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8 Ideas for Talent Acquisition Success in 2023

Every employer’s definition of talent acquisition success is different. But many employers have learned valuable lessons over the years. Recently, we decided to capture some of those lessons so other hiring organizations could benefit. That’s why we asked business and recruiting leaders to share tips for talent acquisition success in the year ahead.

Tips for Talent Acquisition Success

From using predictive analytics to cultivating a sense of community among team members, we received a collection of answers that reads like a practical “how to” playbook. Below, we share the top answers to our question, “What’s your best strategy to gain a competitive advantage in talent acquisition this year?”

  •   Re-Engineer Your Brand as a Recruiting Tool
  •   Share Engaging Video Content
  •   Be Flexible
  •   Use Predictive Analytics
  •   Deepen Your Diversity Initiatives
  •   Assess the Market and Develop Appropriate Goals
  •   Audit Your EVP and Culture from a Prospect’s Perspective
  •   Create a Sense of Community

To learn more about how you can make these ideas work for your organization, read the full responses below…

8 Ways to Achieve Talent Acquisition Success in 2023

1. Re-Engineer Your Brand as a Recruiting Tool

We all know how important employer branding has become in the age of social media. But we sometimes overlook it as a true recruiting channel in the overall talent acquisition strategy.

Often it’s used as a marketing tool for selling a company brand. But my best tip is to re-engineer your employer brand so it acts as a recruiting tool. For example:

  • Develop lead magnets that link to employee stories.
  • Conduct career-building webinars for industry newbies and collect emails or resumes from interested registrants.
  • Create quizzes or surveys targeting people who are open to job opportunities, and use these teasers outside your career page to gather more leads.

If you’re an HR or recruiting professional, employer branding challenges you to put on your marketing hat. This year, add a sales hat to that mix so you can attract more qualified candidate leads and close more job offers.

Kelly Loudermilk, Talent Innovator, BuildHR, Inc.

2. Share Engaging Video Content

How many of us would decide to buy a house or a car without knowing vital details? Yet most employers still expect candidates to settle for this kind of hiring experience.

The problem is that smart people don’t have the time or desire to jump through all the traditional job application hoops to find out what’s on the other side. That’s why savvy employers are including more detailed information about jobs on the front end of the recruiting process, so they can attract better talent.

But what about nuanced questions where the answers won’t fit into a tidy bullet point on a job description? Questions like, “What types of challenges does your team solve regularly?” or “What is it like to work with the manager?” This is where video can help.

By recording video answers to these critical questions, recruiters have an indispensable new set of assets that can make candidate outreach more effective. Video also helps employers seem more transparent, which helps them stand out in competitive hiring situations.

Justin Vajko, Principal & Chief Strategy Guy, Dialog

3. Be Flexible

If your company expects to attract and retain talent, you must offer employee experiences that support real flexibility and build your culture around this way of working.

Our new “Work Now” research report found that leaders view the workplace as flexible because of the freedom associated with their role and stature. However, employees don’t experience the same level of flexibility.

Leaders who expect to attract and retain great employees need to listen carefully, move past assumptions based on their personal experience with the organization, and design more connected, flexible experiences for other members of the workforce.

Also, if you’re tempted to rely on pulse surveys for feedback, here’s another tip. While these tools may be helpful, remember you may be viewing results through a biased lens that doesn’t tell a true story.

Instead, move beyond pulse surveys. Engage with employees, listen to their stories, invite them to the table, and co-create the future together. That’s how you can fundamentally improve the way you work.

Douglas Ferguson, President, Voltage Control

4. Use Predictive Analytics

I believe predictive analytics is key to talent acquisition success this year. Predictive analytics is the practice of using data to make predictions about future events. With these tools, you can identify potential candidates for open positions, before jobs are even posted. That means you can get a jump on the competition and hire the most qualified candidates before other organizations can snap them up.

In addition, you can use predictive analytics to assess an individual’s probability of success in a particular role. This means your recruiters can focus on candidates who are most likely to succeed. Ultimately, advanced analytics can help you hire the right people for the right roles, and that can lead to a significant advantage in the war for talent.

Antreas Koutis, Administrative Manager, Financer

5. Deepen Your Diversity Initiatives

The emphasis on workplace diversity has continued to gain momentum. It’s now essential to consider candidates you might otherwise overlook because of their race, gender, or other factors. This isn’t about fulfilling quotas. It’s about expanding recruiting reach by tapping into a more diverse talent pool. Ultimately, this adds depth and dimension to your culture.

Try reaching out proactively to attract candidates from diverse communities. Get out of the office and connect with groups that are underrepresented in the workforce. For example, you can host recruitment events in locations that are convenient for people in these groups.

Partnering with schools in these areas is another way to introduce students to your industry and educate them about related career paths. Internships can also help you connect with young people from diverse backgrounds and help them prepare for future roles in your organization.

Matthew Ramirez, CEO, Rephrasely

6. Assess the Market and Develop Appropriate Goals

Establishing a competitive advantage for talent acquisition success requires a laser focus on both short-term and long-term hiring needs.

Be prepared to investigate the current labor market and integrate leading-edge technologies into your recruitment processes. By investing in data-driven insights, you can develop innovative strategies that differentiate your company from the competition. For example, you can:

  • Evaluate the job market in real-time,
  • Leverage AI and machine learning to source talent more efficiently and proactively,
  • Create proactive employer branding campaigns to showcase your company culture
  • Engage with passive candidates through targeted outreach strategies.

In addition, focus on developing a comprehensive remote hiring strategy, because more companies are moving or expanding their operations away from traditional office locations.

Linda Shaffer, Chief People Operations Officer, Checkr

7. Audit Your EVP and Culture from a Prospects Perspective

In a highly competitive job market, standing out and showcasing your culture is the biggest competitive advantage you have in attracting new talent.

Now is a great time to be sure your EVP shows prospective employees why they should work for you, what you offer, and how they can contribute. An EVP is simply your shop window for people you want to attract, retain, and help you grow your business.

I recommend auditing your EVP to put fresh eyes on all your candidate touch points. Review your culture, identify your strengths, and analyze your exit survey data. What can you improve? Does your “careers” website accurately reflect your desired EVP?

Get your whole team involved in this assessment process – HR, Talent Acquisition, and Marketing should work together to showcase your organization in the right light across multiple channels.

Charlie Southwell, Marketing Director, Let’s Talk Talent

8. Create a Sense of Community for Talent Acquisition Success

If your company offers remote work, you have a substantial competitive advantage.

Research indicates that remote work opportunities influence candidates’ salary requirements. But remote work structure isn’t the whole package. Candidates are also interested in knowing how employers create an environment that fosters connection among team members who may not work onsite. For instance, it’s critical to create a sense of community in a remote-based organization with practices like these:

  • Quarterly strategic team meetings
  • In-person team training
  • Regular video lunch and learns
  • Video town halls
  • Hackathons
  • Employee resource groups (ERGs)

Research indicates that people with at least 7 work friends are 35% more likely to stay with their employer. In recent interviews with employees who’ve been at our company for more than 2 years, most told us that interacting with their team is a key reason they enjoy coming to work.

Remote is a terrific way to attract new employees, but creating a sense of community is what keeps employees engaged.

Pat Mulvey, Director of Talent Acquisition, Saatva

 


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

IT Recruiting is Still a Struggle. These Strategies Can Help

Recent headlines are shining a bright light on high-profile layoffs in the technology industry. But for many employers, IT recruiting is still an uphill battle — largely because the IT talent shortage continues to dampen hiring plans.

For years, organizations have posted more job openings than qualified candidates could fill. The opportunity cost is staggering. To put this into perspective, consider that by 2030, at least 85 million jobs could go unfilled. In financial terms, this shortfall could translate into $8.5 trillion in unrealized annual revenues.

Fortunately, the pandemic-era shift to remote work helped expand the global pool of candidates. But it also increased competition for the strongest candidates.

What can you do if your competitors are offering higher salaries or better benefits? It doesn’t mean your organization is out of the running. How can you gain an advantage? In this fierce IT recruiting marketplace, you can attract and retain the best global talent by focusing on three key priorities:

Strategies for Global IT Recruiting Success

1. Define Audiences and Create Candidate Personas

It’s essential to know your target audiences. This includes thinking carefully about the personas of candidates you want to attract now and in the future.

First, your talent acquisition team and hiring managers should take time to explore the different cultures related to your target markets. This insight will help you develop messages and incentives that resonate with the various types of people you want to draw into your organization.

For instance, messaging that a software developer in India considers important and engaging won’t necessarily interest a software developer in Bulgaria or any other country. The same principle applies to nearly every other position and region, across the board. 

Also, a large pool of talent isn’t yet ready to enter the workforce but will become a priority in the future. Don’t wait. Start considering now what it will take to reach those young candidates and appeal to their interests.

For example, an internship program is one way to build a pipeline of candidates who will soon be prepared to enter the workforce. When college students perform effectively and have a positive work experience as interns, you can build a bench of people who are ready to be hired when they graduate.

2. Develop Your Employer Brand and Showcase Your Culture

To attract and retain top global IT talent, it’s especially important to publicly showcase your employer brand and company culture in an authentic way. 

Social media is one of the easiest, most effective tools to accomplish this. Ideally, your social media presence provides visibility into your organization’s culture, mission and values, professional development opportunities, diversity initiatives, corporate social responsibility, and team bonding activities. This helps potential candidates envision what it could actually be like to work there. 

Your social media presence is especially important when attracting younger talent. In fact, The Harris Poll says 58% of Gen Z and Millennial job seekers with work experience rely on social media to research potential employers. And 48% have applied for job opportunities they found on social media.

And other research reveals that most candidates who are seriously considering a job offer will carefully review a potential employer’s social media profiles for red flags before they decide to accept.

BREATHE LIFE INTO YOUR EMPLOYER BRAND

Clearly, Gen Z and Millennials are turning to social media when looking for jobs. They’re also willing to get involved as employees if employers simply ask.

For example, an employee brand ambassador program could significantly amplify your organization’s social presence. By crowdsourcing social media activity internally, you can generate higher-quality content, increase audience reach, and drive much deeper engagement.

