Andrew Neel

Employee Burnout: How Leaders Can Help Right Now

I want you to look around at your employees — in person where possible, and on that Zoom call. Then, I want you to think about how they’re doing. 9 times out of 10, they’re at least a little burned out. One of the areas we’ve been focusing on a lot here at TalentCulture is employee wellness. What that means right now is we’re looking at an entire workforce that seems, well, exhausted. Employee burnout is on the rise. And chances are, dear reader, that may not be a surprise to you at all.

There are certainly many external factors playing a role in the growing wave of burned out employees. Those range from a scary economy to social turmoil. And from political upheavals to a terrifying health crisis. There are domestic factors: The disruptions and worries of parenting and caregiving through the pandemic. In addition, there are more pressures facing business and the workplace now than we’ve never seen before. Recently, Eagle Hill Consulting ran a survey of U.S employees. They discovered 45 percent reported suffering from burnout, whether they are essential workers or remote. 25 percent linked their stress to COVID-19 — and that was in April, when we were just weeks in.

By July, a study by FlexJobs and Mental Health America reported that 75% of employees were dealing with burnout at work.

For employees, it’s VUCA time. So what should leaders do?

It’s time to roll up our sleeves and take care of our people. And that doesn’t take grand gestures. We don’t need to invest in new software or major changes. There are simple strategies you can execute right now. Simple. But they may mean a lot:

Commit to Mental Health

The Eagle Hill study shows employees could use more help:

  • 36 percent feel their company is not taking action to combat employee burnout
  • A mere 20 percent feel they’re getting the mental and physical wellness resources they need

And in a July 2020 poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 53 percent of the adults surveyed reported that coronavirus-related stress and worries were eroding their mental health — up from 32 percent in March. 

A few months ago, I had a great conversation with a start up about how they’re supporting employees through COVID-19. Being young and lean, they had to optimize their offerings without rebuilding their entire benefits program. So they looked at their mental health benefits and made a tweak or two. It’s no secret that stress, anxiety and depression can wreak havoc on an employee’s ability to focus and work. So they provided remote employees access to professional counseling through tele-therapy. In short order, among all the benefits available to employees, tele-therapy became one the most utilized and popular programs.

Bringing the need for therapy out into the open took the taboo and the stigma away — at a time when many people need mental health support the most.

Improve What Already Exists

There’s an interesting pushback going on regarding flexibility and remote working. Some employers are still singing the “when we reopen” song. They are using it as a rationale for just letting their workforce get by. Again, I know a lot of companies are feeling the pandemic pinch. They may not have the spend for their wishlist of new HR technology right now. But the reality is we may ever get everyone back to the office — at least not in the same pre-pandemic way. After all, remote working and flexible schedules are enabling people to handle one of the hardest periods of time (barring wars, of course) this country has ever faced.

Given the importance of employee engagement, staving off burnout, and increasing performance and productivity why wouldn’t you maximize the best aspects of working remotely?

Perhaps you can’t invest in a new platform right now because the business environment has thrown off your plans. That’s a reality for many. People are already functioning and working remotely and have been for months. S0 chances are you don’t need more technology to get your people to work together better.

Focus on Weak Spots

So focus on those pesky weak spots. What’s causing friction? Where is trust the weakest? Around deliverables? Around hierarchies? Maybe around teams?

Have you crafted and shared a set of policies and expectations around how your people are supposed to work remotely? If not, do it now. Do some in-house remote training on best practices and etiquette. Be proactive about the problem of sexual harassment or bias showing up in virtual interactions. Write a set of simple policies around parenting and caregiving emergencies. 

Just as important, engineer some lightness into the workdays — because, in general, those days have gotten very long. Allot time for informal get-togethers and casual conversations. Find ways for employees to have a little fun. A giving challenge or a gratitude drive, for example. Or a meet-the-kids (or the pets) event.

Working remotely can’t all be about work all the time. Now that work has come home, let some of home come to work.

Ask People What They Need

Pandemic aside, employee burnout was alive and well in countless work cultures already — and the pandemic just compounded the problem. Blame hyper-tight production cycles, toxic levels of competition among coworkers and teams, and managers too spread thin to spend any time helping teams. The fact is a whole host of other subpar conditions existed before the pandemic hit. What I mean is this: Fundamentally, most organizations want to be great places to work. But things happen. Then came COVID-19, and that’s been a whole new level of “happen.”

The silver lining here is that now there’s no excuse for reaching out to employees to make sure they’re all right. Whether that’s a pulse survey, an informal check-in via text, or even a phone call — reach out. Burnout is often triggered when employees are completely tapped out — mentally, physically, emotionally — and feel like they’re not getting any acknowledgement or support. Extended periods of high stress, overly tight deadlines, disruptive shifts in the workflow — all can lead to the mounting frustration that can result in burnout.

The Best Way to Avoid Employee Burnout

The most important thing you can do to help your workforce avoid burnout? Find out how they are and where they are really struggling. It may be hard to do this individually and in confidence. So instead, solicit anonymous feedback and share the results in a way that doesn’t expose anyone, or anything. Further, share it with a transparent commitment to make things better. Then actually do it.  

None of these three strategies need fancy bells and whistles to get off the ground. All they really require is a heartfelt reality check. One that helps deals with the here and now. One that acknowledges that work during a pandemic — remote or not — is exposing our vulnerabilities as well as our strengths. 

A video conference hosted by the Wharton School of Business and U Penn focused on the prospect of getting back to “normal” whether for corporate and knowledge workers or for frontline and essential workers. Given everything, they determined that we’re not going to get there until November 2021. That’s more than a year away. So don’t be the employer remembered for overloading your people when life was already hard enough.

Don’t shelve employee wellness until all this is over. Work to improve your conditions for the present. Prevent the employee burnout happening now.

Bram Naus

A Proven Strategy for Performance Management: 360º Feedback

2020 is changing the way we work, without question. As the nature of the workplace transforms, performance management faces new challenges. We’ve seen many workforces undergo a rapid shift to remote. A Gartner survey of 229 HR leaders in April 2020 revealed that 81% of their employees had shifted to working remotely. The study noted that even post-pandemic, remote work will not only continue, but increase. At the same time, workforces with employees deemed “essential” face additional pressure and stress. That stress includes how to stay safe, let alone engaged. The onus is on managers to keep up. 

The fundamentals of effective, modern performance management haven’t changed: to build and maintain engagement, alignment, and growth. Feedback is critical in this process, as we know. One challenge now is how to measure performance and gather data as well as provide feedback in real time. Another challenge: Finding a system that connects the whole workforce and collects data over the long term. 

Empowered by a digital platform, 360º feedback is a proven way to meet these challenges. 360º should be part of your overall talent management strategy, whether your future plans include an on-site, remote, or blended workforce. To optimize its potential, here are three critical strategies:

Cover All Four Corners

The best way to get an accurate picture of how any individual is doing? Make sure you’re getting feedback from all four corners of the workforce. That includes the manager, peers, any direct reports, and others in the organization. 

Feedback on leaders should hew to this principle as well. It can be tough to get a clear picture of a leader’s effectiveness for a number of reasons. A digitally powered feedback program with built-in anonymity and uniform survey questions will certainly help overcome any reluctance to ‘speak freely’ about a leader. Asking for feedback on leaders as part of a customary cycle of feedback also helps. Rather than an exception to the rule, this makes it part of a normal process. And since leaders themselves can have difficulty with self-assessment, this reduces any undue stress.

Ask the Right Questions

If you don’t ask the right questions, you won’t get constructive or relevant feedback. Establish the key questions you need to ask. Tailor those questions to your industry, your market, and the nature of your own company. Make sure they are tied into the objectives of the process, as well as the nature of the role they’re meant to survey. 

There are two goals to keep in mind here, as well. First, ensure feedback can drive more self-understanding and better growth for the employee, and help managers provide an unvarnished but fair review that focuses on strengths as well as weaknesses. Second, design questions that engage participants to answer them. Don’t overload a survey with too many questions, or ask multiple questions on the same topics. It’s also a better practice to combine open-ended questions with multiple choice and rating questions. That way, participants can weigh in using their own words.

Provide Manager Training

Build in training and coaching for managers on how to best implement 360º Feedback so the process is set for success. That means getting clear on consistent terminology and guidelines. As Primalogik’s new ebook, Essential Performance Management Solutions for Today’s HR, points out, “T​o allow for fair comparisons of employees’ contributions, reviewers need to be using the same guidelines.” Guide managers on how to establish the right criteria and work with their employees to set individual as well as organizational objectives. Managers should also explain the process and its purpose. Specifically, they should clarify what employees should expect, and send periodic reminders and prompts over the feedback platform.   

Managers should also plan to conduct plenty of follow-up. That follow-up should include a one-on-one discussion with employees to review feedback. A plan for improving performance in any areas of concern should also be included. Beyond that, managers may also want to conduct regular, frequent check-ins with employees to make sure they’re on track and comfortable. A recent Workhuman study showed that regular check-ins are key drivers of engagement: 85% of the workers surveyed reported higher levels of engagement with weekly check-ins. Making growth an ongoing conversation may greatly improve the outcome: it’s easier to improve in small steps than all at once, and real-time feedback — coming from multiple directions — has a clarity to it that’s far more engaging. 

360º Feedback is Performance Management

360º Feedback is most effective when it’s part of an overall employer commitment to employee growth and development, and when it’s designed to show strengths and growth for everyone. When an organization is transparent about wanting to be the best it can be, and gives the workforce the means to participate fully, there’s a clear alignment. Employees feel a part of the process, not the recipients of it.

We’re all learning how to be better at using data and fully engage and communicate in the digital workplace. Digital feedback platforms keep us connected, providing a clear picture of performance grounded with multiple sources of feedback and data. It’s a powerful way to update performance management, and drive manager as well as team success.


This post is sponsored by Primalogik.


Photo: Bernard Hermant

Connecting During Crisis: Engaging Your Frontline Workforce

Over the last few months, there’s been a lot of talk about the current situation of forced remote work and its impact on employee collaboration, productivity and engagement. This is a legitimate concern and one that I myself, as a CEO, am tackling. But the discussion has largely been focused on desk-based employees, who typically sit in front of a computer and can perform their jobs from anywhere in the world as long as they have a laptop and WiFi connection.

Frontline workers, however, are in a completely different boat. They don’t sit in front of a computer all day; they often work long shifts (sometimes 12 hours or more); they’re the first and last points of interaction with customers. Most importantly, frontline workers aren’t accustomed to interacting and communicating with their managers and HQ leaders via face-to-face meetings.

With COVID-19 leading to country-wide lockdowns and social distancing rules, the entire world is dependent on frontline workers for essential services, such as stocking groceries, shipping online orders, providing healthcare and transportation. That means longer work shifts, more uncertainties about their roles and more stress for frontline workers. As this happens, staying informed and getting regular feedback will be essential to navigate through these uncertain times.

Subpar Onboarding Experience Can Prompt Early Turnover

According to a recent article on the Muse, companies like Kroger, Unilever, GSK, Wells Fargo, UnitedHealth Group, Instacart, Deutsche Bank and Asana are still continuing with their hiring plans amidst the current crisis. This is due in large part to the fact that these businesses provide ‘essential’ services and goods. But what happens once these frontline workers are hired? What will their onboarding look like? How prepared are HR teams to digitally adapt their onboarding processes?

