Screening Job Candidates Online: Risky Business?

Sponsored by: Fama.io

It’s no secret. On a daily basis, recruiters and hiring managers are screening job candidates online by simply entering their names in search boxes at Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and beyond. Experienced professionals know they shouldn’t be doing this, but many do it anyway. Why?

The Slippery Slope of DIY Candidate Screening

Publicly available online information can reveal a lot about potential employees. It gives employers insight into an individual’s hobbies, interests and personality traits. It also shines a light on controversial opinions, political affiliations and protected class information. 

Gaining unrestricted access to a candidate’s public social media profiles may be easy. But instant access isn’t a free pass to engage in unethical or potentially illegal hiring practices.

That’s why it needs to stop. Screening job candidates without permission is an invasion of their privacy rights — especially the right to consent to the search.

Catching Up With the Rules

To be fair, most recruiters and hiring managers don’t fully understand laws involving online background screening. That’s partially due to the relative novelty of this practice, as well as a lack of updated guidance.

But now that online screening has become so widespread, employers need to know how to protect their organization as well as job candidates. That’s why it’s important to understand the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

Learning how to comply with these regulations is worth an employer’s effort. Online screening can be a powerful tool to determine an individual’s hireability. And when performed correctly, an online background check is an effective and perfectly legal hiring practice. 

How can you make this process work better for your organization? Let’s look closer at key legal aspects of screening job candidates online. First, I’ll explain how problems tend to arise. Then, I’ll suggest steps for a fully compliant, worry-free screening process. 

Understanding the Controversy

Why exactly is social media screening so controversial? Calling it an invasion of privacy is hard to defend, since many social media profiles are publicly available. Furthermore, applicants freely choose what, when and how they share on their social media profiles.

Much of this information may reflect positively or negatively on a candidate’s ability to perform in a work-related capacity. For example, education, work history, extracurricular activities and hobbies are often prominently featured on social media profiles. And employers typically evaluate this kind of information during the interviewing process, anyway.

However, the issue isn’t about employers using information that would otherwise be discussed during a standard interview. Instead, it’s about access to information that organizations are legally and ethically obligated not to consider.

We’re talking about legally protected categories such as race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability status or religion. This is where issues arise, because the moment anyone views a social media profile, it may inherently reveal details about protected categories.

How Widespread is This Practice?

In a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers said they regularly review social media profiles as part of the hiring process. Furthermore, 54% acknowledged that they’ve rejected applicants based on a social media review.

However, the survey does not indicate how often social media reviews were being conducted by hiring managers who are legally obligated not to consider protected information. 

When used correctly, online screening can highlight positive work traits like compassion or open-mindedness. But it can also reveal negative traits. For example, what if a candidate threatens others in a post or shares a video while committing a violent act? This kind of behavior isn’t welcome in the workplace and would likely hinder the candidate from performing effectively in any role.

Steps to Achieve Better Outcomes

For a fully compliant screening process, consider these best practices:

1. Clarify the Rules

Defining a clear set of guidelines is essential for all background check methods — including online screening processes. According to leading U.S. employment attorney, Pam Devata, “In general, the same rules apply, whether you are using social media or more traditional methods for conducting background checks.”

In a recent interview, Devata explained, “The keys are consistency, accurate record keeping, ensuring that any data accessed is not legally protected information prohibited from being used in employment decisions, and that any decisions are rooted in business necessity.”

2. Focus on Documentation

Before attempting to navigate the nuances of social media screening, it’s important to establish consistent, generalized hiring practices across the organization. This includes putting a process in place to record and track all pre-employment decisions and FCRA-required disclosures.

Although it can be challenging to document online screening activity, consistent, accurate record-keeping will put your organization in a better position to address any issues that may arise. 

3. Partner with a Specialized Service Provider

One of the easiest ways to address the complexities surrounding online candidate research is to rely on a trusted online background screening partner like Fama.

With a proven, independent team managing the screening process, employers can gather only the information needed to assess an applicant’s job potential, without the risk of revealing protected categories. In fact, the strongest digital screening solutions include compliance filters. This ensures that reports shared with hiring teams focus solely on job-relevant information.

At Fama, we go beyond bare-minimum compliance protections by applying ethical AI and machine-learning technology. Also, a team of skilled humans reviews our screenings to ensure their legitimacy and accuracy. This helps us continuously improve our screening capabilities and our results.

Final Thoughts

No doubt, social media screening is bound to remain a controversial topic. But when you’re not sure about the legal implications, it’s important to avoid the false assumption that it’s safe to assess a candidate’s online presence on your own.

Guaranteed compliance is always possible by working with an objective, third-party screening solution. This means your team will benefit from a fully compliant screening process. And ultimately, it means your organization can focus on finding the best candidate for every job.

Are you ready to lead your business through uncertain times? Check this #WorkTrends podcast for insights from tech CEO and Founder Ronni Zehavi as he talks with host Meghan M. Biro

Are You Ready to Lead Through Uncertainty?

Sponsored by HiBob

As 2023 begins, the world of work is bracing for a rough ride. For more than a year, inflation has gripped the economy. Previously unstoppable tech companies are reeling from recent layoffs. And other industries are tightening their belts, as a recession now seems unavoidable. What will it take to lead through uncertainty?

Strategies that helped organizations thrive under different circumstances are no longer relevant. But during lean times, how can you preserve what’s valuable and unique about your organization? This question is top-of-mind for leaders everywhere. So let’s get advice from someone who understands the factors driving today’s business climate:

Meet Our Guest:  Ronni Zehavi

Today, I’m thrilled to welcome Ronni Zehavi, Co-Founder and CEO of modern HR platform provider, HiBob. After more than 25 years of experience in launching and leading successful technology companies, Ronni knows first-hand how to guide organizations through volatile, uncertain circumstances. Now he’s sharing his unique perspective and expertise to help others lead through uncertainty.

Managing Multiple Unknowns

Welcome, Ronni. Let’s dive right in. How can organizations navigate through uncertain times?

It’s a bit like driving a car. In 2021, driving fast may have been easier because the road was clear. But today it’s bumpy and cloudy. No one knows when it will end, so you need to slow down.

2023 is going to be challenging. First, read the map and then adjust your plan. How long is your runway? Do you have enough cash? Do you have enough funds to weather the coming storm?

Then look realistically at the environment. A slowdown will have an impact on your customers as well as your organization. Will you be able to generate the revenues you expect?

The Long Game

The economy will eventually bounce back. How can we prepare for that now?

It starts with your people. Invest in them. Make sure you can retain all of them. Or, if not all of them, focus on your most important people. Because you’ll want them to be with you when the tailwind comes.

And more than anything else, think positive. What goes down comes back up. So optimism is critical.

How to lead through uncertainty

JOIN US ON TWITTER!

What About Layoffs?

Is there a right way to reduce headcount? How can leaders avoid damaging their company culture?

Layoffs are only one option in a CEO’s toolbox when adjusting to a difficult environment. First, you may decide to slow down hiring. If a slow down isn’t enough, then you may need to freeze hiring or freeze salary increases, or both. And if needed, the next option could be salary cuts or layoffs. One or both.

But it is important to think about the people who stay as well as those who are laid off. Retention can be affected when those who remain are expected to do the job of two people or even more.

Communication and transparency are critical to preserve your culture.

Can Flexible Work Help?

Do you think economic changes will influence where we work? 

I don’t think so. I think hybrid work is here to stay. Flexibility was a nice-to-have perk a few years ago. But the pandemic proved that organizations can deal with it.

The ultimate combination is two or three days at the office or two or three days remote. It offers flexibility, but it keeps engagement and collaboration among people.

How to Support Hybrid Work

I like the idea of finding a balance between onsite and remote work. But how can leaders accomplish this? 

It’s a journey. It will take time until we get there as a standard. But flexibility is all about what we call internally, The Three T’s:  Trust. Transparency. Teamwork.

If your organization follows these values, it will help you create a flexible work culture.

 


For more insights from Ronni about how to lead through uncertainty, listen to this full podcast episode. And be sure to subscribe to the #WorkTrends Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.

In addition, we invite you to join our live Twitter chat about this topic on Wednesday, January 25th at 1:30pmET/10:30amPT. Follow @TalentCulture for questions and be sure to add the #WorkTrends hashtag to your tweets, so others in the community can easily find your comments and interact with you!

Also, to continue this conversation on social media anytime, follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

How to Improve Employee Experience with HR Tech

5 Ways to Improve Employee Experience With HR Tech

Sponsored by: Neocase

Did you know more than 160 million people are employed in the U.S.? Unfortunately, however, rising turnover is eroding workforce retention. In fact, 48% of hiring managers say turnover is higher this year – up from 44% in 2021. And the cost of replacing those people isn’t cheap. No wonder employers want to build a positive work culture that attracts and retains top talent. That’s why many are turning to HR technology to improve employee experience.

