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Spring Cleaning, HR Style: Time to Renew the Onboarding Experience

The early days of the COVID-19 crisis presented companies with the opportunity to make exponential changes to support the dynamic nature of the employee experience. In a short time, organizations accelerated digital transformation. They co-created new career paths with employees. And many employers implemented flexible work schedules. Some teams even enacted four-day workweeks. In what seemed like an overnight development, the world of work changed. In many ways, for the better: 90 percent of employers say that their employees banded together as a result.

Now vaccines are becoming more available, and some sense of prior normalcy is starting to return. So leaders must continue to push existing boundaries. Not only for current employees but also the new wave of people joining the workforce. Over 25 percent of companies plan to hire at higher volumes than before the pandemic. Another 20 percent anticipate hiring at the same pre-pandemic rates. So there is a lot of onboarding on the horizon. With that comes another opportunity: To create a great experience from the start.

For HR teams and hiring managers, it’s time to embrace spring cleaning ideology. Specifically, it’s time to dust off the onboarding experience—and revamp it for the new world of work.

The Onboarding Experience Needs a New Shine

The onboarding experience is an integral part of the overall employee experience. Done well, it can set the trajectory for company success. In fact, organizations with effective onboarding have 33 percent more engaged employees than organizations with ineffective onboarding. And 70 percent of executives believe that employee engagement is critical to company success. Creating a positive experience out of the gate provides the road map for employees to be more productive. Ultimately, it increases the value and profitability of the organization.

However, many organizations haven’t done a good job of creating this positive onboarding experience. Eighty-eight percent of employees don’t think their organization onboards well. As a result, ineffective onboarding increases employee turnover within the first year of employment. Poor onboarding also decreases engagement for employees who stick around. Even worse, disengaged employees who do stay risk spreading unhappiness to others.

With the high-projected hiring rate for 2021 and a highly competitive job market, leaders don’t have time to deal with the outcomes of poor onboarding.

What’s the Cleaning Solution for This Mess?

To clean up the mess, employers must reimagine the most basic principles of the onboarding process: enablement materials. It is no longer possible to hand employees a stack of materials on their first day and send them on their way. Besides, the information in those documents might become out of date in a matter of days! Plus, the modern employee will expect more than a stack of papers.

How much more?

Digital capabilities have significantly increased the frequency and number of communications buzzing around. So much so that many of us (especially new employees) feel overwhelmed with the amount of input received. So it will be necessary for employers to simplify the experience wherever possible, starting with creating a concise set of onboarding materials. After all, any attempt to get up to speed quickly creates a chaotic environment for new hires. And it happens during a vulnerable—and stressful—time. Leaders should be looking for modern content tools that create consistency for users. Specifically, they should focus on trimming down the various content formats (one-pagers, presentations, emails, PDFs, etc.) to a single multimedia experience.

The Key to Onboarding Today: Providing Interactive Rich Content

Additionally, employers must pack enablement materials with rich content. Yes, traditional tools have been limiting. But today, leaders can leverage interactive content technology. These tools allow creators to access built-in design tools, making it easier to combine assets from multiple sources. No-code builders enable individuals without mastery in copywriting, design, or development to deliver an engaging onboarding experience. Everyone in the company can have the power to create materials rather than relying on a specialized team.

Onboarding materials should invite employees to engage the same way they interact with other digital content. Additionally, employers should leverage embedded assessments, quizzes, and access to related resources to give employees a better opportunity to digest and apply new information to the job in a format already known to them. After all, the more engaged new employees are, the more likely they are to contribute to the company’s success.

Renewing the Onboarding Experience

Companies have invested heavily in improving the employee experience in the past—and the innovation shouldn’t stop now. To compete well for top talent, employers must dig deep to keep innovative ideas coming. Sure, it would be easier to simply continue with traditional processes. But with the new wave of modern employees coming, dusty onboarding content won’t cut it.

To quickly contribute, employees must feel engaged from day one. They need a positive employee experience, starting with access to interactive and immersive content to help guide their onboarding journey. When companies get this right, they reap the rewards of a more engaged and committed workforce now—and in the future.

6 Ways Existing Tech Can Improve Employee Experience

Questions of “experiences” in business often focus on those of the customer–and not without cause. The ideal customer experience makes it easy for consumers to learn about your company and access its goods and services. The same logic applies to the employee experience as well. After all, you want to remove as many barriers as possible between your workers and the essential tasks they need to perform.

The smoother the employee experience is, the more efficient, effective, and satisfied your team will be in the long run. While every office will have different areas in need of improvement, here are six easy ways to improve the employee experience with tech you likely already have available to you.

Smoothing Out the Onboarding Process

The onboarding process is the first real taste of your business for employees, and that taste is rarely as sweet as many wish. This is due in no small part to the dearth of resources and personnel devoted to this critical process. According to a survey conducted by payroll services provider OnPay, over 60 percent of small businesses have their HR handled either by the head of the company or by an employee who also juggles other responsibilities. That means employee onboarding can–and too often, does–take a back seat to other duties.

Thankfully, the right tools can help facilitate onboarding without making any greater demands of your existing team members. Some automated HR platforms, like PulseHRM and Namely, can help set up direct deposits and deploy mechanisms to ensure compliance with company policy. Relying on automated onboarding processes will let you focus more of your energy on the more human elements of the process, such as acquainting them with office culture.

Streamlining Communication

Anyone who’s ever even set foot in an office knows just how critical good communication is to the work environment. But it’s not just the efficacy that’s at stake here. In a 2019 survey from employee experience platform Dynamic Signal, 80 percent of the American workforce reported feeling stressed because of ineffective company communication. With numbers that high, your business simply cannot afford to ignore whatever communication issues might exist.

Every business has a whole suite of communication tools at their disposal—Slack, Teams, email, Zoom, and so on. But the key here is not to let your employees get stuck in the cracks between them. Choose one or two platforms and stick to them. Hopping around between different platforms is a surefire way to put the burden of communication management on the workers who can handle it the least. Whatever software you opt for, opt for it all the way. In the end, simplicity and efficiency are your team’s best friends when it comes to communication.

Facilitating Collaboration

Collaboration may go hand-in-hand with communication. However, work teams must tackle these two soft skills on their own terms. Effective communication platforms are vital for keeping an office running smoothly, of course. Simultaneously, collaboration tools like ClickUp and Asana are an absolute must for ensuring projects are completed on time and with care. With remote work promising to have a permanent impact on the way companies operate, collaboration-enabling tech is a must for just about every business.

This far into the pandemic, this shouldn’t be new news to anyone. In fact, Salesforce reports that 86 percent of executives identify ineffective collaboration as a major cause of failure in business. So there should be no hesitation when it comes to embracing tech that makes collaboration easier. Of particular interest should be platforms that help facilitate collaborative equity. For instance, tracking the volume of tasks and amount of time each worker spends on a specific project ensures that no employee’s experience has to come at the expense of another’s.

Compliance

“Meeting with HR” has long been a specter of the modern office, a dreaded event no matter what the reason. Thankfully, service providers have flooded the market with technology that ensures worker compliance through digital means instead of requiring endless strings of face-to-face meetings. HR platforms like Oasis Advantage and ComplianceHR ensure that employee paperwork is always in good order. More are starting to crop up that make it easier for workers to report incidences of misbehavior without the potential snag of an in-person confrontation.

Overall, leveraging these digital platforms makes it much easier to guarantee a safe and satisfying employee experience for all.

Offering Flexibility

Flexibility may be the single most significant gap between the attitude of employees and employers in the world of work. According to a study published in the Harvard Business Review, some 96 percent of US-based professionals want flexibility in their work. And yet, only 47 percent of workers actually have that flexibility. This is primarily due to the long-subscribed-to logic that an out-of-office worker is a less productive one–a myth that the COVID-19 crisis all but shattered overnight.

Modern project management software and digital communication tools like Monday.com and Slack allow employees to fully plug in no matter where they are. For some workers, this could mean greater travel opportunities. For others, it could allow for more time with loved ones at home. Regardless of why an employee desires flexibility, the right tech can help facilitate without a blip in productivity.

Dynamic Training Systems

Job descriptions constantly mutate as businesses themselves grow and evolve. A couple of decades ago, professional retraining was a long, laborious process involving months or years on a college campus. Today, there are more virtual courses and mini-degrees available than any one person could possibly manage. You can take a look at Lynda.com and Open Culture to get an idea of what’s available. The opportunities for succinct, targeted training are greater than ever before. This also means that workers can grow and expand their skill sets. And they can do so without significant interruptions to their careers, facilitating the employee experience in a big way.

Employee experience is the single greatest contributing factor in determining employee satisfaction. By working to make your workers’ lives easier, they’ll work to do the same for you. A happy employee is a productive one. And by ensuring the former, you can all but guarantee the latter.

So, with the sole focus of improving employee experience, leverage existing tech. Your team members, and your bottom line, will thank you.

Image by Arturs Budkevics

Workforce Development: Using AR and VR to Strengthen Your Company

The 21st Century has seen enterprises across all industries scramble for the latest technologies and team-building strategies to enhance workforce development. For a good reason: It’s no secret that efficiency begins with an efficient workforce.

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have become popular powerhouses for employee training, recruitment, and several other HR processes. These new technology waves have made it easier to evaluate employees’ performance, test their knowledge, improve training and strengthen their teams.

What are AR and VR Technologies?

Simply, augmented reality is a highly interactive experience of a real-world environment. It enhances objects in the real world by computer-generated perceptual information. Think Snapchat filters, Pokemon Go, and even Waze.

Virtual reality, a similarly interactive experience, is a simulation of a completely different environment from the real world. The computer-generated simulation of a 3-D image or environment can be interacted with in a seemingly real way. For a truly immersive sensory experience, users must wear appropriate electronic equipment, such as a headset and gloves fitted with sensors.

