Posts

Photo by Yurolaitsalbert

How to Provide Constructive Feedback That Improves Performance

For previous generations of workers, employer feedback too often consisted of some variation of “Don’t screw up!” But in today’s workforce, employees need and want a lot more detail. They seek constructive feedback that helps them correct their weaknesses and further prepares them for long-term professional growth.

However, not all feedback is created equal. There are significant differences between destructive and constructive feedback, but they aren’t as apparent as you might think. Some managers believe constructive feedback means sugar-coating while destructive feedback means blunt rudeness — neither of which is correct. It’s difficult to say why this misconception persists, but HR teams need to reframe that line of thinking.

Constructive Feedback and Performance

When you know how to provide useful feedback to employees, you create the conditions for higher engagement, satisfaction levels, and performance. Destructive feedback has the opposite effect; according to one TriNet study, destructive performance reviews cause 1 in 4 Millennials to call in sick — or look for a new job.

Traditionally, consistent feedback occurs when employees and employers meet for annual performance reviews. During those reviews, the two sides discuss everything from the employee’s performance throughout the year to raises, promotions, or even demotions or termination. The employer would then wait another year before giving the employee additional feedback, and the majority of those meetings would focus on critical evaluation.

Today, more routine and consistent feedback loops have become the norm. Employers maintain open lines of communication and set clear expectations for feedback. They also encourage employees to provide feedback freely and confidently, with some managers holding monthly meetings designed specifically for this purpose.

But these measures alone aren’t enough if employees don’t receive constructive feedback from managers throughout the process. A recent Gallup poll found that only 26% of workers strongly agree that manager feedback on employee performance positively impacts future outcomes.

Useless feedback is as bad as destructive feedback, and it can be demoralizing. This takes a toll on the team and the company, causing employees to lose motivation or leave. Constructive feedback builds up employees instead of bringing them down, and it helps them identify performance gaps in a positive way that doesn’t cause them to feel personally attacked.

Feedback is essential, but it matters how you provide and facilitate that feedback.

HR leaders can use the following tips when coaching management on how to give feedback to employees constructively. The goal: To help them grow and become even greater assets to the organization:

1. Put Feedback on the Schedule

Leaders should not isolate opportunities for feedback, and they shouldn’t blindside employees when those opportunities do come. Some employers offer feedback sessions monthly; others hold them every week. By creating a consistent feedback schedule, you can ensure your team understands and is prepared to meet timelines and expectations.

For example, at the end of 2016, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg livestreamed a one-on-one with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. During the stream, Sandberg revealed that weekly feedback sessions were essential when she began working at Facebook in 2008. Since then, the two C-suite leaders start and end each week with a one-on-one.

2. Uncomplicate the Process

In most businesses, things happen much more rapidly than they did generations ago. This has been especially true over the past ten months or so. Having frequent, regularly scheduled constructive feedback sessions gives managers and employees the chance to get on the same page, even as things change. However, more frequent feedback can also become more complex, and employers will do well to keep the process simple.

HR teams might lend managers a hand by creating a simple online form that employees can use to quickly and easily submit answers. Much like a customer satisfaction survey, completing it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. Then, managers can generate a report based on those form answers to share and discuss during the next feedback meeting.

3. Find the Right Cadence

After setting an initial feedback schedule and simplifying the process, HR teams might look at each employee’s desire for feedback to determine individual cadences. Managers in every industry have strayed from the once-a-year performance review model; employees have responded positively to the increased feedback, but not everyone needs to meet every week.

When employees feel micromanaged because evaluations come too frequently, that feedback loses its usefulness. Everyone might agree on weekly feedback sessions at first. But you might consider shifting to biweekly or monthly check-ins if they start to feel like a burden. Work with your team to find the most productive cadence, and be agile enough to change things up.

The distinction between destructive and constructive feedback is in the results. Knowing how to provide effective feedback to employees consistently helps ensure that it’s helpful, engaging, and empowering.

With these tips, HR leaders can help managers draw that distinction more clearly while guiding employees in their growth — and improving their performance.

 

Photo by Genitchka

Are Your Employees OK? Creating Sustainable COVID-19 Remote Work Policies

Are your remote work policies sustainable? Is your company culture still viable? Are your employees really ok?

Over the past few months, many experts (hundreds!) have written articles about COVID-19 workplace policies—especially the work-from-home versus onsite work dilemma we face now and in the future. I should know. I’ve written a couple myself! Yet, in all of the debates about the benefits and detriments of working from home versus in the office, I question whether there has been enough focus on the long-term effects on staff. I also wonder about the long-term impact on company culture.

New Thinking for A New Time

So how, in this chaotic response to the coronavirus pandemic of moving employees offsite—ensuring they are connected properly to work from home—do we ensure the side effects of remote work don’t cause long-term damage to your staff and your long-term strategic plans?

Here are some thoughts on what to look out for:

1. Culture

Culture (defining, creating, sustaining) has been one of the top business issues for the last 20 years. Tech companies spent big bucks trying to positively influence their corporate cultures (ping pong tables, beer taps, etc.). They tried to build a culture that would help entice employees’ top echelon when talent was tight. Today, though, COVID-19 is the immediate buzz kill for cultures across the spectrum. All the money and time built into an organization’s culture now has limited value.

When I started out of college at a Tier-one consulting firm, I loved going to work. I also enjoyed the evenings as people I worked with would socialize after work. It was great. If COVID-19 had broken out then, a major reason I appreciated the firm would be gone (as it is for millions of people now). I’d be working in isolation and not interacting (or socializing) with my peers. I can’t predict that I would like the firm. In fact, A friend recently told me her daughter loved work at her company in Silicon Valley. COVID-19 hit, though, and she went remote. She quickly realized she hated the work, but she loved the company’s culture and people. Soon after this epiphany, she left to look for another job.

As a result of COVID-19, the existing culture of an organization may have become dismantled. Companies have to work differently if their employees are going to be working remotely. Today, to have any relevance, we must rethink and rework the employer brand and focus that drives high-end talent to a company.

2. Loyalty

The most powerful talent retention strategy is the loyalty or commitment your employees have to your organization or its mission.

How have you addressed your employee retention strategy in light of your remote working policy and COVID impacts? There are so many different surveys related to the top 10 reasons top employees stay with their employer. But there are consistent themes. The most obvious? “Salary and compensation” is never number one. In fact, the highest “salary” appeared in a recent review of top 10 lists was fourth!

The consistent reasons employees stayed included:

  • Culture
  • Liking the people they work with
  • Good bosses
  • Enjoying the challenge(s)
  • Learning new things

In many Top 10 lists, these reasons come before pay. Yet in a COVID-19 world (and potentially post-COVID-19 for companies that remain remote), most of those reasons either go away or become harder to make relevant. Culture is more difficult to develop; working with people becomes less pertinent when dealing with them exclusively over Zoom or MS Teams. Learning new things also becomes more difficult when you are not in the office. After all, you have less exposure to what’s going on throughout the company; it is harder to get on new exciting projects. Invariably, once those top three to five reasons become less applicable, their salary climbs closer to the top of the list. When that happens, pay is often – and sometimes easily – improved by job-hopping.

3. Mental Health

Working from home can be a dream come true—or a nightmare. It depends on who you are, what type of work you do, and your company. But let’s keep it on an individual level.

Let’s start with the personality of the employee, specifically extroverts versus introverts. The saying goes that extroverts gain their energy from being with people and introverts exhaust their energy from being with people. COVID-19 may seem to be a dream for introverts (and a corresponding nightmare for extroverts), but it goes deeper. Many studies (yes… science!) point to an innate human need for social connection. I am an introvert, but an “extrovert wannabe” (my life’s tag line). This is hard for me. Before COVID-19, I may have had a week of meetings and evenings filled with networking events. If I have more than two evening networking events, I can guarantee that I will be canceling anything over that amount. Now? I’m craving even one networking event!

Even as an introvert, I find that there is only so much TV I can watch before I feel my brain cells begin to disintegrate! And I am lucky; I am at home with a partner (though eight months into isolation, I would guess he may not be feeling as fortunate) so I get some social interaction. People who are isolated and are in their homes 24/7, however, can be at risk.

Think about it: what do they do to punish someone in prison? They put them in isolation.

Mental Health: Avoiding Isolation Prison

This may not be the best thing for some employees. And in the short-term, the situation isn’t going to get any better: Those company holiday parties and outings have all but disappeared. Have you thought about ways to help your employees feel more engaged?

Here are some ideas to implement today:

  • Reach out and check on them
  • Send small gifts or have an online game night
  • Do you offer an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) to your employees? If so, reacquaint yourself with its offerings (making your staff aware it exists could be more important now than ever).
  • Can you positively influence their off-hours time? (We bought our staff access to Master Class as a way to keep them mentally stimulated with things other than work.)

Working where you live eliminates that daily connection many of us took for granted. Yes, some of your employees may thrive within this new environment. But understand that many may not.

What are you doing for those individuals?

4. Physical Health Issues

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, people were able to work out (gym, outdoors, etc.) more frequently. Unfortunately, working out from home is not for everybody.

The term “couch potato” often brings up the image of those sitting in front of the TV on the weekend. For many, that image is now our reality – seven days a week. And we’re working longer hours (thus the excitement of companies seeming an increase in productivity) while sitting in front of the computer! Physical activity studies recommend walking 10,000 steps a day. Most of us are lucky if we get past 1,000! Less physical activity leads to more physical problems, which leads to more money spent on health care (on top of the obvious costs associated with COVID-19).

It may not seem to be a problem now. But long term, inactivity is bound to be an issue.

Your employees must take some time for their physical health each day. Something as simple as standing up at the top of the hour and stretching can help. Standing desks have also shown significant benefits. Whatever message you can convey to your employees to move around a little each day, step outside on their front porch or in their back yard. And if they have stairs at home—encourage them to walk up and down a few extra times during the workday.

Remote Work Policies: Prepare for the Future

Today, many companies are touting increased productivity due to remote work policies. But when something looks too good to be true, it often is.

Companies need to be looking at the long-term effects of remote working on their employees, their company culture, and their differentiators in the marketplace. After all, short-term gains (like increased productivity) don’t always turn into long-term strategies.

If people are working harder at home, has your company assessed its sustainability? Once life returns to normal (and it will), how many people will be willing to work the same hours while watching reruns of “Friends”? Most importantly, what issues will we need to anticipate, given the strain the pandemic has caused on your employees’ mental and physical health?

Create sustainable remote work policies now.

Better to look at ways to address the not-so-great aspects of working from home, and your COVId-19 induced remote work policies, now — pay now or pay later!

 

Photo by Benzoix

[#WorkTrends] Hiring Hourly Employees, Improving Candidate Experience

Hiring hourly employees — for retail, travel and hospitality, hospitals, restaurants, and warehouses — is more critical now than ever before. 

So why don’t we make the hiring process easier? And why don’t we treat those on the front lines better?

We’ve been counting on our frontline staff members, many of them hourly employees, for nine months now. And we’re about to start rebuilding workforces. So soon, there’s likely going to be a tidal wave of organizations hiring hourly employees. 

So as your company tries to beat the competition and attract the best talent, and as you work to improve your employer brand, there are two words you need to think about seriously: candidate experience. This means this week’s podcast is just for you!

Because this week on #WorkTrends, we’re taking a deep dive into the best way to provide a super candidate experience for hourly employees.  

Our Guest: Quincy Valencia of Alexander Mann Solutions

With the inevitable hiring surge soon to begin, I’m thrilled to be joined by Quincy Valencia, Vice President – Product Innovation, at Alexander Mann Solutions. Having worn many hats throughout her 20-year career, Quincy has firsthand knowledge of the challenges faced by candidates, recruiters, hiring managers, leaders, and vendors. In her current role, she leverages her passion for challenging the status quo as she designs new products that bolster AMS’s leadership position in the global recruitment industry. So who better to talk about something we don’t talk about enough: The challenges ahead of HR, recruiters, and hiring managers responsible for hiring hourly employees?

My first question for Quincy was simple: “Why do so many organizations leave hourly employees out of the candidate experience equation?” Her answer was both nostalgic and a reminder of far we need still need to go when hiring the best hourly candidates:

“It’s a vestige of old. Going back to the 90s, you had a personnel department. Everybody had the same process: People would come in, fill out the application, and you would hire. Later in that decade, technology came in, and we designed new procedures around old processes. Through the decades that followed, we’ve continued to promote the same old processes developed and designed for your salaried professionals — and not hourly employees.”

“Hourly workers have been looked at as more of a commodity — they kind of come and they kind of go. Turnover is higher. This work is not meant to be your forever job, and so that’s been okay.”

Improving Candidate Experience When Hiring Hourly Employees

After saying I firmly believe we should treat every employee as a valued member of a team — as humans — I asked Quincy why candidate experience is so vital now. Her answer was heartwarming: “Look, it is 2020. We’ve learned a lot about who really supports our businesses. And we know those people want us to treat them with the integrity, dignity, and respect they deserve. These are the people on the front lines of our economy. They are often the face of the businesses we all frequent. That should translate into your candidate experience, now so more than ever.”

Quincy added: “As our organizations are trying to grow and rebuild and survive this global pandemic, there’s a renewed focus on how we are competing for this talent. We’re having to really focus on the needs of the candidate. Fortunately, I’m seeing employers give this issue the due consideration it’s been deserving for a long time.”

So how do we improve the candidate experience? As anticipated, Quincy was ready with some real solutions to our very real challenges. “Number one is speed. Go through your application process. See how long it takes, how many broken links there are, and how many steps and clicks it takes. In a lot of cases, you’re going to be frustrated.”

