Trending in 2020: The (Somewhat) New Workplace

What does your workplace look like in 2020?

The workplace starting off this new decade is a whole different animal than the workplace was in 2010. The entire definition of the workplace and the nature of work has changed.  So have the expectations of employees.

Here’s what you and your team need to know about what 2020 means for your office: 

The Death of the Office… Kind Of

It’s official: the office is dead. The office your parents knew, that is.

2020 will build on a trend that’s been on the rise in 2018 and 2019. More employees rely on technology to do their jobs and keep up with their teams. This means that more employees know they can do their jobs from anywhere–and they’re not afraid to ask the boss for that benefit.

According to the Society for Human Resources Management, 69% of organizations allow their employees to work from home at least some of the time, and 27% of organizations allowed full-time remote work arrangements.

Technology is not the only driver behind this shift. Millennials, who have more debt than any generation in history, are increasingly leaving prohibitively expensive cities in favor of the suburbs where they can get more space for less (and the ability to work remotely is a major commuting benefit).

Plus, the highest-paying, most advanced jobs are concentrated in a small handful of expensive cities where the cost of living can chase out much of the talent pool. Remote work allows companies to stay competitive by broadening their talent base and attracting talent that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Somebody’s Watching You

Technology is behind the workplace monitoring trend. But this isn’t 1984, and Big Brother isn’t the one watching you — that would be your boss.

A survey by Gartner found that 22% of organizations worldwide are using employee movement data, 17% are monitoring workplace computer usage data, and 16% are using Microsoft Outlook or calendar-related data. An additional Gartner survey of 239 organizations found that 50% are now using non-traditional monitoring methods, such as analyzing employee emails and social media posts, gathering biometric data, examining who’s meeting with whom, and scrutinizing how employees use the workplace.

Based on this survey, Gartner predicts that 80% of companies will be using non-traditional methods in 2020.

That data is being used to make decisions about running the workplace. More than a quarter of employers have fired employees for misusing email, and nearly a third of employers have fired employees for misusing the Internet at work. On the other hand, workplace surveillance can benefit customers — take, for instance, hospital sensors that detect nurse hand-washing practices.

Employee Activism

But workplace surveillance isn’t holding employees back from pursuing what matters to them, even if it means speaking up against their own employer.

Half of all millennial employees have spoken out about employer actions about a controversial societal issue. The same Bloomberg study found that younger employees are more likely to be activists, though millennials are the biggest activist generation.

The past year has seen countless examples of employee activism, instigated by a sensational (and divisive) political climate. Hundreds of Wayfair employees walked out after learning that the company sold furniture to a Texas detention center for migrant children.

A Workplace That Stands for Something

This feeds into the millennial need to work for a purpose, not just money or a career.

A CNBC survey found that 69% of employees want to work for a company with clearly-stated values, and 35% stated that the most critical factor in their workplace happiness was the feeling that their work is meaningful. And these days, employees are willing to trade money for a purpose, with 9 in 10 employees stating that they would take a pay cut if it meant they could do meaningful work.

In fact, when employees were asked to rank what matters most to them in their work, money was a distant second to workplace purpose.

The Changing Definition of Benefits

That said, employees (especially millennials) won’t turn their nose up at decent benefits.

Millennials are the job-hopping generation, with half of all millennials (compared to 60% of all non-millennials), stating that they plan to be working at a different company than their current one by next year. In short, millennials don’t see a long-term future with their companies, and the jobs they take don’t tend to last more than a few years.

But for the few years that you do have your employees, they want that time to be worth their while. Younger workers are pushing back against the idea of work as a constant obsession. More of them demand increasing flexibility and benefits that reflect it, such as more paid leave after having a baby, the ability to work remotely, or allowances for breaks during the day.

The End of the Corporate Ladder

In addition, younger workers no longer think of the corporate ladder the same way their parents do. If anything, the corporate ladder doesn’t exist.

After all, why take the corporate ladder when you could take the elevator?

Younger workers are highly motivated and eager to make an impact, and they don’t want to wait for their turn. They want to move at their own pace. This means that more young workers are starting their own companies or working on their own projects rather than viewing the corporate ladder as an aspiration.

They also don’t see the value in trying to scale the wrong wall. Millennials are willing to be workaholics, but they’ve learned their lesson from the Baby Boomers–they won’t be workaholics unless success is guaranteed.

Also, young workers who grew up in the Great Recession aren’t afraid to scrap and start over, as they’re all too aware that a stable income and a good job are more fragile than they seem. Instead of putting all their eggs in one basket, they’re willing to keep trying until they find the right fit, and they’re more willing to work parallel jobs at the same time.

Take Charge of Workplace Trends for 2020

The workplace trends of 2020 will change the way your office operates —and that can be to your office’s benefit if you’re prepared to take advantage of it. Keep these trends in mind to ensure that your workplace can attract (and keep) the best talent on the market.

Photo by Proxyclick from Unsplash.


4 Tips for Small Businesses to Retain Top Talent

While record-low unemployment numbers and continuing job growth are a net gain in anyone’s book, there is a downside: The tight labor market makes it that much more difficult for businesses of any size to hire the right employees, let alone keep them. This is especially true with brands that may not have the resources to attract high-quality applicants.

While a large company may continue unabated even while losing hundreds or thousands of employees, losing a single key individual could cripple your small business, so keeping your employees is crucial to your future. Offering a competitive salary is part of the picture, but money isn’t everything. The truth is that small businesses can use strategies and techniques that probably won’t work within large companies.

Are you concerned about keeping your valuable employees? Here are four employee retention strategies that make sense for small businesses.

Flexible Scheduling

One of the easiest perks you can offer to employees is a flexible schedule. Everyone is busy, and many of us struggle to fit school, family and other responsibilities around jobs. By allowing employees to fit their work schedule into their lives, you help them create a work-life balance that ultimately leads to increased job satisfaction and higher productivity.

Skill Building

Good employees already have the skills they need to do their jobs. The best employees continually build on their skills. These employees are well-positioned to step into leadership roles and ensure a healthy future for your business. Whether you subsidize your employees’ education or bring in experts for on-the-job training, the result will be a more capable, more productive workplace.

Make It Rain

Every employee is a crucial part of success in a small business. When your employees go above and beyond to take your business to the next level, they deserve a reward. A profit-sharing arrangement is a great way to accomplish this.

By tying employees’ bonuses to the performance of your business, you’re giving them the motivation they need to excel. You’ll also foster their sense of loyalty and improve your long-term prospects.

Everyone Is Different

Your employees are all individuals. They each have different motivations and priorities, so the approach that works for one employee may not work for another. As a small-business owner, you’re free to address every employee’s needs individually and come up with a plan that makes everyone happy.

These strategies can be summed up in one phrase: “Listen to the people who work for you.” No large business can match the individualized attention that small-business owners can give to their employees. If the requests are reasonable, you can accommodate them. If you want loyal, hard-working employees, show it by going the extra mile for them.

#WorkTrends: Recruiting + Retention = True Love

You know who’s perfect for each other? Recruiting and retention.

So what’s been taking them so long?

It’s February and love is in the air, so it’s time to finally get these two together. In this week’s episode we turn to Ankit Somani, co-founder of end-to-end AI HR recruiter AllyO, to find out how technology is helping to get the love affair going. We’re also joined by Jeanne Meister from Future Workplace, who tells us even more about how we can better connect the recruiting experience with the employee experience.

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

They’re Perfect for Each Other

The traditional recruiting-and-retention model splits the two into separate functions. Somani says this is ridiculous. “From a candidate perspective, it doesn’t make sense,” he says. Because organizations have siloed the two apart from each other, companies are actually costing themselves money and time, and it’s difficult to carry over the relationships, data and human capital from recruiting to retention, he says.

But it’s easy to have a smooth transition — just don’t have one at all. Somani says the new recruiting function must become “hiring plus retention.” That means having the same person who is in charge of recruiting an employee also be in charge of training, especially in those critical first few days. Not only does this ensure familiarity, it also creates a trust that helps a new hire transition into the organization.

And it creates equity with a new hire too. “People these days want to work for companies that really care about them,” Somani says. A more streamlined recruiting-and-retention process is a big step toward showing that you care about an employee’s development in your organization.

Use Technology to Help Seal the Deal

Of course, it’s 2019. Our matchmakers aren’t always human. Outside the workplace we use Tinder, and in HR we use artificial intelligence.

AllyO has been assisting companies with their AI technology to marry recruiting and retention, and Somani talked about the company’s experience with the restaurant chain Maggiano’s Little Italy. The chain’s recruitment team was severely understaffed, so it turned to AllyO’s system to help with recruiting. “AllyO became the single source for 80 percent of applicants going through the system,” Somani says. This means applicants were chatting with AllyO from the moment they considered the job to the moment they were hired.

However, the chain was also having issues with retention. Using AllyO’s software, it instituted mandatory new-hire check-ins throughout the first 90 days of employment. Maggiano’s was able to use its findings to improve its training practices and its retention rates.

Another benefit of this new kind of matchmaker is that because of their familiarity with AllyO and its processes, employees were comfortable providing feedback. “Employees are responding to AllyO 50 percent more than they would have responded if we had reached out to them cold,” Somani says.

A Tech Reminder

Somani also offered the reminder that no matter how enamored you may be with your shiny new tech tools for HR, remember that a chatbot isn’t the way to convince someone to take a job. “Bots don’t do that, and that’s where recruiters need to bring in that human element,” Somani says. The automated tools at your disposal are just there to ensure a better, more consistent candidate experience. Ultimately it’s on you, the recruiter, to play matchmaker between candidate and company — and to make sure the marriage is one to brag about.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

This episode is sponsored by AllyO.

Yes, Your Employees Are Probably Looking for Other Jobs. Stop Trying to Fight It.

With low unemployment and growing demand for talent, it’s absolutely a job seeker’s market out there right now.

A survey last year found that 82 percent of workers were open to new employment opportunities, and Gallup data from 2015 and 2016 indicated that half of all employees in the U.S. were actively seeking new jobs. The ongoing talent crunch means a huge percentage of job applicants are actively employed at other companies.

So how do you keep your talent from leaving? For starters, by knowing that cracking down on job seekers within your company isn’t going to help. Smart organizations are focusing more on retaining talent than on hindering their workers’ ability to search for other jobs.

Last month, I wrote in my column on Forbes that you should probably stop worrying so much about retention. Let’s take it a step further — here’s my advice for how to stop panicking about retention and start focusing on what matters.

Focus on Incentives and Culture to Retain Talent

All the data shows that companies that demonstrate they believe in the professional and personal growth of their employees are much more likely to attract and retain top talent.

One of the easiest and most effective ways to do this is by clearly celebrating each and every accomplishment and achievement by employees. It’s also quite important that employees and managers remain in close contact on accomplishments, which also means having clearly established goals and milestones. Generating accurate data on employees hitting their target goals and also showing the trajectory of their performance and improvements is always helpful.

And companies should offer as much training as possible, particularly beyond employees’ current job description. Work with employees on their current and stretch goals, offering guidance about next steps.

If an employee can continue to grow by staying within the company, that’s great. But if they can’t, don’t try to maneuver the situation so they’re afraid to leave. Instead make sure they leave on good terms and know they always will have a home in your organization.

They may return sooner than you think — either as a boomerang employee or an independent contractor. Employers can’t afford to burn bridges any more than employees can.

Don’t Try to Stop Employees from Interviewing with Other Companies

I was asked recently — by someone who expected me to say what a good idea this was — if they could request that their employees not interview with another firm.

Here’s the truth: It’s a terrible idea to make such a request. Instead, I strongly suggest you invite your employees to interview with other firms. It’s a remarkable incentive for employees to stay, actually. If you encourage them to explore their free will and free choice, you’re sending a message that:

  • You’re confident enough as a company to be compared with others.
  • You’re confident enough as an employer to know you can replace an employee.
  • You’re confident enough in that employee to give them the privilege of making up their own mind.

