#WorkTrends Preview: Building Strengths-Based Organizations

A healthy organization is built and runs on the idea that people are respected for what unique strength they bring to the table. A strength-based organization runs on this idea and creates employees who are actively engaged in their work. This results in better productivity, retention and profitability in the long run.

Join this week’s #WorkTrends chat as we discuss a better way to create strengths-based organizations. Although this idea has been around for over a decade, most organizations have “false-started” on it. We will explore why this “false start” has happened and why it’s time to try a new approach. A truly strengths-based company is the competitive organization of the future – come learn more from author Josh Allan Dykstra.

Building Strength-Based Organizations

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Tune in to our LIVE online podcast Wednesday, July 13 — 1 pm ET / 10 am PT

Join TalentCulture #WorkTrends Host Meghan M. Biro and guest Josh Allan Dykstra as they discuss how to build better strength based organizations.

#WorkTrends on Twitter — Wednesday, July 13 — 1:30 pm ET / 10:30 am PT

Immediately following the podcast, the team invites the TalentCulture community over to the #WorkTrends Twitter stream to continue the discussion. We encourage everyone with a Twitter account to participate as we gather for a live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1. How can an organization become more strengths-based? #WorkTrends (Tweet the question)

Q2. What are some ways to capitalize on individual strengths? #WorkTrends (Tweet the question)

Q3. In what ways can a strengths-based business outperform other organizations? #WorkTrends (Tweet the question)

Don’t want to wait until next Wednesday to join the conversation? You don’t have to. We invite you to check out the #WorkTrends Twitter feed, our TalentCulture World of Work Community, LinkedIn group, and in our TalentCulture G+ community. Feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions. See you there!

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Key Points from LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends 2016 [Report]

Each year, technology brings new recruiting trends to the HR world that impact both how we recruit, and retain, employees. It’s up to businesses to stay on top of these changing trends if they want to acquire the best talent. Obviously, that’s easier said than done, especially for smaller businesses that may not have the time and resources available. That’s why LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends for 2016, created by a panel of experts, is a fantastic guide for HR professionals and hiring managers

The report is geared toward small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) looking to upgrade their recruiting processes for the New Year and is the result of surveying some 3,894 talent acquisition decision-makers who work in corporate HR departments. With recruiting talent and retaining employees becoming more important than ever, businesses are constantly on the lookout to improve HR. Thanks to this report—and the experts surveyed—a lot of the hard work is already done. Let’s take a look. 

Identify Top Priorities

HR duties are widely varied, so prioritizing business needs is important for small businesses. The first section of the report found that businesses are focusing heavily on recruiting the very best talent and incentivizing employees to stick around. This certainly isn’t a new priority for any HR department anywhere: 42 percent of those surveyed said recruiting highly-talented candidates is a main priority, while 38 percent said the focus should be on employee retention. Other concepts, like improving the quality of hires, sourcing techniques, and pipelining talent were further down on the priority list.

Increase Hiring Budget for Better Hiring Practices

SMBs are growing steadily and that growth, as reflected by the HR pros participating in the survey, is likely to continue. 62 percent of respondents reported they expect an increase in hiring volume over the next year. Likewise, 46 percent predict their hiring budgets will increase accordingly. The two directly affect one another: the need for more employees necessitates a larger hiring budget, and better practices mean better employees.

Use New Ways to Find Top Talent

Recruiting high-quality talent seems to be the top priority among survey respondents, and many are wondering where to find it. The survey found that Internet job boards and social professional networks are the most popular sources for finding talent. SMB recruiters reported they lean more toward Internet boards (45 percent), while enterprise recruiters favor social networks (46 percent). Other recruitment methods mentioned include employee referrals, staffing agencies, and company career sites. Social media has been an effective way to find exceptional talent, and it appears that will continue to be a solid trend.

Win Over Top Talent and Measure Quality of Hire

SMBs and enterprise businesses alike are fighting over young professional talent. Most companies report looking to hire those who are freshly out of school (0-3 years). Internal candidates are also a source of talent, but not as popular as hiring Millennial talent. The tricky part is that there’s a lot of competition over this age bracket. The experts identified a few specific challenges SMBs have when trying to recruit Millennials:

  • Competition was rated as the biggest challenge, at 35 percent
  • Creating attractive compensation packages was second, at 32 percent
  • A lack of interest or awareness in the company brand was third at 31 percent

After beating out the competition, SMBs report that measuring the quality of hire is the most important way to assess ROI. The majority of companies (51 percent) measure this using new hire evaluation, while 48 percent look at retention and turnover rates, and 41 percent measure the hiring managers’ satisfaction. This suggests that SMBs are shifting toward employee satisfaction as a valuable metric. A happier employee will show better performance, and that’s important to both employee and employer. 

Brand Development for Effective Marketing and Recruiting

It’s no surprise that a lack of brand awareness is troubling to many businesses. Candidates’ familiarity with your brand is just as important as customers knowing your brand. Brand confusion is a business killer, so businesses are spending more money than ever on brand development. Furthermore, experts feel that a combination of channels is the most effective way to promote a brand. Respondents reported their most popular brand awareness channels, in order, as:

  • Company websites
  • Online professional networks
  • Social media
  • Word of mouth
  • Employee advocacy

believe that with an overall goal of brand awareness, the most effective strategy is to use a mixture of channels. A great company website—with a side of social media and industry authority—is a good starter recipe for raising brand awareness. And it’s important to note that any one of these alone probably isn’t enough to deliver the kind of results you’re looking for when it comes to attracting the best and the brightest. Recruitment today is as much about smart marketing as it is about anything else. If this topic interests you, it’s one I explore in depth in a Recruitment Marketing Series that I did for IBM, and contains lots of information you’ll find valuable.

The Future of Recruiting

Looking toward the future, finding and keeping top talent will continue to be a major priority. As technology and innovation evolve and continue to change the world of work as we know it, the way we recruit and retain talent will have to change and adapt as well. Businesses will focus on brand messaging related to corporate culture, innovation, social awareness, and other key things that are attractive to candidates, in an effort to not only attract, but retain them as well. As mentioned earlier, marketing now plays a central role in recruitment strategies, and it’s going to take much more than a few perks to get the attention of top talent. Lastly, measuring the quality of hire will continue to be the most valued metric by HR pros moving forward, especially as recruiting becomes more about the talent and less about the budget.

What do you think? Do the results reported here mirror your thoughts on this topic? What didn’t the experts cover that you find to be a challenge? Grab the report here if you’d like to explore in more detail: LinkedIn Global Recruiting Trends 2016.

Other posts on this topic:

Increasing Engagement and Retention With Progressive Benefits
Employee Retention Begins in the Interview Process
4 Reasons Social Media is a Top Recruiting Tool
Ending the Phony War for Talent: Why the language we use in recruiting matters


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Keep New Hires From Leaving In The First 90 Days

Employee turnover — especially in the first 90 days of a new hire’s tenure — costs organizations thousands of dollars per year.

Think about it: you spend time and resources looking for the right candidate, hire the person you think will succeed, and lose money until that new hire is performing at 100 percent productivity.

This can be especially frustrating in front-line industries like hospitality where, according to results from CompData’s 2014 edition of their annual BenchmarkPro Survey shared by Compensation Force, turnover in 2014 was 27.6 percent.

When you’re losing one in four new hires, all the time and resources you spent go to waste. The worst part? You have to start all over again.

How do you get it right the first time? Here are five reasons you’re losing new employees and how to fix them:

1. Your sourcing strategies are outdated.

If your organization is sourcing most of its candidates from job boards, classified ads, job fairs, and other outdated sources, it’s hurting the chances of finding a quality hire. Unfortunately, emphasizing recruiting and sourcing from these outlets keeps your organization from developing a strong pool of qualified candidates.

The solution: Focus on online sourcing and creating an employee referral program that keeps your talent pipeline full of qualified candidates. Sixty percent of recruiters from Jobvite’s 2014 Social Recruiting Survey cite referrals as the number one way they find the best candidates.

It’s simple. Since your current employees understand your organization better than anyone, they’re the best source for finding quality candidates that will be a good fit.

2. The new hire isn’t actually as skilled as you thought.

Look, we’ve all been there. A candidate with “that special something” talks about how he’s done similar work in the past, is proficient in the systems your organization employs, and has used the skills necessary in other positions. He gets the job, underperforms, and you have to let him go.

The solution: Job simulations. Putting candidates through simulations that measure specific work-related skills and competencies is a reliable way to gauge their skills.

In front-line positions like sales, hospitality, and customer support, job simulations can help your organization measure candidates’ communication skills, along with their ability to multi-task and think on their feet. These skills aren’t always easy to assess during an interview.

3. Your gut tells you who to hire.

Many hiring managers rely on gut feelings and casual observations about a candidate to make important hiring decisions. While sometimes you get lucky, more often than not this method results in hiring candidates who aren’t quite the right fit.

The solution: Take advantage of the data your organization generates and incorporate it into your screening and hiring decisions. Use data analytics to develop hiring models and then continuously test them to ensure they are valid and improving your hiring and retention metrics.

For example, keeping track of which sources produce the best hires or the impact that an onboarding training program has on performance can help you make decisions about how to make new hires the most successful.

4. The candidate isn’t clear about expectations.

Many employees who leave in the first 90 days do so because the position was simply not what they expected. Either the hiring manager inflated the role to make it more exciting, or the candidate was expecting the role to be one thing, and it turned out to be another.

In both situations, the responsibility is on the organization to clearly define things like work hours, responsibilities, and the part the role plays in the organization’s success.

The solution: Review your organization’s job postings and make sure the roles and responsibilities being described match the realities of the position. During the hiring process, it’s a good idea to distribute a “roles and responsibilities” checklist to candidates so they are aware — from the beginning — what the job requires.

