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Photo: Ali Yahya

#WorkTrends: Going Gig: Freelancing in HR

Meghan invited both Chris Russell, the founder of HR Lancers, and Jim Stroud, VP of Marketing at Proactive Talent, to talk about the new trend in HR: hiring freelancers and consultants to fill in the gaps. 

COVID-19’s uncertainties are leaving no field untouched, including HR. As Jim said, “if employees hear the whiff of a rumor, or a layoff or have any kind of indication that their job might be in jeopardy or a furlough,” they might venture to freelance as a quick way to gain income and stay afloat. Further, freelancing is on the rise among millennials who are leaving the city. They can make their living at home — now more than ever before, noted Meghan. 

But not everyone’s cut out for the gig, Jim said. It takes self-discipline and the ability to self-structure, particularly now. Schedules may be more flexible, but kids and mounting responsibilities can add up. But the demand is there: Companies are hiring experts to help bridge the gaps, and sourcing out project-based, niched assignments like crafting job descriptions or writing a handbook. For smaller companies, this may be an effective solution. 

And if we see universal healthcare, said Chris, we’ll also see an explosion in freelancers. Meghan concurred: If benefits weren’t tied to employment, a lot more people would go independent. And that’s something companies need to think about, Jim added. Companies could be much more competitive at attracting top freelancers if they offered to cover healthcare expenses for the duration of a gig. And Meghan predicts we’ll see HR shifting along with the rest of the gig economy‚ and it’s going to be interesting to see how that changes our practices. 

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

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why are more organizations hiring freelancers for HR? #WorkTrends
Q2: How is freelancing changing the nature of HR? #WorkTrends
Q3: How can leaders better attract top HR freelancers? #WorkTrends

Find Chris Russell on Linkedin and Twitter

Find Jim Stroud on Linkedin and Twitter

Photo: Ben Stern

#WorkTrends: Incorporating New Hires into Work Cultures

The big question: Can managers effectively integrate new hires into a company work culture when everyone is working from home? The answer is a resounding yes. But how?

To explore this question further, Meghan invited John Baldino to share strategies that can help businesses successfully hire and onboard top talent remotely. John is the president and founder of Humareso, an HR firm that’s helping organizations not only manage their talent, but better onboard new hires into the culture.

John stresses communication as a key component of any culture, but especially important for remote workplaces. Seasoned employees may have the advantage of familiarity, “but that’s not really fair to the new person coming in,” John said. Managers need to take an intentional approach to communication that isn’t just about the nuts and bolts of tasks at hand, as Meghan noted. It’s got to have plenty of room to be human and have real conversations. 

Where are the blind spots? Look at the camera, John said. Too many of us don’t know where to look, and that can make for very awkward meetings. And that’s as true for managers as for anyone. So we all have to make sure we’re comfortable with the tech. And don’t try to make eye contact, because it doesn’t translate on video. You’ll look like you’re not looking at the person you’re talking to. Just making sure the tech is up to date is important as well, and that’s every company’s responsibility. We all have to get more comfortable with the technology and being remote, Meghan said. It’s a steep learning curve, and we’re still on it. 

So much has changed in the process of hiring. Consider the old normal orientation schedules — which played an effective role in portraying a company’s culture. Now we need to deliver that via chat across managers and departments, said John. But you can’t glean the essence of a culture (let alone participate in it) in just a few days of Zoom calls, Meghan said. Build in the time to let it all sink in. And make sure your managers have the resources they need to support new hires, and can provide flexibility to accommodate the new work/life construct.  

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

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why do organizations struggle with onboarding? #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies help bring new hires into the work culture? #WorkTrends
Q3: How can leaders better shape an onboarding strategy? #WorkTrends

Find John Baldino on Linkedin and Twitter

Photo: Jeremiah Lawrence

Closing Analytics Talent Gaps: College to Career

Nearly all organizations are struggling to find top talent and identify best practices for aligning college and career pathways. Moreover, there is a substantial talent gap when it comes to early-career hires. Recent research from Strada/Gallup found that while 95 percent of chief academic officers felt graduates were prepared, only 11 percent of business leaders felt that recent hires possessed the necessary skills to be successful at the start of their careers.  

 The solution lies in getting all the components right, which means aligning the right skills, taught in the right academic programs, to the right students, who are ready to work at the right companies. 

The Demand Challenge

For educational institutions, increased interaction with employers will likely better prepare students to enter the labor market. These relationships will help institutions develop programs and curricula designed to prepare students with the most in-demand knowledge and skills to compete in the job market. The ten emerging tech jobs for 2020 — as forecasted by Emsi, a labor market analytics firm — point to a continually evolving digital landscape. Some of these jobs reflect nascent technologies, while others exemplify how quickly yesterday’s innovations have become standard operating functions today. The list is telling, including Cloud Data Engineer, Site Reliability Engineer/Developer, MVC (Model View Controller) Developer, Data Analytics Specialist, Cyber Defense Engineer, Visual Interaction Designer, and Infrastructure Developer. 