Given the statistics, it’s highly likely employees will be interviewing. You might as well make it a part of your non-restrictive management policy to recognize that change and growth — even out the door — is inevitable. Make it clear that an employee’s career growth is considered a win for the company, even if the employee grows right out of the organization.

This comes with one important caveat. Encouraging employees to interview with other companies can be done by a brand that has plenty of confidence, as well as stellar compensation and benefits packages. A company that’s trying to hold on to its employees by the fingernails should probably steer clear of this approach.

There’s No Point in Blocking Job Portals in the Office

People look for work and jobs 24/7, and, yes, that probably means in your office. But there’s not much you can, or should, do about it. Even if you did “lock out” job portals on your organization’s PCs, intranet or network, some employees will find a way.

Glassdoor statistics from 2015 indicated that 45 percent of job seekers used mobile devices to search for jobs at least once every day. Unless you’re going to act like a grade-school teacher and confiscate mobile devices, it’s going to be nearly impossible to prevent a sneak peek at a job portal. Plus, such rules smack of retrogressive management policies and are begging to be broken. For example, what, exactly, should be the consequences for breaking such a rule?

Instead, trust your workers and show confidence in them and the strength of your organization. The reality is that job boards and portals can be random and overwhelming, and many employees are smart enough to take a personal day to focus only on job hunting.

There’s no doubt that today’s workforce landscape is challenging for organizations of all types. But accepting this reality as it truly is and focusing your resources on what matters most to employees will help you retain more talent over the long run.

How to Nurture Your High-Potential Employees

With 6 million job openings and about half of U.S. employees contemplating a job change, the hiring market seems straightforward. But before launching a broad search for candidates, take an objective look to evaluate how well your company leverages its internal talent pool.

Promoting from within has obvious advantages. For one thing, internal candidates know the organization and have a proven performance record. This means they can hit the ground running because of their familiarity with the company culture and the relationships they’ve built.

Filling a job with a high-potential internal candidate is also typically faster and more cost-effective. Beyond the efficiencies related to onboarding and training, there’s an overall cost consideration. A study by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School says external hires in the investment banking industry earned up to 20 percent more than employees who were promoted to a comparable position. However, the performance of the promoted candidates significantly outpaced that of external hires in their first 24 months on the job.

Even though this is widely accepted as a best practice, it’s harder to implement on the ground. The reality is that many companies put more emphasis on managing attrition than on improving retention. As a consequence, your ambitious high-potential employees may look elsewhere for their next challenge. In fact, research by the Corporate Executive Board found that 1 in 4 high-potential employees plan to leave their company within a year. By actively cultivating these valuable employees and accelerating their development, you will enhance employee motivation and engagement.

A Culture of Cultivation

Creating a high-potential talent pool is not a one-and-done event. Rather, it’s an ongoing endeavor that requires a strong partnership between executives and HR. A successful high-potential program operates both cyclically and periodically as an integrated part of company culture, with internal mobility, mentorship and development at its core.

If your company already has an established program, build in regular opportunities to revisit and refresh the high-potential employee success profile. Organizational goals evolve quickly in a dynamic marketplace, and high-potential talent profiles must stay current to remain valuable.

When mobility is woven into the culture, companies establish clear paths for employees and recruiters alike. Along with strategic identification and development of high-potential employees, some organizations go a step further to discover capabilities and build crossover skills. Other companies offer programs to help employees broaden their experience through job rotations across different departments.

5 Steps to Build Your Program

Establishing a culture of hiring from within requires a strategic commitment to nurture your high-potential employees. These five considerations will help you successfully cultivate your talent pipeline.

Develop a Forward-Looking Profile

Before you develop assessments to identify high-potential employees, step back and refine your definitions. What are the critical roles within the company today? How will those roles change in the years ahead? What skills and capabilities will be required? The answers to these questions set the foundation for developing a profile of the capabilities required for future success.

Build on this profile by looking beyond your company’s current needs. What you need are employees who will meet and exceed the skills the company needs in the future through a combination of leadership development programs, focused mentoring and coaching, and stretch assignments.

Establish Meaningful Metrics

Once you have a profile of the necessary capabilities, build an assessment process to objectively evaluate and identify talent. Consider assessing drive, people skills and abilities. Your profile will serve as the guide on what to measure. Just be certain to do it in an objective, reliable and contextually relevant manner that reflects the organization’s needs. Most importantly, keep it data-driven by utilizing analytic tools to minimize bias and document your findings for later use.

Narrow the Field

It’s easy to get excited and identify as many high-potential employees as you can, but trying to cultivate too many employees at once is a mistake. Instead of casting the widest net possible, use a two-level screening process to home in on a small, critical group of employees who are truly differentiated from the rest.

While the exact number will vary by the organization’s needs, aim for 2 to 10 percent of employees. In many cases a smaller number makes sense. This way, talent leaders, mentors and sponsors will have more time and energy to spend accelerating the development of the best of the best.

Map a Leadership Development Journey

Nurturing high-potential employees starts with identifying individual needs and potential sponsors. Align each person with a sponsor who can help her navigate the organization and challenge her along her developmental journey. In effect, the sponsor becomes a champion for the individual, ensuring the person is part of the right projects, builds relationships with a range of people and takes on stretch assignments. Secondly, identify developmental needs and goals for each high-potential employee and support each of them in building his or her own development plan. The plan most likely will include very individualized experiences as well as more systemic or cohort-based opportunities.

The primary objective of customized leadership development journeys is to prepare employees to take on their next roles. But no two people’s experiences and career paths are the same. Recognize this by getting creative when it comes to development. Help employees take full advantage of training options, and identify lateral or atypical skill-building career moves.

Take a Cyclical Approach

The essential element for establishing a successful high-potential employee program is ongoing attention, not annual reviews. Build in multiple checkpoints throughout the year to track both employee and program progress. In addition, keep refreshing the high-potential pool by repeating the screening and evaluation process regularly.

When you nurture high-potential employees in these ways, the company gains more than just a valuable resource for filling open positions. You’re also giving your best and brightest employees a chance to see their futures with you.

How Manufacturers Are Evolving to Recruit and Engage New Talent

While smart companies of all types are investing more resources in worker engagement and development than ever, many manufacturers remain a step behind. In fact, Lisa Ryan, an employee engagement and retention expert with a background in the manufacturing and welding industries, says she still encounters manufacturers who are skeptical about the value of these worker-friendly concepts.

“In some places there is this mentality of, ‘The guys come to work, why should I thank them for doing their job?’ — but I’m seeing a slow change,” Ryan says. “It’s starting, but it’s not as fast as other industries. You can connect with people on a human level instead of just another employee ID number.”

This new approach across manufacturing is being driven by a dire labor shortage — created by the U.S. manufacturing renaissance, rapid technological advances and retiring baby boomers — that is projected to grow in the coming years. “If your company is stuck in an old, calcified way of doing business, you’re going to have a hard time finding and keeping younger workers,” Ryan says.

Failing to recruit and retain young talent could be fatal for manufacturers, who are already staring down a potential shortage of 2.4 million workers over the next decade, according to research from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute. The same report found that a record 89 percent of executives agree there is already a talent shortage in the U.S. manufacturing sector, with firms struggling to find skilled labor to operate emerging technologies.

We asked a number of experts how the manufacturing sector is evolving to recruit and retain top talent. Here’s what they shared.

Changing Perceptions and Approaches

Khris Bhattan, president of RTG Solutions Group, which consults for the manufacturing sector, says one of the biggest drivers of recruitment and engagement strategy in the sector is the changing physical work environment, which in most cases has moved far beyond the stereotype of the gloomy factory floor.

“Manufacturers have become very aware of this negative stigma and have made significant investments in the manufacturing workspace to reverse it,” Bhattan says. “Investments in the workspace include not just the physical space but also the tools, equipment and safety protocols that are part of the workspace.”

Ryan agrees that a stigma of factory workplaces lingers with many job seekers, but she says companies can overcome it with recruiting pitches that focus more on the importance of technology in manufacturing. She says companies also need to drive home that automation and robotics are expected to create more jobs in the sector than they replace.

“On one hand, yes, it’s replacing workers,” she says. “Yet on the other hand, we’re looking for a different breed of talent and people that understand technology, like technology and want to use it in the manufacturing environment.”

Skills Gap Requires Creative Recruiting

Carlos Castelán, managing director and founder of The Navio Group, an HR/business consulting firm that works with companies to improve workplace engagement and productivity, says HR professionals in manufacturing organizations need to adjust to compete for the best and brightest.

“HR teams should think about different ways to meet the company’s goals, be it rethinking traditional employment and engaging on-demand talent solutions or adjusting pay on job offers to attract top talent in these areas,” he says. “More than ever HR plays a critical role in achieving a manufacturing company’s strategic objectives and long-term vision.”

Saint-Gobain, one of the world’s largest building materials companies and manufacturer of innovative material solutions, is taking innovative approaches to address the talent shortage, particularly when it comes to locations in rural areas. The company is looking beyond the geography of a job and touting positions in which people can design a career, “invent themselves and reshape the world,” says Valerie Gervais, the company’s senior vice president of human resources.

“We’re attracting talent in rural areas by rolling out pilot programs that take a holistic approach to people and families, because we know it’s not about making a living, it’s about making a life,” Gervais says. “In fact, we brought in an anthropologist to understand specific barriers that were impacting our ability to hire in certain areas. As an employer, we look at the whole ecosystem of the family.”

Manufacturing Engagement

In the book “The New Collar Workforce,” Sarah Boisvert writes about touring a family-owned and -operated jewelry company in Massachusetts that implemented lean manufacturing principles designed to encourage rapid iterations to reduce waste and improve efficiency.

She encountered a worker performing low-tech repetitive tasks who was nevertheless highly engaged in his job — because the company had empowered him to solve problems. “He was clearly proud to be valued by management and trusted to think, not just do something repetitively,” she writes.

Boisvert says lean manufacturing approaches can help tremendously with employee engagement if executives truly buy in and implement them with a focus on empowering people — which doesn’t always come easy in the sector.

“Manufacturing by definition is a conservative industry, and we’re conservative partially because change is expensive,” she says. “Anytime you have to change anything on the production line, it’s expensive both in terms of equipment and training.”

Ryan says part of the resistance to empowering, engaging and developing manufacturing employees is because most workers in the sector are between the ages of 45 and 65, rather than job-hopping millennials who want more feedback and opportunities for career development.

“There’s this mentality that ‘I’m going to be wasting my time with this person because they’re going to be leaving anyway,’ ” she says. “But if they just spent those couple of minutes, if they just created those connections and helped those people, they would probably be with the organization a lot longer.”

She says that to meet the complex needs of the next generation of workers, manufacturers will have to get creative in how they approach engagement and development. “A turkey at Christmas isn’t going to cut it,” Ryan says.

We want to hear from you. What are you seeing? How are recruiting and retention changing for you? What should manufacturing companies do to compete for top talent?

Is Mobility a Key to Retain Your Talent?

The phrase “world of work” really means the world now. So many businesses are expanding geographically to grow. And that means relocation opportunities for the workforce — as well as a whole range of logistical challenges for HR. But it also means conveying these opportunities to employees. Surprisingly, there’s a disconnect, as Wakefield Research found out in a soon-to-be published study for Topia. The results, shared with me as a preview of the study, reveal that while HR is tackling how to track and facilitate reassignments and relocations, the workforce doesn’t always know these opportunities exist.

Given that we’re in a talent crunch with unemployment still around 4 percent, companies need to strategize effective ways to retain their own talent. What Topia’s study found is that offering employees relocation opportunities may be even more of a win than previously understood. And, actually, not offering relocation opportunities may be even more of a direct loss. Twenty-two percent of U.S. and 33 percent of U.K. professionals have left a job because they weren’t allowed to transfer to another branch or location.

