Posts

Christina Morillo

2021 HR Landscape: Save Time, Be Safe and Remain Compliant

2020 has changed the workplace – possibly forever. Which makes it even more important to look at the 2021 HR landscape now.

Over the last year, HR professionals have been challenged with the responsibilities of managing a remote workforce. Soon, if they aren’t already, they’ll be tasked with creating “back to work” policies, while keeping safety top-of-mind. With this new normal, it may have been tempting to put your compliance responsibilities on the back burner.

Our advice? Don’t.

So you’re ready for whatever comes your way in 2021, here are just a few compliance topics that require your attention now.

Have You Updated Your Employee Handbook?

The Employee Handbook: That all-important compilation of company policies.

It may not be the first thing on your mind these days. But chances are you have not updated that handbook since before COVID. So, give it another look. For instance, does your handbook cover updated telework and remote work policies? If your employees are back in the office, do you address updated policies regarding sick leave, temperature checks and social distancing?

Through a new lens, conduct a thorough review of your handbook – and avoid confusion and potential lawsuits.

Make Sure You Have the Most Up-to-Date Labor Laws Posted

Do you have a spare $35,000 on hand? Probably not.

Did you know failing to post just one state or federal labor law update prominently in your workplace can mean fines of $35,000? So far in 2020, we have seen 55 labor law changes, and we are aware of at least 20 more changes that will go into effect on January 1, 2021. Don’t risk an expensive penalty; make sure your labor law postings are up to date.

Better yet: Take advantage of services that put this responsibility on autopilot.

Stay Informed: The FMLA is Facing New Challenges

The FMLA has always been difficult to navigate. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it another set of challenges.

Several new state and local leave requirements have emerged as a result of the pandemic. So, it is more important than ever for HR professionals to monitor and manage their employees’ FMLA leave accurately and efficiently. There are a myriad of comprehensive policies, procedures and forms to organize.

Failing to comply with these regulations could easily result in costly fines.

Have Employees Completed 2020 Harassment Training?

With employees working remotely—or not at all—harassment training may have fallen to the bottom of the priority this this year.

Perhaps you were waiting to get back in your office routine to complete the mandated requirements. Truth is, harassment can happen at any time, and at any place. In addition, some states—like Illinois and California—still require harassment training be completed before the New Year. It’s best not to wait.

To stay compliant, consider looking into digital and streaming options. That way, regardless of where they get the work done, employees can complete required training before the end of the year.

Are Your Job Descriptions Accurate?

We bet you weren’t expecting job descriptions to be mentioned in a compliance article. But hear us out.

Did you know a poorly written job description can cause all kinds of issues? From low employee morale to legal troubles? Particularly now that so many positions are remote, it is so important to make sure your job descriptions are accurate. After all, employees must have a clear – and current – understanding of their role and responsibilities. Further, even if you aren’t hiring, job descriptions can play a big role in cross-training and employee development.

While employees are expected to do more from farther away, current job descriptions can help HR develop training and development plans. Quality job descriptions also help ensure employees are operating to their strengths.

Employees Returning? Make Sure Your Workplace is REALLY Safe

For those of you who have returned to the workplace, welcome back!

You are likely to be wearing masks and distancing employee workspaces already. But you still must ensure you’re also following all the updated hazard assessment protocols. Check that your workers and workplace are complying with any necessary temperature checks, hygiene protocols and training requirements related to COVID-19. Additionally, if your workplace implemented additional policies around telework, sick leave and anti-retaliation guidelines, make sure to communicate that information with the rest of your staff.

You really can’t over communicate in times like this. So, keep your people in the know with posted signs and checklists. Also, provide physical supports like masks and hand sanitizer stations to make the return to work feel just that much safer for all.

The 2021 HR Landscape Need Not Be Overwhelming

You have limited time as an HR professional. Resources seem constantly strained. Feeling overwhelmed? Let us help.

We have joined forces with industry leading partners to take the brunt of compliance-based work off your plate and keep you up-to-date on all state and federal policies. Whatever stumbling block gets between you and your 2021 HR goals, we at SHRM can help.

Want to learn more? To discover solutions designed for you, sign up! We’ll immediately start sending regular updates about compliance requirements and solutions.

 

This post is sponsored by SHRM.

 

 

Jon Tyson

4 Proven Tips to Improve Performance of Your Remote Team

Remote work, and working within a remote team, is now a part of the new normal—but not everyone was prepared to make that transition. This change happened suddenly, forcing employees and managers alike to plot a route across this new, and sometimes uncomfortable, reality. At the same time, we had to learn how to balance personal concerns—ranging from poor bandwidth to home-schooling while working—while dealing with anxieties about a global health emergency.

According to a 2020 research study published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), close to 71% of organizations are struggling to adapt to remote work. Communication and productivity were reported to be the areas of greatest concern. In addition, 65% of the respondents cited maintaining employee morale as a top challenge.

Without intentional efforts to create innovative solutions from both employees and management, remote work—especially during these tense, uncertain times—can leave staff feeling isolated, distracted, unmotivated and stressed.

Here are four proven productivity tips businesses can leverage to improve the overall performance and morale of their remote team:

1) Leverage Technological Solutions 

With entire teams working remotely, technologies must be a consideration. In a recent survey conducted by FlexJobs, 54% of HR leaders indicated that poor technology and/or infrastructure is the biggest barrier to effective remote working in their organization.

Web-based applications such as Trello can provide you with a brief overview of the tasks assigned to your team at a single glance. Other important features such as client contacts and reminders are automatically organized and embedded so your remote workers always know what’s going on and what they should be doing next. Since every member on your team has access to everything happening on the work front in Trello, they are better coordinated, which leads to increased productivity.

Another technological solution that can help your company in more ways than one while working remotely is transcription. This is especially true if your business utilizes huge troves of data on a regular basis. 

Audio-to-text transcription can help you convert unstructured data into a structured format, which can help you better manage your resources. By converting your virtual meetings and client calls to written text, you can make more informed decisions and better comprehend their requirements. This can also significantly reduce stress among your employees.

Other technological solutions that can help businesses boost employee productivity include: time tracking and to-do tools such as DeskTime and Nozbe and storage platforms such as Dropbox.

2) Promote Flexibility within the Organization

Under current circumstances, rather than taking a rigid stance, your company’s policies need to be more flexible in manner. Try leaning toward a flexible work environment and trusting your employees as opposed to constantly monitoring and measuring results. 

Also, make sure the selected approaches and tools align well with your employees’ strengths. It also helps toreate efficient workflows where humans and technology can work hand-in-hand to deliver desired results. For example, Slack can serve as home for the virtual water-cooler conversations that no longer happen within the office. 

Some company cultures, of course, value structure in equal doses with flexibility. So  to provide security through structure, schedule regular team meetings. For example, consider a low-key, non-intrusive Zoom meeting on the same day and time every week. Not only will this keep your employees from feeling isolated and unproductive, it will likely encourage the building of trust and a sense of community.

3) Positively Over-Communicate with Your Remote Team

Communication, as many leaders have already discovered, is one of the most critical aspects of remote work. Managers need to over-communicate to make sure their remote teams have all the information they’re possibly going to need to be effective at their jobs. The more positive communication received, the less likely the employee is to feel disconnected.

Each communication should be relevant, frequent, and consistent. Whenever possible, it should be tailored to the needs of each employee. Since everyone’s candor radar is on high alert right now, communication must be sincere and transparent.

Also, consider sharing success stories of other teams, and perhaps other companies, that find themselves in the same situation as your team. After all, crises do furnish opportunities for businesses to recognize unique stories of organizational resilience. And they give us a chance to look at how others have overcome challenges. 

Finally, give people a voice. Move from asking your remote employees “Are you safe and well?’ to “How are you connecting?” “How are you working?” “How are we responding?” Don’t just ask, listen. Then make sure the feedback loop is complete by reporting back what you’ve learned. The more you enable them to express what they are experiencing, the more productive they’ll be.

4) Encourage Employee Engagement

You want to keep your remote employees engaged. You also want to prevent them from feeling disconnected. And you need to strengthen your team by investing in low-pressure activities to promote camaraderie and friendly competition amongst them. Encourage them to tell dad jokes. Or share pictures of children or pets. The more team members know about how others on their team live, the more empathy they’ll gain. And more empathy means more engagement.

Also, consider tech solutions to help with engagement. QuizBreaker, for example, is a super fun way to keep a remote team engaged and connected. Players answer icebreaker questions and then have to guess each other’s answers in automatically generated quizzes. Admins can set up the quizzes to go out via email at set times during the week. The end result: a non-intrusive way to get people talking about something other than work.

In addition, leaderboards keep your team members aligned with your goal at all times and keep them motivated. They encourage healthy competition and improve engagement. To set up a leaderboard for your team, try Spinify. This app adds gamification to nearly every part of your team’s day. Through engagement and friendly competition, team members become more productive.

To achieve maximum productivity from each of your remote team, we must constantly innovate and create strategies that keep them motivated. And there’s no better time than now—while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to mandate work from home contributions—to create solutions that improve the performance of your team.

Nataliya Vaitkevich

More Employees Want Remote Work, But Do Yours (and Why)?

In a recent remote work survey of some 1,200 office workers, PwC found that in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic 77% would like to work from home at least two days per week. Most (83%) want to work from home at least one day per week. That’s a lot of employees wanting to get out of the office and onto their computers from home.

Months after the pandemic hit, teams are still adapting to this new remote-first world—it’s the latest organizational buzzword. But let’s hold the phone just a second. What might this desire to get out of the in-house work environment really mean?

The question isn’t whether your people will be able to work remotely over the long-term. We have the communications and collaboration technology to make it happen. The real question is whether your company can survive a sustained remote environment.

Business leaders need to begin this evaluation of remote vs. in-house work by asking themselves a really difficult question:

Why don’t your people want to come back in and work together?

Work Has Changed — People Haven’t

The thing is, people haven’t changed one bit. We’re still made of the same stuff… no one has suddenly developed a whole new set of emotions. Nope, still just the basic ones. And don’t kid yourself, emotions still drive much of what we do (and what your team does). Of course, some employees are struggling to meet the needs of children and other family members at home creating the need to work out of their homes. Others are experiencing for the first time a workspace without the commute and expensive wardrobe. And let’s not forget the very real, legitimate concerns about safety and exposure to Coronavirus.

The transition to remote work may well prove the most profitable and successful choice for some. But if you don’t have the company culture to support that shift, going remote as a knee-jerk reaction to this trend could be a massive mistake.

In fact, remote work can introduce a whole new host of problems for your people. Harvard Business Review researchers identify social isolation, distractions at home, interpersonal challenges, and reduced access to managerial support as among the top challenges of remote work.

Without the underlying culture to solve the initial set of in-office concerns for your team, how on earth are you going to combat remote work issues like that?

What we need to be doing now as leaders is asking our employees what they want.

Remote Work: What Does Your Team Need?

It’s going to be different for your team than it is for mine, and you’re going to find a whole host of diverse issues and concerns across your organization.

Company culture isn’t just a concept at the executive level—it’s the heart and soul of your company, from bottom to top and everywhere in between. People need to know that they can make a difference regardless of their job title. After all, the culture IS the people; it’s theirs. They comprise company culture. Leaders don’t dictate the culture, but rather are responsible for keeping it going strong.

You can’t just ask what your team needs and then fail to act, though. Leaders must follow through. You must be willing to listen—really listen—and act on those suggestions that are in the best interests of your company, customers, and employees.

Since you’ve asked for the truth, be prepared to hear that you and your policies may be part of the problem. That can definitely smart, but that’s just the nature of the beast. Hearing only what’s great doesn’t change anything. In fact, this kind of honest, clear feedback is part of the process of learning how you need to show up for your employees.

Ask them, and they’ll tell you if the environment has been made safe for open feedback. Hearing directly from your people what would make their work better gives you a free and concise direction on what to tackle. There is a huge bonus to this as well; when you make their needs a priority (and they trust that it’s important), they’ll show up for you in the most surprising ways.

Ask the Right Questions

If you haven’t been receptive and open in the past, you may need to work a bit harder at gaining employees’ trust. Enable employees to give their feedback anonymously. Don’t ask questions that simply confirm what it is you already think you should do; ask open-ended questions and give your people space and time to respond freely.

Ask your employees:

  • Why do you want to work remotely instead of the office?
  • Why do you want to keep coming in and not work remote?
  • What challenges do you feel are preventing you from doing your best work?
  • Which supports would make your life easier?
  • What do you feel is missing from your at-home work environment?
  • What do you feel is missing from your in-office work environment?
  • How can leadership do better?

You don’t need to run out and implement every idea that surfaces. Instead, be willing to evaluate each employee’s needs and have an open conversation about which supports you can put in place and which you cannot. Don’t make change just for the sake of change—make the right change based on that clarity about what you’re doing and why.  And then, do it all again down the road. You have to stay in touch with what’s going on, and it can change quickly.

