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HR Innovation Should Keep us All In Business: #TChat Recap

“Gadgets be gone.”

Ah, no truer words have ever been spoken. That was one of my lighter “tweetable” sentiments from yesterday’s HRO Today Forum analyst panel where we discussed the process of innovation between HR technology suppliers and practitioner buyers, and more specifically the lack thereof. A recent HRO Today survey of over 100 buyers and providers of HR technology revealed quite a disparity, more so than I would’ve guessed.

The analyst panel was a great group that included Madeline Laurano, Talent Systems Analyst of The Newman Group; Mark McMillan, co-founder of Talent Function Group; Katherine Jones, Principal Analyst of Bersin & Associates; Jayson Saba, Senior Research Associate of Aberdeen Group; and myself. Look for collaborative content to come from this group and HRO Today about the state of innovation in HR technology.

The survey itself revealed that while providers for the most part feel they are highly innovative, the practitioners disagree. This is contradictory of where many vendors are with their customer service and user adoption, because time and again late vendors will tell you that besides customer advisory councils, focus groups and user group gatherings, some SaaS deployed products have created the “sandbox” approach.

This is where customers can play with features and enhancements before they’re live. They’ve also created online care/idea centers where customers can suggest, vent and collaborate. However, the democratization of customer product development hasn’t quite closed the gap yet.

My fellow analysts and I agreed that innovation must be something new, or a re-imagining, of how technology can drive efficiencies in HR/recruitment processes and activities as well as contribute to overall business growth. It must take into consideration the how and why of the workplace today — the best practices in acquiring, empowering and retaining talent. It can’t be a gadget for gadget’s sake just so the vendor can say, “Hey, you can log in to our system on your smart phones now.”

“To do what exactly?”

“To do…cool stuff. You know.”

“No, I don’t. Can I download your system information to a spreadsheet?”

“Why would you want to do that when you’ve got our perfectly good system to work within?”

“To do…cool stuff. You know.”

Maybe you’ve heard some of that kind of conversation. But, HR practitioners need to also better educate themselves on the use of technology in the workplace and even take business “tours of duty” in finance, operations, IT, customer service and more to understand what it means to run and grow a business, not just keep it in compliance and be risk-averse.

We posed similar survey questions to #TChat-land last night (questions below), and there was a resounding agreement on one thing:

Tech and innovation is great to a point, as long as it helps to humanize acquiring, empowering and retaining the workforce.

And keep us all in business.

Read Meghan’s great preview here as well as the questions from last night:

  • Q1: How important is technology innovation in acquiring, empowering and retaining a workforce today?
  • Q2: Are HR and recruitment technology providers truly “innovative” today? Why or why not?
  • Q3: Are HR and recruitment practitioners truly “innovative” today? Why or why not?
  • Q4: How have technology innovations impacted end users’ experiences? Using it or not?
  • Q5:How do you use technology to support business strategies and objectives?
  • Q6: Do HR and recruitment technology innovations support the work, or are they just gadgets? Why?
  • Q7: What can practitioners and providers do to facilitate and improve technology innovation?
  • Q8: In summary, what do you think it means to be innovative in the HR and recruiting business today?

Thank you all who participated last night! We’re taking an extended Memorial Day weekend break from #TChat next week, but we’ll resume on Tuesday, June 7

Small Business the Bigger Picture: #TChat Preview

Originally posted by Matt Charneyone of #TChat’s moderators, on MonsterThinking Blog

It’s hard to overstate the impact of small business, even by presidential proclamation, as Barack Obama kicked off National Small Business Week, declaring:

“From the family businesses that anchor Main Street to the high-tech startups that keep America on the cutting edge, small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the cornerstones of America’s promise.”

As Obama (or proxy) observed, it turns out Mom & Pop and VC babies share more in common than size; they share spirit, “the idea that if you have a good idea and are willing to work hard enough, you can succeed in our country.”

Every big company, Monster Worldwide included, started out with no more than the courage to turn an idea into action, passion into profit.  Proctor & Gamble, Kellogg, Ford, and a multitude of other global corporations, have rewarded those visionaries by turning their founders into, quite literally, household names.

Look at the NASCAR-esque list of sponsors for National Small Business Week, which might seem ironic until you consider that topping Fortune takes, well, fortune.  From Google (Page & Brin) to Sam’s Club (Walton) to Microsoft (that guy), these familiar corporate creation myths each began as any small business.

For many more millions of small business owners, and workers, who have dared to dream and injected so much sweat equity into their bottom line, that creation myth is still being created.   They might call themselves small businesses, or entrepreneurs, or start-ups, but our economy – and our jobs – depends on their growth.

So we just wanted to say thank you.

For those who have made it, or those who are starting out, growing an idea isn’t always easy.  That’s why tonight’s special National Small Business Week #TChat wants to turn conversation into innovation.

Join us on Twitter tonight at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT as we discuss the challenges – and opportunities – faced by entrepreneurs and their employees today.  We’ll also be highlighting some of the biggest ideas and trends in small business all week here at MonsterThinking during our National Small Business Week salute.

Here are the questions we’ll be discussing, along with some recommended reading to help inform, and inspire, your participation in tonight’s #TChat conversation: click here for more from MonsterThinking or check out the Monster for Employers Small Business Resources site.

#TChat Questions & Recommended Reading (5.17.11)

1. How do you define ‘small business?’  Is this the term we should be using?

Read: How To Scale Your Business To Billions In Revenue by Alyson Shontell

2. Would you prefer working for a small business or a big company?  Why?

Read: How To Make Your Small Company Culture Stand Out by Eric Herrenkohl

3. What role does talent play in small business success?  How can small businesses successfully compete with bigger companies in the ‘war for talent?’

