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To Boost Retention – Review for Projects, Not Performance

If you’re ramping up for Q4 in your workplace, you may be anticipating a slew of quarterly performance reviews. It’s your manager’s last chance of the year to address recent performance issues, map out a plan for improvement, and set a goal for what’s next year.  

But if you’re concerned with retention, you may want to reconsider. Performance reviews, depending on how they’re done, may not have the right tone to fit the turbulent world of work we’re in right now. They may not support your engagement and retention challenges. Employees are jumpy — and while feedback is always a good idea, it may all be in the delivery and the framework.  

What works instead? Take a project-based approach — in which feedback and reviews are based on specific projects rather than overall performance over time. It avoids focusing on trickier metrics like behavior and “commitment” and provides a picture of a given situation and a given challenge. And it creates a clear boundary between life and work at a time when many of our workforces are seeing those lines blur. The day-to-day of a given job may be filled with ebbs and flows that didn’t exist when performance review criteria was designed. Particularly in categories like “attitude,” “willingness,” or “energy.” But a project is a project: you get it done.

Projects and Teams are Already on the Rise

The world of work is already shifting to projects as an increment of production instead of focusing simply on time. A project-based approach to the workplace is already a reality for a growing number of organizations. Of course, there are industries that traditionally lend themselves to project-based cadences of work. Industries such as marketing, advertising and content, engineering, legal firms, consultancies, and other service providers. But even high-service industries can shift to projects — framing work into initiatives, special efforts, campaigns, and quotas.

Taking this approach can bring your people together as a team. And we’re seeing the rise of teams — Deloitte’s research on the power of high-performance teams to catalyze organizational growth is pretty compelling. We divide into teams to better structure communications channels within digital workplaces, to forge accountability, to better manage, and to create a unit we can rely on. Projects and teams go hand in hand: a team executes on a project, essentially — and may interact with other teams, but they have a specific role, specific tasks. That actually frees up a manager to track a whole lot more in terms of individual input and contributions, responsiveness, creativity, and the ability to work in a group — and as reflected in the outcome of the project they were a part of.

Anchored to Specific Targets

The uneasy truth may be that many organizations wonder if performance reviews are working, but don’t have an alternative. But this is the era of transformation — like it or not, we transformed where and when and how we work out of necessity. It’s a reality right now that employees are stressed — and a bit jumpy if you look at the Great Resignation. 

So consider the fact that just 14% of employees agree their performance review inspires them to improve, according to Gallup research. Further, traditional performance reviews and approaches to feedback can take a psychological toll —  actually making performance worse about one-third of the time, according to research published by the American Psychological Association. No one wants to unintentionally build more resentment instead of more engagement, best intentions aside.  

I’ve seen plenty of well-designed performance reviews that stay brilliantly on specifics. But one of the common objections employees have to performance reviews is that the criteria can feel vague; in that gray area may live bias, unfairness, arbitrariness, etc. Going granular may alleviate that: you’re looking at clear tasks delineated within the arc of a project: beginning, middle, completion. There’s closure. A sense of accomplishment. Finishing something feels good — and deserves credit. It may offer a tactful cantilever to other issues that need to be addressed. And there’s no question that each individual’s contribution to that project — and their own experience being a part of it— offer countless opportunities for feedback, for clarification, and for recognition. 

Reflecting What’s Happening Now

Is taking a project-based approach to reviews feasible for most organizations? It could be more feasible than you think. It fits the changes the world of work is already undergoing, and: factors many organizations are already experiencing:

  • An increase in bringing in gig workers, SMEs, and consultants that either complement existing skills among our salaried workforces or expand them as necessary — and therefore redefining the essence of a team.
  • A shift from depending on the overall cohesion of a physical workplace to a remote and hybrid one, where people don’t come together organically but over the work they do.
  • A new emphasis on flexible scheduling and more work/life integration — seeing the job as a series of projects rather than a monolithic block of time no matter what happens.
  • A need to integrate faster into operations and get employees aligned before that 3-6 month period when many consider leaving: A recent survey of some 2,000 U.S. employees found that more than half (52%) were already on the hunt for a new position after being in their present one for less than 3 months. 
  • A workforce in which teams, no matter their composition, can autonomously and independently execute, and a well-managed or self-managed team is becoming the essential engine of production (more than individual output) and a key part of the organizational chart.

A Resilient Framework

Recently the Harvard Business Review pointed to the resiliency of a project framework: instead of focusing on process and controls, it focuses on how to deliver the elements with the greatest value. It’s not a leap to see how that approach could also remove bias (such as recency) and gray areas from the equation, making the effort more about purpose, intent, strategy, goals, execution, and lessons learned. In terms of HR and talent management, that kind of shift immediately opens the door for feedback and self-reflection on the part of its participants and makes self-observation part of growth. In essence, it democratizes the review process by making it more clear.

Depending on the size and nature of your organization, performance reviews may be a critical factor in your talent management strategy. But adding project-focused reviews to the mix adds a concrete benefit. A tangible means to gauge people’s efforts to achieve real results, in real-time.  

It’s also a smaller-scale way to build larger-scale results: as we know, growth happens in increments and iterations, not whole-cloth. No question, it’s easier to drive alignment and achieve collaboration across a team focused on a project. So take that sense of accomplishment, focus on it and celebrate it, and then do that over again. In terms of employee engagement, that can create a truly strong foundation — and more reason for them to stay.

8 Learning and Talent Development Topics for Better Employee Retention

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

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

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

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

Interviewer Training

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

Ubaldo Ciminieri, Co-Founder and CMO of interviewIA

Communication and its Impact on Business

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

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

Denise Moxam, VP of HR and Engagement at Production Solutions

Feedback Delivery

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

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

Celebrating Achievement

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

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

Leah Roe, Leadership Coach & Founder of The Perk

Leadership Development

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

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

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

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

Build Emotional Intelligence

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

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

Goal Setting and Performance Feedback

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

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

Glenn Smith, L&D Manager at Nextbite

Develop Individual Talents

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

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

5 Strategies for Defining Your Employer Brand

Vanilla is one of the most popular flavors in the world. Just ensure it doesn’t become how people describe your employer brand.

Today’s job candidates and workers are often compelled to stay with one company versus another because of the company’s purpose and value. In other words, companies need a strong, direct, authentic employer brand that keeps employees from quitting and joining the Great Resignation. In most cases, a vanilla employee experience won’t cut it anymore.

A Modern Employer Brand

Instead of a basic, old-school employer brand, you need one that’s modern. You need a brand that reflects what your organization stands for and what talent can expect, even if it turns some applicants away.

Companies with substantive employer branding often embrace not being a good fit for everyone. Their employee value proposition statements illustrate their workplace’s true “give and get” nature. With this model, when a team member is willing to “give” in one area, they can expect to “get” something in return. It’s a reciprocal relationship that’s offered up plainly and unabashedly.

If this sounds unusual, it’s because only now are organizations strategically revising and advertising their employer brands more deeply. As employees become more critical of their work environments, many leave their longstanding positions to find companies that align with their values and goals. Especially in the ever-changing workforce, it’s important to learn from others’ mistakes so your company prospers rather than plummets.

Communicate a Meaningful Change

Even massive employer branding face-lifts, like Facebook’s rebranding to Meta, are not enough. Such a change can be perceived as surface-level and doesn’t create or communicate any meaningful change. And because in recent years, candidates have begun conducting employer brand research and digging deeper, transparency and authentic connection are key. Candidates and employees want sincerity. Candidates want to know what your company stands for to decide if it aligns with their passions and purpose. In other words, they want you to lay everything on the table as part of your employer branding.

Where, then, do you start? Below are five employer brand research tactics that will help you define and establish a genuinely distinct employer brand that reflects not only where your company is today but also where it will be tomorrow.

1. Assign a range of leaders to an employer branding committee.

As with any initiative, your employer branding efforts require commitment. An employer branding committee will help construct your employer brand from the ground up and serve as a strategic resource moving ahead.

To get the most out of your committee, including team members from across departments and verticals such as talent acquisition, marketing, diversity and inclusion, and sales will ensure that you aren’t overlooking any key issues as you flesh out what your employer brand means.

2. Host an employer branding kickoff meeting.

After inviting critical players to the table, hold a workshop to allow everyone to get on the same page regarding your employer branding goals. Hold this workshop in person, online, or both. After all, quality employer branding should be geographically agnostic.

During the event, review your employer branding elements. Try to get a handle on how all departments and groups see your organization. Are there disconnects, such as between your mission statement and the experience of workers as measured by employee insights like exit interviews? These are the areas to start cementing your preferred employer brand.

3. Conduct interviews with members of your leadership team.

A huge reason for misalignments between the employer brand you want and the employer brand you have is that leaders’ aspirations don’t always match up to your employer branding expectations.

As part of your conversations, find out what your company leaders demand and admire about their employees. Attempt to get a sense of what working for them looks like so you can revise your employer brand accordingly. Remember that you want your employer brand to be transparent when presenting your organizational work life.

4. Complete focus groups with a cross-section of employees.

Now that you’ve heard from the people steering the ship do a little research to learn more about the daily experiences of employees. Hold about a half-dozen two-hour sessions with up to 10 workers in each session. Use these focus group sessions to find out why the employees chose your organization and what motivates them most — and least. Try to understand the “give and get” exchanges happening. Don’t be surprised if you realize that your employer brand is more complicated than you might have thought.

5. Gauge the market’s view on your employer brand.

At this point, you should start to have a fleshed-out idea of your employer brand. How does it match up to your competition? Ideally, you want your employer brand to gain attention because it’s compelling or engaging. Therefore, spend time investigating the employer brands of your talent competitors.

Check out Glassdoor ratings, social media posts, and other markers of general brand sentiment. Be sure to check out job descriptions, too. Everything you learn can be folded back into maturing and solidifying your employer brand.