Assume the Best of Intentions

Assume your employees have the best of intentions in sharing feedback. Don’t presume there is negative sentiment driving their input, even where a negative experience may have been shared. Show kindness and appreciation for their input by discussing it openly and sharing feedback back to the team. Stay connected, stay curious, and never lose the sense of fun and love that brought all of these people together in the first place.

The right change may be a transition to flexible hours or some variation of a remote work environment. But you might just as easily find that the solution for your people involves in-office supports you hadn’t considered, activities and programs that energize the team, incentives that help them celebrate one another’s successes or some combination of all three.

Industry trends are one thing, but the way forward comes from within. It comes from your people. They will love you even more if you’re willing to listen and make a change for them.

Now that’s magic.

 

Startup Photos

How Global HR Leaders Are Navigating the Post Pandemic Workplace

In the past six months, we’ve seen the rise of what I can best describe as ‘emergency culture’. Employees are in a constant state of high alert. “Solving the unsolvable is the new normal,” says Flóra Bondici, chief people officer at Trax Retail, a global provider of computer vision solutions. So what happens when HR leaders need to transition from this “now normal” to the post pandemic workplace?

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the world economy, putting some 3.9 billion people, or half of the world’s population, in lockdown or under stay-at-home orders for months. In April, the International Labour Organization forecasted that workplace disruptions would wipe out 6.7% of working hours globally by the second quarter. That’s the equivalent of 195 million full-time jobs. HR departments across the globe sprang into action in response to the crisis to ensure the safety of workers. Everyone did what needed to be done.

The road to recovery, however, is paved with a whole new set of challenges. Here are three key themes surrounding recovery strategies, as seen by global Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs).

Employee Wellbeing: Buzzword or the Next Big Thing?

Earlier this year, millions of people found themselves confined to their homes day after day. Ramping up remote work plans, however, turned out to be only one of the many steps organizations had to take to keep employees safe. 

“We held dozens of workshops on the challenges of remote work and made sure to invite people from different departments to each of them. We talked about work and home life and actively encouraged them to share ideas and learn from each other,” remembers Györgyi Tóth, HR Director at Deloitte Hungary. The reception was overwhelmingly positive. “For our colleagues the feeling that they’re not left alone with their hardships was the biggest takeaway from these discussions.”

Helping Employees Overcome Stress

Thanks to the advent of the digital economy and ‘always on’ work schedules, helping employees overcome stress and improve health behaviors had been a top priority in the CHRO agenda for years. And if there’s one thing the coronavirus crisis has highlighted is that it’s here to stay.   

“We also launched a ‘remote nursery’ for working parents. With the help of nursery school teachers, we set up a Facebook group. Within that group, colleagues  find and share educational videos, useful links and playful learning activities for kids of all ages,” Tóth explains. She adds that HR professionals must be vigilant in looking out for employees who are struggling with anxiety, stress and burnout while in isolation. But they should not be the only ones to do so. 

“It’s very important colleagues watch out for each other. If you see that a co-worker is having a hard time adjusting, and you have the means to help out, just do it!”

Should I Stay or Should I Go: Rethinking the Way we Work

In most countries, COVID-19 measures have been slowly lifted over the past few months. So what now? After all, the reentry struggle is real. This is especially true when it comes to safely redeploying employees, in and outside of the HR department. 

Some of the areas of greatest concern include work schedules, seating arrangements, meeting spaces and event and visitor policies. Even elevator, break room, and restroom usage cause concern. Each of these issues need to be explored as part of organizations’ reintegration strategies. Not to mention who, among the staff, wants to get back to work in the first place.

Employees Come First

Trax Retail’s policy is simple: Employees come first. 

“Our only principle is to be flexible, supportive and understanding. When people face unexpected situations, you must find ways to support them in unexpected ways. We’ve helped a colleague return to their home country for the birth of their first child, had home-cooked meals delivered to single working moms, you name it. Thankfully, we’ve been able to handle just about any ‘now normal’ scenario that’s come our way. Our people find comfort in knowing that we care,” explains Bondici. 

At technology solutions provider Continental, leaders first looked to the company’s Chinese branch for good practices. Then other branches started to chime in. “We’ve selected a best practice for each aspect of employee management. We’ve also made sure to collect employee feedback from all locations and respond to their concerns,” says Sarah Frachet, head of country HR at the company’s Hungarian subsidiary.

“Make it safe and keep it voluntary. These are the two cornerstones of our reentry efforts,” explains Tóth. An organization-wide survey has shown that one-third of Deloitte employees would be perfectly happy to continue working from home. On the other end of the spectrum, one-third would welcome the opportunity to return to the office, while the remaining one-third remain cautious. 

“We’ve decided to take a hybrid approach and let employees decide for themselves where they want to work.”

The Future is Now: What’s Next for HR?

In many organizations, the HR department has moved on from administration to strategy. In the post pandemic workplace, there were no other viable alternatives. Ultra-competitive job markets, evolving business models and a combination of rapid technology innovation and shifting employee expectations left them no choice but to evolve. Never have CHROs had to deliver so much so fast. 

But what role will HR play in our brave new post-pandemic workplace? And the world in general?

The answer, experts agree, is twofold. Human resources will definitely continue its rise as managements’ trusted ally in shaping the way enterprises create value through talent. At the same time, they must offer support on an operational level – now more than ever. With no clear coronavirus treatment or vaccine in sight and a second wave just around the corner, CHROs must work out strategies for taking extra health and safety measures, maintaining workplace morale and, if it comes to it, overseeing layoffs.

But from a much better position than in February and March, when the pandemic started to hit businesses hardest.

Moving on From a State of Panic

“By now, organizations have moved on from a state of panic to stepping up to the challenge and making the new normal work,” points out IseeQ CEO Tamás Püski. The same goes for hiring practices, too. More and more recruiters have embraced Zoom interviews and remote onboarding, not to mention the unexpected opportunities the corona crisis has brought about in talent acquisition. “There’s been a growing regional demand for local talent for months. Several companies in Western Europe who had to let go of people during the first wave, or were in the process of building new teams, are now looking to tap into CEE’s talent base.”

The Post Pandemic Workplace: Resilience in the Face of Uncertainty

In the post pandemic workplace, the most important strategic objective for any business is to build resilience in the face of unparalleled uncertainty.

Meaning that HR executives must find ways to prepare their organizations not for the next crisis – but for any crisis. And to do so, they must start thinking differently about who they hire – and why. 

“My parents would always tell me that a good education is a stepping stone to a good career. This is not exactly the case anymore,” says Frachet. Instead of looking at what a person can do during a job interview, recruiters increasingly focus on finding out what they can and are willing to learn to do. 

“Make sure you have the right people in the right places. Then make sure they never stop growing.”

Frachet adds: “Moving forward, growth is what HR must be all about.”

 

Fauxels

[#WorkTrends] Employee Experience 2020: Digitization, Flexibility, Benefits

What is the correlation between the employee benefits offered and employee experience?

Your organization probably invests a lot of time, energy and also money to retain your top employees. And yet, at least occasionally, you still wind up losing them to competitors. 

How do you put an end to that unproductive cycle? What can you offer your employees that means enough for them to stay? As an employer, what’s your real value proposition? A beautiful office? No, not when we’re working remotely. Free gym memberships or great retreats? Soon, hopefully, but not now. 

To retain your top talent in today’s work environment, it’s not about perks. Retention is about what employees really need.

Our Guest: Chris Wakely of Benify

To get to the heart of this matter, I invited Chris Wakely, Executive Vice President of Global Sales at Benify, to join me on #WorkTrends this week. First, I was very interested to learn more about the big picture takeaways from Benify’s new report: The Benefits and Engagement Report: A European Employer’s Guide to Employee Experience for the 2020s. Chris quickly gave me the scoop.

“It’s been quite an interesting journey for us. When we planned this survey, who had any idea the world would turn out how it has?” Chris asked. He told us the survey was conducted in April, near the beginning of the global pandemic. “Despite all the craziness, about 5,000 people took the survey. We asked them what they think about their employer? What benefits, other than salary, do they want? It was a really interesting time to be asking these questions as people dug into their new reality. We really got an understanding of how employees think and act in the middle of change.”

More Than Ever: People Care About Benefits

Chris said the survey — for many respondents, even those concerned about job loss — revealed that people cared deeply about their benefits. They saw those benefits as security in an uncertain time. “Those benefits beyond salary, for many, were and are more important than ever before,” Chris said. He added: “It surprised me: Despite everything going on, this is still an employee’s market. People still demand more. And employers can’t afford to underestimate how important those things are to their people, especially now.”

When I asked Chris about the biggest myth the survey debunked, he didn’t hesitate. “There’s this idea that we should just be grateful we have a job. But the report shows that even during this pandemic, the show just goes on. After all this, recruiting goes on.”

Benefits Tied Directly to Employee Experience

During our conversation, one point really hit home: “9 out of 10 employees aged under 30 say they would consider changing employers to receive better employee benefits,” Chris said. Can you imagine? Even during a horrific pandemic, 90 percent of employees under 30 would leave for better benefits… and better employee experience!

Chris and I went on to talk about several topics. Those included which area of wellness employers should be giving the most attention, the correlation between engagement and an employee’s satisfaction with the benefits offered, the troubles companies are having with digital onboarding, and so much more. Make sure you dedicate enough time to listen to the entire conversation… it is worth every minute.

Continue the Conversation on Twitter

We’re sure you’ll want to hear more about how benefits improve employee experience from the good people at Benify. So, please join us next Wednesday, October 14th at 1:30pm ET for our next #WorkTrends Twitter chat. Chris will be there to help us answer these questions: 

  • Q1: Why do organizations struggle with providing the right benefits?
  • Q2: What strategies can promote a better benefits experience for employees?
  • Q3. Why is a total rewards experience a valuable hiring and retention tool?

We thank the Benify team in advance for spending more time with the TalentCulture community. And we’ll thank you for joining us on Twitter, next Wednesday, 10-14!

 

Find Chris on LinkedIn.

 

This podcast was sponsored by Benify.

 

Editor’s note: Have you noticed? #WorkTrends podcasts and Twitter chats have evolved to better meet your needs! For details, check the new FAQ page. And to see upcoming event topics and guests, check the calendar listing on the #WorkTrends Podcast page.

 

Adrien Olichon

[#WorkTrends] The Inspiring Power of AI-Driven Collaboration

How can AI-driven collaboration help extend our company culture to the remote workplace?

You don’t want to miss a single episode of #WorkTrends…  subscribe to the podcast now!

At TalentCulture, we have always been a remote workplace. So lately, I’ve found it really interesting to work with companies that are experiencing this for the first time. It’s been fun, and inspiring, watching them pivot so quickly — and to see them function so well within the digital workspace we already knew so well.

For these and so many others, the many actions and interactions that happen within organizations have shifted to remote. Communication, meetings, feedback, managing, planning — all now happen virtually. It’s been really exciting to see work teams make the transition and thrive, especially in the HR space. In the last few months, I’ve often felt the urge to virtually pat HR teams on the back as they realize they can, in fact, run HR remotely. As they do, they’re not just learning a new way to operate.

They are learning that Artificial Intelligence, or AI, plays a huge role in how they manage, monitor, measure, and lead their efforts.

Our Guest: Guibert Englebienne of Globant

That is why I invited Guibert Englebienne, the Chief Technology Officer & Co-founder of Globant, on this week’s edition of #WorkTrends. I wanted to talk about how AI-driven collaboration enables us to manage our work and engage our people in entirely different ways. And how the best forms of AI enable us to work together efficiently and creatively from anywhere in the world. 

I first asked him what makes today’s workplace so different from past versions. His response quickly left me impressed with Guibert’s passion for his work, and for helping HR teams: “Technology has accelerated the world we live in today. That fast-paced competition has made companies focus on delighting consumers. Now it’s time to delight employees as well.”

“The pandemic forced us to digitally transform the world overnight. Organizations suddenly found themselves in a broadly remote working environment. That creates a lot of challenges,” Guibert added. “It was natural, at some point, to start asking, ‘Is our team okay?’ and maybe even ‘Is it there?’ When we were at the office, we could see each other’s eyes. We could see if someone was okay. And very suddenly, that all went away.”

The Power of AI-Driven Collaboration

As we’ve talked about many times within the TalentCulture community, the human connection isn’t all that went away. We also lost our connection to our company cultures. Guibert agreed, “We knew we needed to continue hiring and growing without the ability to live and breathe our culture. So, we at Globant set out to digitalize our culture.”

As Guibert admitted, this was a real challenge. “Soon, though, using AI-driven collaboration, we realized we had created a social operating system that allowed for a more human organization. One in which we each connect to more people. We get to know them better. And at the same time we create a lot of collective intelligence for the organization, which allows us to be more adaptable.”