Quincy continued: “Number two (or maybe 1A) is mobile. Applicants must be able to apply from anywhere. A lot of people don’t even have laptops or desktops anymore. So close to 70% of all job searches, certainly within the hourly category, begin on a mobile device. And then, number 3 is communication. Make sure you are not letting candidates go into that black hole of ‘I applied, and I’m never going to hear from you again.’”

Candidate Experience 101

Sure, some of this sounds simple enough. But how many of us are actually walking through our own application process? How many of us know how well we treat our candidates, including hourly employees? Quincy and AMS have certainly invested the time and energy necessary to understand their candidate experience — as we all should!

Listen in, and learn exactly what AMS is doing to attract, train, and retain top talent in the hourly category — and what a seamless hiring journey looks like as we approach 2021 and, finally, the end of the pandemic.

I’m grateful Quincy Valencia had the chance to stop by #WorkTrends this week and bring our front line employees front and center. I, and the TalentCulture team, thank Hourly by AMS for sponsoring this episode.

Find Quincy on LinkedIn and Hourly by AMS on Twitter.

A Special Offer: The Hourly Hiring Guidebook

It’s time to treat hourly employees with the dignity and respect they deserve. So, we’ve partnered with Hourly by AMS to redefine how great the hiring journey can (and should) be for your hourly job seekers.

Download your copy of The Hourly Hiring Guidebook: Defining a New Standard for Candidate Experience today.

And start providing a better candidate experience tomorrow!

 

Editor’s note: We’ve updated our FAQ page and #WorkTrends Podcast pages. Take a look!

 

Photo by Damedeeso

How to Empower Employees Around the Holidays — And Why You Should

When the holiday season hits, businesses and workplaces can sometimes get especially busy. Even worse, with all the craziness of the season they can fall into a holiday slump. But even if the holidays have thrown people off, you can still empower employees to be balanced and productive. And, in the long run, it’s better for everyone if you do.

So how do you maintain your business’s health and employee consistency? You empower everyone in your workplace to make the schedule changes and project decisions required to reach their end-of-year goals. This empowerment can be a tremendous motivating factor. It also makes everyone feel more fulfilled, helping your workplace genuinely thrive.

Here are a few ways you can make empowerment happen, and a few reasons why you should.

More Freedom

One of the best ways to encourage your employees to be productive and get things done is to offer more freedom with their schedules and hours. Though this may seem like it will let employees slack, it can actually empower them to get more done and fit work in where they can. Additionally, allowing more leeway around remote working can have the same effect.

Self-Determining Performance Goals

Another great way to empower employees to achieve more around the holiday season is by allowing them to set their own performance goals so they can manage their expectations according to their capabilities.

This autonomy allows more leadership opportunities in your workplace, as employees can encourage each other and self-motivate. This way, people can move at their own pace and perhaps achieve even more than you may have anticipated.

Team Meetings and Connection

Some of the best devices to motivate people and empower them as a team offer connection. Meetings, mixers, and team-related activities can bring people together and remind them of the communal spirit your workplace fosters. It doesn’t even have to be all business — some fun perks can go a long way, as satisfied employees tend to work the best.

Regardless of what you put together, remind people they’re a part of a team, and focus on your collective goals — not just individual objectives. In addition to establishing a focus on purpose, this approach enables a motivated workforce.

Recharging

Another excellent reason for why and how to allow some leeway and freedom during the holidays is enabling your employees to recharge and find some balance between their work and personal lives. You may wonder how encouraging employees to take time for themselves results in better outcomes.

The answer is quite simple. When employees have time to recharge, they produce higher-quality work, and they do it more efficiently. They can re-energize themselves, which means they come back with a better work ethic than someone who feels burnt out.

Consistency

Another reason to empower employees is that it helps maintain consistency — both within their work schedules and for your workplace as a whole. While some workplaces get into a holiday slump and then have to ramp up again in the new year, you can remain consistent. This means no slump over the holidays. And, just as critical, there’s no need for a correcting crackdown in January.

Your end-of-year bottom line?

Encourage your employees to find balance and take control of their goals and workplace performance. You’ll see better results during the holidays – and beyond. And by doing so, you’ll create a healthy, consistent work environment full of individuals motivated to get the job done.

 

Photo Provided by Rawpixels

[#WorkTrends] The Power of Workplace Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging

Talking about workplace diversity without talking about inclusion and a sense of belonging can be counterproductive. Worse yet, it isn’t going to help the marginalized feel like they have a seat at the table.

I recently read a great post by LaFawn Davis of Indeed. In that article, LaFawn makes it clear the pandemic’s impact on people of color, women, older, and more often marginalized workers is entirely disproportionate. Cases in point:

  • Discrimination against Asians in the U.S. has surged since the early days of the pandemic. Over 30% of Americans have recently witnessed COVID-19 bias against Asians.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 33 percent of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 were Black. This, despite blacks comprising only 13 percent of the American population.
  • An October study on Women in the Workplace by McKinsey found that one in every four women is considering downshifting their careers. Or, they might give up their jobs due to the impact of Covid-19.

We have a lot of work to do. And we must start that work by acknowledging that people of color and women are shouldering recent burdens far more than others.

Our Guest: LaFawn Davis, VP of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging, Indeed

Joining me this week on #WorkTrends is the author of that insightful post, LaFawn Davis. LaFawn is the Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging at Indeed. There, she leads Indeed’s strategic efforts to remove bias and eliminate barriers to entry by focusing on inclusive features and accessibility in products to help all people get jobs. She also enables a diverse and inclusive work culture for Indeed’s employees. 

Because I find too many companies are still trying to lump diversity, inclusion, and belonging into one entity, I started our conversation by asking LaFawn how these three elements differ and, taken one at a time, how they help us build a truly diverse workforce. LaFawn’s response quickly cut to the heart of the matter:

“Companies are trying to silo off diversity, inclusion, and belonging. Or, they make one of the words synonymous with the others,” LaFawn added. Next, LaFawn intuitively explained how a deliberate focus on each element helps create an innovative workforce:

“Diversity is the belief that teams with different work styles, problem-solving techniques, life experiences, backgrounds, perspectives, and skill sets are truly what makes innovation possible. Inclusion is really around the actions and behaviors that create a culture where employees feel valued, trusted, and authentic. And belonging is a feeling of community; it is the people and our culture that make us feel connected.”

LaFawn when on to say that when those three elements are adroitly combined, we feel valued: 

“In the workplace, it’s not about looking like me or coming from where I come from. It’s about those common threads that pull us together.”

The Business Case for Workplace Diversity

Of course, many business leaders remain focused on the bottom line. So after talking with LaFawn about the undeniable systemic racism in the US today, I asked her how diversity, inclusion, and belonging impact that bottom line. LaFawn, as you can imagine, has some strong feelings about how leadership should be leveraging workplace diversity to build better companies.

“This should be what keeps every single business leader up at night,” she emphatically said. “Are we going to be a different and better company than we are right now? Ten years from now? 15? I mean, we know that businesses with a more diverse workforce are 36 percent more likely to be in the top tier of their industry. And we know that firms with greater gender diversity are 25 percent more likely to be at the top for financial returns, market share, and retention. So diversity, inclusion, and belonging do affect your bottom line!”

LaFawn and I also talked about how these three elements have been hit hard by the pandemic. Specifically, how the need to transform to a remote workforce and the stress the pandemic has placed on frontline workers impacts the ability to intentionally create and maintain a diverse workforce. We also discussed the role hiring has in creating workplace diversity and the mistakes commonly made as organizations work to include people of color, women, and other groups who feel marginalized in their workforce — those who do not feel they belong.

Looking Ahead to 2021

If you haven’t already, your organization will soon start taking a hard look at how diversity, inclusion, and belonging will look in 2021. Before you do, I invite you to listen to my conversation with LaFawn. In 20+ minutes, you’ll understand how she has helped Indeed build an innovative workforce. You’ll also learn how she has helped many other organizations — starting with hiring — create organizations where equality and parity become the norm. And where that norm becomes a critical component of the company culture.

My thanks to LaFawn Davis for joining me on #WorkTrends and for participating in our upcoming #WorkTrends Twitter chat at 1:30pm Eastern on Wednesday, December 16th. During that chat, we’ll answer these questions and more:

  • Q1: Why do organizations struggle with building diversity?
  • Q2: What strategies can help increase inclusion and belonging?
  • Q3: How can leaders build more diverse workplaces?

Our thanks also to Indeed for sponsoring this timely episode of #WorkTrends. 

 

Find LaFawn on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Editor’s note: We’ve updated our FAQ page and #WorkTrends Podcast pages. Take a look!

 

Sergey Nivens

A Modern-Day Book Burning: Why Is Diversity Training So Controversial?

It’s an understatement to say the past several months have been a troubling time for those of us committed to racial equity and broader diversity, inclusion, and belonging. And now, with attempts to stifle delivery of diversity training designed to counter racially-motivated injustices, the atmosphere has the feel of a modern-day book burning.

The Black Lives Matter movement that began after the acquittal in the murder trial of Trayvon Martin seven years ago reignited as people took to the streets in extraordinary numbers to demand justice. The horror of George Floyd’s murder, so closely following the killings of Breonna Taylor and Ahmed Arbury, occurred as the COVID-19 crisis hit communities of color hardest. An explosion of activism, alongside calls for police reform, followed. Protestors shined a light on the systemic racism that continues to repress people of color in our country. Companies and organizations around the world offered statements of commitment and support for the movement.

Equal and Opposite Reaction

However, as Isaac Newton postulated, every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Sadly, overt white supremacy (as well as more subtle examples of racial injustice) found a stronger foothold. Rather than addressing racially motivated police brutality, too many leaders politicized the social movement, attempting to frame it as a Republican-versus-Democrat, us-versus-them issue. In particular, one leader seemed more interested in discrediting the isolated incidents of violence during the protests than taking up issues of systemic racism cared about by the mostly peaceful protestors.

Nonetheless, undeterred people across the country, representing a diverse array of backgrounds and ethnicities, have come together in solidarity. They vow to make a difference in their communities, workplaces, and individual lives. Simultaneously, numerous books on racial inequities have emerged on bestseller lists. The result? Many Americans, many for the first time, are coming to understand the impact structural racism has on society.

Corporate America Steps Up

Companies have begun or have reinvigorated conversations about biases in hiring practices, micro-inequities and micro-advantages, and racial disparities for under-represented groups. Even in our economically challenging times, new efforts to educate people in organizations of every kind have emerged. But, not everyone is on board with the discussions. Detractors question the message and the time and monetary investment. Many see the ideas inherent in diversity training conversations as an affront to their personal values and a threat to a system that serves them well.

These attacks, based almost entirely on misrepresentations of intention and methodology of our work — and even out and out lies — put many in the crosshairs. The never-ending attacks also led to the drafting of an executive order to attempt a modern-day book burning. Specifically, the order banned several kinds of diversity education within the government and subsequently from government contractors. Fortunately, the results of the election mean that this action will likely be short-lived. Still, even as 1,500-plus CEOs sign the CEO Action Pledge for Diversity and Inclusion, resistance to the work remains significant.

Systemic Bias Remains

And yet, systemic patterns of bias remain in existence — perhaps because they benefit somebody. People whose group dominance gives them advantages based on the current system are not anxious to relinquish those advantages. And because those advantages have been around before any of us were born, people with privilege may not even see them as advantages. That is an inherent quality of privilege — to not have to acknowledge that it exists, even to oneself! These patterns of dominance and privilege occur as “the way the world works.” In either case, educational efforts, like diversity training, affirmative action, or any other attempts to deconstruct white, male, heterosexual, or other forms of hegemony, can be perceived as a direct threat to people who benefit from the existing system.

The reasons for this are varied – and worth examining. Some have these underpinnings:

Stereotyping Based on Race

Incidents of unfair treatment based on race abound. From the episode of a Starbucks employee calling the police on two Black men harmlessly sitting at a table to two Middle Eastern passengers kicked off a Chicago flight for speaking Arabic. These aren’t so much a series of individual instances as much as they are an endemic pattern. Yet people tend to think we’re immune to biases and stereotyping – and they consequently have a greater likelihood of unconsciously denigrating people in nondominant groups.

Constructions of the Unconscious Mind

Our perceptions and our social judgments are all constructed by our unconscious mind. They form from the limited information that we interpret through the expectations we have, the context in which we see a situation, and what we hope to get out of a problem. This means that, when we observe a person or situation, our unconscious memory guides our reaction. It operates quickly and instinctively, driven by visceral, emotional responses. In turn, these judgments lead us to see people within the context we’ve developed about “those kinds” of people. Toward people who we’ve been conditioned to feel are like us, we’re more positively disposed. As makes sense, we’re more negatively disposed to those we feel are not.

Selective Attention

It’s not uncommon for people to direct their attention to particular groups and behaviors while at the same time remaining completely blind to others. Members of the dominant group – which in the U.S. generally means white, male, Christian, and heterosexual – are often unaware, for example, that people are more likely to talk over women in business meetings and to give their full attention to the men. Many behaviors taking place around us daily often go unnoticed. We see what we look for, and we look for what we know.

Who, for example, do we see doing something wrong? And who do we neglect to notice exhibiting the same behavior?

Groupthink

So many of our personal biases are not personal at all. They’re deeply influenced by the cultures and groups with whom we associate. This becomes obvious when we look at the hundreds of historical examples where ordinary people got caught up in a sort of collective societal madness and turned on their fellow citizens. Our group associations and beliefs deeply influence us. Life is more comfortable when we fit in with the group around us. Yet, at some point, we stop thinking because the group thinks for us.