Employee brand ambassador programs can also capture behind-the-scenes “magic” that makes your organization a unique place to work. This could include everything from feel-good stories about managers who recognize team members in fun ways and internal team traditions like weekly trivia contests, to candid videos of silly work moments and community volunteering events. Your employees are uniquely positioned to showcase your brand in ways that no one could communicate alone.

From Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to LinkedIn and Glassdoor, the content posted by and about your organization reflects your overall employer brand. So it’s important to work closely with your marketing and social media teams to ensure your efforts support the organization’s brand identity across all platforms and channels.

3. Prioritize and Personalize Candidate Experience 

The last (and perhaps most important) piece of the global IT recruiting puzzle is to provide the best possible candidate experience. This is vital because it helps distinguish your organization from other companies that are vying for the same talent.

Your candidate experience is essentially your brand experience. In fact, 78% of job hunters agree that the candidate experience they receive directly indicates how much an employer values its people.

Not surprisingly, a weak candidate experience has caused some job hunters to withdraw from the hiring process. Their top 3 issues:

  • Disrespect during interviews
  • Poor rapport with recruiters
  • The process simply took too long.

Ultimately, a negative candidate experience can harm your brand. For example, 72% of candidates that encounter a negative candidate experience will tell others about it directly or online. That’s not the kind of word-of-mouth any employer wants to spread.

ELEVATE YOUR CANDIDATE JOURNEY

How can you ensure a strong candidate experience? Focus on each stage of the process:

  • First, carefully review and evaluate the entire journey. Start with the moment someone learns about a role at your organization. Then, move through each step until a new employee arrives for the first day on the job.
  • When candidates initially apply, is the process as easy, accessible, and straightforward as possible? Can people apply quickly online, or do you require them to go through multiple steps and submit excessive amounts of information?
  • During the interview cycle, your hiring team has a chance to shine. How do you assure candidates that you’re interested in them and you value their time? Is everyone in the hiring process able to prepare for interviews? Do they develop relevant questions, so candidates can provide useful answers? Does your process give candidates ample opportunity to ask about job expectations, organizational culture, and other key decision criteria?
  • Throughout each stage of the journey, clear, consistent communication is key. Are you keeping candidates in the loop with regular updates and next-step information? And if you choose not to move forward at any point, do you explain why in a timely, thoughtful way?

These steps may seem obvious, but if you want better results, you won’t leave them to chance. Why? According to a U.S. survey, interviews trigger anxiety in as many as 93% of job seekers. A great candidate experience can help relieve stress. This means candidates will be able to focus on discussing their strengths, demonstrating their skills, and determining if the position is a good fit.

Final Notes on Global IT Recruiting

In today’s candidate-driven global IT market, applicants have the power to choose which employer they prefer. That’s why it’s crucial for hiring managers and talent acquisition teams to know their audience, develop their employer brand, and perfect the candidate experience. When these three components work well together, your organization has the best chance of attracting and hiring the right kind of talent for every job.

A Perfect Job Offer is Much More Than Just a Number

TalentCulture Content Impact Award Winner - 2023

How would you define the perfect job offer? Some people think it’s about finding a magic number that will seal the deal with the right candidate. But smart recruiters know it involves much more than that.

Compensation negotiations have always been complex. But now they’re changing in some fundamental ways. This is largely thanks to new pay transparency laws, which mandate that employers include salary ranges in job postings. As a result, here’s what I see ahead…

How Pay Transparency Changes The Hiring Game

Pay transparency is a boon for job seekers, who will have access to much more useful information about open positions. But this doesn’t need to be a zero-sum game. No doubt, many employers will adjust their tools and processes. And that means recruiters can prosper under these new pay transparency rules. How?

For recruiters, the goal is the same as always — bring the perfect offer to the table. But now, the way to get there is likely to be different than it was in the past.

Making a perfect job offer has always required a balance of three key objectives — fairness, cost-effectiveness, and competitiveness. But these elements are dynamic. The balance is always shifting. So the more you understand how these relationships are changing, the better.

Imagine this: A knowledgeable recruiter leans more heavily on one of these three objectives when making an offer. That strategy might work in today’s hiring climate.

But what about next year? Without the right tools, the same recruiter may not have enough information to make reliable decisions. Instead, compensation will be based on guesswork. And this could jeopardize the balance that holds these offers together.

To build more solid job offers in 2023, take a closer look at the 3 factors I’ve mentioned:

The 3 Pillars of a Perfect Job Offer

1. Fairness

Candidates should be paid fairly. It may sound obvious, but with new pay transparency laws, recruiters have a more important role in making sure this is the case.

Fairness can be tricky to prove because it’s relative. Start by comparing candidates with their own abilities, with employees who do similar work, and with others in your organization.

But keep in mind that it’s not enough for you to think an offer is fair. A candidate must also believe it’s fair. That’s because candidates are much more likely to accept an offer they think is fair than those who think it’s based on guesswork or gamesmanship.

How can you convince candidates that an offer is fair? Don’t assume they’ll take a recruiter’s word for it — they want to see the data. That means your organization will gain a significant advantage if recruiters are able to show their work. This is possible to do with modern data analytics tools, even at scale.

2. Cost-Effectiveness

Your recruiters should be able to attract the best candidates to your organization at the right price. This sounds like a reasonable expectation. But what, exactly, does it mean?

Too often, organizations treat recruiting simply as a cost center. They set a budget and expect recruiters to work within those parameters. That’s important, but there’s so much more your talent acquisition team can accomplish.

Even now, as the economy experiences a downturn, recruiters aren’t just sourcing scouts who fill open positions. They’re also talent strategists who can think holistically about your business needs and goals while also providing the best candidates at the right price.

A compensation strategy involves so many complex elements: workforce planning, budgets, guaranteed vs. at-risk pay, and financial performance. The effects of compensation decisions reach far beyond any individual job applicant. In fact, deciding how many people to hire and determining what to pay them are among the most costly and important decisions any business leader must make. So, as the economy continues to sputter, cost-effective job offers are increasingly important to every organization.

3. Competitiveness

A job offer should balance the chance of a candidate saying yes with the compensation cost to the organization. Understanding what’s at stake is essential in today’s environment. This is why many employers are upgrading their compensation analysis tools. Because in a volatile labor market, good data makes the difference between successfully navigating choppy waters and crashing against the rocks.

In a way, cost-effectiveness and competitiveness are two sides of the same coin. Recruiters want to make offers that help their organization manage costs, even as they attract and retain top talent. But without the right data, finding that balance can be difficult.

This is where recruiters are most likely to make mistakes. In a white-hot talent market, landing qualified candidates can be a struggle. In a down market, it’s a challenge to stay within prescribed budgets. That’s why the perfect offer deserves as much market intelligence as possible, no matter what the hiring climate may be.

Getting Ahead of the Curve

Fair, cost-effective, and competitive. A perfect job offer must balance all three. Recruiters can get ahead of the curve now by taking tangible steps to implement this three-pronged strategy. Specifically, they can focus on using the right information, ensuring that processes are accountable, and communicating about pay throughout each step of the recruiting journey.

At its core, a perfect job offer is based on the best available compensation insights. For successful employers, that means real-time data that indicates what job seekers expect to be paid, what candidates are offered and are willing to accept, as well as what internal data says about existing compensation standards.

The era of pay transparency is here. It may be new, different, and perhaps even a bit intimidating. But it’s also an exciting time to be a recruiting professional. Because, if you’re willing to adapt, a perfect job offer is always within your reach.

 

Hiring In a Recession: 3 Strategies for Business Resilience

The global economic climate is in a precarious state, with experts now predicting a 70% likelihood that the U.S. will enter a recession this year. No doubt, this news is unsettling for business owners. But it’s important to remember that recessions are a natural part of ongoing economic cycles. They can even present opportunities for organizational growth and resilience if you know how to capitalize on them.

So, how can leaders navigate today’s challenges and emerge even stronger on the other side? By strategically hiring in a recession. If you want to build bench depth on your team during tough times, here are three strategies to consider:

3 Strategies for Hiring in a Recession

1. Go Global With Remote Hiring

We’re in a much different position now than during The Great Recession of 2008. So is the global workforce. Thanks to technological advances and the prevalence of remote work models, it’s much easier now for hiring managers to tap into the vast global talent pool.

Compared with local hiring strategies, seeking out top talent internationally offers multiple advantages. Not only can you gain access to a much larger source of candidates, but you can also achieve significant overhead cost savings if you hire people in locations where labor costs are lower.

In addition, sourcing job candidates from around the world can help you develop a much more diverse team. If you are careful to hire skilled professionals, an international approach can inject your work culture and business deliverables with fresh perspectives. This can help your business operate more effectively and efficiently while supporting long-term growth.

That said, hiring globally isn’t without its challenges. To succeed, hiring managers need to be aware of hiring laws and regulations in their chosen countries, as well as cultural differences. It’s also important to ensure that hiring practices are fair and equitable, regardless of where potential employees may be located.

The importance of remote work leadership also needs to be taken into consideration here. Your organization should be prepared to develop and support management skills and practices that will help remote teams stay connected, engaged and motivated.

2. In an Era of Mercenaries, Focus on Your Missionaries

The last few years have been like a game of musical chairs for the labor market. The Great Resignation resulted in 44% of workers hopping from job to job, searching for higher pay, better benefits, and more flexible work options.

This led to a new trend known as “mercenary hiring,” where employers use inflated compensation packages to recruit highly skilled candidates without regard for the company’s mission or culture. However, this recruiting practice can be very risky. While it may be an effective way to attract top talent in a tight labor market, it can also lead to increased workforce churn and damage company culture.

Fortunately, there’s an antidote to mercenary hiring. Hire “missionaries” instead. Focus on people who share a passion for your company’s mission, purpose, vision, and values. These job seekers are more likely to invest in long-term success with your organization, so they’ll also be more invested in your company’s growth.

Of course, it’s one thing for employers to identify, attract and hire these “missionaries.” But it’s even more important to focus on creating an environment that nurtures them and encourages them to thrive. For example, this can include competitive salaries, consistent recognition, and generous professional development opportunities, as well as incentives like flexible scheduling and remote work options.

3. Find Opportunity in Adversity

The hiring landscape may have changed, but one thing remains the same: Hiring during a recession is an opportunity to tap into highly qualified talent you might not find as easily during better economic times.