Move to Grow

There are countless reasons one may want to relocate. But most professionals — 70 percent in the U.S. and 75 percent in the U.K. — said they see relocating to another branch in the same company as a career-advancement opportunity, even if there’s no raise or promotion involved.

Mobility is seen by this workforce as an opportunity to grow a whole range of critical career skills, such as cultural competency, flexibility, learning to work with various people and tactical problem-solving. And movement as well as change are growth in themselves — particularly in millennials and younger employees hungry to climb the ladder.

When asked what factor would make an employee hesitate to accept relocating to another branch or location within the company, 37 percent in the U.S. and 30 percent in the U.K. cited capped career growth potential or career progression. If there’s no growth potential, the effort involved in relocating may not be worth it. So companies that need or want to encourage employees to take a relocation assignment may want to make sure they emphasize the career growth opportunities in doing so — and then, of course, make sure that growth can happen.

Help Navigate the Change

While relocation — particularly global mobility — is an enormous undertaking for both employer and employee, companies need to position it as a clear opportunity for their workforce — who likely will be willing to deal with the complexity of relocating if there’s a support system in place.

Indeed, one of the most revealing findings in Topia’s study is the gap between knowledge and execution — which shows that a tremendous resource in terms of engagement and retention is being undermined. For instance the survey found that nearly all hiring executives polled — 96 percent in the U.S. and 97 percent in the U.K. — are well aware that relocation programs have enormous value. But they lack the ways and means to both convey and communicate these opportunities to the workforce, and then to manage mobility successfully.

It’s clear that employees want relocation opportunities — and that’s across the generations. Boomers want them as a way to broaden their horizons and have another experience or two before they retire. Millennials and Generation Z envision success as having a certain kind of forward and outward momentum. For people of color and women, mobility assignments can provide a definitive boost to their career trajectory — it’s been called a great way to “differentiate themselves.”

So why don’t employees know about opportunities? It’s not a question of not having the skills. A core insight of Topia’s research is that the message just isn’t being transmitted. A total of 41 percent of professionals in the U.S. and 40 percent in the U.K. said they either don’t have relocation opportunities or don’t know if such opportunities exist within their company. That’s not stopping them from looking for the chance to expand their horizons; it’s just stopping them from looking within their company. That adds up to a whole lot of missed opportunities, on both sides of the employer-employee equation.

What would close the gap? Far better internal communications, a way for employees to convey their interest in relocation opportunities and a culture that embraces the growth opportunities of relocating as something everyone should be able to experience. But another key factor here is a smart, powerful mobility management program. Companies need better relocation tools — and a holistic way to manage the complexities of relocation, which frees up HR to spend more time communicating and less time knee-deep in administrative tasks. And that can happen. The solution is to partner with an expert — one who combines up-to-date technology with deep knowledge, and who can empower your company to leverage mobility to engage and retain your workforce.

For any company or HR pro facing the prospect of managing mobility in the workforce, the Topia survey is going to be a welcome resource. The preview already paints a compelling picture of the gap between opportunities and awareness for too many employees, and of the need to mitigate the administrative pressure on HR with a more holistic and technologically advanced approach. Stay tuned for the full survey results, to be published by the Topia team in early September.

What Every Leader Needs to Know About Retaining Millennials

By 2025, millennials will make up 75 percent of the global workforce. While it’s tough to assign broad characteristics to an entire generation, millennials are generally known to be technically savvy and focused on growth, looking for new opportunities and frequent feedback. So it’s no surprise that traditional management styles fall flat for millennials.

For employers, updating management practices isn’t just a nice thing to do — it’s absolutely necessary in order to develop and retain the next generation of leaders. Here are three important factors that employers should consider in order to retain millennial talent.

Rethink Feedback

Based on a global Korn Ferry survey of over 1,000 executives, 44 percent said millennial employees require a lot more feedback than workers of other generations, with only 10 percent reporting that they need about the same feedback as others.

It’s easy to view “requires more feedback” as a negative trait. However, it’s not that millennials need more time and effort put into their feedback — they just want it delivered differently, in real time. Feedback can be as simple as a manager taking 30 seconds after a meeting to tell a millennial what they did well and what they can work on. Millennials do not see the benefit of an annual performance evaluation where they walk nervously into a supervisor’s office and receive a ton of information all at once. In fact, says Aon Hewitt Senior Consultant Kelly Johnson, the annual review model is often less efficient than ongoing, more informal feedback that employees can implement immediately.

Make Learning and Development a Priority

Millennials place a high value on learning and development because they grew up in a rapidly changing digital landscape. They understand that everyone must accelerate their learning to remain competitive. An important thing for organizations to keep in mind is that horizontal moves can be as attractive to millennials as vertical ones. “There is no reason to look at development as constant promotion,” says Johnson. “Mobility programs — being able to switch roles within the same organization — allow for the growth experiences that millennials want.”

In other words, development is no longer enough. Redevelopment is key. In Mercer’s 2018 Global Talent Trends Study, only 50 percent of employers surveyed say their organization has a redevelopment mindset. But in the tech industry, known for attracting millennials, 64 percent of employers cite a strong focus on continual redevelopment.

Build a Culture of Flexible Work

Previous generations wanted work-life balance. For millennials, it might be more accurate to call it work-life integration. Allison Griffiths, principal and leader of workforce rewards at Mercer Canada, stresses that millennials want to “make work work” by making their work fit into the rest of their lives. Still, half of millennials surveyed by Mercer feel that working part-time or remotely would negatively affect their promotion prospects.

Clearly there remains a disconnect between existing company culture and what millennials want from work. Managers can fill the gap by encouraging individual work habits that lead to the highest productivity, whether that means working inside the office or remotely.

Image courtesy of #WOCinTech chat


5 Proven Ways to Make Employees Never Want to Leave

Recruiting the right employees is a time-consuming and important process. Hiring the right people is critical to the organization achieving its goals. But what happens when a new hire shows up for work? How can you make sure your star candidate becomes a happy, dedicated employee who never wants to leave?

I’ve learned five keys to meeting new employees’ expectations and keeping them engaged on the job.

“How Can I Help” Leadership

Command and control is old-school; servant leadership is the new school of management. To improve retention, throw out old dictatorial practices and focus on how leaders help employees achieve their goals. Rather than tell people what to do, the servant leader looks for ways to remove obstacles that prevent people from succeeding.

As an executive servant leader, I dedicated at least 50 percent of my time each week meeting with people to understand how they did their job and what they needed to achieve their goals more effectively. I always took notes and made a point of following up to report on what actions I had taken as a result of their input.

In addition, every month I held “bear pit” sessions where I invited key employees from various functions to come together and “have at me.” They asked bold questions and I answered, unaccompanied by my support staff. To say that these sessions were grueling would be an understatement but I quickly learned how people were feeling in my organization and what was needed to enhance their engagement.

Regular Performance Feedback

Everyone wants to improve, and if employees don’t get constructive performance assessment on a frequent basis, they feel abandoned by the organization. They have no idea what they need to do to improve and as a result feel that no one really cares about helping them do a better job. Employees who don’t get feedback leave for an organization that has employee performance management hardwired into its culture. Show your people that preparing employees for future opportunities is a priority for leadership.

I held each of my direct reports accountable for conducting regular performance reviews with their reports; it was a key element in their performance plan and their annual bonus depended on how well they carried out the task.

Career Development Plans

Every employee needs a specific plan for how they’ll learn new skills and get exposure to new opportunities. Leaders are responsible for making sure every employee has a detailed career plan, including potential lateral moves that could enhance their long-term potential.

One way I measured a leader’s effectiveness: looking at how many of their employees moved around to new positions in the organization in order to expose them to new challenges. The effective leaders made it a priority to proactively move their people around; the mediocre ones never did and as a result had short tenure in my organization.

A Personalized Culture of Engagement

A culture isn’t created by corporate programs. It’s defined by everyday personalized acts of leadership. No two people can be engaged in the same way, hence the problem with a single engagement program that is forced to fit all individuals. Instead, a leader can create a personalized culture based on how they interact with each employee every day.

My calendar was full of one-on-one conversations with individuals in my organization. Those conversations made it fairly easy to understand how I could help them identify more strongly with the goals of the organization.

Fair Compensation

The most obvious way to retain employees is to satisfy their basic needs: pay and benefits. Without those fundamentals, it’s difficult to attract people through the recruitment process and to hold them if they take a position with you. You must be at least comparable to your competitors to play the game.

Standout organizations with incredible retention rates invest heavily to both discover individuals who align with their vision and values and to build a culture that encourages them to stay. The leader who wants to retain loyal employees makes it an everyday priority. Focus on these five practices and not only will your retention rates improve, your peers will look at you as the organization to watch in the field.

The Secret to Retaining Tech Talent: Give Them Ways to Grow

If you want to keep that tech talent you invested so much time, energy and resources recruiting and hiring on, put yourself in their shoes. Work is about far more than coding: as employees rise in tech, they may be called upon to make presentations, participate in a conference, lead a team, articulate a complicated process to newbies, troubleshoot with peers — you name it. And employees are hungry to expand their skills. Companies that overlook this reality stand to lose that talent they worked so hard to find. That’s going to impact not just your present, but your future: those stand-out new hires already marked as candidates for succession may look elsewhere for opportunities.

To say this is not an ideal time to be bleeding talent in the tech sector is beyond an understatement. According to a recent survey by the job site Indeed, 86% of hiring managers say it’s challenging to find and hire tech talent. The average tenure in a job in 2016 was 4.2 years according to the BLS. But the average tenure in the tech industry is far lower, according to SHRM — only three years.

The reasons are numerous — including the nature of working in tech itself. Tech talent is by nature hungry to learn — whether or not you’re providing the opportunity, learning is part of their DNA. Many tech companies focus far more on apps and tools than on social and language interaction. But if you had the chance to ask a tech employee, most would readily convey a need to improve their soft skills as well — which is evidenced by the rising popularity of soft skills courses for tech talent offered by giants such as Harvard Extension.

The overall economy and work climate also play a key role:

  • Recent economic shake-ups left many people realizing they need to keep a Plan B in their professional pocket.
  • A thrilling but endless disruption of new innovations and new start-ups are constantly clamoring for tech talent — including your employees. Today, the pace of development and rollouts is generally rapid fire, and the people who work in this climate are used to training and ramping up fast.
  • It’s intensely easy in this digital, mobile and social environment to look for greener grass on the other side.
  • Increased globalization means different cultures, a variety of social behaviors and a range of different languages. To unify a multinational, multigenerational team takes far more than just hiring them.

Millennial Culture

Millennials have a core sense of healthy self-worth, and tend to see themselves as consumers of employers and jobs they can pick and choose from. But according to research by Deloitte, they’re also looking for an employer that offers more stability than ever before. And in terms of any career, you have to grow to remain in the same place. So if they’re in a job that doesn’t provide the chance to grow, they’re going to look for one that does. 18-35 year-olds stayed in a job for an average of 1.6 years last year — a trend noted by Lingo Live in their new report on the importance of upskilling for tech employees. Millennials are not only hungry to learn, they’re hungry to land in a place they can.

Align Learning With Working

The bottom line for today’s talent, and today’s digital culture a well, is that they are constantly experiencing new things: new apps, new social media pages, new forms of communication, new emojis, new policies and procedures, new bus routes, new challenges. This is the case at work as well as in life. Add the unique circumstances of any individual — such a software engineer for whom English is a second language or taking a job has meant living in a new country.

Every time our attention shifts to a new task or a new environment, we are thrust into a learning capacity once again. If you don’t provide your people with multidimensional learning and development opportunities, it doesn’t mean they don’t need to find the education and upskilling they need to grow. It just means their learning needs will not align with working for your company.