Read: Six Ways To Maximize Your Small Business Hiring Advantage by Connie Blaszczyk

4. What are some of the biggest advantages of working for a small business employer?  Drawbacks?

Read: Bright Bulb Workers Get the Benjamins by Sal Iannuzzi

5. Do you think employers and recruiters value small business and big company experience differently?

Read: Why Are Hiring Managers Scared of Entrepreneurs? by David Mesicek

6. What should big business workers know about moving to a small company (and vice-versa)?

Read: How To Evaluate A Job at A Start-Up by Monster.com Career Advice Experts

7. What’s your best advice for someone thinking about starting a small business?  Any myths vs. realities?

Read: Is Starting Your Own Business the Answer? by Susan Bryant

Visit www.talentculture.com for more great information on #TChat; for more resources and advice for small businesses from Monster, click here.

Our Monster social media team supports the effort behind #TChat and its mission of sharing “ideas to help your business and your career accelerate – the right people, the right ideas, at the right time.”

We’ll be joining the conversation live every Tuesday night as co-hosts with Kevin Grossman and Meghan M. Biro from 8-9 PM E.T. via @monster_works and @MonsterWW. Hope to see you tonight at 8 PM ET for #TChat!

Fighting the Beast of Unemployment: An Economic Boost is Needed

Repeat after me: there are no magic job wands.

Whether you believe there’s a talent war or not, there are still too many of us out of work. There are shortages of skills, a growing global competitiveness and industries with jobs that will most likely never be heard from again.

But buying into the fairy tale that [insert politician and/or political party of choice here] can and should be the magical job creator that will save us from ourselves only lends us false hope. Unfortunately we’re going to hear a lot of that rhetoric in the next 18 months.

This is just brings false hope that will be defaulted on time and time again. And listen, I’m a Keynesian, one who believes that when the private sector fails miserably – think Great Depression and our very recent economic ice age we’re still thawing from – the public sector needs to take monetary action to try and stabilize the financial markets and get folks back to work in the short term.

I’m not an economist, but I am an econ hobbyist who cares about tempering the beast of business’s destructive nature. Whether you agreed with it or not, short-term public stimulus can help spark long-term job growth if channeled at improving the infrastructure that makes it easier to conduct business in the US and beyond (think trains, planes and automobiles).

But that’s only part of the picture. You also have to have sustainable economic growth and incentives to invest in growing your talent base locally, virtually and globally. And if you have a sound business model, customers and sustainable growth, investors may come a-knockin’ to give you the capital you need to further grow, and maybe, just maybe, hire more talent.

On one of my recent trips across the US I caught up on one of my favorite podcast shows – NPR Planet Money. In one episode titled How do you create a job?, the hosts asked Princeton economist Orley Ashenfelter what he thinks when politicians say they created jobs:

I usually laugh. … When someone says that they are stating a fact: “While I was in office, employment increased by 150,000,” or whatever it increased by. Whether or not you can attribute that to what they did is another, much more difficult question…And by the way, you don’t often hear people say, “I destroyed 150 thousand jobs.”

The true bottom line here is that the government has to appeal to corporate greed. You have to incent business with lower taxes and/or improve the infrastructure in which we conduct business in order to stimulate job growth.

And even then there are no guarantees companies will start hiring. Many are sitting on mounds of cash, investing in stock buybacks, R&D or hiring outside of the US in emerging markets.

It’s called the marginal efficiency of investment – how much of a dollar you invest do you get to keep in profits. Businesses are not in the business of keeping people employed. They’re in the business of making money, and along the way they employ folks as a means to that end. But if you woo the beast, then maybe, just maybe they’ll start hiring, if the cost of paying someone to do a job is less than the output the job produces in revenue. Thankfully there is hiring happening in the US. Not enough to dramatically chip away at the unemployment rate, but it is happening.

I know this all sounds at odds from harmonizing workplace humanity I usually write about. It’s not, though. I’ve learned more about the economics of 21st century life in the past year to fill, well, a lifetime, and I’m a supporter of the Zero Unemployment movement (my recent rants with them were captured on video here and here).

There are no magic job wands. If there were, you know I’d be waving mine.

IMAGE VIA Nieve44/La Luz

How to Evaluate Your Current Company Culture

Many job seekers are now evaluating prospective employers based on company culture. Candidates want to determine how they will fit in and if the environment is right for them before they’re hired.

As you may know, company culture varies based on several factors. Although some companies don’t focus on the culture within the organization, every company has a culture whether they like it or not. Take a look at the following—each is part of the company culture at your organization:

  • Employees
  • Company size
  • Environment
  • Policies
  • Procedures
  • Mission
  • Values
  • Attitudes
  • Employee commitment
  • Communication
  • Common behaviors
  • Relationships
  • Leadership
  • Recruiting
  • Support

In order to determine whether your culture is working at your organization, you need to first evaluate the current culture. Ask yourself the following:

  • How do employees within the organization handle conflict?
  • How well do employees work together?
  • Are workers encouraged to speak up and identify problems?
  • Does the company address problems head on?
  • How do the company values play into the culture?
  • Are employees rewarded for performance? How?
  • What does the company, as a whole, value?
  • How does the company deal with new ideas?
  • Does the organization encourage employees
  • What are the company hiring and firing processes? How do these affect the culture?

Is the culture in at your organization less than satisfactory? There are ways to improve upon it—here’s how:

Decide how you want it to look in the future

What needs to be changed? How do you want your ideal culture to look after these changes occur? Keep in mind that every company will not (and should not) have the same company culture, although you can certainly be inspired by another company’s culture in some ways.

Review the organization’s mission, vision and values

Is the culture aligned with the overall mission? Are company values mirrored in the culture? If not, how can you integrate company mission, vision and values better?

What else can employers do to evaluate (and improve upon) company culture at their organization?

IMAGE VIA Davide Boyle in DC

When Employers Aren't Our Biggest Fan: #TChat Recap

If you’re supposed to be my number 1 fan, then why do you treat me like a dirty bird?

Sometimes being on the job is just plain “Misery”. Maybe you’ve read the Stephen King novel or watched the movie starring Kathy Bates and James Caan, but if not the story is about a fan (fanatic) who holds captive the object of her obsession, the writer who keeps her entertained with his romantic novels — until he no longer does.

