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.


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

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

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

Onboarding Is Not Brain Surgery

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

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

We Don’t Know Where To Start

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

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

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

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

So What’s Really In It For The Company?

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

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

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

Image credit: Gratisography

3 Secrets To Leading A Multi-Everything Blended Workforce

The new normal in terms of the workforce is not just multi-generational or global. It’s multi-everything. Working alongside each other are permanent payroll employees and all kinds of contingent workers. A recent government report found that 40.4% of the U.S. workforce is composed of contingent workers, and the numbers are trending up. For a slice of reality, I hopped on Glassdoor and typed in, “Google contingency worker” jobs. Of the 49 that came up, there were even positions to be part of the team that manages Google’s enormous, 70+ country, contingency workforce.

Highly skilled, intensely focused, precisely specialized, or just super-competent generalists are parachuted in for a stint, often performing the same tasks and covering the same ground as their perma-colleagues. And we all know this, because many of us qualify as contingency workers: consultants, freelancers, thought leaders. The movement to free agent has shaken up the loyalty culture and put a different kind of spin on the issue of retention. Is it even necessary? Well, I’ll say, and this is all I’ll say for now: it is.

But the blending of workforces was a natural shift in our climate. The traumatic economic contractions we all had to weather not so long ago reminded people that it’s nice to not have to worry about being laid off. And it made companies reevaluate their staffing models. A swinging-door approach may well be a way to better leverage resources: project by project. Moreover, this is an entirely different landscape we work in: we don’t have to be anywhere. We can dwell in the cloud. We’re mobile and social and we’re working digitally and we’re productive wherever we are.

Good. Fine. But here are three essentials for doing it right:

1) Hire on the basis of skills, not cost.

Who’s in charge of bringing in the contingency talent? Let’s start with that word, talent.This isn’t a service contract for a set of copiers, so contingent workers shouldn’t be treated that way. It should be based on skills: what skills gaps need to be filled? Who do we need and at what level? And it’s usually a full spectrum of skills. HR should manage hiring, and it should be connected to other branches of hiring. It should be considered an issue of recruitment, not filling a hole in the dam. Whatever the role, and whatever the duration, should be coordinated with the rest of the organization’s talent strategies.

2) Source widely and often.

Whenever I think about talent sourcing I inevitably think: cast an infinitely wide net, but do it with the best arms you can; make it quick and make it responsive. In terms of sourcing for contingency talent, same rules apply, but even more so. Given that organizations may not anticipate their talent needs — and hence have to turn to contingency workers, there’s even less time to fill. Moreover, the range in contingency talent may be from interim leadership positions (think about it — Twitter, Dupont) to skilled assemblers, and geographically speaking, be all over the globe. We need to have agile, intelligent strategic partnerships with a range of empathetic and effective solution providers — including job sites, staffing specialists and external recruiters.

3) Practice diligent and insightful analytics.

Skipping the application of metrics and meaningful analytics to the non-permanent workforce is to overlook major issues, including organizational holes and skills gaps. But onboarding effectiveness is also affected. You have less time to get them into the daily flow, so this is a brilliant way to see how it’s working. It’s also a great way to measure key performance indicators and core competencies, so long as you have the tech with its sights trained not just on the one sitting at the desk in her office, but the one conferencing at the worktable with his temporary team. There are lots of sophisticated platforms that can respond to business priorities quickly, leverage data into insights, and plot a course going forward. Go for it.

There are, of course, plenty of issues in this new zeitgeist. It’s an incredibly complex example of why HR needs to stay focused on managing profound change. And that’s what this is: a profound change in the way we define, recruit, acquire, and engage talent. Instead of loyalty, we get rapid engagement.

Certainly many of us have wised up and are aware of the benefits of contingency workforces from both sides. For companies, there are all sorts of cost benefits; for workers, there’s work-life balance, millennial-esque self-determinism, and of course building one’s personal brand. And if you really start focusing on some of the most innovative employer brands, here’s an interesting twist: many are associated with interim, temporary, free-wheeling talent. Success lies in freedom, perhaps, and I’m fine with that.

A version of this post was first published on Forbes on 11/7/15

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Are You a Social CEO?

Richard Branson lives large on social media, weaving stories about a life lived on the edge in <140 characters. Jack Dorsey tweets of past presidents, music and business wisdom filtered through poets and writers. Elon Musk narrates rocket launches and provides matter-of-fact commentary on innovation. But the C-suite at HP, Oracle, GE and many other companies has largely been silent on Twitter, LinkedIn and other widely-accessible social media channels. Why, when it would appear social media has changed the rules of communication, would a leader be silent? Hasn’t social media rewritten the rules of leadership? It’s arguably lowered barriers to communication, connected us near-real time, revolutionized hiring and altered the company-to-customer relationship. Internally, it has redefined communication and collaboration. It has made business social.

And it’s increased the risk and rewards of being social. As attention spans wither and society moves away from long-form novels, news, marketing materials, even advertising, businesses are being forced to swim with the tide. There’s no reasonable assurance that investment in social will yield returns a Board will accept, and little reason to expose a CEO to the often-fast paced, sometimes aggrieved world of social “wild west” — but there’s no turning back.

Attention, Intention and Retention

Perhaps the problem is we’re looking for ROI when we should be looking for a pulse and for some form of humanity. It’s early days to tie an executive’s social profile to sales, although the tools are there to begin. Where social makes sense for the C level today is in its ability to affect three things — Attention, Intention and Retention.

Attention = The heartbeat of social media.
People are out there for a reason: they want to be heard, some rather desperately, while maintaining the lowest coefficient of friction. They want to be heard now, and they want it to be easy — easier than shaking a hand while looking someone in the eye. Which is fine, for most people. CEOs are a different matter. They get plenty of attention — from investors, the Board, their direct reports, employees, partners and competitors. Do they really need the attention of the Twitterverse? I’d say it depends what stage company you’re running. If you’re in an early-stage hot tech startup, building mobile apps, video games, big data aggregation tools and the like, then yes, to some degree you should have a social profile. You shouldn’t be on Twitter all the time if it’s not being true to your wants, but six to 10 blog posts and a few retweets of other influencers in your sector, with commentary, will be sufficient. If you’re a private company with a few rounds of funding, building to a liquidity event, in an established market, the pressure to be social may seem less.

Yet this may be the time for CEOs to be more active, targeting influencers, investors and thought leaders in your industry. Visibility is critical. If you can’t do it yourself, get help from an insider. If you can’t deal with Twitter start blogging and have your communications team handle the other social channels. If you’re in an established public company you should have trusted lieutenants listening to social channels and helping to craft social content. Think of social as one place where your leadership style can be communicated to shareholders in a direct and conversational way. It can be a proof point that you’re tuned in not only to the business’s big issues but shareholder issues. It’s all about staying flexible with change.

Intention = Increasingly, social content is affecting purchasing and brand decisions. Companies and CEOs which aren’t attuned to corporate reputation on social channels risk committing brand suicide. Instead, leaders can use social channels to influence and align with consumer intent. Consumers are increasingly empowered to meter their interaction with brands; social is a powerful tool to create demand, bolster reputation and nurture intent to buy.

Retention = Your employees are on social media, at home and at work.Their view of your company will be affected by its online footprint. Use social to connect and build confidence with employees and potential hires; it delivers information, which can be filtered for relevance; it keeps you up-to-the minute on trends in your industry and the culture at large; it creates a global hiring pool, making your organization a talent magnet; it facilitates collaboration; it creates voluntary transparency; and it humanizes your organization and your brand, building a bond that will increase opportunity and allow you to weather challenges. Finally, be ready to respond. The great beauty and power of social media is that it’s interactive, which builds community and buy-in. People will be commenting on what you say. Which is a great thing because, when it works, a comment sparks an idea that sparks an insight that sparks action. One of your jobs as leader is to encourage and nurture this exciting dialogue. So be ready. Also be ready for negative feedback. How you handle it says a lot about your leadership skills. Constructive criticism is a great thing, it makes us better. There will also be snarky comments from people who have a chip on their shoulder. Never ever let people get under your skin. Stay focused on the big picture of what you’re trying to accomplish, which is community-building, engagement and results.

Most social media neophytes I work with find the initial commitment the hardest step to take. The right mindset going in is crucial. I always ask them not to think of social media as an arduous chore, but as a friend and ally, a partner in the quest for innovation, progress and profits. Be human as a leader. It’s time.

A version of this post was first published on Huffington Post on 10-28-15

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Rise Above the Waiting For Godot Workplace Standard

“Hold your fire —
Keep it burning bright
Hold the flame
’til the dream ignites —
A spirit with a vision
Is a dream with a mission…”

—Neil Peart, Mission

It’s like every company meeting you’ve ever been in is a contemporary retelling of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Repetitive 20th century tragicomedies in continuous incremental acts. Painfully existential 30 to 60 to 90+ minutes blocks of time that makes you question why you’re there, along with the why of humanity and your very own soul.

You gather in conference rooms in pairs or teams, young and old, from diverse backgrounds and possibly a different country or three. More than likely somebody next to you is pretty new, whether co-worker or manager.

Some of you wait in the rooms, some of you on the conference phone lines, only to hear every other word during the meeting, if you’re lucky, with no video conferencing in sight.

Maybe there’s a formal agenda. Or a poorly written e-mail resent so many times you’re not sure which version you’re supposed to be referencing. Or there’s someone’s notes that loosely resembles one of your mother’s crumpled undecipherable to-do lists from childhood.

The leader, whoever that is at whatever level, arrives 5 to 10 minutes late, as always. He or she then opens up with an unrelated anecdote, interrupting those of you discussing what you did over the weekend, or the night before.

Stuff is discussed. Progress reviewed. Deliverables assigned. Subordinates undermined. Contradictions intertwined. Yet another reorg announced. A new CEO coming on board. Another round of investment coming in if your founders agree to switch from making X’s to making Y’s. And now you know you’ll have to work late every single night for the next three weeks.

You all adjourn to meet again a week or so later to find out that not much if anything had moved. Then you’ll have to relive it all while defending yourself during your annual performance review.

Let’s go; everything changes; nobody moves. The old “Godot” standard.

This isn’t all fair, I know. There are many companies and business leaders who rise above the painful ambiguity and actually get stuff done. But it’s still a top-down hierarchical hailstorm of old-school motivation, engagement and productivity. Even in global multi-national companies where progress is glacial until a dramatic upheaval of some kind, and where employees and leaders come and go, the world creates, innovates and moves products and services.

