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Prospecting LinkedIn For…Everything #TChat Recap

The Power of Professional Prospecting

If you’ve been working in the recruiting, workforce, HR or leadership space, you’re well aware of how LinkedIn can be used for…work. But there is more to the professional networking behemoth than sourcing and recruiting (not that it’s a slouch in that department either).

Professional prospecting, or “panning for sales gold” as I like to call it, was the subject of last night’s #TChat and our guest Viveka von Rosen had some incredibly interesting tidbits to share. The CEO of LinkedIn to Business and a published author (nab her book, LinkedIn Marketing in an Hour a Day, here) gave #TChatters inside information about how to use LinkedIn to unearth new deals and create additional opportunities from sales, leadership and yes, employment perspectives.

The Mainstays

“Dynamic LI profiles are ones tended to like a growing garden: with care & frequent watering” @DawnRasmussen is right. You get out of LinkedIn what you put into it. There are countless ways to update your LinkedIn profile and all of them add value to getting you MORE sales, more leads…more connections. So get in there!

Nearly everyone agreed that LinkedIn is a powerful tool, but the cons listed had to do with lack of visibility, frequent pulled support for favorite tools and an ever changing user experience. But in #TChat as in life, there were a whole lot more pros. Included in the list?

  • The breadth of information available on LinkedIn
  • The ability to find anyone via one’s own network
  • The third-party tools built to work with the platform (shout out to @rapportive)
  • The new and improved search UX

Stuff You Can Do

Didn’t have time to attend? Try these five-minute new tricks to make baby steps toward using LinkedIn for prospecting:

  1. Find and connect with those who have “viewed your profile”
  2. Search out people in your area
  3. Create buyer personas and make a target list and send personalized emails (you get 5 free!)
  4. Ask and answer questions in your chosen fields
  5. Join groups to get the inside track in your industry (you have up to 50!)
  6. Of course, change your profile URL to something recognizable
  7. Put keywords you think your target market or candidate will be searching
  8. Connect your Slideshare account and keep it updated

For the organization: Check out this article from our friends at Social Media Examiner on how to make the most of your company page. Jonesing for the unique #TChat interactions or want to see who said what?

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Viveka von Rosen for enlightening us on LinkedIn! Check out her full site at LinkedIn to Business

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about trends on the workplace talent frontier? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we may feature it!! If you recap #TChat make sure to use this link so we can find you! 

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week at #TChat Events, we’ll be talking about authentic leadership. Todd DeWett  is going to be our radio guest, and Kevin Grossman will be our moderator. See more information in the #TChat Preview this weekend, and save the date: Wednesday, March 26!

Meanwhile, the TalentCulture conversation continues daily on #TChat Twitter, in our LinkedIn group, and on our NEW Google+ community. So join us anytime on your favorite social channels.

Think you have what it takes to write for TalentCulture? Submit an application to be a contributor NOW!

Optimism: A Workplace Necessity #TChat Recap

Bring Your Smile

Pharrell is always on the brink of what’s in and he knew that 2014 was the time to be “Happy.” Last night’s #TChat featured everyone’s (and Pharrell’s) favorite contagion: optimism.

The majority seemed to be on the same page with this one. Who knew that people like positivity? Our guest Shawn Murphy and his bright side of life attitude brought us right to the heart of the issue: “Optimism is about believing that good things are possible in the work we do.”

Bright Smiling Selfies

“Collaborating and allowing everyone to win.” @CASUDI makes a great point. All parts of an office must feel like they have brought something great to the table. Having an optimistic workplace starts with the attitude an individual brings to the office, but creating a positive work environment takes a whole team.

What can we do to bring the good vibes on? Breanne Harris of Critical-Thinkers.com said, “Finding solutions and innovating. Stop pointing out the problems and offer solutions. Optimism is everyone’s jobs.”

And this seemed to be a recurring suggestion. While the first (and sometimes hardest step) is learning to admit to problems, what a workforce really needs is possible solutions to the issues being faced.

Transparency and Communication

And as always, creating an honest environment leaves more room for managers and employees to share all challenges being faced. Alli Polin agrees: “When people see all the cards on the table, optimism isn’t blind. Share and communicate with each other.”

Start with Your Attitude

Sure, it’s easy to say you want a more positive workplace, but when it comes down to it, if you aren’t working to make a difference, then it’s all just a pretty dream. Christopher Lind may be talking about employees, but the truth is that everyone could stand to hear this bit of advice: “Ask questions and engage leadership. Sometimes you have to make your own way and not wait on others.”

Check out Megan’s article How To Make Work Matter to learn the ways to get started in your office. Speaking of making your own way, take a peek at all that was discussed last night on last night’s #TChat with our Storify presentation!

#TChat Insights: Creating a Culture of Optimism

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Shawn Murphy for joining us! Learn more about Shawn Murphy at Switch&Shift.com.

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about trends on the workplace talent frontier? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we may feature it!!

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week at #TChat Events, we’ll be getting down to what you really need to know about social media. Nancy Rubin is going to be our guest moderator. See more information in the #TChat Preview this weekend, and save the date: Wednesday, March 19!

Meanwhile, the TalentCulture conversation continues daily on #TChat Twitter, in our LinkedIn group, and on our NEW Google+ community. So join us anytime on your favorite social channels.

Notice a difference in this week’s recap? That’s because we’re on the verge of launching our newsletter. Stay tuned for sign up details and you can receive #TChat questions before anyone else, get insight from Meghan on the week ahead and more!

 

photo credit: peyri via photopin cc

Disrupt HR…NOW! #TChat Recap

(Editor’s Note: Looking for details from the week’s #TChat Events? See the Storify slideshow and resource links at the end of this post.)

Muppets. Cake. And Disruption.

What do those three things have in common? They were all featured on last night’s #TChat.

We knew the topic would be controversial just as much as we knew the host would be her gracious self. But despite her Southern cool, Jennifer McClure is here to change the game and she wants to take #TChatters along for the ride.

Jeremy Ames seemed to crystallize the evening when he said: “In some ways, HR is becoming more organization-specific, which means that the most important skills vary company to company.”

The very definition of what we do is changing. So we might as well bring on the chaos of disruption!

Learning to be OK with Chaos

“Complacency is definitely the work place killer.” We can’t even count how many times this gem was retweeted. (I mean, we can. We have stats, but still, it was quite the belle of the ball statement.) First uttered by 15Five, it’s so true. Complacency kills pretty much all relationships, why not the ones we experience at work?

How can we avoid complacency? You’ve got it. Change. And change is the very thing HR is usually brought in to manage. Change = Chaos in the minds of many of our most prevalent practitioners. The trick then, is making change a good thing.

While it’s nice to talk about potentially changing our workplaces, it must be more urgent than that, as the workforce is not-so-slowly changing around us. Emilie Meck said: “You can’t use yesterday’s ideas today and expect to be in business tomorrow.” And it’s not just a slide in a presentation, people, change is afoot! But speaking of presentations….

 

The first step towards true disruption is authenticity. And not the tired old authenticity that is really just more energetic corp-speak, but true authentic experiences within the enterprise, being shared by employee ambassadors because they are AWESOME and not because management said you have to tweet 5 times a week.

@VirginPulse Being authentic is really important – it’s how you start to build cultures.

As you pursue authenticity are you paying attention to those around you? Disruption is inherently IDEA driven and no man is an island when it comes to those. Pay attention to what your colleagues are proposing or maybe, what they are too shy to put forward.

@IgloooSensei Ideas are disruptive by nature. Consideration might be the most undervalued interpersonal resource #tchat

In fact most of the solutions presented to our questions (check out the preview here) were more systemic and low-tech. Look at the reasons HR should embrace disruption (we could get left behind) and the ideas to do so within an organization (giving employees an involvement in the success of the business).

#TChat Insights: Disrupting HR

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Jennifer McClure for being an amazing moderator! Learn more about Jennifer and Unbridled Talent here.

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about trends on the workplace talent frontier? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we may feature it!! Check out this recap from Amanda Sterling.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week at #TChat Events, we’ll figure out how to create optimism at work and why it matters. Switch and Shift’s Shawn Murphy is going to be our guest moderator. See more information in the #TChat Preview this weekend, and save the date: Wednesday, March 12!

Meanwhile, the TalentCulture conversation continues daily on #TChat Twitter, in our LinkedIn group, and on our NEW Google+ community. So join us anytime on your favorite social channels.

Notice a difference in this week’s recap? That’s because we’re on the verge of launching our newsletter. Stay tuned for sign up details and you can receive #TChat questions before anyone else, get insight from Meghan on the week ahead and more!

 


New Rules of Employee Engagement #TChat Recap

(Editor’s Note: Looking for details from the week’s #TChat Events? See the Storify slideshow and resource links at the end of this post.)

“Our employees are our greatest asset.”
Year after year, it seems like employers focus on the same catchphrase.

Meanwhile, workforce engagement statistics continue to crawl along the ocean floor like bottom feeders scouring for scraps. It’s like being caught in a time-travel wormhole that loops back on itself, with only our clothing styles and digital technologies changing along the way.

Even professionals with specialized “knowledge skills” are caught in this spin cycle. And for too many in today’s workforce, it’s not just monotonous, but overwhelming.

Breaking the Perpetual Talent Spin Cycle

Of course, at the end of the day, “overwhelmed” workers are at the mercy of employers. But when all else fails, a disengaged employee’s only true leverage is the power to leave.

Until recently, the economic crisis made that option unthinkable for many. But today, a much different picture is emerging. The ability to exercise career choice is fundamentally changing the workplace, one painful decision at a time. You’ve heard it before – no pain, no gain.

Take Wall Street for example. The financial industry has had a long climb back from the darkest days of recession. But, as a recent NPR Planet Money podcast reports, many new banking recruits are struggling to stay immersed in an industry that puts money above all else. They want to do more than just make money — they want to make the world a better place.

Does Wall Street need to redeem itself, though? Does it need to realign with the needs of the best and brightest it wants to employ? Maybe. Or maybe those recruits should consider other employers — or make their own entrepreneurial magic.

According to new global talent strategy research, companies are focusing on retention, engagement and “attraction of talent” more than they have in nearly a decade. In fact, more than 60% of organizations say that dealing with “the overwhelmed employee” is a top priority.

Employees Rewrite Rules of Engagement

Yes, the overwhelmed employee is redefining the workplace — one painful change at a time. But smart companies are finding ways to be responsive. Here are two examples we discussed at #TChat this week with our guest, Josh Bersin, Founder and Principal of Bersin by Deloitte:

1) Continuous Development: Most knowledge workers are taking it upon themselves to “skill up” — to keep themselves marketable, relevant and valuable. Often this happens outside of the enterprise via MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and online learning sites. Video, in particular, is gaining ground as medium for “anytime” access to self-paced learning. Employers should look for ways to mirror these learning experiences internally.