As higher education faces declining enrollment (some of which is triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic), ensuring that students receive the training they need for the most in-demand skills is essential. A better connection between educators and employers could mean that curricula are adjusted more quickly to reflect labor market needs. In turn, this could enable educational institutions to not only provide up-to-date training and enablement, but also increase enrollment as a result.  

Aligning College and Career Pathways

To close the competency gap and find top early-career talent, it may not be enough for companies to simply post positions in a variety of places and engage prospective employees at college career fairs. Many academic programs partner with workforce organizations who work with a variety of employers to help their students with data projects, internships, and in-demand skill-building to help ensure their students are more competitive on the job market.  

In the data science and analytics space, SAS Academic Programs is one of the leading workforce analytics organizations. Recently, I spoke with Lynn Letukas, Director of Global Academic Programs at SAS, a leading analytics software company, to better understand the tools and strategies that align great early-career talent to top employers.    

As Letukas explained, “SAS is uniquely positioned to align college and career pathways because our analytical solutions are used by 90 of the top 100 Fortune 500 companies, so employers look to us to gain a competitive advantage in their hiring needs. Programs at colleges and universities that teach SAS also look to us to help their students obtain those in-demand jobs.” SAS does not just work with large multinational companies, as Letukas explained, “Through our work with Fortune 500 companies, we gained considerable expertise on best practices for building college-career pathways and now, we’re broadening that work through the use of a scalable solution that can help any company fill their early-career talent needs.”  

In an effort to offer a more expansive opportunity for prospective employees and employers, SAS recently partnered with Handshake to help customers identify top early-career talent.  Letukas explained, “We are very excited to work with Handshake on a scalable solution so that nearly any organization looking to find top talent in the analytics and data science space will have more equitable access to the talent pipeline. By expanding the scalability of talent connections, we are helping to facilitate a more unified college and career pathway.”  

A New Approach

What’s notable about this new paradigm in talent sourcing is that it returns to an age-old tradition of higher education as the provider of talent — armed with not only the traditional breadth of knowledge, but competencies that remain viable into the future. At the same time it circumvents a rising issue in education: not all students who are aiming for jobs in the technology sector are choosing obvious majors, and a large proportion don’t settle into careers related to their majors at all. 

As reported by CareerBuilder, half of college graduates do not go into the field of their university major and one third never work in the field of their major. Further, an Emsi report on college students’ early career tracks indicates that the typical career path is more circuitous than straight — which may mean employers are missing out on attracting the right candidates if they are only hiring from the same academic programs or majors. To put it simply, there is clearly a need to better align supply and demand. 

What my conversation with Lynn Letukas brought to light is that companies need to participate in talent acquisition far sooner along the employment journey, which for smaller firms, until recently, may have been somewhat limited. From a talent perspective, being able to quickly engage in a new job has a marked impact on the success of an early hire. For students, that can hinge on receiving an education that has its eye on the market, and gaining access to pre-hire opportunities, such as internships and other early experiences, to not only get a feel for an organization and a role, but also to get a sense of their own competency and potential. The Strada/Gallup survey found that for college alumni, “supportive relationships and relevant, engaging learning experiences,” are connected to higher engagement and wellbeing in the workplace. 

Expanding Opportunity

The SAS/Handshake partnership provides a new roadmap to acquiring early-career talent for all sides — it democratizes opportunities both for companies who may not have the resources of a Fortune 500, and for students who may get lost in the maze of larger talent connection platforms. 

This partnership also provides a new resource for recruiters looking for the means to increase talent pools by turning universities themselves into talent pools, and providing ways to make contact, connect, and source. This, in turn, may bring about an effective solution to another pressing need — to create more diverse teams in the workforce. This is also a new way to find top talent outside of traditional STEM programs, and create more dynamic and ongoing relationships and outreach. That’s exactly what our future talent needs to help them start their careers, and it’s what companies need to close the analytics skills gaps and meet their growing hiring goals. 

 This post is sponsored by SAS.

Orientation and Onboarding: Your Sink-or-Swim Strategy Is a Terrible Waste of Talent – Part 2

In the last blog, we discussed how to make a new employee’s orientation—their first or second day on the job—an effective and memorable experience. In this blog, we are going to talk about what happens over the next thirty to sixty days as the new employee is handed over to their new department(s). The onboarding, or training and immersion process, of a new employee to their new job is critical for their success.

Unfortunately, many times a new employee is neither trained nor certified adequately in their new position, creating the real possibility of the new employee quickly becoming frustrated and disappointed with their new employer and new responsibilities. This can lead to poor customer experiences and numerous mistakes, which in turn leads to a quick departure from the job.