And now that Millennials are pretty much the majority of the workforce today, they’re aspiring for something different than the status quo, and inspiring in every generation something more. Weber Shandwick, in partnership with KRC Research, recently released Employees Rising: Seizing the Opportunity in Employee Activism. First, they remind us that more than 8 in 10 employees (84%) have experienced some kind of employer change in the past few years — most typically a leadership change (45%). And only 3 of 10 employees are deeply engaged with their employers (we’ve heard that over and over again, haven’t we?).

Activism isn’t new, but employee activism as explained in the above research and discussed with Jon Mertz and Danny Rubin on the TalentCulture #TChat Show is gaining traction. Every new generation pokes and prods at the status quo and thank goodness for that.

Employee engagement is the old Godot standard. However, employee activism today takes a more elevated mindset and initiates and executes positive actions with usually little to no negative reactions. This extends from leadership to human resources to front-line employees and all communication points in between. This workplace activism embraces a greater calling for businesses today, think corporate social responsibility, yet still drives new revenue growth, new customers, new products, better relationships in the workplace with leadership and employees.

Let’s go; everything changes; everybody moves and makes magic and a living. The new activist standard.

So leadership today please take note from the workforce majority: focus on the people first. Not just the other stuff that’s just about growth and return at the expense of people. Now more than ever many of us both young and old want employee well-being, employee growth and development, and a higher sense of purpose for the work we choose to do and the employee we choose to do it with. This all underscored by Deloitte’s fourth annual Millennial Survey.

We all long for flexibility and fun and greater purpose, but work is actually really hard at times, and it will be stressful and mind-numbing and even a little soul-sucking, especially when we’re working in a job that’s maybe not so higher purpose because we need the work. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again a thousand times – making a living plus an elevated mindset is all hard work.

We all still aspire to do the things we love to do for a higher purpose. And when these opportunities present themselves (and hopefully more businesses are helping present them), the power grid switch from passive to active flips on and every point in the pre-hire and post-hire experience lights us up like a summer county fair.

Because if we can, we all must rise above waiting for Godot workplace standard to do the same. That’s the part when we wink and smile and hold our fires burning bright.

I’m excited to announce that I’ve joined the Talent Board, the organization behind the Candidate Experience Awards. I will help lead and further their mission of benchmarking and elevating the candidate experience and recruiting performance, from the first job post to the final onboarding and beyond in North America and around the world. Join us and the 2015 CandE Winners at the 2nd Annual Candidate Experience Symposium September 30 – October 2 in Fort Worth, TX.  Connect with me to learn more.

#TChat Preview: Build A Remarkable Workplace In Six Steps

The TalentCulture #TChat Show is back live on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, from 7-8 pm ET (4-5 pm PT). The #TChat radio portion runs the first 30 minutes from 7-7:30 pm ET, followed by the #TChat Twitter chat from 7:30-8 pm ET.

Last week we talked about the three elements of a clear and compelling business vision.

This week we’re going to talk about the six steps to building a remarkable workplace.

Nice segue, don’t you think? It’s the people that guide and propel the workplace, right?

If it were only so easy. From this week’s guest’s experience opening a shop a month as part of her organization’s UK start-up, she found that 20% of strategies lead to 80% of retention and profit and none of them are vague platitudes like “be nice to your people.”

No, they are all practical, immediately applicable, step-by-step processes, and we’ll tackle all six on the show.

Join TalentCulture #TChat Show co-creators and hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman as we learn about about the six steps to building a remarkable workplace with this week’s guest Mandy Johnson, best-selling business author, active speaker, advisor and executive educator.

Sneak Peek:

We hope you’ll join the #TChat conversation this week and share your questions, opinions and ideas with our guests and the TalentCulture Community.

#TChat Events: Build A Remarkable Workplace In Six Steps

TChatRadio_logo_020813#TChat Radio — Wed, March 4th — 7 pm ET / 4 pm PT Tune in to the #TChat Radio show with our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman, as they talk with our guest: Mandy Johnson.

Tune in LIVE online Wednesday, March 4th!

#TChat Twitter Chat — Wed, March 4th — 7:30 pm ET / 4:30 pm PT Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and Mandy will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: What actions build a remarkable workplace? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q2: As the softer side of business, how are people at the center of the workplace? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q3: What are the best ways to control workplace-change costs? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Until the show, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group, and in our new TalentCulture G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions. See you there!!

photo credit: Best brick forward via photopin (license)

The Bravery Of Being Fearlessly Authentic

“We play the game
With the bravery of being out of range
We zap and maim
With the bravery of being out of range…”

—Roger Waters (musician and writer)

Small craters pocked the desk around her laptop dock. Tiny tendrils of sulfurous smoke rose from each one, like poisonous snakes entranced by music only they could hear. Pens lay strewn like bodies left behind on a war-ravaged beach.

Jodi rubbed her eyes with shrapnel scarred hands and gazed again into her laptop screen. She thought, Where did it go?

The email — it was right there with all the others earlier that morning. Her boss, a small, overly verbose man who still wore knit ties from the 1980s, had sent yet another loaded negative critique of her work to her, even accusing her of throwing team members under the proverbial world-of-work bus for her own benefit so she could get in the new leadership development program.

She sat on the message all morning, not knowing how to respond at all this time; she hadn’t done anything to her colleagues to better herself, and yet again, he had convinced her that maybe, just maybe, she had. She wanted to get into the program badly, but had followed the rules and submitted the application just like everyone else, only having a brief conversation with the head of HR because of their relationship.

But when she returned to her desk to respond to him, to attempt to again defend her honor, the email was gone. Vanished. A fresh crater smoked near the framed quote on the back of her cubicle, one that her father had shared with her a long time ago.

Be fearlessly authentic.

She trembled. I am, Dad. I am. But he’s not and now he’s deleting emails from the server. And I don’t know what to do about it, except to get the fuck out of here.

Maybe you’ve experienced something like this, or maybe you know someone who has. Sadly, there are a million related stories out there.

Because this isn’t the war for talent we’re dealing with; this is a war on talent. Relentless. Unforgiving. Destructive. Ineffectual leaders not leading the way with the bravery of being out of range, which doesn’t mean literally mean virtual workers dealing with crappy managers “out of range.” It means employees dealing with crappy managers who are inflexible and inaccessible, who attack out of range because they can, because of their authority and the highly misused communications medium known as email, sent from the comfort of a closed-door office less than 10 feet away.

You’ve heard it before — those who can leave, will. And they leave crappy leaders and managers every day (if again they truly can). Billions and billions of dollars each year are spent on learning, leadership development and employee engagement programs, and yet, Deloitte just released new research that shows a huge gap between what business executives say and what they do, and one of the biggest issues highlighted is a lack of focus on leadership development.

And so the war on talent continues, and the authenticity of knowing who we are, what our values are, and being clear on our purpose as leader of self and others continue to float like barrage balloons on D-Day.

According to a new global study of more than 5,500 executives and employees across 27 countries, conducted by Oxford Economics, barely half of the executives surveyed said their companies possess the skills to effectively manage talent, and only 44% have faith that their leaders are capable of driving and effectively managing change.

Plus, only about one-third of the respondents said their firms are prepared to lead a diverse workforce and have the ability to drive global growth.

None of this bodes well for the world of work’s future. This is why it’s imperative that companies devote the required resources to address the leadership gaps that threaten to derail their businesses today and tomorrow.

The good news is that some companies are doing something about developing future leaders, working hard to make them multi-faceted, multi-functional and multi-conversational by giving them cross-functional training and experience. By developing the talent and skills they need, while emphasizing mindful presence and authenticity, companies doing this can position themselves to thrive in the near- and long-term futures.

After attending Elliot Masie’s 2014 Learning Conference for the second consecutive year, where again I spoke (and PeopleFluent has sponsored), I find there’s hope.

For example, listening to the leadership development team from the Universal Orlando Resort talk about the great success of the progressive program they launched in 2010 to develop a pipeline of competent and confident leaders elevated me.

So far, at least 82% of the participants have made it to leadership roles each year, and the participants are promoted six months sooner than non-participants. They also saw an 11% increase in promoting internally, which in turn is giving the program more and more credibility.

And when it came to learning, leadership development and employee engagement, I kept hearing success stories from the likes of Lockheed Martin, Michelin, Shell, GlaxoSmithKline and many other companies. They all seem to understand the business impact of driving deeper levels of learning and employee engagement is dramatic. Deeper engagement from continuous learning drives better talent outcomes and better business outcomes. For companies that have high engagement scores, the results on the business are dramatic.

What’s clear is that when it comes to developing employees and future leaders, too many organizations are simply going through the motions, or worse yet, doing nothing at all. The bravest of companies are reaping a host of benefits, including:

  1. Better business planning—Learning and leadership development leads to better succession planning, which then leads to developing and then putting the right people in the right leadership roles at the right times. When organizations know they have the right people in the queue for key positions, they can proactively plan for the future of the business far more effectively.
  2. Improved retention and lower turnover—Sound learning and leadership development helps to ensure that employees know they’re being groomed for a particular position, which gives them a strong sense of having a clearly defined future within the company. This is a strong retention tool and keeps people from leaving their companies for greener pastures. The resulting cost savings can be substantial but it takes a long-term investment.
  3. Improved employee engagement—Obviously, showing employees a learning plan and defined future with an upward career trajectory is a powerful booster of employee engagement and emotional commitment. And, as employee engagement analysis after analysis has showed the past few years, companies with highly engaged employees experience financial growth rates nearly four times higher than those of companies with lower engagement.
  4. More accurate recruiting—Sound learning and leadership development also helps improve recruiting as well: when employers have a clear understanding of their organizations’ gaps in skills and leadership qualities, they can sharpen their focus on recruiting for specific future roles (even those not yet defined by succession plans), shortening the recruiting process and increasing sourcing accuracy.

Nobody wants a world of work wasteland. Today’s learners are tomorrow’s leaders, so let’s stop waging war on one other and invest in the bravery of being fearlessly authentic and making a learning and leadership development difference.

photo credit: BombDog via photopin cc

Happy Work Folk Are Huggers, Not Walkers

June 30, 2009

“They call them Walkers.”

Rick the recruiter whispered the words like a desperate prayer while he stood at the 10th floor window looking down on the street. Nishi, Rick’s new boss, was puzzled.


“Yes, Walkers,” Rick echoed, and wiped his dry mouth with the back of his hand.