Consider thought patterns that go unchallenged. For example, the prevailing thought that those people who go to certain schools are better people. Or that people in a certain socio-economic group are “our kind of people.”

Diversity Training = Acceptance of Responsibility

When people hear about concepts of white power, white privilege, and white supremacy in diversity training, they often don’t feel it describes them. They see themselves as good, well-intentioned people. No, these concepts don’t necessarily mean that every white person has more access, money, or even safety than every person of color. They do, though, mean the system makes it easier, safer, and more accessible as a whole to be white. Privilege also allows us not to pay attention or be unaware of what others have to deal with.

Disparities continue in virtually every area of our lives. Based on societal suspicions and fears, people of color constantly walk a tight rope. A tight rope that has them teetering on the brink of disaster. It’s past time for us to take responsibility. Diversity education is a first step in acknowledging the past injustices. And understanding how the past has given us patterns of being in a society that is advantageous to the dominant group. It helps us recognize patterns that have impacted us personally. It allows us to change behaviors enough to end the pattern.

There Will Always Be Resistance

Systems do not want to change. They are, after all, perfectly designed to produce exactly the result that they are producing. However, my personal 35-year experience in the field has taught me that we just have to keep moving forward. Ludwig von Bertalanffy, one of the founders of General Systems Theory, called it equifinality: many roads to the same place. If education is delayed, focus on systems and structures, leadership development, or coaching. Or perhaps turn your attention to developing employee resources groups or putting in better measurement systems. There are dozens of other ways to address the challenge. Whatever it takes, keep moving forward.

As practitioners, we must keep an eye on what moves the system, as opposed to only paying attention to what drives us. As the old saying goes:

“When you go fishing, you bait the hook with what the fish likes to eat, not what you like to eat.”

Essentially, the ultimate purpose of diversity training is to fulfill the American Dream: That all people are created equal, and all have inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As for the detractors? Don’t let fools get you down.

Remember, as Gandhi said, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

 

 

Photo by Phive

Reality Check: 5 Business Myths Completely Busted by 2020

The year 2020 has been a watershed year. Or, as I would prefer to say (if allowed to coin a new term) – a ‘tearshed’ year. The breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted economies, businesses, and individuals at an unprecedented level. This crazy year has also completely busted many long-standing business myths.

Research conducted by the Centre for Risk Studies at the University of Cambridge took a look at the impact of the coronavirus on the global economy. The consensus projection: A loss of $26.8 trillion, or 5.3%, of global GDP in the coming five years. To make this data point more relatable, however, one needs to review it from the perspective of jobs. And this is where the numbers hit home harder. According to an ILO (International Labour Organisation) study, about 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy (nearly half of the global workforce) risk having their livelihoods destroyed. Even for the sharpest minds amongst us, to fathom the humanitarian implications of such displacement would be challenging.

Then, it is no surprise that leaders – ranging from Heads of State to religious figureheads to business leaders – have scrambled. They’ve called on all their intellectual, technological, and financial resources to rewire how we operate. What has emerged during this radical transformation? Some of society’s well-ingrained business myths have been turned on their head. Not surprisingly, given that our business and personal lives are so intertwined, these changes are being experienced across both work and life dimensions.

So, which business myths have we busted this past year?

Business Myth No. 1: The Bottomline Rules

The pressure that comes with the quarterly results cycle has kept CXOs on edge for far too long, forcing them to watch every dollar. While social causes have been the focus of many CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programs over the years, the pandemic encouraged many to truly understand that in the interest of long-term sustainability, adding value to their entire eco-system was the raison d’être.

In a heartwarming move, the United States was ground zero for the ‘Together Without Hunger‘ initiative by the bakery-café fast-casual restaurant chain, Panera Bread. In association with Feeding America,  the goal is to feed half a million children and families during the US lockdown. Like many others, this organization stepped up to support the community, showing that capitalism has a heart, and not all business myths have a home in today’s corporate world.

Business Myth No. 2: Scale is King

Ever since humanity started congregating around communities and building the structure of modern-day nation-states, we have grown to believe that there is safety in numbers. The explosion of social networks with the ‘follower count’ metric fuelling the growth has further solidified this belief, at least, until now.

With the exponential spread of the coronavirus, we’ve learned that social distancing and limiting contact with others can save lives. Cocooned in their own homes, with additional time available to themselves, many have realized that it is not quantity but the quality of our relationships that is paramount. Similarly, we’re redesigning our workplaces to ensure the right balance of physical and virtual contact. Worldwide, organizations emphasize that our safety lies in our ability to be agile, not our ability to scale.

Business Myth No. 3: Size Does Matter

Maybe fifty square centimeters of cloth has become a critical weapon. A small mask now protects millions of people worldwide. Leading healthcare bodies, including the WHO (World Health Organization) – whose guidelines unequivocally mention that “Masks should be used as part of a comprehensive strategy of measures to suppress transmission and save lives” – strongly advise wearing a mask.

Now as ubiquitous as the mobile phone, the mask has become an extension of our beings. (Not to mention a new addition to our daily wardrobe.) Until we welcome a vaccine, a small mask has emerged as our biggest and best defense tool. In effect, the mask has proven that size doesn’t matter. It is what role one plays that does.

Business Myth No. 4: The World is Flat

Through his 2005 bestseller book, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century, Pulitzer prize-winning American political commentator and author Thomas Friedman introduces us to the concept of the “flat world.” In this world, boundaries had melted, and trade flowed (almost) freely.

Today, as the world reels under the pandemic’s ravaging impact, global supply chains have been hit hard. During the middle of India’s lockdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the ‘Atmanirbhar’ (‘Self-reliance’ in Hindi) campaign. The initiative includes built-in incentives for Indian industry to enhance local production and reduce dependency on imports. Given the calls for protectionism in countries as diverse as the United States, Japan, and many in the EU (European Union), it is clear the world is fast developing an undulating (and perhaps self-serving) character.

Business Myth No. 5: Remote Means Distanced

As the pandemic took hold, people isolated themselves as a precautionary measure. Many leveraged video-conferencing platforms to maintain contact with their elderly parents and their social circle. Similarly, workers transitioned into a ‘work-from-anywhere’ mode to keep the engines of the economy running. Soon, they began to increasingly rely on the same platforms to remain connected to their colleagues.

If anything, humankind has realized that remote connecting can help meet much of the objectives of in-person meetings. This realization has lead us to far-reaching benefits such as a reduced carbon footprint. Bill Gates, known for being a visionary apart from his philanthropy, has already predicted that in the post-COVID-19 era, 50% of business travel will disappear.

Yes, over the past year, the changing world has completely shattered these five myths. Of course, even more will come to light as we segue into 2021.

For people who have seen their entire world changed in the span of a few months, the implications are immense. However, the dexterity with which we have accepted change shows that – like battle-hardened soldiers – we will continue to push forward against all odds. No doubt there will be scars, but they will be symbols of a victorious campaign.

 

Photo by Issac Harris

Post-Pandemic Realities: How to Safely and Confidently Re-open Your Office

At TalentCulture, we’re looking ahead to the day we can get back to work. And we’re looking for innovative solutions that will make that transition, and the facing of our post-pandemic realities, as safe as possible. We are sure you’re thinking along the same lines, so we’re proud to introduce you to this innovative, confidence-inducing platform: NoahFace from PayCat.

We could go on and on about how much we appreciate the approach the Pay Cat team has taken to safely monitors all incoming employees, guests, and even customers as they enter our office and workspaces. We’d be remiss if we didn’t tell you how practical – necessary, even – the cloud-based contact tracing solution built into NoahFace is for today’s businesses. Instead, here is Garth Belic from Pay Cat to tell you their origin story and how the journey to create a technology-based return-to-work strategy was born…

TC:  Tell us a little bit about Pay Cat. How do you get started? And what are your primary products now?

Garth: Pay Cat was born out of frustration shared by many business owners I first noticed while working for a large cloud payroll software company. Many of those owners were paying big dollars on a cloud payroll solution. But they weren’t necessarily getting the expertise or support needed to maximize the full potential of the payroll solutions.

As the COVID-19 pandemic caused our world to go sideways, we, like so many businesses, made a pivot into new products and technologies. Out of sheer demand, we introduced NoahFace to our business – a product that incorporates temperature reading and facial recognition into the staff and visitor clocking-in process.

We now offer a suite of time and attendance solutions with a full end-to-end service from implementation to training to go-live to support. This approach means our clients have someone with the expertise and support they need to customize our entry solution, to include digital door and gate control where desired, every step of the way.

TC: We at TalentCulture have seen a demo of the entry solution, NoahFace, but our readers haven’t. How would you describe that entry solution to them?

facial recognitionGarth: Ours is an all-in-one solution for automating time and attendance and workplace safety – particularly critical given that many of us remain stuck in the middle of a pandemic.

After completing the facial recognition process, NoahFace measures body temperatures before allowing entry and enables contact tracing of staff and visitors. On a practical note, the solution can be set up to control access points such as doors and gates while providing paperless attendance records of employees and contractors. This is all done with a thermal reader and biometric technology with little to no human intervention!

The most significant benefit of all this is that you can ensure that your business is pandemic-resistant. This means your business has the best chance of remaining open during this crisis that never seems to end.

TC: You deliberately designed your entry solution on readily available consumer products, like an iPad? Why did you choose to go that route? And what does it mean to your customers?

Garth: Any entry solution needs to be robust, given the high level of traffic it’ll experience. So while we can go with cheaper options, I find the security, reliability, and durability of iPads are best. Besides, most people are familiar with using Apple products! So, even though the technology is state-of-the-art, the learning curve is minimal.

TC: The benefits of Pay Cat’s entry solution are apparent. But employees feel the system provides them with much-needed confidence. Tell us more about how end-users have reacted once they began using the system?

Garth: The majority of employees love NoahFace. They no longer have to use fingerprint scanning or log paper timesheets. More importantly, it assures that all their colleagues and visitors are temperature checked appropriately. This technology delivers the peace of mind that employees look for now. And the solution they will want to see in place when asked to come back to work on-site.

Plus, having a no-touch solution that dramatically limits the risk of virus transmission is a big all-around win with employees!

TC: How does the NoahFace solution help with any necessary contact tracing efforts?

Garth: A lot of businesses still manually record visitors using a sign-in sheet. Or they have a receptionist maintain a paper log. In some cases, HR staff keeps paper timesheets or activity logs. Our solution eliminates all of this by keeping an event log from a web-based dashboard. This means accurate and automated logging of entry and exit times throughout the workplace, held securely in the cloud that can be accessed any time from anywhere.

TC: What inspired you to create a solution for the problems so many companies will face as they consider how best to return employees to the workplace?

Garth: We went through lockdown in March and saw firsthand the difficulties of keeping the workplace open. We knew other businesses had the same experience – and many more will. Given we were already in the industry, we knew the technological capabilities that could help provide a comprehensive solution for this on-going problem.

The bones of the solution is a time and attendance platform. We were able to adapt and innovate that solution to include contact tracing and temperature screening with the existing technology. So really, we were scratching our own itch first.

TC: Please tell us: What was the best thing a customer ever said about the PayCat solution? What are you most proud of?

One of our early adopters said, “You helped keep our doors open.”

Yes, COVID-19 is still a grave issue in many parts of our country and world. But we’re beginning to overcome the initial lockdown period here in Australia. And yet, this is priceless customer feedback. That’s why we’re here!

TC: In many parts of the world, companies are already facing post-pandemic realities. They have already begun reintegrating employees in the workplace. For those leaders in the US still designing that process, what is your number one piece of advice?

Garth: As you start to deal with the post-pandemic realities we’ll all eventually face, focus on what you can control. And start with how you can automate and adapt to contactless screening. Don’t install a dedicated team of COVID-19 marshals manually doing temperature checks and reporting. Don’t add staff for the additional positions required for a manual process – before and especially after infection. From a business standpoint, that makes no sense. Plus, the additional staff members running around only add to the anxiety we already feel about going back to work.

Instead, proactively and efficiently reduce the spread of COVID-19 in your workplace by leveraging technology. You’ll protect your employees while giving them a high level of confidence as they go back to work. They are safe, so their families are safe. And you’ll show local health officials that you as a business are doing everything possible to ensure a safe working environment.

All because you executed an affordable return-to-work strategy that leverages thermal imaging, facial recognition, and contact tracing.

Get a head start on post-pandemic realities… and re-open your offices, right.

 

Photo by Taylor Deas-Melesh

Employee Mental Health Needs: Everyone Loses with A Reactive Approach

It’s now starkly obvious that the coronavirus pandemic has changed so many aspects of our lives — not the least of which is the mental health of our employees. Rates of anxiety, stress, and depression are all up. The good news is that many companies have responded by increasing investments in their existing well-being programs.

A recent survey of 256 companies by the nonprofit National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions found that 53% now provide special emotional and mental health programs for their employees.

Some of these programs have garnered media attention:

  • Starbucks began providing access to 20 free counseling or coaching sessions, which can also be accessed by family members, at no cost.
  • Unilever launched a 14-day mental well-being resilience program for its employees.
  • Professional services firm EY now offers live daily workouts online to help reduce anxiety and depression.
  • Goldman Sachs now gives employees an extra ten days of family leave annually to take care of personal needs.