But here’s the catch: In recent years, the HR tech landscape has been bursting at the seams. This means choosing the best solution for your organization’s needs can be overwhelming. To overcome this obstacle, think first about how you want to improve employee experience, and work from those objectives to define your selection criteria.

HR Technology 101

To provide some context, let’s start with a brief overview of core HR systems. In most HR technology stacks you’ll find at least one of these systems as a foundation for all other people platforms, tools and applications:

1. HRIS Human Resource Information Systems

HRIS was developed to help organizations track and store employee data and records for essential administrative needs. As the HR function grew more complex, HRIS platforms added modules to support talent acquisition processes and recruitment operations, as well as employee information management and maintenance. 

2. HRMS – Human Resource Management Systems

Over time, HR became more deeply integrated with other functions, so HR tracking software had to meet these expanded business requirements. Now, HRMS/HRIS systems are used interchangeably to support operations such as payroll, time tracking and compliance management. 

3. HCM – Human Capital Management Systems

HCM supports a more expansive set of HR operations, including employee performance analysis, compensation planning and projection, workforce development and more.HCM covers all HR functions with a comprehensive solution that can be customized to support the entire employee lifecycle.

Why Employee Experience Matters

A strong employee experience is essential to attract top talent and keep people engaged with your work culture. As Gartner says, “Employee experience is the way employees internalize and interpret the interactions they have with their organization, as well as the context that underlies those interactions.”

But as many organizations have discovered, an exceptional employee experience isn’t easy to develop and maintain. In fact, according to Gartner, “Only 13% of employees are fully satisfied with their experience.

What’s at stake? A negative employee experience leads to low morale, poor work performance, and other issues that directly affect organizational culture and business results. On the other hand, a positive employee experience helps lift morale, productivity, efficiency, and work quality.

How HR Tech Can Improve Employee Experience

Clearly, creating the best employee experience possible leads to significant business benefits. So, to achieve the highest potential impact, consider these five priorities:

1. Automate Tasks and Streamline Workflows

Is anything worse than monotony? It is just as painful for your HR team as it is for others in your organization. Many manual HR tasks are excellent candidates for automation. Focus first on business processes that will free your HR team from tedious, time-consuming, redundant paperwork, and email communications.

Start by developing an employee journey map to better understand your current processes. Then look for bottlenecks, gaps, and disconnects. These issues are opportunities to streamline processes or speed response times.

Organizations often begin by mapping onboarding or offboarding processes. This ensures that an employee’s first and last impressions will align with company values and the employer brand.

2. Gather Employee Feedback

A silent employee can be a dangerous or at-risk employee – even if they don’t realize it. Many workers hesitate to speak up for a variety of reasons. Some fear punishment if they express negative opinions, while others think their input won’t be heard or appreciated.

If an employee doesn’t have a chance to share feedback or ideas, they could feel undervalued and unimportant. You can remedy this with HR technology specifically intended to improve communication.

Consider feedback tools that encourage employees to make their voices heard. Monthly surveys, quarterly outreach messages, and other kinds of digital communication can help build stronger connections and spark more useful conversations.

But that’s just the beginning. Once you receive input, you need to respond or implement changes. Otherwise, people could become more frustrated if you solicit input but don’t seem willing to act upon it.

3. Provide Self-Service Portals

One of the best ways HR technology improves employee experience is through self-service applications. Many platforms can help organizations build and deploy custom tools that help employees serve themselves at their convenience.

One of the best-known examples is a benefits portal. Many employers offer secure web-based destinations with all the information and tools people need to research, select and manage their particular benefits. This frees employees from having to manage the constant back-and-forth of emails or phone calls just to get basic benefits information or answer common questions.

This kind of solution increases efficiency, while giving employees more control. At the same time, portal analytics can help your HR team understand employee preferences and identify content and functionality that can better them.

4. Offer Anywhere, Anytime Access

Unfortunately, many employees feel totally disconnected from HR. Some need guidance and oversight, but HR teams and managers are stretched too thin to engage.

Integrated real-time HR communication tools can help you and your management team focus less on paperwork and more on people. Think of it as the digital equivalent of an office with an open door!

The benefits of integrated communications extend to employees, as well. This leads to a more closely-knit workplace culture that operates more efficiently and is better aligned with business priorities.

5. Design Intuitive Workflows

Demand for better, faster response started with customer service. But it has quickly spread to internal organizational functions, as well.

When we ask HR a question, we want the answer now. We also want to find answers ourselves, ideally with no more than one or two taps on a smartphone.

This aspect of HR technology requires decision-makers to put themselves in an employee’s shoes for a reality check. How easy is it to perform a task you want to accomplish? For example, if you’re a full-time manager using a self-service benefits portal, how intuitive is the path to information you need at the moment you need it? How much information do you have to dig through to find a useful answer?

This aspect of HR technology is central to the employee experience. Why? Because, if employees struggle to use a digital tool, they will also struggle to adopt that tool and succeed with it.

Final Thoughts

HR technology can play an important role when you want to improve employee experience. Whether you’re implementing a self-service portal to support job applicants, deploying an employee feedback tool or expanding business process automation to improve HR response times, your efforts can positively influence talent acquisition and retention. These 5 priorities can help your team focus on solutions that will make a strong impact.

Why Build Your Own Freelance Talent Network

Why Build Your Own Freelance Talent Network?

Sponsored by: Worksuite

The case for building a flexible talent network has never been more compelling. During the “Great Resignationof 2021, 47 million U.S. employees voluntarily left their jobs. And in 2022, a wave of disengagement took hold among remaining workers, giving birth to the term “quiet quitting.” Now as 2023 begins, the global talent shortage continues to play havoc with hiring strategies.

Access to skilled people who can keep your business moving forward is no longer a sure thing. That’s why smart employers are investing in freelance talent options. But what’s the best way to find and manage a qualified pool of on-demand talent?

When building a contingent talent network, you may be tempted to source contractors from public marketplaces. This seems easy enough, but it can be a frustrating and time-consuming option. On the other hand, if you run an established business, you could grow your own talent pool by leveraging your brand presence, network connections and internal resources.

This do-it-yourself approach means you don’t need to rely on potentially low-quality, unknown talent from a third-party network. However, it does require some careful planning. So to help you achieve better results, here are our best tips for sourcing, hiring and retaining top freelance talent.

Why Avoid Public Talent Marketplaces?

Marketplaces like Fiverr and Upwork are often an easy and popular first stop for employers seeking on-demand talent. And they can be useful if you need support in a pinch. Whether you’re looking for developers, designers, writers, or photographers, these platforms let you choose from hundreds of eager freelancers — often at bargain prices. 

But with so many potential candidates for every opportunity, finding a freelancer who meets your specific requirements can take longer than you’d like. And these marketplaces tend to produce hit-or-miss results. Here’s why:

1. Barriers to Entry are Low

It’s possible to find some fantastic people on these platforms. But sourcing them can be time consuming for your managers and teams. That’s because it’s so easy for anyone to join these public marketplaces. No experience or qualifications are necessary. All it takes is an account and a profile that attracts clients.

Literally anyone can promote their freelance services on these sites, whether they’re capable and qualified, or not. You never know exactly what you’re getting until you actually work with a contractor.

2. Faking Performance Rankings is Easy

You might think it’s a safe bet to hire a freelancer with hundreds of glowing five-star customer reviews. But don’t be fooled. Social proof can be easily bought.

Positive reviews are essential to get found and hired from among the hundreds of other marketplace hopefuls. So naturally, freelancers want to look as good as possible, as fast as possible. But accumulating strong legitimate reviews for freelance services takes a lot of time and effort.

Artificially enhancing your marketplace ranking is illegal. Nevertheless, this has spawned an underground network of people who buy, sell, and exchange reviews so they can get ahead.

These false ranking services aren’t visible on public freelancer marketplaces. But a Google search quickly reveals plenty of opportunities to buy or swap reviews in places like these:

Some websites even blatantly offer to help freelancers falsify their marketplace rankings. Well-known options include ReviewXchange and Fiverr 5 Stars

Bottom line: When hiring from public freelance marketplaces, “buyer beware” is a smart strategy. But if you can achieve better results in other ways, why take unnecessary chances and spend limited time and resources on public marketplaces?

Are Any Public Talent Marketplaces Credible? 

If your only option is hiring from a third-party marketplace, we recommend considering a handful of “focused talent service platforms” (FTSPs). Freelancers accepted by these platforms have been rigorously screened to ensure they are qualified for positions they’re pursuing. This reduces your risk as a hiring organization and makes it easier for you to conduct a talent search with confidence.