During the last recession, the U.S. lost 2.6 million jobs. And in 2022, we began seeing some very prominent companies announcing major layoffs. While this news can be disturbing, hiring managers should see it as an opportunity to find the best and brightest talent amidst the chaos.

History has shown us some iconic instances of hiring when the job market was at low ebb. For example, in the 1940s, Hewlett-Packard famously capitalized on the closure of military labs to beef up its workforce. And during one of the nation’s worst 16-month economic cycles, Microsoft took the initiative to hire some of its most influential engineers. Both cases offer powerful business lessons.

Key Takeaways

So, what’s the moral of this story? Here are the three key takeaways to keep in mind about hiring in a recession:

1. Top Talent is Only a Zoom Call Away

With the rise of remote work and virtual hiring tools, it’s easier than ever to find top talent in all corners of the world. Don’t limit your search to local candidates. Consider expanding your talent acquisition reach to a global scale. This can open you to a broader pool of qualified, motivated candidates while giving you access to diverse skills and experiences.

2. Resilience in Hiring is More Than Just Hiring More People

In a recession, it’s important to be strategic about who you recruit. Look for individuals who share your goals and understand your company’s mission. People who sincerely want to advance your agenda are much more likely to stay with your company during difficult times. Focus on building a team of dedicated employees who are willing to be flexible during uncertain times. This will help you weather the storm and emerge stronger on the other side.

3. When Others Freeze Hiring, Be Bold

During a recession, it can be tempting to react with a hiring freeze. Although that approach may save costs in the near term, it is also likely to be a mistake. Investing in talent during tough economic times can set you apart from competitors and position you for success in the long term. Don’t be afraid to be brave and continue investing in your team, even when times are tough. This can help retain your best existing employees, while also helping you attract strong new talent. That combination can build the foundation your company will need to drive future growth.

Final Note

Overall, the key to successful hiring in a recession depends on three factors – your ability to be adaptable, strategic, and focus on building a team that is willing and able to weather the storm with you. By keeping these principles in mind, you can navigate even the toughest hiring climate and make your organization more resilient in the face of any economic downturn.

Screening Job Candidates Online: Risky Business?

Sponsored by: Fama.io

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

The Slippery Slope of DIY Candidate Screening

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

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

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

Catching Up With the Rules

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

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

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

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

Understanding the Controversy

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

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

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

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

How Widespread is This Practice?

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

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

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

Steps to Achieve Better Outcomes

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

1. Clarify the Rules

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

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

2. Focus on Documentation

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

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

3. Partner with a Specialized Service Provider

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

Are You Ready to Lead Through Uncertainty?

Sponsored by HiBob

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

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

Meet Our Guest:  Ronni Zehavi

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

Managing Multiple Unknowns

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

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

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

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

The Long Game

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

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

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

How to lead through uncertainty

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What About Layoffs?

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

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

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

Communication and transparency are critical to preserve your culture.

Can Flexible Work Help?

Do you think economic changes will influence where we work? 

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

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

How to Support Hybrid Work

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

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

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

 


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

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

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

Onboarding New Hires? Try These Tips to Boost Retention

In today’s challenging talent environment, retaining employees is a must. That’s why so many organizations consider onboarding new hires a top priority. When people feel genuinely welcomed at work from day one, retention increases dramatically.

If you could suggest one way to achieve better long-term results when onboarding new hires, what would you recommend? Recently, we asked business leaders to share their answers to this question. Their collective tips read like a playbook of best practices:

  • Assign an Onboarding Buddy
  • Challenge New Team Members to Take Initiative
  • Make Newcomers Feel at Home
  • Assess Each New Hire’s Personality and Work Style
  • Help New Employees Feel Connected With Others
  • Provide Extensive Product Training
  • Emphasize Company Mission and Values

To learn more about these ideas, read the responses below…

7 Ways to Drive Retention When Onboarding New Hires

1. Assign an Onboarding Buddy

Effective onboarding helps make new members of your workforce feel like they’re an integral part of the organization. It drives employee engagement and reduces time to proficiency. But it can be a tedious process to manage.

Assigning an “onboarding buddy” to every new team member is one way to ensure success. When facing an unfamiliar environment, many people hesitate to ask questions or communicate about their needs. Access to a dedicated resource can help people feel at ease, knowing someone is available to offer advice and answer questions when they arise.

This kind of support leads to multiple benefits — it provides helpful cultural context, improves productivity and elevates work satisfaction.

When our organization started a buddy system, we conducted surveys to evaluate the program’s impact. Results were impressive. After the first week on the job, people with buddies were 32% happier with their onboarding experience than those without buddies. And when we followed-up 90 days later, 42% of employees with buddies were more efficient in their roles than others.

Conclusion: These early relationships help people feel safer stepping into their roles. This encourages engagement and significantly improves talent retention at our company.

Jody Ordioni, Chief Brand Officer, Brandemix

2. Challenge New Team Members to Take Initiative

Although it’s essential to introduce new employees to key tasks, routines and procedures during the onboarding process, it’s also important to avoid too much hand-holding. You need to determine if people can be resourceful and work independently, rather than encouraging them to become overly dependent on guidance from others.

Of course, you can always be there to help as a manager. But the goal is to help people feel self-empowered and help them gain confidence and competence as quickly as possible.

Nick Shackelford, Managing Partner, Structured Agency

3. Make Newcomers Feel at Home

Many employers make the mistake of expecting new hires to adopt company culture by giving them all the instructions they need to fit right in. But bringing out the best in someone starts with recognizing their strengths and helping them see how those strengths can serve organizational goals.

Give employees time to familiarize themselves with your organization’s goals. And give them space to use trial and error when developing their own work strategies and tactics. This opens the door for people to bring new, authentic ideas to the table. It also shows you believe in their abilities, you’ve hired them based on their potential, and you’re willing to let them grow.

Zachary Weiner, CEO & Founder, Finance Hire

4. Assess Each New Hire’s Personality and Work Style

When onboarding new hires, one critical step is to assess their personality and work style. Every employee approaches tasks and communication differently, so it’s helpful to learn the best methods to guide each individual and provide feedback.

If you focus on this during the onboarding process, then you give every new hire the best opportunity to develop a lasting connection with you, your team and your organization.

Raegan Johnson, Office Manager, Argon Agency

5. Help New People Feel Connected With Others

A lack of connection is the strongest predictor of attrition among new hires. Research shows that employees who lose 2-3 peers within the first few months on the job are at least 2 times more likely to resign than others. Other data shows that resignations are significantly higher among new employees who are regularly late to work or absent, compared with those who are punctual.

Team support, connection and stability are the biggest retention drivers for new hires. This is why frequent interaction with managers, peers and skip-level managers is crucial.

Initially, managers should set the tone by scheduling frequent one-on-one meetings. Then gradually reduce the pace over time. Also, right from the start, encourage team members to welcome new employees and be available to support them on an ongoing basis.

Vahed Qazvinian, Co-Founder & CTO, Praisidio

6. Provide Extensive Product Training

A company’s products and services are its center of gravity. So, the sooner new hires are acquainted with these offerings, the sooner they can be successful in their roles. This is where extensive product training helps.

Knowledgeable team members are obviously beneficial for employers. But individuals benefit, as well. Knowing every nook and cranny of an organization’s products gives newcomers more clarity, confidence and excitement about what they’re doing each day. It also builds a stronger connection between new hires and your company, your customers and your mission.

Monika Dmochowska, Talent Acquisition Leader, Tidio

7. Emphasize Company Mission and Values

As someone who has been a new hire and has also hired staff members, I don’t think employers spend enough time focusing on mission and values. Leaders might mention the overall mission, but too often they give little attention to how a new hire’s role helps the organization fulfill its mission.

At our company, we spend time familiarizing people with our values and how these values set a foundation that makes it possible for our mission to thrive. Each person knows their job description, as well as how their role moves the company forward. This helps create a deeper connection and improves engagement.

Tamara Dias, Director of Culture and Client Partnerships, Perfeqta

 


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

Recruiting Predictions and Trends That Will Define 2023

Nothing is certain. And anything can change in a flash. Many of us have learned these lessons the hard way in recent years. Forecasting almost seems like a fool’s game now. But during this time of year, I can’t help thinking about recruiting predictions. What trends will define hiring strategies and practices in 2023?

Trend 1: Power is Shifting

First, let’s put 2o22 into perspective. What a rollercoaster year! It started at the height of the Great Resignation, when people were leaving their jobs at record rates. The promise of greener pastures was a powerful motivator. But only months later, the tide turned as “boomerang employees” began reversing their decisions.

This boomerang phenomenon wasn’t just media hype. In fact, a global survey by HR tech provider UKG found that 43% of people who resigned during the pandemic later decided they were better off in their old job. And by last April, 20% had already returned to their previous position. 

So, are employees still calling all the shots? Not so much — but they do still have some bargaining power. This leads me to another trend…

Trend 2: Flexibility Rules

The job market is coming to a crossroads. Unemployment rates remain low, but employee expectations remain high. Now, many people have become accustomed to remote work and more flexible work/life choices. So increasingly, employers are turning to amenities like free meals and hybrid work models, hoping to lure people back to the office. But these strategies have only been marginally successful.

Numerous studies underscore the problem. For example, in a recent survey of 80,000 global employees, Advanced Workplace Associates found that people generally don’t comply with hybrid work policies. Specifically, when organizations require 2, 2-3 or 3 days in the office each week, actual attendance averages only 1.1, 1.6 and 2.1 days, respectively.

No doubt, this kind of willful disregard concerns employers. But as long as consequences aren’t enforced, the behavior will likely continue.

Trend 3: Economic Weakness Clouds the Future

Continued inflation and the threat of a lengthy recession is causing employers to think twice about immediate business expansion plans. And none of this is helped by the war in Ukraine or ongoing friction in international relations.

What Do These Trends Mean for Recruitment?

Innovative business leaders will hire more strategically in 2023. Decisions will be driven by the need to (among other things) expand their products and services, or reposition their organization to compete more effectively when the economy improves.

Smart employers will train recruiting teams to spot the best candidates by using leading-edge hiring techniques. In the past, recruitment predictions emphasized technology and automation. Both of these trends are still important. But tools, alone, won’t be enough to give recruiters the advantage they need to identify, attract and secure top talent.

Going forward, successful talent acquisition will depend on recruiters with strong skills and competencies, as well as tools that help them work effectively.