Missing the Mental Well-being Mark

Offered by four very employee-empathetic brands, those types of initiatives are valuable — as far as they go. But here’s the unfortunate reality: Most of today’s mental well-being solutions:

  • Have no underpinning in clinical psychology
  • Often focus solely on treatment
  • Fail to be proactive or treat the whole employee

In other words, the common wisdom around employee mental well-being is both backward and ineffective. In the end, these programs are band-aids. They don’t help sustain and nourish every employee’s total well-being — including their mental health. These programs also fail to help build your company culture and employer brand.

Why don’t they work?  Because they don’t empower employees to proactively identify and prevent mental distress and ill health. You see, it’s not enough to give employees the kinds of tools and programs that will support and potentially help them mend when the going gets tough, and their mental health suffers. You need to get ahead of the game.

Mental Health Needs: The Bigger Picture

Step back and consider this: Everyone has mental health all the time. Everyone, every day, is somewhere on the spectrum of mental health wellness.

Yet, our current mental health programs are nearly exclusively treatment-based. They’re designed and built to support the 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. who annually experience some form of mental health illness. Workplace mental health programs are no different.

The mental health of those 1 in 5 shouldn’t be the only ones considered during a pandemic — or at any other time.

After all, you don’t expect your employees to wait until their teeth are rotten to start brushing or getting regular cleanings, do you? To avoid developing severe problems down the road, they brush every day (you hope!). You also hope they see the dentist at least now and then.

It’s time to start treating your employees’ mental health the same as their dental health — proactively, holistically, and with tools and wisdom from trained professionals.

The Best Approach to Mental Health Needs

To fully support mental health, you, of course, first need an approach that mitigates the stress and anxiety we see today. But, going forward, you also need a proactive approach to supporting well-being. (By the way, only 6% of workers use the employee assistance programs provided to them, so there’s not much help there.)

Next, you must realize that employee health isn’t one-dimensional, and successful well-being programs can’t be one-size-fits-all. The answer is a whole-person, whole-organization approach that:

  • Applies preventive mental health strategies that affect change in any individual’s psychological, physical, and social well-being (the three spheres of the human condition)
  • Is individualized for each employee

The Wrong Approach to Mental Well-Being

Let’s face it: Perks like a limited number of coaching sessions, more flexible work schedules, and mindfulness apps can be helpful. But they assume your employees know precisely what they need at any given moment. They also believe employees understand where they are on their mental health journey.

Lastly, it’s essential to understand that most of today’s mental well-being solutions didn’t start from a clinically proven mindset. This means they don’t address the whole person — psychological, physical, social (maybe you’ve heard this as “mind, body, heart,” or similar). Neither do they address the seven aspects of daily life that nourish and support mental well-being:

  1. Happiness
  2. Sleep
  3. Coping
  4. Calmness
  5. Health
  6. Connection
  7. Fulfillment

You can take significant steps to prevent mental unwellness by nourishing those seven aspects of daily life. You’ll also improve your company culture and improve your employer brand. After all, employee mental health is out in front of everyone today.

Today’s Mental Health Reality

Compared to the start of the pandemic, a recent Qualtrics and SAP study of over 2,700 employees across more than ten industries found:

  • 75% feel more socially isolated
  • 67% report higher stress
  • 57% have greater anxiety
  • 53% feel more emotionally exhausted

The effects of 2020 will undoubtedly continue to impact the mental health of your employees. It’s cold comfort to note that the pandemic has opened employers’ eyes to what has been silently occurring below the surface for a long time: Their employees’ mental health, just like their physical health, is always in need of support. It can’t be ignored, and it certainly shouldn’t be. Unless, of course, you want to see the financial impacts of a workforce that’s left entirely to its own devices and is wholly unsupported.

Seek out a proactive, preventive, and clinically based mental health platform that addresses the whole employee. Don’t settle for one that can’t ensure the health and well-being of the whole person and your whole organization.

You can improve employee mental health. Start now by focusing on ways to help employees be healthier, more resilient, and more productive for whatever the uncertain future brings. 

 

Photo by Rawpixel

The ‘Why’ and ‘How’ of Building Workforce Diversity

The evidence overwhelmingly supports the business case for workforce diversity. So why are companies still failing to achieve their diversity goals?

Diversity has become a higher priority on the corporate agenda. Simultaneously, the business case for workforce diversity is now well evidenced (especially by McKinsey & Company, where analysts have been tracking the performance of more diverse companies for years). And yet, many organizations still struggle with ‘why’ diversity programs fail and the ‘how’ of doing diversity well.

Perhaps outreach programs are successful, but few candidates make it to the final selection stage? Perhaps diverse early career talent is easier to onboard, but fewer diverse candidates progress into senior leadership? In our work, we often find organizations undermine their own efforts. Quite often, through the use of a flawed recruitment and assessment process.

Biased decision making can creep into any stage of the hiring or development process, creating a disadvantage for minority groups. In other cases, inadvertent use of tactics that offer an advantage to those with access to exclusive knowledge or education occurs. These tactics perpetuate a cycle that maintains the status quo and prevents diversity from flourishing.

At Sova, we’ve long championed fairness and equality in recruitment and career progression. As occupational psychologists, one of our main goals in designing assessment is to provide a truly objective view of a candidate. We see it as our role to help companies go beyond the CV to make better, unbiased, and fair decisions about talent.

‘Why’ the Selection Process Goes Wrong

Before we talk about how we can improve diversity through fair selection processes, it’s useful to highlight some of the areas where we see diversity fail. These failures happen even when recruitment and HR teams invest in better diversity through actions such as targeted advertising, tailored marketing materials, and broader outreach programs:

  • The interview process starts with killer questions, such as asking which university the candidate attended, which is unfair when the candidate relies on knowledge or experience that isn’t available to all.
  • Too much emphasis on the CV screen effectively defines people through past achievements rather than their future potential.
  • Reliance on academic achievement, often linked to educational opportunity, makes those from more disadvantaged backgrounds less likely to be considered.
  • A reliance on unstructured interviews has been shown by extensive research to typically be much less predictive than either structured interviews or other more objective assessment measures.
  • Traditional assessments, such as a series of verbal and numerical reasoning tests, act as a hurdle race, potentially excluding otherwise suitable candidates.
  • Poorly designed assessments that lack scientific rigor bring a degree of embedded bias; some rely on exclusive knowledge of lifestyle habits or culture.
  • Assessors at assessment centers who are not well trained in managing unconscious bias impact fair selection; so does the center’s content when it favors particular groups.
  • We often fail to collect the right data; that data must be readily available and frequently reviewed.

‘How’ to Improve Workforce Diversity During Recruitment

Here are five practical changes that improve hiring processes and facilitate fairer decision making:

1. Consider carefully and thoughtfully what “good” looks like for your organization.

The definition of good needs to be through a wide lens and with the scope of diversity in mind. Rather than addressing one aspect, think about what diverse talent means as a whole. Consider how you describe what you look for in a candidate. Ask if your description might be perceived as exclusive when framed without thought to diversity. For example, have a broad range of people provide feedback on a job description and posting.

2. In designing your process, think about which techniques are fairest.

Have an inclusive approach to design. Gather insight into how others interpret your process design. Questions and assessment content need to be objective and not discriminate based on access to specific knowledge exclusive to some. Having input into the design from a diverse group is also essential, so gather different viewpoints on the assessment.

3. Thoroughly monitor the success of your assessment process.

Take the time and care to measure easier to acquire metrics such as gender. Also, gather data over the longer term – for example, who gets promoted. To see the whole picture, keep sight of all the assessments in your process and across all groups. Link to this data routinely and review it in real-time, not only on an annual basis.

4. Use analytics to learn which parts of your journey – or which questions and content – are working fairly and which are not.

Layout the parts of your process shown to be generating unfair responses. Then consider whether to change them or remove them. For example, are certain questions excluding those qualified applicants without a university education? Or are you excluding candidates based on language or numeracy skills not applicable to that specific job?

Once you’ve built the business case for diversity, the next step is to practically put in place a new process that will result in fairer outcomes. Diversity strategy guides the organization, of course. But without practical application at every stage of recruitment, assessment, and development, organizations will struggle to truly make a difference in their workforce diversity.

To learn more about leveling the playing field through fair assessment in hiring and development, you can download Sova’s free white paper: Leveling the Playing Field.

 

This post sponsored by Sova Assessment.

 

Aslysun

How to Write an Employee Termination Letter During the COVID-19 Crisis

Writing an employee termination letter is a most unpleasant situation for HR professionals. But it’s also something you can’t put off or avoid.

Writing such a letter becomes all the more difficult when terminating an employee during a crisis. 

With COVID-19 disrupting the economy, there has been a wave of mass layoffs. It’s alarming to note that over six months, more than 60 million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance. So as you take on this task, you aren’t alone.

As we all know, there’s nothing you can say to make them feel better. However, the way you choose to write the termination letter and deliver the news to them can make a significant difference. “You have to creatively close the employee life cycle in a way that honors the time that employee has been with you,” advises LT Ladino Bryson.

Let’s take a look at how to best write an employee termination letter due to COVID-19.

Clearly State the Reason for Termination

Given the current economic realities, there will be speculation among your employees. So as a business owner or HR professional, you must be transparent during the termination process. 

To be as transparent as possible, and protect your company from legal consequences, create a letterhead for all termination letters. Start with including essential details such as:

  • Date of letter
  • Date of termination
  • Company name 
  • Employee’s name
  • Manager’s name

Next, go on to state the financial difficulties the company has been facing and inform them of the difficult decision you’ve had to make. Remember, termination letters are written records. So, again, be upfront about the reason. Specifically, it is essential to stress the termination is not performance-based.

Click here, then scroll down, to see a practical example of an employee termination letter made necessary by the COVID-19 crisis.

Explain Next Steps

We must consider several formalities while terminating an employee. To streamline the process and avoid misunderstandings, outline what is most important in the termination letter. Here are some elements you should include:

  • Mention the return of company property (e.g., laptops, smartphones, employee ID cards, etc.)
  • Details on their final paycheck and when they will receive it
  • Include any employee benefits they are liable to (e.g., severance pay, retirement savings, health benefits, etc.)

Because this is a sensitive time, and many countries and states have different regulations when it comes to COVID-19 related layoffs, it is advisable to seek legal advice while writing termination letters.

Be Direct Yet Compassionate

Apart from what you include in the termination letter, it’s also essential to choose your words wisely. It would help, of course, if you were direct yet compassionate while delivering this unfortunate news to your employees.

Airbnb is one such company that handled the employee termination process with immense empathy and compassion. What stood out in CEO Brian Chesky’s message? He didn’t try to sugarcoat the news. Instead, the company laid off 25% of its employees while communicating the decision with the utmost transparency.

While this decision might come as a blow to your employees, responsibly approaching the announcement will help mitigate some of the pain. 

Offer Support

The employees you terminate are likely to be left wondering what they should do with their life next. It’s tough news to process, and the least you can do is offer support. 

There might be instances when the employee might need advice, recommendation letters, or even help with their resume. At such times, you must strive to provide all the help and information they need. Ensure you emphasize that in the employee termination letter, let them know that they can come to you for any guidance. However, at the same time, make sure you don’t make any promises. 

“You may feel tempted to say, ‘As things get clearer, and the economy improves, you’re on our list to come back.’ But no one has that kind of foresight. Don’t sugarcoat and don’t give false hope,” states a Harvard Business Review article

The Termination Letter: Compassion and Empathy Matters

Terminations are difficult, period. And when you must lay someone off remotely during a global crisis, it’s a situation that calls for compassion and empathy. 

Keeping these critical considerations in mind will help you end the working relationship with grace. And you’ll do it without them feeling betrayed while at the receiving end of terrible news.

 

Photo by LovelyDay12

How Your Business Size and Style Impacts HR Strategy

Human resources (HR) strategy encompasses necessities like hiring, retention, employee growth opportunities, and benefits packages. However, the specifics for how your HR strategy accomplishes those needs and engages with employees vary based on a company’s size — and sometimes, its structure and style. For example, particular federal labor requirements come into effect for companies with workforces of certain sizes. HR professionals must abide by those when applicable.

Plus, the amount of resources available to an HR professional often varies according to a company’s budget. Similarly, a business could probably have a much broader or complex strategy if it had an HR department rather than one person handling all responsibilities.

Here’s a look at different business types and how they could influence an HR strategy…

1. Large Businesses

HR representatives at large companies are especially likely to connect their strategies to a company’s overarching goals. The resources and expertise associated with big companies often make it easier to determine what works and what doesn’t.

For example, Cadbury is one of the world’s largest confectioners. Its history dates back to 1824. Even in its early stages, the company explored how to invest in its staff. For example, the brand had a “worker village” where employees and their families could live. Today, the company’s HR strategy aligns with Cadbury’s goals, and people remain a priority.

Many large companies also want to see those investments pay off. They may be more likely to use productivity trackers to pinpoint top performers and the workforce members requiring corrective coaching.

Artificial intelligence (AI) tools for HR are also popular at large businesses. Strategies may include using it to find the most qualified candidates or show which employees are upset and may leave soon without intervention.

2. Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)

Companies run under the employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) style allow workers to own shares. This approach has numerous benefits. For example, one study shows that ESOPs grew more than 5% faster than non-ESOP companies. Employee morale and productivity can rise, too, especially as workers recognize the direct link between their contributions and company success.

The HR strategies associated with ESOPs often focus on reminding current or potential employees of this business type’s benefits. For example, Chicago’s West Monroe Partners is a consultancy that became an entirely worker-owned enterprise via an ESOP in 2013.

