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How to Launch Sincere DEI Programs

The working world has spoken: Employees want to be part of organizations that value and support diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). But they won’t accept lip service. They want employers to put actions behind their words. And they want DEI programs that make a real difference.

Of course, this makes sense. When DEI programs aren’t genuine, they won’t have merit or promote lasting change. But with a sincere, consistent effort, organizations can expect to see plenty of benefits.

The Benefits of Effective DEI Programs

Companies that make a conscious effort to recruit a diverse pool of qualified candidates tend to attract more applicants, overall. In fact, Glassdoor research says two-thirds of job seekers actively look for potential employers that encourage workforce diversity.

What kind of signals matter? For example, consider the proportion of top performers on your staff with diverse backgrounds. When that proportion is high, it indicates that diverse representation will rise to leadership levels in the future. This sends a clear message that opportunity is open to current and potential employees.

A thoughtful, transparent approach to diversity has other benefits, as well. For instance, individuals can see how colleagues are helping their organization grow from within, both formally and informally. Through employer-sponsored professional development programs, employees from diverse backgrounds can learn and apply new skills that will help them take on more responsibility. Along the way, they can contribute to cultural change and even help the organization better align its products and services with evolving market needs.

The Challenges of Establishing DEI Programs

Many employers want to construct a welcoming culture that feels inclusive and equitable for all. So, why aren’t more DEI programs flourishing? What’s getting in the way? Too often, companies make bold statements about their DEI intentions. Then when implementing those plans, they stumble.

One reason DEI initiatives falter is that employers want this process to be intentional, comfortable, and intuitive. It sounds reasonable. But the road to understanding and building better bonds with many types of people sometimes means addressing pain points head-on.

When business leaders are concerned about stretching team members beyond their personal comfort zones, they may simply define the DEI outcomes they want to see. However, they don’t go further because they’re unclear about how to help employees be authentic—or how to help them support one another without bias or hesitation.

Although this may seem like a huge obstacle, it doesn’t need to be. Sometimes, what it takes to get started on firm footing is simply the will to implement several pointed strategies. Here are four suggestions:

4 DEI Implementation Pillars

1. Research DEI programs at successful companies

Figuring out how to design your DEI efforts doesn’t have to involve recreating any wheels. It’s easier—and more practical—to find out what others are doing well. Then use that knowledge as a springboard.

For instance, consider Mastercard. This company has been very intentional about expressing a desire to diversify its workforce. Our team at LaunchCode partnered with Mastercard to help the company find candidates from previously untapped, diverse talent pools. Doing this has connected Mastercard with top talent.

To ensure further progress, Mastercard holds regular meetings to discuss hiring efforts that support its corporate DEI goals. The company also sponsors a Women+ program, providing funding for free technical education and career pathways for women.

2. Sponsor on-the-job training about DEI

More educational experiences can help increase awareness, appreciation and adoption of organizational diversity. For example, you could develop training focusing on understanding and managing unconscious bias. Conducting regular DEI training gives people a chance to step back and consider their frame of reference. This can help people identify and let go of their cultural biases, so they can move forward.

Sponsoring topical employee resource groups (ERGs) can also be a useful approach. Starting one of these committees can be as simple as inviting individuals to speak about their experiences and suggest actions they’d like the organization to pursue. Of course, it’s important to host these discussions in safe spaces, whether it’s online, in person or a combination of both. Plus, leaders must do more than just support these events. They must be present and participate. Their visibility reinforces the fact that this isn’t about checking DEI boxes. It’s about transforming the entire organization at all levels.

3. Hire for diversity in leadership

If people at the top of an organization aren’t diverse, employees assume the company must not be committed to DEI. Workers from underrepresented backgrounds may go one step further and assume they have no future with your organization.

This isn’t an uncommon scenario. In fact, in a recent study, more than 75% of people told Harvard Business Review their employer doesn’t have diverse leadership representation. This means there’s an enormous opportunity for most organizations to make fundamental changes to better align their top positions with desired DEI objectives.

Although it may be impossible to change senior leaders until positions become available, an organization can diversify leadership by adjusting representation on its board of directors (or advisory board). It can also be intentional about seeking clients, suppliers and business partners from different backgrounds and experiences.

4. Evaluate pay equity

As of 2021, women were on average, still earning 83 cents for every $1 dollar men earned, according to the  American Association of University Women. And Black male workers make 87 cents on the dollar when compared with their white male counterparts. These gender and racial pay disparities reveal that more work lies ahead for those who want to achieve a more equitable work environment.

However, it’s a general “best practice” for human resources professionals to evaluate pay grades across-the-board. After all, employers are expected to pay wages fairly and equitably. DEI can and should be folded into this process.

The objective for pay equity conversations should be to ensure that wages are based exclusively on merit. If you’re unsure how to move the needle on glaring wage gaps, it can be helpful to work with a consulting firm that specializes in this.

The Bottom Line

Above all, it’s important for DEI to mean more than just putting people in seats based on their demographic profile. It is not just a one-and-done “program.” At its best, DEI is a values-based, purpose-driven process that comes not from the top or the bottom, but lives in every layer of your organization. And when everyone genuinely feels ownership of DEI, you’ll begin to see just how powerful it can be.

Attract and Retain Employees with Earned Wage Access (EWA)

Sponsored by: ADP

Employers are looking for new ways to stand out in terms of employee perks and benefits. One solution: earned wage access (EWA). This is a powerful tool when it comes to meeting today’s employee needs. It’s also got proven advantages when it comes to attracting talent and landing great hires right now.

As a problem solver, EWA covers a lot of ground at a time when anything less than a true game-changer won’t work. Combine a 3.5% unemployment rate, more than half a million jobs added in July 2022, the continuing Great Realignment, and troubling inflation, and you’ve got a perfect storm facing employers. Talent strategy right now is a double-edged sword. You can’t just recruit, and you can’t just retain. You need to do both to stay competitive as an organization. That means successfully addressing employee as well as recruitment pain points.

Employees Coming Up Short

From a workforce perspective, financial anxieties are weighing heavier than ever for countless employees. A recent PwC financial wellness survey of more than 3,000 employees across several industries found that just 42% felt their compensation was keeping up with the rising cost of living expenses in 2022 — down from 52% in 2021. Further, 56% of all employees are stressed about their finances.

What that means in practical terms is that for most, access to pay can make a key difference. Research by ADP  on earned wage access benefits in today’s world of work found that 69% of employees are likely to request their wages early at least once within the next year. Requesting wages early is prevalent for a clear majority of Gen Z and Millennial employees. But, this is also true for nearly half of older employees as well:

  • Gen Z (18-24) 74%
  • Millennials (25-44) 86%
  • Baby Boomers (45-64) 48%

Here’s the question: What happens if an organization doesn’t have a system in place to grant such a request? In terms of well-being, it will add to the financial stress already affecting employees — and that can have all sorts of consequences. The PwC study’s respondents said financial stress took a severe to major toll on their mental health (34%), sleep (33%), self-esteem (30%), physical health (23%), and relationships at home (21%). Additionally, 18% said financial stress interfered with their ability to be productive at work. 15% said it directly affected their ability to go to work at all.

Employee Stress = Organizational Stress

It’s not hard to connect the dots between financial stress and organizational stress. An organization that lacks a policy and/or system for early wage access could be conducting a not-so-subtle form of self-sabotage even in terms of operational success. In terms of employer reputation, it’s even clearer. Employees want to work for an organization that clearly cares about their well-being — including their financial well-being.

The PwC survey found that 76% of financially stressed employees are likely to look elsewhere for an employer who cares, versus 38% who aren’t financially stressed. To put it bluntly, financially stressed employees are twice as likely to search for a better employer. By inference, then, if you’ve got a skittish, stressed-out workforce and no means to ease their financial stress, you’re twice as likely to lose talent to someone who has the means in place. And what about landing new hires in the first place? ADP research found that over 90% of employers (all with more than 1,000 employees) who offer EWA find that it improves their employees’ sense of financial security and helps with both talent attraction and retention.

EWA as a Solution: Best Practices

Earned wage access is both a digital innovation and a well-being booster — and its time has come. It fits into the framework of modern employee expectations in a range of ways. It pragmatically demonstrates that the employer values employee needs, and it solves a very human conundrum with a practical digital tool. Additionally, it breaks the mold of traditional talent management for a more innovative, flexible approach. But like any innovation, there are strategies that will leverage its full potential and strategies that won’t.

Here are four important best practices when it comes to incorporating EWA into your organization:

  1. Consider EWA from a business standpoint: A well-designed, modern EWA program offers an inarguable business advantage. Recent ADP research on earned wage access benefits surveyed 500 companies with more than 150 employees and found that 95% believe that employee financial wellness impacts their company. Suppose EWA is provided as a system that offers a simple, self-driven, well-documented means to access pay early. In that case, it can offset a myriad of problems, from employee-manager friction to accounting snafus to attrition.
  1. Integrate EWA into existing compensation and payroll processes: Rather than a bolt-on solution that’s isolated in terms of data, record-keeping, and information systems, EWA should be interconnected with the processes already in place. Ad-hoc doesn’t have to mean anarchy. EWA is best when it keeps pay administration both simple and cost-effective. Offering employees flexibility and choice that doesn’t complicate the process. Employees should be able to access their wages without disrupting the integrity of the payroll cycle.
  1. Provide employees and managers with the features that count: For employees, that could mean easy enrollment, a straightforward, anytime, mobile-friendly platform, fast access to pay, clear visibility into pay balances, and electronic pay.
  1. Don’t be shy about informing your workforce: Companies that offer EWA are staying on the leading edge of digital transformation. They’re also demonstrating an evolved approach to compensation. But competitive pay doesn’t just mean the highest salary in a given role in a given industry. It means a flexible, responsive compensation program that eases minds. As far as retention, that’s going to have a big impact:  93% of employers believe that offering EWA helps boost employee retention. But unless you broadcast the policy, employees and new hires won’t know it. Given all the pressures we’re under, it’s not a time to be quiet about modernizing your employee perks.

Empathy as an Organizational Benefit

With more employees than ever living paycheck to paycheck, earned wage access enables your employees to avoid the friction (and stress) around having to ask a manager for an advance on pay or take out a high-interest loan to tackle an unexpected financial burden. It also takes managers out of the hot seat by providing a built-in, integrated process.   

No question: digital innovations are pushing the envelope on how we work, evolving traditional structures like workspace and compensation into more people-centric approaches and offering new solutions to a range of challenges. But rising to the occasion and leveraging these new tools is up to the organization. A digital EWA platform offers a means to address a very human need. It’s a clear example of empathetic people management — and it could be the competitive edge in terms of talent.

To learn more about EWA, ADP is hosting a webinar on “Offering Earned Wage Access: Strategic & Compliance Considerations”, Thursday, September 8, 2022, 2p Eastern. Register Here!

8 Learning and Talent Development Topics for Better Employee Retention

Investment in learning and talent development is an essential ingredient of every company’s engagement and retention plans. What is one crucial topic to include in employee L&D that will lead to better employee engagement and retention?

To help you create an effective L&D program, we asked L&D professionals and business leaders this question for their best insights. From including interviewer training to developing individual talents, there are several essential topics that may help you deliver a robust employee L&D for better engagement and retention.