The lack of an effective onboarding program for each position or role is a big problem in many companies today. Consider that sixty-nine percent of employees[1] are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced a great onboarding. So how do you create a great onboarding that inspires and retains employees? Consider the following elements:

  1. The department is organized and welcoming. The employee should feel welcomed by their new team and manager and not feel as though they are an afterthought. Providing a quick note or email to the department managers is a necessary step to ensure everyone is informed. The department needs to be ready for their new employee, so ensure their business email, business cards, computer, and other necessary tools are set up, available, and ready to go. Google takes this a step further by reminding department managers to complete specific tasks proven to improve the new hire’s productivity. [2]
  2. The new employee is given a dedicated person to help settle them in. This person could be a mentor, their trainer, or just a person assigned to show them around. Introduce them to key people, and be there to answer questions. Research from the SHRM Foundation[3] suggests that new employees who receive a mentor learn more about the company and understand the culture better than their non-mentored counterparts.
  3. Connect the new employee to their products and services. Get them to try, use, play, and become familiar with your company’s offerings as quickly as possible. Have them do so as a customer.
  4. Ensure there are feedback opportunities over the first sixty days whereby someone who is the not the new hire’s manager checks in to see if the person has settled in and feels comfortable with their training and assimilation.
  5. Have an organized training program that certifies and tests that the new person can do the job.

Within onboarding, there are four considerations that should be clarified and considered:

  1. Who is going to train. Ideally, it will not be the manager because managers are too busy to focus on a new team member’s training. The trainer should represent the values and be the expert for the position.
  2. Where training will occur. This should be a place that is good for learning, where mistakes can be made and in an area where customers are not inconvenienced.
  3. When training will happen. A clearly defined schedule of what happens on which days should clearly set expectations around the training program.
  4. What is being taught. Ensure all processes and tasks are comprehensively defined and organized to support learning. Throughout the training process, tests both written and through demonstration should be scheduled.

Onboarding coupled with a great orientation is the first impression an employee has of your company and their future experience with you. With the right attention, care, and detail, you give your new staff every chance to be successful and instill in them the mindset and feeling that this is the place they want to be for a while. Please quit the outdated sink-or-swim strategy applied to much new staff today, and ensure your talent receives the time and training investment they need.

If you’d like a comprehensive look at the Culture Hacker Methodology, check out my book on Amazon or on Barnes & Noble. For best practices and insights from today’s cutting-edge leaders in company culture, check out the Culture Hacker Podcast on iTunes.

Cheers, and thanks for reading.

Recommended Readings:

3 Mistakes Companies Make Onboarding Contingent Workers
10 Tips for Successful New Hire Assimilation

[1] “An onboarding checklist for success.” OC Tanner Blog.
[2] Justin Reynolds, “The 3 best onboarding tips from elite tech companies.” Tinypulse. 
[3] Tayla Bauer, “Onboarding new employees: Maximizing success.” SHRM

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Orientation and Onboarding: Your Sink-or-Swim Strategy Is a Terrible Waste of Talent

In today’s blog, let’s consider the orientation process. I see organizations investing heavily in getting the right people hired, but then failing to introduce, immerse, and train them correctly to support the talent’s future success. Many companies or departments adopt a sink-or-swim strategy, whereby they throw new people onto the front line – if they swim, then great, but if they sink, then the company just moves onto the next hire. This is a terrible waste of talent.

Research suggests that an employee’s start to a company is a critical part of the overall employee experience affecting retention, performance, and productivity. So ask yourself, how much of your high annual turnover and performance issues can be avoided by introducing your new people to your company in a way that orients and integrates them?

Before we get started, it is important to differentiate between orientation and onboarding:

  • Orientation takes place on the first day or two.
  • Onboarding occurs in the first 30-60 days as you get staff trained and certified to perform in a new role.

Today, our focus is on the orientation – what the first day or two on the job should look like.

When I worked with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, then CEO Horst Schulze would remind us that an employee’s first day is when they are most open to change. What they experience on that day orients them to the priorities of the company. So, what priorities do you communicate?

  • Do you have new hires complete a lot of paperwork, thus making paperwork a priority?
  • Do you review pages of rules, which imply that rules are a priority?
  • Do you put your new hires to work on day one, indicating that completing tasks are the most important priority?
  • Or, do you deliver a great first impression that focuses on the right things, such as introducing your brand, culture, and customers?

What are the right things? For me, the first thing to introduce is the brand. Specifically, this refers to what you do, whom you serve, and what makes your business unique. It is important to involve your marketing team in this overview, which should excite your new staff about the brand.

Provide a history lesson of the company, highlighting key facts, ownership, and key executives. I think this is a great opportunity to involve the owners or senior executives to set the stage with your new people. New hires begin to set a sense of belonging and their role in where the company is going.

