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Trends That Define the Post-Pandemic Workforce [Podcast]

The pandemic taught us a lot about ourselves. Like how many of us don’t need to go into an office to be productive. That flexibility and benefits are more valuable to employees than a pay raise. How talent management doesn’t actually have to happen in person, but that HR can bridge the remote work management gap with technology.

While it can be difficult to predict what else we’ll learn in a post-pandemic world, facts like these require businesses to adjust and grow right now. As we watch a new work landscape unfold before our eyes, HR professionals are readying themselves to traverse it as best they can. They’re tracking post-pandemic workforce trends and supporting their organizations as they navigate changes and prepare for the future.

Our Guest: HR Analyst and Content Expert Brian Westfall

On the latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Brian Westfall, principal HR analyst at Capterra. He covers the latest trends in HR and recruiting software, supporting Capterra’s mission to help business clients find the right software for them. He is a thought-leader in his field, and his research has been published in Forbes, SHRM, TechRepublic, and TIME.

What have we ultimately learned from the pandemic? For one, Brian says, we’ve learned that work doesn’t have to look like it always has: wake up, get ready, drive to the office, come back home. Remote work can get the job done too–sometimes even better than in-office.

“This past year, a lot of businesses were thrown into the deep end with remote work. And I think they realized the water’s not so bad,” Brian says. “I think we’re going to look back at the pandemic as one of those moments where we reassessed all those sacred cows of talent management. Employees don’t have to be in the office to work effectively.”

With the understanding that employees can be productive while remote, there’s also been a surge in HR tech for managing remote workers–and recruiting them. In fact, HR technology has been a driving force in DEI efforts over the last year.

“When HR leaders were asked what they were doing to make their organizations more diverse and inclusive, DNI software tools came in as the second most cited program or initiative they were going to incorporate–only behind hiring quotas,” Brain says. “Organizations now have access to job description tools to remove biased language. They have candidate assessment tools that offer blind hiring modes. Tech is extremely useful for bringing in diverse candidates to create a more inclusive workforce.” 

Burnout and Skills Development: The Focus of Post-Pandemic Workplaces

Of course, while the pandemic showed that we can optimize tech and increase productivity, it didn’t eliminate other issues, like burnout.

“Seventy-seven percent of small business employees in the U.S. experienced at least some burnout last year. For those aged 18 to 25, that number jumps to 92 percent,” Brian says. “Worse, only seven percent of employees reached out to their manager or HR to let them know they were experiencing burnout. Because of this, I think we’ll see companies being more proactive about mental health resources.” 

While productivity among some employees increased while working from home during the pandemic, that doesn’t mean their skills increased too. In fact, according to Brian, 49 percent of small business employees have not developed any new skills during COVID. Fortunately, there are easy ways to implement development programs and manage these issues in a post-pandemic workforce.

“Workers are behind in skill development. And as roles get more complex, businesses are going to hunker down on skills development programs,” Brian says. “Because of tech, it has never been easier for businesses to set up formalized, complex learning and development programs. The tools are there. The content is there. I think it’s only going to make more sense over time.”

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends. You can learn more about post-pandemic workforce trends and HR future predictions by connecting with Brian Westfall on LinkedIn.

5 Mistakes Companies Make with HR Tech Adoption

The HR industry underwent massive shifts over the last year. The pandemic reframed the role of HR to focus more holistically on employee experience, and emerging tech has become mission critical.

As a result, HR teams’ tech stacks continue to grow. According to Sierra-Cedar, the average HR organization has 11 systems of record, with 10 for recruiting departments and almost 203 for L&D departments.

And demand is growing. Sapient Insights Group reports that 28 percent of organizations plan to increase investments in nontraditional HR technology areas like remote-working tools and infrastructure.

While the excitement and need for HR tech remain essential for supporting agile and resilient workforces, the influx of new tech and systems doesn’t come without pain points.

Here are five common mistakes companies make with HR tech adoption (and how to avoid them).

Purchasing Vertical Solutions for Each Pain Point

We get excited when we have the opportunity to buy a beautiful tool that gives us a laser-sharp focus on a pain point—be it improving employee engagement, payroll systems, recruitment, and more.

But here’s the rub: when you have several platforms and systems of record working at once, it’s nearly impossible to extract related data into a single view. Data becomes siloed, and we end up taping together each solution without the ability to look at the information in context.

I was once in this spot, and I had to ask my Excel-wizard colleague to help me each time I needed to look at data. This is not sustainable when you consider the complexity of data and how many work technology solutions we use in today’s business, not to mention how difficult it is to keep up with data in companies experiencing rapid growth or change.

Thinking the Technology Will Do the Work

Maintaining your tech stack takes time. Whether you use one tool or 100, your HR team must spend considerable time updating, maintaining, and correcting data.

To add another layer of complexity, insights are not always cut and dry. Say you’re in the middle of your compensation planning cycle. You’re prepared to reward your high performers and make recommendations to those who haven’t hit their targets. Sounds easy, right?

In reality, what constitutes high achievement is not always clear. For example, if a candidate achieves four out of five of their KPIs and really struggled on their fifth, you might be compelled to give them glowing remarks. But when you dig deeper, you find that this person’s fifth KPI was actually the most directly relevant to their roles and responsibilities. Beyond that, the person also received some pretty negative 360 reviews on their management style. What now?

Ultimately, it’s best to contextualize data within your org’s mission and goals. HR teams need to make sure they have the clarity to connect data points to real action and solutions.

Acting as Data Gatekeepers

To foster strategic decision-making throughout the org, HR needs to make data accessible. This doesn’t mean posting every team member’s personal files on your org’s intranet. It requires strategic thinking about what data people need to do their jobs and what data can be too distracting.

For example, 60 percent of employees spend five hours or more per week waiting for information. HR teams are often main sources for answers to questions like:

  • How many people are currently on the engineering team?
  • I just opened a new position for a marketing manager; what is our compensation range for that role?
  • Can you send me a copy of my last performance review?
  • And many more

Centralizing and increasing access to information can be a huge time-saver and productivity booster for your entire org.

Using Technology to Be Reactive vs. Proactive

Too often, we use data to respond reactively to isolated issues. That’s a problem.

Let’s say your company has a DEI issue. You look at the numbers and see that Black people make up only two percent of your workforce. You conclude there’s a need to direct attention solely to your applicant pipeline. After tapping into new applicant pools, you increase that percentage to 15 percent. Congrats!

Flash forward to a year later. You look at your numbers and find that you’re back down to two percent. What happened?

All those people you hired left.

That’s because your team doesn’t have a recruiting problem; it has a culture and retention problem. Improving workplace culture and inclusivity involves its own dedicated stream of data collection, programming, and initiatives.

Putting your data insights in context and strategically identifying the root causes of issues gives you the tools you need to plan proactively.

Failing to Train Key Users

When you get a new tool, you may be struck with a newfound zeal to get things up and running. You just made a significant investment, and you’re ready to prove your ROI.

Yet, even the most simple tools require time. Rather than immediately jumping in to configure your accounts, take a moment to learn:

  • Review tech onboarding files to understand everything that’s possible with your new software.
  • Tap into customer communities and reviews to see how others have leveraged the platform.
  • Make sure to connect potential outcomes with the original intent for purchasing the tool.

Then when you’re ready to use your new tech, you know exactly how to get the most bang for your buck.

Better Tech Adoption for Strategic Planning

If we’ve learned anything this last year, it’s that HR teams need the ability to anticipate, adapt to, and react decisively to change. To do so requires thoughtful investment in resources and tools that give teams the upper hand.

The challenge is that different tech means that data is often housed in multiple applications, obscuring the “real” truth and insights needed to make complex decisions.

But don’t let that overwhelm you! With patience and the right mindset, you can make sure that your team is effectively leveraging new tools and tech to support your org and its people.

Freshen Up Remote Culture for Work and Play [Podcast]

Eighty percent of employees say they want to work from home at least part-time. And three in four consider remote work the “new normal.” In an attempt to stay competitive, organizations everywhere are offering totally remote and hybrid work options to current and potential employees.

While it’s great that companies are accommodating employee needs, a new issue is arising: How do we maintain a remote culture that keeps employees engaged, even from afar?

Our Guest: Creative Entrepreneur Jeremy Parker

On the latest #WorkTrends podcast, I chatted with Jeremy Parker. He’s an entrepreneur who was named to Crain’s Class of 2020 NY 40 under 40 list. Jeremy formed the Creative Promotional Product Division under MV Sport. He also helped start Vowch Commonwealth and is currently co-founder and CEO of Swag.com, a swag distribution company that supports a healthy remote culture.

Jeremy understands that who you work with is just as important as what you’re working on, especially in the case of startups. According to Jeremy, a great remote culture starts with the recruiting process and finding the right people for what your business needs right now.

“When onboarding new hires, it’s important to find the right culture fit, especially for startups. Different employees are required for different stages of a business life cycle,” Jeremy says. 

And of course, he adds, before offering someone a role, you have to consider the candidate as a person, and determine if they will be truly happy at the company and empowered by the work.