A Human-Centered Operating System

Guibert went on to tell us exactly how Globant created this human-centered operating system. He also shared how AI plays a major role in creating a culture that inspires while also helping decide exactly what kind of organizational culture we want to build. The conversation, while it left my head spinning a bit, made me realize just how far we’ve come since the pandemic started and just how far we can still go. You don’t want to miss a minute of this episode of #WorkTrends!

We’re not done talking about AI-Driven collaboration yet, though. Please join us next Wednesday, October 7th at 1:30pm for a special #WorkTrends Twitter chat. During what is sure to be an inspiring conversation, Guibert and the Globant team will help us answer these questions:

Q1: Why do organizations struggle with team collaboration?

Q2: How can AI-driven tools help boost creativity?

Q3: How can leaders use AI-driven tools to boost company culture?

I’ll see you there!

 

Find Guibert Englebienne on Linkedin and Twitter.

 

This podcast was sponsored by Globant.

 

Editor’s note: #WorkTrends podcasts and also our Twitter chats have evolved to better meet your needs! For details, check the new FAQ page. And to see upcoming event topics and guests, check the calendar listing on the #WorkTrends Podcast page.

 

Andrea Piacquadio

[#WorkTrends] Job Description Complexities: The Problems and Solutions

Love it or hate it, the job description is a fact of business life…

The problem with many job descriptions? Too often, they are written to benefit the hiring company and not the person looking for a job. They also lack the essential information a job seeker needs to assess a company’s workplace culture and leadership style. Information such as “a day in the life” is rarely provided, nor is enough information about the position and team or department. Worse yet, many contain hidden bias. Plus, let’s face it, most job descriptions are boring. 

Is that how we want potential employees to perceive our brand? Self-serving? Biased? Boring?

Poorly written job descriptions have a consistently negative impact on our organizations. They filter out good people and a more-diverse set of applicants. At the same time, they increase the risk of applications from unqualified candidates. Even worse, they become a root cause of poor job interviews andworse yetbad hires. 

You don’t want to miss a single episode of #WorkTrends…  subscribe to the podcast now!

But there are practical ways to humanize job descriptions. We can make them more reader-friendly and more focused on the job seeker. As employers, we can be seen as more approachable — more human. 

Our Guest on #WorkTrends: Mark Herschberg

I invited Mark Herschberg — entrepreneur and author of the upcoming book, The Career Toolkit, Essential Skills for Success That No One Taught You to join me on #WorkTrends this week. We talked about how thoughtful companies are improving their job descriptions by writing them betterbetter for the employer brand, and to better attract and engage interested, qualified job talent. 

Right away, Mark let me know I wasn’t alone with my frustration with how job descriptions are written, and how poorly they represent the hiring company: “The biggest problem is that most job descriptions look interchangeable. If you take any two, three, five, six job descriptions from different companies they all read the same,” Mark said. He went on to tell us this templated, generic approach does not serve the job seeker well. He then added: “This gets even more complicated when you start to think about what’s not in a job description — the human elements. “We leave out leadership or communication abilities. We don’t talk about the need to build relationships and have a strong network. Or even how important it is within the culture to have a sense of humor.”

The Job Description and Company Culture

We also talked about an issue near and dear to my heart: Company culture — and how employers can best describe their culture not just in a job description but during onboarding. “Culture is really important, but not the culture most people think of. When HR typically talks about culture, they talk about stated corporate values, things such as putting the customer first. But on a day to day basis, what work culture means to most people is how they interact with others. And that really comes down to communication.” Mark is right. And job descriptions are our first opportunity to communicate with a candidate, so must include that vital information. 

Mark added: “Those water-cooler interactions or hallway conversations may have been a hallmark of your company’s communication before. But in today’s remote work world, they might not be taking place. So a job description should be explicit about how the company functions during normal times and how it functions today during the pandemic.”

Mark and I went on to talk more about how the COVID-19 crisis has impacted hiring and onboarding, how a job description should serve as a sales and marketing tool versus just a hiring tool, and so much more. 

Enjoy the entire podcast. Then go start a discussion within your company about how you can help job descriptions become not just better hiring tools, but better representations of your company culture and brand!

 

Find Mark on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Cottonbro

#WorkTrends: The Power of Workplace Gratitude with Liz King

How do we best show workplace gratitude? How do we help employees and coworkers feel valued and appreciated?

There’s no doubt: In 2020, the world seems pretty serious. All around me here in Oregon, and up and down the west coast, we’re dealing with unprecedented firestorms. A series of tropical storms seems ready to hit the southeastern US. And we’re all still grappling with a pandemic that has dramatically changed the workplace. With all this going on, many of us seek solace. We covet a moment of relaxation. And for the many of us working solo at home, we crave human connection.

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So there’s no better time to be deliberately human. To reach out to a friend to say hello. Or, perhaps to make an employee or coworker smile by just saying thank you. But how do we show gratitude in a meaningful way while we’re socially distancing?

Liz King on Workplace Gratitude

To answer that question, and because I truly believe sharing gratitude with employees and peers may be the special sauce of workplace culture and engagement, I asked Liz King, CMO of gThankYou, to join me on this week’s #WorkTrends podcast. We talked about the real science behind gratitude, and how it can transform any workplace — whether co-located, remote, or both. Of course, the holidays are coming. So we also took a look at great ideas on how to use gratitude to make everyone smile, even if we can’t be together.

In the first few moments with Liz, I confirmed how important it is to create a culture of workplace gratitude. “Because of what we’re seeing as a result of the pandemic — increased worker stress, loneliness, anxiety, the pressure of juggling family and work commitments — it is so important employers are there to help employees take on these new world challenges through sincere gestures of kindness and appreciation,” Liz said. She emphasized that while one-time expressions of gratitude are meaningful, consistency is important. “Building a culture of gratitude needs to come from the top down. Ultimately, it must be part of the fabric of a workplace culture. You just can’t say a one and done thank you and think you’ve done enough.”

Appreciation is Personal

When talking about that human connection, Liz shared another great piece of advice: “We are so short on personal engagement right now. If you can, pick up the phone. Check in on your employees. People need to know they’re valued and not alone.” Liz smartly added: “Don’t forget a heartfelt, personal thank you note always makes somebody’s day.”

Since Liz and gThankYou are experts at showing gratitude to employees and coworkers, I couldn’t let Liz get away without about the best way to show sincere gratitude nowand for the upcoming holidays: “To help show appreciation year-round, we have a day-to-day employee celebration calendar full of actionable appreciation and engagement ideas. Of course, we started our business in 2007 based on the tradition of giving a turkey to employees for Thanksgiving. We then started creating certificates of gratitude for practical employee and customer food gifts. Not just a Thanksgiving turkey, but a Christmas ham and  fruit and vegetables, ice cream, and groceries anytime.”

Walking the Thankful Talk

During our conversation, it became clear Liz, her husband Rick, and their entire team walk the thankful talk: “We are incredibly grateful to work with companies who care about appreciating employees. It is such a joy to get them on the phone! They’re excited to order again, every year. And they talk about why showing gratitude is so important to them — just as it is to us.”

I’m grateful gThankYou sponsored this meaningful episode of #WorkTrends℠. I really appreciate their simple, flexible approach to helping brands show they care about their employees. I can’t thank them enough.

Be sure to listen in… then go say thank you to someone making a difference in your life!

And please join us on Wednesday, September 23rd at 1:30pm ET with a special Twitter chat featuring Liz King. Here are the questions we’ll be asking:

Q1: Why do organizations struggle with expressing gratitude? #WorkTrends

Q2: What strategies can promote a culture of gratitude? #WorkTrends

Q3: How can leaders show gratitude over the holidays?  #WorkTrends

 

Find Liz on Linkedin and Twitter. Also check out gThankYou on LinkedIn.

 

Editor’s note: #WorkTrends podcasts and Twitter chats are changing to better meet your needs! For details, check the new FAQ page. And to see upcoming event topics and guests, check the calendar listing on the #WorkTrends Podcast page.

 

Edward Jenner

#WorkTrends: Transforming the Healthcare Benefits Experience

Now more than ever, employers feel a mandate to take good care of their people. And that responsibility is bigger than how best to empower a remote workforce. It is more complex than deciding the right time to bring them back on-site. Today, how we enable our employees to take care of themselves, and their loved ones, is a front and center issue.

You don’t want to miss a single episode of #WorkTrends… subscribe to the podcast now!

Are we providing the wellness benefits our employees need? Do they have access to the right providers? Is preventative care and testing available? How are employees making the decision on what plan to pick — and who is helping them make those decisions? And what kind of experience do we want our employees to have while choosing the right health plan, and providers, for them?

Healthcare Benefits: A Timely Conversation

This period just before open enrollment is not a great time for employees to be left without answers to these questions. So for this episode of @WorkTrends, I invited Justin Holland, CEO and Founder of Healthjoy, to shed some much-needed light on healthcare benefits.

In speaking with Justin, I learned how much healthcare has changed over the last few decades. I also discovered just how important it is to properly educate and enable employees before asking them to choose health benefits. “It’s really easy to run through an open enrollment presentation and forget about the impact of the decisions being made,” Justin said. “So our goal is to give employees the tools and framework they need to make the right decisions for them.”

Justin also confirmed how I have felt about open enrollment: That having a day or two to make major decisions just isn’t enough. “Open enrollment is obviously a very important time to educate employees on benefits. But there’s 364 other days a year they’re utilizing those benefits,” Justin said. “Our vision is that healthcare education be available at the right place at the right time. Because when a kid is sick at 2:00am and you’re going to the ER, chances are slim you’re going to remember what was said in that open enrollment meeting six months ago.”

Healthcare Education and Empowerment

Justin added: “Healthcare education and empowerment needs to be relevant during those touchpoints. At that moment, we’re all accountable — employee and employer, provider and platform — for the health and wellness of the family.”

During our conversation, Justin and I also talked about the rising cost of healthcare. We discussed how employers can provide healthcare benefits to freelancers and independent contractors. And we touched on how healthcare might look after the COVID-19 crisis is behind us. The timing of our conversation couldn’t be better. After all, chances are good your company is about to start an open enrollment period, or is considering a change to employee benefits for 2021. So please listen in!

Healthjoy sponsored this episode of #WorkTrends℠. And I’m so glad they did. I’m sure you’ll learn a lot from our 20 minutes or so together. I did!

 

Find Justin on Linkedin and Twitter.

 

Editor’s note: Have you heard about how #WorkTrends podcasts and Twitter chats are changing to better meet your needs? For details check the new FAQ page. Also, to see upcoming event topics and guests, check the new calendar listing on the #WorkTrends Podcast page.

 

#WorkTrends: Sexual Harassment In Virtual Workplaces

An ill-suited conversation. A moment of innuendo. Or a comment targeted at our gender, wardrobe choices, and even our hairstyles. Each, depending on context, are considered sexually harassing messages. And yet, especially in a remote working environment, identifying harassment often comes down to a feeling you get rather than something you can prove. You feel the other person’s behavior or comment was inappropriate. But was it sexual harassment?

Don’t miss a single episode of #WorkTrends… subscribe to the podcast now!

Under any circumstances, this is not an easy topic. Now, with many employees working from home, the degree of difficulty has only increased. After all, sexual harassment does not always occur face-to-face or by touch; video conferences, emails and texts, and collaboration platforms like Slack are also delivery methods.

The Uncomfortable Conversation: Sexual Harassment

I invited Sarah Beaulieu, co-founder of The Uncomfortable Conversation and author of the book Breaking the Silence Habit: A Practical Guide to Uncomfortable Conversations in the #MeToo Workplace, to join me on #WorkTrends℠. In a frank discussion, we dove into the nuances of socially distanced forms of sexual harassment. I quickly learned this is an issue Sarah deeply cares about, and has since her first discussion on the subject: “In that moment, and in the conversations that followed, I learned about the power of a single conversation.”

Sarah emphasized that work cultures are work cultures, face-to-face or not – and harassment is harassment. Regardless of our working environment, she said we need to set our own personal boundaries, and organizations must set them as well. “Individually and organizationally – collectively – we’re responsible for holding the line,” Sarah said. “When we hold that line together, and in service of our work culture, it’s less likely sexual harassment takes place.”

The Role Silence Plays

During our conversation, I was particularly struck by the role silence plays in enabling sexual harassment — and how, over time, that silence can be so damaging to workplace culture. Sarah agrees, and astutely adds: Silence is a choice – and culture is the conversations we choose to have, or not have, together.”

Yes, sexual harassment is a difficult topic. And yet I’m so glad we started this discussion. Please, listen to the entire podcast. In our time together, Sarah shares so much of herself and her work. And every word will help us start the uncomfortable – but absolutely necessary – conversations.

Find Sarah on Linkedin and Twitter.

 

(Editor’s note: Soon, we’re announcing upcoming changes to #WorkTrends podcasts and Twitter chats. To learn about these changes as they unfold, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.)