Instead, create that alignment — and then leverage it to drive engagement and ambition as your employees learn and grow within the context of their employer. Consider the soft skills you may want to offer:

Language skills and proficiency: According to the “Real Benefits” report by Lingo Live, language skills are overlooked by employers but highly valued by employees. In fact, a full 70% of engineers they surveyed believe their language skills play a key role in career advancement in their industry. Especially for tech talent that has been sponsored on a work visa, the challenge of communicating, writing, reading, and even interacting in English can be daunting. It’s a challenge easily remedied with a range of web-based, easily accessed language courses and practice.

Leadership skills: From team management to cultural customs and social etiquette, we expect a lot of our managers and leaders. In fact, the Education Advisory Board pinpointed a need to developed five key soft skills for tech talent, all of which are critical for a successful career trajectory. Rising up through the ranks usually means taking on more responsibility and overseeing employees. Among these key skills STEM fields are facing an increased demand for: creativity, teamwork/collaboration and building effective relationships. All can also be bridged into language development and cultural training, enabling tech talent to gain confidence that they can, indeed, become leaders.

Upskilling your talent is a tangible way to demonstrate that you value your employees not just as present-tense labor, but as future assets to your organization. But the benefits go far beyond the doors of your company and right into recruiting. Your employees will convey your brand whether or not you intend them to, but if they are growing and able to learn and develop within the aegis of your organization, they will let others know — and that makes you an employer people want to work for. For any organization trying to establish itself above the fray in this era of transparency, and be able to truly attract, hire, engage and retain the best tech talent, being able to provide soft skills training is an undeniable plus.

This article is sponsored by Lingo Live. Views are my own.

Photo Credit: Compu-Net Systems, LLC Flickr via Compfight cc


The Skills HR Needs to Sustain an Engaged Workforce

The role human resources (HR) play in the workplace is undergoing a major shift.

In the past, HR concerns took a back seat to bottom line business needs. This was due in part to a lack of strong HR metrics and methods of measurement, and the balance of power between employer and employee.

But with today’s increasing jockeying for top talent, the C-level has woken up to the importance of employee engagement, retention and development.

Translating Data Into Improved Employee Experiences 

Employee engagement impacts loyalty, productivity, innovation and customer satisfaction — making it clear that an engaged workforce is not simply a nice to have, it’s a necessity for creating an innovative business that can withstand the constant flow of new competition.

This has led executives to look to HR to recreate and drive the shift towards employee-centered processes, environments and strong value-based cultures, otherwise known as the employee experience. However, a gap still exists between translating data into actionable changes.

Employee engagement is an abstract metric. Identifying a dip in your most recent engagement survey may not tell you why your people are less satisfied with their work life now than they were the month before, or how to address it. HR faces a challenge of how to make people data human.

At this critical moment, HR leaders need to open their minds to new ways of designing processes to create a totally customized and unique experience. The great thing is you won’t have to leave your organization to acquire the new skills you need.

5 Skills HR Can Learn From Other Departments 

  1. Marketing: Understanding the Employee Journey

Marketers have succeeded in reaching a better understanding of a customer’s mindset and emotions throughout their interactions with the company and the product. By creating customer journey maps they’ve found a way to categorically track each touchpoint a customer goes through until they make the decision to buy.

Studies have found that even one negative experience can deter customers from going through with a purchase. In fact, Oracle found 81 percent of customers are willing to pay more for a better experience. And 74 percent of senior executives believe a great experience is a key factor in driving customer loyalty. Furthermore, as marketers know, maintaining customers is more cost effective than acquiring new ones, making customer mapping extremely valuable.

Replace ‘employee’ for ‘customer’ in all of the above and you get a similar effect.

A negative experience with recruitment portals has been shown to deter potential hires from applying for positions. Many millennials are willing to forgo a larger salary for a better quality of work life.1 In fact, a recent survey by Fidelity Investments revealed that on average this new young workforce would be willing to take a $7,600 pay cut in exchange for immaterial incentives like purposeful work, work/life balance and company culture.

Finally, similar to customer retention, retaining employees has proven to be more cost effective than recruiting and retraining new people.

Given the success that marketers have had from creating customer journey maps, many HR leaders now utilize this methodology to create employee journey maps, tracking each phase from recruitment to exiting the company.

  1. Statistics: People Analytics

Once you have your journey mapped out, it’s time to fill it in with the factors that matter in your work environment.

The best place to start is by collecting data. Where are you falling short and where would you like to improve? Are you having trouble attracting new hires? Is your goal to help develop more female leaders within the company? Do you see a dip in engagement after your annual performance review?

The key here is to collect data regularly. An engagement survey taken at the beginning of the year won’t reflect the attitudes that developed during your company’s sudden leadership change in March. The more data you have, the easier it’ll be to compare and identify potential causes.

An array of new HR tech gadgets makes capturing and analyzing data even easier. Need to find out how much time your managers spend on coaching or who the top performers are in your company? With the rise of HR technology, solutions are available that can make your life easier by collecting, analyzing and sending the data you need.

  1. Psychology: Creating Personas

Creating buyer personas is another marketing tactic that can be extremely useful when mapping out your employee journey. Rather than thinking of your workforce as a whole, creating specific employee personas brings the human side to the process, enabling you to visualize each stage from the viewpoint of a specific person. This requires you to get into the mindset of the typical employee or the ideal hire and identify their key concerns at every stage.

Rather than looking at your workforce as a whole, thinking about a specific person with a name, role and personality will help you get a better sense of what they could be experiencing. How does Anna feel about your performance review process? What factors could be inhibiting her from gaining the growth benefits this practice should provide?

  1. Design: New Ways of Thinking

Once you’ve identified the potential pain points in your employee’s journey, it’s time to rethink processes and propose new strategies specifically designed to eliminate these barriers. Design thinking can help you.

Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends found the HR departments deemed most valuable were five times more likely to use design thinking. Even executives are recognizing the exciting possibilities design thinking can offer, with 79 percent rating it as an important or very important issue.

After analyzing the pain points identified, design thinking helps designers create UIs that enable a comfortable and engaging experience for users. This means departing from traditional models of onboarding, performance management, etc. which have been HR cornerstones for decades.

  1. Communications: Storytelling

Storytelling is a key skill every HR manager needs to learn. While executives are finally aware of the importance of metrics like engagement, HR continues to struggle to put their ideas on the agenda.

Even with C-level support, selling the major overhauls you would like to make to traditionally ingrained processes will not be easy.

Remember that people analytics is not just data. This information tells a story about the people in your company. HR’s role as a storyteller is essentially to translate this information into (at times provocative) stories that explain what employees are going through and what the company needs to do to improve. Learning this skill will pave the way for the new designs you have in store for your company.

The most important skill HR will need to learn is how to make HR data human. Low engagement cannot simply be solved by offering a new ping pong table or better lunches. Getting other departments to share their knowledge will allow you to improve your team’s skills and get HR that seat at the table.

This article was originally published on CMSWire.

What About Sales Person Retention?

Retention is a hot topic–customer retention that is.

We’ve all seen data around customer acquisition costs.  Basically, the cost of acquiring new customers is several time higher than the cost of retaining and growing existing customers.  The whole subscription model, on which all SaaS and XaaS companies are built has customer retention as a fundamental to the success of the business model.  All the discussion around

ABM/ABS/ABE is focused on retaining and growing our most important accounts.

Makes sense!

But how come we don’t see similar focus on Sales Person Retention?

A recent study from Glassdoor, shows on average, an employee changes jobs every 15 months.  Granted, this study covered all employees, not just sales.  Other, slightly older data, shows 15-22 months for sales and sales management.

I think it’s fair to say, people are changing jobs with much greater frequency.

Layer onto this revolving door many see in their organizations, the onboarding time–that is the time it takes to ramp sales people to full productivity.  (Note, I’ve defined onboarding differently, it’s not the time we spend in training them, it’s the time it takes for their productivity run rate to reach full productivity.)  For complex B2B sales, data shows average onboarding at 10 months.  With many of our clients, it’s far longer.

Hmmmmm….. let me do some mental math, 10 months onboarding, 15 months before the change jobs……….

Looks like we have them for a good solid 5 months!!!

Before we start celebrating (tongue firmly planted in cheek), let’s add in sales cycles.  If we have a long sales cycles, very often, these people aren’t on board long enough to close their own deals!  Perhaps the deals they are closing are those started by their predecessors.  And their successors (the newbies) are taking up the deals of their predecessors.

Perhaps, now we start to see at least one of the root causes to poor sales quota performance.  Sales people aren’t around long enough to produce sustainable results.  With each churn of a sales person in 15 months, we have potential revenue exposures of millions of $’s.

One would think a reasonable solution might be, “Can we figure out how to retain our sales people?”  Yet in the past year, the number of times I’ve been involved in that conversation could be counted on one hand (until I might have initiated the discussion.).

After all, if we have the right people on board; if we are training, coaching, developing them for success; if we are creating work places that challenge them and recognize their success; if we treat them as valuable contributors; we know they will consistently produce good results.

But too often, we have quite the opposite of a retention/growth mentality.  We churn and burn people.  We don’t equip them for success, we don’t recognize that success, we don’t provide a rewarding work environment.  We expand and contract our sales resources based on the state of the business.

Sales people play a part in this as well, if they don’t see an environment where they are appreciated, where they can learn and grow, where they are recognized and appreciated, where they can be successful; they are going to run to the next opportunity.

Retention is important–customer and employee retention.  Retention problems cost big $’s and have huge impacts on business results.

I believe the onus is on sales management to break this vicious cycle.  We have to recruit the right people in the first place.  We have to train, develop, coach them.  We have to give them the tools, systems, programs, training to be successful.  We have to create a work environment where they are both challenged and appreciated.

How important is retention in your organization?  What are you doing to make it a top priority?

This post originally appeared on Partners in Excellence.

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Seven Keys to Effective Recruiting

Creating a world-class talent acquisition effort that incorporates cool recruiting ideas may seem unrealistic for many HR departments. After all, the pressure to fill the ever-larger pile of open reqs leaves little time for experimentation. And at smaller firms, where recruiting duties often fall to an HR generalist who has to interview candidates in between many other daily duties, attracting good new hires is good enough, which leaves the absolute best hires working someplace else.

Yet, even if you hire just one new candidate a month, you can leverage many of the same effective strategies as the leading companies in talent acquisition, say the folks who lead them. You simply need to learn about the latest trends, and then strive to incorporate some or all of those efforts into your daily hiring routine.

Most HR specialists agree they want to get better at talent acquisition. In a 2016 SHRM survey of more than 2,300 HR professionals, respondents said recruitment was their top business/HR challenge, ahead of compliance, employee training and compensation/benefits. Finding the time to implement these leading strategies is the bigger challenge. To that end, here are summaries of the seven most meaningful steps to creating a more effective talent acquisition effort, according to a range of leading voices in the field. Many don’t require a major investment of time or money, and instead can be incorporated into the recruiting practices you’re using already.

  • Brand your company as a great place to work. If you don’t tell your story, others will do it for you. Having an attractive career web site was a prerequisite 10 years ago. Now, it’s a basic requirement to manage your brand and, once in place, allows you to focus on what makes you special to potential candidates in your marketing materials, across social media and in person. For example, post written and video testimonials on your web site from current employers explaining why they enjoy their jobs, to create an image among prospective hires of what it’s like to work for your company.
  • Maximize employee referrals. Referrals are still the primary source of new hires. In fact, 96% of all companies with 10,000 employees or more say it’s their No. 1 source of new hires, while that percentage falls to a still high 80% for companies with less than 100 employees, according to a 2016 SHRM Benchmarking survey.

“So why are most incentive payments so low?,” asks Tom Darrow, SHRM-SCP, founder of Talent Connections, an Atlanta-based executive search firm and chair of the SHRM Foundation Board of Directors.  “It’s widely known that employee referrals are the best source for candidates, yet many companies offer pitiful ‘bonuses’ of $500 or $1,000 to their employees, while offering search firms a $20,000+ fee for the same position.” He suggests incentivizing staff to serve as recruiters and encourage them to tap into their networks to help fill open positions.

