L&D professionals need to think outside the 2D box to engage and energize hybrid learning. Employees need interactive, engaging, and consistent learning experiences.

L&D professionals need tools that are easy to use to create training content that’s experiential and easily shared among remote workers. They will need to lose the 2D approach and adopt a multimedia approach, including video, polls, and the ability to choose their own personalized learning journey within the training materials.

While it’s important for employees to have an immersive and engaging experience, it is equally important for L&D professionals to easily manage, create, and distribute training materials. It’s especially important for them to be able to make necessary adjustments as time goes on.

How to Drive Experiential Learning in a Hybrid World

What is experiential learning? Experiential learning describes the ideal process of learning and invites you to understand yourself as a learner. It also empowers you to take charge of your own learning and development.

The experiential learning process supports performance improvement, learning, and development. According to David A. Kolb at The Institute for Experiential Learning, “There are two goals in the experiential learning process. One is to learn the specifics of a particular subject, and the other is to learn about one’s own learning process.”

This can’t be done in an engaging way with old training materials—not in today’s hybrid world. You need to have content that’s flexible and powerful enough to fill gaps and support experiential learning opportunities more effectively. Also, The content is important before, during, and after the overall learning experience.

Interactive content is the best solution for experiential learning. It can support multiple media types (e.g., audio, video, etc.). Additionally, it can be customized with polls, quizzes, or other ways to take action and put the new knowledge into practice.

With people at home, at work, or both, training needs to be more self-driven. In other words, interactivity enables self-driven experiences, increasing overall engagement with materials and more freedom for users to learn in the way that best suits them.

You need more powerful digital content platforms to help even the playing field for dispersed workforces. This will help organizations create better digital-first learning experiences.

The Work World Has Gone Hybrid and Your Content Needs to Evolve to Suit It

The shift to hybrid learning is in full swing. Because of this, L&D professionals are in the process of looking at their old training content systems and finding new ways to maintain productivity and meet future goals. The challenge is to deliver consistent development and training materials for hybrid workforces and make learning experiential for dispersed teams. For success, the learning experience must be built to reach participants through as many senses as possible. With this in mind, improving worker skills and capabilities within hybrid workforces depends on rethinking the document status quo. It also means adopting interactive content technology to drive experiential learning.

leading with your values

Using the ‘Conscience Code’: Leading with Your Values at Work [Podcast]

As human rights activist and businesswoman Anita Roddick once said, “Being good is good business.” Today, many working people seem to foster that belief. Seventy-five percent of employees say they’d take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company. And 64 percent say they won’t even take a job if an organization doesn’t have corporate responsibility practices.

Businesses that want to stay competitive and attract candidates have to realize that people have high expectations for organizations. Many people now champion the act of leading with your values and standing up for what you believe in. And if businesses aren’t willing to adjust their practices to be more ethical, many workers may have to stand up for what they believe in–put in their two weeks notice–then walk toward the door.

Our Guest: Business Ethics Thought Leader Richard Shell

On the #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Richard Shell, Chair of the Legal Studies and Business Ethics Department at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. His forthcoming book, The Conscience Code: Lead with Your Values, Advance Your Career, explains how people can lead with their core values at work. Richard has worked with public school teachers, labor unions, nurses, and hospital administrators to help them become more effective professionals. He has also taught students ranging from Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, Fortune 500 CEOs, Navy SEALs, FBI hostage negotiators, and United Nations peacekeepers.

Many believe that leading with your values requires a kind of heroic courage. Often, people draw up images of whistleblowers like Tyler Schultz, who helped bring to light that the health technology company Theranos ignored quality-control checks and doctored medical device research. From Richard’s perspective, however, the experience of leading with values at work can vary depending on circumstance.

“You really don’t have to be ‘courageous.’ You just have to be settled on what your values are,” Richard says. “Then you need to decide what’s negotiable and what’s not negotiable, and go from there.”

Once you’ve decided what’s important to you and are ready to start leading with your values, you can make a plan. Before blowing the whistle or simply running away from tough situations, you can look for ways to work with others without having your ethics challenged.

“Managing value conflicts to a successful outcome is possible. And that doesn’t always mean you blow whistles, and it doesn’t mean you go and confront people,” Richard says. “It means you think about the situation you’re in, the company you’re in, the network you have, and you strategically advance to a solution. I’m really trying to help people stand and fight instead of cut and run.”

Recognize Your Values, Then Find ‘The Power of Two’

If you can’t reach reconciliation, want to stand, fight, and begin leading with your values–what should you do to take action? According to Richard, you can harness “The Power of Two,” or rather, find a buddy who can support you.