Keeping these trends and business factors in mind, here are three recruiting predictions to consider as we head into another turbulent year in a highly competitive environment:

3 Key Recruiting Predictions for 2023

1. Recruiting Roles Will Become More Adaptive

Strong recruiters will recognize the need to be more flexible about how they contribute to business goals. They will rely more heavily on reskilling and upskilling to extend their capabilities, so they can demonstrate transferable skills that add value as staffing needs change. If hiring slows down, companies can tap into these added skills by involving recruiters more heavily in HR, research or sales activities.

Often, recruiters know their company inside and out. This in-depth knowledge helps them sell an employer to job candidates. Innovative companies will recognize the benefit of transitioning recruiters to other interim assignments if needed, rather than letting them go. This avoids the unwanted cost of having to recruit, onboard and train new recruitment staff when hiring picks up again in the future.

2. Unlikely Platforms Will Help Recruiters Find Top Talent

When thinking about sourcing and recruiting employees, most recruiters automatically think of LinkedIn. However, other less obvious options are also highly effective. These platforms attract targeted audiences that are often larger and more engaged.

For instance, Slack User Groups and Github are excellent channels, but recruiters typically don’t utilize them enough. Both are magnets for hyper-focused, passionate users who could be great candidates for specific roles.

Also, interview sites focused on unique skill sets are terrific sources for finding specialized candidates. One popular example is HackerRank.

3. Recruiting Careers Will Still Appeal to Young Workers

Despite an economic slowdown, the recruiting profession will remain hot. According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report, low work engagement has already cost the global economy $7.8 trillion — and the situation isn’t changing. As unhappy employees continue to look for new opportunities, other organizations will need recruiters to tap into this talent pool.

This makes recruiting an attractive career option. And those seeking training or certification in recruiting have more options than ever, thanks to online learning platforms. Reputable professional education programs can train anyone to become a recruiter or sourcing professional in just a few weeks.

Plus, this role gives people the opportunity for continued growth and higher earnings potential. No wonder Glassdoor says corporate recruiting is the most satisfying job, especially among Gen Z workers.

Final Thoughts

For years, recruiters have been inundated with hiring demands, as companies in the technology industry and other sectors boomed with work opportunities. Now some hiring organizations are starting to hit speed bumps.

Company culture and employee expectations have changed dramatically in response to the pandemic. Everyone is still trying to figure out the new normal, even as the world continues to change.

Once organizations regain their bearings, hiring will likely to bounce back. Until then, resourceful, well-trained recruiters will recognize the need to remain flexible and package themselves as valuable business assets.

Which Corporate Fitness Trends Will Shape 2023?

Content Impact Award - TalentCulture 2022As a corporate fitness professional, one of my favorite activities at the end of each year is to set aside time to look back at what has unfolded over the past 12 months. It helps to review what has worked for our clients (as well as what didn’t work so well). An open-minded, reflective analysis is always a good way to put things into perspective before considering new possibilities and mapping a game plan for the New Year.

As part of this process, I’m constantly tracking what’s happening with corporate fitness trends. So much has changed over the past few years, thanks to the pandemic and the increase in remote work, it’s important to keep ahead of what no longer seems as relevant or useful and what is gaining traction. And in looking toward the year ahead, all the signals indicate that much more change is still to come! 

So, fasten your seatbelts and let’s look at how employers can prepare for the future. Based on trends I’ve been following, along with my direct experience with our teams and our clients in recent months, here are 3 emerging priorities that are likely to define corporate fitness in 2023:

1. More Personalized Training

Get ready for a big surge in employee demand for more personalized services — things like personal training and small group training. Multiple factors are driving this corporate fitness trend. For example:

Early in 2022, as people slowly started to emerge from a more sedentary pandemic lifestyle, I started hearing that employees were looking for help to get back on track with their fitness and wellness goals. Not surprisingly, during the Covid years, many people developed some unhealthy habits — especially in terms of diet and fitness. The isolation of working and living at home full-time didn’t help, either.

Many people are now looking to break out of that cycle and are longing for a stronger sense of community. So, prepare to see an upswing in more intimate training environments that give employees broader support and guidance, along with opportunities to connect with others and share their journey through community experiences.

Also, my clients confirm that employees are interested in wellness goals that involve more than physical workouts, alone. People want to get back in shape, but they also realize the importance of focusing on things like sleep, nutrition and stress management. And this means they’re increasingly interested in a more holistic approach to health and wellbeing. These objectives are often easier to achieve with programs that include individualized coaching.

Digital tracking tools can also be helpful in supporting people in their wellness objectives. Already, more than 20% of Americans are using wearables that provide convenient access to personalized health and fitness data. Many people want to use this data more effectively to develop tailored workouts and lifestyle management programs that will help increase their training efficiency, improve their daily habits and elevate their health outcomes.

2. More “Hybrid” Fitness Program Memberships

Another thing I’m starting to hear often from our clients is that their employees are looking for a seamless, connected fitness experience that aligns with their busy lifestyles. They want to workout where they want, when they want.

This is where “hybrid memberships” come in. These relatively new programs provide employees with a combination of corporate fitness center access and virtual fitness classes, along with partnerships with local yoga, boxing and Pilates studios. 

With these hybrid memberships, employees can workout at their corporate gym, at home or on the road when they’re traveling—all with the convenience of one membership rather than having to cobble it all together themselves. It’s the best of all worlds. And it’s bigger than just a brick-and-mortar fitness center—it’s a program.

Here’s one example: Kevin is a financial services professional in Indiana who comes into the office three days a week. During those visits, he goes to the on-site fitness center to lift weights. Typically, he talks with several fellow employees while he works out. It’s a great social experience. On the other two weekdays he works from home. On those days, he works out with a virtual fitness class through an app that’s connected to his fitness center and the same staff he knows and trusts. Over the weekend, he takes a spin class at a local studio that contracts with his company through the hybrid health program. Again, this hybrid program lets Kevin work out where he wants, when he wants. It’s all built into his schedule!

Inclusive hybrid memberships like these give employees the convenience, choice and variety they’re asking for. Plus, it provides access to the kind of connectedness and community people need with engagement that is hard to find elsewhere.

3. More Active Time Outdoors

We’re also hearing loud-and-clear from clients and employees that they want to get outside and move! A recent survey from the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry and McKinsey & Company, asked employees this key question:

“In which sports/physical activity categories do you expect to see a lasting increase in participation vs. pre-COVID-19?”

Of the 12 categories listed as potential responses, 84% of survey participants picked “outdoor activity” as their first choice. 

Obviously, survey results like these underscore just how massive the pandemic’s impact was on corporate wellness programs. Over the past year, some companies started to experiment with fitness activities and events designed to get employees outdoors. Now it appears that this trend is catching on and may be here to stay.

For instance, one of our clients — a leading insurance company — has invested in a mobile open-air fitness trailer from BeaverFit. This makes it possible for employees to participate in healthy outdoor activities on a daily basis. Combined with programming delivered by on-site fitness professionals, this open air program is flourishing. And workforce wellbeing is improving as a result of employee participation in regular activities with physical and mental health benefits.

Final Notes on the Future of Corporate Fitness

These three corporate fitness trends are only a few of the emerging ideas we can look forward to seeing in 2023, as the space continues to evolve. With more personalized programming, more flexible options, access to innovative digital tools and a broader range of creative fitness locations, employee wellness is poised to make an even stronger comeback in the coming year. I look forward to seeing other innovative trends emerge that we aren’t even thinking about yet!

Flexibility: Key to Employee Retention in 2023

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

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

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

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

Why Some People Stay

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

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

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

Making a Business Case for Flexibility

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flexibility Isn’t Just Skin Deep

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clarifying the Rules

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is Quiet Quitting a Symptom of Poor Mental Health?

One workplace buzzword many people are eager to leave behind is “quiet quitting.” The phrase dominated headlines this year, especially when a Gallup poll revealed that at least half of U.S. workers are disengaged.

Although this term is quickly running its course, the underlying problem remains. In fact, work engagement continues to slide, indicating a growing disconnect between employees and employers. No doubt, the quiet quitting phenomenon is a symptom of ongoing workplace upheaval. But I suspect it also reflects the need for better mental health support at work.

What Research Says About Workforce Wellbeing

Even as post-pandemic work engagement is dropping, countless studies reveal that depression and anxiety are on the rise. And the uptick in layoffs and economic uncertainty creates even more stress. Let’s look closer.

Nearly three-quarters of employees (72% ) say they’re concerned about finances – up from 65% last year – according to a recent report from financial wellness solution provider, Brightplan. And PWC research indicates that declining financial health impacts employee mental health and work productivity. Specifically, PWC found that 69% of employees who are financially stressed are less likely to feel valued at work – and therefore, they are becoming less engaged. 

Depression and anxiety are also leading reasons why people take time off from work. In fact, employers lose an estimated 12 billion workdays annually as a result of employee depression and anxiety. According to The World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization, this costs the global economy nearly $1 trillion a year. Both organizations acknowledge the need for concrete action to address workplace mental health.

How Can Employers Respond?

Some employers may ignore these disturbing trends. But others are taking action by creating an environment where workers feel more valued and supported.

For example, if you notice that “quiet quitting” is spreading among your ranks, it’s likely that these employees  feel under-appreciated. By offering professionally managed support groups as a benefit, you can send a much-needed message that tells people, “We see you, we care about your wellbeing, and you are valued here.”

This kind of benefit extends assistance to people who might hesitate to pursue individual therapy — which has historically been costly and difficult to access. And the pandemic has only made it worse. For example, at the height of the Covid outbreak, the U.S. average wait time to see a therapist ranged from 29-66 days.

The Benefits of Group Support

Multiple studies underscore how support group participation leads to improved employee mental health and job performance. In fact, our own research found that when employees attended group sessions, 50% became more productive and 100% experienced improved attitude and outlook.

Why are these results so striking? When employees have access to a clinically-backed support group program, their social connectedness and mood tend to improve. This, in turn, alleviates depression and anxiety. And group support not only helps reduce anxiety and stress. It can also play a central role in preventive care strategies designed to avoid employee burnout.

Why Group Support Helps

Depression and anxiety can fuel feelings of isolation and loneliness – two key reasons why people seek group support in their personal lives. Providing a safe space where employees discuss meaningful issues and concerns can increase their positive feelings about work and improve overall job satisfaction.