Nishi waved a hand in front of Rick’s face. “Earth to Rick, what are you talking about?”

He pointed to the street. “There.”

Nishi’s eyes tracked along his arm and hand down to the street. Hundreds of people drifted aimlessly toward the front entrance of their building, bumping into one another and eventually amassing as a group in the sweltering heat below. Dozens and dozens more were on their way.

“Oh my God.”

Rick placed his right palm on the window, then his forehead. “I know.”

“Who are they really?”

Rick inhaled and held it. He turned to face Nishi and exhaled slowly into his hands. Nishi’s usually smooth caramel complexion was now ashen, her arms slack at her sides, but fists clenched.

“Ever since the great global economic Armageddon, they’ve been turning up in herds at companies that are hiring, like ours. All over the world. They’re the unqualified, the unemployed, those who can’t find a job. And it just keeps getting worse. More keep showing up.”

Nishi checked her smart phone. “I’ve actually read about this but hadn’t experienced it for myself yet. I’ve also read that they—”

Suddenly they heard shrieks from the street followed by sirens and gunshots. Blue and red lights splashed across their windows and those across the street.

“—eat the employed and the qualified, yes. It’s true.”

Nishi cupped both her hands over her mouth and visibly gagged. Co-workers made their way to the window to witness the horror.

“I know, it’s awful,” Rick continued. “But, what’s interesting is that they only eat those whose companies are thriving, where engagement is high, and where positive company culture is priority number one, which isn’t many right now, but they’re out there. Unfortunately, we’re one of the lucky ones, too. It’s bizarre. They won’t touch the miserable workers anywhere.”

More shrieks from the street. Gunshots. Someone on a bullhorn shouted for the “engaged” to flee the area immediately.

Rick closed his eyes. “I can’t fill my reqs fast enough anymore. They keep eating my candidates. The only way to stop them is to skill them up, or kill them.”

Nishi turned and ran down the hall toward the bathrooms, still cupping her hands over her mouth.

Rick placed both palms and his forehead against the window as if he were bracing for an earthquake. Sweat beaded on his forehead and trickled down the glass in front of him.

“They call them Walkers,” he whispered again…

And today, in the real world, there are still millions of them, although thankfully they don’t eat anyone. For those keeping score at home, I was only having a little fun with the highly popular AMC show The Walking Dead, of which I’m an avid fan.

Sadly, there are still millions of unemployed, regardless of the skewed stats, plus millions more who have given up, and millions of job requisitions that go unfilled because of a growing skills disparity, poor recruiting and hiring practices and trying to find that one qualified candidate in an unfortunate unqualified zombie apocalypse.

It’s certainly no laughing matter. According to BLS JOLTS report, or Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, there were 2.0 official unemployed per job opening for August 2014. Job openings were nearly 5 million with hiring coming in at a lower rate than July. In fact, job openings returned to pre-recession levels while hires have only increased 27% since June 2009, and private sector job openings have also recovered to pre-recession levels while hires have only increased 28% from their 2009 lows.

Oh my God.

For the tech world, however, the picture is much different. Shravan Goli, President of Dice, shared on the TalentCulture #TChat Show that currently it’s the hardest to fill software engineering, cloud computing, big data and mobile development jobs. And while overall tech unemployment sits at 3% and just 2.3% for software developers respectively, companies are having to get creative in terms of attracting tech talent with perks and compensation.

But because it’s hard enough today to find and source the most in-demand tech talent, or any person with the skills most sought after today, and with the high competition for these “holy grail” candidates, it’s not just the job that needs to stand out – companies must as well.

Stand out they do, but not for the best of reasons.

For example, according to a Fast Company article and recent research from the Center for Talent Innovation, U.S. women working in science, engineering, and tech fields are 45% more likely than their male peers to leave the industry within the year. This is due to male-dominated tech, biased performance evaluations and lack of women mentors. Quite disheartening for my wife and I, being parents of two bright little girls who may go into tech someday. Oh, I’m not even going to comment on the egg-freezing benefit offered to Facebook and Apple female employees who want to delay motherhood either.

Oh my God.

What to do? How about the living up to these two things:

  1. Culture up. Companies need to learn how to build and communicate a “diverse” and “open” company culture that attracts the best tech pros (and anyone for any position). Period. That’s what elevating candidate experience is all about (inside and out). That means developing a work environment that most appeals to in-demand tech professionals, and all professionals for that matter, and how they should effectively promote that culture in their social recruiting efforts (and all recruiting efforts). When they learn how to build and communicate a work culture that attracts the most sought-after candidates, it means they know how to identify the aspects of their unique culture that most resonates with their target candidates.
  2. Skill up. This one affects those companies hire and those they don’t. At least until they do, and then they’ll be happy with the continuous investment they make. If candidates and employees don’t receive the experience they increasingly want – where they feel the employer is committed to their ongoing development and helping set the stage for a long and successful tenure of reciprocal growth, they will seek to work for a company that offers such opportunities. In order to truly engage – and thereby retain – talent, organizations must evolve their continuous learning and development practices to drive talent engagement strategies and determine how they can provide a more rewarding experience.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The happily employed are loyal to the work they love first, then those they do it with and for, where the culture (and business) flourishes and embraces both, and then they’re loyal to the company brand. Happy work folk are huggers, not walkers, tempered only by their individual endurance and the distance to empowered culture and continuous skill development.

Let’s work to avoid further zombie apocalypse, which is still out there by the way. Plus, I prefer chicken and fish anyway.

photo credit: Munir Hamdan via photopin cc

Is Technology Making HR More Innovative?

Most people don’t associate HR with innovation. They’d associate HR with the things that traditionally we have been good at — rules, policies, administration.

And they they’d be wrong. The first wave of innovation centered around a more business-focused HR function, in which HR developed as a business partner. This was something of a revolution, although its application rarely worked as well as was hoped (except in larger organizations) — in theory, it aligned HR to business needs.

And, eventually, business outcomes. However, it was needs that were at the heart of the discussion. What’s the business strategy? Are we looking for growth? New markets? How will we deliver the right form of HR: the right people, the right support?

This second wave of innovation is technological. After initial HR solutions delivered solutions around which HR could work, we’ve moved more into bespoke cloud-based HR software, which has resulted in HR demanding more technology.

And that has uncovered limitless potential for HR to inform and even shape the business. The cloud has made HR more innovative. Here are some real-world examples:

Resourcing & allocation of resources

Imagine a world where CRM and HR data are combined — giving the company a double vision. On the one hand, you have customer data — buying patterns, be they geographic or time-based — and on the other, you have people data.

Match the two up, and you can start allocating your people resources better. Starbucks has this down to a tee — matching its staffing levels to when each store is at its busiest. The same applies for talent acquisition — getting in the right resources, for the right times, in the right places — and it’s evidence-based.

Now that HR has this data on the cloud, it’s readily available and, with a little development, can be integrated with other systems.

Talent management

Advanced HR analytics can tell you more about your talent than perhaps you previously thought. From hire to onboarding and talent pipelines, the knowledge is available. And here’s where the Ulrich model blends seamlessly into technology — a knowledge of the business and how each department functions is essential for understanding business requirements.

However, a knowledge of the potential behind the technology is what really underpins talent management.

For instance, technology can do the sifting through CVs for you. It can guide employees through the onboarding process, and can be the foundation for performance management. Advanced analytics can then pinpoint potential future leaders, and map their career progression.

Keeping your best people

Predictive analytics is the Next. Big. Thing. If you believe everything you read. Knowing when people are ready to leave you, therefore, could give you a competitive advantage, especially if you are in a talent marketplace that is particularly competitive.

By analyzing the past and mapping that out into a predicted future model, you’ll be able to foresee which key employees are most likely to leave the business — and introduce a proactive retention program. Equally, you will be able to give the business a better idea of what level of recruitment spend it’ll need over the next 12 months, which helps with budgeting.

But remember…

My old colleague Sean Dunphy says of HR software – “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got” – and he’s right. The technology is meant to be an enabler, not a solution to your problems. It’s meant to deliver business-wide success, not internal departmental success.

Therefore, remember that you’re not working around technology, you’re getting technology that meets your business requirements. It’s a key consideration, and one that many businesses tend to forget over time.

You can do so much with technology in HR – but only if you first consider the potential, before scoping it out. From predictive people analytics to better resourcing & staffing, there’s so much that can be done.

photo credit: “Caveman Chuck” Coker via photopin cc

This Slaphappy World of Work

“A tired mind become a shape-shifter
Everybody need a mood lifter
Everybody need reverse polarity
Everybody got mixed feelings
About the function and the form
Everybody got to deviate from the norm…”

— Rush, “Vital Signs”

On my flight to the third annual Candidate Experience Awards and the first-ever Candidate Experience Symposium, I fell asleep.

And I sort of daydreamed…

It was the year 2030. A new world of work startup called SlapHappy had developed a dramatic new biometric nanotechnology, taking sentiment analysis, work/life integration and employee engagement to an unprecedented place.

The early adopters were few, and while the rest of the world cried out how unethical it and downright crazy it was, the results were astounding. Two extremely powerful computers, the sizes of poppy seeds, were injected into the new employees and contractors of each participating company. Of course, if the interested candidates refused to be injected, then they would be rejected and not hired.

One tiny computer was injected into the frontal lobes and the other into the bloodstream. Billions of cellular and synaptic transactions were measured every minute while highly sophisticated algorithms analyzed the data and generated continuous feedback on how the individuals were feeling about work.

But it didn’t stop there – the data stream was 24/7, ensuring that every second of every day was aggregated and analyzed – to see how the individuals felt about anything and everything.

The caveat was in the what. Meaning, the technology didn’t “mind read,” so there was no way to know specifically what each person was thinking, or if they were seriously ill, but it did give individuals valuable “wellness” information as to how their daily life affected their overall health and mental wellbeing, especially at work.

And for the companies (and even some government entities) participating, well, they could use this data combined with many other skills and competency assessments and qualitative surveys as a litmus test to whether or not they had the right people in the right place at the right time.

In fact, that was part of their tagline: SlapHappy with the Right Transparency in the Right Place at the Right Time.

The complete reports generated with this technology dramatically changed the way companies and employees alike treated each other and developed themselves (and lived their lives), but the core visualization of over “health” included only three simple emoticons:

  • Smiley Face
  • Frowny Face
  • Zombie Face

These emoticons appeared for the participants anywhere they went via their virtual laptops, mobile devices and wearable technology (glasses, watches, etc.). Yes, they were easy to share with the world as well, and many of them were. Participants always new how they felt; their companies always knew how they felt. All parties developed a greater parity with business outcomes (and rewards) because of this intimate real-time feedback.