  • Pay at least as much as your competitors for talent and be transparent about what you offer. Make absolutely sure that your total compensation package is competitive and, if one or more aspects are lagging, tell candidates why. Then work with your senior management team to improve your offerings.

“Create a competitive compensation package that reflects your culture, then put the dollars in front of candidates at the start and you’ll likely have to negotiate less,” says Steve Browne, SHRM-SCP, executive director of human resources at LaRosa’s Inc., a Cincinnati-based restaurant group. “It’s a brass tacks approach, but be sure to supplement the dollar discussion with the other workplace benefits you offer, including flexibility, autonomy, the work space and more,” says Browne, who is a director-at-large on the SHRM Board of Directors. Darrow adds that by highlighting what makes your offer most attractive, you can help deflect attention from what doesn’t.

  • Consider hiring more part-time contributors, and embrace their flexibility. If the full-time talent you seek is too difficult to find or costly to hire, then fill each open position with multiple part-time employees who have embraced the “gig” economy and are willing to share the workload. And don’t punish them if they decide to try something else.

“The biggest shift for us culturally is that we tell each new employee that we’ll enjoy you while you’re here, and that we want to make the time you’re with us be great,” says Browne. “So if you decide to become an Uber driver, congrats! We enjoyed having you while we were here.”

  • Build strong talent networks. Learn to develop relationships with potential new hires long before relevant job openings are posted. One approach is to create “communities of engagement” online through social media where candidates can learn about your company and see how current employees have an opportunity to make a difference.

“Too often I see companies aren’t hiring the best of the best; they’re hiring the best of who they stumble on based on their poor sourcing strategies,” says Darrow. He advocates using social media and networking to build a deep pipeline of potential candidates who you may not have jobs for today, but who you can tap into when appropriate openings emerge down the road.

  • Learn and implement predictive analytics. The role of HR metrics has grown dramatically. While you may not need to hire a full-time data analyst, you (or your vendors) should have the ability to measure the effectiveness of all aspects of your recruiting efforts.

“Employers have to be able to assess the probable yield of a recruitment ad in a certain location, among a certain demographic or at one salary point vs. another, and then instantaneously measure the results and make changes to that ad placement and content on the fly,” says Peter Weddle, CEO of, the association for talent acquisition solutions in Stamford, Conn. By managing your recruitment marketing efforts this closely using analytics, you’ll optimize the results and lower your cost per hire, he adds.

  • Simplify job applications. Poor completion rates for online applications results in the loss of top talent, poor word-of-mouth from candidates frustrated with the process and wasted spending associated with abandonment in cost-per-click recruiting models.

About 60 percent of all job seekers quit in the middle of filling out online job applications because of the form’s length or complexity, according to CareerBuilder. Conversely, companies can increase the rate at which candidates will complete an application by more than 300 percent by reducing the length of the application process to five minutes or less, reports Appcast, an online recruitment service. “You have to make applying simple, fast and mobile friendly, or you won’t attract the best candidates,” says Darrow.

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How Companies Can Effectively Build Their Leadership Pipelines

The business world is headed for a leadership crisis. More and more baby boomers retire every day, and many companies lack future leaders who are ready, willing, and able to take their place.

In their 2014 Global Human Capital Trends report, Deloitte found that 86 percent of businesses believe they do not have an adequate leadership pipeline, and 79 percent believe they have a significant retention and engagement problem. Obviously, these problems are closely related. How can you hope to sustain an effective leadership pipeline if your employees are disengaged and your turnover rate is high? Today’s mid-level director could be tomorrow’s CEO – if she stays on board.

For many HR professionals, the problem begins with the word “retention” itself. The idea of “retaining” top talent suggests locking the front door so your best employees can’t leave. Instead, we should think in terms of continually attracting talent.

The ways in which we convince employees to remain at a company shouldn’t be all that different from the ways in which we convince them to join in the first place. Many marriage experts suggest that to ensure a healthy relationship, you should never stop “dating” your partner. By extension, HR professionals should never stop “recruiting” their current employees.

According to the 2017 edition of Deloitte’s report, 48 percent of employees at American companies consider employee experience “very important.” What this tells us is that compensation and benefits aren’t the only answer to the leadership pipeline problem. Attracting talent begins at a cultural level. Businesses must create an environment where employees actually want to work – an environment where they feel supported professionally and can derive meaning from their job.

Increasingly, employees are demanding coaching and professional development from their employers. When companies provide these support services for their teams, it represents a win-win for everyone involved. Employees gain confidence and increase their efficiency, improving overall performance, decreasing stress, and boosting morale. Employers get an office full of happy workers – who may one day turn into happy leaders.

Providing coaching and professional development helps remedy a significant source of diminished employee engagement: the expectation gap. Employers expect a certain level of productivity and achievement from their workers, and workers in turn expect that they will be given the tools (both literal and figurative) to meet those goals.

If management finds that employees are failing to meet expectations, it may be a sign that the company is also failing to fulfill its obligation to provide appropriate support. This results in disengaged employees who may already have one foot out the door, causing a negative ripple effect on retention, growth, and – of course – your leadership pipeline.

Coaching – particularly from an external service – closes this expectation gap, helping to ensure that employees are well positioned to succeed. External coaching has been shown to increase companies’ retention by more than 50 percent, proving that the more supported employees feel, the more likely they are to stay and grow into future leaders.

More and more companies are beginning to recognize the need to drive employee engagement and create a solid leadership pipeline. An external coaching service is more than just a perk management can offer to employees – it is a long-term investment in the future of the company. The employees you train and develop today may one day step up to the plate and assume greater responsibilities that will shape and mold the growth of your business. That is an investment worth making, and one that no business owner can afford to put off.

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[Webinar] 5 Reasons Employees Leave (And What You Can Do About It)

A 2017 retention struggle is upon us. Employee retention rates are down as businesses lose top-tier talent to competitors in this grueling war for talent. But what if that unhealthy, gut-wrenching employee turnover was predictable? What if leaders knew how to re-engage top performers and stop turnover before it happened?

Now, they can. New research has uncovered the top 5 predictors of employee turnover. Want a deep-dive into the data? Join us for a free webinar on June 6, 2017, at 1 PM EST to explore the reasons employees leave and how real organizations are making changes to stop it.

In the meantime, skim the turnover themes derived from the research below:

  1. Lack of Job Satisfaction

When employees become less satisfied with, interested in, or challenged by their jobs, they’re more likely to turnover.

  1. Individual Needs Unmet

If employees don’t feel like the organization is meeting their individual needs (e.g., health and well-being, work-life balance, personal development), they’re more likely to become a retention risk.

  1. Poor Team Dynamics

Employees are more likely to leave an organization when they express uncertainty about their team members’ effectiveness and the likeability of their immediate supervisor.

  1. Misalignment

Employees who are unsure whether or not they fit into the organization’s future are more likely to turnover.

  1. Unlikely to Stay

When an employee indicates that they’re unsure if they’ll stay with the organization, both in the short term or during tough times, they’re more likely to become a retention risk.

These themes just scratch the surface. Tune in for the webinar on June 6th, to discover what cultural elements impact these themes, the changes real-life organizations are making as a result of this research, and what you can do to increase employee retention today and the years to come. Register here.

This post is sponsored by Quantum Workplace

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4 Reasons Not to Base Hiring on Skills

The competition for talent isn’t going away. Nor is the need to hire people who know how to do the job and won’t leave. With the average life expectancy of an employee on the job in the U.S. shrinking — from 4.6 percent in 2014 to 4.2 percent in 2016 — we’re all looking for that perfect way to predict hiring success.

Among the questions hiring managers face: Rely on the old standby and hire based on gut? Or go straight to the science, and if so, what data? Skills tests do give a crisp, black-and-white reality as to what a candidate can do the moment they walk in their new employer’s door — such as make spreadsheets or program in Java. And hiring employees who have already learned the specific skills a job requires, so they can roll up their sleeves and get straight to work, is always a key objective.

But both approaches are a myth. Recruiters spend an average of 6.25 seconds reading each resume, in large part because some 250 resumes are submitted for every corporate job opening, and only 50 percent of those applicants are even qualified to apply. But locking into skills to hire gives not only an incomplete picture, it’s short-sighted. There are many reasons why, but let’s start with these four essentials.

  1. Hiring on the basis of specific skills is no guarantee of success on the job.

Even in positions that require very specific skills, hiring for specific competencies — sometimes known as micro-skills — is not a prediction of success. While skills tests measure for very focused and specific purposes — such as operating a particular production line or handing a software program, they are not a good indicator of long-term success.

The reason is so simple it’s easy to overlook: Tests that measure present-day proficiency are designed to do just that. Retention is based on many factors, but all have to do with how the employee experiences their work and their workplace. What engages an employee, and promotes retention is not their ability to crunch an excel sheet, and what keeps them productive may have to do with everything from ability to learn to having a personality that fits their job. The bottom line here is that you need a fuller way to predict success.

  1. You may not even be hiring for those skills next year.

Everything about how we work is undergoing a transformation right now, and that’s affecting nearly every single industry. You may not be using that same machinery or software next year. You may not even be using employees if you do. We don’t really know how radically work is going to be altered by AI and robotics, but we do know they are coming to our workplace soon.

And that’s certainly not the only change. As we transition to a blended workforce economy, your employees may soon be combined with gig workers and freelancers as well — that is, if they’re not already. 93 percent of companies are already relying on a workforce in which freelance workers team up with employees. One key reason, according to employers, is that freelancers have stellar niche skills, often better than your own employees. Depending on the project, you may want to bring in a crack team and shift your own personnel to a different project, requiring different skills.

  1. Emotional intelligence and aptitude may be more important than specific skills.

There are too many examples these days of companies who clearly didn’t hire for emotional intelligence, the ability to deal with people, or the awareness that their actions would trigger a cascade of consequences for their employer. The fallout in this digital and social era is instant—and devastating. The takeaway to me is that you need to hire for more than skills. But even outside the news cycles, and even in companies that are not providing a people-centric service, screening for the right behaviors, cognitive aptitudes, and basic skills is clearly a best practice with a long payoff.

A recent study by LinkedIn found that nearly two-thirds of employers surveyed look for two key qualities in their hires first: Problem-solving skills (65 percent) and the ability to learn new concepts (64 percent). Along with critical thinking and the ability to apply new information, these qualities can be effectively screened in a cognitive aptitude test. And according to Criteria’s research, there’s a clear correlation between cognitive aptitude and job performance: Testing for cognitive aptitude is twice as accurate a predictor as a job interview and three times as accurate a predictor as experience. And the higher up the ladder the position, the more accurate these tests are.

  1. Training on the job has more value than you might think.

There’s another, overlooked magical ingredient to the secret sauce of retention: On the job training. 94 percent of manufacturing executives viewed training problems as one of the best ways to close the skills gap, according to a recent whitepaper by Criteria Corp. But training has additional benefits, and these benefits also speak to the question of testing for skills. The answer: Keep it basic, and use training to not only develop the specific skills but also enhance the connection between employer and employee.

How? On the one hand, training can function as an extension of the employer brand, framed and presented to reflect company mission and message. On the other hand, it becomes a key facet of employee experience, a demonstration that an organization values its employees enough to invest in their growth. As cited by SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management), success on the job is determined in as little as two weeks to three months. Onboarding is a key factor in the outcome, according to SHRM’s report. Including skills training in an effective onboarding program may come to be even more of a critical and practical step for any company that wants to retain its talent. Seen in this light, screening hires for their innate aptitudes and behaviors makes even more sense.

So, What to Do?

Understandably, no hiring team wants to send new employees to the work site who don’t know what they’re doing. It’s true that many organizations are still wedded to screening for skills for that very reason. But in this transforming world of work, we need to hire employees who can learn and want to grow and develop.