Here are 8 must-have topics for better employee retention:

  1. Interviewer Training
  2. Communication and its Impact on Business
  3. Feedback Delivery
  4. Celebrating Achievement
  5. Leadership Development
  6. Build Emotional Intelligence Skills
  7. Goal Setting and Performance Feedback
  8. Develop Individual Talents

Interviewer Training

A must-have learning opportunity for all employees is interviewer training. By focusing on a task and responsibility that most employees engage in throughout their careers, you simultaneously give your employees the skills to contribute to building a more successful company with the right talent. Additionally, you give them skills to carry with them wherever they go next. Interviewer training empowers everyone to become a brand ambassador. It also encourages a truly inclusive and diverse workplace and gives all employees a chance to be better.

Ubaldo Ciminieri, Co-Founder and CMO of interviewIA

Communication and its Impact on Business

Studies show that collaboration drives workplace performance. Learning the value of communication and how it impacts the business should be a priority for all employees to understand. Beginning with the “why” communication is crucial to show how it can affect and change the culture by building trust across the leadership team and staff.

In creating a high-performing, high-functioning organization, there needs to be collaboration on all levels. This means we need to communicate and over-communicate. Things change when people you work with understand what you are trying to do, the why, and how it affects them. The outcome is a high-performing team where work gets done with highly engaged staff, and the company exceeds expectations on all levels.

Denise Moxam, VP of HR and Engagement at Production Solutions

Feedback Delivery

There are countless learning topics that can positively impact employee engagement and retention. One of the areas that I believe to be crucial is feedback. To be able to skillfully provide regular, accurate, and timely feedback can improve performance, increase trust, and build relationships. All of which have a direct impact on both retention and engagement. Of course, the results are dependent upon individuals’ competency in this area. While some people may have the inherent ability to deliver feedback the right way, at the right time most of us need training and practice.

Greg Forte, Senior Director of L&D at Precision Medicine Group

Celebrating Achievement

Celebrating is a powerful skill that all leaders need to have in their toolkits to confidently & effectively lead now. When you celebrate a teammate, you are demonstrating that you see them, care about them, and value their contributions and how they show up in the world.

Celebrating is a skill, and it needs to be included in your L&D strategy. When you have leaders who properly and consistently celebrate their employees, you will see motivation, trust, connection, belonging, engagement, and retention skyrocket! Throw that confetti, leaders!

Leah Roe, Leadership Coach & Founder of The Perk

Leadership Development

While it’s not typically part of the category of employee learning, building a healthy leadership practice at all levels of the organization may be the strongest driver of employee retention and engagement. Employees need the opportunity to grow and thrive in their careers. This will rarely happen without leaders who recognize and encourage their development.

We know that most learning happens on the job and in conversation with others who already know the job. A learning function that equips front-line, mid-level, and senior leaders with the mindset, skill set, and tool set to effectively grow their employees will have an exponential impact on employee engagement and retention (not to mention business results).

Leaders who simply see employees as a means to the end of profitability, customer service, or meeting their operational metrics miss the key ingredient to meeting these business goals. They will see their employees walk away to another opportunity where they can grow.

Dave Adcox, Director, Learning & Organizational Development at Whitley Penn

Build Emotional Intelligence

By building emotional intelligence skills in our leaders and our teams, we support their ability to create an environment where employees are engaged and want to stay. Through our learning and development efforts, we can help our employees understand and manage their emotions, navigate relationships, and build trust. Additionally, we can help them show empathy, reduce stress, communicate better, and inspire others. In doing so, we create a place where our employees thrive and our business grows.

Mary Tettenhorst, Sr. Vice President, L&D of General Electric Credit Union

Goal Setting and Performance Feedback

Since studies show engagement often hinges on an employee’s first 90 days, providing new hires a supportive onboarding experience that includes context on company objectives, culture, and communication standards is critical. Supplementing this with assistance on goal setting will help level-set expectations and facilitate a growth path for the employee.

Always, make sure that your managers are equipped with the knowledge to articulate performance expectations, deliver feedback and coaching, and provide development opportunities for the employee along the way.

Glenn Smith, L&D Manager at Nextbite

Develop Individual Talents

The single most important L&D topic has to be how to effectively develop your people. Unlike a capital investment that has a fixed ROI, investing in human capital has almost unlimited ROI. Not only are you increasing the capacity and competence of your team to create value, development telegraphs that you believe in your people enough to invest in them. When people feel like valuable members of a winning team, they will provide higher levels of engagement and discretionary effort. Development creates a virtuous cycle that benefits both the organization and its people.

Thane Bellomo, Director of Talent Management and Organizational Development of MI Windows and Doors

Why Skilling Investments Directly Correlate to an Organization’s Bottom Line

Sponsored by: Cornerstone

Learning is the most important thing we do at work. 

I know that’s a bold statement. I’m sure you’re already trying to think of things you do at work that are more important than learning. But the truth is that learning is the foundation of how we grow and perform. 

Think about the learning opportunities at your organization. Are there company-sponsored places you can go to learn? Or do you simply rely on Google and YouTube? 

The reality is that many organizations rely on employees to find their own learning and development opportunities. So, what’s the problem with this? 

The problem is that this lack of prioritization for development opportunities at work won’t get us through the current talent and skilling shortages many industries are facing or help us grow into the future of work. 

These aren’t problems that will go away on their own, either. In fact, the current skilling and talent shortages are keeping business leaders up at night. According to a recently published Cornerstone People Research Lab survey, 48% of all employers placed skills and talent shortages within their top three concerns over the next three years. 

This urgency from business leaders is further evidenced in PwC’s Annual Global CEO Survey, where 74% of CEOs reported being concerned about the availability of key skills. 

Cornerstone’s survey also found that while ‘laggard’ and ‘average’ organizations show a consistent employer-employee confidence gap in skills development, high-performance organizations are ahead of the game. 

Let’s explore how high-performance organizations approach skills development and why it works.  

High-Performance Organizations as a Model for Success

High-performance organizations put their money where their mouth is. For example, when asked when they would prioritize skills investments for their company, 72% of respondents reported that prioritization was expected to occur within the next year or had already begun. Meanwhile, 68% of lagging organizations plan to invest in skills development within three to five years. 

According to our research, high-performance organizations aren’t just investing in one or two learning and skill development areas either. Nearly all high-performance organizations are prioritizing learning and development technology, learning content, formal education or university learning, mentoring and coaching programs, and on-the-job skills training.  

Meanwhile, only 34% of lagging organizations prioritize formal education, and 52% invest in mentoring and coaching programs. There’s more than a 30-point gap between high-performance organizations and laggards. 

High-performance organizations are also increasingly adopting an internal talent marketplace mindset. They are using skills data and skills development programs to promote internal mobility. Ninety-seven percent of high-performance organizations agreed that the role of talent development is to improve employee growth. Employees also agree – 82% of employees at high-performance organizations reported feeling that their company had insight into the gaps between current skills and those needed in the future. 

Developing internal talent is the number one way high-performance organizations plan to fill skills gaps. Meanwhile, lagging organizations plan to hire externally to fill those gaps over the next three years. 

Up-Leveling Your Skilling Strategy 

So, where do you start in up-leveling your skilling strategy? 

First, take inventory of the skills currently available in your organization. Then, predict what skills are most important to the future success of your organization. Once you understand what skills gaps exist, you can chart a plan to help close them. 

To do this, AI-based skills assessment and pathing technology can help identify those gaps between existing and future skills and make intelligent job and career recommendations based on skills.  

Once you connect skills development to career growth, employees can more easily chart their desired career path by seeing an integrated view of the skills needed and how it translates to internal mobility. 

This kind of growth investment isn’t just good for your people – it’s good for business. According to a 2021 Gallup survey in partnership with Amazon, skills training is one of the top perks younger workers look for in a new job. Further, 61% of respondents also said that upskilling opportunities are important for staying at their job.  Seventy-one percent agreed that job training and development increased their job satisfaction. More satisfaction leads to better retention. Better retention means better success and outcomes for a business.

The takeaway is simple. When organizations adopt an internal skills marketplace and an internal-first hiring mindset, employees stay engaged and happy, and your business increases its chances of successfully navigating the future.

New HR Processes to Meet Workforce Expectations

The Great Resignation was a very real and present concern for HR professionals in 2021. In December alone, 4.3 million workers left their jobs. As the labor pool shrunk and companies faced skill shortages, there was a palpable power shift among employees. Workers knew they were in demand and could ask for more: more flexibility, more money, and more perks. Average hourly earnings have increased 4.8% year over year as a result.

Companies were already faced with competition for talent before the pandemic. This threw HR professionals in even more of a tailspin when they had to find new ways to meet these workforce expectations while developing work-from-anywhere policies practically overnight.

Although the labor force participation rate shows signs of bouncing back in the coming years — in fact, employment is estimated to increase from 153.5 million to 165.4 million by 2030 — HR must come up with innovative ways to attract and retain talented employees if they want to keep up. That means changing their HR processes to meet workforce expectations.

Meeting Workforce Expectations With New HR Processes

With a tight talent pool, HR professionals have to get creative, embrace new technologies, and find fresh ways of attracting and retaining talented employees. To do this, HR teams should stay open-minded to more progressive employment arrangements. This could include using contract, contingent, and gig work. In some instances, they should even consider employing robots, automating HR processes, and reskilling employees. 

As workers’ expectations change regarding work flexibility and other norms, the onus is on HR leaders to update the following HR processes:

1. Productivity Measurement

Gone are the days when measuring employee productivity meant simply looking at an employee’s time card or hours worked. In a work-from-anywhere environment, managers must shift their mindset to managing employees based on results rather than on time spent sitting at a desk.

It’s up to HR to teach managers how to measure and monitor employee productivity without physically seeing them in their chairs. To accomplish this, HR must clearly define job descriptions. Additionally, managers must communicate expectations. Most importantly, HR should encourage managers to let employees have the autonomy they need to do their jobs while still providing coaching on timelines, issues, and opportunities.

2. Pay Practices

Employees want not only the flexibility to work remotely, but also more flexibility as to when they work. Although 70% of executives want to return to the workplace, only 40% of workers do. Organizations that have embraced a remote environment to meet workforce expectations are now faced with the “work from anywhere” problem. Sure, it’s wonderful that employees can live anywhere in the country — or even the world. But, most HR teams are not set up for payroll, benefits, compliance, or taxes everywhere to support this. This can be a major roadblock when it comes to attracting and retaining talented employees.

In addition, HR leaders have to get ahead of questions from employees about cost-of-living adjustments for cities with higher costs of living. What is your philosophy and compensation structure? Does it allow you to attract talent across all markets nationwide? For example, consider tech companies based in San Jose, which is a tech industry hotspot. Should employees get paid more because that’s a high-cost-of-living area? Or not because they have the option to move? These questions can get quite philosophical and are up to your HR team and other company leaders to decide.

3. Onboarding Solutions

For new employees, the “computer setup” checkbox for onboarding has evolved over the years. Just a few decades ago, someone from IT came to connect the new employee’s system and set up their email at their desk. Now, it’s a UPS package delivery. Then, a two-hour phone call where IT instructs the employee on how to set up and configure settings for their workgroup. The employee needs to learn the ins and outs of how to use the collaboration tools and where to find the information needed for the job.