Because group support encourages dialogue among people with different perspectives, it can help participants build trust, empathy and openness that carries over into the workplace. However, it’s important not to require colleagues to join the same group. Also, it’s important to respect participants’ privacy by preserving their anonymity.

While the benefits of peer counseling are well known, new studies demonstrate how digital group support can extend mental health services access to more diverse populations. For example, some people have limited mobility or are located in rural communities where trained mental health providers aren’t unavailable.

Video-based group support is an excellent alternative, because it is affordable and accessible online from nearly anywhere on any digital device. This encourages connections and therapeutic conversations without requiring participants to wait for weeks or travel long distances.

Tips to Improve Group Support

When offering this kind of mental health benefit to your employees, keep this advice in mind:

1. Emphasize Voluntary Participation

Everyone comes to the table with a unique background and point of view. This is why the group model can be a particularly powerful tool. So, although encouraging individuals to take advantage of this benefit can be helpful, avoid pressuring anyone or threatening them with repercussions. The goal is to destigmatize mental health and make pathways to wellbeing more accessible and affordable.

2. Prepare to Overcome Fears

Group support is a highly misunderstood term. Too often, people associate group settings only with treatment centers. In the workplace, many people who need support fear they’ll be perceived as “weak” and their careers will be damaged if they join a group. For anyone concerned about this, you can share positive use case data demonstrating how helpful and healing group support can be. Employers can leverage this information as a reference tool and assure concerned employees that their identity will be protected.

3. Insist on Anonymity

Video-based group support should provide access to online sessions on any day and time that works best for each member, while also protecting their identity. Solutions like Sesh, which is 100% HIPAA-compliant, let every user select a pseudonym. Individual data is never shared, and employees are notified when anyone within the same organization registers for their group.

My Perspective

I discovered the value of group sessions while in treatment for an eating disorder. Being part of a group was the catalyst that catapulted my recovery to the next level. This experience led me to launch Sesh

Typically, therapist-led support is difficult to access, difficult to pay for and designed for monolithic audiences. That’s why I’m committed to extending therapist-led group support to people from all communities, circumstances and identities.

With an affordable, accessible group support experience through their employer, people can finally receive the high-quality mental health support they need and deserve. This helps individuals cope with challenging personal issues, while helping businesses create a more harmonious, productive workplace. And in the process, it may also silence quiet quitting. That is my hope.

Why Build Your Own Freelance Talent Network?

Sponsored by: Worksuite

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

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

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

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

Why Avoid Public Talent Marketplaces?

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

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

1. Barriers to Entry are Low

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

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

2. Faking Performance Rankings is Easy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are Any Public Talent Marketplaces Credible? 

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

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

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

Harnessing the Power of a DIY Talent Network 

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

1. Speed to Hire 

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

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

2. No Training Downtime 

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

3. Leverage Talent Across Your Business 

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

4. Grow Your Internal Talent Pool 

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

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

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

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

Where to Look for Contingent Talent

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

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

Developing Talent Network Trust and Loyalty

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

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

For example, these tactics are often effective:

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

 


Worksuite: A Talent Network Solution

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

1. Customize Onboarding Workflows

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

2. Add and Invite Freelancers to the Platform

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

3. Ensure Contractor Compliance

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

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

4. Publish a Searchable Talent Directory

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

5. Assign Groups, Tags and Rankings 

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

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

6. Rank, Rate, and Review Freelancers 

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

7. Track Key Metrics 

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

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

8. Communicate Regularly With Network Members

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

9. Archive Talent Records

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

 


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

Using OKR Methods To Lift Business Performance

As 2022 draws to a close, most organizations are deeply involved in planning, budgeting and forecasting for the coming year. To complete this rigorous process, leaders often invest significant time, attention and energy for weeks or even months. Yet research says more than 90% of those strategies will never be executed. How can you develop an operational plan you’ll actually use?

Today’s uncertain economic environment is prompting leaders to seek out more flexible, reliable planning tools. But there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. For decades, some organizations have relied on highly effective, affordable practices and tools based on Objectives and Key Results (OKRs).

Understanding OKRs

The OKR framework is favored by fast-growing tech giants like Google, LinkedIn, and Spotify, as well as start-ups that hope to follow in their footsteps.

OKRs are a way of setting strategic goals, first at the company level. Then departments, teams and individuals align their goals with the organization in a systematic way. But this framework is much more than a simple goal format. It comes with multiple step-by-step execution best practices.

For example, consider the “check-in” step, which is usually conducted on a weekly basis. This lightweight update process keeps everyone on your team focused, informed and on-track throughout an OKR cycle. Regular check-ins also help leaders avoid becoming consumed in reactive firefighting, which is often why strategies never see daylight.

Specialized software can help make steps like check-ins faster and easier to manage. For example, with OKR tools like ZOKRI, the check-in process takes only minutes to complete.

Unlocking The Full Benefits of OKR

OKR Snakes and Ladders - Best Practices and Mistakes to AvoidThe OKR process seems simple enough. However, making the most of OKRs requires nuance. Understanding how to navigate these nuances can help you quickly move from an OKR novice to a highly skilled OKR-driven organization.

Some important nuances are outlined below and are illustrated in this OKR “Snakes and Ladders” infographic:

7 OKR Ladders (Top Tips)

To help you succeed at OKRs, here are 7 top tips from organizations that have relied on them for years to drive performance and growth:

  • Use OKR as a focal point for debating issues and opportunities that, if solved, can move the needle. You could also consider them a blueprint for team “therapy” that creates engagement and excitement.
  • Identify meaningful, measurable outcomes (“key results”) to be sure you define success effectively. Discourage vanity metrics and “to-do list” outcomes.
  • Use KPIs to measure business-as-usual performance. Reserve OKRs for more valuable performance metrics, focused on strategic initiatives.
  • Establish aspirational goals selectively to improve focus and unlock innovative ways of thinking. OKRs let you set stretch goals without creating unnecessary stress among stakeholders.
  • Keep in mind that OKRs do not have to follow your organization chart. For example, they can be used effectively with cross-functional team initiatives.
  • Use operational processes built into OKRs to ensure that information is flowing as needed and your organization develops an executional rhythm.
  • Leverage retrospectives at the end of OKR cycles by creating positive shared learning experiences that inform future plans.

7 OKR Snakes (Pitfalls)

Perhaps the greatest strength of the OKR framework is its popularity. The biggest obstacles and mistakes have already been solved many times before, so common issues like these are easy to spot and avoid:

  • Sometimes, executive teams are not prepared to lead by example. Instead, they expect others to set and update goals, but they don’t manage their own. You don’t want to be one of these leaders.
  • Goals assigned to you aren’t as effective as goals you help create. To unlock stronger performance gains, get more people involved in the process. Discover together what needs improvement and support others in achieving their goals.
  • Similarly, avoid developing team OKRs in a silo. Team OKRs are much more powerful when they’re the product of cross-team discussions.
  • Too many team or individual OKRs dilute your focus. Instead, set fewer goals, each with high potential business impact.
  • Don’t treat OKR steps as optional actions. Without mandatory check-ins, you lose a single point-of-truth and people stop taking reports and updates seriously.
  • When the risks and consequences of not achieving OKRs are perceived as high you might be tempted to low-ball, but that can undermine the process. Grading OKRs and retrospectives helps you avoid this issue.
  • Setting and forgetting OKRs opens the door for business-as-usual firefighting to take over your agenda. Clearly, this jeopardizes overall performance outcomes. It’s important to commit to the OKR cycle and not skip updates or OKR meetings.

Summary

OKR is a proven goal setting framework. It can help you structure, share and execute organizational strategy, while making it easy for individuals and teams to support those goals.

Businesses that rely on OKRs typically are high-performers with traditional organization charts and cross-functional teams. But as everyone works toward aligned goals, people are more likely to identify and solve problems. And they learn from each other faster than those without OKRs.

Adopting OKRs is more than adopting a new goal format. It means you’re embracing a new way of talking about challenges and opportunities, and tracking progress towards goals and learning from experience. The know-how and tools to implement OKRs are within reach – even for organizations with a limited budget and management resources.

Celebrating Movember: Men’s Health at Work

EDITOR’S NOTE: At TalentCulture, we recognize a healthy workforce is a more engaged and productive workforce. That’s why we’re spreading the word about the importance of “Movember” men’s health awareness in this article.


The holiday season is upon us! As the days get shorter and colder, schedules are getting busier and more packed with activities. It’s common for us to let some things slide — including taking care of our health and wellbeing. We’ve all been there. But health should never take the backburner. That’s why we’d like to talk about the Movember movement.

What exactly is Movember? What does it mean for men’s health? And more specifically, how can employers leverage this opportunity to encourage discussions around important workplace health issues? We’ll even touch on how you can start a Movember event with friends and coworkers. 

What Is Movember? 

Two friends kickstarted Movember as a grassroots effort to promote men’s health in Australia. It began in 2003, at a time when the mustache had all but disappeared from popular culture.

That’s when Travis Garone and Luke Slattery first convinced 30 friends to take up the challenge of growing out their facial hair in solidarity with men’s health issues during the month of November.

This simple challenge grew faster than anyone imagined. In fact, by the time it reached the U.S, in 2008, the Movember charity had raised more than $46 million, in partnership with global charities dedicated to raising awareness around important men’s health issues.

Over the years, this movement has continued to gain traction across the globe. Now, nearly 7 million men and women contribute to the cause by funding more than 1200 men’s health projects. The Movember project and its enthusiastic supporters (known as “Mo bros” and “Mo sisters”) have addressed many worthy health causes around the world. 

Why Movember Matters

The importance of raising awareness and encouraging communication around men’s health can’t be overstated. Unfortunately, men are still statistically far less likely to take care of their health. That’s not an opinion, but a well-documented fact.

For instance, a 2021 study found that less than half of men (47%) had a routine medical checkup in the previous 12 months. Embarrassment and perceived stigmas are the primary reasons.

Our culture of stoicism means that when men experience pain, many feel societal pressure to simply push through it. And although women tend to become familiar with healthcare from a young age — seeing gynecologists and being encouraged to schedule annual checkups — men generally don’t develop the same kind of connection.

Simply put, conversations about men’s health aren’t common. In fact, they’re often stigmatized. Ultimately, this leads to poorer health outcomes. 