2) Flexible Work Options: As it becomes increasingly difficult to recruit, hire and retain top performers for highly skilled positions, flexibility has become a negotiating chip. Remote work, nontraditional daily and weekly schedules, contract and part-time relationships, unlimited personal time — you name it. Again, wise companies recognize the value of offering these choices to attract and retain the very best.

Yep, no pain, no gain. Clearly, there’s a long road ahead. But progressive employers are starting to step up to the challenge that overwhelmed employees are presenting. And that’s a step in the right direction.

Want to know what the TalentCulture community says about this topic? Check the #TChat Storify highlights and resource links below. Thanks to everyone who contributed ideas — let’s keep the conversation going on Twitter and Google+!

#TChat Week-In-Review: The Year of The Employee

JoshBersin (2)

Watch the #TChat sneak peek hangout now

SUN 2/23:
#TChat Preview:
TalentCulture Community Manager, Tim McDonald, framed the week’s topic in a post featuring a brief G+ hangout, where he talked with Josh Bersin about how today’s talent pool is gaining bargaining power from employers. Read: “Work: Employees Rewrite The Script

MON 2/24:
Forbes.com Post:
In her weekly Forbes column, TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro, looked at trends affecting today’s talent strategies in: “5 Trends Driving HR Technology in 2014.”

TUE 2/25:
Related Post: “Growth From Within: 7 Ways to Compete on Employee Talent” — by Shawn Murphy

WED 2/26:

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Listen to the #TChat Radio show replay

#TChat Radio: Our hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talked with Josh Bersin about the key talent and HR technology trends that are shaping 2014 and beyond. Listen to the #TChat Radio replay now…

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and Josh moved over to the #TChat Twitter stream, where the entire TalentCulture community  discussed 5 key questions about emerging workplace talent trends.

See highlights from the Twitter stream the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: The Year of The Employee

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/the-year-of-the-employee.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Josh Bersin for sharing new global talent research with our community. Your insights brought tremendous depth and dimension to the discussion.

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about trends on the workplace talent frontier? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week at #TChat Events, we’ll take a very special look at forces that are disrupting HR from the inside out, with our guest Steve Browne, Executive Director of HR at LaRosa’s Inc. See more information in the #TChat Preview this weekend, and save the date: Wednesday, March 5!

Meanwhile, the TalentCulture conversation continues daily on #TChat Twitter, in our LinkedIn group, and on our NEW Google+ community. So join us anytime on your favorite social channels.

We’ll see you on the stream!

(Editor’s Note: CONGRATS to Paul Thoresen — winner of the recent Pebble smartwatch giveaway from Dice! And thanks to all the #TChat contributors who shared tech recruiting ideas and questions with Dice and #FutureofTech.)

Image Credit: Mike Rohde via Flickr

Work: Employees Rewrite The Script #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Are you seeking highlights and resource links from this week’s #TChat Events? See the #TChat Recap: “New Rules of Employee Engagement.”)

Have you heard the news?

Unless you’ve been living in a cave far removed from the HR grid, you know that employee engagement is alarmingly low — only 30% in the U.S. and 13% globally, according to 2013 reports.

Many workplace experts have examined these engagement trends, considered the causes and suggested solutions. But there’s more to the story than that.

The definition of work is being turned on its head. People are bringing a whole new set of expectations to their jobs today.

This shift is real. It’s a force that even the most successful employers can no longer afford to ignore. And according to Josh Bersin, Founder and Principal of Bersin by Deloitte, this reality is supported by hard data from companies around the globe. As he said when he declared 2014 The Year of the Employee:

“The war for talent is over, and the talent won.”

So, what is really driving today’s workplace transformation? And what are its implications for talent strategies in high-performance organizations? That’s the topic the TalentCulture community is tackling this week at #TChat Events, as Josh Bersin shares new insights from rigorous research his team just completed.

Sneak Peek — The Year of the Employee

To frame this week’s discussion, I briefly spoke with Josh in a G+ hangout, where we talked about the fundamentals that are driving workplace change:

Related reading:
China Gorman: A Cutting-Edge Strategy: Developing Business Leaders as Talent Leaders
Aberdeen Group: HCM Trends 2014: Developing a Critical Eye for Talent
HR Marketer: What Will Happen in HR in 2014 — Perusing the Predictions

This topic is vital for talent-minded professionals everywhere, so we hope you’ll join the #TChat conversation this week and share your questions, opinions and ideas!

#TChat Events: Are Employees Finally In The Driver’s Seat?

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Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

#TChat Radio — Wed, Feb 26 — 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with Josh Bersin about the key talent and HR technology trends that are shaping 2014 and beyond. Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Feb 26 7pmET / 4pmPT Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and our guests will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community.

Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: How are high-performing companies improving the way they recruit and hire?
Q2: How do talent analytics help employers understand workforce performance?
Q3: What are the key engagement initiatives for employers today?
Q4: As competition heats up for top talent, how are employees leveraging their influence?
Q5: What issues do employees face today that are shaping the future of work?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, and in our new TalentCulture G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Job Auditions: Secret to Successful Hires?

By Matt Mullenweg, Founder, Automattic.

Hiring potential employees on a trial basis can help you quickly discover things about them that you can’t learn from resumes, interviews or reference checks. Here’s how it works in our organization.

Automattic (the fuel behind WordPress.com) employs more than 225 people who live all over the world, in 190 different cities. Our headquarters office is in San Francisco, and it operates similar to a coworking space. Employees who live in the Bay Area can choose to work from that location if they wish. However, most of our employees choose to work from other sites.

For us, this arrangement makes sense — our business is based on open source software, which is a decentralized product. However, outsiders have been skeptical as we’ve moved forward with our distributed work model.

At the outset they said, “That works great when you have 10 or 15 employees, but when you reach a team of 30, it falls apart.” Eventually we passed 30 employees, and we started hearing that the magic number is 100. Then people said Dunbar’s number — 150 — would be the point at which it didn’t work. Yet we keep blowing past these thresholds. We hired more than 100 people in 2013.

What’s special about us? We don’t hire the way most companies do — both in our mindset and our actions.

Mindset: We Think Differently About Work

In many businesses, if someone shows up in the morning and he isn’t drunk, he doesn’t sleep at his desk and he’s dressed nicely, it’s assumed that he’s working. But none of that takes into account what he’s actually creating during the day — and that’s really what matters.

Many people create great things without having to follow established workplace norms. Our organization measures work based on outputs. I don’t care what hours you work. I don’t care if you sleep late, or if you pick a child up from school in the afternoon. It’s all about what you produce.

This arrangement isn’t for everyone. But a lot of people like the autonomy we offer, and that’s important. So we’ve arrived at an unorthodox hiring system that serves our needs perfectly.

Behavior: We Hire by Audition

Before we hire anyone, they go through a trial process first, on contract. They can do the work at night or over the weekend, so they don’t have to leave their current job in the meantime. We pay a standard rate of $25 an hour, regardless of whether a job candidate wants to be an engineer or the chief financial officer.

During the trials, applicants perform actual work. If you’re applying to work in customer support, you’ll answer trouble tickets. If you’re an engineer, you’ll address engineering problems. If you’re a designer, you’ll design.

Seeing Is Believing

There’s nothing like being in the trenches with someone — working with them day by day. It tells you something you can’t learn from resumes, interviews or reference checks.

At the end of the trial, everyone involved has a great sense of whether they want to work together going forward. And, yes, that means everyone — it’s a mutual tryout. Some candidates decide we’re not the right fit for them. For others, the experience solidifies their commitment.

The Payoffs of Careful Hiring

Overall, we end up hiring about 40% of the people who try out with us. It’s a huge time commitment — coordinating the short-term work our applicants perform — but it leads to extremely low turnover. In the past eight years, only about 10 people have left the company, and we’ve let go of another 25 or 30. Those are great numbers in today’s work environment, so it’s a system we plan to keep utilizing.

Today, I spend at least a third of my time on hiring. And even though it’s a small part of our process, I still look at every resume the company receives, and I conduct the final interview with everyone who joins us.

It’s worth the effort. Nothing has the impact of putting the right people around the table. The aphorism is true: You can’t manage your way out of a bad team. We’ve done experiments to find the best way to hire based on our unique organizational structure. I encourage your business to do the same.

252691_10150856254811651_681132284_n(About the Author: Matt Mullenweg is the founder of Automattic, the company behind the open-source blogging platform, WordPress.com, as well as Akismet, Gravatar, VaultPress, IntenseDebate, Polldaddy and more. Additionally, Matt is a principal and founder of Audrey Capital, an investment and research company. Connect with him on Facebook or on Twitter.

(Editor’s Note: This post was adapted from a post at Brazen Life, with permission. It is based on a talk by the author at the December 2013 Lean Startup Conference. It originally appeared on Harvard Business Review. For more information, visit the Insight Center on Talent and the New World of Hiring. Brazen Life is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. Hosted by Brazen Careerist, it offers edgy and fun ideas for navigating the changing world of work. Be Brazen!)

(Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credits: Wikipedia (feature) and Kevin Abosch (author)

Hiring Great Talent: How Do You Decide? #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Want details from this week’s #TChat Events? See the Storify slideshow and resource links and more in the #TChat Recap: “Hiring: A Winner Every Time.”)

Think back for a moment.

What factors tend to drive your organization’s hiring decisions? Impressive candidate credentials? Hiring manager preference? Behavioral interviews? Gut instinct?

Now tell me — how successful has that method been?

Studies indicate that hiring by intuition fails as much as 75% of the time — so clearly there’s no easy answer. However, a more deliberate, structured approach can significantly improve the odds of finding a long-term fit.

What approach works best? That’s the focus of our conversation this week at #TChat Events. Leading the way are two HR professionals who understand the value of a solid hiring methodology: Chris Mursau, Vice President at Topgrading, and Jean Lynn, VP of HR at Home Instead Senior Care.

Sneak Peek: Smart Ways to Hire Better Talent

To frame this week’s discussion, I briefly spoke with Chris in a G+ hangout — where we talked about why it’s so tough for companies to find and keep the talent they need…

This topic touches all of us in the world of work, so we hope you’ll join the #TChat crowd this week and add your perspective to the conversation!

#TChat Events: Smart Ways to Hire Better Talent

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Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

#TChat Radio — Wed, Feb 19 — 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with Chris Mursau and Jean Lynn about how companies can be more effective at hiring top performers. Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Feb 19 7pmET / 4pmPT Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and our guests will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community.

Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as Dr. Nancy Rubin moderates a dynamic live chat focused on these related questions:

Q1:  How do we identify and attract high-performing employees?
Q2:  What processes and technologies impact quality of hire?
Q3:  Hiring via “gut” feel alone usually fails, so why do we keep doing it?
Q4:  Do reference checks really influence a candidate’s viability?
Q5:  How should employers communicate their culture to candidates?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, and in our new TalentCulture G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Does Your Workforce Feel The Love? #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Are you looking for full highlights and resource links from this week’s events? See the #TChat Recap: “Employee Engagement: Say It Like You Mean It.“)

At one point or another, all of us have felt it.