“I think the most important thing across the board is making sure the people you hire really care about what they’re doing. That they’re willing to work hard. They need to feel passionate about the work and feel ownership over it,” Jeremy says.

Bring Remote Workers Together with Pocket Offices and Swag

Once the right remote employees are hired, how do you make them feel connected even when they’re far away? One strategy: Offer them swag.

“If you see somebody wearing a shirt representing your favorite sports team or college, you have an instant connection. It’s the same thing within a company,” Jeremy says. “If you’re wearing the same things, it brings people together around a shared purpose and mission.” 

Also, getting creative with events for remote workers is crucial. While employees may be located all over the world, it’s still possible to offer in-person opportunities for bonding.

“Instead of having one central hub and making employees drive two hours each way, find little pocket offices in different locations. So even if remote employees can’t meet everybody at the company in person, people can get out of the house and collaborate with others,” Jeremy says. “Everyone’s feeling isolated (especially with COVID). So whatever you can do to bring people together and create unity is important.”

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends. You can learn more about fostering employee connections in a remote culture by reaching out to Jeremy Parker on LinkedIn.

Turning Mistakes into a Business Model [Podcast]

Most of us want to have a perfect business model out of the gate, but that’s a pie-in-the-sky attitude. As much as we all want to avoid mistakes in business, they’re pretty much inevitable. Everybody makes them, and many try to hide those mistakes because they’re worried they’ll be judged for them.

But what a lot of people don’t realize is that in business, there are often happy accidents that lead to a successful business model. In fact, one could argue that mistakes are the lifeblood of a strong business. And those who are willing to admit to their mistakes and pivot are the ones who can turn a blunder into a boon.

Our Guest: Executive Talent Acquisition Expert George McGehrin

On the #WorkTrends podcast, I got to chat with George McGehrin, a man who managed to turn a mistake into a national executive search/recruiting firm–one that has been successful for two decades. For years, people asked George for job search and recruiting assistance, and he said he couldn’t help. Then one day, he decided to try. Suddenly, there was a seven-figure business involving recruiting, coaching, and more. Since then, he has been widely featured on podcasts including Money Matters, Moving Up, and The Entrepreneur’s MBA.

I had to know: How can a mistake like that turn into a great business model? The secret to success, George says, is listening.

“You have to be open to listening to what people are asking you over and over, what their needs are,” George says. “The fifth time someone asks you for something, go ahead and say, ‘Yeah. This is what we charge.’ And you’ll be surprised at what comes of it.”

George says that in order to have a good business model, you have to be financially prepared for anything–even COVID-19. He says that business is a cyclical experience, so any business owner should expect to go through ups and downs.

“A lot of times it comes down to money. Do you have enough to withstand challenges?” George says. “If you’re a business owner, you can’t spend every dollar you make. Or if you work for somebody and you only have one source of income, you need to make sure that you allocate your money properly for a rainy day.”

To Succeed: Test, Fail, and Try Again

Once you’ve turned a mistake into a great business, there are ways to make sure your business model is successful. So what are the key actions to take?

First off: Test everything.

“If you’re going to send one email out to somebody or to a group of people, maybe send out two emails with different language,” George says. You should always be willing to adapt and try new things to get better results. 

Secondly, don’t be afraid to fail–and keep going.

“At the end of the day, the more times that you fail, you’re a little closer to winning, right?” George says. “First timers, when they’re starting a business, they say, ‘Oh, it didn’t work. I reached out to 30 people and no one got back to me.’ They need to expect to hear a lot of nos and keep going.”

And finally, while you should be willing to hear nos from potential customers or clients, you also should be ready to say no to opportunities. You shouldn’t expect to do everything by yourself as a business owner, but rather, give tasks to your employees and trust them to come through.

You have to know what your strong points are. People who do well focus on one or two things that they’re really good at. And they delegate everything else,” George says.

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends. You can learn more about how to push through challenges to create a successful business model by connecting with George McGehrin on LinkedIn.

Coping With Talent Shortages for On-Location Roles

As healthcare workers administer more vaccines, many companies are pushing employees to return to in-person work. However, not everyone wants to go back to hour-long commutes and drab little cubicles. In fact, some people would rather quit their jobs than give up remote work. And thousands of Americans are doing just that.

While their decision to work from home (or not work at all) may improve their well-being and work-life balance, it’s caused severe talent shortages in on-location roles across the country. Subsequently, countless businesses are struggling to fill their offices and retain skilled employees.

How to Attract Talent

Many of today’s workers have spent more than a year earning a paycheck at home. These same employees will likely expect similar perks when they return to the office. Thus, if businesses want to retain their current workforce and attract new talent, they must make on-location roles more appealing.

Here are a few ways modern businesses might rethink their benefits package, workflow, and office design to accommodate and welcome back a post-pandemic workforce.

1. Encourage Open Dialogue

After businesses laid off millions of workers, those who were left began to experience mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. They didn’t know if they’d have to pick up the slack or if they’d be sent home next. These same employees are now returning to the office with survivor guilt. Their co-workers’ desks sit empty and, to make matters worse, many supervisors are completely oblivious to the widespread survivor guilt wracking the team.

To move forward in a healthy way, employers must become aware and accepting of their team’s worries and frustrations. Allowing them to openly voice their thoughts and opinions can also help workers release some steam and discuss their needs. Companies should implement an ongoing feedback loop. This will ensure both current and future employees are satisfied and will help them understand why furloughs and firings are necessary.

2. Provide Child Care

One-third of the U.S. workforce has a child under 14 in their home, and nearly 20 percent of them must reduce their work hours due to a lack of child care. Meanwhile, 26 percent of women had to quit their jobs to raise their kids. Only 30 percent of working parents had backup child care, highlighting the disparities between low- and high-income families.

As of December 2020, more than 25 percent of child care providers remain closed. However, more businesses are requiring employees to return to the office. Employers will have to provide free or at least discounted childcare to these workers if they’re to avoid talent shortages in the post-pandemic era. Whether it be on-location or a few blocks away, this employee benefit will help retain working parents and entice new ones to submit a job application.

3. Invest in Ongoing Training

The increasing demand for remote jobs has affected practically every business. However, industries like healthcare, hospitality, financial services, and construction are experiencing the most severe talent shortages.

These professions often require on-location workers that train under an apprentice if need be. Thus, employers can attract new talent by improving training programs and investing in ongoing learning. This arrangement also contributes to current employees’ engagement to improve retention.

4. Offer Better Benefits

Employers looking to develop a hybrid workplace environment might consider offering better benefits to on-location workers. Contrary to popular belief, this method is completely legal, as there are no federal laws requiring plans to provide the same benefit coverage to all employees.

Thus, providing childcare, learning opportunities, health insurance, 401(k) plans and other perks to on-location employees may entice more workers to stay and others to apply for such positions. Adding amenities like a fitness center, coffee shop, and even sleep pods could also bring more workers into the office and help with talent shortages.

5. Plan for Flexibility

Regardless of how many benefits you offer, some employees will still prefer to work from home. If most of the team feels similarly, supervisors might consider a flexible schedule rather than a complete company overhaul. This approach will help them save money and adapt to the ever-changing workplace environment. More importantly, it will help retain and attract cream-of-the-crop workers.

Employers should collaborate with employees to determine a schedule that works best for them. Maybe they’ll work from home every other day or only come into the office for meetings. Whatever system they choose, team members are bound to be less stressed and even more productive if they spend at least part of their workweek at home.

Finding and Retaining Talent

Ironically, finding on-location workers will require many human resource professionals and talent acquisition specialists to work remotely and use online resources. By utilizing digital job fairs, experiential events, and artificial intelligence, businesses can effectively search for and vet potential job candidates. Emerging recruitment tactics like jobcasting and gamified skill tests can also attract talented employees who don’t mind working in an office.

While this process may be incredibly stressful and expensive, it won’t go on forever. This is especially true if businesses alter their hiring and retainment strategies. As long as they incorporate the tactics above, they shouldn’t have to face a talent shortage for a long while—or at least until the next pandemic.

 

The Future of Work is Already Here: 4 Ways to Find and Keep Top Talent

Across all sectors in the second half of 2021, corporate America is bullish on rapid growth. Offices and manufacturing plants are re-opening. Job recruitment is already ahead of pre-pandemic levels. The online job search website Indeed.com reported in early April that the number of available positions posted on its platform was 17.9 percent above its pre-pandemic baseline back in February 2020.

Large firms are not alone in seeking top talent in a resurgent economy. According to The Economist’s April 10, 2021 report on the future of work, 2020 was a record year for new company formation in the United States. In fact, more than 1.5 million new firms launched last year. Many of these startups are ramping up talent recruitment to help meet an expected surge of consumer and business demand. Adding fuel to the current competition for high-demand technical and management talent, a record-breaking $69 billion in venture investment flowed into both newly hatched and more mature startup firms in the first quarter of 2021.

Employer and Employee Expectations Out of Sync

Clearly, office doors are–or will be–wide open. Financial incentives are on the table. But will that be enough to bring top talent back to their former workday routines?