Below are four viable FTSPs that offer fully vetted, high-quality talent:

  • MarketerHire — Provides access to qualified marketing specialists
  • IndieList — Offers carefully-screened freelancers, contractors, and consultants from Ireland 
  • BetterUp — Connects businesses with expert coaches
  • Springboard — Provides access to fully trained, vetted professionals in cybersecurity, software engineering, design, data science and tech sales

Harnessing the Power of a DIY Talent Network 

Generally, businesses recognize it’s cheaper and easier to retain existing customers rather than continuously hunting for new prospects. The same principle applies to talent acquisition. An internal talent pool offers multiple benefits:

1. Speed to Hire 

Sourcing new talent often requires substantial time from your team. But by tapping into an existing talent pool, the process can be as fast as running an advanced search in your freelancer management system database to find the best fit among available people.

A good platform can provide granular details about anyone in your talent pool. For example, you should quickly be able to find someone in your extended organization who has demonstrated the skills you need on another project. You may also see a note or ranking about this person’s contributions, so with only a few clicks you can determine the strength of the individual’s qualifications.

2. No Training Downtime 

Your existing talent is already familiar with your organization, its operations, and its work practices. This means you don’t need to spend extra time continually onboarding and training new people.

3. Leverage Talent Across Your Business 

By extending access to existing talent across your organization, you can improve cross-functional business performance and reduce overall hiring spend.

4. Grow Your Internal Talent Pool 

Freelancers don’t exist in a vacuum. They all are connected with other skilled people. You can expand your internal talent pool by tapping into these networks. It’s as easy as sending emails requesting referrals.

Experienced freelancers won’t refer you to people they don’t trust because they know it could damage their own reputation. But many will happily refer viable colleagues.

You may decide to incentivize referrals – or not. Either way, existing contractors can be a highly effective and efficient source of network growth.

For example, with an internal talent network platform like Worksuite, you can use the Marketplace module to post and share opportunities for upcoming work. You can also vet new candidates, assign work opportunities to individuals, and invite them to submit RFI-style proposals for upcoming projects. In addition, you can maximize your reach by sharing new opportunities with both internal and external sources.

Where to Look for Contingent Talent

Freelance marketplaces and job boards aren’t the only way to find great contingent talent. Consider these alternatives: 

  • Social Media — Outreach on platforms like Twitter and Facebook can attract candidates from members of your global brand community.
  • LinkedIn You can search and contact freelancers directly or spread the word more broadly with posts on your LinkedIn company page or in specialized groups.
  • Referral Campaigns — Offering “finders fees” for referrals from employees and contractors can generate significant interest.
  • Alumni Talent Pools — Adding former employees and contractors to your database of on-demand resources is an easy way to maintain ties with qualified people.
  • Networking at Industry Events — Gathering profile data from participants at key professional conferences and other events can help you easily develop an extensive pipeline over time.

Developing Talent Network Trust and Loyalty

Sourcing is vital when building a high-quality freelance talent network. But that’s only the beginning. It’s also vital to keep people onboard and engaged with your organization.

Freelancers (especially in the Gen Z age bracket) know many opportunities are always available online. All it might take to land the next assignment is a single email or application. To keep potential candidates connected with your company, you’ll want to develop trusted relationships with valued contractors.

For example, these tactics are often effective:

  • Assign a steady, interesting flow of work opportunities
  • Communicate regularly and directly with active members
  • Gather ongoing feedback with periodic surveys 
  • Offer new assignments that expand on relevant skill sets
  • Provide loyalty incentives
  • Host annual awards to recognize excellent performers 
  • Increase pay rates to ensure top members are appropriately compensated

 


Worksuite: A Talent Network Solution

If you want to develop and manage your own talent pool, a specialized solution like Worksuite can make the process much easier. This platform includes essential features and metrics employers need to build and maintain a compliance administration and quickly identify top candidates whenever contractors are needed. Here’s how customers use Worksuite to support freelance talent strategies

1. Customize Onboarding Workflows

Worksuite partners with you to create an onboarding process that meets your exact needs. This includes capturing all the contracts, documents, tax information, and banking details needed before new freelancers are assigned to any project.

2. Add and Invite Freelancers to the Platform

Use sourcing and onboarding tools to reach out to prospective talent, and add qualified individuals to your detailed, searchable internal talent pool hub.

3. Ensure Contractor Compliance

Before assigning work to a freelancer, you must ensure they’ve received proper background checks and are compliant. This prevents costly legal problems down the road, especially when hiring global talent.

With Worksuite, background checks are managed through our partner, Checkr. This saves time for you as a hiring company while giving you peace of mind that every contractor you hire is legitimate. Worksuite also coordinates compliance administration. So, whether you’re working with 10 freelancers or 10,000, you know all NDAs, contracts and tax documents are in place to meet local and international regulatory requirements.

4. Publish a Searchable Talent Directory

Posting profiles of everyone in your talent pool gives your team a highly accessible overview of every contractor in your database. You can dive in deeper to see more details for any individual. Also, freelancers can access and edit their own profiles to be sure their information is always up to date.

5. Assign Groups, Tags and Rankings 

In addition to using the platform’s overview capabilities, you can easily organize freelancers in your dashboard. This gives HR and hiring managers full transparency into a member’s work history, background information, experience, skills, and abilities. 

You can also segment members into custom groups that make sense for your business, so you can easily search and select ideal candidates for any assignment at a granular level.

6. Rank, Rate, and Review Freelancers 

Talent rankings, ratings, reviews, and internal notes help your hiring team easily find any freelancer’s performance record at a glance. This helps you quickly decide who should be assigned to an opportunity (and who would not be an ideal candidate).

7. Track Key Metrics 

With Worksuite, you can set up metrics that reflect the quality and quality of deliverables your contractors produce. Here are some examples of metrics that help customers identify attractive candidates: 

  • Highest-rated members
  • Most engaged members
  • Talent active on multiple assignments (vs. only one assignment)
  • Percentage of assignments canceled prior to the start date 
  • Percentage of assignments rejected by members
  • Average number of assignments per member
  • Individuals who have not been assigned to any projects within the last 12 months 

8. Communicate Regularly With Network Members

You can manage all communication with network members directly from the Worksuite platform. Also, you can send personalized bulk messages using your organization’s filters. This helps freelancers stay engaged with your business, and keeps them up-to-date with your news and job opportunities.

9. Archive Talent Records

With Worksuite’s archive feature, you can remove access to the platform for freelancers who haven’t worked with you in more than 12 months. This helps keep your talent database current, so you know who’s still interested and available to work with your organization.

 


EDITOR’S NOTE:
To learn more about how Worksuite tools and services can help you start or grow a high-quality freelance talent network, contact Worksuite directly.

Empathy works in leadership. Hello, Elon Musk, are you listening?

Leadership Done Right: Yes Elon, Empathy Works

Some conversations stay with me. It could be something about the subject, the wisdom of the person I’m talking to, or the timeliness of the discussion. And sometimes, a random event triggers my recall. Case in point: The world recently watched a sad spectacle, as half of Twitter’s 7,500 employees lost their jobs when new owner Elon Musk stepped into his CEO role and promptly went on a firing spree. Apparently, he hadn’t received the memo from other successful executives that empathy works as a leadership style.

Twitter is obviously grappling with numerous business issues. But it’s stunning to think this company’s future depends on a singular person in a position of great power who simply decided to slice the workforce in half. And that was only his first week on the job.

Why Empathy Works

This behavior reminds me of a #WorkTrends podcast discussion I had with Gary DePaul, a brilliant leadership consultant, researcher, and author. We spoke in June 2021 — more than a year into the pandemic — when everyone was grappling with workplace challenges. The Great Resignation was gaining steam, and leaders were scrambling to redefine work life and organizational culture in ways that would keep talent onboard.

Over the course of our conversation, Gary explained what makes leaders effective in the long run. Among the qualities that give leaders staying power is (you guessed it) empathy. Seems like the opposite of Elon Musk’s approach, doesn’t it?

Whatever you think of his business acumen, Elon has never been an empathetic leader. It doesn’t seem to be one of his goals, to put it mildly.

This posture is already damaging his relationships with employees. And it doesn’t seem to be garnering trust among Twitter’s business partners, either.

Days into this acquisition, major advertisers like GM decided to put their Twitter budgets on hold and marketing strategists began advising clients to spend elsewhere. It seems Elon’s lack of empathy is already costing him dearly.

Empathy Works Because it Builds Common Ground

Will an empathy void ultimately matter to the success of this $44 billion deal? It probably depends on your view of the people/profits equation.

In our podcast interview, Gary made it clear where he stands, and I’m inclined to agree. Empathy is absolutely crucial for leadership. It’s also a necessary through-line for every organizational tier. Whatever your title, you won’t win the hearts, minds, or cooperation of your team members unless you make a genuine effort to connect with them on a human level.

Gary said that openly acknowledging your weaknesses as well as your strengths is a powerful way to break the ice. It doesn’t need to be complicated. For instance, at your next Zoom meeting, when you ask everyone to introduce themselves by sharing a bit of personal information, don’t skip yourself.

