Why and how to help employees through lateral moves

How to Help Employees Step Up to Lateral Moves

When you think about your future within your organization, what do you envision? Do you anticipate moving up through the ranks into a managerial or executive position? Or if you’re a specialist, do you look forward to taking on successive roles with increased responsibility? What about lateral moves? Do they even cross your mind?

In my opinion, lateral moves get a bad rap. Naturally, when people consider how to advance their career within a company, they think first about promotions. Lateral moves tend to be discounted because they don’t signify a “step up.” But that’s an overly simplistic way to look at career paths.

Here’s the truth: Some people aren’t cut out to manage others. Some don’t dream of running a department or a business. This doesn’t mean they aren’t talented employees. Nor does it mean they should be stifled professionally.

On the contrary. The best way to support these employees is through opportunities to move across the organization, rather than encouraging them to take a step “up.” When strong employees move sideways, you can fill their vacated roles with other internal talent, recruit new hires or look into business process outsourcing services.

Why Lateral Moves Make Sense

There are multiple reasons to transform your corporate “ladder” into a “lattice” that supports lateral moves. For instance, with this approach you can expect to:

1. Invigorate Professional Development

When you recognize that talented employees aren’t suited for managerial roles, it’s important to find other ways to encourage continued growth. Carefully chosen lateral moves can further develop employee strengths, expand their skill sets, and help them contribute more fully to your organization’s goals.

2. Improve Workforce Engagement

One of the most critical reasons to support lateral moves is the fact that it boosts engagement. When people are encouraged to use their skills more fully, they feel more connected with their work. For example, imagine a promising member of the finance team shows interest in marketing.

A transfer to the marketing group can mean this employee will work harder and be happier. This is beneficial for the employee, personally and professionally. And improved productivity improves the company’s bottom line, as well.

3. Promote Cross-Functional Collaboration

Lateral moves can also improve communication between departments. Better communication can improve collaboration and remove cross-functional barriers that may have slowed innovation in the past. Plus, when employees share knowledge and expertise gained from other teams, that fresh perspective can help their new teams find better solutions to business challenges.

4. Increase Employee Retention

By enabling people to explore different roles through lateral moves, you create new reasons to keep top talent onboard. Ideally, all team members can find attractive opportunities in departments that align with their professional interests and goals. In the near-term, job satisfaction should increase. While over time, you can expect to see retention increase as costly turnover decreases.

2 Ways to Support Lateral Moves

Did you recently realize one of your team members would be happier or more effective working in a different department? There are a few ways you can prepare them for a smooth transition. For example:

1. Develop a Transition-Specific Training Plan

When employees first joined your company, a training plan probably answered their questions and helped them get accustomed to their role. Although a lateral mover is no longer new to the company, a team-specific training plan could help them step into their new responsibilities more quickly and easily.

A transitioning employee may feel intimidated by the possibility of working with a new team or other changes on the horizon. Partner with the other team’s leader to ensure a warm welcome. Share your insights about the employee with this leader, and encourage them to discuss the new team’s habits and cadence of work.

The sooner an individual understands the lay of the land in a new internal role, the sooner they can contribute and help move the team’s agenda forward. By developing strong training and actively taking a part in the move, you can help transitioning employees reach their potential as soon as possible.

2. Keep Your Door Open

You may have initially been surprised or hurt to hear that a team member would prefer to work in a different department. However, it’s best to support their lateral move. Often, an employee’s desire to transfer isn’t a negative reflection on their current manager’s performance. It may just mean they want to learn more about another part of the business or their career goals are leading them in a different direction.

So keep the door open. In the near term, this employee will need your support as well as the support of their new manager. Major career transitions often come with growing pains. Even if an employee has been with the company for several years, they may not understand much about their new role or the team dynamic. Reassuring this individual that you are available to answer any questions will ease their professional transition.

Final Thoughts

When helping employees with their careers, it’s important to assist those who are strong candidates for lateral moves, as well as those who are moving upward. This is a great opportunity to show employees you care about their professional development and trajectory, even if they aren’t aiming toward a traditional managerial position.

When conducting performance evaluations, think about which employees are well-positioned for this kind of transition. Talk with them about their interests and goals. And if they want to pursue a lateral move, follow these tips to support them.

How can employers keep employees onboard and engaged during uncertain times? Meghan M. Biro says flexibility is the key. Learn more...

Flexibility: Key to Employee Retention in 2023

As 2022 comes to a close, several work trends are clearly visible on the horizon. Here’s one employers can’t afford to ignore — an alarming number of employees are still leaving their jobs. For all the talk about “the Great Resignation” being behind us, turnover continues to shape the world of work. And it doesn’t seem to be fading.

What’s the culprit here? In my opinion, too many employers continue to discount the need for flexibility in all its forms. Not sure if this should be a priority for you? Then consider some big-picture statistics:

  • recent Workhuman survey focused on workforce behavior and sentiment estimates that 36% of employees plan to leave their jobs in 2023.
  • Gartner predicts that steep 20% turnover rates will continue for the foreseeable future, with as many as 65% of employees still reevaluating their career paths.

These findings are hard to ignore. But rather than drilling down on disengaged workers and why they’re looking for greener pastures, I’d like to flip the script. Instead, let’s talk about people who want to remain in place. What can we learn from them?

Why Some People Stay

What is keeping people onboard? No doubt, some are hunkering down in reaction to growing economic uncertainty. But despite recent layoff news, many organizations are still hiring qualified talent. So why aren’t more people jumping ship?

Here’s why I think flexibility is the key. It is one of the most important factors keeping satisfied people connected with their employers and committed to doing their best work. In fact, as a motivational force, flexibility is second only to salary — ranking even higher than a positive work culture.

That’s powerful stuff. But it doesn’t tell the whole story. Let’s look closer.

Making a Business Case for Flexibility

If you’re mapping your HR goals for 2023, keep this caveat in mind: From a business perspective, flexibility may be losing some of its sheen. Organizations are facing the prospect of another year trying to juggle remote and hybrid workforce models. And after years of struggling to get it right, some companies may not be willing to invest as much time and effort to make it work.