You know what I mean. That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, when you suddenly realize someone you desperately want to pursue is simply just … not that into you.

Talk all you want about The 5 Love Languages or 50 Shades of Grey. No amount of self-help advice or passionate persuasion is likely to alter the destiny of that relationship.

Employer Love: Beyond Hearts and Flowers

Fortunately, it’s a different story for relationships between employers and employees. Even companies that haven’t connected with their workforce in meaningful ways can turn a lackluster situation around. But what’s the best approach? And is it really worth the effort?

That’s the topic the TalentCulture community is taking on this week at #TChat Events. And we’re fortunate to be welcoming two guests who understand the importance of developing solid employer/employee bonds: Chris Boyce, CEO at Virgin Pulse, and Kevin Herman, Director of Worksite Wellness at The Horton Group.

Sneak Peek

Both of these executives see tremendous potential in strengthening employee loyalty and engagement by focusing on lifestyle fundamentals — health and well-being. Last year, Chris explained in a Bloomberg broadcast interview why it’s wise to invest in workforce wellness, especially in the face of rising healthcare costs and reduced benefits. Watch now:

Recently, Chris contributed a TalentCulture post expanding on this concept. In “Workplace Wellness: The Story Starts With Healthy Culture,” he makes the business case for embracing next-generation wellness programs — not just to promote employee health, but to build a more resilient business, overall.

What do you think about the importance of wellness programs and other employee engagement strategies in demonstrating employer “love”? This topic affects all of us in the world of work, so we hope you’ll join the #TChat crowd this week and add your perspective to the conversation.

#TChat Events: Love Your Employees, They’ll Love You Back

#TChat Radio — Wed, Feb 12 — 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT

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Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with Chris Boyce and  Kevin Herman about why and how employers should demonstrate their commitment to workforce well-being. Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Feb 12 7pmET / 4pmPT

Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and our guests will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community, in a dynamic live chat.

Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we address these 5 related questions:

Q1: Why does workforce recognition and engagement matter more than ever?
Q2: What are the best ways employers can demonstrate this kind of “love”?
Q3: Where have you seen engagement in action, for better or worse?
Q4: What technologies help nurture workforce engagement?
Q5: What kind of engagement metrics are relevant and useful?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, and on our new G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!

What Makes Tech Talent Tick?

The problem is crystal clear. But the solution is not as obvious.

In today’s digitally driven world, skilled IT professionals are in short supply. It’s tougher than ever for employers to build the tech teams they need for successful innovation. But just how tough is it?

Tech Hiring By The Numbers

According to research by Microsoft, the IT labor shortage is alarming. A 2012 survey on the state of U.S. technical talent estimates that the number of new jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree in computer science grows each year by 122,300 openings.

In a tough economic climate, that kind of healthy job growth seems like good news. But here’s the rest of the story: The average number of computer science graduates each year is only 59,731. That’s less than half of new job demand.

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See infographic at Dice.com

The survey also uncovered discrepancies between what employers think engineers find attractive in a job, and what engineers actually want. For example:

 89% of software engineers said they applied for 2 jobs or less in the 5 years prior to the survey. This relatively low turnover rate helps explain why it’s so difficult to find and engage experienced software engineers. (Although, in 2014, the picture is no longer as stable. According to a recent Dice.com survey, more than 40% of companies say they’ve lost tech staff in the past 6 months, compared to 30% a year ago.)

  64% of recruiters believe that the opportunity to work with interesting technology is the primary reason software engineers are motivated to consider a new job. But engineers disagree. In fact, less than 10% of those surveyed say cutting-edge technology is a key reason to accept a new position.

  Top reasons engineers respond to recruiter outreach:
45% — Position is relevant to their background;
13% — Interest in the company;
10% — Competitive compensation.
(These priorities also seem to be shifting in 2014. According to Dice.com research, 75% of tech workers who changed jobs recently were motivated primarily by higher compensation.)

To learn more about what motivates technology professionals, consider this snapshot from a Dice survey conducted in 2011:

What Tech Professionals Want in Current Job

Motives Matter For Acquisition and Retention

Knowing what matters to technical professionals is vital to the recruitment process. But it’s just as important for successful workforce retention.

Technical Talent Employer Retention strategeis

 

 

Building Tech Teams That Last

What’s the best approach to finding, hiring and retaining a technical team that will help your business scale? Chris Lea outlined a time-tested 3-step path at the 2011 Future of Web Apps Conference:

Step 1: Find Talent

  Determine the skills you need
  Spend time on social media to see who shares advice and insights. Build relationships
  Review email lists and attend tech meetups to locate and connect with attractive candidates
  Maintain a dedicated ‘tech blog,” separate from your company’s primary blog

Step 2: Hire Talent

  Can they do the job?
  Are they the right fit for the company?

Step 3: Keep Talent

  Commit to a trial period, so both parties have a chance to determine the fit
  Make sure people take vacation periodically — preferably away from a computer

Chris Lea’s retention “must haves” are echoed by other tech recruiting experts in 5 Smart Ways to Retain Top Tech Talent:

  The more closely your job requirements match the employee’s skills, goals and values, the more likely employees will want to stay. Hire for fit, and retention will follow.
  Start strong. Retention efforts should begin during onboarding.
  Avoid burnout. Evaluate project workflows and organizational structure. Set clear expectations about duties and develop equitable workloads. Actively encourage work-life balance.
  Regularly assess employee engagement and motivation. Gather insight to guide development paths and workforce strategies.
  Commit to sustainability at a corporate level. The connection between innovation, community and the environment is very important to many technology professionals.

What Works For You?

As the hiring landscape grows increasingly competitive, creative acquisition and retention strategies can give your organization an advantage.

Is your company struggling to hire new tech talent? Are you losing IT employees you want to retain? Have you tried new approaches? What works for you? Share your comments below.

(Editor’s Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Workplace Greatness: No Guarantees #TChat Recap

There we were — discussing the factors that make “great” employers so special.

I couldn’t resist asking how organizations on Fortune Magazine’s list of “100 Best Companies to Work For” compare with those featured in Jim Collins‘ best-selling books, Built to Last and From Good to Great.

Similarities? Differences?

Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For

Learn more about the 2014 list

That’s a tough question to answer in a single 30-minute radio show. But this week’s #TChat guest came well prepared. China Gorman, CEO of Great Place to Work Institute, has been crunching numbers to create the 2014 best employers list — and her perspective reflects a lifetime of leadership and HR expertise.

She made a compelling business case

The 100 Best consistently perform 2x better financially than the stock market average
The 100 Best experience up to 65% less voluntary turnover than competitors
Companies returning to this year’s list saw unprecedented growth in 2013.

But even as China shared these facts, back-to-back tweets appeared on the Twitter stream. The first from #TChat regular, Donna Rogers:

 

The second came from a fresh voice — another Jim Collins (unrelated to the author):

 

These comments inspired me to dig deeper.

In a follow-up book, How the Mighty Fall, Jim Collins (the author) revisited 11 of the 60 companies he had previously profiled as winners. These once “great companies” had stumbled for multiple reasons — from hubris, to overreach, to denial.

The sobering conclusion? Unless fallen companies return to the fundamentals that made them great, death is inevitable.

Two Implications for “Great” Employers Everywhere

1) Greatness can fade fast. Poor decision-making, heavy-handed micro-management, bad expansion bets, products that fail, fluctuating global economics, government regulation (or lack thereof) — many factors conspire to “kill” even the best companies. But the quickest road to ruin comes when organizations lose talent to competitors because employees lose “love” for what they do, who they do it with, and why they’re doing it.

2) Perpetual salvation requires rigorous work. The work that makes companies shine — a focused, flexible business model, a compelling value proposition, a workforce that feels fairly recognized and rewarded – is the same work that keeps them moving forward through peaks and valleys. Business is a non-stop gauntlet of no guarantees — and it never gets any easier.

So, what have we learned? Great is good, if you can get it. But good can also be great, if that’s where longevity lives.

#TChat Week-In-Review: Lessons From Great Workplaces

SAT 1/18:

Watch the Preview hangout now

#TChat Preview: TalentCulture Community Manager, Tim McDonald, framed the week’s topic in a post featuring a “sneak peek” hangout with guest, China Gorman. See the #TChat Preview now: “Best Employers: What Makes Them Work?

SUN 1/19:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro explored the connection between employee engagement and business performance in her weekly Forbes.com column. Read “Happy Employees = Hefty Profits.”

RECENT RELATED POSTS:

How Great Companies Attract Top Talent” — by China Gorman
Your Corporate Culture: What’s Inside?” — by Dr. Nancy Rubin

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio replay!

WED 1/22:
#TChat Radio: Hosts Meghan M. Biro and I talked with China Gorman about what makes “Best Companies to Work For” so special. Listen to the #TChat Radio replay now

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, China and I joined the TalentCulture community on the #TChat Twitter stream for a dynamic open conversation, centered on 5 related questions. See highlights in the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: “Best” Employers: What Makes Them Work?

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/best-employers-what-makes-them-work.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to China Gorman for sharing your perspectives of effective workplace environments. We value your time, your expertise and your commitment to the TalentCulture community!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about workplace culture issues? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Our month of forward-thinking #TChat Events continues on Wednesday, January 29, when we explore the impact of pervasive technology on modern recruiting. We’ll be joined by top executives from Dice, the career hub for tech, so save the date, and prepare to share your questions and opinions!

Meanwhile, the TalentCulture conversation continues daily on the #TChat Twitter stream, our LinkedIn discussion group, and elsewhere on social media.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: WIkipedia

What’s Your Culture Tattoo? #TChat Recap

This Friday is tattoo day at work. Seriously. Tattoo day.

Everyone in our team is encouraged to display meaningful “appropriate” tattoos and the stories behind them. Any form is acceptable — permanent body art, decals, even hand-drawn creations. (Want to join the fun from a distance? Keep an eye on my Twitter stream for some inspired ink.)

The Art of Business Culture

Sure, this sounds a little hokey, like “Hawaiian shirt day.” But that’s the charm. It’s a simple, lighthearted way for us to interact, learn about one another, and gel as a team. What could be wrong with that?

The fact is — today’s crazy-busy world of work assaults us with constant change. It forces us to adapt, and adapt, and adapt again. But in rolling with all the changes, we can easily lose touch with people who are in the trenches with us. Injecting a little camaraderie into the day-to-day flow helps us create, reinforce and enhance our culture. For a company that has absorbed multiple acquisitions in the past two years, that can be a tough sell. But we’re making the case for continuous cultural connections, from the top down and the inside out.

And yes, as I said, along with the fun comes learning. We’re learning in general, and individually from one another. When fun is purposeful and persistent, it actually sticks.

According to Bersin by Deloitte 2014 workforce predictions:

“The traditional definition of a ‘highly engaged’ employee is one who delivers discretionary effort. What leads someone to deliver ‘discretionary effort?’ Our research shows it takes a working environment that is friendly, flexible, fulfilling and purposeful.”

