Posts

Photo: Ali Yahya

#WorkTrends: Going Gig: Freelancing in HR

Meghan invited both Chris Russell, the founder of HR Lancers, and Jim Stroud, VP of Marketing at Proactive Talent, to talk about the new trend in HR: hiring freelancers and consultants to fill in the gaps. 

COVID-19’s uncertainties are leaving no field untouched, including HR. As Jim said, “if employees hear the whiff of a rumor, or a layoff or have any kind of indication that their job might be in jeopardy or a furlough,” they might venture to freelance as a quick way to gain income and stay afloat. Further, freelancing is on the rise among millennials who are leaving the city. They can make their living at home — now more than ever before, noted Meghan. 

But not everyone’s cut out for the gig, Jim said. It takes self-discipline and the ability to self-structure, particularly now. Schedules may be more flexible, but kids and mounting responsibilities can add up. But the demand is there: Companies are hiring experts to help bridge the gaps, and sourcing out project-based, niched assignments like crafting job descriptions or writing a handbook. For smaller companies, this may be an effective solution. 

And if we see universal healthcare, said Chris, we’ll also see an explosion in freelancers. Meghan concurred: If benefits weren’t tied to employment, a lot more people would go independent. And that’s something companies need to think about, Jim added. Companies could be much more competitive at attracting top freelancers if they offered to cover healthcare expenses for the duration of a gig. And Meghan predicts we’ll see HR shifting along with the rest of the gig economy‚ and it’s going to be interesting to see how that changes our practices. 

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

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why are more organizations hiring freelancers for HR? #WorkTrends
Q2: How is freelancing changing the nature of HR? #WorkTrends
Q3: How can leaders better attract top HR freelancers? #WorkTrends

Find Chris Russell on Linkedin and Twitter

Find Jim Stroud on Linkedin and Twitter

Photo: Ben Stern

#WorkTrends: Incorporating New Hires into Work Cultures

The big question: Can managers effectively integrate new hires into a company work culture when everyone is working from home? The answer is a resounding yes. But how?

To explore this question further, Meghan invited John Baldino to share strategies that can help businesses successfully hire and onboard top talent remotely. John is the president and founder of Humareso, an HR firm that’s helping organizations not only manage their talent, but better onboard new hires into the culture.

John stresses communication as a key component of any culture, but especially important for remote workplaces. Seasoned employees may have the advantage of familiarity, “but that’s not really fair to the new person coming in,” John said. Managers need to take an intentional approach to communication that isn’t just about the nuts and bolts of tasks at hand, as Meghan noted. It’s got to have plenty of room to be human and have real conversations. 

Where are the blind spots? Look at the camera, John said. Too many of us don’t know where to look, and that can make for very awkward meetings. And that’s as true for managers as for anyone. So we all have to make sure we’re comfortable with the tech. And don’t try to make eye contact, because it doesn’t translate on video. You’ll look like you’re not looking at the person you’re talking to. Just making sure the tech is up to date is important as well, and that’s every company’s responsibility. We all have to get more comfortable with the technology and being remote, Meghan said. It’s a steep learning curve, and we’re still on it. 

So much has changed in the process of hiring. Consider the old normal orientation schedules — which played an effective role in portraying a company’s culture. Now we need to deliver that via chat across managers and departments, said John. But you can’t glean the essence of a culture (let alone participate in it) in just a few days of Zoom calls, Meghan said. Build in the time to let it all sink in. And make sure your managers have the resources they need to support new hires, and can provide flexibility to accommodate the new work/life construct.  

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

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why do organizations struggle with onboarding? #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies help bring new hires into the work culture? #WorkTrends
Q3: How can leaders better shape an onboarding strategy? #WorkTrends

Find John Baldino on Linkedin and Twitter

Photo: Paul Bryan

#WorkTrends: The Bigot in Your Mental Boardroom

WorkTrends has been focusing on diversity and inclusion not as buzzwords, but as actions. Meghan invited Elena Joy Thurston to the podcast to share her story. Elena is the founder and speaker of the PRIDE and Joy Foundation and has developed compelling best practices for improving workplace inclusivity. The conversation hit on a fascinating reality: we all have a mental boardroom and usually, there’s a hidden bigot at the table. 