“Social psychology research shows that alone, a person is very likely to yield to authority or cave into peers. But as soon as there is another person, a trusted partner who would speak the truth, that one person becomes empowered to speak the truth and push back,” Richard says.

From there, two people can become three, then four, then 40, and more. By using the strength of social networks, causes can get more support. Examples of this, Richard says, include Google employees walking out worldwide to protest sexual harassment.

“We need to give employees tools to effectively recognize the situations they’re in. And then help them save their souls so that they don’t live a life of remorse about these moments. They should have some pride in how they handle it,” Richard says. “Fortunately, now we’ve got the #MeToo Movement and other movements for social justice … Normally, in the past, people have just absorbed and internalized hurtful things. Now we’re like: ‘Wait a minute. We don’t have to put up with this.’” 

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends. You can learn more about leading with your values at work by connecting with Richard Shell on LinkedIn.

 

getting hired

Getting Hired: The Two Phases of Landing Any Job

Getting hired for a job can be one of the most tiresome processes. Often, it feels especially daunting when you don’t actually have a job and require it desperately. Moreover, the time taken could frustrate you, demotivate you, and in turn affect your productivity and efficiency.

However, like any lengthy process, getting hired can be broken down into phases and steps. This makes the job search process easier.

The job search can be categorized into two phases: the “preparation phase” and the “’D-Day’ phase,” (when you appear for the job interview), with steps within each.

The Preparation Phase

Completing Your Resume

Basically, your resume is what represents you before you do. Getting hired starts with a resume that is formal yet refreshing, mentioning all your skills. Start by browsing the most recent templates of resumes based upon your job profile. Various applications create resumes free of cost.

Networking

Your network works as a kind of PR, so you should make sure to keep connecting with new people. Social media sites like LinkedIn help you connect with employees and employers from across the world. So try connecting with them and expanding your network.

Finding a Career Counselor

Try getting in contact with a career counselor. They could analyze your skills and come up with better career options for you. If you wish, you can consider these options and can even choose to change your career. Additionally, these counselors can help you create a list of target employers to pursue.

Job Hunting

Job hunting is the most tiring job of the process. Enroll in job fairs and online platforms that might get you in contact with job vacancies. Several employers post job vacancies on social media sites like LinkedIn. All you need to do is enter your career preference on the application to get started.

Job Vacancy Research

When you come across a job vacancy, do some brief research about it. Study the job posting thoroughly for what they’re looking for. Before you apply, prepare a good cover letter to accompany your resume. Draft the cover letter according to the job profile. Make sure you convert the letter to PDF format before sending it.

Following the Rules of Etiquette

Each time you send an email or reply to an email, make sure you are on your best behavior. Your words represent your personality. You do not always need to be formal, but definitely be professional. The salutations have to be accurate. Make sure you write “Sir/ Ma’am” if you do not know the gender of the person you’re addressing.

Giving Professional Replies

If the company sends you an email to inform you about something, make sure you reply to it and notify them that you have received the email. Prompt replies are crucial to the process of getting hired. They show you’re reliable and have a strong interest in the work.

The “D-Day” Phase

Don’t Forget Self-Care

The day of the interview shall decide your future with the company. It’s the difference between getting hired and getting shown the door. Be well prepared for the day. Eat well so that you have an abundance of energy. Make sure you get to sleep, shower, and dress your best.

Practice Your Answers

Practice a short introduction about yourself, the professional responsibilities you’ve accomplished in the past, and your previous job roles. Also, practice your delivery of information in the mirror. Experiment with different tones to make sure you sound confident. And be sure to know your resume like the back of your hand.

Nail The Interview

During the actual interview process, be precise and informative. If you’re thrown a curveball question during the interview, be honest and tell the interviewer you’re not sure about an answer. Authenticity is best. Also, come prepared with questions of your own. Never say, “I do not have any questions.” Instead, ask the interviewer about their expectations from their employees, the job role, and where they see the company 10 years down the line. This will show that you’re a thoughtful individual with a serious interest in the organization.

In conclusion, by adhering to these phases and steps, you’ll be well-positioned to find a great role at any organization.

STEM

Building the Future Through STEM [Podcast]

STEM, an acronym for the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, will greatly affect the future of work. STEM is at the core of innovative technologies, driving not just the success of businesses, but medical advancements, education, and more.

The demand for tech workers and engineers is especially growing, and some worry that our educational system isn’t keeping up. When the time comes for current technical talent to retire, how can we prepare upcoming generations to take over?