Companies using SlapHappy also had to agree to appear in their 24/7 SlapHappy Index for all the world to see where they stood at any given time, including attrition rates, innovation rates, revenue rates and more.

Were they a happy place to work? An unhappy place? A place where only the dead walked the hallways?

I awoke from my daydream thinking, “Holy crap.”

Is this the future of ultimate engagement and the ROI of workplace transparency? Will this be how we live, thrive or perish?

No one knows. Yet. But as Kim Peters, CEO of Great Rated!, a company that gives job seekers the inside scoop on companies and their cultures so they can find their best fit, told us on the TalentCulture #TChat Show, companies that want to be the employer of choice, that want to be one of the great places to work for, they need to be willing to take that leap of faith to see just exactly how their own employees feel about working for them and how that in turn affects their recruitment efforts. And the workforce in its entirety must share in that elevating and sometimes debilitating risk.

But when they do, the results can be dramatic:

  • Independent financial analysts regularly study the financial performance of “100 Best” companies. Analysis shows publicly traded 100 Best Companies consistently outperform major stock indices by a factor of 2.
  • Scripps Health, a Great Place to Work® client, faced operating losses, high turnover, and labor shortages. Leaders turned their focus to building a great workplace. In the time since, they drastically improved their financial performance, turnover rates, and employee morale, increasing annual profits by over 1200%.
  • Best Companies typically experience as much as 65% less voluntary turnover than their competitors, saving money in employee recruitment and training.

So, in order to empower this slaphappy world of work, you’ve got to:

  1. Enable X-Ray Vision. If you’re of a certain age, you may remember reading comic books and seeing advertisements for X-ray vision glasses, giving you the ability to see through, well, anything. That fantasy of old is a reality today for employers, employees and candidates alike, with social media and world of work review sites giving anyone the ability to “see through” company walls as much as they can see into candidates’ backgrounds. You want the right people in the right place at the right time, so give them the X-ray vision and help them self-select.
  2. But Kill the CGI. Special effects today are mesmerizing. You can create creatures and landscapes with high-definition clarity that look so real you can sometimes no longer tell the difference. We can literally control the weather of any moment in time (or out of time) with computers, servers and lots of smart code. But in real life, the breakdown to attract and keep talent occurs because we continuously market and sell each other blue sky, when all the while the true storm clouds brew and burst at a moment’s notice, grounding trust’s feeble flight. Both employers and employees take note: we will never be able to control the weather. Ever.

Love it or leave it, how we feel about what we do and where we do it is only going to proliferate further online, deviating thankfully from the norm and shining bright spots upon the world of work.

Hey, I’ll show you my emoticon if you show me yours.

photo credit: Dru! via photopin cc

Photo: Nick van den Berg

5 Links between Talent Management and Employee Engagement

Talent management and employee engagement have become key buzz phrases in business. Each has taken human asset management to a more specific, more integrated level.

Talent management’s definitions are reasonably consistent. Here are valid examples:

Talent management offers value at the revenue end. Customer satisfaction, product development, and marketing innovation all benefit by being accomplished by talented performers. Talent management also contributes to expense reduction. Quality improvement, process redesign and employee retention are results generated when talent works the business.

Among the many, varied definitions of employee engagement, I select this one:

Simply stated: talent management acquires and supports higher levels of skills and knowledge; employee engagement increases the value application of the skills and knowledge. Talent generates revenue and reduces expenses; engagement lets them do that more, do that better.

Businesses now aim to give more attention and action to both talent management and employee engagement. That attention needs to be well-directed; those actions need to be well-developed. Let’s look at five links between talent management and employee engagement. These links promise to increase a company’s success in improving both attention and action.

Better Onboarding Link

A powerful onboarding program introduces talented candidates to the business’ engagement culture immediately. The individual can actually engage in onboarding activities — rather than sitting at a desk and thumbing through a binder. A strong program demonstrates employee engagement as the business lifestyle. Engagement is proven to attract active talent. Opportunities to engage from the start heighten talent’s appreciation…and engagement. What company doesn’t truly want an onboarding process that lets new talent “hit the ground running” and then run even faster?

Competitive Advantage Link

Competition for talent is fierce because talent is a leading factor in a company’s competitive advantage. Recruiting, developing and retaining talent are the tools that build competitive advantage. Talent management starts with recruiting. Stronger recruiting efforts contribute to greater talent acquisition. Employee engagement adds to developing and retaining talent. It demonstrates the company’s appreciation of their value to the company — as it builds their value to the company. What company does not look for every possible way to gain advantage over their competition?

Performance Improvement Link

Talent joins a company appreciating the company and its product. As talent engages more fully in company operations, assignments, projects, that appreciation grows. The greater the appreciation, the greater one’s commitment to performing with quality. An employee — especially a “talent employee” — who has the opportunity to perform in ways which she/he sees as valuable consistently seeks to improve that performance. What company does not want to start with talented employees and then enjoy seeing them improve on their talent?

Customer Satisfaction Link

Customers naturally prefer to experience quality product and quality service. Research says it is the people with whom customers interact that determine the customer’s opinion of that quality. Talent management looks for quality candidates. Employee engagement turns up that quality.  Successful attraction and recruitment combine for the first step. Once talent is hired, employee engagement strategies increase communication and commitment. These are critical characteristics that satisfy customers. What company doesn’t want satisfied customers? What company doesn’t rely on its employees to generate such satisfaction?

Reduced Turnover, Increased Retention Link

If intense effort is made to hire talent, equally intense effort should be expended to retain talent. Employee engagement is a specific element of talent management insofar as it boosts a company’s ability to hold on to talented employees. People stay with companies they value. The more an employee is allowed and encouraged to engage in job, team, and company efforts, the more she sees the value. People stay with managers they trust. The more managers and employees engage in continuous communication about expectation, the more trust develops in their relationship. People stay with companies that offer opportunities for personal, even professional growth. The more your company provides such opportunities — training, mentoring/coaching, community involvement — the more growth the employee witnesses. What company doesn’t want quality talent to stick around?

(About the Author: As an Employee Engagement and Performance Improvement expert, Tim Wright has worked with businesses and national associations of all sizes. His company, Wright Results, offers proven strategies and techniques to help businesses increase employee engagement, improve personnel performance and build a strong business culture by focusing on performance management from the C.O.R.E. For more information, visit or connect with Tim here:

2014: Year of the Social Employer Brand Ambassador

We already know that social media is extremely powerful for business communication. Essentially, anyone with an internet connection has the potential to cultivate and grow a brand. Corporate brand, product brand, personal brand, employer brand — the possibilities are limitless.

It’s as easy as flipping on a light switch! Well maybe not that easy, but social channels have blown traditional media out of the water, and there’s no going back.

Of course, with its potential to drive brand development, social proliferation can also have a huge impact on talent acquisition and retention. How does that work? The idea in leveraging social media to grow a brand is through a fan base that we call “brand ambassadors.” Collectively, your ambassador group functions like a marketing and promotional team that amplifies the message for whatever it is that you’re trying to sell — products, services, yourself or your organization.

Employer Brand Ambassadors: What’s the Challenge?

If you’re an employer, which audience should be your biggest, most important source of brand ambassadors? Customers? Industry thought leaders? Local media outlets? Nope — it’s your employees. But do organizations currently view employees this way? Based on my experience in working with HR executives, I struggle to say yes.

We know that social media instantly connects you with the online world, and the most effective way to grow an employer brand is through social media channels — Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, blogs, Instagram, Pinterest — the list goes on. So ideally, if employees are your prime brand ambassadors, and social media is the best way to grow your brand, you should be able to say that, when your employees interact with others on social channels, they’re effectively promoting your organization as a great place to work.

Are you confident making that claim? Unfortunately for most employers, the answer seems to be NO!

Enter My Bold Prediction for 2014

With the holiday season upon us, we’re seeing our share of blog posts about HR Technology predictions for 2014. One of many good reads is from Craig Bryant at the TLNT blog, “5 Predictions for Where HR Technology is Going in 2014.

My key prediction is a tad bold, but here goes: I think that organizations are ready to give their employees the right tools, so they can easily represent the company as brand ambassadors on social media. In other words, employers will actively explore and implement cloud-based solutions that make it simple for employees to curate and share high-quality, on-brand content with their connections.

Why Does This Shift Matter?

The biggest barrier organizations face when integrating social media across business functions is the inability to ensure a consistent, coherent brand message and voice. It’s about mitigating risk and ensuring that employee social media activity creates a net positive impact, and doesn’t result in PR fiascos. (Case in point: HMV employees react to firing on Twitter.)

Organizations that figure out how to remove these barriers so employees can comfortably operate as employer brand ambassadors will see huge gains in all facets of their business. Think about it — if your company has 500 employees, and each employee has an average social media network of 300 people, that’s a direct network of 150,000. All of these 150,000 connections have a network of their own, so before you know it, you’re reaching millions — all because you enabled your inner circle.

Mark my words: 2014 will be a watershed year of “employee enablement.” Organizations will gain momentum by creating and supporting brand ambassadors who come from within their ranks.

There are very few players in this space, but watch for momentum in the year ahead. You’ll want to look at platforms like PostBeyond, Jostle and EveryoneSocial to see how they help organizations support employees as brand ambassadors. Fasten your seat belts ladies and gentlemen, 2014 is going to be a milestone year for social HR business tools!

(Editor’s Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with others in the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events every Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Want Engaged Employees? Tell Them Why

(Editor’s Note: Want to learn more from Meghan about employee engagement strategies? Join a special #TChat webinar on November 7th, with Virgin Pulse president David Coppins. Register now …)

Late last year, I had an eye-opening experience while visiting a high-tech industry client.

Their office space is very cool. At first glance, it’s exactly what we expect from organizations with edgy, innovative brand personalities. But on second thought, something seemed to be missing.

The design is full-on open concept — rows of modular worktables, very low partitions, no private offices. As I looked across this vast bullpen, I couldn’t help wondering how people find a useful corner for a private one-on-one conversation, a quick team huddle, or an escape from distractions when it’s time to concentrate and actually get things done. This just doesn’t feel like a fully functioning workplace, where people can be productive throughout the day.

What’s Wrong With This Engagement Picture?