So what exactly is a mental boardroom? “The boardroom is really about realizing what stories we all work from in our heads — our suppositions or assumptions,” said Elena. Acknowledging that, noted Meghan, helps us understand that everyone has their own biases, and we may not even realize where they come from. It may be hard to do, but self-awareness and reflection are the first steps: it takes critical distance to be able to see the roots of our own judgment. 

“I do the work by watching my own reactions,” said Elena. We need to be comfortable enough to work through our own emotions, and find the bias at the source. The more that can happen at the workplace, the more people can start to understand each other. 

Meghan concurred that bringing this unconscious bias to the surface will spark real growth in the work culture. Just a gesture as simple as making space for gender pronouns on an RSVP can help the LGBTQ community feel valued, for instance. Added Elena, when someone can bring their whole self to work and not feel judged, it’s so much easier to get our work done. 

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

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why do work cultures struggle with inclusiveness? #WorkTrends
Q2: Why are some workplaces hard for LGTBQ employees? #WorkTrends
Q3: How can leaders boost inclusiveness in their organizations? #WorkTrends

Find Elana Joy Thurston on Linkedin and Twitter

Photo: Diego Jimenez

#WorkTrends: Leading Organizations to Resilience and Diversity

No question: businesses and employees are going through a lot. The pivot to remote. Changing laws and regulations (sometimes overnight). Safety — and not just physical, but emotional as well. How should we best deal with the pressures of working amid brand-new and vexing circumstances? Get resilient, so instead of crashing from the stress, we bounce back.

Meghan brought Melissa Lamson, CEO of Lamson Consulting, to #WorkTrends for a timely meeting of the minds. Melissa offered best practices on how leaders can foster resilience among their workforce — and explained why diversity is so critical right now.

As Meghan noted, leaders are quickly learning “how to really lean in on the people side, to practice emotional intelligence and empathy and interpersonal skills” — and helping their businesses grow in understanding. And some of their strength is coming from admitting they don’t know it all. They’re willing to be vulnerable, and employees appreciate that.  

And as Melissa added, that kind of openness also helps leaders ask the right questions: “What is the best way to do this? How do we reopen the workplaces? How do we come back together in face-to-face collaboration? What does that look like? What kinds of guidelines and rules do we need to do this safely and effectively?”  

It’s really all about listening, said Melissa. Doing so makes it possible to tend to our company culture over the long-term, Meghan pointed out. Then, keep practicing what we preach  — open communication, honesty, transparency — to lead our organizations into a state of resilience. That’s going to be a key part of success going forward. 

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

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why do organizations struggle with resilience? #WorkTrends
Q2: How does diversity play into an organization’s resilience? #WorkTrends
Q3: How can leaders help increase resilience and diversity in their organizations?  #WorkTrends

Find Melissa Lamson on Linkedin and Twitter

Photo: LinkedIn Sales Navigator

#WorkTrends Getting Real About ATS

We may be at a tricky point in the economy, but hiring is on many company’s minds — along with what tools can help. So Meghan brought in Doug Coull, founder and CEO of APS, Inc.— the makers of SmartSearch talent acquisition and staffing management software — to talk ATS. They spent this episode of #WorkTrends going over the nuts, the bolts, and the advantages of applicant tracking systems. 

Of course, not every business needs an ATS, Doug noted. But if you employ any kind of sizable workforce — say around 150 or more, you likely need one. What you should look for, however, isn’t a plug and play system, but a system that comes with a partner. Understand your own needs, then look for a counterpart that has a similar outlook — and size and approach that fit your own. Parity helps align the decision-making, he said. As Meghan added, you want an ATS provider whose culture matches your own.

The most apparent hiring and recruiting issues may just be “symptoms of the problem,” Doug explained, but technology can help you find the weak links. And he cautioned against the practice of pitching an ATS to people who aren’t actually involved in the day- to-day of talent acquisition. Don’t just sell it to the director of HR or the director of recruiting, said Meghan. Sell it to those who are going to be actually using it, and know what they need.  

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

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why do organizations need an ATS? #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can help organizations better choose an ATS? #WorkTrends
Q3: How can companies optimize their technology purchase? #WorkTrends

Find Doug Coull on Linkedin and Twitter

This post is sponsored by SmartSearch.

Photo: Mathias Jensen

#WorkTrends: Leading Through Uncertainty

These times have truly challenged us all, leaders or not, to look at the critical role leadership plays in a crisis. Doug Butler of Reward Gateway came to #WorkTrends with plenty of answers to the pressing question: what’s the best way for leaders to bring teams together, through, and past these times?