 

Photo: Pixabay

5 Ways COVID-19 Will Continue to Change HR

Many companies and job titles will go through drastic changes due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The HR sector and the people working in it will undoubtedly experience some of them. Here are five things people can anticipate regarding HR after COVID-19 — as well as during it:

1. Companies Will Show Employee Appreciation Differently

Even while people love working from home, many find it difficult to get through their days without the fist bumps, handshakes and pats on the back that often accompanied their most productive, successful days in offices. These changes mean HR departments may need to find alternative ways to thank employees for their hard work. 

Hani Goldstein is the co-founder and CEO of Snappy Gifts, a company specializing in employee recognition products. She noted, “Working from home can be an isolating and disorienting experience for most of today’s workforce who are used to seeing their peers every day at the office.”

It’s also more challenging for employees to strike that all-important work-life balance. “Hours that were once dedicated to fun activities have been replaced with more work and increased responsibilities,” Goldstein explained. These things mean employers need to show their gratitude differently. Whether that means having team appreciation parties over virtual platforms or sending workers online gift cards, HR representatives must figure out safe, effective ways to express thanks. 

2. Remote Hiring and Recruitment Practices Will Gain Momentum

Some analysts predicted remote methods would change hiring and recruitment methods long before COVID-19 impacted the world. They were right to some extent, especially as HR professionals realized doing things remotely cut out potential hassles like travel arrangements. Remote platforms let companies extend their hiring and recruitment reach instead of only looking for candidates in the immediate area. 

HR after COVID-19 will likely prominently feature remote platforms and approaches. Suppose a human resources professional or recruitment expert can gauge a person’s candidacy for a role via a teleconferencing platform. That method saves time compared to bringing a person into the office. 

Some remote interviews are for work-at-home jobs. However, if a person gets hired for a position at a physical location, companies may require that the new hire tests negative for the novel coronavirus before arriving. 

3. Contracts Will Include COVID-19-Related Specifications More Often

As professionals navigate this new normal and ponder what it means for the future of HR, they should consider how the pandemic might impact their employment contracts. For example, a company might remove a line that guarantees the worker a certain number of hours per week to work, especially if the industry will experience the effects of the pandemic for the foreseeable future. 

One emerging trend — especially seen in the construction sector — concerns the addition of force majeure clauses related to the pandemic in contracts. Those cover the natural and unavoidable disasters preventing a party from fulfilling a contract’s terms. However, it is not sufficient for that entity to claim it was inconvenient to meet the contract’s terms. Courts look at several variables, including whether the conditions made working impossible.

Contracts may also state that workers must report their COVID-19 risk or agree to get screened. Drug screenings are already commonplace, and the same could become true for coronavirus tests. Legal experts and HR representatives are still working out the specifics of contracts in light of the global health crisis. However, people should expect to see some noticeable changes in contractual language soon. 

4. HR Representatives May Need to Reserve More Time for Training

The pandemic forced workplaces to adjust rapidly to new procedures to keep people safe. Cleaning happens more thoroughly and frequently, and many companies reduce or eliminate the time employees spend in close quarters. Customer-facing businesses also must adopt new procedures for keeping guests safe. 

Human resources professionals regularly schedule training sessions. However, they may need to do that more often or for larger workforce segments due to COVID-19. Some businesses invested in robots to help workers or wearable gadgets to ensure that people stay far enough apart while on the job. It could take a while for some workers to adjust to those things, although dedicated training efforts could help. 

If all or most of a workforce shifts to remote working, HR representatives may deem it necessary to plan training sessions that spell out safe practices online and give people tips for staying productive. Many employees now have to work in ways they hadn’t imagined. HR professionals cannot remove all the obstacles, but taking the time to educate the workers about what’s new could relieve the stresses they feel. 

5. Businesses Will Adjust Their Time-Off Policies According to Government Guidance

The need to isolate confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases poses challenges for HR professionals who may already face workplace shortages for other reasons. However, following government guidance on that matter remains crucial. Workplace leaders must also stay abreast of recent changes.

For example, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated the guidance about workers caring for themselves at home after symptom onset. The most recent recommendation is that people can come back to work if at least 10 days pass since symptoms began and they stay fever-free for at least 24 hours after their body temperatures initially return to normal without medication. Their non-fever symptoms must also improve. 

The CDC previously set the fever-resolution component of that three-prong test at 72 hours, so the change represents a significant reduction. These specifics mean companies may begin implementing time-off periods that people can use specifically for reasons connected to the virus. Doing that keeps people safer by minimizing the likelihood that they feel tempted to work while feeling unwell. 

The Evolving Future of HR

No one knows the pandemic’s time frame, so it’s impossible to say for sure how things will change. However, the five things mentioned here are solid predictions, especially since some workplaces have already adopted the changes.

Photo: Mariya Pampova

#WorkTrends: Hiring Virtual Assistants

Virtual assistants (VA) offer young brands the flexibility to focus on other areas of the business.

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From multitasking between meetings and meal prep to the issues of internet and noise levels, many of us are still trying to adjust to this new normal. But we don’t have to do it alone. Big and small companies are hiring helpers to come to the rescue. These virtual assistants (VAs) and freelancers can take on the tasks that give employees a break and keep the business going.  

Nathan Hirsch, co-founder of Outsource School, came to #WorkTrends to talk about this new trend. For entrepreneurs and leaders he’s got one rule of thumb: bring in help before you’re in dire straits early. “When you can’t walk away from your business for a week, a moment — that’s usually a good indication that you need to hire followers” — as he calls VAs.

The same approach applies as with bringing in any outside help: make sure everyone is on the same page and onboard well. Outsource School uses an onboarding process called SICC: Schedule, Issues, Communication and Culture. VAs also receive standard operating procedures for their first week at work and are tasked with not just reading them, but asking questions. A quiz determines whether they need more training or not — and at that point, if the fit isn’t right, each party may decide to part ways. “That’s how you protect your time, protect your investment and build trust,” he noted. 

For managers, Nathan advises “making sure you set those communication channels up front” to get the process aligned — whether that includes emails, Slack, WhatsApp, Viber or all of them. Then coach VAs on which to use when. For VAs, asking for support when needed is critical. And I predict that we’re going to see more VAs coming onboard now and into the future, so this is an option I’d take seriously. 

We covered a lot of ground in this discussion, so I encourage you to have a listen for yourself. Got feedback? Feel free to weigh in on Twitter or on LinkedIn. (And make sure to add the #WorkTrends℠ hashtag so others in the TalentCulture community can follow along.)

Find Nathan Hirsh on Linkedin and Twitter

(Editor’s note: This month, we’re announcing upcoming changes to #WorkTrends podcasts and Twitter chats. To learn about these changes as they unfold, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.)

Photo: ion dooley

#WorkTrends: Managing Down, Up, and Across: Best Practices

People always create the culture, especially at work. And when Meghan M. Biro and tech and workplace innovator Dr. Janice Presser joined forces on this week’s #WorkTrends, what emerged was a new compact for managing not just teams, but everyone we work with — including ourselves.

We can’t just consider dynamics as one-way, Janice noted. Managing relationships goes in three directions: “Up, sideways, and down,” she said. Employees can and should work on ‘managing their managers,’ but to manage up, managers need to understand what makes employees motivated to work first, explained Janice. “One motivator is power. Not power over people necessarily, but empowerment. And the other is affiliation.” As an employee, do you know what skill (and value) you have to complete a task —  and contribute to the team? More importantly, do you know who you need to report that task to?

No matter the direction, Meghan pointed out, and whether you’re managing a team, a report, or a boss, it can be like walking a tightrope. As Janice noted, the key is understanding exactly who you’re dealing with, and what makes them tick, and we can do that just as well with someone in charge as we can with a colleague or a report.

Not surprisingly, one of the most effective strategies for enabling employees to do well is to “get out the way,” said Janice, which is a matter of trust — a factor that needs to exist across the board. In terms of managers, however, they need to trust that their employees will each do their part to contribute to the bigger picture. After all, everyone lands in a particular career role for a reason. And one smart tactic for helping employees climb the ladder is to let them switch roles until they find their niche. “Just let people swap,” she said. It can do wonders in getting everyone to feel that “corporate love.” The approach doesn’t even have to be fancy, added Meghan: informally managing peer relationships helps “employees figure out who on the team will love doing that part of the work.”

As for managing across, there’s a foolproof way to reduce friction and resentment among your team. Be grateful for those doing their job so you don’t have to. We all have our unique talents. And in the end, love and appreciation will take us all a lot farther.

Listen to the full conversation and see our questions for the upcoming #WorkTrends Twitter Chat. And don’t forget to subscribe, so you don’t miss an episode.

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why do companies struggle with management issues? #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can improve how we approach managing? #WorkTrends
Q3: What can leaders do to help organizations improve how we manage? #WorkTrends

Find Dr. Janice Presser on Linkedin and Twitter

 

Photo: Jéssica Oliveira

Observing Workplace Compliance During a Crisis

News surrounding the coronavirus pandemic is developing at such a breakneck pace that by the time you read this article, the data in it will probably be outdated. As of this writing, there are more than 186,000 cases of COVID-19 worldwide. In the U.S., 49 states and the District of Columbia have reported more than 4,500 cases of coronavirus and 88 deaths. 

Managers and employees likely have worries about everything from job security to the risk of contracting the virus at work. Some private and public employers have begun shifting onsite employees whose jobs can be done remotely to working from home for the foreseeable future. But what if someone’s job can’t be done remotely? What happens when they exhaust all their sick time and other paid time off? Should an employer pay them even when they are furloughed?

It depends on whether they are an exempt (salaried) or non-exempt (hourly) worker. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD):

Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, employers aren’t required to pay hourly workers for time not worked, even if that is through no fault of the employee. If an hourly employee gets sent home, and their job can’t be done from home, their employer only has to pay them for their actual hours worked that week and subsequent weeks.

But the law requires salaried employees to receive their full salary for weeks in which they perform any work, with limited exceptions. This includes even minor work such as checking email and voicemail. A private employer may require exempt staff to take PTO in the case of an office closure, provided the employees receive pay equal to their guaranteed salary. 

So technically, an employer can stop paying an employee, whether hourly or salaried, if the employee is required to stay home for an extended period of time and his or her job can’t be done from home. Of course the ethics on that are a bit shakier. 

Further, some employers may have to comply with federal and state advance-notice requirements of up to 90 days for workers regarding furloughs and layoffs in certain circumstances (the WARN Act). But it isn’t yet clear if and how this applies to COVID-19-related layoffs.

WHD encourages employers to consider flexible leave policies for the sake of “community mitigation,” offer alternative work arrangements such as teleworking and additional paid time off, and consider strategies such as staggered work shifts to promote social distancing. 

Employees’ rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act

Employers covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) must provide employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for their own personal illness or to care for children and other immediate family members who are ill. In addition to other criteria, employees must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months to be covered by FMLA. Your state also may have its own laws covering sick and family leave.

What if an employee’s child has been dismissed from school due to coronavirus fears and they have to stay home with them, even if the employee is not ill? While coronavirus so far seems to be bypassing the youngest of the population, there’s currently no federal law covering private sector employees who have to take off from work to care for children, and employers aren’t legally required to provide leave—paid or unpaid—to employees caring for dependents who have been dismissed from school or child care.  

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says the virus appears capable of spreading “easily and sustainably” from person to person, but data shows that most people do not become seriously ill from it. Reports from China, where the virus originated, found that about 80% of cases were “mild” and led to full recovery. Of the 70,000 cases there, about 2% were in people younger than 19.  

“This seems to be a disease that affects adults, and most seriously older adults” from age 60 up, the CDC says. The highest risk of serious illness and death is in people older than 80 years of age and people with serious underlying health conditions. But given the potential for significant spread of illness in a pandemic, WHD urges employers “to review their leave policies to consider providing increased flexibility to employees and their families.” 

Furloughs and remote working

Some employers such as the hard-hit airlines have already begun asking workers to take voluntary furloughs. In the event of a mandatory quarantine or furlough, employees may choose to use sick leave, vacation or other PTO if their employer’s policies and applicable state law permits. If an employee is sent home, certain jurisdictions may require “reporting time” pay to compensate the employee for reporting to work even if work wasn’t performed or the employee didn’t work a full shift.  

If an employer requires staff to work remotely, the company is supposed to furnish employees with all the necessary tools for that, including laptop or PC, mobile phones, and other equipment, or reimburse employees for the cost.  

Employers also need to consider liability issues. Not having adequate policies in place to manage issues arising from communicable illness could expose them to significant legal risk, according to Harvard Business Review. If an employee becomes infected at work, employers may face OSHA penalties depending on the circumstances or be exposed to workers’ compensation, unfair labor practices, and other claims. Businesses such as restaurants also have to consider liability to third parties.

Staff with symptoms of infection should be sent home or instructed to stay home. If remote work is not feasible for their staff, employers could implement other measures to reduce close interpersonal contact, such as canceling in-person meetings and conferences, staggered or “shift” work as previously mentioned, and even changes to the office layout. Such measures could help protect workers from infection and the organization from liability. Companies should also consider extending or expanding benefits and protections for employees on leave who exceed their PTO allotment.