Final Words

Years ago, employer branding seemed easy: Pop a ping-pong table in the breakroom, offer beer on tap, and you were done. In 2022, high performers are looking for something deeper and more substantial out of their employee experiences. They’re looking for companies with employer brands that are straightforward and real and that offer workers a chance to be a part of a company they know they can trust and believe in. Developing a research strategy and research infrastructure for employer branding enables you to be that for them.

How to Decentralize Corporate Charity and Boost Your Benefits Package

Benefits are one of the key pillars of good employee retention. According to data compiled by LinkedIn in 2020, “better compensation and benefits” was one of the top three reasons that both Millennials and Gen Xers left their jobs.

This means you can’t just put together a run-of-the-mill benefits package and expect it to be a talent retention tool. On the contrary, sub-par or even adequate benefits are going to be a turn-off in a market where quality talent is at a premium.

This focus on good benefits has made reviewing and expanding your benefits package beyond the basics an essential strategy moving forward.

The Need to Review Your Benefits Package

If you’ve left your benefits package on autopilot in recent years, it’s time to give it a once-over. What’s more, employers can’t just select basic items anymore.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as recently as March of 2021, the majority of workers with access to employer-sponsored benefits had many of the basics already available. BLS reported that staples such as paid sick leave, unpaid family leave, and paid vacations were par for the course for most benefits packages.

For employers, this means offering competitive health care benefits, matching 401(k) contributions, and providing generous PTO isn’t enough anymore. 

While these are good starting points, it has become essential for employers to put additional effort into crafting their benefits packages. They need to go beyond the generic and tailor the combination to the needs of their workers. 

For instance, HBR reports that the most desirable employee benefits go well beyond retirement accounts and health insurance. Two decades into the 21st century, employees are also looking for things like work-life balance, flexible work hours, and work-from-home options. Often these perks will give a job the edge over higher-paying jobs with less attractive benefits packages.

Of course, post-pandemic, many work-from-home benefits have also become normalized. This means employers need to look even farther if they’re going to find benefits that truly help them stand apart. 

One way to do that which can resonate with the politically active, socially aware younger generation of workers is to include a way to give targeted donations.

Business institutions often include philanthropy as part of their operations. In most cases, though, they do this through clunky corporate foundations that are rife with inefficiencies. Focussing on philanthropy can improve employee experience and retention.

Should You Consider Philanthropy-as-a-Service?

Giving platform Groundswell defines the PhaaS or “philanthropy-as-a-service” model as charitable giving that “experiences near-constant innovation as a purpose-built, third-party software company researches, designs, builds, and launches new tools to corporate, individual, and nonprofit customers.”

In other words, PhaaS does for philanthropy what SaaS does for technology. 

To use the latter as an example, SaaS companies have streamlined the complexities of creating tech solutions in-house. While IT departments are still needed, nowadays, they typically manage a growing tech stack of third-party SaaS tools that make their jobs much easier. 

Off-site entities manage, update, and perfect these tools. They are then offered to end-users at a transparent cost that eliminates the need for excessive hands-on tampering.

In the same way, PhaaS can take the extremely complex business of corporate philanthropy and streamline it off-site. This takes the legal, technological, and logistical responsibilities off of the shoulders of corporate foundations.

PhaaS platforms also have the power of allowing businesses to distribute the responsibility of choosing where charitable funds should go. Businesses using a PhaaS tool can let individual employees donate to the targeted charities that they choose. 

Often all that’s required from an employee is to download an app, log in, and make a few selections.  Before they know it, their charitable preferences are official. This offers many different benefits, including:

  • Removing the overhead cost of running a foundation
  • Funneling more funds toward charities in an efficient, data-driven manner
  • Decentralizing the donation process and empowering employees to have a hand in choosing what organizations their company supports
  • Enabling individuals to support charities in perpetuity

This spreading out of the wealth and decision-making power, in effect, turns corporate philanthropy into an employee-driven benefit.

Spicing Up Your Benefits Package With Targeted Giving

Benefits packages are a key element of any retention strategy. Along with compensation, a good set of benefits can send a message that you care about the well-being of your employees. 

At the same time, a careless, sub-par, or outdated package can become a liability. It can make it much easier for competitors to lure employees away with the promise of a more compassionate set of benefits that will meet their needs.

If you haven’t reviewed your benefits package in a while, it’s time to do so. Don’t wait. Start by making sure that basic building blocks like PTO and a 401(k) are available and up to date. Also, address more modern considerations, such as work-from-home and flexible work options.

From there, consider adding something like targeted giving as a CSR-inspired perk. Invite your employees in on your brand’s philanthropic efforts. This can have the effect of cultivating happier workers who feel invested in their employer and proud of the charitable work that their workplace supports.

Work Sucks, But It’s Our Fault

Burnout and dissatisfaction at work are nothing new. In fact, a recent Gallup study found that more than one-half of American workers feel disengaged at their jobs. Too often we look at work as a necessary evil. We have to do it to pay the bills, but it’s not really something we’re passionate about. 

Meanwhile, business owners and leaders are left scratching their heads wondering why their employees are unhappy and unengaged. The business suffers as a result. So what’s the solution? How can businesses create a culture that engages and motivates employees where productivity and creativity actually thrive?

Our Guest: Dr. Tiffany Slater

On our latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Dr. Tiffany Slater, CEO and Senior Human Resources Consultant for HR TailorMade. Dr. Slater believes that the people you work with are the single most important element to building a thriving future for your business. Happy people make the world a better place.

What does it mean that people suck and why should we blame ourselves? Dr. Slater explains:

I know that sounds crazy as an HR person for me to say that but you have to say the whole thing together.  People suck and it’s our fault. As leaders, it is our responsibility to make sure that our team has everything that they need to be successful. And when they’re not successful the first thing we have to do is look at ourselves and ask if we did all that we could to make sure that they were successful. So that’s why people suck because a lot of times we don’t do our part.

Employee Performance

There are so many factors that play into a person’s ability to perform at their best. So how can business owners or leaders identify those factors and ensure that people are performing at the highest levels? Dr. Slater:

Make sure the work environment is conducive to being successful as a team member. I think the most important thing is that we create an environment that people actually love. The days are gone when people are just happy to come to work for a paycheck. People want to like what they do and where they do it.

Dr. Slater adds:

Make sure that people understand what value they add to the organization. Making it very clear what an individual’s role is in the overall success of the organization motivates people to want to work at their highest level.

Hiring People Who Don’t Suck and Firing People Who do

Hiring the right people can be challenging, time-consuming, and expensive. Equally as challenging is knowing when to fire someone vs investing the time to discover ways to help them perform at a higher level. So how do we hire people who don’t suck? Dr. Slater:

We hire people that don’t suck by making sure that we ask the right questions up front, and making sure that upon their onboarding we have a plan already designed to support their success.

And when do we fire people who do? Dr. Slater adds:

We shouldn’t just fire people that suck. So obviously there will be times when it’s necessary but that should not be our first response. We should always look to discover what we can do to help that individual to perform at a higher level. And if we’ve done that once or twice then we should start considering if it’s the right fit and if they truly just suck.

Joy in the Workplace

Bringing joy into the workplace leads to better business results and higher employee performance. Dr. Slater explains.

If you will create a joyful work experience for your team they want to stay. They want to work in your organization. Additionally, they want to help the organization to be successful because they understand that the organization’s success is also their success. So creating joyful work experiences is truly the key to a successful business. And I would be willing to bet that it is the key to making the world a better place because happy people make the world a better place.

I hope you found this recent episode of #WorkTrends informative and inspiring. To learn more about Dr. Tiffany Slater and HR TailorMade, please visit https://www.hrtailormade.com/.

Subscribe to the #WorkTrends podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. Be sure to follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on LinkedIn and Facebook, too, for more great conversations!

5 Effective Talent Management Strategies

A talent management strategy is a blueprint for optimizing and broadening employee performance within a company. It allows a company to map out a plan to improve and revamp the organization’s most valuable asset – its people. The goal is to boost the company’s talent pool efficiency and retain and attract talented employees.

However, the concept of talent management is constantly evolving as time and technology change the nature of work itself, making it challenging to build and sustain a strong talent pipeline. Consequently, it has created the need for a new paradigm associated with talent management.

Businesses must adapt to changing demographics and work preferences, establish new capabilities, and rejuvenate their organizations. All this while simultaneously investing in new technology, globalizing their operations, and competing with new rivals.

Now more than ever, companies should use talent management strategies to achieve their goals and remain competitive in today’s fast-paced business environment. With this post as your road map, you can establish an integrated approach to managing all areas of your organization’s recruitment and development processes.

Below are 5 effective talent management strategies you should try.

1. Set Clear Objectives

As a manager, it’s your job to ensure that the company’s goals and objectives are in sync with the goals of your workforce. First, employees must understand their responsibilities and the company’s expectations. Then, through efficient communication and teamwork, they can focus on the company’s primary objectives.

With defined goals in mind, your team will become more involved in their work, commit to meeting milestones and achieve higher performance. Furthermore, it increases the efficiency and effectiveness with which your company can carry out business strategies and deliver outcomes significantly.

5 Effective Talent Management Strategies

For instance, when hiring new talent, you should set clear expectations by drawing out a detailed job description that includes the abilities and tasks required to fill that position. In addition, you should also keep in touch with new hires regularly to establish what is expected of them.

2. Offer Training Opportunities

Quality training programs should be a priority for companies to provide employees with opportunities for career advancement. If you haven’t incorporated training into your talent management strategy, you might want to think about developing a training program tailored to your employees’ unique line of work. Investing in your staff’s professional growth can be accomplished in one of two ways: by sponsoring them to participate in an outside training program or organizing an internal training program.