Change Agents and Purposeful Symbols

This week’s #TChat Events guest, Fortune 500 executive leadership advisor, columnist, and author, Mike Myatt, would agree. On #TChat Radio, he noted that the most vibrant, valuable business cultures are built by design. They’re “very purposed and intentioned — creating a place where people actually want to come.”

(Editor’s Note: See full #TChat Event highlights and resource links at the end of this post.)

So, ask yourself these questions:

• How purposeful is your company culture? Even if you lead an organization of one, what are your intentions? Knowing that commitment to culture is integral to business success, are you clear with your employees (and yourself) that you’re here to stay and play? Don’t let your culture slip away through unintentional behavior. Choose to make it stick.

• What’s the shape of your cultural tattoo? I’m not an ink kind of person, but I don’t disparage those who are. In fact, throughout history, great leaders have bound tribes together with powerful visual symbols. In today’s organizations we may think of them as brands, but why shouldn’t meaningful symbols bind work tribes, as well? They do fulfill a primal need for identification and belonging. Does your employer brand accomplish that mission?

Hey — if you show me your tat, I’ll show you mine. On purpose.

For more insights on this topic, check out the highlights and resource links below from this week’s #TChat conversation. Thanks to everyone who contributed ideas and opinions! Your contributions helped bring the concept of “culture makeovers” to life!

#TChat Week-In-Review: Leading a Culture Makeover

SUN 1/5:

MikeMyatt (2)

Watch the #TChat sneak peek hangout now

#TChat Preview: TalentCulture Community Manager, Tim McDonald, framed the week’s topic in a post featuring a variety of related blog posts, and a “sneak peek” hangout video with guest, Mike Myatt, author of the new book, “Hacking Leadership.” Read the Preview now: “New Year, New Company Culture?

MON 1/6:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro suggested multiple ideas for leaders who need to drive cultural change. Read “5 Ways to Recognize Your Talent Culture.

WED 1/8:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen now to the #TChat Radio replay

#TChat Radio: Host Meghan M. Biro, spoke with Mike Myatt about the role that leaders play in transforming organizational cultures — focusing on several real-world examples. Listen to the #TChat Radio replay…

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, Meghan and Mike joined the TalentCulture community on the #TChat Twitter stream, as Nancy Rubin moderated a dynamic open conversation, centered on 5 related questions. See highlights in the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: New Year, New Company Culture?

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/new-year-new-company-culture.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Mike Myatt for sharing your perspectives on how to drive meaningful organizational change. We value your time, your thoughtful ideas and your expertise!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about organizational culture and change? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Our month of forward-thinking #TChat Events continues on Wednesday, January 15, when @appendTo CEO, Mike Hostetler, helps us take a closer look at remote workplaces — specifically, what makes virtual models work. More details to follow.

Meanwhile, the TalentCulture conversation continues daily on the #TChat Twitter stream, our LinkedIn discussion group. and elsewhere on social media. So join us anytime — don’t be shy.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

What's Your Culture Tattoo? #TChat Recap

This Friday is tattoo day at work. Seriously. Tattoo day.

Everyone in our team is encouraged to display meaningful “appropriate” tattoos and the stories behind them. Any form is acceptable — permanent body art, decals, even hand-drawn creations. (Want to join the fun from a distance? Keep an eye on my Twitter stream for some inspired ink.)

The Art of Business Culture

Sure, this sounds a little hokey, like “Hawaiian shirt day.” But that’s the charm. It’s a simple, lighthearted way for us to interact, learn about one another, and gel as a team. What could be wrong with that?

The fact is — today’s crazy-busy world of work assaults us with constant change. It forces us to adapt, and adapt, and adapt again. But in rolling with all the changes, we can easily lose touch with people who are in the trenches with us. Injecting a little camaraderie into the day-to-day flow helps us create, reinforce and enhance our culture. For a company that has absorbed multiple acquisitions in the past two years, that can be a tough sell. But we’re making the case for continuous cultural connections, from the top down and the inside out.

And yes, as I said, along with the fun comes learning. We’re learning in general, and individually from one another. When fun is purposeful and persistent, it actually sticks.

According to Bersin by Deloitte 2014 workforce predictions:

“The traditional definition of a ‘highly engaged’ employee is one who delivers discretionary effort. What leads someone to deliver ‘discretionary effort?’ Our research shows it takes a working environment that is friendly, flexible, fulfilling and purposeful.”

Change Agents and Purposeful Symbols

This week’s #TChat Events guest, Fortune 500 executive leadership advisor, columnist, and author, Mike Myatt, would agree. On #TChat Radio, he noted that the most vibrant, valuable business cultures are built by design. They’re “very purposed and intentioned — creating a place where people actually want to come.”

(Editor’s Note: See full #TChat Event highlights and resource links at the end of this post.)

So, ask yourself these questions:

• How purposeful is your company culture? Even if you lead an organization of one, what are your intentions? Knowing that commitment to culture is integral to business success, are you clear with your employees (and yourself) that you’re here to stay and play? Don’t let your culture slip away through unintentional behavior. Choose to make it stick.

• What’s the shape of your cultural tattoo? I’m not an ink kind of person, but I don’t disparage those who are. In fact, throughout history, great leaders have bound tribes together with powerful visual symbols. In today’s organizations we may think of them as brands, but why shouldn’t meaningful symbols bind work tribes, as well? They do fulfill a primal need for identification and belonging. Does your employer brand accomplish that mission?

Hey — if you show me your tat, I’ll show you mine. On purpose.

For more insights on this topic, check out the highlights and resource links below from this week’s #TChat conversation. Thanks to everyone who contributed ideas and opinions! Your contributions helped bring the concept of “culture makeovers” to life!

#TChat Week-In-Review: Leading a Culture Makeover

SUN 1/5:

MikeMyatt (2)

Watch the #TChat sneak peek hangout now

#TChat Preview: TalentCulture Community Manager, Tim McDonald, framed the week’s topic in a post featuring a variety of related blog posts, and a “sneak peek” hangout video with guest, Mike Myatt, author of the new book, “Hacking Leadership.” Read the Preview now: “New Year, New Company Culture?

MON 1/6:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro suggested multiple ideas for leaders who need to drive cultural change. Read “5 Ways to Recognize Your Talent Culture.

WED 1/8:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen now to the #TChat Radio replay

#TChat Radio: Host Meghan M. Biro, spoke with Mike Myatt about the role that leaders play in transforming organizational cultures — focusing on several real-world examples. Listen to the #TChat Radio replay…

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, Meghan and Mike joined the TalentCulture community on the #TChat Twitter stream, as Nancy Rubin moderated a dynamic open conversation, centered on 5 related questions. See highlights in the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: New Year, New Company Culture?

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/new-year-new-company-culture.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Mike Myatt for sharing your perspectives on how to drive meaningful organizational change. We value your time, your thoughtful ideas and your expertise!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about organizational culture and change? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Our month of forward-thinking #TChat Events continues on Wednesday, January 15, when @appendTo CEO, Mike Hostetler, helps us take a closer look at remote workplaces — specifically, what makes virtual models work. More details to follow.

Meanwhile, the TalentCulture conversation continues daily on the #TChat Twitter stream, our LinkedIn discussion group. and elsewhere on social media. So join us anytime — don’t be shy.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

New Year, New Company Culture? #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Are you looking for a full recap of this week’s events and resources? Read the #TChat Recap: “What’s Your Culture Tattoo?)

“It’s never too late to start all over again.”
John Kay

As we move into 2014, it’s natural to take stock of our status — where we are, where we’re headed and how to get there.

That future-minded theme is the framework for #TChat Events throughout the month of January. And we’re excited to kick off the series this week with Fortune 500 executive leadership advisor, columnist, and author, Mike Myatt.

Hacking-Leadership-Book-Cover-678x1024

A year ago, Mike wrote a compelling Forbes post, “10 Reasons Your Top Talent Will Leave You,” which challenged business leaders to take a hard look at the how they undermine organizational culture and workforce commitment. His conclusion was stark — unless companies address these fundamental issues from the top down, it’s only a matter of time before employees will look elsewhere.

Of course, some executives will never get it. But what’s really alarming is how common these issues seem to be in today’s world of work. According to employee engagement research, most companies are long over-due for an extreme culture makeover.

But how? What can leaders do to intervene successfully?

That’s the focus of Mike’s new book, “Hacking Leadership” — 11 Gaps Every Business Needs to Close, and Secrets to Closing Them Quickly. So we asked him to join the TalentCulture community this week for a conversation about how to fix organizational cultures that are failing on multiple levels.

“Sneak Peek” Hangout

I had an opportunity to conduct a brief hangout with Mike, where he set the stage for this week’s conversation:

Also, to help you prepare for this week’s #TChat events, we’ve listed questions (at the end of this post), and selected several related articles:

8 Strategies to Successfully Change Your Corporate Culture
When Your Culture Needs a Makeover
 If You Want to Change Corporate Culture, Dare to Tell the Truth
How To Build a Great Corporate Culture
How Organizational Design Can Help Improve Corporate Culture

For everyone who wants to crack the code on cultural change, this promises to be an interesting and helpful week. So bring your ideas and opinions — and let’s talk!

#TChat Asks: Is It Time For A Business Culture Makeover?

#TChat Radio — Wed, Jan 8 — 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with Mike Myatt about how to assess cultural health, and steps leaders can take to turn around a struggling organization. Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Jan 8 7pmET / 4pmPT

Immediately following the radio show, Meghan and Mike will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where Dr. Nancy Rubin will lead an open chat with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we address these 5 related questions:

Q1: What factors motivate people to remain with an employer?
Q2: How do leaders know if their culture needs a makeover?
Q3: What role can recruiting play in driving healthy cultures?
Q4: What critical development activities build employee commitment?
Q5: What technologies help leaders makeover business culture?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and in our LinkedIn Discussion Group. So don’t be shy! Please join us, and share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Fun Times! Work, Games and Culture #TChat Recap

“When a player feels ownership, she innately wants to make what she owns better and own even more. If you feel ownership over your job, you will work harder.”
Gamification Pioneer, Yu-Kai Chou

There’s no denying that work is serious business. When companies fail, everyone loses.

However, that doesn’t mean work can’t be enjoyable. And with employee engagement at an all-time low, adding game dynamics to an organizational culture could be a winning move.

That was the premise for this week’s #TChat Events, featuring two innovators in workplace engagement:

•  Dan Benoni, Co-Founder & Product Director at Officevibe, a social employee engagement platform
•  Mario Coculuzzi, Eastern Canada Regional Director at Microsoft.

(Editor’s Note: See the #TChat Twitter highlights slideshow and resource links at the end of this post.)

How Does Gamification Make A Difference?