Other business factors are causing leaders to push for a return to the office. After all, money talks. And the cost of office space doesn’t drop by 50% if only half of your workforce is filling the space. Also, we hear more executives emphasizing what suffers when people work from a distance — social bonds, career growth, collaboration and innovation.

But if you’re contemplating a full-scale return to office, perhaps you should think twice. Here’s why. I’m reminded of a 2021 #WorkTrends podcast conversation about flexibility with work-life expert and business consultant, Suzanne Brown.

Did Suzanne know something the rest of us weren’t ready to take seriously when she said this?

“People will stick around now. But as soon as the economy starts to strengthen, if you haven’t already built flexibility into your culture, you’ll start to lose people quickly.”

Circumstances may have shifted since that discussion, but Suzanne’s advice still holds true.

Flexibility Isn’t Just Skin Deep

When the conversation turned to imagining what flexible work could look like on the other side of the pandemic, I recall Suzanne saying:

Flexibility is more than just taking an afternoon off once in a while. Flexibility is how you treat employees in the long-term.

So true. The pandemic underscored what employers already knew (but may not have been willing to fully support at that time). But the fact remains, people want and deserve flexibility, even when the pandemic isn’t a concern.

With this in mind, what can employers do to build flexibility into their organization’s DNA? The challenge is to match the right conditions to choices that make sense for your workforce. Flexibility is both an informal and a formal state of work. And every organization is unique.

The possibilities are diverse: job sharing, split-shifts, permanent remote work, four-day work weeks, cross-functional talent mobility programs, project-based talent sharing, freelancing pools, part-time arrangements and more.

But the trick is to offer a mix of options that are relevant and meaningful for your people, while also supporting your organization’s values, culture and goals. If you’re serious about finding the best choices, you’ll involve your people in defining the options and being accountable for their success.

Clarifying the Rules

Flexibility deserves to be more than a random whim or a moving target. Employees and employers alike need to agree on guidelines. Indeed, your team’s ability to perform well in any combination of flexible roles demands a workable game plan.

Because employees see flexibility as the sign of a great work culture, it’s important to get their buy-in. Begin with a renewed reality check. Take the time now to ask employees and managers what kind of flexible options they believe would work best, going forward. (Anonymous surveys and feedback tools are terrific at helping you manage this process and interpret findings.)

Keep in mind that individual circumstances, career objectives and personal preferences change over time. What works for someone today may no longer fit in a year or two. People don’t want to be trapped in a work structure that no longer serves them. What will your process be for people who want to rethink their choices and modify their work model?

Here’s the clincher for employers. You need to demonstrate respect for people’s wishes. Respect and recognition are intimately connected with employee satisfaction, productivity and commitment.

That means leaders must be willing to do more than listen. It’s essential to take appropriate action in response to input. And it’s even more important to repeat this process, over and over again. When you demonstrate an ongoing commitment to building your flexible agenda around collaborative conversations, how can employees resist?

We’ll see what happens soon enough. The pandemic no longer has a grip on our every move, but the Great Resignation is still happening. No one knows for sure what will unfold next. But whatever challenges lie ahead, you can’t go wrong by staying in touch, staying open and staying flexible.

It could just be what convinces more of your people to stay.

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.

How can employers give employees the recognition they deserve? Check these 7 employee appreciation ideas people love

7 Employee Appreciation Ideas People Love

Content Impact Award - TalentCulture 2022

Employee appreciation is naturally top-of-mind for employers during the holiday season. But employees actually prefer recognition throughout the year. In fact, according to a HubSpot survey, 39% of employees don’t feel appreciated, and nearly 7 in 10 think better recognition would boost their performance.

So, what can you do to help your workforce feel more deeply appreciated?

Some organizations rely on standard, old-school methods like plaques. But a more personalized approach is far more effective. A thoughtful token of appreciation is worth much more than its monetary value, alone. It tells people they matter. And that kind of message lasts long after it is received.

Here are some meaningful ways to show your team members just how grateful you are for their contributions.

7 Ways to Elevate Employee Appreciation

1. Give Hard Workers a Break

When you recognize employees for an extraordinary effort on a project or success in achieving an important business goal, don’t just say thank you. Reward them with some well-deserved time off.

In going above and beyond, employees often put in extra hours working on weekends, at night, or in the wee hours of the morning. Along the way, they’re likely to lose precious sleep or family time. By letting them redeem some of that time you can help them relax and recharge after an intense work effort. Even one day away can make an impact.

Providing time off is easy. And if you toss in a bonus gift card or cash for these employees to spend on activities they enjoy, that break is likely to be especially memorable.

2. Spotlight Your Stars on Social Media

Want people on your team to feel like stars? Showcase top performers on social media for the world to see. Share photos or video clips of them on your organization’s accounts and express your gratitude for their unique contributions in an uplifting caption.

Invite your leaders and others to congratulate featured individuals in the comment section. Your “stars” will love the attention as it spreads across social media for others to see. These interactions also increase visibility for your business in all the right ways.

This kind of public recognition is personalized, community-minded, and compelling. Above all, it can boost an employee’s pride, confidence, and morale in ways that private recognition can’t touch. 

3. Create Customized Rewards

Are you thinking of giving top performers a framed certificate, a trophy, or maybe a cash reward? Instead, why not appeal to their particular interests? How do they spend their free time? What hobbies or passion projects matter most to them?

For example, do you have fitness freaks on your team? Reward them with a gym membership, a network pass, or a subsidy.

Maybe some of your people are into group activities. Why not share experiential rewards with them? For instance, you could arrange an outing at a local bowling, bocce, or Topgolf venue.

Or for those who love outdoor adventures like hiking, fly fishing, or river rafting, you could go all out and book a fun vacation package like this: White Water Rafting Montana.

Imagine how thrilled people will be with rewards that fit their interests. Whatever your budget, this is a highly effective way to keep employees motivated and reinforce your relationship with them.

4. Treat Your Team to a Tasty Meal

Everyone loves to eat. And there are endless ways to show employee appreciation with the gift of free food. You could send each employee a gift card to their favorite restaurant. Or to celebrate as a team, why not organize a surprise lunch out?