Next, introduce your customers and what their expectations are of the company and staff. I like to introduce some high-level service skills and the mindset required. After all, for most organizations, customer service is an important priority.

Finally, ensure you provide a detailed introduction to the values of the company. In a previous blog, I discussed how values are more than some philosophical B.S. Values should define how staff act and interact with each other, their customers, the community, and the company itself. For me, this is where the most time should be spent on day one.

I know you will still have a need (and want) to do paperwork and review rules as part of the new hire’s introduction, but try and keep that until day two or move these tasks online, whereby they can be completed prior to their important day one experience.

Commit to making day one something your new employees will talk about, or even rave about! Set the stage for what you hope your new staff will do with your customers so that they understand what the real priorities are for the business. Make your new employees’ first day an experience and then spend the onboarding process, which we will review in my next blog, on how to deliver a great experience to your customers.

Thanks for reading my blog. If you’d like a comprehensive look at the Culture Hacker Methodology, then check out my book on Amazon or on Barnes & Noble. Also, for best practices and insights from today’s cutting-edge leaders in company culture, check out the Culture Hacker Podcast on iTunes.

Photo Credit: cornerstoneindia Flickr via Compfight cc

Employee Engagement 101: Does Your Culture Value Humans?

What’s the distance between your company culture and your brand? Answer: There shouldn’t be any. A company culture that’s authentic and deep will translate through the employer brand, conveying the same tone, the same mission, the same values to job seekers and new hires that it does to fully entrenched (and hopefully engaged) employees.

But if we’re out of the dark ages in terms of the new World of Work, we’re still in the dim outskirts. Consider employee engagement, a key indicator for one thing, more quantitative data (such as career satisfaction) can be gleaned by employees already at a workplace than those still considering it. If employees are not as engaged as they should be; not buoyed by the spirit of the organization they spend most of their time in; that’s a sign of a visible gulf.

Last month a friend and colleague Susan LaMotte made the smart connection, and it’s been an ongoing talking point for me as well. Susan compared how much we’ve been spending on employee engagement with how successful that output has been. Answer: Depressing: Not very. We’ve spent more than $720 million according to a Bersin study. Compare that to a survey by Gallup that revealed that only 13% of employees consider themselves truly engaged in their work.

If your employees aren’t engaged, that’s a serious detriment to your employer brand, and that’s what going to translate down the pike. Proof is in the pudding — or not — an organization without a strong company culture will lose out to companies that do.

Here are two values it’s key to transmit:

1) Supporting Your Employees As People With Lives

Companies like Apple and Google clearly align employer brand with workplace culture. Why are we still talking about these more mainstream brands you ask? Because they have historically embedded themselves into our collective brain. Innovation, creativity and teamwork are part of that culture, as is the message that to keep people inspired, fresh and happy, the organization has to support them. Job seekers are savvier than ever and will turn on a dime: a company that touts “long hours in the trenches” translates as “doesn’t respect my need for a life outside of work.” One that doesn’t address childcare and benefits for a family translates as “we are more important than your family.” That won’t work, particularly given this intensely competitive recruiting culture, not to mention ever-increasing workplace options.

2) Living Your Mission Statement

Integrity is key among the values external job candidates are shown to hold dear in a prospective employer. That’s what happens when the mission statement is clear, authentic, and transparent. Make sure your employees are part of the mission statement so it aligns their engagement with the company goals — they are the embodiment of your employer brand. And make sure the same clear goals and values in that mission statement are part of your recruiting strategy, your videos, your mobile and social platforms.

There are more ways than ever to convey employer brand, whether to active or passive candidates: social, mobile, onboarding, video. And we have the immense power of analytics to draw from. Yet while the workplace is transforming rapidly, it’s still plagued by some of the same issues that have always plagued it: employees disengage, recruits go where the grass looks greener. There’s still a gulf between the organization, brand and the human being. More than ever, it’s time to change that.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.

Four Strategies to Measure Quality of Hire Effectively

If you’re concerned you’re not measuring quality of hire effectively, you’re not alone. Although quality of hire was the most important metric to recruiters in a recent study conducted by LinkedIn, only 33 percent feel they do a good job of measuring it.

Quality of hire is an elusive metric. We want to know if the hiring process is actually selecting the right talent, but there are a lot of subjective factors involved. What’s more, there’s no magic recipe or industry standard with which to measure—that varies from organization to organization depending on what is most important to them.

Although there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, there are steps you can take to improve the way you measure quality of hire. Use these strategies to tailor the metric to your organization and measure quality of hire with confidence:

  1. Set performance objectives

Measuring quality of hire begins at the start of the hiring process. That’s right — you need to be thinking about the metric as you draft the job description. Develop the main performance objectives for the job to describe the position. These performance objectives are a critical part of measuring.

Your performance objectives need to be specific, so there is a clear and concrete way to measure them. A typical job description may list communication skills as a key requirement for the position. But how will those communication skills be used in the job and to what end? Will the employee need to write certain content? Deliver presentations? Communicate regularly with clients?

