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Are You Cultivating a “Culture-Add” Talent Strategy?

In recent years, I’ve been encouraged by a groundswell of employers that are choosing to embrace “culture-add” people practices. In fact, several months ago, I wrote about it in a Sage Masterclass article.

Because this concept is central to the future of work, I’ve continued to ponder, read and discuss culture-add issues with others. Now I’m convinced this topic deserves much more than just one blog post. So let’s explore it further here. I hope this underscores the need for a shift to a culture-add recruitment and retention mindset. But more importantly, I hope it inspires constructive change.

What Does “Culture-Add” Mean?

The term “culture-add” speaks to a paradigm shift beyond traditional “culture-fit” talent strategies. On the surface, the culture-fit approach seems appealing. However, it ultimately leads to one-dimensional groups, teams, and organizations. And history tells us homogeneity can have dangerous consequences:  blind spots, groupthink, and poor decision-making.

In contrast, a “culture-add” approach actively seeks people with diverse perspectives that enhance teams and organizations. As we learn more about the significant benefits of a diverse workforce, culture-add hiring is emerging as an important way to strive for differences that make a positive impact.

As I noted in my previous article:

Most of us know that employees who align with a company’s values and fit into the culture generally have higher job satisfaction, improved job performance, and frankly, stick around longer. However, we are resting on our laurels if we use this as our rationale for continuing to use the culture-fit model.”

Embracing Organizational Change

We all know humans tend to resist change. In fact, the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” was suitable for a long time. It still holds some merit, so let’s not dismiss it completely. Tried-and-true processes can potentially save us from all kinds of turmoil — emotional, logistical, financial, and more.

However, if we want to innovate and grow, we must also be able to adapt. No doubt, changing an organization’s cultural fabric can be daunting. But it is necessary for long-term viability.

As Stephanie Burns says in a 2021 Forbes column, Why Evolving Your Business Right Now Is Critical:

Anyone who has wanted to cling to how things were will be in for a surprise this year, as COVID-19 entirely shifted the original paradigm. However, it’s also presented an opportunity for businesses and individuals to evolve into new ways of being.

COVID hasn’t just turned the world on its head, it’s accelerated trends that were already happening, such as the shift to remote work and the collective desire for more convenience…

Still, some founders don’t want much change. This could be due to fear of the unknown or fear that leaving their old business model, which had worked so well for so long, could be catastrophic. However, we’re reaching a critical impasse where businesses that don’t evolve may very well fade out of the picture. Evolution is a natural part of all of our lives, and our businesses are no exception.”

Leaders would be wise to heed this important advice, even if it seems overwhelming. It’s time to change. Our work cultures are constantly shifting. We, too, should remain prepared to embrace new ideas, processes, and people who can make us better.

Culture-add hiring can support this process by inviting more diverse minds and voices to the table as we dream up fresh ideas and orchestrate change. This reminds me of a related term — new blood. We need new blood to thrive.

Connecting Culture-Add and Diversity

This conversation leads us directly to the benefits of diversity. There’s an excellent article on the NeuroLeadership Institute blog, Your Brain at Work: Why Diverse Teams Outperform Homogeneous Teams. The entire piece is worth reading, but here’s a noteworthy excerpt:

Diverse teams are particularly good at exposing and correcting faulty thinking, generating fresh and novel ideas, and accounting for a wider array of variables in planning.

Part of the reason this happens is due to what scientists call cognitive elaboration — the process of sharing, challenging, and expanding our thinking. In essence, diverse teams compel each other to think more deeply about their reasoning and interrogate the facts more objectively.

They share counterfactuals as they go, they don’t take things for granted, and there is minimal ‘social loafing’ — or just accepting things at face value. In short, diverse teams tend to come to better conclusions because those conclusions have been road-tested more thoroughly.”

The science of diversity in teams is truly fascinating. It tells us that recruiting and hiring leaders can help by feeding teams with talented people who can accentuate the benefits of diversity.

Of course, diversity and inclusion don’t end with hiring. The next step is fostering a workplace that makes a wide variety of people feel valued. This is not an easy task. However, it is essential. So let’s look closer at what to consider…

Tips For Building a Culture-Add Mentality

1. Actively weave a sense of belonging into your workforce

As you build a more diverse organization through culture-add hiring, don’t be surprised if cliques and segmentation develop based on geographical, cultural, and other distinctions. That’s natural! But challenge your people to also learn and share what they have in common with others. Allow space for these common interests and goals to surface.

The Why Diverse Teams Outperform Homogeneous Teams article offers a compelling reason to make this a priority:

The benefits of diversity aren’t likely to accrue if we simply put together a team of diverse individuals and assign them a task. The environment in which they’re working should be inclusive — one in which all members feel valued and as if they have a voice.

In that inclusive environment, the benefits of diversity are far more likely to materialize. If not, employees will leave the organization, or worse, stay but not contribute. Diversity without inclusion only creates a revolving door of talent.”

Vigorously work on building a sense of belonging so people of different ages, backgrounds, and lifestyles feel celebrated for their differences. After all, you’ve brought them in to add to your culture, so allow them to shine.

2. Prepare to fully retrain your recruiting and hiring staff

This tip could stand alone as an article, white paper, or college thesis. But to be brief, let’s use an example to illustrate how deeply culture-add hiring upends the traditional approach:

Previously, when Bob hired someone at XYZ insurance company, he considered a candidate like Stan an excellent fit. That’s because Stan lived in a similar neighborhood, was married to a well-liked woman, and had kids who were high achievers. If Stan also golfed on the weekends and enjoyed a steak dinner, even better! He’d fit right into XYZ Insurance and would have a fulfilling career.

As mentioned previously, this model once made a lot of sense. Cultural similarities and a genuine “he’s one of us” mentality created a comfortable atmosphere where longevity was often the result. Unfortunately, homogeneous organizations were also the result.

Today’s businesses face new challenges that require a different approach. Your talent acquisition team can start by taking the initiative to reassess the criteria they use to find people (where, how). Then you can reframe the recruitment conversation from end to end.

Instead of looking for people to fit a standard outdated profile, allow questions and conversations to emphasize and embrace differences in candidates. What can they add versus how do they fit?

Begin by asking yourself and others in your organization to talk openly about how hiring is being handled, and what kind of outcomes this approach is creating — for better or worse.

If a culture-fit model still drives your talent decisions, don’t be ashamed to admit it. But if that’s the case, you’ll want to start making changes soon. Because I assure you, your competitors are already moving toward culture-add for the win.

People Science: A Fix for Broken Employee Engagement?

For years, organizations have invested heavily in programs designed to improve employee engagement and work performance. But despite good intentions, too many of these endeavors have fallen short. Now, some are turning to people science and coaching as a solution. Is this the answer?

What exactly is people science? How does it work hand-in-hand with coaching to drive better outcomes? And what should HR and business leaders do to implement a successful strategy?

I invite you to join me as I discuss this topic in-depth with an expert in people science on this #WorkTrends podcast episode.

Meet Our Guest:  Kevin Campbell

Today, I’m excited to welcome Kevin Campbell, a people scientist and executive strengths coach who specializes in leveraging workforce analytics with the art of leadership to help organizations strengthen work teams and improve their employee experience. Over the years, Kevin has worked with some of the most prestigious firms in workforce strategy, including Culture Amp, Deloitte, Gallup, and now Qualtrics.

Essential People Science Skills

Being an employee experience scientist sounds exciting, Kevin. But what exactly do you do?

To be effective, it requires expertise in multiple disciplines. Think of a Venn diagram with three intersecting circles.

One is people analytics, another is organizational psychology, and the other is applied practice. An employee experience scientist sits in the intersection of those three areas.

Understanding Employee Engagement

As a people scientist, what does the term “employee engagement” mean to you?

It’s important to talk about what it is not, as well as what it is.

It’s not a survey. Often, we lose sight of the fact that engagement is actually an emotional and psychological state. A survey is just a tool that helps us measure that state.

Engagement really starts with emotional commitment. I emphasize the emotional aspect because it’s about the desire to stay with an organization and help fulfill its objectives — not because you’re obligated or you feel forced to do it, but because you want to.

Pinpointing Engagement Issues

What is the most critical challenge you’re seeing right now?

Most organizations overemphasize understanding and underemphasize improvement in action.

For example, according to 2021 data, nearly 90% of companies measure engagement or have some type of employee feedback program, but only 7% of employees say their company acts on feedback in a highly effective way.

We haven’t updated that research yet, but I’m guessing it probably hasn’t improved much.

Bridging The Gap

How can employers address this problem? 

It’s important to recognize that the engagement survey or data isn’t the end. It’s really just the beginning.

To improve, you’ll want to translate results into actions that can have outsized impact on the your company culture. And the key is to use simple coaching skills.

 


For more great advice from Kevin about the art and science behind how to develop and sustain a great employee experience, 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.

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.

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.

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.

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

 

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.

Why Benefits for Employee Caregivers Are Good Business

We’ve all seen alarming headlines about “The Great Resignation.” Some observers say it shows no signs of letting up. McKinsey recently called it the “quitting trend that just won’t quit.” And data confirms that the “big quit” is real.