Of course, there’s a large, sunny cafeteria and a designated gaming area, complete with foosball table. That clearly helps seal the deal with new recruits, right? Well, perhaps I’m a bit jaded, but something about this hip, techie environment seems more like the year 2000 to me, when business managers decided that in-house cafes and communal work areas were the recipe for a happy, high-performance workforce.

Even now, part of me remains unconvinced. Why?

As a talent strategist, I work with many organizations whose primary staffing requirements focus on “thinking” jobs in the software development realm. Top performers in these positions typically want and need time, space, peace and quiet to perform well.

Sure, they collaborate with team members. And they love games and free coffee, soda and popcorn — who doesn’t? But these perks aren’t some sort of “secret sauce” that produces employee engagement. Employers may hope that games, food and wide open spaces guarantee happy, productive employees, but that’s not how it works.

Engagement is forged with different tools — trust, loyalty, open communication, clearly-articulated goals and expectations, shared values and well-understood reward systems. It really isn’t about how the office is designed, or how many toys you offer as distractions. It’s about treating employees as humans who are worthy of respect.

When companies like the one I visited tell me that their workplace culture and trendy furniture build employee engagement, I try to help them see that they’re focusing on the wrong part of the equation. They’re focusing on what, not why. The “what” can reveal a lot about a company, but it’s the “why” that tells you it’s a good company to work with.

5 Employee Questions Every Company Should Answer

What factors contribute to the “why” of employee engagement? Here are the top 5 questions I ask business and HR leaders to answer. They’re intentionally written from an employee’s point-of-view. If you answer honestly, your organization’s engagement strengths and weaknesses should become more clear:

1) “Why am I here?” How can you expect an employee to “get it” if you don’t communicate a shared sense of mission, vision and goals? Tell people why you want them to work at your company, and why you think they’ll succeed. Then you can focus on how they can achieve those goals.

2) “Why should I trust your leadership?” Open communication builds trust, which is essential to engagement. Respect is essential to mutual trust, which also contributes to engagement. Clear, open communication matters. But follow-up matters, too. Do you lead by example? Are your words consistent with your actions? The stronger the alignment, the stronger the trust.

3) “Why should I be loyal to your company?” Engaged employees know why they’re loyal – they are treated with respect. Companies that focus first on procedural activities, such as time tracking, will never see strong workforce productivity or engagement. Demonstrate your commitment and trust in employees, and they’ll respond in kind.

4) “Why don’t you communicate your company values?” Fail to show employees why core values matter, and you might as well forget about engagement. Even worse, if you talk about values and then behave in a vastly different way, you’ll telegraph just how little management actually embraces those values. Explain why a value system is important to you, and the what — the actual list of values — will follow.

5) “Why aren’t you clear about the rewards of working here?” Even in this enlightened era, surprisingly few companies are open about their approach to compensation. Yet, employees want to know what to expect in return for their contributions. You have nothing to lose by being clear and open about your reward system — including everything from pay and benefits, to vacation and bonuses, to development opportunities and career paths. Explain the why and what of your reward structure, and people will sign-on. But of course, the proof is in the pudding. It’s essential to be clear, consistent and unambiguous in creating and sharing rewards, or engagement will go out the window.

Winning Hearts And Minds: Put “Why” Before “What”

Innovative workspaces certainly have a place in the engagement mix. But that’s not the whole package. If your employees can’t answer the five questions above, all the cool workplace culture in the universe will not make a difference. First focus on the “whys” of working for your company, and you’ll win hearts and minds — regardless of what desk, chair or computer equipment you offer.

What are your thoughts about the “whys” of employee engagement? Let me know. I’m listening…

(Editor’s Note: This is adapted from a post at, with permission.)

Image Credit: Katie Sayer at

The 3 "Rs" of Hiring "A" Players

Recruitment + Referrals + Retention

If you want to attract top talent, and keep those high performers on your team (as I assume every employer does), it’s important to create a virtuous cycle. You’ll find it in cultures driven by passion, where employees are treated with respect, and candidates are treated like employees. There’s a continuous loop of positive reinforcement.

It sounds simple enough. So, when companies miss the mark, where do they go wrong? I think many organizations approach recruiting as an isolated objective. But the most effective talent strategies are built on three components that work together to complete the loop:

1) Recruitment

Today the employee experience starts long before the first day at work. With the growth of Glassdoor and other “talent marketplace” sites, anyone can comment about you as a prospective employer, even if they never receive or accept an offer. Your reputation is critical in attracting top talent, so it’s essential to treat candidates with the same level of attention and respect that you extend to employees.

2) Referrals

Unhappy, disengaged employees typically don’t refer friends to their employers. On the other hand, smart employees won’t refer weak candidates to an employer they like. That psychology naturally favors referral programs for organizations devoted to employee success. With the right structure and nurturing, a referral program can help develop a vibrant culture, where people are committed to working toward a common purpose. You can empower your workforce to select for cultural fit, while dramatically reducing recruiting costs, and decreasing the time needed to help new employees achieve peak performance.

Check out the SlideShare presentation below for more insights about the power of referrals.

3) Retention

When building your recruiting strategy, don’t neglect your organization’s current workforce realities. For example, is your employee turnover rate unacceptably high? If your company faces a retention problem, accelerating recruitment is like shoveling water out of a sinking boat. It’s smarter to focus on plugging the hole. If you address the problems that cause employees to leave, you’ll not only have fewer positions to fill, but you’ll also attract top performers more easily. Savvy candidates quickly sense a toxic or chaotic culture. On the other hand, passion and engagement are contagious, and will draw qualified candidates to your door.

Integrated Approach = Business Benefits


Attend the on-demand webinar now

In HR, we know better than anyone that the quality and commitment of people on your team are the foundation of business success. If your talent strategy considers what happens before, during and after every hire, you’ll create a sustainable framework for top performance.

For more talent acquisition and retention advice, listen now to Achievers’ recent “24×7 Recruiting” webinar, featuring TalentCulture founder Meghan M. Biro.

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

The 3 “Rs” of Hiring “A” Players

Recruitment + Referrals + Retention

If you want to attract top talent, and keep those high performers on your team (as I assume every employer does), it’s important to create a virtuous cycle. You’ll find it in cultures driven by passion, where employees are treated with respect, and candidates are treated like employees. There’s a continuous loop of positive reinforcement.

It sounds simple enough. So, when companies miss the mark, where do they go wrong? I think many organizations approach recruiting as an isolated objective. But the most effective talent strategies are built on three components that work together to complete the loop:

1) Recruitment

Today the employee experience starts long before the first day at work. With the growth of Glassdoor and other “talent marketplace” sites, anyone can comment about you as a prospective employer, even if they never receive or accept an offer. Your reputation is critical in attracting top talent, so it’s essential to treat candidates with the same level of attention and respect that you extend to employees.

2) Referrals

Unhappy, disengaged employees typically don’t refer friends to their employers. On the other hand, smart employees won’t refer weak candidates to an employer they like. That psychology naturally favors referral programs for organizations devoted to employee success. With the right structure and nurturing, a referral program can help develop a vibrant culture, where people are committed to working toward a common purpose. You can empower your workforce to select for cultural fit, while dramatically reducing recruiting costs, and decreasing the time needed to help new employees achieve peak performance.

Check out the SlideShare presentation below for more insights about the power of referrals.

3) Retention

When building your recruiting strategy, don’t neglect your organization’s current workforce realities. For example, is your employee turnover rate unacceptably high? If your company faces a retention problem, accelerating recruitment is like shoveling water out of a sinking boat. It’s smarter to focus on plugging the hole. If you address the problems that cause employees to leave, you’ll not only have fewer positions to fill, but you’ll also attract top performers more easily. Savvy candidates quickly sense a toxic or chaotic culture. On the other hand, passion and engagement are contagious, and will draw qualified candidates to your door.

Integrated Approach = Business Benefits


Attend the on-demand webinar now

In HR, we know better than anyone that the quality and commitment of people on your team are the foundation of business success. If your talent strategy considers what happens before, during and after every hire, you’ll create a sustainable framework for top performance.

For more talent acquisition and retention advice, listen now to Achievers’ recent “24×7 Recruiting” webinar, featuring TalentCulture founder Meghan M. Biro.

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Recruitment Insights Webinar: Join Us!

What does it take to recruit top talent in today’s business environment? Is a nonstop employer commitment essential? And how can companies link recruiting and retention more closely, for better business results?

Learn from the experts at a very special webinar this Thursday, July 25, at 1pm ET/10 am PT. At 24×7 Recruitment TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro, and Achievers Talent Acquisition Manager, Kate Pope, will engage in a dynamic discussion about the factors that make or break recruiting strategies.

WR_247Recruit_SM_404x404-001“I’m passionate about exploring best practices in talent management — and forums like this create an opportunity to share ideas with a broader community” Meghan says. “Earlier this year, TalentCulture and Achievers joined forces to help generate conversations that elevate the future of work. This brings that concept to life in a way that can make a real difference for talent-minded professionals.”

Throughout the webinar, members of the TalentCulture community are invited to share highlights and questions on Twitter by tweeting with Achievers’ #A_Chat hashtag.

Register now at, and join the discussion this Thursday!

Participating Organizations

Learn more about Achievers, and follow @Achievers on Twitter.
Learn more about TalentCulture, and follow @TalentCulture on Twitter.

The Business Wisdom of Recognition #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Are you looking for a full review of this week’s events and resources? See “Recognition: Meaning and Motivation: #TChat Recap.”)

If you could pick your dream employer, where would you work?

Patagonia? Facebook? Google? It’s no mystery why so many people find these companies attractive — employee satisfaction is off the charts. Great organizations offer members of their workforce many reasons to love their jobs. And studies show it’s a worthwhile investment. High employee engagement is directly tied to tangible business benefits — improved productivity, increased retention and higher profits.

Recognition: Secret Sauce?

Perhaps the most vital factor in the engagement equation is recognition. But recognizing employees is apparently easier said than done. Can we learn from best practices? It seems like a great place to start. That’s why we’re focusing on “Recognition Done Right” this week at TalentCulture #TChat forums. Leading the way are two experts on employee recognition:

#TChat Sneak Peek Videos

Max briefly joined me for a G+ Hangout to outline the role of recognition in today’s workplace:

And then Stan offered a glimpse of why and how recognition is so important:

#TChat Events: Recognizing How to Recognize


Listen to the #TChat Radio show

This aspect of employee engagement has such tremendous potential. So why do organizations and leaders often seem to struggle to get recognition right? How important should this be on a leader’s list of priorities? What are your thoughts, as professionals who focus on the “human” side of business?