When we asked HR professionals to cite their biggest challenge with onboarding remote and distributed employees, the top two responses were ‘making them feel like part of the team’ (17 percent) and ‘providing clarity and context about role expectations and career growth’ (17 percent). Following close behind, 15 percent cited ‘integrating into company culture’ as the biggest challenge, while 13 percent struggle to establish communication norms. If you look at these responses, it’s clear that onboarding plays a major role in employee satisfaction, career development, fulfilment, engagement and retention. But for most employees, being able to physically interact with managers, colleagues and leaders can go a long way in making them feel like part of the team and forge relationships with coworkers. So, if virtual onboarding sessions are too drawn out, dull, uninspired, new hires could end being early leavers.

Turnover is not a new problem for organizations. Early turnover, however, is even more troublesome, with 20 percent of employees leaving with their first 45 days of employment. Our study’s findings indicate that HR teams, who are faced with onboarding thousands of employees virtually, could see an increase in early turnover. And the culprit could very well be HR’s inability to virtually onboard new employees in a way that’s just as informative, interactive and engaging as it would be if it were conducted in-person.

More Direct Feedback Supports Better Job Stability

As our study found, it can be tough to communicate and engage with remote and distributed workforces. For example, a mere 8 percent of the surveyed HR professionals said they keep a regular cadence of one-to-one meetings with remote workers, while only 12 percent commit to a communication charter. On top of this, 15 percent of HR professionals said they struggle to provide regular feedback on performance and career development.

These findings are troubling for a few reasons. First, frontline workers are currently being pushed to the limits. As the pressure mounts, it will be more important than ever to provide a safe space for frontline workers to vent their frustrations, voice their concerns and ask important questions related to their roles and responsibilities. But if their managers and HR teams don’t make themselves available for these one-to-one conversations, you can bet it will manifest itself in lower productivity, less cross-team collaboration and potentially worse performance. So managers need to carve out time in their schedules and virtually meet one-to-one with their teams on the frontline. Even if it’s a 10-minute check-in twice a week, this could help frontline workers feel less stressed and get clarification about their role and tasks. The more clarity they get, the better they’ll perform their jobs, which will lead to better customer satisfaction, loyalty and future sales. While these are positive outcomes for the businesses that employ frontline workers, it will also help frontline workers prove their value and maintain job stability during unstable times.

Digital-First Culture Engages Frontline Workers

According to Stephen Redwood, principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP, “At digital-first organizations, people, processes and structures are all focused on optimizing digital so companies can be more productive.” I agree wholeheartedly. And this is especially true for frontline workers, who rely on mobile devices, communications apps, productivity apps and collaboration apps to stay connected, get relevant updates about the business and their roles, schedule meetings with their managers, among other things.

What does a digital-first culture look like? For one, it’s one that isn’t reliant on face-to-face meetings. For example, companies with a large number of frontline workers should hold virtual all-hands meetings twice a week at least. Reserve one of the two weekly all-hands meetings solely for Q&A with the staff. Let your frontline workers ask any questions they want — be it about how the coronavirus outbreak may impact job stability (i.e. layoffs, furloughs), plans for hiring, or anything else. Don’t make the virtual all-hands meetings excessively long — keep them to 30 minutes maximum so that you can keep your frontline workers engaged, without interrupting their work too much.

Another way to help frontline workers integrate with the company culture (especially in the midst of a crisis) is to have managers share a weekly message of motivation. By posting this type of message into designated Slack channels, teams can start their days with a positive attitude and still feel a sense of connection to their fellow colleagues, teams, managers and leadership.

To make a digital-first culture work, it has to come from the top down. Leadership needs to believe in the value of digital tools for driving employee collaboration and engagement. Beyond that, getting buy-in from the C-suite will require proving how digital tools will help maintain business continuity, increase customer satisfaction (and repeat purchases) and drive revenue growth.

Photo: ion dooley

#WorkTrends: Managing Down, Up, and Across: Best Practices

People always create the culture, especially at work. And when Meghan M. Biro and tech and workplace innovator Dr. Janice Presser joined forces on this week’s #WorkTrends, what emerged was a new compact for managing not just teams, but everyone we work with — including ourselves.

We can’t just consider dynamics as one-way, Janice noted. Managing relationships goes in three directions: “Up, sideways, and down,” she said. Employees can and should work on ‘managing their managers,’ but to manage up, managers need to understand what makes employees motivated to work first, explained Janice. “One motivator is power. Not power over people necessarily, but empowerment. And the other is affiliation.” As an employee, do you know what skill (and value) you have to complete a task —  and contribute to the team? More importantly, do you know who you need to report that task to?

No matter the direction, Meghan pointed out, and whether you’re managing a team, a report, or a boss, it can be like walking a tightrope. As Janice noted, the key is understanding exactly who you’re dealing with, and what makes them tick, and we can do that just as well with someone in charge as we can with a colleague or a report.

Not surprisingly, one of the most effective strategies for enabling employees to do well is to “get out the way,” said Janice, which is a matter of trust — a factor that needs to exist across the board. In terms of managers, however, they need to trust that their employees will each do their part to contribute to the bigger picture. After all, everyone lands in a particular career role for a reason. And one smart tactic for helping employees climb the ladder is to let them switch roles until they find their niche. “Just let people swap,” she said. It can do wonders in getting everyone to feel that “corporate love.” The approach doesn’t even have to be fancy, added Meghan: informally managing peer relationships helps “employees figure out who on the team will love doing that part of the work.”

As for managing across, there’s a foolproof way to reduce friction and resentment among your team. Be grateful for those doing their job so you don’t have to. We all have our unique talents. And in the end, love and appreciation will take us all a lot farther.

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

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why do companies struggle with management issues? #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can improve how we approach managing? #WorkTrends
Q3: What can leaders do to help organizations improve how we manage? #WorkTrends

Find Dr. Janice Presser on Linkedin and Twitter


Photo: Jéssica Oliveira

Observing Workplace Compliance During a Crisis

News surrounding the coronavirus pandemic is developing at such a breakneck pace that by the time you read this article, the data in it will probably be outdated. As of this writing, there are more than 186,000 cases of COVID-19 worldwide. In the U.S., 49 states and the District of Columbia have reported more than 4,500 cases of coronavirus and 88 deaths. 

Managers and employees likely have worries about everything from job security to the risk of contracting the virus at work. Some private and public employers have begun shifting onsite employees whose jobs can be done remotely to working from home for the foreseeable future. But what if someone’s job can’t be done remotely? What happens when they exhaust all their sick time and other paid time off? Should an employer pay them even when they are furloughed?

It depends on whether they are an exempt (salaried) or non-exempt (hourly) worker. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD):

Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, employers aren’t required to pay hourly workers for time not worked, even if that is through no fault of the employee. If an hourly employee gets sent home, and their job can’t be done from home, their employer only has to pay them for their actual hours worked that week and subsequent weeks.

But the law requires salaried employees to receive their full salary for weeks in which they perform any work, with limited exceptions. This includes even minor work such as checking email and voicemail. A private employer may require exempt staff to take PTO in the case of an office closure, provided the employees receive pay equal to their guaranteed salary. 

So technically, an employer can stop paying an employee, whether hourly or salaried, if the employee is required to stay home for an extended period of time and his or her job can’t be done from home. Of course the ethics on that are a bit shakier. 

Further, some employers may have to comply with federal and state advance-notice requirements of up to 90 days for workers regarding furloughs and layoffs in certain circumstances (the WARN Act). But it isn’t yet clear if and how this applies to COVID-19-related layoffs.

WHD encourages employers to consider flexible leave policies for the sake of “community mitigation,” offer alternative work arrangements such as teleworking and additional paid time off, and consider strategies such as staggered work shifts to promote social distancing. 

Employees’ rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act

Employers covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) must provide employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for their own personal illness or to care for children and other immediate family members who are ill. In addition to other criteria, employees must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months to be covered by FMLA. Your state also may have its own laws covering sick and family leave.

What if an employee’s child has been dismissed from school due to coronavirus fears and they have to stay home with them, even if the employee is not ill? While coronavirus so far seems to be bypassing the youngest of the population, there’s currently no federal law covering private sector employees who have to take off from work to care for children, and employers aren’t legally required to provide leave—paid or unpaid—to employees caring for dependents who have been dismissed from school or child care.  

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says the virus appears capable of spreading “easily and sustainably” from person to person, but data shows that most people do not become seriously ill from it. Reports from China, where the virus originated, found that about 80% of cases were “mild” and led to full recovery. Of the 70,000 cases there, about 2% were in people younger than 19.  

“This seems to be a disease that affects adults, and most seriously older adults” from age 60 up, the CDC says. The highest risk of serious illness and death is in people older than 80 years of age and people with serious underlying health conditions. But given the potential for significant spread of illness in a pandemic, WHD urges employers “to review their leave policies to consider providing increased flexibility to employees and their families.” 

Furloughs and remote working

Some employers such as the hard-hit airlines have already begun asking workers to take voluntary furloughs. In the event of a mandatory quarantine or furlough, employees may choose to use sick leave, vacation or other PTO if their employer’s policies and applicable state law permits. If an employee is sent home, certain jurisdictions may require “reporting time” pay to compensate the employee for reporting to work even if work wasn’t performed or the employee didn’t work a full shift.  

If an employer requires staff to work remotely, the company is supposed to furnish employees with all the necessary tools for that, including laptop or PC, mobile phones, and other equipment, or reimburse employees for the cost.  

Employers also need to consider liability issues. Not having adequate policies in place to manage issues arising from communicable illness could expose them to significant legal risk, according to Harvard Business Review. If an employee becomes infected at work, employers may face OSHA penalties depending on the circumstances or be exposed to workers’ compensation, unfair labor practices, and other claims. Businesses such as restaurants also have to consider liability to third parties.

Staff with symptoms of infection should be sent home or instructed to stay home. If remote work is not feasible for their staff, employers could implement other measures to reduce close interpersonal contact, such as canceling in-person meetings and conferences, staggered or “shift” work as previously mentioned, and even changes to the office layout. Such measures could help protect workers from infection and the organization from liability. Companies should also consider extending or expanding benefits and protections for employees on leave who exceed their PTO allotment.

Regardless of their official leave policies, it behooves businesses to be more generous about paying furloughed or quarantined employees than the law requires them to be — not only for the sake of their business’s health and that of the community, but as part of being good corporate citizens. 

However, it seems that for now, all government can do is strongly appeal to employers to pay their furloughed or quarantined employees, but it can’t force them to. (Congress is reportedly considering some sort of paid-leave bill, but it is still in the works.) And in the meantime, employers are urged to do as much as they can to help their workers who must stay home. It’s not only beneficial to public health and the workforce’s own health, ultimately it will benefit the business as well.