Managing director Nate Ulery offered insight into the specifics. “Anyone who is an employee in a plan year with at least 1,000 hours of service receives shares,”  he said. The allocation of shares varies based on an employee’s salary and their length of time. Ulery confirmed, “We feel equity should go to those who have decided to spend a significant period of time at the organization.”

Employees at ESOPs also typically receive other benefits, such as the opportunity to sign up for 401(k) plans. That means an HR strategy should focus on attracting and retaining workers in other ways while simultaneously clarifying an ESOP’s advantages.

3. Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

Whereas many large businesses have in-house HR teams, that option is out of reach for many entrepreneurs who run small businesses. Some of them initially try to handle all the HR duties themselves. Soon, they realize that creating and upholding their strategies requires help from outsourced providers.

They conclude delegating responsibilities helps them focus on other aspects of their businesses. For example, if an entrepreneur has no HR experience, they may find that the associated tasks are exceptionally time-consuming and cumbersome. That may cause them to sacrifice devoting time to what they know best.

Outsourced specialists can also confirm which federal requirements come into effect once a small business has at least 50 workers. That advantage ensures that small-business owners don’t unintentionally overlook labor law stipulations.

The HR strategy at a small business may emphasize creating and maintaining a strong culture. It’s often easier to shape and influence a company’s values when 10 people work at it instead of 1,000. The behaviors of one employee cause a proportionally larger impact on a smaller operation than a larger enterprise.

Similarly, a small-business HR strategy may feature a robust top-down approach. If a company only has five employees, it’s highly likely that workers regularly interact with the leadership. However, at a 50,000-person enterprise, many employees won’t have such engagements.

Exceptions Exist

Creating and following HR strategies can be challenging, especially as a company evolves. However, as long as professionals aim to support organizational goals, they’re starting with a strong foundation.

People should also keep in mind that exceptions to the examples provided in the sections above are always possible. For example, although large businesses typically have the most resources for investing in employees, small businesses can do the same.

They may not provide expansive campuses full of worker perks like Google does, but HR representatives play vital roles in demonstrating that employees matter. Worker appreciation should factor into all HR strategies, whether the company has four employees from one town or 40,000 people clocking in from all over the globe.

Luis Tosta

Here’s Why Today’s Leaders Should Choose “And” Thinking

To the detriment of talent development and work cultures everywhere, we most often employ “either/or” thinking. Let’s talk about why today’s leaders should more often choose “and” thinking….

So many important aspects of human capital are nuanced and interrelated, yet seemingly polar opposites. For instance, recognizing the individual performer or recognizing team efforts. Showing respect for each person or showing respect based on performance and rewarding managerial-style performance or rewarding leaders.

Some organizations state only half of these pairs as desired values, hence the “or” between them. This is a mistake because when we see these values framed as either/or choices, we miss the synergy from leveraging the best from both sides. We cause harm from overfocusing on one value to the neglect of the other. After all, many values are interdependent, and ideas we think might be opposites are both highly desirable. The misleading part about this is that they need to live in tension with one another over time.  These pairings can be called paradoxes, wicked problems, or polarities that require “and thinking.”

“And” Thinking Versus “Or” Thinking

Both inside and outside of work, complexities exist that require us to think about these tensions between seemingly opposing pairs, rather than choosing A over B. For instance, one critical thinking point for leaders is the push-pull between continuity and transformation.

Those business leaders often find themselves executing complex change initiatives that enable their companies to compete better. At the same time,  they must create and maintain consistent foundational cultures employees can lean into – no matter what. All too often, when the message is only why complex changes are necessary, without acknowledging what has been going well (and what needs to remain in place), even the best plans blow up.

Everything done “the old way” is now wrong. Right?

This pervasive contradiction lowers morale and confuses, thereby sabotaging the energy and focus needed to implement the change.

Centralized Versus Decentralized Coordination

One of the biggest derailers for employees is the pendulum swing between centralized coordination and decentralized coordination. Organizations are frequently in a seesaw around this polarity. It’s as if one is better than the other, so they over-focus on one at the expense of the other.

For instance, a new chief executive officer is instituted and says: “We’ve lost the entrepreneurial nature of this organization, and we must decentralize and give control to each of the business units.” Because centralization and decentralization are interrelated, people complain there is no coordination and little ability to share services effectively. That causes the next CEO to say: “We have to centralize; everything is all over the map. Nobody knows who’s on first.” After finally getting used to the new structure, it whipsaws back to some version of the old one. With the average tenure of CEOs being three-and-a-half years, organizations must simultaneously focus on centralization and decentralization.

The Solution: Mapping Versus Gapping

One way around this conundrum is to institute a mapping process…

 

polarity map

 

Instead of executing a gap analysis, which is how most people approach change, we think about the upside and downside of their preferred value or pole in the polarity equation. We then do the same for the countervailing pole.  Then, as the diagram illustrates, we outline action steps for gaining the upsides from each pole. We also design strategies for avoiding the downsides of each if we over-focus on one pole to neglect the other.

That is “and” thinking.

Once we get the tension right between the different energetic poles, my clients find themselves comfortably resting in a virtuous cycle. They begin to get the best of both options, no matter how opposite those options seem. For many leaders, this comes as such a relief. Because those leaders, rather than focusing on the power of both – the “and” – tend to over-focus on one side of the equation. They then find themselves in a vicious and contentious cycle that isn’t good for them, their fellow leaders, or their teams.

Harness the power of both poles. Expand your thinking to “and.” You’ll soon create a virtuous cycle that will enable your organization to thrive, freeing your teams to unify under healthy “and” tensions versus the opposing camps that can form from “or” decisions.

 

Frank McKenna

[#WorkTrends] Unmute Yourself! How Remote Workers Can Self-Advocate

As an isolated team member, how do you sustain an effective communication chain, stay productive, and get what you need out of your employer? How do you unmute yourself?

For many, the coronavirus crisis has meant working conditions they could not have anticipated. Now, collaboration and face-to-face contact — once common practice — are non-existent. We can no longer lean over the cubicle to ask a quick question. An experienced co-worker, assistance from a trusted colleague, and feedback from a manager can be hard to find. Today, we go it alone, working from home. 

Which means we must put ourselves in a position to get what we need from our employer. We need to find a way to be seen — and heard. For that to happen, we must first hone and then leverage finely tuned communication skills. Skills we may not have previously mastered.

I wonder: How many of us are genuinely comfortable advocating for ourselves? 

Our Guest: Rachel Druckenmiller, Wellbeing Expert at UnmutedLife

Our guest on this week’s episode of WorkTrends is Rachel Druckenmiller, a wellbeing expert recognized as the No. 1 Health Promotion Professional in the U.S. and a national thought leader in the field of employee engagement. When I asked why more people aren’t speaking up and advocating for themselves during these trying times, we jumped right into this timely topic. Rachel’s answer was enlightening:

“We thought this was all going to be over by now. Then we thought, ‘Oh, we’ll have Easter. Then Thanksgiving.’ Now we’re realizing, ‘No, this is gonna be a long haul.’”

“So the important thing is to step back and recognize that we’ve been in chronic fight or flight mode — an acute response that puts us in a reactive part of our brain. And we stay there. Not just because of pandemic fatigue, but because of the climate crisis, political, social, and racial injustice, and work demands and homeschooling.” Rachel went on to add for people working from home, the timing couldn’t have been worse: “We lost our outlets and social connections. We lost a method of release.” 

“We stopped speaking up.”

Combined with the prolonged trauma many of us are experiencing, this form of self-silencing, Rachel told us, can have a negative impact on each of us. “It ends up being a host for emotional, relational, mental health challenges like depression and loneliness, marital problems, eating disorders, low self-esteem, and more.”

Learning How to Unmute Yourself

Rachel used an interesting analogy to help us learn how to unmute ourselves…

“In the wild, a gazelle is getting chased by a tiger. The gazelle gets caught. So now, it will play dead. The gazelle will go limp; it will try to trick the tiger into thinking that they’re already dead. Often, the tiger will leave. The gazelle will get up and shake it off. And when they do, they release all that negative energy. They feel new again.”

Rachel went on to say: “Animals in the wild release energy, and humans don’t. We compound it. We have one stress, and we never resolve it. Then we take on another stress, and we never resolve that one. Eventually, the body has to do something with all that stress. We need the release. We need to speak up!”

I mentioned to Rachel that leaders also need to help with this release. They must step up in an emotionally intelligent way and intentionally interact with their people. Leaders must serve as, or provide, a form of release. Rachel agreed, “In times of crisis, what followers need most from leaders is trust, compassion, stability, and hope. To do that, they must ask for feedback, then act on what was said.”

Leaders as Release

Rachel went on to say the leaders who provide this form of release — that enable us to unmute — are highly valued. We rate them as the most likable, approachable, and trustworthy.

Our conversation only got better from there. We discussed practical methods of releasing unwanted energy, increasing self-awareness, and how to be your own advocate by taking action. 

I thank Rachel Druckenmiller for joining me on the #WorkTrends podcast this week. I enjoyed every minute… and you will too. Listen in!

 

Find Rachel on LinkedIn.

 

Editor’s note: We’ve updated our FAQ page and also our #WorkTrends Podcast pages. Take a look!

Photo by Chris Montgomery

How to Create an Emotionally Comfortable Remote Working Environment

How can companies create a remote working environment that is both productive and emotionally comfortable?

With offices forced to close for long periods due to COVID-19, many people have adapted well to remote working. They have found working from home offers benefits from more flexible working hours to fewer distractions. However, working solo can also make employees feel more isolated; they may struggle to separate work and home life. This can leave workers less motivated and affect their overall wellbeing.

Read on to discover four ways to create an emotionally comfortable remote working environment that supports your team while helping keep them focused.

Establish Boundaries Between Work and Home

Remote working often means more flexibility in working hours and no time spent commuting to and from the office. However, it can also make it harder to establish boundaries between work and home life. Employees might be tempted to work longer hours to maintain their productivity. Or they might feel like they need to be available at all hours of the day so can’t switch off.

It’s important to help remote workers establish a clear boundary between their working day and free time. Otherwise, their mental well-being may suffer. At the very least, their stress levels will likely increase.

Outline the hours, or at least the number of hours, staff should work. Even if an employee is flexible with their actual working hours, encourage them to not work beyond a certain time in the evening so they have a proper break.

Also, suggest ways in which they can keep work and home separate. For example: Setting up a dedicated office space away from where they would relax in the evening. Or switching off the computer at the end of the day and over weekends. And suggest they not check emails before their agreed-upon work-day begins or after it ends. Finally, share useful information about staying motivated when working from home like this post from the Productivityist blog.

And, of course, encourage people to take their annual leave. Even if they don’t have any holiday plans or the pandemic continues to make travel difficult, it’s important to take time off. And it’s crucial that every team member feels they deserve a break.

Ensure a Productive Home Office Setup

Even though we’re several months into the pandemic, not everyone has a perfectly productive space at home for remote working. But it’s important to do everything you can to set them up with a productive-as-possible workspace. Treat their home space the same way as you would getting someone set up in your office building. After all, space and equipment impact their ability to focus well enough to do their job well.

When possible, provide W-2 employees with all the equipment and furniture they need. From a technology perspective, provide a laptop, screen, keyboard, headphones, cell phone, and any job-specific equipment. Also, ensure they have a proper desk and an ergonomic good chair. To identify and resolve any issues, share a workstation evaluation checklist like this one from OSHA with all remote employees. Also helpful, StarTech has some useful guides sharing tips for ensuring fast internet connections, reducing eye strain, and creating a comfortable set up. Once an analysis is done, you can then send employees any extra equipment they might need such as audio cables, adaptors, wireless devices, and laptop stands.

Set Clear Expectations

When you’re working in an office, it’s fairly easy to have a quick five-minute catch-up conversation or ask questions about your work. You can spontaneously talk through projects and assignments. While face-to-face, it seems easier to provide a detailed handover of work.

To create an emotionally comfortable remote work environment, leaders and peers must ensure everyone is on the same page at all times. They must feel confident about what they are doing and who to talk to if they’ve got questions. Just as important, they need to know how to talk to people and when.

To generate this feeling of confidence, companies need to set up the right systems and procedures. It must be clear what someone is expected to do, specific tasks they need to complete, and how long it should take. Ensure you are effectively managing projects — provide clear, detailed briefs for work that covers everything they need to know and when it’s due. In all cases, expectations around deadlines must be properly set.

You can create a document management system by following the steps in this post from The Balance. The key: Keep documents stored in one easily accessible place, and establish a procedure for creating, organizing, and sharing documents or projects.

Maintain Regular Communication

Another important part of creating an emotionally comfortable remote working environment is keeping in regular contact with everyone. Your goal: To stop people from feeling isolated or alone. Remote workers can struggle to feel like they are still part of a team. Isolation can cause a loss of motivation, which may lead to a less engaged employee.

Use daily meetings to catch up on work progress. Arrange regular video call drop-in sessions where your team can talk about non-work related things and catch up. Also, add an extra five minutes at the start of scheduled meetings for everyone to chat a bit.

Every month or so, arrange a well-being check-in with individuals to see how they’re doing and to give them a chance to discuss any challenges. Regular staff surveys are also a useful way to connect and check-in with employees. You can use this survey template from SurveyMonkey to determine how your team is coping and the steps necessary to improve their remote working environments.

Create and Maintain a Comfortable Remote Work Environment

Overall, creating an emotionally comfortable remote working environment relies on maintaining contact between everyone in the business. It also means checking in to see how people are doing.

To successfully make it through the COVID pandemic, it’s important to make people feel like they are still part of a team, even when working alone.