In May, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the U.S. voluntary quit rate was 25% higher than pre-pandemic levels. It’s hard to ignore numbers like that. And chances are you’ve experienced this recently in your own organization, as more top performers leave for various reasons.

What’s behind this surge in turnover? The pandemic forced us all to reevaluate what’s most important in life. Now, many are choosing to be more present for family while also juggling a demanding career. But the choice is especially challenging for those with family members who need special care.

This segment of the workforce is larger than you may think. In fact, according to the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers, 1 in 5 American workers also double as an unpaid family caregiver for an aging, ill or disabled loved one. The amount of time they spend on caregiving, in addition to their full-time careers, isn’t trivial. The AARP estimates that these caregivers devote an average of 23.7 hours a week to these tasks.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that employee caregivers are struggling mentally, physically, and financially. Nearly 60% are dealing with clinical depression and anxiety. Experts say they are stretched so thin that the snowball effect of caregiving will cause 1 in 3 to leave the workforce entirely.

New Insights About Employees as Caregivers

A new study entitled Following The Journey of Family Caregivers” commissioned by Homethrive, Home Instead, and Certification in Long-Term Care (CLTC) sheds more light on how employee caregivers are responding to the pressure.

Nearly 70% of survey respondents who identify as employed said it has been important to rely on paid in-home care because it helps them avoid leaving their job, or because it helps them concentrate better at work.

“I wasn’t surprised to hear (working caregivers) turning more to paid care,” says Eileen J. Tell, a Boston-area researcher who administered the survey. “They cited the importance of doing well at their job and the desire to maintain their job.”

It’s no wonder why working caregivers said they need paid assistance. For example:

  • 35% often provide companionship
  • 33% often provide transportation help
  • 26% often help with daily living activities
  • 23% often help arrange care
  • 26% often help make care decisions
  • 31% always help make home safety changes

Respondents also said if they received help coordinating care, it would take a major load off their already piled-high plates. Specifically:

  • 42% want coordination with doctors or care teams
  • 38% want assistance in finding service providers
  • 34% want help finding benefits eligibility
  • 34% want meal delivery coordination
  • 32% want recommendations for devices and equipment
  • 31% want help assessing home safety

Interestingly, the study found that only 6% of working caregivers receive support from an employer-provided benefit program to help find reliable paid in-home care for loved ones.

What about the other 94% without access to employee caregiving benefits? There is good news. An increasing number of forward-thinking employers are offering these unsung heroes benefits packages that include family caregiving options.

Why is this a wise choice? Employers gain in multiple ways. For example…

Business Benefits of Supporting Employee Caregivers

1. Restore Retention

When employees have an option to access the right kind of assistance, when they need it, they’re less likely to leave. They’re also more focused and productive at work. Offering this benefit can position you as an employer who cares about worker wellbeing on all levels—which in turn fosters a sense of company loyalty.

2. Rev-Up Recruitment

You want to attract the best employees possible. Offering a family caregiving benefit is one way to excel at recruiting because your company will appeal to candidates who value an employer with compassion, a concern for families, and a sense of community.

3. Improve Employee Wellbeing

According to Mercer’s 2022 Global Talent Trends study, employee wellbeing programs are among the top five reasons why people remain at a company. Caregiving can be a time-consuming and emotionally draining responsibility. A family caregiving benefit helps take some of this burden off your employees and improves their wellbeing.

4. Increase Productivity

Time is money. And caregiving can take up a lot of time.

One employee might spend hours on the phone setting up doctor appointments for an aging parent, while another might leave work frequently to take a special needs child to therapy.

It all takes time away from the workday, decreases productivity, and increases employee stress. But with a family caregiving benefit, employees and their loved ones will receive higher quality support when it matters most, so your business productivity will flourish.

5. Revolutionize Work-Life Balance

A family caregiving benefit can drastically improve work-life balance. When employees continually put others’ care ahead of self-care, it can translate into mental and physical health issues such as exhaustion, depression, and anxiety. Those issues inflate your company’s healthcare costs.

When a caregiver’s mindset has shifted to a “life-work tilt,” career advancement, salary increases, and professional praise are important. But quality time with loved ones, the opportunity to explore passions outside of work, and overall mental wellbeing are also critical.

Leaning into this “life-work tilt” can have multiple advantages. By proactively acknowledging the needs and responsibilities of family caregivers and offering tangible support, you can set your organization apart. And when your employees find a better balance between work and life, they can focus better, be more productive, and stay loyal to your company.

6. Protect Your Bottom Line

High turnover is expensive. The cost often extends beyond investing in recruitment to replace lost workers. For example, institutional knowledge and team morale also suffer. In addition, productivity can take a hit, which in turn, can reduce innovation and growth. Ultimately, this negative spiral can prevent your company from reaching its full potential. 

A Solution That Helps Employees and Employers

Family caregiving benefits are a win-win.

They’re a win for employers because they help improve workforce wellbeing, retention, and productivityall while protecting your bottom line.

They’re also a win for employees because they help support work-life balance, mental health, and job satisfaction. 

As Eileen Tell explains, “I think it’s key that employers understand how important it is to family caregivers to feel like they don’t have to choose between their jobs and their role as a family caregiver. Employees may look like they’re not paying attention to work, but they really don’t want to compromise their job and they don’t want to skimp on their family responsibilities.”

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!

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.

8 Ways to Foster Employee Happiness

When it comes to the workplace, happiness is key. Studies have shown that happy employees are more productive and efficient. That’s why employers need to do what they can to create a positive work environment. But what does employee happiness mean, exactly?

Here are a few tips for contributing to employee happiness in the workplace.

What Happiness at Work Means to Employees and Employers

Employees may feel satisfied with their job, have a positive work-life balance, or feel like they are part of a supportive team.

It may mean increased productivity, lower absenteeism, or reduced turnover for employers. Regardless of the definition, work happiness is essential for employees and employers.

Studies have proven that happy employees are more engaged and productive. They are also more likely to stay with their company and less likely to take sick days.

Happy employers, however, tend to have lower health care costs and higher profits. They also tend to be more successful in attracting and retaining top talent.

8 Ways to Foster Employee Happiness in the Workplace

You, as the employer, can do a few things to create a happy work environment.

1. Learn More About Your Employees

Getting to know your employees personally can go a long way in making them feel valued. Take the time to learn about their interests, family, and hobbies. Doing so will not only make them feel appreciated, but it will also help you better understand their needs and how to support them.

2. Make Time for Fun

Making time for fun is just as important as working hard. It can be as simple as hosting a happy hour each week or planning activities to build teamwork. Whatever you do, make sure it’s something that your employees will enjoy and look forward to.

3. Make Sure Employees Feel Heard

Employees who feel their voices are heard are more likely to be engaged and motivated at work. After all, feeling like you’re a part of the team and that your opinion matters is important to job satisfaction.

Some things you can do to ensure your employees feel heard:

  • Encourage open communication by creating an environment where employees feel comfortable speaking up.
  • Make it a point to listen to your employees and take their suggestions and feedback seriously.
  • Let employees know their input is valued and that you’re working to create a happy workplace for everyone.

4. Encourage Work-Life Balance

A healthy work-life balance is essential for employee happiness and productivity. Employees who feel like they have a good work-life balance are more likely to be engaged in their work and less likely to experience burnout.

An example of this is employees being able to take advantage of flex time and set their hours.

5. Celebrate Employee Accomplishments

Everyone likes to feel appreciated, and employees are no exception. When employees feel their hard work is being recognized, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated.

One way to show appreciation for your team members is by giving verbal praise when an employee does a good job. You can do this in a one-on-one conversation, during a team meeting, or even in an email.

Another way to show appreciation is by giving tangible rewards, such as gift cards, paid time off, or tickets to a show or event.

6. Salary Increase

An employee is happiest when they get a salary increase. A raise indicates that they are doing a good job and gives them a financial incentive to continue performing at a high level.

A salary increase can also help attract and retain top talent. If your employees feel they are paid fairly, they are less likely to look for other opportunities. As a result, a salary increase can be a valuable tool for promoting employee happiness in the workplace.

7. Create a Career Pathway

Employees who feel stuck in a dead-end job are less likely to be happy at work. On the other hand, employees who feel they have a clear career path are more likely to be engaged and motivated.

One way to create a career pathway for your employees is by providing opportunities for professional development. Professional development can include anything from paid training courses to tuition reimbursement for advanced degrees.

You can also create a mentorship program that pairs more experienced employees with newer employees. Mentorship programs can help newer employees feel like they have someone to look up to and learn from. It can also help more experienced employees stay engaged in their work.

8. Offer More Benefits

Apart from a salary increase, there are other ways to contribute to employee happiness by offering more benefits.

For example, you could provide a flexible work schedule, telecommuting options, or on-site child care. These benefits can go a long way in promoting employee happiness and retention.

Moreover, you could also offer other benefits, such as health insurance, a retirement savings plan, or paid time off. These benefits may seem like a small perk, but they can make a big difference to employees.