Empathy Also Builds Alignment

Self-awareness leads to humility, which in turn, leads to empathy. When you honor others’ right to be at the table, you can expect a better response from them. That’s the reason why empathy works.

Think about it. When you make an effort to connect with others, pay attention to them, and factor their input into your decisions, others will be drawn toward you.

But when your actions make it clear that your business revolves around you, why would your team sign-up for that? When you send a message that says you make decisions in a unilateral, top-down way, you inhibit the free exchange of ideas where engagement and innovation thrive.

No wonder we see phenomena like “quiet quitting” eroding modern work cultures. When people feel like it’s not worth the effort to work hard or go the extra mile, why should employers expect that kind of commitment?

The Elon Musk Twitter story still needs to unfold. But I think we’re already learning some valuable lessons. I believe Gary DePaul would agree.

Authority is best served with warmth. In other words, leaders should be willing to admit they’re going to make mistakes. They should also be willing to admit they’re on a learning curve — particularly when they’ve just taken over a company.

Anyone in charge of a team can and should work on their leadership style and recognize the importance of communicating with different types of people on their terms. (Hint: Maybe email isn’t the best way to deliver life-altering news.)

A Key Takeaway from Gary DePaul

Studying leadership is Gary DePaul’s career passion. When we spoke, his latest book was What the Heck Is Leadership and Why Should I Care?  It speaks to these core questions:

  • What does it really mean to lead?
  • What does this job really require?

Gary’s bottom line:  Leadership is a continuous, ongoing vocation. So if you’re heading into the corner office (metaphorically or not), don’t assume you’ve arrived. You’re just getting started.

 


EDITOR’S NOTE:

For more insights on leadership and other work-related topics, explore our #WorkTrends podcast archives. You’ll find a treasure trove of great guests and ideas.

Also, be sure to subscribe to Meghan M. Biro’s LinkedIn newsletter,  The Buzz On Work, her personal take on what’s happening at the intersection of people, tech, HR, and work culture.

Job Design: Is it time to rethink your approach? Learn more in this article...

Job Design: Is It Time to Rethink Your Approach?

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the last article in a 4-part series sponsored by Unit4. The series outlines a new approach to talent strategy for people-centric organizations. This final post looks at why and how employers should rethink job design.


 

As we close this series about how employers can reinvent their talent strategy for the future of work, we turn our attention to one of the most important ways to attract and engage the people your organization needs to succeed. Namely, we’re looking at why this is the right time to revisit your approach to job design.

For most of the past 100 years, employers have used the same techniques to scope job vacancies, write job descriptions, and hire employees to fill roles. But these classic job design methods aren’t particularly efficient or effective.

In fact, only about 50% of interviewed candidates who receive a job offer actually become employees. Plus, the talent acquisition process, itself, is expensive. This means the perceived cost of a “bad hire” is so steep that decision-makers often become paralyzed. And that inaction forces organizations to offset costs by relying too heavily on long tenure.

It’s not an ideal solution by any measure. But focusing on the 4th talent strategy pillar can help you address these issues. How? Read on…

Reworking Job Design: Where to Start

Employers can no longer afford to ignore the need to address ever-changing talent rosters. Average employee tenure is decreasing, even as demand for future-ready skills is increasing. This means leaders must fundamentally rethink the way they structure jobs.

Here’s a good starting point: Design new roles based on the assumption that whomever your hire will stay onboard for 2-4 years. Then work backward from there.

In this game plan, onboarding and robust initial training are especially important, so you can ensure faster time-to-value from new hires. In addition, jobs designed with shorter tenure in mind will benefit from being supported by onboarding and “bedding in” processes that are much more tightly controlled.

This means that skills mapping, employee learning, and professional development will need to become a more prominent part of the HR function, along with talent pipeline development. It also means that the skills you expect to develop in employees should become central to the benefits you offer candidates.

Reframe Benefits for Shorter Job Cycles

In addition to packaging skills as benefits, you’ll need to reorient benefits so they’re compatible with shorter terms of service. Rewards for time-in-role or time with the company are relics that don’t make sense in today’s workplace. They need to be replaced.

For better results, focus on performance-based incentives for contributions to specific projects and programs with more clearly defined targets and expectations.

What Does This Look Like? An Example

One way to illustrate this new approach to job design is through the rise of the contractor. This increasingly popular option is a way to tap into skilled talent on a temporary basis. It helps employers find and deploy people more quickly, while simultaneously reducing operational overhead and risk.

At the same time, contractors benefit from more options in today’s predominantly hybrid working environment. They also benefit from a faster learning curve that comes from working on a more diverse portfolio of projects over time.

Reliance on contractors has increased dramatically—but not at the same rate in every region. For example, in the U.K., contractor usage has grown by about a third since the 2008 financial crash. By comparison, in the U.S., it has surged by the same proportion since only 2020.

Nevertheless, the shift to a contingent workforce shows no sign of diminishing. And many organizations still struggle to find permanent employees in today’s tight labor market. So the advantages of hiring contractors make project-oriented hiring a highly attractive option.

Repackaging Jobs to Attract Top Talent

In your job descriptions, do you still use this kind of phrase?

“The successful candidate must be willing to…”

If so, prepare to leave that kind of thinking behind. Instead, think in terms of asking this question:

“How do you want to work for us?”

In other words, you’ll need to let new hires determine some of the terms of their engagement with you. This makes sense because it encourages deeper ownership of the role’s success. Besides, if you’re designing jobs around shorter “tours of duty” with specific goals and objectives, why not configure these positions so they can be performed on a contract or project basis?

This model offers multiple benefits:

  • You can more accurately assess jobs and redefine them so they deliver the most value to your organization.
  • You’ll be better prepared to tap into a much larger talent pool. (After all, the huge increase in today’s contractors is coming from somewhere. That “somewhere” is the rapidly growing segment of the working population currently seeking greater flexibility in how they market and sell their skills.)

Where to Find Help

This blog series may be over, but your job restructuring journey is just beginning. For an in-depth view of our insights into this and other future-minded strategies for people-centered organizations, download our white paper:

Rebuilding Talent Strategy: Finding and Retaining People in a Changing World.

Also, as you consider technologies needed as the backbone of a reimagined talent strategy, we invite you to take a closer look at our ERP and HCM suite of solutions. These advanced platforms can provide the advantage your business needs to stay at the forefront in the future of work.

For example, you’ll be better equipped to:

  • Audit and map workforce skills
  • Target and deliver timely, relevant learning and development programs
  • Take the pulse of workforce engagement
  • Increase pay equity and transparency
  • Provide people with seamless connections to colleagues and resources in hybrid work settings.

In combination, these capabilities can help you build sustainable business value, going forward. To learn more about how Unit4 solutions can make a difference for your organization, book a demo here.

 


Related Reading

For other articles in this series, check the following links:

Part 1:  Reimagine Talent Strategy: Make Development a Core Part of Your Business

Part 2:  Commit to Careers

Part 3:  Engage in the Employee

 

Why is it so important to measure the digital employee experience? Learn what's at stake and how to proceed in this article...

Digital Employee Experience: Do You Measure What Matters?

impact awardSponsored by: Ivanti

You’ve heard the adage “measure twice, cut once.” It’s good advice from the sewing world. The idea is to encourage people who want to achieve an excellent outcome to be precise and cautious before they act. If we’re supposed to be that conscientious about measuring a piece of fabric for a sewing project, why would we be cavalier about measuring something as critical as the digital employee experience?

Nevertheless, that’s what countless IT and business leaders around the world are doing by default. They’re implementing employee engagement programs based on what sounds right or feels right. They’re not relying on data-driven intelligence to make decisions about these programs. And they don’t know in advance if these programs will actually produce the outcomes they want.

Here’s the truth: If you don’t carefully measure and re-measure your digital employee experience, people will cut themselves right out of your organization. Even if you’ve been using classic employee experience measurement tools—such as an annual survey—that’s no longer enough. Today’s organizations require more complete insights focused on the digital employee experience.

Why Is This Digital Shift So Vital?

The remote and hybrid work landscape (what we call the “Everywhere Workplace”) has forever transformed work life and organizational culture. Now, a vibrant work experience is no longer about departmental happy hours, unlimited free soda, pizza Fridays, or a ping pong table in the employee lounge.

Instead, it’s about what happens in the flow of work. It’s about communicating and collaborating through tools that are smarter, easier, and more effective. It’s about seamless accessibility, usability, security, connectivity, and the ability to do your job without navigating frustrating obstacles or jumping through endless hoops.

Of course, HR teams still focus on employee experience. But now, IT professionals are just as deeply focused on this, as well. Why? The traditional employee engagement survey—once conducted and managed by your HR department—isn’t designed to capture the nuances and critical insights associated with hybrid work environments. If you want to gain useful intelligence, you’ll want to get IT specialists involved—and the sooner the better.