5. You’re only hiring for skills, not job fit.

In a recent study of more than 500 CEOs, managing directors, hiring managers, and other decision makers in various industries, Hyper Island found that 78 percent believe personality is the most important aspect of hiring.

Yes, a good candidate will have the skills and abilities necessary to be effective at the job, but if the candidate’s personality doesn’t fit the position — or your organization’s culture — the odds of them leaving in the first 90 days dramatically increase.

The solution: Pre-hire personality assessments. Combined with hiring simulations that measure work skills, job-related personality assessments can help you determine if the candidates you’re interested in have the right personality for the job. More importantly, they can help determine if a candidate will mesh with your organization’s mission, values and culture.

If you’re having issues with turnover in the first 90 days, think about whether or not your organization is making some of these mistakes. Fix only one, and you’ll make your hiring process more efficient. Fix all of them, and you’ll be on your way to lower turnover rates and increased productivity.

How do you measure a candidate’s likelihood to stay in the first 90 days? What strategies does your organization employ to reduce turnover in the first 90 days?

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What's More Important to Give Employees: A Gift Card or a Pat on the Back?

While many companies use financial compensation to reward employees, there are times when these rewards lose their effectiveness. Here is when to consider ditching the bonus for a simple pat on the back.

While companies are comfortable with giving financial rewards to employees, they often get stuck when it comes to giving meaningful, genuine recognition. Yet recognition is often the more powerful reward, since it speaks to the employee in the language of meaning and personal context, rather than generic gift cards.

What speaks even more volume is creating reward programs with a social component. This approach brings the department or larger organization into the celebration of an employee’s accomplishments, resulting in the most powerful path to building a culture of recognition tied to accomplishments and employee growth.

Rewards vs. recognition – when each makes sense

For the purpose of this discussion, rewards can be thought of broadly as some form of compensation. Compensation may include salary, bonuses, stock, options or even deferred compensation. The point is there’s a formal agreement between the manager and the employee that some level of effort is required, some work product is expected, certain behavior is appropriate and results are desired.

This system works pretty well for most of us, most of the time, but there are times when financial rewards lose their effectiveness. Say your business isn’t growing due to economic or competitive pressures and you don’t have the resources to periodically review and up-level the rewards system. Many employees will find this a disincentive to keep performing at the same level. They may leave for greener pastures, they may develop bad attitudes, become resentful or cynical, even sabotage the workplace with ill-timed comments to customers.

While rewards are a necessary part of the world of work, they are not sufficient. It’s important to get them right and keep up with the market, or you’ll see retention fall and employees disengage. But it’s not the whole ball game.

This is where recognition comes in. In many cases it’s more powerful (assuming your rewards programs are in reasonable shape) to give an employee recognition when he or she excels. Recognition can be as simple as a shout out in a group email or as subtle as a heartfelt handshake. The difference here is it takes an emotional action on the part of the manager to recognize the actions of the employee.

Here are a few times when recognition makes sense:

  • When the person is well-compensated but has done something above and beyond the call of the job
  • When the person makes an effort to set a fine example, say by mentoring a struggling employee
  • When the employee invests him or herself at an emotional level to the success of the organization.

Building a culture of recognition

It’s difficult to build a culture of recognition but it can be done. Christine M. Riordan, writing in the Harvard Business Review, talks about how companies can ‘foster a culture of gratitude.” Certainly gratitude is a component of recognition: If someone helps you reach your sales goal, you’ll feel not only that you hired the right person but also grateful for their contribution to your company. Recognition is, I’d argue, bigger than gratitude alone. Recognition is a celebration of shared values and a shared sense of purpose, clearly communicated and widely understood. If you don’t convey the purpose, mission or how to achieve the goals correctly, many things can go wrong in the organization. (McKinsey Quarterly goes into this more in depth.)

Employee recognition has (at least) five attributes: it’s in the moment, in context, appropriate, authentic, and it’s aligned with the employee’s notion of value.

When financial rewards backfire – and what to do to remedy the situation

We’ve all seen rewards systems based purely on financial rewards backfire. It happens with dismaying frequency when your culture lacks a recognition component. Remember the last time you gave Jim a bonus for hitting a goal, only to find out later that Jim’s team did 90 percent of the work? Remember when you instituted raises after a two year freeze, citing everyone’s hard work? You lost 30 percent of staff within six months. Bet you didn’t see that coming.

Money isn’t everything. To fix a situation where monetary rewards have created friction, you’ll first need to check in with all your managers to get the lay of the land. Find out who’s unhappy, then go to them and ask open questions about what’s bugging them. Then acknowledge the error and fix it. It might mean giving Jim’s team bonuses (after having a few words with Jim about how he handled it), but in other instances you may be able to bring the ship aright with recognition: stand up in front of the group, admit you made an error, and recognize each player for his or her contribution.

Financial rewards put a price on doing the right thing; recognition gives the same action value. I’ll take value every day. In a healthy work culture, value should be the yardstick used to measure accomplishment and determine appropriate recognition.

This article was first published on on May 2, 2014

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5 HR Technology Trends: HR Isn’t The Stagnant Step-Sister Anymore

Here’s yet another case where what happens in Vegas should not stay in Vegas: the HR Tech Conference. With $812 million venture capital investment pumped into HR and recruiting tech in the first half of 2015, this one’s going to be hot. Sure I’m geeked on it. Now that products and rollouts run the functional gamut you should be too, considering what’s worth the bite. It’s a big bad buffet.

So what are these HR Technology trends? Here you go.

1) Go for today, later, and even later than that

Assess your present and future needs. Ask the hard questions: where are your blind spots? Is your social and mobile recruiting game on? Are you able to run global, across the board training? Can you onboard everyone, regardless of position, fluidly, and dovetail their tasks in a click? How do you track engagements? Can you plot succession scenarios? And will your HR tech be able to handle a radical increase in size, functionality and scope?

2) Remember the Prius

Not so long ago, we suddenly had the option to go to a commercial car dealership and buy a Prius. It took some getting used to — so quiet, so streamlined — but we did. It wasn’t cheap, but it was a game changer. Some of us wanted to be in on that, and as soon as we had the funds to get one, we did. The novelty’s over: hybrid is part of a better normal. We’re about to be there in HR. So if you don’t want to be left behind, it’s high time to make your case with corporate: the upgrade to stronger tech must happen now.

3) Integrated or regular?

You don’t need one-size-does-everything. A colleague smartly noted that just because software is integrated doesn’t make it awesome — or really, even integrated; in some instances, the cost of integrating with legacy software as well is simply prohibitive. If a company does have the luxury of making a single vendor purchase, you may well be ahead of the game. In that case, make sure the tech you choose can give you everything, from a powerful, agile way to generate analytics, both in terms of operations and predictions, and can still play well with as many others as come into that sandbox in the near future.

4) Counter-intuition for non-engineers

Kudos: we’ve finally gotten the image of a gold watch engraved with “50 years of service” out of our heads. Now we can stop pretending we understand what’s next, and just practice embracing it. HR is a reactive field by its nature, but tech is changing functions in altogether surprising ways. Machine learning, for example, is going to change this field. It will give everyone a way to act and access faster. It will help us become more productive, more connected, and more aware. And it will inevitably have a profound impact on talent recruitment. Bring it on.

5) Research will save us

Unsurprisingly, a whopping 87% of the companies surveyed in Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends research cited engagement, retention and culture as the key issues in HR. The key to meeting that trifecta of needs lies in those powerful tools that can provide actionable data and insights. We’re seeing some of those innovations taking a multifaceted approach — they really are customizable and responsive, and getting even more so. So be selective. Every company is different, but we all face this common goal, and there are more and more ways to achieve it.

We’re all looking for the best paths to better HR functionality. But there’s also that horizon, which is now greatly expanded. So there’s what we do, there’s what we can do, and there’s what we will do. The point, right now, is to do it.

This article was first posted on Forbes.

Employee Retention Begins in the Interview Process

We all know how important employee retention is. It is vital. Given the cost to replace high performers, we develop employee engagement programs and job satisfaction surveys, to make sure our best employees are happy right where they are.

But don’t forget that your relationship with employees, and, therefore, your ability to retain them, begins before you even make a job offer.

A prospective employee starts building their opinion of your company during the interview process. In the 2015 Talent Trends survey from LinkedIn, 83 percent of respondents said a negative interview experience would change their opinion of a company. Many employers do not get off on the right foot with employees because they fail to approach the interview process from an “employee retention” point of view.

Sound familiar? Have you taken a look at your current interview process? You may be inadvertently killing your employee retention in the long run if you:

  1. Don’t personalize communication

The whole point of the interview process is to find out what type of employee a candidate would be, yet you don’t communicate with them the same way you do with your workforce.

Consider the emails that you send to job applicants. The 2015 Candidate Behavior Study from CareerBuilder found that 46 percent of job seekers had gotten an automated email, acknowledging the company had received their application. Are you allowing an algorithm to compose your emails to your prospective employees?

Granted the situation is different with a job application; it’s simple to have an automated email go out as soon as an applicant hits submit. But a personalized message can mean a lot more to them. In the CareerBuilder survey, 59 percent of candidates said a personalized email would have given them a more positive perception of the company. So, if you want to make a lasting impression on these candidates, find someone (a human being) to write and send a personalized email if you cannot.

2. Allow candidates to leave without a clear understanding of your company’s culture

When it comes to finding the best candidate for the job, you look at their cultural fit, as well as skills fit. Finding out about their personality allows you to assess if they’ll mesh with the overall company culture. Don’t ignore the fact that job candidates need the same opportunity to decide if your company is a good match for them.

Candidates who don’t have a full understanding of what your company is like may be shocked after they begin work. If the candidates expectations differ from reality, there’s a good chance they’ll start looking for different opportunities.