Layout the specific performance objectives of the job, so you know what to look for in a candidate and how to measure their success in the position.

  1. Predict quality of hire

Using the performance objectives, estimate before their first day how well you expect your new hire to perform based on their past performance and qualifications. How will their experience and current skills help them succeed?

After the new hire starts in their position, measure their actual success in achieving the performance objectives. Did they meet your expectations? Exceed them? If new hire performance falls below your expectations, it may signal problems with your hiring process.

Depending on where the new hire is faltering, low performance could mean their skills didn’t match the performance objectives closely enough, the hiring process failed to account for working styles and company culture, or the process needs a more effective screening and evaluation process.

  1. Talk to employees

Quality of hire doesn’t solely rely on quality of work — cultural fit and employee satisfaction are just as important.

If you’re just looking at performance, you may think top-performing new hires are happy and engaged, and that’s not always the case. In a 2013 report conducted by Leadership IQ, low performers at the organization studied were much more likely to say they were motivated to give 100 percent at work than high-performing employees.

This means your high-performing new employees aren’t necessarily engaged, and when employees aren’t engaged, it’s only a matter of time before they look for opportunities they find more exciting.

Ask employees to rate their engagement and satisfaction with the position to understand if they are truly a great fit. New hire feedback can point you to weaknesses in the hiring process and help determine how to better select candidates who fit the culture and are passionate about the work the organization does.

  1. Look at the big picture

When looking at quality of hire, it’s easy to get caught up in the little details. The cost of hire, amount of hires, and time to fill look at the recruiting process but don’t effectively measure the quality of hire. These metrics are more focused on speed and quantity, not quality.

Instead, look at quality of hire in terms of meeting larger company goals. How are your new hires impacting the overall success of the company? Are they improving processes, increasing productivity, fixing inefficiencies?

This approach requires you to look at the big picture goals of the organization, and the overall quality of hires, not just individual performance. After analyzing each new employee, view them as a whole to find the overall success of your hiring process.

To get a real sense of the effectiveness of your hiring process, you need to rethink the way you measure quality of hire. Focus on specific objectives to better evaluate the quality of candidates you bring in and to improve your hiring process.

What is most important to your organization when measuring quality of hire? Share in the comments below!

photo credit: Wood Type 4 via photopin (license)

Is Your Job Preview for Candidates Fact or Fiction?

Let’s just admit it. As recruiters and TA professionals, we may oversell a job role or embroider our corporate employment experience once in a while in order to get that perfect candidate in the door. Sometimes it works and we make a great hire. And, sometimes that great new hire leaves. What if we could avoid this whole scenario by giving candidates a more Realistic Job Preview (RJP) using technology? With video, employers can easily give as much to the job candidate as the candidate gives to you.  RJPs via video can help you pull better-fit candidates through your hiring process right from the start. You deliver a better candidate experience, hiring results and spend everyone’s time more wisely. [easy-tweet tweet=”Adding #video to the hiring process gives candidates a realistic job preview, which adds dramatically to their #candidateexperience.” user=”ellnerellner” hashtags=”#candidateexperience, #TChat”]

3 Easy Ways to Use Video for a Realistic Job Preview
In the past, job previews lived in the realm of verbal communication between recruiters and job applicants. It was an imperfect solution: Difficult and time-consuming for recruiters to deliver the right information over and over, and hard for candidates to gain the real insight they needed about a potential new employer.  With video interviewing technology, the game changes. Recruiters now have the means to provide rich insight to many, many candidates with ease.  Here are just three of the ways you can do it:

  1. Get Your Right-Fit Out There. If you’ve done your homework, you’ve got a good idea of what right fit talent means for your company and for key roles. Don’t keep this information secret! Ask current, successful employees to use your video interviewing solution to talk about what they like to do on the weekends. Put this out to the job candidate marketplace and let them decide: Can you relate to this? If you’re like this, then we want to meet you. What’s extremely important is the authenticity of the video and letting people be themselves. If corporate marketing managed this video and scripted it perfectly, lit it just so and hired an actor to represent the employee, it would not be nearly as powerful in attracting candidates to your company.
  2. Give Candidates the Insider’s Tour. Video is an incredible vehicle for capturing your work environment and the people who work in that environment, talking about their day. Addressing the noise, the clutter, the pressure, the hours – whatever it is about your workplace that causes the churn. Present it authentically and share it openly with candidates engaged in your hiring process. There’s no better way to help your candidates visualize what the work environment is really going to be like — not for the 15-minute tour, but for an eight-hour shift.
  3. Let Candidates Meet the Boss. While it’s true that people work for a company because of its mission and goals, if they don’t mesh well with their direct manager, it’s hard to get past it. If you use on-demand video interviews for screening, ask the hiring manager to deliver the questions to candidates via video. And I don’t mean simply read it! Ask her to add commentary to the question and some background context, so candidates can get a sense of her style. When you can be job specific and use a video from the hiring manager, then you really are building that RJP authenticity. [easy-tweet tweet=”Through full-blown #videointerviewing platforms, let candidates meet the hiring manager to make sound decisions.” user=”ellnerellner” hashtags=”#Tchat, #candidateexperience”]