Most companies have shifted to online training programs, allowing employees to learn at their own speed and time. They produce and distribute interactive learning content using training tools.  Notable training tools could include micro-learning platforms, video training software, learning management systems (LMS), etc.

The other approach involves developing a training curriculum specifically for use inside the company. You can accomplish this by providing mentorship programs with access to resources and training sessions. Coaching your employees will ultimately help them learn more, improving their overall performance.

3. Conduct Performance Evaluations

As a manager, you must evaluate your team’s performance. Reviewing your employee’s performance allows you to offer constructive criticism. If an employee has been doing their job duties to a high standard, you should seize the chance to acknowledge and reward them.

Many companies have switched from annual performance assessments to conducting them more frequently as a part of their talent management strategies. They use key performance indicators (KPIs) to evaluate past and current performances and readjust to meet their goals. Monitoring (KPIs) also enables you to gain insights into prospective knowledge gaps, identify current shortcomings, and fix them. This will help you acquire executive support and the opportunity to modify the process when necessary.

5 Effective Talent Management Strategies

For example, if your company aims to improve its search engine performance, you need to track and measure your SEO campaigns’ return on investment (ROI). If the efforts do not bear any fruit, you should resort to other tactics to drive the desired outcomes. Alternatively, you can hire an SEO company that will improve your online visibility and traffic and boost your website’s bottom-line metrics, like leads, sales, and revenue.

4. Focus on Employee Experience

A company’s talent management strategy should include a holistic employee experience with ample growth opportunities. Therefore, it’s essential to figure out how your employees can best contribute to the company’s long-term goals and overcome specific challenges. However, this may vary depending on the company’s work culture, working hours, and employee benefits. 

5 Effective Talent Management Strategies

If such situations arise, you’ll have to determine if you need to hire more people or if you need to implement a new benefits scheme for your current employees. It will also require you to establish a strong corporate culture that encourages your employees and fosters a sense of community. Doing so will provide them with a workable framework in which they can grow and develop.

5. Adopt a Flexible Attitude

Workplaces nowadays are unpredictable due to rapid technological advancements, global market changes, and political shifts. Therefore, if your organization undergoes a significant change of one kind or another, it’s more important that you are flexible and responsive to sudden change.

You can effectively deal with unanticipated challenges or tasks by adjusting to change quickly and calmly. To sum up, a manager adapting to change means to: 

  • Adapt to the face of ever-changing external challenges for your company.
  • Adjust your management style in response to changing circumstances.
  • Accept changes as positive.
  • Revise strategies as necessary.
  • Take into account other people’s concerns during a transition phase.

Flexibility has become an increasingly valuable skill in today’s highly competitive setting, where unpredictability and change are often constant. However, flexibility isn’t just about reacting to situations when they arise. It also requires significant adjustments to how you think, conduct your work, and act.

Conclusion

Companies must develop strategic talent management strategies to help them retain their best employers for longer. This requires setting clear objectives,  offering training opportunities, conducting performance evaluations, focusing on employee experience, and adopting a flexible attitude. Using these talent management strategies effectively will keep your employees happy and motivated.

 

Meeting the Needs of a Changing Workforce

Graduation season is here, and many recent or soon-to-be graduates are about to enter the workforce. In fact, it is estimated that companies plan to hire 26 percent more new graduates from the class of 2022 compared to the year before. Meeting the needs of this new workforce is key to successful talent acquisition and retention. 

The world is different than it was three graduation seasons ago. Businesses have needed to adjust the way they approach the hiring process to build strong teams. For these organizations to attract and retain the top talent within the job market, a different mindset and approach are required.

The future of work is now, and it is reliant upon driving change through technology, different ways of working, fresh perspectives, and diverse voices.

The Demand for Flexibility

Flexibility is an unwavering demand of the new generation of workers. In a world that relishes instant communication and expects full transparency, job candidates are more aware of the vast number of organizations that meet their employees where they are. So what does this mean for companies that are looking to hire and retain candidates who are overwhelmed with options? It means that flexibility is a must – not a “nice to have.”

Flexibility means allowing employees to build a schedule that best fits their needs. Many organizations are adapting accordingly as they recognize this level of flexibility is something they must offer their current and future employees. In fact, 81 percent of executives are changing their workplace policies to offer greater flexibility. This is a standard expectation of our new normal. A failure to keep up with these demands means limiting your talent pool and losing even the most loyal of employees.

Flexibility also means empowering employees to choose where they work. Organizations that promote a “work from anywhere” mindset prove that they truly foster an environment of flexibility and a consistent employee experience regardless of where one is seated. Companies have quickly acknowledged that the “work from anywhere” mindset vastly widens their potential candidate pool. These organizations can focus on recruiting candidates with different skillsets or backgrounds that can positively impact the business.

The companies that will win in the top talent competition are those that realize it is not where one works, but rather it is the breadth and quality of the work produced that is critical in allowing their organization to scale to the next level.

Defining Your Purpose and Aligning With Candidates

As Gen Z gains more stake in the workforce, purpose-driven practices will continue to take hold at the forefront and become the foundation of business. This shift has been bubbling under the surface for a few years, but now it sits firmly at the core of candidate requirements.

Organizations that choose to look intrinsically and identify the true purpose behind their work will find that like-minded talent turns their way. Purpose comes in many forms and can be realized in a variety of ways. There is no doubt that the new generation of candidates will not work for a company that does not have a defined and pursued purpose in place. The questions that all organizations must ask themselves are: What is the purpose of what you do? Who will you positively impact? How can you build a workplace that drives this purpose every single day?

The Impact of Technology

The Insurance industry exists largely to serve and support individuals, families, and organizations across the globe in times of need. This institution is comprised of companies that face challenges of how to bring a fresh and modern approach to help drive their purposes. Due to the length of its establishment, it would not come as a surprise if many candidates, particularly new graduates, saw the insurance industry as old school and have not considered it for their future careers. However, the reality is that there is a multitude of career advancement opportunities as technology such as software-as-a-solution, artificial intelligence, and machine learning continue to mature and become a staple within the industry. Insurance is a perfect fit for the new generation of workers who are inherently creative problem-solvers and who also wish to deepen their technology skillsets.

The companies that truly live out their defined purpose and offer the skills and training programs that employees desire will be the ones that gain the talent pool’s attention and thus deliver the innovative solutions that will be disruptive within their industry.

Cultivating Diverse Talent is the Path Forward

The changing workforce is shedding a bright light on the notable differences in how the varying generations approach their line of work. However, one similarity all generations in the workforce share is that employees only feel satisfied within their careers when they are comfortable enough to show up as their true selves and follow and express their passions and beliefs. Organizations that allow individuals and groups to be heard and empowered will win the competition for great talent. Without a doubt, upholding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) practices are at the forefront of these efforts.

Companies that promote their DE&I efforts create a culture where employees feel respected, connected, and proud. These organizations that choose to take a stance are more favorable to the new generation of candidates, many of whom will not work for companies that do not have DE&I programs in place. For organizations with customer-facing roles, an increased level of pride from employees leads to an increased level of engagement. Therefore, allowing them to better serve their customers and build stronger relationships with critical stakeholders.

Diversity Fosters Innovation

Organizations with diverse leaders and employees innovate at a faster rate. Diverse thinking and perspectives fuel creative ideas. It also fuels development cycles for new solutions, allowing companies to gain and sustain a competitive advantage by getting to market faster and focusing on the long-term value for their customers. This will in turn drive better business outcomes. 

Recently, our organization held a Diversity Summit to reflect on and discuss the future goals of DE&I in the workplace. It was a transformational three days, and the Summit is the type of event every organization should host more of. The group’s time together was filled with impactful moments that were educational, inspiring, and motivating to our employees. Both on a professional and personal level. 

DE&I initiatives should be incorporated into every part of the business and is not merely a three-day event. Leaders need to make a conscious effort to inspire employees and drive company culture by “walking the walk.” Candidates are not impressed by companies with executive-level and corporate “buy-in”. They are drawn to companies with true executive-level and corporate “believe-in”. An organization’s DE&I stance must stem top-down, and it cannot just be a focus within the HR part of the organization, or it will fall flat.

Every employee at every level within a corporate environment owns the company culture. Every candidate in the talent pool has a vested interest in being a part of an open culture that promotes belonging. 

A Few Final Thoughts

A company’s most valuable asset is its people. 

Companies must regularly reevaluate their hiring and internal processes. These processes are only successful when companies foster programs that empower their employees both professionally and personally and allow them to pursue their passion and purpose.

The companies that do this are the ones that will attract and retain candidates of the highest caliber.

Skills Development: Now or Later?

Podcast Sponsored by: Cornerstone

Research from PWC shows that upskilling puts companies at a great advantage. The research found that companies realize an extra 10% to 15% of the benefit of large-scale transformation initiatives and up to 40% reduction in workloads on individual roles, as well as a 5% improvement in workforce retention when they integrate upskilling. These benefits lead to more output, opportunities to reduce cost, and higher customer satisfaction

Our Guest: Katie Ballantyne

On our latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Katie Ballantyne, Cornerstone’s VP of Product and Customer Experience. She has years of experience achieving industry-leading employee engagement programs across organizations.

Katie Explains the already large gap we are seeing in skills development from 2020 to 2022

“Well,  from 2020 to 2022, what we’ve found out through research is that employee confidence that their employer is effectively developing their skills has gone down. And we found that the gap has grown wider. There’s now a 35 percentage point difference between that employer and employee confidence in skilling.

“What this really means, is that only about 55% of employees feel like their employer is effectively developing their skills.”

High Performing Organizations VS Low Performing Organizations

What differentiates these high-performing organizations from organizations that are just not excelling? Is it money? Type of employee? There has to be a definitive answer. Lets see what Katie thought:

“Here’s what we found out. The high performing organizations, they only had a nine percentage point skills confidence gap, whereas the laggard organizations had a 42 percentage point skill confidence gap.”