Using AR and VR in Recruitment: A Two Way Street

Companies are deploying AR/VR technologies in their recruitment processes to maintain a competitive edge in the market. They need the best talent the labor market has to offer, and these technologies can help filter candidates by the most relevant skills. However, it works both ways; the best talent will look for the best and most inspiring work opportunities. And VR, in particular, helps candidates experience work environments remotely.

Recently, Lloyds Bank implemented VR into its assessment process for the Graduate Leadership Program. During the screening process, Lloyd’s asks candidates to solve puzzles in a simulated environment. Based on their results — which clearly demonstrated their strengths and weaknesses — the company more easily made recruitment decisions.

By providing a simulated view of the company, AR and VR can play another vital role in the recruiting process. After all, prospective employees can spend considerable time commuting to and from, as well as being in, a company’s workplace during the interview process. Virtual reality-based simulated environments can reduce that time and expense by providing candidates with a virtual yet holistic understanding of the working environment and team they could join. With AR and VR, a candidate can now be sitting in Shanghai as they gain a genuine feel for a company’s culture in Manhattan.

Gamification for Job Applicants

In today’s ultra-competitive job market, it’s never been more important to use innovative ways to engage with the best talent in a limited pool of qualified workers.

The use of gamification has proven to stand firm against the traditional application process since it offers something new, exciting, innovative, and — perhaps most importantly — efficient. Gamification significantly increases the interactivity of the recruitment process. Consider this, rather than gather essential candidate information through manual forms and resumes — such as qualifications, experience, and skills — a gamified approach can interactively reveal this information.

Innovative augmented reality platforms have grown to serve this growing application in recruitment screening. ActiView, for example, uses AR technology to help recruiters detect various behavioral habits and attributes required for the job.

AR and VR for General Training

Once employees are on board, training them can be costly, time-consuming, and ineffective. Virtual reality (VR) can help orient employees with all the technical skills related to their roles. By providing an immersive environment for new employee induction and training, new team members can familiarize themselves with new processes without wasting resources. Additionally, companies naturally expect employees to become more efficient in their roles with time. VR can help speed up these processes, and workforce development in general, as they get new employees more engaged and efficient faster.

For example, the hands-on training experiences opened up by VR allow employees to enter an immersive environment and gain experience using and navigating complex machinery and technical parts within a training room. By eliminating the boundaries between the real and virtual environments, employers take advantage of both realities in one setting — generating efficiencies and enabling faster learning.

 

corporate trading trade-off

 

As the graph above shows, the trade-off associated with traditional corporate training is offset by VR technology and immersive training. As illustrated, one-on-one expert mentor training is indeed an effective method. However, it’s time-consuming and expensive, which hinders a company’s ability to scale. On the other hand, reading a quick manual and watching a 2D video might be cost-effective. But precedent shows us this is the least effective training method.

AR and VR for Safety Training

Many industries, more than we initially imagine, operate to some degree in unsafe environments. This is particularly true within plants and facilities with heavy-duty machinery, chemicals, and life-threatening procedures. Virtual reality can play an essential role in facilities where safety is key.

For example, in the firefighting industry, VR-based training on new challenges has been massively beneficial. Specifically, it curbs training accidents and helps eliminate underperformance while demonstrating real-life scenarios. Trainees can apply the lessons learned anywhere an associated risk is part of the job spec.

Employers and organizations can provide a virtually created life-threatening or risky situation within an immersive environment to trainees. There, they can learn best practices and remedies and be better prepared to take on the challenge in real-life.

AR and VR for Team Building

Business managers, HR specialists, and young entrepreneurs have long since recognized the importance of building and maintaining company culture. Themes have shifted towards connectivity, embracing differences, inclusivity, and team-building strategies. Now, more than ever, they have turned to remote options to sustain a culture in a forced work-from-home environment.

When planning an in-person team-building event, of course, there are many options — from bars to restaurants to bowling alleys and pub quizzes. In these relaxed environments, team building can take many forms with different goals. Of course, these venues also come with their own sets of challenges — especially during a pandemic.

On the other hand, virtual reality is a notable and powerful team-building tool where anything is practically possible. Hang out with the team in virtual gathering rooms where everyone can join in playing games, get competitive and collaborate — from anywhere. The Rec Room is an excellent example of a multipurpose VR-based gaming resource. The platform provides companies with access to thousands of user-generated and custom gaming events that enable team building.

Workforce Development in a Nutshell

Ultimately, AR and VR eliminate the workforce development challenges faced — from recruiting to team-building — in a pre-technological world.

To strengthen your company, start leveraging the immense capabilities of AR and VR today.

 

Photo by Vadym Pastukh

The Post-Pandemic Workplace: How to Onboard New Staff Effectively

Once the pandemic is behind us, and in what will be a blended work environment, what will be the best way to onboard new staff?

Due to the broad repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, employment went through fundamental upheaval in 2020. Many businesses shut down (mothballing their assets or simply moving on entirely), causing the loss (or furloughing) of many jobs. The result: throughout the world, national economies have gone into recession.

Despite all the negativity, though, some industries have been able to endure with aplomb. And now that we’re all familiar with the unique demands of operating in these times, companies are again looking to expand. Investing in growth at this point is a risk, but it’s a calculated risk — and one that might offer a huge pay off in the coming months.

It doesn’t hurt that many talented professionals struggle to find work due to the layoffs mentioned above. This reality puts businesses in strong hiring positions. That said, getting the hiring process right isn’t just about finding the best candidates. It’s also about onboarding them effectively. Fail to do onboard new staff right — under our new working conditions — and you won’t just see productivity issues. Frustrated by your failures as an employer, you’ll also see new hires leaving for greener pastures as soon as they can.

In this post, we’re going to look at some actions you can take to ensure that your onboarding process is as smooth and enjoyable as possible. As a result, you’ll bolster productivity and make new team members more likely to feel welcome and settled. Let’s get going.

Promptly Deliver Necessary Office Equipment

For reasons of security and convenience, your employees shouldn’t be using their personal laptops (they may not even own personal laptops). And they shouldn’t be asked to use their own cell phones for company business. So deliver office productivity devices as soon as you’ve confirmed new hires. After all, they may need to get used to them, particularly if they’re not tech-savvy. Giving them time to adjust will certainly help.

Keep in mind that there’s more to working from home than having the right laptop and phone, however. A good home office will have at least one external display, a USB, comfortable peripherals (mouse and keyboard in particular), and a decent office chair. So instead of waiting until someone’s been working for you for some time, ask them early on what kind of setup they’d like. Then make it happen. This proactive step is great for morale and makes the employee feel immediately valued.

Provide a Comprehensive List of Essential Resources

Every business uses various resources regularly. First, there are those it relies upon for business matters (tools, services, etc.). Most are fairly standard, such as task management tools or time-trackers (like HourStack).

Others, though, such as social media or email marketing (on the occasions that someone needs a tool such as Mailchimp), will only come up situationally. Still, the new employee must know the company login). Employers must also consider situational resources when planning post-pandemic onboarding. For instance, the massive uptick in jobs for delivery drivers means business fuel cards (the kind detailed on sites like iCompario) might also be critical additions.

Then there are those resources provided solely to help employees — the perks. Existing employees will know and appreciate many of them. Some benefits, though, won’t because they were never explicitly pointed out. This is often the case with perks added since the beginning of the pandemic, like learning resources and health and wellness programs.

To keep this process simple, maintain a list of all resources, links, and logins. Then ensure you give every new hire access as soon as possible, reducing the likelihood new employees will get stuck early on. It also ensures they can start taking advantage of the perks that will help them and make them more productive.

Introduce Each New Hire

One of the biggest problems with the remote-working era is the lack of in-person contact. Even for people who often got frustrated commuting to work and dealing with office noise, the total absence of contact with colleagues can be dispiriting (online contact is great, but it just isn’t the same). It also makes it much more challenging for new hires to get to know their teammates; –and they can feel left out of the loop in siloed or non-interactive Zoom calls.

It will take time, but when setting out to onboard new staff schedule a team meeting for every new hire. Please don’t settle for everyone getting on camera and calling it a day. Instead, have everyone explain what they do and how they like to work. These micro conversations often flag some common ground, sparking some further discussion that forms valuable bonds.

Additionally, within a couple of weeks, ensure every person in the team, department, or smaller business has at least one direct conversation with each new hire. Even if someone isn’t actually going to be working alongside that employee, they should at least know who they are and the role they play. This small investment in relationship building will increase the new employee’s comfort level and make it easier for people to collaborate in the future.

Make Expectations Clear

Lastly, be extremely clear about what you expect from every new employee. They should already know what their intended role is, of course. But they won’t be able to fulfill all their duties right away — not to the needed level, at least. It’ll take them time to get up to speed and start producing the desired results. The question, then, is: What do you need until then?

Don’t explain what you expect them to accomplish in the first month? They’ll be far more likely to worry that they’re not doing enough (or that they’re doing the wrong things). This negatively affects any new employee’s overall performance, making it a self-fulfilling concern. In essence, let them know that you don’t expect the world from them right away.

For now, all you want is them to do is produce decent work. They will get faster and better over time, of course. But you don’t need them to hit any critical deadlines or achieve anything too remarkable yet.

As you onboard new staff in a post-pandemic world of work, keep these tips in mind. New team members will appreciate your extra effort.

And you’ll benefit from higher productivity, better interpersonal relationships, and stronger retention.

 

Clayton Cardinalli

Employee Retention: 5 Ways to Keep Your Team So Satisfied They Stay

There are many reasons employee retention should be a top priority for any business. Of course, you want to keep your top employees satisfied, so they continue their inspired work and help your company thrive. Plus, good employees who like their employer more often refer top-notch professionals to your organization.

But employee retention is more than that. Between putting out job listings, juggling paperwork, interviewing, and onboarding, there is a lot of time, money, and effort that goes into hiring new employees. All that distracts you from getting other work done.

So how do you improve employee retention in these crazy times?