It’s important to give prospective employees the chance to interact with the company culture, rather than just being told about it. Show them around the office and introduce them to future co-workers. A 2015 survey from Virgin Pulse found that nearly 40 percent of employees listed their co-workers as the number one reason they love their company. Helping them build relationships with co-workers as early as possible will allow candidates to see if they get along with the people they’d be working with, and gives them stronger ties to the company.

3. Don’t show them their future at the company

“Where do you see yourself in five years?” is a very common interview question. However, often employers aren’t showing their employees or job candidates how they can achieve their goals with the company.

In the 2015 Why & How People Change Jobs survey from LinkedIn, 45 percent of respondents said that they left their last job because of a perceived lack of career opportunities, making it the number one reason.

Don’t wait until an employee has one foot out the door to start helping them define a career path with your company. When you ask a candidate what they want out of their future, begin to describing the opportunities for advancement your company offers. Tell them about the training they can receive or ways they can take on leadership roles.

Encourage candidates to meet with more experienced employees so that they can share their personal success stories. Personal success stories will not only prove to prospective employees that advancement is possible but will give them resources to help them begin to shape their personal future.resources

These are common mistakes in the interview process but they are not difficult to rectify, and the difference can mean long-term retention of valued employees. Get off on the right foot with all your employees by approaching your interview process from an “employee retention” point of view.

What thoughts do you have about other common interview practices are hurting employee retention in the long run?

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Lower Recruiting Costs with Employee Retention

There seems to be mass exodus into the job market.  If over 2.7 million people quit in July 2015, about double those numbers were hired that same month.  After years of a stagnant growth, it seems the economy is roaring back to life.  Hallelujah, there are jobs again!  But after so many years of a down economy, employers and employees learned to do without.  Employees learned to accept lower wages, grateful to have a job while many others did not.  And employers learned to hire top talent without having to break the bank to acquire them.  That has all changed.  Now, employees have their hand out.  They’re hitting the job market hoping for more money, better benefits, more responsibility and paths straight to the top.  Unfortunately, every time an employee leaves a company, it costs that business money.  There are costs to recruit new employees that include ad placement, interviewing costs, time and travel. In addition to that, training new employees, waiting for new employees to ramp up in their roles and experiencing lags in productivity all hit employers’ bottom line.  So how do you lower the high costs associated with recruiting?  Focus on employee retention.

It’s Time to Get Serious About Employee Retention

Employee retention is a lot more cost efficient than losing good employees.  The most common reasons employees leave is for more money, more opportunity, benefits, and for better corporate culture.  Statistics say anything over a 10% turnover rate is considered high for a company.  But if your company is watching talent walk out the door at a rapid rate, you’re at Defcon 5.  It’s time to get serious.  Try the following tools to enhance your employee retention:

  • Get flexible about the work environment. These days, employees want a healthy mix of work/ life balance.  It can be hard to commit yourself to family duties if you’re always in the office.  As a result, many employees prefer to seek out positions that can offer them flexible working arrangements.  Teleworking can be a great asset to the company as well.  This frees up valuable company space and resources to lower overhead costs.  And tools like video interview software can be used to keep costs down for private virtual meetings.
  • Incentivize workers to keep them feeling engaged and rewarded.  It can be difficult to engage workers and keep them feeling a part of the team.  But tools like workplace contests and incentives can help plug team members back in.  Employees like winning things, particularly if it’s a day off or a gift certificate.  These can give otherwise disengaged employees something to get excited about.  When employees feel valued, they tend to stick around longer.
  • Promote from within.  One of the most common reasons why employees leave their jobs is to gain a higher title or increased pay.  If employees don’t feel there’s a clear career path, they may feel like there’s no opportunity for them at your company.  Communicate with employees how they too can achieve promotions- title bumps and more pay.  This kind of positive career coaching can help encourage employees who otherwise may feel inclined to start looking at other jobs.
  • Develop employee training programs. A better educated workforce benefits your business and its customers. It also encourages employees who are eager to learn new skills.  Try introducing tuition reimbursement plans or training courses to encourage your employees to stay.  If a common reason employees leave is to gain new skills, you can offer them this ability in their current role.  Try pairing employees with an internal mentor to help guide the employee in their quest for new skills.
  • Offer merit based raises.  Employees always want a path towards more money.  But if your business is still only offering an annual 3% raise, you could be missing out on opportunities to reward your stand out employees.  If your business has been successful, spend some of the profits to reinvest in your employees.  This can encourage loyalty and longevity at a business.
  • Encourage interdepartmental teams. In some organizations, departments can be pitted against one another for resources.  Some businesses even have problem child departments who don’t seem to want to cooperate with everyone else.  If you’ve got a rogue department on your hand, it’s quite possible that employees across the organization are feeling the heat they’re giving off.  Encourage interdepartmental teams to build relations between your employees.  If the office climate feels like a scene straight out of “Mean Girls,” start building teams internally before your most talented performers jump ship.

It’s exciting to begin recruiting for open positions when a company grows.  But if your company is constantly hiring to refill the same position, you’re going to take a hit to the company’s bottom line.  Spend a little time investing in your employee retention efforts and save yourself the costs of losing good employees for no good reason.

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How Data is Being Used To Boost Recruitment and Retention

Big Data and the intelligent use of Analytics has been one of the top business topics of the last year. For anyone working in human resources or recruiting, ever greater use of data promises a revolution in the way decisions are made. Recruitment and retention of top talent differentiates a company from its competitors. The days of gut decisions and interviewer bias are numbered, to be replaced by evidence-based decision making.

To be clear, leveraging data presents both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is to learn the skills – and choose the technologies – needed to analyse the mass of data available within your company. Looking beyond that, we also need to start collecting actionable data that has hitherto not been collected. The opportunity is significant though – to improve outcomes across all areas of HR from recruitment to development to retention.

What Are The Benefits of Using Data In Recruitment?

Have you heard the old adage of “the truth will set you free”? Well for today’s recruiter that could be restated as “the data will set you free”. So many elements of a recruiter’s life are made more frustrating through a lack of data and insights – but all that is about to change.

Have you ever encountered a hiring manager with unrealistic expectations? Or one who’s eager to sell aspects of the role that you fear do not fit with the day-to-day realities of the job or company? The right data can help manage the expectations of hiring managers. Retention data can highlight the elements of your offer where the recruitment team are consistently overselling to candidates.

When it comes to which criteria to include in a job listing to produce the best quality of hire, data can give you the answer. With the right data points you can find out which skills, values and behaviours lead to a hire who is likely to be a success in the organisation and remain in their position long term. Those insights can be derived client by client or department by department. Powerful insights!

Have you ever wondered which of your talent sources are most cost effective? Most companies know the applicant volumes they are getting from each source. Most know the shortlist candidates and even hires that each is producing. But we need more data than this to make informed decisions. Which talent sources bring in our highest achievers? Which talent sources produce hires whose retention rates are the most compelling? If data gave you these insights, you can imagine how your choices of where to invest might be impacted.

How Are Recruiters Using This Data?

To put the uses of big data into context and help you to better comprehend how you might use it, here’s a great case summary from Xerox Corp.  Xerox had estimated the cost of training each of their call centre staff at $5000, yet many were leaving before Xerox could even recoup their training costs.

The business had traditionally assumed that those with call centre experience were more likely to succeed; however, analysis of the data proved otherwise. The data showed that candidates with experience cost more to hire, yet didn’t perform better or last longer than those without experience. The data also showed that those candidates who were active social media users had higher retention rates than other candidates. Another surprising insight was that creative types tended to stay with the company longer than inquisitive types. Analysing big data helped Xerox to cut the attrition rate at their call centres by over 20% – a significant and tangible financial saving, as you can imagine!

So how can you leverage data more effectively? Well one company that is helping recruiters to use data as part of their recruitment process is Talenytics. They’ve developed a clever system that aims to remove pain points in recruitment by first collecting and then analysing the most essential data in the recruiting process. This provides recruiters with the insights needed to make the right hire each time, from a smaller shortlist of candidates and with less time therefore needed to complete the recruitment process.

The Future of Recruitment Lies In Big Data

Research from IBM has shown that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in just the last two years, so Big Data use is expected to accelerate dramatically. In the past the sheer cost and complexity of connecting and analysing so many data points made the use of big data within recruiting impossible. However in the past couple of years we’ve seen a rise in the number of analytical tools available to make the use of such data cost effective.

This new realm of big data analytics affects every area of the recruitment process including:

  • Vacancy marketing
  • Employer branding
  • Filtering of prospective candidates
  • Planning interview questions
  • Talent development
  • Who to retain and promote

With such overarching effects, it’s no surprise that recruiters and employers alike are clamouring to invest in talent analytics software to help meet their talent needs. The future will see recruiters using a 360 holistic approach to finding and assessing talent. One dimensional CVs and applications will be supplemented by social media data, online assessments, departmental profiling and past hiring success and failure data to more accurately assess a candidate’s chances of success.

Further Reading: Big Data and Recruitment

Over the next few years we’re going to see a flurry of cloud based software solutions that look to tackle big data for recruiters. Early adopters are already reaping the rewards but not all companies are equipped for gathering or interpreting data. For those of you who would like to explore things further, below is some further reading that will help.

This article from Staffing Stream includes 5 tips for putting dig data to work for you. I particularly like their tip about using existing tools such as Excel to analyse data and answer questions such as:

  • What is the profile of historically successful employees in this role?
  • Where have we found candidates for these jobs in the past?
  • How long have similar searches taken historically?

Most recruiters will already have data relating to these questions but may not have a simple way of analysing the data – Excel can be a good starting point, or a tool like Talenytics can take this analysis to the next level.

