6 Reasons Why Your Company Needs Real-Time Feedback

In the news today we’re constantly seeing major companies announce they’re dumping their old performance management systems for more agile solutions. Accenture, Adobe, Deloitte, Gap and Microsoft are just a few of the big names that have upgraded their people management processes based on real-time feedback. You may be asking yourself what the reasons are for this major shift in HR and how it will affect your company? Here we’ll share the six major reasons your company needs an HR revamp.

  1. Stack ranking is out

Stack ranking does not work. Despite its popularity during the 80s, 90s and early 2000s, companies began to realize that it actually works to tear down teamwork by pitting employees against each other and encouraging office politics. Though mounting evidence has been building against the system, it was when founding company GE decided to move away from stack ranking that the evidence became clear. According to the Institute for Corporate Productivity, the number of companies practicing stack ranking plummeted from 49% in 2009 to 14% in 2011.

  1. The Problem with Annual performance reviews

Similarly the annual performance review is already becoming a thing of the past. In today’s rapidly changing work environment employees need advice and training more than once a year. 95% of managers are unhappy with the way performance reviews are conducted in their companies. Furthermore, evidence has proven that the stress caused by annual performance reviews triggers our body’s natural ‘fight or flight’ reaction.

  1. The Need for Better Data and Greater Transparency

Basing assessments solely on annual performance reviews and stack ranking is not only ineffective, but also inaccurate. 90% of HR leaders question the accuracy of the information received. Research shows that two-thirds of performance management systems actually misidentify top performers regardless of forced rankings. The reason for this is that they’re highly subjective. When someone rates you the rating often says more about them than about you. Motivation for example is an abstract concept. If your manager rates you on how motivated you are at work it’s based on what they consider to be high and low amounts of motivation. Business consultant Marcus Buckingham calls this the idiosyncratic rater effect. Studies show this can also result in bias against women and minorities, resulting in low performance reviews and ultimately unequal promotions and pay.

  1. Modern Employees

The skills that companies are looking for in an employee have changed. In the fast pace changes of the modern business world, especially in the tech industry, professional skills have an average life of 2 ½ to 5 years. This means that employees must constantly be learning to keep up with new trends. Even more than technical ability, companies are looking for creative young talent that have a high learning capacity. However, even with the ability to learn quickly, these employees also need managers who will spend more time (more than once a year) on coaching in order to keep up to date with the latest trends.

  1. Millennials

The new generation of workers have the reputation of being disloyal and impatient. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Millennials are smart and tech savvy. This generation is more likely than others to have advanced degrees and, growing up in the social media age, they are always hungry for more information. However, they’re also used to getting answers instantly in real-time. What millennials want is more training and opportunities for development and they have no qualms about job hopping until they find it. In a survey by TriNet and Wakefield Research, 85% of millennials reported they would feel more confident if they could have more frequent performance conversations with their manager.

  1. What we know now about motivation

Employees want to be recognized for their efforts. Showing appreciation for a job well done goes a long way. In a survey 83% of employees found recognition for contributions to be more fulfilling than rewards or gifts. Furthermore, a number of HR experts are now finding that focusing on improving an employee’s strengths, rather than weaknesses, boosts motivation. However, to make strengths based training work managers must have more frequent discussions with employees to help them pinpoint and develop these skills. Managers who know their employees’ strengths are 71% more likely to have employees who are energized and engaged.

To find out more about the benefits of real-time feedback and the best ways to introduce it into your company download Impraise’s free white paper.

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


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Five Reasons Why Social Media Should be On Your HR Radar

Social media has become an incredibly valuable part of HR recruiting efforts, both for relationship building and to identify and vet top talent. And truthfully? If you’re not building social media into your recruiting efforts at this point, you’re not really recruiting on par with today’s industry standard.

The HR industry is using social media to source and recruit top talent—and, social media is where the candidates are. In fact, two-thirds of hiring managers say they’ve found successful candidates through social media. Social media, already so effective at digitally bringing people together, facilitating the sharing of ideas, and spurring conversation, is proving to be an excellent resource when it comes to attracting great employees. It also lets recruiters have access to fairly comprehensive views of candidates, whether or not the applicant intends that to be the case, which provides another way to sidestep potentially unpleasant surprises (and hiring fails). 

Social Media: Mainstream or Niche

As the largest social network targeted to professionals, LinkedIn is the go-to platform for recruiters and job seekers—but, if you think LinkedIn is all that’s out there for recruiters – you’d be wrong. Recruiting has gone multichannel. Forums like Quora and Twitter (especially HR or industry-related Twitter chats) bring experts to the surface while niche groups and sector-specific platforms are gaining relevance.

For example:

  • Albert’s List is an incredibly active career networking group on Facebook that boasts more than 13,000 members in the Silicon Valley and beyond.
  • AngelList is a platform that allows job seekers to apply privately to over 40,000 startups, and also pairs recruiters and companies with like-minded individuals.
  • Doostang is a networking site for graduates of top-ranking undergrad and MBA programs.

Online networks are filled with communities like these, which allow recruiters to target top talent in their industry with laser-like focus.

Improve Candidate Quality

Whether you incorporate niche networks into your recruiting strategy or not, social media can have an impact on the quality of the people your organization recruits and hires.

How is HR leveraging social recruiting? According to Jobvite’s 2015 Recruiter Nation Survey, recruiters rely heavily on social media:

  • Only 4% of recruiters DON’T use social media in the recruiting process.
  • The 92% of recruiters that do use social media cast a wider net than ever using social networks from LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to Google Plus, Instagram, and even Snapchat.

Pew Research reports nearly three-quarters of online adults use social networks. Among Millennials—the largest generation in today’s workforce—that number jumps to 90 percent. Interaction drives these online communities. By cultivating an engaged and diverse community, you can connect with a broader range of candidates, which increases your access and exposure to the global talent pool.

Connect With the Right People

Building a stronger social presence gives you leverage to shape the way people perceive your brand. Candidates want to know your organization’s vision, value, culture, and reputation; a strong brand will articulate these and attract like-minded professionals.

People learn about brands through interesting posts, shared articles, conversations with friends and colleagues, and other types of interaction. All that activity does wonders to raise awareness of brands. In fact, a majority of Millennials described themselves as almost always online and connected while 88 percent of them get their news and information from Facebook, according to research published by the American Press Institute.

That curiosity extends both ways, of course. Just as people now have unprecedented access to potential employers—and their employees—through online networks, companies can build relationships with potential candidates to learn more about their skills, experience, and cultural fit before they even begin the hiring process. 

Reach a Wider Audience

Work is no longer a place; it’s an activity—one that many skilled professionals can do from anywhere in the world. This independence has expanded the talent pool; businesses can (and do) work with people all over the world, finding the best fit for the job regardless of location.

Plus, a community of local and international connections makes it easier to locate that talent when you need it. More than two-thirds of recruiters said social media helped them find candidates they otherwise would have never found or contacted. What’s more, 59 percent of recruiters said candidates found through social media are of the highest quality. Networks don’t just help you find “hidden” candidates; they help you find the hidden gems.

Grow Your Brand and Engage Your Employees

Recruiting isn’t the only way HR can use social media, of course. It can also be used to engage employees and candidates, and build awareness of your online brand (or that of your company’s) and tell the brand story, which is becoming more and more important in today’s job market. According to CareerArc’s 2015 Employer Branding Study:

  • 75 percent of job seekers consider an employer’s brand before even applying for a job.
  • 62 percent of job seekers visit social media channels to evaluate employer brand.
  • 91 percent of job seekers find poorly managed or designed online properties damaging to an employer brand

Social media has become the top way to stay ahead in the game. Simply put, if you’re trying to find promising new talent, you must be active in social media and work to build out your company’s social media presence. Many more candidates are using social media than aren’t and most of the top talents

Bottom line? Social media has become one of the most valuable tools building employer brands, building and maintaining relationships, promoting jobs, sourcing candidates, and vetting applicants. Recruiters understand its importance and investing their time and money to get (and stay) up to speed with all things social. They have to. The talent won’t wait for them to catch up.

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Recruiting Gen Z: A Whole New Ballgame

Move over, Millennials: Recruiters need to prepare for Generation Z, and that’s going to take a whole new mindset. Gen Z is the newest generation—born after the mid-90s—and its oldest members are set to enter the workforce.

Raised post 9/11 in a steady recession economy, this second generation of digital natives has faint—if any—memories of the boom years. They’re more pragmatic and less dependent on their parents, putting them more in line with the Silent Generation—than their Millennial peers. Here’s a look at some of the key qualities that make Gen Z unique.

They Aren’t as Close to Their Parents

After years of lamenting the rise of the helicopter parent and their impact on America’s best and brightest, surveys suggest the trend may be coming to an end. In fact, parents of Generation Z have backed away from the smothering and coddling that Millennials have had to endure. As a result, Gen Z is self-directed and accustomed to accessing answers and inspiration from the internet and their peers.

This is the first generation born in the golden age of the Internet; they aren’t tech savvy, they’re tech-immersed. They can’t remember a time without a home computer or Internet access. The rise of social media means they are always engaging in a digital narrative and global community. Gen Z tends to rely on peer influence—even those whom they’ve never met in person.

They’re Value Oriented 

According to a survey conducted by marketing firm Sparks & Honey, more than a third of Generation Z wants to “invent something that will change the world.” Further, two-thirds of this group would rather be entrepreneurs than employees. This emerging generation seems more focused on following passions and values than making money.

In some ways, this is a characteristic that puts them in line with the Silent Generation. Born between 1925 and 1945, the Silent Generation was plagued by economic instability from the Great Depression and World War II. Members of Gen Z grew up in the middle of the war on terror and spent many of their formative years hearing about mass shootings and gun violence.

However, there’s a notable difference between these two generations: The Silent Generation drifted into complacency in the 1950s under the threat of McCarthyism. Generation Z means to change the world.

They’re Not Totally Tech Driven

Popular culture likes to paint this group, the children of Instagram, as a narcissistic demographic scarcely capable of one-on-one conversation. However, while much of this generation can barely remember a time without a smartphone in hand, research suggests Gen Zers are more than just tech-driven automatons. In one workplace survey, research group Millennial Branding found 53 percent of Gen Z respondents prefer face-to-face communication over tech tools like email (16 percent) and messaging (11 percent).

Recruiting Generation Z

For recruiters dealing with the already tight competition for talent, a new approach is in order—one that speaks to the characteristics and motivations that define Gen Z. Here are three ways to refine your Generation Z recruitment strategy.

  1. Consider the Way You Work 

The notion of the 9-to-5 workday is already disappearing; by the time the last of Generation Z arrives on the scene, it may be gone altogether. While members of Gen Z are pragmatic enough to want stability, they’re used to mobility and will demand communication and working styles that suit their nomadic nature. As a recruiter, counsel employers on what the new generation of employees will expect: They’ll work remotely—even more than Generation Y—and will keep hours that flex to accommodate their other interests and commitments.