 

Tim Mossholder

[#WorkTrends] How to Support the Workforce by Protecting Mental Health

Today’s best employers are focusing on how to best support and protect their employee’s mental health. Is your company?

What started as an exercise in temporary adjustments has become a more long-term reality. Now, as the pandemic strengthens its grip on the world, many employees realize that teleworking full-time has become a long-term necessity. 

Sure, we pulled together the technology necessary to pull off this workforce transition. Yes, we were nimble enough to handle any physical and workspace challenges that came along. And our people quickly rallied around this new reality. But what is the long-term impact of all this change? From an emotional and mental health perspective, how are your people doing? 

If they are like many of us, they feel stressed. Fatigue is setting in, and the anxiety that comes with not knowing what comes next is creeping up on them. Hard data support these feelings. In fact, a tracking poll by Kaiser Family Foundation in July found that 53% of adults in the United States reported that pandemic-related issues have negatively impacted their mental health. That number is up dramatically from 32% in March when the pandemic began.

So, in what has become an unexpectedly long-term transition, and with the realization the coronavirus will continue knocking on our doors for the foreseeable future, the question must be:

How do companies help remote employees tackle mental health challenges?

Our Guest: Dawn Mitchell, Vice President, HR at Appian

On this week’s episode of #WorkTrends, Dawn Mitchell of Appian joins us. In one day, Dawn’s organization of 1,400 employees went from a very on-site, hands-on culture to one that shifted successfully to remote work. Now, Appian focuses on how best to help employees deal with the emotional and mental health issues that come with remote work and COVID-19’s extended threat. As you’ve probably already figured out, this experience makes Dawn the perfect person to answer our question!

“At first,” Dawn said, “We saw a huge spike in productivity. We were in fight or flight mode. Our employees are fantastic, so they chose ‘fight.’ But we soon learned this wasn’t a typical remote work. For example, we had to work and parent at the same time. Plus, we had the isolation issue. So we knew we couldn’t sustain this forever.”

Dawn shared with us some of Appian’s focus points: “We put a heavy emphasis around our parent community. We also developed empathy tool kits for managers. We wanted them to get more comfortable talking to their teams, to understand their home dynamics. So we pushed on their soft skills. And, we wanted them to be flexible, yet acknowledge we still have work to do.” 

Combating Mental Health Issues Through Over-Communication

Dawn added: “To inspire big ideas, we placed a heavy emphasis on communication. As a leadership team, we knew we needed to be more connected. So at the initial start, our CEO was communicating with our workforce bi-weekly. We also launched a podcast. With a workforce that averages 27yo, we updated our internet to ensure that employees working at home with kids were getting the most relevant information when they needed it. Most importantly, we sought to understand how employees were thinking and feeling.”

Of course, I had to ask about outcomes. I wanted to know precisely how Appian’s approach helped. In response, Dawn was quick to point out employees are even more engaged now: “We’ve had about a 6% increase in our employee response rates. At the same time, our employees’ satisfaction (despite all the change and stress) only dropped a percentage point. Overall, we were about 2% over the previous benchmark. It was great to see employees felt supported by their managers. They felt satisfied. And they felt that Appian was a place they wanted to tell their peers about; that we were their employer of choice.”

High praise, indeed. And from the people who matter most: The very employees asked to make such a huge transition during a global crisis.

Please take 20 minutes or so to listen to my conversation with Dawn. I learned so much about how Appian supports the mental health of their remote team members. And I’m sure you’ll hear several emulation-worthy tactics to protect the mental well-being of your employees! 

 

Find Dawn on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Appian sponsored this episode of #WorkTrends!

 

Editor’s note: Our FAQ page and #WorkTrends Podcast pages are new and improved. Check them out, and let us know how we’re doing!

 

Kei Scampa

In Times of Crisis: 5 Strategies That Lead to Better Business Decisions

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our work. The pandemic has changed how we relate with our families. It has also impacted our sense of safety, security, and health. This crisis, coupled with recent burgeoning social unrest, presents unique challenges to leaders. So, how—when we’re consumed by what’s around us—can we make better business decisions? Decisions that could make or break our business?

One answer comes from leaders in the profession at the center of the COVID crisis: expert medical practitioners. In other words, the people who frequently make life-or-death decisions for the people in front of them.

How do they stay focused and keep their decision-making sharp?

Better Business Decisions: The Answer Lies in Metacognition

Dr. Jerome Groopman, chief of experimental medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Recanati chair of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and his wife, Dr. Pamela Hartzband, an attending physician in the Division of Endocrinology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, shared how they do it.

“Pam developed a simple procedure when she was an intern in medical school many years back,” Groopman told us. “To her, it was like a game she played to stay sharp. She asked herself, ‘What if that other doctor who made the diagnosis is wrong? What else could it possibly be? What am I basing my decisions on?’”

By asking these questions, Hartzband took herself off automatic pilot and became aware of her thinking—a process known as metacognition.

Together, Groopman and Hartzband introduced courses at Harvard Medical School to teach medical school students and practicing physicians these metacognitive “thinking rules,” which foster self-awareness, reveal bias, and increase the diagnoses’ accuracy.

The good news? This approach, often used outside of the medical field, is incredibly potent in the times we now face.

How Metacognition Works in Times of Crisis

Metacognition will help you keep better track of—and help reduce—errors in your thinking. It also helps you be more emotionally balanced and stable. When you metacognate, you act as your own consultant or trainer, giving helpful feedback to better yourself.

Metacognition steers you onto more realistic, thoughtful paths—facilitating critical thinking and putting you more in control. If you observe an emotion or thought that isn’t helpful, flag it, and alter it. If you catch yourself rushing to judgment, slow your thinking process down. Keep a critical eye on the quality of your thinking. By monitoring yourself more frequently, you’ll keep from veering off into irrational thinking, even when the world around us is upside down.

To practice metacognition and think about your thinking, start with these five strategies:

1. Name Your Mental Steps

How did you arrive at your decision? If you can’t name the steps that led to a decision, be suspicious. Ask yourself: Are your information sources reliable?

Always question your decisions and how you make them. Ask yourself: “Did I miss something? What if I’ve been making decisions based on an erroneous starting point or piece of bad information? Are there other ways to approach making this decision? Am I questioning deeply enough?”

2. Learn from Past Mistakes and Misjudgments

Don’t bury prior mistakes. Instead, incorporate these memories into your current thinking to improve your decision-making.

3. Stay Open and Self-aware

Be open to learning from everyone. Also, be an active listener and value many opinions.

Ask yourself:

  • What is my thinking style?
  • What is my personality?
  • Where do my biases surface?
  • Do I hesitate to ask questions because I want to appear competent?
  • How might my ways of thinking and personality influence how I make assessments and also reach conclusions?

4. Don’t Rush

Experienced decision-makers in high-stress environments all emphasize the importance of slowing down.

Taking your time—even when others or circumstances are rushing you—is essential to making accurate decisions.

5. Don’t Get Seduced by Shortcuts

Know when you’re placing too much confidence in preset protocols, computer algorithms, or attractive charts that crisply lay out solutions. Are you accepting someone else’s “frame” of the problem? Are you relying on others to make your decisions for you by accepting their conclusion too readily?

Multiple crises, combined with the uncertainty we face, thwarts our efforts to make sound decisions. So, the next time you sense something happening around you—or within you—that feels rushed, reactive, or not right? Don’t ignore it and reflexively press on.

Instead, exercise the discipline to stop. Pay attention to that signal. If the path you’re on doesn’t seem right? Pause, reflect, and, if necessary, get off that path.

Then put yourself onto a better route. Or create a new one.

As you consistently demonstrate the ability to make better business decisions, others will learn to follow your lead.

 

Editor’s Note

Dr. Anthony Roa, Ph.D.This post was co-authored by Dr. Anthony Rao, Ph.d., a cognitive-behavioral therapist. For over 20 years, he was a pediatric psychologist at Boston Children’s Hospital. Dr. Rao has also been an instructor at Harvard Medical School. In 1998, he opened a specialized private practice. He’s been a featured expert in documentaries and also appears regularly as an expert commentator and author.

 

The new book by Dr. Napper and Dr. Rao is The Power of Agency: The 7 Principles to Conquer Obstacles, Make Effective Decisions, and Create a Life on Your Own Terms (St. Martin’s Press; 2019). Learn more at PowerofAgency.com.

 

Johanna Buguet

[#WorkTrends] Leading a Corporate Revolution Through Intentional Integrity

What is intentional integrity? And how can it lead to a revolution within your organization?

Even before the pandemic of 2020, ethics and integrity were a significant issue in our business world. Of course, everyone — and every company — thinks they have integrity. Yet week after week, organizations like Boeing, Wells Fargo, and Hobby Lobby fail to live up to their values. Google, Facebook, and the Houston Astros are no different.

For many of us, the confusion sparked by the pandemic — combined with the politicization of the virus itself — made it seem as though integrity was in even shorter supply. Add the lack of face-to-face contact, loosened controls, and the ongoing negative input from 24-hour news cycles, and many have begun to feel the time is ripe for integrity to take a nosedive. In fact, according to a 2020 survey conducted by EY, 90% of employees believe the pandemic puts their employer at risk for unethical business dealings. 

But it doesn’t have to be this way. I firmly believe the brands and leaders who conduct themselves using intentional integrity do so for the organization’s greater good, including its employees. I also maintain those companies will revolutionize how businesses function in our post-pandemic world. 

Integrity will always matter. Intentional integrity makes all the difference.

Our Guest: Rob Chesnut, Author

In this week’s episode, Rob Chesnut, author of Intentional Integrity: How Smart Companies Can Lead an Ethical Revolution, joined us on #workTrends. We talked about the concept of intentional integrity — and what that means within an organization. As you’ll hear, we talked to the right guy: Rob previously served as Airbnb’s General Counsel and Chief Ethics Officer and led eBay’s North America legal team. 

Right off the bat, Rob helped us understand why integrity seems to be in short supply: “Look, everybody’s got a video camera, right in their hand, every day. When I was growing up, there were three news stations. Now, we all have a global digital platform; we can all be a news reporter. So we are in an age of unprecedented transparency. Plus, people increasingly feel empowered to speak out.”

As Rob said, all that is true in the workplace as well: “20 years ago, employees might have kept their mouth shut because they wanted to preserve their career. But now, if they don’t like something at their company, they’re going to blog and tweet about it. To take action, they might even organize a walk-out of other employees.” Rob added: “All these forces: Transparency, employee pressure, consumer pressure, and government pressure are pushing companies to straighten up. They are now more focused on doing the right thing. Of course, this is a huge improvement over cutting ethical corners to try to hit a quarterly profit number.”

And that, my friends — even when perhaps initially forced — is intentional integrity.

Intentional Integrity: A Powerful Wind at Your Back

Of course, I asked Rob about the bigger picture implications for companies that don’t directly address integrity daily or make integrity a core value. Rob’s response was enlightening:

“On one hand, if you don’t pay attention to it and you operate with a 20th-century company approach — worrying about your quarter profit number, for example — you can wreck your brand. Soon, you may find employees, customers, and even government agencies coming at you. On the other hand, intentional integrity can become a powerful wind at your back. Get this right, and employees will stay at your company longer. Perhaps even better, they’ll encourage their friends to come work there. At the same time, customers will become loyal spokespeople for your brand.”

Rob added: “The pressure is on. Today’s businesses must have positive implications for the world. Those that do out-perform the stock market and their competitors.”

In my time with Rob, we also talked about the pandemic’s impact on ethics and integrity. We also discussed how the workplace is continuously changing, but our definition of integrity does not, and how intentional integrity helps us overcome the mistakes inevitably made. 

Listen in. Then take a moment to think about how your company currently leverages intentional integrity. And how you — thanks to Rob’s timely advice — can do even better, and very soon!

 

Find Rob on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Editor’s note: Check out our new FAQ page and #WorkTrends Podcast pages. Then let us know how we’re doing!

 

Cottonbro

Undeniable: The Positive Power of Workplace Gratitude

Who doesn’t want to be thanked for their loyalty or a job well done? Who doesn’t want a metaphorical pat on the back for going above-and-beyond? Everyone values a genuine thank you! But engagement and appreciation efforts workplace gratitude should be sincere and consistent across an organization.

Building a workplace culture of gratitude is especially relevant now because of what we are seeing as a result of the pandemic. We are witnessing increased worker stress, loneliness, anxiety and depression; concern about the future and the pressure of juggling family and work commitments.

The impact is undeniable. In fact, new SHRM research found between 1/4 and 1/3 of U.S. employees often experience symptoms of depression as they live through the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers are in a unique position to help employees battle the negative effects of this “new world” through sincere gestures of kindness and also through demonstration of appreciation.

How to Embrace Workplace Gratitude During the Pandemic

Personal engagement is always critical, but especially now. If you can, pick up the phone and check in on employees. Don’t overlook the basics at this time, because people need to know they are valued and not alone.

Celebrate your remote workers! Because workplaces aren’t the same anymore, it takes some creativity and organization to translate your culture into virtual events. We’ve seen teams have a great time engaging online with coffee, pizza and ice cream parties. With Halloween around the corner, we have many suggestions for how to deliver fun for all! Help managers with ideas and helpful hints for how to handle invites, contests, virtual games and conversation starters for enjoyable virtual social events.

Another idea is to empower employees to support their local communities. Community giving instills gratitude in anyone who partakes. If service work is important to your workplace culture, then find ways to enable employees to participate virtually. They’ll love the opportunity as we all see the increasing needs of those around us.

Whatever you choose, be sure to be kind and authentic. And if you can – be unexpected!

Holiday Appreciation

We highly recommend a thoughtful letter of appreciation to employees about their role and their importance during these challenging times. Sometimes that’s all you can afford to do and that’s okay. On our website, gThankYou.com, we have some excellent examples of Thanksgiving letters for inspiration.

This year, stick to holiday traditions if they are held near and dear. We love fresh ideas, but employees will have gift-related expectations from previous years. Whatever you choose to do, be authentic to your culture and considerate of your budget.

Practical gifts are key.

Family gifts (games, puzzles), wellbeing resources (yoga on-demand, health resources) and food on the table are all truly valued and appreciated…especially when things are financially tight or unstable in any way. And let’s face it, sometimes cash is the very best answer. Most importantly, plan now – be early. Between COVID and the election there are too many distractions, and this is not the year to forget to thank employees.

The Science Behind Gratitude

Over the last 20 years, research has shown gratitude to provide important physical, psychological and social benefits, including:

  • A stronger immune system
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Better sleep
  • Willingness to exercise more
  • Higher levels of positive emotions such as joy and happiness
  • And, more helpful, generous and compassionate behavior

And research has shown countless ways gratitude directly pays off in the workplace with:

  • Improved employee wellbeing, productivity and job satisfaction
  • Resulting in demonstrated improved ROI due to:
  • higher employee retention,
  • improved employee performance and happiness, and
  • better employee, team and customer relationships

Professor Robert A. Emmons, a foremost gratitude researcher, calls gratitude the “ultimate performance-enhancing substance.” Gratitude makes both the giver and receiver feel good. In addition, gratitude sets off a good kind of contagion.

Want to learn more about the science of gratitude and how to create a culture of gratitude? I highly recommend our free ebook, “Transforming Your Workplace with Gratitude.”

A Culture of Gratitude

At gThankYou, we believe in making gratitude a pillar of the business. We’ve learned: To build and foster a culture of gratitude where leaders thank employees, team members show appreciation for each other, and thoughtful gestures are common, authenticity is key. Regular messages and example-setting need to be from the top down. Leadership needs to encourage, model gratitude. They also must hold managers accountable for showing gratitude to their teams.

Here are some tips to consider as you frame what a “Gratitude Culture” looks like in your business:

  • Gratitude must be part of the fabric of the workplace culture.
  • Senior leadership needs to model gratitude and mid-managers need to be trained and held accountable for appreciating their teams.
  • Simple gestures are great – but fairness and consistency are key.
  • Remember, gratitude needs to be specific to feel authentic.
  • Employees need easy ways to show appreciation to each other and their input in the “how” should be requested (and also respected) to make it work.
  • You can’t simply say, “thank you” at year-end and be done. 

Future of Work

Remote work will continue to be the norm until there is widespread availability of a vaccine and cheap, quick COVID testing. Some companies, like Pinterest, have already indicated that remote work will become permanent and thus will have a wide variety of implications – in areas such as hiring.

With some effort and planning, we will all get better at remote and virtual employee engagement and recognition. While it’s not easy these days to extend an in-person smile or handshake or share a heartfelt say thank you in the office, pick up the phone and write handwritten notes.

Bring the old school into the new world. Your sincere interest, concern, appreciation, and gratitude work – I promise!

 

Listen to our interview with Meghan M. Biro on TalentCulture’s #Worktrends podcast!

 

Headway Capital

15 Things to Avoid When Letting Employees Go [Infographic]

Especially during our prolonged pandemic, and right before we begin the holiday season, firing someone is not fun. The impact on the person getting fired is both obvious and tragic. But the person letting employees go is also affected. As the boss or HR representative, you’ll likely feel sadness, guilt, and frustration along the way.

Those emotions, of course, are natural. However, solid business practices set a framework for minimizing the emotional toll – on both the person getting fired, and the person doing the firing.

Letting Employees Go with Empathy and Compassion

Headway Capital found 15 temptations faced by managers as the firing process begins. And to help you through each “we need to let you go” conversation, their new infographic includes 15 better approaches.

For example, you may have cooked up a long and convoluted reason for the firing. Instead, lead with the bad news: “I’ve called you in today because we need to let you go.” Then follow with brief, clear reasons. Throughout the process, be diplomatic without offering excuses you think might cushion the truth.

Protecting feelings, though, doesn’t mean we must become sympathetic. In fact, sympathy is a non-starter because it focuses on the emotions of the person delivering the news. As an empathetic boss, you and the employee are better served by actively listening to the employee. Your job as you listen: To figure out how they’re feeling – and to adjust your strategy as appropriate.

“Bosses must recognize the difference between empathy and compassion (which are useful in this context) and sympathy or sorrow (which can be counterproductive),” advises Joel Peterson, chair of JetBlue and Professor of Management at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

Finally, as emotions reach their peak, remember that termination isn’t, in the long-term, always a terrible thing. Studies have shown that (for some positions) nine out of ten terminated employees find a new job that’s equal to or better than the job they held previously. Of course, it’s not wise to mention this while firing an employee!

Being fired is never easy. And neither is doing the firing. Keeping these 15 tips in mind will help you prepare and execute your termination plan. Still, don’t worry if you make a mistake or two. Because in what is often an emotional conversation, everybody makes mistakes – even the person responsible for letting employees go.

 

 

letting employees go

Charles Deluvio

Disability Etiquette: Be Considerate, Be Inclusive, Take Action

As we close out the month of October, there’s been no shortage of topics to focus on in the workplace. But October has also been National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). So, for many in the workplace, this month has been all about raising consciousness and improving conditions for American workers with disabilities — and speaking out about disability etiquette.

Frankly, this is something we should all focus more on — year-round.

Given that we’ve been operating since March within the context of a pandemic, it’s even more important to understand the challenges employees with disabilities face. Also important: What leaders and managers can do to help overcome those challenges.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers provide job applicants and employees with disabilities “reasonable accommodations” that enable them to enjoy equal employment opportunities. But accommodation is not just about access — it’s also about empathy and consideration. This is especially true since disabilities may include a whole range of impairments that aren’t immediately obvious. In fact, in many situations we may not realize the extent of existing conditions. So, it is wise to not make assumptions or place individuals in stereotype buckets.

Here are some pointers for improving disability etiquette in your workplace — remote, blended, or on-site:

Mobility Impairments

It’s important not to assume the extent of mobility based on the use or lack of assistive devices, such as walking assistants or wheelchairs. After all, it’s highly possible a mobility-impaired employee may not use them. They still may need accommodations, however; for instance, they may be unable to walk long distances or stand for long periods of time.

To accommodate these needs: If you’re a remote workplace, schedule video meetings with extra time for people to get situated. If onsite, provide accessible parking and ADA-compliant accessibility. Two other simple ways to help: Clearing pathways and making sure most everything is reachable from a wheelchair. Also, ask what is in the way and what can’t be reached, then act on the answers. Particularly during social distancing, but also in general, don’t touch canes or reach out to “help” move a wheelchair or other assistive device without permission. And certainly don’t push a wheelchair or move a cane or walker to the side to “get it out of the way.”

Disability etiquette bonus: When in a conversation with someone in a wheelchair, kneel or sit down so you’re at eye level when talking.

Vision Impairments

In the physical workplace, post braille signage on the walls and doors and ensure any signage and posters are available in an alternate forms. Keep corridors and pathways clear of obstructions and make the routes of travel clear and straightforward. And make sure all new vision-impaired employees are given a detailed tour of the workplace.

Any workplace, remote or not, should provide assistive technology for in-place systems and technologies as well as any kind of new training or communication methods. Examples include scanners or magnifiers, digital recorders and dictation devices, screen reading software, refreshable braille displays, and braille embossers. Of course, depending on the individual’s preference, distributed written materials should be available in braille, large print or audio. Again, ask then act. And it should go without saying, but service animals and must be allowed in any office.

Disability etiquette bonus: Don’t pet guide dogs without permission.

Hearing Impairments

There’s an incredible range of assistive technologies for the deaf and hard of hearing. Employers must ensure their workplaces accommodate them, and the people who use them. For an employee with a hearing issue, even something as seemingly straightforward as a video meeting can become an epic frustration. So consider an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter as well as CART (communication access real-time translation). Real-time captioning is also an option.

Accommodation, for some, may be as simple as making sure those in the meeting are situated in the best possible position to read lips. Speakers can also help in this area; encourage them not to turn away and to not put their hands in front of their mouths.

Disability etiquette bonus: Please, when talking to the hearing impaired, don’t shout to be heard. And, unless asked, resist temptation to repeat yourself.

Speech Impairments

Imagine being in a Zoom meeting and dealing with aphasia or a stutter. I was recently in a video conference where an employee was clearly struggling. At times, she needed more time to carefully articulate her points. Unfortunately, the climate of the virtual room was anything but patient.

You can help in these situations by facilitating an accommodating environment. Deliberately give each contributor room to think, and time to breathe. And if you’re not clear on what someone just said, don’t gloss over it: you may be missing a critical point. Instead, ask them to repeat it, and give them the time to do so. And please be patient enough to allow them to complete their own sentences.

Disability etiquette bonus: For some, it may simply be easier to communicate in writing — a Slack channel, for instance. Provide that opportunity before each meeting, then make sure everyone has access.

Disability Etiquette for Other Impairments

There are other impairments to consider: Respiratory impairments and chemical sensitivities (which traditional office cleaning products can wreak havoc on), for example. Cognitive and psychological impairments are becoming more prevalent; each carries its own burden and challenge for the individual.

No matter the type or severity of the impairment, it’s up to the employer to provide access and opportunity. Most important, each employer and leader must provide the previously mentioned reasonable accommodation. They must also provide understanding, education, and awareness among those in your workforce. To that end, consider including issues of access and interactions in your next employee engagement survey.

For employees with disabilities, October is only one month out of a lifetime. We’ve come so far this year, and this is one more way we can evolve. A truly inclusive workplace that accommodates and welcomes everyone leads to far greater productivity. Data also shows inclusivity boosts employee morale and brings teams together in ways that supercharge creativity and innovation.

Welcoming everyone, regardless of apparent and not-so-obvious impairments, is good for everyone. And that’s good for business.

 

 

SevenStorm

[#WorkTrends] Company Culture: The High Cost of Misalignment

Among remote work teams, how common is misalignment with company culture? And what is the cost?

All over the United States, cases of COVID-10 are once again spiking. We’re setting records again — and not the good kind. Daily, it seems, we see and hear grim reminders that this pandemic maintains a firm grip on our country, and our psyche.

For many of us, returning to the office about the same time as kids returned to school seemed possible. Not any more. And for many companies — especially those that have enabled a loose operating system around remote working, it’s time to tighten up. Of course, we all did what had to be done to keep our employees, customers, and vendors safe. But long-term social distancing comes with a cost. And often that cost comes in the form of misalignment to company culture.

So now, 8+ months into the pandemic, it is time to revisit our core values and purpose. Just as important, now is the time to once again encourage our employees to factor those core values into our daily work habits and to refocus on our purpose.

Our Guest: Natalie Baumgartner, PhD Chief Workforce Scientist at Achievers

This week on #WorkTrends, I welcomed Natalie Baumgartner, Chief Workforce Scientist at Achievers, to talk about the challenge of aligning today’s remote workforces to company cultures. Our timing couldn’t be better: Based on their recent survey of over 1,100 people around the world, Achievers’ Workforce Institute just published its 2020 Culture Report.

As Natalie said at the beginning of this episode, the survey asked respondents about culture alignment — both before and during the COVID-19 crisis. Specifically, Achievers sought to measure the extent to which an organization understands its values — and then aligns everything the company does to those values. Also included were questions related to engagement, recognition, and the voice of the employee. The answers to those questions, according to Natalie, were revealing.

“We found culture alignment dropped significantly during COVID-19. In addition, organizations found themselves less able to align decision making to company values. That’s not really a surprise, though. After all, there was no forewarning. We didn’t understand the massive impact this pandemic would have on business. So organizations have been in crisis-management mode.”

After telling Natalie I also wasn’t surprised, I shared that to me, and perhaps to many of our listeners, hearing this provides just a little bit of comfort. It helps to know nobody’s alone in this; we really are in this together. There’s also comfort knowing we can work toward a solution, together. Natalie agreed, and injected a distinct sense of urgency:

“It’s true, and now we can step back and see everything organizations have had to manage around the world, and in short order. But we also know there’s a very strong correlation between culture alignment and employee engagement. And when we see this dip in culture alignment, we know it is going to negatively impact employee engagement, and very soon.”

Company Culture Misalignment: Communication as Part of The Solution

After so clearly stating the challenge, Natalie began to talk about the solution: “The good news is there are simple ways to foster and maintain culture alignment. We’re not talking about massive overhaul initiatives, which are impossible and unpalatable while still in the midst of a pandemic.”

I asked if clear communication, which can have such a key role to play in terms of alignment, is a major factor in realigning company culture. Natalie responded: “What’s most important, regardless of the type of culture you have, is clarifying and communicating what your values are. Make it simple. Focus on four to six values, then make sure those values are clear to everyone. If you do nothing else in terms of culture alignment, that is most important.” Natalie added:

“You must say, ‘This is who we are. This is how we want to do business.’”

Natalie and I went on to discuss many other communication-based solutions to misalignment of culture, including CEO-led virtual town hall meetings and open recognition of a job well done. Of the latter, Natalie says, “Recognition is, objectively, the single, most powerful driver of engagement.” I couldn’t agree more!