Based on recent workforce surveys and trend analysis, the answer is a resounding “No.” This is especially true for the technical and professional workers who are most in demand. It turns out that executive and investor views of the future of work are out of sync with employee expectations generated during the pandemic.

Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index outlines the findings from a study of more than 30,000 people in 31 countries. The study includes workers of all ages and experts in workforce engagement and recruiting. One of its blunt conclusions:

“Leaders are out of touch with employees and need a wake-up call.”

A striking data point:

“41 percent of the global workforce is likely to consider leaving their current employer within the next year. This number is even higher for Gen Z (54 percent). At the same time, 46 percent are planning to make a major pivot or career transition.”

A Defining Workforce Trend: YOLO

One explanation for such widespread workforce restlessness is the YOLO (You Only Live Once) spirit. In a recent New York Times article, the authors characterized YOLO as “the year’s defining workforce trend.”

With the future of work suddenly upon them, and close to half of their current employees at risk of decamping, corporate HR departments are not just competing with other established firms in finding and keeping top talent. They are up against an unprecedented combination of post-pandemic force fields. There’s the lure of startup unicorns, a deep determination among workers to live life to the fullest, and a growing sense that personal fulfillment is most attainable outside the confines of a traditional office.

How Should Employers Respond?

First, it’s time to acknowledge that hybrid work schedules are no longer innovative. Yes, this includes the flexibility to work from home on a regular basis.

Instead, they are intrinsic to the future of work. Even employees who miss face-to-face discussions with colleagues and other aspects of the physical workplace want remote work options to be available as part of their work-life going forward. Flexibility is no longer a differentiator in attracting talent–except as a strong disincentive to join a company that doesn’t provide that now must-have benefit.

Strategies for Attracting and Retaining Top Talent in 2021

If hybrid work isn’t enough, what is needed to retain and recruit top talent in 2021 successfully? Companies must embrace several innovative and interconnected strategies to create a workforce culture that matches the future-of-work reality. A forward-looking workforce recruitment strategy should start with the following four components:

1. Purpose and positive social impact as a corporate priority

Employees care deeply about the impact that their company has on the environment. They also care about their communities and social issues such as diversity, racial justice, and economic equality. Studies over the past decade report that companies prioritizing corporate social responsibility enjoy an advantage in attracting and retaining top talent of all ages. But high-minded mission statements and CEO declarations no longer suffice. In this age of critical scrutiny, results must measure up to stated social impact goals. Companies must lead with purpose; they must also prepare to follow up with transparency in reporting impact.

2. Opportunities for growth across the entire workforce

Opportunity for personal and professional growth is essential for recruiting and retaining talented workers. Traditional support for professional development needs to transcend the scope of narrow productivity goals. It must encompass learning and applying new skills in contexts that support all stakeholders. The future of work will demand that development and growth opportunities previously reserved for professional levels are available across the workforce.

3. Multi-directional mentoring

The long-standing tradition of workplace mentoring strongly correlates with increases in employee productivity, job satisfaction, and also retention. In addition to benefiting those who receive mentoring at work, studies show that the mentors report increased personal fulfillment and organizational commitment. And yet, today’s mentoring programs are too often limited in scope. They remain stuck in a seniority-based one-to-one framework. Intergenerational, peer-to-peer, and group mentoring programs can be a powerful force in overcoming workplace silos and building a culture of mutual learning and support.

4. Empowered teams

Employers must reinvent the omnipresent project team to function effectively in the world of hybrid work. They must empower team managers and members to redefine roles and balance both group and individual accountability. They must allow experimentation with different modes of collaboration and communication. After all, collaborative, empowered teams will remain an essential foundation for future workforce engagement.

The future of work is already here. And to find and keep top talent during what is already an ultra-competitive job market, companies must be ready. As they chart their course for the months ahead, companies must remember that YOLO also applies to them–and they may only have one shot at getting this right.

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.

 

Image by G-Stock Studios

How Small Companies Can Be Recruiting Contenders During COVID

Hiring during the prolonged COVID-19 crisis hasn’t gotten any easier. This is especially true for smaller companies struggling to be recruiting contenders without necessarily having access to all the latest and greatest HR technology.

As many small business leaders have learned over the last year or so, the ability to attract top talent takes more than just a posting on a job board. They also know that old-school approaches like a sign in a storefront window go largely ignored. So how do small businesses compete with larger companies for talented recruits without the luxury of high-end recruiting platforms? And without internal recruiters or head-hunters to conduct searches and interview candidates?

There are some cost-effective ways for small-business owners to compete. For example, here are some areas to focus on:

  • Entice candidates by making it easy to apply (think mobile)
  • Recruit the best for your unique business
  • Introduce other team members into the interview process
  • Interview with a goal in mind
  • Make great offers and hire people who compliment your business

Here are some other areas to focus on to help your small business be a recruiting contender.

Try New Technology

You may not have a huge software budget for hiring. But there are affordable recruiting software options designed for small businesses. And they are a better solution than relying on an email inbox and a spreadsheet. The appropriate technology can help you vet candidates and become better organized. HR Tech can also expedite the hiring process, so you don’t lose good candidates by moving too slowly. 

Many of the most recent HR tech entries are built for the little guys as much as they are enterprise-level organizations. This includes recruiting software, which can help any smaller business become recruiting contenders. 

Showcase Local

You may not have the recruiting power of being a large conglomerate. But you, most likely, have greater flexibility that comes with being a local business. So your hiring pitch, especially as the pandemic continues to be an issue, should be based on staying local with no need to relocate. The pitch to candidates should emphasize the availability of remote work, a focus on family, and flexible hours. Talk also about direct access to management and mentorship. Also, discuss opportunities for advancement, continuous learning opportunities, and community involvement. 

Another option many small businesses overlook is altering their hiring strategies. So rather than putting all your recruiting eggs in one job board basket, think local. For example, visit colleges in your area to get to know the guidance counselors. Then ask them to pass along your information to promising young graduates. Social media can also be beneficial; it’s a great tool to leverage employment options that benefit you and the community.

Go Where New Talent Goes

Members of Gen Z are the first true “digital natives” in society. They grew up with all the latest innovations, including smartphones, the internet, social media, and mobile real-time connections. So they expect to have a digital relationship with any potential employer. As members of Generation Z move into the workforce, the hiring mindset of smaller companies wishing to be recruiting contenders must move with them.

What is one of the most significant issues with small businesses when attempting to attract young talent? Failing to hang out where new talent hangs out. As Liz Frazier once wrote at Forbes, “22% of recruiters surveyed have already invested in new recruitment advertising techniques like Snapchat, and text message-based recruiting.” So jump out of your comfort zone. And learn how Snapchat and TikTok can help you recruit and hire new talent.

Becoming Recruiting Contenders: Expand Your Thinking

Look beyond the hard skills and experience of the people you interview. In addition to them having the right degree or technical skills, think about how they will complement your business. Broaden your thinking to include people who are a culture add in addition to being a culture fit

Being a culture-add means bringing something different to the position, whether it’s a new experience, a new vision, a new approach, or just a fresh perspective. An employee who is a culture add accentuates what already exists in your workplace culture; they also bring a different dimension that is sorely needed. Who knows, you might even find someone really good at Snapchat or TikTok!

As a small-business owner, competition has always been fierce when it comes to hiring top talent.

Now, during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, every small company must be at the top of its recruiting game.

Phot by Constantin Stanciu

[#WorkTrends] Courageous Recruiting in the Age of Googlization

Hiring is so very different today. The technology we so depend on is also our biggest challenge. To solve that challenge, we can’t hide behind “what we’ve always done.” We need more courageous recruiting!

The onset of the 2020 pandemic has escalated the need for all companies, regardless of size, to use technology to hire, onboard, and retain. But how do we leverage tomorrow’s reality when today’s technology, and hiring in general, are based on 1990s models?

Our Guest: Ira Wolfe, Author and HR Influencer

Ira Wolfe has been at the leading edge of pre-hire and leadership assessments, recruitment marketing, and workforce trends for 25 years. Thinkers360 ranks Ira as the number 1 Global Thought Leader and Influencer in the Future of Work category, and for a good reason: He is the author of six books, including Recruiting in the Age of Googlization

Of course, I had to start this episode of #WorkTrends by talking about how much recruiting has changed, and our now complete reliance on technology to hire and onboard — and how we’ll never go back to our “old” normal. Ira agreed: “Resilience was the buzzword of 2020. And the reality is, resilience is just bouncing back.” After pointing out that some aspects of “back” weren’t so great, Ira added: “We don’t want to bounce back! We want to help people grow stronger. As we think about going back to the workplace, we want to give people hope, confidence, and courage.”

Ira went on to say this applies to every aspect of our work right now, including how we use technology to hire:

“I’m suggesting we do things differently… we need to look at it differently. Instead of looking at how to find talent, we need to look at how we find the right talent.”

Key to Courageous Recruiting: Deliberately Improving Process

Ira and I went on to talk about many aspects of recruiting, gender and pay equity, the candidate experience, and HR technology — and there was a recurring theme: The need to improve the technology we all use to hire.