The answer is easier than you may think. And much of it revolves around putting your employees first.

Employee Retention Starts on the First Day

Employee retention starts on day one. Fail to show new employees you care about them (and their career) from the start, and many will already have one foot out of the door. The human resources and management teams must promote the fact that they are there to help the employee thrive and that their door is always open for questions and concerns.

From the first morning on the job, show them they are more than just cogs in the machine. Occasionally remind them why their job is essential to the company. Help them co-create a career plan. Or, even better, as they learn the ropes help lay out a trajectory for their career. By setting up a path for success, the employee will stick around longer. After all, they know future growth opportunities await.

Once they have the hang of their initial job, introduce a few new responsibilities included in the job descriptions of potential future positions. That way, the employee knows you are serious about executing the career plan.

Once orientation is complete, don’t just throw them in the water, sink-or-swim style. Instead, pair the employee up with a dedicated associate so the new employee can turn to them when they have questions. Mentoring programs can be powerful benefits for both the new employee and their mentor. At consulting firm Bain & Company, an increased push in mentoring has resulted in all 8,000 consultants having a mentor.

This mentoring program has led to significant and tangible advantages for Bain. Among them, Bain has doubled the number of women in leadership positions.

Benefits Matter

Even in “normal” times, many employees choose their employer-based mostly on the benefits offered. This decision-making process is especially prevalent during the pandemic when people live what sometimes seems like upside-down lives.

But benefits don’t stop at healthcare.

For example, allowing flexible schedules can do wonders for employees. If practical, suggest a later start time to get their children ready for school or assist with home-schooling. Also, allow time for doctor’s visits and care of an extended member of the family. Not only do you show you care about them as people, you encourage a healthy work-life balance.

Of course, a lot of people still count on their job for health insurance. So, have a comprehensive plan that protects them and their income if they are hurt or sick. Again, if practical, offer dental and vision insurance too. Perhaps most important in these difficult times, promote preventive healthcare by offering wellness programs. Include gym memberships, stress-relief management classes, and incentives for a healthy lifestyle (which could include a discount on their insurance deductible).

Paid time off can often be challenging to manage in work at home situations. And yet that paid time off is earned and necessary for many reasons, including mental health. In response to that challenge, Airbnb offers travel credits in addition to significant time off. These perks, and others, helped the company become a 2016 best place to work in CareerBliss’s annual survey.

Compensation and Perks

Compensation is also crucial for employee retention. If we don’t pay fairly and equitably, employees will find a different company that provides what they need. Use outside resources like Salary.com to see the average pay for similar positions in your area of the world. If you can afford to pay them the same, so they aren’t tempted to go elsewhere, make that effort.

Finally, don’t forget the perks. These are the unwritten benefits that employees tell their families about at the end of the day. These perks could be extra paid time off for a job well done or discounted tickets to an amusement park. For employees of Treehouse, an education technology company, one major perk is a four-day workweek. Treehouse shortened the workweek in 2006. The company reports employees have been happier and more productive ever since.

Even the smallest perks will motivate them to do their best work. So, make it a point to buy them a coffee on a random Thursday or take them out to lunch after completing a big project.

Culture and Communication

In the end, the best way to retain employees is to create a workplace they are excited to return to day after day. Specifically, it is about having a safe, warm, and welcoming company culture that encourages growth. It is also about living, rather than just stating, positive values you act upon every day.

A caring culture also requires active communication from management to employees on a personal level. Don’t wait until the annual review to see how your staff is doing. Instead, practice regular check-ins. Review their work; offer praise and validation at every opportunity. Take the time necessary to answer any questions. And see where they are on their career plan and make modifications if necessary. Keep an open mind during these check-ins and actively listen to what the employees have to say.

Yes, employee retention is incredibly important. Luckily, retention efforts are not overly difficult for a company that chooses to make an intentional effort.

Make an employee’s day today – and avoid the hassle of unneeded turnover tomorrow.

Adrien Olichon

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Guest: Guibert Englebienne of Globant

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

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

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

The Power of AI-Driven Collaboration

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

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

A Human-Centered Operating System

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

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

Q1: Why do organizations struggle with team collaboration?

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

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

I’ll see you there!

 

Find Guibert Englebienne on Linkedin and Twitter.

 

This podcast was sponsored by Globant.

 

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

 

Andrea Piacquadio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Guest on #WorkTrends: Mark Herschberg

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

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

The Job Description and Company Culture

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

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

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

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

 

Find Mark on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Photo: Mariya Pampova

#WorkTrends: Hiring Virtual Assistants

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

Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss an episode.

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

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

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

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

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

Find Nathan Hirsh on Linkedin and Twitter

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

Photo: Bethany Legg

Why You Should Recruit Introverts — and How

In this extrovert-biased world of ours, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Many job candidates aren’t making it past the hiring process to get the jobs they’re qualified for. The reality is that if introverts don’t interview in a bubbly, enthusiastic manner, they likely won’t make it to the next round. And if they don’t share their accomplishments with confidence and bravado, they’re likely to be overlooked for positions in which they would thrive. 

The costs to our organizations of this lost talent are staggering to consider. 

Yet, emerging evidence shows that the tide is turning. In a 2019 Workplace Survey of some 240 introverts, a promising 38% of respondents said their organizations demonstrated a willingness to hire and promote introverts. And as general awareness of introversion increases, it may become less of an exclusionary factor. 

Hiring a diverse workforce is just the first step. Companies must also do the work to create places where people of all temperaments feel included and experience a sense of belonging. When introverts can see many different pathways to success and opportunities to thrive, it’s more likely that they’ll stay in an organization and do their best work. 

Consider How Introversion Impacts The Job

In the hiring process, weigh whether personality actually makes a difference for the position. 

Susan Schmitt, group vice president and head of human resources at Applied Materials, says, “The main thing that matters on temperament: Is there any element of this person’s temperament, nature or behavior that will impair them in this particular role or a future role?” 

In essence, how might their temperament work for or against them in that particular role? Susan gave the example of a new hire that appeared to have low energy during the interview process. “She was somewhat slow in her responses, thoughtful and reflective, which led some interviewers to think she may not be right for the role. But her skills, knowledge, experience and education were super strong, and her capacity for complexity and conceptual capability were outstanding.” The team hired her. 

“This hire became a success story, and she ended up becoming a vice president. Had she been dinged for her low-affect personality in that first interview, think of the lost contributions,” remarked Susan. 

To ensure that people with introverted personality types are included and embraced within your organization, make certain that introversion is a key dimension of diversity within your larger talent management strategy. This would establish that an introverted candidate who didn’t come across as the kind of person an interviewer would “like to have a beer with” wouldn’t get shot down for that reason. After all, not every position requires a candidate to be great at after-work socializing, right? Furthermore, if everyone inside an organization knows the introvert-inclusive criteria for hiring and promotion, then they can build a stronger introvert-friendly culture throughout. 

Through hiring greater numbers of introverts and embracing all personality types in our organizations, we may one day reach a critical mass of introverts who are recognized, respected and heard for their wise and understated input.

How Can You Attract Great Introvert Talent?

Here are some ways to ensure that you cast the widest net and seriously consider introverts in all hiring decisions. 

  1. Give them a sense of what it’s like. How do potential recruits view your company? Ryan Jenkins, Millennial and Gen Z expert, says that companies need to manage their YouTube channels and make sure they offer people the experience of seeing what it is like to work for your company. Introverts, who like to research and spend time in reflection, will be looking to social media channels to figure out if they have a connection to your brand. You may never even see those potential introverted hires if you have a sparse online presence. 
  1. Create an introvert-friendly interview process. Integrate these three strategies: first, prep the room. Avoid blazing lights and noisy areas. Consider chair placement; sitting too close together can be off-putting for introverts who value personal space. If it’s a group interview, seat the candidate at the middle of the table rather than at its head, so the candidate feels less scrutinized and can make eye contact with everyone. 

Next, schedule adequate time. If you schedule yourself too tightly between interviews, you may feel pressured and impatient if the person doesn’t respond quickly enough, especially if you are an extrovert. Introverted candidates are likely to pause before answering questions, and you want to provide them with the time they need to fully express themselves. 

And finally, attend to energy levels. One hiring manager said that she noticed her more introverted candidates were “not the same people at the end of the day. They deflated without a chance for breaks with back-to-back interviews.” To avoid overwhelming the candidate, only put people on the interviewing schedules who are essential to the process. Consider breaking a packed interview schedule into two days. 

  1. Check your bias at the door. If you’re more extroverted, beware of projecting your bias about introverts onto the candidate by wishing they showed more emotion or visible energy. If you’re an introvert, you’re more likely comfortable with a slower pace and pauses, and the possible self-effacing manner of an introverted interviewee. Check yourself for confirmation bias — that is, the tendency to seek answers that support your case and point of view while minimizing other important responses. Diversify your pool of candidates by being open to everyone. 
  1. Employ paraphrasing. Reflecting back what you heard gives candidates a chance to modify or validate what they said. It also offers a needed pause for introverts so they can process what’s being said in a reflective way. Both introverts and extroverts will appreciate the chance to clarify their thoughts and round out their responses.
  1. Use AI tools (with caution). Using artificial intelligence screening is receiving more attention as one solution to reducing the costs of hiring and to promote more diversity. AI can allow you to cast a wider net and includes those with introverted temperaments who might not be considered in the initial screening process. Digital interviews record verbal and nonverbal cues of candidates and analyze them against position criteria. But many experts suggest using a slower approach rather than a full-scale adoption of these tools at this stage, as they can bear unintentional biases. 

To capture introvert talent, think beyond hiring (and promoting) for personality. It starts with checking your own temperament bias and valuing introverts in your talent management process. 