Katie goes further into the analysis:

“So what that means is that these laggard organizations, so the organizations that aren’t performing as well financially or with their customer retention, this means that only 18% of those employees feel like skilling and development is a high priority for their company. Let’s compare that in contrast to the high performing organizations, this was the only one with that nine percentage point gap, 88% of employees that these organizations feel like there is a priority in their development, in their learning, in their growth.”

The Lure of Learning Development

With a stat from 2021- Katie Explains:

“There was a survey that was done between Amazon and Gallup, it was back in 2021, and that survey uncovered that skills training is one of the top perks that people look for in their jobs. And with about 61% of the respondents in this study saying that upskilling opportunities are also important for staying at their jobs.”

How does technology play a role in the learning development process?

“People know that skilling is important, but sometimes they’re not quite sure where to start. This is big. It’s not like going and picking maybe eight competencies, which is still important and that’s still huge work to even do that and to narrow down that selection, but it can be really, really intimidating.”

I hope you found this recent episode of #WorkTrends informative and inspiring. To learn more about Cornerstone and Skills Development, please visit https://www.cornerstoneondemand.com/ 

Subscribe to the #WorkTrends podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher. Be sure to follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on LinkedIn and Facebook, too, for more great conversations!

Background Screening – What you Need to Know

Podcast Sponsored by: Accurate Background

How is background screening impacted in an increasingly remote-first world of work? No doubt, the pandemic has reshaped the workplace. And in many ways, it’s here to stay. A report by Ladders revealed that by the end of this year, 25% of all jobs in North America will be remote. With that in mind, employers need to adapt their background screening practices to the new normal of remote work.

Our Guest: Chief Compliance Officer at Accurate Background

On our latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with an experienced industry professional and SME on background screening, drug testing, and HR Technology from our special guest, Accurate Background. We asked him to tell us the basics every employer needs to know about background checks. He explains:

The best way to open the conversation today is to remind employers that background screening is heavily regulated. We’re talking about federal laws, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and state laws. These are in addition to the responsibilities that employers have under their federal FCRA and even local laws.

The Range of Background Screening

Both employers and candidates must understand the background screening basics and the different types of background checks.

There’s a wide variety of things that employers utilize throughout the screening process. Criminal history information is one. A subset that we call verifications is another. Verifications range from professional life license verification, employment verification, and education history. And then there are things like drug tests, credit reports, and driving records.

Consent – Yes or No?

Background checks are employers’ principal means of securing information about potential hires from sources other than the applicants themselves. Therefore, we asked if obtaining consent from the candidate is required before conducting a background check.

Oh, it’s required, and it’s required, and it’s required again. So employers, beware. Your disclosure is really a critical piece of the background screening process. If you’re going to do a credit report, tell them you’re doing a credit report. In some states, you also have to tell them why. Criminal history checks, personal or professional reference checks…all need consent.

What if a candidate refuses?

Most employers are conducting background checks contingent on an offer. If the candidate doesn’t want to authorize the background check, they don’t move forward with the process. And employers are well within their rights to leverage that, but they should certainly state it in their policy.

Social Media

Social media sites may seem like easy-to-access information about a potential job candidate. But is it acceptable or ethical for companies to scrutinize social media? What are some of the pitfalls that employers need to avoid?

Employers, hear me now, do not go on Facebook or Instagram or TikTok or even LinkedIn and look at your candidates yourself. That’s a big mistake. You want to engage with a professional organization that is doing this in a manner that is consistent with EEOC guidelines.

A professional social media screen will bring back information about whether or not a person is engaged in activities that could potentially present a risk to the organization. Information to help you make a decision that is ultimately about the true risk to the company and not just a personal opinion or unconscious bias.

The Marijuana Culture Shift

Recent years have seen a significant culture shift in how the use of marijuana is viewed. It’s legal in some states and becoming legal in many others. So what should employers be cautious of here?

There are still federal laws and federal mandates in place for drug testing, where it doesn’t matter what the state law is. Under any law where marijuana is legal, an employer does not have to accommodate use in the workplace. There are a lot of emerging state laws or laws currently in place related to whether or not you can test for marijuana pre-employment. Or whether you can use a positive test result for marijuana in an employment-related decision. But each one of those also has exemptions.

Adapting to the Remote Climate

Background screening shouldn’t take a back seat in this remote work climate. It’s important to understand the risk profile of someone who will be generally unsupervised yet still representing your company.

Take some additional due diligence to ensure that you know who your candidates are, that they’ve done what they say they have done, and that there’s nothing within their risk profile that will be destructive to your company’s reputation.

I hope you found this recent episode of #WorkTrends informative and inspiring. For more information on candidate screening and background check solutions, visit Accurate Background.

And, please mark your calendars! On Wednesday, May 25th from 1:30pm – 2:00pm ET, our #WorkTrends Twitter chat focuses on Background Screening in the Hiring Process, sponsored by Accurate Background.

Subscribe to the #WorkTrends podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. Be sure to follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on LinkedIn and Facebook, too, for more great conversations!

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

Sponsored by: Cornerstone

Learning is the most important thing we do at work. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

High-Performance Organizations as a Model for Success

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

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

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

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

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

Up-Leveling Your Skilling Strategy 

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

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

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

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

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

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

New HR Processes to Meet Workforce Expectations

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

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

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

Meeting Workforce Expectations With New HR Processes

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

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

1. Productivity Measurement

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

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

2. Pay Practices

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

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

3. Onboarding Solutions

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

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

4. Career Growth Opportunities for Employees

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

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

Workforce Expectations for the Future

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

     

How to Find Great Talent in a Tight Job Market

Talent wars may be a dream come true for skilled candidates, but competing for great employees can leave employers hanging. When there doesn’t seem to be much interest in your open positions, you might wonder what you can do better. Making matters more challenging is that all your competitors appear to be looking for help, too. And they may be eye-balling both active and passive job seekers, including some of your star staff members.

While finding good employees can be harder than expected, there are ways to get a leg up. A few of these methods involve tweaking strategies you might already be familiar with. Others could be new approaches that get you thinking outside the box. Below are some techniques to use in your quest to find talented new hires.

Go Beyond Your Conventional Candidate Pool

Certain business models, such as brick-and-mortar retail, limit hiring pools to local candidates. But if your business can accommodate remote work, you open up the possibility of finding out-of-state or even global talent. To enable your international hiring efforts, your company can work with an employer of record or establish local entities.   

Creating overseas subsidiaries or legal entities can make sense if you plan on hiring more than a few employees. Maybe you’ve identified an attractive international labor market with candidates that will be good fits for various positions. This approach might also pay off if your company plans on sticking around in that market for a while.

Yet setting up a bunch of legal entities can get expensive. The average costs range from $15,000 to $20,000 in most countries. These figures are only for initial expenses and do not include the price tag for recurring admin and office needs. If you want to hire one candidate from Spain and another from Thailand, legal entity expenditures could prove prohibitive.

An employer of record (EOR) service that already has a legal entity in the location you want to hire from can help. The EOR is the employer on paper, but your company gains local staff with the desired expertise and outlook. Similar to professional employer organizations, EORs also handle the HR side of things such as payroll. But an EOR goes a step further by ensuring companies stay in compliance with a country’s labor laws.

Create a Stand-Out Employer Brand

Job seekers are encouraged to develop a unique personal brand when crafting a résumé, cover letter, or LinkedIn profile. Companies can do the same with online career and HR website pages or microsites. An organization’s employer branding should also extend to applicable social media platforms, job board postings, and employer review sites.

Creating and managing a strong brand pays off in recruiting and retention. Research shows that 75 percent of active job seekers are more likely to apply to companies that actively manage their employer brand. About 50 percent of candidates won’t accept an offer from an organization with a poor reputation, even for a raise. And employers that stay on top of branding can decrease turnover by up to 28 percent.  

Candidates who don’t have an inside link to your company will first go to your website and social media pages. They’re looking for who you are as an employer, what you stand for, and what current employees have to say. Beyond a list of perks and financial incentives, job seekers want a glimpse of what working for you looks like. Consider adding behind-the-scenes videos, employee spotlight blogs, and catchphrases that emphasize your core values.

Take a Closer Look at Your Job Descriptions and Postings

Sometimes posting a generic help wanted or “We’re Hiring!” notice is enough to bring a star candidate to your door. But in a competitive labor market, where everyone’s looking for specialized skills, compelling job descriptions and postings are a must. Using worn-out phrases or getting too technical might repel qualified applicants.

Mismatched descriptions touting roles perfect for recent graduates and long lists of specialized qualifications will also turn off candidates. You’ll leave job seekers shaking their heads with postings for entry-level positions that nevertheless insist on three years of experience. 

Even if your area doesn’t require you to list salary ranges, including pay rates helps set expectations. You’ll save time and disappointment if you’re upfront about hiring budgets early in the process.

Besides clear descriptions of a position’s core responsibilities and performance standards, job postings should highlight why the company is unique. You can include things like mission statements, values, and career development opportunities. But also consider who your intended audience is and why they would want to do this job in your organization. Include language that communicates the why and pulls them in. Add links to your career site and employee reviews.

Once you’ve perfected your job descriptions, find job boards, events, or professional networks that target your ideal candidate. If you’re hiring for entry-level positions, reach out to colleges and universities with career services and informational events. Some online job boards appeal to remote job seekers or those who specialize in tech or marketing. Start building a database or pipeline with potential applicants from referrals, career-oriented sites, and internal employees.  

Finding the Best Match

Finding the best people proves to be more difficult when strong contenders have more choices. Cutthroat labor markets often require employers to get creative and revisit company identity strategies. You can do this by searching outside conventional hiring pools, developing distinctive employer branding, and aligning descriptions with candidates’ motivations. Putting these methods into practice can help you shorten the time you’ll take to find that great match.             

Hiring Bias – Create a Fairer Hiring Process

Bias can be a powerful factor in the recruitment process. In 2019, researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of California, Berkeley, began secretly auditing some of the top companies for implicit bias in the hiring processes. Their results showed a significant bias against resumes that included candidate names likely to be associated with Black applicants. In other words, even at top-tier employers, bias appeared to be repeatedly popping up in the hiring process.

This may surprise some people who believe that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Act wiped out bias in hiring. After all, it’s illegal for employers to discriminate against potential employees based on gender, race, religion, age, national origin, or disability. Nevertheless, bias in hiring is still an issue.

The Root of Bias in Hiring and Recruitment

When it comes to recruiting, bias is the brain’s subconscious way of labeling a candidate as a “yes,” “no,” or “maybe” according to the recruiter’s subjective feelings about a candidate’s observable characteristics. This means that the recruiter can be biased toward or against a candidate (for example, a male recruiter preferring a male candidate), which can lead to unfair assessments. Given this understanding, it’s clear that bias can show up in almost every step of the hiring process.

Consider a recruiter reviewing dozens of applications for a job opening. The recruiter can show bias when judging candidates. Anything from gender and personal pronouns to alma maters and home addresses can spark common hiring biases. Many recruiters aren’t even aware they’re being biased because many of these judgments happen subconsciously.

Even after the resume review stage, hiring teams can again display bias during interviews. A number of studies over the years, including some from Princeton and New York University, have concluded that it takes less than a minute to form a first impression of someone. That first impression could be based on an unfair preconceived notion — related to anything from previous personal experience to common stereotypes.

For instance, a recruiter may expect candidates to be energetic and cheerful during the initial screening. Under those circumstances, a more thoughtful, serious, or reserved applicant could be removed from consideration before getting a chance to warm up to the discussion. While this immediate impression may have some truth to it, the candidate may need time to truly show what they have to offer, which may be far more beneficial to the organization in the long run.

The good news is that it’s possible to mitigate the effects bias can have on the hiring process. And it all starts with having conversations to acknowledge, understand, and address this issue.

Common Types of Hiring Bias

According to ThriveMap

  1. Affinity bias
  2. Confirmation bias
  3. Halo effect
  4. Horn effect
  5. Illusory correlation
  6. Beauty bias
  7. Conformity bias
  8. Contrast bias
  9. Non-verbal
  10. First impression

Reducing Implicit Bias in the Hiring Process

In my years in the recruitment industry, I’ve encountered some excellent, reliable ways to temper bias. Below are a few recommendations.

1. Implement an applicant tracking system.

An applicant tracking system, or ATS, is a centralized platform used to streamline recruitment and consolidate candidates. A robust ATS can collect, analyze, and review hiring and recruitment data objectively, and can provide an overview of all touchpoints and data collected along the candidate’s journey. At any time, a recruiter can retrieve key information about an applicant from the system.

Not surprisingly, one of the biggest benefits of an applicant tracking system is the ability to reduce bias. Certainly, recruiters can tailor candidate searches by inputting keywords such as “developer” or “Harvard.” Nevertheless, an ATS has the potential to be more impartial than most humans.

Another advantage of an automated applicant tracking system is time savings. An ATS can match up candidates with remarkable speed. At the same time, most applicant tracking systems are customizable and can integrate with other platforms such as marketing tools.

2. Remove identifiers.

Applicant tracking systems remove a lot of unconscious bias from recruiting. But, they can’t conduct interviews for you. Instead, get creative in implementing different methods to decrease the chance of discrimination before and during interviews.

One method I learned that proved successful was to scrub identifiers (such as applicant name, education, address, gender, and related fields) from every resume. As a result, your hiring committee can compare candidates on the basis of their experience — nothing else.

For example, in a previous role, I was tasked with building out the DevOps team. I presented candidates of diverse ethnicities and genders, but the hiring manager kept rejecting them no matter how technically adept they were. When I brought up the high rate of rejection, the hiring manager explained that they were only interested in bringing on male applicants of a certain ethnicity.

Though that explanation was genuinely upsetting, I suggested the method of removing identifiers from applications, and we agreed to try it. From that point forward, I presented only candidates’ qualifications, and the acceptance rate went from near zero to over 95%.

3. Involve a hiring panel.

It’s common in recruiting to conduct a final panel-style interview. This is the opportunity for the candidate to meet their potential teammates and vice versa. Someone on the call may have reservations or be impressed just based on their initial perception of the candidate. Rather than letting this bias influence the interview, let the candidate’s qualifications and cultural fit come into play.

One way to mitigate bias with panel members is to ask them to listen in on calls with candidates rather than join by video. Just listening helps panelists focus on the substance of candidates’ answers rather than their appearance.

Final Thoughts

Everyone has biases, whether they realize it or not. Rather than allowing those biases to unfairly affect the hiring process, set up guardrails to guide the process toward more equitable outcomes. You’ll end up making more appropriate hiring decisions and, ideally, improving the candidate and employee experience.

Utilizing Partnerships to Improve Military Hiring Practices

Sponsored: Orion Talent

As organizations – specifically hiring leaders – look to fill their talent pipeline, the US Military is an unrivaled source of talented, experienced people. Decades of research and hands-on experience underscore that military training results in well-rounded employees who serve as an asset to any workplace.

The military has a well-deserved reputation as an extremely effective employer, with its firm commitment to training; it teaches people about persistence, mentorship, innovation, leadership, and success. Let’s face it: the military leads the pack in cutting-edge training programs. This fact has long been embraced by organizations that are champions of military hiring, such as Booz Allen Hamilton and Lockheed Martin.

Follow the Leaders

A SHRM report indicates accelerated military hiring initiatives at major companies including Siemens, AT&T, and Allstate Insurance. Here are some excellent stories from Starbucks about the success of their military hiring program. These leading organizations offer a wide variety of resources to veterans and their families. 

There are also more than 230 firms involved in the Veteran Jobs Mission coalition, which plans to hire 1 million vets by 2025, having already hit its earlier target of 100,000. Many other organizations see the value in military hiring but aren’t sure where to begin.

Here’s a tip. The key to an effective military hiring program lies in the utilization of partnerships. Savvy organizations tap the expertise of those who know the intricacies of military candidates and their families. It’s nothing less than wise to have partners help navigate government programs. In addition, speak the military language, define effective communications channels, advise on the transition to civilian life, and more.

Provide a Positive Candidate Experience

It’s no secret that I love a great candidate experience. Members of the military and their families deserve a positive and promising journey. Veteran job programs are created, funded, and maintained for a reason – to help bridge the gap between the military and the workforce. From employer branding to onboarding, people desire and deserve a smooth process that makes them feel valued.

By coming together and utilizing partnerships with similar goals, it makes the process that much better. Let me refer to the 2021 North American Talent Board Candidate Experience (CandE) Benchmark Research Report, published by The Talent Board.  

When they ranked the Primary Areas Where Companies Plan to Contract with External (3rd-Party) Service Providers to Enhance Recruiting Efforts in 2022, veteran/disability services came in at number 3 with 26% of respondents wanting to invest there. 

Reaching Goals through Partnerships

Many businesses are new to the military hiring landscape, and others haven’t even scratched the surface. Regardless of what stage you’re in, capitalizing on partnerships in this area is critical to the success of military hiring.

The SHRM Foundation and USAA recently conducted research to better understand what employers should do to more effectively recruit and retain veterans, especially during challenging economic times. They found that over one-third of employers (36%) said that they do not think their organization has been effective in hiring veterans since the start of the pandemic.

Here’s some data from that research that I find telling: 

  • 43% of employers don’t know where to post jobs to target veterans
  • More than 1 in 3 employers say recruiting veterans is more difficult than civilians
  • 40% of employers don’t know where/how to sign up to exhibit at veteran job fairs

In a situation where employers feel ill-equipped to tap a talent pool, there is a natural call for help. This research indicates a gap in the process that can be filled with the right allies. It’s best to align with organizations that have already established a foundation of trust and employ communications techniques that work. 

The SHRM research referenced above states, “Many employers…struggle to understand the unique circumstances that impact workforce readiness beyond experience and skillsets when veterans transition to the civilian workforce.” 

This challenge underscores the need to utilize partnerships. Partners like SkillBridge, Onward to Opportunity, Hiring Our Heroes, and MilSpo Academy are great examples of partners who would be able to help employers understand these unique circumstances and adequately address them.

Tapping Expertise is Smart Business

Understanding the nuances of military hiring can make a tremendous difference in the approach. Fortunately, there are many organizations dedicated to helping military personnel find gainful employment after service. Tapping these organizations inevitably saves time, money, and resources. 

Recruiting and talent experts Orion Talent understand the importance of expertise in this space. The company has a rich military DNA and provides a full suite of technology-driven talent acquisition solutions. As part of their offerings, they have a partnership program built on more than three decades of experience. One of their many useful solutions helps organizations understand complex government programs, including the Department of Defense’s SkillBridge, as well as other veteran and military spouse training and upskilling programs. 

Here’s a fact that I would want to know if tasked with military hiring: The U.S. Department of Defense pays the service member’s salary and benefits. The service member participates in a SkillBridge program during their final 180 days of service. There is no cost for leveraging and upskilling this unique talent pool.

Build Support Internally and Build Partnerships Externally

In a recent podcast, I was able to speak with Sarah Peiker, CEO at Orion Talent. Sarah shared, “Get the buy-in you need from decision-makers, talent acquisition professionals, human resources, and operations managers. It’s also important to make sure everyone supports hiring military candidates. Track and measure results. This includes metrics on hiring performance data and retention rates. Do your homework before determining your hiring model. Build a hiring process that works towards a positive candidate experience.”

I highly recommend the eBook: Military Solutions for the Business of Work: Unexpected Lessons in Getting the Job Done & Getting Ahead for more on this topic. 

Military hiring provides an excellent opportunity to bring strategic assets into a company’s workforce. I recommend you open your arms to the vast opportunities for rewarding partnerships that focus specifically on veterans and their families. By doing so, you are exponentially broadening your reach, increasing the quality of your talent pool, and building a stronger workforce. 

Massive amounts of talent + partner organizations eager to help both organizations and job seekers = a win-win in the talent war.

Mid-Career Employees and Their Impact on The Great Resignation

The Great Resignation has not hit the world of work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rates of resignation are highest among mid-career employees. Many of these workers are leaving their jobs and fields to pursue a new career path offering better job security or greater flexibility.

Mid-career workers are attractive to companies because of their skills and life experience. Skills like leadership, problem-solving, and multitasking transfer well to new roles and often give seasoned hires an advantage over younger workers.

It’s almost as if the entry-level openings don’t exist anymore: Thirty-five percent of “entry-level” openings require years of job experience. That’s higher in skill-heavy industries like tech, with 43% of college graduates leaving school without a job lined up. This will affect us for years to come.

We must tackle the dual-pronged issue of investing in these entry-level employees while also retaining our mid-level workers. Younger, less experienced hires need a chance to enter the workforce and get learning, and mid-level employees need to feel valued and cared for within their current roles.

Growing Your Retention Rates

Company leaders need to recognize that both mid-career and entry-level employees have essential roles to play in the success of their business. If they can nurture both experience levels, they can retain and onboard successfully and simultaneously.

To start, leaders need to acknowledge the hurdles that mid-career employees face. Forty-five percent of caregivers said they had considered leaving the workforce because of personal demands on their time, while 34% said they had “lost critical skills” in the past year.

To combat this life stress, mid-career employees need flexibility and understanding. Companies must develop permanent, sustainable methods of retaining talent via flexibility, including remote work, in-office childcare, and flex time. These employees also need the opportunity to gain skills (or grow existing skills) in an accessible, low-cost way.

Helping Employees Grow Their Skills

 Eighty-nine percent of employees are willing to reskill, but too few get the chance. Providing opportunities to learn new skills and develop professionally shows the company is invested in growth. Give employees of all levels some opportunities to skill up, and they will show their worth.

Teaching your employees will lead to better engagement — 2.9 times higher engagement than employees who don’t see opportunities to learn and grow. Upskilling opportunities are also a win for your company. It allows you to move existing employees into roles that are often difficult and costly to fill.

Be a Mentor

Mentorship programs have positive effects on both mentor and mentee, so even mid-career employees who aren’t interested in upskilling can still benefit. Taking a junior employee under their wing creates a sense of loyalty among mentors, boosting retention rates. A program could increase mentees’ communication skills, community engagement, goal-setting, and a sense of purpose — even if the mentee isn’t an entry-level worker.

Furthermore, mentorship is currently underutilized. That means companies adopting mentorship programs will stand out among competitors. As a result, you’ll gain another layer of protection against poaching while also making your business stand out from the crowd.

Companies don’t need a gimmick to make it through the Great Resignation; they need to evolve alongside our changing world. Changes to how we work and train workers are necessary to make it through this event. Utilizing a mentorship program will gain more engaged employees and gain better career outcomes.

Talent Analytics, What is it and Why Does it Matter?

How often do you think talent analytics are used today? More than you may think. We know everyone talks about data. Whether you’re figuring out how to acquire new users or build an audience with content, you’re probably using analytics to set goals and measure what’s working. But a critical area where both qualitative and quantitative data continue to make a difference in the world of work is talent analytics.

At its most helpful, talent analytics takes the guesswork out of hiring the right talent. Talent analytics doesn’t just help you get a warm body in a seat, either. This data can help recruiters and companies ensure a talent match where only the most motivated and those inspired to do their best work sign the dotted line.

When it comes to world-class recruiting in an increasingly competitive landscape, talent analytics play a central role in making HR and recruiting work smarter. Think of it as a way out of the HR fog

That said, understanding the right metrics is key to narrowing down the focus. By applying talent analytics, you can better pinpoint and hire team members who will ultimately serve as positive assets to the organization

What ARE Talent Analytics?

Talent analytics is the term for a data-focused approach to decision-making regarding current and future employees. By analyzing past employee behavior to predict future performance, talent analytics is often used by HR, hiring managers, and recruiters to find the best type of candidate.

According to Deloitte, “Four percent of organizations surveyed believe they have predictive talent analytics capabilities today. Only 14% of companies have any form of talent analytics program in place. Yet, more than 60% want to build a plan this year. 

In a still-relevant Harvard Business Review article about competing on talent analytics, Tom Davenport, Jeanne Harris, and Jeremy Shapiro outlined six types of data used for managing a workforce.

6 types of Data Used for Managing a Workforce

  1. Human Capital Facts: The key indicators of the business’s health, such as headcount, turnover rate, and employee satisfaction.
  2. Analytical HR: Segmented data on the units, departments, and individuals that most need attention.
  3. Human-Capital Investment Analysis: Tracks the activities that have the largest impact on the business, such as how employee satisfaction results in higher revenue, lower costs, and greater employee retention.
  4. Workforce Forecasts: Identifies and predicts the best times to either ramp up or cut back on staff.
  5. Talent Value Model: Provides information on why employees want to stay in an organization or why they choose to leave.
  6. Talent Supply Chain: Predicts how to best staff a company according to changes in the business.

Levels of insight vary – from basic information to predictive modeling. As organizations integrate talent analytics into their practices, deeper insights allow for better planning.

 

Analytics, What is it and Why does it Matter? | TalentCulture

What Moneyball Taught Us About Analytics

Using data gathered from your current workforce can drastically improve your ability to make smarter decisions when recruiting talent. Relying solely on your gut to make a hiring decision is a mistake.

I like to compare talent analytics to the more commonly known practice of sports analytics. This was made famous by the book and film Moneyball. It transformed the way professional baseball teams recruit talent. Instead of relying on gut instincts and old-fashioned scouting, Billy Beane and Peter Brand transformed recruiting by using something now known as “sabermetrics.”

The Oakland Athletics used empirical analysis of baseball statistics to measure in-game activity and thereby predict future performance. Once laughed at by old-school baseball managers, sabermetrics is now used by every team in the Major Leagues.

Just like Beane and Brand, organizations can use talent analytics to hire the right people. Additionally, to better understand how to align company strategy and employee capabilities. Decisions on how and where human capital should be allocated across the organization are much more reliable. Therefore, effectively placing individual employees becomes easier. 

Talent Analytics: Art or Science?

As much as I strongly believe in the power of data, I would never advise someone to rely solely on data to quantify and qualify a human being. 

In my opinion, stellar recruiting is an art as much as it is a science. Using data and analytics as business intelligence is powerful, but your value judgment is fundamental. If talent is a natural ability, it is impossible to precisely quantify. Plus, talent doesn’t (usually) stagnate; it grows and changes, so you need to take that into consideration when assessing data.

Talent analytics has proven to be an ever-growing asset. It allows HR and recruiting teams to better connect with organizational goals. By knowing what you’re seeking, talent analytics can save time and resources. The ability to measure and leverage people data is not only exciting but smart business. 

Better Pay Isn’t Always the Key to Retaining Talent

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

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

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

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

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

Reward Employees the Right Way

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

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

Adapt Feedback and Motivational Styles Using “Thinking-Feeling” 

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

Tailor Recognition and Feedback to Employee Preference

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

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

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

Match Management Style to Employee Personality Preferences 

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

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

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

Dealing with a Talent Shortage? Then Liberate Your Talent Strategy

Organizations everywhere are facing a tightening talent shortage. A recent study noted that seven computer- or math-related jobs go unfilled for every unemployed, high-skilled STEM worker in America. Moreover, these jobs represent a disproportionate amount of immigrants, suggesting that the global IT workforce is substantial, skilled, and in high demand. But it’s not just high-skilled work either. Low-skilled, low-wage jobs go unfilled due to high demand and low supply, giving more power to workers.

These trends lead employers to expand their horizons when it comes to sourcing and securing the talent they need. They’re looking wider and deeper into their talent pools, Whether they’re looking for more diverse hires than traditionally expected or in new pockets around the world, they need the right tools.

In-house talent acquisition teams are still burdened with stringing together hiring programs that create rigid, dizzying experiences for everyone involved.

At best, time to hire is too slow. At worst, valuable company time and costs are sunk into a bad fit. In addition, the more inclusive hiring future will only increase the complexities of finding talent efficiently while providing a great candidate and employer experience.

The problem lies in overly complicated processes and disconnected systems leaving hiring teams with just as much work to do and no time to do it. Leaders need a way to simplify the process. Removing this bloat—and meeting hiring needs with efficiency—will depend on leveraging technology that integrates an entire platform to find, vet, and hire global, qualified talent from a single source.

In short, as the business landscape becomes more flexible, organizations need more capable technology to support the increasing variety and variance in hiring. But how? Here are three ways to revamp your talent strategy to keep up with growth.

Liberate your talent acquisition strategy.

The first thing I recommend to talent leaders is to think bigger, liberating the notion of “this is the way we’ve always done it.” Clearly, the old game isn’t going to work. Granted, that’s easier said than done. But the reality is that workers have increasing leverage, demanding that they have more flexibility regarding where and when they work, and, importantly, whom they work for. Labor market data shows that quit rates are at the highest level since 2000. The talent landscape has changed dramatically, and employers need to rethink their approaches.

So, get creative about your talent strategy. Think outside the box when it comes to where and how you look for talent.

Perhaps you could lower artificial barriers to qualified talent. For instance, some large tech firms have rid their job descriptions of bachelor’s degrees, seeking only the skills required to actually do the work. Or maybe you can search alternative talent marketplaces for vetted job seekers from around the world. For example, you may not have the same tools to qualify talent from other countries. However, there are ways to ensure you’re getting the right person with the right skills for the job no matter where they live.

Liquidate the pipeline.

Too many apps and outdated processes stand in the way of a great candidate experience. This results in a slower time to hire and slower growth. It doesn’t have to be like this. You should be able to find any talent for any job anywhere in the world without having to cobble together half a dozen siloed systems. There should be a flood of talent for your open positions, so you just need to liquidate the pipeline by removing its barriers.

Consider this common situation: You have a talented developer who suddenly quit for another firm and you need to fill that vacancy as fast as possible. Traditionally, you’d post job descriptions to a bunch of job boards only to hope you’ll get someone equally talented. It takes weeks—even months sometimes. Communication takes forever, interviewing goes on even longer, and vetting candidates’ qualifications is a crash course in project management.

Now consider an alternative experience. That talented developer leaves and you search through a database of thousands of already vetted, qualified candidates ready for the picking. They’re from anywhere in the world, for any role you need. Communication is a breeze, and you cut interview time in half because of the pre-qualification standards in place. Plus, you move the candidate through the hiring process in a fraction of the time. No barriers, no silos, everything taken care of.

With a good talent strategy in place, that’s the way it should be.

Lower the floodgates.

Finally, with a wider focus on your talent pool and a more streamlined approach to talent strategy, you’re ready to absorb the rising demand, increase the supply, and propel business growth.

We’ve been witnessing and driving a fundamental shift away from traditional recruiting and staffing. We know that those who go all-in on total talent gain a sustainable advantage over market competitors. Now you’re ready to liberate your workforce.

Photo: Bill Oxford

5 Ways To Foster Belonging At Work

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

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

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

First, five key points on belonging and businesses:

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

Marshmallows, Spaghetti, and Teamwork   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This post is sponsored by MHR International.

A Seat at The Table

I started my career in HR over 17 years ago, and the questions I heard most often at all the HR conferences were “Why don’t I have a seat at the executive table?” and “How can I get the executives to take me seriously?” Well, we’re 17 years on, and in spite of all the best intentions, I still hear these two questions repeatedly. What are we doing wrong?

  1. Stop asking “what can I do for you?”Asking “what do you need me to do?” would be like a CFO asking “What financial information would you like me to report?” Ask the business what they are trying to do, and be the expert who translates their business goals into actionable human capital strategies. Would a CEO think about making a major shift in strategy without consulting the CFO to talk about the financial implications or the COO to talk about operational challenges? By showing the C-Suite that you understand their goals and can help them reach them through human capital, your CEO will be calling you to talk about the people implications of their strategies.
  2. Stop speaking HR-speak.The main focus of your business leaders is on meeting enterprise wide strategies and goals, not on the challenges of finding, developing and retaining quality talent. In your next meeting with the C-Suite, think about how you can make your words relevant to their issues. Increased revenue, decreased cost, and higher productivity are much more compelling to an executive than time to fill or number of training courses taken. In his article From HR to the C-Suite: Speaking the same language, Mike Psenka states, “Your first task is to ensure you are conversant in the lingua franca of the C-suite: money… When HR professionals can demonstrate how their operations improve the bottom line, they are able to form stronger connections with the C level executives and continue to enhance the value of the HR department to the entire company.”
  3. Don’t make yourself a victim.A common response I hear to not being at the executive table is “they never invite me to their meetings.” A sure way to keep yourself out of the executive conference room is to wait for them to invite you. Add strategic value by modeling the behaviors in 1 and 2 above (and make sure they know you have), and they won’t be able to think about having their meetings without you.

The chair is already pulled up to the executive table at your company today. If you’re not standing behind it or not even in the room, make sure you’re not exhibiting any of these success-blocking behaviors; you’ll be amazed how quickly you get to sit down.

A version of this post was first published on Black Box Consulting.

Photo Credit: Robert V. Faust II Flickr via Compfight cc

Is Your Brand Telling Meaningful Stories?

Authentic storytelling in the workplace (and outside of it in social media channels) is an amazing way to impact talent strategies. It’s part science: apparently, we respond to storytelling with a change in brain chemistry. It’s part social: a great way to build trust and confidence, and to increase your audience. It seems like a soft skill — it’s called storytelling after all. But companies and leaders that don’t explore their own authentic stories face a hard lesson when faced with more candid competition.

Storytelling is about sharing goals, expectations, and experiences. For an organization’s talent strategy, storytelling has a multi-tiered payoff:

  • It’s an ideal way to attract different types of candidates.

Particularly passive candidates can be hard to reach (they’re not actually looking for a job, so they’re not toiling over their professional profiles or reaching out to HR). But put interesting, relevant content out there, and you’ll pique their interest.

  • It’s a mission refresher for your corporate culture.

There’s no better way of galvanizing and consolidating what’s most important in your corporate culture. It’s also an impactful opportunity for leadership to step up and play a key role. There are countless ways to start authentic storytelling in the workplace. But it should include questions like: What are the important moments in your company’s history? What are the turning points? What are your company goals? When leadership articulates the answers, it puts a human face on the company story.

  • It’s a way to drive employee engagement.

Telling a company’s story is an undeniable way to bring everyone closer to an organization’s core values, and to turn employees into a community with shared experiences and goals. In the workplace, shared experiences forge an emotional connection, building community in a way nothing else can. They connect leadership and employees, strengthen individual goals to company goals, and turn a sense of mission into a call to action that each individual can relate to.

As for marketing, HR and Recruiting, storytelling is indeed a softer approach, but it packs a wallop, expanding audience and increasing visibility. This may be a bit of a tongue twister, but say it with me: Meaningful content is very different than content marketing.

Stories have a relevance, a resonance: they imply that there is an audience who can relate to the experience. That’s entirely different than a product pitch, which says, all too often, we know what you want. One is inclusive. The other can be, at the least, irrelevant; at the worst, alienating. What’s your story?

The deeper a company goes into the act of telling its own authentic story, the deeper it can entrench its own employees and community in its mission and culture: to tell a relevant and meaningful story you have to do a certain amount of company soul searching, a process that not only deepens a company’s own sense of brand and culture, it creates a culture of sharing an experience. And that, in turn, is great for all aspects of HR, as word gets out that Company X is a great place to work, with great goals, a great brand, a great story. I’d go so far as to say that authentic storytelling from an HR standpoint is akin to a feedback loop of win-win.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.

Photo Credit: guaraestudio via Compfight cc

Leaders, What’s Your 2016 Talent Strategy

A 2016 Talent Strategy. I’m not referring to your recruiting budget or how many openings you’re planning to fill. I’m talking about a real process that works to improve your company culture, connects your brand to the job seeking community, and incorporates your long-term business goals. A solid talent strategy addresses the entire staff (all levels and departments), not just senior leaders.

HR teams are not keeping up with business needs. In fact, business leaders and HR respondents themselves continue to give HR borderline failure/barely passing grades. At a time when talent is indisputably a CEO-level issue, this should be setting off alarms in every organization. HR organizations rated their teams the equivalent of a C-minus (an average of 1.65 on a five-point scale) while business leaders rated HR a D-plus (an average of 1.32 on a five-point scale), according to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2015.

Since most leaders maintain outdated views of HR, there’s a lack of awareness about what their organizations really need to thrive. As I reflect on some of these issues I’ve seen unfold in the past year, there are definitive themes emerging.

  1. Lackluster training programs

The people that were once effective in their roles haven’t been properly coached or trained to evolve their careers in a way that brings their company to the next level of growth. The average budget for training in the U.S. is extremely low, only compensating for about one week per employee each year.

  1. Outdated talent acquisition practices

Companies are settling for mediocre talent because they’re dinosaur recruiting methods aren’t reeling in top performers.

  1. Those damn millennials

Tenured leaders are blaming high turnover rates on entitled, finicky millennials. Because the vast majority of organizations don’t understand what motivates this technology-driven generation, they’ve become the scapegoat for skill gaps and unengaged work cultures.

  1. Motivational posters instead of real culture codes

You know what I’m talking about – those cheap posters with cliché platitudes and photo-shopped images of distant landscapes. Employers love plastering them all over HQ but fail to incorporate them into a formalized culture code lived by all team members.

If any of these issues sound familiar, tune into my upcoming podcast with our strategic partner and host, Talent Culture. I’ll be discussing why most employers are falling behind on human capital trends, and what a successful talent brand looks like. What a symbolic time of year to open your mind to new strategies to strengthen your team.

This post was first published on the APA Solutions blog on January 13, 2016.

 

photo credit: go via photopin (license)

What is Recruitment Marketing and How Your Business Can Use It

While recruitment and marketing may traditionally have been thought of as separate entities, they can actually work hand in glove. Recruitment marketing uses elements of both traditional recruitment strategies and brand marketing. The appeal that is created by powerful marketing can be harnessed by recruiters to develop job adverts that will attract candidates and potentially improve the quality of applicants to vacancies within a company.

Here are three ways you can mesh these two areas of expertise together in order to benefit your business:

Keywords That Attract Customers, Attract Job Searchers Too

Savvy companies who are competitive online know the value of SEO for their websites and target specific keywords in order to make conversions. Like customers, job hunters are also googling keywords when they’re searching for job vacancies. They’ll also use keywords for searches on job boards and networking sites like LinkedIn. You can extend the reach of your job ad by targeting specific keywords and phrases in the same way that marketers, advertisers and SEO and PPC specialists do to attract customers.