Benefits of a Happy Workplace

  • Productivity – When employees are happy, they are more productive.
  • Retention – Attracting and retaining top talent is essential for any organization, and a happy workplace can help.
  • Engagement – Engaged employees are more likely to go above and beyond for their organization.
  • Better customer service – If your employees are happy, they will be more likely to provide better customer service.
  • Improved bottom line – A happy workplace can enhance your organization’s bottom line.

The Takeaway

Employee happiness is essential to the success of any organization. You can do a few key things as an employer to help contribute to employee happiness in the workplace.

It is vital to make sure employees feel heard. Encourage open communication and allow employees to provide feedback. It is also essential to encourage work-life balance.

Make sure employees have the opportunity to take breaks and use their vacation time. Celebrate employee accomplishments and give them growth opportunities.

Finally, offer competitive salaries and benefits. By taking these steps, you can create a happy and productive workplace.

5 Strategies for Defining Your Employer Brand

Vanilla is one of the most popular flavors in the world. Just ensure it doesn’t become how people describe your employer brand.

Today’s job candidates and workers are often compelled to stay with one company versus another because of the company’s purpose and value. In other words, companies need a strong, direct, authentic employer brand that keeps employees from quitting and joining the Great Resignation. In most cases, a vanilla employee experience won’t cut it anymore.

A Modern Employer Brand

Instead of a basic, old-school employer brand, you need one that’s modern. You need a brand that reflects what your organization stands for and what talent can expect, even if it turns some applicants away.

Companies with substantive employer branding often embrace not being a good fit for everyone. Their employee value proposition statements illustrate their workplace’s true “give and get” nature. With this model, when a team member is willing to “give” in one area, they can expect to “get” something in return. It’s a reciprocal relationship that’s offered up plainly and unabashedly.

If this sounds unusual, it’s because only now are organizations strategically revising and advertising their employer brands more deeply. As employees become more critical of their work environments, many leave their longstanding positions to find companies that align with their values and goals. Especially in the ever-changing workforce, it’s important to learn from others’ mistakes so your company prospers rather than plummets.

Communicate a Meaningful Change

Even massive employer branding face-lifts, like Facebook’s rebranding to Meta, are not enough. Such a change can be perceived as surface-level and doesn’t create or communicate any meaningful change. And because in recent years, candidates have begun conducting employer brand research and digging deeper, transparency and authentic connection are key. Candidates and employees want sincerity. Candidates want to know what your company stands for to decide if it aligns with their passions and purpose. In other words, they want you to lay everything on the table as part of your employer branding.

Where, then, do you start? Below are five employer brand research tactics that will help you define and establish a genuinely distinct employer brand that reflects not only where your company is today but also where it will be tomorrow.

1. Assign a range of leaders to an employer branding committee.

As with any initiative, your employer branding efforts require commitment. An employer branding committee will help construct your employer brand from the ground up and serve as a strategic resource moving ahead.

To get the most out of your committee, including team members from across departments and verticals such as talent acquisition, marketing, diversity and inclusion, and sales will ensure that you aren’t overlooking any key issues as you flesh out what your employer brand means.

2. Host an employer branding kickoff meeting.

After inviting critical players to the table, hold a workshop to allow everyone to get on the same page regarding your employer branding goals. Hold this workshop in person, online, or both. After all, quality employer branding should be geographically agnostic.

During the event, review your employer branding elements. Try to get a handle on how all departments and groups see your organization. Are there disconnects, such as between your mission statement and the experience of workers as measured by employee insights like exit interviews? These are the areas to start cementing your preferred employer brand.

3. Conduct interviews with members of your leadership team.

A huge reason for misalignments between the employer brand you want and the employer brand you have is that leaders’ aspirations don’t always match up to your employer branding expectations.

As part of your conversations, find out what your company leaders demand and admire about their employees. Attempt to get a sense of what working for them looks like so you can revise your employer brand accordingly. Remember that you want your employer brand to be transparent when presenting your organizational work life.

4. Complete focus groups with a cross-section of employees.

Now that you’ve heard from the people steering the ship do a little research to learn more about the daily experiences of employees. Hold about a half-dozen two-hour sessions with up to 10 workers in each session. Use these focus group sessions to find out why the employees chose your organization and what motivates them most — and least. Try to understand the “give and get” exchanges happening. Don’t be surprised if you realize that your employer brand is more complicated than you might have thought.

5. Gauge the market’s view on your employer brand.

At this point, you should start to have a fleshed-out idea of your employer brand. How does it match up to your competition? Ideally, you want your employer brand to gain attention because it’s compelling or engaging. Therefore, spend time investigating the employer brands of your talent competitors.

Check out Glassdoor ratings, social media posts, and other markers of general brand sentiment. Be sure to check out job descriptions, too. Everything you learn can be folded back into maturing and solidifying your employer brand.

Final Words

Years ago, employer branding seemed easy: Pop a ping-pong table in the breakroom, offer beer on tap, and you were done. In 2022, high performers are looking for something deeper and more substantial out of their employee experiences. They’re looking for companies with employer brands that are straightforward and real and that offer workers a chance to be a part of a company they know they can trust and believe in. Developing a research strategy and research infrastructure for employer branding enables you to be that for them.

6 Ways to Engage With Your Employees and Prevent Attrition

One of the important factors involved in running a business is finding and retaining good employees. Yet, employees choosing to leave a job due to a lack of connection and engagement has increased.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in March 2022. Known as the “Great Resignation,” this trend has caught the attention of CEOs, upper-level management, and HR professionals. So why are these workers leaving, and what can you do as a business owner to improve retention?

Let’s explore how you can improve employee engagement within your organization and hold onto the valuable members of your team.  

How to Improve Employee Engagement

The key to success is to motivate and engage your team. A team that is passionate about their work and empowered to make strategic choices will achieve greater success.

If you have noticed the level of engagement in your organization has dropped, don’t be alarmed. While the current situation is less than ideal, there are steps you can take to improve upon it. 

Below are six ways you can effectively re-engage your team.

1. Leverage Your Team’s Strengths and Passions

When considering the roles performed by your team members, pay attention to their strengths and areas of interest. For example, employees who are truly passionate about their work are more dedicated and happier to return to the workplace every day.

This alignment is also a great way to reduce stress levels among team members. While some members may thrive when faced with the demands of high-profile or VIP clients, others may be better suited for work behind the scenes. 

Identifying the strengths of each team member will not only create a happier, more engaged work environment but will also improve productivity. Support this by backing your employees with the necessary budget to complete their projects. This allowance will provide more interest and variety in the workplace by preventing them from feeling stuck on any one task for an extended time.  

2. Trust the Decision-Making Abilities of Your Team

When you empower your employees to make their own decisions throughout the workday, you demonstrate you value their work and abilities. Building trust is an important step in creating a workplace where your team can thrive. It builds confidence and encourages each team member to work to their full potential.

Rather than outlining strict operating procedures with no room for personalization, allow your employees to make their best judgment in situations that don’t fit inside the box. Eliminate potential barriers, such as access to funding or tools when needed. You may discover more effective ways to solve problems by equipping staff to tap into their unique skillsets.    

3. Regularly Check-In with Your Team

A way to show employees they are an important part of the team is to show them their opinions matter. Take the time to check in with team members regularly. This check-in includes offering clear feedback and opportunities for improvement, opening the door for them to communicate their concerns and ideas.

Employees want direction. Many companies still use the traditional annual review, but this isn’t frequent enough to help your team improve. Instead, try offering a brief weekly update to each team member. Take this time to highlight ways they have performed skillfully and to identify actionable ways they can improve.

4. Allow for Open Communication Both Ways

This improved level of communication also needs to go in both directions. First, make it easy for your team to provide their feedback, including any concerns they may have and ideas for the future. You can encourage this by implementing an open-door policy within the workplace, offering time for your employees to speak up during their weekly check-in, or providing the opportunity for anonymous feedback with employee satisfaction surveys.

Make sure you are following through on the information that you are given. Advocate for their ideas. If they continually offer their feedback and nothing changes, it will only create frustration. The goal is for your team to feel heard and appreciated, which means considering their suggestions.  

5. Offer Training and Learning Opportunities

Another way you can help your team grow and improve in their career goals is to offer skill development and ongoing education opportunities. By supporting your team in advancing their career, you will show them that the company is invested in their future. This continued investment of time and resources fosters an environment of dedication and loyalty.

Knowledge and education come in many forms, including:

  • Formal education (College and University)
  • Mentorship/Coaching
  • Certifications
  • On-the-Job skills training
  • Virtual learning opportunities  

When many industries are experiencing skill shortages, investing in your team is a way to benefit both your company and all who work for it. 

6. Show Employees You Care About Their Health

In recent years, there has been a growing focus on mental health in all areas of our lives. This renewed focus includes the workplace. Not only will access to better mental health support help to boost work performance and satisfaction, but it will also help to improve the lives of your team outside of work. 

There are many ways you can make the mental health of your team a priority.  This focus ranges from providing better mental health care in your company’s health benefit plan to allowing for more flexible work hours, paid time off, and “mental health days.” 