When determining how to improve employee engagement, one solution obviously doesn’t fit all environments. Each organization has distinctive cultural attributes that should be a natural basis for change. The challenge starts with understanding the particular motivators that are meaningful and appropriate for your employees. The smartest approaches apply three simple strategies, as one of our community members noted:

Choose Wisely

Once you’re confident about relevant drivers, consider the type of gaming techniques that can shape those dynamics. There are multiple options — but all are designed to enhance human factors, so work “flows” more naturally. At its best, gamification makes work feel more comfortable, enjoyable, fun. It helps individuals and teams attain business goals faster and more effectively — while helping everyone feel more challenged and rewarded as they contribute to overall organizational success. According to another participant:

Games Don’t Cure-All

#TChat-ters agreed that, if the fundamentals are missing, no amount of gamification or other “engagement” devices can compensate. For example, employees deserve the same level of respect, regardless of their title or position. They also need clear, consistent communication — not only about what they’re expected do (objectives), but also about why their work matters to the organization (purpose). These basics can have a powerful impact:

https://twitter.com/ReCenterMoment/status/393161476007276544

Continuous Commitment Counts

Another important point: Engagement doesn’t stop when a hiring contract is signed. Instead, employees should feel like they’re being recruited on an ongoing basis. How?

“Engaging” organizations encourage employees to develop and challenge themselves and others. Mistakes are leveraged as learning opportunities. And gaming dynamics are woven into the workplace fabric as a way to support and reinforce these cultural strengths.

Leaders can help gamification efforts succeed, by treating employees as a team and yet knowing what makes each individual tick. Moreover, leaders must embrace game concepts, themselves. The more vulnerable and open leaders are willing to be — the more they share stories about their own failures and learning experiences — the more likely employees will engage.

Engagement is the fruit of ongoing relationships and healthy workplace cultures. Gamification merely turns up the volume — but can do so in a big way.

#TChat Week-In-Review: Should Work Be Fun? Really?

DanBenoni

Watch the Hangout now

SAT 10/19:

#TChat Preview:
TalentCulture Community Manager Tim McDonald framed this week’s topic in a post that featured a brief G+ Hangout video with one of our guests, Dan Benoni. Read the Preview: “Should Work Be Fun? Really?”

SUN 10/20:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro suggested how leaders can overcome generational differences. Read: “5 Fresh Trends to Fuse Fun and Work.”

MON 10/21:

Related Post: Industrial Psychologist and LinkedIn Influencer, Dr. Marla Gottschalk, explored the role of Positive Psychology in driving workforce performance. Read: “Where’s Your Inner HERO? Positivity at Work…”

TUE 10/22:

Related Webinar Announcement: We invited the entire world of work community to join Meghan M. Biro and Virgin Pulse President David Coppins at a very special webinar on November 7. Join us at “Empowering Employees in 3D.”

WED 10/23:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio show now

#TChat Radio: Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman spoke with guests Dan Benoni and Mario Coculuzzi about how gamification can help transform today’s world of work. Listen to the radio recording now!

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and guests joined the entire community on the #TChat Twitter stream as moderator Cyndy Trivella led us through a fun, freewheeling conversation about 5 related questions. For highlights, check the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: Fun In The Workplace

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-to-fun-or-not-to-fun-that-is-the-w.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Dan Benoni and Mario Coculuzzi for helping us explore the role of game dynamics in cultivating workplace culture. Your insights and enthusiasm captured our community’s attention and imagination!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about fun at work? We’d love to share your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week, we dive into another emerging trend — how mobile tools are transforming the recruiting process — with guests Jessica Miller-Merrell and Rayanne Thorn. So save the date (October 30) for a double #TChat treat!

Meanwhile, the World of Work conversation continues. So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, on our LinkedIn discussion group. or elsewhere on social media. The lights are always on here at TalentCulture, and your thoughts are always welcome.

See you on the stream!

(Image Credit: Stock.xchng)

Virgin Pulse + TalentCulture Team Up To Champion Workforce Engagement

Changing The Engagement Game Together

Nearly four years ago, we launched TalentCulture on a simple premise — that talent-minded professionals can transform the “world of work” through purposeful social connections. Our vibrant community continues to grow and evolve, fueled by three core values:

•  Desire to advance the “human side” of business;
•  Passion for innovation;
•  Commitment to open collaboration.

In this spirit we welcome Virgin Pulse to the TalentCulture circle — where we’ll work hand-in-hand to help develop better business organizations from the inside out.

Virgin Pulse — Not Your Father’s Wellness Program

Virgin-Pulse

Learn more about Virgin Pulse

Part of Sir Richard Branson’s famed Virgin Group, Virgin Pulse (formerly Virgin HealthMiles) is the leading workplace health engagement platform. Every day, its “Total Quality of Life” approach empowers more than 1,000,000 participants to improve their health in ways that are meaningful, fun and sustainable. This elevates employee performance and retention, while simultaneously building stronger, more resilient organizations.

The Virgin Pulse philosophy fits naturally with TalentCulture’s emphasis on “seeing employees in 3D.” Together, we aim to advance the concept of “bringing your whole self to work.”

Everybody Plays — Everybody Wins!

What does this alliance mean for you? In the months ahead, look for TalentCulture and Virgin Pulse to:

•  Examine core engagement issues facing today’s business and HR leaders;
•  Investigate the connection between healthy employees and business performance;
•  Exchange benchmarks and insights from our respective communities;
•  Share thought leadership that is shaping engagement standards and practices.

Today’s organizational challenges are highly complex. There are no easy answers, but diverse ideas can lead to innovative solutions. That’s why we welcome everyone to the TalentCulture table — including HR technology and services vendors. We believe that this inclusive environment encourages effective problem solving, and accelerates everyone’s path to progress.

Our relationship with Virgin Pulse promises to add an exciting new level of depth and energy to the TalentCulture conversation. We invite you to join us each day on our combined social channels, as we explore workplace issues that affect us all.

(Editor’s Note:  Save the date for a very special #TChat double-header (BlogTalk Radio interview and Twitter chat) with Virgin Pulse CEO, Chris Boyce on Wednesday, October 23!)

Image Credit: by Mike Baird on Flickr

Experts On Engagement: #TChat Goes LIVE in Las Vegas!

(Editor’s Note: Looking for a recap of this live #TChat event? Read “Engagement as Energy: #TChat Lessons From #HRTechConf“.)

Employee engagement has become HR’s holy grail. Organizations are striving to strengthen engagement through every aspect of the talent lifecycle — from recruiting and onboarding, to continuous development and performance management. Why? HR leaders know that emotionally connected individuals simply perform better, day to day. In turn, this increases productivity, improves performance, reduces attrition and boosts overall business results.

Connecting The Engagement Dots

HR Technology Conference LogoWe’ve all heard Gallup’s bad news about the stagnant state of workforce engagement. But there’s good news on the horizon, too. CEOs and corporate boards are now taking aim and launching initiatives to turn these trends around. In fact, according to Conference Board research, CEOs say “increasing employee engagement” is their number one strategic priority for operational excellence.

So, How Do We Get “There” From “Here”?

In true #TChat style, we believe that better solutions come from the wisdom of the crowd. And what better place to share ideas than the HR Technology Conference?

HRTechMontage (2)That’s why TalentCulture co-founders Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman have gathered a panel of today’s smartest HR executives, analysts and industry influencers to look closer at factors that make engagement work. And we’re saving you a front-row seat!

You don’t want to miss this LIVE #TChat roundtable in Las Vegas! We’re even serving-up refreshments to keep the conversation flowing. So save the date, and join some of the best minds in business, HR and technology for a very special event:

Join The Conversation When #TChat Goes Live In Las Vegas!

WHEN: Monday, October 7th, 2:30-3:15pm PT (5:30-6:15pmET)
WHERE: Peoplefluent booth #1201 (And on the #TChat Twitter backchannel)

Meet Our LIVE #TChat Panel Of Experts

•  Steve Melamed, Senior Director, HR Organizational Effectiveness & Operations, Avaya

•  Mark Berry, VP, People Insights, ConAgra Foods

•  Tony Loyd, VP, Organization & Team Effectiveness, Buffalo Wild Wings

•  Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, Author & CEO of Xceptional HR

•  Marcia Conner, Collaborative Learning Thought Leader, Author. Principal, SensifyGroup

This a must-see event for anyone attending the HR Technology Conference and Exposition. So join us in booth #1201 for a lively and insightful conversation with some of the best talent-minded visionaries in business today!

Image Credit: Pixabay

5 Social Skills Business Leaders Must Master

(Editor’s Note: This week, TalentCulture founder, Meghan M. Biro is speaking at the Peoplefluent WISDOM2013 Conference about a topic that is central to the world of work: “Leadership, Workplace Culture and Brand Influence.” In the spirit of her presentation, we’re sharing one of many articles Meghan has written about this topic. We hope it’s the next-best thing to being there!)

Recently, I consulted with a software company as it navigated through a treacherous sea change — the upheaval of its organizational culture. This shift was triggered when my client hired a Chief Technology Officer from another company – not exactly a competitor, but a company in an adjacent market space. However, technology market spaces aren’t entirely independent — and in this case, the overlap only added fuel to an already volatile clash of personalities. Needless to say, the change wasn’t graceful or happy. In fact, it was a nasty, stressful process. And for those of us who mopped up the mess, it was a sobering wake-up call.

Faceoff: Old Workplace Culture Meets New

The previous workplace culture was cut-throat and intensely political. However, the workforce knew and accepted those rules. The organization had been socialized.

When the new CTO arrived, he imposed his own culture – one that obscured motives and withheld explicit information from employees. Suddenly without warning, people were receiving email messages saying that their jobs had changed and their staffs had been reassigned. Plans and strategies were were not discussed. Details were not communicated. Nothing was socialized.

The company quickly began hemorrhaging top talent, much to the dismay of its puzzled CEO. This exodus was good news for industry recruiters (fresh job vacancies to fill), but it was clearly a bad scene for the company and its employer brand. Even worse, a few former employees started blogging about the drama. The message wasn’t pretty, and in today’s socially hyper-connected world, word traveled fast. That made recruiting high-caliber talent a far more challenging task. Even today, recovery remains a long, rough road.

Social Connection: The Missing Link

Of course, none of this had to happen. What could have prevented the chaos? In my opinion, if the organization’s senior executives had been socially adept, I would be telling an entirely different story. Perhaps to some people it sounds insignificant, but social leadership can make all the difference.

Socially savvy, engaged leaders share a set of skills that help protect their organizations from the havoc of sudden, devastating change. Don’t get me wrong. I recognize that change can be healthy — and often it’s necessary. But successful large-scale cultural change requires finesse and an understanding of the “human side” of business.

In this case, the company hired an outsider to change its technical direction. That part is normal and appropriate. But the CEO didn’t anticipate the painful change in culture that would follow, or the subsequent loss of valued employees. It’s not because the CEO is weak, but because he lacked critical social skills.

In my practice, I work with lots of leaders seeking to expand their teams and make their workplace culture attractive for both potential new employees and current ones. Some clients are very socially aware and engaged. Some are socially tone-deaf and isolated from what’s happening both within the walls of their own companies, and across the broader business landscape. Both types of leaders can be successful to a point – the point where trust, loyalty, values and expectations affect financial performance and company growth.

Being a socially engaged leader is not an innate skill. However, it’s increasingly necessary in today’s networked business environment, as today’s multi-generational workforce puts more strain on corporate cultures to “open up” communication, and social media creates direct channels that reveal what it’s really like to work at various companies.

No doubt about it — today’s brave new connected world of work requires brave new social leadership. Here are 5 must-have social skills that every business leader should develop:

5 Skills To Master As A Social Leader

1) Recognize non-verbal cues. A skilled social leader does not rely on only one form of communication, but is informed by all – verbal, written, non-verbal, viral and so on. Being sensitive to non-verbal cues is difficult because much of today’s communication is digital. However, to effectively interpret non-verbal cues in face-to-face interactions, you must be able to recognize how your personal perception filters input. You don’t have to be a paragon of mental health, but you do need to shut-off the noise in your head long enough to read other people and understand what’s going on with them.

2) Interact regularly. You don’t have to know everyone’s name or how many kids they have. However, you do need to be aware of how employees, peers, partners and customers are thinking, feeling and reacting. This means you must engage others proactively — even through digital forms of communication. How can you expect your organization to be cohesive internally, or build a coherent brand externally, unless everyone shows up to “represent”? You don’t need to tweet or send email round-the-clock, but you must be comfortable connecting in person and on social channels. By reaching out early and often, you’ll learn valuable insights that you’d never anticipate otherwise.

3) Openly discuss your values and purpose. People join companies for many reasons, but what’s more interesting is why they stay. They stay because they feel a sense of shared values, purpose, mission and vision. If you’re a leader and you don’t regularly reinforce the company’s value and purpose, be prepared to do a lot of remedial recruiting when you lose more talent than you’d like.

4) Encourage a community presence. Like it or not, social media is vital in the world of work. Paternalistic managers and top-down leaders sometimes have trouble with this skill, but it’s no longer an option. Companies don’t function in a bubble. They move in a social sphere, where business reputation and results can be shaped by online communities – even when they’re not your customers. Are you blogging on behalf of your company brand? Is anyone in your organization tweeting, blogging or developing a virtual community? Is that even encouraged?

5) Demonstrate authentic interest in your employees and others. You can learn some skills and fake others, but it’s tough to fake sincerity. Some might argue that this is a personality attribute, not a skill. But for me, sincerity makes the difference between a leader and a task manager. If you’re not sincere, you’ll do things that might make business sense, but eventually they’ll backfire. Think of the company snapshot at the start of this post. The CEO thought it made sense to hire new senior technology talent. But because neither he nor the CTO valued sincerity or honest communication, the company is paying a heavy price.

Social engagement is not a management overlay on a toxic culture. It’s not a Band-Aid, a work-around or a cure-all. It’s a way of thinking about business, and doing business. It’s about operating with awareness and engagement — using the power of social networks to demonstrate your brand promise in today’s dynamic marketplace. It’s how the world works. It’s how you need to work. So make your move. Your company’s future depends on it.

(Editor’s Note: Meghan M. Biro is an active contributor to Forbes.com. This article is adapted from Meghan’s Forbes.com blog, with permission.)

(Image Credit: Pixabay)

Games and Data and Talent — Oh My! #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Looking for a full review of this week’s events and resources? Read the #TChat Recap: “Game On: Playing to Business Strengths.”)

Two of the hottest trends in the world of work today are “gamification” and “big data.” But what do these concepts really mean to you?

For some Leaders and HR professionals, this looks and feels like buzzword territory. But others are starting to recognize how game-based tools and big data intelligence can truly transform talent strategy. In fact, some of today’s most innovative organizations are actually combining these techniques — creating powerful new solutions that improve management decisions, as well as business outcomes.

New Paths To Better Talent Choices

The truth is, gamification, big data and advanced analytics are creating a perfect storm that is rapidly redefining employee acquisition and retention. These emerging trends are central to the future of work. And that’s why they are our focus this week at #TChat Events.

As our community explores the connection between games, big data and talent strategy, we welcome two experts:

Guy Halfteck, Founder and CEO of Knack, a company that combines cutting-edge video games, big data analytics and behavioral science to help companies identify and recruit top talent. (Connect with Knack on Twitter)

Mark Howorth, COO at Panavision, and former Partner and Sr. Director of Global Recruiting at Bain & Company.

To kick-off the discussion, I spoke briefly with Guy in a G+ Hangout recently about how big data shapes the human side of business:

For a deeper look into Guy’s perspective on this topic, you may also want to watch his recent appearance at The Economist forum “The Ideas Economy: Human Potential 2012”

#TChat Events: Games + Big Data + Talent Management

Our guests this week are seasoned innovators who deeply understand the strategic implications of gaming and data. This promises to be a fascinating discussion for talent-minded professionals everywhere. So please plan to join us, and bring your ideas, questions and concerns!

#TChat Radio — Wed, Sep 18 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT

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Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with Guy Halfteck and Mark Howorth about how games are emerging as a highly effective, reliable way to select, recruit and retain employees. Follow the action online, and dial-in LIVE with your feedback and questions!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Sep 18 7pmET / 4pmPT

Immediately following the radio show, we’ll move the discussion to the #TChat Twitter stream, where Dr. Nancy Rubin will lead an open chat with the entire TalentCulture community. Anyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we address these questions:

Q1: Why is gamification becoming more important to the world of work?
Q2: How can gaming data improve recruiting and hiring decisions?
Q3: What are some real-world use cases of successful workplace gamification?
Q4: How can business leaders best deploy games in the workplace?
Q5: How can companies use gaming technology to improve employee engagement?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!

HR and Marketing: Smashing Silos #TChat Recap

In this do-more-with-less era, it’s almost counterintuitive to think that “silo” mentality still defines some organizations. We’ve all seen it — different departments don’t know why or how they should rely on each other, and business suffers from a lack of collaboration.

Of course, I do know some companies where communication is strong. People forge cross-functional relationships, and they use influence to drive progress. But unfortunately, that’s not the norm. More often, departments work in isolation — struggling to understand business problems, confused about how to solve them, and uncertain how to move to the next level. Cultures like this lag far behind collaborative competitors.

Bridging the Gap

Where is this challenge most prevalent? Let’s start in our backyard, with human resources and marketing. As the TalentCulture community discussed this week at #TChat events, these two disciplines share much common ground, but tend not to realize it. Why? Let’s dig deeper.

According to the American Marketing Association, “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings.” How does that apply to recruiting — a critical HR responsibility?

When a company seeks candidates for an open position, it relies upon a process that helps recruiters translate the need into a workable activity. For example, the process may start with a job description, created with requirements and other information obtained from the hiring manager. The description is transformed into a job posting and communicated externally in multiple forms. Various channels deliver the message to appropriate audiences as an offer that says essentially, “Here’s the kind of talent we seek. In exchange for your ability and commitment to perform the job to our expectations, we will compensate you with X, Y and Z.”

This tactic is pure marketing. It rings true with the classic “5 Ps” of the marketing mix — as well as the more recent inside-out version:

People – Potential employees
Product – Job opportunity
Price – Associated cost to recruit, fill, hire and retain
Promotion – Advertising and word-of-mouth about the job opening
Place – Organizational culture, which extends to talent communities that share job information

At the intersection of recruiting and marketing, many tactics and fundamentals go hand-in-hand, creating opportunities to exchange knowledge and hone skills. But more importantly, at the center of this common worldview is the employment brand — a powerful organizational asset. This is the foundation upon which an employment value proposition flourishes. The proof points are bits of raw workforce and candidate experience data we should analyze within the context of a strategic recruitment plan. Ultimately, that recruitment plan should not only inform corporate brand strategy, but also be shaped by it.

Two Sides Of The Same Coin

Like two sides of a coin, recruiting and marketing practitioners must work in concert to be truly effective. As people listen, learn, empathize and sharpen their communications, the opportunity to understand and leverage interdepartmental strengths will expand. When teams work in concert to unify brand positioning, measurably improved outcomes can’t be far behind.

Thanks to everyone who shared ideas and opinions about this topic at #TChat events this week. We invite you to review the related resources below, and continue this conversation here and on social channels. Hopefully, we can be an example of effective professional collaboration!

#TChat Week-In-Review: Recruiting IS Marketing?

SUN 9/1:

ChrisFields

Watch the Hangout with Chris Fields

#TChat Preview: TalentCulture Community Manager Tim McDonald provided a “sneak peek” of this week’s topic, featuring a brief Hangout discussion with one of our special guests, Chris Fields. Read the Preview: Recruiting and Marketing: Blurred Lines?

MON 9/2:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro explained why and how business leaders should view recruitment as a strategic marketing initiative. Read: “5 Recruiting Habits of Successful Leaders.”

TUE 9/3:

Related Post: Guest blogger, David Smooke defined 3 keys to “Hiring Culture” as the basis for strategic recruiting initiatives. Read: “Hiring Culture: Creating A Recruitment Ecosystem.”

WED 9/4:

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Listen to the #TChat Radio show

#TChat Radio: As a prelude to our open Twitter chat, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman, talked with two recruiting experts about why and how HR organizations can leverage marketing expertise to enhance recruitment. Our special guests were:

David Bernstein, VP of the “Big Data for HR” Division at eQuest, and
Chris Fields, independent HR consultant, resume development specialist and HR writer.

Listen now to the radio show recording.

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, I moderated an open discussion with Chris, Meghan, Kevin and our entire community on the #TChat Twitter stream. For highlights from the conversation, watch the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Highlights: Recruiting IS Marketing

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-recruiting-is-marketing.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to guests David Bernstein and Chris Fields, for offering your perspectives on recruiting and marketing this week. Your expertise and insights are invaluable to our community.

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about related issues? We’d love to share your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week on 9/11, we take a serious look at an important subject, “Workplace Violence and Prevention.” This promises to be a helpful and informative session. So plan to join us, and check for more details in coming days here and on TalentCulture channels.

In the meantime, the World of Work conversation continues! So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, on our LinkedIn discussion group. or elsewhere on social media. The lights are always on here at TalentCulture, and your ideas and opinions are always welcome.

See you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Flexible Work And The Power of Choice #TChat Recap

Working “In The Zone”

Think for a moment about your ideal work scenario. Look beyond the substance of the work, itself. Instead, focus on structure, and flow, and surroundings. Think about the “how” and the “when” and the “where” that make it possible to perform well.

What does it feel like to operate in your most productive way? And how often do you actually achieve that level of focus and energy? Is something standing between you and your vision? If so, how could you or your employer close the gap?

Of course, each of us has a unique work/life narrative. And there are countless ways to create an effective fit between professional responsibilities and personal pursuits. But anything is possible, as long as we’re empowered to make choices that work for us and for those who need our talent.