Let’s talk about it and learn from one another!

#TChat Radio — Tuesday, May 21 at 7:30pmET / 4:30pmPT — Stan and Max join our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman for a 30-minute deep dive into issues and opportunities surrounding recognition and organizational culture.

#TChat Twitter — Wednesday, May 22 at 7:00pmET / 4:00pmPT — Calling all #TChatters to join us on Twitter, as Stan and Max return to drive an open online crowdsourcing conversation. Check out the questions and weigh in with the crowd!

Q1:  How important is employee recognition as it relates to performance?

Q2:  How often should companies recognize employee achievement, and why?

Q3:  How can recognition be tied to the overall values of an organization?

Q4:  What are creative ways you’ve seen business leaders leverage recognition?

Q5:  How can technology improve employee recognition and engagement?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our new LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Employee Engagement or Lack Thereof? #TChat Preview

One thing it know is true about the world of work: All business leaders say they want to engage with employees. They know it’s a way to retain talent, hold off attrition, boost productivity and support job satisfaction. However, they don’t know why engagement really matters, because they don’t know really what engagement is.

Most leaders sense that engagement is a soft skill – a skill they don’t have. You’d think that leaders in HR and other disciplines would come with soft skills built into their DNA, but that’s not the case. Many people come to HR from the risk–compliance management spectrum; not all have equal strengths, intuition or training in psychology, motivational leadership or cognitive sciences to count mindfulness as a core skill. Yet this soft skill set is needed to be an expert in employee engagement.

When you’re a direct report—even dotted line—to executive management, you’re dealing with spreadsheets, numbers, percentages and formulas. Engagement is an abstract notion and tough to measure using a formula or process analysis. It’s fine to be analytical: I am; most introverts are. But you also must have antennae up all the time for the nuances of human interchange: the averted glance, the nervous tic, the anxious re-arrangement of articles on a desk, the bold stare with irregular blinks, the pinking of complexion that reveal what a person is really feeling, really thinking. All are cues that tell a state of mind, and all tells for engagement or lack thereof.

This week on #TChat Twitter we’re going to examine employee engagement—i.e., the lack of it, the skills needed for it, the mindful state required to understand the very notion of it. It’s a controversial topic. Some of us are data-driven, and some are emotion-driven. But we all need to discuss, and attempt to understand, what drives employee engagement. So here are this week’s questions:

Q1: We hear so much about lack of employee engagement, but what exactly is “engagement” and why?

Q2: Is it simply toxic leadership that affects culture and engagement, or more than that?

Q3: Are stretch assignments and risk-taking important to employee engagement? Why or why not?

Q4: What can employees do to improve their own mindful engagement investment? What about leaders?

Q5: How can technology facilitate and improve employee engagement? How can it hurt?

Are your pumpkins out on the front step yet? Please join us Wednesday, Oct. 17, from 7-8pm ET (6-7pm CT, 5-6pm MT, 4-5pm PT, or wherever you are) to explore employee engagement—the roles that leaders and employees alike must fill, and those that employers must be responsible for, as organizations. Peppering our conversation will be discussion of the roles that new (and old) technologies play, as well, in facilitating employee engagement.

I will moderate (look for me @MeghanMBiro). Joining us will be Kevin W. Grossman (@KevinWGrossman), the rest of the #TChat gang and, most importantly, you. Please bring your thoughts, tips and guidance to the show. Perhaps we can, together, learn a bit more about how to foster employee engagement. It’s a worthy topic.

Image credit: Aleksandra P./GiniMiniGi

Painful Formalities of Informal Onboarding: #TChat Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image Credits: UnWelcome Mat via Freaking Craft

Battle Foods Employee Handbook Cover, by John Trainor

Cultures of Trust = Productivity, Retention and Business Growth: #TChat Recap

If you ride in on your white unicorn shooting trust arrows and sprinkling culture glitter, are you the magical Chief Culture Officer?

Probably not — someone will call security or dial 911, and you’ll be hauled away quicker than most of your management colleagues can tell you how poorly you’ve been collaborating and knowledge-sharing, both of which contribute to quality workplace cultures.

And, unfortunately, that means HR folks are the not-so-magical professionals in whom management folks usually place responsibility for cultural onboarding – from recruiting, to hiring. to training, to retaining. And yet, according to a recent study by global business consultants The Hackett Group, 79% of executives were dissatisfied with HR’s collaboration and knowledge-sharing.

That was just one of many criticisms of HR, the best of the worst coming from recruiting colleagues who said their HR leaders were kinda okay, but not really. What surprises me about all of this is that organizations have decimated the people management and development budgets of the past five years, with little or no support being given to the growing number of progressive HR leaders and other executives who actually want to better facilitate cultures of trust, sharing, collaboration and learning (sans the unicorn, arrows and glitter).

Most of us in talent acquisition and management know that culture and trust fuel productivity, retention and unified business growth. And even if you don’t buy the culture line, if I don’t have anything beyond short-term affinity, then productivity will wane quickly, killing business growth.

Think about organizations today — the greater cultural ecosystem of the business is made up of full-time employees, part-time employees, flex-time employees, temporary employees, contractors, vendors, service providers, alumni, new applicants — and let’s not forget the customers. This morning on Facebook my friend Bryan Wempen, from DriveThruHR, wrote:

Just pointing out that social networking is powerful; the two way conversation is happening WITH or without you corporate america. American Airlines did a great job today being in the conversation, very nice. I always try to balance my bitchin’ and compliments about 20/80 if possible. Just kidding….LOL

Kidding aside he then shared the Twitter exchange between himself and American Airlines. Today businesses are big, messy melting pots of talent communities that spill over onto one another constantly — true talent communities in every sense of the words, offering professionals and organizations the ability to connect, communicate and collaborate.

All three activities take place not just around employer brands for the sake of branding and marketing, but also around customer service exchanges, relevant learning and developing opportunities for an organization’s entire cultural ecosystem. The bulk of it helps to elevate the 21st-century value of long-tail engagement, learning and all different kinds of growth — again, with cultures of trust fueling productivity, retention and unified business growth.

Let’s give back the tools, resources, the quivers of arrows and, yes, the glitter to the Chief Culture Officers, HR, executive management and anybody and everybody who executes on cultures of trust and fuels team-slash-work learning and loyalty. Again, thank you, Matt Monge, for your guest moderation of this important topic on #TChat. Already, we can barely wait for next week’s #TChat World of Work. Check out the slideshow below of your tweets from yesterday. Did you miss the preview? Go here.

Image Credit: Stock.xchng


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Storified by TalentCulture · Wed, Aug 15 2012 17:37:58