It’s no longer enough to assume people have what they need to be connected, productive and comfortable as they navigate the Everywhere Workplace. You need to know where the connections are working (or not). That means you need to measure what’s happening. Not just once, but over and over again.

After all, if you don’t know where you stand, it is impossible to move forward. Both HR and IT leaders need real, meaningful, actionable insights into the digital employee experience as a process. It deserves a commitment to continuous improvement. And that means you need to understand where it stands now, and how it is evolving over time.

Criteria For a Digital Employee Experience Survey

What should you include in a digital employee experience survey? To glean useful insights, you’ll need to go far beyond limited indicators like post-ticket surveys. To measure and improve the digital employee experience, you’ll need a holistic picture. For instance, consider the value of knowing answers to questions like these:

  • How are people accessing information?
  • What do they think about that process?
  • How many steps must they move through to accomplish these tasks?
  • How often do they run into trouble?
  • How much time do they spend trying to securely access information, tools, and resources they need to do their jobs well?
  • Do they even have access to the right information, tools, and resources?
  • Are they able to connect and engage with colleagues?
  • How effective are these communication channels, in their view?

Post-ticket surveys don’t capture any of these things. And yet, these factors can make or break a digital employee experience. They can spell the difference between an employee who is highly productive, happy, loyal, and engaged—versus one who is forced to waste time on logistics and is likely to be frustrated. Perhaps even frustrated enough to leave.

How to Measure Digital Employee Experience

If you think this isn’t an issue for most employers, consider this statistic:

30% of IT leaders currently have no process or metrics in place to evaluate the digital employee experience. And among the 70% who do, few have established the kind of robust metrics and evaluation strategy today’s Everywhere Workplace demands.

Clearly, the stakes are high. Many organizations assume that measuring digital employee experience in a holistic way is expensive, overwhelming, and resource-intensive. Sometimes it is. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

What’s the secret? Automation.

By automating digital employee experience measurement, leaders can laser-focus on KPIs that matter most to the organization, without bandwidth and expertise from HR or IT—and without badgering employees for manual reports.

In other words, you can automate the collection and reporting of data about issues that commonly impact productivity, especially issues that traditional reports don’t easily track. For example, automation can help you monitor, quantify and evaluate slow devices, outages in network connectivity, where and when apps crash, and other problems that are difficult to capture accurately in a survey.

Of course, it’s important to gauge employee-generated insights as well. But automated, granular, data-based insights can round out the picture with a comprehensive view of what’s happening with digital workflows and how they impact engagement and productivity. Plus, with automated data collection and reporting, continuing to measure key factors over time is much easier. That’s essential to understanding your organization’s progress and how it maps to employee feedback.

Final Thoughts

“Measure twice, cut once” works well for sewing. But it’s not the answer for a modern enterprise that embraces the Everywhere Workplace. Instead, think about measuring once, and then measuring again and again. That’s how you can gain valuable insight into experience indicators and trends that will help you develop and sustain a happy, loyal, engaged, productive workforce.

 


EDITOR’S NOTE: What’s the current state of digital employee experience in organizations around the world? Find out now >> Download the 2022 Ivanti Digital Employee Experience Report.

smart recruiting

Great Hires Are Better Than Frequent Fires: How Smart Recruiting Helps

Sponsored by: RocketReach

Hiring teams know just how hard it is to find candidates who hit the mark with both soft skills and technical skills.  Ideally, a new hire brings the majority of the hard skills required to do the job well. But soft skills are equally important, if not more important, depending on your company’s philosophy. In combination, hard and soft skills allow for a highly productive team and culturally rich environment.  So, how do you identify these powerhouse candidates? This is when smart recruiting tactics can make a strategic impact.

Why? Finding and placing high-performing candidates should be every HR professional’s primary goal. But if recruiting focuses more on an individual’s experience than their ability to enhance your culture or have the right attitude to learn, that hire could likely be a mismatch long term. How can you avoid this? To illustrate, let’s look closer at how we approach hiring at RocketReach

Smart Recruiting: Why Prioritize Soft Skills?

Of course, every job depends on a core technical or business skill set. However, we over-index on culture and behavioral skills because a candidate’s character matters, here. Well, not just here, but in all successful, people-first organizations.

A candidate with great skills requires less on-the-job training. But someone who’s a great cultural fit often possesses untrainable qualities that embody an organization’s values and vision. So it’s wise to get a read on each candidate’s potential to adapt to your culture and perform well with the team. 

What exactly is at stake? Well, according to a new SHRM report, over the past five years, 20% of Americans left a job because the company culture was bad. In fact, the cost of this turnover is estimated at more than $223 billion.

Here are several more findings to consider: 56% of Americans now say they feel less-than-fulfilled at work, while 26% say they dread going to work each day. In today’s talent market, finding an ideal candidate may not be easy. But hiring a strong candidate who also fits your company culture is arguably just as important (if not more so!) as hiring someone just because they have the desired level of experience.

How Smart Recruiting Leads to a Stronger Culture

Clearly, it’s important to build and sustain a people-first company culture. But how can smart recruiting help determine if a candidate is (or isn’t) a good “fit”?

1. Understand Your Work Culture

When considering your company’s culture, don’t just analyze intangible items like general employee vibes. Also include your leadership structure, core mission, and vision, office environment, feedback and performance review processes, as well as overall interpersonal communication styles. These and other factors contribute to the relationships within your team and how the company is investing in its people. They also influence employee retention and how others perceive your organization.

Harvard Business Review agrees that a carefully crafted positive company culture helps develop workforce well-being. At this point, we all know how important culture is for working professionals. Every employee touchpoint, from onboarding to offboarding, influences how your organization’s culture affects your employees. As a result, people rank workplace well-being higher in importance than monetary compensation or material benefits. So, culture deserves to be top-of-mind with each new hire. 

2. Identify Characteristics That Map to Your Culture

Once you’ve clarified your company culture, let’s assume you want to sustain it. Using your analysis, you can identify the characteristics of current employees who are thriving. You can also compare and contrast those characteristics with previous employees who are better suited to a different culture. 

On the other hand, if you’d like to improve your culture, you can start identifying candidates whose soft skills align with your desired organizational direction.

For example, say your workforce is fully remote. This means collaboration is probably more challenging than in a traditional office environment. You may want to focus on candidates who demonstrate that they’re self-starters with a strong sense of resourcefulness, self-efficacy, and proactive ownership

Or, if your company’s mission and values emphasize diversity and inclusion, you may want to focus on candidates who are open-minded, adaptable, and have a curious approach to problem-solving. Try targeting candidates who seem resistant to change and more accepting of those with different backgrounds and ideas.

Of course, the idea of cultural alignment isn’t new. For example, a popular 2005 personnel study still cited today concludes that when employee characteristics align with company culture, their job satisfaction and performance are also stronger.

3. Interview With Alignment In Mind

After you understand the qualities a candidate needs to be successful in a given role, it’s time for interviews. Along with questions that evaluate hard skills, what are some questions you should ask to determine a candidate’s soft skills?

  1. What about our organization made you want to apply for this position?
    Pay attention to the enthusiasm and focus of each candidate’s answers. Did your benefits seem particularly attractive? Was it your company brand or careers page? Or was it the job description, itself? Do the candidate’s personal values align with your company’s? Each answer is a clue about the individual’s perspective, motivations and interests. This can determine how closely a candidate’s values align with your team’s and how you can sell them on these things down the line if they are a great fit.
  2. What does your ideal next role look like?
    This can tell a recruiter tons about the type of environment in which a candidate will thrive. Do they envision working independently or in a group? What main responsibilities does this person want to own and enjoy most? Are they hoping to grow in mentorship or people management?? This can show you if your current team and environment fit the candidate’s needs.
  3. If one of your colleagues disagreed with you in front of a group during a board meeting or a meeting with leadership, how would you handle this?
    Sharing a hypothetical question about a challenging situation and asking for a suggested solution can reveal someone’s ability to listen and collaborate, think critically, and have the right attitude under pressure.
  4. Tell me about a time when you felt an employer’s culture didn’t suit your needs. Why do you believe it wasn’t the right fit for you?
    Sometimes a direct approach is the best approach. Pay careful attention to see what the answer reveals about the potential fit with your current culture (or the culture you’re working to achieve).

There are a million ways to ask interview questions that focus on soft skills and culture. But whatever questions you choose, make sure you tailor each to your company’s values and needs.

Hiring managers will understand the characteristics that align with an open position and the overall company culture. This frees you to get creative and keep interviews candid and human. The less “cookie cutter” your questions are, the better they will serve your talent strategy in the long run. More importantly, ensure that your interview teams are trained to over-index on culture and company values – that way everyone is looking through a people-first lens. So whether you’re conducting a pre-screening interview, or you’re in a final-round group interview, put your culture front and center. 

EWA

Attract and Retain Employees with Earned Wage Access (EWA)

Sponsored by: ADP

Employers are looking for new ways to stand out in terms of employee perks and benefits. One solution: earned wage access (EWA). This is a powerful tool when it comes to meeting today’s employee needs. It’s also got proven advantages when it comes to attracting talent and landing great hires right now.