“Today, younger generations don’t just apply — they Googlize. They use technology to investigate; they find out what’s the company like, what opportunities are there, then what types of jobs are available. Then they may talk to people on LinkedIn and look at Glassdoor, Indeed, or Fairygodboss. Next, they look at what it’s like to work at that company; then, finally, they consider if it’s worth even applying. After they finally make a commitment, they can’t even navigate the employer’s career pages!” 

In other words: The job seeker has completely changed the way they find work. But employers haven’t changed how they find the right talent. 

“We must improve the way we hire people. We must rid the process of frustration, confusion, distraction, and disappointment. Employers must have the courage to care about people — and their experience.”

Ira is so right. Thankfully, we will never go back to the way it was. But as we move forward, we also must take a hard look at making the recruiting process better — and to that, perhaps we need to be more courageous.

I hope you enjoy this episode of the #WorkTrends podcast — and then I hope you find a way to fill your employees full of hope, confidence, and courage.

Find Ira on LinkedIn and learn more about his work at Success Performance Solutions.

Editor’s note: We’ve designed your FAQ page and #WorkTrends Podcast pages to be more fun and productive. Please take a look!

 

Photo: Vlada Parkovich

4 Proven Ways to Improve Recruiting and Remote Hiring

To say COVID-19 has changed the recruiting and remote hiring would be an understatement. For a start, it’s likely you’re relying more heavily on the expertise of the rest of your HR team, your recruiter, or business leaders while navigating the interview and remote onboarding process. To help you improve the remote hiring process, we’ve put together our top four tips for interviewing virtually, including how to answer some tough questions from candidates.

1. Decide on the Remote Hiring Process 

Before you do anything else, decide on the steps involved in the remote hiring process. Make sure everyone understands the types of interviews and stages the candidates will have to go through. This also allows an opportunity to offer candidates an outline of what to expect. This will be an unfamiliar situation for most, so planning and preparation are key. For example: The free version of Zoom limits meetings to 40 minutes. So, ensure everyone understands the rigid time frame.

If you’re using an agency to help you? Be sure to allow for scheduled follow-up calls with the agency. This will help to keep the process you’ve decided on to move more efficiently.

2. Produce an Information Pack for Candidates 

A great employer branding tool, an information pack can be prepared by and sent to the candidates before the interview/s. The pack can include: 

  • Background information about the company
  • What they should expect from each stage of the interview process 
  • What you’re looking for in an ideal candidate 
  • The technology and login details required (for example: Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, etc.)
  • Point of contact details throughout the interview process 

Sending this information to the candidate will help them have a great candidate experience. It will also allay some of their anxiety while enabling them to prepare to the best of their ability.

3. Encourage Managers to Use a Scorecard

A job interview in person is hard enough. Throw in video technology, and the degree of difficulty increases. When it comes to video interviews, keep your job as simple as possible. That way, you can focus more on making a fair assessment of each candidate. One way to do this: Produce a scorecard unique to the position the candidates are interviewing for. By isolating the top skills or qualities and giving them each a score out of 5, 10 or 20 (depending on the weighting of each), it allows you to quantify where a candidate sits. The scorecard can also help eliminate unconscious biases. After all, managers will only score in relation to the candidates’ demonstrated skills.

4. Prepare for Tough Questions from Candidates 

During the remote hiring process, chances are there will be questions you and the hiring manager may not know how to answer. So prepare ahead of time for some of the most common candidate questions. Below are a few of these questions with tips on how to prepare for them. 

What’s the workplace culture like? 

As the majority of candidates going through the remote interview process won’t have been to your offices, you should explain what it’s like for a newcomer. Things to mention include virtual social activities, daily/weekly catch-ups and the technology you use to keep your staff connected. 

Once hired, what should I expect from the onboarding process? 

The minute details are not helpful here. Instead, provide a high-level overview of the virtual onboarding process. Mention any hardware that would be sent to the new starter’s home and give an outline of the first week of induction/training sessions. It may also be worth mentioning if your workplace organizes a work buddy for new starters and who would be responsible for leading the onboarding process, whether it’s someone from the HR team or the new starter’s line manager. 

How well is the company working remotely?

This question is a good opportunity to mention any wins or challenges the company has faced. Assure the interviewee a remote onboarding process exists. You can also mention how regularly the company meets online and the other ways everyone keeps in touch – whether by Slack, Zoom, emails or phone calls. 

What has your company learned from the transition to working from home? 

Similar to the above, think about any learning curves the company has faced while working from home, whether they have had to do with systems, communication or staff surveys. A candidate may also want to know if the company now recognizes the value in working from home if this wasn’t already in place.  

What types of measures are you looking at to return to the office safely?

While you’re probably still figuring out the details of the policy that will allow a safe return to the office, you should be able to mention the aspects you’re considering. These could include staggered start times, transport options, an increase in remote working or providing PPE. 

Tell me about your flexible working policies?

The answer to this question is likely something all candidates will want to know. If you aren’t already aware, talk to management to find out the company’s thoughts. In some cases, work practices aren’t affected or will not be reduced. In that case, then simply explain why the company has taken this stance. 

The remote hiring process is new for many of us. Which makes this is a great time to learn new hiring methods. Put these tips to work, and hire the best candidates!

Photo: Jeremiah Lawrence

Closing Analytics Talent Gaps: College to Career

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

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

The Demand Challenge

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

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

Aligning College and Career Pathways

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

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

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

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

A New Approach

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

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

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

Expanding Opportunity

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

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

 This post is sponsored by SAS.

Photo: Anders Jildén

#WorkTrends: Assessing Digital Skills for Hiring Now

Remote work has gone from a luxury to a form of everyday survival, with technical, practical and cultural challenges. It has also shifted the hiring process further into the digital sphere — whether we like it or not. Sean O’Brien, Senior VP of Education at SAS, joined host Meghan M. Biro for this #WorkTrends podcast episode to discuss key strategies for hiring in today’s environment. That means not only knowing the competencies your organization needs, but also having the digital capabilities needed to hire now.

Whether you’re hiring people on-site or remotely, there’s one rule, Sean said, “Return to the fundamentals.” The first step is to ask the right questions: “What skills does my company need? How often? Which skills are the most important?”

And then, a clear way to assess potential applicants is not just on skills, but on potential to learn these skills. This means interviews in remote hiring scenarios need to focus more on demonstrating those necessary skills, Sean noted. For example, hands-on assessments, portfolios at-the-ready, and potential on-the-spot problem-solving can all be done over video. Meghan added that it’s important not to forget about establishing good eye contact, pointing out the need to present ourselves in the best light, whether in-person or in video meetings.

Sean also recommended that hiring managers rewrite job descriptions. Many are written poorly or in a generic way — without reflecting the company’s needs, and lacking language that acts as a filter to guide the right people to apply.

Meghan said this means that organizations must understand the skills they need. And given the turbulence and change going on now, that also means it may be necessary to hire an expert who can help. Sean agreed, “Depth of knowledge is necessary to be successful.”

Another smart strategy is to develop the talent already in your organization, by teaching your existing workforce the new digital skills they need to keep evolving and growing professionally.

Listen to the full conversation and see our questions for the related live #WorkTrends Twitter Chat. And don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, so you don’t miss an episode!

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why do some organizations struggle with hiring for the right skills? #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can help accurately assess a potential hire’s skills? #WorkTrends
Q3: What can leaders do to bring the right skills into the organization? #WorkTrends

Find Sean O’Brien on Linkedin and Twitter

This post is sponsored by SAS.

Photo: Constantinos Panagopoulos

#WorkTrends HR + Marketing: Employer Brand Superteam

Meghan M. Biro brought not one but two guests to the #WorkTrends podcast this week: Diane Adams, Sprinklr’s Chief Culture and Talent Officer, and Grad Conn, Sprinklr’s Chief Experience and Marketing Officer. The topic: what happens when HR and marketing really work together on talent strategies. In this case, the result is nothing short of alchemy. The two will be appearing at the upcoming HR Transform conference, later this year. “Creating a Winning Culture Where People Thrive Personally & Professionally.” The #WorkTrends audience got a taste of things to come.

Diane and Grad Conn talked about the approaches they’re using at Sprinklr to attract engage and retain top talent — which openly draws on the best of marketing and HR in order to build a workplace culture that people can be proud of — and are. They shared marketing strategies that cross over from customer engagement to candidate and employee engagement. Brand messaging takes on a whole new meaning when it has to do with the employer — but when your employees are on board, the benefits extend directly to your customers as well.

Diane talked about how they built a dynamic partnership between HR and marketing, establishing values for Sprinklr that drove stellar employee as well as customer experiences. She said, “We referred to it as The Sprinklr Way —  our foundation for how we live, how we work, and how the values of our employees and our company are then transcended externally to our customers. Happy employees, happy customers.” 

“People sometimes think of marketing as just an external function. But you have to sell to your own employees just as much as you need to sell to customers,” Grad pointed out.  

This was a conversation that hit home: employer brand isn’t just an idea, it needs to be a reality in every organization. In this era when your employer brand is only as good as the outside world’s perception, crafting an authentic and appealing culture is a smart business strategy. As Meghan noted, given today’s focus on crafting great workplace cultures, “it all makes sense.” 