  1. Examine the Career Options You Have to Offer 

As Generation Y and members before them, the members of Generation Z will be hard to retain for the long term. Imbued with an entrepreneurial spirit, they won’t like playing the passive employee. With their focus more on passion than money, it will be hard for recruiters to find a quality Gen Z candidate who will be content to work toward someone else’s dream; they want to have a purpose. Work with your employers to create a clear path to leadership, and encourage “intraprenuerial” roles within your company. Give members of Generation Z something they crave: A career they can actually love.

  1. Look at How You Communicate

Honesty is the quality Generation Z desires values above all others. Raised in an era of obfuscation and “too big to fail” myths, Gen Z demands transparency from any organization they do business with—whether it’s where their food comes from or a company’s reputation for engaging in ethical practices. As such, they’ll expect management to be honest with them in every aspect of their jobs. If you place value in this and engage them with clear communication and expectations, you’ll attract and keep loyal employees.

This is the first time in history where so many generations—the Silent Generation, Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and now—have shared a work environment. There’s no doubt that makes your job as a recruiter an adventure. If you try to play by the old rules, your employers will struggle to keep up; changing your strategy now to anticipate Gen Z will create a workplace that attracts the youngest generation as they start their careers. What are you doing to prepare? I’d love to hear about it.

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Millennial’s Commentary On the Generational Gap: How We Really See You

Thousands, maybe even millions of research articles flood the web on how Xers and Boomers are trying to understand what millennials really want in the workplace. After all, this is the generation taking over our organizations. With all of this information at your fingertips on how you can engage this sector of the workforce, there seems be too little to no rhetoric spelling out how Millennials view our Xer and Boomer colleagues. This brings me to question, how can you expect engagement initiatives to be successful when you have no idea how we view you?

We think Gen X is cynical

Generation X (1965-79) is one of the most skeptical generations to date, having grown up in an era when many of the institutions built by veterans (1922-1946) and improved upon by boomers (1946-1964) were torn to pieces. We agree it can be discouraging watching companies like Enron and WorldCom crumble and being fed lies about faulty products, but understand that your cynicism stifles the innovation that we are longing for. A check and balance system in the workplace is good but when very idea that spews out of our millennial mouth’s is met with your skepticism, we naturally do want to run home at 5:00 and apply for any other position on Monster.

All you see is the corner office

The Greatest Generation raised Boomers to ensure they would never miss out on their youth the way they did. A noble cause. What parent would not want to give their child a great life? It became all about what they could do for themselves and their families. “Don’t let anything stand in the way of what you want,” Boomers taught their Xer children. This has created a stigma, whether just or not, that Xer are willing to do whatever it takes to get to get ahead. They put their head down, work 60 hours a week and finally land their prize – the corner office. The problem with that for millennials is many Xers do not seem to be inviting us to their marathon to success, quite the opposite. We view your hands-off, because I said so and never take a sick day approach to leading as nothing more than an oppressing attempt to keep us in our entry to mid-level roles. Our goal is not the corner office, but the entire company with a budget for Corporate Social Responsibility.

Them is we

Boomers and Xers, more so than others, tend to use the generation labels much more than millennials or Zs (1995-2012). Yes, I know that seems like an oxymoron considering you are reading an article about generation labels right now but please humor me. No matter who you are you do not like to be pigeon-holed into categories. The rise of individualism is not new nor did it start with our generation. It is simply better documented due to more sophisticated technology. Only a third of millennials say they are millennials. While we will always have categories in place to better organize everyone, Xers and Boomers could relate to us more if they simply stopped using the “young and dumb” approach. I know Xers have spent years trying to live up to the Boomer’s expectations only to have them creep back in to the workforce (Thank you Great Recession) but putting all the ideas you deem naïve in a box and labeling it millennial will never build successful organizations. We are all in this together.

You are on our pedestal

This has and will continue to be one of my biggest flaws. I put my mentors and leaders on a pedestal. I am chomping at the bit to conquer the world and all I need is someone in my corner cheering me on and calling me out when I need it. When my cheerleader cannot find the pom-poms or stifles my innovative idea with negativity, I am heartbroken, confused and angry. I take it personally to the point I almost cannot learn from them any longer. I do make sure I do whatever it takes to prove them wrong though. Maybe they use it as a form of motivation? Millennials as a whole inspire to be incredible people that will make the world better. You do not need to be Steve Jobs or Mohmmas Yunus but you do need to try and get on-board with that.

No matter where you stand in the conversation around generations in the workplace, one thing is certain, we are not going away. 53.5 million millennials are expected to be in the workforce by the end of this year. While I understand some of the stereotypes around our endless texting and job hopping and proven true in some cases, overall, many of us simply want someone to lead us.

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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 Attract and Retain the Best Employees in 2016

As colleges crank out more graduates, our economy’s pool of potential employees grows. Selecting and enticing the right ones are going to be paramount to any business strategy in 2016, especially because the pool is diluted to the brim with mediocre to average prospective hires. Many business are going to need to brush up on hiring and retention strategies if they want to attract and retain the best employees in 2016.

Polish That Glass Door

It wasn’t long ago that employers began carefully scrutinizing their prospective employees Facebook profiles to determine more about them than they may be letting on in the first interview. It didn’t take long for potential hires to turn the tables. Websites like Glassdoor offer a place for employees around the world to review their places of work, list pro’s and con’s, and rate the company’s CEO. It’s basically like Yelp! for the job-seeking world. Building up your talent brand means ensuring that your organization is represented in the job market as the employer of choice via online profiles and employee reviews. This also includes social media, as sometimes Facebooking and Tweeting employees serve as your best talent brand ambassadors.

Prepare, and Be Snappy

You think you’re the only business looking to hire talent? Businesses are going to be competing for the best all throughout 2016, so make sure yours is snappy. Demonstrating that you respect their time and gather as much information as you can in a short amount of time via personality tests and video conferencing. On the flip side, if you are looking to get to know your employees a little better before you hire them full time, consider establishing internship programs. Not only does this gain you the ability to observe somebody’s work before hiring them, but it also gives you an edge with the first pick of the best college students before they even graduate.

Offer a Partnership Instead of a Job

Two-thirds of companies will face an internal skills shortage in the next three to five years, and only 30% of employees are satisfied with the future career opportunities within their organizations, according to Eremedia.The solution to this is not to offer “jobs” to candidates, but instead to offer a partnership, or a trade of sorts.

In return for their hard work (and their paycheck of course!), explain to your prospective hire what types of skills they will be learning that will make them more employable in the future, either for positions they may obtain via internal promotion, or at another company. It’s ok to recognize that your employee might not stay with you forever, and most potential hires will probably appreciate the honesty.

Recognize that no candidate is perfect, but that they can be trained to get pretty close. This type of flexibility and willingness to up-train a bit will also help fill the hard-to-hire positions left void by the STEM skills gap. Also, recognize that attitude and soft skills can be more important than having all of the hard skills. What is important is the career aspiration and that you have a candidate that’s looking toward their future. Those candidates are the ones that want to better themselves, which will, in turn, better your business.

Give Better Perks Than Coffee

Traditional benefits packages include health insurance, 401k, a of couple vacation hours, and probably free coffee on the jobsite–but traditional benefits packages aren’t enough to attract the best and brightest anymore. Millennials, the majority of your incoming workforce, are changing the way the workforce views perks. More laid back dress codes and flexible work hours fall in line with the new Generation’s valued self-expression. More flexible work hours and work-from-home options highlight your understanding that they place just as much importance on spending time with their families and their pursuing their passions as they do on working for your business and earning money. Make sure that your employee is happy, and your employee will make you happy.

Encourage Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose

Business author Daniel Pink believes that all workers actually want only to be provided three things: the autonomy to do their jobs, however they have to, the opportunity to master their trade, and that purpose beyond earning a buck is inherent in their work. The workplace is changing to reflect these realities is apparent, as more people are being offered flexible scheduling, up-training, and the chance to work for companies that better the world and do more than just “make money.” Initiatives as simple as going green at the office can provide that purpose. These three principles show that even employees that don’t have all of the hard skills can be guided to learn them because inherently people want to be good at what they do. If you provide an environment in which an employee can excel by giving them those three basic things, they’ll better themselves, they’ll better your company, and they’ll stick with you for as long as they can.

By adhering to these principles and preparing for the new generation’s wants and needs, you’ll be attracting top talent throughout 2016. Miss any essential tips that I missed? Comment below.

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Tips for Employers Managing Part-time Millennials

If you’re an employer managing a part-time Millennial workforce, you know that it requires a different management style than times past. A common scenario is: The young employee who works part-time and is perpetually checking their social media channels. On the surface it looks like a simple management problem; the instinctive response is to crack the whip and demand that your employee focus on what’s in front of them and not tweet, Facebook, or Instagram during work hours.

But does that really ensure quality of work? The short answer is no. Therefore, what boundaries should you be setting to make sure Millennials stay productive while also acknowledging their motivations?

It’s a challenge that has existed forever, that of recognizing and working with different learning styles. There are shifts happening in how people work, and Millennials in particular structure their time differently. How that time is structured has implications for your bottom line; underestimating the motivations of Millennial employees can potentially cost you a lot. Here are a few things to consider to encourage your Millennial team members to find meaning and stay focused:

Social Media Usage

Facebook use isn’t a core part of most job descriptions, and even social media managers have to be careful about letting it usurp their time.

Keep in mind that, like most social networking platforms, Facebook is designed to be addictive. Every quarter, earnings calls are held and executives talk about increases and decreases in revenue made on the attention economy. They’re very good at what they do, and even if your Millennial employee has good intentions, they remain at the mercy of online marketing that mimics the addictive brain patterns and qualities of junk food or drugs.

The point here isn’t to make excuses; it is to acknowledge that if your employees use social media during work hours they probably already know it impacts their ability to focus.

The most positive impact may come from you saying “So you’re on Twitter a lot at work–it’s not off limits but I’m thinking, let’s figure out how to structure your time so that it doesn’t detract from your performance.” Get them involved in helping you restructure and solve the problem.

Communication and Loyalty Look Different Today

The type of negotiation mentioned above also reflects something else that’s changing: Millennials communicate differently. Their perceptions of loyalty (in both directions) are significantly altered from that of previous generations. In particular, Millennials are oriented towards more consistent communication, and they generally prefer feedback on their work in smaller, more consistent intervals.

If you take a deeper look at why it’s the result of a fractured attention economy. As the first generation of digital natives, they’re experiencing life where everything is on, at full volume, all the time. News, product marketing, even information among friend groups, all travels almost instantly and at times without context. In response, Millennials (and now Gen Z) have learned to always be processing.