Start with open, honest and clear communication, said Doug. When it comes to decision-making, employers need to explain the uncomfortable. And if the business is facing risks, say so. Share the potential “ramifications to the business” of a certain strategy, he added. But don’t leave out a sense of hope. Employees need to hear “that there will be something on the other side.” Meghan noted that a balance — between transparency and cautious optimism — can do much to build a sense of trust. And trust during a crisis is what we all need.  

Maintaining visibility means being there — and video is a great tool for that, said Doug. Another factor to maintain is balance. Change brings opportunities, he pointed out, but it’s important to focus on the priorities — it’s not a time to undo an entire system that’s working just because you can. Keep listening and be receptive both to ideas and mistakes. More than ever, a culture of understanding is powerful right now, Meghan added. 

For any leader, these times are testing our organization’s ability to pivot, and pushing our employees to be agile — and willing to embrace (and not resist) change. It’s a time of growth for all of us — and leaders are no exception.   

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

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why are some organizations struggling in today’s economic crisis? #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can help organizations better survive a crisis? #WorkTrends
Q3: What can leaders do to best lead their company through a crisis? #WorkTrends

Find Doug Butler on Linkedin and Twitter

This post is sponsored by Reward Gateway

Photo: Anders Jildén

#WorkTrends: Assessing Digital Skills for Hiring Now

Remote work has gone from a luxury to a form of everyday survival, with technical, practical and cultural challenges. It has also shifted the hiring process further into the digital sphere — whether we like it or not. Sean O’Brien, Senior VP of Education at SAS, joined host Meghan M. Biro for this #WorkTrends podcast episode to discuss key strategies for hiring in today’s environment. That means not only knowing the competencies your organization needs, but also having the digital capabilities needed to hire now.

Whether you’re hiring people on-site or remotely, there’s one rule, Sean said, “Return to the fundamentals.” The first step is to ask the right questions: “What skills does my company need? How often? Which skills are the most important?”

And then, a clear way to assess potential applicants is not just on skills, but on potential to learn these skills. This means interviews in remote hiring scenarios need to focus more on demonstrating those necessary skills, Sean noted. For example, hands-on assessments, portfolios at-the-ready, and potential on-the-spot problem-solving can all be done over video. Meghan added that it’s important not to forget about establishing good eye contact, pointing out the need to present ourselves in the best light, whether in-person or in video meetings.

Sean also recommended that hiring managers rewrite job descriptions. Many are written poorly or in a generic way — without reflecting the company’s needs, and lacking language that acts as a filter to guide the right people to apply.

Meghan said this means that organizations must understand the skills they need. And given the turbulence and change going on now, that also means it may be necessary to hire an expert who can help. Sean agreed, “Depth of knowledge is necessary to be successful.”

Another smart strategy is to develop the talent already in your organization, by teaching your existing workforce the new digital skills they need to keep evolving and growing professionally.

Listen to the full conversation and see our questions for the related live #WorkTrends Twitter Chat. And don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, so you don’t miss an episode!

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why do some organizations struggle with hiring for the right skills? #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can help accurately assess a potential hire’s skills? #WorkTrends
Q3: What can leaders do to bring the right skills into the organization? #WorkTrends

Find Sean O’Brien on Linkedin and Twitter

This post is sponsored by SAS.

Photo: insung yoon

#WorkTrends: Improving Work Culture with VR

Newsflash: We may be unintentionally undermining our working relationships. Remote working has brought with it some vexing challenges, including distractions, Zoom fatigue, and even incivility. Taken out of physical context, we tend to misread and misinterpret each other. And that can have some troubling side effects.

How can we repair this? To find out, Meghan M. Biro invited Robin Rosenberg, a clinical psychologist and the CEO / founder of Live in Their World (LITW) to #WorkTrends. Robin is using VR technology to improve and strengthen our work relationships, face-to-face or not.

Even on a good day, we may not be as clear as we mean to be on text and emails, according to Robin. And while on video, “bodily cues or facial cues can help you decode what’s going on,” information can still get lost. Even the size of the video screen can be a distraction, noted Meghan. And a tiny delay means we don’t really see people’s reactions as they happen. All can create tension — the opposite of what we need.

With VR, Robin and her team are teaching us how to read each other better and get along again. It’s a particularly valuable tool in improving empathy among workforces when it comes to diversity, as participants learn not only how to authentically walk in each other’s shoes, but “in their feet,” noted Robin.