In addition, new employees might never even meet their HR representative in person to complete paperwork. These situations open up a need for remote onboarding tools. Tools that offer e-signature capabilities and advanced cybersecurity to prevent private information from being breached. They also require a solution for remote I-9s. (Current USCIS guidelines still require a person to provide HR with original ID documents to show proof of eligibility to work in the U.S.) Above all, you should determine how to integrate current tech tools with these new tools to make onboarding remote workers smoother for all involved.

4. Career Growth Opportunities for Employees

Even before the pandemic hit, employees looked for development and growth opportunities in their roles — particularly Millennials, who are known to leave jobs that lack such opportunities. HR can encourage employees to stay with the company longer by offering new forms of recognition and benefits, like upskilling.

Now, more than ever, employees want to know what competencies they need to learn to grow in the organization. They also want to know how these skills will benefit them in their future careers. To meet this need, work with managers to understand the competencies required for each role. Outline a clear path from one position to the next on the hierarchy.

Workforce Expectations for the Future

Meeting changing workforce expectations to mitigate the labor shortage requires updated HR processes that follow new trends in HR practices. Although this HR transformation process can seem overwhelming, the benefits will pay dividends in attracting and retaining talented employees — and securing your company’s future growth.

     

Better Pay Isn’t Always the Key to Retaining Talent

Is your organization feeling the effects of the ‘great resignation?’ If not, you are one of the lucky few. Official figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that resignations have been abnormally high through 2021. By the end of August, over 10 million open jobs were left unfilled. In a normal year, average turnover rates are typically under 20%, but in recent research from the Achievers Workforce Institute, over half of survey respondents said they would be looking for a new job in 2021. Retaining talent has become a major issue for many organizations. 

The aftershocks of the COVID-19 pandemic are one cause of today’s great resignation. Some people had the time to reflect on their jobs and they began to wonder if they would rather do something else with their lives. Others hunkered down, put their careers on hold, and waited for the storm to pass. Now the economy is restarting, organizations are hiring, and employees can and will move on. The new normal of remote working also makes it easier and safer for individuals to look for new job opportunities. It has never been easier for organizations to attract and recruit talent more quickly and efficiently. Hiring senior talent without meeting them in person used to be unheard of. Now it’s entirely normal. The new challenges in retaining top talent calls for organizations to think outside of the box and find new ways to keep their employees happy.

Better Pay Isn’t Always the Only–or the Best–Way 

So how can organizations retain talent during the great resignation? One simple solution would be to pay them more, but this doesn’t always work. Apart from those in lower-paying jobs who may need more money just to keep going, the actual amount that companies pay people is less important than whether it’s more or less than what they think they are worth.  In practice, that means: are you paying them more or less than other people doing the same job in your organization or elsewhere? 

If your competitors have deeper pockets than you, this strategy won’t work. And if employees start comparing salaries within your organization, you risk demotivating people and starting a wage war. The end result? Paying more money to less motivated, less engaged employees. 

Reward Employees the Right Way

We all tend to motivate and reward other people in the way that we would like to be motivated and rewarded. If money motivates us, that’s what we offer. If we appreciate autonomy and space, we might try that. The problem is: not everyone is the same.

A better approach is to try and understand your employees as individuals who are motivated by different things and have different personality preferences. This is where tools like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) assessment can be really useful, both in helping us to recognize how we are different from other people and in understanding what would work for everybody. Once we understand that, we can apply a more tailored approach to rewarding our employees and improve retention. 

Adapt Feedback and Motivational Styles Using “Thinking-Feeling” 

“Thinking-Feeling”, one aspect of the MBTI framework, deals with how we prefer to make decisions. People with a “Thinking” preference prefer to make decisions based on objective logic. Alternatively, those with a “Feeling” preference tend to consider how their decisions affect people and whether the decision lines up with their values. They prefer the decision that feels right rather than the logically correct choice. Understanding how employees arrive at the important decisions in their lives is invaluable in determining employee retention strategy. 

Tailor Recognition and Feedback to Employee Preference

“Thinking-Feeling” influences many aspects of our lives, including how we prefer to receive recognition or appreciation. People with a “Thinking” preference like to be recognized for their competence and expertise. They want to know when they’re doing a good job or going above and beyond the norm. Having this feedback at the end of a project or when a task is completed is important for them. If they are given appreciation on an ongoing basis, such as before the result of their work is clear, it may irritate and demotivate them. 

In contrast, those with a “Feeling” preference like to be appreciated for their efforts. They like to be recognized for their personal contribution, for making a difference (to people, to society, to the world), and for helping others. They generally like a degree of feedback and appreciation throughout a project, not just at the end. 

A “Feeling” employee working for a “Thinking” manager may wonder why they are not getting any feedback during a task. This might cause them to worry and become demotivated. Conversely, a “Thinking” employee working for a “Feeling” manager may dislike praise for their efforts before things are finished. Consequently, they may doubt their manager’s competence, lose respect for them, or wonder if there is an ulterior motive. Once a manager understands how their reports have different needs, they can modify their behavior in a way that helps to keep engagement and motivation high. 

Match Management Style to Employee Personality Preferences 

The other aspects of personality are important in keeping people motivated, too. For example, MBTI theory suggests that people with my INTP personality type want a manager who gives them autonomy. INTPs prefer to do their work their own way without much supervision or detailed schedules. They need a manager who recognizes and rewards them for their expertise and competence and treats them in a consistent way. They value leadership who is open to new ideas and gives them the space to explore new possibilities. 

This may or may not be a manager’s natural style, but knowing about personality types and the MBTI framework will help them to modify their approach to get the best from their employees and keep them motivated. 

Of course, recognizing and adapting to the individuality of employees through their personality type is not the only way to retain talent during the great resignation, but it is an excellent place to start. 

Women in the Workplace: How to Retain Female Talent

Millions of Americans have left the workforce due to the ongoing public health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. This situation has particularly impacted female employees who had to become the primary caretakers of their children when schools and daycares closed. As a result, many women had to leave their jobs, and companies lost some of their most outstanding employees. Now companies need to spend time deciding how they can better accommodate, empower, and retain female talent with children.

I am a life coach, helping ambitious working moms become their best selves every day. Part of this is educating companies on how to better support women in the workplace, especially those with children. Using valuable insights from my clients and my own experience as a working mom, I’ve put together five suggestions for companies on how to retain female talent, both pre and postpartum.

Find Out How You Can Support Women in the Workplace

Administering a survey is one of the best ways to determine your company’s ability to hire and retain working moms. Ask open-ended questions so you can find out more about the challenges female employees face and which are the most important. If possible, allow them to give their opinion anonymously to share their feelings without worrying about retribution.

Revamp Your Company Policies & Benefits 

Once you’ve reviewed the survey, you’ll better understand the company policies and benefits that need revamping. For example, do the majority of female employees want paternity leave or extended maternity leave? Or perhaps they would prefer a more flexible work schedule? The company can also assess its employee performance evaluations, possibly changing from time-oriented to task-oriented. 

Whether female talent want to feel more involved during meetings or expectant moms require a designated parking spot, companies should accommodate the needs of women in the workplace. Listening to your female employees, and implementing change, can make it easier to retain talented pre and postpartum female employees. In doing so, you’ll not only improve your business, but women in the workplace are more likely to feel heard and acknowledged.

Start a Mentorship Program 

A study published by McKinsey, titled ‘Women in the Workplace 2020’, reveals that women may face significant roadblocks without the right mentorship and sponsorship opportunities. For example, a sponsor can amplify the voice of lower-level female talent, while a mentor can help guide women towards their career goals.

An official company mentor program is an excellent way for you to capitalize on your most fantastic resource, your employees. It also demonstrates the company’s commitment to nurturing talent and providing employees the opportunity to learn from a trusted advisor. Retaining female talent is far more likely for those companies who actively invest in their professional development. Women in these types of workplaces are also likely to be more loyal and productive. This further increases female employee retention rates.

Create an Employee Reward and Recognition Program

Every employee wants their manager to acknowledge their hard work. This recognition is especially true for pre and postpartum female employees who may quit their jobs due to feeling unappreciated, dismissed, or victim to gender inequality in the workplace. If possible, create a monthly reward and recognition program for outstanding employees. This straightforward strategy will foster a positive work culture and inspire employees to improve their work ethic. Working moms will also enjoy the positive reinforcement, especially those working from home who still want their efforts acknowledged outside the office.

Close the Wage Gap Between Your Employees

The pay gap between male and female talent is a long-standing issue of gender inequality in the workplace. It impacts female employees across all socioeconomic and racial groups in almost every industry. Companies should advocate for women in the workplace by closing the wage gap. After all, there’s a higher chance of female talent remaining loyal if they receive equal pay for equal work.

Make it Easier for Working Moms to Progress in Their Career

Are your pre and postpartum female workers anxious about potentially losing their job? Do the women in your workplace fear they’ll miss out on a promotion because of maternity leave? A top tip for supporting female workers is developing tools and creating opportunities that will allow them to advance their careers like their male counterparts. One way to do this is to focus on results, not on time spent; a great way to support a working mom’s need for flexibility. By creating opportunities for women, you can also tackle gender inequality in the workplace, encouraging female leadership and retaining your female employees in the process. 

There’s no doubt in my mind that moms are some of the hardest workers on the planet. With the right strategies and support, you can create a supportive environment for pre and postpartum women. In doing so, your company can encourage women in the workplace to thrive at all stages of life.

 

Image by Roman Samborskyi

Moving Beyond the Pandemic: The 3 Highest Priorities for Hiring Managers

One year after the onset of the global pandemic, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Economies are opening back up, the vaccine rollout is underway, and companies are finally ready to ramp up hiring again. During the pandemic, hiring managers transformed their processes in surprisingly more efficient ways while providing an improved experience for hiring teams and candidates alike. These leaders are now in a unique position: 

They must plan for the future while also embracing what worked during the year that changed it all. 

We wanted to dive into these leaders’ minds to understand better the changes and challenges hiring teams have experienced over the past year. So our company, HireVue, surveyed over 1,100 hiring managers across the United States, Australia and the UK. The result? Yes, the pandemic’s impact on the global workforce was severe. However, it also provided valuable learnings and opportunities for hiring teams and job seekers alike. More importantly, we learned the three key priorities hiring managers must keep in mind as they move forward.

Hiring Managers: Embracing Technology’s Rapidly Expanding Role

2020 forced organizations to turn to technology to execute most, if not all, day-to-day operations, from hiring to remote onboarding. Our survey showed that HR tech didn’t just get the job done — it actually improved the hiring experience:

  • More than half of respondents (54%) noted that shifting to virtual interviews unexpectedly resulted in a speedier recruitment process
  • 41% say it helped them identify the best candidates
  • 37% of respondents experienced cost savings when incorporating more technology into their hiring practices
  • 36% noticed an increase in the diversity of candidates
  • And 35% were able to increase time spent on candidate engagement

The survey also showed that nearly half of the organizations moved solely to virtual interviewing in response to the pandemic. However, looking ahead, 41% of respondents plan to use a combination of in-person and virtual interviews — an additional 23% plan to move solely to video or virtual interviewing. Finally, 14% of hiring companies plan to automate much of the hiring process with AI, chatbots, and text. 

The pandemic showed us that the acceleration of technology isn’t slowing down. To thrive, companies must be strategic in their tech implementation. Every aspect of people’s lives has moved either completely digital or to a hybrid model. This means the average candidate has greater expectations around their experience. It’s becoming clear that virtual interviews and new candidate engagement methods like text are here to stay as recruiters implement a digital-first hiring process moving forward.