I invite you to take in this inspiring and timely interview with Natalie. Grab a cup of coffee, and enjoy the listen!

#WorkTrends Twitter Chat: Wednesday, November 4th

I also invite you to help us extend this conversation on Wednesday, November 4th at 1:30 pm Eastern. Natalie will be there to further discuss company culture, engagement, and inspiring remote work teams. She’ll also help provide answers to these questions:

  • Q1: Why do organizations struggle with communicating core values? #WorkTrends
  • Q2: What strategies can help boost alignment? #WorkTrends
  • Q3: How can leaders boost alignment? #WorkTrends

Natalie and I will see you there!

 

Find Natalie on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

This podcast was sponsored by Achievers.

 

Editor’s note: Have you checked out our new FAQ page and #WorkTrends Podcast pages? Please do, then let us know how we’re doing!

 

James Haworth

5 Steps to Making Compensation Transparency Work for Your Company

What is compensation transparency? And how does it help your company thrive now, and in the future?

Systemic racial injustice, social unrest and the pandemic have left business leaders in nearly every industry scrambling. Many struggle to find ways to cultivate an equitable and inclusive workplace. At the same time, recent protests have prompted organizations to reassess their purpose. Many have taken a powerful stand for what they believe in. Others have begun cultivating a culture where everyone has equal opportunity to fulfill their dreams.

Against this backdrop, employers are under heightened scrutiny from employees, customers, investors and communities. Now more than ever, they are expected to take bold action and create radical change within their organizations.

And radical change often starts with transparency.

For instance, research from PayScale discovered that the gender wage gap closed completely with increased transparency for 73% of industries and organizations. This means companies must commit to doing what’s right over what’s easy. It also means taking a hard look at their compensation structures to make salary transparency a top priority.

Yet equal pay is far from a set-it-and-forget-it policy. It requires diligent, intentional and consistent analysis. Also required: Iteration and measurement to ensure compliance with late-breaking employee expectations and legal regulations.

As an HR leader, consider these five steps to ensure that transparency remains at the center of your compensation strategy.

Identify Existing Pay Gaps and Disparities

Your company can relatively quickly eliminate pay inequities. Start by performing an audit to include analyzing salary structures and reviewing job descriptions to ensure they accurately reflect the requirements and demands of the position. Then examine and document various circumstances that may justify pay differentials.

For example, you may be able to support pay differences when employees meet the preferred qualifications for a position. Or when they’ve assumed additional responsibility or when their performance is superior.  Ultimately, the cost of identifying and correcting pay inequities will likely be outweighed by the benefits. Those benefits include increased employee morale, retention of a dynamic and diverse workforce, and much more.

Determine an Appropriate Level of Transparency

The next step is to assess your company’s level of comfort with pay transparency. For instance, publishing pay ranges for each position may be a great first start. If your company already has some transparency in place, you might be ready to make the leap to complete transparency. This involves publishing the compensation of individual employees (instead of ranges) externally, internally or both.

Whole Foods and Buffer, for example, have fully embraced the power of pay transparency by disclosing exactly how much everyone in the company makes – from the intern to the CEO. Yes, this strategy can be fraught with fear and overwhelming for many. When implemented correctly, though, the pros far outweigh the cons.

Transparency typically results in greater trust among the team, increased accountability for pay equity, and a rise in job applications from diverse applicants. Complete transparency, however, isn’t for every company. So, it’s critical to evaluate what level is appropriate for your employees, brand and business objectives.

Clarify Compensation Potential by Embracing New Technologies

Equal opportunity is timeless, but equal pay technologies are not.

To address the need for greater transparency, many companies, including Codacy, Buffer and Gitlab, have created salary calculators prospective candidates can use to determine what they’d make if they were brought onboard the organization. These calculations typically include the base salary for a specific role coupled with the minimum job requirements (as they relate to career advancement and market realities).

Other companies have invested in innovative technologies and cloud-based software to automate, simplify and streamline the equal pay process. By clearly explaining pay and pay practices—such as the relationship between pay and experience, performance, qualifications, and other data—you can build trust between employees and thereby bolster loyalty and engagement.

Encourage Feedback from Employees

In today’s unpredictable economic climate, employees may fear they’re expendable. Their focus and performance may deteriorate as a result. You can set your employees’ minds at ease by encouraging feedback regarding business objectives. Implementing pulse surveys and organizing town halls to gather input on pay equity and transparency best practices is also beneficial.

The key: Open communication that helps business leaders better understand what employees feel and experience while encouraging a diverse flow of ideas.

Coach How to Successfully Navigate Compensation Conversations

Perhaps most importantly, it’s imperative to coach managers on the art of compassionate communication as it relates to compensation – from new hires to the most senior team members.

For example, if the initial compensation is misaligned for a new hire, that inequity will perpetuate over time and tenure with a company. Additionally, if salaries are broadcasted publicly, employees may ask why they’re not making as much as someone else in a similar position. So, as part of these conversations, managers should set clear expectations and articulate the criteria for performance and pay progressions. That way, every employee understands the steps necessary to earn an increase in pay.

Ultimately, employers that change the framework for compensation conversations—and empower their teams with the direction needed to advance—are most likely to succeed.

At the end of the day, companies that create equitable workplaces retain employees who feel respected, valued, inspired, and encouraged to reach their full potential. When executed successfully, compensation transparency increases organizational diversity, productivity and profitability.

At the same time, open and equitable pay helps turn employees into brand ambassadors who deliver unparalleled performance.

Johan Godinez

The Owner’s Mindset: How Open Book Leadership Empowers Employees

For employees, what is an owner’s mindset? And how does open book leadership give employees total responsibility over their jobs?

The shockwaves reverberating through our economy as a result of the pandemic aren’t expected to subside anytime soon. The skyrocketing numbers of those laid off, and the businesses shuttering their doors or at grave risk of doing so, has rocked the very foundation of our great entrepreneurial nation.

The long-term impact of all this turmoil creates uncertainty everywhere. From our local neighborhoods and downtowns, to state and federal agencies., to nearly every workplace, no one is immune. As a result, many business leaders are looking for a way to recover by rethinking their businesses and finding new, innovative practices.

Now is our opportunity to rethink how to best manage staff and take maximum advantage of their collective talent. In today’s tumultuous times, it’s both unfair and unwise to leave employees benched on the sidelines worried about whether their jobs are safe. 

We need to change the game by embracing open book leadership. 

The Case for Open Book Leadership

Many tensions exist in business today that could easily be resolved through transparency and financial education. Business owners who have been skeptical about open book leadership – the sharing confidential business information with their employees. Those leaders, however, fail to see that sharing the financial picture of the company – good or bad – doesn’t scare people off. In fact, it eliminates misperceptions and provides an enormous opportunity to get people on board with fixing problems.

To get to better decisions, company leaders need to treat their people like owners. So they can understand the company’s full potential, they need to guide them through the financials. So they can grasp the challenges ahead, they must give them the information needed to let them come up with solutions. Most important, open book leadership gives staff a stake in the outcome. 

The more we teach staff about our company’s financial health, the smarter and more conservative they become with the company’s money. Because they begin to think of it as their money. 

Opening the Books: Our Story

When it comes to financial literacy, we have a huge knowledge gap in our country. In our corporation, we’ve spent more than 40 years closing that gap. Every associate in our corporation is taught how to speak the language of business. We call this open-book leadership system “The Great Game of Business.”

Our end goal has always been to build a business around people who think and act like owners. At every turn, they are taught the tools needed to take control of their destinies. At every opportunity, they are empowered to develop plans that create and protect their jobs and help grow the company.

Within our company, transparency and financial literacy builds a foundation of trust for each of us to stand on going forward. That trust eliminates a fear people many people have: That they can’t understand the business numbers. By conquering that fear, we give our associates the information they need, in a way that makes sense to them, so they can make the best decisions. 

Teach and share the numbers with everyone in the company, and three things happen: 

  1. As a leader, you inspire trust and confidence 
  2. People engage in creating their vision of the future
  3. The entire organization unites around shared goals

Developing a New Language 

Changing the game – by teaching people the game of business – works. Throughout the world, we’ve seen it happen in thousands of companies. Each has created a better future for themselves, their associates, and their communities. 

Our Great Game All-stars, for example, represent 29 companies across 22 industries. Through the pandemic, when lay-offs became commonplace, leadership and employees have worked together to save 3,385 jobs to date. And over the past two years, the average annual profit growth for these companies was 125 percent – or 6-times greater than their industry benchmarks.

Taking The Leap to Open Book Leadership

We understand: Taking that first step might require a giant leap of faith — and a lot of hard work. Just like we’ve seen the undeniable value of adding STEM courses to school curriculums, however; we need to increase financial literacy in the workplace. Our academic institutions, despite several chances to add this human value to their learning models won’t do it. So we businesses leaders must become the teachers. 

Teaching financial literacy requires the same immersive approach that schools take when teaching students a foreign language. We need to speak it all day, every day. And we do that until the words and phrases become routine — and the language becomes commonplace across the entire company. That language crosses departments. It helps us work together. It highlights where we make a difference to each other – something we need now more than ever.

Building a Better Quality of Life 

Teaching people the language of business results in much more than financial success. 

Empowered, informed associates make recommendations that fix real problems. Because they have a say in the company’s direction, they work harder and smarter. Finally, a transparent open book management system gives them the ability to understand what they need to lead a secure and fulfilling life

Opening up the rules of business – providing everyone the information on which to act – may not solve every problem your company faces. But giving staff the insider information formerly reserved for owners alone empowers everyone to take responsibility for their jobs. By understanding the big picture, they gain a sense of pride and ownership. They know their work, and their decisions, make a difference.

Take the leap. Incorporate open book leadership – “The Great Game of Business” – in your operations. Your employees will feel trusted and empowered. Which makes your suddenly transparent business that much stronger – and more ready to take on any challenge ahead.

 

Michael Dziedzic

[#WorkTrends] How AI is Reinventing Talent Management

How will AI transform talent management? How will it impact talent acquisition?

One of the biggest challenges in talent management today? Enabling our employees to develop within our organizations — helping them grow and learn new skills so they don’t feel the need to opt-out and move on. 

In today’s world of work, employees expect companies to provide an opportunity for growth. In fact, a recent study noted in Forbes shows 78 percent of employees surveyed during the pandemic believe employers should help them become better off than they were before. 

Many quality organizations, in response to this growing work trend, are more intentionally providing continuous learning opportunities for team members. They are turning to technology to facilitate upskilling and reskilling and to improve internal mobility. And in 2020, that means using AI to first provide actionable insights — and then again leveraging the power of AI when executing the talent management vision.

Our Guest: Brad Sutton from Eightfold.ai

In this week’s episode of #WorkTrends, I am joined by Brad Sutton from the Strategic Accounts team at Eightfold.ai, a talent intelligence platform for enterprises that leverage AI to hire, engage, and nurture talent. Together, we talked about how AI is transforming the talent management game — from recruiting to team building to succession planning. As we learned, AI is also proving to be a powerful ally in retention engagement initiatives as well.

Brad shared an example of a company struggling to change their talent game: “They had 100 people taking inventory of their people’s skills. They spent a lot of time and money, only to learn that once you go through an exercise like this, it’s just one snapshot in time. Those skills expire after two to five years; many are out of date soon after a thorough people skills analysis project is over.”

Brad added: “So, organizations don’t necessarily know what skills each person has mastered today.  And, internally, we don’t do a good job of understanding all the things we’re each capable of tomorrow.”

There has to be a better way, right? To provide growth opportunities within an organization, we must know the full potential of each leader and team member. Brad agrees: “If your company’s not telling you, ‘Well here are the opportunities that you have here,’ or if somebody’s not advocating for you, it’s hard to find that next opportunity inside the organization.”

So, people opt-out. They choose to move on. And, during their subsequent job interviews, their skills, capabilities, and potential are thoroughly discussed. Rather than let that happen, Brad says we can rely on Talent Intelligence.

Talent Intelligence = Talent Management

“At its core, Talent intelligence is understanding the skills and capabilities of the people inside your talent network. Your talent network is every employee, everybody within your HRIS, and anybody who’s ever worked for your organization. It also includes alumni, referrals, and candidates. Often, this talent network is 100 to 200 times the size of your organization. AI looks at that huge talent network, then understands the skills and capabilities of each person. It allows us to know who has the potential to do something else, and learn something new.”

I learned from Brad that AI can help us assess, in real-time, who is ready to grow — perhaps even before we realize an opportunity for growth exists. 

“That’s what Talent Intelligence does,” Brad says. “It understands what you’ve done, and what you can do.”

Brad and I discussed how AI-driven talent intelligence can make a difference in many other areas, including reskilling and upskilling, retention of top talent, and a topic always near and dear to my heart: diversity and inclusion. Be sure to catch the entire episode. You won’t want to miss a minute!

#WorkTrends Twitter Chat: Wednesday, 10-28

Be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to engage with Brad on our next #WorkTrends Twitter chat, Wednesday, October 28 at 1:30pm Eastern. Brad will help us answer these questions:

  • Q1: Why do organizations struggle with talent management?
  • Q2. How can leaders make their talent management strategies more effective?
  • Q3: What strategies can promote smarter talent management for the future?

See you there!

 

Find Brad on LinkedIn.

 

This podcast was sponsored by Eightfold.ai.

 

Editor’s note: To better meet the needs of our valued community members, the #WorkTrends podcasts and also our Twitter chats have evolved! Check out the new FAQ page and #WorkTrends Podcast page. Then let us know how we’re doing!