If your people work remotely, you can arrange to have a meal delivered to everyone’s door at the same time on the same day. Contact a restaurant each employee loves and order their favorite menu item. Or send a gift card to everyone in advance. This is an easy, cost-effective way to bring people together for a casual meetup. And don’t forget to send a heartfelt thank you note to each recipient, as icing on the cake.

5. Celebrate Everyday Efforts

To build and sustain a thriving workforce, look for ways to celebrate individuals and teams on a frequent basis. Ask for your workforce to be your eyes and ears to nominate people who deserve recognition for everyday accomplishments, little wins, and hard work, as well as big achievements. And encourage everyone in your organization to celebrate others, as well.

Genuine, ongoing praise is a powerful employee feedback tactic that drives engagement and job satisfaction. It also models the kind of spirit you want to see at the core of your culture.

Also, don’t forget opportunities to celebrate birthdays and other personal milestones. Let your employees know these aren’t just “checklist” items, but heartfelt gestures. You’ll see them smiling more often and sharing appreciation with peers.

6. Highlight Employee Excellence in Internal Newsletters

Internal newsletters and intranets are great for informational updates, but they’re just as powerful for employee appreciation. It pays to think creatively about how you can acknowledge your best performers through these channels.

You could dedicate a regular column in one of these vehicles to highlight stories about the hard work and accomplishments of top performers. These stories are an excellent way to boost morale and inspire top talent to remain engaged and keep aiming high.

7. Make The Most of Anniversaries

Some organizations treat anniversaries as just another day. But wouldn’t it be great to work for a company that celebrates every year of your employment as an important milestone?

The average employee turnover rate remains 20% higher than pre-pandemic levels. In this tough talent market, why would any employer let an anniversary go to waste?

Each year matters in the life of an employee. Whether they’re new to your organization or they’ve been on board for a long time, every member of your team deserves a celebration dedicated to their service. This kind of recognition can take many forms. But whatever you do, be sure to sincerely acknowledge people for their loyalty and their role in helping your organization advance its mission.

Final Thoughts

Great companies embrace employee appreciation as a crucial way to boost motivation, minimize turnover, and set their organization apart from competitors. Appreciating employees doesn’t need to be difficult, but it should be timely, sincere, and relevant.

Even if your budget is limited, there are endless ways to acknowledge people while reinforcing your organization’s goals, values, and culture. Why not think outside the box and show your appreciation in a truly unique way? All it takes is your commitment, consistency, and some thoughtful planning.

What caregiving benefits do modern employers provide? 6 business leaders share their answers

Which Caregiving Benefits Do Modern Employers Provide?

What benefits are top-of-mind for organizations that want to attract and retain great talent in today’s challenging talent market? Many are finding it pays to step outside the standard benefits box with creative options that meet diverse employee needs. For example, caregiving benefits are gaining strong momentum.

To learn more about this, we asked business and HR leaders to describe one caregiving option they believe is essential in supporting employees as they move through various life stages — from family planning and fertility to childcare and eldercare. Their recommendations cover a spectrum of solutions:

  • Childcare Benefits
  • Tuition Assistance
  • Sabbatical Leave
  • Unlimited PTO
  • Nutritional Support
  • Family Medical Leave

To learn more about why these options are so helpful, read the responses below…

6 Caregiving Benefits for the Modern Workforce

1. Childcare Support

One “do-everything” benefit can’t cover all the complexities involved with each stage in life. To ensure higher utilization and satisfaction, focus on stages with the most impact on employees and find the best option for each stage.

Certainly, fertility and family planning are good benefits to consider. However, childcare has the biggest impact on employee retention and productivity.

Childcare costs are soaring. In fact, in most states, the average annual cost of childcare is more expensive than college. This expense means many working couples are considering whether they can even afford to have kids, or if one parent must resign from work to care for their children at home.

Childcare also has a direct impact on employee attendance. On average, parents who must respond to childcare needs miss 9-14 days of work each year. And more than 65% leave work early or arrive late because they lack access to care. This is nearly 3x more productivity lost than from employees who are managing healthcare issues.

Kevin Ehlinger, VP Product Marketing, TOOTRiS

2. Tuition Assistance

Higher education and vocational training open up a wide range of opportunities for employees. They equip workers with the skills and knowledge to pursue additional career options and improve job mobility.

Tuition assistance makes education more accessible, empowering workers and their families to plan for their future. Offering tuition assistance as a benefit helps attract high-quality candidates and helps them hone their skills while helping employers retain top talent. In addition,  government education assistance programs in the U.S. let employers deduct sizable reimbursements for employee tuition contributions.

Ben Travis, Founder, HR Chief

3. Sabbatical Leave 

Although sabbatical leave was traditionally offered only in academic settings, it has started to gain strong traction over the past few years in the private sector, in response to a rise in employee burnout and the Great Resignation.

Private employers are looking for generous perks to attract new employees, keep them engaged, and help them maintain a healthy work-life balance. Sabbatical leave is the perfect benefit to check those boxes. 

In short, sabbatical leave is the option to step away from work for an extended period (usually 6 to 12 months) for any purpose whatsoever. This is a perfect way to accommodate employees at every stage in the employee lifecycle, from cradle to grave.

Individuals can take a sabbatical to de-stress and get pregnant, care for a new child, fight an illness, spend time with a dying loved one, or just travel the world. It is a flexible, practical benefit that allows for a range of uses. Whether paid, partially paid, or totally unpaid, any employee will appreciate the flexibility that sabbatical leave offers.

John Ross, CEO, Test Prep Insight

4. Unlimited PTO

As a business, we are committed to helping our employees maintain a work-life balance. We’re also committed to creating an environment that supports our employees’ personal goals and lets them prioritize their families. One way we do this is through a generous personal time off (PTO) policy.

We offer unlimited vacation time as well as unlimited sick time. We encourage employees to take time off for both personal and family goals, as well as when they need to care for ailing family members.

In addition, we provide resources for employees so they can continue working from home and/or work on a flexible schedule while they are taking time away.