Break the Ice for New Hires
That feeling of authenticity you’ve given candidates doesn’t have to end with the job offer. Ask your new hires to answer some getting-to-know-you questions via video. Then, circulate that video to the team or department in advance of your new hire’s start date, and he or she can be greeted by others even more warmly.  In the same way that video offers a better RJP, it also can help ease your new hire’s transition.

Could Job-Hoppers Be A Good Investment?

Job-Hopping is bad. Those who skip from job to job, should be banned from recruiting circles and shunned by the employment offices. It will wreck your career if you leave before the 2-year mark!

Previous and current generations have internalized, lived and believed it all, keeping them at jobs they dislike. Even Millennials who want new-age benefits like flex-work and volunteering opportunities are staying in their positions longer than workers of previous generations. Whether those choices are due to the struggle to find better opportunities or the fear of disappointing Baby Boomer parents remains uncertain. One thing is clear: job-hopping has always carried a bad stigma.

But how accurate are these statements? Does job-hopping really hurt your career? Should recruiters overlook resumes with several careers where there should be just a couple?

Times Are A’Changing

When it comes to changing jobs, 41% of baby boomers believe employees should stay in their positions for at least 5 years before considering a move, while 21% say that between 4-5 years is sufficient. And younger generations have been raised by these loyal employees to carry the weight of staying at each job they take for long blocks of time.

It is believed that someone with a flighty job history lacks ambition, is easily bored, isn’t loyal or reliable or is just not serious about employment. Alternately, those who have longer stints in a position are seen to be the opposite, which leads to the latter usually receiving the offer. Meanwhile, candidates who frequently move from one job to another catch grief in the interviews they are given a chance to attend.

While these ideas weigh on the minds of the incoming workforce, younger generations are challenging the school of thought. Only 13% of those born between 1982 and 2002 believe waiting for the 5-year mark is necessary. In fact, 25% believe looking for another position before a year is up is okay.

Bored Or Teeming With Aspiration?

More of the upcoming workforce is receiving formal education, leading to the most educated generation in history. Employees want to feel like their expensive education is benefiting their careers. Unfortunately, many employers are not catching on to this or are simply unable to offer more growth opportunities. It used to be that promotion or more responsibility came with time, but this new generation of worker does not want to wait.

Lack of advancement is the number one reason people leave their jobs, and 89% of employees with bachelor’s or graduate degrees find it annoying to not feel empowered by their boss. When a few months go by and no additional assignments are offered, employees fear stagnation and, in return, begin exploring their options. For many, finding new employment is the only hope to be challenged in their position.

Does Ambition Mean More Skills?

Though these workers are being considered more educated by way of formal work, many are not experienced. With many entry-level positions requiring at least a little experience, workers are determined to have examples of previous employment-provided skills that give the upper hand. If it seems no skills will be being obtained in a current position, employees are open to new positions that have those opportunities.

This might seem like a challenge to organizations, but it’s actually a benefit to growing teams. Employees who have moved around within their careers bring fresh points of view to each new employer and excitement in learning new tasks and procedures. Being open to challenges and cross-training, job-hoppers have worked with numerous people and personalities, which could mean they are experienced team players. Job-hopping could also point to a strategic mind, since it’s known among the professional community that employees who stay at the same job for more than 2 years find their learning power significantly reduced.

It’s true that recruiters have little time to make big decisions. In those precious 6 seconds of reading resumes, job history is a huge concern, but instantly throwing that shifty job history to the no pile might be losing the organization that next great new hire. It might be time to rethink the job-hopping applicant.

About the Author: A 20-year veteran of the recruiting industry, CEO Greg Rokos provides strategic direction for GreenJobInterview® and is responsible for marketing its video interviewing software through client meetings, conferences, speaking engagements, key channel partnerships and other activities. Alongside fellow co-founder Theo Rokos, Greg is one of the pioneers of cloud-based video interviewing.

photo credit: Intrepid Explorer Lianne via photopin (license)

Start Your Retention Strategy On Day One

The first day at a new job is stressful. The pressure to start off on the right foot and make a great first impression can be intense. Right or wrong, on the first day it can feel like there’s a lot on the line, and on top of it all, it is all packed into a busy first-day schedule.

While new employees realize the importance of having a great first day, many companies miss the opportunity to make a great first impression of their own. This isn’t to suggest that effective onboarding ends on the first day. On the contrary, onboarding exercises should continue throughout the first year, and then transition into your long-term employee growth, productivity and retention strategy.