Prioritizing mental health is more than just providing care for mental illness. It also means encouraging a healthy work/life balance and providing opportunities to relieve workplace stress.

Improve Employee Engagement by Creating an Employee-Centric Work Environment

By creating a work environment focused on empowering and supporting your team, you open the door for your employees to perform to their full potential. It encourages trust, increases productivity, and boosts employee retention. Build a culture that leverages your team’s strengths, trusts their decision-making abilities, encourages communication, and supports the health of all employees. Taking these steps will inspire a healthy, balanced workplace for all. 

Tackle Turnover: Spend a Little, Save a Lot

Your employees are your most valuable asset. If nothing else, the past two years have surely taught us that. How did organizations survive? Was it their inventory, their machinery, their equity? Those resources may have had something to do with staying afloat, but without the employees to sell, manage, and operate those assets, the business landscape would look very different today.

Knowing this, it’s not surprising the Great Resignation is top of mind. In August alone more than 4.3 million workers quit their jobs. That’s nearly 3% of the U.S. workforce leaving their jobs in search of something better – in a single month. There’s no better time to spend a little to tackle turnover, and save a lot in the long run. 

Spending a Lot on Turnover

Research conducted by Gallup in 2019 found the cost of replacing an employee ranges from one-half to 2x their annual salary. In an average year – even a good year – voluntary turnover costs U.S. businesses about one trillion dollars. 

Now take into account the massive turnover we’ve seen this year, plus the increasing labor shortage industries are facing. Recruiting is no longer business as usual, and the cost of turnover will show that. Organizations looking to stay competitive will need to utilize signing bonuses, agencies, and headhunters to recruit top talent, and it will be pricey. 

All of these costs to fill a position that ideally wouldn’t have been vacated in the first place – and there’s still a risk that the new hire you just spent thousands of dollars onboarding will leave, too! 

While this may sound bleak, it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, Gallup also found that 52% of employees who left their role voluntarily said their manager or organization could have done something to prevent them from quitting. This “something” that could reduce your organization’s turnover by half is really quite simple.

Tackle Turnover by Reassessing Employee Value

Reducing turnover may sound daunting – after all, each employee quits for their own specific reasons. Do organizations need to have a unique strategy for each employee at risk of leaving? Luckily, that isn’t the case. Whatever the reason for leaving is – benefits, work-life flexibility, workplace safety, career development, or something else – chances are the overarching theme is the same: how valued an employee feels. 

I’ll say it again: your employees are your greatest, most valuable assets, yet based on 2021’s turnover rates, it doesn’t appear organizations are treating them as such. Now more than ever organizations must lift, connect, and engage their humans before it’s too late. Employee recognition does just that.  

A robust employee recognition program allows employees to be recognized and to recognize each other for the invaluable work they do each day. It builds a community grounded in an organization’s core values, strengthening the bottom line. When employees feel seen, appreciated, and connected to their colleagues and organization, they stay longer. 

Spend a Little, Save a Lot

How much does your company spend on turnover in a year? How much will your company spend on turnover this year, when resignation rates are at an all-time high? Even without knowing the exact number, it’s probably too much. 

Instead, consider putting a fraction of that cost, say 1% of your payroll, into building a robust, collaborative, values-based employee recognition program and watch the ROI flood in. Workhuman® research has proven recognition works again and again. 

Across industries, employees who give and receive recognition are 2.6x less likely to leave their position. Employees recognized 7 to 10 times annually (that’s less than one recognition moment a month) see 2x lower turnover than those who go unrecognized. New hires recognized in the first year leave the organization 3x less than their unrecognized counterparts. 

The Impact of Recognition

Investing in a recognition program not only reduces turnover and increases engagement, but it also leads to happier customers. A Gallup report found engaged employees are not only more productive but also report 10% higher customer satisfaction metrics than disengaged employees. Workhuman’s data backs this up. Employees who are recognized monthly with monetary value are 4x as likely to receive compliments and be recognized by customers for exceptional service. Even further, the data shows a strong recognition culture yields customers who actually spend more

The power of recognition impacts organizations in all industries, not just customer facing ones. A Workhuman study found that five manufacturing plants with the strongest recognition culture reported 82% lower recordable injuries than the plants with the lowest recognition reach. Strong recognition cultures also reported an average lost time incident rate that is 65% lower than plants with low levels of recognition.

The impact goes far beyond the individual recipient. Just seeing coworkers receive awards for safety-related moments encourages others to prioritize safety as well. Employees who feel safe in their environment and are appreciated for following safety protocols are more productive. It almost makes them and feel more valued and connected to their work. 

Spending Smart

There is no avoiding the inevitable, and employers now have a choice to make. The choice is simple. Do nothing and continue to fund the endless turnover cycle, or build a culture where the turnover cycle can’t persist. Strategic employee recognition increases the bottom line through engagement and connection. Spending a little will transform your organization into one where employees want to stay. What are you waiting for? 

Implications of “Work-From-Anywhere” on Relocation Benefits

With the COVID-19 pandemic still dictating the terms of where and how we work, employees are settling into work from home—just not their current home. According to TechRepublic, 75% of employees would consider relocating if work from home arrangements become permanent. 

That means employers are now faced with yet another challenge: tailoring relocation benefits to support hybrid “work-from-anywhere.” Companies must remain agile in navigating the legal and logistical implications of this uptrend in employee relocation, all while driving performance, recruiting and retaining talent, and keeping their employees–both near and far–safe.

Our Guest: Gary Conerly, HomeServices Relocation

On our latest WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Gary Conerly, Director of Client Advisement for HomeServices Relocation. He’s a trusted human resources professional who has spent the last 20 years developing cost-effective relocation services for employers in a variety of industries.

When it comes to employee requests for relocation, Gary says the pandemic has changed things in a major way:

“Employees are saying…if I can work from home, why can’t I work from anywhere? The employee thinks that’s no big deal. I hope every listener out there is rolling their eyes right now. Because we all know just how big a deal that would be.”

Recruitment, Retention, and Relocation Benefits

In this new hybrid “work-from-anywhere” culture, how a company administers relocation benefits makes all the difference between retaining talent or sending them looking for more flexibility elsewhere. Gary explains:

“When a valued employee comes to you and makes a request to move to another state…most companies are approving that request. Losing an employee who has been upskilled…can have a significant impact on the business’ goals.”

Competitive relocation benefits have often been a critical part of onboarding. Now, Gary says that successfully recruiting top talent may depend on them:  

“One of the reasons an employee says ‘I’m not going to take this job’ is a lack of support when it comes to relocation. So, HR, at a minimum, needs to provide guidance, education, and resources for any and all relocating employees.”

When asked where companies should start, Gary had this to say:

“HR professionals can reach out to a relocation firm asking about the possibility of benefits that are provided free of charge and for guidance on reputable, professional moving companies, or (various) discounts for their employees.”

The Legal Implications of Hybrid “Work-From-Anywhere”

 While employees may not see the issue with relocating, for employers, it’s a different story.

“What if they’re moving to a state that has significantly more stringent labor regulations versus their current state? HR leaders…business leaders would have to look into (this) before they approve such a request,” Gary says.

Relocation and COVID-19 

Relocation has always been a complex process and the pandemic has only made it harder. Employers must now determine what their duty of care and responsibility is to best support an employee looking to relocate. 

“COVID-19 has had a serious impact on…moving services and other services related to relocation. Companies should educate employees about the risks that they face and set realistic expectations about the time involved,” Gary says.  

Gary warns that if a company fails to provide this guidance, it can lead to stress on the employee and hamper their productivity, which affects a business’ bottom line.

Hybrid “Work-From-Anywhere” and the Future of Work

As for what the future looks like in the “work-from-anywhere” culture, Gary explains that employees aren’t the only ones heading for different horizons:

“Here in the past 12 months, we’ve helped over 10 companies move their entire headquarters either a few states away or in some cases across the country…for real financial and quality of life reasons. I don’t see that going away.”

I hope you enjoyed this episode of #WorkTrends, sponsored by Homeservices Relocation. To learn more about facilitating employee relocation in the hybrid work world, contact Gary Conerly on LinkedIn.

Better Pay Isn’t Always the Key to Retaining Talent

Is your organization feeling the effects of the ‘great resignation?’ If not, you are one of the lucky few. Official figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that resignations have been abnormally high through 2021. By the end of August, over 10 million open jobs were left unfilled. In a normal year, average turnover rates are typically under 20%, but in recent research from the Achievers Workforce Institute, over half of survey respondents said they would be looking for a new job in 2021. Retaining talent has become a major issue for many organizations. 

The aftershocks of the COVID-19 pandemic are one cause of today’s great resignation. Some people had the time to reflect on their jobs and they began to wonder if they would rather do something else with their lives. Others hunkered down, put their careers on hold, and waited for the storm to pass. Now the economy is restarting, organizations are hiring, and employees can and will move on. The new normal of remote working also makes it easier and safer for individuals to look for new job opportunities. It has never been easier for organizations to attract and recruit talent more quickly and efficiently. Hiring senior talent without meeting them in person used to be unheard of. Now it’s entirely normal. The new challenges in retaining top talent calls for organizations to think outside of the box and find new ways to keep their employees happy.