This reality has affected their communication style–they’re still communicating the same types of things – just in shorter chunks and more frequently. Smart managers adapt to this and are willing to keep in touch often, helping to ensure that employees are on track each day instead of waiting for a review at the end of the quarter. When you think about it, that’s good for everyone. More checking in, more often, leads to better feedback and more open lines of communication – a big improvement over quarterly or annual reviews, don’t you think?

When it comes to loyalty, Millennial expectations have shifted as well. In the past, most employees had a different type of contract (both literal, and implied). If a company or manager provided goals and a clear vision, a steady job and benefits, loyalty was forthcoming.

But the traditional 9 – 5 work structure isn’t what many Millennials are experiencing. Often expected to work more hours, the rise of the gig economy means they do it without as much job security. By necessity, many Millennials are part of a freelance or entrepreneurial movement, and they often have what is commonly referred to as a “side hustle.” That’s not a bad thing; it just means they’re motivated in different ways than previous generations.

That entrepreneurial spirit represents an opportunity for leaders. Instead of laying out goals and how they’ll be achieved, smart leaders are taking a more collaborative approach with their Millennial workforce and involving them in the conversation. The goals and end game may remain the same, but asking your employees to play a role in determining how to get there can save you time and energy, and foster a more productive environment.

John Graham, a young entrepreneurial Millennial laid it all out in this short video he did on the Switch & Shift blog:

Be Realistic and Embrace (don’t punish) Side Hustles

Above all, the conversation with Millennials needs to be an honest one. Try to put yourself in their shoes. Consider this quote:

“I work in an at-will state (CA), and I realize I’m expendable. My reality is that I treat my employer with the same level of loyalty and expendability that they treat me. That is the paradigm of the new economy, and it’s why my side project, Albert’s List exists. It may sound cynical, but it doesn’t mean I don’t give my current employer my all on a daily basis. It means that I am a realist and I know that I could be out of work at any minute.” ~Albert Qian, Millennial employee

In some ways the conversation about how to work with Millennials (part-time or otherwise) is one that has been ongoing for decades with another category of workers: Creatives. We already know not to put artificial limits on how they work, and what makes them creative. As a more entrepreneurial generation, a large segment of Millennials see themselves as creatives. That’s not a bad thing by default; it just means the way people work is shifting.

When you think about it through this lens, it becomes easier to acknowledge that no one works for 8 hours straight. That may come as a surprise to some leaders and managers, but it’s a reality. For many Millennials working part-time, this means having small breaks and working in smaller chunks; the goal is to get momentum, and have a positive and iterative workflow.

In that workflow there is often some type of side hustle happening. With the gig or contract economy in full swing, many employees have a side project.

This doesn’t have to be a negative thing. Having a good, clear conversation about what’s acceptable during work hours (and documenting it) goes a long way toward protecting your company’s goals and creating agreed upon guidelines. Keep in mind that their side hustle may very well spark their thought process and creativity, which is a positive all around. Make sure to listen to your Millennial team. The answers for how to best motivate your part-time employees are already there, you just need to pay attention to the conversation that is happening right in front of you.

This is all incredibly important because, as Pew Research reported in the first quarter of 2015, Millennials became the largest generation in the workforce. As I stated in an article for Forbes, the way Millennials communicate has quickly become the way we communicate; Millennials are us.

Other resources on this topic:

Trying to Manage Millennials? Give Up and Lead Them Instead
Managing, Mentoring, and Working with Millennials
Millennials in the Workforce: What Really Matters to Them

Image : GetRefe

This article was first posted on MillennialCEO on 9/28/15

How the Biggest Trends of 2015 Have Impacted HR and Recruitment

It’s safe to say that 2015 truly became “the year of digital technology.” Yes, we’ve seen a rapid evolution in technology over the last decade or so, but 2015 was definitely the year where those advancements made a huge impact on the workforce, especially when it comes to HR and recruitment.

According to the latest Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, the Millennial workforce (adults ages 18 to 34) is close to 54 million strong and rising, surpassing the Boomers in 2014, and this year toppling Gen X as the biggest cohort in our modern labor force. This unique—and massive—generation and the influence they wield is something that can’t be ignored, and had a massive impact on how businesses adjusted their strategies and employment practices in 2015.

Of course, technology as a whole has crept into every part of our daily lives. Mobile devices, wearables, Everything as a Service (EaaS), the Internet of Things—no matter where we turn or what we do, technology plays a role. It’s only natural of course, that technology has had—and will continue to have—an impact on the workforce and, by extension, HR and recruitment. Let’s take a look at the changes we saw in 2015, and what we can expect for the future.

Baby Boomers Heading Out, Millennials Stepping In

Once the backbone of the nation’s workforce at about 66 million employees, the youngest Boomer today is 51 years old, while the oldest are approaching age 70. With more Boomers retiring every year, the size of this particular workforce will continue to shrink. Millennials’ ranks have swelled to fill the gap, with Gen Z (those born between 1995 and 2010), soon entering the workforce as well. As Millennials and Gen Z become the major players in today’s working society, businesses of all sizes are finding it necessary to modify many aspects of their HR and recruitment practices to adapt and adjust. A recent article shared some interesting stats, on Millennials in particular, and how they see their work worlds:

  • Sixty-four percent of this group say it’s a priority for them to make the world a better place.
  • The definition of “boss” has changed. In fact, 72 percent of Millennials would like to be their own boss. But if they do have to work for a boss, 79 percent prefer that boss to act more as a coach or mentor.
  • Eighty-eight percent would choose a collaborative work-culture rather than a one based on competition.
  • Seventy-four percent want flexible work schedules—including the option to work from home.
  • And scratch the concept of “work-life balance.” As technology has allowed work and life to blend seamlessly these days, today’s up-and-comers, a full 88 percent, expect “work-life integration” to be a natural part of their employment experience.

These represent some big changes in the world of work, and the companies who understand, embrace this new mindset, and adapt accordingly, will be well positioned to not only attract, but also retain, this new workforce demographic.

Social Media’s Impact on HR and Recruitment

The entire recruitment marketing game has changed. Listing a position on, Craigslist, or some other online job search site doesn’t cut it anymore. Instead, social media has become an outlet for nearly everything HR and recruitment related: Sourcing new talent, promoting your company and its culture, sharing job opportunities, and also keeping an eye on what competitors are up to. Nearly 80 percent of job seekers now use social media when sourcing opportunities. And those younger generations? Almost 90 percent of them see social job searching as the new normal. Social media can also help small- to medium-sized businesses compete with larger, enterprise-level peers, allowing them to reach the same large pools of potential candidates, speed up the recruitment process, and reduce overall recruitment costs.

Millennials also have a completely different idea of what a career means, and understanding what they want directly affects our ability to retain them as employees. Millennials are talented and confident and, as the stats above clearly demonstrate, they are highly collaborative and value relationships—even with their managers. As a natural progression, social media, by its very nature, is about relationships. Being active online and using social for your HR and recruitment efforts helps build relationships with potential candidates. This helps not only attract potential candidates, both active and passive, but can also facilitate the hiring process as well.

The benefits for the company who aces social media recruitment are myriad: Increased candidate diversity, higher employee retention, higher candidate volume and, because you’ve already been transparent online about your company and what it is you have to offer, and you’ve been actively building social relationships with potential candidates, it can also result in a lower cost per hire. All in all, a win all the way around.

Honesty is the Biggest and Best Policy

Honesty, or what many call transparency, has become tremendously important to the workforce. Employees are becoming less tolerant of companies run in secrecy and policies made behind closed doors. A great corporate culture has become as important as good wages. In many instances, culture trumps compensation—and this doesn’t seem likely to change. Millennials in particular want to feel like a part of the company culture; it motivates them to do good work. But to feel like part of the team, they want to know about their workplace, and again, they’re not afraid to ask.

Millennials know they can simply take their talent elsewhere, and they will if they feel unfulfilled or deceived by management. A survey that spanned 20 countries found that 29 percent of Millennials feel that it would be easy to find another job if they weren’t happy—and that same number feel they don’t understand how their work impacts the company they work for. That’s a wakeup call for employers; staff members who have no clue why what they do what they do results in one thing: Poor performance.

Employees need clear goals set out for them, both short and long term, and they need to know the direct path they must take to achieve those goals. If your company is still holding its strategic cards close to the vest instead of being open and honest about your team’s future, consider making changes.

Learn from Companies on the Cutting Edge of HR Trends

I mentioned above how being active on social media can help you keep a close eye on your competition, especially when it comes to HR and recruitment. Watch for the true innovators, and learn from what they are doing when it comes to highlighting their company culture, benefits, and perks.

Zappos is a perfect example of a company always pushing the envelope, with a new twist on recruiting strategy. Recently, Zappos ditched posting jobs on their career site in favor of corporate transparency and building long-term relationships. When you land on their main page, you are introduced to Zappos team members. You can then choose a team that is most aligned with your personal skill set, and upload your resume through LinkedIn or Facebook (hello social media!) before being asked a few casual and engaging questions.

Southwest Airlines (a company that receives more applicants per position than Harvard) uses something called “scenario-simulation” to separate the wheat from the chaff. These exercises use problem solving, creative thinking, and collaboration skills similar to what may later be required on the job and while in-flight.

At Whole Foods, after completing their probationary periods, candidates’ coworkers vote to determine whether they should be hired permanently. That might sound slightly “Lord of the Flies’esque,” but if you’re looking to build a solid “fit-based” culture when it comes to hiring, who better to be the judge than a candidate’s fellow team members? Definitely worth considering.

Use Company Culture as a Perk

Ok, so you’ve adjusted your HR and recruitment processes for 2016 or at least have some things to think about and experiment with. You’ve now got a heavy focus on social media and transparency. You use Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to complement your career site, which, of course, has a comprehensive list of benefits and corporate policies, as well as an honest depiction of your company’s core values. You’ve created a seamless digital trail of access and information for potential hires looking to peek behind the curtains of your company.

But does it work? The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, Zappos’ “digital and technology focused” hiring strategies, which incorporates everything mentioned here and much more, has landed the company on Fortune Magazine’s prestigious 100 Best Companies to Work For list. Their HR and recruitment strategies accurately measure exactly what Zappos hires for—50 percent talent and 50 percent ability to mesh with company culture.

In the information and technology age, it’s all about, well…information and technology. Workplace demographics have changed dramatically over the last decade, and will continue to change at an even more rapid rate during the next decade. Younger, more flexible thinking is required for every business to succeed in these new tech and digital driven waters, and that all starts on the ground floor, with hiring.

You don’t have to be a Zappos or Whole Foods, but you do have to keep your eye on changes that are happening in HR and recruitment, and make adjustments to your view on the entire recruitment, hiring, and retention processes. The future of the workplace is one that is culture-driven and thrives off of the honesty and happiness of its employees. I think that’s a good thing.

What do you think? Have you incorporated some of these strategies into your HR and recruitment processes? What have you discovered that you didn’t expect? What challenges did you face along the way? What do you see as the biggest hurdles to companies moving forward? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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The Myths and Reality of the Workplace Generational Divide

There’s no dearth of information about the workplace generational divide–in fact, you’ve no doubt seen countless articles, blog posts, whitepapers, and case studies about how millennials are ‘taking over’ or altering the American workplace. While there’s some truth to that, there are many myths as well.

Among the myths: Millennials need constant attention, lack decorum, and don’t seem to to know how to navigate basic tasks.

There’s no question that a generation 80 million strong will make an impact on work culture, and marketers are paying close attention to them because they will control a vast portion of American wealth in the future.

While it’s true that to create a productive work environment we need to separate the myth from the reality, there are indications that the generational divide isn’t as vast as many of the experts would have us believe.

Do Boomers and Millennials have real workplace issues? Are GenX’ers struggling with both older and younger co-workers and employees?

And are there really generational tendencies that create a division between younger and older workers, or, has the impact of the Millennial mindset (the embrace of technology and new communications styles) meant that we are all more similar than we are different?

Let’s explore the modern workplace and address the real issues, and talk about how to navigate between and across the generations.

The workplace continues to change

In 2013, I wrote a post for Forbes that included five ways leaders could bridge the generational divide. The piece looked at how companies could foster communication and increase flexibility via Digital Skill Levels. Now fast forward two short years, and there’ve been some major changes in how we view Millennials.

At the start of 2015, Pew Research released a report on how Millennials surpassed GenX as the largest generation in the workforce. And for the first time in history we will have a workforce comprised of four generations as Boomers work longer, and GenZ begins to enter the workforce.

And although marketers and bloggers are still obsessing over millennials, we’re seeing a shift that addresses not just a demographic, but a mindset. As older generations continue to adapt to the technology and communication style of this generation, it’s revealed what is called a “Millennial Mindset.”

Yet, for every positive post that praises the virtues of Millennials, there is one reinforcing the negative stereotypes that have plagued this generation since entering the workforce and there is no question that general rifts between the generations carry over to the workplace.

Where are the real gaps between the generations?

One source of insight comes from the team at marketing and research agency ARCOMPANY. They created a series of generational “think tanks” exploring the multi-generational workplace, first with each generation separately, and then with a blended panel.

The research focused on presenting prevailing myths as well as current research to a panel comprised of six to eight members of each generation.

Among the similarities and differences that the think tanks revealed:

  • All three generations prefer communicating face-to-face for important issues. Telephone was next, then email, and in very last place, text. Millennials made it clear that they detest work related texting.
  • The greatest tension was from Xers towards Millennials. Unsurprisingly, as members of the smaller (in size) Generation X often feel overlooked and under pressure as Millennials begin to crowd the workplace and earn promotions.
  • The open office plan is overrated by all generations. Millennials in particular felt that open office spaces reduced productivity – many choose to work remotely at least once a week in order to be able to really concentrate and get the ‘hard work’ done.
  • Millennials are extremely aware of the stereotypes about their generation. The “everyone gets a trophy” statements really irk this younger generation, and they feel the weight of national issues, in particular the poor economy and its negative effects on education-related debt, as their cross to bear.
  • There are technology gaps at work. Millennials are digital natives of course, and embrace and adapt to new technology with ease; Gen X is nearly as comfortable. Although many Boomers also embrace technology, the biggest gap in the workplace is between Millennials and Boomers when it comes to the use of technology – which is why I continue to recommend that employers understand and appreciate these technology gaps.

So, how do we overcome the real, existing tensions?

Although the environment has changed, many of the approaches recommended in my Forbes article from a couple years ago are still applicable, in particular clear, open communication and flexibility with different skill levels.

Structured mentoring programs. Many Millennials have expressed a strong desire for better mentorship. Doing so can help foster communication between the generations and work in both directions. Think of modern mentoring as more of a two-way street, with generations learning from each other rather than the younger sitting at the feet of the older.

Discourage generation bashing. As much as you may be sick of hearing about Millennials, they’re pretty sick of it themselves. Too many workplaces allow or even enable generalized talk about Millennials, which is not only against most HR policies and a form of ageism, but deeply destructive to a positive work environment. And in the end, will cost you productivity and profitability.

If employees express a negative view about generations, open an honest dialog; the reality is that most office relationship issues are interpersonal, not generational. Leading by example and creating open lines of communication goes a long way to clearing generational tensions.

A version of this article was published on Huffington Post on 11/12/2015.

Image credit: BigStock

This NFL Team is Adapting Its Leadership to Engage Millennials

Generational gaps are not nearly as evident in any other industry as they are in professional sports; particularly, in across the National Football League. This is an industry in which, every year, the dynamics of each team changes as eager millennials join the ranks. These teams already have established ways doing things, and now those ways tested.

When San Francisco 49ers head coach, Jim Tomsula, was asked about his position on social media, he responded. “I don’t like it at all. I don’t know anything about it. I don’t do it. I don’t use it.” Leadership of millennials? Fail!

The 49ers average an age of 25.2 years old, so it didn’t take long for Tomsula to change his stance on social media. About a month after his initial statement was made, he began to understand how critical social media would be to the success of his team, as well as his leadership of the rookie millennials.

A recent article, The NFL Team That Is Solving Millennials, recently ran in the Wall Street Journal. It described the various things the San Francisco 49ers are doing differently when it comes to the leadership of millennials.

  • Reverse Mentoring:  Tomsula sets aside time to learn the new apps and latest technology his players use in weekly meetings.
  • Shorter Meetings:  Meetings last 30 minutes instead of 2 hours. They focus more on visuals and interacting.
  • Going Digital:  They no longer print schedules. Now, the players receive digital reminders on their mobile devices

Some 49ers fans and staff are a bit skeptical of the changes being made. They’re thinking, “Why should we cater to millennials?”

Nobody wants to be coddled, and leaders shouldn’t cater to millennials. However, it is 2015 and business should reflect that fact. The world is not going to revert to a time when technology was scarce. It’s here to stay. Technology and the Internet have changed our lives forever, and they will continue to change. Millennials were simply caught in the crossfire and became the blamed for such changes.

In a related blog post, Tim Elmore provides a different point of view. In contrast to Coach Tomsula’s millennials approach, Elmore states that one should “coach as a missionary.” He suggests becoming a pioneer, leaving the comfort zone to study and learn about different cultures. First, study and learn the values of the culture. Then, it’ll be easier to relate to those people and share a message.

Coaches aren’t the only ones who have to make adjustments. I, recently, had the extreme pleasure of hearing five-time NFL MVP, Peyton Manning, give a keynote presentation at a conference. He spoke about an ongoing need to “adapt his leadership to the next generation [of players]” by keeping his expectations, perspectives, and vocabulary fresh. Manning uses the missionary approach; learning first, and then earning the trust and leadership of the millennials.

World renowned leadership expert and author, John C. Maxwell, taught something similar on stage. He spoke about posterity and legacy, explaining that leaders have to pass the baton. Moreover, leaders must pass the baton at “full speed.” They should not be on the sidelines, out of touch with today’s technology. They should be in a full sprint, completely aware of these exponential times in which we live, work, and play.

Coach Tomsula is pushing his leadership to new gears. He knows that millennials (along with the entire 49ers team) can only go to the next level if he achieves higher speeds.

Are you ready to change gears?

Photo credit: Bigstock

The Truth About What Motivates Millennials at Work

Millennials are the first generation in history to be blessed with instantly-accessible information. An unprecedented one third of those aged 20 to 29 have graduated with a bachelor’s degree. Reading about world catastrophes, Millennials grew up believing in the power of their own volition and mistrusting people in power (only 19% of Gen Y believes others can be trusted, compared to 40% of boomers, according to a Pew Research Study).

Equally notable, they are the largest, most multicultural generation to date.

Millennials are disrupting norms in the best and worst possible ways, and the future of your workforce rests on their frighteningly fickle shoulders.

The good news is that although Gen Y has its differences, it’s got a lot in common with you… especially the you from 10, 20 or 30 years ago.

1. Job Ambiguity.
Well, kind of.

According to a Future Workplace study, 91% of Gen Yers expect to stay in a job for three years or less. Millennials also make up a staggering 29% of entrepreneurs, according to a Pew Research study.

Like generations that have come before, today’s younger generation is motivated by innovation and growth and looking for ways to progress quickly. Because they’re multicultural and extremely adept at multi-tasking, they will want diverse work activity and experiences. Keep job roles clear, then identify and offer opportunities for growth and creative expression that build or stretch their expertise.

Be willing to let Gen Yers explore other pathways your company has to offer, and give them opportunities to explore their interests outside of work by, for example, facilitating volunteer opportunities (they are just as altruistic as prior generations) and providing exercise classes. Millennials are expected to be the first generation with a shorter lifespan than their parents, so they’ll be thankful for your efforts in the years to come.

2. Mentors, Mentors, Mentors, Advice and Feedback.
Recent college grads have so much potential and energy. By tapping into it and mentoring them, you’re not only helping to give them guidance and feedback, but ultimately helping the company gain a long-term, inspired, and profitable employee.

What’s good for the mentee is also good for the mentor: In a Sun Microsystem mentoring program, mentees had a 23% higher retention rate than nonparticipants. The benefits were also reflected in their mentors — 20% were more likely to stay onboard when participating in the program. It saved the company a staggering $6.7 million dollars.

3. Forget the Money.
For the first time in history, student loan debt outstrips credit card debt. But surprisingly, twentysomethings equate job satisfaction with good benefits and doing what they love. Money is not their first — or even their second — priority.

Building a goal-driven organization — one that has communicated clear priorities and outcomes — is key to success. While everyone dislikes bureaucracy, research shows Millennials like it least. By focusing on goals and outcomes and creating a transparent organization where teams can see each others’ priorities, you can best engage Millennials in your mission and it will help others in the company rally around getting great work done.

Millennials spent formative years sharing everything on social media; transparency is in their nature. By tying them into the organization at all levels and engaging them with clear, well-defined goals and outcomes, they will be motivated. No carrot/stick required. Just clarity – equals happy millennials at work.

4. Give Constructive Feedback.
Provide constructive feedback on employee work; no one likes to work in a vacuum and contrary to what you may hear, Millennials want direct feedback. Recognize exceptional work. Have one-on-ones. Set up team building exercises. Be transparent about how employee’s work affects the company’s future. Keep your team informed on company goals.

Many managers don’t provide enough feedback, and many more are scared to have the tough conversations that come along with management. If GenYers — the same generation that spends more time online Facebook than on TV — aren’t getting feedback, they recognize it as a lost learning opportunity and may assume their work is irrelevant. The result is disengaged and departing employees. All employees need and do better with feedback but young people do 70% of their learning on the job so it’s imperative. It may be tough to give weekly feedback, but it’s even harder to see talented young people leave the company because they feel directionless.

In sum, the numbers are clear: Millennials are a unique generation with unique experiences that are fundamentally different with previous generations. Their multicultural, inclusive, and digital transparency habits are phenomenal assets for growing and global organizations. Their motivation and willingness to work is not so different than previous generations, despite the buzz. By investing on developing talented young people, you will be developing the next great workforce.

Shared goals, real-time alignment, and open conversations on what success and high performance look like are what enable strong individuals to become an amazing team.   Workboard helps amazing teams share goals, align efforts in real time, recognize contributions more often and have informed performance conversations so the whole team operates at its highest level.

Photo credit: Bigstock

Rise Above the Waiting For Godot Workplace Standard

“Hold your fire —
Keep it burning bright
Hold the flame
’til the dream ignites —
A spirit with a vision
Is a dream with a mission…”

—Neil Peart, Mission

It’s like every company meeting you’ve ever been in is a contemporary retelling of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Repetitive 20th century tragicomedies in continuous incremental acts. Painfully existential 30 to 60 to 90+ minutes blocks of time that makes you question why you’re there, along with the why of humanity and your very own soul.

You gather in conference rooms in pairs or teams, young and old, from diverse backgrounds and possibly a different country or three. More than likely somebody next to you is pretty new, whether co-worker or manager.

Some of you wait in the rooms, some of you on the conference phone lines, only to hear every other word during the meeting, if you’re lucky, with no video conferencing in sight.

Maybe there’s a formal agenda. Or a poorly written e-mail resent so many times you’re not sure which version you’re supposed to be referencing. Or there’s someone’s notes that loosely resembles one of your mother’s crumpled undecipherable to-do lists from childhood.

The leader, whoever that is at whatever level, arrives 5 to 10 minutes late, as always. He or she then opens up with an unrelated anecdote, interrupting those of you discussing what you did over the weekend, or the night before.

Stuff is discussed. Progress reviewed. Deliverables assigned. Subordinates undermined. Contradictions intertwined. Yet another reorg announced. A new CEO coming on board. Another round of investment coming in if your founders agree to switch from making X’s to making Y’s. And now you know you’ll have to work late every single night for the next three weeks.

You all adjourn to meet again a week or so later to find out that not much if anything had moved. Then you’ll have to relive it all while defending yourself during your annual performance review.

Let’s go; everything changes; nobody moves. The old “Godot” standard.

This isn’t all fair, I know. There are many companies and business leaders who rise above the painful ambiguity and actually get stuff done. But it’s still a top-down hierarchical hailstorm of old-school motivation, engagement and productivity. Even in global multi-national companies where progress is glacial until a dramatic upheaval of some kind, and where employees and leaders come and go, the world creates, innovates and moves products and services.

And now that Millennials are pretty much the majority of the workforce today, they’re aspiring for something different than the status quo, and inspiring in every generation something more. Weber Shandwick, in partnership with KRC Research, recently released Employees Rising: Seizing the Opportunity in Employee Activism. First, they remind us that more than 8 in 10 employees (84%) have experienced some kind of employer change in the past few years — most typically a leadership change (45%). And only 3 of 10 employees are deeply engaged with their employers (we’ve heard that over and over again, haven’t we?).

Activism isn’t new, but employee activism as explained in the above research and discussed with Jon Mertz and Danny Rubin on the TalentCulture #TChat Show is gaining traction. Every new generation pokes and prods at the status quo and thank goodness for that.

Employee engagement is the old Godot standard. However, employee activism today takes a more elevated mindset and initiates and executes positive actions with usually little to no negative reactions. This extends from leadership to human resources to front-line employees and all communication points in between. This workplace activism embraces a greater calling for businesses today, think corporate social responsibility, yet still drives new revenue growth, new customers, new products, better relationships in the workplace with leadership and employees.

Let’s go; everything changes; everybody moves and makes magic and a living. The new activist standard.

So leadership today please take note from the workforce majority: focus on the people first. Not just the other stuff that’s just about growth and return at the expense of people. Now more than ever many of us both young and old want employee well-being, employee growth and development, and a higher sense of purpose for the work we choose to do and the employee we choose to do it with. This all underscored by Deloitte’s fourth annual Millennial Survey.

We all long for flexibility and fun and greater purpose, but work is actually really hard at times, and it will be stressful and mind-numbing and even a little soul-sucking, especially when we’re working in a job that’s maybe not so higher purpose because we need the work. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again a thousand times – making a living plus an elevated mindset is all hard work.

We all still aspire to do the things we love to do for a higher purpose. And when these opportunities present themselves (and hopefully more businesses are helping present them), the power grid switch from passive to active flips on and every point in the pre-hire and post-hire experience lights us up like a summer county fair.

Because if we can, we all must rise above waiting for Godot workplace standard to do the same. That’s the part when we wink and smile and hold our fires burning bright.

I’m excited to announce that I’ve joined the Talent Board, the organization behind the Candidate Experience Awards. I will help lead and further their mission of benchmarking and elevating the candidate experience and recruiting performance, from the first job post to the final onboarding and beyond in North America and around the world. Join us and the 2015 CandE Winners at the 2nd Annual Candidate Experience Symposium September 30 – October 2 in Fort Worth, TX.  Connect with me to learn more.

Let Your Millennials Manage

There is a widespread opinion among HR and leadership professionals, that millennials are the most terrible group of workers who have ever entered the workforce. They are a constant pain for HR and leadership and a unlimited source of content for journalists and content marketers.

The Worst Generation Ever

They crave attention, need feedback and think only about themselves. Not to mention the fact, that they want to change jobs every few years and have no idea how to manage money. So no one in their right mind would put a millennial in a manager position. Maybe in 10 years, when they’ve accumulated enough experience and calmed down (and, to be fair, when there is no one else left to choose from and the next generation becomes the Worse. Thing. Ever).

Yet Millennials has many qualities previous generations don’t.

Young people have developed a mind that easily handles many things at once, they are ambitions and motivated to go far. They are willing to learn and open to feedback,

For me, all those these assets sound like traits of leadership. True, they don’t have a lot of experience yet, because they finished college last week. But how should they ever get those skills when they are not given a chance to lead. I don’t try to say that being a millennial should be the one criteria for deciding if a person is fit for management, but you also can’t let it be the reason not to choose him.

Future Leaders

According to a study by Deloitte, when it comes to leadership, millennials value transparency and fairness. They value clear communications and as leaders they understand the need for truthful feedback to themselves and their teams.

All those values are also part of what generations Y and Z expect from their managers. So it makes sense to let millennials manage millennials. They will work well together, increase engagement and cater the needs of the younger workforce.

A mindset with those perks should be a welcomed addition to any company’s leadership.
Most millennials would also welcome a chance to lead. 70% of respondents want to launch their own company one day. Only thing that’s holding them back is their lack of experience and knowledge.

We live in an age when all you need to create a company is an idea and a laptop. So millennials who are held back due to their age, are more than likely to quit soon and create their own companies and start-ups.

They will be CEOs and managers and then they’ll be your competitors.

Keep Your Millennials Close

Giving millenniums with leadership potential a managerial role now, will give them a desire to stay loyal to you and your company. This is the way to make sure they’ll still be with you, when thy are in their 30s and have tons of experience thanks to having years of feedback from their peers.

HR and leadership face many problems and dangers every day. Often because there are a countless number of articles that say you have to adapt to the workforce.

Millennials, in management or as employees, don’t have to be the reason you lose sleep at night. Instead they should be your golden ticket to success.

Image: bigstock

5 Career Principles to Activate Between Generations

The shift is happening. This year, Millennials will be the largest generation in the American workforce. One in three employees are Millennials, and more are coming. Preventing a generational shift is impossible. We have a choice:

  • Do we demean a generation?
  • Do we activate a new generation?

It is that simple. Do you hold people back and blame it on youth, or do you find a way to activate the talents of the next generation?

Each generation has a responsibility, not just Millennials, Gen Xers, or Boomers. There are certain career principles that withstand the test of ages, and we need to boost them in how we develop our careers and lead forward.

Career Principles to Activate Generations

1 – Engagement is dead. Activism is the new standard.

Being on the defense is not a complete strategy. Employees are put on the defense too often. In a recent Weber Shandwick report, Employees Rising: Seizing the Opportunity in Employee Activism, 42% of those surveyed experienced a major event at work (e.g., lay-offs, merger or acquisition, crisis). Uncertainty may be one of the reasons why employee engagement is only at 30%.

Engagement is a low standard, rarely keeping our career fresh. Activism entails challenging conversations, involvement in industry groups, greater cross-functional understanding, and leading in positively unexpected ways. Activism is a new career mindset where we are in more control of how we solve problems and how we interact with others.

No one can control the major events. We can control our mindset in how we navigate and lead through the mazes. More than self-control, this is career control, and an activist mindset is a constant principle for career success.

2 – The status quo stunts growth. Always learn something new and advance your leadership capabilities.

Learning something new may be self-evident, especially with a dash of activism. However, learning is only the first step. What we absorb and then adopt is the only real way to enhance our leadership capabilities.

Learning is a mental activity. Converting what we learn into tangible actions is career growth activity. We need both to be relevant.

3 – Life is short. Strengthen those who will lead next.

We tend to forget, but life is short. Someone will take our role. Two questions arise:

  1. Do we want to leave the next leader stronger?
  2. Do we want a positive legacy to lead forward?

Mentoring is an age old principle that needs to be activated with new energy and conducted more boldly between young and old. The energy and boldness come from a mix of inspiration and challenge – tangible yet ambitious.

Mentoring is more than a baton being passed; mentoring is lessons learned and heard.

4 – Something old, something new – the twines that bind for strength.

New generations entering our workplaces is not new. Treating young leaders with a disdaining attitude is self-centered and unproductive. Diversity delivers strength, an ageless principle.

Diversity means activating talents across many dimensions. Through diversity, we solve problems in better ways. Through diversity, we innovate in ways thought unimaginable. Through diversity, we enhance our empathy skills.

We become more well-rounded and resilient. Being intertwined builds strength.

5 – Connections alone are not enough. Collaborate to thrive.

Through social channels, our connections reach across boundaries. Unleveraged, our connections are merely communication channels. When we activate our connections into collaborative relationships, we use the talents of all involved and gain greater momentum in our initiatives.

There is a spirit to cooperative efforts that is understood when we experience them. We need to build collaborative relationships more often by delivering clarity of mission, authority to act, and accountability on what should be achieved.

Activated Generations, Renewed Career Principles

Our workplaces are turning into activated communities. Our careers are tapping into our inner potential for a greater purpose. All combined, profit grows. Businesses gain in strength and growth. People gain energy by being activated in more meaningful ways.

Some career and leadership principles withstand the test of time while being refreshed by a new generation. We are in this time now. Let us activate them!

#TChat Preview: Why Multi-Generational Leadership Activism Is In

The TalentCulture #TChat Show is back live on Wednesday, August 19, 2015, from 1-2 pm ET (10-11 am PT).

Last week we talked about how social networking and the job search pay off, and this week we’re going to talk about why multi-generational leadership activism is in.

Regardless of pop culture wisdom, every generation wants to change the world, and millennials are no exception. But every new generation’s flaws are also stereotyped and criticized by the mainstream media, to the point where it’s non-productive.

What if these very criticisms were the foundation for refreshing new leadership? The good news is they can be, if mentored and nurtured accordingly.

In fact, this isn’t the age to just mentor millennials. We can learn better ways to grow our own talent and leadership skills from different generations. Engagement is out. Activism is in.

Sneak Peek:

#TChat Events: Why Multi-Generational Leadership Activism Is In

TChatRadio_logo_020813#TChat Radio — Wed, Aug 19 — 1 pm ET / 10 am PT

Join TalentCulture #TChat Show co-founders and co-hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman as they talk about why multi-generational leadership activism is in with this week’s guests: Jon Mertz, thought leader, author and a Leader to Watch in 2015 by the American Management Association; and Danny Rubin, Millennial communications expert and author.


Tune in LIVE online Wednesday, Aug 19

#TChat Twitter Chat — Wed, Aug 19 — 1:30 pm ET /10:30 am PT Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin, and Jon will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: What new leadership skills do younger generations bring to business? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q2: Should leadership mentoring be cross-generational in business today? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q3: What are career development truths we all need to embrace today? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Until then, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group, and in our TalentCulture G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions. See you there!!!

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Image Credit: Big Stock Images

3 Methods To Strengthen Your Next Generation Of Leaders

The value of one’s life can be measured by how much of that life is given away. Nearing the end of life, we celebrate one’s selfless acts. Title, status, and accolades do not matter. Selfless actions expand our lives outside of just us. If leadership is all about you, at the end of your life everything you taught dies with you. However, when you make leadership about others, your teachings will live through many generations.

Looking in fear on a new generation of leaders is not an uncommon occurrence for more experienced leaders. Comparing themselves to these emerging leaders, seasoned leaders tend to worry that the new generation has more education and better skills than they had at the same age. When the “newbies” come face-to-face with the experienced leaders, it can be intense as they start asking questions that you know you should be asking.

The Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast that aired on August 1, 2014 discusses being a “beyond you leader.” This is a leader who thinks outside of him/herself and outside of their own generation. Empowering those to follow in their footsteps is the selfless avenue they take.

Not threatened by these new leaders, beyond you leaders see newbies as opportunities; opportunities to use their influence for the goal of bettering the organization and all the leaders that surround them. Truth be told, everyone knows that the accomplishments of a true leader are shown in the number of leaders they raise.

We all get prideful at times. We all fear competition at one time or another. We all have schedules that keep us busy. Investing time will not happen if it’s not intentional. Stanley provides 3 real solutions to becoming a beyond you leader while, simultaneously, strengthening the next-in-line generation of leaders.

First, he recommends that you make as few decisions as possible. Engage with next generation leaders by providing support in the form of a “you decide” mentality. Let them take the reins and step back a bit. As leaders begin to climb the organizational ladder, they’ll be held accountable for more things; things about which they may not know anything. For this reason, it’s important that seasoned leaders step aside allowing the next generation to lead. It’s a great time for newbies to learn their limitations and exercise delegating responsibility. As they are eager to learn via on-the-job training, Millennials will respond well to this idea. They want to make an impact, sharing ideas and contributing to the team. Turn them loose!

Stanley, then, suggests that you work for your team. Quit worrying about how they can serve you and focus your energy on serving them. They need to see you in action. Don’t be afraid to ask them how you can help, and then follow through by doing what they ask. The influence you provide will be invaluable.

Lastly, Mr. Stanley recommends that you empty your cup. Your cup should never be full. It’s your job to pour into the next generation of leaders, and you’ll be surprised by how much you know once you start talking. Your knowledge and expertise will spill out of you quite easily, and this next generation of leaders will reap major benefits. You won’t be able to control what they do with the information you give them, but you’ll still be doing what you should be doing.

A word of caution about beyond you leaders. Don’t wait to become one! If you don’t start right now, you probably won’t start at all. Procrastination kills. If you don’t become a beyond you leader, you’ll begin to think that you achieved your success based upon information not helping. Hoarding stalls influence while sharing multiplies influence.

John C. Maxwell says it well: True success comes only when every generation continues to develop the next generation.”

Exemplify what it means to be a beyond you leader and for generations to come, beyond leaders will emerge.

How will you be intentionally selfless in developing the next generation of leaders?

Five Millennial Background Screening Challenges

By the end of 2015, Millennials are expected to outnumber Baby Boomers in the workplace for the first time. They’re hot commodities, but hiring them creates background screening challenges.

In particular, when screening Millennials, employers need to take into account not only what’s effective, but also what’s legal. Below are five of the chief challenges.

1. Social Media Searches

We know Millennials love their social networks. But some say Millennials share too freely. The resulting wealth of online information can be tempting for hiring managers.

Using social media to screen candidates can be risky, however. The information you find might not be legal to use in a hiring context. Information about religious affiliation, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status or health condition may all be prohibited under anti-discrimination laws. Plus, Millennials appear to have more cultural diversity than Gen X or Baby Boomers—42 percent identify with a race or ethnicity other than non-Hispanic white.

The legal risks associated with social media searches are not unique to Millennials, but because of their diverse makeup and propensity to share, employers are more likely to stumble upon protected class information. Employers shold ensure social media screening is done by those who are familiar with the legal risks.

2. Digital Natives And Age Discrimination

Millennials are not direct targets for age discrimination. But the hiring criteria you use to attract Millennials might be at the expense of people protected by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and similar state laws.

For example, in 2013, Facebook settled a lawsuit with California’s Fair Employment and Housing Department for posting an employment ad that stated “Class of 2007 or 2008 preferred.”

Another example is the term “digital native”—people born and raised in the digital age. It’s code for Millennials, and it’s popping up in job ads. Legal experts agree that pre-screening for digital natives is thinly veiled age discrimination. Instead of screening for digital natives, identify the job requirements. If you want someone skilled in tech and comfortable in the digital environment, use those words. Chances are, lots of Millennials will be qualified and respond.

3. Driving Records

According to AARP, Millennials drive around 25 percent less than their counterparts did just eight years ago. If a licensed driver with a clean driving record is your target, you might be eliminating prospective Millennial applicants. That might not be a big deal, but like all parts of a background check, you want to make sure the information you are seeking is relevant to the job.

Before you run a motor vehicle report (MVR) on an applicant, ask yourself why. Is a clean driving record a bona fide job requirement? Requiring a driver’s license or running a motor vehicle check would not rise to the level of discrimination, per se, but could limit your job pool in the 20-30-year-old market.

4. Credit

Millennials tend to rely less on traditional bank loans and credit cards, are more likely to use cash, and spend less than Gen X or Baby Boomers. They also tend to borrow less. As a result, many are “underbanked”—have little or no credit history. If a credit report is one of your job requirements, expect little or no information about unbanked Millennials.

Credit is already a slippery slope, with many states prohibiting use of credit for pre-employment screening. Credit information is a sensitive topic for many job candidates. It could be even touchier for Millennials.

5. Job History And Verifications

Millennials job-hop. According to Data Facts’ blog, “a whopping 91% of them don’t expect to stay at a job for longer than 3 years.” Moreover, according to a recent federal study, Millennials are less likely to have worked during school. So they are more likely to leave college without a work history.

All of this leaves a prospective employer with less to work with in terms of reference checking and verifications. As a result, screening for job history, applied skills and experience might be more challenging. One possible solution: expand the scope of inquiry to include volunteer experience and potentially personal references. However, the use of personal references and investigative reports may necessitate additional notices and further legal compliance under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.


Image: Bigstock

Opportunity Cost Be Damned

More CowbellTwo middle-aged men walk into an elevator. The taller and heavier of the two points to the other’s t-shirt. It’s an Saturday Night Live t-shirt with a silkscreen silhouette of Will Ferrell in the “More Cowbell” sketch.

“Very nice,” he says. “Classic.”

The other guy, the one with a mostly white goatee beard wearing the Rush baseball cap, gives him a thumbs up.

“I know. One of the best.”

“Yes, it’s my favorite.”

“Where did you get it?”

“At the SNL store at 30 Rockefeller Center. I’m on vacation with my family.”

“Excellent. That’s a great buy. Can never have enough cowbell.”

The guy in the SNL t-shirt shrugs and says, “You’re right, but not really a good deal. It was thirty bucks out the door, but it’s a must have and we were there. Plus, if I had ordered it online and added in shipping costs, it might’ve been a wash, or maybe I would’ve saved. Who knows.”

The bigger guy winks then smiles and says, “Maybe, but that’s the price we pay for the opportunity cost, right?”

“You are correct,” I say. I was energized that this kind stranger gave me a economics reference with a lighthearted wink and a smile.

Opportunity cost, a core concept of economics that ensures we use limited resources wisely and choose accordingly, although there will always be a cost (not always monetary either) associated with not choosing the other choices other than the first one we choose, like a missed opportunity we’ll never know we missed.

Got that?

Like choosing a career path for the first time, or choosing a new job from a few offers (if you’re sought-after folk), or choosing the people you want to work for your business (if you’re in the people-choosing profession). Any way you slice it there’s an opportunity cost associated with these choices, one that you may never fully comprehend because there’s no way to get to the “what if’s” in the real world.

You can imagine and project based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data, salary data, population demographics, and other types of workplace market data readily available today. I mean, I could’ve been a civil engineer or an architect.

But that doesn’t matter now, and it doesn’t matter for any of us once we’ve progressed beyond choosing the career or the person to fill that career – at least, not until we choose again.

According to the latest Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement research report, the choice rewards are up slightly and the opportunity cost down, with 86 percent of U.S. employees reporting overall satisfaction with their current job, an improvement of five percentage points since 2013. In fact, this percentage matches the highest level of satisfaction over the last 10 years, which was in 2009, and between 2009 and 2013 the levels of job satisfaction had gradually declined.

Plus, according to the same SHRM research, the top five contributors to employee job satisfaction in 2015 included:

  1. Respectful treatment of all employees at all levels
  2. Trust between employees and senior management
  3. Benefits, overall
  4. Compensation/pay, overall
  5. Job security

Now, 26 percent of these respondents were Millennials, the soon to be if not already majority of the workforce. My mothership PeopleFluent is actually on a mission to capture new insights from these kids today and our Millennial research will close on July 17 (Millennials can take the survey here). In the meantime, we’ve uncovered some a few things that I think are worth sharing, a couple of which align with the above SHRM research:

  • 75% say they’d leave their current job for better pay (isn’t that most of us?)
  • Nearly 80% are more engaged when they have mentorship programs at work (respectful treatment and trust are born from these)
  • More than 26% expect their next role is with an entirely new employer (ah, more opportunity costs)

We look forward to uncovering more and you can register now for the full independent research report to be published in September.

We all know what happens to employer brands when the current employees aren’t satisfied and engaged – there’s a poison that seeps into the people pools and taints them for miles and miles.

But when they are satisfied and engaged, they will evangelize your company culture in an authentic, transparent way, something we discussed on the TalentCulture #TChat Show with Stacy Donovan Zapar, an 18-year recruiting veteran for Fortune 500 tech companies and Founder of Tenfold, a boutique recruiting consultancy and training firm.

We agreed that, although we all long for flexibility and fun, work is actually really hard at times, and it will be stressful and mind-numbing and soul-sucking, regardless if its full-time or contract work. But if those individuals and organizations who employ have an “satisfying” employer brand and offer fulfilling work experiences, it helps those who are seeking to choose a potentially better career path and a more rewarding job. And it helps those HR and recruiting professionals choose those who are seeking, rounding out that magical economic equation of supply and demand.

The part when you wink and smile and think opportunity cost be damned.

Planning For Tomorrow: Generation Z

While a lot of companies are still struggling with millennials, a smart HR manager is already looking at the generation Z, oldest of whom are turning 18 and slowly entering the workforce.

Generation Z will be, by all estimates, even trickier than millennials for whom  money is not as important as potential for growth and self-improvement. First studies with the newest generation, conducted by Adecco, show that although potential for growth is important to them as well, it is not such high a priority (41% for Millennials vs 30% for Generation Z).

Although they have been criticized for having a 8 second attention span, research by Altitude suggest that “Gen Z have a carefully tuned radar for being sold to and a limited amount of time and energy to spend assessing whether something’s worth their time“ and “One-way messaging alone will likely get drowned out in the noise.“

Evolving Your Business

This is something that HR specialists, managers and team leaders must adapt to. If employee engagement and two-way communications are important when dealing with Millennials, then in 5 years time it will be a vital part to attract and keep talent from the newest generation. Luckily, there are a lot of options.

It will require a very fine tuning of a company’s environment (culture and communications) to attract young people while unemployment is going down. The same studies mentioned previously show that for young people getting a dream job is more important than ever.

An attractive work environment is a place where an employee wants to work. For Millennials, it requires a positive relationship with a supervisor, clear two-way communications and a chance to improve yourself. I’m sure it’s the same for generation Z but they want more of everything. And they want it to be online. Communication must be fast, mobile and available on your iPhone. Work should be engaging (think of social online games),There must be enough independents that they can prove themselves and earn immediate recognition.

There are already a lot of tools for this sort of interaction (most of them start-ups created by Millennials). Some of them (like Office 365) offer complete solutions as an EPN but this is actually not what most companies need. It’s better to find one or two apps that cater to a specific need. For instance, if you need a project management tool, you can try Basecamp, or if you need a feedback/reporting tool, Weekdone progress reporting app allows for quick PPP or OKR based solution, that give an overview of everyone’s work without spending those 8 seconds.

Online communication tools add a feeling of social media to working, which is very important to both Generation Z and Millennials. Whether it’s game-like achievements or collecting points, it’s familiar for the young. Don’t forget: this generation has never lived in a world without a smartphone or iPad. For them, 24h Internet access is a normal thing. And they prefer communicating “in spurts of shorter, but more frequent, bursts of information” aka texting.

They expect not to lose all this when going to the office.

Staying ahead
The rewards from attracting Generation Z early are many. First of all, you’ll be ahead of others that gives you a chance to win over the best possible talents. Secondly, the Millennials (who’ll soon make up most of the workforce) want the same things so you’ll have made your company a perfect work environment for most of the workforce out there.

Photo Credit: Big Stock Images

With the Effectual Stretch in Recruiting, You Can’t Lose

“The end cannot justify the means, for the simple and obvious reason that the means employed determine the nature of the ends produced.” –Aldous Huxley

Indeed. This quote was shared with me in a comment on my Who Cares As Long As We’re Still Hiring article. The commenter conveyed that it does matter what we call something, as it helps to power the means.

This is true, and I responded that words do matter and the means employed are critical. But I argued that the spirit of technological innovation today isn’t helping to alleviate the human problem of not adapting fast enough to remain employable, and/or creating new opportunities where none existed before. We can and do occupy the same space with technology and displacement isn’t new, although now in this digital age, it’s unprecedented. Worrying about what we call talent acquisition isn’t creating solutions to retrain the workforce and keep our growing population productive – that’s the means I’m worried about.

His thoughtful response summed it all up:

The mistake all of us are doing… is trying to solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them – that only creates more problems.

Solid solutions in the past have come from trying to solve our problem outside the thinking we used to create them. This requires testing every belief we have – something most are not willing to do….

Amen. And change and solve we do, from every technological disruption to workforce displacement, whether it comes from early learning and not knowing any other way, or forced adoption.

For example, a PeopleFluent colleague of mine, who is a Millennial, developed a research survey for Millennials that will generate valuable insight for employers as they consider how to hire and develop their next generation of employees. Millennials can take the survey here. Instead of initially send out email campaigns to lists of the younger workforce, which we will still do, we instead chose to share via social media channels first. Within a week we had nearly 300 responses.

That’s telling, don’t you think? Give the young folk what they want, where they want it and how they want it, and you’re in.

Then there was the Wall Street Journal article about the New York Times temporarily blocking access to their homepage on all desktop computers at its headquarters. Those employees who try to get on their own site via desktops will receive a message prompting them to switch over to phones or tablets.

And that is that – forced adoption. Not a bad idea actually when you think about the fact that there are now well over 5 billion mobile devices in use across the world, compared to only 789 million laptops and 743 million desktop PCs. That’s where more and more of their readers are accessing newspapers, magazines and books.

And applying for jobs. In fact, the failure to recognize and account for the now ubiquitous use of mobile Internet access will most likely hobble a company’s efforts to find new people. As more candidates leverage their devices to learn about jobs and apply to them, they will simply move on from companies that don’t have mobile-optimized career sites. Responsive web design ensures the candidate experience is consistent regardless of device and will help reduce drop-off rates and increase qualified applicant conversation rates. Not to mention the fact that Google’s search algorithm now penalizes a company’s mojo if they have both a mobile and desktop website, as opposed to one mobile-optimized site.

Talent acquisition professionals today have the benefit of a bevy of technological innovations including mobile to empower attracting, sourcing, screening, interviewing, hiring and onboarding, but the mainstream is still focused on targeting the entire stream that dumps into the big blue of everyone looking or not looking for a job. The proverbial post-and-pray approach of posting a job everywhere possible and praying that some qualified folks will appear in the net along with the hundreds of unqualified people per each requisition posted. And doing it every single time the job is open.

When we discussed this on the TalentCulture #TChat Show with three progressive recruiting pros – Johnny Campbell, Founder and CEO at Social Talent; Sara Fleischmann, Purple Squirrel Hunter at Hewlett-Packard; and Stacy Zapar, Founder of Tenfold, and recruiting strategist, trainer & advisor – the consensus was that it’s the way recruiters have always done things.

There’s safety in numbers, and if everyone else is doing it, surely it must work! Unfortunately it’s still prevalent in many circles because there’s a lack of education and motivation in the recruiting industry.

But there those organizations making a difference, adopting new recruiting practices and empowering job seekers to do the same. For example, in a recent webinar with Gerry Crispin, Talent Board co-founder and one of the great minds behind the Candidate Experience Awards, some innovative examples of the “means employed determine the nature of the ends produced” include:

  • RMS – Run virtual chat rooms where job seekers bring honest questions and recruiters bring honest answers.
  • Spectrum Health System – Bring together qualified candidates and managers together in person for one-stop interview shop with a promised decision and offer, or not, the same day.
  • jetBlue – Built pilot people pools that start attracting talent in universities and then assign mentors that continue 3-4 years after graduation (bootcamps, assessments, etc. They sources 20% of their pilot hires this way.
  • CH2M – Continuously improve the recruiting experience and generate a monthly sentiment report. Their net promoter score increases year over year in overall communication, ATS efficiency, mobile apply, etc.

Change can be painfully productive, and the adage “adapt or perish” is one more and more employers and prospective employees hang from their hearts like motivational posters. That’s why with the effectual stretch in recruiting, of pushing oneself to learn and expand beyond what’s known and comfortable in a way that’s produces desired yet diverse effective results, it’s a win. Or what Mr. Huxley said. Either way you can’t lose.

New Day HR Drives the Next Gen Fire

“Wait a minute. Wait a minute, Doc. Ah…Are you telling me that you built a time machine…out of a DeLorean?”

“The way I see it, if you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?”

youre firedOn October 21, 2015, Marty McFly and his girlfriend Jennifer will travel back to the future together to see themselves married with children. They’ll be shocked by their own Gen X aging and adult foibles, and then Jennifer will witness older Marty, still easily set off when challenged, engage in an illegal transaction with a colleague. He gets immediately fired via a video conference call from his boss because of his idiotic action. HR was nowhere to be found in this exchange.

Marty and Jennifer will also see their future children – shallow, nerdy, wimpy and smart-alecky digital natives, flippant Millennials who don’t seem to have a clue or promising future. Actually, these are stereotypes of Millennials before we really had Millennial stereotypes. But the universal “work sucks ‘cause we suck” mantra has unfortunately never gone away, and like the movies, further paradoxical hijinks ensue week after week. However, progressive HR and business leaders are doing their best to combat both these days in the real 2015.

Today’s HR ecosystem and the hiring economy are both highly complex, confusing and competitive. They aren’t the highly advanced and exclusive Tesla battery-powered luxury cars (unlike the DeLoreans of old). No, they’re more like a classic high-performance engine we keep tinkering with, tuning up, swapping out old parts for new, with a lot of sweat and tears, through every boom and bust cycle, especially the latest.

And the complexity is killing us. According to ManpowerGroup’s 10th annual Talent Shortage Survey, 43 percent of U.S. employers say talent shortages are having a negative impact on their ability to meet client needs. The consequences include:

  • Reduced competitiveness and productivity (41 percent)
  • Increased employee turnover (32 percent)
  • Higher compensation costs (32 percent)
  • Reduced employee engagement/morale (32 percent)

And even though according to Gallup Research the percentage of U.S. workers engaged in their jobs rose from an average 31.7% in January 2015 to an average 32.9% in February 2015 (and held steady through April 2015), it’s really only an incremental increase from where it stood in February 2014.

Human resources and the work workplace have got their work cut out for them. According to the latest Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM®) Workplace Forecast (The Top Workplace Trends According to HR Professionals), more than one-half of HR professionals think that retaining and rewarding the best employees (59 percent) and developing the next generation of corporate leaders (52 percent) will be the greatest challenges over the next 10 years.

But how to deal with these challenges? Over the next 10 years HR professionals feel the solutions include providing flexible work arrangements (40 percent) and a culture of trust, open communication and fairness (37 percent). One-quarter said offering a higher total rewards package than competitors and providing career advancement opportunities (26 percent) would be most effective.

And that’s the thing, you know? Industry experts and the media always talk more about what keeps business leaders up at night and less about actionable strategies that enable positive change and help them sleep. Change isn’t easy, especially when being applied to solve business problems, but new HR initiatives are important, organization-shifting moments for a company.

When CHRO’s and their business leader counterparts consider a change for their organization, those who think beyond the ordinary get sustainable business outcomes, this according to TalentCulture #TChat Show guest Mark Stelzner, founder of IA HR, a consulting firm that helps HR leaders transform their complex organizations with confidence.

“Sustainable change also requires empowerment – no one person owns change, we all do,” Mark shared with us all. This was illustrated by his story of Williams-Sonoma hiring a graphic artist to literally illustrate the current process of organization so all the players engaged in the change management could visualize where they were and where they needed to go, making it accessible and adoptable for everyone in the organization.

They ended up drawing three-headed monsters and people pulling their hair out and deconstructing all the business processes into what really worked and what didn’t. The results included everything from greater HR technology adoption to improved employee engagement and other positive outcomes because the changes they made weren’t top-down theoretical; they eventually reflected the day-to-day realities of the organization.

No matter how intimidating it is for HR and business leaders to change in our ever-changing hyper-flux-capacitor economy, something as simple as this example becomes quite a catalyst for transformation for the entire organization and every generation employed.

Laugh if you want, but when Marty McFly traveled back to the future in 1985, Whitney Houston released “Greatest Love of All” that opened, “I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way….”

Those children today make up over half the workforce – and they are more than empowered. And sometimes the future appears brighter than maybe it actually is, and that’s okay for this aging Gen Xer. I recently interviewed two Millennial HR professionals (Chanel Jackson, HR Business Partner, Honda of America Mfg., Inc., and Callie Zipple, PHR, HR Rewards Analyst, Zebra Technologies) for a special preview of an upcoming live TalentCulture #TChat Show at the SHRM 2015 National Conference & Exposition.

Their refreshing yet guarded optimism still flooded me with enthusiasm for “New Day HR” – to take policy and process risks that will empower the workplace and drive future business outcomes (without compromising the organization legally or opening it up to an audit – none of us can get away from that). They were all about social adoption and flexible workplaces and everything that wiser sages than me have been advocating for over a decade.

“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” Actually Doc Brown, we still do, but New Day HR drives the next gen fire of empowerment and that’s a future I look forward to, today.

Special Note: If you’re a Millennial, please take the PeopleFluent Next Generation in the Workforce survey. Your anonymous responses will provide valuable insight for employers as they consider how to hire and develop their next generation of employees. The survey has up to 26 questions and will only take approximately 4 minutes to complete. Upon completion, you will have the opportunity to enter to win one of several randomly drawn prizes, including Beats by Dre headphones. Thank you!

Does Your Corporate Culture Need A Tune-Up?

What makes a great leader? Maybe it depends. Sure, the capacity to inspire loyalty, the ability to articulate a vision, emotional intelligence and persuasiveness is valuable. But does a company need a leader whose values are culture-based, or one whose values are aligned with the needs of shareholders and the marketplace?

As a result, job seekers and future employees need to do a bit of digging to ensure the companies they’re interviewing with hold values compatible with their own. Often this boils down to trust. Plain and simple. And yet oh so complex.

For leaders, it means taking a critical look at your company culture, as it’s more important than ever for recruiting and retaining talent.

In my discussions with clients and candidates, I hear often that we are in the middle of a sea change – a generational shift in values. As Millennials make deeper inroads into the workplace, they’re bringing a new set of values, a need for a collaborative culture and a lack of interest in existing workplace structures that is creating tension among workers of other generations. People dance around this a lot, but it needs to be said: things are changing, and fast. Business leaders must be ready to accept that workers’ value systems are in flux, and be prepared to manage through complexity and change.

This topic came up when I was talking with a client about a talent retention challenge he was facing. His office is populated by workers of three generations: Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers. Friction in the office was disrupting productivity, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on the real issue. He runs an analyst firm with a fairly flat management structure. Leaders in this workplace with 20+ years of business experience do most of the strategy and management. These people tend to be Boomers in this culture. They’re used to hierarchical management – in other words, they’re accustomed to giving and taking direction, acting independently but consulting with top management, mentoring a lot (we hope), and collaborating in a formal way. They value independence, loyalty and the free exchange of ideas (we hope). A middle layer of GenXers does most of the day-to-day client management – the tactical work – while learning the ropes of strategic counseling. This group is, not surprisingly, a skeptical but hard-working bunch very focused on upward mobility. They, like the Boomers, are comfortable with limited hierarchy. Skilled client relationship managers, they expect everyone to pitch in and pull their weight. They value self-reliance, don’t always follow the rules, are loyal to themselves, and demand work-life flexibility.

The youngest group, the Millennials, supports the client managers. They prefer to work collaboratively but with people of their peer group. They have no problem questioning authority, love to brainstorm, and don’t always understand why their ideas aren’t implemented. They expect to progress quickly in their careers but aren’t always in agreement with senior management on the path. They value innovation, are loyal within their peer group, value social interaction and see work as a means to an end.

When we mapped out the different value systems of employees, my client began to see the problem: his values, which the company was built around, were accepted by the senior team, questioned by middle management and viewed as out of date by the junior team. The generational misalignment in values had created a culture of distrust. Client work was suffering. What could he do? We came up with an exercise along with HR: employees were asked via a blind survey to list the top five things they liked about working in the company, the five least desirable factors, and encouraged to share their ideas for improving the work culture. After analyzing the responses here’s what my client and I realized was needed:

A shared purpose: Mission, vision, and values – everyone had to understand the value system, the purpose, the mission. Even if everyone viewed with their own unique lens. My client assumed everyone was on the same page: his page. This was not the case. He was surprised by this result but immediately put a blended team together to tackle presenting a single, coherent story together. This was the first step to a more clear employer brand.

Training to ensure skill levels and competency: Necessary to ensure all employees trusted the skill levels of their colleagues.

More, and better, communication: The client thought communication cross-teams was working, and he thought he communicated well, but the different values of the age groups made it obvious this area needed work.

Clear reward system and growth path: The path to upper management had to be articulated, expectations set, and reward systems demystified. And be social. Yes, I mean social media.Yes, I mean HR technology if it fits.

Acknowledging and celebrating differences: To rebuild trust, the client needed to be clear that he was aware of different styles and willing to honor the diversity of the group.

It wasn’t an overnight fix, of course. A values and culture misalignment happens over time, and requires an investment of time, trust, open communication and shared sense of commitment to repair. As the workplace continues to change, as Boomers retire and Gen X and Gen Y moves up, this scenario may be more common. Leaders need to be prepared to take alternative routes of thinking into account to build and motivate winning teams and values. You will not keep your top talent by sitting on the sidelines and hoping. Taking action matters.

Oh and btw … I am hoping soon we can move way from generational stereotyping but it’s still alive and well in my conversations. Only when I was able to point out to him generational “facts” was he able to really give me a buy-in for these ideas to implement. See the irony here? The truth is we are more similar than we give ourselves credit for. Sometimes it’s as simple as communication. Often this is the missing link. Here’s to hoping.

This post was adapted from “Dear Leaders: Please Revisit Your Corporate Culture,” which originally appeared on

About the Author: Meghan M. Biro is a globally-recognized talent management leader and social business and community catalyst. As founder and CEO of TalentCulture Consulting Group, she has worked with hundreds of companies, from early-stage ventures to global brands like Microsoft and Google, helping them recruit and empower stellar talent.

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DPR Construction Builds Culture That Works For Millennials

The founders of DPR Construction must have had a crystal ball when they launched their firm 24 years ago.

The small cadre of engineers that formed DPR embraced a flat culture over a hierarchical one, and that has proven to be a winner with young employees today.

Peter Salvati, a member of DPR’s management committee, says the general contracting firm abides by the principle of “what’s right, not who’s right” — that is, listening closely to all employees, regardless of position. “The person with the right answer may be who you least expect,” Salvati says.

Peter Salvati

Peter Salvati

“The Millennial generation fits in with ‘what’s right vs. who’s right.’”

Indeed, they do. Earlier this year, our research ranked Redwood City, California-based DPR as a Great Workplace for Millennials. This honor came on top of the company earning the 10th spot on the Best Companies to Work For 2014 list we produce with FORTUNE. DPR also is a winner in the general contracting world, where it boasts clients including Facebook, Pixar and Genentech.

Not only does the company snag high-profile projects, it connects its construction jobs to bigger purposes. When the company reached a milestone on a project to expand a biotech manufacturing facility, for example, it invited a cancer patient who would benefit from the drugs to be manufactured at the plant to speak to workers. This framing of work in terms of ultimate goals taps into Millennials’ desire for a sense of meaning on the job.

Says one Millennial: “DPR continues to empower employees and remain true to the core values and mission that it ‘Exist to Build Great Things,’ and you really feel like you are making a difference alongside some amazing people.”

Alongside—rather than under—is right. DPR is so egalitarian that it has no CEO. Instead, there is a shared leadership structure with a management committee of seven people. The company also is employee-owned, with all staffers getting phantom stock units that vest upon five years of tenure. And it is willing to give young people a great deal of responsibility, Salvati says.

On the other hand, he says, the firm expects junior staffers to be humble and savvy enough to seek assistance if necessary on stretch assignments. “You’ve got to be smart enough to realize you may need help,” he says.

Salvati can see himself in today’s ambitious young professionals. He was one of DPR’s earliest employees, and was given the responsibility of opening an office for the company in San Diego at the relatively tender age of 34. These days, the San Diego office is one of DPR’s strongest performing locations.

Salvati’s story highlights the original DPR vision, which works so well with young people today: hire quality people and trust them to take off. Says Salvati: “Really good people want to do really good things.”

About the Author: Ed Frauenheim is editor at workplace research site Great Rated!™, where he produces content and reviews companies.

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Creating Company Culture Irresistible To Millennials

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

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

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

1) Connect With Your Team

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

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

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

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

2) Coach For Development

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

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

Boss less. Coach more.

3) Strive For What Matters

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

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

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

Retain on.

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

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

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What Millennials Really Want from Employers

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

What Do Millennials Really Want?

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

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

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

How to Retain Millennials

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

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

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

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

Value Your Whole Team

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

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

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