Our Guest: Speaker, Author, and Futurist Rachael Mann

I was excited to welcome back Rachael Mann for a second time to the #WorkTrends podcast. Rachael is a futurist with a passion for tech and science. She frequently speaks at events across the country, channeling her 14 years of classroom teaching experience to lecture on topics ranging from disruptive technology, education, and careers. She is the author of The Spaces You Will Go, co-authored the book Martians in Your Classroom, is a founding member of the Council on the Future of Education, president-elect for the NCLA executive board, and vice-president of New and Related Services for ACTE.

One of the biggest issues STEM faces right now is education, says Rachael. Basically, schools should offer it as a part of their curriculum to make young people aware of its existence. And there need to be more opportunities for experts to teach it.

“We need to offer the right education in order for kids to be interested in STEM. But we also need the right teachers,” Rachael says. “And I think that really has a huge impact on the workforce. Students aren’t seeing science, engineering, math, and tech role models or understanding what opportunities are out there for them.”

Of course, parents play a vital role in inspiring future generations to get into STEM too.

“There are so many free resources available to parents with hands-on, fun activities. Give kids books with characters that they can relate to who are interested in science and tech. I wrote a children’s book called The Spaces You’ll Go about a little girl named Cass with her kangaroo robot, and they’re exploring space-related careers,” Rachael says. “These kinds of activities allow children to envision themselves someday in a field that they’re curious about.”

STEM: Our Future May Depend on It

By incorporating STEM into education, kids can learn from a young age that their work can have a positive impact. This early exposure can get them passionate about big world issues moving forward.

“Whether it’s this global pandemic, cybersecurity attacks … overpopulation, renewable energy,  anti-aging therapies, there are just so many problems connected to STEM,” Rachael says. “And when it comes down to it, those big problems offer the biggest opportunities for young people to change the world through their careers.”

Of course, while a lot of technical and scientific knowledge comes with STEM skill development, it’s important to focus on the human aspects of the fields as well. After all, we’re using STEM to improve life on Earth and our interactions and connections with each other.

“We have to be more human,” Rachael says. “As we think about technology and advancing the world, it’s more important than ever to focus on humanity and the skills that can’t be replaced by robots or technology.”

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends. You can learn more about technology, science, and STEM education by connecting with Rachael Mann on LinkedIn.

HR career

Navigating Your HR Career Across Multiple Industries [Podcast]

The landscape of HR is rapidly changing, especially due to the pandemic. With WFH culture escalating and employee needs constantly shifting, HR professionals need to be ready to adapt to the times at a moment’s notice.

Now more than ever, organizations are turning to HR to create a culture of flexibility and adaptability. They recognize that company culture needs to not just welcome change, but thrive in it. Thus, employers need HR departments with individuals who seek to fully understand the industries they work in and make them shine.

Because of the recognition of HR’s value, especially over the past year, more roles are popping up for HR professionals. Many are seriously considering seizing an HR career, but aren’t sure where to start. Turns out, a key aspect of breaking into the HR profession is a desire to know the industry you want to work in, and a willingness to adapt to whatever challenges that industry presents.

Our Guest: Alex Smith, Chief HR Officer for the City of Memphis

It was a delight to talk to Alex Smith, CHRO to the City of Memphis, on this week’s episode of #WorkTrends. Reporting directly to Mayor Jim Strickland, Alex is known for architecting and updating the city’s labor relations. Also, she’s known for being adept at talent management, training, employee engagement, compensation, managing diversity and safety initiatives, and more. She was named the 2021 Leadership Memphis Changemaker and was a nominee for HRO Today magazine’s CHRO of the Year 2020 Award.

The unique aspect of Alex’s career is that she’s worked across multiple industries–working for organizations like Microsoft, Brightstar, Target, and more. I was dying to know what advice she has for anyone trying to break into an HR career, and what she recommends people do to be successful in HR roles.

“Whether it’s starting off in recruiting, manufacturing, government, or any industry, I think just getting into a function and seeing how HR works is a very important step. And ultimately all of the experience that you gain over the years, it all builds up,” Alex says.

Once you land the job, to truly stand out over the course of your HR career, you have to have an open mind. Be flexible in the face of difficult decisions and shifting employee needs.

“Most of the time, and truly the pandemic has shown this, the issues you face in HR are not black and white. They’re usually very gray,” says Alex. “So having multiple experiences from different industries helps you to have a comprehensive view and approach to solving certain problems for the organizations that you work for.”