Regardless of their official leave policies, it behooves businesses to be more generous about paying furloughed or quarantined employees than the law requires them to be — not only for the sake of their business’s health and that of the community, but as part of being good corporate citizens. 

However, it seems that for now, all government can do is strongly appeal to employers to pay their furloughed or quarantined employees, but it can’t force them to. (Congress is reportedly considering some sort of paid-leave bill, but it is still in the works.) And in the meantime, employers are urged to do as much as they can to help their workers who must stay home. It’s not only beneficial to public health and the workforce’s own health, ultimately it will benefit the business as well.

How to Manage a Remote Team

The age of everyone physically commuting to work is slowly coming to a close. Instead, employees are now assuming that remote work will constitute at least some of their workdays. But what about teams made up solely of remote workers?

Studies have shown that remote workers can be happier and more productive. And with increases in HR tech programs that aim to support remote teams, many companies — in the U.S. and worldwide — are choosing to go office-free because they see the benefits. Here’s how some people and some companies are managing this no-longer-uncommon work setup.

Company Culture and Creativity

A central tenet to successfully managing a remote team is creating a company culture that acknowledges that you might be hundreds or thousands of miles away from each other but you still feel part of the mission of the organization. Employees want to know that they are supported even from afar. In this way, you build trust with your employees and they don’t feel isolated while working remotely.

Robin Schooling, the head of people at Strio Consulting, says it’s important to replicate the “feel” of being in an actual office. Schooling says she has organized birthday celebrations online for teams and put together a Halloween costume contest for employees who sent in photos of themselves or of their dressed-up pets.

She says that while the work is being done, there are some instances that build camaraderie among workers even if done via an online platform. “There are moments when someone will post a meme, and everyone will pile on and be like ‘that’s hilarious’ and they’ll have a personal interaction,” Schooling says.

Having the chance to meet each other in person can also boost employee happiness. The global company Bynder conducted an experiment on its workforce when it came to remote working. The company discovered its employees had missed being able to meet their co-workers, so when it repeated the exercise it collaborated with a co-working site to provide that physical space.

For Unsettled, a company that provides experiential retreats to professionals in places around the world, creating a positive workplace culture is at the heart of maintaining a completely remote team.

“When an employee’s work is rooted in personal meaning for them, not simply meaning for the company or institution, you don’t need to ask them to ‘show up.’ They are doing it for themselves,” Unsettled’s co-founder Jonathan Kalan writes. “You don’t need to check in and make sure they are getting their [stuff] done. You trust them to lead themselves.”

Define What Success Looks Like

Many of the stereotypes about remote work stem from the idea that a person can’t possibly be productive if they’re not in the office from 9-5. That’s just not the case.

Monique Black, principal adviser for talent at Maco.la, says objectives and accountability are what drive the success of remote teams.

“Focusing on ‘objective’ and ‘accountable’ is really important, [including] making sure employees are producing what they are expected to be,” Black says. “Provided you have a good team that work together … then you can get more out of people who work remotely because you don’t have the interruptions of the day-to-day.”

She says it’s paramount to know your company and to understand the people who work for it. “You have to take care of the employees personally and professionally.”

The type of work also plays a role in what type of overall management a remote team needs. Schooling describes her company as one that pushes objectives, not just busywork to fill up an eight-hour day.

“People have goals and deliverables. … It is not activity-based work,” she says. “Yeah, there’s stuff to get done, but at the end of the day our jobs lend themselves well to remote work.”

And with the use of technology, both Schooling and Black say they can tell when employees are not performing well.

Remote work will continue to be something companies turn to. Yes, you may have the occasional experience like IBM, which called back its remote workers to physical offices. But overall people now expect remote work. A thing that companies need to overcome though, according to Schooling, is the mindset that it can’t work.

“I think where organizations struggle is when they contemplate remote work,” she says. “Should we go down this path?”

“It goes into an us vs. them of what departments can be remote. The typical mindset of managers and HR is people will screw around if we aren’t there to watch them. That’s a cultural issue that [organizations] have to address.”

How to Move People Past an ‘Us Versus Them’ Mindset at Work

The “us versus them” mindset is alive and well in organizations of all sizes, both domestic and global. Often, this type of mindset and bias results from command-and-control leadership and legacy business models, according to the recently-published 2017 Gallup Global Workforce Study (opt-in required). Among other findings, the study reinforces that only one in three U.S. workers are engaged, interactive and collaborative in the workplace.

Why is that?

One of the root causes of employee disengagement is an “us versus them” mindset. This mindset is a subtly pervasive form of workplace bias, preventing diversity and inclusion. Not only that — this mindset holds us back from achieving peak productivity and profitability.

Over time, an “us versus them” mindset becomes ingrained as a cultural norm. Dualism is fostered instead of dialogue. But It doesn’t have to continue to be that way. By breaking down big, hairy issues into bite-sized, feasible projects, collaborative and profitable dialogues are started across the workplace. As more and more small teams create remarkable client outcomes, the rest of the workforce will want to follow suit.

If you want to move past the “us versus them” mindset, start a dialogue about the profitability of collaboration.

Yes, profitability. When you talk profitability, you have a business discussion, not just a human resources conversation. You position HR as a profit center instead of a cost center. Have the profitable collaboration conversation across the organization, not just in departmental silos.

We need enlightened HR professionals who want to lead by acting locally. But where to start? Let’s explore where to find cases of the “us versus them” mindset in your organization.

Two Classic Cases of ‘Us Versus Them’

Dueling Departments

The first scenario turns people from different departments and professional disciplines into adversaries.

All you have to do is attend your next meeting, look and listen. Sales and marketing may be at odds with engineering and operations folks, and that is the way things always seem to go. For starters, employees speak two different professional languages. Also, historically, they are not motivated to learn how to speak — and think — like their colleagues across the table.

Alternatively, the legal or finance departments show up late in the project because, historically, they are excluded from conversations “until they need to be brought in.” You know what happens next. Projects are stalled or derailed, based on a behavioral precedent that has morphed into accepted business process.

These “but we’ve always done things this way” scenarios play out in countless meetings during the course of every week. As a result, non-collaborative, unprofitable “us versus them” biases are perpetuated. Why not address the bias, collaborate and move beyond that mindset?

Knowledge Workers Versus the Rest of the Workforce

Often, an “us versus them” mindset leads to resentment of the educational “haves” by the “have nots / couldn’t affords.” And often, less-educated colleagues and workers performing rote tasks don’t have opportunities to learn and develop in order to become part of the teams working on more complex tasks. However, manual workers may be just as capable of complex problem-solving as their more-educated counterparts, given the right tools. Typically, these workforce “Cinderellas” get stuck right where they are, eventually becoming entrenched in a biased, rote workforce mindset.

On the other hand, knowledge workers often have zero interaction with workers on the assembly line or loading dock, for example. Yet, rote workers often become beta test end-users of new systems, processes and apps created by their erudite colleagues. As a result, there is very little comprehensive appreciation and knowledge of what workflow theory actually looks like in practice. Often, these processes fall short of what was anticipated.

Think about how much you could improve the outcomes if knowledge workers collaborated with those end-user line workers, sharing feedback about product and process improvement. How often does that cross-training scenario happen in your organization? It’s not that hard to accomplish.

Bring People Together

Consider what would happen if you brought together a new cast of collaborators on behalf of creating enduring client outcomes. Either they’d quickly jettison old habits and mindsets, or the project would be derailed. As a result, project goals and outcomes would take precedence over ingrained habits. Colleagues would have no choice but to start connecting the dots differently, collaboratively and more creatively.

Eventually, everyone would work outside of their “normal” behavioral comfort zones. Consequently, team members would more readily leave their bias and baggage outside the door and view the project as a professional development opportunity. Once one project is a success, the team would have new expectations about how much they should collaborate.

Want to know how to overcome “us versus them” bias? Allow teams to experience what productive and profitable collaboration feels like. Let your own organization’s engagement scorecard showcase how two-thirds of employees are engaged, for starters. Why continue to settle for anything less?

Millennials: Helping the “Workaholic” Generation

We live in a world that is constantly in “on” mode. Smart phones, computers, emails, and phone calls; even after you clock off from work, it’s so easy to forget to actually “check out.”

This is especially true for the millennial generation. Despite common misconceptions, millennials appear to be more workaholics rather than lazy youngsters. Their relationship with technology often means they are constantly checking work emails after they’ve clocked off, or first thing when they wake up in the morning.

This raises a new question: is the lack of work-life balance a healthy transition? Could millennials’ work ethic be hurting themselves? In order to mitigate this imbalance, there are a couple of ways that Human Resources (and company leaders) can adjust the unequal lifestyle habits of millennials without taking away from their autonomy.

Why They Can’t Stop Working

There are a couple of theories as to why millennials are always working. Some say it is due to their upbringing, where children were constantly working on a schedule: soccer practice, piano practice, school, dinner, and sleep.

However, others think it is due to their delay in building a family. In fact, many millennials are still living with their parents well into their late 20s. This is at no fault of their own, as the economy is thrusting young workers into lower paying jobs than what their parents had when they first started. Not to mention the insurmountable student debt much of them carry after leaving college; it’s a wonder that millennials are able to make money at all.

But due to this delay in leaving their parents’ homes, millennials find they have more time on their hands to work. Plus, they are not going out and buying homes or starting their own families, which might otherwise limit the amount of time they would like to spend in the office.

Thus, millennials find themselves in this vortex: a lack of financial freedom, more personal freedom due to a lack of dependents, and technology that allows us instant access to emails, work servers, and messages from clients or coworkers. So, it comes as no surprise that they never quite “clock out” at the end of the day.

Health Concerns

It is widely known that burnout at work can be damaging to both employee’s personal health and the health of a business. Burnout normally results in overexposure to stress and lack of personal time.

Yet there is a rising concern among health educators that the younger generations, from millennials to current teens, are experiencing far more stress and anxiety than their parents.

“This April marks the 24th anniversary of Stress Awareness Month,” says Christine Carter, in a post for forbes.com. “…It’s no secret that the millennial age group, in particular, reports higher stress levels than any other generation and they appear to be having a difficult time coping with it,” she states.

Carter attributes an increase in millennial stress levels to increased responsibilities in the workplace, major purchasing decisions, issues with marriage, and parenting, or planning to parent. “According to the American Psychological Association, millennials rely on more sedentary stress management techniques than other generations. Given their fluency and comfort with technology, it’s not surprising that millennials are turning to less active solutions such as gadgets to cope with stress.”

This creates a unique dilemma for the “workaholic” generation: turning to technology to help manage stress and overexposure to stress and tech at work. Over time, burnout is sure to create problems for businesses and millennial employees. For the employees, this increased exposure to stress can lead to serious health issues down the road: everything from neurological issues like cluster headaches, GERD and other intestinal illnesses, to heart conditions. For businesses, this might cause increased sick days and lack of engagement, as well as turnover, all of which contribute to a huge loss in profits.

If you see this behavior pop up at work — where employees are admitting to checking emails constantly or staying late, and burnout is starting to affect your team — how can you create a healthier culture for them? How can managers and HR leaders make a positive adjustment to the lives of their workers?

What Can HR Leaders Do?

Although every company has different aspirations for success and company culture, there are some real tried-and-true ways that company leaders can build up healthy environments for their employees. One such way is to promote the 3Ps: play, purpose, and potential.

Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management suggests the 3Ps as a best practice method for building up company culture. Employees, especially millennials, want to work for companies that promote fun and creativity (play); that prove they are making a positive impact on the company, community, and world (purpose); and that keep them feeling motivated for achieving better standards and positions (potential). Pepperdine University also suggests providing employee activities — such as yoga, company outings, or educational lessons — to help promote healthy lifestyles and to help employees realize that the business is invested in their overall wellbeing.

Providing an environment for activities or relaxing work spaces is an easy way to subtly de-stress your millennial employees. Experts also suggest increasing autonomy for employees. This can be done through flexible work schedules and flexible or abundant vacation times. Millennials are already pioneering the flexible work schedule, so allowing them the freedom to work when they want to, and for as long as they would like, can cultivate an excellent work ethic and a positive work-life balance.

However, not every business will have the freedom to choose flexibility. In those cases, show your employees through example. Leave on time to prevent employees from feeling like they need to work late, or create special days that promise your employees a bit of a more relaxed atmosphere. One list suggests such days as “No Meeting Monday” or “Late Start Friday.” However, cultivating this culture takes more than just creating suggestions; it also requires accountability. Through example, you can show your employees that you will hold yourself accountable, and you will be able to more thoroughly hold your employees accountable too.

Millennials may be a new challenge for business leaders, and they are certainly challenging their limits, but creating a culture that meets their needs isn’t impossible. In fact, their blend of work-life balance could simply be a new form of workplace culture: making your work into a fun environment that enhances your life.

Through accountability practices, as well as a new twist on office activities, you could create a business that not only works for millennials, but for every generation that precedes them or follows them. A healthier work-life balance is in your hands.

Photo Credit: Christoph Scholz Flickr via Compfight cc

Top Five Leadership Challenges: How to Overcome Them

There are many challenges that all managers face. Whilst these challenges can arise at any point in a manager’s career, they can be particularly prevalent for newer or first-time managers. We’ve compiled a handy list of these challenges with tips on how to combat them, become the best manager possible, and support your team on their way to success.

Adjusting to the role

First time managers often find it difficult to adapt to taking ownership of their role. It can be particularly difficult managing those who you’re used to working closely with and perhaps have personal relationships with. It’s important to keep these personal relationships separate from workplace practices. You can do this by positioning yourself as an approachable and supportive manager and ensuring that the tough conversations still take place. Remember that giving constructive feedback shouldn’t be seen negatively, but  instead be seen as a way that you can help your team perform at their full potential.

Over managing

Whilst it’s undeniably important to be there for your team, and coach them to make sure you’re getting the best out of them: there’s a fine line between managing a team well and not letting people take on their own work. Your role is to support, so make sure your team has the space to complete their assignments and have some autonomy, whilst helping them make progress as individuals and take ownership of their development. Whether the people you’re mentoring are older, younger, or no matter how long they’ve been in the field, if you are able to guide them through hardships, lead them in the right direction and help them progress in their role or career, then you are succeeding as a mentor and as a manager.

Not giving enough guidance

Whilst over managing people and not providing the space to work can be an issue, the other end of the spectrum is not giving people enough input or guidance. Much as your team likely know what they are working on, as manager it’s up to you to ensure everyone is fully aware of what’s expected of them and how their work aligns and contributes to the wider company goals. If managers are unable to communicate clear guidelines and expectations for their team members, they will of course be unable to take ownership of their work and ultimately less productive. They will also have less motivation and drive to work towards their goals if they are unaware of the impact their work has on the company.

Keep the conversation open

No matter how things are going, it’s key to keep communication frequent and open. Providing constructive feedback is not always the easiest task, but it’s an essential way to ensure your team can develop and really progress within their role. It’s equally important, however, that you also celebrate people’s successes, however big or small. Giving positive feedback to your team when things have gone well or particular team members have shined is key to letting people know they’re valued. It will increase engagement; people will know that their work is recognized and that they’re appreciated. Introducing or optimizing the use of 360-feedback is also a great practice to really keep communication open and useful for everyone.

Embrace upward feedback

Giving feedback aside, it can be difficult, particularly as a newer manager, to receive constructive feedback: it’s not always the easiest to handle, particularly when still adjusting to managerial responsibilities. But it’s important to see such feedback as positive; something which will help you develop in your career and become the best, most supportive and  efficient manager possible. It’s not only key to receive this upward feedback with an open mind, but also to ensure you act upon it appropriately. Following up feedback either by discussing with your team what the next steps are and how they feel things could improve, or by taking the next steps based on people’s feedback really shows your team that you value their input. This will build trust and respect for you and ensure that everyone is on the same page moving forward.

What to share?

Transparency is something greatly appreciated by modern workforces. An employee engagement survey from Harvard Business Review actually found that 70% of those asked said they were most engaged when managers shared continuous updates and insights into company strategy. With many organizations adopting a flatter, less hierarchical approach, and employees taking more ownership of their roles, it’s not so much a case of management being the only ones in the know. Many employees now value transparency and candidness over more traditional practices. And, with an increasing amount of companies taking transparency even further, with salaries made public knowledge, and other less traditional information being disclosed to employees, it’s clear people like to be aware of what’s happening in the company. To be a manager that people trust and feel comfortable with, don’t close yourself off- keep your employees in the loop.

A version of this post was first published on the Impraise blog

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Why You Can’t Afford to Skimp on Employee Engagement

We’ve all heard the case for employee engagement—higher engagement levels lead to greater employee output, increased productivity and favorable business outcomes. So why do so many leaders treat engagement like just another task on their to-do list?

The short answer: historically it’s been difficult to measure and improve engagement real-time. When confronted with understanding engagement and what drives it, organizations seldom know where to start. And the traditional methods for understanding how engagement data translates into employee loyalty and performance have generally provided outdated information leading to non-impactful action and, ultimately, missed business outcomes.

Employee engagement is the cognitive, behavioral, and emotional commitment of an employee to an organization and its goals. An engaged employee possesses a deep understanding of what it takes for the organization to succeed and is willing to go the extra mile to help the business get there. She is not working for the paycheck, rather the success of the organization, and will go “all in” as a result.

Engagement Positively Affects Your Bottom Line

Why does this matter? The value of engagement is often considered a soft strategy (a ‘nice to have’ versus a ‘need to have’) and has long been understated due to a lack of knowledge around its fiscal benefits. However, it’s not only an advantage to have loyal employees that are willing to go above and beyond, but organizations can also harness this enthusiasm to promote strong business outcomes. In fact, those businesses with engaged employees outperform those with low employee engagement by 202 percent. Additionally, organizations with a highly engaged workforce experience a 19.2 percent growth in operating income over a 12-month period.

Engagement Directly Reflects Your Brand and Impacts Customer Loyalty

Employee engagement benefits the external face of a business. While a paycheck is sometimes enough of an incentive to get an employee to show up on time, promoting an engaging culture and  empowering employees to make independent decisions that will positively impact the customer experience will drive increased business outcomes. Many studies have shown a direct and positive relationship between employee engagement and customer loyalty; companies that deliver a better customer experience enjoy stronger business results. And they gain a competitive advantage when they promote a seamless brand experience through “all-in”  employees.

“All-in” is a term that can be explained through the displayed excitement, enthusiasm and happiness of an employee or group of employees, and it shouldn’t be underestimated. These positive feelings are palpable to customers and convey a sense of energy and optimism. Emotion makes people act. We all understand this. If a customer is greeted by a disgruntled employee, that customer is likely to take their business elsewhere. Conversely, if a business’s first touchpoint with a customer is an engaged employee willing to go the extra mile, that goes a long way to build a customer’s satisfaction and loyalty. Take In-N-Out Burger for example, which has an average of more than 4.3 stars on Glassdoor. Yes, In-N-Out Burger has a popular product, but its core focus is on empowering its people to provide world-class customer service. By fostering internal empowerment and engagement, In-N-Out then reaps the benefits of exceptional employee engagement with a high degree of loyalty to the organization from its customers.

How to Measure Employee Engagement

While the benefits of employee engagement are clear, measuring these efforts might seem more ambiguous. The common practice of annual engagement surveys typically represent a “box-checking” exercise, and have run their course as a means of engaging people . They have done little to actually empower employees to do better in their roles. It’s true traditional surveys may offer visibility into engagement across the organization, but they provide outdated information and offer little guidance in terms of what the data has to say. To take action from survey data that will have real and positive impact, the right people – managers and leaders – need real-time insights into the health of the organization, including indications of where the biggest obstacles to success lie at any given time. Beyond that, leaders and managers need the guidance and a framework to take specific action to improve focus areas. Traditional survey methods simply don’t provide these insights in a timely and relevant manner.

The field of people analytics is opening the door to better data, as well as the guidance to improve. With emerging technology and artificial intelligence, we have the ability to end the “one-size-fits-all” approach to talent management and instead promote individual success. Glint for example, uses real-time insights to give organizations access to the most current data while highlighting strengths, weaknesses and trends. The insights provided help uncover critical challenges and promote continuous improvement, leading to better business outcomes like increased customer satisfaction.

Employee engagement is essential to every business. With $11 billion dollars lost annually due to employee turnover, it costs businesses not to invest in their workforce. Additionally, the direct correlation between individual employee success and customer satisfaction make it impossible to treat employee engagement as a “check-the-box” exercise, but rather should be viewed as a key strategic component to any thriving organization.

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7 Companies Committed to Having Women at the Top

Here’s a list of companies that get high scores for female representation in management from the women working directly at the companies.

Equal gender representation in top management is crucial for working women. In fact, a lack of female representation in management is a big reason why only less than nine percent of women in the U.S. hold top management positions. It’s also why the small number of women in high-level careers aren’t staying in their positions.

That said, there are companies working to shift the status quo when it comes to female inclusiveness on executive teams.

Here are seven companies from InHerSight’s database with at least 14 ratings and 4.0 or higher for female representation.

Greenhouse Software

4.4 in Female Representation in Top Leadership| More ratings

This NYC-headquartered tech company houses about 200 employees. Of those, about 30 percent of the most senior-level positions are held by women. This includes jobs in the realms of marketing, design, customer success, talent acquisition, demand generation, legal and some SDR team positions.

Earlier this year, InHerSight did a company spotlight on GreenHouse Software and talked to Content Marketing Manager Melissa Suzuno about its culture and opportunities for female employees. One takeaway from the Q&A is that the company makes sure its hiring and promotion of employees is fair.

For example, it discourages the wage gap between men and women by disallowing salary negotiations. Instead, the company uses market data to lead with strong and fair offerings to its employees.

Greenhouse also has a generous parental leave and perks program, which is based on extensive research about ways to meet the needs of employees, as well as the company itself.

InHerSight reviewers give the company a 4.4/5.0 in the “Female Representation in Top Leadership” category.

“Amazing place to work—especially early in my professional career,” one reviewer expresses. “There are so many strong female leaders for me to engage with and learn from, with plenty of opportunities to do so.”

Eventbrite

4.9 in Female Representation in Top Leadership| More ratings

Nearly half of the total 500 employees at this online events planning company are women. Eventbrite made it to Fortune’s annual “100 Best Workplaces for Women” list last year, boasting that approximately 40 percent of management and executive positions are held by women.

This year, it’s one of 50 companies on Glassdoor’s list of the 50 “Best Small and Medium Companies to Work For.”

According to Eventbrite’s website, these accolades are the works of Co-Founder and CEO Julia Hartz, who in the past has appeared on Fortune’s “40 Under 40” business leaders (2015) and “Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs” (2013) lists.

The company gets a 4.9/5.0 star rating in InHerSight’s “Female Representation in Top Leadership” category.

One reviewer says the company’s dedication to equality is seen in other levels as well: “Having worked at a number of tech companies in the Bay Area, Eventbrite is the first that has a 50/50 gender split. Women are well represented throughout the company at every leadership level … Our Co-Founder and CEO is female and has always put emphasis on mentorship and highlighting the female leaders we have at Eventbrite.”

Johnson & Johnson

4.0 in Female Representation in Top Leadership| More ratings

This company advocates and encourages the success of women across all career levels, especially with its programs like the Women’s Leadership Initiative.

Those programs are led by awesome women in top management like Beth McCombs, Catherine Owen, and Colleen Flesher. The trio won awards at this year’s MAKERS@ program for their accomplishments in advocating for the professional advancement of fellow women workers.

In InHerSight’s “Female Representation in Top Leadership” category, reviewers give the company 4.0/5.0 stars.

Fidelity Investments

4.2 in Female Representation in Top Leadership| More ratings

This financial services company takes female representation to a whole new level. It offers employees company culture programs like The Women’s Leadership Group, which gives women at Fidelity opportunities to thrive in the domains of networking, leadership and volunteering through forums, mentoring and onboarding, events and community outreach.

The leadership at Fidelity is committed to providing confidence-enriching opportunities for women who want to reach financial goals long-term. There’s even an article in Fortune written by female executives at Fidelity discussing the reasons why today’s women still don’t manage their own money and why it’s important to restore their confidence so that they can.

The article’s co-author, President of Personal Investing Kathleen Murphy, has spoke at events—like those held by the Financial Women’s Association—to address the issue.

Fidelity Investments has earned a 4.3/5.0 star rating on InHerSight, in the “Female Representation in Top Leadership” category.

Teach for America

4.0 in Female Representation in Top Leadership| More ratings

This education management organization is responsible for supporting and developing thousands of teachers and alumni throughout the U.S. And behind the scenes of it all is a sizable number of women employees making it all happen.

A post on NYCAN’s blog, entitled Teach For America & Badass Women, notes a pattern of female inclusiveness over the organization’s rich history. Over 50 percent of senior leaders at Teach for America are women and, in some key moments in the organization’s existence, its leadership team has been more than three-quarters female.

InHerSight reviewers give the company a 4.1/5.0 for the “Female Representation in Top Leadership” category.

“Teach for America greatly supports all of their employees regardless of gender; something that I have found extremely unique in comparison with other companies I have worked for,” one reviewer writes.

Bright Horizons

4.3 in Female Representation in Top Leadership| More ratings

Here’s a child care and family solutions company that has spent years racking up accolades for empowering women workers. Bright Horizons ranked fifth on The Globe Magazine and The Commonwealth Institute’s list of the 2015 top 100 women-led businesses in Massachusetts, it’s featured in Bentley University’s Companies Where Women Thrive series and, most recently, it made it to Great Place to Work’s 2016 list of the best workplaces for women.

According to Bentley University, women comprise of nearly 70 percent of upper management and 56 percent of executives on the company’s team. Also, 95 percent of more than 20,000 Bright Horizons employees worldwide are women.

Helen Zarba, Bright Horizons’ VP of organizational development and learning services, tells Bentley that the company offers courses from its own Bright Horizons University to support employees. The 24/7 on and offline education platform has a collection of courses specifically focused in women’s leadership training, focused specifically on effective communication and negotiation strategies.

Adding to that, Bright Horizons encourages female employees to attend the annual Massachusetts Conference for Women in Boston and covers the cost of tickets for the event every year.

In InHerSight’s “Female Representation in Top Leadership” category, the company gets a 4.3/5.0 star rating from reviewers.

Katz Radio Group

4.4 in Female Representation in Top Leadership| More ratings

This results-driven radio campaign platform boasts that it has the largest reach of any radio representation company in America. According to its website, Katz Radio Group represents “every major radio group with more than 4,000 radio stations and thousands of digital platforms.”

But its industry success isn’t the only selling point for potential employees. The company is responsible for having some of the most influential women in radio work at its offices—three of which made it to Radio Ink compilation of the 100 most powerful examples of female leaders dominating the industry.

Katz’s EVP of Media Strategy Mary Beth Garber has held a spot on the list for the past 15 years and sits on the executive board of global support initiative Mentoring and Influencing Women in Radio and on the advisory board for the Alliance for Women in Media’s Southern California Affiliate.

Noteworthy female leaders like Garber are perhaps what drove InHerSight reviewers to give the company a 4.4/5.0 in the “Female Representation in Top Leadership” category. One anonymous rater states, “I believe the company has certainly been ahead of the times as far as women in the workplace and especially in management/leadership roles.”

Do you work for a company that has an equal representation of genders in top management positions? Share your experience with us by rating your company on InHerSight!

This post was first published on Inhersight.

Overcoming the Fear of Feedback

Mary considers herself to be a good manager. Whenever one of her employee’s is struggling with an assignment she swoops in to help them put things into order and give pointers. Her company is now introducing a new 360-degree performance management system based on continuous feedback and, as a manager, she’s been encouraged to lead the transition by asking for feedback from her team first. She’s excited about this new change because she thinks it’ll help a few of her team members to open up more and resolve conflicts amongst each other.

However, when she receives her feedback, she’s surprised to find that several people said she needed to let go more and allow people to work out assignments in their own way. One person even used the term ‘micromanaging’. Even though she’s supposed to be setting an example, her first reaction is to get angry. She sets aside a lot of time to help her employees solve problems and only gets criticism in return. She’s now supposed to act on the feedback she receives in order to encourage employees to do the same, but she’s still feeling betrayed.

Most people have difficulties receiving feedback well. For others, the only thing worse than receiving constructive feedback is giving it. When given correctly, feedback is not meant to harm or criticize people, but meant as a way to improve. Even if we know feedback is good for us, what’s holding you back from accepting and sharing it with others? The answers might all be in your head.

What are the psychological factors that make us afraid of feedback?

The most common answer is our body’s natural negativity bias. Prominent psychologists and neurobiologists have found that our brains are hardwired to react to negative stimuli faster. This was originally necessary for our survival. Sensing an attack would trigger our body’s natural fight or flight mode, increasing the amount of hormones released to the bloodstream, elevating reaction time and heightening our emotions. The experiences that trigger these reactions become etched into our brain so that we can react to dangerous situations faster. This is why we tend to remember negative experiences more than positive ones.

However, in an office setting our negativity bias and flight or flight reaction can actually work against us. Even when receiving mostly positive feedback, it tends to be the constructive feedback that we recall most acutely. Though feedback doesn’t constitute a physical attack, in their separate research Psychologist Peter Gray and Management Professor Neal Ashkanasy both explain that criticism can signal a sense of exclusion. In hunter-gatherer societies people were dependent on the group for survival. For this reason, constructive feedback can sometimes trigger our fear of exclusion from the group.

Is fear of giving feedback more about yourself than others?

In fact, this is also relevant to giving feedback. A study by Dr. Carla Jefferies of the University of Southern Queensland discovered that a failure to give constructive feedback may actually be more about protecting ourselves than others. In her experiment, participants were told to give feedback on an essay either face to face, anonymously or to give feedback that would not be shared with the author.

She found that participants with lower self-esteem gave more positive feedback face to face and more critical feedback in the other two situations. People with high self-esteem gave the same feedback in all situations. According to a researcher on her team, “If one accepts that people with relatively low self-esteem are expected to place greater emphasis on wanting to be perceived as likeable or attractive to others, then this lends support for the self-protection motive.”

Supporting this research, a study conducted by leadership development consultancy Zenger/Folkman found that 74% of employees who received constructive feedback already knew there was a problem. This shows that employees aren’t necessarily blind to the things they need to improve, they just either aren’t sure how to improve or aren’t fully aware of the impact on the rest of the team. In fact, in their previous research, they found that a majority of employees actually want constructive feedback.

However, the caveat is that people don’t want to receive top down instructions on what to do. In their study, they also found that the more managers carefully listened to their employee’s point of view before giving feedback, the more honest and trustworthy their feedback was perceived. Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman suggest that the best way to give constructive feedback is to first give the other person the chance to explain the situation and what they think went wrong. Before immediately going into feedback, first allow them to formulate their own plan of action. If you listen carefully up to this point, when you give your own feedback it is much more likely to be well received. Finally, offer to check in the following week so that you can lend further advice if needed, without seeming overbearing. For more information on how to give constructive feedback see here. So what are we still so afraid of?

Changing your mindset

Stanford Professor Carol Dweck’s studies into what she terms ‘fixed and growth mindsets’ also provide valuable insights into this fear. According to her research, people with fixed mindsets view their skills as constant personal traits, while people with growth mindsets view their skills as malleable abilities which can be improved. For example, children who have been praised for being smart throughout their lives may face difficulties improving after receiving a bad grade on an exam. However, children who have been praised for getting good grades based on their hard work and dedication are more likely to see a bad grade as an opportunity to learn more.

When we associate abilities with a part of our identity, receiving constructive criticism can feel more like a personal attack. People with growth mindsets, on the other hand, are more likely to take risks and overcome obstacles by seeing failure as a signal to try harder, rather than time to give up.

The good news is that we are not naturally divided into fixed and growth mindsets. Developing a growth mindset towards feedback is possible. According to Dweck, the first step is recognizing your fixed mindset “voice”. When you start placing blame on others for the feedback you receive, this is your fixed mindset speaking. Once you recognize this voice you can begin counteracting it and responding with a growth mindset. See Dweck’s TEDTalk, ‘The power of believing that you can improve’, for more inspiration.

Overcoming fear of feedback through habit

An important part of overcoming your fear is creating a feedback habit. In Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, he describes how neuroscientists and psychologists discovered the impact of habits on rewiring the brain towards certain behaviors. Marketers and CEOs have used the key elements of creating a habit – cue, routine and reward – to induce certain behaviors in consumers and employees. Duhigg contends that by creating a routine and reward system triggered by certain cues, we can rewire our brain to create new habits and behaviors.

If you want to start exercising more, leaving your running clothes next to your bed will trigger a cue to go for a run in the morning. If you get into the routine of going for a run every morning your body gets used to the routine. The incentive can be a reward, such as having a big breakfast when you get home. Eventually, the habit kicks in and your body will become accustomed to going for a run when you wake up, even if you forget to leave your running clothes out or don’t have time for an elaborate breakfast.

One example he gives is Starbuck’s success in teaching employees how to navigate difficult situations with customers. In Duhigg’s book he introduces Travis, a manager of two successful Starbucks locations, who attributes his professional success to Starbuck’s lifeskills training program. In his previous jobs, Travis had difficulties dealing with angry customers. Rather than dealing with the situation calmly, he would be overcome with emotion and argue back, making it difficult to hold down a steady job. When he began working as a barista at Starbucks he entered into its education training program.

The company’s main focus is providing great customer service, and it found that the best way to do this was to ensure its workers received training on life skills such as managing emotions, how to stay organized and focused and, most importantly for Travis, willpower. Through these trainings Travis was able to master his emotions by creating go to habits for different situations that could arise at work. For example, the LATTE method is used to deal with difficult customers:

Listen to the customer

Acknowledge the problem

Take problem-solving action

Thank them

Explain why the problem occurred

The program encourages employees to imagine difficult situations with customers, decide how they would react in advance and practice through role play. By having a set routine in place, Travis was able to overcome his emotional response to angry customers. As soon as he receives the cue, a complaining customer, he dives into his routine allowing him to stay level headed. Since instituting this program, Starbuck’s revenue increased by $1 billion. See Duhigg’s thought-provoking TEDTalk detailing more insights from his book.

Creating a feedback habit

You can also use this method to create a feedback habit in your company. Amongst our clients we’ve observed that as employees share more and more feedback through Impraise, they begin to develop feedback behaviors. As the habit forms, people become more comfortable expressing feedback face-to-face. In our biggest client company, a major hotel booking platform, we’ve seen this lead to an increase in the exchange of unsolicited feedback and better professional development conversations.

Utilizing their employees’ affinity for games, a gaming company we work with has created a reward system in which people vote for the best feedback they were given, resulting in a bonus for the top contributor.

When creating your own feedback habit keep in mind these three elements to habit forming. For example, your steps could be:

Cue – Receiving a feedback notification from a colleague

Routine

  1. Analyze the feedback,
  2. Ask questions to better understand
  3. Thank them
  4. Strategize ways to improve based on your feedback
  5. Set goals for yourself based on these strategies

Reward – Using the feedback to reach the professional goals you’ve set for yourself

To put this into context we’ll go back to Mary, the manager who just received surprising constructive feedback from her employees. When her thoughts of betrayal and exclusion start to set in, she should recognize her fixed mindset voice and respond: “It’s not that my employees are ungrateful for my help, they just want more opportunities to grow professionally.”

Following these steps, after receiving her cue, feedback notifications on her real-time feedback platform, Mary should automatically read through them and write down keywords and patterns she sees. She should then respond to her feedback in order to fill in the gaps: “What can I do to better support you when you reach an obstacle?” Finish by thanking them for their feedback.

Based on their answers, it’s time to come up with strategies for improvement. Maybe her employees would like her to first ask if they need her help. When they do ask for help, she can make sure to adjust her language and tone, so that she’s sure to provide suggestions rather than instructions. She should also consider offering individuals opportunities to take on more responsibilities. For example, suggesting that an employee take the lead on a new project. Another option is committing to having more regular one-on-ones with her employees, so she can check in and offer her assistance when needed.

Finally, Mary can set her professional goals around this feedback: “Becoming a better leader by providing more autonomy to my employees”. Mary should then check in from time to time and ask her employees for feedback on her management style and what she could do to more effectively reach her goals.

A version of this post was first published on the Impraise blog.

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3 Performance Indicators That Will Make Or Break Your Company

Want to find out how your business is performing? Setting and analyzing performance indicators for your company is the best way to forecast and get on track with your business goals. Creating KPIs or Key Performance Indicators will help you measure your company’s success. The question is what to focus on? How you measure performance says a lot about your company’s objectives.

Common Types of Indicators

There are two common types of performance indicators: financial and customer focused.

Financial indicators are the most commonly used metrics for performance including: revenue growth rate, net profit, return on investment, among others. In terms of employee performance these are often quantified using output related measurements. These can be useful for growing your company’s finances but companies that focus solely on profit related indicators often face an innovation problem.

A focus on financial goals can put pressure on managers to focus on short term profitability over creativity. Financial indicators also don’t provide a full picture of a company’s performance. Rather than taking risks on new ideas, these companies can become known for creating ‘one hit wonders’ that sell and repackaging past successes. Eventually, quality and customer satisfaction can become compromised and employee motivation drops.

Microsoft learned this lesson at the expense of its top spot in the tech world. Originally a leader in cutting edge technology, after 2000 it began slipping in the rankings against companies like Google and Apple with its inability to keep up with new trends. As these companies began producing paradigm shifting products like the iPhone and Google Maps, Microsoft continued to survive off of its updated versions of Windows Office. Financial indicators demonstrated the company’s shift in popularity but not the contributing factors.

Internally, Microsoft had taken a cut throat approach to performance management called stack ranking. In this system employees were ranked according to their performance, with the top being put in line for promotions and the bottom 5-10% being shown the door. Rather than boosting productivity, this system merely increased competition and discouraged teamwork. Ultimately, instead of being encouraged to collaborate on new ideas, employees had to focus on gaining favor to survive.

Customer success indicators are increasingly seen as the most important performance metric. Some of the main customer centered KPIs include: conversion rate, customer retention, Net Promoter Score (NPS), etc. Due to differing objectives, companies that focus on customer centered indicators focus more on gaining a loyal customer base by producing great quality products, utilizing different marketing techniques and emphasizing a strong customer support service.