The best hiring decisions are formed after considering the whole spectrum of employee behaviors and performance, by blending aptitude with the appropriate behaviors and then adding in education and experience. Given the pressure to retain our human capital, that’s the best way to protect our strongest investment—people.

This post is sponsored by Criteria Corp.

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5 Ways to Earn Trust: The Ultimate Competitive Advantage

Are you looking for that leadership silver bullet that will propel you past the competition? You can take public speaking courses and enroll in an MBA program or you can attempt the single easiest feat for which an individual can strive, trustworthiness.

Leadership is built on one core concept—trust. Without it, you can forgo every other attribute espoused by management experts. Confidence without trust is an egomaniac. Charisma without trust is a charlatan. And vision without trust is a hypocrite. This was supported by a meta-analysis study from leading trust researcher and Georgetown University professor Daniel McAllister.

Published in the Academy of Management Journal, McAllister concluded that leaders viewed as trustworthy generate a culture where team members:

  • display greater innovation, agility, and responsiveness to changing conditions;
  • take risks because they believe they will not be taken advantage of;
  • do not expend needless time, effort, and resources on self preservation; and
  • go above and beyond to exhibit higher performing customer service, brand loyalty, and problem solving.

This leads to a competitive advantage through significantly higher commitment, satisfaction, retention, and performance. Similarly, research from the Ken Blanchard Companies found a strong correlation between trust and the behaviors associated with highly productive employees—discretionary effort, willingness to endorse the organization, performance, and a desire to be a “good organizational citizen.”

“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”—Stephen Covey

Before you get insulted that I’m explaining something as elementary as the benefits of trust, have you heard of the Edelman Trust Barometer? The ETB has surveyed tens of thousands of people across dozens of countries about their level of trust in business, media, government, and nongovernmental organizations. In its 17th year, this is the first time the study found a decline in trust across all four institutions in all 28 countries surveyed.

For leaders, one of the more disturbing findings of the ETB is the shocking lack of confidence in leadership—63% of participants said corporate CEOs are either not at all or somewhat credible. That means only 37% maintained the credibility of CEOs, a 12-point drop from last year, and this is consistent around the world. CEOs are more trusted than government leaders (29%), but that’s setting a pretty low bar. Plus, with this “trust void,” only 52% said they trust business to do what is right.

So if trust is important and society is not feeling it, what can we do? Good news: you can (re)build trust. Here are five techniques to consider:

  1. Recognition, Recognition, Recognition. To increases trust between leaders and employees, nothing does it faster than acknowledging their achievements. It indicates you are paying attention and reinforces positive behaviors.
  2. Show Compassion. Did I say recognition is the fasted way to build trust? It won’t mean anything if you don’t already have a foundation of respect. Just try influencing someone who doesn’t respect you; see how engaged they are in your ideas. Treat your team like real-life people—listen to their ideas, care about their feelings, and empathize with their concerns.
  3. Keep to Your Word. You can’t build trust without following through on promises. Your team needs to believe that what you say is sincere, so follow through on commitments.
  4. Don’t Hide Your Humanity. Being human means showing your imperfections. Your ability to discuss your mistakes and share what you have learned from it makes you more relatable. No one is concerned with transparency for the good stuff; they need you to fess up to faults, so show your vulnerable side.
  5. Smile. If you don’t want to do something substantive to build your trust and would prefer a gimmick, consider a recent study published in Psychological Science where convicted murders with trustworthy faces received more lenient sentences then their peers with untrustworthy faces. The key, it seems, is that a gentle smile increases how trustworthy others perceive you. Keep in mind, that it needs to be gentle—too big can be seen as duplicitous or insincere, while too small may be seen as sarcastic or leering.

“I doubt that we can ever successfully impose values or attitudes or behaviors on our children certainly not by threat, guilt, or punishment. But I do believe they can be induced through relationships where parents and children are growing together. Such relationships are, I believe, build on trust, example, talk, and caring.”—Fred Rogers

We live in untrustworthy times, but that does not mean we have to lead in an untrustworthy manner. Generate a culture where honesty, transparency, and truth are the basis of your organization. This must start at the top of the organizational hierarchy with you. The team will trust you once you establish that you trust the team. It may take time, but as Seth Godin says, “Earn trust, earn trust, earn trust. Then you can worry about the rest.”

Best Techniques To Reduce Employee Turnover In 2017

High employee turnover is generally considered bad for any organization. This can lead to low- quality performance and unmet goals in the workplace. As there is no certainty that all company roles will be filled daily, businesses are compelled to hire and train new employees constantly.

A common downside of employee turnover is high costs. It’s more costly to lose workers and hire new ones than retain older employees, according to If your brand has been experiencing high turnover for the past few years, now is the best time to explore smart retention strategies.

How do you keep your workers so you can have a happier, more productive 2017? Check out the methods outlined below.

Be flexible with your employees. When we think of work flexibility, we associate it with working from home. Flexibility at work also happens when top managers allow staff members to bring their work with them as long as they’re connected to the internet – at the cafe or while on a vacation. People feel empowered to produce better results when they’re given the autonomy to work according to the time and environment in which they’re most productive. Flexibility appeals most to the younger generation workforce – millennials.

Engaging your team. Are your staff members enthusiastic at work? Signs of team engagement include but are not limited to a high employee retention rate, creativity among workers, and team participation at after-work activities. Another noticeable indicator of engagement in your company is lesser complaints about workload. When your employees feel that they play a significant role in your company’s growth, you can always expect better service and profit.

Fulfill your workers’ job expectations. One reason why companies experience high employee turnover is that they lead employees away from their initial job description. Employees expect to work according to what they applied for. When they find out that they are made to keep up with responsibilities that are not in line with their strengths and interests, they lose the drive to perform. Being a truthful employer helps build your credibility and creates positive relationships.

Encourage work-life balance. Is your management honoring work-life balance? Work-life balance is more important to employees than what most people make it out to be. Be sure to detect signs of burnout among your staff as early as possible. Check whether a team member is often irritable, less energized, and frequently complains of headache and body malaise. If the answers to these questions are a yes, you need to do something about your management style. Allow your employees to take a day off and de-stress. As much as possible, avoid bombarding them with new projects.

Organize company outings. Company outings are a great investment because they allow your team members to relax and have fun while improving professional relationships. It’s beneficial to have breaks especially if you work in a corporate environment where everybody’s pressured to deliver daily. Let your staff members have drinks together, share snacks, and have a karaoke night. You can even camp at nature settings to battle overwhelm at work. Employee turnover can result from relationship barriers at work. The American Psychological Association states that friendships established in the workplace can lower people’s stress levels and drive them to stay committed.

Prioritize your employees’ health. If you believe that health is wealth, then you understand how important it is to prioritize your workers’ well-being. Not all companies offer health benefits for their employees which may explain why some people leave to seek better opportunities. If your organization cannot afford to pay for your employees’ health maintenance, at least you can schedule weekly fitness classes, or charity runs so everyone can loosen up and get sweaty. Healthy employees are able to maintain an ideal weight and stay happier at work.

Provide growth opportunities. People are most attracted to jobs they know offer opportunities for personal and professional advancement. Boost your team members’ performance by being a company that values growth. Whether it’s providing a salary raise or promoting a performing individual, you’ll definitely motivate your employees which leads to satisfying business outcomes.

To be successful in running your organization, make sure to put your employees’ welfare first. Never undermine the value of your staff and realize later on that you’ve been wasting resources due to poor management.

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Where To Find Great Talent For Your SMB

Hiring and retaining great talent is one of the biggest challenges of today’s SMBs (small to mid-sized businesses.) On the one hand, knowing how to engage employees and keep them motivated is key to improving job performance and to achieving outstanding results. But before you get there, you need to be able to find and select the most talented candidates for your organization.

So, how can you hire great talent and where should you look to find exceptional candidates? Follow these tips, and you will begin a smooth and successful hiring process.

Hire great talent from your competitors

If you want to hire people who have the right expertise and know your industry inside out, who better than your competitor’s employees? They are the ideal candidates because they may already have strategical connections and these relationships developed over the years will be a priceless acquisition to your company.

When taking this approach, you have two options: you can contact people who are still working for your competitors, or you can get in touch with old employees that you know no longer work for the organization. If you go for the first alternative, remember to offer them a salary increase as well as other attractive incentives. It is important never to ignore a non-compete agreement and if you are not sure about how to proceed, ask a solicitor to help you out. If you opt to aim for ex-employees, you may want to stay abreast of your competitor’s personnel movements to be able to contact them as soon as they leave the company. In any case, it is highly recommended to develop an online relationship with them via Twitter or Linkedin, before you get in touch directly. This social media connection will help you increase your chances to hire that desired talent and show your interest gradually.

Look for prospects on social media and blogs

Another way to find great talent is looking for references in your industry in social media channels and blogs. Professionals who run blogs about your industry or have work-related social media accounts with engaged followers are showing a clear commitment to their profession and are potentially better hires.

The best way to approach them is to start a relationship via social media. Before you contact them to work for you, you can connect with them on Linkedin and Twitter, comment on their posts and retweet their best tweets. If they have an influential blog, you can share their posts with your business accounts and help them amplify their reach.

Consider hiring remote staff members

As Nicole Fallon Taylor explained in one of her articles on Business News Daily, you have to “expand your search area.” “If your company is located in a competitive hiring market, you’d be better off searching for top talent in a less competitive area,” said Anthony Smith, founder, and CEO of CRM software company Insightly. “Technology allows for smooth collaboration and communication no matter where employees are located, so you don’t need to lose out on experts in your field because of where your company is based.”

Old fashioned networking still works

According to The Wall Street Journal’s guide on how to hire your first employees, an entrepreneur’s best option for finding talent usually is networking, “start-ups typically find their first 10 or 15 employees this way”. And they recommend “asking for referrals from your friends, industry colleagues, and advisers, such as your accountant, attorney, board members and organization members. If one of your advisers or colleagues recommends somebody, they’ve done some of your employee screening work already”.

The pull marketing strategy adapted to hiring

You have probably heard of the push and pull marketing strategies. In the first case, you take the product to the customer while in the second instance you get the customer to come to you. Well, this marketing strategy can easily be adapted to hiring, and if you are running a startup or SMB, this option is highly recommended.

This approach to finding great talent entails making your company extremely attractive to grab the interest of key candidates and invite them to come to you. And as Sharlyn Lauby explains in her article 3 Ways to Find Top Talent for your Startup, for Open Forum, “finding talent doesn’t always have to be about companies making the first move. Creating an environment that entices candidates to come work for you is a sound strategy.”

As companies are competing to hire the best talent in each field, running a small to mid-sized business, you need to be smarter and create a talent recruiting strategy. Use a combination of the tactics mentioned and invest time and resources to make sure you hire the team that will help your company grow in the right direction.

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Managing Your Talent and Business Alignment

Good business leaders recognize the value in a good hire, but often times don’t appreciate that one key individual can add to or deter from a company’s overall business plan. Consider a new Chief Technology Officer versus a sales executive within the same company. Most people would immediately acknowledge the CTO’s position as being the most pivotal and in large respect, it is a critical position and one that should be occupied by someone who can elevate the company’s technical advancements. So let’s consider the sales executive’s role.

The sales executive’s role is probably one of many like it within the organization, but sales executives often times serve as the face of the company and represent the organization externally in different capacities, not all of which are sales. These individuals may be members of a local organization where they provide volunteer time and may even sit on the board of another organization. This is a very visible representation and one where the sales executive is speaking on behalf of the organization in a business capacity. Given this, would you consider this role less important than the CTO’s? Maybe or maybe not, but each position yields a different ROI, so there needs to be a different approach in regards to specific talent management practices and how they impact the company’s overall business.