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

Twitter Chat Questions 

Q1: Why are some employers losing ground at attracting and engaging talent?  #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can help organizations create a great workplace culture? #WorkTrends
Q3: How can leaders help their organizations better bring in and keep top talent? #WorkTrends

Find Diane Adams on Linkedin and Twitter
Find Grad Conn on Linkedin and Twitter

This post is sponsored by HR Transform.

Photo: Bek Greenwood

Soft Skills: In Demand in the Corporate Space

With advancements due to automation and globalization, the outlook of employers has changed significantly. To know if a candidate is a right fit for their organization, they gauge their capability not from a degree, but from the attributes that they display — i.e., soft skills. 

According to a survey by Talent Q, 9 in 10 employers look for effective soft skills in the applicants. These abilities are critical in any environment that requires interaction and collaboration. They define the various attributes of personality that help us complete a job successfully, including how intently we listen to others, how empathetic we are towards colleagues, and how we approach a problem.  Among the most important soft skills potential employees should possess:

  • Communication skills — such as the ability to communicate effectively within teams and with clients
  • Interpersonal skills to resolve conflicts without hurting anyone’s feelings
  • Confidence — to be able to effectively present ideas
  • Teamwork and leadership skills— such as the ability to participate and lead within a team
  • Critical thinking and decision-making skills — to make strategic decisions despite uncooperative clients, tough deadlines, or issues within the team 

As well as:

  • Networking skills
  • Cultural Sensitivity
  • Flexibility

Soft Skills in the Age of Automation

In the past, employers hired candidates based on degrees, certifications, and domain-related skills. The competition was tough. With the introduction of automation in almost every industry, the competition has become even tougher: for some of these tasks, we are competing with robots. A McKinsey Global Institute report says that around 375 million jobs will be lost to robots by the year 2030, and two million jobs that require human skills will be created. 

Though automation is only here to make our lives and work easier, businesses are still in dire need of professionals with unique human skills. After all, bots can make transactions, but they can’t make deals. Despite the emerging importance of automation, job positions that require soft skills can only be filled by humans. We still need skilled professionals who use their emotional intelligence to make strategic, profitable decisions. 

Essential for 21st-Century Employers 

A study by Wonderlic found that  93% of employers consider soft skills ‘essential’ or ‘very important’ in their potential employees. Moreover, according to a report by  Burning Glass, more than a quarter of all skills mentioned in the US job postings (for even the most technical job roles) were baseline or soft skills. Further, according to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends Report, 90% of organizations are undergoing a structural and cultural transformation in order to be more dynamic, connected and team-centric. And employees or candidates who can’t keep up with the changing requirements may not be eligible for growth-oriented, high-paying jobs. 

Can Soft Skills Be Taught?

In a recent trial aimed to find out if soft skills can be taught, soft skills training was offered at 5 factories in Bangalore over a period of 12 months. Researchers found a 250% increase in productivity within 8 months of the trial’s conclusion Employees or job candidates who want to develop their soft skills can work with various soft skills trainers who offer structured training or frequently conduct soft skills training workshops. At the corporate level, some employers are hiring a certified corporate trainer. It’s imperative in either case to ensure that the training addresses the given objectives. And as the demand for soft skills continues to increase, soft skills training is on the rise as a career choice as well: those with a passion and aptitude for training and coaching are finding that opting for a role as a soft skills trainer offers both high pay and a great deal of flexibility.

Today’s organizations need human professionals with uniquely human skills, or they can’t flourish. Employers should be proactive and analyze their organizational and employee needs, conducting soft skills training to fill in the gaps. It’s the best way to keep up in this changing corporate scenario. 

Photo: NeOn Brand

#WorkTrends: Great Expectations: Living Your Employer Brand

This month TalentCulture has been focusing on how people and companies can learn to do better. Nowhere is that more crucial than in the sphere of employer brands. We’re in an era now where companies don’t have full control over their brand: no matter how they present or package it, the outside world may have a wholly different take that outweighs the best intentions. But an employer brand isn’t just an academic exercise, as Meghan M. Biro noted on the latest #WorkTrends — even if that’s how many companies are approaching it now. 

To better clarify the link between employer brands and profitability, Meghan brought in Debra Ruh, a visionary in the field of employer branding. Ruh founded Ruh Global IMPACT, a firm that focuses on branding as well as digital marketing and global disability inclusion strategies (and more). She’s also the mother of an amazing daughter who inspired Debra to focus on the true essence of diversity, and why we need to embrace human potential right now.

We’re talking about intelligence when we haven’t even decided as a human species what that means,” Debra said.  “The human potential is there. We really need to rethink what we mean by that — and stop deciding that certain people don’t belong in the workforce.”  By doing so, she added, companies are shortchanging the power of true diversity — a proven driver of higher levels of innovation and performance. Witness companies like Amazon, Barclays and Atos, who are bringing people with disabilities into their workforce, and programmatically expanding their commitment to inclusion, with strong business results. By so doing, they’re also shifting the perception of what their brand truly stands for. They’re not just talking the talk, they’re walking it.

What’s key, Meghan noted, is understanding all the touchpoints involved in a brand, and who really controls it. The days of grumbling in public and getting a cease and desist are over — in a sense, the brand is now owned by those who perceive it. And its fate has more to do with that, and with the perception of market influencers, than the company itself. But our expectations are higher than ever, both agreed. “We want our brands — especially the brands that we work for — to stand for more,” Debra said. Tune into this great conversation to find out how to shift a brand into a desirable, authentic, diverse culture. And have faith: it’s never too late to course-correct.

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

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why are some employers failing at becoming an employer of choice?  #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can help organizations become an employer of choice? #WorkTrends
Q3: How can leaders help their organizations live their employer brand? #WorkTrends

Find Debra Ruh on Linkedin and Twitter

Photo: Adi Goldstein

#WorkTrends: Why Companies Need to Value a Great Candidate Experience

Ever since the Talent Board started researching candidate experience, at least some employers have been paying more attention to improving the applicant’s journey. Applying to a company can unearth all sorts of issues — including what #WorkTrends guest Kevin W. Grossman calls the “black hole of candidate experience.” 

This was a tete-a-tete between two colleagues that insisted on keeping the conversation looking forward not back. To get out of the morasse of a bad candidate experience, companies are going to need to truly step up and place a higher premium on better CX — and we’re claiming that moniker to stand for all the candidates out there trying to connect with the employer of their dreams. 

Kevin, who’s a longtime TalentCulture Community friend and President and a Board Member of the Talent Board, dug into the Talent Board’s latest research report, including its good news: more candidates are happier about their experience overall and would be willing to increase their relationship with that brand, whether as an employee or a consumer (you can’t think of one without the other). But there was less-than-good news as well, including a vexing rise in the “resentment rate” — with candidates so disgruntled they don’t want anything to do with a brand anymore, whether it means applying to work there or using its products, or both. A big takeaway: in work, as in life, we really do put our money where our mindset is, and vice-versa.

Chief among common hiring infractions these days are the automated, generic, “sorry you’re not right for the position” messages, which are the wrong way to leverage technology, or not providing any responses at all — which Meghan noted was inexcusable for recruiters today. But the two focused on the positives, including brands getting it right, such as recent CandE award winners Walgreens and Kronos, and innovative ways employers are keeping the connection going with candidates. Frequent and well-considered communication, chatbots, feedback — it’s all good, they noted. And when it works, the value for companies goes well beyond a single happy hire.    

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

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why are some employers failing at candidate experience?  #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can help organizations create a better candidate experience? #WorkTrends
Q3: How can leaders help their organizations value candidate experience? #WorkTrends

Find Kevin Grossman on Linkedin and Twitter

 

Photo: Ben White

5 Ways to Build a Great Candidate Experience in 2020

Heading into a hiring spree for the new year? Last year, the Talent Board Candidate Experience Research Report found that if a prospective hire has a negative candidate experience, they’re increasingly willing to sever their relationship with that employer. This year? That report’s packed with good information to map to better strategies right now. With 61 million members of Gen Z beginning to join the workforce, companies need to bear it in mind. These digital natives have high expectations for work/life balance, inclusivity, technology and who they want to work for. And first impressions count. 

We know that a great candidate experience can pay off in long-term dividends, leading to a better employee experience, better engagement, and a stronger chance your new hires will be willing to rep you as an employer to their peers. But the most important result is that it leads to an applicant staying with the process through to the final interview, and then if it leads to a hire, they — and you — feel great about the move. To optimize the outcome, focus on these five simple pillars: 

Communicate Better

Quality communication and feedback are key factors in improving candidate experience. According to the Talent Board report, candidates who were able to ask a chatbot questions consistently rated their candidate experience higher than those who weren’t. Additionally, candidates who communicated with a chatbot were 80% more likely to increase their relationship with the employer, and candidates who received mobile text notifications during the research process rated their candidate experience 50% higher than those who did not.  

Be Human

But: no matter what generation, candidates prefer hearing from a live human within the first few steps of their application process. Despite multiple rounds of emails or preliminary video interviews, candidates may get frustrated if there’s no sense of a person on the other end, particularly Gen Z. This generation wants to believe in your company’s mission and find the work meaningful, starting with personal interactions — that’s how they know the prospective employer values them as an individual.  