Which brings us to the top three post-pandemic priorities for hiring managers…

Prioritizing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Building a more diverse, inclusive and equitable workforce was brought to the forefront in 2020, so it’s no shock that 100% of respondents listed the topic of DEI as “extremely” or “very relevant” to them, with one-third ranking it as a top and immediate priority. What’s interesting is that 35% of respondents found diversity to be a benefit of virtual interviewing.

Because of safety concerns around COVID-19, businesses turned to virtual technology to vet and interview candidates. Simultaneously, global office closures forced them to expand their searches to include remote workers in a more permanent capacity. These circumstances led to more diverse hiring decisions and a broader candidate pool. But when COVID-19 is in the rearview mirror, HR leaders will need to consider how technology can continue to be used to build a diverse workforce. They’ll need to continue to learn how best to meet candidates where they are — when they’re available — will be critical. In fact, more than half of interviews through HireVue now occur outside of regular business hours, proving just how limited the candidate pool is when you rely on a strict Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 window. 

Using Standardized Assessments to Reduce Bias

Another way to mitigate bias is by using standardized assessments that focus on competencies rather than subjective indicators like resumes. In addition to assessments, chatbots and text capabilities work to remove structural barriers and create channels of communication that are more equitable and engaging for candidates.

Of the respondents with plans to take action on their DEI goals:

  • 62% plan to expand their recruiting network by seeking out candidates from nontraditional places
  • 55% will partner with organizations that connect underrepresented professionals with internships and jobs
  • 53% will recruit from universities with diverse student bodies
  • And 30% plan to use structured interviews to minimize unconscious biases within the hiring process

One of the biggest challenges of recruiting for DEI is the need for a quicker recruitment process. Organizations need to be deliberate and diligent in achieving these specific outcomes, which often takes time. With video-based interviewing technology, the process can achieve efficiency while simultaneously mitigating human bias. Just as important, the technology enables the vetting of candidates at a higher volume.

Pivoting Toward Process Efficiencies

COVID-19 has created a unique opportunity and demand for hiring leaders to innovate and rethink the way they hire. Moving forward, they want to automate administrative tasks — like reviewing stacks of resumes, scheduling interviews, and sharing feedback with their colleagues — so they can spend more time engaging with candidates and improving the hiring experience. In addition to trusting technology to help them streamline and simplify their own workload, 96% believe virtual interviews improve the recruitment experience for candidates. 

Another area we’ll see continue to evolve on the video front is the use of on-demand video interviews in place of real-time conversations. After all, hiring managers and HR professionals spend so much time scheduling and rescheduling interviews — and on-demand interviews free up time and offer more flexibility to both the candidate and hiring team to complete the interview process on their own time. This opens up the pool of candidates even more by not limiting it to those who can interview in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon. The on-demand approach also solves many other issues that come with live, human-led interviews, such as unconscious biases, leading to a more fair and equitable process.

The role of hiring leaders as strategic business partners was front and center in 2020. During that time, the business case for implementing technology that enables greater focus on candidate engagement instead of rote tasks practically wrote itself. Like many other hiring leaders, I believe the future holds less of a return to normal. Instead, I see an opportunity to make business operations more tech-driven, inclusive, and efficient than ever.

 

Image by Vladim Kluchnik

Attract the Best: Help Gen Z Workers Thrive in the New Workplace Normal

According to CNBC Make It, “Millennials and Gen Z currently account for slightly over a third of the workforce.” In the next decade, they expect that figure “to shoot up to 58 percent, making the youthful generations the most dominant in the workplace.” So how can employers help Gen Z workers thrive?

Members of Generation Z are the youngest group in the current workforce. Many Gen Z workers’ first work experience abruptly ended or was postponed altogether when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. To reboot their careers, they’ll lean on companies that feature modern recruitment techniques, flexible work, and opportunities for advancement.

As an employer, you will have to plan how you can best create an inviting and welcoming work environment for Gen Z employees. You’ll also need to think about how you can prepare them for thriving through future uncertainties. To help get these thought processes started, here are four ways businesses can help Gen Z workers thrive in the new workplace normal.

Four Ways Businesses Can Help Gen Z Thrive

Gen Z workers are changing the way companies recruit, retain, manage, and develop their employees. The next generation of workers fosters an entirely different set of values, needs, and priorities than their millennial, Gen Y, or baby boomer cohorts. These include high demand for flexibility, a modern benefits package, and a desire for independent work models, among other values.

To help Gen Z workers thrive in the new workplace normal, here are four things you can do right now:

Implement advanced technology.

Generation Z grew up with technology a part of their everyday lives. The way they connect, communicate, and navigate this world depends on their efficient use of the best technology offered. An employer that provides high-quality technology to Gen Z aids their comfortability, productivity, and enthusiasm for their job duties.

However, it’s best to implement advanced technology while still prioritizing the impact of face-to-face collaboration with other workers. Inc. states that “More than 90 percent of Generation Z prefer to have a human element to their teams, either working solely with innovative co-workers or co-workers and new technologies.”

With the Gen Z workforce priding themselves on being highly tech-savvy, you must meet their technology expectations throughout your company:

  • Productivity tools like Google Suite and Trello
  • Collaboration tools like Slack and Asana
  • Business software like Quickbooks and Hubspot
  • New computer monitors and/or portable laptops for remote workers
  • Tablets and updated cell phones
  • Updated shipping stations
  • New and efficient manufacturing equipment

Create flexible work schedules and job descriptions.

Gen Z workers support companies that see the value in flexible work schedules and adaptable job descriptions. When employers don’t confine this young generation of workers to an office, traditional 9-5 schedule, or monotonous job descriptions, their productivity soars.

Companies scattered around the world were experimenting with fully remote work and hybrid schedules before the COVID-19 pandemic. Statewide stay-at-home orders issued across the country fast-tracked a full implementation, and business owners were pleasantly surprised in terms of engagement, work quality, and profitability.

Avoid workplace burnout, absenteeism, and presenteeism by offering the option to work from anywhere in some capacity. Go a step further and provide potential workers the opportunity of freelance, contract, or part-time work should it fit their needs better. You’ll soon see a return on investment in the form of productivity and cost efficiencies.

Understand their values.

When the company they work for understands what they value, Gen Z workers thrive in the new workplace normal. Trust, pay, and culture are currently some of the essential values of Gen Z workers:

  • Trust matters because it drives the workforce and company forward
  • Pay because they value financial wellness
  • And culture because they appreciate a positive, supportive work environment

You should also build a diverse and inclusive workforce to retain Gen Z workers. They value working with people of all ages, genders, cultural backgrounds, economic statuses, and so forth. After all, every aspect of diversity brings a unique element to the team. They’re also attracted to companies actively improving social and environmental challenges like:

Speak with each of your employees. Find out what’s most important to them. Then restructure job descriptions based on said values to attract more top talent, drive performance, and enhance innovation.

Offer intentional career development.

With a rapidly changing workforce, it’s now considered a requirement to enable workers’ development personally and professionally. While baby boomers put the ball in their company’s court as far as professional development, Gen Z workers feel responsible for their growth and advancement.

They’re enthusiastic about advancing their skill set and receiving feedback that challenges and elevates them. Sixty percent of Generation Z-ers want weekly, if not daily, check-ins from their manager. They want to work for companies that also understand that skills require constant nurturing. And Gen Z migrates toward employers that deliberately focus on effective talent development. So ensure you’re offering employees various training opportunities – in-person and virtually. And give them the option of mentorship, guided self-education, formal training by a company leader, and an occasional direct connection to founders and executives

Are You Ready to Help Gen Z Workers Thrive?

The youngest generation is taking over the workforce at a rapid rate. Want to attract the best of them? Want to help Gen Z workers thrive in our new workplace normal? Offer talent development opportunities, understand their unique values, create flexible work schedules and duties, and implement advanced technology throughout your business.

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 by Fizkes

[#WorkTrends] Why Recruiters Must Care About Candidate Experience

In a survey conducted in 2019 by Brandon Hall, less than half of the responding companies believe they effectively create a great candidate experience.

That same Brandon Hall survey reported that 73 percent of companies care about delivering an excellent candidate experience. As a former recruiter who painfully lived this issue, this data point warms my heart. It means we can work together to significantly improve the experience job seekers receive as they look for new work. I have to say: it’s about time.

Especially in what can seem like an upside-down, mid-pandemic world, every applicant deserves an excellent candidate experience.

Our Guest: John Salt, Candidate Experience Evangelist

My guest this week on #WorkTrends is John Salt, a passionate advocate for job seekers everywhere. John has over 25 years of experience in the recruitment marketplace, both within large matrix organizations and small to medium-sized businesses. When it comes to candidate experience, John is a go-to guy! I jumped right into our conversation by asking him, “What is wrong with the candidate experience?”

“There’s plenty wrong!” John quickly said. He added what he sees as the most significant issue: “People used to talk about ‘processing the candidate.’ And I think a lot of the experience is still rooted in that process. I’m a strong believer that you don’t process people — you process fish or process vegetables, and you’re trying to do it as quickly and cheaply as possible. With people, you must take your time, same with the candidate experience. Because one of the most fundamentally important things people do in their lives is applying for a role where they can exercise their talent, where they can add value.” In response, John says, the employers don’t always reciprocate with a great experience.  

“Today’s candidate experience is clunky; it’s a hassle. And it doesn’t always work properly, so 96 percent of people that start to apply for a job on a mobile device, for example, don’t finish.”

Improving the Candidate Experience

After agreeing — because we see it all the time, even at some of the best employers — I asked John to tell us about tactics we can use to improve the candidate experience. John’s answer gave me even more hope:

“Well, the first thing I would say is you don’t need to utilize all technologies available when trying to make the candidate experience better because those technologies don’t talk to each other. Plus, too many people involved have been satisfied with blaming others, saying ‘That’s a job board problem’ or ‘It’s an ATS problem,’ or ‘It’s a candidate problem.’ There’s been a lot of finger-pointing, but nobody’s really embraced the available solutions.”

John finished his thought: “I love using sites like Airbnb because they know I’ve made a booking before, and the technology fills in the information for me. So instead of asking an applicant to enter the same data over and over again, as too many sites do, John says, “Use smart technology that enables an employer to say, ‘I know something about this candidate already.’ There are plenty of job platforms that already know a lot about a returning candidate, but do they ever bring that over in a seamless, smart, integrated way? No, they don’t.”

John adds, “Could you imagine if retail or hospitality ran the same way? That company just wouldn’t exist very long.”

The Business Case for a Better Experience

Before our conversation ended, John explained why the companies that offer an excellent candidate experience will attract the best talent, and why the best talent will naturally find their way to the companies that provide an exceptional candidate experience:

“So much is going to be automated; the best hirers will be those that put the human touch into the experience. There are many ways you can do that — some require automation but seem like they have a human touch. We see great examples in shopping, gaming, travel, and hospitality; these are the industries that are leading the experience. HR can catch up quickly!”

Want to learn more about how HR can greatly improve the candidate experience? Be sure to listen to my entire conversation with Josh. I not only learned a great deal, but I was inspired to continue to work even harder this year to help improve this critical component of hiring!

 

Find John on LinkedIn.

 

Editor’s note: We’ve updated our FAQ page and #WorkTrends Podcast pages. Take a look!