That said, the time from an accepted offer through to the end of a new hire’s first week often misses a valuable element: listening to the new hire. The time is often filled with so much talking at the new employee intsead. Now that you’re outside of the pressures of the hiring process, these first few weeks are a key moment to listen and learn more about the person that is joining your team.

Aside from just being common courtesy, listening to your employees has good business value, too. For example, according to a recent LinkedIn study, some of the most popular reasons employees look for jobs are a desire for greater opportunities for advancement, more challenging work and more learning opportunities. By starting this conversation as early as possible and gaining a deep understanding about the opportunities that are valued by your new hires, you can help protect yourself with a strong retention strategy.

Here’s what else you can gain from your initial onboarding conversations:

Open, Honest Performance Conversations: For many reasons, some of the most awkward conversations in the workplace are during performance reviews. A great way to counter this is by having performance conversations early and often. When an employee sees the value in sharing honestly, these performance conversations will have much greater value. A conversation about performance expectations for the first weeks and months is often a good start.

Visualize Long-Term Plans: Part of a successful long-term employer-employee relationship is putting an employee in a situation that runs parallel to his or her ideal career plan. By knowing where your employees want to go, you can better ensure that their work on your team keeps them on that chosen path.

Identify Employee Motivations: Part of building a high-performance culture is identifying the best ways to reward and acknowledge your talented employees. Discovering what your new hires value and what pushes them early will help you make your rewards more meaningful, and will save you from inefficient trial and error.

Show You Care: One of the leading causes of underperformance and burnout is personal problems. From the first day, you can work to build trust with a new employee that would make them feel comfortable discussing issues ourside of the office that might disrupt their work. Just asking simple questions about an employee’s weekend, summer plans or interests in general – and sharing in turn – can help create this environment, and may also foster loyalty.

Admittedly, these are behaviors that work well beyond day one with a new hire, but the sooner you can get started, the better off you will be.

How do you connect with your new hires after the hiring process is over?

photo credit: Phil Roeder via photopin cc

For HR to Empower Up

“Wilderness of mirrors
World of polished steel
Gears and iron chains
Turn the grinding wheel
I run between the shadows
Some are phantoms, some are real…”

– Neil Peart, “Double Agent”

Welcome to your new job!

Now, put on these chains and fill out this form…

And then fill out this one…

And then fill out this one…

And then fill out this one…

Darkness descends…

…and excitement slowly seeps away…

We’re talking old school. Not quite the workplace dungeons of the industrial revolution, but definitely of the pre-internet realm. Instead of empowering new employees from before day one, some companies demagnetize their enthusiasm with a day filled with barely legible photocopied paperwork, horribly dry employee handbooks, and outdated training manuals that haven’t been updated since 1999.

All that anticipation and highly engaged first-day energy completely wiped out by the onboarding electronic magnetic pulse, and then we’re left for dead in a paperwork wilderness. As I’ve mentioned many times in the past, I’ve played Human Resources on TV, but I have actually done the blocking and tackling associated with sourcing, screening, hiring and onboarding. I know first hand, at least in smaller companies, that we’ve been quite guilty of a paper-intensive onboarding experience.

The unfortunate reality is that new employees decide their tenure with a company within their first six months on the job. That’s not a lot of time – but it sure adds up to a lot of recruitment and ramping costs.

Last week the 2014 Candidate Experience Awards were announced. What was obvious is that more and more companies have extensive programs in place to improve their overall candidate experience and ensure they provide a positive, rewarding experience as jobseekers. But many of the award winners admitted that they don’t have a very good “internal candidate experience” and many neglect to focus on the bridge between the two when those final candidates transition to new employees.

Of course what doesn’t happen next can and does have a long-lasting effect on their engagement, productivity and tenure. Therefore, it cannot be underscored enough why employers must improve their onboarding processes, where new employees (regardless of classification) are immediately immersed in the company and its culture, rather than hiding them in paperwork shadows on day one.

I’m proud to have just finished HCI’s Human Capital Strategist (HCS) Certification, and part of the coursework included the following Onboarding Essentials:

  • The time it takes for people to become proficient in their new jobs is critical.
  • The “Breakeven Point” according to Michael Watkins, author of The First 90 Days, is a huge productivity factor that is overlooked by many organizations.
  • Focus on the first 30-60-90 days to get employees off to a fast start.
  • Different breakeven points for jobs, depending on complexity and the applicability of the talent supply pool.
  • Engagement levels are high when joining a new job, but then can quickly decline.
  • Onboarding should be viewed not as an administrative duty but an engagement and developmental experience.
  • The research is clear: a careful and planned onboarding program leads to higher engagement and productivity, and reduces turnover.

Yes, that second to the last one: onboarding should be viewed not as an administrative duty but an engagement and developmental experience.