Snapshot of the #Tchat talk about the CCO today, via @SayZu @MattMonge @MeghanMBiro @Grant27 Lambert
RT @TalentCulture: .@MattMonge is moderating #TChat today at 7pmET – Who’s excited?! Preview: Perfetti
Q1: What is a Chief Culture Officer? Do they exist? If so, what is their role & why? #tchatMatt Monge
A1: CEO is de facto CCO if nobody else is appointed. Prob spreads that job too thin and disservice to org. #TChatTom Bolt
A1: It must be an incognito role meshed w/ HR Business Partner, etc. I’d like to see that advertised though! #tchatPlatinum Resource
A1 I think the CCO has to exist somewhere in the middle of HR and the C-Suite- The role cannot exclusively belong to one or the other #TChatJanine Truitt
A1 Manage message, inside/out; deep understanding of business mission, product and people; overlay on policy, assure consistency. #TChatMary E. Wright
A1: CEO of Evernote, @plibin says culture is directly tied into how the product is made and used internally #TChatSean Charles
A1 Every company has a CCO but does not necessarily go by that title. #TChatRedge
A1: The CCO bridges creative, IT and finance : the role is a master of finding patterns in the chaos of fast and slow culture #TchatAvi Lambert
A1: A CCO would be somewhat useless without a CEO/Founders and Leaders that embodies the principles/values/etc #tchatGeorge LaRocque
A1: The CCO has to be someone with power and influence. #TchatRobert Rojo
A1. Every employee should also work to keep a positive culture. #TChatInsperity Jobs
#TChat A1: Love what u r doing here. My version of CCO concentrates on culture outside the corp. U r working on culture inside? Combine em?Grant McCracken
A1 Think Google does have a CCO – responsible for various employee-centered programs. #TchatMarla Gottschalk PhD
A1: Jim Senegal, CEO of Costco. Excellent example of CEO and CCO. #TchatCatherine Chambers
Q1: What is a Chief Culture Officer? A1: A person who drives and owns the culture of an organisation, combo of HR and IC #tchatAdobe Careers APAC
A1 Culture is driven from the top – shared values. Positive or negative, it starts with the CEO #tchatMargaret Ruvoldt
A1. Hopefully someone who takes the time to listen to employees at all levels to determine what culture track would work for the co #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A1: Where there’s culture, there’s someone “chief”ly responsible for it; CCO exists everywhere, officially or not. #TChatBrent Skinner
YOU are the Chief Culture Officer behind everything you say online & off. Take responsibility for your words & actions #tchat a1Garick Chan
a1. Couldn’t anyone in the org be the Cheif Culture Officer? #Tchat #JustSayingDave Ryan, SPHR
A1: Ideally, CCO responsibilities should be shared by all within an org. More of a behaviour than a position. #tchatCatherine Chambers
A1 Judging by the gross injustices that go on in orgs there should be many more CCO’s to make sure orgs are doing right by their EE’s #TChatJanine Truitt
A1: Chief Culture Officer is responsible for setting tone, behaviors and attitudes for the organization #TChatSean Charles
A1. CCO makes sure your cultural “fabric” is strong and helps the company’s culture shift with change. #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A1. Agreed, the CEO should definitely be the culture champion of the company. #TChatInsperity Jobs
A1 Instigator, facilitator and regulator of the living ecosystem of values, beliefs & behaviours we call org culture #tchatSalima Nathoo
A1: Whilst CCO sounds like the top of the tree; ultimately everyone in an org is a Chief Culture Officer #tchatMelissa Bowden
A1: Culture starts with the CEO/Founders – whether they like it or not. IMO culture should be a concern for leaders in a company #tchatGeorge LaRocque
A1: The individual or collective responsible for recruiting, hiring and retaining, baby. Could be C, VP or D. But better be. #tchatKevin W. Grossman
A1: Chief Culture Officer as a “Vulnerable Visionary” or no? We are still defining! Exciting. #leadership #TChatMeghan M. Biro
A1: CCO do exist, in larger orgs, generally they are the CEO who sets the culture who is the source. #tchatJen Olney
A1. Yes they do exist, I wished more companies realized their importance though. I just spoke to a friend who dealt with bad culture. #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A1: The culture is set by the person at the top. #tchatRob McGahen
A1: Head of HR should be CCO w/ or w/o that title. Culture is the means by which talent gets business results. #tchatJon Tveten
A1: I think the CEO is the Chief Culture Officer #TChatChina Gorman
Here’s Q2! How should the CCO facilitate and maintain employee connections, communications & collaborations from day 1? #tchatMatt Monge
A2 Think of what you want to say then what you actually tweet. Now apply the same rule to your site. #TChatRedge
A2: On Day One, #leadbyexample loudly & appropriately. Then, engage with & exercise respect for org’s employees. #TChatBrent Skinner
A2: Ensuring that employees feel like their contributions count #tchatAdobe Careers APAC
A2. CCOs should welcome employees that speak up and challenge things. Be willing to consider a change for the better. #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A2 Culture is multi-dimensional – not always healthy. CCO would have a challenging role. #TchatMarla Gottschalk PhD
A2 There needs to be a directive that the CCO is to report any red flags in the culture no matter what. No politics or smoke screens. #TChatJanine Truitt
A2 I can teach you anything, except culture fit. Find employees who share your values and passion. #tchatMargaret Ruvoldt
A2: Leadership that is open, engaged, passionate, interested, and available will spread culture like wildfire. #tchatMark Salke
A2: Measure and communicate the impact of engagement. Make sure people know how their input has influenced outcomes. #tchatCatherine Chambers
A2 Part of the job might be monitoring the culture for changes in culture “momentum”. #TchatMarla Gottschalk PhD
A2. Hire people that are passionate about your company, culture, and/or product/service. They’ll MAKE and RETAIN positive environment #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
#Tchat A2 Combine social listening with cultural buy-in from the C-Suite 2 enable employees to be social, and respond authentically @Grant27Avi Lambert
A2 CCO’s would support the intended vision& be sure that HR can bring in new employees that would meld with the “vibe”. #TchatMarla Gottschalk PhD
A2 Be present, engage directly (walk & talk), meetings, news letters, web site #TChatRedge
A2. Stick to what you say: vision and mission. Its frustrating and confusing when a co says one thing and then does something else. #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A2 Hold “real” town halls with the EE’s that are designed to elicit info about the state of affairs in the org. Then take action! #TChatJanine Truitt
A2 Speak with a genuine and original voice. G. Stein praised community with a “There” to it. CCO comm foster community build. #TChatMary E. Wright
A2: Lead by example, actively engage everyday and reward positive behaviors #TChatSean Charles
A2-by deeply understanding the organization and it’s contributors. that, and by being brilliant. #TChatFrank Zupan
A2 I believe the “founder” / top leaders persona and work ethic are integral to the culture – Welch, Gates, Jobs #TChat .Redge
A2: Culture is chiseled out of raw marble of peoples’ collective ambition, innovation and communication. #TChatTom Bolt
A2 Transparency in communicating. Let people make mistakes. Listen, listen, listen. #tchatMargaret Ruvoldt
A2: Facilitate employee engagement – doesn’t need to be formal, informal groups and interactions work best and probably better #tchatJen Olney
@MattMonge A2: Ask for feedback. It is all about communication and it goes both ways. Oh and LISTEN #TChatLori King
A2. Absolutely a day 1 strategy. Can be very to chg cultures (esp bad 2 better). Start right foot is key. #TChatJeremy Schmidt
A2: CCO is the silo buster! Using mission/customer as the tie that binds across functions & promoting collaboration on their behalf #tchatJon Tveten
A2 A holistic onboarding program focused on engaging, aligning & socializing new EEs #tchatcfactor Works Inc.
A2 Promote an environment where communication is wide open. Nothing kills morale more quickly than fear of saying what you know. #tchatMark Salke
A2. I also am a big believer in participative leadership style- it really opens up two-way communication #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
@MattMonge A2: Be out there. Engage. Open dialogue. Take feedback! Make things happen. #tchatChristoph Trappe
A2 Mantra: How does this communication express the culture and affect the brand. #TChatMary E. Wright
A2 The CCO has to spend a lot of time in the trenches getting to know the EE’s and understanding the culture from their perspective #TChatJanine Truitt
A2 Actions speak louder than words! #TchatDave Ryan, SPHR
A2: By leaving their office, interacting with everyone, asking questions, but more importantly, listening to the answers. #TchatRobert Rojo
A2: keep the conversation going. don’t let the “honeymoon” period end, & keep ppl engaged #tchatPlatinum Resource
A2: I think it’s as simple as communicating through all mediums: email, web, intranet, internet, social media, in person. #tchatMelissa Fairman
A2: Build trust, be genuine, LISTEN, provide structure (but not pressure), eliminate ambiguity, clarify decision making framework. #tchatKatelin Holloway
A2: By actually facilitating emp connections, communications & collaborations from day 1 formally and informally. To know is to do. #tchatKevin W. Grossman
@MattMonge A2: empower their employees and allow them to take ownership #tchatMelissa Bowden
@MattMonge A2-As a brand ambassador its important that culture is clearly defined&communicated 2me so I can convey as spokesperson #tchatEmily Kaufman
A2. CCO = Chief Conversation Officer. Ignite the conversation to influence sustainable behaviour & engagement. Let’s talk people. #tchatSalima Nathoo
#tchat A2 Business leaders should leave their desks and wonder around so they can not only catch people doing things right but also LISTEN!Bruno Coelho
A2 With sincerity. Be honest with yourself about the culture you’ve created. #tchatMargaret Ruvoldt
Q3: Cultural ecosystems of biz = employees, contractors, vendors, service providers, alumni, new applicants. True or False? #tchatMatt Monge
A3) And culture is how founder’s vision stays intact once co grows and he/she deligates control to others #tchatJonathan Kreindler
A3 Agreed. Cant be “directed” Nor constantly in committee. Created internally, by vested, talented ppl managed by smaller grp #TChatMary E. Wright
Makes sense. Then, when u think about it, makes LOTS of sense @MRGottschalk: A3 You can learn a lot about ur culture from a customer. #tchatBrent Skinner
A3) culture is the glue that controls the chaos and ensures everyone is striving for the same goal. #tchatJonathan Kreindler
#Tchat A3 The CCO and the CIO work closely together, so too with the head of HR and the CMO – Culture broadly affects the C-SuiteAvi Lambert
A3 That ecosystem has a hand in promoting your org. If it’s great they’ll champion your company and if not here comes the bad PR #tChatJanine Truitt
@avilambert @grant27 #Tchat, A3: its that inbetweenness that makes the CCO so good at employee engagement. We can speak all the languagesGrant McCracken
#Tchat A3 via @Grant27 ” The CCO’s job is to insinuate cultural knowledge into the CEO’s head.” Advancing social and digital collaborationAvi Lambert
A3: Cultural ecosystem is what you make it. Inspire your EE’s and your culture will spill over to the rest #TChatSean Charles
A3 One of our team goals was to become an employer of choice! Got problems hiring? Need to change o/s perceptions. #TChatRedge
A3) and also customers, advocates, brand champions, and influencers. #TChatFreshTransition
A3: I say True. No organization is completely self-reliant. #tchatMark Salke
#Tchat A3 via @Grant27 the CCO is an innovation agent embedded in the org, engaging slow and fast cultures, mainstream and avant-gardeAvi Lambert
A3 You can learn a lot about your culture from a customer. #TchatMarla Gottschalk PhD
A3 TRUE, I want people who visit in any capacity to wish they worked here! #TChatRedge
A3: Employees, contractors, vendors, service providers, alumni, new applicants all have an impact on the culture. #TchatRobert Rojo
A3 True! Everyone of those stakeholders affect the biz & their exp w/ the org good bad or indifferent can shatter the orgs reputation #tChatJanine Truitt
A3. I hate these T/F answers I always get them wrong (F) #TchatDave Ryan, SPHR
A3: True. Healthy high-performing culture fosters relationships, internal and external, that help get great things done #tchatJon Tveten
A3. True. Each element is important for business survival. #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A3: T And I would add customers, prospective customers, etc. #tchatGeorge LaRocque
A3: I’m not sure I would include external biz as part of internal cultural ecosystem… #tchatTL Frasqueri-Molina
A3: Customers as well part of the ecosystems – very true. All are connected to culture #tchatJen Olney
A3 Absolutely – all groups contribute to the eco system. #TchatMarla Gottschalk PhD
A3 More true words were never spoken. #tchatMargaret Ruvoldt
A3: Can it be true and false? Culture is stirred up internally (employees) but usually spills out into the environment. #TChatTom Bolt
#tchat A3. Sure there are subcultures around the company’s context. It’s what connects everyone inside that context.Bruno Coelho
A3: True #TchatRobert Rojo
A3. It’s the present & potential. Every connection an organization has with the community is a reflection of culture in some form. #tchatSalima Nathoo
A3: Yes. #TChatTom Bolt
Q4: Who should the CCO report to & why? Who should report to them? #tchatMatt Monge
A4: The CCO reports to *everyone*. #TChatBrent Skinner
A4 The ROI for a CCO would hopefully be decreased turnover, improved morale and maybe more loyalty towards the company. #winning #tChatJanine Truitt
A4: Whatever technology keeps communication channels open, honest, interactive, and flowing! #TChatJon M
A4 I think anyone who touches employee issues or complaints needs to report into the CCO. Catch issues before the exit interview… #tChatJanine Truitt
A4 Reports to Board. Works with Dir Level HR, Mktg, R&D. Dotted line rpts are Recruiting, Marketing, HR staff Outside PR/Mkt ven
dor #TChatMary E. Wright
A4: 2 be effective CCO should report 2 the board with oversight over everyone 2 include CEO. If he reports 2 CEO might be influenced. #TchatRobert Rojo
A4. To the CEO. Why is it less important than finance, legal or comms? #tchatSelena Cameron
A4 More importantly they have to understand that they work for the employees. Not even HR can say they do this consistently. #tChatJanine Truitt
A4: CCO reports to CEO due to impact of culture across all metrics of company #tchatJen Olney
If culture is not cared about at the Board table, isn’t it just gossip? @TalentCulture: @GuyDavis02 A4 Report to the CEO #TChatEmily Gayle Aitken
A4 – CCO should report to the workforce, the dept Execs should report to the CCO #tchatcfactor Works Inc.
A4: CCO reports to #Business #Leadership and everybody else executes on the culture of trust and reports via team/work loyalty. #tchatKevin W. Grossman
A4 There is that component of remaining neutral that seems important to the role of CCO. #TchatMarla Gottschalk PhD
A4: if a distinct role – to the CEO #tchatGeorge LaRocque
A4: Everyone and Everyone #TChatSean Charles
A4 The CCO should report to the CEO. Together they must have a vested interest in creating/preserving a healthy & productive culture #TChatJanine Truitt
A4: If CCO = head of HR, then reports to CEO and manages HR dept, but influence should far outweigh reporting relationships #TChatJon Tveten
A4 Such a tricky question. Almost seems a CCO should be a conservator. Independent somehow. #TchatMarla Gottschalk PhD
A4: CCO absolutely MUST have seat at the table [forgive me for that] so should have knowledge of CEO’s thoughts, dreams & nightmares #TChatTom Bolt
A4. Certain HR prof, L&D, Org. Dev, dept. managers, and leaders should report to CCO #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A4: CCO report to: CEO! #TChatJon M
A4 Report to the CEO because all depts make up the culture of the org #TchatGuy Davis
A4: The “CCO” (#CEO in my example) should report to the board. #TChatFrank Zupan
a4 Everyone in the organization #TchatDave Ryan, SPHR
Q5: What social HR technologies should the CCO implement to their cultural ecosystems & why? #tchatMatt Monge
A5: #SoMe tech will add horsepower to a culture that’s already good, but won’t conjure culture from scratch. #TChatBrent Skinner
A5 Simple internal comm. platform can assist w engaging ee’s The issue is getting ee’s to engage when their voice has been dismissed #tChatJanine Truitt
A5: products in the new “work management” category that drive collaboration and are truly social would be a great place to start #tchatGeorge LaRocque
A5: An electronic scorecard/impact map. Something that facilitates dialogue in addition to reporting. #tchatCatherine Chambers
A5 For me it’s less about the tech and more about the environment. Stick me with smart people who energize and watch what happens. #tchatAJ Fournier
A5 Where r UR E/Es? What has multiuse (text, media, sound, art) capabilities? Ppl integrate info differently. Need adaptable tech #TChatMary E. Wright
A5 I think it’s always about the people, before choosing tech/social platforms, and purpose/goals. Are you innovating, collaborating? #TchatCathryn Hrudicka
A5: Stop the roadblocks and embrace tech, so many cos are fearful of tech as a distraction embrace it not fear it #tchatJen Olney
A5: Mobile social technology for maximum engagement with your people. #TChatSean Charles
A5: Enterprise Social Media to promote and support cultural diffusion. #tchatMark Salke
A5: With so many to choose from, ensure that it is a platform that all if not most, employees are willing to engage in #tchatMelissa Bowden
A5: Social Gamification for sure. An #HRTech engagement helper. #TChatMeghan M. Biro
A5. I like co’s that are set up to be mobile & have different/interesting workspaces. it can really open up communication #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A5: Tech that open pathway to clear communication, and keep the conversations flowing without interruptions. Collaborative tech #tchatJen Olney
A5 : Stronger social media referral programs 4 employees. So many untapped “talent pools” People are attracted to like minded people #TchatMichael!
A5: Social recognition and internal social media tech 100% #TChatSean Charles
A5: Start “simple” with collaboration and communication platforms/tools.. social is foundation of that #tchatGeorge LaRocque
A5: Social for collaboration and BigDataAnalytics for monitoring/managing org performance #tchatJon Tveten
A5 I think the CCO should implement #culturechat once a week as a place for open honest convo keep the compny/org real #TchatGuy Davis
A5. Go where your employees are already. #tchatJustin Mass
A5. Events or alternative workspaces to allow employees to easily come together cross-departmentally and talk to one another #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A5 True #TchatDave Ryan, SPHR
A5. Tech such as workplace social media and gamification #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
Hashtag I Love You #TChat [Pic]SocialMediaSean
**WAVES** to all you #TChat-ers out there!