For example, if your company is looking to hire a new accounts manager, then you will want to look at the most frequently used keyword variations for this job role. This could include “accounts specialist,” “senior accounts manager,” “business account manager,” and so on. Using Google Keyword Planner and checking these against current job board adverts in your industry will help you to select the best keywords for your job ads.

Make An Impact, Do Something Different

There are adverts absolutely everywhere these days and marketing professionals know that in order to complete in a crowded marketplace they need to pull something special out of the bag to get people interested. There’s quite a bit of science behind this. You need to consider the messages that are being conveyed through imagery, colours, and the wording of job adverts. Avoid producing job ads that just replicate those of another company as job searchers are more likely to pass these by or not notice them at all.

Don’t Underestimate Brand Recognition, Utilize It

Your toaster has just broken and you’re shopping online to replace it. You already know what model you want so you type it into Google. You see ads for Amazon, a brand that you recognise, but also for an independent business that you’ve not heard of before. Which do you choose to buy from? The answer is nearly always the brand that you recognise because you already trust them, so it feels like the safer option.

With job hunting, the same situation applies. Job seekers are much more likely to be interested in jobs with companies who they know about, rather than companies that they’ve not heard of before. That’s where good branding and strong marketing presence comes in. Ideally, potential applicants will recognise your company from their branding and then notice the same branding on a job advert. If your company is smaller and lesser known, you want a candidate to be able to google the company and find links to well branded social media pages and articles featuring your company from reliable sources.

Online recruiting strategies can utilize company marketing, including branding as well as marketing strategies, to improve their job adverts and job descriptions, communicate the message they need, and attract the best candidates for your business.

Article by Ron Stewart, recruitment specialist and CEO of Jobs4Medical, a medical job board.

Photo Credit: Bigstock

Growing into the Role of Manager

Not everyone is born to lead. In fact, most people don’t want to be managers — only 34% of respondents to a recent CareerBuilder survey said they aspire to leadership positions. And yet, there are new manager positions being filled every day. This means there are a lot of managers that may not actually want to be in their position. Leaving isn’t always an option, especially when you have car and house payments to make. So for those managers who need to do a lot of growing in a very short amount of time, here are a few pieces of advice.

Work Less, Facilitate More

One of the first things you’ll have to learn about being a manager is that you’re no longer in charge of doing things, but rather making sure they get done. The difference is that your role as a manager is more about assigning tasks, tracking them, and making sure your team is on track to accomplish them. This means getting out of your office and listening to what your employees are saying. This sounds simple, but you’d be surprised. Most managers (52%) don’t take the feedback from employee engagement surveys.

As an employee, your value was measured by the number of things you got done, the number of tangible things produced or crossed off a list. As a manager, it’s measured by how your team performs. This means actively engaging with the people on your team. As Greg Satell (@Digitaltonto) explains, you can’t be passive when it comes to talking with your team.

“Simply saying, ‘I have an open door, come to me with any problems’ is a cop out. If you want to know what’s going on in your organization you have to go out and actively look for problems, not just wait for them to come to you.”

Because your work is defined by other people, you need to make sure your team, as a whole, is working the way you would as an employee.

Take the Effort to Develop Talent

Working off the idea of listening to your employees, new managers should also understand employees are the ones doing the work, and as such need to be developed so they can work better and produce better results. The analogy is a bit dehumanizing, but humor me: is it not worth spending the money to fix a printer that works perfectly fine aside from one little kink? You could always buy a new printer, I suppose, but that’s not really an option when it comes to perfectly fine employees, especially when the costs of replacing an employee far outstrip those of replacing an appliance.

You can hire the best, brightest employees on the face of the Earth, and you’re still going to have to develop them. With up to 90% of learning taking place on-the-job, you’re going to have to make the effort of properly training employees when they arrive on their first day, and developing them from then on out. It’s not going to be a cheap process, but investing in them is a much better use of company money than trying to find someone new.

Beware Scope Creep

Once you’ve accepted that you’re now a manager in some capacity (whether you like it or not), you’re going to have to behave like one. This means knowing what makes a project manager successful, as well as what can sink a newbie. One thing you should always keep in mind is the idea of scope creep. For a manager who’s not really sure about what a project will actually entail, this means that what they thought was a small project can turn into a much larger one as they realize what they’ll need to accomplish the goal they initially set out to conquer. This can turn projects sour quickly, and make you look incompetent as a result. Christine Marciano, a Commercial Training Consultant for Nationwide, advises using templates to outline your projects before diving into them:

“I think scope creep most often can occur when the project manager, trying to be flexible, begins to accept additions to the project without accounting for the possible need of more resources: time, money, manpower . . [templates are] effective because of the tools’ ability to help the project manager communicate with stakeholders and teammates, and also to add standardization to the mix. Folks move around regularly in our company and the consistency in the form is comforting.”

We want regularity in our process, but being a manger is anything but regular. And while you most likely may not have wanted to be one, stepping out of your comfort zone and being a manager can be one of the most reward, most satisfying experiences you can have, especially when you see your team prospering around you.

Performance Management: Going Beyond the Appraisal

Performance and performance management – it’s something every organization, be it a Fortune 500 or a non-profit or a public sector institution talks about. Odds are they talk about it a lot and despite all that talk it is still likely a topic that causes managers and leaders to want to pull out their hair and one that stirs feelings in employees ranging from dread to fear to mental eye-rolling. Some organizations tackle the challenging of reviewing and communicating performance via three-point scales or five-point or twenty-seven point; others embrace 360 degree reviews; some organizations have highly calibrated processes whereas others have “Oh, it’s that time of year again” approaches; then there are the organizations dropping the idea of formal performance appraisals in the goal of creating more dialogue and something better. The point: assessing, measuring and managing performance is complex and ever-evolving; but there are some core principles that regardless of where an organization falls on the spectrum of processes and approaches that hold true.

Performance Happens Every Day

Employees come to work every day, some do solid work and get done what they need to. Others may perform more marginally and there will inevitably be a contingent that builds a reputation for being “rockstars” or “role models” or “ninjas.” Every organization regardless of industry has employees doing good work and great work and work that falls somewhere on either side of that; they’re doing that work every day and every day serves as an opportunity to recognize the good and the bad, to praise and to coach. So whether your current system formally appraises employees annually or in some other fashion, remember that the role of leaders and managers goes beyond “addressing performance” but rests in keeping an ongoing “performance dialogue” going.

Great Performance Requires Clear Communication

As operational demands change and organizational strategies shift – it is important to make sure that the impact on performance expectations are made clear. From setting annual goals to clearly articulating key responsibilities to holding regular touchpoint and one-on-ones, the opportunity to ensure employees understand what is expected from them, how they are being measured, and the impact of those measurements on them, their team, and organization become more and more important. In making the leap from “meets expectations” to “exceeds expectations” there is as much onus of responsibility on the manager to be clear on what is required and expected – regularly, not just during an overly stuffy sit down once a year – as there is on the employee to meet those requirements and expectations (or to speak up when they are facing a hurdle in doing so). In this sense, communications becomes the two-way dialogue it is intended to be; leadership can better understand the nuanced challenges impacting employees across the organization, and employees understand how to rise to the level of “rockstar” or the like. Or as Jim Collins puts it in his book Good to Great, there is a difference between managing and leading, between telling and communicating: 

“The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you’ve made a hiring mistake. The best people don’t need to be managed. Guided, taught, led–yes.”

High Performing Organizations Make Performance Investments

Recognizing that performance happens every day and that superior performance isn’t just a matter of an employee doing their job but also understanding what drives and defines performance in the organization are significant factors in facilitating performance and creating a performance culture, but then the question becomes, “what next?” In some organizations that may be intricate performance measurements layered over top of tools and forms and processes, in others it may be a matter of continuing the conversations that is already hopefully taking place – regardless, the acts of assessing, measuring, and managing performance should lead to a larger conversation about talent; where an organization is strong, where it has opportunities, and where it has the ability to create and mold talent on the cusp – this process as its most basic can look at employees as fitting into one of four categories (further illustrated in the tool/diagram below):

Invest – employees who are setting the paradigm, driving operational successes, impacting and informing strategy, those that see expectations and blow right on past them; these employees have a high level of actualized contribution to the organization with minimal to no distractionary consequence (negative impacts, distractions, derailments, etc.) to their colleagues, peers, projects, or teams. Dollars spent here, not just on salary and incentives but also on training, development, and talent fostering are almost guaranteed to create a strong return on investment for the organization and create stronger engagement with your best employees.

Assess – employees who make strong contributions but perhaps not always consistently, they may need help in seeing the big picture or understanding the impact of their work and contributions (let alone those of their colleagues and peers); these employees have a high level of actualized contribution to the organization with a middling to high level distractionary consequence to their colleagues, peers, projects, or teams. Dollars spent here are an investment in “what if,” this group of employees has the potential to become high performers but requires strong leaders, solid coaching, and often times greater organizational effort in order to achieve their best.

Push – employees who are middling or haven’t quite yet found their groove, they may show glimpses of high potentiality, or they may simply show up every day and do their job based on their understanding of the expectations upon them; these employees have a low to middling level of actualized contribution to the organization with a low to middling level distractionary consequence to their colleagues, peers, projects, or teams. Dollars spent here can be viewed as equal parts investment and analysis – the idea being to tap the full potential in this group or determine if perhaps this isn’t the right role or organization for them at this point in their career.

Exit – employees who aren’t meeting expectations, haven’t embraced the organizational culture, or more simply put are a bad fit for any number of reasons; these employees have a low level of actualized contribution to the organization with a high level distractionary consequence to their colleagues, peers, projects, or teams. Time rather than dollars should be spent here in helping this group understand their next steps, how to better utilize their unique set of KSAs with a future employer, and to prepare themselves to find the right role in the right organization that best meets their personal career value proposition.

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