The Movember Mission

The Movember movement celebrates men’s health in all its forms, but emphasizes mental health and cancer prevention, in particular. Here’s why:

1. Preventing Cancer

For men, two key health concerns are prostate and testicular cancer. Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in men. Fortunately, testicular cancer is less frequent. However, it still affects about 7 out of every 100 men.

Both cancers are considered highly treatable if caught early. However, when left untreated, they can be very difficult to cure, and the statistics are less promising.

Most experts recommend starting prostate exams around the age of 45 and getting an exam every 3-5 years. Doctors often perform what’s called a PSA test. A PSA is a reliable metric that helps determine the risk of prostate cancer.

Similarly, to help detect testicular cancer, men should perform self-exams, looking for signs like lumps, swelling, or dull aching pain. Anyone who experiences any of these symptoms needs to see a doctor immediately.

Bottom line: Routine checkups are crucial for effective cancer prevention, detection, and treatment. That’s one of the most important messages behind the Movember movement.  

2. Communicating About Mental Health

Although mental health is extremely important, it is also perhaps the most stigmatized men’s health issue. Statistics show that although mental health challenges are relatively common among men, less than half will seek treatment.

This problem is especially important to recognize in the workplace, where burnout and stress are common. People often don’t realize how stressed they are until the symptoms become unavoidable.

Left unchecked, stress or burnout can not only affect your mental and emotional wellbeing but also wreak havoc on your body. Fatigue, anxiety, and depressed mood — even changes in weight and thinning hair — all can occur.

Of course, it’s important to see your doctor to make sure you’re not dealing with underlying medical issues like hypothyroidism or male pattern balding. But these symptoms can also be a response to physiological changes caused by stress.

How Employers Can Get Involved

Encouraging your workforce to be part of the Movember trend can be an excellent way to raise awareness around these important men’s health issues. For example, you can set up a Movember fundraiser, either in person or virtually. This can foster teamwork and solidarity in the workplace, while also encouraging people to take charge of their health. 

If you decide to start a Movember campaign, you don’t have to focus on only one topic. It’s an opportunity to help men feel more comfortable talking about a variety of issues that affect their health.

Conversation Starters:

  • Are you getting enough exercise
  • Are you sleeping well?
  • Do you feel overloaded with work lately?
  • How healthy is your diet?
  • Do you schedule regular check-ups? 
  • Have you talked to your doctor about things like prostate screening? 

Talk to your coworkers, talk to your friends, and bring the Movember movement to your professional and social circles. It’s not just for men either. It’s for anyone with a man in their life they care about — a significant other, a family member, or a friend. Every man matters. Encourage open conversations, show your support, and get involved!

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

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

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

What Does “Culture-Add” Mean?

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

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

As I noted in my previous article:

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

Embracing Organizational Change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connecting Culture-Add and Diversity

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tips For Building a Culture-Add Mentality

1. Actively weave a sense of belonging into your workforce

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

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

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

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

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

2. Prepare to fully retrain your recruiting and hiring staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Design Decisions for 360 Feedback Success

Many managers and HR practitioners are familiar with 360 feedback as a leadership development practice. However, no two 360 feedback experiences look alike.

That is actually a good thing. Most successful 360 feedback drives behavior change both for individual leaders and their employers because the process is tailored to the organization’s unique culture as well as the intended purpose of the exercise.

On the other hand, this need for customization means practitioners face an overwhelming number of decisions when designing a new 360 feedback assessment. For example:

  • Who should participate?
  • How many survey questions should we include?
  • Who should receive the report?
  • What kind of follow-up support should we offer?
  • Who should choose the raters?
  • What role should HR play in the process?

Fortunately, some 360 feedback implementation practices have become ubiquitous. That means some guesswork, research and debate aren’t necessary. For example, below are five must-haves for strong engagement and outcomes.

Five Design Factors for 360 Feedback:

1) Which groups should participate in ratings?

Anyone who has observed a leader’s on-the-job behavior can provide useful rating input. This could include the leader who is being assessed, as well as a combination of direct supervisors, secondary managers, peers, direct reports, customers, board of directors representatives, donors and even skip reports.

In some situations, it is helpful to include other groups to meet specific requirements. For example, if a leader is actively involved with strategic partners or other third-party groups, their voices could add useful context. 

While there is flexibility to customize the participant mix, 360 feedback assessments typically include these four core rater groups as a baseline:  self, peers, direct reports, and direct managers. In fact, according to soon-to-be-released research from our firm, 88% of organizations include these four core groups.

2) Who will select and approve raters?

Among 360 feedback experts, there is some debate about the best way to choose raters. Should assessment recipients choose their participants? Those who favor this approach say it ensures a sense of ownership and buy-in. Others say a third party (a manager or HR representative) should choose raters. This ensures that feedback is well-balanced and avoids a “friends and family” bias.

Most 360 feedback process owners agree leaders should choose their own raters to build trust and establish assessment process buy-in. On the other hand, 70% of organizations tell us they review and approve final rater lists.

We agree that manager involvement is a wise practice, and a leader’s direct manager should approve the final list. Over the last 20 years, we’ve found that this is the most common approach. And according to our new benchmarking analysis, 48% of companies continue to use this method.

3) How will we score surveys and generate reports?

As with many HR processes, technology has also transformed 360 feedback implementation practices. Now, most HR practitioners rely heavily on online tools so they can collect, organize, analyze and share useful feedback faster and easier.

In 2009, spreadsheets and even paper surveys were still popular ways to collect and report 360 feedback data. Today, those methods are all but obsolete. In fact, 91% of organizations now use a web-based reporting tool to manage surveys and generate reports.

Many practitioners are also choosing to outsource this task to specialized service providers. In fact, our recent research shows that 80% of employers rely on an external vendor or consultant to handle this aspect of the process. 

4) How can we assure rater anonymity? 

To encourage honest responses, employers must ensure that feedback sources remain anonymous. Therefore, it’s not surprising that 81% of employers tell us rater anonymity is essential to the success of their 360 feedback endeavors.

A common way to ensure anonymity is by requiring a minimum number of survey responses for any group specified in the report. For example, peer scores are displayed separately only if at least 3 peers respond. If fewer peers respond, then that data is included only in overall average ratings.

Most often, organizations require a minimum of three raters in a category. In fact, 83% of companies use this three-rater threshold rule. Very few skip this requirement altogether (3% require no minimum responses). And on the other end of the spectrum, very few require more than three responses.

5) How will we help leaders translate the report into action?

For best results, talent management experts agree that personal follow-up is essential. To optimize ROI, employers should avoid the “desk drop” follow-up, where leaders receive a 360 feedback report, but no direct support to discuss results, implications, or next steps.

Follow-up can include any number of supportive actions, such as:  Adding development suggestions to the report, offering action planning guidance, providing individualized 1-on-1 coaching, assigning in-person or online workshops, referring leaders to specialized resource libraries, and more.

The most common step is also what talent management professionals feel is most critical for 360 assessment success:  Provide a one-on-one meeting with a trained 360 feedback coach who can facilitate action planning based on the results.

Historically, these sessions were conducted in person. However, in recent years, video meetings have become the dominant format. Also, reliance upon external coaches (rather than in-house staff) has become more popular.

Fortunately, 88% of organizations say they provide debrief sessions and one-on-one coaching, so feedback recipients can interpret insights and chart a relevant path forward.

Final Thoughts

Good leaders thrive on feedback. But for 360 feedback assessments to be effective, it’s important for leaders to understand the results and commit to improvement.

This means employers must take care to design and implement a valid, well-informed process from end to end. By addressing key design elements at the outset and by investing in ongoing leadership guidance, organizations can dramatically increase the likelihood of success.

 


EDITOR’S NOTE:
Want to learn more about the decisions talent managers make when designing and implementing 360 feedback assessments? Replay this recorded webinar, where the 3D Group unveils findings from its latest benchmarking study,
Current Practices in 360 Feedback, 7th Edition. This analysis includes 20 years of data from more than 600 companies.

Are Job Candidates Ghosting You? Try This Recruiter’s Advice

Spooky season is upon us! People are carving pumpkins, dressing in crazy costumes, and swapping scary stories. So, in the spirit of Halloween, we’re taking on a truly horrifying subject. This is so frightening it can make a hiring manager’s hair stand on end at the very mention. That’s right. We’re talking about candidate ghosting. Beware!

Is Ghosting For Real?

Oxford Languages defines ghosting as “the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.”

When somebody ghosts you, they stop replying to your messages, they don’t answer calls, they stop all forms of communication. There’s never any explanation—they simply disappear without a trace.

Originally a dating term, ghosting is becoming increasingly common in business, especially in the context of recruiting. For example, a 2021 survey by Indeed found that 28% of job applicants had an employer—10% more than in 2019. And today’s reality seems much worse. In fact, a U.K. poll earlier this year found that more than 75% of job hunters admit to ghosting in the past year. Scary statistics, to be sure!

Why Do People Act So Creepy?

There’s no single reason why candidates ghost potential employers. But ghosting clearly seems more common when job vacancies are prevalent in a particular sector. 

When more opportunities are available, applicants have less incentive to keep in touch. They will often receive viable offers more quickly, so when they do, they’ll accept the most attractive option and move on.

However, ghosting also happens when vacancies are few and far between. We’ve seen it up close at our own recruiting agency, even in niche roles where very few opportunities exist. 

In a discussion with our team, one brave team member confessed to ghosting a prospective employer in the past. She explained, “I was pretty far into the interview process when a few issues raised concerns for me. These were mainly about time off, travel expenses—things that probably should have been resolved up front.”

The truth is, we can make some educated guesses about a candidate’s motivations, they can ghost us for any reason. Without an explanation from the candidate, you’ll never know for sure what happened—and that’s what makes it so frustrating.

The Business Impact of Ghosting

Probably the worst impact of ghosting is that it wastes time. You could spend months sourcing credible talent and conducting interviews. You may even get to the stage where you’re negotiating a package. And then without warning—poof!—that top candidate goes silent. 

Ghosting is not only time-consuming—it is expensive as well. Consider this:

The average U.S. cost per hire is $4,700 for a non-executive role and $14,936 for an executive, according to Zippia. Most roles are filled within roughly 42 days, but it can take much longer when ghosting comes into play.

And it’s not just about the extra cost of a delayed hiring process. It’s also important to take into account the business cost of an unfilled role, which can cost employers dearly in terms of lower business productivity, quality, and responsiveness.

How Can You Combat Ghosting?

Although it’s impossible to shut down ghosting altogether, we’ve learned some techniques to help employers prevent candidates from vanishing into thin air.

1) Invest in the Relationship

Put yourself in a candidate’s shoes. As one recruitment specialist told the BBC earlier this year, “Candidates are being approached all the time with an abundance of jobs to choose from […] if they have multiple applications on the go, it can be easier to simply ignore one of them.”

If a candidate is in contact with multiple recruiters or hiring managers, it’s easy for several to fall off of the radar. But if you develop a working relationship with candidates, you’ll remain top-of-mind. Just as you would with a friend or colleague, make sure you stay in regular contact with candidates. Show that you care by touching base when you say you will and by keeping them updated throughout the hiring process.

2) Be Transparent From the Start

Before you move forward, strive to clarify what a candidate is seeking in a role, and reflect on whether your offer will meet those expectations.

People may feel uncomfortable telling you they’re unhappy or unsure about an aspect of a role. Instead, they may find it easier to simply move on. So be sure you understand their job requirements from the start of your working relationship.

In particular, don’t keep the details of an offer secret. For example, if a candidate is interested only in working remotely, an in-office location will likely be a dealbreaker. It’s best to be upfront about every aspect of the role before you make an offer. This saves time for both you and the candidate.

3) Establish a Long-Term Connection

Smart hiring managers and recruitment specialists help candidates recognize the value of maintaining a relationship throughout their careers. Rather than just completing an immediate transaction, recruiters can introduce candidates to influential people within their industry and help build their professional network over time.

Ghosting can cause unintended reputational damage. So, if you help candidates see the long game, they’ll be less likely to abruptly end your communication. 

4) Respond Kindly to a Rejection

We’ve seen employers lash out at candidates who decline an offer. This is a surefire way to encourage more ghosting! If a candidate rejects a job application, remember they’re doing you a favor by responding at all.

Keep responses polite and professional. Thank the candidate for their transparency, wish them well, and keep the door open for the future. It’s a surprisingly small and very well-connected world. So think about how much goodwill a gracious response can help your organization, in the long run.

5) Ask People Not to Ghost

Sometimes the best way to encourage candidates not to ghost you is just to…ask! Tell people upfront that if they change their mind about the opportunity at any point, you would really appreciate a heads-up.

This approach has often worked for our team. It lets us be more proactive in filling roles for our clients. Because we have spent time nurturing trust with our candidates, they tend to be candid in sharing their thoughts.

Of course, this may not work every time, but it can’t hurt to try.

6) Recognise When You’re Being Ghosted

…and move on. Don’t assume that a candidate will eventually get back in touch with you to seal the deal. If a candidate is wasting your time, then your energy is better spent on finding a more suitable applicant elsewhere.

Similarly, you should never put all your recruiting eggs in one candidate basket. With ghosting on the rise, it’s crucial to have at least one active candidate at any given time. But ideally, you should keep two or three more high-quality candidates in the running for an open position, as well.

7) Don’t Ghost

You may have been ghosted, but there’s never a reason for an employer to be a ghost. Employers who blow off applicants can quickly develop a bad reputation for ghosting and wasting candidates’ time, too. 

If we expect candidates not to ghost, we must treat them the way we would like to be treated. Recognizing the time and effort unsuccessful candidates have put into their applications is a must.

Employers should keep all candidates informed of the outcome of their application, whether it is positive or negative. Otherwise, that negative candidate experience may come back to haunt your organization in the future.

All this Ghosting Talk Is Kind of Scary!

But don’t worry, you made it to the end. And now you’re much better equipped to avoid those wicked ghosts. Poof!

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

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

Factors Driving This Trend

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

1) Our Population is Changing

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

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

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

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

2) Caregiving Costs Are Rising

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

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

For example, consider these statistics:

How to Support Employee Caregivers

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

1) Provide Financial Solutions

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

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

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

2) Promote Your Employee Assistance Programs

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

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

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

3) Pay Attention to Caregiving Legislation

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

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

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

Start Planning

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

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

How Do You Measure the Digital Employee Experience?

Sponsored by:  Ivanti

We don’t need a crystal ball to see that the future of work will be more connected, more digital and more flexible. The pandemic brought us a preview of this more adaptable world of work—and many of us want more. But what’s the next step? How can organizations make “anywhere” work a sustainable daily reality?

Smart employers are already digging deep to pave the way forward. But how will they know when their transformation process is working? How will they see results? This is why it’s vital to measure the digital employee experience, early and often.

Organizations that get this right will attract and retain the best talent. So I invite you to learn more about it with me on this #WorkTrends podcast episode.

Meet Our Guest:  Dennis Kozak

Today, I’m speaking with Dennis Kozak, COO of Ivanti, a leading information technology software provider that is on a mission to make the everywhere workplace possible for all of us. Because Dennis has a front-row seat at the table where key digital work decisions are made every day, he is an excellent source of insight for HR and business leaders.

Why Measure the Digital Employee Experience?

Welcome, Dennis! Tell us, why should we connect the dots between employee satisfaction and digital experience?

Typically, HR is very focused on measuring employee engagement, while IT is very focused on providing infrastructure and security. But very seldom do we actually marry those to focus on how IT improves or hinders an employee’s experience.

Timing Is Everything

Tell us about how to measure the digital employee experience. What does this look like?

Well, this is something people don’t think about much until they have a problem.

Your team’s digital environment may work well—until an employee gets a new laptop or a new mobile device and they try to reconnect to the company ecosystem. They’re either successful or they’re not.

So through automation you can always be checking all of the measurement points to ensure that you’re providing a consistent level of service.

Always Be Measuring

Why is it so important to continuously measure the employee digital experience?

IT is continuously changing. There are always new applications, new tools, new devices, new forms of data in an organization. So the environment is never static. And because it’s always changing, you have to continually measure.

If people don’t feel productive and IT becomes a barrier, then clearly job satisfaction will suffer and people will be more likely to leave. Turnover is difficult, not only for an employee, but for an employer, as well. We can help avoid that.

Where IT Can Add Value

How can the IT team work with HR to ensure everyone has access to the tools they need to do their jobs, no matter where they are?

Our research says 26% of employees have considered quitting their jobs because they lack suitable technology. And 42% of employees have spent their own personal money to buy technology so they can work more effectively.

In other words, people don’t necessarily want to wait for their company to help. But these statistics indicate where both functions can improve.

Start by including IT at the table when designing your employee engagement survey. IT and HR rarely work together beyond onboarding and de-provisioning. But IT can show that the innovation and intuitiveness they bring in enabling digital work can be a deciding factor in employee productivity, satisfaction and retention.

 


For more insights from Dennis, listen to this full episode. Also, read the article he recently contributed to our blog: “Digital Employee Experience: Do You Measure What Matters?

In addition, be sure to subscribe to the #WorkTrends Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. And to continue this conversation on social media, follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

How Social Background Checks Preserve Work Culture

Sponsored by: Fama.io

Every employer wants to provide a safe, supportive environment where people can do their best work. That’s a key reason why social background checks have become so popular. But many organizations don’t talk openly about how they make this happen.

I get it. This can be tricky to manage. But workforce wellbeing and your brand reputation are on the line. So, it’s wise to include a strong social media screening solution in your HR toolkit.

What kind of services are leading the way? And what should you consider when seeking a provider you can trust? Join me as I explore these questions on the latest #WorkTrends podcast episode.

 

Meet Our Guest:  Ben Mones

Today, I’m speaking with Ben Mones, Founder and CEO of Fama.io, the world’s largest provider of social background checks, and a leader in applying artificial intelligence technology in workforce screening services. As an expert in this process, Ben is an excellent source of advice for HR practitioners and business leaders.

Linking Culture With Social Background Checks

Ben, welcome! Let’s dive right in. How do you see social background checks tying into the employee experience?

Too often, employers don’t talk about background screening because they think it’s a “dirty” job at the front of the candidate funnel or during the onboarding process.

But that’s not what we do. We look at publicly available online records to detect behavioral patterns associated with intolerance or harassment. We look at things that, if left unchecked, could find their way into a company culture and create some damage.

Remote Work Raises the Stakes

Many of us work virtually now, so the stakes are higher. I mean, how are we getting to know people?

Agree. We often meet our coworkers by friending them on Facebook, following them on Twitter, or exchanging DMs on Instagram. So, if we’re interacting in these digital spaces, the importance of digital identity naturally follows.

Digital Screening Adoption Rate

How many companies are screening candidates or employees?

CareerBuilder and SHRM say 70% of employers perform some sort of social media or online profile check before bringing people on board. For example, they may be Googling someone before hiring them.

Risks of Social Background Checks

Compliance is a big concern with this process. What are the risks?

I think the risks of doing it yourself scare people away.

For example, you could be exposed to things you shouldn’t see. If a recruiter does this internally, they’ll see a person’s gender, ethnicity, pregnancy. You’ll see all these protected classes.

EEO says you can’t unring that bell. You can’t unsee that information. So because bias naturally occurs within all of us, you consider these sorts of things in your hiring process.

Avoiding Compliance Pitfalls

How can employers deal with these risks?

Managing the process through a third party helps squash those risks because you can configure the solution to filter only for job-relevant information.

This means you’re blind to all the protected class information you’d see if you were conducting social background checks on your own.

Key Screening Factors

What core behaviors do you look for in social screening? 

Here’s what we don’t do. We don’t do a yes/no recommendation on a person. Instead, think of flags for things like intolerance, threats, harassment, violence, crime and drugs.

 


For more advice from Ben, listen to the full podcast. And for detailed information about how your organization can benefit from social background screening, visit the Fama.io website, where you’ll find benchmarking reports and other resources for employers.

Also, be sure to subscribe to the #WorkTrends Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. And to continue this conversation on social media, follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Digital Employee Experience: Do You Measure What Matters?

impact awardSponsored by: Ivanti

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

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

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

Why Is This Digital Shift So Vital?

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

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

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

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

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

Criteria For a Digital Employee Experience Survey

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

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

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

How to Measure Digital Employee Experience

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

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

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

What’s the secret? Automation.