 

Photo: Danielle MacInnes

10 Tips to Stabilize Employee Experience During the Pandemic

In an outlook where the future looks bleak, only true leaders guide their team through the storm and come out stronger on the other side. And only the best leaders will focus on employee experience during that storm.

That leader needs to be you.

During an unprecedented crisis such as COVID-19, your leadership becomes even more valuable. With so much uncertainty, your employees will look to you now more than ever for stability.

How Can You Maintain a Positive Employee Experience?

Here’s how you can provide stability for employees while keeping your business operating at maximum efficiency…

1. Foster Transparent Communications

During times of crisis, transparency becomes essential. If your employees think your business is in trouble, they’ll feel anxious.

As the person in charge, you need to keep everyone in the loop. That means sending regular updates about how the business is doing, what problems you’re running into, what you’re doing to deal with them, and more.

2. Keep Communications Positive and Hopeful

Since employees will be expecting to hear from you often, make sure any communications you send out don’t make your employees feel anxious any further.

For example, if you have daily or weekly meetings, start them off by talking about successes within the company. After all, recognizing your employees’ efforts becomes even more important during times of turbulence. And those people and teams recognized will certainly appreciate being recognized, a key aspect in improving overall employee experience.

3. Offer Ways for Your Employees to Relieve Stress

Since the lines between the office and home have become blurred, it can be a smart move to provide your team with ways to relieve stress such as:

  • Providing your employees with additional time off and breaks if needed.
  • Setting up team virtual game nights or remote “after-office” clubs. (That said, make sure to be considerate of parents and others who may not have the same flexibility with evening get-togethers.)
  • Encouraging your team to talk to each other about how they’re handling all the changes. Make it easier to share how colleagues in similar positions are managing — what’s working, what’s not.

Happy employees tend to be better at their jobs. Helping your team relieve stress shows them you care, and it can foster in-office ties.

4. Adjust Your Internal Processes to the “New Normal”

Nothing is the same as it was months ago, so the internal processes that help you deliver products/services and accomplish tasks also need to adapt to the new normal.

For example, now might not be the best time for performance reviews as few people may be thriving during the pandemic.

5. Be Empathetic and Patient with Your Team

The pandemic and near-global quarantines have had a massive impact on most people’s mental health. One of the key reasons is that a lot of employees don’t know if they’ll have a job in a month or two.

On top of being transparent about how things are going within the business, you also need to be patient with your team. Few people are performing at 100% now, so empathy is key.

Don’t simply assume you have empathy. Chat with three to five trusted people for their honest feedback and ask if they perceive a sincere effort to accommodate the team.

6. Ramp Up Employee Feedback

Although you may know your industry inside and out, your team probably has insights that you might not have considered.

If you want to stay ahead of the curve, encourage everyone who works for you to come forward with any feedback they might have. The best way to do that is to provide multiple channels for inbound feedback.

7. Set Up New Channels for Inbound Feedback

Some examples of the types of channels you can set up to encourage employee feedback include:

By providing multiple channels, you increase the chance employees will share concerns and also information about protocol violations.

8. Promote New Safety Protocols

If part of your team isn’t working remotely, then it’s your job to enforce security protocols.

That means giving your team all the information they need to perform their job safely without adding to their stress levels.

So don’t make it sterile and forgettable. Promote your safety protocols in a fun way that’s “on-brand” and will click with your employees.

9. Help Your Team Recalibrate Expectations

Although it’s your job to ensure that employees don’t feel anxious, you also need to be forthcoming about what the pandemic might mean for the employee experience now and in the future.

Some companies are putting off raises others are cutting hours, and more. Being transparent about what the business is going through will help your team keep their expectations in line.

Your team will have the confidence to adjust if they see a transparent management that is doing everything to keep the ship afloat. And that confidence will become a huge element in their employee experience.

10. Recognize the Small Things

Now more than ever, your employees need to know that you recognize the work and effort they’re putting in.

Without people showing up to work every day (even if it’s from their living room) your company wouldn’t survive. By fostering an environment where hard work is recognized and praised, you can help your team weather the storm.

Your Leadership Can Make the Biggest Difference

No industry is coming out of the pandemic unscathed. So how good your footing is after everything is said and done will depend on the level of stability instilled into your employee experience during these times.

By fostering transparency, encouraging employee engagement, and by being more empathetic, you can ensure that your team knows you’re on their side.

Photo: Pixabay

5 Ways COVID-19 Will Continue to Change HR

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

1. Companies Will Show Employee Appreciation Differently

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

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

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

2. Remote Hiring and Recruitment Practices Will Gain Momentum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Evolving Future of HR

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

Photo: Christina @ wocintechchat.com

WFH Employees: How to Keep Them Safe

In some countries, as lockdown measures continue to ease, businesses are opening and employees are heading back to work. But some of us are still working from home — a policy that has become the ‘new normal‘ and may continue for millions of people, even in the wake of the pandemic.

Companies need to make sure their employees still feel safe and connected at home to avoid WFH burnout. Here are some effective ways to make physical and mental safety and employee well-being a top priority:

Let’s dive in!

1. Keep the Lines of Communication Open

When it comes to working remotely or working from home, communication is key. According to a Buffer survey, 20% of remote workers struggle with communication.

Providing several communication channels can enable the company and employees to stay in touch. An HR manager can run conference calls (both video or audio) to help bring teams together and keep them aligned on projects. One-on-one calls are more personal and can give employees a way to reveal any struggles or concerns.

Not only does communicating make employees feel safe and connected, but it also helps them feel valued — even when they can’t draw on the support of an office or workplace environment.

2. Adjust Company Policies

With the pandemic still raging, we’re not quite at “business as usual” yet. So, it’s crucial to adjust or revise company policies and continuity plans to better protect your employees and meet their needs. Flexibility is key: more than two-thirds of employees say at a loss of flexibility would convince them to find another job. WFH security guidelines can ensure that employees can use their own devices without worrying about their data getting leaked or hacked.

As you anticipate your business demands, use workforce management software to unlock your workforce’s potential and keep employees from feeling overwhelmed. Adjust your policies regarding benefits, pay, sick leave, and paid time off to fit the circumstances.

3. Provide Team Building Activities

Since working from home isn’t the easiest task for some employees, it’s important to help them manage stress levels and feel connected to each other. One effective approach is to strengthen teamwork at the same time with team building activities, such as icebreaker or informal video conference calls. Consider movie nights, or get-togethers to just talk about life.

 Such activities can help employees not only decompress, but build their sense of personal connection and trust. 75% of employers rate teamwork and collaboration as “very crucial” to strengthen employees’ work relationships and overall efficiency.

4. Promote Fair Workplace Practices

Make sure your WFH policy aligns with the company’s principles and maintains fair treatment for all employees. 54% of employees rank fair treatment as the second most valuable employer attribute, a strong factor in a decision to stay or leave.

Double-check that all employees have equal access to the company’s services, such as the devices they need to work remotely, such as laptops, internet connection, and cybersecurity. And extend sick or paid leave policies to employees even when they’re working from home. 

5. Reward and Recognize Employees

When remote employees feel valued and safe, they are free to be productive, and get their projects done effectively and efficiently. They may be working remotely, but they feel appreciated and acknowledged. Over 79% of employees who feel under-appreciated consider quitting their job — and this is going to extend to employees working from home as well. 

Build employee engagement with rewards and recognition — even just a note recognizing their efforts can go a long way.  

Whether your employees work from home occasionally or exclusively, it’s always important to make them feel safe. Support them, engage them, and you’ll see the results.

Photo: Dylan Ferreira

6 Tips To Improve Your Video Presence

Video is more important than ever for the vast majority of businesses trying to stay open during the pandemic, which you can see just by looking at how well online collaboration platforms have been doing lately. For example, Microsoft Teams grew its daily active users by 70% in a single month, while Google Meet added about 3 million new users daily in April alone. And since the spring, many businesses now conduct town hall meetings, executive presentations, and company updates entirely via video, often using the collaboration platforms mentioned above.

So if you’re relying on video for business a whole lot more than usual, you’re in good company! But as you might have noticed, not everyone is a natural when it comes to using video regularly, especially when it comes to video presentations that aim to teach viewers something new. Some people have a great camera presence that can capture and keep the viewer’s attention from the beginning of the video presentation to the last word. Others need a little — or lots! — of work to engage viewers. If you feel like you fall into the latter category, that’s okay. You can easily improve your on-camera presence by putting the following tips into practice.

 1. Don’t Be Too Scripted

 Many people who aren’t confident in front of the camera assume that writing out a full script to follow will instantly make them better. But it often does the opposite! You definitely don’t want to be reading from a script on camera if you want an impressive video presence. Doing so will make you seem overly rehearsed and even robot-like, which is not appealing to people.

 Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to go completely off the cuff and make up all your talking points on the fly. There’s a middle ground here, and it involves writing a brief outline to follow. This way, you can glance down at your notes to stay on topic, but you’ll still spend most of your time looking at the camera and speaking naturally as you present.

 If you plan to use PowerPoint while you present on video, glancing at your slides can help you stay on topic, too. Just don’t expect to read them word for word. Use them as quick reminders of what to talk about, and then expand on the topic as you speak freely from your heart.

 2. Speak to Your Viewers, Not Your Camera

Another important detail to remember is that your camera lens is not your audience! Your audience is made up of individuals, and you want to make a good impression on them. So have an image in your head of your viewers before you start the video presentation. Picturing a specific person or team that you talk to regularly at work can help.

 If you’re struggling to imagine talking to a specific person, go ahead and actually do it! Record yourself sending a message to one of your employees or clients. You could be wishing them a happy birthday or telling a joke. What’s important is that you record it with the intention of sending it to that person — even if you end up not sending it after all.

Once you’re done, watch the recorded message and take note of how authentic and engaging you are. You probably look like you have passion and energy in front of the camera, and that’s a great step toward having a better presence on video! Just be sure to keep that same energy for every video you make, even if it means pretending that you’re just talking to your favorite client or team of employees every time.

3. Focus on Your Body Language

 Another way to improve your presence in front of the camera is to work on your body language. Just sitting in a chair facing the camera isn’t usually enough to engage viewers during your video presentation. You also need to have good posture while you present your information.

For instance, you should avoid hunching over. Instead, keep your back straight and put your shoulders back. And if you normally keep your hands in your pocket — or just feel awkward, not knowing what to do with them — try using them to your advantage. You can use your hands to communicate with body language while you talk, gesturing to illustrate your points. Let your head sway in a natural way while you talk, and keep your feet firmly on the ground during your video.

Having good posture will help you feel more relaxed and comfortable in front of the camera. But even better, it will give you a more trustworthy, authoritative look to viewers. Speakers who have good posture tend to come across as more charismatic, confident, and worth listening to in general! So work on improving your posture in your daily life in order to look and feel more prepared in front of the camera.

4. Use Feedback to Improve

 As you use these tips to improve your video presence, make sure you take the time to watch yourself on camera. In fact, it’s a good idea to watch your first few videos and take notes on what you think you can improve. Then, as you work on your posture and learn additional ways to improve your video presence, watch your newer videos so you can compare to the old ones. How have you improved, and what can you still work on?

Consider some details in particular. Do you talk too fast due to nerves? Do you notice any nervous tics you didn’t even know you had, such as clearing your throat often, cracking your knuckles, or moving from foot to foot as you stand? Do you use filler words, like “um” and “like,” a lot? If so, take note of these habits and work on stopping them.