If You Want to Work in HR, You Must Seek to Understand

As you grow in your HR career and attain new roles across industries, Alex says it’s vital to show an interest in the ins-and-outs of each industry you pursue. Recognizing that employee needs vary and that HR decisions will fluctuate based on context is crucial to success.

“‘Seek to understand’ is a phrase that I learned really early in my career. And I’ve found it to be true in a number of different circumstances. When you’re transitioning into a new industry, seek to understand the historical perspective of how the industry has evolved. Also, learn why certain rules, policies, and procedures are in place,” Alex says. “Not rushing to judgment, and not rushing to change things, I think is important.”

Basically, seeking to understand will help any HR professional adapt to what’s coming. The changes incited by the pandemic are just one example of how HR roles and responsibilities change. It’s a never-ending process, and it requires flexibility.

“I think the name of the game for every organization in the future is going to be flexibility. For instance, they can be flexible with their work environments, with their working arrangements. With how they think about who’s going to be doing work. Whether it’s full-time, part-time, flexible around work hours,” Alex explains. “The pandemic showed us that people can be very effective working remotely, working from different places, and using different technology.”

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends. If you’re thinking about an HR career or want to level up the one you have, consider Alex’s perspective. Are you flexible? Do you seek to understand? Also, how can you make changes to do so? Learn more about this topic by connecting with our guest, Alex Smith, on LinkedIn.

dream career

Photo from Photosvit

[#WorkTrends] Launching a Dream Career Amid Pandemic Unemployment

The pandemic has caused widespread unemployment. And yet, today, many people are launching their dream career, right now. Let’s talk about how you can make that happen!

No doubt, this seems like a tough time to start a job search. But it is more than possible — even during what many see as a nightmare scenario — to find your dream job. Of course, some of the old school methods we used to rely on to find work are now outdated. And, yes, we must now anticipate a job search that is nearly 100 percent virtual. 

But there are many companies making job offers — and you can find meaningful work with a great company right now. All you need is the right approach.

Our Guest: Tracy Timm from The Nth Degree Career Academy

I couldn’t be happier to welcome Tracy Timm to this episode of #WorkTrends. Tracy is the founder of The Nth Degree Career Academy, a proven career clarity system that helps high-potential professionals discover, define, and drive careers they love. With a degree in behavioral psychology from Yale University, Tracy is a sought-after career clarity expert, organizational advisor, speaker, and author. Tracy’s passion for her work and expertise helps clients go from stuck in their job to unstoppable in their careers and lives. 

And that is where we started our discussion. I asked Tracy, “What’s the most important thing a person can do during this pandemic to bounce back better, both in life and in career?” With her answer, Tracy made it clear she knows how to navigate the current job search environment:

“This super disruptive time is a great reminder that life is going to throw us curve balls. Challenging circumstances beyond your control are going to surface. And the only thing that you can control is your level of clarity at any given time. So our office as a mantra is, ‘When there’s a lot more noise, when there’s higher unemployment, and when more people are applying for the same jobs — the person with the most clarity is going to win.’ Because only clarity allows you to rise above that noise, speak with more confidence, and pursue your next step with more certainty.”

Tracy added, “We must show up differently than most people are showing up — which is in panic and reaction mode.”

Launching Your Dream Career Now

Feeling her energy, I pressed Tracy on precisely what a job seeker must do to launch a successful job search, even while the pandemic rages on. Tammy shared some powerful insight:

“The number one thing you can do right now is to take a step back and get super, hyper, laser-focused on you. Your unique value. Your professional genius zone. And then to pursue your dream career with absolute clarity, confidence, and certainty.” Tracy went on to say that clarity is so powerful: “Just to know something with certainty, and to not question it. To not be ‘all in’ is the root cause of most issues when it comes to making decisions or choices in our life.”

“Too many of us don’t fully commit to our choice. We question it, even though we’ve already chosen it.”

As our 30-minute conversation continued, it became clear Tracy was dispensing a lifetime of sage advice perfectly suited to today’s job seekers. If you’re in the middle of a job search, you must listen in. If you know someone currently looking for work, share this conversation with them. Because this episode of #WorkTrends provides must-have insight into how people can launch their dream careers, even during a global pandemic.

 

Learn more about Tracy’s work on LinkedIn.

 

Editor’s note: We’ve updated our FAQ page and #WorkTrends Podcast pages. Take a look!