Better Pay Isn’t Always the Only–or the Best–Way 

So how can organizations retain talent during the great resignation? One simple solution would be to pay them more, but this doesn’t always work. Apart from those in lower-paying jobs who may need more money just to keep going, the actual amount that companies pay people is less important than whether it’s more or less than what they think they are worth.  In practice, that means: are you paying them more or less than other people doing the same job in your organization or elsewhere? 

If your competitors have deeper pockets than you, this strategy won’t work. And if employees start comparing salaries within your organization, you risk demotivating people and starting a wage war. The end result? Paying more money to less motivated, less engaged employees. 

Reward Employees the Right Way

We all tend to motivate and reward other people in the way that we would like to be motivated and rewarded. If money motivates us, that’s what we offer. If we appreciate autonomy and space, we might try that. The problem is: not everyone is the same.

A better approach is to try and understand your employees as individuals who are motivated by different things and have different personality preferences. This is where tools like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) assessment can be really useful, both in helping us to recognize how we are different from other people and in understanding what would work for everybody. Once we understand that, we can apply a more tailored approach to rewarding our employees and improve retention. 

Adapt Feedback and Motivational Styles Using “Thinking-Feeling” 

“Thinking-Feeling”, one aspect of the MBTI framework, deals with how we prefer to make decisions. People with a “Thinking” preference prefer to make decisions based on objective logic. Alternatively, those with a “Feeling” preference tend to consider how their decisions affect people and whether the decision lines up with their values. They prefer the decision that feels right rather than the logically correct choice. Understanding how employees arrive at the important decisions in their lives is invaluable in determining employee retention strategy. 

Tailor Recognition and Feedback to Employee Preference

“Thinking-Feeling” influences many aspects of our lives, including how we prefer to receive recognition or appreciation. People with a “Thinking” preference like to be recognized for their competence and expertise. They want to know when they’re doing a good job or going above and beyond the norm. Having this feedback at the end of a project or when a task is completed is important for them. If they are given appreciation on an ongoing basis, such as before the result of their work is clear, it may irritate and demotivate them. 

In contrast, those with a “Feeling” preference like to be appreciated for their efforts. They like to be recognized for their personal contribution, for making a difference (to people, to society, to the world), and for helping others. They generally like a degree of feedback and appreciation throughout a project, not just at the end. 

A “Feeling” employee working for a “Thinking” manager may wonder why they are not getting any feedback during a task. This might cause them to worry and become demotivated. Conversely, a “Thinking” employee working for a “Feeling” manager may dislike praise for their efforts before things are finished. Consequently, they may doubt their manager’s competence, lose respect for them, or wonder if there is an ulterior motive. Once a manager understands how their reports have different needs, they can modify their behavior in a way that helps to keep engagement and motivation high. 

Match Management Style to Employee Personality Preferences 

The other aspects of personality are important in keeping people motivated, too. For example, MBTI theory suggests that people with my INTP personality type want a manager who gives them autonomy. INTPs prefer to do their work their own way without much supervision or detailed schedules. They need a manager who recognizes and rewards them for their expertise and competence and treats them in a consistent way. They value leadership who is open to new ideas and gives them the space to explore new possibilities. 

This may or may not be a manager’s natural style, but knowing about personality types and the MBTI framework will help them to modify their approach to get the best from their employees and keep them motivated. 

Of course, recognizing and adapting to the individuality of employees through their personality type is not the only way to retain talent during the great resignation, but it is an excellent place to start. 

Women in the Workplace: How to Retain Female Talent

Millions of Americans have left the workforce due to the ongoing public health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. This situation has particularly impacted female employees who had to become the primary caretakers of their children when schools and daycares closed. As a result, many women had to leave their jobs, and companies lost some of their most outstanding employees. Now companies need to spend time deciding how they can better accommodate, empower, and retain female talent with children.

I am a life coach, helping ambitious working moms become their best selves every day. Part of this is educating companies on how to better support women in the workplace, especially those with children. Using valuable insights from my clients and my own experience as a working mom, I’ve put together five suggestions for companies on how to retain female talent, both pre and postpartum.

Find Out How You Can Support Women in the Workplace

Administering a survey is one of the best ways to determine your company’s ability to hire and retain working moms. Ask open-ended questions so you can find out more about the challenges female employees face and which are the most important. If possible, allow them to give their opinion anonymously to share their feelings without worrying about retribution.

Revamp Your Company Policies & Benefits 

Once you’ve reviewed the survey, you’ll better understand the company policies and benefits that need revamping. For example, do the majority of female employees want paternity leave or extended maternity leave? Or perhaps they would prefer a more flexible work schedule? The company can also assess its employee performance evaluations, possibly changing from time-oriented to task-oriented. 

Whether female talent want to feel more involved during meetings or expectant moms require a designated parking spot, companies should accommodate the needs of women in the workplace. Listening to your female employees, and implementing change, can make it easier to retain talented pre and postpartum female employees. In doing so, you’ll not only improve your business, but women in the workplace are more likely to feel heard and acknowledged.

Start a Mentorship Program 

A study published by McKinsey, titled ‘Women in the Workplace 2020’, reveals that women may face significant roadblocks without the right mentorship and sponsorship opportunities. For example, a sponsor can amplify the voice of lower-level female talent, while a mentor can help guide women towards their career goals.

An official company mentor program is an excellent way for you to capitalize on your most fantastic resource, your employees. It also demonstrates the company’s commitment to nurturing talent and providing employees the opportunity to learn from a trusted advisor. Retaining female talent is far more likely for those companies who actively invest in their professional development. Women in these types of workplaces are also likely to be more loyal and productive. This further increases female employee retention rates.

Create an Employee Reward and Recognition Program

Every employee wants their manager to acknowledge their hard work. This recognition is especially true for pre and postpartum female employees who may quit their jobs due to feeling unappreciated, dismissed, or victim to gender inequality in the workplace. If possible, create a monthly reward and recognition program for outstanding employees. This straightforward strategy will foster a positive work culture and inspire employees to improve their work ethic. Working moms will also enjoy the positive reinforcement, especially those working from home who still want their efforts acknowledged outside the office.

Close the Wage Gap Between Your Employees

The pay gap between male and female talent is a long-standing issue of gender inequality in the workplace. It impacts female employees across all socioeconomic and racial groups in almost every industry. Companies should advocate for women in the workplace by closing the wage gap. After all, there’s a higher chance of female talent remaining loyal if they receive equal pay for equal work.

Make it Easier for Working Moms to Progress in Their Career

Are your pre and postpartum female workers anxious about potentially losing their job? Do the women in your workplace fear they’ll miss out on a promotion because of maternity leave? A top tip for supporting female workers is developing tools and creating opportunities that will allow them to advance their careers like their male counterparts. One way to do this is to focus on results, not on time spent; a great way to support a working mom’s need for flexibility. By creating opportunities for women, you can also tackle gender inequality in the workplace, encouraging female leadership and retaining your female employees in the process. 

There’s no doubt in my mind that moms are some of the hardest workers on the planet. With the right strategies and support, you can create a supportive environment for pre and postpartum women. In doing so, your company can encourage women in the workplace to thrive at all stages of life.

 

Internal Mobility, The Talent Marketplace, and Why to Embrace It

The world of work is rapidly evolving, and so are the career aspirations of the people. Compared to what we saw decades ago, people don’t want to embrace the same position for years till they retire. Instead, they are looking for opportunities to try new duties, get new skills, and stay flexible and agile.

On the flip side, today’s labor market is highly competitive, and there is a scarcity of skilled workforce. The PwC CEO survey reveals that a whopping 74 percent of CEOs are concerned about the shortage of critical skills and talent.

As a response to those challenges and today’s look at the future of work, internal mobility comes into play very actively.

The ‘secret sauce’ of internal mobility

The modern internal mobility concept evolved as the next logical step after the traditional career management model. The problem with career management was the idea of “waiting until someone is ready.” This resulted in losing top talent who took career opportunities elsewhere. Even if mobility was facilitated—or rather forced by management—it looked more like “assigning” new roles to employees.

Internal mobility today is agility built into the company’s talent processes. This model allows companies to get the most out of the talent and skills their employees obtain. Employees, in turn, get multiple opportunities like taking new and adjacent roles, upskilling, and keeping up with the company without having to leave it.

Internal talent evolution, however, wouldn’t be possible without technology. Today, the HR tech landscape contributes to internal mobility by providing what are called talent marketplace solutions. Simply put, a talent marketplace is a platform that connects employees with career opportunities inside the organization.

From recruiting to employee upskilling: What the talent marketplace brings in

The talent marketplace helps companies improve their employee engagement, development, and retention. Other challenges the talent marketplace helps address are:

  • Accelerating time-to-hire and optimizing hiring costs: Many organizations still pay big bucks to recruit people from outside. With a talent marketplace platform and insights into the company’s skills and talents, organizations can save recruiting expenses and instead connect their internal employees with the internal job openings.
  • Improving productivity of new hires: Employees who joined a new project or stepped into a new area of responsibilities within the company demonstrate better productivity. The reason follows. Internal talents have already spent some time with the company and can bring their valuable insights and skills to the new role. Besides, the opportunity to shift to a new role within a company contributes to employee motivation, engagement, and development.
  • Addressing skill gaps and future-proofing: The talent marketplace also helps the company coordinate all its available talents and see if they match current and future job roles. This way, companies can spot the skill gaps and align their employee development activities with their strategy and market trends.
  • Building a more agile workforce: In the long run, by embracing internal mobility powered by technology, companies can foster transition to a more agile workforce.

Talent insights as a fuel for internal mobility

One more component that makes internal mobility sufficient is data. The lion’s share of it, apparently, comes from within the company. Employee CVs, job profiles, training programs, and other assets containing information about skills are filling the internal mobility machine. Data about internal skills loaded into the talent marketplace platform transform into insights. Some of them allow companies to:

  • Basically, match employees to existing job openings, projects, and tasks
  • Personalize reskilling and upskilling journeys to help employees grow into new roles
  • Benchmarks future skills and future jobs

Another source of insights fueling internal mobility is the external market. Market trends that have run through the talent marketplace provide companies with insights into emerging roles, skill developments, and future business trends awaiting the particular industry.

With intelligence like this, companies can fill existing job openings with existing employees and take internal mobility to a whole strategic level. Specifically, they can make skills in their company transparent. Also, they can know what skills are still missing in their company, and plan strategies to address these deficits. They can plan, personalize, and predict the effort of employee development initiatives aimed to fill in the skill gaps.

Of course, embracing internal mobility doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, investment, data, and the right technology. But most importantly, it requires the right future-oriented mindset. American Express, IBM, Nestle, P&G, Unilever, and Google are just a few examples of brilliantly performed internal mobility strategies set on the future and employees’ development. Hopefully, more prominent companies will join these ranks.

Digital Upskilling to Close the Generation Gap

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

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

This has a direct effect on talent and the workforce.

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

Building a Digital-Ready Workforce

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

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

Adopting Unique Learning Methods

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

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

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

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

Training to Suit All Ages

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

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

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

Embrace the Diversity of Different Generations

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

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

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

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

Digital Upskilling is Here to Stay

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

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

HR Strategy: How to Recruit and Retain Top Talent

Hiring and keeping top talent is a challenge for many companies.

The problem is that not enough companies are taking the necessary steps to recruit and retain top talent. If your company wants to grow, you need to take action now.

Why is culture important?

Studies show that company culture makes a big difference when you want to recruit and retain top talent.

People tend to work harder in a positive environment with coworkers they enjoy working with. Additionally, a friendly office culture will make employees feel comfortable enough to approach management when there are problems. That’s why it’s so important that companies looking to grow focus on creating an enjoyable atmosphere for workers.

How do you build an enviable culture?

Think about all of the things you can do to market your company and promote a positive culture. This can take many forms, whether it’s having an excellent social media presence or offering contests for the community to participate in.

You also want to make sure that your company is open about its practices, including things like how you treat employees and what your benefits package entails.

Let’s go deeper into some of the factors that will allow you to recruit and retain top talent.

1. Organize job fairs/recruiting events.

The best way to attract talented employees is by attending job fairs and recruiting events hosted by local organizations. Make sure your staff knows about these upcoming events and that they have ample time to prepare.

By being present in all the right places, you also start building up your personal brand in the area you want to be best known for, which makes candidates think of you when they are on the lookout for a new job.

2. Provide interview feedback.

Different candidates have different strengths, and you must know how to leverage their talents. You want to make sure candidates feel welcome when they interview with your company, whether or not they receive an offer.

If a candidate is turned down for employment, then having feedback will help the candidate improve their interviewing skills in case there are future opportunities at your company. This should be included on job applications so you can better keep track of what weaknesses need improvement. If you do provide this information, make sure it is kept confidential.

3. Use online applications.

Believe it or not, many are still using paper applications when asking people to apply for a job. The fact is that most people don’t fill out applications anymore. They’re too busy to take the time to fill out paper applications on top of submitting their resume online. If you still use paper applications, then you are missing out on qualified applicants.

Make sure that hiring managers have the option to review resumes electronically instead of handling stacks of paper application packets every day.

How can you turn applicants into employees?

1. Offer competitive compensation packages.

If there’s one thing people look for when looking for jobs, it’s competitive compensation packages. We all want to know that we’re getting paid fairly for our work, which is why money and benefits are so important during the hiring process. Make sure you’re offering a competitive salary when hiring new employees and promoting current employees if you want to recruit and retain top talent.

2. Offer employee benefits.

If your company offers impressive employee benefits, then you’ll have an easier time recruiting quality candidates.

Some of the top benefits include health insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, retirement plans, tuition reimbursement, remote work, and even other employee benefits.

3. Create targeted job ads.

Typically job ads attract people who are currently searching for jobs due to unemployment or underemployment–sometimes even through the help of a recruitment agency.

If you want to attract employees with a higher chance of staying on for the long term, target your hiring efforts by posting ads in places where your ideal prospects gather. For example, if you’re looking for programmers or engineers to work at your company, find out where they hang out online.

Maybe there’s a forum full of them discussing new trends in their fields, which makes it easy for you to post an ad there and get higher-quality applicants interested in what you’re offering.

How can you improve employee retention?

1. Invest in management training.

If your top management team is not properly qualified, then that could lead to an entirely new set of problems when it comes time to manage employees. Consider outsourcing management training so supervisors and directors have the tools they need to work with their teams effectively.

2. Support employee engagement.

If your employees feel engaged with the company, then they will be more likely to stay through difficult times and continue producing quality work. Consider making attendance at company-sponsored events a requirement when it comes to employee evaluations.

Alternatively, you can also incentivize your employees to attend and participate in these events by offering perks to those that do.

3. Address issues quickly and proactively.

It’s important to deal with issues quickly before they become a larger problem affecting everyone involved.

As soon as you notice an issue (and before it becomes white noise in your head), address it so that your team feels like they have someone on their side looking out for them.

4. Foster professional growth.

One of the best ways to improve employee retention is by fostering professional growth for your employees. Make sure you’re empowering them to learn new skills and that they have time to add unique value to the company.

Whether it’s giving them a chance to work on project management, promoting their business ideas, or pursue educational opportunities, you’ll find that these specific opportunities will keep your employees engaged and loyal for many years to come.

5. Create a sustainable mix of employees.

If you have a large number of unmotivated workers, then that could decrease productivity in those who are motivated.

If you have too small of a team where everyone has extensive experience working together, this could also cause morale issues in the future. When hiring, look for the right balance of passionate yet green people mixed with more senior and experienced people to make sure everyone is happy in their jobs.

This also provides opportunities to give mentorship roles to those that are more senior in their positions.

6. Be a role model.

Do you want your employees to be motivated? The best managers know that setting an example can help improve morale across the company.

If you lead by example, then your team will be more likely to follow suit and stay on board with your vision for the future.

Conclusion

It’s important to realize that employee retention starts with hiring the right people for each role. To retain and recruit top talent, you need to start by finding the right people for the job and creating an engaging work environment where they can succeed.

By following these tips, you’ll have a much better chance at improving employee retention and building an even stronger foundation for your company.

Four Ways to Overcome the Frontline Labor Shortage

A record 10.9 million jobs went unfilled in July. Meanwhile, 8.4 million people remained unemployed in August. If there are more jobs available in the U.S than people who need them, why is there a frontline labor shortage that’s causing restaurants to close dining rooms, retailers to reduce hours, and delivery operations to run short on drivers? Why didn’t the decision to cut off additional federal unemployment payments get people back to work?

The Great Resignation is hitting the frontline hard as businesses struggle to regain their footing after a year of shutdowns. Unfortunately, there’s no end in sight. New data from Arlington Research and Axonify shows that 45 percent of frontline workers have already decided to leave their jobs. Retailers, grocers, and restaurants that are already struggling to keep up will find themselves even more understaffed and overwhelmed when the holiday season arrives.

Why can’t we retain frontline workers?

Almost 50 percent of frontline employees were furloughed or laid off last year. Essential workers have dealt with non-stop safety concerns, operational changes, and frustrated customers. Frontline jobs have always been physically and mentally exhausting. The pandemic represents a tipping point for this part of the workforce. As executives determine the way forward for their businesses, frontline workers are making decisions about their own futures.

Many employers have improved their compensation packages as a way to attract and retain workers. Amazon hiked its average U.S. starting pay to $18. Target launched a debt-free education assistance program for its 340,000 frontline team members. Disney offered $,1500 hiring bonuses for culinary roles in its theme parks. These are great improvements, but they’re just first steps because they don’t address the main reason people are quitting: the work experience.

Compensation ranks fourth on frontline employees’ list of reasons for leaving. Burnout is number one. You can’t pay people to stop feeling exhausted. And compensation only goes so far, especially as more employers offer competitive wages. Beyond band-aid solutions, organizations must meaningfully improve the day-to-day work experience to attract the best people—and keep them. With that in mind, here are four things you can do to overcome the labor shortage and become a frontline employer of choice.

Show employees that you care.

Burnout is the biggest reason frontline workers are walking away. Number two: lack of appreciation. The pandemic has made us all reflect on how we work and live, and the subsequent economic rebound has opened new opportunities. Staying in a stressful job where you’re not appreciated just isn’t worth it.

Fix this by making “thank you” the two most commonly used words in your workplace. Next, prioritize mental health by making related benefits and training widely available to full-time and part-time staff. Show new and experienced employees you prioritize their wellbeing by reducing common job stressors. This includes offering flexible scheduling and monitoring employee workloads. Foster a sense of community through social events and recognition programs. Even better, leverage employee-led committees to organize these activities.

Foster an inclusive and equitable workplace.

Frontline employees work in stores, branches, and warehouses. Their time is heavily scheduled, often to the minute. They’re unable to work remotely or adjust their schedules to accommodate personal responsibilities. This inflexibility has a direct impact on their job satisfaction, as 64.2 percent of store-based employees expressed happiness with their everyday work as compared to 81.4 percent of office-based workers.

This workplace inequity extends to factors like career development and pandemic support. In every case, employees who work on-location are less happy with their workplace experience as compared to those who work in an office. Furthermore, part-time employees are significantly less satisfied than full-timers when it comes to compensation, communication, technology, and manager support.

Become an employer of choice by demonstrating that everyone–regardless of role, location, or status–gets an equitable opportunity to succeed. Explore flexible working practices, such as adjustable shift times and hybrid roles. Conduct regular equity assessments to identify and close gaps between location and office-based work.

Empower frontline managers to create positive experiences.

One in two employees have quit a job to get away from a manager. Frontline employees who intend to leave are less happy with their direct managers (66 percent) as compared to those who plan to stay (80.9 percent). On the frontline, the manager is the face of the company, and they play the most important role in preventing turnover.

But managers walk a challenging tightrope between short-term performance goals and long-term relationship building. To avoid the frontline labor shortage, provide employees with the support they need to prioritize their teams. Reduce administrative workloads so they have the time to be present in the operation. Make sure new managers receive training and support immediately instead of waiting for the next program to come around. Provide on-demand resources and microlearning to help them prepare for their new roles.

Build your talent pipeline before you need it.

Many of the frontline workers who left were your best people. They were your future supervisors and managers. Hiring challenges make it unlikely that you’ll fill these gaps with external candidates. Instead, you need to build your talent bench internally ASAP. However, 35.8 percent of frontline employees only receive training during big job changes while 20.3 percent rarely or never receive it.

Frontline workers have always been difficult to reach with traditional classroom-based training. Pulling them out of the operation hurts the business, so their development opportunities have been limited. On the flip side, a reimagined training program is one of your best lines of defense in the war for frontline talent.

Apply new talent strategies, such as mobile and microlearning, that make development opportunities more accessible on the frontline. Design reskilling and upskilling activities that can be completed in just three to five minutes per day, thereby not disrupting the operation.

Employee experience can end the exodus.

The frontline labor shortage isn’t just about pay. It’s about the work itself. If you want to attract and retain the right people, give them an experience that helps them be their best, feel included and supported, and develop their careers. For even more insights on how to reimagine your frontline work experience, check out Axonify’s full report on The State of the Frontline Work Experience in 2021.

Future Workplace Mindset: People, Technology, and Business Intersection

As we all know, flexibility is the lifeblood of HR, especially when it comes to adopting new technologies for attracting candidates. While many are resistant to change in the working world, a willingness to adapt to whatever comes strengthens both HR and business strategies. By understanding that nothing will stay the same, and thus adopting a future workplace mindset, organizations can accept change and also thrive in it.

As technology becomes more important for keeping employees happy and productive, it’s crucial that businesses understand tech’s role in business success. And more importantly, act on this understanding.

Our Guest: Michel Visser, Unit4’s VP of People Success and Enablement

On the latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Michel Visser, Unit4’s VP of People Success and Enablement. In 2018, he joined Unit4 with the aim of attracting the best global talent. He has over a decade of experience in HR, holding various senior leadership roles. Michel teaches HR at the VU University Amsterdam and has been instrumental in developing creative and innovative strategies for attracting candidates, strengthening employee development, and generating strong engagement strategies.

I wanted to know: how does a company develop a workplace mindset for building a global identity that supports its brand and culture? According to Michel, it’s all about communicating company values. Values not only determine how a business operates, but how people interact with each other. Making values apparent allows candidates to know upfront whether they’re a good match for your organization. Sharing values throughout an organization also takes the transactional aspect out of work, and has everyone working towards a common goal. It helps employees feel like they’re doing something more than just getting a paycheck every week.

“It is absolutely critical to communicate organizational values to candidates because, without clear values, employee experience becomes transactional,” says Michel. “If you make your business’s values very clear, then you give candidates a chance to relate to your mission. You can use values as an instrument to attract and retain talent.”

And HR is fundamental in crafting these values.

“HR is now front and center when it comes to being visible and showing how employees actually deliver value to the business. It’s HR who starts formulating answers to questions like what does the business stand for? What do we value?” Michel says.

Technology’s Role in Communicating Values

Technology can play a big role in communicating values. It’s HR’s responsibility to strengthen the workplace mindset that it’s good to adapt and harness tech to keep employees engaged. And it’s vital to continuously monitor and measure that engagement.

“How do you keep track of employee engagement? If you find a proper tool to do that, how do you start acting on the insights you’ve gathered?” Michel says. “In many cases, you can’t just stop by a coffee maker and ask employees how they feel anymore. You need technology to gauge this.” 

Once tech is adopted, it’s crucial that HR plans to make sure employees engage with the tech. They also need to dive into workforce planning and understand that a two-year workforce plan makes more sense than a five- or 10-year plan. Organizations need to look at the length of time that employees stick around in the modern workforce and adjust to that. They also need to understand what skill sets employees need to thrive, how to create more engagement, and how to stay true to the values that are communicated. In other words, companies can’t just be “all talk.” Businesses have to deliver on promises if they want happy people.

“Everybody will tell you on their website that they put people first. But at the end of the day, you have to deliver and make sure people feel that the company values are true. Every HR professional should focus on putting values into place,” Michel says.

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends, sponsored by Unit4. You can learn more about workplace mindset and adopting new technologies by connecting with Michel on LinkedIn. Also, you can learn about how people management and technology can combine to give organizations a competitive advantage by downloading this Unit4 whitepaper.

 

How to Keep Talent Engaged: 3 Useful Practices from Aviation

With up to 200,000 commercial flights a day, aviation must do many things right. From airport operations and internet booking systems to something much more valuable: superb performance in the cockpit of every single plane, every single flight.

How do they keep talent engaged so they can fly impeccably? What can we learn from aviation that applies to businesses? Here are three valuable practices.

1. Provide the right response to errors.

One of the great killers of engagement in organizations is what happens when there’s an error. Of course, no one wants an incident in aviation. And it’s vital to treat every single one very seriously. But what’s surprising is that the discussions do not involve questions that suggest a personal attack or blame, like, “Who did it?” and “Whose fault is it?”

Instead, aviation professionals take a fact-based, neutral, non-rushed approach. The main question asked is: “What was it in the system that allowed this to happen?” Yes, someone may have made a mistake. But is that the result of improper or insufficient training? Or poorly designed procedures? Or some equipment that did not work as expected in that context?

The goal is for the organization to keep talent engaged by encouraging them to learn and improve. To make sure that everyone becomes better because of that incident. That people involved are more committed to doing their best, rather than discouraged or made angry. Just Culture is what this is called in aviation.

Companies are sometimes very far from this approach and there’s a lot that can be done to improve things. While pointing to “the guilty” and making sure they get reprimanded might seem like some sort of relief for the stress they’ve caused us, we all know it’s not the right path to take.

2. Ensure real-time feedback.

Pilots always know where they stand in terms of performance in their roles. This keeps them alert and motivated to learn and to perform at their best.

Twice a year they spend time in flight simulators. The first four hours of the visit are to practice situations they might face in reality: engine failure, hydraulics failure, emergency landing, smoke in the cabin, and so on. The second four hours are an examination. An experienced captain watches their every move in each scenario: their attitude, the way they communicate, their knowledge and airmanship. In the end, they get a detailed debriefing, and only if things went very well do they get to continue to fly planes. Six months later, they’re back in the simulators again to train and be examined.

In between simulators, they get feedback every day. Their activity in the cockpit can be checked or re-checked anytime because they’re in plain sight, thanks to cabin voice recorders (CVRs).

What can companies learn here? To set up an even bigger “big brother” to record all people’s moves? No. It is the supervisor’s role to notice what’s going on and to give people feedback right away. Not to be too busy with their own operational activities or wait for a superficial form to fill out now and then. Companies need to make sure that supervisors consider it important to give feedback to their people. And that everyone in the organization feels safe both to speak to others and to receive feedback from others.