Another article that could be really useful to recruiters introduces a tool called which helps users to easily scrape data from websites. This post includes an easy to follow demo of how recruiters can use the tool as part of their talent sourcing process and also to migrate data from legacy systems to new tools you may wish to deploy.

Concluding Remarks

Hopefully I’ve given you good reason to stop and reflect on how data is going to impact many aspects of what we do today – and given you some ideas of how it’s transforming the ways recruiters will work in years to come. If you’ve any first hand experiences, case studies or tools you can comment on I’d love to hear about these – please do share your insights in the comments section below.

Photo credit: Bigstock

Improving Employee Engagement Efforts

Most organizations realize the need for (and huge bottom-line benefits of) an engaged workforce, but the majority still struggle with it. Read more

Perfectionism At Work: Avoiding Burnout

It’s not unusual for employees to be driven to succeed, especially in a company which is striving for success and prides itself on hiring highly motivated staff. But, according to new research, reaching for perfection isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

While you might think that perfectionism is a personality trait that would be productive, you would be mistaken. Studies conducted by York St John University and the University of Bath have shown that perfectionism can be a destructive force.

Perfectionism Is A One-Way Ticket To Burnout

Extremely high personal standards and goals? Your own worst critic? If that sounds familiar, then perfectionism may be an issue. In the workplace, perfectionists tend to be those putting themselves under immense pressure to reach goals that others perceive to be close to unattainable. In doing so they may spend copious amounts of time working on a task and going into meticulous detail.

There’s no arguing that in the short term, perfectionism could achieve excellent results here and there. Unfortunately, in the long-term, it’s a very dangerous personality trait. Perfectionism is very closely linked to burnouts, which happens when stress levels hit the roof leading to fatigue and withdrawal.

Perfectionism And The Workplace

Employers have to take some responsibility for the perfectionism epidemic. Modern workplaces are often highly focused on performance outcomes and employee performance is closely monitored. Highly charged work environments are counter-productive. While they may be striving for better results, perfectionism and work stress produces poorer performance.

Dr Thomas Curran, who co-authored the research, said “We suggest its [perfectionism’s] effects can be managed and organisations must be clear that perfection is not a criteria of success. Instead, diligence, flexibility and perseverance are far better qualities.”

Don’t Burn Out, Take Time Out

Perfectionism may be part of a person’s make up, but it can be exacerbated by employers who are results driven and have high expectations of staff. Innovative companies, just like Google, can look at ways to achieve results by decreasing workplace stress.

1) Take Time Out – Asking employees to work overtime isn’t good for productivity or performance. The most productive employees are those that have time to take a break. Encourage staff to take their annual leave and recharge their batteries, and never keep them late in the office, and you’ll see an improvement in productivity.

2) Depressurize Work Environments – Look for alternative work environments to take away some of the stress. This can be as simple as changing office lighting, to bigger moves towards remote working and flexible working hours. Flexible working arrangements can boost workplace productivity by 71%, not a figure to be sniffed at.

3) Take Failures on the Chin – Instead of chasing results by micromanaging and reacting negatively to missed deadlines, encourage employees to take charge of their own work and use failures as an opportunity for improvement, not as an excuse for loading on more pressure. Use failures to your advantage and work on strategies to avoid them in the future.
Bearing these three points in mind could be the solution to mitigating the negative consequences of high pressure work spaces and perfectionism on the part of management and employees.


6 Ways to Help Employees Ease the Crush of Student Debt

Millennials are feeling the crush of student debt—but they aren’t the only ones. Generation Xers and Baby Boomers are also struggling to pay off their student loans or the loans they incurred to fund their children’s education.

As a result, a growing number of employers are adding student loan refinancing programs to their voluntary benefits packages and total rewards strategies. Student loan refinancing programs (such as SoFi) enable workers to pay off their student loans faster, often saving borrowers thousands of dollars over the lives of their loans—money that can be put toward living expenses or the funding of other employer-sponsored benefits such as 401(k) and retirement savings programs.

In addition to providing access to a student loan refinancing program, employers can help workers by offering them sound financial guidance like these six practical (yet often-overlooked) strategies for repaying student loans more effectively:

  1. Getting organized is step one. Employees with multiple loans often have trouble keeping track of everything—especially those with multiple lenders. These individuals should load all of their loan information into a spreadsheet or use online tools such as those provided by to get better organized.
  2. Sign up for automatic payments. Setting up auto payments with lenders minimizes the chances of missing a payment (which hurts borrowers’ credit scores). And many lenders offer a .25% interest rate discount for setting up auto payments.
  3. Consider bi-weekly payments. Paying every other week (as opposed to monthly) results in an extra month’s worth of payments every year, which can save borrowers a significant amount of money on interest. It also helps them pay off loans faster. In addition, paying more than the minimum amount is a wise strategy for those who can afford it. Even an extra $20 speeds up the repayment timetable and saves on interest.
  4. Review your options and think about refinancing. Prepaying, changing repayment plans, and refinancing are three options employees should consider if they want to reduce the money they’re spending on interest. Refinancing at a lower rate is often worth exploring soon after borrowers leave school, increase their income or improve their credit.
  5. Look into federal loans. Although there are only a handful of lenders who refinance federal loans, it can be an attractive, cost-saving option for many borrowers with high-interest-rate Direct unsubsidized and PLUS loans. But, as with any refinancing, borrowers should do their homework before refinancing federal loans with a private lender.
  6. Seek forgiveness. Federal loans might be eligible for forgiveness; however, these benefits don’t transfer to private lenders through the refinance process. The most common federal loan forgiveness programs are for borrowers in the military, those who work in public service or education, and those who utilize one of the government’s income-driven repayment plans such as Pay As You Earn (PAYE).

While they’re simple enough, these six strategies can make a world of difference to the financial well-being of your workforce.

Giving employees the programs and guidance they need to ease the crushing effects of student debt helps them take greater control of their current finances as well as secure their financial future. What’s more, it positions your organization as a true employer of choice—not only to current generations of workers but for those to come.

About the Author:

Dan Macklin is co-founder and vice president of SoFi, the nation’s second largest marketplace lender. SoFi offers mortgages, personal loans, student loan refinancing and more to high achieving professionals.  Previously, Dan spent 12 years at Standard Chartered Bank leading enterprise sales and product development across London, Singapore and Shanghai.

Silicon Valley Employment Benefits To Inspire Even The SMBs

Silicon Valley is home to some of the world’s most successful tech businesses, all offering bigger and better perks than most of us could dream of. While their massive budgets might stretch to millions and helicopter rides with the CEO are par for the course, there’s also a lot to learn from some of the benefits they offer. In fact many of the employee benefits offered by the companies housed in the infamous Silicon Valley don’t have to break the bank, and even the smallest business can take learn from and use them.

Fun And Games

While large companies like Zynga offer employees access to an onsite arcade, there are plenty of less costly ways for your employees to enjoy themselves during their lunch breaks. Providing games like table football, a pool table or, if there’s budget, a games console, won’t break the bank and will prove to be great fun for employees, helping them to take some downtime and unwind away from their desks.

Wellness Program

Private health and dental care is a benefit that many look for in a job and is a tax-deductible business expense. Although companies like Facebook extend their healthcare benefits to offer fertility treatment, this isn’t an option for every business. However, offering help when it comes to health, fitness, stress, and general wellbeing, can be beneficial to staff, and help to improve productivity as well as reduce absenteeism.

Birthday Leave

Giving employees their birthday as vacation is a great incentive that most individuals would be grateful for and is a perk utilised by the likes of Thrillist. An extra day of holiday to be taken during the individual’s birthday week is simple, yet effective.

Bring Your Pet To Work

As part of their employee benefits package Eventbrite allows its staff to bring their dog to work. If your office environment permits, this can be a great low-cost perk for staff and having a pet companion on site can help reduce stress in employees.

Free Snacks

It might seem like a fairly basic ‘perk’, but providing employees with free snacks, drinks or even entire meals is something offered as standard by many of Silicon Valley’s residents, such as Google, Microsoft and Dropbox. Fortunately, free food of some sort is something that most businesses can implement, whether in the form of communal drinks supplies, fruit bowls or a monthly team lunch.


Companies like Ask offer an open vacation policy which enables employees to take as much holiday as they wish. Realistically this isn’t a viable option for most other companies; however it is possible for most businesses to offer flexible working. Flexible working is fast becoming an expected employment benefit, so companies that can offer it should give it due consideration.


While companies like Microsoft can allow their staff to spend several days doing voluntary work in the community, or offer sponsorship to charities, small businesses can offer their own equivalent. Allowing your employees one day a year to volunteer for a local charity will give them the chance to try something different and to give back to the community.

Nap Pods

Another of Google’s many perks allows employees to head to a designated area with sleep in mind. The nap pods allow employees to do just that! While the pods in the Google offices might be costly, that needn’t be the case for every office. Simply enabling your staff to take naps at lunch time or if they are working late will be met with gratitude – and probably a few snores of delight.

Group Outings

Team outings and activities inject fun and a sense of camaraderie into a business, and for companies like Eventbrite team breakfasts or outings to the trampoline park are standard practice. Smaller businesses can channel this idea by arranging quarterly get-togethers, whether for a team drink or meal, or something more exciting like a trip to the beach or group cinema night. Allowing employees the chance to socialise with one another outside of the office environment can help to promote bonds and encourage a positive work environment.


Employees at Twitter are entitled to several discounts, including with Zipcar, which is something many other businesses can offer. Agreeing on discounts for employees with businesses you have an existing relationship will be beneficial for all involved.


Many companies, such as Pinterest, like to ensure that all employees have the tools they need to perform their job to the best of their ability. Although it might be too costly to offer this exact benefit, giving your employees a say on what pieces of technology best suit their role will help to ensure that they are happy and productive.