Reject with Tact

When it comes to rejection, candidates still want to hear the bad news straight from the horse’s mouth — and not from a robot’s. Positive candidate experience ratings jump upwards of 28% when an applicant receives a phone call rather than an automated email rejection. It will also go a long way towards keeping the candidate in your talent pool for future openings. Rejections should be considered and considerate: especially with a young candidate, make sure the criteria and the reasoning is clear, and leave the door open. 

Be Curious

Employers who ask candidates for their feedback on the hiring process increases that candidate’s positive feeling about the organization. According to the Talent Board report, when candidates are asked for screening or interview feedback, there’s a 148% increase in their willingness to increase their relationship with the organization. That simple act of asking for (and listening to) feedback has the potential to create exceptional employee loyalty in advance.  

Be Consistent

Consistently treating candidates well breeds trust and trust is foundational for a true, human sense of engagement. Make sure your message and your process are consistent end to end. If there’s any doubt, map out all the touchpoints your organization has with a candidate. Create a checklist to address how you can treat candidates better, from branding to technology. Is the branding inclusive? Are you offering an application process that offers self-service and is self-populating? Also: make sure your job listings and your job information are consistent everywhere, whether on your career page or job boards. Candidates should feel good about your organization no matter what kind of interaction they’re having. 

We’ve got more sophisticated hiring tools than ever. But here’s a modern irony: it’s imperative that we go back to the basics in terms of how we use them. Respect candidates’ time, energy, and attention spans. Consider their need to feel like they’re valued, like their questions will be heard and answered, and that there are people — not just algorithms and bots — genuinely interested in who they are. Provide plenty of information about the process as well as the position; and about the organization’s values and culture as well as the next forms they need to fill out. Think person, not just process. And no matter the outcome, remain gracious. Might seem old-fashioned, but it’s back in style.

Photo by Wyron A 

Finding Gen Z Talent in 2020: Three Predictions

TalentCulture asked Kristen Ribero, Director of Enterprise Marketing for Handshake, for three predictions on how we’ll be finding Gen Z talent in 2020. It’s all about democratizing opportunity and building diverse teams; sourcing tech talent beyond STEM; and proactive, personal outreach. Here’s what she had to say:

Prediction 1: We’ll Democratize Opportunity and Build More Diverse Teams 

Employers recruiting early talent traditionally tapped into a few “core” schools that were either selected by proximity or by whether a leader at the company attended that school, which resulted in a pretty homogenous talent pool. 

Instead, we’ll start more effectively democratizing opportunity — by enabling employers to find talent based on numerous attributes that help determine fit, from any school, anywhere. And there’s plenty of information out there. Gen Z’s search for authenticity enables their greater freedom of expression and openness to understanding diverse perspectives. Gen Z grew up on mobile phones, social media, and are true digital natives. While early talent recruiting has shifted digitally, the attributes and values that set candidates apart remain largely the same.

We’ll use targeted talent marketplaces that have the potential to connect candidates with like-minded employers. Not only does this ensure a more seamless cultural fit, it also increases the likelihood of an employee being successful. And we’ll be combining high tech and high touch to do it.

From the talent side, Gen Z values individual identity, and are careful with how they craft their niche personas. They also value diversity, and want to work at organizations that embrace people from all walks of life. By carefully curating their own online presence, Gen Z can secure engagement from relevant employers through these targeted marketplaces. And that enables a better match through targeting for both employers and prospects.

Prediction 2: We’ll See Tech Talent Who Aren’t STEM Majors

Gen Z who haven’t necessarily majored in STEM are increasingly applying for technical roles. Their knowledge of programming languages and other technical skills supplements their coursework — without needing to major in STEM related fields. Of the women who applied for software engineering roles on Handshake, 35% majored in curricula other than STEM, according to Handshake’s Women in Tech report. And in their profiles on the site, it’s clear they have the skills and know how to show them off.

So what we’re seeing is that declaring a major isn’t the only indicator of required skills for a job. Employers are realizing this too, and adjusting their search criteria.

There are other factors here: Research shows that Gen Z  job seekers are more financially motivated than millennials, and the majority of Gen Z employees value salary over other job perks. Technical roles are in high demand, and they tend to be higher paid.

Gen Z is careful to craft a niche identity that’s persuasive and unique enough to set themselves apart. They don’t know a world without technology, which means they are more tech-savvy than previous generations. And they’re leaning in on hard skills as equally as soft ones. Of the 35% of women who applied for software engineering and developer roles I mentioned, their majors include business analytics, communications, marketing, language, and political science.

So employers will get better at looking beyond traditional attributes to find the talent they need. Instead of pinpointing STEM-specific majors, coursework, and GPA, they will lean on a candidate’s hard and soft skills to provide a more accurate assessment of their likelihood to succeed in a role.

Prediction 3: We’ll Take a More Proactive, Personal Approach to Outreach

Proactive employer communication to potential candidates will become a key factor in attracting Gen Z talent. From 2018 to 2019, we observed employers proactively reach out to 4x more students. Employers can tap into this generation’s need for connection by delivering encouraging, personalized messages. In Handshake’s student survey, 95% told us that they engage with employers that send personalized, proactive outreach. While tech has provided more seamless ways for people to connect, Gen Z still prefers to learn from real people. So high tech and high touch are effective complements.

As far as messaging, here are two examples: a message that won’t fly with Gen Z talent, and a message that will. First, the one you don’t want to do:

Hi there,

I’m reaching out to you from [company]. I see that your graduation date is coming up, and I wanted to invite you to check out our job openings on our website. Let me know if you have any questions!

Thanks,

[recruiter’s name]

The message lacks personalized components like a recruiter introduction or student’s name. The student can’t easily decipher how this organization would be a good fit for them. Students are more likely to engage with messages that mention how their background is ideal for a role they’re hiring for. And the CTA is weak: the only indicated action is to check out job openings, but there’s nothing in there about actually applying. That’s a missed opportunity.

Here’s a much better example:

Hi [candidate’s name],

My name’s [recruiter’s name] and I’m a recruiting manager at [company].

We’re currently hiring a sales representative in our [city] office, and based on your background in business at [university] and passion in customer service, I think you should apply!

Don’t take my word for it. One of your [university] peers, [name], now works in this function at [company]. If you’re interested, I’d love to introduce you two so you can learn what it takes to thrive here.

We are also going to be at [university]’s campus next month, so let’s plan to connect in person if that’s easier for you. Please RSVP here.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Warmly,

[recruiter’s name]

What works in this message is the personalization of first name and institution name, along with the fact that an on-campus event is attached to the campaign. The recruiter also suggests an opportunity to introduce the student to one of their peers currently employed by the company. The next step, and a great way to increase the effectiveness of a message like this, is to arrange a scheduled follow up.

 

Photo: Thought Catalog

Why Big Tech is Losing Gen Z Hires

Remember when we were all trying to reach the hiring bar set by Amazon, Google, Facebook and other giants? No more. Toxic work cultures, questionable leadership and recent ethics scandals are tarnishing these once golden employers. The New York Times just reported that Gen Z are staying away.

The techlash is real: by some estimates, Facebook’s down at least 40% in acceptance rates for full-time engineering job offers. Amazon’s losing its sway with poachable young stars from companies like Dropbox. Uber’s taken a $100 million hit in terms of lost talent. Google’s lost its credibility as a fair employer. When graduates tell their peers they just accepted a job at one of the big tech firms, they’re often met with awkward silence. 

As Gen Z and new millennials graduate college and search for jobs, they’re looking for meaning, purpose, and values along with that good paycheck — and they’re steering clear of Silicon Valley’s big firms. And this isn’t just about a consumer attitude towards employer brands. It goes deeper. Many are responding to recruiting outreaches with messages of their own, leaving recruiters blindsided. Some students are batting back automated recruiting queries with very specific protest messages.

The spend on recruiting one engineer can be as high as $20,000, according to the Times; the cost of advertising at Stanford University’s computer science job fairs can top $12,000. Whether or not this truly hurts the bottom line remains to be seen in some cases, while it’s already obvious in others. 

But what is clear: smaller firms who do have an ethical compass and fair hiring and employment policies may have a new advantage. An employer brand that’s based on genuine values, a social purpose, and wants to save the planet instead of ruin it – that’s a big factor for this generation. We may start to see companies selling themselves as inherently good: “We don’t have any scandals, we’re not associated with data theft, and we believe in climate change!” could be a highly effective selling point. It’s going to be an interesting year.

 

The Top Eleven Recruiting Tech Tools for 2020

What technologies are truly changing our recruiting capabilities for 2020? I’ve had so many great conversations with innovators in the recruiting and technology space about this. All of us agree we’re entering a new phase of evolution as the world of work gets used to a whole new way of hiring. 