Everyone is a Contributor

One thing is for certain, hiring new employees and training existing ones should be aligned closely to the business imperatives of the organization. As businesses grow, expand their services, establish a footprint in other areas around the Globe, or simply tweak their existing products and offerings because of upgrades or enhancements, due consideration of the employee population should be included in the mix of your business strategy. A hard look at your current business and what your projections for company growth and expansion of products and services will look like in five years and beyond will impact the people you hire and train today.

Understanding the impact of each division, department, team and individual should not be a siloed evaluation. All parts and pieces are links in a chain that make up your company’s foundation. When one is weak, the strength of the other links becomes compromised. It may not be apparent immediately, but over time you may experience problems in customer service, low production numbers, disconnects with prospects, high employee turnover, all of which can lead to downturns in revenue or profits. When this occurs, a prompt investigation into all aspects of your business, including who and how talent is sourced and brought into your company should be considered, as this may be where the root of the problems are based.

Being on the Same Page

There are times when leadership can be so focused on particular outcomes of their business that they fail to acknowledge other important factors, such as what recruiting tactics are used to source and qualify people to advance and align with the organization.

One overlooked item is assuming that the recruiting team is informed and up-to-date on company goals and any subsequent changes to the short-term and long-term business imperatives. Are the job descriptions indicative of what skills and experiences are needed to build the foundation for the future? Do the hiring managers understand what they need to evaluate when considering people to fit the current role and how the candidates’ skills will impact the future of the role? Is everyone aware of the company’s direction and where the company needs to be in five years? Ten years? Do they know what the success profiles are for each position? These are all questions that must be answered before they can fully execute in accordance with the company’s plans.

Employee training is another area that can be out of sync with a company’s business imperatives. Even talented contributors need training, if for no other reason, than to be kept up-to-speed with the implementation of new technologies, policies, products and services. By offering training, employers stand a much better chance to retain desirable employees, as well as determining who is open to learning and embracing the company’s evolution. Keep in mind, training is an investment into your most precious asset… your employees.

Ultimately, communication is going to drive much of what your employees know or don’t know about the company’s short- and long-term business objectives. Leadership needs to decide what kind of info will be shared, with whom and why, as well as present that info so it’s understood by all people receiving the message and resonates with each person’s level of understanding. The obvious conclusion is to assume the mission, vision and company’s values are well understood by all and are unwavering, so when making adjustments to the business plan, this understanding helps drive the point home and makes adoption of the plan easier.

Reducing Risks and Other Factors

Talent management is more than having a succession plan. It’s understanding the value each position offers and capitalizing on that value in the present with eyes towards the future. Also, external factors such as demand, the market cost to fill certain positions, the economy, geography, Visas, etc. will also impact the alignment of your talent and company-wide business strategy. Items to consider include, but are not limited to:

  • Your current employee pool… what new skills do they need and how can you get them to the skills level your business needs with a shorter time-to-productivity
  • Bringing new talent into your company… do the job descriptions fit the current need with skills to build towards the future
  • Anticipating issues with hiring the right people for the jobs your organization will need to sustain your future business
  • Ensuring everyone on the leadership team is onboard with understanding how the present and future of the business hinges on the alignment of talent to the business plan

There are many answers you need to uncover to truly understand the importance of how talent acquisition and your business strategy should be closely aligned; the list above is only a starting point. Keep in mind, the goal should always be to reduce risks and manage the factors within your control and it begins with a shared vision.

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How High Employee Turnover Hurts Your Company

High employee turnover hurts the business bottom line. It’s estimated that the average cost of a lost employee is 38 percent of the employee’s annual salary. Considering the average income in the U.S. is $50,000 a year, that’s a $19,000 per person. When employees leave, the ripple effect can be felt throughout the company. Lost knowledge, training costs, interviewing costs, and recruitment costs all add up, and companies cannot afford to ignore the long term implications high employee turnover has on the success of the business. As soon as an organization takes the time to consider high churn rates, it starts to focus its narrative on compensation, benefits, training, development, engagement, and morale boosting activities. This leads to a highly motivated and engaged workforce.

Today, it’s uncommon for an employee to remain at a company for more than 5 years. In a survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics it found that the average time an employee spent at a company in 2014 was three times higher (10 years versus 3 years) amongst employees between the ages of 55 and 64, than those between the ages of 25 to 34. Companies cannot prevent their employees leaving for the ubiquitous greener pastures; however, there are means and ways of preventing the inevitable. Factors such as lack of training, ineffective leadership, and employee communication can all pave the way to the exit door. Companies need to shift their focus to their employees in order to be successful in the long run.

1. Lack of training

Employee retention strategies begin right from when the new employee steps through the door. On boarding is an important process as it ensures employees have the necessary knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to become successful in the long term. By introducing them to the mission and the values of the company, new arrivals can adopt company wide practices quicker. When a company implements a successful on boarding program, they experience 54 percent greater productivity and 50 percent greater retention.

But on boarding is only one part of the employee training cake. Once employees have been through the on boarding, and familiarize themselves with the company, and their role, they may become disengaged due to lack of training opportunities. Employees today want to develop themselves into the best that they can be. They want to expand and polish their skills, abilities, and experiences. In a recent survey, it indicated that 40 percent of employees who receive poor job training left their position within the first year. Employees who feel restrained or get bored will eventually start looking elsewhere to fulfill their advancement needs. Well trained employees help increase productivity and profitability because training helps solve the potential performance problems of the job. Employees who are trained, develop more rounded skills to help them contribute more to the company.

2. Ineffective leadership

There is a long standing belief that employees don’t leave their jobs, but rather their managers. Leaders who do not create the right opportunities for their employees, don’t communicate with them, and don’t appreciate them often leads to a high turnover rate. Bad leadership can also be felt throughout the entire organization – only not in a good way. Corporate culture becomes a meaningless term where leaders claim it exists while employees shake their heads in frustration. There is a lack of clear, consistent communication from leadership to the employees. As a result, the office is run by rumour mill, politics and gamesmanship. Employees are uncertain of the company’s goals and objectives for success and they have no idea how they fit into that picture, or what their level of importance is toward making it happen. Employees who feel comfortable with their leaders, often feel more engaged and inspired. The right leader is someone who is able to inspire, motivate and coach their workforce. They often seek opportunities for their delegates and support them in their ongoing development in the workplace. When a company has good leaders, communication is daily and open. Every employee clearly understand the vision and the goals of the organization, and everyone has input into how they can be improved. Employees also feel that they are important and that their job matters within the company.

3. Lack of communication

Communicating with employees, empowering them and creating a culture for them to thrive are all fundamental parts to retention. When important decisions are made by the C-suite, employees and management are generally left in the dark. Lacking of answers deter top management from providing the information that employees need. Creating a structured communication process that informs, emphasizes and affirms the employee’s actions in the workplace all contribute to keeping churn rates low. Communicating is a skill that should come naturally, however it can be the hardest skill to learn. When managing employees, it’s important to keep all communication channels open). Being aware of the questions, concerns and fears that employees might have, and, pro-actively communicating answers will build transparency and trust, and lead to a keeping retention low.

As seen from the above, a certain responsibilities are on business leaders to solve. Once a business is able to overcome these challenges, it becomes difficult for employees to leave the organization. But without understanding there whether or not there is a issue to solve, its a good idea to determine how high your turnover is in the first place.

Turnover is calculated by dividing the amount of people who left the organization by the number of employees currently at the organization over a given period (usually a year).

(number of people who left ÷ people currently employed) x 100

For example: 7 people leave in 2015, and there is currently 100 people the organization.

(7÷100) x 100= 7%

7% turnover rate per year.

Here were the averages per industry (U.S) in 2015:

All Industries: 15.6%

Banking & Finance: 17.2%

Healthcare: 16.8%

Hospitality: 29.3%

Insurance: 10.4%

Manufacturing & Distribution: 13.3%

Not-for-Profit: 15.3%

Services: 15.2%

Utilities: 7.2%

According to a Gallup report, a good number a company should aim to achieve is 10 percent. However, this is based on Jack Welch’s performance management system of stack ranking, which today is seen as old and outdated (even GE is throwing it out). In reality, if 10 percent of the high performers are leaving, the business ends up having a serious problem. One of the first things a company can do to understand their turnover rates in more detail is to track it by a performance quartile. To do this, clearly track turnover by each quarter. Set clear and objective measures of productivity. And determine which employees are performing the best in each department.

Regularly check people’s engagement to understand how each individual is feeling towards their goals. Do this by implementing a bi weekly check in, where managers schedule a time for each one of their delegates to simply open up a continuous dialogue (1:1). By doing this, employees will feel more comfortable about expressing the way they feel in the workplace. When managers do this, they are able to understand the flaws in the team and act on them in a timely manner. This allows a company to become more agile and quicker to respond to business threats. What’s more, from the bi-weekly check in, business leaders can understand their weaknesses, and determine what drives disengagement.

When a company implements a tool, such as Impraise, it allows them to start an engagement survey quickly, which then can draw immediate insights into the current health of the organization. This allows them to understand where their employees may feel they need more clarification or better business practices.

This post was first published on Impraise blog.

If It Feels Good, Do It: Top 3 Upsides To Employee Referrals

Love is a mystery, as is hiring. The former: we can talk about that complexity some other time. The latter: at least, given the rise of analytics and Big Data, is far more able to be quantified now that we can send in the Cloud and conjure up scopey benchmarks and juicy reports. But there’s no guarantee of success: will that brand new star on the 14th floor, lured with chunky compensation and incentives, want to actually stay? Tech talent has a 1.5 percent unemployment rate and competition is fierce for their hands. Bouncing out of one position with grass-is-greener fervor — and sometimes there is a lot more green; poaching up to the C-suite — is it any wonder we’re an anxious bunch?

Think about it: what makes people stay? Love. And money. And tribe. Retention can’t necessarily be bought without risk, but translate this into HR speak and you may well have your magic bullets, at least for the duration. So no more holding back. Perhaps we’ll find in the near future (parsed by analytics, no doubt conjured up by some promising young software brain) that there is one key phrase that keeps people and one key moment that is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. In the meantime, it surprises me is that we’re still asking if employee referrals are worth it, whether as a full-on, incentivized, company-wide programs or targeted to bring in high-value talent. So let me give you the top 3 ways they’re key right now.

1) Old school is new school.

Retro is in. It sells jeans and artisanal chocolate. Retro gives a sense of substance. And there’s nothing more old school in terms of hiring practices than word of mouth. In a survey of the best practices among 300 top U.S. firms (the Inc. 5000), how to search for talent was a key issue. The top two highest ranked methods of finding new talent were co-worker and peer referrals (33%), and then referrals by others — customers, suppliers, and former colleagues (27%).

Given that in the new normal of work, everyone’s either a potential hire or a potential return, the second category is a close cousin of the first. And interestingly, next on the list was social media, e.g., sites like LinkedIn (15%).

2) Transitions are smoother.

The employee who made the referral not only gets to feel like a rock star, but gets to play unofficial mentor. Among the most-preferred methods to get new employees into the mix in that same survey — 48% said informal mentoring was the best way to get new hires acclimatized. The personal investment the employee has in their pal getting the job tends to bleed into wanting to see them thrive and succeed for obvious reasons: we shine in the light of those we stand closest to. From the employer standpoint, two more advantages: the employer brand is palpably represented during the entire process (and best of all, has a familiar face); and there may be a slight reduction in onboarding cost and investment.

3) The tribe is the glue.

The holy grail once known as company loyalty is far more subtle and social. We’ve all learned, and talent discussions tend to focus on the arm wrestle between company retention and a hire’s loyalty to her own career (it’s a trend). But there’s more on the mat than that. Corporations may indeed want to consider themselves people, but they’re not: the glue that binds us is a compelling admixture whose focal point is a sense of community — as well as culture and competition.