An example of this is Riot Games’ ‘Free To Play’ games which helped them to gain a loyal customer base by allowing gamers to play some of their best games for free online. Zappos’ customer service is famous for providing unsatisfied customers with gifts and free shoes to improve their customer experience. Creating a customer service culture is an essential part of their business strategy and the focus of CEO Tony Hsieh’s book Delivering Happiness.

However, for companies that don’t take off straight away, the money and time put into each product can lead to slower profit generation and financial instability. Furthermore, while customer satisfaction is an extremely important key to success, what customers ultimately want are state-of-the-art products. Though customer focused indicators can help you build a loyal client base, they do not necessarily solve a company’s innovation problems.

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 8.44.55 PMCompanies should use a combination of both financial and customer focused indicators but there is a third key measurement which is essential to meeting your company’s goals.

Why employee centered indicators are so important

More and more companies are beginning to realize the importance of employee centered metrics. These types of indicators include: employee engagement, satisfaction and turnover.

Studies show that higher employee engagement is linked to higher customer satisfaction. When employees are happy at work and believe in their product/company this comes across to customers. Gallup revealed that companies with high employee engagement levels outperformed companies with lower levels of engagement in customer ratings by 10%.

Engaged employees take less sick days. A study by Workplace Research Foundation found that engaged employees take an average of 2.69 sick days annually compared to disengaged employees who take an average of 6.19 days. Most important, they’re motivated to achieve more. Gallup’s study also showed that engaged companies outperform others in productivity by 21% and profitability by 22%.

In fact, the treatment of employees is also an important factor for consumers. Deloittes 2015 study on millennials revealed that this generation considers the treatment of employees as the top characteristic of industry leaders, even over profit generation and impact on overall society. Furthermore, “While they believe the pursuit of profit is important, that pursuit needs to be accompanied by a sense of purpose, by efforts to create innovative products or services and, above all, by consideration of individuals as employees and members of society.”

Companies that have employee centered strategies are also more likely to foster innovative environments that promote autonomy and employee ownership. Atlassian became famous for its ‘Shipit days during which it actually encourages employees to drop their work and spend twenty-four hours on a creative project of their choice. Allowing employees the freedom to try out new ideas sounds like a great financial risk but it turned out to have great returns. The projects developed during these sessions have resulted in some of the company’s most profit generating products. Atlassian not only dominates Australia’s tech industry, it has also been named the best company to work for the past two years in a row.

More and more companies have started focusing on an employee first strategy:

In an interview with Inc. Virgin Atlantic CEO Richard Branson disclosed that the company puts staff first, customers second and stakeholders third. He explains, “If the person who works at your company is not appreciated, they are not going to do things with a smile.” Southwest Airlines, the company consistently reaching the top 10 in employee and customer satisfaction surveys, follows the same ideology. The company does this by motivating employees through its company values and creating an environment that regularly recognizes employees for going above and beyond.

Southwest Airlines follows the same strategy. Founder Herb Kelleher posited, “A motivated employee treats the customer well. A customer is happy so they’ll keep coming back, which pleases the shareholder. It’s just the way it works… They can buy all the physical things. The things you can’t buy are dedication, devotion, loyalty—the feeling that you are participating in a crusade.”

A version of this post was first published on the impraise.com blog.

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Care For, But Don’t Coddle, Millennials

Spend about half an hour Googling for articles on millennials and the workplace, and you will find more written in the last year alone than you will be able to read in a week. How do we attract millennials? What do millennials want? How do we make millennials happy? How do we make millennials feel valued? How do we make millennials feel comfortable?

Then, there are the less public discussions about millennials. In these private conversations, Generation X, baby boomers and traditionalists (and sometimes even older millennials) grouse about what they perceive as an entitlement mentality among some young millennials. Some go as far as to forget the “some.”

From what I have witnessed, there is a jarring juxtaposition between the public and private discourse. This disconnect is disturbing, at best.

Millennials are now the largest part of our workforce. Make no mistake about it; they are an important part not only of the future but also of today. So, we should be thinking about them. A lot.

The problem is that we seem to focus on them to the exclusion of other groups. This boomer worries not enough time is spent on Generation X, for example, the Sheryl Sandbergs and Michael Dells of the world.

Do a Google search focusing on what we need to do attract and retain Generation X. Are you done reading?

From a legal perspective, millennial myopia in the workplace may be evidence of age bias. There is one expression for almost all non-millennials: older workers protected by federal law.

The first year of Generation X turned 50 last year. Soon, all members of Generation X will fall in the federally-protected age group (40 and over).

I also worry that we talk about millennials as though they have monolithic needs and wants. We ignore the substantial diversity among millennials, engaging in the kind of stereotyping we would never do about any race or religion (or, at least, I pray not).

Finally, I worry that the almost obsessive focus on millennials is creating in some millennials that about which some complaint. If leadership mavens worry about your every want and need, it should be no surprise that “I want to be successful” may trail “I want to be comfortable.”

Regarding comfort, no one should have to endure harassment, abusive conduct or even subtle bias or true micro-aggressions. But not every moment of discomfort gives rise to a feeling we needs to articulate, let alone address.

And, for this, I blame those millennials who exhibit such behaviors less than those who have created the expectations giving rise to the actions. No sacred cows, here.

I start with helicopter parents of my generation that have involved themselves too often in their children’s education. And now, some are doing the same in the workplace. “Why did my son not get an A” has become “why did he not get the promotion.”

But it does not stop there. Some of our colleges and universities have gone so far to protect anything that could make anyone feel uncomfortable that that they have not only oppressed dialogue, but they also have infantilized these young adults. As one College President said in exasperation, “This is not a daycare. It’s a University.”

When these young people go from the safe places created for them in the educational space to the real world called the workplace, they sometimes struggle with this reality. When someone does not meet their needs or makes them the slightest bit uncomfortable, they feel microagressed or bullied.

The message is not that we should care less about millennials. The message is that we should apply a more calibrated and balanced approach.

We need to listen to millennials concerns. But we also need to make clear to them what we expect from them.

We need to appreciate the greater focus on life outside of work. But we need to make clear that without happy customers and clients there is no work.

We need to ensure that they do not endure unacceptable conduct. But we need to be clear that feeling uncomfortable does not always mean that someone has done anything wrong.

We need to understand this generation probably has it harder than any preceding it and, with that, a different perspective. But we need to focus on millennials as individuals and not merely the embodiments of generational stereotypes.

Perhaps, and most importantly, we need to care about millennials so that they genuinely feel valued and are productive and entrepreneurial as a result. But we need to be careful not to allow caring to slip into coddling.

When we coddle, we unconsciously satisfy our needs, but we rob millennials of the opportunity to grow. And, in doing so, we limit the growth potential of our organizations.

 

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How to get better employees (without replacing them)

It is far more desirable to upgrade your current employees than replace them. Financially, it’s a no-brainer: you will avoid the expenses that come with recruiting and training. But the benefits go far beyond saving money. Upgrading your current staff can also ensure employee retention and nurture a happy office environment with boosted morale.

According to Daniel H Pinks Drive the core principles needed for effective and happy employees are mastery, purpose and autonomy. Incorporating these elements into your workforce doesn’t have to come at a great cost.

Train your employees in essential business and soft skills

Showing your employees that you’re invested in them by enrolling them in training courses can create a great company culture and atmosphere.

Training courses are a form of incentives. If an employee completes a management course and clearly demonstrates those new skills, this could lead to a promotion to a managerial position.

There are many course options available, from soft skills like time management to Microsoft Office or Photoshop. There’s also a choice to be made between e-learning and classroom training.

E-learning can be more flexible for employees. However a classroom experience is likely to give you far more. It has been argued that employees do not get as much out of an e-learning experience. As mentioned by Activia Training, the classroom training experience is likely to result in more focus and thus bigger rewards than a digital course.

Digital roles are becoming ever more specialised and hard to find. Daniel Patel, the SAP delivery director at SAP recruitment agency Eursap, has said that the job market has become saturated and competition is growing. Bearing this in mind, investing in specific training courses for employees who already show an aptitude for the required skills could be extremely convenient and cost-effective.

A pleasant, productive and purposeful office environment

Having highly skilled employees doesn’t guarantee superior productivity. Morale and employee relationships are also essential aspects of the office dynamic to consider when trying to get the most out of people.

You can even improve the morale of your office by updating the surroundings. For example, the use of lighting can affect productivity, and bad lighting can even heighten absenteeism, according to office design experts, Open Workspace Design. So if your office doesn’t get a lot of natural light, improving the lighting can help tremendously.

Having a mission statement for your business or various departments can help give employees purpose. You can synchronise this with the environment by having reminders of the mission statement visible to employees. Ro-Am Posters say that 65 percent of us are visual learners and thus having printed materials around the office or on the walls can be a great way to get that message of purpose across.

Being flexible can improve focus

Serviced office providers i2Office have discussed the benefits of giving your employees a certain amount of autonomy. Giving employees more autonomy is said to improve job satisfaction by encouraging responsibility.

Employees that are able to approach their hours with more flexibility are generally deemed to work much harder. Many offices have employed flexi hours but arguably not enough to satiate the British workforce.

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Why Managers Have to Develop Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is an essential trait for effective managers. Emotionally intelligent people motivate and understand the value in connecting with others.Getting to know people is an extremely difficult task. There are so many intricacies and traits for every individual that we’ll never see two people that are exactly alike.

Simple triggers can make someone angry, joyous, sad, or happy. We also cognitively develop triggers over time that allow us to feel a certain way during certain events. For example, you know when to laugh at a joke and you know that when it’s 5 pm on a Friday, you get excited.

All these emotions and triggers are what make us unique, but it’s also what makes being a leader or a (good) manager so damn hard. A true leader must have enough emotional intelligence to gain an understanding of the people that are following their lead. Unfortunately, some employees believe their bosses are not only bad, but so terrible that they cause employees to feel disengaged at work. A problem that is costing the U.S. workforce over $400 billion in lost productivity per year.

Quite frankly, if management is not doing their job in leading, it’s certainly because they lack the emotional intelligence to motivate and trigger their employees and push them to prominence.

What Happens When Managers Lack Empathy

One of the worst parts about managers lacking empathy or emotional intelligence is the fact that they don’t know it. It’s a narcissistic behavioral pattern that doesn’t allow them to see past their own biases and beliefs. Managers that lack empathy will not only discourage the people around them, but make life a living hell for an employee that just wants to keep on advancing and producing.

Employees with bad bosses hate a lot about their managers, but not considering the feelings of the people that are working their hind ends off is a no-go for any organization. There are plenty of styles and different ways to lead and having a “leader” with narcissistic values that doesn’t get the concept of working as a team will always lower the productivity of a team.

John C Maxwell Quote

Make sure you get an accurate psychometric assessment that will let you know if an employee is a good fit for your organization. Not everyone is cut out to be a leader, and having the wrong candidate for an important position can mess up the culture at your office.

Why This Is an Issue for a Lot of Organizations
One of the beauties of living in the information era is that we have so much knowledge at our disposal. We can validate assumptions that would’ve otherwise gone unnoticed.

The world of work has shifted drastically in just the past 20 years. We’ve made a lot of progress in enterprise technologies, labor/job standards, and markets have sprung up (mobile phones, social networks, video conferencing) that have had a massive influence on the workforce.

The one thing that has remained constant is the low levels of job satisfaction.

Though it may not seem possible, 64 percent of employees that are making more than $100,000 a year are still not satisfied. However, the one group of people that tend to feel happiest are managers and leaders.

Bosses More Satisfied than Workers chart

The narcissism displayed by unempathetic leaders who lack emotional intelligence will lead employees, at any pay grade, to feel dissatisfied at work.

As mentioned earlier, billions of dollars are being lost because people don’t feel motivated to work for the people who manage them. Even if you have the best team surrounding you, the person that is in charge has to believe in holacracy and autonomy.

Let the talent bloom and surround them with good personalities and leaders.

How to Develop Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is something that is usually inherited as opposed to taught. The kinds of characters that lack empathy and emotional intelligence lack one other thing— patience. If you or someone you know is trying to develop emotional intelligence, the best way to go about it is to take things one step at a time. Slow down and acknowledge what is happening.

This doesn’t necessarily mean to over-analyze every action, facial expression, or look at what the goal is for the future and why it hasn’t been met yet. Slow it down. Take a breath and look around.

Ferris Bueller quote

Get to know the people around you and gain an understanding of what’s going on and why people react to things in a certain way. The more you get to know about the people around you, the more you’ll get to see what their true motives are and how they can be better.

At the end of the day, it depends on whether or not the person truly wants to change some of their bad habits and become a good leader. The attitude of the office will always reflect the leadership, so whether you’re the CEO or HR manager, get a feel for the employees and hear them out. It will only be good for your organization as a whole.

Have You Had a Manager That Lacked Emotional Intelligence?

Have you or any of your colleagues dealt with management that didn’t necessarily treat people as good as they could have? What can be done to improve management in some companies?

Let us know in the comments below!

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