You should also get feedback from other people and listen to them. Ask your employees or coworkers to watch some of your best videos and let you know how you can improve. And if you think you’ve already improved, thanks to tips like these, ask your team to compare your old videos to your newer ones to see how much difference there is.

5. Look at Analytics for Your Videos

 Another type of feedback you should use is the data you can see from any analytics programs you use. You should be able to see important metrics, such as how many views you got and how long each viewer watched the video. This will give you an idea of whether you have a good presence on video, or if you need to make some improvements.

 An easy way to track analytics is to use Hive Insights 2.0, which reports aggregated event metrics that matter. They include viewer participation, viewing time, network impact, video quality, and more. You’ll even get ranking lists that show your viewers and locations by size, video experience quality, and other details.

 So when you look at the feedback you get from Hive Insights 2.0, you can get an overview of how your videos are doing. And since your on-camera presence does affect the performance of your videos, this information will undoubtedly be helpful for you to have!

 6. Remember That Practice Makes Perfect

As with anything, you’re going to need to practice your new on-camera habits before you can perfect them. So instead of reading these tips and then quickly creating a video that you send to everyone right away, make it a point to make some videos just for fun. Think of a topic and an audience, and make a few videos with those details in mind.

Then watch them and take notes of what else you can improve. You might notice your posture is better after just one or two videos, but you could still work on leaving out filler words. Or maybe your speech is great, but you just can’t easily break your bad posture habits and will need more time to improve.

That’s okay. No one becomes an expert on making engaging videos in just a day or two. It will take some time — and lots of practice videos — to improve your video presence. But if you’re making lots of video presentations for your business this year, it’s worth your time to get good at it to ensure your messages really resonate with your viewers.

That’s especially true when you’re trying to reach employees who have been working from home for months and are likely experiencing some video fatigue as they connect through video constantly. Those types of viewers deserve a great presentation — not a lackluster video — that will keep their interest.

Photo: You X Ventures

Don’t Sacrifice Talent To Survive a Crisis

Nobody needs to tell you that we’re in hard times. A pandemic is sweeping the nation, a trail of personal and economic devastation behind it, and frightening uncertainty ahead. Businesses are struggling to figure out the best path to survival. For many leaders, the impulse is, understandably, to lessen their organizations’ financial load with layoffs.

The good news is that eventually, through the efforts of courageous health care workers and our technology, we will defeat the virus, and life and work will return to a version of normal. And many economists predict that when this happens, our mothballed world economy will snap back to life, unleashing a wave of pent-up demand.

Will your company survive and be ready for this?

After all, consider what happened post 9/11. After the attacks, the world economy reeled, oil prices surged, and the stock markets plunged as the world braced for war in the Middle East. Many companies, fearful about the future, indulged in a layoff binge, slashing their workforce without thought to who their top talent was, or what current and future skills the organization might need to remain viable and recover with the economy.

But then the economy quickly rebounded, and the downturn turned out to be what economists call a “V-shaped recession.” The sharp decline in GDP was followed by an almost equally sharp increase in business activity. At this point, companies found that the talent they let go was desperately needed. They scrambled, and the result was a massive hiring binge to fill the gap that they themselves created.

The fact is that fundamentally, there was nothing significantly wrong with the underlying economics on September 11th, 2001. The economic downturn was not caused by normal business cycle considerations, the firing binge was followed by a scramble to replenish a depleted workforce.

Today, the pandemic is cutting a swath through what otherwise had been a robust economy, so the mistakes of 9/11 are a cautionary tale.

If you are among the business leaders queuing up the pink slips in reaction to this unprecedented crisis, I urge you to stop, take a breath, and think your next steps through — lest you sacrifice valuable employees in your rush for short-term relief.

While I understand some companies are in crisis and don’t have the luxury of time to pause for analysis, most do have the wherewithal, and I would argue, a duty to their workforce and, if public, their shareholders to proceed with wisdom and caution.

So instead of rushing to throw off what might feel like human ballast, consult with your HR executives to put together a strategic workplace plan, or crisis plan, by performing a three-dimensional review of your current workforce, considering more than headcount and cost. Instead of responding in panic only to the here and now, look ahead, 6 to 18 months in the future, and decide:

  • What skills your people have today and what your organization will need
  • How to ensure you have an adequate supply of these skills and where to deploy them
  • Your succession plan for key leaders

Upon sober reflection of these needs, you probably will find that you can keep most of your workforce in place, and you will be ready to make clear decisions based on your data and forecasts. Additionally, doing a strategic workforce crisis plan will set you up for the future by seeing how you can maximize the productivity of the workforce you have. From this plan you will be in position to drive higher performance and workforce engagement, creating what I call “PEIP capability,” where PEIP = People Engagement, Innovation and Performance.

PEIP is a strategic capability that not only creates higher performance, it creates a more engaged workplace, which naturally leads to greater productivity. Who doesn’t want to work in an organization that wants to optimize employees and work with their skills and their career aspirations? A workplace that tries to align people to what they do best? An engaged workplace is a fun place to work, but it is also a competitive advantage. Some of the highest performing companies, such as Google, Microsoft, Accenture, IBM, and SAP, have implemented PEIP strategies to create competitive advantage, and this is reflected in their people engagement scores as well as share-price performance.

PEIP can also help future-proof your organization. New smart technologies and AI perme.ating the workplace create another opportunity for the workforce and the organization to align the right people with the right skills to harness new technology. This creates a “turbo-charging” effect, driving more engagement, innovation, and productivity, as well as return on investment on IT spend.   

We are at the fork in the road — once again. It’s a scary time, but rife with opportunity for companies that respond with foresight. We can do as we have done for decades before and continue the hire/fire binge, or we can step back and be more strategic and thoughtful in addressing the current crisis, while at the same time positioning our businesses to thrive in the future — whatever it brings.

Photo: Drew Beamer

New Research Indicates Desire for Recognition, Feedback

In the past several months, many companies have modified their performance programs. From streamlining their review processes to running more frequent pulse surveys, organizations around the world are seeking to make changes that will ultimately boost employee performance and productivity.

Our company, Reflektive, sought to measure these changes with a performance management survey. In June we reached out to 445 HR professionals and business leaders, and 622 employees, to understand the current state of their performance programs. We compared these results to a similar survey we ran in 2018. Our 2020 Performance Management Benchmark Report uncovered meaningful performance management trends over the past two years, as well as insights into the current state of work.

Formal Processes of Performance Management Consistent Since 2018

A surprising observation was that the formal processes of performance management have not changed significantly over the last two years. Nearly half of reviews are run annually or less frequently. Forty-six percent of respondents use descriptive performance ratings, such as “meets expectations.” 

People Analytics Present Big Opportunity

The survey also found that only 50% of HR and business leaders are using people analytics to predict performance and turnover. What’s interesting is that most leaders believe that people analytics has become more important, however they’re still not utilizing this technology to inform strategic people decisions. This gap can really impact workforce planning, as organizations struggle to fill needs when employees depart.

Employees Desire More Communication and Transparency from Companies

The employee survey results revealed that workers seek more communication to stay informed and engaged at work. Nearly half of respondents desire more consistent communication from leadership, and 37% said more consistent communication was needed from colleagues. 

In a similar vein, we found that employees sought more transparency from their employers. Only 19% of employees believed that their organization was transparent about upward mobility. Twenty-one percent said their company was communicative about salary freezes, and the same percentage said that their org was transparent about potential pay cuts. Employees are cognizant of the pandemic’s economic toll, and would like their companies to be honest with them about the business impact.

Employees Seek More Feedback and Coaching for their Growth

Another interesting insight we uncovered was that employees want more from their performance programs. Specifically, they’re looking for increased coaching, dialogue and recognition from their managers. Since 2018, there’s been a 3.2X increase in the percentage of employees that desire recognition. We also observed a nearly 90% increase in the percentage of employees that desire formal feedback conversations monthly or more frequently.

A performance bright spot was the manager-employee relationship. Over 80% of employees surveyed said that they are having 1:1s with their managers. Additionally, 80% said that these meetings were productive. This data was really uplifting to me, since driving alignment and communication can be tricky when everyone is working remotely.

However, we did identify a major communication gap: only 20% of employees reported that they receive weekly feedback. So it appears that managers and employees are talking regularly about ongoing work and projects, but employees still aren’t receiving the coaching that they desire. This represents a huge opportunity for managers — they can benefit from training on how to ask important questions, and how to provide valuable feedback on a more regular basis. Performance management technology — including feedback prompts and 1:1 tools — can help drive productive coaching conversations too.

Getting Feedback Remains Challenging for Employees

One interesting discrepancy between leaders and employees was sentiment around initiating feedback conversations. Only 14% of HR professionals and business leaders felt that employees weren’t empowered to initiate feedback conversations. However, 30% of employees — or over 2X the percentage of leaders — felt that they weren’t empowered to request feedback. This discrepancy indicates that HR teams and leaders are overestimating employee comfort with feedback processes. Employee training on giving and receiving feedback, and an easy-to-use feedback tool, can help fill this gap.

Executives and Employees Remain Optimistic for the Future

While sentiment and outlooks are continuously evolving in 2020, both executives and employees remain optimistic about the future. Specifically, executives anticipate more investment in technology (35% of respondents) and more efforts to boost engagement and retain employees (29% of respondents). 

Employees anticipate that six months from now, it will be business as usual (34% of respondents). Additionally, 26% expect to have learned new skills, and 25% believe they’ll feel proud of their accomplishments. Despite the many headwinds that they’re facing, employees feel that they will come out of 2020 stronger and more prepared for the future.

As employees, HR teams, and executives navigate the ever-changing environment, agility and resilience will be crucial. The ability to work productively in different environments, and collaborate cross-functionally, will be highly valued. Companies that maintain engaged and productive workforces will be the success stories of 2020.

This post is sponsored by Reflektive.

Photo: Christina @ wocintechchat.com

The Power of Check-Ins: 7 Proven Strategies

A large component of any work culture is how managers assess and review employee performance and chart progress. Given the remote and hybrid nature of so many workplaces today, the approach is evolving — from top-down, unilateral, formal reviews to more dynamic and continual conversations. We’re seeing an increasing need for transparency and authenticity, and for recognizing how important it is for managers to reach out to employees — not just around a series of tasks accomplished, but around overall contributions to the organization and their own sense of goals and performance. Check-ins enable managers and employees to do just that. They create a framework of interaction and communication through a continuous cycle, and are proving far more effective than traditional reviews. They’re becoming a hallmark of modern talent management, and for good reason. 

Done well, check-ins build a dynamic relationship between manager and employee that increases engagement, enhances employee experience, and organically aligns employee and employer goals. But they need to be conducted not as check-ups, but as two-way interactions focused on trust as well as growth. 

The Value of Trust

For those already doing them right, check-ins with employees are focused on growth, albeit in small doses. It’s not hard to connect a cadence of conversations that include feedback, advice and dialogue to the development of our employees after all. But trust is just as key: all successful relationships are built on trust, especially in today’s workplace. It’s human nature to reject feedback and advice from someone we don’t trust, and that extends readily into the workplace. Without trust, the check-in process would fail before it started.

As with any other HR strategy there are best practices for conducting check-ins, whether from home or the office. Recently I sat down with TalentCulture’s Meghan M. Biro to level-set on seven critical factors that can standardize your check-in strategy — without diminishing either responsiveness or flexibility:   

Approach: Check-ins are not about a top-down, unilateral approach. While the role of managers has always entailed authority and supervision, when it comes to check-ins, managers need to scale back that dynamic. 