Back to being on the miserable job. Back in the mid 1990’s I worked at a university and had a boss who had a boss who made us both miserable. That combined with limited resources to do our jobs, and the fact that I managed a group of 50+ student employees in a condemned building on campus, and the fact that one of my colleagues who worked in the same building invaded and poked holes in my personal space daily, became unbearable.

My boss and I told each other that when the work day ended and the crying began, then it was time to leave. (Which is a lot less painful than being hobbled.)

It was time to leave. For both of us. First me and then him within the year.

Fast forward to today, two downturns into the 21st century with misery everywhere. According to Matt Charney‘s @Monster_WORKS pre-TChat write up:

The upcoming seismic spike in employee turnover will look different than any we’ve seen in the past. A recent Monster.com survey showed that fully 82% of fully employed workers have updated their resumes in the past 6 months, and a whopping 96% of employees with tenures of over 5 years are openly exploring opportunities.

Now flip that on its head and read this from recent Accenture survey:

Only about two of five (43 percent) professionals are satisfied with their jobs; however, 70 percent plan to stay with their current employers, according toReinvent Opportunity: Looking Through a New Lens, a survey of 3,400 professionals in 29 countries by the New York-based global management consulting and technology services company.

And then there’s a recent study by Harris Interactive and Plateau Systems that finds:

…Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of workers would consider a new career opportunity if approached — but they aren’t actively looking for new jobs.

Both of these were from a recent HRE online article titled Staying Put that I recommend you read as well as Matt’s highlighted Monster Thinking reads.

But wait, does all this misery make for upwards of 90% of the current workforce passively active or actively passive?

Sure, I understand how fluid these numbers can be and of course what I’m feeling changes how the world appears. But employers obviously haven’t been making many of us feeling any better, although they’re not there to make us feel better. They’re there to make make stuff and sell stuff and hopefully keep their employees “engaged” as much as possible along the way so they stay to make stuff and sell stuff. Plus, engagement is just a buzzword for, “You like what you do? Let me make sure I take care of you for that.” Then there’s, “You don’t like what you do? Did I ever tell you I’m your number 1 fan?”

Employers should communicate with their employees much more regularly beyond the annual perform-dance review. They should talk to them about the business, where it’s at and where it’s going. Transparency and inclusivity lead to ownership, intrinsic rewards and a more productive and happy workday.

Unfortunately change is always painfully glacial for many of us. Even with exciting technological advances changing the landscape of how we work and how we manage the workforce — mobile, social, collaboration — we’re still way on the front end of mainstream with many of us kicking and screaming along the way doing way too much with way less support.

We don’t live in the 1950′s. The US isn’t the only superpower economy fueling booms (and busts) and creating fairly stable (yet volatile) middle class job markets. The fact that the contingent workforce does continue to increase in the wake of high unemployment and uncertain markets tells me that we’re never going back. The full-time job with benefits and a pension and a secure retirement has fast become a retro shadow.

This is the new age of individual as startup and business owner — our personal businesses. Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter said it best last night: “We’re just looking for fair compensation, fair personal treatment and respect, and not getting sick to our stomachs every morning.”

Oh, and a little work we enjoy. Being happy never hurts.

Amen.  As I’m sure you’ve gathered, last night’s theme was “Should I Stay Or Should I Go? Workplace Culture Factors to Consider Before Leaving Your Job.” You can see our reach from last night here and the questions are here:

  • Q1: Almost 90% of workers report being “open” to looking for new jobs. Why is this number so high?
  • Q2: How can employers take advantage of these trends to recruit and hire top talent?
  • Q3: What factors should employees consider when looking for a new job opportunity?
  • Q4: What can business leaders do to improve retention  rates and morale among top talent?
  • Q5: What’s the difference between an active and a passive candidate, if any?  Does it matter?
  • Q6: What are the most significant factors employees look at when deciding to stay or leave?
  • Q7: What are some ways employers and companies can help turn the tide?  Or is it too late?

Thank you again for participating in #TChat. Next week’s topic will be: “Am I A Temp, A Consultant, An Entrepreneur or a Small Business?  The Changing Identities of Today’s Workforce.” Yours truly will be moderating.

Until then, Happy Working from all of us here at TalentCulture.

Live from #TRULondon – Recruiting: Power of Global People Connectivity

I’m at the TruLondon unconference this week, meeting with people from all over the world – from companies and people discussing the social aspects of leadership, recruiting and HR, we’re learning and sharing stories about using the power of social media to make connections with job seekers and recruiting companies.

London is a creative and vibrant city and the TruLondon unconference, hosted by my friend Bill Boorman and their sponsor JobSite is an amazing venue – no powerpoints, lots of Tweeting and more like a long coffee/wine break with friends than a sit-down-take-notes conference. My kind of conference for certain. It is here where innovation has room to breathe and develop into new ideas.

As I listen to Bill and the other conference friends and attendees one fact remains: We’ve been on a career/workplace/media innovation roller coaster these past several months. Job satisfaction started 2010 at 45 percent negative and plunged to 80+ percent negative by December.

The job market tried to pull out of its dive but failed, despite the government’s recent attempts to redefine the meaning of ‘long-term unemployed’. Companies that weren’t hanging by a thread were socking away cash, holding off on hiring and waiting for signals that the nation was on more certain economic footing. All of us here are ready to say ‘done with that’ and are hoping – and talking about -how to make these times truly count for our recruiting clients and social communities.

What has changed that we can take into the next few months with lighter hearts? I looked back at our recent TalentCulture TChat– my new tea-leaves – for cues, and have distilled my thoughts from TRULondon so far as well. Here’s what stood out to me:

  • The influence of social media on the workplace, hiring trends and corporate brands is huge and will continue to grow. Smart employer brands realized they needed to use social media as both a recruitment and retention tool, as well as a way to take the temperature of the workplace and the larger market. Cheers to social media.
  • Innovation is en vogue again. You know I love hearing affirmation of this. It’s early days yet but I predict that workplaces that invested in developing an authentic culture brand and employee experience will start to see the payoff in innovation.
  • Risk is still significant that ‘stuck’ workplaces will lose their star team players, and maybe even the B team as well. By ‘stuck’ I mean the companies lead by the out-of-touch – the people who are afraid to clue into their emotional intelligence, afraid to change and ease up a bit on employees. The change here is that emotional intelligence is on the rise, and companies that invest in building it into the workplace will come out of the gate in better shape than competitors.
  • More companies will go virtual (and we will be recruiting for these skills) as a way to lighten the load on stressed employees, worn down from years of no raises or pay cuts or layoffs. Managing these highly-mobile, virtual workplaces takes a sure hand and a light touch. Finding ways to be successful with mobile, virtual workforces will be a key leadership/recruiting/HR skill. Note: Our next #TChat topic is Managing virtual teams and dispersed global organizations while maintaining workplace culture.  Is it possible?
  • It’s a new world of recruiting indeed, thanks to Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook et al. Today’s recruiters work mainly in 140-character bursts, and resumes are distilled into keywords and links. I’m spending time reviewing innovation in this space and it’s really very cool and exciting. It’s safe to say that LinkedIn remains the most widely utilized sourcing tool for recruiters to date from this list.
  • The notion of leadership is re-emerging. Too many erstwhile leaders have been hunkered down behind closed doors. It’s time to re-invest in building a culture of leadership, one that is inclusive and broad.
  • Culture is the new workplace must-have. Go figure. Cultures of Talent loom large. Authenticity, brand, stickiness, innovation and inspiration must come through in your workplace culture. Connect and humanize your employees with your brand and watch culture bloom.

What say you? Are you expecting more of the same or actively engaged with companies and job seekers bubbling with innovation, workplace culture and passion for doing a great job now? Love to hear your thoughts.

Workplace Presenteeism Redefined

The majority of organizations today have employee support programs to help with workplace absenteeism.

Examples include sick days, short term disability, long term disability, return-to-work, workplace accommodation, vacation, emergency family care, and the list goes on. The goals of these programs are to reduce costs to employers, improve employee productivity and ultimately top and bottom line financial results.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, American businesses lose an average of 2.8 million work days each year due to unplanned absences, which costs employers more than $74 million. Some thought circles put this number close to $200 million. Regardless, the numbers are staggering, and with our aging population and increasing life expectancy these numbers will continue to escalate.

But…

The figures above deal with workplace absenteeism ONLY, and not workplace presenteeism. What’s the difference? We’ve defined absenteeism to be the employee being absent from work due to health reasons. According to Dr. Gary Cooper, who pioneered the term “presenteeism” in the mid-90’s, this is where employees show up for work even if they are too sick, stressed, or distracted to be productive.

There is an underlying medical issue that is causing the employee to be unproductive at work.  They’re physically there but not really THERE!  The result?  Poor productivity and performance, which often negatively influences colleagues and peers.

The above definition of presenteeism originally coined by Dr. Cooper focuses on health being the reason for non-performance and productivity at work. There are many reasons why presenteeism exists, and through my experience and research, I would argue that our mental states are the key drivers of presenteeism. Corporations have spent so much time, money and resources reducing absenteeism that it has created a culture of fear and anxiety towards being absent from work. Businesses have even gone as far as rewarding employees for not taking sick days, or using sick-related benefits. This has pushed us to behave and act in ways that are in fact more detrimental to our own physical health, and personal productivity and performance.  At the end of the day, we are scared to death of not satisfying the “butt in chair” optic.

The Canadian Mental Health Association of Ontario provides a more precise and detailed description of the reasons for presenteeism, which relate to stress and sub-par psychological state of mind.

Case in Point…

With our world literally turning itself upside down every single day; natural disasters, gigantic hostile takeovers, corporate cuts, war, political upheaval, the technological explosion, WE are scared to death. We have bills to pay, mouths to feed and simply staying alive and covering basic survival needs has never been more at the forefront of everything we do and think about. Decisions are made so quickly, and through our natural “fight or flight” human responses, our actions are dictated by our emotions. Simply put, we’re afraid of being pushed aside or marginalized in the workplace.

Let’s Add a Twist…

We’ve been talking about presenteeism defined as being at work when sick or unhealthy. I am jumping out on a limb here and am going to argue that presenteeism is also about being at work when you ARE perfectly healthy but spending time doing other things completely unrelated to helping your company achieve and succeed on its business objectives.  What about people that are physically there but simply wasting time by choice?

This Doesn’t Make Any Sense…

My explanation… we are unbelievably connected socially through technological means with anyone, anywhere, and at anytime.  We are a culture of “checking in” (e.g. FourSquare, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email, blog and the list goes on). When using a laptop we typically have multiple screens open at once, flipping back and forth constantly from Hootsuite to email to LinkedIn to Facebook to blogs. Our iPod’s are raging 24-7, mobile phones buzzing constantly from incoming texts, emails, tweets or phone calls, and this is all happening at 10,000 miles an hour. Our attention spans are probably 10,000% shorter than they were just 10 years ago and our concentration levels are limited to the 10 seconds of complete silence we actually get in a given day. Our social connections, technological “connectedness” and instant and constant real-time communication habits result in our available time that should be spent on work is being eaten up doing other things and being unproductive.

The Point? Perfectly healthy people are wasting incredible amounts of time at work, as are unhealthy people. This is ALL presenteeism to me!

What Are the Costs?

I made the argument that technological waste needs to be part of the definition of presenteeism. Research does exist to show that presenteeism is significantly greater than absenteeism but currently I would consider the research a bit sketchy because a) it only deals with presenteeism that is related to medical issues, and b) the statistics are all over the place. Research has been done, primarily in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Australia.

The Journal of Occupation and Environmental Medicine argues that “presenteeism costs employers as much as 3 times the dollar amount as absenteeism in terms of lost productivity”.

Statistics Canadaargues that “productivity lost from presenteeism was 7.5 times greater than productivity loss from absenteeism”. They also argue that “stress related health problems could increase the ratio to 15 times greater”.

Canadian Occupational Safety provides a good perspective on the problem of presenteeism and argues that it is 4 times bigger than absenteeism in terms of hours lost. The COS also includes research completed from Watson Wyatt Canada that puts the ratio of presenteeism to absenteeism between 2.5 and 8.6 times, with the top 3 medical causes of presenteeism being depression, fatigue and insomnia.