Luciano Colos, CEO, PitchGrade

5. Nutritional Support 

One aspect of healthcare that spans the entire lifecycle is nutrition. So one benefit worth considering is coverage for prescribed nutritional supplements — not just prescription drugs. Other ways to support nutritional needs during different life stages is by providing access to educational information and expert talks about nutrition.

Optimum nutrition at each phase in the lifecycle promotes more robust immune systems and higher energy levels. That means it helps keep your workforce and their families healthier. So ultimately, these benefits ensure better performance at work and fewer illness-related absences. 

Ruth Novales, Marketing Director, Fortis Medical Billing Professionals

6. Family Medical Leave

Family medical leave is one benefit every employer should consider to help employees address the full lifecycle, from fertility to family planning to elder care.

Family medical leave helps protect an employee’s job for up to 12 weeks if they become ill or they need to care for a family member. A supervisor cannot fire an employee when they rely on this benefit for a legitimate reason, so it can provide a helpful safety net if the need arises.

Lindsey Hight, HR Professional, Sporting Smiles

 


EDITOR’S NOTE: These caregiving benefits ideas were submitted via Terkel. Terkel is a knowledge platform that shares community-driven content based on expert insights. To see questions and get published, sign up at terkel.io.

What should employers consider about ethical AI in talent decisions? Learn the latest in this #WorkTrends podcast episode

Transforming Talent Decisions With Ethical AI

Sponsored by Reejig

Countless HR tools, applications, and platforms now rely on artificial intelligence in some form. Users may not even notice that AI is operating in the background — but it can fundamentally change the way we work, think, and make talent decisions.

This raises several big questions. What should we really expect from AI? And is this kind of innovation moving us in the right direction?

For example, what role should AI play in skills-related talent acquisition and workforce mobility practices? With stellar talent in short supply these days, this topic has never been more important for employers to consider. So join me as I look closer at key issues surrounding ethical AI in HR tech on this #WorkTrends podcast episode.

Meet Our Guest:  Jonathan Reyes

Today, I’m excited to talk with Jonathan Reyes, a talent advisor and futurist who has been helping technology and banking industry companies navigate hypergrowth for nearly two decades. Now, as VP of North America for Reejig, he’s on a mission to build a world with zero wasted human potential.

Defining “Zero Waste” in Humans

Jonathan, I love the phrase “zero wasted potential.” What exactly does Reejig mean by this?

We envision a world where every person has access to meaningful work — no matter their background or circumstance. In this world, employers can tap into the right skills for the right roles, whenever needed. And at the same time, society can reap the benefits of access to diverse ideas through fair and equitable work opportunity.

The concept of sustainability is emerging in every industry. Now, sustainable human capital is becoming part of that conversation, and this is our way of expressing it.

So, with zero wasted potential, decisions aren’t based on a zero-sum game. When employers make human capital choices, individuals or society shouldn’t suffer. Instead, by focusing on talent mobility through upskilling and reskilling, we can create a new currency of work.

Workforce Intelligence Makes a Difference

Why do you feel workforce intelligence is essential for employers as they make talent decisions?

Organizations have so much human capital data. With all the workforce intelligence available, there’s no reason to hire and fire talent en masse — and then rehire many of the same individuals just months later.

Obviously, that’s an emotional and human experience for employees. But also, organizations are spending unnecessary money to find people and let them go, only to invest again in rehiring them.

Focusing instead on internal mobility is far more cost-effective.

Where Ethical AI Fits In

Many companies are unsure about AI in talent acquisition and management. What’s your take on this?

There are no universally accepted standards for ethical AI. This means vendors across industries can say technology is “ethical” based on self-assessment, without input from legal, ethical, or global experts.

But we’ve developed the world’s first independently audited, ethical talent AI. In fact, the World Economic Forum has recognized us for setting a benchmark in ethical AI.

The Impact on Internal Mobility

How do businesses benefit from shifting to a zero-wasted potential talent strategy? 

When companies manage internal mobility well, they extend employee tenure by 2x. And we know that people who stay and continue growing and developing are much more engaged.

This can create a significant downstream benefit. It’s one of the biggest reasons to invest in this kind of talent management capability.

 


For more great advice from Jonathan about why and how organizations are leveraging AI to make better talent decisions, listen to this full episode. Also, be sure to subscribe to the #WorkTrends Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. And to continue this conversation on social media, follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

How can we help women leaders move up, not out? #WorkTrends podcast with host Meghan M. Biro and guest expert, Todd Michem

What Helps Women Leaders Move Up, Not Out?

Currently, women account for nearly 48% of the global workforce. This seems like progress for gender equality and inclusion, right? But the picture isn’t as rosy as you might think—especially for women leaders.

In fact, recent research reveals that as women move up the management ranks, they’re actually less likely to be promoted to each successive rung on the corporate ladder. No wonder women executives are quitting their jobs at a record pace!

What will it take to remove these obstacles so more women can reach top management positions?

With stellar talent in short supply these days, this topic has never been more important for employers to address. So I invite you to dig deeper with me on this #WorkTrends podcast episode.

Meet Our Guest:  Todd Mitchem

Today, I’m speaking with author, consultant, and leadership development expert, Todd Mitchem, EVP at AMP Learning and Development. Todd is a future-of-work visionary who helps individuals understand and embrace the process of professional disruption and reinvention. And today we’re tapping into his expertise on key trends involving women leaders.

Work, Women, and Power

Welcome, Todd! Tell us, how can women leaders step into their power?

I teach presentation, communication, and executive presence skills for employees, often at large companies like Microsoft. And I would say about 98% of the participants are women.

Often, when I tell these women to step into their own their power, they’ll ask, “Well, how do I do that? I don’t want to seem too aggressive, or too bossy, or…”

My response is, “When you are in a room presenting, you’re there because someone believed you deserved to be there. You just need to own that. You need to step into that power.”

And the next piece is to lean on what you know, lean on what you’re good at, and step into that strength.

Executive Presence is a Skill

How are women leaders applying these lessons to engage their power?

Well, executive presence is a skill. People aren’t born an executive leader. It’s a skill.

So, if you teach them this skill, it’s amazing to watch what emerges from the process.  Because it frees them to bring out all the things they’ve worked so hard to achieve.