 

talent development

Photo by ThisisEngineering

How Talent Development Makes a Positive Impact on Your Business

The success of any business is not just reliant upon the efforts of leadership. To truly thrive, companies need skilled and committed employees. This certainly means that human resources and management need to apply resources to discovering and attracting the best possible talent. But their attention shouldn’t stop once onboarding is complete. Those efforts must include deliberate talent development. 

Talent development is the process through which companies continue to invest in their employees beyond base salary payments and benefits. As one recent study shows, a company culture that nurtures employees directly impacts the bottom line. Not least of which regards the costs of turnover: that 94% of employees would stay with a company if it were willing to invest in their learning and development. 

Let’s explore some areas an effective talent development process directly impacts, and methods you can use to capitalize on them.  

Performance

Talent development is not only the key to retaining employees; it can also be instrumental in improving performance. This doesn’t just mean that your attention to their growth results in greater productivity — although that certainly occurs by acquiring new skills and understanding of productivity techniques. However, when your employees see you’re making efforts to support their growth, they tend to be more engaged with the efficient operation of the business. 

As a result, performance should be a guiding element of your talent development program. This begins with a commitment to meaningful performance reviews. We don’t mean a simple analysis of how the employee has functioned that year. Instead, there need to be discussions in which the aim is to guide employee growth. Direct the dialogue, not toward areas of failure, but identifying training opportunities. Don’t just dictate your needs; work with them to discover what they would like to learn, too. Discuss opportunities for promotion, and how you can plot a road map together that can get them there. These conversations strengthen relationships and naturally lead to more opportunities for talent development. 

Performance targeted talent development is also not necessarily an individual act. It also presents opportunities for employees to work together to create a positive working environment, resulting in improved overall performance. Encourage departments to learn what motivates them as a team and as individuals. Understand how to adjust the workplace and its practices to be more mutually beneficial. Provide them with responsibility here, approaching it as a project with requisite planning and analysis. Not only will they feel more connected to the business, but they also gain in-demand project management skills. 

Innovation

One of the main errors a business can make is becoming stagnant. In the digital age, the world frequently changes. That often means that to retain the competitive edge, we must innovate. Talent development can introduce employees to new skills and new ways of thinking about the challenges they face – and overcoming them. As such, it is an essential element in building a sustainable culture of innovation within your company.

So, how do you approach the talent development process with innovation in mind?

Company Insight

Provide them with opportunities to better understand the company; what it’s good at, and the not so good. This can include shadowing leadership, attending meetings, and being encouraged to ask questions (and being given honest answers). This helps the growth of new corporate operations skills and incentivizes deeper engagement within the company. 

Diversity

Innovation requires access to multiple perspectives and experiences. Studies show that companies that prioritize diversity tend to perform better than their more monocultural competitors. So your talent development program must commit to nurturing diversity. Undoubtedly, part of this approach is ensuring a range of voices has opportunities to work with you. However, it’s also about encouraging those in the program to value diverse perspectives and adjust their own viewpoints accordingly. 

Curiosity 

Helping employees follow their curiosity, both within and outside of the business, is a cornerstone of talent development. Give employees opportunities to train with other departments and company time to work on personal projects. Add coaching to ensure employees feel guided and supported. By giving them space to explore and experiment, and encourage them even when they fail, you provide the tools necessary to contribute to innovation — and the confidence to experiment.

Loyalty

One of the greatest assets for any business is loyalty. Employees who feel connected to and supported by their company are more likely to stick with them in the long run. Loyalty isn’t about simple retention, though; it also means a dedication to the company’s ideals and becoming leaders who embody them. Employee development helps to both guide this process and reinforces the reasons why they should maintain their commitment. So your talent development program must begin at onboarding. 

Use the tools of the process to set expectations. For instance, in your employee handbook, make it clear there is a commitment to engaging in talent development, and why it is essential. Outline the support methods — mentoring, coaching, reviews — and how this affects the potential for progression. By emphasizing your company cares about them and their growth early, it immediately plants the seed that there are incentives to mutual commitment. 

This same attention has to be consistent throughout their time with the company. Not in an overbearing, micromanaging sense. Instead, talent development must be about the company and the employee working together to ensure the growth of each. Make continued efforts to understand what they need, and they will be more likely to do the same for your company. 

What’s Your Approach to Talent Development?

Talent development goes further than talent management. It demonstrates a commitment to helping employees grow in directions that they are also keen to explore. 

Design your program to empower workers to improve their performance, become innovative thinkers and loyal contributors. Though this often takes a significant investment of time and capital, the long-term returns are culturally and economically significant. 