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

 


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

The Benefits of Earned Wage Access for Employees

Sponsored by: ADP

Financial stress is a real employee concern these days. Prices are higher across the board – gas, food, and housing. There is also a looming recession on the horizon. So how can employers help alleviate some of this stress?

As the modern workplace continues to evolve, so should the ways employees get paid. Many employers are now offering employees the option to access their wages at much-needed times through Earned Wage Access (EWA) vs. having access to their pay only at the designated pay cycle. This benefit offers employees much-needed financial flexibility and peace of mind. For employers, it can improve employee retention, satisfaction, and productivity by helping employees redirect their mental focus on work rather than financial stresses.

So, it’s really a win-win for both employees and employers. 

Our Guest:  Michelle Young

On this latest episode of #WorkTrends, I spoke with Michelle Young, Vice President of Operations for ADP’s Employee Financial Solutions Group. Michelle is an innovation expert and a trusted advisor to corporate executives in orchestrating business and fiscal strategies with B2B and B2C models.

Let’s talk about financial wellness. A very hot topic right now. Looking at this through the lens of ADP, how do you define financial wellness in the workplace? Michelle:

That’s a great question and very on point right now. When we at ADP think about financial wellness, we immediately go to the source of pay. That’s where we can promote confidence. We can help our employers offer their employees flexible pay methods that are beyond standard pay cycles. Like earned wage access, which, if you haven’t heard, is a very hot topic right now. It really helps to align unexpected expenses with income.

Reducing Employee Financial Stress

Employees can avoid spending money on overdraft fees, late fees, or even payday loans with earned wage access. And that further increases their ability to save and reduce financial stress. 

Sometimes, when unforeseen expenses don’t align with income, such as a medical bill or a home repair, it can make any employee, even financially responsible ones, feel helpless. And that often directly impacts their performance in the workplace.

What is Earned Wage Access?

What can employers offer employees around earned waged access? Or, EWA for short. Let’s talk more about what EWA actually is and how it works.

Promoting financial wellness ties to our EWA story. So EWA earned wage access is a valuable financial wellness benefit that allows employees to access a portion of their income that they’ve already earned. As opposed to waiting until the next pay cycle.

How Are Employees Using Earned Wage Access?

Employees use their earned wages in various ways, varying by demographic and age segment. 

Employees ages 18 to 24 tend to use it to reduce the stress of not having enough cash until payday. Maybe to buy groceries, pay off a loan, or even rent. As we move up, the 25 to 44-year-olds typically use it for family-related expenses or to pay bills. The 45 to 64-year-olds are also using EWA for emergency-related expenses or paying bills and use it for an emergency medical expense, which typically impacts the Gen Xers and the Boomers with more frequency.

ADP Research Key Takeaways

There were a lot of really juicy findings in the ADP Earned Wage Access Research Study done in December 2021 to January 2021 timeframe, What are some key takeaways? 

There is broad interest in EWA from workers in every age group, every education level. Seventy-six percent of workers across all age groups say it’s important for their employer to offer it. And 82% of employers that don’t offer it are interested in actually offering it. Additionally, 59% of millennials would give priority to a job with an employer that offers earned wage access. And 75% say that the availability of VWA would, in fact, influence their acceptance of a job offer.

I hope you found this episode of #WorkTrends helpful, I know I did. To learn more about the EWA metrics, download ADP’s latest white paper: “Earned Wage Access: Tapping into the Potential of Flexible Pay for Today’s World of Work”

Subscribe to the #WorkTrends podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. Be sure to follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on LinkedIn and Facebook, too, for more great conversations!

10 Ways to Drive Employee Engagement With Team Problem-Solving

Are you looking for proven ways to drive employee engagement? Many organizations find that collaboration is a highly effective strategy. For instance, consider these 10 team-centered methods recommended by business leaders:

  1. Use the SCRUM Framework for Project Management
  2. Involve Action Focus Groups to Improve Employee Engagement
  3. Empower Employees to Take Ownership of Work Issues
  4. Give Employees a Voice in Problem Solving
  5. Create a Strength-Based Team Culture Using Assessment Tools
  6. Leverage Diversity and Mastermind for Problem-Solving
  7. Take a Bottom-up Approach
  8. Use OKRs to Drive Teamwork and Engagement
  9. Engage Employees in Weekly Virtual Team-Building Activities
  10. Personalize Engagement Drivers to Employee Groups

Why are these engagement ideas so powerful? Learn more from the descriptions below…

1) Use the SCRUM Framework for Project Management

The SCRUM framework encourages team members to work together to solve problems and complete tasks. This helps foster a sense of teamwork and engagement. It also gives team members a say in a project’s direction and execution, so they feel a sense of ownership and responsibility. Plus, each phase of the project is transparent to everyone on the team, so everyone on the team remains aware, focused and motivated.

Omer Usanmaz, CEO of Qooper Mentoring & Learning Software

2) Involve “Action Focus Groups” to Improve Employee Engagement

We conducted an engagement survey with results that identified six individual areas for improvement. Instead of using managers to do this, we asked for employee volunteers to create a response to the challenges identified in the survey. Each Action Focus Group (AFG) included 10 members who met 3-5 times to identify and recommend a solution for the company to implement. Then, each AFG presented its improvement plan to the senior leadership team, which in turn, provided feedback. After each group adjusted its plan, we implemented the final recommendations.

With this AFG approach, employees became actively involved in solving key problems. In addition, this process gave participants an opportunity to build connections outside their primary business areas.

Deborah Norris, Senior HR Manager at Amentum

3) Empower Employees to Take Ownership of Work Issues

We drive employee engagement with team problem-solving by encouraging employees to identify and solve problems affecting their work. We have found that employees are happier, more engaged and more productive when they can take ownership of issues that impact their work. 

We achieve this by providing space for employees to voice their concerns about issues and encouraging teams to come together and solve problems (sometimes with incentives), instead of relying only on managers or supervisors. 

Debee Gold, Owner & Clinical Director of Gold Counseling & Wellness

4) Give Employees a Voice in Problem Solving

Too many organizations identify problems, and then leadership dictates solutions in a vacuum. But at 104 West, we recently held an all-company meeting, where administration and staff broke out into groups, identified roadblocks to growth, proposed solutions, and then came together to share thoughts. Now, we’re implementing plans based on those ideas, and every person in the organization has a role in thisa role they helped determine.

This process helped us drive employee engagement at all levels, empowering people to be solution-seekers and showcase their problem-solving and leadership abilities.

Joan Wyly, Vice President of 104 Degrees West Partners

5) Create a Strength-Based Team Culture Using Assessment Tools

Using assessment tools like Gallup StrengthsFinder, team members can understand how to create a more strength-based approach to teamwork and problem-solving. Additionally, regular “skip level” sessions allow for bottom-up feedback that helps build a more robust work culture. Also, personalized recognition leads to a more positive employee experience.

Together, these practices can produce a psychologically safe environment where teams thrive.

Rapti Khurana, VP of Talent Engagement & Development at the National Football League

6) Leverage Diversity and Mastermind for Problem Solving

When problems need to be solved, team members tend to find a solution by relying on their individual experience and determination. That can lead to excessive time scratching heads and spinning wheels, without making much progress. However, when people come together to leverage the power of cognitive diversity, an equally diverse array of potential solutions becomes more readily available.

A mastermind-style problem-solving conversation brings together members of disparate teams that are traditionally siloed. Coming together in this way to work toward a common goal can positively impact everything from engagement and retention to trust and productivity!

Erich Kurschat, Owner of Harmony Insights LLC

7) Take a Bottom-up Approach

I’m a big proponent of the bottom-up approach to team problem-solving, based on the teachings of Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa. We involve our front-line employees in group problem-solving, as well as our managers. Front-line employees are given the authority to act autonomously within specific guidelines.

This approach is practical because those closest to a problem often know the most about it and are in the best position to devise solution strategies. Empowering workers at all levels of our organization to participate in problem-solving drives employee engagement.

Dean Kaplan, President of The Kaplan Group

8) Use OKRs to Drive Teamwork and Engagement

For our team at Compt, goal setting and management have been driving forces in employee engagement and group problem-solving. We set objectives and key results (OKRs) as a company, and each department has its own OKRs that support overall company goals. In addition, each employee’s personal goals are tied to that employee’s department goals.

We host monthly company-wide “retro” meetings to share how each team is performing in a measured and data-driven way. Everything we do is quantified, which promotes accountability and cross-department teamwork to achieve overarching goals. This ensures that we are all constantly moving in the same direction toward the same outcomes. And because each individual’s actions impact the company’s success, we feel compelled to be more engaged and create a workplace that benefits us all.

Amy Spurling, CEO, and Founder of Compt

9) Engage Employees in Weekly Virtual Team-Building Activities

One way we combat engagement issues is through weekly virtual team-building activities. Each session is planned and hosted via Zoom by a different group of employees. This way, our workforce enjoys programming variety, while each group has a vested interest in the success of the activity they host. For example, activities have ranged from virtual quiz nights to elaborate online escape room challenges.

These team-building activities have been a resounding success. They’ve provided employees with memorable shared experiences and have helped build bonds between colleagues, ultimately leading to increased workplace collaboration.

Clare Jones, Marketing Manager at OfficeSpaceAU

10) Personalize Engagement Drivers to Employee Groups

The best employee engagement strategy is to ride the drivers. Each organization, of course, will have different drivers. For example, meaningful work, career growth, empowerment, belonging, recognition, leadership, and fulfilling work relationships. 

Choose a segment of your employee population. Then implement a strategic theme strategy across your drivers that is personalized to the group but high-profile enough that successes will be seen and heard throughout the organization. Ride the drivers, measure, rinse and repeat.

Marcus Holmes, HR Operations General Manager at City of Detroit

 


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

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

Sponsored by: ThoughtExchange

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

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

We asked:

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

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

What We Heard

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

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

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

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

Ideas That Rise To The Top

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where You Disagreed

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

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

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

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

Areas Of Focus

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

Thought Exchange Themes

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

Areas to Action:

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

What You Told Us

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

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

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

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

To Boost Retention – Review for Projects, Not Performance

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

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

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

Projects and Teams are Already on the Rise

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

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

Anchored to Specific Targets

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

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

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

Reflecting What’s Happening Now

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

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

A Resilient Framework

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

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

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