It’s powerful. But it’s skill-based. Once you learn the skill, your intelligence, your wisdom, your knowledge all emerge, almost naturally.

Women Can Lead With Their Strengths

You say women leaders need to realize they deserve to be in the position they’re in and should claim it. But what do you really mean by this?

I think society tends to make women think they’re supposed to act like their male counterparts who are successful but may be aggressive or overly dominating.

But in truth, if women just lead with their knowledge, instead of trying to outmatch the egos of their male colleagues, they’ll find they’re in a better place. That’s because they have much more confidence.

How Men Can Help

Todd, you’ve helped thousands of women claim their power and step into their roles more fully. As a man, how can you do this?

It’s not as if the corporate world is now magically wonderful for women. It isn’t. That’s an illusion. But women are evolving at an incredible pace, and men need to help step that up.

As women step into their power, men need to step up and check our egos at the door.

Resistance, or fear, or an unconscious belief structure will destroy you. The ego’s fight to win is about wanting to be right, instead of getting it right.

But the best thing to do for the future of work is to embrace the power we have as a unified group—men and women working together.

 


For more great advice from Todd, listen to this full episode. Also, be sure to subscribe to the #WorkTrends Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. And to continue this conversation on social media, follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Childcare Benefits: A Reckoning for Working Families

Childcare Benefits: A Reckoning for Working Families

It’s not a stretch to say COVID changed everything—including the way working families think about childcare benefits. Before the pandemic, parents struggled with childcare challenges, of course. But the day-to-day realities grew much worse when the pandemic struck.

After the initial shock of schools and childcare centers shutting down, families were left to figure out how to work from home while parenting. Instead of being at school or daycare, children spent the day side-by-side with their parents. In fact, from February 2020-February 2021, the lack of childcare pushed 2.3 million women out of the labor force. And a very long time passed before these women could return to work (if they have returned at all).

While people in some jobs continued to work on-site throughout the pandemic, many workers had to adapt to the new remote work world. This is where many employees still find themselves today, either working remotely or in some form of hybrid schedule—splitting time between home and office.

Today, childcare conditions have improved slightly, but still are far from ideal. Fortunately for some working families, employers are sponsoring more childcare benefits for those who need this kind of support.

Remote and Hybrid Employees Still Need Childcare Assistance

The benefits of remote work are well documented. However, one drawback is often overlooked. I’m talking about the misconception that people don’t need childcare assistance when they’re working remotely. This notion became prevalent early in the pandemic, and unfortunately, employers still haven’t moved on from this line of thinking.

Picture a typical working mother in a remote or hybrid management role.

Compared to her in-office peers, she doesn’t have fewer deadlines, less ambitious KPIs, or a smaller staff to manage. Nor does she have extra hands to hold her baby while attending Zoom meetings or responding to email messages. There are no extra hours in the day when she can feed or play with a toddler.

The workday is still the workday—even when people perform those tasks at home, surrounded by family distractions and obligations, rather than in an office cubicle.

Families With School-Aged Kids Face Unique Challenges

Contrary to what some believe, childcare needs do not stop once kids start kindergarten. I’m a mother, myself, so take it from me! Parents of 5-year-olds are still in the thick of their childcare journey.

Historically, preschool programs (as well as before-school and after-school care) served as a safety net to support a large, productive workforce. But COVID, chronic underfunding, and budget cuts have left these programs with limited capacity, fewer teachers, and reduced hours. The safety net is frayed, at best.

And now, working parents have the added burden of anxiety about COVID risks.

Previously, when children were mildly ill, they still attended school. These days, we know better. Emergency and backup care are must-haves for working parents who are unable to stay home with a sick child.

Even when parents take precautions, they still face the risk of a COVID outbreak at school that can suddenly change the course of a day, a week, or a month—depending on mandated quarantine periods. This is a lot for working families to handle, which is why employee childcare benefits matter so much.

Throughout the pandemic, working parents have been balancing the risks of depriving their children of social interaction or exposing them to a potentially deadly disease. Some families decide to choose individual or small-group professional care, such as a nanny or nanny-sharing arrangement. But this increases overall childcare costs and isn’t affordable enough for some.

The Trouble With Workplace Childcare Centers

Some employers have tried to help working families fill this gap by investing in on-site childcare centers. While an admirable idea and a substantial financial commitment, these large centers fall short for many employees.

These facilities no longer meet many childcare needs, and simply do not work for remote and hybrid workers. For example, how many working parents would want to commute to headquarters for their kids when they may otherwise be working from home? Working families prefer caregivers who are located close to home—which should be good news for employers who don’t want to dedicate massive budgets to build and maintain large childcare centers.

Childcare Benefits Are Key to Employee Retention

No matter which childcare option families choose, it comes at a price. And it’s hard for people to keep in perspective just how unaffordable it has become.

The national average childcare cost has risen to more than $10,000 per year, per child. That’s incredibly steep. How many working families do you know with two or three kids who also have an extra $20,000-$30,000 lying around?

The increasing cost of childcare forces parents (and mothers, in particular) to make a very difficult choice: Stay employed or quit to care full-time for their children. This has pushed record numbers of women out of the workforce.

The reality facing families is stark and alarming:

Current and prospective employees value family care benefits more than ever. This means employer-sponsored childcare benefits should play a key role in retention and recruitment strategies.

Final Thoughts

COVID drastically changed employment and childcare. The status quo is no longer sufficient, for both employees and employers. Forward-thinking business and HR leaders are rising to the challenge and supporting working families with employee childcare benefits that make a significant difference in people’s lives. This is a step in the right direction.

Employee Caregivers Are Quitting How Employers Can Help?

Employee Caregivers Are Quitting. Here’s How to Keep Them

These days, we’re flooded with headlines about The Great Resignation, The Big Quit, and The Great Reshuffle. It’s not surprising. The desire for career advancement and better work/life balance are powerful reasons why people are resigning in record numbers. But these aren’t the only motives. Actually, a growing number of people are quitting so they can take care of loved ones. If your organization can’t afford to lose these employee caregivers, this advice can help you keep them on board.

Factors Driving This Trend

We’re seeing more employee caregivers, partially because the pandemic put older people at risk and disrupted existing family care arrangements. But also, it is the result of broader population shifts and the rising cost of long-term care. Let’s look at how this could play out over the next 15-20 years…

1) Our Population is Changing

Historically, if you mapped our population by age, the chart would look like a pyramid. In the past, many more young people were at the base. As they became adults, they helped support a smaller number of older people at the top. Today, that pyramid is inverted, with a larger elderly population and an increasingly smaller base of young people at the bottom who struggle to support the elderly. This is happening because:

  • Boomers are aging
  • Younger generations are producing fewer children
  • Medical advances are extending life expectancies

This inverted pyramid means that by 2040, the elderly will depend more heavily on the working population than those under 18. Put differently, in less than 20 years, more of your employee caregivers will be supporting elderly loved ones, rather than their own children. Or potentially, they could be caring for both at the same time.

That’s already the case for many employee caregivers. In fact, more than half of middle-aged Americans are currently “sandwiched” between generations.

2) Caregiving Costs Are Rising

Because care is expensive to provide, not everyone will be able to hire professionals to look after aging family members. Instead, they’ll need to provide care themselves at home. According to a recent AARP survey, there are 48 million unpaid caregivers in the U.S. and 80% of these caregivers are providing care to an adult family member or friend.

This means organizations will increasingly have employees who are juggling job performance with the burden of being a caregiver—along with all the time, energy, and emotional commitment that caregiving requires. While they may manage caregiving by missing time at work, it could also be as serious as leaving the workforce altogether.

For example, consider these statistics:

How to Support Employee Caregivers

What are forward-thinking HR leaders doing to help employee caregivers? Our recent conversations focus on three key action areas:

1) Provide Financial Solutions

One of the most important ways to support employees is by helping them plan for their own long-term care. While younger employees may not see the need, education and planning now will offer them more care options in the future if they’re injured or become ill.

When you create financial programming, be sure it includes discussions about the role of:

  • Medicare and Medicaid – Some people see government programs such as care options. However, they typically don’t cover long-term care (Medicare) and access involves significant drawbacks and limitations (Medicaid).
  • Retirement savings/401k – Similarly, using 401(k) and retirement savings to pay for care is possible, but this also comes with drawbacks. These investments are best reserved for funding life expenses during retirement and are not recommended for use during working years.
  • Standalone long-term care insurance – This coverage may be offered at work or purchased through an independent insurance provider. It can be a viable solution that can help cover some costs of long-term care.
  • Hybrid life insurance with long-term care benefits – This lets people purchase life insurance coverage that includes the ability to advance part of a death benefit for care needs. Many products on the market focus care benefits on professional care such as a nursing home or home health aide, but new products in this category cover family caregiving, as well.

2) Promote Your Employee Assistance Programs

Another way to support your workforce is through an employee assistance program (EAP). The right program can help employees navigate the challenges they face as caregivers. Whether it’s offering care planning tools and strategies or access to tools to help people manage complex aspects of care, be sure to consider a wide range of resources. For instance, you could include:

  • Care planning services
  • Care needs assessments
  • Help in finding and evaluating care
  • Life insurance claims support
  • Long-term care claims support
  • Home care placement assistance
  • Legal support for wills, trusts, and power of attorney documents
  • In-home loneliness solutions
  • Home modification services
  • Relocation support

Finally, it’s important to share details about your EAP program, and re-communicate the program’s features and benefits on a regular basis. Pairing this with enrollment or re-enrollment of your financial support solutions is a great way to protect your employees.

3) Pay Attention to Caregiving Legislation

Many state governments are taking notice of the need for care—the growing number of people who need a solution, the lack of affordable care, and the expected future drain on state Medicaid funds. A growing number of states are enacting legislation to address these care issues.

For example, in 2021, Washington became the first state to pass this kind of legislation. The Washington Cares Act provides long-term care financial support for state residents. The program is funded by a payroll tax. Employees with qualifying long-term care coverage could opt out of the program (and the associated tax).

Although this legislation may provide a rough blueprint, each state’s approach is likely to be different. To prepare their organizations and their employees for the future, employers should begin tracking legislative activity.

Start Planning

It’s hard to know precisely what’s in store for employers as more Boomers leave the workplace and younger employees step in to care for aging loved ones. But thus far, it’s clear that employee caregivers will need support and solutions as they navigate an increasingly challenging eldercare crisis.

HR leaders can be an essential part of the solution, but it’s important to start planning now. Workplace programs and policies need to evolve, with active involvement from employers and their employees. Start by educating your workforce about the need to plan for long-term care–whether caring for an elderly parent or planning ahead to manage their own care should they need it. Working together with employees to address their needs will help them understand your commitment to them, and encourage them to stay.

Internal mobility programs

Internal Mobility Programs: The Key to Retention?

In response to the Great Resignation, employers everywhere are reevaluating their talent strategies. As part of this process, they’re seeking cost-effective ways to retain employees who are craving growth opportunities in today’s uncertain economy. That is why internal mobility programs are gaining momentum.

This article looks at why internal mobility is a smart talent strategy. Through the experience of several HR professionals who have launched and led internal mobility programs, we focus on how to develop a successful initiative while avoiding mistakes along the way.

The Benefits of Internal Talent Mobility

Why prioritize mobility—especially during a recession, when budget and resources are often more limited? There are multiple reasons. For example, these programs can help you:

1) Demonstrate Commitment to Your Workforce

Ginny Clarke is the Founder and CEO of Ginny Clarke, LLC. She previously worked at Google as Director of Leadership Internal Mobility. Clarke says internal mobility programs are a highly effective way to show you care and are invested in developing your organization’s top talent.

“This directly correlates with the level of employee engagement and willingness to stay and perform well,” Clarke notes. “It is also a way to give people valuable tools they can take wherever they go.” As a result, this kind of effort can build your brand, even after employees leave the company.

2) Upskill With the Future in Mind

LaRae James, Director of Human Resources for the City of Pearland, Texas, says that as roles evolve, organizations must upskill employees so they’re prepared for future opportunities. This is particularly important in a strong labor market. As LaRae notes, “Finding good talent is a challenge, so retention is vital for a sustainable workforce.”

She adds, “Developing employees results in a higher-performing organization and builds bench strength for internal mobility and succession planning.” In other words, your organization can never be too prepared for economic uncertainty.

3) Support Your Retention Goals

Angela-Cheng-Cimini, Senior Vice President of Talent and Chief Human Resources Officer at Harvard Business Publishing (HBP), emphasizes that “Career mobility is no longer in a black box. It is based on known expectations.” This kind of clarity means employees and managers can more confidently identify growth opportunities and work together toward the future.

City of Pearland’s James agrees. She says many organizations are creative about how they attract candidates, yet they don’t put the same kind of effort into retaining existing employees. This is why she recommends considering what the employee experience would look like if your organization approached its overall people strategy more creatively.

Building an Internal Mobility Program

To develop a recession-proof talent strategy, James says it is important to understand what motivates people to stay on board. Direct feedback tools help.

For example, her organization recently learned that when employees want to advance their careers, they tend to think of leaving, rather than exploring internal mobility options. The team used this insight to implement a series of events that help employees learn about various roles across the organization. They also provided career development and interview preparation courses.

Other organizations also use employee feedback to inform mobility program development. For example, HBP recently launched a robust career pathing framework. This is a response to exit interviews that revealed a lack of career advancement was the most common reason employees sought outside opportunities. HPB’s frameworks are designed to establish universal criteria for movement across the organization. “The system is grounded in core, leadership, and technical competencies,” Cheng-Cimini says.

Today, HPB offers more than 20 ladders. This provides full visibility into the skills employees need for success. It also lets them design their own paths based on their interests and strengths. As a result, “employees can now see beyond the role they currently occupy. Also, with their manager, they can plan for the experiences and skills they want to build.”

But what if your organization is just starting to build a program? Clarke thinks it’s wise to start small, even with only one business unit or with your most senior employees. She recommends focusing first on helping participants assess their capabilities and competencies. Then help them build a narrative that transcends past roles and responsibilities. She suggests that some of these steps can be scaled through online instruction, rather than relying solely on one-on-one coaching.

Internal Mobility Mistakes to Avoid

What missteps should you avoid when building and managing an internal mobility program?

1) Don’t give employees false hope

When sharing open roles, it is important not to misrepresent these opportunities. Clarke cautions, “There are no guarantees participants will get roles they are considered for.” Be intentional and transparent in how you market the program. For example, be sure to make employees aware that external candidates are also likely to be considered for opportunities. This context can help soften the disappointment employees feel if they are bypassed for desired assignments.

2) Avoid playing favorites

Internal mobility shouldn’t be a popularity contest. Clarke says it’s particularly important not to favor any particular type of person. Instead, she recommends a three-point strategy:

  • Take time to review those identified as ‘top talent’ to ensure broad representation.
  • Triangulate these recommendations with performance reviews, 360-degree feedback, and other endorsements.
  • Incentivize leaders to perform thoughtful talent reviews so you can identify top talent continuously and confidently.

3) Let go of seriously weak links

Don’t keep talent for the sake of ease. Clarke advises employers to proactively question the rationale for retaining some people. “If they are toxic or otherwise don’t represent company values, don’t fall into the trap of wanting to retain their intellectual capital, domain expertise, or a brand name at the expense of poor morale with the rest of their team.”

4) Don’t bite off more than you can chew

On a final note, you may be tempted to overthink this challenge. Although it makes sense to tailor mobility to your organization’s talent strategy, infrastructure, and employee needs, getting started is key. If necessary, focus first on small, achievable steps. Then build on those early wins.

Onboarding and Retention

How to Up Your Onboarding and Retention Game

How do you up your employee onboarding and retention game amid (yes, it is true) The Great Resignation? The onboarding process often goes overlooked until it’s too late. But with a strong process in place, you can set up new hires for success from day one.

In fact, Glassdoor research says organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by as much as 82% and productivity by 70%. Those are big numbers. And in today’s tight talent market, they make onboarding hard to ignore.

So, how can employers make sure onboarding efforts are up to snuff?

Our Guest:  Laura Lee Gentry

On this latest episode of the #WorkTrends podcast, I speak with Laura Lee Gentry, Chief People Officer at Enboarder. At Enboarder, Laura Lee is responsible for talent acquisition and onboarding, total rewards, talent management, leadership development, internal communications, and employer branding.

Let’s talk about onboarding and retention. Why is it so challenging these days? And why does there seem to be a disconnect between candidate experience and employee experience, Laura Lee?

“It’s about communication and perception. The things that aren’t said can lead to a disconnect between expectations and the reality of a new job. Being less than explicit can create the wrong interpretations. Hiring managers and recruiters need to be transparent about the company and the opportunity. They also need to be super clear that business needs might call for a pivot to avoid the whole like, ‘Well, that’s not my job’  conversation.”

Focusing on Retention

It’s clear we need to rethink hiring strategies and focus on retention…

“It’s interesting that people are following the market as opposed to getting out in front of it. For example, recruiting versus retention. It costs a lot more money to hire a new employee rather than retain your best talent. It costs between 50 and 150% of an employee’s salary to replace them. Beyond the cost of losing and replacing an employee, you’ve got all sorts of additional costs, like productivity and team morale. It can even impact revenue if it’s in a revenue-generating function.”

Managing The Great Resignation Challenges

As companies shift focus from hiring to retention, they need a true employer brand. For a company to build an employer brand based on integrity, it’s important to focus on offering a fantastic experience across the entire employee journey. This helps people become more passionate and engaged in their work.

What are HR leaders investing in right now to address hiring and retention challenges during The Great Resignation?

“A lot of HR leaders are turning to technology to support their hiring, onboarding, and employee engagement needs. Trying to not only create a more high-impact experience but also to increase the impact of their HR teams without adding headcount.”

Beyond Onboarding

Onboarding never really stops. Companies must deliver great experiences in the initial onboarding phase and beyond—throughout the employee journey…

“If you think about an employee’s career journey with a company, there are many opportunities around what I call defining moments, focusing on any moment of transition. There are peaks and pits, but also beginnings and endings. We all remember the first and last day of school, the first day of a new job. These are all defining moments or moments of transition, which is why they’re so memorable.”