As you’ve seen, employee benefits needn’t break the bank and can be tweaked to suit businesses of all sizes. While we might all lust over certain perks offered to Silicon Valley employees, the majority of these can be replicated on a smaller scale – allowing your employees to experience a range of interesting benefits that’ll help improve employee satisfaction.

Photo Credit: Big Stock Images

Unlocking Employee Productivity Without Being An Ogre

Getting the most out of your employees is what every manager wants to do. Some will take the strict route believing that keeping on top of everything their employees do will ensure they use their time effectively and that any problems will soon become obvious.

While some aspects of that can work, it doesn’t exactly foster a positive relationship between the employees and management. So here’s some advice on how to encourage productivity with upsetting your workers.

Allow and encourage flexible working

A rigid regime for office hours might not be the best option, as research shows people are productive at different times and in different ways. What works for some doesn’t work for all and so it’s worth giving your employees some leeway on when they work where possible.

There’s numerous different ways to do this, for example you could let your employees choose when their work day begins, say between 8am and 10am. Or you could be more flexible and allow your team to work whenever they like, as long as they clock their full hours of course.

However far you take it, even granting automony on when lunch can be taken means employees feel like they have more control over their work life and can customise their day around how they work.

Actively look out for their health

It’s obvious that a company with healthy employees is the most effective, but this doesn’t just involve days off for colds and flus. Sitting in an office all day can be bad for you. Whether it an employee’s vision or even increased risk of death, it’s important to look out for the team’s welfare.

Make your employees aware and even encourage them to look after themselves. Ensure they know that if they take a break to get their eyes off the computer screen it’s perfectly okay. Regularly mention that people should get up and go for a little wander once or twice during the day.

The point is to make your employees feel relaxed about taking small breaks away from their work, rather than worrying you’ll be breathing down their neck for it.

Give out regular and creative rewards

Rather than waiting until the end of the month or quarter to give out rewards, do them more regularly. They don’t have to be massive things, but recognition that comes more often will keep your employees engaged.

You should also implement ongoing rewards too. Rather than just sticking to targets, think about objectives that can be ongoing. For example, offer a prize to a person that can significantly optimise a certain company process. This is something that never has to end and will encourage employees to assess how they work and how things can be improved, as well as to take ownership of internal processes.

Finally, reconsider what you reward. Money is, of course, always great, but it doesn’t just have to be that. Off some extra flexibility with the work hours for a week, give them an extra holiday day, or make gifts the prizes. The best bet for this is to get to know your employees properly so you can tailor their compensation to them personally.

Above all, keep listening and encouraging your team to work healthily and productively.


How To Cure A Sick Company Culture

Performance wanes. Employee engagement falls and morale sinks.

These are tell-tale signs that your culture is sick and needs attention. So how do you go about fixing it?

First, three housekeeping questions:

1. What is “culture”? Culture describes an organization’s working environment. How people behave. What they talk about. How they interact with and treat one another. The values they respect and hold sacred.

2. What is the purpose of culture? It enables the achievement of goals. It is a tactic, if you will, that facilitates healthy and effective execution of a company’s strategy because it engages every employee in its purpose. Culture is the engine of accomplishment. A finely tuned engine delivers high performance; a poorly tuned one is hit and miss.

3. What is the “right” culture? There is no shrink-wrapped version of culture that applies to every organization. You must create the unique one that works for you. There may be elements in common with other firms, but you discover this after the fact. Culture should never be copied; it should be created.

Cultural change requires an intervention; you can’t expect it to change without an imposition. The challenge is to move from “this is the way things are around here” to “this is the way things must look if we are to survive and thrive.”

Here are five steps that will create the culture that is right for you:

1. Start with building your strategic context. Culture is guided by the strategic game plan of your organization — “what you want to be when you grow up.” It’s an expression of what the inside of your organization must “look like” in order to successfully execute. Early in my career we had to shift from being a monopoly telecom business to a nimble customer-focused competitor; we needed to create a different culture to take us there. The journey began with creating a new strategic vision that would allow us to successfully compete in a world we had not previously experienced.

2. Develop the values you require every team member to align with. Successful execution begs that everyone is on the same page in terms of how to do their job. A value is a common-held belief, without which your strategy is impaired. Technology businesses require risk-taking, creativity and innovation to be successful; if employees don’t act in a way that delivers these values, dysfunction sets in and progress is eluded.

3. Define the behaviors that are required to exhibit each values. For each value develop more granularity to move away from an aspiration to something that is concrete and more understandable. For example, if “spirited teamwork” is one of your values, define in more specific terms what is meant by the value. What behaviors would you expect to see exhibited when spirited teamwork is alive and well in the organization. This is a critical step. Values need to be translated so that every employee has a direct line of sight that connects what they do every day to the values expected.

4. Assess the inside. Evaluate each employee in your organization to determine his or her “value fit.” Some will transition immediately to your new values; others can be convinced to adopt them and others will refuse. The point is you need to get everyone onboard fast; time is not your friend. Exit who you believe are the “non-adopters”; they will infect their colleagues if they stay and prevent progress.

5. Build your values into your reward and recognition programs. Make the expression of values matter by holding people accountable. Reward awesome “spirited teamwork” in front of employee groups. Publicize your “value heroes” so others know what is expected. Ultimately, include values as part of your variable compensation program, in which the consistent heroes are financially rewarded. If you have a 360-degree feedback program, include values as an important part of individual assessment.

The culture that is right for you is much more than an aspiration. If you don’t follow through with the specific executional elements necessary to give it “life,” it will remain a dream.

And nothing will change.

About the Author: Roy Osing is a former executive vice-president and CMO with over 33 years of leadership experience. He is a blogger, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead.

photo credit: Measuring a Shot 11-9-08 — IMG_7413 via photopin (license)

There IS A War For Talent In 2015

Are you ready for a wild ride? 2015 is here, and it is going to be one of the best years we have seen in recruiting since 1999. Yes, consumer confidence is up and unemployment is the lowest we have seen it in years. Do you have the recruitment professionals in place to take advantage of this opportunity? If not, you need to evaluate what your organization needs to do to capitalize on attracting the right talent to your organization.

Think about this. The candidates your company could not attract for years because of economic uncertainty are now listening to opportunities. They are willing to actually make a change if the right opportunity becomes available. On the flip side of this coin, what about your employees? What is your organization doing to retain the employees who are being courted by your competitors? Your employees are willing to make a change also.

What does this mean? This means we are in a talent war. Yes, I said it. 2015 will be a bloodbath. It is hard to believe because we have been talking about a recession for a very long time. With a talent war, organizations are going to have to get competitive. Candidates are going to want and demand competitive pay and competitive perks, and will want to work for an organization with a great culture.

Recruiters are going to have to be aggressive. They are going to have to think outside of the box. They are going to have to build relationships with candidates and earn their trust. Companies are going to have to get serious about their employer brands. People are looking for jobs in many different ways this year and it will take much more than a standardized job posting on LinkedIn to attract the best.

Your organization has a choice in 2015. Are you going to be one of the success stories or are you going to be one of the companies we read about that failed? If people are looking for new jobs in your organization and you are doing nothing to retain them, then you may find yourself in a horrific situation.

If you are losing your employees as fast as you are gaining them, then you are not moving forward as an organization. Organizations need to build on what they have in place today, not just replace what they’ve lost; they have to try to find new leaders in the most competitive environment we have seen in years.

Which department is most concerning to your organization in 2015? Is your company looking for technical people, sales people, marketing people or for employees in another department? If you don’t know that answer off the tip of your tongue, then you aren’t ready for this bloodbath. If it is all of the above, then you better get serious about your recruiting strategy.

Organizations are going to have to hire recruiters with tenacity, assertiveness, and an attitude of a winner. Recruiters who have hidden behind the scenes and done administrative tasks for years will ultimately lead to the demise of the success of your organization. The characteristics of a successful recruiter demand someone who is okay being “on call” at all times and can roll with the punches when things constantly change. Recruiters will have to be good at sales; because in this war, your competition will have the best sales people.

If there is a year to put all of your cards in the table, this would be the year. Get your recruitment strategy in place. Hire the best and invest in your human resources department. This is not the year to reduce or keep your recruitment budgets status quo. Work closely with your marketing department and make sure you have a very clear message to your candidates. Lastly, do what you can to retain the employees you want. You may have to revisit salaries, and perks; however, it is worthwhile, as you do not want to have to start over and lose out on your investment.

What is your organization doing differently to deal with these challenges in 2015? I would love to hear your thoughts and talk to you about it further on the TalentCulture #TChat Show on February 18th.

About the Author: Will Thomson lives in Austin, Texas, and works for Rosetta Stone as the Global Sales and Marketing Recruiter. He is also the founder of Bulls Eye Recruiting.

Keeping Staff When Your Employee Benefits Don’t Cut It

Attracting good employees as a small- or medium-sized business can be tricky. To get around it you hire inexperienced graduates and train them yourself, only to seem them walk off to a larger company with shinier benefit packages as soon as you give the qualifications they need to get in. It seems to be the way things are: you train fresh talent, and then bigger, wealthier companies with life insurance, an incredible insurance plan, and more paid vacation than you can afford poach them. The costs of training new employees and the constant hemorrhaging of your best employees drives down the quality of your work and prevents you from becoming a major player. So what can you do to hold on to those people so that you can grow your business?

Screen Your Hires

Big businesses can offer better pay and better benefits than your business. They offer stability and great wages to people who are trying to maximize their income, but they also tend to be rigid and very unadaptable. As a smaller business you should focus on hiring people who are unlikely to fit well into a large, slow-moving organization. Ask interviewees about their future plans, and take in those who are well qualified but also planning on pursuing further education, gathering new skills, taking care of children, or possibly even moving.

Be The Most Convenient Option

Offering work to these individuals makes you a convenient option for skilled workers who might otherwise be forced out of the job market. Accommodate them by offering flexible work hours and telecommuting options, in conjunction with a steady paycheck. This creates a favorable work-life balance for employees and makes it easy for them to stay on board while also putting them in a position where they would have to give up a lot of freedom if they wanted to work at a more established business.

Maintain Good Morale With Great Leaders

Running any team of professionals is tricky, and doing it with employees who have flexible schedules, or who work from home, is even more difficult. This puts an incredible strain on your leadership team, who will have to work very hard to keep their respective teams cohesive and on the same page. There are a lot of important characteristics that go into an excellent manager, and it’s especially important to screen potential leaders for their communication skills, their ability to motivate people, and their ability to inspire good cooperation and coordination between employees.

Work To Keep Individual Employees

Every employee has different needs, and when someone is looking for greener pastures it’s important to know why, and what you could do about it. Have an answer ready for what your employees can do to earn raises or promotions, offer training to develop employees professionally, and deal with interpersonal conflicts in the office. Never try to bully an employee into staying, and always be the one to offer solutions to a potentially departing employee rather than getting defensive.

Small- and medium-sized organizations have an uphill battle to retain skilled employees, but it is a battle that can be won. By carefully screening potential new hires, offering flexibility, maintaining good leadership, and determining why individual employees are leaving, you might be able to hold onto employees a little longer. Chances are they might leave down the line, but the company will have at least recovered the money spent to hire and train the individual.

About the Author: Samantha Stauf works in the marketing department of a start-up. She recently became a regular contributor at Ms Career Girl and Social Media Today.

photo credit: Reaching via photopin (license)

Why Tell Authentic Stories In The Workplace?

Content marketing, content creation and the likes are some of 2015’s early buzzwords: Create content to connect with customers, employees, and potential future employees and everything will be great.

And while content is important, it’s not about sharing content. It’s about sharing meaningful stories.

I like to joke that my 7-year-old doesn’t come up to me and says “Daddy, please read me some content.” Of course, she says, “Daddy, please read me a story.”

People – that includes families and companies – connect around a shared story. This is also sometimes called a shared narrative.

It has been documented that stories stimulate different parts of the brain more than a 51-point PowerPoint slide does, for example. Stories make us feel something. Stories make us remember.

Interestingly, narratives inside organizations already exist and have existed for a long time. People have told stories by sharing their experiences, their purposes (or lack thereof) and by dreaming about a goal for the future.

We connect around our positive and forward-looking stories, and when not handled correctly, teams can be driven apart by our negative stories and experiences.

In addition to verbal storytelling, some stories from the workplace are now being shared on social media networks and sometimes on blogs. From time to time, people get in trouble for saying something negative about their workplace. Whether it’s true or not is not relevant. It was negative!

Some companies are starting to understand the importance of sharing authentic stories and are allowing their employees to be brand advocates.Trappe

The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for example, published internal stories publicly on its “Our Voice” site in 2014. That’s a good start, but there are many more stories that can be shared all around.

I spoke at the Workplace (R)evolution event in 2014 and I asked audience members to turn to their neighbor and share a meaningful story with them. I asked them where I could find those stories published. Just one person raised his hand. None of The Gazette employees’ stories had been published in the “Our Voice” section either.

So, it takes time for organizations to adapt. To get there it’s a shift in mindset. It’s OK to share our authentic stories and to allow employees to share their successes. But isn’t that boasting? It’s certainly a fine line. You could encourage employees to share each other’s success stories. Now it’s recognition!

But it has to be authentic and true. Allowing employees to share blogs about their experiences, but asking them to get those experiences approved by four vice presidents has the potential for inauthenticity and is close to a traditional marketing approach.

But, what if employees can’t be responsible with what they share, you might ask? What if they just want to trash the company? This doesn’t sound like a storytelling problem to me? That sounds like a staffing problem. Why are these people associated with the organization in the first place? Or maybe there’s an underlying morale problem in the company.

There are some steps – simple ones, in theory – to get authentic storytelling started in your organization. Stories happen every day, but they won’t be shared until:

  • Top leaders explicitly endorse the initiative.
  • Top leaders and other leaders share their own stories publicly.
  • People who take initiative and share stories are publicly recommended for this.
  • People are given time to share authentic stories.

You might wonder:  Why would your organization invest in this? Isn’t this just the latest buzzword? Yes and no. It is a bit of a buzzword, but people relate to each other through stories.

The stories you share and that are being shared already will have an impact on recruiting, retaining talented employees and will ultimately even help with customer acquisition.

Note: Christoph Trappe will be the guest on the January 28th TalentCulture #TChat Show, which will run from 7-8 pm ET (4-5 pm PT).

About the Author: Christoph Trappe is a U.S.-based digital branding strategist. He writes about story development, distribution and audience engagement at The Authentic Storytelling Project.

photo credit: GollyGforce – Living My Worst Nightmare via photopin cc

HR Technology’s Winning Formula: A Tool, Not A Crutch

It sometimes seems that those in the HR world often find themselves in a world of extremes when it comes to technology. Or we may think of extremes as the choice we must make. But the reality is somewhere in the middle, finding ways to exploit the power of technology and analytics with the human side we can never lose sight of. For everyone worried that HR technology may drastically reduce the need for HR professionals, there is another side that often sees tech on its own as the cure all for all our challenges.

What The “Human-Only” Side Misses

By not giving technology its due and proper stature, those who stand firm in the belief that the obstacles or potential pitfalls of technology outweigh the potential benefits miss out on enhancing the human element they purport to embrace. In addition, this can lead to HR remaining bogged down in trying to justify its existence, or at least its high value, time and time again. This results in a self-perpetuating ongoing battle that detracts from HR’s ultimate mission, which includes attracting, nurturing and developing real people – the humans who are the heart of an organization.

Integrated into an organization properly, HR technology should and does enhance human relationships and the value of employees, from talent acquisition to onboarding and on through to retention, succession management and learning and development. Technology can bring insight and clarity to organizational challenges, such as early employee departure, for example.

The cost of poor retention, when fully itemized, often exceeds 50% of first-year compensation and can easily exceed 100% of compensation for critical managers and professionals ( With talent analytics data providing insight into why employees leave, the value is clearly there. Implemented properly, technology can also enhance engagement, another key component of HR. With the cost of poor employee engagement so high, the benefits of technology to greatly enhance engagement, not detract from it, are clear.

Technology On Its Own Misses The Mark

On the flip side, an overreliance on technology can be detrimental. For example, as your talent acquisition activities move toward the hiring of a candidate, the human side becomes more important. Without the human element and more interaction at the later stage of the recruitment stage, key information will be missed. Similarly, technology can provide huge pieces of important information to highlight possible opportunities, such as who are the best fits for your succession planning, or risks, such as which employees are most in jeopardy of leaving the organization. Risks and rewards are all on display and available for maximizing potential and minimizing soft and hard costs, all through a seamless blend of technology and human elements.

The Right Mix Makes A Winning Formula

While not a black-and-white issue, the value of technology to an organization’s HR function is clear and demonstrable. Winning businesses and organizations around the globe have exploited technology to their advantage. A 2014 Harvard Business Review research report found that organizations that invest in workforce analytics to drive talent decisions and development see significantly better business results than those that do not. The key is not relying completely on technology nor completely ignoring it. A proper mix of these two critical components of talent management can help an organization succeed and outperform others in its class.

HR technology as a tool, not a crutch, is a winning strategy.

About the Author: Joe Abusamra is Vice President, Product Marketing at NGA.NET. Joe writes about talent management at

photo credit: Barta IV via photopin cc

10 Surprisingly Easy Ways to Retain Your Employees

Hands down, the most important investment you could possibly have in your company is your employees. Are you investing a large percentage in hiring the right employees? Do you have a winning team? If so, employee retention should be your top priority. Here are 10 surprisingly easy ways to achieve it.

  1. Develop an employee retention strategy
    Don’t leave this to the last minute, or go into it unprepared. You’ll be flying blind. The best way to approach this is with your eyes open, with a plan. Narrow down all the variables when it comes to your company and specifically what your employees need to thrive. Keeping all of these factors in mind will better help you figure out how to approach the situation.
  2. Keep things in perspective
    It’s easy to give in to the mindset that new technology is what will benefit your business most, but what good is that technology without valuable players who really know what they are doing? Having top-notch people on your team is key. Did you know that according to recent studies you can spend up to 21 percent of an employee’s annual salary replacing him or her? The morale of one or two unhappy employees can affect the morale and work performance of the entire company.
  3. Be a good listener
    It’s important to be receptive to your employees. Communicate with them about their needs, and foster an open dialogue about their careers, their objectives, and what is going on with the company. A successful business is fueled by communication, and ignoring your employees could cost you your company.
  4. Value your employees
    Since a company is as good as the sum of its parts, understand how important it is to invest in your company through finding the best people for your team. Once you have them, you have to put emphasis on the importance of cultivating this relationship. Unhappy, dissatisfied employees leads to a high turnover rate, which is bad news for your company. Value them, and they will value you and your company.
  5. Give credit where it is due
    Make sure to pay attention to outstanding work performance and dedication, as well as rewarding it accordingly. This leads to a healthy work ethic and professional relationship with your employees. When they are rewarded for their outstanding performance, they will feel valued. Happy employees equals a productive company.
  6. Foster a good work environment
    There’s nothing worse than dreading going into work because of an imbalanced environment. This can be aggravated by excess stress, pressure, as well as improper distribution of work and resources. Who says work can’t be fun, productive and rewarding? Foster a positive, driven, happy environment, and it will go a long way for your business.
  7. Stop micromanaging!
    Micromanaging should never happen in a successful company. You picked the members of your team for a reason. Communicate rationally and effectively about what you expect for your employees, and make clear, realistic deadlines. When your expectations and goals make sense and are communicated effectively, all you need to do is trust your employees to carry out the work that is expected of them. If you feel the need to micromanage, you have the wrong people working for you.
  8. Differentiate
    Figure out what is most important at work, and strive for the bottom line, while treating your employees well. They deserve the utmost level of respect, as you deserve respect from them. Stop focusing on all the little details and shift your perspective instead toward the bigger picture. When you take control of your company in a graceful, inclusive way, it positively impacts everyone’s work performance.
  9. Treat all your employees fairly, but not all equally
    Many companies make the mistake of treating everyone exactly the same. This is a misconception. The best businesses recognize the strengths and weaknesses of each individual employee, as well as which employees have better work performance. Endeavor to reward your top players primarily, and notice how this positively affects your company.
  10. Get data on your employees
    Even if it is a pain, it is essential to conduct employee surveys. Make sure they follow these guidelines:
  • Anonymity so your employees can feel confident in being completely honest
  • Responding so your team sees that not only do you care what they have to say, but you will endeavor to foster a better work environment by improving, based on their opinions
  • Feedback sharing so your employees will have the utmost sense of open, healthy communication as a company
  • Schedule surveys so you can regularly conduct them. Notice how things change over time. It’s important to be committed to this.

The bottom line is simple: invest in your employees and you invest in your business. When you endeavor to communicate, encourage, inspire and help their careers grow you work to create the best company possible and stay on your “A” game.

About the Author: Ava Collins is an online marketing associate with Hicks Professional Group as well as the IT staffing company’s HR manager.

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Creating Company Culture Irresistible To Millennials

How do you create an atmosphere that keeps top performers at your organization? How do you keep your competitors from plucking your best talent? How do you minimize top performers leaving for opportunities elsewhere?

Gone is the “you should be grateful to work here” paradigm. It has been replaced by Millennials with, “Why should I work (or keep working) for you?” Leadership expert John C. Maxwell says, “Your ability as a leader to find, develop, and retain the best people is the single greatest factor in determining your success.”

The key to retaining young top talent is to cultivate a company culture that is hard to leave. Company culture starts with the leader. By leveraging these three guiding principles you can create a workplace irresistible to Millennials.

1) Connect With Your Team

More than ever before, it’s acceptable to be yourself in the workplace. These days, letting your hair down won’t undermine your authority but rather will boost the connection with your teams. The erosion of many of today’s workplace formalities has caused a rise in more and more people bringing their authentic selves to work.

Because they place a high value on transparency, Millennials respond well to authentic leaders. They won’t want to leave a culture where diversity is celebrated, one-of-a-kind experiences are shared, strengths are valued, voices given, and stories are shared.

At the end of the day, people leave people not companies. Invest the time and energy to create personal connections with your team.

Related Read: 30 Retention Tactics To Passionately Engage Millennials At Work

2) Coach For Development

The No. 1 reason Millennials leave an organization is due to lack of career opportunities. In my experience, it’s not because these opportunities didn’t exist within the company, but rather because the leaders didn’t communicate those opportunities. They were too busy bossing their talent that they forgot to coach their talent.

Leaders will receive more valuable feedback at all levels of the organization if they value each person in the organization regardless of their position or generation. D. Michael Abrashoff, former captain of the Navy destroyer USS Benfold, says it best: “Every leader needs big ears and zero tolerance for stereotypes.” If you’ve taken the time to create a personal relationship with your talent, you’ll know what uniquely matters to them and will be able to coach them beyond their perceived potential.

Boss less. Coach more.

3) Strive For What Matters

It’s easy for someone to quit a job, but it’s much more difficult for them to quit a cause …especially Millennials. They are suckers for significance. They long for meaningful work.

Lean into their quest for good by casting the vision of the net impact your organization is having in the world. And remember, vision leaks, so be sure to cast vision as often as possible and find creative ways to keep the vision front and center and top of mind.

Creating a culture dedicated to fostering authentic personal relationships, developing talent, and focusing on a cause will result in Millennial loyalty.

Retain on.

Question: What other workplace elements have you seen that attract young talent?

About the Author: Ryan Jenkins is an internationally recognized Millennial keynote speaker and author. Ryan runs a blog and podcast at where he inspires audiences with practical next generation leadership,communication, branding, and productivity advice.

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What Millennials Really Want from Employers

There are a lot of rumors going around that suggest millennials are notoriously hard to attract and even harder to keep. The post ’80s digital generation is more concerned with free time than work, demanding flexi-hours and remote working, they want to take longer holidays, they want better perks and bigger benefits, and so on. But is this really true, or is it all hot air?

What Do Millennials Really Want?

No one knows what millennials want better than the millennials themselves. While employers are taking stabs in the dark, wildly updating their Facebook feeds with photos of creativity in the workplace and bean bags in the office, PwC decided to just ask a group of millennials what they really want from their employers.

At the top of the list of what makes an employer attractive was opportunities for career progression, which 52% of the millennials cited as the most desirable quality. Shortly after, 44% valued competitive wages and financial incentives, while 35% felt that good training and development programs were essential.

These three criteria seem to me to be something that employers themselves would also desire for their companies. Being progressive, paying a fair wage, being in a position to give nice Christmas bonuses, and ensuring staff are working at their optimum levels of productivity thanks to training and development programs, should be what every boss wants for his team.

How to Retain Millennials

For a company that realizes the value of its employees, attracting millennials isn’t so difficult. Retaining millennials, however, is another story. By 2020, millennials will make up 50% of the workforce but unlike the generations before them they aren’t adverse to job hopping.

As many as 70% of millennials leave their first job within two years, and nearly six in 10 younger workers (57%) say that it’s unlikely that they will stay with their current employers for the remainder of their working life. Comparatively, 62% of Gen X say it’s likely they will never leave their current employer and 84% of boomers plan to stick by their current employer until retirement. The difference is drastic, but is this all down to the millennials?

Many critics of millennials are saying that the degradation of company loyalty is a crying shame and label it as a “generational” thing. A generational “thing” is certainly a part of it, but it’s not quite that simple. Let’s not forget that the job landscape is changing too. Staff turnovers are high in general, work contracts are increasingly temporary and/or short term, and our workforce is now more mobile than ever before.

If employers want to retain their millennials, they need to be loyal to them. Temporary contracts don’t inspire loyalty, and if anything they create a workforce that spends its time on tenterhooks, worried about short-notice job loss, rather than focused on the job at hand. Today’s mobility and willingness to commute also means workers aren’t restricted by their locale. If they can find a better job opportunity elsewhere, you can be sure that they’ll take it.

Value Your Whole Team

A company that realizes the value of its team is what really makes an attractive employer for millennials, baby boomers and Gen X-ers alike. Employers who can put themselves in the position of each of their employees and treat them as they would want to be treated already know the secret of attracting and retaining millennials.

About the Author: Ron Stewart has worked in the recruitment industry for 30 years, having owned companies in the IT, construction and medical sectors. He runs the Jobs4Group, and is CEO of Jobs4Medical.

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The Link Between Technology And Retention

We do all we can to influence retention, or at least, we think we do. We measure engagement, we carry out exit interviews, we even have performance management programs. But in today’s technology-led world, are we missing a trick in the workplace? Is our talent leaving us because the competition is using better technology in-house? Is our talent leaving in frustration at our inability to keep up with the times?

Quite possibly.

The Link Between Home and the Workplace

Talk to anyone in IT at the moment, and BYOD is more than just an acronym, it’s enough to keep them awake at night. Bring Your Own Device is a nightmare in itself, for which any number of solutions are available (headache tablets, perhaps).

However, its growth reflects a growing frustration with workplace technology. Why is half the company using personal iPads for 20 minutes before they work on their laptops?

Because the laptops take 20 minutes to start up. iPads take 20 milliseconds.

That’s the situation I’ve encountered in two organizations recently. Technology brought in from home was being used for work purposes, because the work technology was either dated or overly restrictive.

As an employer, you have to face up to the fact that technology has become infinitely more simple than it ever used to be. It’s quicker and more adaptive, and yet workplace technology has hardly kept pace.

If you’re the kid in the playground with dad’s chunky old Nokia from the late ’90s, then nobody’s going to talk to you. Therefore, there’s a business case for investing in better technology — and that business case includes employee retention.

Helping Your People Succeed

Everyone wants to succeed. Earning money meets one of Maslow’s needs, but the satisfaction of succeeding at work is one of the key elements that keeps our talent in place.

If we’re failing our own talent with outdated technology, we’re failing the business, and we’re losing our talent.

As an example, four years ago, I visited the headquarters of one of the UK’s largest banks. The company was unable to use most cloud-based solutions of the time due to their inability to upgrade from Internet Explorer 6. Most of the employees had already accepted that they were never going to move beyond IE6 (which was unsupported), and there was a general feeling of having “given up” on the technology that was meant to support them.

Within that business, I spoke to members of the sales team who were unable to properly manage their pipeline due to old technology not supporting the solutions they had brought in. There are hundreds of ways to use technology to help sales teams (we won’t go into them here), and this is potentially the opportunity for HR to talk technology with sales directors, armed with a bit of knowledge about how an investment in better technology will have an impact on the bottom line in more ways than they had previously thought.

The fear of losing a top salesperson because they feel they aren’t reaching their potential might be enough to secure better technology, and therefore, improve retention.

Improving Communication

“What do you mean you didn’t get the email? Have you checked your junk folder?”

Despite our proliferation of communication methods, we are terrible at communicating. An over-reliance on email systems can lead to frustration at work, with some people flooded with emails and others ignoring them completely.