For the sake of argument, let’s accept that one aspect of career success is a perceived sense of a worthy tribe — in which one feels recognized and valued. Now, take another look at the value of an employee referral. Among hires brought in as employee referrals, 46% stayed at least three years. Compare that to job board hires, of which only a paltry 14% stayed that long. Again, it’s a win for everyone if incentives are part of the structure: that same employee who referred the new hire may well look at the bonus and go, “Hey, I think I may know a few more.” It reflects a sense of transparency and authenticity on the part of the company as well: we value people enough to put our money where our mission is.

Employee referrals are not even the cutting edge anymore: there are certain firms that now so value their talent that they pay them to hang out rather than see them depart. The emotional intelligence behind that is pretty sharp. But for those of us stuck on earth, with, you know, budgets, that’s not necessarily possible. But if indeed we’re going to follow the best practices of our leaders, there’s no downside. Employee referrals are just plain good for everybody in this world of work, and given its global, multigenerational, transitional state right now, that’s no small thing.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.

Five Reasons Why Today’s Dads Need Support, Too

When we talk about addressing the challenges of balancing work and family, the conversation is often framed as a women’s issue. In response, we’ve seen enterprises make plans and implement programs designed to support working moms.

These initiatives accomplish important work. Family-friendly benefits, like paid maternity leave and child care assistance, have proven valuable in terms of recruiting and retaining female talent, improving gender diversity and driving the bottom line.

But in many cases there’s something missing. It’s obvious, yet often overlooked. It’s dads.

Today’s dads do more than earn a paycheck. They’re engaged parents rising to the challenge of raising a modern family.  They want – and expect – work-life supports from their employers, and forward-thinking companies are the ones who recognize this.

Let’s take a look at five reasons companies need to dial into the modern dads movement:

  1. Modern Families – and Their Employers – Struggle With “Mad Men” Era Policies
    Dual-income families used to be the exception, now they’re the rule. Today, about two-thirds of couples with children under 18 are in dual-earning households – that’s up from about half of households in 1970. After decades of increasing educational and professional achievements of women, we have a generation of men marrying women with career prospects equal to or greater than their own. Millennial moms and dads want to share work and family responsibilities equally. But our modern families – and their employers – struggle when workplace policies are stuck in the Mad Men era. In a recent survey of Fortune 1,000 employees, we found that 90 percent of employees have left work, and 30 percent have cut back by six or more hours per week, due to family responsibilities. For their employers, this translates to costly absenteeism, productivity loss and a hit to the bottom line that could have been prevented with flexibility and family care benefits.
  2. Dads Want Help With Work-Life Integration
    For modern dads, being more involved in household responsibilities than generations past doesn’t mean they’re working less. As the Dads@Work survey revealed, 89 percent of dads reported working more than 40 hours a week, while 30 percent log more than 50. At the same time, about a third of these working dads spend 16-plus hours with their children each week. Nearly half of working dads we surveyed felt their employers should do more to support working parents. In particular, they identified child care assistance (55 percent) and paid parental leave (50 percent) as key areas where their companies could do more.
  1. Recruiting, Retention and Employer Branding
    Dads have been getting a lot of attention this year – in advertising, in media and, increasingly, in the business world as well. Mark Zuckerberg’s paternity leave, Fatherly’s Best Places to Work for New Dads list and recent momentum around gender-neutral parental leave are just a few indicators that the workplace could be approaching peak fatherhood. What will this mean for employers? We can expect supports for working dads to play an increasingly important role in recruiting, retention and employer branding efforts. A survey by the Boston College Center for Work and Family found 89 percent of fathers said if they were considering a career move it would be important that the employer provided paid paternity leave. Sixty percent of respondents indicated paternity leave would be extremely important or very important.’s own research has shown 62 percent of employees – and 83 percent of Millennials – would leave a job for better benefits, and about 70 percent of working parents say the cost of child care has influenced their career decisions.
  1. Gender Equality at Home, Gender Diversity at Work 
    Given the data on families and work, it’s time to stop qualifying “working moms” and “working dads,” for that matter. We need to acknowledge working is the reality for today’s parents, and we need to adjust our systems to support engaged caregivers. Stripping away perceptions of gender norms – namely, that dad’s at work while mom’s at home with the kids – allows us to promote gender equality at home and gender diversity at work. By adopting gender-neutral family-care benefits, progressive employers are able to support families and drive business results though reduced absenteeism, improved productivity and higher engagement. Further, creating a culture in which neither moms nor dads are penalized for being parents can improve gender parity, which strengthens a company and our economy. For evidence in support of this theory we can look to Sweden, where a 2010 study found mothers’ future earnings increased 7 percent for every month of parental leave that her partner took.
  1. Benefits Equality Matters
    Speaking of equality, as an HR leader it’s important to strike a balance with your benefits and total rewards. A successful program should support all of your employees equally – whether you’re looking at moms and dads or pet parents or employees caring for aging parents. A program designed to support all employees eliminates the sense of inequity and resentment that can crop up when populations feel underserved in comparison to others.

The new reality for most families is that both parents work. Sixty percent of households have no stay-at-home parent and 93 percent of dads work outside of the home. The traditional division between our work lives and our homes lives is disappearing, but our societal, and cultural conventions are not keeping up with the realities most families face today.

Dads are looking for their employers’ support to allow them the day-to-day involvement with their families. In today’s marketplace business leaders must build company cultures that encourage both women and men as engaged parents.

The Paradox of Diversity and Inclusion

Almost every organization has a firm understanding of how important diversity is. There is an abundance of research out there that confirms more diversity results in success. Forty-nine percent of executives surveyed by Forbes Insights strongly agree that a diverse and inclusive workforce is crucial to encouraging different perspectives and ideas that drive innovation. With the rise of millennials in the workplace, many organizations have achieved diversity organically. The average human being has turned on the news over the last decade any maybe even has a moral compass that tells them diversity is simply a fairness issue that should be the norm.

I find myself wondering, if everyone knows what diversity is, and why it’s so important, why are white men much more likely to hold leadership positions than women or minorities?

It appears HR’s approach to diversity suffers from the tunnel vision that started with a misunderstanding of what diversity is.

I consulted with an HR pro once who would put a post-it on any applications from minority candidates that read, “Hire a minority,” when passing those off to a hiring manager. When I was first made aware of this practice, I thought to myself, “This has to be limited to this one organization?” After all, who else could believe it’s okay to hire someone solely based on race? Did I read that article on the Supreme Court ruling on racial quotas correctly? It turns out, this practice is all too common throughout organizations, schools, governments, etc.

To truly achieve a diverse workforce that is also inclusive, we must re-examine what diversity is and educate our teams on inclusion.

Real diversity is accomplished through teams that are comprised of multiple generations, cultures, genders, ethnic groups, races, personalities, cognitive styles, length of tenures, organizational functions, parental status, military status, educations, and backgrounds. When building our teams, if we concentrate solely on one characteristic, we alienate groups of society. Much like the HR pro from above was alienating anyone that did not fall within a particular minority. When re-structuring the organization, we must ensure that our teams are as eclectic as possible.

Like many initiatives, there are only as good as the tools you provide to utilize them. Diversity is no different nor is it only HR’s problem or responsibility. Once you have teams where everyone does not think, look and act alike, they are set up for failure if they do not have the knowledge and skill to work together cohesively. This is the most important aspect of diversity and will sabotage your efforts if not setup correctly.

Here are only a five top inclusion initiatives:

  • Ensure your Baby Boomers, Xers and Millennials know what motivates each other and how to communicate.
  • Show your high Ds that their personality type is not superior to others.
  • Create initiatives that enable ethnic groups to see the values of different points of view.
  • Encourage your tenured employees to engage in reverse mentoring of new hires.
  • Invest as much as possible in each team member’s professional development.

If we truly want to make progress and ensure everyone has an equal opportunity, we have to stop thinking about diversity in a vacuum. We owe it to ourselves, our organizations, the HR field and most of all, to society.


Photo Credit: mbnikesportscamps via Compfight cc

Entrepreneurship Is A Sweet Deal

The topic of entrepreneurship fascinates me. I often wonder what makes one person seek out entrepreneurial opportunities while others are content to be employees. I believe for some people the real and perceived risks of business ownership is too overwhelming for them to fathom. For others, there’s the immense commitment of time and resources and not to mention the financial implications. Being an entrepreneur or an employee both have their risks, it’s just a matter of which setting is more comfortable for you and where you see yourself fit.

I had the opportunity to discuss this topic with Elisabeth Vezzani, the Co-founder and CEO of Sugarwish. During an inspirational conversation we talked about the gratifying aspects, along with work-life balance issues entrepreneurs face as a business owner.

Ms. Vezzani, like many people, gained her experience from years in a corporate environment, specifically the staffing industry. During this time, she noticed a gap in the corporate gift market and created a company called Sugarwish, a startup that brings a revolutionary and sweet approach to gifting.

While working in the staffing industry, she sought out clever and unique gifting services to satisfy her own business needs and was disappointed with what was available. She recognized the need and from there decided on a type of gift that appeals to most people and envisioned how these gifts of recognition and thanks could be easy and fun to give and get. According to Elisabeth, “It all started as a conversation I was having with a friend about the lack of clever gifts that were available. I wanted to be able to give a gift that I would want to receive.”

Creating something to satisfy personal need then building it out to offer to others makes a lot of sense to me and one of the elements in the “secret sauce.” You have an idea. However, the change of moving from a position where a consistent source of income coupled with benefits and work that you enjoy doing, is still a big leap over to entrepreneurship.

Still desiring to know more about what differences someone experiences, I asked Elisabeth about the biggest adjustments she encounters between her corporate leadership position and self-employment. As with most entrepreneurs I’ve spoken with, her comments were not surprising. “The biggest difference with self-employment is that there’s no “off button.” states Elisabeth, “Much of it is my total love for Sugarwish… and my inability to stop thinking about what we can do better, or what we can do next. I want to be sure we are making Sugarwish all that it can be, and see it reach its full potential.” 

Ah, the “off button.” This comment makes something come to mind. I see entrepreneurship much as I view parenthood. A full-time, no holds barred, in-for-a-penny in-for-a-pound commitment. Another element of the “secret sauce.” But wait… this sounds like work-life imbalance more than symmetry. According to Elisabeth, “The balance is a little tricky, because that separation line is really blurred. Sugarwish fits into both my work and life categories. There is no “leaving it at the office”. There just can’t be. Keeping balance (and my sanity) requires a little more juggling, a little more understanding from family and friends… and a whole lot less sleeping.” There it is! There’s no separation from personal to business, because for an entrepreneur, their business is personal and so meaningful to them.

But surely, something is a driving force for people bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. They must get more out of the experience than what meets the eye. I can understand the self-satisfaction of “building” something and watching it grow, much like how people who love to garden enjoy seeing the fruits of their efforts develop. The gratification appears to run deep, but understanding the particulars of what is most impactful is probably personal. When I asked Elisabeth about her perspective on the gratification return on investment, she was adamant.

“One of the most gratifying aspects of my job is being able to watch Sugarwish continue to grow,” states Elisabeth, “and seeing it develop from a conversation, to an idea, to an initial website, to a thriving company has been unbelievably satisfying and inspiring. Another, is knowing that what we originally set out to do, specifically, delivering happiness, is working. We get to see how kind, thoughtful, generous and just generally awesome people are to each other… each and every day. All we hear is the good stuff and it never, ever gets old. It is literally the best job in the world.”

Question answered. I appreciate her impassioned response and obvious love of what she does for work. The most important element in the “secret sauce” revealed… a passion for what one does for work.

This desire for independent creativity and drive doesn’t need to be as an entrepreneur. Many people don’t build an empire, yet they still find happiness in what they do and look forward to doing it… every day. In Elisabeth’s case, she found her passion, built her business and set high bars to improve its performance to deliver more gratification, not only for herself, but for the people who interact with her company. For her entrepreneurship is a sweet deal with plenty of cowbell.

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