Photo: Obi Onyeador

Love Starts with Leadership

Around here we celebrate Valentine’s Day sentiments all the time. We tell each other how much we appreciate, cherish, are wowed by, awed by, impressed by, and value each other. It’s not in our culture deck (we don’t have one since we’re always flexing and morphing to grow and change with the world of work). It’s not in the rulebook and it’s not even in any of the job descriptions. It’s just in the ethos of TalentCulture. 

I’m showing you a glimpse of how we work to make a point: all that love? It’s up to me. Daily, I’m aware of a deep sense of responsibility: I founded this company, and it’s up to me to make sure we’re all feeling good about it and great about each other. It has to be that way: the people come first. And if we’re going to love each other it has to start with the leader. So, my lovelies, here’s the closest thing to a box of chocolates I can give you all: 4 tips on how to bring more love into the workspace, whatever shape that space takes:

Be emoji-ional

Consider your favorite brands, and then, if you would, reflect on a conversation you may have had via chat, or a text, or on a social media platform. I love that brand. I heart that brand. Or you may have dropped literal heart emojis on someone’s text recently to express your absolute affirmation for their observation or idea. 

Social media has made it stunningly easier to express our feelings in a lighter, more informal way — which is far more appropriate for the workplace than any written declarations, let’s face it. The more we blend social into our workspaces, the easier it is to spread that love around. 

Get inspired.

Going back through the amazing posts we’ve published on, I realized we’ve always been interested in love. So, dear readers, here’s some reading material. Love and its impact on the office has plenty of angles, including a new post by guest contributor Rebecca Shaw on a recent UK office romance study. The research uncovered a disquieting gap between how women and men perceive work entanglements — and puts the onus on HR to help equitably and safely untie the knots. 

A post on why engagement comes from the heart bears a re-visit, bringing up the value of emotional currency. Kevin Grossman, a longtime member of the TalentCulture family, wrote about the dance between love and money — and managed to bring prog-rock band Rush, AC/DC, Apple and Southwest Airlines under one “culture rocks” umbrella.  We tend to feel very emotional about our work — from colleagues to culture — and it helps to remember that this isn’t new, we’re just getting better, and smarter at dealing with it. 

Take a love inventory.

We do a lot of work with amazing HR tech innovators — and lately we’re covering a lot of ground on the subject of engagement and experience for both candidates and employees. A strategy that comes up again and again is actually asking your employees how they feel. Now that we have access to highly effective tools that can scale to needs and growth — such as surveys, check-ins, feedback and recognition platforms — there’s no excuse for ignoring your workforce’s emotional state of mind. Inaugurate a new campaign to find out how your people are doing, and that should include anyone on the workforce, from freelancers and independent workers to payroll employees to executives. We tend to overlook our own needs as much as anyone else’s, and leadership behavior models the behaviors that the workforce is going to adopt. 

Conduct surveys of employee/workforce sentiment  — short and sweet and frequent is better than long, arduous, and one-time. Include yourself and other leaders and high-level managers as well as the whole workforce. Use the data to reveal the realities of your work culture and workspaces, share it with the workforce, and then start taking action to remedy the weak spots. Transparency and action taken on feedback are definitely part of modern leadership’s love language. 

Practice emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence isn’t a new concept: it’s become a twenty-first century chestnut at this point. It has to do with how skillfully we manage our relationships and ourselves, and it’s been proven to correlate with our ability to perform. But I’m frequently struck but how far away from EQ we’ve gotten. Like many concepts that make a splash and send ripples through the HR field, EQ’s novelty has receded. A great piece in Inc. by Wanda Thibodeax introduces its close “cousins,” cognitive intelligence, success intelligences, and cultural intelligence (CQ). 

But EQ is just as important as ever. When we talk about using tact to deliver un-great news to job applicants, that’s EQ: and it’s akin to letting a suitor down easy because, well, they’re human. When I wrote about the power of some leaders to reach their people, one of the key factors is emotional intelligence — though these days, I’d gather other traits, such as kindness, honesty, respect, letting go and partnering as all part of being emotionally intelligent. Evolution is consolidation in this case, and we’ve come far since that piece first appeared, though with over 700,000 views by now, it’s clearly still hitting a sweet spot. To be perfectly honest, that makes me happy.

The bottom line — to feel love you have to bring the love yourself. It that means you spend a bit more time practicing some much-needed self-care, then do it. Get that box of chocolates, do the yoga class, plan the marathon training, go on vacation, take time to do something good for the planet, or volunteer. Whatever works. It’s your job to make everyone else feel good about themselves and the value they bring to your organization — and that means you need to feel good about yourself and your value as well. Go get yourself a Valentine-y card, then get everyone cards too, and watch the love start to catch on. 

Photo by mnm.all

Work, Love, Gossip, Power: The Thrill and Toll of Office Romance

We all know that office romances happen. But on what scale do they happen, and how exactly do they affect those involved on a professional and personal level?

A recent workplace study by Viking surveyed 2,000 office workers in the UK to uncover the true experience of dating a coworker. Those surveyed were professionals aged from 18 up to 65+, including temporary trainees, executives, middle management, senior management and board members. Participants were from a range of industries spanning from marketing, advertising and PR through to energy and utilities, banking and finance, and leisure and tourism.  

The study found that office romances are extremely common. Almost three-quarters (74%) of office workers aged between 25 and 34 said they had been involved in a romantic relationship of some level at work. Further, 59% of workers surveyed who had been involved with a colleague had made efforts to hide their relationship from others in the workplace, including management and HR. 

Some of the most fascinating facts, however, came when looking into the differences between men and women. There are marked differences in how the genders handle office romance, and how the impact it has on workplace productivity and wellbeing. 

Women Are More Worried About Office Gossip

In any office environment, people talk, and an office romance can quickly become the hottest new water cooler gossip. Understandably, this was found to be a real issue for those who had been involved in an office romance.

The study found that more women than men are worried about gossip in the workplace – when asked about the biggest downfall of an office romance, 46% of women said being the subject of office gossip, compared to 36% of men. You can understand why this number is so high; office gossip does not only bring worries about a loss of reputation in the workplace, but also makes it highly likely that managers or HR will catch wind of the romance. With many workplaces viewing office relationships negatively, people are worried that office gossip could ultimately lead to more serious consequences, including reprisals or even the fear of losing their jobs over their workplace romance. 

However, interestingly and despite the fact women are more concerned about gossip, men are far more likely to keep their office romance a complete secret. 22% of men said they would tell nobody in their office about their relationship, while only 5% of women reported the same.

Women Are More Likely to be Romantically Involved with Their Manager

An interesting angle to consider, especially from an HR perspective, is power disparities when it comes to office romances. It was only two months ago that McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook was fired following a romantic relationship with an employee that violated the company policy. So, on a wider basis across the UK workforce, how common are relationships between management and those they employ? 

Overall, across the study, 15% of workers said they had been romantically involved with their direct manager. Looking at the gender split, this statistic is broken down into 17% of women, as opposed to just 11% of men. The study also looked specifically at upper management, finding that 7% of women and 6% of men reported being involved on a romantic basis with a company director or CEO. 

This brings about a whole host of further issues. While any office romance can be complicated, the disparities of power between managers and their staff mean we need to address the need for psychological safety should these relationships occur. If a lower-ranking member of staff finds themselves in a tricky relationship with an upper-ranking manager, they may be understandably worried of the repercussions or retributions this could bring. HR staff need to ensure there is a safe space and a sense of security when it comes to these difficult conversations, so staff feel like they can come forward and discuss their issues without fear of backlash on their career and professional standing within the company. Further still, with the study finding that only 33.6% of employees knew of and understood their company’s policy on office romances, it is clear that organisations need to be doing more to ensure there are fair, clear, communicated policies in place.

Women Are More Likely to be Negatively Affected 

As well as analyzing the who and the when of office romances, the study also looked a little closer at the psychological effects on those involved. We understand that office romances happen, but do we understand exactly how they are making the workforce feel? 

Again, the study highlighted a number of interesting differences when it comes to gender – it is clear women and men are affected differently by romance in the workplace and women, on the whole, are having a much harder time dealing with the consequences of their workplace relationships. 

According to the study, women find it more difficult to keep their personal and professional relationships separate. One question put to those who had been involved in office romances was whether they found it difficult to avoid letting personal feelings affect professional decisions. Almost double the number of women (31%) said they did, compared to just 16% of men who reported the same. The study also found the quality of work of those involved in office romances was reduced; almost half (47%) of women believed their office romance decreased their productivity and creativity throughout the working day, as opposed to only a quarter (25%) of men. 

An important topic for both HR and business professionals is employee wellbeing at work. How are office romances contributing to stress levels and the overall workplace wellbeing of those involved? Interestingly, 23% of men who had been romantically involved with someone at work reported that the relationship had actually reduced their stress levels in the workplace, compared to just 13% of women. At further look into overall wellbeing in the workplace uncovered that almost a quarter of women (24%) said that their office romance had a negative effect, with just 15% of men saying the same. 

While this study shows us that office romances are as prevalent as ever, it also highlights huge disparities in gender, and how men and women both approach and are affected by relationships at work. Overall, women in a workplace romance are more worried about the consequences and more affected by the negatives of the relationship – whether that be office gossip causing stress, or the relationship itself leading to a decrease in performance and a loss of reputation at work. Men, on the other hand, don’t seem to share these concerns, or at least not on the same scale. This gives us an insight into gender issues, and a hint at a double standard within the workplace, suggesting what is acceptable for men isn’t always acceptable for women. It is clear that there is still much to be done when it comes to workplace cultures: companies need to encourage an environment where men and women both feel equally safe and secure in their jobs.  

As with any personal issues at work, it is important for businesses to be aware of the problems that may arise with an office romance, and to create a safe space where those affected can talk through their issues without fear of repercussions. This will allow the company and HR department to adapt their approach to workplace relationships in the best interest of the business and encourage a safe, comfortable, productive working environment for everyone. 

Trending in 2020: The (Somewhat) New Workplace

What does your workplace look like in 2020?

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

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

The Death of the Office… Kind Of

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

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

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

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

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

Somebody’s Watching You

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

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

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

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

Employee Activism

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

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

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

A Workplace That Stands for Something

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

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

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

The Changing Definition of Benefits

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

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

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

The End of the Corporate Ladder

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

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

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

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

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

Take Charge of Workplace Trends for 2020

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

Photo by Proxyclick from Unsplash.


Colleges Aren’t Preparing Students for Work– What Employers Should Do

Danny Iny dropped out of school at 15 to start a business. He also got an MBA at a top business school in Canada. Guess which decision he considers the mistake?

“My own experience was that quitting school was a great choice. I had a ton of opportunities, experimented with things that I never otherwise would have been able to,” says Iny, author of “Leveraged Learning: How the Disruption of Education Helps Lifelong Learners, and Experts with Something to Teach.” “The MBA was a huge waste of time and money, and I can’t get that time or that money back.”

Research indicates that Iny’s experience isn’t as unlikely as it may seem. The prevailing wisdom that higher-education degrees — regardless of what they cost — are good investments just doesn’t hold true for many people.

So why are colleges failing to prepare workers for the workforce? We talked with Iny about what society gets wrong about higher education and what employers can — and should — do about it.

In your book you argue that colleges are really bad at teaching students the skills they need to be successful professionals. Why do you think colleges are so bad at teaching those skills?

The simple answer is that they were never supposed to be good at it. College is like nunchucks. In Japanese martial arts, there are two weapons that students learn, the sword and the nunchucks. But they’re very, very different in how they came to be. The sword was designed to be the weapon of the samurai. Nunchucks were farm implements. You used them to thresh wheat. They were repurposed into makeshift weapons because that’s what was available in an era where people were not necessarily allowed to bear arms.

You can do a lot with something that has been shoehorned into a new purpose, but there are limits when it’s used for things it wasn’t designed for. The idea of using nonvocational higher education programs as a path to becoming a skilled professional in the modern workforce, it’s a nunchuck, not a sword. It wasn’t designed for that. It can be made to work, but it will never be sword. You can sometimes be successful at hammering in a nail with your shoe, but it’s not a hammer.

So what was college originally designed to do?

The curriculum of higher education in traditional nonvocational programs is designed around subject-matter competency. If you go through an English lit program, you‘ll graduate with knowledge of that subject matter.

College used to be more akin to finishing school though. Completing a college education was a signal, a kind of shorthand. It didn’t really matter if you were studying English lit or political science because in a lot of ways, the curriculum was just a placeholder to represent the overall experience.

It’s not to say the curriculum wasn’t valuable. But take someone who went to Harvard in the ’50s. Nobody thought they were going to have a career because of all the Jane Austen novels they read. It was everything else that was part of the package. The problem is that the rest of the package isn’t functioning the way it was supposed to. And a lot of people are looking at the curriculum saying “This doesn’t prepare students for a career.” But it was never supposed to. That’s not a fair burden to place on it.

When you say that the “rest of the package” isn’t working, what do you mean?

In the U.S. there is a two-tiered educational system. There are about 200 selective colleges, meaning they accept less than 50 percent of the people who apply. These 200 schools, the Ivy League and top schools, make up less than 10 percent of overall colleges. Those are the ones where you get the brand cachet of having the name on your resume and the alumni network.

Then there’s almost everything else, the 90-plus percent of schools out there that are not selective, that will take almost anyone who applies, but that still charge a small fortune. They don’t have all those extra value-adds that contribute to lifelong success. That’s where the real travesty happens. It’s not that you pay a quarter of a million dollars for a Harvard education and it’s not worth a quarter of a million dollars. It’s when you pay a quarter of a million dollars to go to a school that nobody’s heard of and get an education that doesn’t prepare you to do much of anything.

Why can’t colleges just do a better job training students? Are they just unwilling to adapt? Or is it that they don’t understand the problem?

Large institutions have a lot of legacy and inertia around how they work and function. It’s not just about people’s expectations; there are cost structures. One of the staggering numbers is that when you enroll in college, only 21 cents on your dollar actually go to instruction. The rest goes to everything else that’s involved in keeping the college running. (That number is from Ryan Craig.)

The people in these systems also have a particular skill set, so they need either substantial retraining or institutions need new people, which is not palatable to most of the people in higher education.

But I try to be compassionate because what people are asking of higher education is an impossible thing. We’re basically saying “I want to give you a tenth as much money, but I want you to create something 10 times as valuable.” A lot of people in higher education are doing the best they can.

So is there any hope for colleges? Or has higher education as an industry already been disrupted?

Disruption is ultimately going to happen. Because along with all the general inefficiencies, there are also systemic changes happening to the way we consume education. The shift from just-in-case to just-in-time in education means that people don’t want the big four-year program loaded with pre-reqs that don’t really have anything to do with what they’re going to do. We want a very granular, focused training on the things we actually need to know at the time we need to know them.

Take, for example, the taxi industry and Uber. Taxi companies in most parts of the world were terrible. But it took a long time for a good alternative to be available. The technology had to be there. People have to catch on to the new thing. But finally you get this critical mass, and within a couple years it seems like “Who uses taxis anymore?”

Higher education is so deeply entrenched in American society and people highly fear the consequences of a bad decision when it comes to education. And yet college enrollment has declined 7 percent in the last five years. That’s more than a million and a half people saying “No, college doesn’t make sense.” And they’re doing it at a time when there isn’t a good, clear alternative.

In 10 to 15 years it’s going to be a very, very different landscape. We’re at that stage of disruption where the old solution very clearly doesn’t work and is cost-prohibitive, but there isn’t a clear, mainstream new solution — yet.

So faced with this reality, what should employers do differently when it comes to recruiting their workforce and how they see the role of degrees and training?

First, stop doing things that don’t work. It’s not just that the degree is becoming less and less of a signal; it’s already not a good signal. It’s already not predictive of how well someone will do in a job. A lot of the most progressive companies are dropping degree requirements. The Googles and Apples and Bank of Americas and PricewaterhouseCoopers, they’re not using degree requirements anymore in entry-level or nonvocational positions.

Second, recognize that even when the degree did carry value, it only carried value as a proxy indicating if a person had certain skills or abilities. But now we can screen for the skills we need from workers using assessments and simulation tools. We don’t need degrees to signal that anymore.

#WorkTrends: How Citrix Is Redefining the Modern Work Experience

The miracle of working today is that you’re just as likely to be reading this from your company office as from your home, the beach or in the air. And it all can be on the company’s time and dime.

A 2017 study found that about 3 percent of Americans worked from home at least half of the time, with the trend most common among baby boomers, and that’s just one of the big ways in which the world of work has changed recently. It can get confusing and a bit surprising for companies trying to adapt to what workers want.

Tim Minahan, chief marketing officer at Citrix, is here to help us figure it out on this week’s episode of #WorkTrends. Minahan knows a thing or two about how the way people work is changing. Together we looked at some of the major trends affecting the skills companies need, the places where employees work and how technology can help or get in the way of accomplishing our goals.

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

Skills: Addressing the Digital Gap

The biggest skill set change we discussed is also the one that’s most common in our daily lives: digital technology. For the average worker it means learning more systems and tools. For the company it involves training and hiring to ensure everyone has the tools and skills they need.

“There was a recent Harris poll that I thought was particularly telling where they surveyed about 1,500 CEOs around the globe,” Minahan says. “The number one barrier to growth that CEOs identified was not just access to talent but, interestingly enough, access to developer talent. And … if every business is becoming a digital business, then of course developer talent is at a premium.”

He points to this as one of the biggest aspects of the talent crisis. Solving it not only requires embracing the many different places we work but also ensuring that people can collaborate in successful ways. Companies should look for ways to help employees be more productive, without burdening them with more requirements.

Space: Work Is ‘Wherever You Need It’

Thinking about the places we work provides one clear revelation: There’s no such thing as a typical day anymore. More people are working from multiple locations, whether that’s at HQ or in a home office, reading at the gym or catching up on email during a commute. Planes, trains and automobiles all play a role in our daily work lives.

“It seems every week is an illustration of that distributed work style,” says Minahan, who was joining us from Tokyo. “My team is literally everywhere. While we have our headquarters in Florida, we have major sites in Raleigh, Santa Clara and obviously our global team as well. So work really happens wherever you need it to.”

Companies might want to consider a mix of physical and digital spaces to allow work, as well as offer the technology that lets people work where they prefer, Minahan says. He points to a Gallup report that says employees with flexible work schedules are more engaged, and that flexibility includes both time and place.

Engagement: Productivity Vs. Complexity

Employee engagement came with the biggest surprise, especially if we think about these new digital workspaces. Most offices now have plenty of tech that allows us to work from anywhere, communicate, share files and engage in social channels. It may seem like having the right tools is all people need to be productive, but that’s not necessarily the case.

“Despite all that investment in technology, our productivity, U.S. productivity, on the whole, has continued to trend down, and it’s at some of its lowest productivity gross overall,” Minahan says. “There’s a lot of different conjecture on what’s causing this. But at the end of the day, it’s actually complexity. There’s just too many apps, too many different channels, too much content switching that makes all of us less productive and is contributing to this disengagement we’re seeing with the American workforce.”

He suggests that companies look at enterprise applications to see what might be adding too many screens or to-dos that get in the way of completing tasks. Prioritize tools that provide quick access to tasks and the insights that workers need to be productive.

“We spend a good part of our work week, about 20 percent of it, actually just searching for the information we need,” Minahan says.

The Gig Future

The culmination of these skills, location and productivity changes will lead to a significant increase in hiring from the gig economy for companies of all sizes, he says.

“Leading companies are beginning to blur the lines between full-time employees, gig workers and contractors. They’re moving toward these pools of talent where they understand the individual skills,” Minahan says. “They can rapidly bring them together to solve particular business issues. And they give them a digital workspace environment in which they can engage with one another regardless of where they are around the world.”

Once the solution is found, he says, those teams can be quickly dissolved to maximize efficiency and affordability. It’s an interesting look at the future and just one of the predictions Minahan gave us for how things will change within the next five years at Citrix and in the larger workforce.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

Let’s continue the conversation. Join us on Twitter (#WorkTrends) for our weekly chat on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, 10:30 a.m. Pacific, or anywhere in the world you are joining from to discuss this topic and more.

This episode is sponsored by Citrix.

Seven Keys to Effective Recruiting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: 宏☆ Flickr via Compfight cc

Managing Your Talent and Business Alignment

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

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

Everyone is a Contributor

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

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

Being on the Same Page

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

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

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

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

Reducing Risks and Other Factors

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Web_Service Flickr via Compfight cc

5 Keys To Managing A Mobile Workforce

Despite worldwide turmoil, growth is still very much happening on the global front. Companies are expanding into new regions and deepening their presence in existing ones. The challenge is building a workforce rapidly and effectively. It’s never been that simple, but moving your talent where it’s needed the most adds far more complexity — and we’re in an era when competition for talent and skills is at its peak.

Add that all up and you’ve got a renewed mandate to focus on mobility as part of your talent strategy. Whether overseas or intra-national, the companies that mandate that mobility is part of their HR strategy are going to see the results . They’ll see the most growth, performance, succession and leadership development and — critically — retention. You might call it putting your money where the mobility is.

Five Keys To Consider:

Make it future-focused: An organization’s talent strategy should focus well into the future. Depending on what it does, are there plans to expand? Are there international markets to expand into? The failsafe should be to assume yes: You will need to move a workforce. It will likely involve an international assignment. Among those on the rise: the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) as well as the UAE and Qatar. All are clearly hot spots for talent, and the trend is projected to not only continue but increase by another 50% by 2020. 

Develop a local successor chain. What enables an organization to succeed in new locations isn’t just a matter of shipping a select group to the new office and putting them to work. According to a survey report from EY/ Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, the top benefit of having a global mobility strategy in place was being able to develop local successors — 55% of top performing companies who responded noted that. Also note that global mobility strategies had a clear positive impact on retaining talent, growing new business, and also financial performance for 65% of the companies surveyed.

Cover the bases. Retention is a sharper issue still when factors include relocation. The challenge is not just to reallocate the workforce where you need it, but keep them happy as well. A drain of talent, particularly before contracts are up, could be devastating. Cover logistics and legalities (there may be different labor laws and regulations). Provide dedicated support: with visas; with finding safe, secure and comfortable housing and family support; with the host country’s customs, cultural differences and etiquette. There’s also the issue of the organizational culture, which may be different overseas, given the workforce. Enable everyone to embrace it, and (here’s a concept) make mobility and globalism part of its fabric.

Concentrate on the willing, ready and able. Not all are going to be willing or able to move overseas or travel frequently as they spearhead international efforts. Price Waterhouse Coopers research of millennials found that 38% were interested in pursuing career opportunities with the firm overseas. But another PWC study found that 70% of millennials wanted or expected that they would take an overseas assignment at some point in their careers. 

Make sure the door is open when they come back. Re-entry after an overseas assignment can be rocky to say the least. According to a survey by Brookfield Global Relocation, 38% of returnees quit within 12 months — and that figure hadn’t changed for three decades as of 2010. Your employee now has international experience and may well have outgrown their previous title, and the organization’s own expectations may not align with this increase in experience. Well before they are due back, start working towards facilitating not only their return, but retention. Capitalize on their professional growth with an appropriate position, or you may lose them to a firm who better recognizes their value.

The 24/7, hyper-connected and endlessly networked culture of the new workplace dovetails with the profound expansion into a global economy, which means that streams of talent are going to be moving back and forth as needed. In this situation, there’s one irrefutable bottom line: Yes, this is about mobilizing talent. But it’s also about altering the course and root of people’s lives. We’re all working to increase employee engagement and retention. It’s likely best to remember that.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.

How to Recharge Your Workforce and Improve Productivity

Take a look around your office. How many employees are glued to their computer screens? Eating lunch at their desks? Is the breakroom empty? With so many people answering “yes” to those questions, it’s no surprise there’s a big trend sweeping across U.S. workplaces: employees are burned out and aren’t taking enough breaks to recharge.

In fact, a recent study by Staples Business Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples, shows employees are working longer hours (70 percent spend more than 40 hours a week at work), but taking fewer breaks than in the past. This unfortunate trend can seriously hinder productivity, increase stress levels and negatively impact wellness, morale and happiness, ultimately impacting the overall health of a business.

What’s contributing to this “always on” mentality preventing employees from taking a break? Survey results also revealed that half of employees don’t feel they can leave their desk to take a break, with one in four respondents citing guilt as the reason they don’t step away from their workspaces, and nearly 70 percent say they have too much work to do, which means aspects of workplace culture need to change.

While you can’t force employees to take a break, you can build a break friendly culture by outfitting your office with a designated place to unwind, unplug and socialize with colleagues. Outfitting vibrant break spaces with furniture employees will want to sit in, as well as a wide variety of foods and beverages, will organically attract employees to spend time there. Having a “quiet space” in the office dedicated to relaxation and introspection gives employees the freedom to recharge and refocus their energy.

What steps do employers need to take to create an inviting breakroom that people actually want to use? It’s easier than you think. Consider the following when evaluating and revamping the current break space in your office:

  • Comfort and design is a must. With employees spending more time at work than ever before, comfort and design are critical components that must be incorporated in break spaces. Furniture and design are major considerations for the overall comfort and appeal of a breakroom. Decorating with appealing colors and well-designed furniture can transform a space into the most frequented area in the office. It’s important to provide tables, flexible seating and other items that encourage employees to unwind and socialize with colleagues.
  • Provide variety in your breakroom. No two employees will have the same taste, so it’s important to offer something for everyone. Keeping a variety of snack and beverage options means that each employee will have something that appeals to them. With an uptick in employees looking for healthy snack options (65 percent feel it’s important for their company to offer healthy snacks), the breakroom can help foster a healthy work environment and promote workplace wellness. 
  • Encourage a disconnect. In this digital, “always-on” world, technology affords us greater flexibility in how we communicate, as well as where and how we work. The problem is, being connected 24/7 also makes it difficult to maintain a proper work/life balance and can impact workplace engagement and productivity. Many employees make the mistake of not disconnecting from work-related technology when taking breaks, which can decrease the quality of break time and the ability to recharge. Encourage employees to leave the technology behind when taking a break to fully take their minds off work.

If the breakroom is not part of your workplace strategy then think again! By providing employees with a place to relax, they feel appreciated and more productive throughout the day. Creating and encouraging a break culture in the workplace leads to a happier, recharged and more productive workforce.

Photo Credit: Agent Mystery Case via Compfight cc

The Devil At The Desk: Destructive Bosses

The onus is on leadership to improve employee engagement. It’s part of that magical workforce trifecta: a terrific candidate experience, a high level of workplace engagement, all resulting in retention. But what about when the leadership is toxic; when it’s more problem than solution? That’s a whole different ballgame.

We’ve all dealt with a boss or manager that just somehow turns everything into a losing proposition: Never satisfied, or mysteriously withholding the recognition we know that we — or our colleagues — deserve. Or do we? A certain click of engagement involves a clarifying moment when we ditch that, “maybe it wasn’t good enough” naysayer on our shoulder — so much a part of working for someone. It’s replaced with a sense of self-worth. Terrific. Nothing makes us like our jobs more than when our jobs like us.

But often with toxic leadership is that gray area between our gut and clear recognition that keeps us from knowing what we’re facing. Meanwhile, morale sinks and engagement fizzles. We may do a, “why should it matter” on ourselves, but we’d be wrong. It does. As a study by the Harvard Business Review pointed out, the social atmosphere created by a leader is contagious. Measuring engagement among high-level managers (HL) and mid-level managers (ML) and employees, the study found that the higher the engagement score among HL, the higher among ML and the higher among employees. And the contrary was also true: a low performing workforce with minimal engagement could be echoed right back up the line — to the source.

A friend and colleague of mine, Shawn Murphy (the CEO/Founder of the consultancy Switch + Shift), has identified the six key symptoms of destructive management. See which ones ring true for you. What follows are his categories with a little bit of interpretation by yours truly.

Blind impact. This leader is blind to his own impact: oblivious of the effect his actions, attitude and words have on the workplace, quashing any chance for shared optimism, consistently underestimating people’s value, and often unable to make the connection between their work and the direction of the organization.

Anti-social leadership. A leader who can’t build any sense of shared purpose or community among employees. Autocratic, possibly unable to trust people, he dictates rather than explains, withholds praise or credit, and generally makes people feel disconnected and used.

Chronic change resistance. AKA the stick-in-the-mud approach. This leader is unwilling — and unable — to spearhead a change that would help teams and organizations remain relevant. Alternatively, he adopts change too late in the game that it can’t have a fully beneficial effect, which leaves everyone feeling irrelevant.

Profit myopia. Blinded by any criteria for success except for the bottom line, this leader can’t see the forest for those little green dollars. He alienates customers and employees alike trying to come up with ways to make the shareholders happy and the margin a little fatter. This is a kind of personal pettiness that, if Harvard is right, will lead to self-protective behavior on the part of employees.

Constipated inspiration. Perhaps my favorite term (and a virtual clap on the back for this one, Shawn). This one is related to leading from a position of insecurity. A leader pays little to what her employees are experiencing, and therefore can’t see what motivates and discourages them. What follows is a complete lack of connection: a leader who has no sense of clear direction and knowledge of what she stands for, and a workforce that loses the ability to care.

Silo Syndrome. I remember reading a CEO’s candid admonition of his rather imperious peers: “No executive is an island,” he said. A leader who suffers from this syndrome is a non-leader: Disengaged in anything but his own role and responsibilities, and unable to view his employees as people with lives and their own expertise. No sense of optimism or collaboration can come of this.

What I appreciate so much about these breakdowns (particularly in terms of the issue of workforce and employee engagement) is that they represent a cross-section of behaviors that often go as accepted — the fussy, strange, distracted, distant, uncaring boss as a, “she’s just like that.” But once identified, they no long just seem like a status quo. It’s not business as usual to prevent a workplace from being a place of engagement. Not in this day and age.

A version of this post was first published on on 2/5/2016

Image: ShutterStock

Why Managers Have to Develop Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is an essential trait for effective managers. Emotionally intelligent people motivate and understand the value in connecting with others.Getting to know people is an extremely difficult task. There are so many intricacies and traits for every individual that we’ll never see two people that are exactly alike.

Simple triggers can make someone angry, joyous, sad, or happy. We also cognitively develop triggers over time that allow us to feel a certain way during certain events. For example, you know when to laugh at a joke and you know that when it’s 5 pm on a Friday, you get excited.

All these emotions and triggers are what make us unique, but it’s also what makes being a leader or a (good) manager so damn hard. A true leader must have enough emotional intelligence to gain an understanding of the people that are following their lead. Unfortunately, some employees believe their bosses are not only bad, but so terrible that they cause employees to feel disengaged at work. A problem that is costing the U.S. workforce over $400 billion in lost productivity per year.

Quite frankly, if management is not doing their job in leading, it’s certainly because they lack the emotional intelligence to motivate and trigger their employees and push them to prominence.

What Happens When Managers Lack Empathy

One of the worst parts about managers lacking empathy or emotional intelligence is the fact that they don’t know it. It’s a narcissistic behavioral pattern that doesn’t allow them to see past their own biases and beliefs. Managers that lack empathy will not only discourage the people around them, but make life a living hell for an employee that just wants to keep on advancing and producing.

Employees with bad bosses hate a lot about their managers, but not considering the feelings of the people that are working their hind ends off is a no-go for any organization. There are plenty of styles and different ways to lead and having a “leader” with narcissistic values that doesn’t get the concept of working as a team will always lower the productivity of a team.

John C Maxwell Quote

Make sure you get an accurate psychometric assessment that will let you know if an employee is a good fit for your organization. Not everyone is cut out to be a leader, and having the wrong candidate for an important position can mess up the culture at your office.

Why This Is an Issue for a Lot of Organizations
One of the beauties of living in the information era is that we have so much knowledge at our disposal. We can validate assumptions that would’ve otherwise gone unnoticed.

The world of work has shifted drastically in just the past 20 years. We’ve made a lot of progress in enterprise technologies, labor/job standards, and markets have sprung up (mobile phones, social networks, video conferencing) that have had a massive influence on the workforce.

The one thing that has remained constant is the low levels of job satisfaction.

Though it may not seem possible, 64 percent of employees that are making more than $100,000 a year are still not satisfied. However, the one group of people that tend to feel happiest are managers and leaders.

Bosses More Satisfied than Workers chart

The narcissism displayed by unempathetic leaders who lack emotional intelligence will lead employees, at any pay grade, to feel dissatisfied at work.

As mentioned earlier, billions of dollars are being lost because people don’t feel motivated to work for the people who manage them. Even if you have the best team surrounding you, the person that is in charge has to believe in holacracy and autonomy.

Let the talent bloom and surround them with good personalities and leaders.

How to Develop Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is something that is usually inherited as opposed to taught. The kinds of characters that lack empathy and emotional intelligence lack one other thing— patience. If you or someone you know is trying to develop emotional intelligence, the best way to go about it is to take things one step at a time. Slow down and acknowledge what is happening.

This doesn’t necessarily mean to over-analyze every action, facial expression, or look at what the goal is for the future and why it hasn’t been met yet. Slow it down. Take a breath and look around.

Ferris Bueller quote

Get to know the people around you and gain an understanding of what’s going on and why people react to things in a certain way. The more you get to know about the people around you, the more you’ll get to see what their true motives are and how they can be better.

At the end of the day, it depends on whether or not the person truly wants to change some of their bad habits and become a good leader. The attitude of the office will always reflect the leadership, so whether you’re the CEO or HR manager, get a feel for the employees and hear them out. It will only be good for your organization as a whole.

Have You Had a Manager That Lacked Emotional Intelligence?

Have you or any of your colleagues dealt with management that didn’t necessarily treat people as good as they could have? What can be done to improve management in some companies?

Let us know in the comments below!

photo credit: emotional via photopin (license)

Simply Knock Three Times For Positive Workforce Impact

“Oh, my darling, knock three times
On the ceiling if you want me
Twice on the pipe
If the answer is no…”

Tony Orlando & Dawn

It started with an e-mail. The latest OnStar diagnostic report from our Saturn VUE chock full of data analysis on nearly every single facet of the car: engine and transmission system, air bag system, antilock braking system and more. We had green checkmarks across the board except for one: emissions system.

Argh. Yes, the engine light was on. “How long has the engine light been on?” I asked my wife who usually drives the VUE.

“I don’t know. I think about two weeks,” she answered.

“Wow,” I said.

“What? It’s been running fine.”

“Wow. Those idiot lights,” I added, channeling my father but not referring to my lovely wife.

So I called OnStar and they ran another diagnostic real-time and sure enough the recommendation was to take it in to a GM dealer and have the emissions system checked.

Which is what I did, and when I was getting a shuttle ride back, one of the other passengers, a young lady in her early 20’s, was on the phone with her dad. She said to him, “I have a question.”

I heard her say, “Knock three times? What? That was a song?”

She smiled and laughed and then I said, “Tony Orlando and Dawn.”

She repeated it to her father and then nodded at me. “Yep, that’s what he was just singing to me.”

Funny. It’s not knock four times or three times on the pipe – it’s repetitive precision is exactly how we remember the 1970’s pop hit. At least, those of us who do remember it. All of us have those single sources of musical truths baked into memory banks year after year.

And then it hit me (finally, right?) – the single source has been lost in the fact that since the early 1980’s cars have become more and more computerized, to the point today that data is constantly streaming from cars to servers to diagnostic outputs alerting us to all things that are well and unwell. This is true of most manufactured electronic “things” today that have microprocessors and they can tell both the manufacturers and the consumers exactly what’s going on inside.

This has also been true of finance, sales, marketing, supply chain management software and technology database systems for decades. Business leaders are now demanding the human resources (HR) data and analytics. The talent data and analytics that inform them about recruiting, performance, compensation and learning strategies. The analytics that will drive the enterprise’s workforce strategy and support the financial results the organization wants.

But aggregating and maintaining the sheer volume of workforce data available today, required to maximize that very investment, can be daunting to even the most progressive enterprise. It’s highly complex and costly for large global organizations due to the number of databases and data systems they maintain.

At the very heart of talent analytics is access to clean, collected, and unified workforce data. Early adoption is now occurring in organizations that are organizing and maintaining data so that it is transformed, standardized and reportable, so that they will be able to glean useful information that can in turn lead to measurable improvement in financial performance.

But they’ll need to have a primary data conduit from which HR and other vital business and finance data can flow to and from every internal and external system, all managed in a unified platform – a single source of truth.

How do we get to that single source of big data truth? I asked Marc Rind this question on the TalentCulture #TChat Show. Marc is the VP of Product Development & Chief Data Scientist at ADP and he told us that they’ve been working on a data exchange platform with a very simple API (application programming interface). It allows companies to bring in data assets from other systems and combine them with workforce data in order to bring out valuable insights into the state of their talent and where they’re going.

For example, Marc referenced a healthcare organization that unifies and analyzes their data to identify hiring patterns as well as projecting their overtime and scheduling needs real-time. Their everyday managers can also get the information they need to what their new hire attrition rate is, why it is, how it compares with their competitors, and what they should do to reduce it and be more competitive.

Another example included a retailer trying to understand not just how the sales are going in various locations or store locations, but also understanding how overtime impacts sales and what are the skills they should be hiring for elsewhere and other factors impacting positive outcomes based on those locations that are beating their sales goals. Nice weather plus optimal customer service leads to an extra 10% jump of foot traffic and great sales outdoors versus the mall stores.

These little ditties of insights can and do pay dividends. They are the HR tech pop songs that many providers of unifying platforms and data integration and management solutions are singing today with more to come tomorrow. Companies no longer have to sacrifice their favorite “tunes” – features and functionality – from the best of breed talent management solutions they’ve invested time and money into in exchange for moving to one unified core HR and talent management platform with subpar TM functionality. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Having access to meaningful data standardization and analysis as a single source of business and HR truth leads to strategic reporting and insightful analytics. Both provide critical guidance for organizational decisions, reinforcing the relationships among HR, finance and supply chain management.

So there you go, HR. Simply knock three times for positive workforce impact. After you’ve unified your data, of course.

When the Social Collaboration Magic Happens

Mercy me, my MySpace experience is one I’ll never forget. It was my first foray into social media beyond simply blogging, online groups and forums like AOL, and sharing collaboratively via email.

There I was early in 2007, in front of my computer setting up my MySpace profile. I filled it out, not sure of where exactly this online adventure would take me. I hit “publish” and waited.

Ten minutes later I received a connection request. Eagerly I read, in graphic detail, a business proposition of sorts from another woman. Yes, that. A minute later I deleted my profile not sure what the heck I had gotten myself into. So much for the magic at that point. (I’m sure it’s a different experience today.)

Before that email was my social tool of choice. I know, based on what I know and practice now, that’s practically blasphemy. I used it when journaling to family and friends during travel with my wife, collaboratively communicating with colleagues and peers on projects, and communicating real-time with whomever included all of the above.

Many of you may have had similar experiences. If so, you remember that what may have seemed foreign at first – take email for example – a tool I started using way back in the late 1980’s when I attended and worked at San Jose State University. Not only did we have email to communicate with one another campus-wide via email and intranet, we could communicate with any other campus in the state and UC system as well as many other educational institutions.

Of course, email had been used even before my experience at the university. It was also supposed to be the demise of businesses everywhere, public or private, because employees were (are) loose cannons who will share critical business information with complete strangers and competitors alike.

It didn’t thankfully. Now, many of us did (and still do) share too much erroneous and volatile information, inappropriate messages that should’ve been deleted before the send button was ever close to being hit. No, I won’t share a story here, but just know I’ve been one of the many.

What it did do – including the email, the Internet, online forums and more – was increase productivity, innovation and the speed of positive business outcomes. There are smarter academics, entrepreneurs and captains of industry than me who can attest to that. All of these tools and activities had to be adopted and sustained over time in order to bring so much good to fruition, not only by leadership, but also by nearly every single individual contributor inside the organization.

Blogging was my second social activity of choice at the time. I also joined LinkedIn, but after setting up my initial profile and connecting for a handful of others I knew, I didn’t do anything with it (which has changed dramatically for me since). And then I joined Twitter and tweeted out: I’m setting up my Twitter account and have no idea what to do next. After that I joined Facebook where my early social sharing adoption took hold with immediate family and friends.

In 2010 is when Meghan M. Biro and I co-founded the TalentCulture #TChat Show on Twitter (and now have expanded beyond that into multiple online social channels and now includes audio and video), and look where that’s gotten us – a growing highly collaborative community of thousands of HR, recruiting and business professionals who network, learn, share, innovate and engage online with one another every single day around the greater theme of empowering a better workforce and workplace one day at a time.

However, all this adoption has been primarily on external social networks. Plus, the way in which people access the Internet has been transformed in recent years as more people use mobile devices to go online practically anywhere today. There are now 5.2 billion mobile devices in use across the world, compared to only 789 million laptops and 743 million desktop PCs. And according to Aragon Research, by the end of 2015, 85% of businesses will have defined some form of bring your own technology to work.

What about social media and networking inside organizations? With rare exception, it’s been tough enough to get traction with any new social network today, but it’s been even harder to get it internally. Or at least, what’s been difficult has started to finally be embraced with limited open arms.

Many HR technology software providers have embedded the power of social collaboration into their talent acquisition and talent management software (including my own PeopleFluent), so that from the point of being courted by a company, to then being hired, onboarded and beyond, companies can better enable workforce collaboration and communication and amplify their people and the value each brings.

The McKinsey Global Institute has estimated productivity improves by 20-25% in organizations with connected employees, and the potential for revenue amounts to $1.3 trillion per year. Also according to McKinsey, a remarkable 83 percent of respondents say their companies are using at least one social technology, and 65 percent say employees at their companies access at least one tool on a mobile device.

Given the focus on engagement and some other key internal communications trends, communicators will take a more active role in promoting the adoption of internal social media, which will require a strategic change management initiative to move away from email that still dominates the enterprise today (thank goodness). It must be a cultural adoption throughout an organization, practiced by business leadership but fully embraced by everyone else.

According to Social Media Sites within the Workplace by Prof. Hope Koch, PhD of Baylor University, employees had a greater sense of well-being and organizational commitment and better employee engagement when participating on internal social sites.

But this kind of organizational change means understanding how your current level of employee engagement impacts the ultimate adoption and continued usage of any social software, something that the principal of Holtz Communication + Technology Shel Holtz emphasized on the TalentCulture #TChat Show.

Ultimately what business leaders should invest in is social collaboration software. Besides the improvements and possible return outlined above, it might also be used as an “early warning” system to improve overall risk management. Remember, social networks can be a giant public sieve for inadvertently sharing proprietary corporate secrets and inappropriate employee behavior. Most of us do a pretty good job of not sharing that much, but when emotions flare for whatever reason, transparency isn’t usually one for restraint.

Lastly, according to The Social Workplace Trust Study, when employees are empowered to communication openly internally as well as externally with others, and to engage regularly across social networks, employees evidence greater loyalty to and trust of their employers, have more pride in their work, and feel that they can make a difference at work.

Here’s my proposition (and I promise it won’t make you squirm): when we can network, learn, share, innovate, engage, even play with one another every single day, both inside and out of our “motherships,” that’s when the social collaboration magic happens and we can all empower a better workforce and workplace one day at a time.

About the Author: Kevin W. Grossman co-founded and co-hosts the highly popular weekly TalentCulture #TChat Show with Meghan M. Biro. He’s also currently the Product Marketing Director for Total Talent Acquisition products at PeopleFluent.

photo credit: The magic wand via photopin (license)

#TChat Preview: The ROI of Workplace Transparency

The TalentCulture #TChat Show is back live on Wednesday, September 17, 2014, from 7-8 pm ET (4-5 pm PT). The #TChat radio portion runs the first 30 minutes from 7-7:30 pm ET, followed by the #TChat Twitter chat from 7:30-8 pm ET.

Last week we talked about how millennials aren’t as different as companies think, and this week we’re going to talk about the ROI of workplace transparency and the race for talent.

If you’re of a certain age, you may remember reading comic books and seeing advertisements for X-ray vision glasses, giving you the ability to see through, well, anything.

That fantasy of old is a reality today for employers, employees and candidates alike, with social media and world of work review sites giving anyone the ability to “see through” company walls.

That’s critical in the constant race to attract and keep talent because we continuously market and sell each other blue sky, when all the while storm clouds brew and burst at a moment’s notice, grounding trust’s feeble flight.

This week’s show highlights great real-world examples of transparency in the workplace, from Ernst & Young, Centro, Hilcorp and more.

Join TalentCulture #TChat Show co-creators and co-hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman as we learn more about the ROI of workplace transparency with this week’s guest: Kim Peters, CEO Great Rated! from Great Place to Work®.

Sneak Peak:

Related Reading:

Gina O’Reilly: Why We Replace (In)Human Resources With ‘Employe Experience’

Meghan M. Biro: How Companies Can Leverage Influence To Create Trust

Daniel Bloom: Lack Of Employee Response Directly Related To Management Empty Words

Maren Hogan: 3 T’s You Want To Cross: Teamwork, Transparency & Technology

Ed Frauenheim: The Great Rated!™ Interview: Kim Peters On Employer Brand

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

#TChat Events: The ROI of Workplace Transparency

TChatRadio_logo_020813#TChat Radio — Wed, September 17 — 7 pm ET / 4 pm PT Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show with our host, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman, as they talk with our guest: Kim Peters.

Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter Chat — Wed, September 17th — 7:30 pm ET / 4:30 pm PT Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and our guests will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: What are some key considerations around workplace transparency? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q2: How does transparency come into play with the employer brand? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q3: What real-world examples of positive transparency can you share? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, and in our new TalentCulture G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions. See you there!!

photo credit: via photopin cc

#TChat Preview: The Millennial Misunderstanding

The TalentCulture #TChat Show is back live on Wednesday, September 10, 2014, from 7-8 pm ET (4-5 pm PT). The #TChat Radio portion runs the first 30 minutes from 7-7:30 pm ET, followed by the #TChat Twitter chat from 7:30-8 pm ET.

Last week we talked about building legendary teams in the inner game of business, and this week we’re going to talk about how millennials are different, but not as different as companies think.

There continues to be so much hubbub about millennials taking over the world of work, with lots of research around it, but unfortunately no one is taking the time or making the plans to manage them.

It’s like businesses are playing the anthropologists, watching from afar, taking notes but avoiding interaction at all costs — until, of course, they have to hire them.

And hire them in droves they are — millennials are expected to make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025.

There are many myths about millennials that abound, however, that should be addressed sooner rather than later. For example, what motivates Millennials in the workplace is actually quite similar to what motivates non-millennials, with some regional and country differences. What is different is how much performance feedback and coaching Millennials expect from their managers compared to non-millennials.


Join TalentCulture #TChat Show co-creator and co-host Meghan M. Biro, live from The Mirage in Vegas at #sconnect as we learn more about why we misunderstand millennials and how we should change that with this week’s guests: Jacob Morgan, author of “The Future of Work” and Co-Founder of Chess Media Group; Dr. Karie Willyerd, SVP Learning & Social Adoption at SuccessFactors, an SAP Company; and Christa Manning, Senior Vice President of Research at Horses for Sources (HfS).

Related Reading

Amy Gallo: 4 Things You Thought Were True About Managing Millennials

Meghan M. Biro: Reconsidering Millennials: They’re Not That Different From You

Heather Huhman: 4 Ways to Attract Millennial Talent

Daniel Newman: The Millennials: Why This Generation Could Save Us by @AmyMccTobin

Lisa Evans: Why Millennials May Be Out Of the Office but Not Far Away from Work

Andre Lavoie: 4 Employee Engagement Secrets from Millennials

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

#TChat Events: The Millennial Misunderstanding

TChatRadio_logo_020813#TChat Radio — Wed, September 10 — 7 pm ET / 4 pm PT Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show with our host, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman, as they talk with our guests: Jacob Morgan, Dr. Karie Willyerd and Christa Manning.

Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter Chat — Wed, September 10th — 7:30 pm ET / 4:30 pm PT Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and our guests will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: Why do business leaders struggle managing millennials and how can they improve this? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q2: How have millennials impacted other generations in the workforce today? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q3: With skill shortages increasing, how can we improve base-level skills in millennials? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, and in our new TalentCulture G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions. See you there!!

photo credit: via photopin cc

Hire Expectations: Finding the Right Person for the Right Job

Finding the right employee and retaining a successful team starts with a successful hiring process. How can you avoid common hiring problems and mistakes?

First steps

Effective hiring is the foundation for a thriving business. Turnover is expensive, so it’s essential to invest the proper amount of time needed to hire the right person. Many employee relations problems result from hiring the wrong person for the job, which can have a negative effect on both the morale and productivity of the entire team. Many times, employers are left wondering what went wrong when a new hire is not what they expected and lacked the necessary skills for the position.

Would it surprise you to learn that, in many cases, the decision to hire someone happens within the first five minutes of meeting him or her? Oftentimes, applicants are hired for their charm instead of their job-related knowledge, skills, and abilities. This kind of snap decision also happens when the applicant’s personality is similar to that of the interviewer.

There are even times (and they happen more frequently than you might assume) when the need for additional help is so dire that a practice will practically take the first candidate who can form a complete sentence. I refer to this as the “warm body” syndrome; that is, the thought of “a body” is better than having “no body.” It is exactly this type of hiring mistake that can lead to problems in the workplace.

The first step in making a successful hiring decision is to truly understand what is needed to perform the job. Refer to the position’s job description to ensure that you understand the position’s requirements. If no job description is available, discuss the open position with the staff member who knows the most about the position’s duties or with someone who holds a similar position at a colleague’s practice. After your discussion, create a written description.

Call for applications

Once you know what you need, it’s time to publicize the position. Applicants should be asked to submit an employment application with their résumé. The employment application will give you a snapshot of the applicant’s experience, previous earnings, and length of employment at previous jobs.

  • When reviewing employment applications, pay special attention to the following:
  • Omission of important items, such as experience.
  • Missing information or gaps in employment history.
  • Apparent inability to stick with a job for a reasonable time period.
  •  An 800 number listed as a personal phone number.
  • No contact information provided for previous employers.
  • Only friends and family listed as references.
  • “Victim-like” responses to questions on the employment application about why he or she left prior jobs, such as management complaints.
  • Questions about criminal convictions left blank.
  • Answers entered on the employment application that are inconsistent with the candidate’s résumé.
  • Failure to sign the application.

View such applications, as well as those that are incomplete, as potential “red flags.” It would be wise to pursue other applicants.

Pick up the phone

Once you have selected a pool of applicants, conduct a quick telephone interview before anyone is brought into the office. This step can help you to narrow the pool considerably and presents an opportunity to address any questions you have about the application or résumé, such as the applicant’s duties and responsibilities with a previous employer. The same questions should be asked of all applicants during the telephone interview; failure to do so can open the door to claims of discrimination.

Meet in-person

Preparation is key to avoiding mistakes during the interview. Before the candidate even arrives, prepare yourself for the interview by reviewing the job description. Develop interview questions in advance. Make sure that the room in which the interview will be conducted offers comfortable lighting and temperature.

Begin the interview by explaining the hiring procedure. This explanation will give the candidate a chance to become acclimated to his or her surroundings.

Once you begin the interview, ask pointed questions and let the applicant do most of the talking. As a rule of thumb, the applicant should talk 80 percent of the time. There are several ways to encourage applicants to talk:

  •  Avoid interrupting the candidate.
  • Paraphrase and reflect on the candidate’s comments, then ask follow-up questions.
  • Use silence. Silence is especially useful for the evasive candidate or one that is holding back information.
  • Communicate on the level of each applicant. Language and terminology used should match the job you are attempting to fill. For example, if you have an entry-level administrative position available, the interview questions should not be as technical as if you were interviewing for a dentist partner or associate position.

No matter how well you screen the candidates, be aware that you may be faced with someone who is completely unsuitable for the job. Some of these candidates may present specific challenges during the interview.

When the interview is complete, thank the applicant and ask whether he or she has any questions. Depending on your office policy, you should also indicate whether or when the applicant can expect a follow-up call or letter.

Check and recheck

After finding your dream employee, slow down and take the time to perform background and reference checks. Remember, you are bringing someone new into the inner sanctum of your practice.

One way to assess an applicant is to conduct reference checks. The upside of reference checks is that they give you a feel for how well the applicant performed at his or her previous jobs. However, due to increasing litigious concerns, many previous employers will provide only basic information, such as dates of employment, title, and rate of pay. As the information that you obtain may be limited, you should not base your final hiring decision solely on reference checks.

Most states require that a legitimate job offer be made prior to conducting a background check. However, not all states allow public access to statewide records information. Because of this variation, you should consult with a lawyer to determine what is required in your state before digging into an applicant’s background and personal life. During a background check, civil, criminal, and credit history information is researched. All job offers should be contingent on positive results of the background check. Please note that if the applicant has worked or lived in multiple states, background checks will take longer to complete. If this is the case, you should have the results from at least one state before the applicant is allowed to start working. The applicant should be made aware that background checks for the other states are pending and that he or she will be notified should any questions arise.

Effective hiring is much more important than many professionals realize. Those who recognize the importance of this process will minimize employee turnover, which can dramatically impact an office’s bottom line. A thorough review of candidates ensures that you’ll find the right person for the job.

Common Interviewer Mistakes

Don’t start by explaining all the job details, expectations, and qualifications. This makes it easy for smart applicants to tailor their answers to the job description.

Focus on the candidate. Copious note-taking on your part can cause applicants to lose focus and freeze up.

Don’t ask closed-ended questions. The majority of your questions should be open-ended so the applicant doesn’t simply respond with “yes” or “no” answers.

Nightmare Interview Candidates

The Professional Interviewer. This candidate knows all of the right answers to your interview questions. Pin this individual down to determine his or her true qualifications. Ask specific and probing questions about what he or she has done and request examples. Don’t be fooled by buzzwords.

The Motor Mouth. This candidate continually wanders off on different tangents and needs to be led back on track to avoid wasting time. Interrupt this person with key questions.

The Perfect Candidate. This candidate believes that he or she is perfect and makes that belief known by continually emphasizing how right he or she is for the position. These candidates, however, may not be open to learning new and innovative ways of working or even different ways to do the same task. The interviewer should ask the candidate about a situation in which he or she had to adapt to a new manager or procedure and how he or she reacted to that situation.

The Politician. This candidate never gives a straight answer and may evade an issue by bringing up another topic. Force these candidates to be specific by using clear and probing questions.

The Questioner. This candidate tries to turn the tables and conduct the interview by asking too many questions. Maintain control over the interview by redirecting the candidate back to the questions that need to be answered to assess if the candidate is a right fit for the position.

Apply Now

(About the Author: Michele O’Donnell joined the team in January 2007 and currently leads MMC’s elite team of HR Consultants. Ms. O’Donnell has been involved in the Human Resources industry for more than 14 years, bringing vast training and management experience to the MMC leadership ranks. Her experience spans the broad scope of labor law, regulatory compliance and HR Best Practices, drawn from her rich experience as Director of HR for several firms throughout her career. She currently works to ensure that MMC’s consultants forge long lasting relationships with our clients, fostered in exceptional service and unsurpassed HR expertise. Ms. O’Donnell earned her baccalaureate degree in Business Administration from Auburn University before receiving her Masters degree in Human Resource Management from Troy State University.)

Help! My New Hire is Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

Remember a short while ago when you were beyond happy that the stellar candidate you interviewed, let’s call him Henry Jekyll, accepted your offer of employment? A month or two has passed since Henry started his employment and now, you are scratching your head wondering where the person you interview is and feeling like Edward Hyde has been reporting for duty at the office. At first you chalked it up to a slow adjustment to a new work environment, now you are realizing it is much more than that. Henry was hired, but the Edward showing up has had many attendance issues, has yet to meet one deadline and doesn’t have the skills necessary to do the job for which he was hired. You are pondering how you thought Henry was the answer to your hiring dreams, wondering how this can be avoided this in the future and hopeful there is a way to rectify the situation. Don’t be too hard on yourself, this scenario has been experienced by everyone with the responsibility of interviewing and hiring something in their career.

Carefully review all documents submitted for consideration prior to bringing someone in for an interview. Many times there can be indicators on those documents that are easily overlooked such as:

    • Gaps in employment history
    • Numerous short term jobs. (Note: In certain industries short term assignments are the norm.)
    • Majority of previous employment has been through temporary/staffing agencies.
    • Does the information on their resume match the information on a job application?
    • Does their resume mirror the job posting? (Strongly suggest the entire job description not be used for a job posting for this reason.)

Once the resume pool has been narrowed down, it is prudent to conduct phone interviews where any items from the list above can be addressed. Phone interviews help to determine if the candidate is a good fit for what the company needs, are they in the salary range you are offering, is a position a good match for their skill set or will they be bored quickly. After the phone screenings are complete and the pool narrowed to those who will have an in person interview, it will be helpful to identify another manager that can conduct the in person interviews with you. They may pick on something you did not, they may ask a great question that is not one of the usual questions you ask and at the end they will be able to provide you with their impression of the candidate. Once the final candidate has been selected and the employment offer made a background check should also be completed prior to the first day of work.

Unfortunately it is still possible, using the tips above, for Henry Jekyll to be hired and have Edward Hyde show up on the first day. If this happens it is imperative to address issues as soon as they arise. If Edward doesn’t have the skills listed on his resume/application bring this to his attention and let him know those skills were one of the reasons he was hired. If Edward is having attendance issues meet with him and let him know the expectation in this area; make sure this done for any and all areas Edward is not up to par. Edward should be given a chance to step up and if he fails to do so quickly the employment relationship should be ended. Keep in mind, the longer the period of employment the higher the duty to have documentation to support termination.

(About the Author: Michele O’Donnell joined the team in January 2007 and currently leads MMC’s elite team of HR Consultants. Ms. O’Donnell has been involved in the Human Resources industry for more than 14 years, bringing vast training and management experience to the MMC leadership ranks. Her experience spans the broad scope of labor law, regulatory compliance and HR Best Practices, drawn from her rich experience as Director of HR for several firms throughout her career. She currently works to ensure that MMC’s consultants forge long lasting relationships with our clients, fostered in exceptional service and unsurpassed HR expertise. Ms. O’Donnell earned her baccalaureate degree in Business Administration from Auburn University before receiving her Masters degree in Human Resource Management from Troy State University.)

To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…

TalentCulture World of Work was created for HR professionals, leadership executives, and the global workforce. Our community delves into subjects like HR technologyleadershipemployee engagement, and corporate culture everyday. To get more World of Work goodness, please sign up for our newsletter, listen to our #TChat Radio Channel or sign up for our RSS feed.

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Hiring Great Talent: How Do You Decide? #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Want details from this week’s #TChat Events? See the Storify slideshow and resource links and more in the #TChat Recap: “Hiring: A Winner Every Time.”)

Think back for a moment.

What factors tend to drive your organization’s hiring decisions? Impressive candidate credentials? Hiring manager preference? Behavioral interviews? Gut instinct?

Now tell me — how successful has that method been?

Studies indicate that hiring by intuition fails as much as 75% of the time — so clearly there’s no easy answer. However, a more deliberate, structured approach can significantly improve the odds of finding a long-term fit.

What approach works best? That’s the focus of our conversation this week at #TChat Events. Leading the way are two HR professionals who understand the value of a solid hiring methodology: Chris Mursau, Vice President at Topgrading, and Jean Lynn, VP of HR at Home Instead Senior Care.

Sneak Peek: Smart Ways to Hire Better Talent

To frame this week’s discussion, I briefly spoke with Chris in a G+ hangout — where we talked about why it’s so tough for companies to find and keep the talent they need…

This topic touches all of us in the world of work, so we hope you’ll join the #TChat crowd this week and add your perspective to the conversation!

#TChat Events: Smart Ways to Hire Better Talent


Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

#TChat Radio — Wed, Feb 19 — 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with Chris Mursau and Jean Lynn about how companies can be more effective at hiring top performers. Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Feb 19 7pmET / 4pmPT Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and our guests will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community.

Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as Dr. Nancy Rubin moderates a dynamic live chat focused on these related questions:

Q1:  How do we identify and attract high-performing employees?
Q2:  What processes and technologies impact quality of hire?
Q3:  Hiring via “gut” feel alone usually fails, so why do we keep doing it?
Q4:  Do reference checks really influence a candidate’s viability?
Q5:  How should employers communicate their culture to candidates?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, and in our new TalentCulture G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Your Corporate Culture: What’s Inside?

“No company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”-Jack Welch

Jack Welch isn’t alone in this opinion. Many of today’s most successful business leaders agree — culture is a powerful force that can make or break a business.

So, what is this elusive culture thing, anyway?

It is a topic the TalentCulture community obviously takes seriously. (After all, it’s at the core of our identity.) But even among culture specialists, the concept isn’t easy to define. Perhaps it’s best to think of it as an experience — created and shaped by the collective values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors of your workforce.

You can’t necessarily “see” culture. But evidence of it is often easy to spot. Similarly, culture can’t be manufactured, manipulated or imposed upon employees. But without clarity, consistency and communication, it can rapidly erode.

Looking Closer Look at Corporate Culture

MIT Management Professor, Edgar Schein, presents culture as a series of assumptions people make about an organization. These assumptions occur at three levels — each is more difficult to articulate and change. Schein’s three-tier structure includes:

• Artifacts (Visible)
• Espoused Beliefs and Values (May appear through surveys or other narrative)
• Underlying Assumptions (Unconscious beliefs/values. Not visible; may be taken for granted)Culture 3 LevelsIllustration via Chad Renando

The Business Case for Culture: Zappos

In recent years, Zappos has become known for its deep commitment to culture as a competitive advantage. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, often speaks about the importance of workplace culture, and why it is his company’s chief priority. To understand Tony’s perspective, watch this brief video:

Below are Zappos’ “10 Commandments” — the core values that drive culture, brand and business strategies:

1) Deliver WOW through service
2) Embrace and drive change
3) Create fun and a little weirdness
4) Be adventurous, creative and open-minded
5) Pursue growth and learning
6) Build open and honest relationships with communication
7) Build a positive team and family spirit
8) Do more with less
9) Be passionate and determined
10) Be humble

What do you think of “commandments” like these? How does your organization articulate and reinforce cultural norms across your workforce? How effective are your efforts?

Beyond Zappos: 100 Great Company Cultures

Of course, Zappos is only one of many organizations that invest deeply in culture. Last week, Fortune Magazine offered 100 other examples in its 2014 “Best Companies to Work For” List, developed by Great Place to Work Institute.

Even before the list was revealed, Great Place to Work CEO, China Gorman, shared several key observations about the cultural characteristics that help great companies attract top talent.

And yesterday, China talked with us in greater detail about lessons learned — first in a #TChat Radio interview (hear the replay now), and then in a lively community-wide #TChat discussion on Twitter. (For a full recap of the week’s highlights and resource links, read: “Workplace Greatness: No Guarantees.”)

As the moderator of this week’s Twitter event, I’d like to thank the hundreds of professionals who literally contributed thousands of ideas about what makes organizations “tick.” Your input is always welcome — the more, the better. So let’s keep this conversation going…

Image Credit

Your Corporate Culture: What's Inside?

“No company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”-Jack Welch

Jack Welch isn’t alone in this opinion. Many of today’s most successful business leaders agree — culture is a powerful force that can make or break a business.

So, what is this elusive culture thing, anyway?

It is a topic the TalentCulture community obviously takes seriously. (After all, it’s at the core of our identity.) But even among culture specialists, the concept isn’t easy to define. Perhaps it’s best to think of it as an experience — created and shaped by the collective values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors of your workforce.

You can’t necessarily “see” culture. But evidence of it is often easy to spot. Similarly, culture can’t be manufactured, manipulated or imposed upon employees. But without clarity, consistency and communication, it can rapidly erode.

Looking Closer Look at Corporate Culture

MIT Management Professor, Edgar Schein, presents culture as a series of assumptions people make about an organization. These assumptions occur at three levels — each is more difficult to articulate and change. Schein’s three-tier structure includes:

• Artifacts (Visible)
• Espoused Beliefs and Values (May appear through surveys or other narrative)
• Underlying Assumptions (Unconscious beliefs/values. Not visible; may be taken for granted)Culture 3 LevelsIllustration via Chad Renando

The Business Case for Culture: Zappos

In recent years, Zappos has become known for its deep commitment to culture as a competitive advantage. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, often speaks about the importance of workplace culture, and why it is his company’s chief priority. To understand Tony’s perspective, watch this brief video:

Below are Zappos’ “10 Commandments” — the core values that drive culture, brand and business strategies:

1) Deliver WOW through service
2) Embrace and drive change
3) Create fun and a little weirdness
4) Be adventurous, creative and open-minded
5) Pursue growth and learning
6) Build open and honest relationships with communication
7) Build a positive team and family spirit
8) Do more with less
9) Be passionate and determined
10) Be humble

What do you think of “commandments” like these? How does your organization articulate and reinforce cultural norms across your workforce? How effective are your efforts?

Beyond Zappos: 100 Great Company Cultures

Of course, Zappos is only one of many organizations that invest deeply in culture. Last week, Fortune Magazine offered 100 other examples in its 2014 “Best Companies to Work For” List, developed by Great Place to Work Institute.

Even before the list was revealed, Great Place to Work CEO, China Gorman, shared several key observations about the cultural characteristics that help great companies attract top talent.

And yesterday, China talked with us in greater detail about lessons learned — first in a #TChat Radio interview (hear the replay now), and then in a lively community-wide #TChat discussion on Twitter. (For a full recap of the week’s highlights and resource links, read: “Workplace Greatness: No Guarantees.”)

As the moderator of this week’s Twitter event, I’d like to thank the hundreds of professionals who literally contributed thousands of ideas about what makes organizations “tick.” Your input is always welcome — the more, the better. So let’s keep this conversation going…

Image Credit