Unfortunately due to increasing corporate complexity and a constantly changing regulatory environment (not to mention a tightening corporate budget), HR has had little choice but to spend its limited time administering process first, and engaging people second.

To get the engagement, automating as much of the administrative onboarding process as possible is imperative. Otherwise, there’s no way HR (or anyone playing HR on TV) will get to the empowering that Todd Owens, CEO of TalentWise, told us about on the TalentCulture #TChat Show:

HR technologies today are supposed to free HR from routine administration, while helping them keep their organization compliant. Ultimately, it’s about empowering them to deliver a more productive and engaged workforce.

Indeed. However, not all of us in the HR software industry feel that way, or at least develop that way, but I know my mothership PeopleFluent does, along with a few others like TalentWise (in full disclosure, we’re partners). We both certainly know and acknowledge that HR carries the talent torch for us every day. It’s responsible for recruiting, hiring, training and engaging their organization’s most important asset – the people.

That’s why, for HR to empower up, they need to be:

  1. Better Automated. Streamlining the hiring process with the right technology platform enables HR and new employees to focus on the work at hand and immediately immerse into workplace culture. Allowing your new hires to quickly and painlessly move from their offer letter, through whatever “checks” your organization has in place (background and drug screening for example), to onboarding completely gets them ready to go on day one.
  2. And Empowered (as well). Empowering HR from day one is the ultimate outcome, which in turn creates a productive and engaging day one for new hires and co-workers alike. The hundreds of hours of administrative labor saved each year when the paper-process is “turned off” empowers HR to be strategic and to create a sustaining, high-performing, competitive organization today. That’s the business partner the executive team wants in their powerhouse.

Rebooting the human interaction in human resources is what talent engagement is all about and what will ultimately drive the business outcomes that make the top-down and the bottom-up alight with smiles.

photo credit: joshuahoffmanphoto via photopin cc

Painful Formalities of Informal Onboarding: #TChat Preview

We’re big fans of social media and all things social here at TalentCulture World of Work. We’re also fairly informal as a social community, most comfortable with relaxed interchanges and a bit put off by super-formal processes at times.

But I’ve noticed something interesting of late in the social world — the very informality of social media is creating a new formality in the workplace, one that’s actually harder to monitor and manage than conventional interchanges happening in the workplace. How can this be? A good deal of this happens in employee orientation or onboarding, so we decided it would be a great #TChat topic. On the one hand we have loads of research showing people learn best in informal settings. On the other hand, we have companies still pushing process and culture through the employee handbook (although there are some great handbooks out there — tip of the hat to Valve.)

One weird paradox is that social media at once eliminates much of the formality and much of the human touch. And informality isn’t necessarily what the new hire craves; he or she may just want real, live, approachable human beings to deal with. I’m talking about the face-to-face, in-person, in-real-life (IRL) touch.

In real life, a formal setting doesn’t need informality to provide a real, live, approachable human. All the interactive technology and informality that comes with it lacks the human touch. And then, all of a sudden, it feels like all the things we mistakenly correlate necessarily with formalities — clinical, lacking in warmth, thin, superficial. UGH. People hire people – right?

What to do? As leaders how can we shove a handbook at someone and expect the person will pick up the company’s nuanced workplace culture? And who’s responsible for making sure new hires are brought into the workplace culture fold, anyway? Please don’t tell us you’re relying solely on social media, either. As HR turns to more automation, are we at risk of losing the opportunity to acclimate new hires in a systematic, repeatable and personally-meaningful way? I’m worried to be honest. I guess it’s time we talk it through to find some peace.

So many questions, so little time — here are this week’s questions for your consideration:

Q1: Data shows that informal learning is the best way to know, so why do we throw the “employee handbook” at folks?

Q2: How do we embed the behind-the-scenes, impromptu workplace cultural experiences into the onboarding process?

Q3: Who’s responsible for cultural acclimation, training & retention at & beyond formal & informal onboarding & why?

Q4: When does formal onboarding make the most sense & why?

Q5: Much of the hiring administrative processes can be automated today, but how can HR tech promote informal onboarding?

If you are interested in or responsible for leadership, workplace culture, employee onboarding and best practices, we hope you’ll join us at #TChat World of Work on Wednesday night, Aug. 22, from 7-8pm ET (6-7pm CT, 4-5pm PT, or wherever you are) as we explore the balance between “social” workplace onboarding and more formal, classroom-style employee orientation.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk, industrial and organizational psychologist, as well as workplace strategist (@MRGottschalk / The Office Blend), will be our guest moderator. We’ll assess the formalities and informalities of employee onboarding and new-hire orientation and discuss the merits of informal social learning vs. formalized orientation processes. I look forward to chatting with you soon.

Image Credits: UnWelcome Mat via Freaking Craft

Battle Foods Employee Handbook Cover, by John Trainor