As a problem solver, EWA covers a lot of ground at a time when anything less than a true game-changer won’t work. Combine a 3.5% unemployment rate, more than half a million jobs added in July 2022, the continuing Great Realignment, and troubling inflation, and you’ve got a perfect storm facing employers. Talent strategy right now is a double-edged sword. You can’t just recruit, and you can’t just retain. You need to do both to stay competitive as an organization. That means successfully addressing employee as well as recruitment pain points.

Employees Coming Up Short

From a workforce perspective, financial anxieties are weighing heavier than ever for countless employees. A recent PwC financial wellness survey of more than 3,000 employees across several industries found that just 42% felt their compensation was keeping up with the rising cost of living expenses in 2022 — down from 52% in 2021. Further, 56% of all employees are stressed about their finances.

What that means in practical terms is that for most, access to pay can make a key difference. Research by ADP  on earned wage access benefits in today’s world of work found that 69% of employees are likely to request their wages early at least once within the next year. Requesting wages early is prevalent for a clear majority of Gen Z and Millennial employees. But, this is also true for nearly half of older employees as well:

  • Gen Z (18-24) 74%
  • Millennials (25-44) 86%
  • Baby Boomers (45-64) 48%

Here’s the question: What happens if an organization doesn’t have a system in place to grant such a request? In terms of well-being, it will add to the financial stress already affecting employees — and that can have all sorts of consequences. The PwC study’s respondents said financial stress took a severe to major toll on their mental health (34%), sleep (33%), self-esteem (30%), physical health (23%), and relationships at home (21%). Additionally, 18% said financial stress interfered with their ability to be productive at work. 15% said it directly affected their ability to go to work at all.

Employee Stress = Organizational Stress

It’s not hard to connect the dots between financial stress and organizational stress. An organization that lacks a policy and/or system for early wage access could be conducting a not-so-subtle form of self-sabotage even in terms of operational success. In terms of employer reputation, it’s even clearer. Employees want to work for an organization that clearly cares about their well-being — including their financial well-being.

The PwC survey found that 76% of financially stressed employees are likely to look elsewhere for an employer who cares, versus 38% who aren’t financially stressed. To put it bluntly, financially stressed employees are twice as likely to search for a better employer. By inference, then, if you’ve got a skittish, stressed-out workforce and no means to ease their financial stress, you’re twice as likely to lose talent to someone who has the means in place. And what about landing new hires in the first place? ADP research found that over 90% of employers (all with more than 1,000 employees) who offer EWA find that it improves their employees’ sense of financial security and helps with both talent attraction and retention.

EWA as a Solution: Best Practices

Earned wage access is both a digital innovation and a well-being booster — and its time has come. It fits into the framework of modern employee expectations in a range of ways. It pragmatically demonstrates that the employer values employee needs, and it solves a very human conundrum with a practical digital tool. Additionally, it breaks the mold of traditional talent management for a more innovative, flexible approach. But like any innovation, there are strategies that will leverage its full potential and strategies that won’t.

Here are four important best practices when it comes to incorporating EWA into your organization:

  1. Consider EWA from a business standpoint: A well-designed, modern EWA program offers an inarguable business advantage. Recent ADP research on earned wage access benefits surveyed 500 companies with more than 150 employees and found that 95% believe that employee financial wellness impacts their company. Suppose EWA is provided as a system that offers a simple, self-driven, well-documented means to access pay early. In that case, it can offset a myriad of problems, from employee-manager friction to accounting snafus to attrition.
  1. Integrate EWA into existing compensation and payroll processes: Rather than a bolt-on solution that’s isolated in terms of data, record-keeping, and information systems, EWA should be interconnected with the processes already in place. Ad-hoc doesn’t have to mean anarchy. EWA is best when it keeps pay administration both simple and cost-effective. Offering employees flexibility and choice that doesn’t complicate the process. Employees should be able to access their wages without disrupting the integrity of the payroll cycle.
  1. Provide employees and managers with the features that count: For employees, that could mean easy enrollment, a straightforward, anytime, mobile-friendly platform, fast access to pay, clear visibility into pay balances, and electronic pay.
  1. Don’t be shy about informing your workforce: Companies that offer EWA are staying on the leading edge of digital transformation. They’re also demonstrating an evolved approach to compensation. But competitive pay doesn’t just mean the highest salary in a given role in a given industry. It means a flexible, responsive compensation program that eases minds. As far as retention, that’s going to have a big impact:  93% of employers believe that offering EWA helps boost employee retention. But unless you broadcast the policy, employees and new hires won’t know it. Given all the pressures we’re under, it’s not a time to be quiet about modernizing your employee perks.

Empathy as an Organizational Benefit

With more employees than ever living paycheck to paycheck, earned wage access enables your employees to avoid the friction (and stress) around having to ask a manager for an advance on pay or take out a high-interest loan to tackle an unexpected financial burden. It also takes managers out of the hot seat by providing a built-in, integrated process.   

No question: digital innovations are pushing the envelope on how we work, evolving traditional structures like workspace and compensation into more people-centric approaches and offering new solutions to a range of challenges. But rising to the occasion and leveraging these new tools is up to the organization. A digital EWA platform offers a means to address a very human need. It’s a clear example of empathetic people management — and it could be the competitive edge in terms of talent.

To learn more about EWA, ADP is hosting a webinar on “Offering Earned Wage Access: Strategic & Compliance Considerations”, Thursday, September 8, 2022, 2p Eastern. Register Here!

business value

We Surveyed 100+ HR Leaders on Driving Business Value in 2022

Sponsored by: ThoughtExchange

For several months, we’ve been sharing insights from our partner ThoughtExchange. They’ve done some fascinating research on Gen Z employees, employee experience, boosting retention, and driving business value. They’re an essential tool for leaders across departments and industries looking to align and engage their workforces.

We finally got the opportunity to use ThoughtExchange to consult our network of HR and Talent professionals, and you shared some great insights with us and each other. 

We asked:

As HR and Talent professionals, what areas are you focusing on at your organization to increase retention and drive business value?

With anonymity, anti-bias technology, and automatic translation capabilities, ThoughtExchange makes it easy to gather diverse perspectives and have equitable discussions.

What We Heard

Using ThoughtExchange’s tools, we analyzed the thoughts you shared to identify important themes and actionable insights. It’s an efficient way to hear from large groups of diverse people, particularly in a remote setting.

First, we looked at the Summary—an AI-generated snapshot of the top-rated ideas:

Onboarding and orientation – new hires should be set up for success from the start. Effective employee retention improves the productivity and performance of a company. Personal and professional mental health – a toxic work culture can really hurt productivity and business value. Pay equity. Personal wellbeing – avoid burnout.

Overall, you’re recognizing that business value is heavily impacted by employee experience, and you’re focusing on providing a healthy, productive workplace. 

Ideas That Rise To The Top

Next, we looked at the highest-rated answers. ThoughtExchange’s Thoughts tool shows each thought’s rating, and also how ratings change by role. These were the top-rated thoughts for each of the different roles:

Talent Acquisition: Leadership Development. Leaders need to role model behaviors to scale change.”

Recruitment: Employees’ aspirations for career development. These days I noticed fresh graduates and junior employees are switching their careers for any salary variation. Career development enables employees to be competent and get expertise for their future career.” 

Training & Development: Performance appreciation and reward. By acknowledging good work done, it drives up their productivity.”

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Personal and Professional Mental Health. A toxic work culture can really hurt productivity and business value.”

HR Leadership: Employee wellbeing. This helps the employees stay fit mentally, emotionally, and socially.”

What was particularly interesting is that, of the top thoughts for the entire group, none of the top thoughts by role were included. 

  • (4.2*) “Focus employer branding efforts on values and vision. Ensure you can articulate clearly how your company is making the world a better place. People in a group desire belonging. These factors serve as unifying tools and help employees feel that the work they do is not ‘just work.’”
  • (4.0*) “Onboarding and orientation. New hires should be set up for success from the start. Your onboarding process should focus on employee guide to thrive and culture.”
  • (4.0*) “Skills, skills, skills! We want to attract skilled talent, but we need to keep investing in their skills, so people want to stay and grow with us! Caring about the future viability of your workforce means business sustainability. Plus, it’s good for employees, too. Everybody wins.”

The variation in how thoughts are ranked demonstrates how ThoughtExchange can identify team or departmental priorities, but also surface common ground.

Where You Disagreed

It wasn’t all common ground. ThoughtExchange’s Differences tool shows the rating patterns for different groups and finds the polarizing ideas.

In our Exchange, compensation and pay equity was an area of contention. Group A (in blue), mainly HR Leadership, assigned high ratings (in the 4* range) to these thoughts:

Group B (in green), consisting mainly of Recruitment, Training & Development, and Talent Acquisition folks, gave ratings averaging 2*. This may indicate a difference in priorities between HR Leadership and those responsible for hiring and upskilling employees.