 

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: Bernard Hermant

Connecting During Crisis: Engaging Your Frontline Workforce

Over the last few months, there’s been a lot of talk about the current situation of forced remote work and its impact on employee collaboration, productivity and engagement. This is a legitimate concern and one that I myself, as a CEO, am tackling. But the discussion has largely been focused on desk-based employees, who typically sit in front of a computer and can perform their jobs from anywhere in the world as long as they have a laptop and WiFi connection.

Frontline workers, however, are in a completely different boat. They don’t sit in front of a computer all day; they often work long shifts (sometimes 12 hours or more); they’re the first and last points of interaction with customers. Most importantly, frontline workers aren’t accustomed to interacting and communicating with their managers and HQ leaders via face-to-face meetings.

With COVID-19 leading to country-wide lockdowns and social distancing rules, the entire world is dependent on frontline workers for essential services, such as stocking groceries, shipping online orders, providing healthcare and transportation. That means longer work shifts, more uncertainties about their roles and more stress for frontline workers. As this happens, staying informed and getting regular feedback will be essential to navigate through these uncertain times.

Subpar Onboarding Experience Can Prompt Early Turnover

According to a recent article on the Muse, companies like Kroger, Unilever, GSK, Wells Fargo, UnitedHealth Group, Instacart, Deutsche Bank and Asana are still continuing with their hiring plans amidst the current crisis. This is due in large part to the fact that these businesses provide ‘essential’ services and goods. But what happens once these frontline workers are hired? What will their onboarding look like? How prepared are HR teams to digitally adapt their onboarding processes?

When we asked HR professionals to cite their biggest challenge with onboarding remote and distributed employees, the top two responses were ‘making them feel like part of the team’ (17 percent) and ‘providing clarity and context about role expectations and career growth’ (17 percent). Following close behind, 15 percent cited ‘integrating into company culture’ as the biggest challenge, while 13 percent struggle to establish communication norms. If you look at these responses, it’s clear that onboarding plays a major role in employee satisfaction, career development, fulfilment, engagement and retention. But for most employees, being able to physically interact with managers, colleagues and leaders can go a long way in making them feel like part of the team and forge relationships with coworkers. So, if virtual onboarding sessions are too drawn out, dull, uninspired, new hires could end being early leavers.

Turnover is not a new problem for organizations. Early turnover, however, is even more troublesome, with 20 percent of employees leaving with their first 45 days of employment. Our study’s findings indicate that HR teams, who are faced with onboarding thousands of employees virtually, could see an increase in early turnover. And the culprit could very well be HR’s inability to virtually onboard new employees in a way that’s just as informative, interactive and engaging as it would be if it were conducted in-person.

More Direct Feedback Supports Better Job Stability

As our study found, it can be tough to communicate and engage with remote and distributed workforces. For example, a mere 8 percent of the surveyed HR professionals said they keep a regular cadence of one-to-one meetings with remote workers, while only 12 percent commit to a communication charter. On top of this, 15 percent of HR professionals said they struggle to provide regular feedback on performance and career development.

These findings are troubling for a few reasons. First, frontline workers are currently being pushed to the limits. As the pressure mounts, it will be more important than ever to provide a safe space for frontline workers to vent their frustrations, voice their concerns and ask important questions related to their roles and responsibilities. But if their managers and HR teams don’t make themselves available for these one-to-one conversations, you can bet it will manifest itself in lower productivity, less cross-team collaboration and potentially worse performance. So managers need to carve out time in their schedules and virtually meet one-to-one with their teams on the frontline. Even if it’s a 10-minute check-in twice a week, this could help frontline workers feel less stressed and get clarification about their role and tasks. The more clarity they get, the better they’ll perform their jobs, which will lead to better customer satisfaction, loyalty and future sales. While these are positive outcomes for the businesses that employ frontline workers, it will also help frontline workers prove their value and maintain job stability during unstable times.

Digital-First Culture Engages Frontline Workers

According to Stephen Redwood, principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP, “At digital-first organizations, people, processes and structures are all focused on optimizing digital so companies can be more productive.” I agree wholeheartedly. And this is especially true for frontline workers, who rely on mobile devices, communications apps, productivity apps and collaboration apps to stay connected, get relevant updates about the business and their roles, schedule meetings with their managers, among other things.

What does a digital-first culture look like? For one, it’s one that isn’t reliant on face-to-face meetings. For example, companies with a large number of frontline workers should hold virtual all-hands meetings twice a week at least. Reserve one of the two weekly all-hands meetings solely for Q&A with the staff. Let your frontline workers ask any questions they want — be it about how the coronavirus outbreak may impact job stability (i.e. layoffs, furloughs), plans for hiring, or anything else. Don’t make the virtual all-hands meetings excessively long — keep them to 30 minutes maximum so that you can keep your frontline workers engaged, without interrupting their work too much.

Another way to help frontline workers integrate with the company culture (especially in the midst of a crisis) is to have managers share a weekly message of motivation. By posting this type of message into designated Slack channels, teams can start their days with a positive attitude and still feel a sense of connection to their fellow colleagues, teams, managers and leadership.

To make a digital-first culture work, it has to come from the top down. Leadership needs to believe in the value of digital tools for driving employee collaboration and engagement. Beyond that, getting buy-in from the C-suite will require proving how digital tools will help maintain business continuity, increase customer satisfaction (and repeat purchases) and drive revenue growth.

Photo: Petri R

Continuous Listening: Moving Beyond Standard Practices

The second in a two-piece series on Continuous Listening. 

In Part One of my series on Continuous Listening, I looked at the flaws of taking a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to an employee’s development. Continuous Listening and asking the right questions can play a key role in recognizing milestones along each employee’s individual journey, and evaluating their engagement. 

The second part of this series looks at how to move beyond standard practices in order to craft engaging, long-term, and productive employee journeys and ultimately business success for all — and use the Continuous Listening strategy to tackle the challenges now facing our industry. And it’s important to note the value of feedback, as it contributes to the roadmap aimed at improving the organization.  

Applying Continuous Listening strategies before exploring suggestions for decision-makers can greatly improve outcome, and help explore various ways to address a number of HR challenges:

  • HR’s employee insight is segmented. Information is siloed based on the different HR tools used in various milestones, each tool having its own task and interface. Sharing between existing application tools is usually complex and information tends to stay within the boundaries of departments. 
  • Insight is collected from a limited number of sources. This limits HR’s ability to see the big picture and creates a disjointed employee experience. For example, some collection tools are only focused on one feedback channel instead of a combination of direct, indirect and inferred channels. As a result, HR can miss the broader view. 
  • Not enough data types are gathered. HR teams can gather transactional data on existing processes thanks to tools such as applicant tracking systems, HRIS tools, and learning management systems. Who was hired? Into what department? When was the start date? With some advanced analytics, this information can be transformed into predictive models indicating who should be hired in the future. Though sophisticated, these systems miss the heart of the employee experience as they fail to tap into the thoughts and feelings that bind employees to their jobs. Transactional data will never provide insight about personal views and cannot answer questions like: “How engaged is the employee?” or “How loyal do they feel to the brand?” “Are they committed to the mission or just the paycheck?” “What are their long-term aspirations?” Thus, it makes sense to use tools that also focus on evaluative HR processes such as 360 feedback, performance reviews, training evaluations, and engagement surveys. 
  • Most data analyses do not address an employee’s evolution. Data is collected at specific intervals and analyzed with particular timestamps, but understanding how an employee’s data has evolved over time may offer a clearer perspective of the processes that this employee has gone through with the organization. This highlights effective HR interventions to reach higher employee engagement, retention, and success. 

Moving Forward 

Continuous Listening encourages multi-directional communication among employees, managers, administrators and executives. It is designed to work in conjunction with other listening tools deployed at milestones such as performance reviews, annual engagement surveys, training programs, and mentoring programs. With it, HR can compile a more comprehensive picture of the attitudes, feelings, and intentions of the workforce. 

Organizations that are serious about optimizing the engagement of their workforce should look beyond a one-size-fits-all approach, and instead pursue a measurement strategy that incorporates:

  • Gathering evaluative feedback during milestones.
  • Collecting data between events aligned on topics relevant to employees and business goals.
  • Integrating the milestones and Continuous Listening data with fluid, real-time feedback processes to gain a comprehensive and evolving picture of workforce issues. 

Solving a Turnover Problem

Continuous Listening can help solve problems feedback can’t handle alone. Take the example of a large software engineering firm in Silicon Valley: it was experiencing a 50% higher turnover rate among employees who had been there for three or four years. The traditional milestone approach using HRIS data flagged the increase in turnover, but failed to provide any meaningful insight as to its occurrence. An evaluative feedback survey, delivered annually, showed that no one in the cohort had been promoted to a managerial position in the past 18 months. The business unit had adjusted the promotion criteria, delaying qualification by another one or two years to ensure stronger competencies among those being promoted. 

A combination of HRIS data, annual survey results, and Continuous Listening surveys revealed that employees were outraged at the policy changes, and had started looking for jobs elsewhere. Additional results from Continuous Listening surveys illustrated the fact that the 50% who remained were given development experiences and discretionary time to work on special projects — i.e., meaningful incentives to stay despite the prospects of delayed promotion.

These approaches provided substantially different data that, when viewed independently, provided weak explanations for the turnover. But through a holistic strategy, the bigger picture became clear. Using Continuous Listening provided insights earlier, giving leaders the opportunity to intervene sooner.

Feedback Approach Information Uncovered Available Leadership Actions 
Transactional 

Annual Turnover Report from HRIS turnover data 

Turnover is 50% higher. Investigate by launching a survey or conducting interviews.Backfill positions with experienced hires.
Transactional & Evaluative 

Annual Turnover Report

Annual Turnover Survey

Turnover is 50% higher.No one in the 3 – 4 year cohort has been promoted due to a policy change. Create an internal marketing campaign to encourage employees to stay.Change the policy.

Provide incentives to stay.

Continuous Listening 

(Transactional & Evaluative)

Annual Turnover Report

Annual Turnover Survey

Continuous Listening Surveys

Turnover is 50% higher.No one in the 3 – 4 year cohort has been promoted due to a policy change.