It’s time to get comfortable with these tools. Learning how to best harness tech is also a matter of enabling it to do the heavy lifting — and I think the tools below are going to become the norm sooner rather than later. So happy 2020, and here are my top 11 tools in recruiting technology that are going to continue to change the game. Yes, I couldn’t stop at 10:

 

  1. Super-recruiting. Better strategies that combine technology, analytics and people skills to radically improve the candidate experience and make better hires. 
  2. AI-empowered personalization that lets recruiters reach a talent pool full of potential candidates and address them all as individuals — with preferences and behaviors.
  3. Chatbots with human understanding who can answer sophisticated questions, conduct interviews, and assist with scheduling next-level meetings. 
  4. AI-powered skills assessments that measure for potential and fit as well as existing abilities.
  5. Streamlined, self-service applications that enable applicants to run their own show and auto-populate information across multiple forms if necessary.
  6. Bias filters of applicant-facing materials that have evolved way beyond just recognizing words like “bro” and “quarterback.”
  7. Predictive analytics that reveal gaps and issues before they happen.
  8. Tech-driven interviews (run by chatbot or not) that create a clear digital picture of a potential hire.
  9. Virtual tools like virtual walkthroughs and virtual auditions so applicants can try on the job — and employees can see how they fit (and gather data on each applicant as well).
  10. Built-in security tools that don’t intrude into the application process, but do offer robust protection.
  11. Remote technologies that can bridge time and space so we can truly source applicants all over the world — and make hires regardless of geographic location (when it works to do so).
Photo: Alex Knight

#WorkTrends: Insider Secrets to Making Great Hires

Our guest on #WorkTrends this week is Chad Fife is the VP of Marketing for Talview. He’s an entrepreneur and global marketing leader in Ed tech, HR software, and SaaS, with experience building $10M-260M businesses and bringing innovative products and programs to market with early adopters. 

Chad’s got a unique perspective: he’s a hiring insider who’s fluent in tech as well as marketing — but he’s never lost his passion for finding standout talent. We discussed how to make hires that thrive and help your company thrive — and how to engage the new generation coming into the workplace right now. He shared a few stories of his own on hiring successes and not-so-successes, and two must-know hiring secrets as well.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. And don’t forget to subscribe, so you never miss an episode. 

[06:52] 72% of job seekers say they need to understand a company’s work culture before accepting an offer

[10:45] I think the second reason why you need to hire someone with passion over skill, is because they have something called the R Word. They’re going to have resilience. 

(23:45) With video interviews, there’s a way to change an algorithm that’s so much easier than changing a person’s mindset that’s been in a job hiring people for 20 or 30 or 10 years. 

Talview’s Chad Fife talked to us about what factors really work for hiring today — and weighed in on the endless debate between hiring for skills and hiring for passion. Spoiler alert: his very astute response on this may close the book on that question for good. As VP of Marketing for Talview, he’s been involved in the intersection of tech, marketing and hiring for long enough to qualify for true insider status in our book. Here’s what he had to say:

High-Pressure Hiring

The hiring climate is tougher than ever — the tech sector leads industries as far as turnover rate at 13.2%, and among employees age 25 or less, the general turnover rate is 8%. So we need to hire more and we need to hire better — and that means leveraging all the innovations we can. Further, a lot of teams are becoming remote: and Chad himself is managing a substantial one via a combination of digital tools and understanding how best to adapt to different communication styles. He also spoke candidly about his own hiring process: he just made a remote hire that is really changing how he thinks about proximity versus excellence. He goes with the best now, not the nearest. 

The R-Word

Talking about passion over skill, Chad advocates for passion, citing the R-Word — resilience — a quality today’s workforce needs to have plenty of.  “I love more tactile definition of this word, which is able to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching or being compressed,” Chad said. “We don’t think of our work life like that, bringing it back into shape, but every time there’s a deadline, every time we have a conversation with our boss, every time we have a customer that says they’re thinking about leaving you … every time you look at your whatever goal paradigm you have, OKR’s, KPI’s, whatever … you need to be able to bounce back the next day, the next week, the next hour.”

Real-Life True Tales

Sharing examples of what makes a good hire, Chad explained the value in hiring someone because they’re clearly passionate about their work, and hiring someone based on a clear picture of who they are. And that picture is gleaned from a whole range of different channels, using skills and behavioral digital assessments, and getting a sense of who they are from social media. Even Twitter can convey potential fit, he explained: “I could tell just by looking at their social media, just the presence they had, tweets, what they talked about. I could tell they would fit our company.” Another indispensable tool for the global, remote age of hiring: video. Creating job preview videos not only gives potential candidates a great feel for the job, it may also separate the wheat from the chaff by clarifying exactly what the job entails. And that is going to make everyone’s lives easier, not least of all for the hiring team.

There’s a lot of great intel in this podcast with Chad that I think you’ll really enjoy. It’s a great way to kick off the new year. 

Resources Mentioned in this #WorkTrends Episode

Chad Fife on Linkedin and Twitter

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

The Age of the Super-Recruiter

An Interview with Sanjoe Jose, CEO and Cofounder of Talview

The challenges in hiring span from finding the right talent to finding the technology to help make successful hires. And we’ve seen an incredibly fast-paced phase of innovation in the field. At the forefront are leaders like Sanjoe Tom Jose, cofounder and CEO of Talview.

Sanjoe is passionate about making hiring easier with cutting-edge AI and machine learning-based technologies. He’s also likely one of the rare innovators who turned down an offer from Google to strike out on his own. Instead, he built Talview — which stands for ‘talent view.’ The firm’s Instahiring Experience platform is the first to bring the one-click consumer experience to a hiring context, radically shortening an organization’s time-to-hire. 

We talked about how AI can be leveraged to transform the whole hiring journey, about his thoughts on the market, and why certain hiring teams are AI-averse — despite the fact that given today’s talent race, recruiting needs, and deserves, a real shot in the arm.

What market problems are you trying to solve?

In speaking with our customers, hiring lag or a long hiring process is their biggest challenge. Businesses always need talent as soon as possible. But hiring lag also impacts other key hiring metrics — such as Quality of Hire, since the best candidates are only available in the market for ten days. This is especially critical in the gig economy, where companies can’t spend 2 months to hire someone who might only be employed for 6-12 months. Long hiring processes and not being able to provide remote functions also impact the Candidate Experience: 57% of candidates drop out of the hiring funnel due to a long hiring process. Companies also need a way to showcase their culture, values, and expectations to candidates before they’re hired, as it will help new hires ramp up quicker.

In your view, how is the candidate experience broken?

The back-and-forth process between employer and employee can easily become slow and confusing due to the time it takes to screen and select the best resumes, contact the candidate, arrange an interview time that suits both parties, and organize for someone to conduct

the interview. It’s not just a lack of speed that’s hurting businesses’ hiring process, either. The quality of the candidate’s experience as they go through the different stages of the funnel is also suffering at the hands of inefficient and aging recruitment practices. Job applicants are often forced to take off work to make multiple trips to attend interviews in person, and once they’re in the final stages, an offer can take weeks. A poor candidate experience also means applicants drop out of the funnel, and they’re less likely to reapply to the same company in the future.

Let’s talk a bit about solutions. How can technology fix some of these problems? 

In our own firm, we base solutions on three propellers: Remote, Automate, and Reuse. Generally, organizations need to be able to complete screening assessments and interviews online — they should not have to rely on physical face to face, especially if the best talent is remote. This can be done through live and recorded modes, saving candidates as well as recruiters immense time while both parties are still deciding if there’s a good fit.

And there are so many routine recruitment processes that are still completed by humans when they could be automated, such as screening resumes and scheduling interviews. Automating these processes frees up recruiters ’so they can spend time on far more value-adding activities,such as conducting final-stage interviews. And automation should be able to function round the clock, so candidates don’t have to wait to hear back from recruiters, and their questions can be answered immediately by a chatbot. 

Finally, recruiters and candidates as well need a way of streamlining the process when this is a repeat applicant. That means recording all application and interview data — so it’s available to reuse when a candidate reapplies to work for the same organization, and they can be fast-forwarded to the relevant stage. There’s no reason they should have to go through those assessments and interviews they already completed when they applied previously. Reuse just makes it easier.

How do you leverage AI and machine learning in your platform? What phases are you using AI and ML for in terms of the hiring journey? Is it end to end?

Yes — we’ve leveraged AI and ML to automate and drive more insights — all the way from the top of the hiring funnel right through to the moment of hire. From the start of the process, these technologies are used to screen resumes, derive additional insights from interviews and expertly match candidates to their ideal roles. As the candidate goes through each step from the location of their choice, computer vision is leveraged to authenticate their identity and administer multiple variety of skill based assessments. During the interview process, the technology assists hiring managers in conducting an objective interview — by building a behavioral profile of the candidate that leverages speech recognition and natural language processing, and giving suggestions as to areas hiring managers should probe from a non-technical skills standpoint. With companies struggling to assess soft skills accurately, these kinds of behavioral reports help companies hone in on communication, interpersonal, and leadership skills.

Do you think organizations can benefit more from recruiting platforms that are all-in-one inclusive?  