Straight Ahead: No Boundaries

Did I just hear a chuckle from the cynical side of the house? Granted, I see blue sky in the forecast. But this week’s #TChat forums indicate that flexible options aren’t just an isolated phenomenon or a passing fancy. Instead, soon we should expect many more workers to find  flexibility within reach. Why? Consider these points:

1) The concept of work, itself, is being radically redefined — as Jason Fried, founder of the productivity application company, 37Signals, explained in this compelling TED Talk:

2) Employers are waking up and recognizing the business value of flexible work options. And, as many #TChat participants suggested, ROI can be measured in multiple ways. For example:

(For more thought-provoking tweets, see the #TChat highlights slideshow at the end of this post.)

3) Our expert guests are evidence that flexible options are gaining credibility and momentum. Both are leading the way in today’s work/life fit movement. They shared real-world perspectives about why these initiatives are gaining traction, along with tips to “make it work.”

Lisa Horn, Co-Leader of SHRM’s Workplace Flexibility Initiative and a SHRM Senior Government Relations Advisor;
Susan Lovegren, SVP of HR at Plantronics, a leading-edge technology company that offers “Smarter Working” choices.

(Hear details in the #TChat Radio show listed in the week’s resource list, below.)

4) The backlash has begun. You know a business practice is becoming legitimate when  nay-sayers appear at the gates. Ironically, just this week HR Executive Online reported on “next wave” research: “Non-Remote Workers Jealous of Telecommuters.” Why leave anyone behind? As our #TChat Radio guests explained, even when telecommuting isn’t practical, flexibility can come in other forms.

5) Key takeaway — change is a two-way street. Whatever is ahead in the realm of flexible work, it’s clear that change is needed on both sides of the employment contract. As this nested tweet suggests:

Thanks to everyone in the TalentCulture community who contributed opinions and ideas at this week’s #TChat events! We invite you to review highlights in the slideshow below, along with other related resources — and we look forward to expanding this conversation, as work/life blend issues continue to shape today’s workplace!

#TChat Week-In-Review: The Flexible World Of Work

SUN 8/18:

Forbes.com Post: To kickstart the conversation, TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro challenged business leaders to recognize the value of flexible work options. Read: “5 Reasons Why Workplace Flexibility Is a Smart Business Strategy.”

MON 8/19:

#TChat Preview: Our Community Manager, Tim McDonald, expanded on the week’s topic and events in his preview post: “Reworking The 9-to-5 Office Job.”

TUE 8/20:

Related Post: TalentCulture blog contributor, Heather Huhman, offered a snapshot of today’s flexible workforce trends with an infographic post: “5 Reasons To Hire Flexible Talent.”

WED 8/21:

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Listen now to the #TChat Radio show

#TChat Radio: In a highly informative warm-up to the Twitter conversation, Lisa and Susan joined our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman to discuss key issues and opportunities surrounding flexible work options, and how the concept translates into organizational life at Plantronics. Listen now to the radio show recording.

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, our entire community gathered on the #TChat Twitter stream for an open discussion about work/life fit from many points of view. To see highlights, check out the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Highlights: Workplace Flexibility As A Business Strategy

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-workplace-flexibility-as-a-busines.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Lisa Horn  and Susan Lovegren for generously sharing insights about flexibility initiatives and work/life blend issues. You’ve opened our eyes to new aspects of this critical business trend.

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about flexible work arrangements or work/life fit issues? We’d love to share your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week, our “summer restart” series concludes, as author Bob Burg joins us to  look at entrepreneurial endeavors within corporate environments. So plan to join us, and check for details this weekend on TalentCulture social channels.

In the meantime, the World of Work conversation continues everyday. So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, on our LinkedIn discussion group. or on other social channels. And feel free to explore our redesigned website. The lights are always on here at TalentCulture, and your ideas and opinions are always welcome.

See you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

How To Help Top Talent Thrive

Written by Mona Berberich

Back in college economics class, I discovered a common assumption about economies of scale — actually about returns to scale. In business, we assume that if we increase factors of input by a given amount, the output will increase by that much or more. This concept seems intuitive, and we rely on it to simplify the management process and maximize profits.

Recently however, while researching how companies treat their top talent, I’ve found that many organizations apply this “returns to scale” theory to their most valuable asset — their smartest, most creative people. In other words, leaders often think that, by doubling the number people with creative abilities, the organization will be at least twice as creative. But if innovation is the goal, this theory isn’t sufficient.

Finding More Of The Right Stuff

What really matters in this equation? It’s ultimately about organizational culture. When managers create an environment that inspires the brightest and most talented people to thrive to their fullest potential, that’s when business performance increases proportionately (or more).

That said, to foster a scalable creative culture, it’s important to understand the smartest and most creative among us. What motivates the top 2 to 5% of the workforce with genius in software design, molecular engineering, and other areas of specialized expertise? Better knowledge of this will lead to a more supportive environment for top talent.

Portrait Of An Innovation Star

I’m not saying that clever people are all alike, but they do follow similar paths and tend to share multiple characteristics. For example, unlike most of us, top contributors know what they’re worth. In today’s more mobile, global world, they have more opportunities. They know their value, and they expect employers to know it, too.

They also tend to share a single defining characteristic — they don’t want to be “managed.” This requirement can be quite a challenge for business leaders. Very talented individuals often are adept at accomplishing great things on their own. They tend to have no special bond with their employer, but they know how to behave to gain funding and support. On the other hand, they’re aware that their employer relies upon them. They generate the ideas that no one else brings to the table, and often they go the extra mile to breathe life into their vision.

Often high flyers demand organizational protection and ignore corporate hierarchy. Quite frankly, they despise titles and promotions, at least in the way that most people perceive those business conventions. Being part of an organization chart is often a thorn in their side. Meetings tend to be seen as waste of time — a by-product of bureaucracy. Bottom line: They prefer immunity from organizational activities because administration is what keeps them from doing what really matters — creating change.

The smartest people often have unconventional expectations. They’re likely to assume managers don’t understand what they are doing, but they want respect for what they do. They want managers to recognize their ideas, and reward them with access to corporate leadership, information and resources. They want freedom to explore new territory, and permission to fail, because failure ultimately can lead to better outcomes. The fact is, they tend not to speak the same language as others in an organization, and often they don’t even want a public voice in the organization’s discussions. What to do? Here are several suggestions…

How Can Your Culture Support Extraordinary Creativity?

1) Be a Guardian

The most talented contributors don’t need a boss, they need a guardian — a sponsor who opens doors on their behalf. Focus on helping to facilitate their work. Give them appropriate guidelines, but eliminate rigid rules.

2) Offer Praise

Create company-wide visibility and demonstrate appreciation by showcasing your rockstars’ projects at company meetings, and in other internal communications. In addition, provide opportunities for them to meet informally with senior leadership. For example, organize lunch with your CEO or top executives (but don’t force rockstars to wear business suits).

3) Grant Operational Immunity

Exempt your top performers from unnecessary meetings and departmental administrative activities. Streamline monitoring and reporting mechanisms, and minimize structural and procedural requirements. Above all, encourage trial and error. Be prepared to recognize failure (or even celebrate it) as an integral part of learning and progress.

4) Provide Freedom to Explore

Encourage your brightest stars to use 20% of their time to drive independent projects. Grant leave of absence for professional development or participation in industry conferences. Consider providing discretionary budgets to fund exploration and ideation — whatever may sparks fresh thinking. For example, a user experience designer might expand his frame-of-reference by operating as a “visiting fellow” at multiple leading-edge customer sites. Or a biotech product developer might “connect the dots” by creating a private virtual forum where life science incubators can share insights about basic research projects.

5) Acknowledge Achievement Beyond The Organization

Rather than evaluating rockstars on typical performance criteria, consider their role in the industry at-large. Perhaps replace classic one-over-one performance appraisals with peer-to-peer evaluations. And consider metrics based on industry awards and rankings, progress in securing patents, volume and quality of articles published or presented, and other indicators of innovation leadership.

How Do You Encourage Top Talent to Thrive?

Do you have extraordinary people in your organization who need to be led in a special way? What have you done to accommodate them? What kind of issues and results have you seen? Please comment — we’re interested in your thoughts!

Mona Berberich2(Editor’s Note: Mona Berberich is a Digital Marketing Manager at Better Weekdays, a Chicago-based company that has developed a platform to help HR leaders source, screen and develop talent based on job compatibility. She is a researcher and writer covering HR, career growth, talent management and leadership development. Contact Mona on Google+ or LinkedIn or Twitter.)

 

Image Credit: Pixabay

Will Your Talent Be Swept Away in the Coming Tsunami?

(Editor’s Note: Please welcome Switch and Shift co-founder, Ted Coine, to the pool of TalentCulture contributors. We look forward to sharing his insights on business leadership.)

Recently, I had the true pleasure of appearing on Lead with Giants TV. Founder and host Dan Forbes brought together six of his community’s most talented leaders to discuss one of my favorite topics — the question of a financial Return on Morale.

How does morale affect organizational performance? I’m passionate about this question. It doesn’t quite keep me up at night, but I do spend much of my days obsessing over it. In fact, “Return on Morale” is the title of my new “snippet” (a new digital format that works like an ebook on steriods).

I constantly wonder. How do I prove Return on Morale? And most importantly, how do I explain it to company leaders, who still have power to do something about employee morale before poor morale kills their organization?

ReturnOnMoraleThe interview with Dan was a great forum to test the waters for my Return on Morale narrative. Our conversation was exhilarating from start to finish. It was perfect evidence that the quality of an interviewer makes all the difference in showcasing a guest’s expertise.

One question in particular really stuck with me. Almost halfway into our conversation, Dan asked, “Ted, I’m thinking that when we get through this financial crisis, and employees are feeling a lot better about their financial situation … right now they’re putting up with the culture and the environment that they’re in … don’t you think we’re going to have a tsunami of people ready to leave and go somewhere where life is better?”

A tsunami of people leaving! Man, I wish I’d thought of that analogy (although fortunately Dan did, and shared it with me). Consider waves of business value rushing out of the door, beyond your reach. It’s not pretty. So, if you want to get a good idea of the true Return on Morale for your company, then consider this question:

What will it cost your company if your top talent becomes dissatisfied with how they are being managed, and leave to work for your competitors?

Ted Coine Return on Morale

Watch Ted on Lead With Giants TV now

In the TV show, we tackle this question and a whole lot more — all sorts of aspects of Return on Morale, and how to make sure you set-up your company to benefit from it, not just today, but in the future as well. I hope you take time to watch the program, and if you enjoyed the give-and-take, perhaps you’ll share it with some colleagues or friends.

And, if you want to learn more, perhaps you’ll enjoy my “snippet,” too. It’s available now, exclusively on iOS mobile devices, as an app from a really amazing company called (wait for it…) Snippet. Within the snippet, along with the text of each short chapter, you’ll find brief videos and even a way to tweet and connect with other readers and with me. (Yes, right from within the book!) I promise you, the experience is so cool that one or two snippets later, you never want to “just read” again.

So tell me — what do you think about the coming talent tsunami? What sort of impact do you anticipate? And what is your organization doing to protect your investment in employee morale and performance?

Image Credit: Pixabay

The Steep Cost of Poor Management

Written by Tatiana Beale, Achievers

How do you feel about your job? Do you love it, hate it, or feel like you’re drifting in neutral? If you’re “checked out,” you’re not alone. According to the latest Gallup workplace research, 50% of today’s employees are disengaged. Another 20% are actively disengaged (in other words, openly miserable). That means 70% of today’s workforce is operating under a cloud! The business implications are staggering.

Key Issue: Bad Management

What are the core factors driving workforce disengagement? Gallup says that managers from hell are the primary reason. Poor managers are not only an obstacle to employee engagement — they actually drive employee disengagement. The net effect on business is huge — an estimated cost to U.S. organizations of $450-$550 billion a year. Yes, you read that right. The bottom-line message is clear. Managerial incompetence is not just annoying. It is potentially catastrophic.

What’s The Problem?

The stage is set for disengagement when employees don’t understand their organization’s mission, or see how their efforts contribute to that mission. Poor managers typically don’t emphasize big-picture context, or help employees understand the meaning of their work. They tend not to offer positive feedback when it’s deserved. And they fail to provide constructive criticism or coaching to help employees improve and develop professionally.

Weak managers don’t see value in helping their employees succeed. Why? Often they lack the insight, tools and competence to motivate others, and align their activities with business objectives.

The Upside of Manager Influence

However, there’s another side to this managerial coin. As Gallup’s research reveals, great managers have a highly beneficial impact on business results. Specifically, when leaders focus on building employee engagement and leveraging team strengths, their organizations outperform others across key indicators — earnings per share, profitability, productivity and customer satisfaction.

Every Organization Is Unique

Of course, the right employee engagement strategy is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. As Gallup notes, employees come in a spectrum of generational and other shapes and sizes. Jobs are equally diverse. From blue collar factory workers to call center representatives, every situation demand an engagement approach that fits.

Research reflects a variety of issues. For instance, women tend to be slightly more engaged than men. And on average, Millennials are more likely to leave a job within 12 months than their counterparts from other generations. Also, interestingly, employees with a college degree aren’t as likely to report a positive, engaging workplace experience as those with less education. This suggests that more managerial involvement may be appropriate to keep highly-educated employees engaged.

Another point worth noting — engagement is even more important than workplace perks in boosting employee performance. In other words, benefits are no substitute for a personal connection with work. Engagement initiatives must take these realities into account.

Turning Disengagement Around

So, what can your company do to improve employee engagement? The Gallup findings are undeniable. Success starts with business managers. It’s important to select the right managerial talent, right from the start. And once managers are on board, coach them, support them, and hold them accountable. Help them understand why employee engagement is essential to business success. Work with them to connect with employees on an individual level. After all, your workers are human beings, not robots. Both effective managers and effective engagement strategies recognize and respect this fact.

For more ideas about the role of today’s manager in driving employee engagement and business success, read the Achievers 2013 Guide to Recognition.

What do you think about the findings summarized above? Do you believe managers from hell are destroying employee engagement? Leave a comment below and join the discussion.

Tatiana Beale (427x640)(Author Profile: Tatiana Beale is a Senior Marketing Communications Specialist at Achievers. She is passionate about changing workplaces for the better and inspiring Employee Success™ through insightful content. Tatiana believes that employee happiness is the key to a wildly successful company, and means it when she says “I love my job.”)

Republished with permission from Achievers Employee Success Blog.

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Class of 2013 Goes To Work #TChat Recap

Written by guest blogger, Katie Paterson

The HR community is so generous! This week at the SHRM conference in Chicago, as well as in online #TChat discussions, you’ve helped Achievers and TalentCulture spotlight issues and opportunities facing the next wave of graduates who are entering the workforce.

The ideas flowed freely throughout the week, from the moment we started pouring margaritas at our #SHRM13 booth! Below are summary points about key #TChat topics, followed by resource links and a Storify highlights slideshow. Thanks to everyone for contributing such useful insights!

Social Tools For Job Seekers

LinkedIn received resounding support as the top social hiring hub. Twitter earned some votes as a secondary portal, with other major players like Facebook and Google+ mentioned in supporting roles.

An interesting sidebar thread touched on tools for showcasing professional portfolios. Pinterest was mentioned as a smart choice, as well as tools designed specifically for portfolios, such as Seelio.

Onboarding Improvement

Mentoring received popular support as a way to strengthen employee indoctrination. Workplace “sherpas” are a natural, easy way to introduce new hires to company culture, workgroup standards, and individual responsibilities. And #TChat-ters agreed that this practice is effective for both recent grads, as well as workforce veterans.

“Buddy systems” were also mentioned as a way to connect new hires with one another as they move through the new-hire experience together. Seasoned employees can offer organizational context, but new hires can bond as they learn from each other, in parallel.

Performance Evaluation Frequency

I think @ValaAfshar said it best:

The #TChat community universally applauded continuous constructive feedback, and @Achievers couldn’t agree more. Several chat participants pushed the concept further — indicating that those who are responsible for providing for feedback should also ask for feedback and suggestions, in return.

Why Recognize Employees?

This point might be preaching to the choir, because #TChat-ters were emphatic about recognizing great performance. But it’s noteworthy that two kinds of benefits were mentioned:

1) Human motivation: Many responses focused out how important it is for individuals to hear about their progress — especially when they meet or exceed expectations.

2) Business advantage: Other comments focused on the fact that recognition helps align employees — reinforcing and redirecting work to keep everyone moving together toward organizational goals.

Improving Retention

To engage recent hires, you recommended multiple ways of involving them in the organization. We couldn’t agree more! Offering meaningful work, fostering an inclusive team environment, and tying individual contributions to a broader mission keeps employees engaged and coming back for more.

It’s important to ask for opinions, provide opportunities for growth, and demonstrate consistently that employees are valued. If you inspire passion in your employees, they’ll reward you — not only by remaining loyal, by being your most consistent and vocal ambassadors.

For more information on what motivates the graduating class of 2013, check out Achievers’ latest whitepaper.

#TChat Week in Review

WED 6/12

#TChat Sneak Peek:  Kevin W. Grossman examined the emotional factors that drive employee engagement in a teaser post: “Feeling The Future Of Work: #TChat Meets #SHRM13.”

SAT 6/15

#TChat Preview: Our Community Manager, Tim McDonald, introduced the week’s topics and special #SHRM13 events in his post, “Stronger! #TChat Preview #SHRM13 Edition.”

SUN 6/16

Forbes.com Post: In her weekly Forbes column, TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro, offered advice about how companies should attract and retain next-generation talent. Read “Smart Leaders Engage Tomorrow’s Workforce.”

MON 6/17

Margarita Monday Meet-up: #SHRM13 attendees timed-out with Meghan and Kevin at the Achievers booth, while hearing about the latest research on “The Class of 2013: Understanding the Needs of the Future Workforce.” If you missed this event, we invite you to attend the Achievers webinar on June 26 (or on-demand after that date).

WED 6/19

#TChat Twitter: #TChat-ters came together on the Twitter stream for our dynamic weekly idea exchange. If you missed the real-time Twitter action, or would like to review highlights, watch the slideshow below:

#TChat Twitter Highlights: “Looking Forward: Class of 2013”

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-looking-forward-the-graduating-cla.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about the Class of 2013, or future workforce opportunities and challenges? We’d love to share your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week we’re tackling a big topic — literally! Big Data in HR! Stay tuned for details this weekend. And remember: starting next week #TChat Radio moves to Wednesday nights at 6:30pmET — back-to-back with #TChat Twitter!

Until then, the World of Work conversation continues each day. Join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, or on our new LinkedIn discussion group. And feel free to explore other areas of our redesigned website. The gears are always turning at TalentCulture, and your ideas and opinions are always welcome.

See you on the stream!

katieprofile.lpeg(Author Profile: Katie Paterson is the Social Media Community Manager at Achievers, where she is focused on building an online community of Human Resources professionals who want to learn how engaged employees can impact business results. She is passionate about the world of social media, its impact on the workforce, and how it can be integrated into the our lives personally and professionally.)

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

 

Employee Communication: 4 Ways to Engage

A Too-Familiar Story

Let’s say you’re trying to buy a jacket online. There’s a problem with your purchase, so you call customer service, and they put you on hold. (Waiting…) Finally you reach a robot voice informing you that the call center is closed. You really want the jacket, so you persist.

Hours (or perhaps even days) later, you connect with a live representative who is unable to offer the assistance you need to resolve the problem. What seemed like an easy problem to fix has become a headache, a time-suck, and a shadow over your relationship with the company. Not only is this jacket transaction in jeopardy, but the next time you’re in the market for clothes, you’re likely to shop somewhere else.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

So, what really happened in this scenario? The company failed in a critical way — it did not provide clear pathways of communication and support to resolve your issue, at the moment of need. The brand has lost credibility with a “ready-t0-buy” customer, the company has damaged its relationship with you, and the outcome will translate into lost revenue now and perhaps in the future.

How does this customer experience story translate to the human resources side of business? The audience may be different, but the takeaway is identical: For both customer and employee engagement, communication is vital — especially when issues arise. Just like customers, employees want the ability to ask question, discuss problems, offer constructive feedback and propose suggestions. They want to feel that their concerns and ideas are heard and addressed.

These are the fundamentals of employee engagement. It is HR’s job to support engagement in the workplace, from end-to-end, and clear lines of communication are the most effective way to accomplish that.

4 Workplace Communication Strategies

When I think about my own experiences, both as a customer and as an employee, it’s easy to remember the times when I felt I was heard — or not. Based on those experiences, here are my top four communication strategies for boosting engagement:

1) Be Available:  To improve the way an organization works, employees need a champion — someone on the inside to share suggestions with. It doesn’t matter whether this ambassador is a manager, an HR representative, a colleague, or event a group of peers. What matters is that there is clearly a door through which individuals can bring questions, concerns and opinions.

2) Listen To My Needs:  Don’t be too quick to dismiss new ideas. Every employee has a unique perspective, and although every suggestion won’t be feasible, each one should be valued. Suggestions reflect your employees’ individual experiences, and therefore, represent part of your company’s culture. Validate ideas by acknowledging contributions, as well as the spirit behind them.

3) Be On My Side:  Every team needs a leader whom they can trust to represent their best interests. And every employee needs a champion who will be their advocate, even in their absence. When you demonstrate support for others, you reinforce their value within the organization. No one likes to feel unimportant — from there it’s a short step to disengagement.

4) Find A Solution:  Not all feedback can be put into action — sometimes for very good reasons. However, leaders and employees can work together to examine the root causes of a key issue, or to integrate appropriate elements of a suggestion, or to brainstorm and investigate other solutions. This follow-through shows employees that their voices matter.

Have you tried these or other communication techniques to improve employee engagement? What worked for you? Share your experiences in the comments area below.

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