After learning of the policy change, outraged employees started looking for other opportunities.

Explain why changes are necessary.Let employees know leaders hear their frustration.

Fund new development events. 

Provide discretionary time to those who stay to work on special projects.

Feedback Matters

Without Continuous Listening efforts and the adoption of innovative technologies, information gaps can grow, increasing risk and uncertainty for decision-makers and the company. Further, effective listening allows leaders to stay informed about workforce perspectives, and it encourages employees to communicate their needs, satisfaction, frustrations, and other points of view in a healthy way. 

The journey begins when HR professionals develop and implement a comprehensive listening strategy across the employee lifecycle. By listening to employees, HR will develop a continuously evolving stream of data to support critical business management decisions. Through understanding which questions to ask and which tools to employ, HR professionals may properly listen and respond to needs. Moving beyond the one-size-fits-all approach enables organizations to craft engaging, long-term, and productive employee journeys — ultimately predicting positive or negative changes before they are likely to occur, thus driving their business toward success.

 

Photo: PCM

Continuous Listening: How to Strengthen Employee Communication

This is the first in a two-piece guest series on Continuous Listening. 

Human Resources departments own many responsibilities that directly contribute to the overall success of a company. According to Sari Levine Wilde, managing vice president of Gartner, “The businesses that are successful today and in the future, will be those that win when it comes to talent…This means helping employees build critical skills and developing employees into leaders.”  One of the burning questions today is how we can achieve that mission. 

Howard Moskowitz, a psychologist in the field of psycho-physics and a renowned market researcher, was hired by PepsiCo to determine the optimal quantity of artificial sweetener for a Diet Pepsi product. He faced a similar challenge, as mentioned by author Malcolm Gladwell in his TED Talk. With the aim of maximizing sales, Moskowitz conducted empirical tests, which provided unexpected results. He examined the data and concluded that there was no such thing as a perfect Diet Pepsi! Due to the multitude of variations between human tastes, Moskowitz found that the best option to maximize the number of sales was by offering a collection of lower calorie flavors along the scale of taste. 

Returning to the HR dilemma, a one-size-fits-all approach to HR is guaranteed to overlook the needs of many employees. More specifically, each employee journey is unique and thus HR must find ways to observe, tune in, and adapt to address individual employees in a more personalized manner.

Disjointed Employee View and Continuous Listening

In order to understand employees and their level of engagement when it comes to business goals, HR must continually gather information by asking questions and listening to employee responses. These standard HR processes currently serve as milestone events for gathering data, but with so many aspects of the employee lifecycle to monitor, it can be difficult to build a comprehensive view of the culture, engagement, retention, and success of employees. The process of data collection is usually transactional, though sometimes there are opportunities to gather evaluative information as well. In this respect, many challenges that HR professionals are faced with when attempting to gather this comprehensive data can be addressed by a strategy known as Continuous Listening. 

Continuous Listening is a methodology grounded in the philosophy that feedback matters all the time — not just once a year during a performance review, or once a year during an engagement survey. Feedback matters even after employees leave an organization and unofficially serve as alumni ambassadors for your brand. It matters because every employee has a unique journey that begins with a handshake and a contract that says, “We will do this for each other.” 

HR organizations that begin gathering evaluative feedback from employees during such milestones will gain valuable insights that leaders can use to better manage the workforce. An added benefit is that once in place, this feedback process can gain further traction as employees witness leaders responding to their feedback. This reinforces more open lines of communication, which is a recipe for future success. For every milestone along the  employee journey milestones, here are some sample evaluative questions that HR should be asking in order to enrich the information that is later provided to company leaders: 

Employee Journey Milestones Sample Evaluative Question 
Recruiting Would your employees recommend your organization to their professional network? 
Onboarding Do your onboarding processes achieve the cultural immersion and integration you need? 
Development Is your development process providing the right knowledge and skills to drive successful employee outcomes in meeting the needs of tomorrow?
Performance Management Is the performance management process identifying, recognizing, and rewarding talent? 
Engagement How much do you really know about your employees’ experiences? Are your efforts encouraging or destroying employee goodwill, motivation, and engagement? How often do you measure employee engagement? Once every two years? Annually? Bi-annually?
Promotion & Career Growth Are you identifying employees with strong potential and directing them toward leadership positions? Is your leadership pipeline full enough to meet resource planning goals?
Compensation & Benefits Is your compensation and benefits plan competitive? Is the plan sufficient to keep high-value employees engaged?
Retention Do you know what motivates your employees’ decisions to stay and grow with your organization, and what motivates them to seek opportunities elsewhere? Are you systematically collecting the data needed to analyze and improve the employee experience from hire to retire? 

Feedback matters because whatever the expression, it contributes to the roadmap aimed at improving the overall organization. By implementing a Continuous Listening strategy, we can begin to explore how to best address specific HR challenges. For that, stay tuned for the second piece in this series. 

 

The Key to Achieving Better Organizational Productivity Starts with a Next-Generation Onboarding Experience

Onboarding is arguably the most important thing a human resources department manages. It marks the first touchpoint an employee has with their new company, and consequently shapes their work habits, relationships and long-term experience. It’s similar to the way that the first interaction a consumer has with a company informs their opinion of a brand.

Research by Glassdoor found that organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and see over 70% higher productivity. The key to successful and seamless onboarding is to immediately provide new employees with the tools and flexibility they need to work efficiently and securely, and to minimize bad habits.

Here are three best practices to supercharge your onboarding strategy and enable employees to work smarter.

Leverage Digital Workspaces

Gallup found that 88% of employees feel that their organizations should improve the onboarding process. In some cases these issues can be blamed on a lack of resources, but technology is a great equalizer and can help companies of all sizes establish digital-first processes for new employees from their first day.

Leading enterprises will bring order to the chaos of onboarding by leveraging digital workspaces that give employees single-sign-on access to all the apps (SaaS, web, mobile, virtual) and content they need to be productive in a unified experience. Such a capability is especially important during the first few days of an employee’s tenure as they familiarize themselves with new systems and processes. HR and IT teams have a responsibility at this juncture to collaborate and enable new teammates to work efficiently and create good habits.

This is exactly what we enable at Citrix. Digital workspace solutions leverage machine learning to automate tasks and enable individuals to be more productive.

Embrace ‘Time as a Benefit’

Your employees’ time is valuable, and it shouldn’t be spent trying to navigate multiple screens and enterprise apps to execute a tactical activity like approving an expense report or completing a performance review. And yet today’s employees spend nearly 20% of their time searching for the information they need to get work done. In fact, research suggests that we waste 32 days per year toggling between different workplace applications!

As such, enterprises that prioritize a digital shift to increase productivity and efficiency should apply smart solutions right away, setting the tone for efficiency from the employee’s first day and empowering them to meet that expectation. At Citrix, we leverage emerging micro-apps that extract personalized actions and information from enterprise systems and surface them in a simplified format within the onboarding process. This method empowers our customers to improve the employee experience. This is key for new employees, who can capture insights and execute tasks without ever needing to log in or interrupt the training process.

Secure Systems to Safeguard Flexible Working Habits

In the age of “work from wherever,” employees sign on from a variety of devices — and new employees are often onboarded by remote team members or managers in other offices. While many people were drawn to big cities in the past, more than half of professionals living in U.S. cities are ready to leave. According to a new study commissioned by Citrix, 70% of knowledge workers living in urban locales say they would move to outlying areas if they could perform their jobs at the same level. As the battle for talent heats up around the globe, companies need to follow them and enable remote work.

Companies need to rethink what the workplace means and create a more flexible way to work that enables them to get the right people in the right places to unlock innovation, engage customers and move their business forward. While this workplace flexibility has become a necessity for many enterprises, the regular sharing of company data from different locations, networks and devices also poses a threat to company networks and security.

At Citrix, we take a people-first approach to contextual security, and we safeguard our enterprise customers by employing AI and machine learning to apply appropriate security, depending on typical behaviors and access patterns of their employees. For successful next-generation onboarding, HR teams should ensure that new employees can seamlessly communicate and share company information without any worry about security issues. Enabling employees to work securely without abandoning their personal styles starts with understanding their unique work habits from day one — which allows the organization to establish a baseline for future reference.

Making it Count

Ultimately, integrating these three best practices into the onboarding process will communicate to new team members that productivity doesn’t have to mean a lot of extra work on their part. Enterprises that embrace this approach from the moment an employee joins the company will see more engaged individuals and create a workforce that is happier and better equipped to work efficiently.

For example, Citrix Workspace fully aggregates all apps and data across all applications — both on-premises and cloud — to deliver the right experience to the right user at the right time. Organizations can push key information and tasks to new employees — from registering for a new smartphone or benefits to becoming familiar with the company’s mission and internal experts — improving their onboarding experience, enhancing their institutional knowledge and internal network connections, and accelerating their time to productivity.

This mutual exchange of value right from the start will set the motivated tone your organization needs to succeed in a competitive market.

This post is sponsored by Citrix.

#WorkTrends: Onboarding Is the New Black

It’s your first day at a new job. You’re excited and nervous, but ready to do great work. You show up at your new office and find… chaos. Or worse, no one’s there to greet you. You’re confused and unsure, and then you spend your first day waiting around and filling out HR forms.

There has to be a better way, and this week on #WorkTrends, we’re talking about how to improve the onboarding experience with Jess Von Bank. Jess has been working in the talent space for 15 years, and she’s currently leading the charge for better onboarding through her role at Click Boarding, this year’s UNLEASH America startup competition winner.

You can listen to the full episode below, or keep reading for this week’s topic. Share your thoughts with us using the hashtag #WorkTrends.

Rethinking the First Day

Jess has worked in recruiting departments and for companies focused on the candidate experience. That made her first day at Click Boarding earlier this year even more eye-opening. “It was stunning to me that I’d just had my first great onboarding experience, my best first day ever,” she says. “That’s saying something, when I work in an industry focused on providing great experiences to talent that we work really hard to win. That tells me onboarding is still a massive opportunity.”