The Differences tool doesn’t stop there. It also finds thoughts that Group A and Group B both rated highly. Both groups agreed that employee wellbeing and engagement are top priorities. Holding space for both sides of an issue is vital, but identifying where those two sides agree helps build a strategy everyone supports.

Areas Of Focus

To understand the discussion’s general themes, we used the Theme tool to categorize thoughts into Culture, Performance, and Strategy. 

Thought Exchange Themes

Deeper analysis shows which issues are the most pressing for our community, and identifies actions to improve retention and drive business value.

Areas to Action:

  • Company Culture: clarify organizational values, define employer brand, and consult employees on improving their work experience. 
  • Skills Development: provide employees with skills, career, and leadership development opportunities.
  • Performance Appreciation: improve morale and productivity by rewarding high-performing employees.

What You Told Us

You’re invested in improving and streamlining every stage of the employee lifecycle. You value organizational culture and recognize the importance of robust onboarding and career development. You care deeply for the wellbeing of your employees and want to foster a more supportive workplace.

For us, this Exchange showed how valuable an inclusive, unbiased discussion platform is for identifying team and organizational priorities. 

We can see how ThoughtExchange brings immense value to different kinds of leaders looking to innovate tactics, align on strategy, improve business efficiency, and engage employees.

Want to see how ThoughtExchange can give you mission-critical insights to make better decisions and transform your discussions? Talk to one of ThoughtExchange’s Talent & HR experts today.

Hybrid

How the Era of Hybrid Work Impacts Employee Travel, Spending, and the Workplace Experience

Sponsored by: SAP Concur

The next chapter of the future of work – hybrid work—is underway as businesses return to the physical office in some capacity while honoring employee flexibility to work from home. Hybrid work is new territory, and there’s more to consider than desk assignments. 

With employees working from different locations on any given day, there’s a need to reconsider the processes and policies that govern day-to-day work. Especially when it comes to employee spending. 

Here’s what is important to know about employee spend – through travel and expenses – in the era of hybrid work, and how it impacts the workplace experience.

Work From Anywhere Business Trips

Business travel took new shapes during the pandemic. While many organizations paused formal travel programs, some employees took personal trips with a business component. For example, the “work from vacation home” trend. Workers took advantage of remote work settings by taking trips with long stays. All they needed was Wi-Fi and a charging station, and they could work from Hawaii for a month. 

The flexibility to mix work and personal trips is likely to stick and become an expected aspect of workplace benefits. A recent SAP Concur survey of 1,000 U.S. business travelers found that nearly half of business travelers perceive “bleisure” travel – taking personal time off while on a business trip – as a standard workplace benefit. 

The hybrid workplace is likely to travel as well. Business travelers say that common workspaces during a business trip have included a café or coffee shop (70%), lobby (64%), waiting room (57%), and poolside (31%). Employees are now used to working from the couch or their bed. It makes sense that they’re more accustomed to non-traditional workspaces during business trips as well. Now, they’ll appreciate the flexibility to choose alternative lodging accommodations or casual business meeting spaces. 

As a side note, more than a third of business travelers (39%) have reported working from a restroom. But we’re not anticipating the start of porcelain cafes. 

Bumps in Hybrid Spend Processes

The hybrid work environment calls for adapted spend management processes. Not only are employees spending on new expense categories, like home office equipment, but the associated processes used to manage spending have typically relied on workers being in the office. Now, they’re conducting business from waiting rooms or restrooms, and without proper infrastructures, errors are likely to occur. 

An SAP Concur survey of 100 U.S. finance managers and 1,000 U.S. business travelers found that nearly all finance managers (98%) have seen an increase in non-compliant expenses during the past year. Though most (53%) believe those expenses stem from unclear policies, employees admit to being a bit more mischievous. Nearly two-thirds of business travelers admit to intentionally trying to get reimbursed for personal expenses. In fact, nearly all (89%) have submitted at least one travel expense in the past year that might have violated their company’s travel policies. On average, $3,397 of questionable expenses.

What could be motivating employees to skirt policies? In the past year, 86% of business travelers have reported that their company has been delayed in reimbursing their business expenses at least once. Nearly all agree this impacts their personal finances. Many people have been challenged by rising costs from inflation. As a result, late expense reimbursements that create added stress for workers are an issue.  

The Digital Office

One aspect of work provides consistency: the digital office. No matter where employees are, they’re plugged into digital infrastructures that enable them to do their best work. Travel and expense management solutions should fit within this framework and enable workers to make purchases, on the go, simply. 

Learn how to support and adapt to the future of travel and expense management in our eBook.

Meeting the Needs

Meeting the Needs of a Changing Workforce

Graduation season is here, and many recent or soon-to-be graduates are about to enter the workforce. In fact, it is estimated that companies plan to hire 26 percent more new graduates from the class of 2022 compared to the year before. Meeting the needs of this new workforce is key to successful talent acquisition and retention. 

The world is different than it was three graduation seasons ago. Businesses have needed to adjust the way they approach the hiring process to build strong teams. For these organizations to attract and retain the top talent within the job market, a different mindset and approach are required.

The future of work is now, and it is reliant upon driving change through technology, different ways of working, fresh perspectives, and diverse voices.

The Demand for Flexibility

Flexibility is an unwavering demand of the new generation of workers. In a world that relishes instant communication and expects full transparency, job candidates are more aware of the vast number of organizations that meet their employees where they are. So what does this mean for companies that are looking to hire and retain candidates who are overwhelmed with options? It means that flexibility is a must – not a “nice to have.”

Flexibility means allowing employees to build a schedule that best fits their needs. Many organizations are adapting accordingly as they recognize this level of flexibility is something they must offer their current and future employees. In fact, 81 percent of executives are changing their workplace policies to offer greater flexibility. This is a standard expectation of our new normal. A failure to keep up with these demands means limiting your talent pool and losing even the most loyal of employees.

Flexibility also means empowering employees to choose where they work. Organizations that promote a “work from anywhere” mindset prove that they truly foster an environment of flexibility and a consistent employee experience regardless of where one is seated. Companies have quickly acknowledged that the “work from anywhere” mindset vastly widens their potential candidate pool. These organizations can focus on recruiting candidates with different skillsets or backgrounds that can positively impact the business.

The companies that will win in the top talent competition are those that realize it is not where one works, but rather it is the breadth and quality of the work produced that is critical in allowing their organization to scale to the next level.

Defining Your Purpose and Aligning With Candidates

As Gen Z gains more stake in the workforce, purpose-driven practices will continue to take hold at the forefront and become the foundation of business. This shift has been bubbling under the surface for a few years, but now it sits firmly at the core of candidate requirements.

Organizations that choose to look intrinsically and identify the true purpose behind their work will find that like-minded talent turns their way. Purpose comes in many forms and can be realized in a variety of ways. There is no doubt that the new generation of candidates will not work for a company that does not have a defined and pursued purpose in place. The questions that all organizations must ask themselves are: What is the purpose of what you do? Who will you positively impact? How can you build a workplace that drives this purpose every single day?

The Impact of Technology

The Insurance industry exists largely to serve and support individuals, families, and organizations across the globe in times of need. This institution is comprised of companies that face challenges of how to bring a fresh and modern approach to help drive their purposes. Due to the length of its establishment, it would not come as a surprise if many candidates, particularly new graduates, saw the insurance industry as old school and have not considered it for their future careers. However, the reality is that there is a multitude of career advancement opportunities as technology such as software-as-a-solution, artificial intelligence, and machine learning continue to mature and become a staple within the industry. Insurance is a perfect fit for the new generation of workers who are inherently creative problem-solvers and who also wish to deepen their technology skillsets.

The companies that truly live out their defined purpose and offer the skills and training programs that employees desire will be the ones that gain the talent pool’s attention and thus deliver the innovative solutions that will be disruptive within their industry.

Cultivating Diverse Talent is the Path Forward

The changing workforce is shedding a bright light on the notable differences in how the varying generations approach their line of work. However, one similarity all generations in the workforce share is that employees only feel satisfied within their careers when they are comfortable enough to show up as their true selves and follow and express their passions and beliefs. Organizations that allow individuals and groups to be heard and empowered will win the competition for great talent. Without a doubt, upholding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) practices are at the forefront of these efforts.

Companies that promote their DE&I efforts create a culture where employees feel respected, connected, and proud. These organizations that choose to take a stance are more favorable to the new generation of candidates, many of whom will not work for companies that do not have DE&I programs in place. For organizations with customer-facing roles, an increased level of pride from employees leads to an increased level of engagement. Therefore, allowing them to better serve their customers and build stronger relationships with critical stakeholders.