 

skills gap

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Conquer the Skills Gap: How to Quickly Upgrade Your Reskilling Strategy

The pandemic has only accelerated our ever-growing skills gap. However, there’s a silver lining to the chaos we’ve experienced this year. People have proved to be remarkably resilient. People are still the best resources to take on the disruption and close the skills gap. This is especially true when you consider the volatility of the external talent pool.

Yes, technology is outpacing human skills. Simultaneously, educational systems struggle to keep up with the urgency of new skills needed. Higher education is both too slow and too costly for reskilling to be effective in the near term. That said, if history has taught us anything, it’s that technology adoption may cause short-term labor displacement – but in the long run.

To effectively reskill in this rapidly changing environment, organizations must harness their greatest resource for skills potential by looking internally. The challenge then becomes how companies approach a reskilling strategy. We often see a top-down process, where leaders throw content or training at employees and expect them to get to work. This approach to talent development has never been effective. Even worse, it will undoubtedly fail when applied to the unique circumstances employees face today.

Instead, talent leaders need to design a holistic people development strategy. One that utilizes integrated technology to find the delicate balance between fulfilling the needs of their employees personally while giving them the tools to be successful at an organizational level. Only then will employees truly be enabled to reskill effectively and execute the business strategy.

Anticipate Skills Needs

In a recent study, McKinsey states that 87% of companies say they are experiencing a skills gap – or will in the next few years. Of those respondents, only a few have an understanding of how to prepare for the skills they’ll need most in the future.

As we can tell from this data point, companies are well aware of the looming skills gap issue. But they are lost at sea when it comes to understanding what to do about it. From that same study, 3 in 10 respondents say at least one-quarter of their organization’s roles are at risk of disruption in the next five years by these trends.

If you don’t know how to meet the skills needed, your first reaction will be to look outside the organization. But that’s a concern when you consider the cost of hiring. According to a  SHRM article, research suggests that a new hire can cost as much as 50% to 60% of an employee’s annual salary, with total costs associated with turnover ranging from 90% to 200% of annual salary. Further, finding new talent that fits into your culture is a feat in itself. Efficiency is what matters most now. So what companies need to do is rally around upskilling their current employees.

Leaders must tap into their own network to understand industry trends. They must decipher the needs required now (or those that will be soon) to develop their staff. To gain insight into the skills employees currently have and the skills required to do their job, start with a skills gap analysis. From there, providing performance management technology and tools that integrate to support holistic employee development is key.

Integrate Effectively

Companies are working hard to accommodate dispersed employees by keeping them connected and collaborating. Rather than adding an assortment of tools that don’t talk to each other, organizations must create a comprehensive strategy that includes mentoring, engagement, learning, and performance.

Mentoring

Most companies have created or adopted some kind of mentorship program to improve job satisfaction, provide personal and professional development, and retain their top employees. However, most of these mentorship programs have become stale and bureaucratic. As many organizations have learned, these programs aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Access to coaching and mentorship should be a continuous process and suited to an employee’s personal needs.

Engagement

The pandemic shook up our work-life balance, and the flexible work environment took its toll on engagement. Finding a tool that provides constant communication to employees and leadership is critical — especially for those working remotely. Continuous engagement shouldn’t mean micromanaging, however. Instead, support the employee’s personal needs and provide them with a positive work experience.

Learning

After leaders have identified all essential skills, leaders can provide the resources and content that cater to individual needs. An integrated Learning Module System (LMS) can equip employees with a database of information that promotes a culture of knowledge and learning.

Performance

In a survey, Forrester reports 74% of firms say they want to be “data-driven,” but only 29% are successful at connecting analytics to action. For an organization and its leaders to see the big picture, performance management technology must have detailed analytics. After all, reskilling efforts wouldn’t be relevant if you couldn’t track back to the original development strategy. Only then can you ensure each individual has made progress.

Technology shouldn’t be a hindrance to employees wanting to upskill. By consolidating tools, you’re saving time from going back and forth between systems, simplifying the work for managers, and allowing quicker decision-making.

Assess and Invest in Your People

Not everyone is facing the same challenges right now, but managers are responsible for providing the tools and resources for each employee that enable them to be efficient and productive. Moreover, LinkedIn’s 2019 Workplace Learning Report shows that 94% of employees say that they would stay at a company longer if it simply invested in helping them learn.

Closing the skills gap is an unmistakable need right now. Clearing the obstacles for employees to fill those gaps is an action that leaders must take. Finding the right fit with an integrated performance management solution can enable employees to reskill effectively and efficiently.