At Click Boarding, her onboarding experience actually didn’t start on her first day. It started well before, right after she said “yes” to the job offer. “Immediately after that, I received a branded mobile invitation to a highly personalized onboarding experience that welcomed me to the team,” she says. “It started teasing out all of the information that I would need to hit the ground running. It answered questions for me preemptively. It started preparing me to show up ready to contribute.”

By the time she showed up for her first day, she says she felt “welcomed, anticipated, appreciated, excited, familiar — like I was here to make a difference.”

If you want to tweak your onboarding process, Jess suggests focusing on the little moments that matter. “We’ve all been a new hire. We’ve all had first days at new jobs. Think about the moments that matter. Try to find a consistent way to provide those touchpoints to reduce anxiety and make them feel welcomed and ready to be productive for you. Reach out and talk to your new hires. Tell them what to expect.”

Why Onboarding Matters

“How does great onboarding make an employee show up and feel welcomed, and feel like they’ve made a great first impression? And what does that mean to the business? I think that’s the opportunity for onboarding,” she says.

These little moments matter to the bottom line. When onboarding is done well, it pays for itself — and then some, she says. “All of the investment you make at the top end of the funnel, all of the talent-attraction strategies, the recruitment-marketing methodology, the personalized candidate experience, all of that goes to waste if you don’t bring them into the business well and get them to be an employee who you can retain and drive to productivity.”

“SHRM has published research that says people who aren’t onboarded well will leave sooner,” she says. “That’s a financial hit to the organization. Four percent of new hires won’t even come back after their first day, usually because of a lack of information or a bad experience. Some organizations report a 20 percent attrition rate in the first 45 days. Anything you look at in the early days probably has a lot to do with missing the boat on driving engagement. Sure, there’s wrong-fit hiring. Other things could have happened to lead to that. But usually, it’s something that could’ve been addressed with a better onboarding experience.”

Continue the conversation. Join us on Twitter (#WorkTrends) for our weekly chat on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, 10:30 a.m. Pacific or anywhere in the world you are joining from to discuss this topic and more.

6 Ways to Elevate Your Onboarding

Organizations are understandably focused on employee retention. Turnover is expensive, in terms of both hard costs and impact on morale. Left unchecked, turnover can quickly become an epidemic. It only makes sense that companies want to find ways to keep turnover under control.

Onboarding is a key factor in employee-retention efforts, according to 98 percent of C-Suite executives. But this means that organizations need to have well-designed onboarding programs to yield the retention results they need.

Here are six activities organizations should include in their onboarding strategies.

Offer Refreshers for Promotions and Transfers

Onboarding isn’t only about an individual’s knowledge of the company. It’s also about how well they know their work. When employees change jobs because they get a promotion or transfer, they should receive some kind of onboarding. Granted, it doesn’t need to be the same program that an outside hire receives, but it should help with the transition.

Provide Onboarding to Managers

Managers are responsible for 70 percent of variance in employee engagement. And most organizations don’t have training programs on “How to Conduct Onboarding,” so many managers learn how to onboard employees from the way they are onboarded. New managers need their own onboarding program, beyond management development, to learn how to onboard their employees successfully.

Add a “Preboarding” Component

One of the great tasks that technology can do for us is to send personalized, automated messages to new hires. Organizations can create a prehire checklist of messaging to send candidates. The checklist could include a welcome video from the CEO, introduction to onboarding buddies and FAQs about the first day and week. It helps the new hire and adds a higher level of service to onboarding.

Distribute a Map

During orientation — a step itself in the onboarding process — new hires should be provided with a roadmap of what’s going to take place during onboarding. It lets employees understand that the process has been thought out, and they can focus on their immediate work. Onboarding processes take time. In some organizations, onboarding can take as long as a year. Providing a roadmap helps employees see the long-term plan.

Schedule Onboarding Check-Ins

Because onboarding takes time and resources, it only makes good business sense to ensure that these things are being used well. The last thing any organization wants is to spend months and thousands of dollars, only to have a new hire leave within the first year. Companies can get feedback from employees through pulse surveys, one-on-one check-in sessions and focus groups.

Keep Onboarding Content Current

Company policies and procedures change all the time. When changes are made, organizations need to ask themselves if the information should be added to onboarding and whether the information should update the existing onboarding program. New hires should never hear one piece of information in orientation or onboarding, then something different when they’re at work in their departments.

Onboarding programs set new hires up for success by educating them about the company, the work and the employee-value proposition. The goal is to give an employee the information they need right before they need it. This will allow the employee to immediately apply the information in the workplace and also retain it.

Today’s onboarding programs involve more than simply a half- or full-day orientation program. It’s time to think about onboarding as a long-term strategy responsible for educating employees before the first day and for months beyond. The investment will result in higher engagement and retention — a win for everyone.

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.

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8 Ways HR Teams Can Use Tech to Encourage Productivity

Human resource professionals play a crucial role in a business’s success. From designing effective training programs and ensuring a fair hiring process to strategic roles, quality HR is a key aspect of a smooth-running business.

One of the most important roles of an HR professional in 2017 is implementation of new technology within an existing organization and structure. Specifically, in addition to using technology to improve the role of HR itself, HR can incorporate technology to encourage companywide productivity.

Here are eight ways HR teams can use tech to encourage productivity in business.

  1. Streamlined Recruiting Process

Recruiting software can help streamline the hiring process for a business.

From one portal, HR can sort and accept applications, post job ads, manage prospective hires and communicate with upper management on prospective hires. This can save enormous time, compared to tracking hundreds of job applications manually. There are a wide variety of recruiting software options, catered to both small and big businesses alike.

  1. Easier Payroll Processing

Without technology, payroll processing can seem like a nightmare. A single mistake could cost the company significantly. Perhaps more than any HR aspect, technology and software is essential for more efficient and accurate payroll processing.

In addition to making human mathematical errors obsolete, an online payroll service can keep track of deductions, paid time off, paychecks and various aspects of payroll. It also makes filing taxes at the end of each year much easier, since all information is available digitally and is easily sortable.

  1. More Honest Feedback

Company culture is a big part of its success, with research showing that a positive culture boosts performance. A big part of striving toward a great company culture, as well as maintaining it, is transparency and honesty regarding any issues. Employees who are concerned about sharing feedback in fear of repercussions may be holding back vital information that can improve the company.

As a result, HR can use technology to allow for anonymous feedback from employees. Software like TINYpulse enables HR to gather anonymous feedback to gauge employee happiness, while using actionable data to help build a healthy culture. It’s a great tool for fostering a positive company culture, which is a huge part of a successful HR team.

  1. Easier Collaboration

HR departments that incorporate content management software and informatively acquaint employees with it can attain more streamlined collaborative practices.

Content management software allows most employees, or certain selected employees, to gauge the status of a project or task. They can see precisely where they are in regard to the project and what tasks they have left to complete. This can save on time and back-and-forth emails of clarification.

  1. Increased Access to Meaningful Data

With certain tech, HR professionals can give other employees access to meaningful or informative data that can make them better at their jobs. In fact, 80 percent of all data in any organization is unstructured, which is a wasted opportunity for informational efficiency.

Technology like Sapho enables HR to provide access to a variety of data, while still keeping access secure so only those permitted can see it.

  1. Less-Cluttered Employee Onboarding

New employees are obligated to fill out a variety of papers, such as W-4 and I-9 forms. This can create clutter, especially if there’s a wave of new employees.

To increase productivity of HR and new employees alike, using employee onboarding software can help the workers complete paperwork before their first day in the office. This way, they can focus on being welcomed and training on the first day instead of doing annoying paperwork.

  1. Automated Time and Labor Management

There’s no need for traditional clocking in with today’s software. HR can implement automated time and labor management software to make attendance more efficient, while also making it essentially impossible for someone else to check in for an absent co-worker.

The same software can be used to adjust schedules on the fly, preventing scheduling and time mishaps, which improves productivity in the process.

  1. Benefits Management

Full-time employees have a number of benefits that both they and HR must keep track of. Technology can aid in educating employees on their benefits, especially in regard to cumbersome processes like enrollment periods and carrier systems.

Benefits administration software helps both the employee and HR ensure all paperwork for certain benefits are filed, while also informing and educating on what these benefits provide.

These are eight areas that can be streamlined and made more productive by a savvy HR team that recognizes the vast potential and benefits of tech.

Which would you implement first?

 

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Five Powerful HR Resolutions to Implement in 2017

It’s the first month of a new year, and you know what that means—time to get moving on those resolutions and goals for the new year. Setting goals in the corporate world isn’t just an individual pursuit, however. It should involve your entire team. Get everyone together to solicit input on what you as a company or department want to achieve in 2017.

Implementing yearly goals can be a daunting task, which is why it’s a good idea to set,  and take action on, monthly and quarterly goals as well. This allows you to give your team more short-term feedback and also provides you with the opportunity to make adjustments that will keep your team on track for the improvements you hope to achieve.

Here are five powerful resolutions that will propel your HR team forward in 2017.

  1. Implement a BYOD program. BYOD means “Bring Your Own Device,” and it has become a much more prevalent practice in a variety of industries. Eighty percent of employees use personal technology for business use, so it makes sense to tap into this trend. Studies show that a BYOD program enhances employee productivity and efficiency and, ultimately, corporate profits.

The BYOD strategy gives employees the freedom to buy or lease the type and brand of device they prefer. They may feel more comfortable using their own devices, knowing they can store photos, purchase apps, and text personal messages with the understanding that the phone or tablet will stay with them when they leave the company. Though the device is personal, employees are still able to access company emails, spreadsheets, contact lists, etc., with the convenience and mobility that enhances productivity.