Diversity Fosters Innovation

Organizations with diverse leaders and employees innovate at a faster rate. Diverse thinking and perspectives fuel creative ideas. It also fuels development cycles for new solutions, allowing companies to gain and sustain a competitive advantage by getting to market faster and focusing on the long-term value for their customers. This will in turn drive better business outcomes. 

Recently, our organization held a Diversity Summit to reflect on and discuss the future goals of DE&I in the workplace. It was a transformational three days, and the Summit is the type of event every organization should host more of. The group’s time together was filled with impactful moments that were educational, inspiring, and motivating to our employees. Both on a professional and personal level. 

DE&I initiatives should be incorporated into every part of the business and is not merely a three-day event. Leaders need to make a conscious effort to inspire employees and drive company culture by “walking the walk.” Candidates are not impressed by companies with executive-level and corporate “buy-in”. They are drawn to companies with true executive-level and corporate “believe-in”. An organization’s DE&I stance must stem top-down, and it cannot just be a focus within the HR part of the organization, or it will fall flat.

Every employee at every level within a corporate environment owns the company culture. Every candidate in the talent pool has a vested interest in being a part of an open culture that promotes belonging. 

A Few Final Thoughts

A company’s most valuable asset is its people. 

Companies must regularly reevaluate their hiring and internal processes. These processes are only successful when companies foster programs that empower their employees both professionally and personally and allow them to pursue their passion and purpose.

The companies that do this are the ones that will attract and retain candidates of the highest caliber.

Fair

6 Ways Employee Recognition can be Established in a Fair Climate

Sponsored by: Cristaux International

Kids are known for complaining when things aren’t fair. Although professional adults may not be as obvious as children, they do the same thing. Perhaps people worry about fairness because it is crucial to happiness. Any organization can find great success and growth by developing a fair recognition climate, but where does one start?

Fairness incorporates objectivity and human emotions. It’s a tricky balance to hack, but the tips below are meant to help leaders set up fair and effective recognition programs. With a clear strategy and positive culture, a company can grow from the inside out.

Why is Fairness Important to Recognition? 

Fairness helps cut bias and gives employee recognition credibility. By practicing fairness, more team members are inspired to take part in programs and opportunities. This buy-in is essential for including all employees and growing your whole team. Whether developing in-person or remote employee recognition, it’s important to make it accessible and encouraging for everyone. 

A fair recognition climate is a determining factor in establishing and strengthening corporate wellness in your company. It has many benefits considered by itself and from an overall corporate perspective.

 

Fair Recognition Programs

Overall benefits of corporate wellness (©Cristaux.com)

 

6 Ways to Establish a Fair Recognition Climate

There are countless ways to build a fair recognition climate. It largely depends on resourcefulness, planning, and inclusivity. When creating new initiatives, consider the team’s goals and the company’s capabilities. With creativity and collaboration, any organization can develop recognition programs within its means. Fairness is essential to effective recognition. It’s important to use the following tips and to see what works best for your team.

1. Use Employee Data

Choosing award recipients is often the most difficult part of recognition programs. To show fairness, use employee data and talent analytics to guide the decision-making process. Additionally, consider developing programs that are entirely objective. For instance, a years-of-service program celebrates employee anniversaries. This recognition is ideal because it can be achieved by all employees and allows leaders to remain objective.

It’s important to keep track of different data sets including employee start dates, reviews, and quotas. Different information can inspire diverse programs like sales recognition and customer service awards.

2. Allow Everyone to Achieve

Recognition must be a level playing field. From veteran staff members to new employees, everyone must be able to be recognized for a program to be fair. Imagine that an organization is putting together an annual awards program for its employees. Some staff members may not qualify for a specific category, so they must be considered for other awards. For example, new hires can be recognized as emerging leaders. Managers can be honored within their departments.

3. Recognize Consistently

Making recognition a routine for one’s company helps develop positive traditions. Consistency is key to building fair recognition. By sticking to a schedule, everyone shares the same expectations. Also, regularity encourages more people to achieve. Team members learn the routines, see others being celebrated, want that for themselves, and work harder.

Therefore, employee-of-the-month programs are so popular. They capture the importance of consistency and create a structure for employee recognition.

4. Show Appreciation

While recognition honors achievements, appreciation is often unprompted by behavior or actions. Instead, it may look like a catered lunch for a holiday. Small moments like these include staff members who may be struggling to go above and beyond. Also, it shows unconditional support and helps foster a culture of gratitude. Taking time to give genuine thanks goes a long way.

5. Celebrate Diverse Accomplishments

Supporting diversity in the workplace is crucial for growing modern businesses. This way, team members have many ways to succeed within their organization. For instance, consider honoring different departments or soft skills like teamwork and time management.

Consider recognizing personal milestones in addition to professional ones. By doing this, leaders show appreciation for the complex individuals they work with. Examples of what to celebrate include completed education outside of work and growing one’s family.

6. Recognize in Different Ways

Some employees prefer public recognition, while others opt for something more private. Get to know your team by talking with them or sharing a survey for them to complete. Consider asking how they would like to be recognized and what gifts they would like to receive. This way you can be more effective by personalizing your recognition efforts for each person. 

Fairness Makes Recognition Fruitful

The best recognition programs are fair, enjoyable, and inspiring. However, they look different for each unique organization. Like Rome, recognition programs are not built in a day. Take your time to develop what works best for you and your people and see the benefits pour in.

Skilling

Why Skilling Investments Directly Correlate to an Organization’s Bottom Line

Sponsored by: Cornerstone

Learning is the most important thing we do at work. 

I know that’s a bold statement. I’m sure you’re already trying to think of things you do at work that are more important than learning. But the truth is that learning is the foundation of how we grow and perform. 

Think about the learning opportunities at your organization. Are there company-sponsored places you can go to learn? Or do you simply rely on Google and YouTube? 

The reality is that many organizations rely on employees to find their own learning and development opportunities. So, what’s the problem with this? 

The problem is that this lack of prioritization for development opportunities at work won’t get us through the current talent and skilling shortages many industries are facing or help us grow into the future of work. 

These aren’t problems that will go away on their own, either. In fact, the current skilling and talent shortages are keeping business leaders up at night. According to a recently published Cornerstone People Research Lab survey, 48% of all employers placed skills and talent shortages within their top three concerns over the next three years. 

This urgency from business leaders is further evidenced in PwC’s Annual Global CEO Survey, where 74% of CEOs reported being concerned about the availability of key skills. 

Cornerstone’s survey also found that while ‘laggard’ and ‘average’ organizations show a consistent employer-employee confidence gap in skills development, high-performance organizations are ahead of the game. 

Let’s explore how high-performance organizations approach skills development and why it works.  

High-Performance Organizations as a Model for Success

High-performance organizations put their money where their mouth is. For example, when asked when they would prioritize skills investments for their company, 72% of respondents reported that prioritization was expected to occur within the next year or had already begun. Meanwhile, 68% of lagging organizations plan to invest in skills development within three to five years. 

According to our research, high-performance organizations aren’t just investing in one or two learning and skill development areas either. Nearly all high-performance organizations are prioritizing learning and development technology, learning content, formal education or university learning, mentoring and coaching programs, and on-the-job skills training.  

Meanwhile, only 34% of lagging organizations prioritize formal education, and 52% invest in mentoring and coaching programs. There’s more than a 30-point gap between high-performance organizations and laggards. 

High-performance organizations are also increasingly adopting an internal talent marketplace mindset. They are using skills data and skills development programs to promote internal mobility. Ninety-seven percent of high-performance organizations agreed that the role of talent development is to improve employee growth. Employees also agree – 82% of employees at high-performance organizations reported feeling that their company had insight into the gaps between current skills and those needed in the future. 

Developing internal talent is the number one way high-performance organizations plan to fill skills gaps. Meanwhile, lagging organizations plan to hire externally to fill those gaps over the next three years. 

Up-Leveling Your Skilling Strategy 

So, where do you start in up-leveling your skilling strategy? 

First, take inventory of the skills currently available in your organization. Then, predict what skills are most important to the future success of your organization. Once you understand what skills gaps exist, you can chart a plan to help close them. 

To do this, AI-based skills assessment and pathing technology can help identify those gaps between existing and future skills and make intelligent job and career recommendations based on skills.  

Once you connect skills development to career growth, employees can more easily chart their desired career path by seeing an integrated view of the skills needed and how it translates to internal mobility. 

This kind of growth investment isn’t just good for your people – it’s good for business. According to a 2021 Gallup survey in partnership with Amazon, skills training is one of the top perks younger workers look for in a new job. Further, 61% of respondents also said that upskilling opportunities are important for staying at their job.  Seventy-one percent agreed that job training and development increased their job satisfaction. More satisfaction leads to better retention. Better retention means better success and outcomes for a business.

The takeaway is simple. When organizations adopt an internal skills marketplace and an internal-first hiring mindset, employees stay engaged and happy, and your business increases its chances of successfully navigating the future.