Replace the reflex to be assertive with a focus on the employee. Truly understand what makes them tick; this means listening to their thoughts, opinions and concerns and acting on them. Research by the Harvard Business Review shows that the more you listen to employees, the better they think you are at giving feedback, and so the more likely they are to trust what you say. 

Purpose: Check-ins embody a shift in purpose. They depart from the static occasion of traditional reviews to setting up a highly effective and ongoing dynamic geared to building trust and fostering growth. 

Dave Ulrich articulated the shift in his book, Victory Through Organization: “The foundational assumption is that feedback is not a leader’s side-responsibility; it is the leader’s primary work.” Instead of thinking of a check-in as an isolated moment or a mini-performance review, consider it a touchpoint on the employee lifecycle; an interaction that’s part of an ongoing conversation. 

Frequency: Establish a cadence of check-ins that adapts to the circumstance, the context, and the nature of your work culture. Pre-COVID, our advice was to conduct check-ins around every 4 to 6 weeks. But these are uncertain times — and they call for increased communication that’s aligned and consistent with the organizational message, culture and values. The bottom line is that you can’t overcommunicate. 

Your check-ins can take various forms, from a regular update focused on clarification and feedback; to a more comprehensive appraisal of performance (emphasizing personal development and employee contribution); to a marker of key events, such as onboarding, a promotion, a secondment, or even the shift to remote. But don’t do away with ad-hoc check-ins either. Employees and managers should be able to simply initiate a check-in regardless of whether it’s on the calendar. 

Approachability: Both parties should remain open and responsive within the context of a check-in. But that hinges on successfully building that foundation of trust: trust must be in place first in order for both parties to commit effectively. For managers, that means creating a sense of trust in the first place. Two simple ways to build trust: first, make it clear that either the manager or the employee is free to request a check-in at any time, for any reason — whether a formal discussion or a quick catch up. Second, whatever is covered, make it a conversation, in which you combine a review of tasks with questions about overall state of mind, and give the employee plenty of room to answer. Listening to your team members reinforces the fact that check-ins are not an exercise in powerplay, but on the contrary, a forum for two adults to meet on equal terms. 

In my discussion with Meghan, she pointed out the value of flattening the expected hierarchy: “For employees who may be used to taking a passive role in their own professional development, check-ins change the game. Instead of receiving advice and feedback, they get to play a lead role in assessing and guiding their own development.” This means it’s incumbent upon employees to not just discuss how the work is going, but also focus on the direction they want to be heading in, and the skills they need to get there.This dynamic empowers employees, strengthening their performance and loyalty. 

Addressing the whole person: The manager needs to continually remind themselves that the check-in is not just about the job at hand. It’s not about a singular project. It needs to happen with an eye on the bigger picture, and the employee as a whole person, particularly right now. As well as addressing an employee’s performance and contributions, use the check-in time to reinforce a sense of social connection and foster the essential relationships we all need and depend on to work. 

Go beyond this, addressing any safety concerns the employee may have, which are so common as we navigate the minefield of COVID-19. Discuss the future in terms of a trajectory, not a fixed point, including what kinds of skills and behaviors need to be developed and supported. And use deeper questions to address aspects of wellness and health. Employers have a duty of care, and the more we all experience the integration of work and life, the more check-ins can play a helpful role.

Language: This is not just a matter of tone; it’s also a matter of clarity. Managers in particular need to focus on how to clarify and improve their language during check-ins, and be accountable for what you say as well as how to say it. What’s come to the fore during the shift to remote as well as the increased pressure on essential workers is that we need interactions that convey a clear perception of what is expected and how we are performing. 

That should seem a simple matter, but the nature of remote and hybrid working is that we’re communicating across multiple channels that may not deliver the same way as face to face. As Meghan pointed out, “Tone and language are more important than ever, and they’re harder to get right when we’re working virtually.” Managers should purposefully practice conducting check-ins until they’re comfortable enough that the action becomes a habit. 

Measuring the change: Effective check-ins offer two dimensions of measurable  impact over time. There’s the personal impact, or developmental path, and a business impact, or performance/contribution. Managers and leaders have a duty to effectively enable the workforce to achieve a high-high combination, in which both aspects see growth:

We’re been witnessing a sea change in how we work for a while. We’ve seen a shift to teams as the essential unit of operations, as opposed to individuals collected under a supervisor. We’ve seen a new emphasis on democratizing data. Further, there’s been a marked increase in the ability to work remotely. All have raised the bar on what constitutes a great work culture. The situation we find ourselves in now has put the onus on better communication overall, including how we provide feedback to employees, and even whether or not “providing” is the right term. We’re seeing the fruits of allowing both parties to be actively involved in feedback and reviews, and we’re seeing the benefits of grounding these conversations in trust and framing them as a continuing cycle rather than a rare event. 

Check-ins are a powerfully effective tool for inviting employees to own their own growth and contribution in your organization. They provide a means to build and maintain better manager-employee relationships, align around shared goals, and turn the workplace into a high-performing, engaged community.

This post is sponsored by MHR International.

Photo: Tumisu

Recruit Top Talent With Tuition Assistance Programs

What do Apple, Disney, Verizon, Google, and Starbucks have in common? They’re all multi-billion dollar companies, and they all offer tuition reimbursement to their employees. And they’re showing that a company benefits by paying fees for their employees’ education. Tuition assistance is a win for both employers and employees.

A Growing Trend in Employee Benefits

Tuition assistance programs are a type of employee benefits in which the employer pays for a predetermined amount of continuing education costs for their employees. Assistance may come in the form of reimbursements for tuition, fees, and books.

Some employers may opt to cover the full cost associated with the education, while others may choose to pay a portion. Some might pay upfront; others per course/semester.

To protect themselves from employees taking advantage of the program and leaving the company, employers take various measures, such as requiring the beneficiaries of the program to remain in the company for a specified time — or be required to reimburse the company for part of the fees paid on their behalf.

The Benefit for Companies

As skilled talent becomes harder to find, many companies are looking to grow from within. As of 2018, 85% of US employers surveyed were offering tuition assistance to some or all employees, according to a study by WorldatWork. Here’s what companies gain:

1. Reduced Tax Burden

Companies with tuition assistance policies for their employees can benefit from tax breaks. That’s because money spent on paying employee education expenses is tax-deductible if it meets the IRS requirements.

Under section 127 of the Internal Revenue Code, an employer can deduct up to $5,250 per year for each employee that qualifies and participates in the employer’s education assistance plan.

With the US government facilitating the implementation and adoption of tuition assistance programs, there is no reason for an organization not to take advantage of this opportunity.   

2. Free Part-time Work (Depending on a Company’s Tuition Assistance Policy)

Besides the tax break, companies can also get free part-time work and increased brand awareness by offering tuition reimbursement.

For example, Finnegan, a Washington-based law firm that specializes in intellectual property law has an attractive reimbursement program that covers 100% of employee’s tuition fees.

To qualify for the program, staffers must work as “student associates” while they attend law school. This program is a win-win for all; the company gets part-time work from the student and the student gets free tuition. What’s not to like, especially if you’re going to a top law school like Harvard on someone else’s dime.

According to BLS, lawyers make $122,960 on average but can expect to pay anywhere from $12,000 to $70,000 for the LLM (Master of Law) program. But with a tuition reimbursement program, like the one for Finnegan, the cost can be reduced to nil.

3. Help Businesses Attract Top Talent

It’s no secret that every company wants to attract, recruit, and retain top talents.

To achieve this, many companies offer attractive benefits and perks. Some will opt for vacation days, others gym membership, and a few will stick to industry-standard salaries.

But when you look at the various generational cohorts in the workplace (Gen X, millennials, and Gen Z), you may come to realize that you’re not giving your employees what they actually want. For instance, millennials comprise a majority of the American workforce.

That means for a business to have the people it needs, it may need to fish from the millennials pond. And to attract and retain millennials, you’ll want to give them what motivates them most. And that is, you guessed right: tuition reimbursement.

Don’t take our word for it. In a recent Gallup’s survey on ‘The State of the American Workforce,’ 45% of millennials said they would change their current jobs for one that offers tuition reimbursement. By comparison, 24% of baby boomers and Gen Xers said they won’t change jobs on the basis of tuition reimbursement alone.

4. Helps Employers Reduce Turnover

Offering tuition assistance helps to reduce employee turnover and the associated costs.

And there is no better example to bring this point home than the case of Cigna, which was published by the Lumina Foundation.

From 2012 to 2014, Cigna Corporation invested millions of dollars in tuition assistance through its Education Reimbursement Program (ERP). By the end of 2014, ERP resulted in a staggering 129% increase in ROI as a result of the avoided talent management and recruitment costs.

When a company invests in its employees’ development and success, the employees feel obliged to reciprocate by helping the company grow. In a nutshell, a tuition reimbursement program fosters a sense of loyalty between the employee and the employer.

Wrapping Up

Tuition assistance provides an effective way for employers to nurture their employees’ skills through continuing education programs. 

But as businesses and schools around the world cancel physical meetings in response to COVID-19, in-class learning is emerging as one of the hardest-hit activities. However, businesses can’t afford to put capability building on hold. 

To foster employee development in the midst of COVID-19, employers can encourage their employees to do remote learning by offering tuition reimbursement programs. With remote learning, completions can be done from any location, and what better time than now when employees can’t do their normal jobs?

Photo: Ricardo Resende

Is Diversity Baked Into Your Hiring Process?

A few years ago, we were asked to help a market leader that was intent on changing its culture to be more creative and innovative. (Sound familiar?) The company was spending a million dollars on messaging and elaborate company meetings to help “get the word out” and create excitement for this new, transformative initiative.

But even as its leaders spoke eloquently about the need for change — even hiring a guru to guide their efforts — few process changes were made, and they were hesitant to reconsider the kind of people they hired. They talked of needing people who were “cultural fits” even as they held meetings in which they touted the need for cultural change and disruption.

Why traditional hiring practices backfire

The company’s hiring practices were similar to those we see in most organizations, perhaps even your own. After candidates were identified, an internal team of “high performers,” along with HR representatives, reviewed the applicants’ résumés to ensure they had the requisite experience. Unfortunately, this meant most applicant experiences were similar. The unintended result? A candidate pool with little experiential diversity.

But it didn’t end there. After “qualified” candidates interviewed with the hiring teams, they were ranked by the group. If any members of the hiring team had a concern about a person, those concerns were noted. Strong objections by a couple of group members, as a practical matter, were enough to give a candidate the boot.

Predictably, the least objectionable candidate — who typically looked, acted, and thought like other members of the group — became the team’s preferred choice.

If we want change, we need to expect challenges

When we asked the hiring team how the hiring process supported a culture of innovation, team members told us that their hiring criteria included experience in helping organizations change.

Pushing back, we asked the team to consider which types of people would contribute different and creative ideas. What employee characteristics would help the organization change? For instance, had they valued people who were:

  • Diverse in race, ethnicity, and background?
  • Rarely satisfied with the status quo?
  • Impatient and not always willing to take “no” for an answer without significant debate?
  • Disruptive, at times disagreeable, and willing to question authority?
  • Not easily managed?
  • At times, slow and hesitant to make decisions based on what was done last year? (Creativity takes time.)
  • Unwilling to go along just to get along?