When employees are allowed to use their own devices for work-related matters, it saves money and reduces training time because employees purchase what they feel are best suited to them and their tech abilities. A disadvantage, however, is the lack of uniformity among employees’ devices, because not all employees will be able to afford the personal expense for the same type of device. Employers can help by subsidizing purchases to ensure a minimum level of functionality.

  1. Create and implement an employee wellness program that includes a financial wellness component. Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy peace of mind and freedom from the stressors of poor financial decisions that can otherwise hamper both your professional and personal life. Just as we can credit corporate wellness programs with an increase in productivity and employee engagement in the workplace, we have a growing awareness that we need to address financial well-being as well.

If you do not have an employee wellness program, build one from the ground up with a focus on physical fitness to start. If you already have such a wellness program but have yet to incorporate elements of financial fitness, add in a component that teaches employees better money management and spending habits.

  1. Survey employees to improve engagement. Most companies want to improve employee engagement, as it results in a more motivated and productive workforce. The first step is to survey employees, soliciting input as to what you’re doing right and wrong as a company, which is also a good way to gauge employee satisfaction. Based on survey results, set goals to fix areas in need of improvement. Survey again after six months or so to see if your changes have had a positive effect on employee engagement.
  2. Revamp hiring and onboarding processes. Getting off to a good start is critical to a new employee’s perception of your company and their likelihood to stay around for the long haul. Your first step is to ensure best hiring practices, where job duties are clearly defined and job applicants’ skills and expertise are matched well to your needs. Follow that up by emphasizing an effective onboarding process that engages new employees in order to communicate from the very start the value you place on their contributions to your organization.
  3. Get rid of annual performance reviews—for good. Many employees view performance evaluations as a yearly annoyance, and rightly so—rarely do they fairly measure performance. With constantly shifting goals and responsibilities, and increasingly overburdened managers, trying to evaluate a year’s worth of performance by rating employee efforts on a 1-to-5 scale is outdated. Instead, focus on mutual goal-setting between manager and staffers on a regular basis (say, quarterly), and ditch the cumbersome paperwork.

Real progress can happen for your organization when you engage your team in planning and setting goals for the new year. Talk with your team and resolve to take your business to the next level in 2017.

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5 Tips To Hire Right The First Time

HR lesson for 2016: Pay attention.

Interviewing and hiring is never simple. Just like loving someone for all the wrong reasons, you can hire — or not hire someone — and err in judgment. Some of it has to do with them, but a lot of it has to do with us. Bottom line: Even if you’ve got the perfect candidate, creating a positive takeaway in terms of interviewing and the hiring process is critical. The first real portal into an employer brand is the recruiting and hiring process. But there are more ways to do it wrong that right.

Here are five tips for getting it right the first time.

1. Consider the employer brand. Keep that as your north star, everything aligned in that direction, and you’re ahead of the talent game. According to a recent study, 69 percent of job seekers would not take a job with a company that has a bad reputation — even if they’re unemployed. Which means keeping not only a positive image, but also the reality of your employer brand well-scrubbed. It is critical for attracting the right talent. It also means taking a hard looking your candidate experience.

2. Sweat the small stuff, and search far and wide. Social media means everyone has access to everyone, which means there’s an incredible amount of information available for the taking and the giving. Note that 84 percent of hires would consider leaving their current job if offered a job by a company with an excellent reputation. This also confirms the old adage of leaving no stone unturned. Pay attention to the micro as well as the macro when it comes to searching for viable candidates — passive or active.

3. Calibrate your hiring to the season. If you’re a startup, get a jump on hiring with a healthy recruiting push in January — when small and hungry may be the message a potential hire looking for a better employer wants to hear. Career resolutions are big for the New Year, one reason the beginning of the year sees a spike in the traffic on LinkedIn’s Job Slots — up some 250 percent. Ditch the challenge of going up against a Goliath and trying to match them perk for perk. Instead, take advantage of the beginning of the year to show off the lean gleam of a new firm with loads of potential.

4. Max out the metrics. As was recently pointed out, we’re living in the midst of a recruitment paradox, in which what we recruit is not necessarily what we want to retain. What constitutes a perfect hire — and how you measure it — has long been the subject of debate. Now is the time to deepen the intelligence of your metrics, and see where the gaps are, such as: qualified applicants, turnover, vacancy rate, declined vs. accepted offers, and the performance of new hires based on the source that generated the lead (a great one to measure).

5. Make it easy to stay. There’s a reason why certain companies win CandE Awards for their candidate experience – and a reason to follow their lead. Bungled interviews, inappropriate questions, talent overlooked for all the wrong reasons; insufficient caretaking and lackluster onboarding is going to prompt that new hire to reconsider his or her options. Once we shift into, “I’m looking for a job” mode, it’s easy to return there; and certainly brief stints have become acceptable within the new work culture.

Make sure the roots set deep with your candidate experience. There are indeed best practices and good etiquette, and best to heed them. The Talent Board noted that only 85.3 percent of organizations sent a “thank you” correspondence to applications, down from 89.5 percent; recruiters who are required to respond dropped nearly ten percent, from 49.3 to 39.6 percent.

No matter how fancy your analytics or social media searching, there’s still one factor you can’t overlook. We are human. As writer, film-maker and perpetual job-seeker Heath Padgett found out when he quit his software sales job and traveled the country in an RV, working a different job in each state, we really are only as good as our hearts and minds. They are still what we need to improve hiring practices. And, yes, relationships are still critical.

A version of this post was first published on Forbes on 12/30/15 

Bad Hire or Bad Onboarding? 10 Tips for Successful New Hire Assimilation

Yes, there are “bad hires.” You spend a lot of time screening and interviewing and making a final decision. You get your new employee on board and there is a honeymoon period. Reality sets in, and you realize that this is not a match at all. There is lack of productivity, conflict with peers, offensive behaviors, etc. and you have the painful task of termination. And, you have lost a lot of money in the process.

When It’s Not a Bad Hire and Things Do Not Go Well

Sometimes, however, lack of “fit” of a new employee may be a matter of poor onboarding processes. Somehow that new hire never quite settles in; perhaps s/he has been placed on a team the members of which are all of different generations. If the workplace environment does not meld those generations well, new employees can be very uncomfortable. Perhaps the newbie is not sure of expectations for performance; maybe a mentor has not been assigned or a mentor was assigned who was not a good fit. The goal of onboarding is to welcome the new employee, provide him/her with solid and comprehensive orientation information, and spending time in those early months making sure that things are going well for that individual. This is how you keep good talent. Here are ten tips that can serve as a checklist of sorts during the onboarding process.

Tip 1 – Prepare your team for the new hire. Give them background information and a rundown of the skills and talents this new individual brings to the team. At the same time, continue contact with the new hire before his/her start date. Send emails with bits and pieces of information about the team; reassure him/her that everyone on the team is anxious to begin welcoming him/her aboard.

Tip 2 – Streamline the Housekeeping Stuff. Employees do not need to spend time in a room filling out paperwork for their benefits enrollment, their tax forms, etc. These should be online so that the new hire can get all of that done on his/her own time before reporting on the first day. There are many other parts of orientation that can also occur online. Identify those and develop them. Employees can then take that training at their own pace; if new hires are at satellite locations, they won’t have to travel to a central point for orientation activities.

Tip 3 – Provide your new hire with a transparent and open explanation of the organizational structure of the organization. Explain the hierarchy and why each individual is important. And take that new hire around and introduce them to those high-end stakeholders.

Tip 4 – There is also an informal hierarchy in place. That might be an administrative assistant who can manage to get almost anything done quickly and expertly. It might be one of the maintenance crew who, if feeling appreciated by you will move you to the top of his/her “to-do” list. It’s important, too, that a new hire know who may be adversaries of your team and why. You don’t have to air all of the dirty linen from decades, but it’s good to paint a realistic picture of how things stand now.

Tip 5 – Don’t ignore the small stuff. Give a full tour so that a new hire knows where everything is. Sometimes, comfort level is heightened beyond what we know when we spend time on the minor things that we take for granted.

Tip 6 – Create a dictionary. Every organization has its own “language,” jokes, jargon, and acronyms. Make sure that your new employee has a sheet or two that explain these.

Tip 7 – All employees come to a new job with big hopes. It’s important to be mindful of that at all times and to help ensure that employee that his/her hopes and dreams are doable in your organization. Talk about opportunities that your team members have and that have been provided in the past. It’s important that a new hire maintains optimism as s/he moves through the first months and year or two.

Tip 8 – Have an open one-on-one meeting with your new team member. You need to be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. What is your leadership style? What are your “hot buttons?” How do you work through stress? Don’t make a new member learn all of this by experience and guessing. If you are honest, your employee will feel comfortable being honest too. Suppose, for example, that s/he has great programming skills but is really challenged in the area of writing. This gives you the opportunity to point that employee in the direction of perhaps an online business writing program to improve those skills. Give this help in the mode of a “servant leader,” and it will be well-received.

Tip 9 – Make a big deal of that first day. All team members must be welcoming, friendly, and genuinely happy to have this new member on board. A special lunch or happy hour is called for. And that is something that might be incorporated into a discussion of projects over the first few months.

Tip 10 – Make some fun. Google and Facebook have rather set the bar for a fun work environment, but they also see to it that productivity occurs. Be sure that your new hire understands that among the open-air collaborative and friendly environment, the workout room in the lower level, the lounges, etc., productivity expectations with deadlines are still in place. The right balance of fun and work must be communicated.

Getting a new team member that you have selected is exciting. There will always be a honeymoon period. To make that honeymoon move into a stable and long-term marriage, start with the right onboarding strategies.

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Insights into the Talent Board North American Candidate Experience Report

The Talent Board North American Candidate Experience Report is now available. Once again, it is full of insights that really capture where organizations are landing on such an important topic: The Candidate Experience.

Not that long ago, this wasn’t such a hot subject. People applied for jobs, they landed the position or they didn’t. Recruiters on the front lines have long felt the impact in discussions with job seekers and hiring managers who experienced a “disconnect” in the hiring process. Everyone moved on. However, luckily, things have changed. We have a talent pool full of people who expect more. And the Talent Board is definitely vying for the candidates. From transparency to better communication, job seekers everywhere have a massive advocate in this organization. I’m proud to be part of the volunteer team helping to share the news about what we are doing.

Some companies and recruiting firms are on the candidate experience “bandwagon” and some simply aren’t. From my vantage point, the organizations who see the value in a positive candidate journey tend to reap many benefits.

But According to Talent Board 2015 North American Candidate Experience (CandE) Awards and Research data (U.S. and Canada), “Only 40% of recruiters are required to respond to candidates at all.”

However, the Talent Board would like to point out that, “As organizations mature in talent acquisition strategies, they must provide more opportunities to communicate with candidates and offer transparency through every stage of the candidate journey.”

The report takes a hard look at where organizations are today, but offers data and insights that can guide leaders to improve the overall candidate experience. This year’s report is divided into three core areas of talent acquisition (Attract, Recruit, and Hire) and explores why each area is critical.

Here are a few findings that I want to share with you.

“Candidates Are Becoming More Sophisticated. Candidates are taking control of their own journey. In fact, 76 percent of candidates conduct their own job search research across multiple channels prior to applying.”

Any time a statistic is nearly 80% of a population, take note. We all know the days of circling newspaper ads for jobs is passé, but anyone in a recruiting role should digest this statistic and overall message for a moment. Where are your potential employees conducting job searches where you aren’t present? What is your talent brand across these platforms? Are you losing them before you even “had” them?

Onboarding is Still a Missed Opportunity for the Candidate Experience. Once a candidate is onboard, organizations have an opportunity to find out what went right and what went wrong. Yet, only 16 percent of employers ask for feedback during the onboarding phase.”

This one is so senseless to me. It’ so simple, yet is being missed by a massive 84 percent of organizations. These people already work there; you don’t even have to track them down! Simply ask new employees about their experience during hiring. Make it a simple questionnaire. Aggregate the findings and adjust accordingly. You can do it!

“Employers Do Not Offer Enough Opportunities for Candidates to Showcase Skills, Knowledge and Experience. While over 80 percent of candidates answer general screening questions during the application process, only 50 percent are asked for job specific skills and less than one-third are asked to take assessments.”

This finding has some implications. Do half of employers not know how to screen for job specific skills? We know that’s not true. Those screenings and assessments just aren’t being utilized appropriately during the candidate journey. What an incredible wrinkle to iron out. Allow technology to help candidates express their knowledge, skills and experience and enjoy the show.

The report in its entirety is available here – take a look, digest and think critically…how is the candidate experience working at my organization?

The report in its entirety is available here.

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Onboarding Is The Holy Grail Of Employee Retention, Engagement and Productivity

How does effective onboarding relate to retention, engagement and customer satisfaction? Simply put, in every way.

Onboarding is a widely misunderstood practice. Some companies believe it’s a handshake on day one with a pile of papers for the new hire to complete. In actuality, great onboarding begins at the first touchpoint in the relationship. This means, the first time the company representative engages with a job candidate, the onboarding begins. Further, should this touchpoint result in a hire, it should carry through to the first day of employment and all the way through the employee’s tenure.

Onboarding Is Not Brain Surgery

I read many a horror story about how job candidates and employees, alike, are treated like a commodity rather than contributors. This mistreatment stems from the apathy and disregard many experience when starting a new job. Lack of communication and the feeling of being lost among a crowd of other disregarded co-workers are commonly heard remarks. Without a connection to help employees feel part of the organization, disengagement often times results in a lack of productivity because employees don’t understand how their role contributes to the company’s mission, vision and values.

According to researchers at the Abderdeen Group, 62 percent of companies that have a solidified onboarding program experience faster time-to-productivity with 54 percent claiming to have better employee engagement. After reviewing these stats, it’s clearly counter-productive for companies to forego having an onboarding program, yet there are still many brands who have chosen to forego a structured onboarding program.

We Don’t Know Where To Start

For leadership to truly appreciate the value of an onboarding program, they first need to understand what they’re missing. An analysis of relevant employment data is a good start. Tracking the following metrics is advisable for businesses of all sizes:

  • time-to-hire
  • time-to-productivity
  • client retention
  • referrals
  • contributions to problem solving
  • synergy with co-workers
  • promotability, and
  • tenure

In today’s business world, there’s no excuse to not track employee data of this type. There is no shortage of systems that enable organizations to track and review the numbers at regular intervals so there’s really no excuse not to be doing so. But here’s where the tough part comes into play. Once you have the data, how do you interpret it and what should be done?

  • First, you need to decide what you want to accomplish. Decide on what success and failure will look like; this helps steer the understanding of the data and guide your action.
  • Second, organize and formalize when you’ll review and interpret the data. Incorporate user-friendly technology that allows easy input or seamless conveyance of the metrics. If you plan to use a manual input methodology, be warned, this may lend itself to human error or worse, lack of compliance to follow through on the input.
  • Third, be consistent. Set a schedule for when you’ll review the data and stick to it.
  • Fourth, have a plan of action on how to adjust for changes. The data may not present the results you wish to see. You’ll need to be prepared for this by having a plan-of-action to achieve what goals your organization wants. For example, initiating short, informal performance reviews more often during the first year to maintain open lines of communication can make a significant difference in retention and employee engagement. Conversely, the results may come in favorably, so be prepared to capitalize on that information and take it to the next level.
  • Fifth, be patient. It takes time to gather significant data and more time to look for noteworthy trends.

So What’s Really In It For The Company?

In a word… everything. Take customer service, for example. Companies with unproductive customer representatives inevitably lose market share due to a decrease in customer loyalty and/or gain a bad reputation as a service provider. According to Gallup, when employees are engaged, they will be more productive and more likely to experience good relations with customers. This behavior can be supported by getting off on the right foot with new employees. Set the stage for how their customer involvement is pivotal to the company. Ensure all employees understand the mission, vision and values of the organization and are able to convey this sentiment to customers (by the way, customers should also be onboarded.) The same factors are in play regardless of the industry or occupation. Keep the lines of communication open and keep “recruiting” your employees to show them how they are valued and always strive to align personal goals with the company’s. Adding these simple communications and tactics can be the difference maker in both employee and customer retention and satisfaction.

Knowing that great onboarding leads to a more productive and engaged employee, which in turn creates happier and more productive workers, should be an established initiative for all companies. Unfortunately, there are still too many organizations that have not adopted this train of thought, even though the research and even common sense supports it.

It really comes down to this… everyone wants to feel valued.

Image credit: Gratisography

Why Take Onboarding Digital? 3 Benefits You Need To Know About

Traditional onboarding can be a bit depressing. Employees come in for their first day excited to make a difference and, in most cases, they sit in a windowless room signing form after form. Then, new hires are awkwardly introduced to the team, shown to their desk, and thrown in at the deep end — with the caveat that they’re free to ask questions about anything and everything.

This is the way it’s always been done. Why change what works, right?

One reason to shift from a one-day orientation-focused process to a longer, more involved onboarding process is that it’s more effective. November 2014 research by Aberdeen Group found that the shorter the onboarding process, the less likely an organization is to retain first year employees. In fact, companies with programs that last less than a month were nine percent less likely to retain their employees compared to those with programs that last a month or more.

The key is developing an onboarding program that engages employees, encourages them to seek out more information, and helps them develop the skills they’ll need to succeed. But how can organizations juggle this need for a more high-touch onboarding programs without making the employee feel disengaged and bored?

By taking onboarding digital.

Here are three ways digital onboarding can benefit your organization and get your new employees engaged from the time they receive their offer letter until they’ve reached 100 percent productivity:

  1. It’s less work.

Plain and simple, digital onboarding is less work. With the right platform, organizations can avoid the mountain of paperwork that kills a new employee’s spirit on their first day. Instead, those that go digital can distribute electronic forms that take less time and effort for both parties to prepare.

Even better, you can give new hires access to a “new hire portal” where documents can be filled out, electronically signed, and turned in before they ever step foot in the office. When put into practice, this process — called pre-boarding — makes organizations 1.6 times more likely to have a lower cost per hire, according to Aberdeen’s research.

Digital onboarding platforms allow organizations to save money on expensive paper HR packets and integrate with all of your organization’s HR platforms (payroll, HRIS, ERP, etc.) to make life easier for your team. More importantly, they make Day 1 easier — and more exciting — for your new hires.

  1. It’s more personal.

It’s rare that you see the phrases “go digital” and “it’s more personal” in the same sentence, but digital onboarding frees up more time in the process for the kind of face-to-face contact that helps new hires get up to speed faster.

On a new hire’s first day, digital onboarding helps reduce the time spent on paperwork, freeing up time for more personal discussions about company culture, workflow, work-related responsibilities, and team dynamics.

On the days to follow, digital onboarding allows both new hires and their managers to track training progress, develop productivity goals, communicate openly about expectations and, in doing so, reduces the all important time-to-productivity metric.

  1. It’s more engaging.

Would you rather sit and stare as your new organization’s HR pro goes through the company mission and values statements? Or would you rather watch an interactive, media-rich presentation that highlights that culture through examples, live video, and testimonials from the people you’ll be working with?

The first option sounds… typical. The latter is just one example of how companies can take advantage of today’s technology to create a more engaging digital onboarding strategy.

Onboarding can be fun and engaging while still being informative. By integrating things like video, interactive content maps, games, and a real-time task/goals list into your digital onboarding strategy, you can get new hires excited about developing their skills and making an impact at your organization.

The more you do to make your process more new hire-friendly and interactive, the more engaging it will become. And the more engaging your process is, the more likely you are to nurture employees who are highly satisfied, motivated, and committed to your organization.

Would you rather have a digital onboarding process as a new hire? What can organizations do to get new hires more engaged during onboarding?

 

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