I do. While there are many pinpointed solutions that impact one or two steps in the hiring process, disparate systems can pose problems for enterprises, such as time-consuming, inefficient data entry and reconciliation processes. It’s more effective to have a seamless experience. Inefficiencies can lead to user dissatisfaction for all parties involved. And while some organizations do try to integrate disparate systems themselves, the performance is far from optimal and adds major overhead. We wanted to be enable the true digitization of hiring, and provide a platform that could be integrated with any of the leading Applicant Tracking Systems. I think that’s the kind of solution both sides want — the candidates as well as the hiring teams.  

My last question: What would you say to companies that are reluctant to shift to AI and machine learning for recruiting and hiring?

AI offers significant benefits while applied in the recruiting process, and hence is bound to become a significant part of every organization’s recruiting strategy sooner or later. AI can be leveraged to automate a lot of mundane tasks recruiters today perform — like matching a resume to the job description and scheduling of an interview. It enables recruitment teams to become true strategists and candidate experience champions, and ensure the best candidates join their organizations. It would be wiser for teams to leverage the benefits of AI and become super-recruiters than to get left behind.

To learn more about Talview, visit Talview.com.

Better People Decisions Make Hiring More Efficient

Hiring is costly.

Hiring the wrong employee is even more pricey, and the more pivotal the position is, the more expensive it can be. A bad hire costs your organization in three ways: finances, time, and intangible factors. Hiring and onboarding a new employee costs more than $4,000.

The process may take 2-3 months, and the effect of a bad hire can influence overall morale.

Recently, I had the chance to sit down with Yves Lermusi, CEO of Checkster, a company that helps businesses gain insights into their new hires, and existing company culture. Their mission is to make hiring more effective by catching bad hires before companies invest time and money pursuing the wrong candidates. Here is some of what we discussed:

What inspired you to start Checkster?

What triggered us to provide this solution is really the fact that when you look at how people make decisions when they buy goods. Most people read reviews; you probably do that as well. We looked at that and thought we could apply the process to talent acquisition.

How do background checks benefit both hiring companies and candidates?

There are varying definitions of a “background check.” Often, we limit background checks to just a criminal check, but background checks can also include employment verification, drug check, and reference checks. I believe everyone deserves a safe, passionate, and productive work environment. Background checks can uncover criminal behavior; we intend our process to discover bad habits like shirking responsibility or sowing discord, so we find out this type of information from a new digital reference checking approach.

What makes the Checkster process different?

We use what we call “collective intelligence.” The use of collective Intelligence lets us combine insights from many individuals to get a complete picture.

Does this also help to eliminate bias in the hiring process?

The problem with biases is that we all have them, and they are often unconscious, so they affect how we think and feel. So, we cannot eliminate the bias of one single person, but we can cancel out each other biases by interviewing multiple people with different unconscious preferences. With Checkster, we get as many colleagues as possible to eliminate bias as much as possible.

What are the pros and cons of using social media to vet candidates?

One plus of using social media is that it gives you a chance to at least get a sense of someone’s personality. Some research has shown its reliability. However, I recommend that you always confirm any information discovered in social media. Make sure that whatever you find out about the candidate is verifiable. Why is this important? This verification ensures you are not attributing your discovery to the wrong person, or that the information you discovered was accurate and posted by the candidate and not by someone else.

What advice can you offer to help companies conduct better exit interviews?

Exit interviews are another useful tool. Exit interviews can be a great source of knowledge for HR and managers, but even more so for recruiting. The best advice to keep in mind is to be clear on how you will use your data; too often, people are performing surveys or interviews, not tracking responses consistently, and as a result, do very little with the results. If it is a regrettable departure, allow several people to give feedback, not just the departing employee.

Thank you so much for sharing your insights. It’s been a pleasure to speak with you.

Thank you very much.

Photo by Robert Katzki on Unsplash

Small Companies Can Be Recruiting Contenders

The ability to attract top talent takes more than just a posting on a job board, a newspaper ad or a sign in a storefront window. Many small businesses must compete with larger companies for talented recruits, without the luxury of internal recruiters or head-hunters to conduct searches and interview candidates.

However, there are some cost-effective ways for small-business owners to compete. For example, here are some areas to focus on:

  • Entice candidates by making it easy to apply (think mobile).
  • Recruit the best for your unique business.
  • Introduce other team members into the interview process.
  • Interview with a goal in mind.
  • Make great offers and hire people who complement your business.

Here are some other areas to focus on to help your small business be a recruiting contender.

Try New Technology

You may not have a huge software budget, but there are affordable recruiting software options that are designed for small businesses. The appropriate technology can help you vet candidates, become better organized and expedite the hiring process so you don’t lose good candidates by being too slow. Moving away from relying on an email inbox or Excel spreadsheet helps you stay current and nimble in your hiring practices.

Recruiting software can definitely help level the playing field and allow your business to compete with larger companies.

Show Your Agility

Since you’re not a large conglomerate, you should have greater flexibility in your attempts to hire top talent. For example, your pitch to candidates should emphasize the availability of flexible hours, direct access to management, remote work, opportunities for advancement, continuous learning opportunities, community involvement and even the flexibility of paid time off. These elements help you show an openness to being flexible and accommodating.

Offering remote work also highlights your business’ embrace of innovation. The advantages to both employees and employer from remote work are endless.

Another option that many small businesses overlook is altering their hiring strategies. Visit colleges in your area to get to know the guidance counselors and ask them to pass along your information to promising young graduates. Social media can be very useful as well; it’s a great tool to leverage employment options that benefit you and the community as a whole.

Look for New Talent Entering the Workforce

As Liz Frazier writes at Forbes, “22% of recruiters surveyed have already invested in new recruitment advertising techniques like Snapchat, and text message-based recruiting. When it comes to the actual job postings, 65% of college seniors agree that the majority of the search results from job boards they’ve used are irrelevant or not a good fit for them.”

One of the most significant issues with small businesses is failing to plan for long-term opportunities that pertain to their employees. As members of Generation Z move into the workforce, the employment market must shift with the times.

Another highly important factor to remember: members of Gen Z are the first true “digital natives” in society. They grew up with all the latest innovations, including smartphones, the internet, social media and mobile real-time connections, so their expectation is to have a digital relationship with any potential employer.

Expand Your Thinking

Look beyond the potential of the people you interview. In addition to them having the right skill sets, think about how they will complement your business. Broaden your thinking to include people who are a “culture-add” in addition to being a culture fit.

Being a culture-add means bringing something different to the position, whether it’s a new design, a new experience, a new vision, a new approach, an innovative strategy or just a fresh perspective. An employee who is a culture-add accentuates what already exists in your workplace culture and also brings a different dimension that is sorely needed.

As a small-business owner, the competition is fierce when it comes to hiring top talent, but with some diligence, there’s no reason you can’t level the playing field and compete with larger companies.

#WorkTrends: How to Build a More Diverse Pipeline

Here at #WorkTrends we spend a lot of time thinking about how to transform buzzwords into action, and this week we’re breaking down “diversity in hiring.”

There has been a lot of lip service paid to this topic, but many HR professionals find that there can be barriers to building a more diverse organization. However, there are tangible steps you can take to attract, hire and retain more diverse candidates. This week we speak with tech leader Carrie Maslen about how you can take those steps — and why diversity is so important.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. Subscribe so you never miss an episode.

The Importance of Diversity

When considered in a vacuum, diversity is an incredibly worthy goal. After all, why shouldn’t the places we work resemble the places we live?

But Maslen says diversity is more than just a buzzword or aspiration. Organizations that embrace diversity see actionable, proven — and repeatable — results. “The data is clear,” she says. “The more diverse the team, the better the organizational outcomes.” Maslen says research from outfits including McKinsey, Catalyst and Boston Consulting, as well as many organizations’ own internal research, has consistently reached the same findings: “With more women on the team, you deliver the financial results.”

Diversity, however, doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Maslen says she has found that when organizational makeup changes to include 20% of an under-represented group, that change begins to steamroll through an organization. “There are enough opinions and voices that they can’t be quieted. They have to be heard,” she says.

Make Sure Your Candidate Pool Is Wide

So how does an organization reach that 20% threshold? Maslen says change has to begin from the top. The entire organization has to understand that diversity is a business goal.

HR has a large role to play in ensuring that these goals are met. This includes being transparent about its data with leadership, showing not only accomplishments but the organization’s shortcomings. HR also needs to make sure it plays a large role in recruiting a more diverse candidate pipeline. Maslen says she has worked with a lot of managers who have a candidate in mind for a position, and she has had to put her foot down to ensure that more diverse candidates are included. Thankfully, she says, managers have become more and more receptive to looking outside their network. “Change is happening,” she says.

Remember Your Retention Strategies

It’s not enough simply to bring in female employees; you have to ensure that you also retain them. Maslen recommends taking a look at your maternity- and paternity-leave policies so that they better serve the needs of female workers — and make sure that these same workers are included in the decision-making process.

Maslen says women can be great advocates for themselves, and they can effect change from the inside, especially as organizations become more diverse. “But that can only go so far,” she says. Ultimately, transforming an organization into a thriving, diverse place to work is an organizational mandate. “The company really needs to create the environment, the policies and the practices that enable women to thrive and succeed,” she says.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode