6 Reasons to Do Away With the Nine-to-Five Workday

Is the nine-to-five workday still feasible? For some companies and some people, sure.

But at an accelerated pace, COVID-19 has altered how, where and when we work. It has also proven why the end of the nine-to-five workday may work better for companies and their employees in our climate — and beyond.

Here are six reasons your company should consider doing away with 9 to 5:

There’s Flexibility Like Never Before

Many organizations had no choice but to shift a remote workforce. That in itself shows the power of agility. Since then, employers have become more aware of the mounting responsibilities (and uncertainties) that working from home amid a pandemic brings. And therefore, they have become more accommodating of changing work schedules. They get it. They must accommodate the needs of their employees’ as well as their families.

There’s Productivity Like Never Before

According to a Citrix study, in April 2020 more than half of all countries worldwide said their productivity levels were the same or higher. That number includes more than two-thirds of the U.S. (69 percent). Employees are working more frequently in the morning and evening hours, as well as weekends — well outside the 9 to 5 bubble.

There’s Autonomy Like Never Before

We’ve all enjoying working without a manager ‘seeing’ our every move. This doesn’t mean you work less. It does not mean you put in less effort.

But it does mean you can take charge in how you operate when working from home. It means you can do so without feeling like someone is watching or micromanaging. And underscores you can have agency — and still be productive. This autonomy helps build better working relationships between managers and employees. Most importantly, it builds trust.

There’s Technology Like Never Before

We are using emojis as shorthand communications tools. We’re learning how to communicate virtually through Zoom. Seemingly each day, we’re exploring different tech and communication channels. In real-time, we’re building a remote culture while learning new skills.

And with each passing day, we’re only getting better at it.

There’s Empathy Like Never Before

According to Microsoft, 62% surveyed for its latest Work Trend Index Report said they now feel more empathetic toward their colleagues. The key factor: They now have a better view of life at home via video calls.

From the natural interruptions of WFH to the issues of internet connectivity or bandwidth, we are working together differently. We’re getting to know each other even better. Because we’re human, we’re even bring fun into the workday. Children and pets interrupt video calls. We take calls in our pajamas. And colorful filters and a picture in the video frame are common occurrences in Zoom meetings.

There’s Perspective Like Never Before

The nine-to-five workday isn’t everything anymore. Why? Because there’s more to just staying stuck inside an office. There’s a new freedom in thinking about how we want to approach work where work-life balance is possible. Sharper focus. Less commute/travel time. More exercise. Family time.

Life — not just work.

Maybe the Nine-to-Five Workday is Done

And likely, there will continue to be a blend of remote with on-site work. After all, for many members of the workforce the nine-to-five workday just won’t cut it anymore.

That’s more than a good HR strategy. It’s a great plan for our next normal. And a better life.



Photo: Nick Fewings

How to Perfect the Skill of Listening

Coronavirus has changed the way American businesses operate, to say the least. And from work-from-home mandates to reopening strategies to locking down again in the face of virus spikes, it’s taken a toll on effective communication in the workplace. 

Communication is a two-way street. But it’s not just about what we say. As the old saying goes, we have two ears and one mouth — so we ought to be able to listen twice as much as we speak. Or consider the inverse, as Ken Blanchard says: “I often like to joke that if God had wanted us to talk more than listen, he would have given us two mouths.” 

But in reality we aren’t listening very well, and it’s not new news. The Harvard Business Review published a famous article way, way back in 1957 about a study of manufacturing executives in Chicago: it found that listening is a much neglected skill. Benchmark research found that the average listener remembers only about 25% of what they heard, and that number has been repeated in many posts on why we can’t listen, time and time again. Flash forward more than half a century and for all the work on refining and clarifying our message, the weakest point of how we communicate is what we actually hear. Compound that by the fact that so much of our work is happening online and remotely, and it makes the listening part of communication even harder.

But we need to be better listeners, especially now. To be able to actually listen, take in someone else’s points and retain the information is not only better for whatever work process is going on at the moment. It also builds far more trust, promotes empathy, and forges a work culture of engagement and exchange. You can’t tout transparency if there’s no emphasis on listening, either. So here’s a refresher with eight ways to improve your skill at listening now, including some tips that will greatly boost the quality of remote communication:

1. Allow for Silence

Give the person speaking time to pause and collect their own thoughts as they’re talking. Everyone talks with a different style and pace. Some get nervous when they’re talking and tend to need to slow down and clarify for themselves before saying an idea out loud. Some may be broaching a difficult topic and try to circle around it. Listening requires patience and slowing down our own rapid-fire internal thought process: we think faster than we speak. Don’t try to fill in the silences with your own interjections. Let the speaker have the room and the time to say what they need to say.

2. Repeat Back in Your Own Words

Don’t respond to the speaker with your thoughts right away. That’s the default setting for listening, but it’s far more effective to restate their thoughts in your own words. It cements the fact that you understood it — and if you didn’t, they can clarify. For example, start with “I hear you saying that …” and reiterate carefully. Not only do you demonstrate that you are actually listening, but the speaker will, in turn, be more receptive to your point of view knowing you understand theirs.

3. Ask Useful (and Relevant) Questions

Asking useful questions can help you better understand what the other person is saying. To encourage further discussion, make them open-ended prompts that give them the opportunity to further elaborate. Try asking, “What do you think we should do about this?” Asking questions is not about controlling the conversation or pushing back on someone’s perspective. It’s about understanding.

4. Work toward Empathy

We all fear being judged as we talk. Make a concerted effort to truly understand and acknowledge how the other person feels; to put yourself in their shoes. By carefully reiterating their feelings as you understand them, you build empathy and set them at ease.

5. Do a Recap 

We may listen, we may hear, but do we remember? One highly effective way to recall a conversation is to recap what was said. Restate the point of the discussion, and list the action steps each party is going to do in response. This doesn’t need to be word for word, just an overview. And let the person who spoke weigh in, so they’re comfortable with your summary. 

Remote communication has its own set of issues and conditions, including how people behave, multitask, and receive information; and how technology can suddenly go haywire at the worst possible time. These three final tips will help: 

6. Have a Backup Plan for the Tech

Always have a Plan B when it comes to remote meetings and discussions. If the tech you’re depending on happens to fail for whatever reason, you can pick up the thread without a mad scramble. Many of us know the frustration of a 15 minute video call that turns into an ordeal of pixelated video or frozen presentations. Having a backup plan prevents the goal — communication — from being hijacked by tech problems. 

7. Use Names in Remote Meetings

During an in-person meeting, there’s no doubt as to who is speaking or whom they’re speaking to. Online meetings aren’t as clear. Use names when addressing people, and encourage everyone to refer to themselves by name as well. And when you are discussing the points someone made, reiterate who said them to keep everyone on track. 

8. Take Your Time  

Video meetings allow us to see each other but not always discern the nonverbal subtleties that are part of communication. Tiny delays are nevertheless long enough to prevent how we perceive each other’s expressions. Eye contact is altogether different: if we really want to look at someone’s face, we need to stare at the camera, not their face. But people don’t just speak with words. Take the time to consider what’s being said rather than jump in with a response. If you’re not sure of the intent, ask. Virtual is not the same as in the same room. 

Communication is a fundamental part of who we are. At the workplace, it’s critical to be able to listen well, whatever context we’re in. Blanchard encourages all professionals to master the art of listening, but I’d take it one step further: it should be considered a skill, like any other, and we should all endeavor to practice it, especially in these times. A little understanding can go a long way in terms of collaboration, trust, and productivity.

How to Ditch the Inter-Office Email and Communicate Better

If you are still using email or the speakerphone at work to communicate with your coworkers or employees, it’s time to change. In fact, if you’re not taking advantage of the multitude of technology tools and platforms designed to improve workplace communication and collaboration in real-time, neither you nor your employees are working as efficiently and smartly as you could. Need reasons to consider an upgrade? Read on.

Email Needs to be Ditched

  1. Waiting (and waiting) for an email response.If you have a project that is time sensitive, waiting on email responses doesn’t serve your company well. Whether it’s feedback or trying to set up a meeting that fits in everyone’s schedule, the slow back and forth of email can stifle your progress and keep your head spinning while sorting through the email trail of messages. On the other hand, instant messaging and/or real-time meeting schedulers can get everyone on the same page quickly.
  2. Employees feeling out of the loop. It’s tough to share ideas or stay in-the-know about what’s going on in other departments when communication is limited to the occasional staff meeting. Add to that employees who might not feel comfortable speaking up or were left off the email trail, and you are left with a corporate culture that isn’t ideal, fostering or nurturing. A messaging platform can give everyone a voice and create a conversation thread to refer to as needed.
  3. Employees tune out.It’s hard to stay motivated when your inbox is inundated with “reply all” email chains that don’t pertain to you or your to-do list items. Interoffice communications apps can be used to make company announcements, give kudos to staffers who’ve gone above and beyond or reached a milestone, and share best practices. This is especially ideal for remote team members.

Choosing the Right Communication Tools for Your Team

When you are choosing the right communication tools for your team, look for solutions that offer seamless interconnectivity between the core tools that employees need, and that fuel content and production-based activities, says Dan Newman, CEO of Broadsuite Media Group and workplace trends expert. Ideally, adding a new technology platform should simplify the way everyone works. Some of the features a good productivity tool may include are chat rooms, group/private messaging, file sharing, screen sharing, and mobile connectivity.

Most Popular Communication Platforms

Workplace by Facebook Pretty much everyone is familiar with the Facebook newsfeed and messaging format, so why not apply that to your workplace communications? You can set up a Work Chat that uses messaging, voice, or video, as well as keep the team up to date with news and happenings.

The Morning Email

Wake up to the day’s most important news.

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

Hashtags for Twitter

For enterprise companies with offices around the country and the world, using Twitter hashtags can give staff members a chance to contribute to the company culture. As Hubspot points out, Zappos is one brand that has had great success promoting company culture via hashtags like #InsideZappos, and a bi-weekly Twitter chat. Make sure your employees know the hashtags to use and follow those feeds. In fact, get them to join in the discussion by asking them to contribute their own hashtags and choose different ones monthly.

Google Hangouts

Although Google has done away with the popular GChat, Google Hangouts makes it just as easy to communicate one-on-one or with larger groups via messaging, voice, or video.


Evangelists of this messaging platform say the tool epitomizes the company’s tagline, “where work happens,” because it’s so easy to learn, and it integrates well with other popular office tools. File transfer is instant, as is the feedback you’ll get from your connected colleagues.


Similar in nature to Slack, HipChat allows you to build rooms for each of your functional teams, start up a private message, as well as use screen sharing.


Part project management platform, part messaging app, Basecamp is all about sharing documents and staying in the loop about project statuses.

LinkedIn Groups

Creating an active company LinkedIn Group is another way to foster a culture where everyone’s input is valued. Giving workers a forum to make suggestions and connect with each other illustrates the company’s commitment to employee satisfaction.

Time to Communicate

The appealing thing about the tools above and others like it is that each one’s navigation and functionality is in line with what most office dwellers are already familiar with. What’s more is you can almost always try out free versions or trials of the platforms before you delve into paid premium features.

Once you find a platform that seems like a good fit, try it out first among a few employees or one department, then let it grow organically by offering training sessions or how-to videos/slideshows to get more people on board.

Once everyone is communicating in these new ways, you’ll wonder how you ever got anything done in the old email world.

photo credit: CommScope Finance via photopin (license)

A version of this was first posted on

Communication: What You May Be Doing Wrong Without Even Realizing

As a professional, you certainly know the importance of effective communication. Being an effective communicator is not only about the message, it’s also about the mode of communication and the opportunities you provide for feedback.

Your inability to get the point across thwarts your efforts at effective communication. You can’t just send out a company-wide email and assume everything is copacetic if no one replies. The truth may be that you were ineffective as a communicator, and people didn’t understand—or even pay attention—to your message.

There are some things you might be doing to undermine your effectiveness as a communicator, and you may not even know you’re doing them. Here are some communication pitfalls you should try to avoid:


You’re not an effective communicator if you just repeat the same message over and over. If you want to remind your employees about an important deadline, sending out a single reminder would be appropriate. Sending out multiple reminders, however, is overkill—and possibly even an insult to your employees’ ability to remember information. Redundancy in your messages is not only unnecessary, but it’s also counterproductive and a waste of time—for you and your employees. Whenever you send out communication on an ongoing subject, make sure it offers added information and is not merely a reiteration of the material you already shared.

Relying Too Much on One Channel (Or the Wrong Channel)

Today’s technology makes it possible to communicate in many different ways. While it’s easy to do, you shouldn’t get stuck in one particular communication mode. There are so many digital communication channels that work really well these days. Email is a popular tactic and can work well, but people are inundated with email today and often suffer from “in-box overload.” So, you may want to consider using a combination of tactics for impactful news, such as the announcement of a merger or a high-level addition to the company management.

Consider a web-based meeting when you really want to make an impact. According to “The Evolution of Work—The Changing Nature of the Global Workplace,” a study by ADP Research Institute®, nearly 80 percent of employees regard technology positively for allowing deeper connections across distance and time. It just makes sense to consider other forms of digital communication, such as mobile apps or an internal company website.

Being Indirect

Nobody likes to be the bearer of bad news, but it doesn’t help the situation to be vague or unclear. You should try to deliver important news in person—and the more complicated or easily misunderstood the message is likely to be, the more it makes sense for you to sit down across from the person—or team—to convey the message. A direct, in-person approach adds an important component to your communication: The ability to observe others’ facial expressions and body language, which allows you to ensure your message has been understood.

Ignoring Nonverbal Cues

If you listen only to a person words and ignore their nonverbal cues your direct communication may not be successful. Research conducted by Dr. Albert Mehrabian indicates that 55 percent of our intent is delivered through nonverbal elements, such as facial expressions, gestures, and postures. If employees seem to express agreement with a new policy, non verbal cues such as hunched shoulders, crossed arms, and lack of eye contact may indicate that you still have some work to do in order to get buy-in from your team.

Not Being Open

Secrecy in the workplace often erodes trust in leadership and foments gossip. By being more transparent in your communication, you foster a sense of belonging and trust. Knowledge replaces speculation, and can help reduce gossip and rumors.

Not Listening

Remember—communication is a two-way street. Soliciting feedback is one of the greatest ways for you to know what employees are truly thinking. If you want to improve your communication skills, heed this advice: Speak less, listen more. After you’ve had the opportunity to listen, you can fine-tune your communication skills to be more effective than before.

A version of this was first posted on

America’s Relationship With Work Email

We surveyed one thousand people who consider email significant to their work, to find out which parts of the country have the busiest professionals.

Americans differ when it comes to the rate at which they check work email. Thirty percent have their email open constantly, 54 percent check their email multiple times per day, and just 16 percent check their email once a day or less. Thirty-seven percent of workers in the Northeast report their email is constantly open in front of them at work, and 31 percent from the West say the same—these two regions are both above the national average. Massachusetts has the national high, with 68 percent of professionals in the state reporting they have their email open throughout the work day.


How about the infamous “first check” of the day—does it happen in bed, at breakfast, on the train, twenty minutes after you’ve arrived at the office and gossiped for a bit? Well, 71 percent of Americans check for the first time between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. New York and New Jersey average the latest first check—just before 9 a.m.—and people in Utah check earliest, just after 6:30 a.m., on average.

As for checking for the last time before bed, thirty percent of Americans check before 6 p.m. and 70 percent after 6 p.m. Forty-six percent of Virginians check their email for the last time between 9 p.m. and midnight, while 13 percent more finish up after midnight. Not to be outdone, 71 percent of Tennesseans are fellow night owls, checking their email after 9 p.m., and just 12 percent check last before 6 p.m., well below the national average.

When it comes to sending emails, nearly half of all Americans (46 percent) send fewer than 10 emails per day. Thirty percent of people send 10 to 25 emails per day, 16 percent send 25 to 50, and eight percent send more than 50 emails per day. The West has the lowest average of sent emails, at 18 per day. The Northeast tops all regions and averages 22 sent emails per day, while Massachusetts has the national high of 28 emails sent per day, on average.

Response time on these emails also varies from region to region. Fifty-eight percent of Americans say they respond to emails within one hour. Twenty-six percent respond within one to six hours, 11 percent respond within six to 24 hours and the remaining five percent respond after 24 hours, on average. Virginians report the quickest email replies with an average response time of just over two hours. New Yorkers, surprisingly, are on the slow end—12 percent say they average a day or more to respond and 33 percent take at least six hours.

Unread emails also vary in number based on region. Over half of Americans have less than 10 unread emails in their work inbox. Twenty-six report having less than 50 unread emails, 13 percent have more than 100 unread emails and six percent have between 50 and 100. South Carolina reports the most unread emails, with an average of 29, while a whopping 30 percent of Tennesseans report having more than 100 unread emails. The Midwest has the fewest, with an average of 17.

A version of this was first posted on

Photo Credit: marcin baran Flickr via Compfight cc

Does Using A Feedback Tool Hinder Face-To-Face Feedback?

A common concern raised by HR and managers when they begin using a feedback tool is what kind of impact it will have on face to face feedback. Will it actually disrupt communication flows in the office, rather than improve them? As with all new technology, the benefits can be significant when integrated in a way that strengthens your current process.

In the age of open office spaces, Slack has made it possible to keep up communication, while at the same time keeping noise and distractions to a minimum. The snooze feature means you can join in when you want and escape when you need to concentrate. With the need for more cross collaborative projects today, the right tools keep communication open, without making it overwhelming.

Better and faster communication channels means businesses can act and adapt to industry changes immediately, not next year. Likewise, feedback tools can significantly help you increase employee engagement and learning and development when combined with face to face feedback. Here is a short guide to help you better identify when feedback tools can be beneficial and when feedback should come directly from you:

Benefits of feedback tools

Growth of people

Employees are able to get feedback when it’s needed, not when it’s convenient. With communication technology speeding up the rate of change, businesses need workforces with a high learning agility. However, a busier workplace also means that managers, peers and employees are often in and out of meetings and traveling to close the next deal, meet investors, etc. This fast paced environment makes it easy to let, even something as important as growth and development, slide. Feedback tools, on the other hand, allow people to easily stay on top of giving feedback when it’s needed, not months later. Likewise, people who have received feedback have it stored in the system so they can easily go back and review what they need to focus on.

Facilitates interdepartmental feedback

Rather than sticking to rigid departmental lines, today we are seeing a rise in the use of ad hoc cross-functional teams. Being able to work with a designer, developers, a sales exec and content writer in one team can really strengthen a project from all sides and increase the chances of success. However, people in different departments may not always have time to have 1-on-1s with ad hoc team members, missing out on a great opportunity for feedback. Feedback tools, like Impraise, help to cut down departmental knowledge barriers by allowing employees to ask for and give feedback to anyone within the company.

Training feedback habits

This leads us to another useful aspect. Not everyone finds giving and receiving feedback easy. In her research, Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck distinguishes between people who have a growth mindset towards feedback and those who have a fixed mindset. People with a fixed mindset will often start to feel emotional or angry when they receive constructive feedback. Luckily, this ‘fear of feedback’ is something that can be overcome. Feedback tools can help by allowing the person to view the feedback and have time to consider what was said objectively.

One reason for emotional responses to feedback is our brain’s natural negativity bias. Even if we receive both positive and constructive feedback we have a natural tendency to focus more on what we consider to be the negative aspects of our performance. This means that all of the positive aspects of our performance can be easily forgotten. Having feedback written down and stored means that employees can go back and read their feedback with fresh eyes and really analyze what’s being said. From there, it’s much easier to come up with a truly effective development plan.

Starting to give upward feedback

If it’s hard for some to give feedback to peers at first, it’s 10 times harder to give it to managers or even the executive level. Starting off with anonymous feedback gives people the chance to ease into it. Once managers have built trust by showing that there will be no consequences for giving upward feedback, employees will feel more comfortable being open. The best way to do this is for managers to really act on the feedback they receive and demonstrate how open they are to it.


One of the best parts about using a feedback tool is that the information is instantly generated into helpful data. With people analytics, employees are able to track their progress and can store the feedback they receive to easily recall and set goals. For managers, the information can provide valuable insights into the coaching needs of their team. HR can use the data to identify skill gaps and make better hiring decisions. Meanwhile, employees can use this information to track and take ownership of their development process.

When should you give feedback face to face?

During regular 1-on-1s

Even if you’re busy, you should always make time to give face to face feedback at weekly or bi-monthly 1-on-1s. Though tools can help you train feedback behavior, body language and tone of voice can give more clues as to the other person’s feelings towards feedback.

In a serious situation

Giving very serious feedback face to face can also underscore the gravity of the situation and the need to find a solution. For example, if your report is continuously missing their deadlines for team projects this can seriously impact the success of others on your team. In this case, it’s important that you have a talk with them to find out what is blocking their ability to meet deadlines, how you can help and what steps they can take to get back on track.

Celebrate the big wins

Big wins should be acknowledged in person. While showing recognition for reaching smaller milestones via feedback tools is a great way to regularly show your support, taking time to celebrate major achievements is essential for building team spirit. When a member of your sales team lands a large account or your development team deploys the big new feature, it’s important that you show appreciation and acknowledge their contribution to the team or company-wide goals. This not only keeps up the motivation, but it will also set an example for others.


Rather than decreasing face to face communication, tools like Impraise can help enrich the feedback being exchanged within your team by training feedback habits, giving employees the confidence to be open to superiors with their feedback and providing information that can serve as a starting point for more effective 1-on-1 conversations.

A version of this was first posted on

Social Software: Will Leaders Decide To Adapt?

The key to collaboration is communication: we need to be able to talk to each other to get stuff done. And it’s a compelling facet of the global, hyper-networked, social and mobile new world of work that we are nevertheless in dire need of better ways of communicating with each other.

That’s what makes the emergence of social software such a remarkable and powerful gift — with profound implications for fostering innovation, driving collaboration and deepening engagement. It’s fast and scopey, enabling everything from messaging to team-mailing to live chats to file sharing to all of the usual. Yet as far as user adoption does, the workplace is proving slow on the draw. That’s particularly apparent in HR.

We are not so much at a crossroads as we are at crossed wires. A range of vendors are launching new, powerful products, and the market is growing. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, productivity improves by an estimated 20-25% in organizations that have connected employees. So how do we overcome the “you can lead a horse to water” challenge facing social software?

To facilitate user adoption, social software has to truly enhance and deepen collaboration and engagement. It has to look, feel, and act useful: 


Social software has to be more than an addition. It has to be a total solution. It’s an understandable workforce complaint that shiny new platforms may just decentralize communication, requiring the management of increasing layers of inter-office email / outside email, internet / company server, and so on. We want to get things done, not stymied by choices or fractured functionality. To be an asset, social software needs to truly integrate (and not complete) with all of the above.

Really Social

Social software needs to be better: quicker, faster, smarter, more usable than the existing norms. Your social network should have lots of tools for engagement and collaboration, including social profiles, individual and group and community chat and focum capabilities, blogs, wikis, and all the bells and whistles of a bona fide social network. Otherwise, it will be eschewed for those social networks that are already well established (such as the one that has nearly 1.4 billion active users and counting).

One common obstacle to user adoption is feeling like the tech is unable to accomplish any more of the heavy lifting than what we already have. But if social software is not only truly integrated but can also leverage its unique position to generate meaningful intelligence, there’s the added value. That additional layer of perceptive analytics makes adoption a no-brainer, and offers a competitive advantage as well.

Embraced By Leadership

What will enable social software to make the smoothest entry into the atmosphere is its source. This shift must be initiated and mandated by leadership: it should be presented as a clear driver of organizational change, not a byproduct of it. Communication is part and parcel of workplace culture: social software should feel like anything but a trial run. Given the option, we all revert to the norm when we’re under pressure. If leadership makes social software the new normal, the workplace will follow.

The sweet spot lies in not doing away with what we’re used to, just improving upon it. In this age of relentless innovation, the status quo lasts about a minute, and depending on the demographics, that can be trigger a certain level of discomfort. Yet one thing that truly drives employee engagement is a shared sense of discovery — and growth. Given that, social software may truly be our game changer.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.

Photo Credit: profit8652 via Compfight cc

The Role of Communication in Employee Experience and Employer Branding

Slack, an internal communications platform designed to improve workplace communications, grew to a $1.1 Billion valuation within eight months of launching to the general public. Their adoption rates are off the charts, and their users adore them. There’s a very good reason for this:

Clear workplace communication leads to team success.

But many of us forget how significant communications is to the bottom line, or how detrimental lack of communication is to the employee experience.

A recent study by AON Hewitt on global employee engagement trends shows a -26 percent downward slope in overall work experience between 2013 and 2014. Ouch!

They also found that a disengaged employee costs a company $10,000 in revenue annually, according to a survey of more than 7,000 enterprises.

Oh, and guess what? In 2014, CareerBuilder reported that 59 percent of workers surveyed expressed general dissatisfaction with their jobs.

That’s getting expensive fast.

As an enterprise working on your employer brand, you know how important employees are to attracting top talent.

So what to do now?

Improve Employee Experience and Drive Employer Brand 

When it comes to sharing the employee experience with the world, your employees are your best assets.

And the best employer brands exist because employees genuinely love them and want to talk about them. This produces a ton of benefits, including better employee engagement and talent acquisition:

  • Employee referrals have the highest applicant to hire conversion rate – only 7 percent of applicants are via employees but this accounts for 40 percent of all new hire hires (Source: Jobvite)
  • 67 percent of employers and recruiters said that the recruiting process was shorter, and 51 percent said it was less expensive to recruit via referrals (Source: Jobvite)
  • 47 percent Referral hires have greater job satisfaction and stay longer at companies (Source: Jobvite)

According to a data published in Altimeter and LinkedIn Relationships Economics 2014, employees of socially engaged companies are:

  • 57 percent more likely to align social media engagement to more sales leads
  • 20 percent more likely to stay at their company
  • 27 percent more likely to feel optimistic about their company’s future
  • 40 percent more likely to believe their company is more competitive

And yet, as described in the Towers Watson 2012 Global Workforce Study, disengaged employees make up 74 percent of the average company’s workforce. Your employees play a significant role in communicating your employer brand, but this becomes a huge challenge with a disengaged workforce.

How Do You Improve The Employer Experience?

Despite the downward trend in work experience globally, AON Hewitt discovered reported that work experience is looking optimistic. The North American work experience improved 21 percent between 2013 and 2014, mostly fuelled by Canadian ratings.

On top of that, the best driver to this increase was enhanced communication within the company.

Without the proper communication channels in the workplace, it’s hard for employees to stay engaged. They need to feel like they have a voice. They need to feel empowered to make decisions. They need to know what’s going on in your enterprise. If they don’t, they’ll leave.

Or even worse, they’ll stay as a disgruntled employee and cost you a ton of money.

So what if you could create a communication channel for employees where they feel empowered?

How Employee Advocacy Helps Improve Communication

Employee advocacy is the result of the right culture, communication, and content. Employees become knowledgeable about your company and WANT to talk about you positively, both online and offline. And establishing a formal employee advocacy program can help improve communication and better the employee experience, resulting in a stronger employer brand.

But how does employee advocacy actually help?

  • Content as Knowledge: By creating a centralized content library that employees can securely access, they can consume your content, making them smarter about their industry. This content knowledge translates into better communications skills, making them better at their job.
  • Modernizing the enterprise: Because of the complexity of implementing an employee advocacy program, you most likely don’t have an existing communication tool that can centralize all content and employees, and make it easy for them to communicate internally and externally. Adopting a program forces you to change, and invest in digital technology that your employees actually want to use.
  • Developing daily communication habits: By integrating the right technology within your existing enterprise stack, you can help employees develop daily communication habits, like consuming enough content and sharing to their personal social networks. Technology helps activate social media training for employees and helps communicate your brand appropriately.

All of this helps improve the employee experience and distribute your employer brand.

Everyone Benefits From Improved Communications

By giving your employees the right content and access to modern technology that improves their skills, you’re investing in their professional development. When you show them you care, they become more engaged, which in turn improves the overall employee experience.

And by improving the employee experience, your workforce wants to participate in your employer branding efforts.

As an enterprise, it’s your responsibility to grow your employees. Give them the right knowledge and tools, and they’ll help attract and keep the right talent. Period.

How are you improving employee communication at your company? Do you invest in the employee experience? Leave a comment below and share with your colleagues!

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#TChat Preview: How To Become Workplace Fascinating

The TalentCulture #TChat Show is back live on Wednesday, February 11, 2015, from 7-8 pm ET (4-5 pm PT). The #TChat radio portion runs the first 30 minutes from 7-7:30 pm ET, followed by the #TChat Twitter chat from 7:30-8 pm ET.

Last week we talked about whether or not HR should be split into two branches.

This week we’re going to talk about how to become workplace fascinating.

Of course there are plenty of personality assessments that tell you how you see the world. But how does the world see you? What makes you or your company’s brand most fascinating, and most valuable, to the people around you?

You’re all about to find out. Over the past two decades of research on communication, this week’s guest found seven different ways to communicate and add value to your “audience.”

We’ve taken “The Fascination Advantage” here at the TalentCulture #TChat Show. It’s pretty awesome. And now we’ll give you the opportunity to take it as well!

The Fascination Advantage

Most personality assessments tell you how you see the world. Only one measures how the world sees you.

Here is your code to get your FREE assessment, and find out how the world sees you:

1. Go to
2. For the access code, enter TCHAT

The Fascination Advantage is the first marketing-based personality assessment. Answer just 28 questions, and you’ll find out how others perceive you. Created by Sally Hogshead and based on results of 500,000 participants, this test will reveal the very best of how the world sees you.

Join TalentCulture #TChat Show co-creators and hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman as we we learn about how to become workplace fascinating with this week’s guest: Sally Hogshead, creator of The Fascination Advantage™: the world’s first personality test that measures what makes someone most engaging to others.

Sneak Peek:

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

#TChat Events: How To Become Workplace Fascinating

TChatRadio_logo_020813#TChat Radio — Wed, February 11th — 7 pm ET / 4 pm PT Tune in to the #TChat Radio show with our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman, as they talk with our guest: Sally Hogshead.

Tune in LIVE online Wednesday, February 11th!

#TChat Twitter Chat — Wed, February 11th — 7:30 pm ET / 4:30 pm PT Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and Sally 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: How do you get a good read on personality traits when screening future hires? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q2: How can job ads and employer brand attract desired talent? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q3: What are the advantages in knowing what makes your brand more fascinating? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

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

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Managing Online Classes While Working Full Time

Continuing your education can be an asset in many ways: you can increase career opportunities, explore a new field or simply acquire more knowledge. Going to school full time, however, requires a commitment that’s not feasible for some. For such individuals, online classes pose a practical solution.

Balancing online classes with full-time work can also be challenging, but certain practices in organization, time management and communication make it possible to succeed. If you’re tackling the work/online class juggling act, try some of these things to make it easier:

Be Open At Work

Tell your co-workers and boss that you are engaged in online schooling. Let them know that your class won’t interfere with your job. They’ll appreciate you telling them and might even offer to lighten your load. Your boss might even be impressed, especially if you’re going to school to be able to go further in the company.

Keep A Planner

When you’ve got so much going on, it’s best to document your work to-dos on the same page as your school to-dos. Not only does this keep you from forgetting items, but it also assists with time management. Writing down your assignments allows you to dictate which duties will be tackled first and last, and when exactly they’ll fit into your work schedule. Have a work project and lots of homework due on the same day? Reference your planner ahead of time so you’re not pulling all-nighters.

Befriend A Classmate Or Co-worker

At your class’s beginning, send out an email asking if anyone’s interested in weekly group meetings. If your online class already has set in-person sessions, befriend fellow members that way. Having an organized meeting time, and someone with whom you can communicate, will yield greater personal satisfaction. A friend in the class is also beneficial should you have any questions. At work, talk to someone who’s also going to school while on the job. You’ll find ways to motivate each other to stay focused on work through your education.

Use Time Efficiently

Make use of every moment. Mornings, evenings, lunch breaks – you should be thinking about efficiency constantly. If you’re used to taking work home when you don’t feel like finishing it in the office, you’ll need to start being more productive while on the clock. With your time at home now being spent on classes and homework, it’s best to get your work done while you’re on the job.

Prepare For Personal Sacrifice

Balancing work and class will quickly overtake your schedule. Prepare for this. Once your schoolwork is full-fledged, you may not have time for the personal luxuries you enjoyed in the past: dinners out every night, two-hour gym sessions, weekly book clubs or Wednesday night poker games. Carefully consider the things you can do without, and shift your agenda accordingly. When you’re anticipating the cutback in your social life, it doesn’t seem as bad when it happens.

You’ll also need to prepare for more expenses. Consider renting textbooks instead of buying, packing lunch instead of eating out, and planning your class times so you can driver there after work instead of making an extra trip.

Put Your Job First

Hopefully, organization and personal sacrifice will allow you to tackle both commitments successfully, but you may have to pick and choose once or twice. Remember that your job is your source of income and living may be hard without it. Getting a bad grade on an assignment, in the long run, is not as bad as losing your job.

If you put your mind and time toward the work/class balance, you’ll be successful.

About the Author: Scott Huntington is a career specialist, writer, and blogger from Central Pennsylvania. Check out his blog,, or follow him on Twitter at @SMHuntington.

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The Executive’s New Clothes

We have all read Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”  Wikipedia explains the story in a succinct and cogent matter:

A vain Emperor who cares about nothing except wearing and displaying clothes hires two swindlers who promise him the finest, best suit of clothes from a fabric invisible to anyone who is unfit for his position or “hopelessly stupid.” The Emperor’s ministers cannot see the clothing themselves, but pretend that they can for fear of appearing unfit for their positions and the Emperor does the same. Finally the swindlers report that the suit is finished, they mime dressing him and the Emperor marches in procession before his subjects. The townsfolk play along with the pretense, not wanting to appear unfit for their positions or stupid.  hen a child in the crowd, too young to understand the desirability of keeping up the pretense, blurts out that the Emperor is wearing nothing at all and the cry is taken up by others. The Emperor cringes, suspecting the assertion is true, but continues the procession.

In many workplaces, those who tell the leader what they want to hear are rewarded for their loyalty. Those who tell the leader what they may not want to hear are banished for being the bearer of bad news.

Surrounded by toadies, the executive proudly displays his new ideas. The swindlers who sold him the silly ideas for a small fortune are reinforced by the ministers, his senior management team. The townspeople, the rank and file, go along, too. But not everyone. There is always an adult mature enough to play the role of the child and say what no one else will say: the leader, the executive, has no clothes, clothes being a metaphor for good ideas.

The top is a very lonely place to be. It is human for the leader to surround him- or herself with those who are loyal to him or her. It is understandable but regrettable.

Hearing criticism is generally unpleasant. But it is far better than parading naked in your workplace.

If you are a leader, assume your subordinates will tell you what you want to hear. It is your job to convince them what you want to hear is what they think you don’t want to hear.

Talk openly with your team. Tell them that you appreciate their support. Make clear that includes telling you when you are missing the mark.

Be even more direct. “I don’t want to be the Emperor in the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes.’ Tell me what everyone is thinking but no one has said, yet.”

When such feedback is explicitly elicited, the leader may end up a successful executive after all. But that’s only because he or she had the strength to be non-imperious and hear what a weaker person would avoid.

This article is not legal advice and should not be construed as applying to specific factual situations.

Follow me on Twitter at:  Jonathan__HR__Law.

photo credit: Kaotiqua via photopin cc

#TChat Recap: The ROI Of Workplace Transparency

The ROI Of Workplace Transparency

There’s never a dull moment when you’re involved in the World of Work. Especially, when we’re talking about being transparent. But what is transparency? Or at least, what does it mean to work for an organization that has workplace transparency? This week, our #TChat Community took a deep social dive into the realm of workplace transparency. We were joined by Kim Peters, CEO of Great Rated!, from Great Place to Work®, who is an expert in the online recruitment industry and a passionate professional when it comes to building better employment brands. We were fortunate enough to learn that building better workplace transparency isn’t just about building a better ROI, it’s about creating a great place for employees to work at. It sounds simple enough, but ultimately it’s a global challenge that organizations face on a daily-basis.
To have workplace transparency, is to provide employees with clarity, which means they have a crystal clear understanding of what your organization is about. Our guest host Kim Peters understands that:

Yes, it is good for business. Period. Employees crave social recognition and they expect it. Organizations are only organic and alive when they see their people as real and valuable assets to their business. They have to learn how to communicate this. You can’t expect employees to automatically jump in and know what’s going on from the beginning. Leadership has to be able to realize that:

  Communication equals transparency, and transparency equals communication. Keep people informed and involved. Start by communicating with them what the organization is about, and why they matter to it. Better organizational logistics and operations doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not something you can express mail and have it delivered the following morning. Organizations need to remember that their:

Employees want to work for employers that are honest and give feedback. There’s a million ways we can say it and just a few ways that we can show it. People have to be honest if they expect to have workplace transparency, because ROI is something employers crave and only achieve when they’ve been crystal clear about what they expect from their employees. A happy workforce is what leads to better productivity. All the dots begin to connect when this happens. Felix Nater knows that:

This is the ROI organizations crave for, but few actually know how to achieve. The path to better ROI has to go down the road of better transparency first. Employees need to know what’s expected of them and that they are being involved in the organization’s vision. People want to create meaningful work. Let employees know that they matter by keeping them informed and involved. Workplace transparency has to come natural, it has to be organic, and this only happens when organizations invest in getting to know their employees. From top to bottom, we must build workplace transparency with communication, collaboration, empowerment, and trust. And we can’t cut corners on either one.

Want To See The #TChat Replay?


Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

Thanks again to our guest:  Kim Peters, CEO Great Rated! from Great Place to Work®, who is an expert in the online recruitment industry and a passionate professional when it comes to building better employment brands. 

#TChat Events: Empowering HR and the Hiring Process

TChatRadio_logo_020813 #TChat Radio — Are you plugged in to #TChat radio? Did you know you can listen live to ANY of our shows ANY time? Now you know. Click the box to head on over to our channel or listen to Empowering HR and the Hiring Process.

Note To Bloggers: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about trends on the engagement experience?

We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we may feature it! If you recap #TChat make sure to let us know so we can find you!

Contributor CTA

Save The Date: Wednesday, September 24th!

Join us next week, as we talk about The ROI of Workplace Transparency during #TChat Events. The TalentCulture conversation continues daily on #TChat Twitter, in our LinkedIn group, and on our new Google+ community. So join us anytime on your favorite social channels!


photo credi: Sebastiaan ter Burg via IM Creator cc

Employee Engagement And Your Pie Hole

Leaders everywhere are jumping on board with the employee engagement movement. They have different tactics, go-to blogs and conferences to help them with this mission that is supposed to increase productivity, slash turnover rates and build that stellar employer brand that employers need working for them more than ever.

A lot of employers are trying the latest in employee engagement surveys, rewards programs and competitive compensation practices…and then they open their open their big, fat pie hole and ruin it all. Put simply, a program or initiative isn’t going to cut it where employee engagement is concerned; it takes a cultural overhaul that starts with a genuine dialogue.

There are several ways that your mouth can completely wipe out any real work that the organization has accomplished in the name of employee engagement.


If your neck is now bobbing to the musical stylings of Aretha Franklin, my job is done here, but read on anyhow. I don’t know one person for whom respect is not important, especially in the workplace. We’re on the very basic level of common sense here, yet respectful dialogue seems to escape many of us. Take a stab at genuine, respectful dialogue.

Listen carefully when your coworkers speak. Allow them to fully flesh out their statement or idea, while remaining quiet. This does not mean that you can use your yap-shut time to formulate your debate; listen.

Remember that your face isn’t some invisible thing on the front of your head. We can say just as much with facial expressions and body language as we can with words.

When it’s your turn in the discussion, concentrate on non-combative, open language. Communication expert, Scott McDowell suggests, instead of saying, “no” or “but”, try “yes, and…” Starting the sentence off with aggressive language puts others on the defense automatically, stifling any chance at a productive conversation.

Everyone has a fake-o-meter; we can all tell when someone is “dealing” with us, or being disingenuous. How is it that we so quickly forget that when we’re the offenders? Say what you mean, but say it in a way that is aimed at showing respect and achieving something.

Honesty and constructive criticism are not synonymous. Ah, the co-worker who believes that their outright rude remarks are seen as “honesty”; that’s not what it is. It’s no wonder that the people who say something like, “I’m sorry, I’m just a very honest person.” are the ones you secretly hope will lose a finger in the paper shredder.

Building Blocks

Workplace leadership expert, Megan M. Biro outlines some words and phrases that she believe should be at the foundation of a vocabulary that inspires employee engagement:

  • Please
  • Thank You
  • Do you have a moment?
  • I understand.
  • Well done.

Simple, effective building blocks for workplace communication that also fosters engagement. Each conversation, or interaction is an opportunity to build engagement, or knock it down. It’s up totally up to each of us which direction we wish to take our own communications.

While the bottom line, productivity and talent attraction and retention might be at the core of this employee engagement movement, I think we can all agree that there is something to be said for simply having a better environment to go to work in. If for no other reason than improving the culture that you spend 40-50 hours per week in, try to reflect daily on how your words and attitude affect those around you. The workplace is a very cyclical environment, what you put in, is what you will get back.

(About the Author: Melissa, a marketing professional with over a decade of leadership, has led marketing teams in companies ranging from travel to fundraising to small business apps, always multiplying results with her contagious ambition. And while the pressure of being the marketing mastermind would be more than enough for most pros, Melissa is also VP of Talent Management of Herd Wisdom.)

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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