It's Maslow's World. We Just Live In It: #TChat Recap

The other day, my friend couldn’t find her Droid. So we looked and looked until we found it. …in the back pocket of the pants she’d been wearing the whole time. And then there was last weekend, when I searched what seemed like every nook and cranny of the house: My Jeep’s keys were nowhere to be found. …until I remembered I’d left them in the ignition; my home is in the sticks, on a dirt road where nary a bad guy lurks to take away my stuff.

The palm of my hand traveled to my forehead. So, too, did hers. Together, we experienced a “double facepalm.” Employers have them all the time, and especially when they realize that the talent they’re looking for is right there, inside.

Pet Theories

Here’s a pet theory: Employees work to make money. I know: I could be wrong. But money is probably the primary reason a majority work, and for a majority, money used to be one of the only reasons.

Employees would look for the greatest amount of security in making that money over the greatest amount of time — ideally, a lifetime’s worth of time. And they found those conditions almost everywhere. They found them in big corporations that paid well and provided room for advancement — to be paid even better, over several decades, till retirement knocked. They stayed because they wanted to, and for these conditions specifically. But they also stayed because society told them they had to. Seeing to it was an ingrained, shared ethos that honestly couldn’t fathom anyone wanting to leave a secure job.

And here’s another pet theory: Today, it’s Maslow’s world, and we just live in it. Employees stay because they want to. But they don’t have to — unless they really do have to, but for reasons entirely divorced from that old ethos, which has faded into memory. In an economy that is weak, employees stay for security, but they may resent the security, especially if the pay just barely provides the security. And they will concurrently pine for work more self-fulfilling, more self-advancing. As a world of work, we’ve moved further up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, above survival to self-actualization.

Looking Within

Here’s one more point, before we get to the main one:

A common bit of advice says to look within for answers to the spirit’s ailments. Looking outside one’s self for answers rarely brings authentic or lasting happiness, the saying goes. And that’s true. And a kernel of the saying’s truth applies to the topic of recruiting. Yes, the answer to an organization’s ailments often is a need for talent that’s outside, waiting to be recruited; just as often, however, a relentless recruitment of talent not there yet is a symptom of deep unhappiness within the organization, or lack of appreciation for the talent already there.

Or (and?), this unending need for outside talent reflects the organization’s inattention to self. When an organization neglects its self, looking outside to fix what’s broken inside is an unconscious cry for help. An addiction to new employees sets in, a salve for the continual pain wrought by the organization’s dysfunctional home life — the dynamics intended and unintended that govern workers’ daily grind. The organization must instead acknowledge that the inside is broken — and focus on fixing the inside with inside parts.

Those inside parts are your employees, and many are chomping at the bit to self-actualize, in their jobs. Individuals have self-help books and mentors to help fix what’s broken inside. Organizations have HR and HR technology. HR people implement processes to heal an organization, and HR technology provides more and better tools than ever for organizations to see, understand and cater to their talent inside.

Right In Front of You

My keys were where I left them, and my friend’s Droid was in her back pocket. We each searched a long time before realizing those items were right there, right in front of us. Where is your talent? It might be right in front of you. Remove your palms from your foreheads, like we did, and get on with it. She made a call. I fired up the engine in my truck. Organizations, provide your employees with the conditions that’ll lead them to want to stay.

Thank you for joining us last night. Your tweets ran the gamut of good thinking, as always, and below is a slide show of them. We thank  Rob Garcia (@robgarciasj) for his peerless guest moderation. Did you miss this week’s preview? Click here. We look forward to seeing you next Wednesday.

Image Credit: Facepalm-Picard by DarkUncle

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Employee Superpowers Assessment For That? #TChat Preview

Discerning employee and prospect superpowers for hiring and retaining your best people talent. Is assessment the key to a happy and content workplace and retaining your best people? As a leader, sometimes you need to recruit talent, and sometimes they are right there in your own organization, staring you in the face.

Although many people are looking for jobs, most companies–especially those in the technology sector–demand very specific skills, attributes and capabilities. This is still a tricky combination of factors that many companies are stugggling to get right.

If you’re a recruiter or hiring leader, the task of selecting the RIGHT talent becomes more difficult: you need to quickly screen all candidates and somehow find the hidden jewels of talent. If you’re a job seeker, it’s doubly difficult: first you must parse increasingly arcane job descriptions, then you must run the gauntlet of phone screens, spam-email-style responses to online applications, and interviews, all to get to the aptitude tests and puzzles today’s hiring managers are so fond of. Well, some are not really fond of them at all…

We are well beyond the time when a hiring manager asked, “What is your greatest strength? How about your weaknesses?” And we are past the question Microsoft made famous in their hiring process: “Why are manhole covers round?” Today, leaders and hiring managers use HR automation software and social media to flesh out the talent they’re looking for. Then come the assessments: self-assessments, personality tests, skills inventories and more.

But which deliver the best results for hiring and retaining your talent? Are any of these automated processes more effective than a face-to-face interview? Why, at a time when we most need to understand what makes a candidate tick, are we pushing human interaction so far down the list of to-do’s?

As the global economy pushes and pulls itself beyond the post-apocalyptic Recession, businesses big and small are looking inside as much as outside their organizations for the highest quality of fit and productivity possible with their full-time, part-time and contingent workforce. That means assessments galore measuring a myriad of hard and soft skills–superpowers, if you will–that will propel the business into the stratosphere.

In this week’s TalentCulture #TChat we’ll look at assessments and what they tell us about our organizations and employees. We’ll discuss which ‘superpowers’ hiring managers are looking for and how they dig out indicators of talent and culture fit. And we’ll weigh the balance between automated assessments and results. I can’t wait to see where this takes us. Always an interesting topic.

Join us Wednesday night, February 22 from 7-8 pm ET (4-5 pm PT, or wherever you are) for the next installment of #TChat Radio: #TChat Radio: Employee Super Powers: Is There an Assessment For That? This month, we’ll explore the topic of assessments vs. superpowers with Charles Handler of Rocket-Hire  – People skills coach Kate Nasser – and Julie Moreland of People Clues. We’ll assess assessments and dissect superpowers. In the process, we’ll reveal a lot about the true nature of today’s workplace and its concomitant hiring challenges. Please join meKevin GrossmanMaren HoganSean Charles and Kyle Lagunas for a very special #TChat Radio.

Here are this week’s #TChat questions:

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