Another Wrinkle in the Cost Argument…

If you have heard me speak in the past or follow my blog, you have likely heard me talk confidently about the positive correlation that exists between employee engagement and business results. The more engaged your workforce is the more successful you will be in achieving your corporate strategic objectives. In terms of a definition for employee engagement there are many, but I have typically used something close to the following:

“An intimate emotional connection that an employee feels for the company they work for that propels them to exert greater discretionary effort in their work”.

Now throw in what I have talked about regarding presenteeism into the mix. Do you think perfectly healthy employees that are physically at work but choosing to do other things is an example of strong engagement? I didn’t think so. Earlier I threw around a bunch of figures for what presenteeism costs business today, and nowhere in this research do these numbers reflect what employee disengagement caused by presenteeism costs. I am NOT going to try and take a stab at what this number may be but the point here is it would be profoundly staggering and it’s a huge problem.

Conclusion…

Pis a much more costly problem than absenteeism, yet corporations focus mostly on reducing absenteeism. I also argue that the current definition of presenteeism only relates to medical reasons, but should include lost productivity and performance as a result of perfectly healthy employees doing things completely unrelated to the business.

These other things are directly related to technology and our “check in everything now and now” mentalities. I also argue that presenteeism is a significant drain on employee engagement, which strongly correlates to business results.  Finally, presenteeism is a huge problem, and by taking on a more accurate understanding of what presenteeism is, the problem is epidemic-like and should be the focus of organizational improvements today.

Taking Work-Life Balance By The Horns

(Editor’s Note: All of us in the TalentCulture community mourn the loss of our dear friend, brilliant colleague and mindful mentor, Judy Martin, who passed away unexpectedly on January 31, 2014. Her message and her life are a lesson for us all. We will forever fondly remember her humor, warmth and wisdom.)

A colleague recently told me she was suffering from anxiety about heading back to work, after a week off.  In gory detail, she described a nightmare in which her manager littered her office with big black hairy spiders. Pretty much how she feels at work, she effused.  “The creepy crawlies never seem to go away.”

That type of stress dominates her work life experience, and it’s not foreign to many of us. And sharing news and tips on how to reduce that work life stress is where my focus will be here at Talent Culture.

The American working pool has been thrust into what I refer to as “a work-related field of cognitive dissonance.” Stuck in a vacuum of perpetual information overload, courtesy technology and our human response to it, we’re also pressed to pay attention at work and excel or suffer potential consequences.  Survey please! The numbers tell the story:

An American Psychological Association survey on work-related stress found that sixty-two percent of Americans hold work as having a significant impact on stress levels.

A survey by Princeton Survey Research Associates found seventy-five percent of employees believing that on-the-job stress has increased compared to the previous generation.

We are under enormous pressure to perform. To deliver. To excel. We juggle our working and living experience, but often fall into a merry-go-round of stress in what I refer to at WorkLifeNation.com as the  “UPED U” Cycle which is described below.

In simple terms, “UPED U” is the chaotic cycle we enter when our work life merge gets out of control and  “ups” our stress level leading to emotional turmoil and potentially less productivity.

The solution – to find creative ways to throw a kink into that cycle.

Here’s what happens in that cycle, along with a few pointers on how to stop the insanity! I’ll be writing more about the antidotes to these cyclical monsters in future posts.

1.     Unlimited Incoming:

A barrage of information continually comes our way.

NEW RULE: Consciously limit your news intake. Aggregate your favorite news sources and blogs on line and choose one time a day to focus on them. Depending on your job, determine the best time of
day to check e-mails and stick to it. If you are addicted to web surfing –limit your time doing that.

2.    Perceived Availability:

We’re all wired to our families, work and communities and everyone else knows you’re tethered to technology so we’ve created the perception that we’re always available.

NEW RULE: Come to agreement with the most important people from work and in your family that you communicate with regularly. Speak with them and share your daily work life scenario. People will assume that you are available unless you tell them otherwise.

3.    Expectation of Instant Gratification:

That perceived availability leads to other people’s needs to be attended to. They want to be heard and answered in the moment.

NEW RULE: Unless your work requires it, do not respond to e-mails in the moment and limit your texting.  This takes a lot of discipline and you will break this rule a lot depending on the circumstances.

4.    Desire to Deliver and Excel:

Our nature is to not fall short. To nurture and want to please in what is a competitive working environment. To make our boss or clients happy, we desire to deliver and excel to keep up with the Jones’.

NEW RULE: Don’t be so caught up in how other people define success. Be confident in your work your deliverables. Only you know how productive you are andwhat might need to change to up your game. There will be times when you might have to enter into the extreme work zone, but be aware of your limitations to avoid burnout.

5. Unlimited Interruptions:

In order to please everyone at the same time, we are often taken out of the moment, are
lead astray from the initial task and surrender to multi-tasking.

NEW RULE: Stop the insanity. Find a place in the cycle to make that tiny aberration in the stream of chaos to offset the tumble effect. It’s really about you taking control a little more control. Being conscious that the choices you make can mean the difference between burnout and a productive work life merge.

The trick is to monitor your incoming, and make concrete choices somewhere in this cycle to stump the system. Where do you think is the best place to stop the cycle? Please share your solutions to avoid an “UPED U.”

5 Simple, Affordable Ways to Retain Workplace Talent

Offer professional development opportunities

Professional development doesn’t have to be time-consuming—or expensive. There are many inexpensive or free resources available today to continue the learning process for talented employees. Follow industry blogs, read magazines and whitepapers, and check out the latest books in the field for opportunities to share with your current employees. Be on the lookout for webinars, teleseminars, Twitter chats, and conferences that they may be interested in attending—and determine how your company can help make that happen.

Think about how you can provide a better work-life balance

Telecommuting, virtual meeting and flexible time off policies are all highly desired qualities in a workplace. Many top performers are constantly striving to maintain an ideal work-life balance because they are innately hard workers. Examine your internal policies to see if you can make this balancing act easier for your employees.

Provide a variety of projects to keep the work interesting and meaningful

No one wants to work at a job for the rest of their life where they do the same thing every day. Employees want to feel that their work is making a difference to the organization and its audiences. Talented employees crave challenging tasks that can add to their skills and growth as a professional. Cross-training and team projects are a great way to provide additional opportunities.

Look into tuition reimbursement initiatives

If an employee yearns to go back to school to complete another degree or certification, determine how the organization can help them make that happen by helping out with costs.

Provide quality feedback in a timely manner

Instead of waiting for an annual or semi-annual performance review, give your employees feedback about their tasks as soon as possible after completion. Feedback is an important piece of workplace satisfaction—even if it’s a simple “Great work!” e-mail or note.

Looking for more ways to retain top performing employees? Susan M. Heathfield in an article on About.com outlines the following 10 ten ways to retain great employees:

  • Management thinkers agree that a satisfied employee knows clearly what is expected from him every day at work.
  • The quality of the supervision an employee receives is critical to employee retention.
  • The ability of the employee to speak his or her mind freely within the organization is another key factor in employee retention.
  • Talent and skill utilization is another environmental factor your key employees seek in your workplace.
  • The perception of fairness and equitable treatment is important in employee retention.
  • The easiest to solve, and the ones most affecting employee retention, are tools, time and training.
  • Your best employees, those employees you want to retain, seek frequent opportunities to learn and grow in their careers, knowledge and skill.
  • A common place complaint or lament I hear during an exit interview is that the employee never felt senior managers knew he existed.
  • No matter the circumstances, never, never, ever threaten an employee’s job or income.
  • Your staff members must feel rewarded, recognized and appreciated.

Does your company have any unusual or non-traditional tactics for retaining talent? I’d love to hear them!

Leaders, Who's Evaluating Your Performance?

At the beginning of each New Year, leaders look to the previous year and take stock of what’s transpired and make predictions on what is to come. I have done exactly that and recognized that, while 2010 was a challenging year for me on a lot of levels, it was also gratifying beyond measure. I’ve never been a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions, nor do I think that guessing how the future will transpire will tend to bear any fruit.

What really matters in the New Year is that organizations take stock in their performance during the previous year. Leaders ought to ask themselves, what did our business learn this past year?  What can we do differently to be more effective in the future? Many businesses give lip service to the “learning organization” concept. Yet, if businesses took the time and invested resources into learning how to be more effective in the future, they would be more efficient, and therefore more effective.

Organizational Development professionals spend a lot of time analyzing and assessing organization behavior and change. Would it not make sense to boil this down to its barest component by just asking three simple questions: “Where are we now, where do we want to be, and what do we have to do to get there?”

These simple, yet profound questions can lead to a wellspring of deep and effective knowledge. While business leaders may do this solely amongst their high level business authorities, it is crucial to ask these questions to people on every level; people on the shop floor, in administrative positions, and front line supervisors. The view from the top is limited. There is an iceberg of ignorance that blinds leaders from seeing what’s happening on every level. Wouldn’t it serve us well to reach out to all the people in our organizations and subsequently enlist their feedback? Companies don’t have to invest in elaborate employee satisfaction surveys to get a birds eye view. For example, leading organizations are setting up informal networking sessions across and throughout functional areas. The more we communicate with our internal talent, the stronger we will be.

What I am offering you is food for thought as you begin your New Year. These five tips will help you gauge success in the upcoming year.

1. Sit down with yourself and your employees. Examine the “As is, To be” equation. Look at where your organization is. Determine where you’d like to be.

2. Assess your Organizational/Workplace Culture. You can do this by conducting a gap analysis. What measures can your leaders support to make the necessary changes?

3. Design a simple plan to address the gaps that block organization effectiveness. Make sure it’s realistic and attainable.

4. Don’t invest time and money in a survey and a plan, and then ignore and not act upon the suggestions. Make time to get a few goals accomplished and follow through.

5. Execute! Take action on your findings. Baby steps are better than no steps.

Make a conscious decision to infuse compassion & care into your workplace culture. It’s not enough to put the “human” back into human resources – Instead let’s put the “humane” back into our organizational cultures.

What I am suggesting here is basic, and even simple, yet it is often these basics that leaders miss. Keep these five tips in mind and you and your company’s performance will flourish during the New Year.

The Impact of Social, Mobile & Video on Workplace Culture: #TChat Recommended Reading

I thought it would be useful to our readers to include weekly recommended readings in preparation for #TChat.

We will give this format a whirl from now into 2011. Wow, did I just say that? 2010 has been such an interesting year for workplace culture innovation. As you may know, I’m in love with ideas. It’s no big secret after all. Technologies like Skype and trendy cool mobile applications are revolutionizing the ways we connect at the office and virtual environments. So much fun.

Our “greatest hits” reading list for tonight’s #TChat is brought to you by our collaborators at @monster_works and @MonsterWW – They will be joining the #TChat conversation live every Tuesday night with from 8-9 PM ET, 7-8 PM CT, 6-7 PM MT, and 5-6 PM PT.

We also welcome global input and hope you can join from wherever you might be. We certainly want to hear from you. We are committed to creating educational content and social community here at the Culture of Talent. Learning is continuous here and we are nothing without people. People (AKA: human capital) are the most valuable asset to any organization or community.

Read more from MonsterThinking (originally posted by Matt Charney) on tonight’s #TChat topic. The Impact of Social, Mobile and Video on Workplace Culture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We will see you tonight and look forward! Thank you for engaging with us on this channel.

Happy Holidays from our Community! Cheers.

Magnetic Cultures and Twitter Chats — The Latest #TChat Recap

Talk about a magnetic culture.

At least in the context of online Twitter Chats in 140 characters or less of reciprocal conversation and idea exchange — we’ve got a winner.

My fearless culture cohort in crime, TalentCulture founder Meghan M. Biro, and I started #TChat back on November 16, 2010, and have now hosted four forums.

The latest titled The Workplace Culture Audit:  Building a Magnetic Company Culture and Recruiting the Best Talent was our biggest yet.

Check out the stats here — over 250 contributors last night alone sharing over 2,000 tweets.

Our good friend Eric Leist, an Emerging Technology Strategist with Allen & Gerristen, wrote about Twitter chat madness this week.

Let’s get back to last night’s topic, though.  Meghan’s forte is company culture and here are some of her thoughts on the subject:

Companies faced with retaining their most important asset – employees = people – should focus on creating a workplace culture that accommodates not only the organization’s need to meet business objectives, but also what resonates with an employees’ need to see themselves as a key partner in the organization’s success. Let’s ensure people feel valued and respected in this equation at all levels in the organization.

 

Workplace culture is so much more than a mission statement or having a cool ping pong table for breaks or sharing free sodas in the refrigerator (these perks matter of course). It’s a powerful metaphor for the workplace that allows employees to compellingly describe where they work, what the business does, and what its value is to customers. Companies successful in creating a unique and compelling workplace culture will have much more success attracting and retaining talented people who experience ‘culture fit’ with the company.  It’s so important and often overlooked.

Right on the money.  If you don’t have a workplace culture that attracts and retains quality talent, that gets most of them excited about the why of do and not just the what, then your days in business may be numbered.

I say “may be” because cultural wasteland firms can still produce a product and/or service the market wants and be awash in huge profits.  You know, like banking, investment and financial services firms.  (Did I just write that?  Please, no e-mails or phone calls.)  Magnetic culture and business can be mutually exclusive but are oh so much better together.

Magnetic culture is organic, and although leaders help to spark it, fanning the flames comes from inside.

You can read more from Meghan on culture at Culture Brand: Create Magical Distinction to Attract the Very Best Talent.

Here were the questions from last night’s #TChat:

  • Q1: How do you define company culture and what makes it magnetic?
  • Q2: Why aren’t happy hour Fridays, flex time and nap couches enough for a magnetic company culture?
  • Q3: Why is culture a key determinant in attracting and retaining talent?
  • Q4: What constitutes fair compensation including benefits and how does that affect culture?
  • Q5: Do your talent objectives align with the business objectives?  Vice-versa?
  • Q6: How can employers make employee training/career development a priority and give culture more meaning?
  • Q7: Does “open” communication exist in your company? What does this term mean to you?
  • Q8: Why or why not is it important to have an emotionally intelligent company?
  • Q9: How are you challenging your employees (good or bad)? How is your employer challenging you?
  • Q10: How important is it for your personal values to match those of the company?  Vice-versa?

The caliber of attendees and their answers was outstanding.  Smart and savvy folk.  You can see a sampling below or search hashtag #TChat stream to read more.

A very special thanks to Monster Thinking for their support and partnership.  @monster_works and @MonsterWW will be joining the #TChat conversation live every Tuesday night with from 8-9 PM ET, 7-8 PM CT, 6-7 PM MT, and 5-6 PM PT.

We also welcome global input and hope you can join from wherever you might be. We certainly want to hear from you. We are committed to creating educational content and social community here at the Culture of Talent. Learning is continuous here and we are nothing without people. People (AKA: human capital) are the most valuable asset to any organization or community.

Thank you all again for joining us!  More #TChat next Tuesday, December 21, 2010 — The Very, Merry Cheddar edition.  I have no idea what that means, but be there.

Monster is Thinking + Join our #TChat Community

Could this be any cooler or what?

What I mean is having MonsterThinking as a #TChat co-host and brand ambassador. That’s very cool. The Monster social media team supports the effort behind #TChat and our TalentCulture mission of sharing “ideas to help your business and your career accelerate – the right people, the right ideas, at the right time.”

The MonsterThinking blog explores the complex world of work and is more than just their tagline; it’s their mission. I always enjoy spending time with their talented team members at social media and career/workplace events and have personally known this company for many years and phases of their workplace culture.

I’m honored to have them on board with us. And of course, finding innovative ways to connect job seekers with the employers looking for them is what Monster’s all about. How can we not love this community of people?

@monster_works and @MonsterWW will be joining the #TChat conversation live every Tuesday night with from 8-9 PM ET, 7-8 PM CT, 6-7 PM MT, and 5-6 PM PT. We also welcome global input and hope you can join from wherever you might be. We certainly want to hear from you. We are committed to creating educational content and social community here at the Culture of Talent. Learning is continuous here and we are nothing without people. People (AKA: human capital) are the most valuable asset to any organization or community.

Read more from MonsterThinking on tonight’s #TChat topic. The Workplace Culture Audit: Steps To Building a Magnetic Company Culture and Recruiting the Best Talent.

We will see you tonight and look forward to a new 2011 jam packed with opportunity to learn and grow! Thank you for engaging with us on this channel.

Cultivating Diversity: A New Way to Network

Jon Lovitz did a routine on Saturday Night Live about how to be more successful. The answer to success was always the catch phrase, “Get to know me!”

Looking back on my first year of leaving the corporate world for entrepreneurship in the world of strategy and innovation, the success we’ve had has been linked in every instance to getting to know OTHER people over the past few years. This effort was coupled with trying to deliver a valuable experience to others through a presentation they attended, assisting them with networking, or somehow trying to help them whenever we interacted.

Another important element of my “getting to know people “strategy is embracing a concept vital to successful innovation: cultivating diversity.

Too often, I see people networking very narrowly, trying to meet people similar to them. Yet when all your networking effort goes toward people in the same company, industry, or geographic location, you wind up tremendously limiting your options.

As you look toward the coming year, here are 6 strategies to enhance the diversity of your networking efforts and ensure you get the greatest benefit from investing time to meet new people:

  1. Expertise Diversity: Network by topic, not by group – Rather than sticking to the same association networking events you always attend, review the list of educational events in your area and target your networking participation by topic, not group. For me, going to new marketing-related meetings and even to a lunch sponsored by a largely female-oriented organization led to re-establishing contacts with people I hadn’t seen for years and who now had very different careers and networks.
  2. Time Diversity: Allow yourself to network at multiple times of the day – It’s easy for your schedule to dictate networking only at certain times of the day, i.e. typical work requirements make lunches difficult so you attend happy hours. Figure out how to vary that pattern and go to events at a new time of the day. You’ll run into different types of people, creating new opportunities.
  3. Age Diversity: Attend events with someone of a different generation – If you’re going to the right types of diverse events, people from three or four generations should be present. To help in meeting people across the greatest age range, ask friends in generations preceding and following yours to join you at events. They can help attract and make introductions with a broader mix of attendees than you might ever pursue on your own.
  4. Profile Diversity: Be inefficient in meeting new people – Sometimes when you meet a new person, you feel like you’re being put through a standard set of qualifying questions to see if you warrant more time and follow-up. Efficient, yes. But I rarely want to invest time with those people. Put away the efficient qualifying-speak and ask questions which make sense for the person you’re talking with right now. Invest more time in hearing what they have to say instead of only listening for keywords important to you.
  5. Channel Diversity: Live tweet an event you’re attending and blog about it afterwardSharing a speaker’s content through tweeting at an event is a great way to meet and interact with new people both at the venue and those following it remotely. Turning your tweets into a subsequent blog post (either for your own blog or perhaps the association’s blog) provides yet another way to meet others interested in the speaker, the topic, or the sponsoring group.
  6. Audience Diversity: Speak at an event, especially if you never have before – If you’ve not been a public speaker previously, make this the year to prepare content, rehearse, and break into the ranks of people sharing their knowledge at public events. You’ll meet multiple people and be in the wonderful position of having offered something of value to them before even getting to know them.
  7. Atmosphere Diversity: Throw a party and invite too many people – Hosting a party is a great way to get to know people you already know in new ways. Since only a certain percent of people you invite will actually attend, play the percentages and invite a bunch of new people – more than you can accommodate – and discover new attendees who will become your great party guests of the future.

With these diversity-building efforts incorporated into your efforts, you’ll get to know a whole new group of people and have a much stronger network to show for it.

Workplace Leadership Engagement: Challenge, Meaning, and Lots of Love

I grew up loving the Raiders.  Before the 2010 NFL season started, I had a Silver and Black rock and roll attack!

But for the first four weeks of this season, I had nothing but Silver and Black heart attacks. They were at the bottom of the AFC West.

Argh. Although when I take another look at the homemade video montage of the 2010 draft picks, I get all fired up inside all over again. Plus the fact that during the last four weeks they’re winning, winning, winning and movin’ on up (4-4)!

These big boys are still excited to work play. Ready to give 110% to just get chance to work play on the team they were hired to play for any given Sunday (or sometimes Monday, Thursday and/or Saturday).

The Raiders and their lore are personified by none other than John Madden — Mr. Football himself.

John was an inspiration who loved, lived and breathed his game everyday. His coaching staff loved the game. His players loved the game.

Love, Love, Love — there’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.

Under Madden’s guidance, Oakland never experienced a losing season.

Can you imagine if your players employees worked that hard for your organization? There’s no way a team gets jazzed and exceeds expectations because they show up only to pick up a paycheck.

There’s a lot more to it than that — whether you’re playing in the NFL, selling clothes at Kohl’s, developing products for Apple, or reinventing the way we watch movies like Netflix.

The motivational sentiment of giving 110% is nice, but no one can really give more than what they’ve got. It’s much more realistic to get your staff to give 100% by challenging them to give their all, to be better at what they do and why they do it, and to love what they do while working hard doing it.

Leadership and HR expert Dave Ulrich touts that when workers find meaning in their jobs, they’re more productive and contribute more to the organization as a whole.

So in a very small space, here’s what we’ve got for why employees give 100%:

  • Inspirational Leadership
  • Challenge
  • Meaning
  • And Lots of Love

What better architect and facilitator for all of these but HR, right? In fact, if human resources and the organizations for which they worked focused more on empowering their leaders and employees rather than enabling them (as in non-productive co-dependency), then maybe we’d advance the workplace a lot farther than we have to date.

We should all know no other way to work play.

Be better and brighter.

5 Important Workplace Factors: Recruiting & Retaining Today’s Young Professionals

The young professionals you will be trying to attract to your organization today are members of Generation Y, also known as Millennials or The Internet Generation. Technology was a part of their childhood and still plays a huge role in their everyday lives. They don’t have many boundaries between work and life, are tech-savvy and innovative, and in high-demand.

Opportunity

Generation Y expects several types of opportunities in their professional career. Number one, they are looking for a chance to grow and excel in a company – somewhere that will give them opportunity for promotions and other perks if they perform well and choose to stay there long enough.

They also are looking for opportunities to be challenged. Millennials aren’t looking for “just a job” or to “go through the motions” everyday – they want a job that will utilize their expertise and education in new, challenging and exciting ways.

Finally, Millennials want opportunity for personal and professional growth. This can be through challenging projects, collaborative tasks, conferences, etc. This generation is easily bored, and you need to be able to retain them through offering these types of opportunity.

Flexibility

Gen Y expects flexibility in their work hours, schedule and work environment. Many Millennials want to telecommute or work remotely at their ideal jobs. Although they expect flexible hours and schedule, this generation is more plugged in than any other –meaning they will likely work after their “scheduled” hours and have less boundaries between life and work.

Technology

Since they’ve grown up with the latest gadgets, Millennials expect them in the workplace, as well. They’re used to constant connectivity, and if your workplace doesn’t offer that, they’ll likely look elsewhere.

Culture

In order to recruit today’s young professionals, you need to have a great corporate culture that will intrigue them. Think: socially responsible, innovative and great people to work around. Millennials tend to work for companies that they believe in and share in their mission.

Mentorship

Members of Generation Y want to learn something if they work for you. That’s why providing a mentor for each new young professional is vital to keeping him or her at your organization longer. Not only can a mentor aid in skill development, but also they become a personal connection that the employee trusts in your workplace.

With more than 80 million members of this generation, you’ll need to understand them in order to attract and retain them at your company. For more information on Generation Y in the workplace, download an infographic loaded with statistics here.