How can we turn defining moments for employees into absolute peak experiences?

“Transitions inherently carry an element of risk and uncertainty. So they’re often the moments when employees feel the most vulnerable, which is why they’re so powerful. Leaders have the power to turn someone’s defining moments into positive defining moments with the right training, development, and understanding of what best practices look like in those moments.”

Excellent advice from Laura Lee Gentry!

I hope you found this #WorkTrends podcast episode helpful. To learn more about effective onboarding and retention, and how to improve the impact of your people programs, visit Enboarder at:  https://enboarder.com/.

Also, subscribe to the #WorkTrends Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. And be sure to follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, too, for more great conversations!

 

performance

To Boost Retention – Review for Projects, Not Performance

If you’re ramping up for Q4 in your workplace, you may be anticipating a slew of quarterly performance reviews. It’s your manager’s last chance of the year to address recent performance issues, map out a plan for improvement, and set a goal for what’s next year.  

But if you’re concerned with retention, you may want to reconsider. Performance reviews, depending on how they’re done, may not have the right tone to fit the turbulent world of work we’re in right now. They may not support your engagement and retention challenges. Employees are jumpy — and while feedback is always a good idea, it may all be in the delivery and the framework.  

What works instead? Take a project-based approach — in which feedback and reviews are based on specific projects rather than overall performance over time. It avoids focusing on trickier metrics like behavior and “commitment” and provides a picture of a given situation and a given challenge. And it creates a clear boundary between life and work at a time when many of our workforces are seeing those lines blur. The day-to-day of a given job may be filled with ebbs and flows that didn’t exist when performance review criteria was designed. Particularly in categories like “attitude,” “willingness,” or “energy.” But a project is a project: you get it done.

Projects and Teams are Already on the Rise

The world of work is already shifting to projects as an increment of production instead of focusing simply on time. A project-based approach to the workplace is already a reality for a growing number of organizations. Of course, there are industries that traditionally lend themselves to project-based cadences of work. Industries such as marketing, advertising and content, engineering, legal firms, consultancies, and other service providers. But even high-service industries can shift to projects — framing work into initiatives, special efforts, campaigns, and quotas.

Taking this approach can bring your people together as a team. And we’re seeing the rise of teams — Deloitte’s research on the power of high-performance teams to catalyze organizational growth is pretty compelling. We divide into teams to better structure communications channels within digital workplaces, to forge accountability, to better manage, and to create a unit we can rely on. Projects and teams go hand in hand: a team executes on a project, essentially — and may interact with other teams, but they have a specific role, specific tasks. That actually frees up a manager to track a whole lot more in terms of individual input and contributions, responsiveness, creativity, and the ability to work in a group — and as reflected in the outcome of the project they were a part of.

Anchored to Specific Targets

The uneasy truth may be that many organizations wonder if performance reviews are working, but don’t have an alternative. But this is the era of transformation — like it or not, we transformed where and when and how we work out of necessity. It’s a reality right now that employees are stressed — and a bit jumpy if you look at the Great Resignation. 

So consider the fact that just 14% of employees agree their performance review inspires them to improve, according to Gallup research. Further, traditional performance reviews and approaches to feedback can take a psychological toll —  actually making performance worse about one-third of the time, according to research published by the American Psychological Association. No one wants to unintentionally build more resentment instead of more engagement, best intentions aside.  

I’ve seen plenty of well-designed performance reviews that stay brilliantly on specifics. But one of the common objections employees have to performance reviews is that the criteria can feel vague; in that gray area may live bias, unfairness, arbitrariness, etc. Going granular may alleviate that: you’re looking at clear tasks delineated within the arc of a project: beginning, middle, completion. There’s closure. A sense of accomplishment. Finishing something feels good — and deserves credit. It may offer a tactful cantilever to other issues that need to be addressed. And there’s no question that each individual’s contribution to that project — and their own experience being a part of it— offer countless opportunities for feedback, for clarification, and for recognition. 

Reflecting What’s Happening Now

Is taking a project-based approach to reviews feasible for most organizations? It could be more feasible than you think. It fits the changes the world of work is already undergoing, and: factors many organizations are already experiencing:

  • An increase in bringing in gig workers, SMEs, and consultants that either complement existing skills among our salaried workforces or expand them as necessary — and therefore redefining the essence of a team.
  • A shift from depending on the overall cohesion of a physical workplace to a remote and hybrid one, where people don’t come together organically but over the work they do.
  • A new emphasis on flexible scheduling and more work/life integration — seeing the job as a series of projects rather than a monolithic block of time no matter what happens.
  • A need to integrate faster into operations and get employees aligned before that 3-6 month period when many consider leaving: A recent survey of some 2,000 U.S. employees found that more than half (52%) were already on the hunt for a new position after being in their present one for less than 3 months. 
  • A workforce in which teams, no matter their composition, can autonomously and independently execute, and a well-managed or self-managed team is becoming the essential engine of production (more than individual output) and a key part of the organizational chart.

A Resilient Framework

Recently the Harvard Business Review pointed to the resiliency of a project framework: instead of focusing on process and controls, it focuses on how to deliver the elements with the greatest value. It’s not a leap to see how that approach could also remove bias (such as recency) and gray areas from the equation, making the effort more about purpose, intent, strategy, goals, execution, and lessons learned. In terms of HR and talent management, that kind of shift immediately opens the door for feedback and self-reflection on the part of its participants and makes self-observation part of growth. In essence, it democratizes the review process by making it more clear.

Depending on the size and nature of your organization, performance reviews may be a critical factor in your talent management strategy. But adding project-focused reviews to the mix adds a concrete benefit. A tangible means to gauge people’s efforts to achieve real results, in real-time.  

It’s also a smaller-scale way to build larger-scale results: as we know, growth happens in increments and iterations, not whole-cloth. No question, it’s easier to drive alignment and achieve collaboration across a team focused on a project. So take that sense of accomplishment, focus on it and celebrate it, and then do that over again. In terms of employee engagement, that can create a truly strong foundation — and more reason for them to stay.