In this dynamic world, we all need to know now where we stand. If we want to keep talent engaged, we must not rely on old data or on assumptions about where we are and how we’re doing.

3. Build team spirit.

In the past, airline captains used to be regarded as some larger-than-life figures, not to be argued with, whatever decisions they made. You only spoke when asked to speak. You didn’t challenge their experience or perception of things.

There are countless stories of small incidents or tragic accidents that happened because captains–mere mortals, after all–did not work together with the rest of the crew, did not consider their recommendations, did not have the right situational awareness, and ultimately made a bad call because of it.

Aviation cannot afford such a leadership style and such a culture. Because of this, since 1981, airlines have implemented what is known as Crew Resource Management. It is probably the closest thing there is to the concept of team spirit. It supports working together in a structured and clear way.

Many companies say things like, “We need to work as ONE company” and “create synergies” and “break the silos.” All good intentions are there… but the structures aren’t built to make all this happen. Organizations need to ask themselves: Are procedures written with this “ONE” goal in mind? Are the systems facilitating this vision?

Conclusion

One thing to admire about aviation is the thoroughness of every approach. Nothing is just a slogan. There are clear expectations for every role, with hardly any grey areas. The system is built in such a way that all available resources are used in the most effective way.

How does this keep talent engaged? By communicating the message that everyone counts. Not just the captain–but the co-pilot, the flight attendants, the tower, and the staff on the ground.

In aviation, efforts to build and maintain engagement go deep into how everything is organized. They go beyond the shiny surface activities, which may sound fun, but don’t last very long. How is your company doing on this spectrum?

How to Stop the Great Resignation with Employee Recognition [Podcast]

The “Great Resignation” has organizations everywhere in strategy mode. They’re brainstorming ways to keep employees happy and in turn, keep them on board.

So what’s making people want to quit their jobs en masse? The main cause is burnout. A recent Microsoft survey indicates that one in five people don’t feel like their employers care about burnout or work-life balance. Also, 54 percent are overworked and nearly 40 percent are out-right exhausted. With these kinds of stats, it’s easy to see why people would look elsewhere.

Fortunately, there is something employers can start implementing today that can help increase retention: employee recognition.

Our Guest: Morgan Chaney, Senior Director of Marketing at Blueboard

On the latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Morgan Chaney, Senior Director of Marketing at Blueboard, the world’s leading experiential employee rewards and recognition platform. Morgan is an employee recognition thought leader and a seasoned professional speaker. She hosts Blueboard’s monthly webinars and presents regularly at industry conferences and professional meetups, including HR Transform, HR Southwest, HR Redefined, DisruptHR Regional Events, Culture Con Madison, and the CalHR Conference.

Because employee recognition can be so effective for retention efforts, I was excited to tap into her expertise. According to Morgan, the first step in successful retention is to touch base with teams to see if people are feeling appreciated.

“Organizations need to touch base with their teams and check in on how they’re feeling,” Morgan says. “That’s how they’ll be able to pivot and stay afloat.”

Prior to the pandemic, seventy-five percent of employees didn’t feel valued. Now that we’re all interacting in different locations through screens, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to understand an employee’s mindset. That’s why it’s important to make a point to focus on these perspectives. Once you gauge whether employees feel valued, it’s time to add an employee recognition program or uplevel the one already in place.

 “Analyze your current program to see if it is well-utilized. Are managers trained and comfortable to give feedback and recognition in the first place? Is there clarity around how to participate in recognition?” Morgan says. “So those are things that employers can absolutely look at and ask themselves.”

The Importance of Managers in Employee Recognition

So how do you optimize these programs to ensure effectiveness? First and foremost, you need to make sure the mechanics for feedback and appreciation are solid. Managers need to feel comfortable with feedback and understand what is appropriate.

“Managers are a huge reason why people leave companies. If they don’t connect with their manager, if they don’t feel like they’re seen and valued from that first touchpoint, things can go really wrong and people might choose to go elsewhere,” Morgan says. 

Further, properly empowered managers can deliver positive feedback and can get creative with employee recognition.  They don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach. With this in mind, organizations can have leaders offer customized options and perks, which will likely be more effective.

“Choice is huge. To toot the horn for Blueboard a little bit, we do experiential rewards. And what that means is that instead of giving someone a cash bonus or a gift card, we curate a really beautiful menu of global experiences that they can choose from. So what that can look like in fruition is maybe chasing the northern lights on a trip to Alaska with your loved ones and checking that off your bucket list,” Morgan says. “Make a point to really lift up your top performers, because those are the ones that you really don’t want to leave, the ones that are going to be really hard to replace … recognize them for their values”

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends, sponsored by Blueboard. You can learn more about employee recognition by reaching out to Morgan Chaney on LinkedIn. You can also learn more about retaining top talent by checking out this  Blueboard ebook: Retaining Top Talent is Your Top Priority.

Why Employers are Reconsidering Hourly Workforce Benefits

If there’s a silver lining to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s the significant increase in status that the world’s hourly workers have achieved. Hourly workforce and gig employees have discovered they have more leverage today regarding their work hours and wages. Sadly, that recognition has been hard-won. The next chapter in the story could center on the best way for employers to provide this majority segment of the workforce an employee experience that includes accessible and comprehensive well-being solutions, including programs and tools for mental health care.

Across the U.S. alone, non-salaried employees (people paid an hourly wage) make up 58 percent of workers, according to a 2019 study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Hourly Employees are Valuable

Hourly employees have always been the unsung heroes of the global economy. They are the workers who show up and keep the wheels turning during the worst of times. They’re the frontline healthcare workers, firefighters, and police officers. But they’re also the people working on the production lines, driving the busses and conducting the trains. These hourly workers build houses, deliver packages, handle the behind-the-scenes tasks in restaurants, hotels, and retail stores.

Before COVID-19, the hourly workforce wasn’t considered “essential,” and those in many industries were treated like second-class citizens. Then suddenly, many of these same people were considered necessary for civilization to run day today. During the pandemic, nearly every state governor issued executive orders that defined “essential” industries. They include healthcare, food service, and public transportation. And their employees accounted for roughly 42 percent of the entire U.S. workforce in April 2020, according to the Brookings Institution. Among these, most are hourly or part-time workers, and 57 percent of them earn less than $20 an hour. In fact, essential employees earn an average of 18.2 percent less than employees in other industries, according to the Brookings report.

Nonetheless, many hourly workers are the customer-facing brand ambassadors for their companies. Their customer-facing job requirements made it impossible for many hourly workers to work from home when the global economy shut down. Instead, they were let go. According to the Economic Policy Institute, hourly, low-wage earners experienced 80 percent of the overall U.S. job losses in 2020.

The Needs of Hourly Workers

Now, it’s clear that COVID-19 has disrupted the entire hourly workforce landscape in other ways. Workers changed industries and realized that they could increase their pay significantly in new jobs. Also, as companies compete for a scarce pool of labor, wages are rising quickly. Many hourly workers are aware of this and are no longer wary of changing jobs for a better-paid position. Instead, they’re asking for better pay and greater benefits right where they are. That’s the impression of people like Alex Pantich, whose on-demand staffing platform Upshift is dedicated to the hourly and part-time workforce.

“In my experience operating an on-demand staffing platform,” Pantich said, “many of those working in the hospitality industry making minimum wage realized that they could work in a warehouse with better hours and a pay rate almost double what they made working in a restaurant.“

Research backs him up. Gallup reports that hourly workers are now significantly less satisfied than salaried employees. They are less satisfied with vacation time, retirement benefits, pay, safety conditions, job security,  health insurance benefits, and more. A recent study by Workplace Intelligence and MyWorkchoice that included 2,000 U.S. HR leaders and hourly workers revealed that nearly 94 percent of leaders and 87 percent of hourly workers felt that hourly workers should receive the same, or some of the same, benefits as salaried employees.

Meeting Changing Demands

“We’ve reached a critical turning point,’’ the study concluded. “The evidence is growing that employers who want to remain competitive in today’s marketplace should consider rethinking their benefits for hourly workers, especially flexibility.”

Researchers with the hiring platform HireVue say competition is fierce for top hourly talent. Organizations are getting creative with benefits to attract high performers. A recent survey by the hourly hiring platform Snagajob found that 89 percent of employers are competing for talent using flexible hours and scheduling. Also, 76 percent are offering a robust set of employee discounts and 54 percent are offering increased job skills training.

“Other trends among hourly employers include signing bonuses, increased pay, and vaccination incentives,” says Mathieu Stevenson of Snagajob.

Employers who hope to attract and retain top talent will provide employees full access to wellness tools and programs. Roughly 40 percent of all U.S. adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder during the pandemic. That is nearly four times the number who reported those symptoms in the first half of 2019. But the problem is even worse among essential workers. More than 42 percent of essential workers have suffered anxiety or depressive symptoms during the pandemic, compared with 30 percent among other workers.

To stay competitive, employers need to offer valuable benefits to all employees, regardless of hourly or salaried status.