 Their response neatly framed their hiring challenges:

“Why would we hire someone who is hard to manage, never satisfied, and always questioning what we do? We’re pretty good here, you know. If we hired people who we knew would consistently challenge what we learned yesterday, we’d never get anything done.”

We say we want change, but do we?

Yes, we say we want to change. We say we want creativity. We say we need diversity, but do we honestly believe it?

The truth is, even if we’re committed to recruiting more diverse teams, we’re often painfully unaware of how our hiring processes give preference to people who are more like us. As a result, we often allow the long-term effects of our biases, knowingly or unknowingly, to be hidden in our collective consciousness, in our culture. Over time, groups that cling to such processes tend to become more homogeneous, not less.

Even when we manage to hire authentically diverse teams — composed of different backgrounds, races, genders, ages, perspectives, and beliefs — we expect everyone to come together in a fabled “kumbaya” moment.

True diversity begins with intention

Recruiting a more diverse and successful team begins with intention. The kind of intention that’s required is more than a desire or wish. It’s a conscious, mindful choice based on a belief that diversity is critical to the team’s success. It requires that we create processes that are built for diversity. Our preference for people who look and think and act like us is strong and can only be overcome with a structured commitment to embrace people who often make us uncomfortable.

So, where should we start? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Start early. It’s easier to become diverse before biases have become ingrained in our hiring practices.
  2. Be clear on the type of people you hope to hire. Do they share your values? Are they competent? Good thinkers? Willing to change? Ready to speak truth to power? Confident? Good leaders? Having clarity is a necessary first step to building a successful hiring process.
  3. Recruit blindly. Superficial aspects of a person’s bio often outweigh an applicant’s talent or potential. The fix? Implement a blind submissions process — stripping away names, ages, and gender. Create a process in which people cannot “see” the applicants when initially judging their competence.
  4. Put more diversity, of all types, on your hiring team. The research on this is clear: a diverse hiring team will recruit more diverse members.
  5. Expand your personal and professional networks. Our personal preferences are affected by our experiences. For example, research shows that fathers with daughters are more likely to hire women. Having more experience with an unrepresented group makes their inclusion more likely.
  6. Confront bias when you see it. When we tolerate bias, we teach that it’s acceptable.

Learning to appreciate our differences — and to embrace diversity — is what ultimately fuels an organization’s competitive advantage. Only when people challenge us to think and act differently can we create the remarkable. So, let’s get to it.

Photo: Bethany Legg

Why You Should Recruit Introverts — and How

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

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

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

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

Consider How Introversion Impacts The Job

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Can You Attract Great Introvert Talent?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Photo: Aleks Marinkovic

#WorkTrends: Aligning Around Performance Management: New Findings

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

How, where, and when we work may have changed, but there still needs to be a way to manage performance. But do employees want that right now? Amid the uncertainty, the answer is yes. Employees are yearning for continuous feedback, according to a 2020 performance management benchmark report by Reflektive, which surveyed over 1,000 HR practitioners, business leaders, and employees. And the feedback process is bolstering the relationship between managers and employers. 

I invited Jennifer Toton, Chief Marketing Officer at Reflektive to #WorkTrends to shed light on this benchmark study and dig into some of the trends it reveals. But as Jennifer pointed out, what was surprising was what didn’t change. The formal process of performance management and the number of reviews are still intact, but the way we give and receive feedback has really evolved. “We saw a 90% increase in employees who want more formal feedback conversations on a monthly or more frequent basis.”  

Also compelling, to me, is that even in these times, employees have retained a sense of optimism. Many believe that six months from the time of the survey, business will remain as usual. A quarter believed they would learn more skills. Another quarter said they would feel proud of the work they accomplished, and about a fifth said that they will feel more productive. “Our employees are resilient and they’re adapting to the change,” added Jennifer. 

Much is up to the managers, though. They must be transparent in their communication, said Jennifer, particularly around salary freezes and pay cuts, as honesty feeds trust. In addition, 80% of employees said they were having regular meetings with their managers, and that they found the format was not only positive, but productive. 

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

 Twitter Chat Questions
Q1: Why do organizations struggle with performance management? #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can help improve performance management? #WorkTrends
Q3: How can leaders refocus performance management for better results?  #WorkTrends

Find Jennifer Toton on Linkedin and Twitter

This podcast is sponsored by Reflektive.

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

Photo: Bill Oxford

5 Ways To Foster Belonging At Work

What’s the worst thing an employee can say on any given day? How about, “I don’t belong here?” The schism that takes place when an employee doesn’t feel connected with the work culture can have wide-ranging impacts across engagement, performance, team dynamics and the bottom line. Companies need to ensure they cultivate a workplace where employees feel a sense of belonging, whether that workplace is in-office or remote. As much as we talk about the power of employee experience and the dynamics of employee engagement, we first have to address the primary need to belong. That sense of true connection is the foundation for how we feel about work — and indeed, how we work.

I’ve been having some really insightful conversations with Iain Moffat, Chief Global Officer of MHR International, about belonging. It feels right for the times we’re in right now. Some employees have been rapidly sprung out of the tangible community of the workplace and are now working from home. And some workforces are still in the physical workplace, but under increasing pressure as we continue to endure the pandemic and its fallout. But building a sense of belonging isn’t just a fix for now. It’s a powerful talent strategy that has long-term outcomes.

Iain and I agreed that building a sense of belonging needs to be part of any serious endeavor to build an exceptional work culture. We also both noted that while some organizations are surprised by how comfortable employees are working from home, it may be, ironically, because they’re home. So how can businesses provide employees with that same sense of being in the right place?

First, five key points on belonging and businesses:

  • Given the push-pull of working from home or working through the turbulence and challenges of COVID-19, belonging bolsters our realization that we’re in it together, no matter where we are. It’s been linked to improved retention and a far more successful employer brand. Employees who feel like they belong tend to invite others to experience that as well. 
  • We all need to feel like we belong — and when we do, there’s a marked increase in our engagement, overall happiness and health. In that sense, belonging is a benefit that should be part of the employer’s offering to employees: working with us, you will feel like you belong, and we will be intentional about that. 
  • In our consumer-driven society, belonging is more than just a feel-good. It’s a strong driver of brand alignment. When we feel comfortable with a brand, we tend to stay with it. We feel like it speaks to our values, our sensibilities. That loyalty easily translates into the workplace context: employees want to stay with their employer because they believe in the brand and are comfortable with its values and purpose. 
  • Belonging isn’t just a social component. It should be seen as a business strategy that considers and addresses the real needs of your employees in terms of safety, career growth, feeling a part of a work community, and balancing work and life.
  • A culture of belonging doesn’t aim to homogenize everyone into a shared identity, but rather fosters diversity and inclusion as a way of improving and enhancing a shared culture. There’s a big difference. You don’t need to steamroll over differences to find the common ground, particularly in the workplace.

Marshmallows, Spaghetti, and Teamwork   

That said, what does a culture of belonging look like? Iain provided a telling example of the complex dynamics of belonging in action: the marshmallow challenge, originally created by Peter Skillman — and the subject of a great TED Talk by Tom Wujec. In this collaborative training exercise, teams of four have a fixed amount of time to build a tower out of spaghetti and tape that can support a marshmallow. The team with the highest tower wins.

“What’s interesting about the challenge is the pattern of consistently high-performing and low-performing teams,” when you compare kindergarteners and business school graduates, he said. What I found interesting as well is that in general, the five-year-olds outdid the business school grads. 

The children walked into the challenge with no training or preconceived notion of how to work together. So they just did — “in short bursts of collaborative effort, prototyping to find the best solution,” as Iain described. “They have no pre-fixed view of how they should act in the group and no hierarchy. Instead, they just focused on how to solve the problem.” They worked inclusively, unconcerned with status or protocols. 

 But the business school grads got hung up on who would be in charge, wasting valuable time jockeying for position. “They acted in a way they think they should behave given their lengthy investment in an advanced education,” Iain said. “They focused on trying to come up with a single solution rather than collaborating, prototyping, trying and doing. They were held back by a set of assumptions of how they should behave.” Often they ran out of time, or built a tower that collapsed.

We’re not building spaghetti towers, to be sure. But we do tend to walk into work with a sense of hierarchy and how we’re supposed to behave. If, instead, we’re free to abandon our certain assumptions on status and protocols and just work together, we forge a new kind of teamwork that’s far more productive. A team in a culture of belonging can simply focus on the task and the output, and is comfortable enough to be open to each others’ ideas and relish the collaborative process. The overarching attitude is: “Let’s try it, if it doesn’t work, let’s try something else.” Without anyone in charge, there’s no agenda besides tackling the problem. Instead of being driven by ego, the team is driven by the energy of working together. Instead of feeling pressure to arrive at a perfect solution, the team has the freedom and confidence to prototype until they get it. 

Two factors changed the outcome for the business school grads, Iain said: “First, when someone with facilitation skills joined the business school graduates, they often performed better, as the group was organized around the task.” Second, “If the group received feedback on their performance, and had the time to reflect and then perform the task again, they outperformed by several hundred percent.” 

We have a remarkable opportunity right now to foster a sense of belonging within our workplaces. So many of us have taken the veneer off: we’re meeting from kitchens, we’re video conferencing with children in the background; we’re seeing each others’ lives. We’re seeing how important it is to protect employees working on the front lines or out in public, and how to include their perspectives in how we better safeguard our workforce. 

The climate of working during a pandemic has removed so many of the assumptions we bring into the workplace, and replaced them with a basic understanding that on a fundamental level we are people, working together. When you can build on that understanding by meeting one of our most fundamental needs — to feel that sense of belonging – it drives peace of mind, focus, productivity, collaboration and performance. In so doing, it fosters everyone’s success — that of the business, and that of its workforce. If you want to see how cohesive and collaborative your work culture really is, break out the spaghetti and the marshmallows. Then build on that until those towers are as high as they can be.

This post is sponsored by MHR International.

Photo: Jose Mizrahi

#WorkTrends: Building Trust In Uncertain Times

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

It’s safe to say uncertainty is universal these days. But how do we get past it and stay engaged in our work? Remember the T-word: trust. So I invited Iain Moffat, Chief Global Officer of MHR International, to #WorkTrends to share his best practices for building workplace trust during these uncertain times.

Iain said we need to be better listeners to be better communicators. And organizations really need to step up their game on this, and “address and communicate aspects around safety, the relationship, and the connected aspects of work,” he added. I wanted to know what else companies can do to enable their employees to trust them and feel trusted. 

Iain’s answer: make a conscious effort. Managers must regularly communicate, actively listen, and continue to work through the kinks of being remote and virtual. You only learn by doing, so start now. Treat trust as a collaboration. 

Here’s another straightforward way to build trust between managers and employees:  invest time in really checking in. Don’t just run a checkup. Regular check-ins can help employees stay motivated. Plus, it’s an opportunity to tackle deeper questions about where your organization is heading and how that employee fits into it all. Creating this sense of belonging can even lead to better employee performance. And besides, it makes everyone feel better.

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

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why do organizations struggle with building trust? #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can boost trust and a sense of belonging remotely? #WorkTrends
Q3: How can leaders overcome uncertainty and promote a sense of trust? #WorkTrends

Find Iain Moffat on Linkedin and Twitter

This podcast is sponsored by MHR International.

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