However, at home (or on mobile), we’re particularly good at communicating. We use social networks and we’ve already segmented our friends into different networks – family on Facebook, colleagues on LinkedIn, people we don’t know on Twitter…

There’s a lot to learn, and this can reduce some of the tension and friction that often arises from poor email communication in a business. Whether it’s instant messaging, social collaboration or simply telling people to turn their emails off for a day (I’ve seen it happen, although I haven’t seen it work), it’s our responsibility to lead this conversation.

People leave businesses for many reasons – we need to dig into those reasons through exit interviews, but we need to pre-empt people’s frustrations and help them improve the way they work. To provide a more satisfying, rewarding environment in which people can prosper, we need to start mirroring the way people use technology at home.

That involves providing better, quicker technology – and yes, we have to work through the security issues that inevitably arise; that’s not impossible.

That involves providing more supporting technology; whether you’re in sales or marketing, you need to give people the tools they need in order to succeed. If you’re not doing it, your competition might be, and it’s a great recruitment tool to say that you’ve adopted the latest technology.

That involves harnessing the latest communication tools in order to help people collaborate better within your business.

And if you can put a dollars and cents figure against a 2% improvement in employee retention, you can weigh it up against the investment in said technologies. And that’s not just a conversation worth having, it’s a conversation worth leading.

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Start Your Retention Strategy On Day One

The first day at a new job is stressful. The pressure to start off on the right foot and make a great first impression can be intense. Right or wrong, on the first day it can feel like there’s a lot on the line, and on top of it all, it is all packed into a busy first-day schedule.

While new employees realize the importance of having a great first day, many companies miss the opportunity to make a great first impression of their own. This isn’t to suggest that effective onboarding ends on the first day. On the contrary, onboarding exercises should continue throughout the first year, and then transition into your long-term employee growth, productivity and retention strategy.

That said, the time from an accepted offer through to the end of a new hire’s first week often misses a valuable element: listening to the new hire. The time is often filled with so much talking at the new employee intsead. Now that you’re outside of the pressures of the hiring process, these first few weeks are a key moment to listen and learn more about the person that is joining your team.

Aside from just being common courtesy, listening to your employees has good business value, too. For example, according to a recent LinkedIn study, some of the most popular reasons employees look for jobs are a desire for greater opportunities for advancement, more challenging work and more learning opportunities. By starting this conversation as early as possible and gaining a deep understanding about the opportunities that are valued by your new hires, you can help protect yourself with a strong retention strategy.

Here’s what else you can gain from your initial onboarding conversations:

Open, Honest Performance Conversations: For many reasons, some of the most awkward conversations in the workplace are during performance reviews. A great way to counter this is by having performance conversations early and often. When an employee sees the value in sharing honestly, these performance conversations will have much greater value. A conversation about performance expectations for the first weeks and months is often a good start.

Visualize Long-Term Plans: Part of a successful long-term employer-employee relationship is putting an employee in a situation that runs parallel to his or her ideal career plan. By knowing where your employees want to go, you can better ensure that their work on your team keeps them on that chosen path.

Identify Employee Motivations: Part of building a high-performance culture is identifying the best ways to reward and acknowledge your talented employees. Discovering what your new hires value and what pushes them early will help you make your rewards more meaningful, and will save you from inefficient trial and error.

Show You Care: One of the leading causes of underperformance and burnout is personal problems. From the first day, you can work to build trust with a new employee that would make them feel comfortable discussing issues ourside of the office that might disrupt their work. Just asking simple questions about an employee’s weekend, summer plans or interests in general – and sharing in turn – can help create this environment, and may also foster loyalty.

Admittedly, these are behaviors that work well beyond day one with a new hire, but the sooner you can get started, the better off you will be.

How do you connect with your new hires after the hiring process is over?

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Could Employee Appreciation Transform Your Hiring Strategies?

Employee retention is an important business consideration because high turnover rates are costly and often detrimental to overall team performance. However, even with the best retention rates, companies usually need to hire new workers once in a while. Whether they’re expanding or filling the holes left by retirees, leaders seek talented candidates who are excellent fits for the open roles. Anyone who’s been involved in the hiring process can attest to the fact that the whole ordeal can be quite a hassle, often with less than optimal results.

So are you stuck with the traditional routine, even if you’ve had lackluster candidate pools in the past? Perhaps not. The old strategies of posting a job description, sifting through piles of usually unpromising resumes, interviewing select candidates and choosing the best of the bunch might not be the only option. That’s what Zappos is banking on: Rather than relying on people to take interest in a job description and come to them, the company is taking advantage of an engaged, passionate workforce to be recruiting partners.

Hiring: The Zappos way 

According to the Boston Globe, Amazon-owned, Las Vegas-based online shoe retailer Zappos has decided to do away with the traditional job postings in favor of a more personal, relationship-based approach. The company created a new career site and is utilizing social media to showcase its culture and opportunities. Interested candidates can chat with current employees to gain an inside perspective on life within the organization.

The company’s HR manager, Michael Bailen, explained in a blog post on that this change reflects the business’s commitment to focus more on people. To do so, he added, Zappos needed to depart from what he considers a “fundamentally broken process” that constitutes most recruiting approaches.

“Recruiting has become a walking contradiction. We care about the candidate experience, but we spend five to seven seconds looking at a resume. We are dedicated to get back to all candidates in an effort to provide great service, but the vast majority of candidates get a rejection email,” he wrote. “I want our recruiters to build long-term, sustainable relationships with people.”

Building on a foundation of company loyalty

In order for such a people-centric approach to work, Zappos had to create a corporate culture that would be attractive to candidates as well as foster company loyalty among employees to be able to have confidence that they’d participate effectively in the recruiting platform. Zappos created such a culture by focusing on employee appreciation and engagement. By offering rewards — most of which were non-monetary — to recognize and inspire employees, Zappos put its people at the forefront of the company.

By motivating workers based on intrinsic, value-driven incentives, rather than superficial cash or prizes, companies can foster the type of organization that draws top talent because it’s known as an excellent place to work. Additionally, employees become ambassadors for the firm, which is often a more effective form of recruitment since current workers are likely to identify friends and acquaintances who will be well-suited to the realities of the job.

About the Author: As Vice President of Client Strategy for TemboStatus, David Bator works with growing companies every day and helps them bridge the gap between assessing employee engagement and addressing it with action.

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It’s Time For A New Job-Skills Training Model

I attended a presentation by Mary Owens at a local financial advisory firm. In her well-presented talk about the return of manufacturing to the U.S., she articulated a number of facts that got me thinking:

  • Manufacturing was returning because North American fuel (read: natural gas) is now becoming cheaper than the combination of diesel and Asian labor.
  • U.S. factories are utilizing the most advanced technologies.
  • And last, we can put millions of people to work.

This is good news, right? I think so. But we still have a major gap in fulfilling the training that these factories need. She described quite succinctly these additional points that I have been thinking a lot about:

  • Many industries are beginning to (re)grow, and they are using new technologies to do it.
  • In many industries, employers can’t find “locked and loaded” employees who have the skills to perform the jobs they need filled.
  • The current higher education and vocational system isn’t serving the employment needs of employers or job seekers.

Mary’s plea, as I understand it, is to invite the wealth community to invest in an educational system to feed these employers’ needs. I like Mary’s pluck. She is not the first to say it or practice it. It makes sense to see the need and fill it.

But … not so fast. Since writing about workplace apprenticeship a few weeks ago, I’ve continued to ruminate about these additional convergent problems:

  1. Trade schools and career colleges, while making a comeback, are not prolific enough to be a relevant source of fulfillment for these factory and other supporting jobs.
  2. Higher education has too many of the wrong students and isn’t coming close to fulfilling its pledge to any students or fulfilling its own historical role.
  3. Job seekers can no longer afford to create the debt that higher education is demanding.
  4. The public can no longer afford to support this Herculean effort in the form of needed government subsidies.
  5. Employers want to shift responsibility away from themselves and blame everything else—from schools to generational birth year, from government to parents.

If business wants “locked and loaded” workers, then where should it get them?

In his post, “How Education Is Failing To Serve Business’ Needs,”  Mark Lukens  discusses this very topic. His analysis of the raging debate about education not serving humanity’s need to think creatively is extremely relevant. To that point, I agree.

Then he says,

“If the education system is to serve the needs of business, then we need to start by asking what those needs are.”

 Ugh. I cringe. Education should not be the bitch of business. Education should be its own system and its own reward. And yes, I agree, it should shift its focus to help us to learn the needed skill of creative thinking; however, I envision a world where we get to learn for a variety of reasons, at a variety of times, and not always for job skills.

This bears the question, “Where do we learn the skills needed for a rewarding job?”

The answer keeps pointing me to employers. If they are the ones with the needs and they want a consistent, customizable result, then it is on their shoulders.

I believe that it is time for a new model. A model of efficiency and fairness. Let’s take the burden off of higher-learning institutions and the public. Let’s take the financial burden off of the individual as well. Let’s institute a model that allows business to serve itself. The model would allow people with the right behavior profiles to enter into paid apprenticeships to learn the absolute needed skills, aptitudes, and values needed by the employer.

We have hundreds of years of history filled with examples of an apprenticeship model. The last 100-plus years have taken us off track and placed the “burden” elsewhere. I expect that employers are going to rebel against this responsibility. But when they see that it actually MAKES them money through efficiencies rather than turnover costs, possibly the whining will stop.

I envision higher education rebelling because it will see its head count retreat. But it is time to stop the churn of unsuccessful, unhappy, and broke students overfilling our colleges and universities. It is only in the last 50 years that “everyone” went to college. Now “everyone” doesn’t get a result. So let’s stop it.

If we are to get out of our current morass, grab opportunity by the nose, and get back to work, it is time for employers to see themselves as training organizations. Profitable training organizations.

The future of work is dependent upon it.


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