VR doesn’t need to be expensive and can be remote (a Youtube 360-type experience). Given how effectively it expands our understanding of each other, it may come to be a standard operating procedure in terms of how we tend to our work cultures.

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

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why do some organizations struggle with incivility in their work cultures? #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can organizations use to help improve remote working? #WorkTrends
Q3: How can leaders use Virtual Reality to improve culture? #WorkTrends

Find Robin Rosenberg on Linkedin and Twitter

#WorkTrends: Innovating a Culture of Wellness

COVID-19 has radically changed our conception of wellness and what it really means. It’s also created a new imperative for employers —  to integrate wellness into their work culture. In fact, wellness shouldn’t be an add-on. To meet the needs and wants of employees it needs to pretty much define your work culture.

Meghan M. Biro invited Arthur Matuszewski, the VP of Talent at Better.com to this week’s #WorkTrends to talk about what that means. Better is all of five years old, and a disruptor in the mortgage industry, certainly not known for its innovative culture. But this young company connects its own growth to its employees’ growth and wellbeing, Matuszewski noted.

“Our job is to set up the environment so people can continue that journey of improvement,” he said. Solving the age-old question of how to help people work better means giving them opportunities with the tools they need to do just that, he explained, so “they feel like the athletes managers expect them to be.”

That can be a challenge for even a well-established organization right now, Meghan noted, but it starts with a fundamental belief: that great employees bring incredible value — and should be treated as such. Arthur concurred, adding that Better has high expectations and makes sure they’re clear. He makes sure employees understand that they need to show up, be present and see this as “one shot and one opportunity.” In exchange, they’re working in a culture packed with wellness offerings: some surprising, many innovative,  including therapy, virtual childcare, yoga classes, and remote magic sessions — a huge hit, said Arthur.

And another intentional part of wellness at Better is clarity, as in managers who are forthcoming with plans and solicit (not just give) feedback, Arthur said, because that’s what “ties the culture of wellness together.” Meghan added that driving essentially, wellness and growth go hand in hand. And ultimately, that’s going to be a huge factor when it comes to employees being able to really deliver on customer success.

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

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why are some organizations struggling with employee wellness programs? #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can effectively improve employee wellness? #WorkTrends
Q3: What can leaders do to innovate better employee wellness programs now? #WorkTrends

 

Photo: ion dooley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter Chat Questions

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

Find Dr. Janice Presser on Linkedin and Twitter

 

Photo: Hans Peter Gauster

#WorkTrends: Outsourcing HR: Why and How

The global health crisis and its economic repercussions have pushed companies to innovate in new ways — and that includes HR. Meghan M. Biro and Paychex’s Tom Hammond used this episode of #WorkTrends as an opportunity to look at the best strategies for talent management, such as outsourcing. Tom is Paychex’s VP of Corporate Strategy and Management, and he’s on the front lines as far as helping organizations navigate the new business landscape. 

As Tom pointed out, HR professionals are in a unique position “at the epicenter of this crisis,” and they’re getting a whole range of timely questions around workplace legislation, from local to state and national levels. Making sense of the challenging (and quick) decisions that need to be made and keeping up with compliance and regulations now can take a lot of bandwidth, Meghan noted — so it makes sense for HR departments to look for help rather than go it alone. Partnering with Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions not only streamlines the process, it takes the worry out.  

Whatever the scenario, HR experts can help mitigate the gray area — and both Meghan and Tom see a different relationship happening between companies and outside service providers. It’s not a handoff, but an ongoing, one-on-one conversation dedicated to finding the solutions “that drive what matters,” as Tom said. While each company needs something different, what everyone needs is real guidance, not just a generic recommendation. 

Meghan added that this new paradigm embraces outside expertise, service and technology — and that’s going to push us forward during this global transformation. Like every other facet of working now, it’s a fast pivot — and not exactly anticipated. But outsourcing ensures that companies can land on their feet, and better manage and support their people. And that may help everyone be far more ready for what happens next.

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

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: How can HR help struggling remote workers adjust and be productive? #WorkTrends
Q2: How can outsourcing HR functions effectively help organizations? #WorkTrends
Q3: What can leaders do to help shape sound HR strategies during a pandemic? #WorkTrends

Find Tom Hammond on Twitter

This post is sponsored by Paychex.

Photo: Mimi Thian

#WorkTrends: Culture That Counts Right Now

Now more than ever, the culture of a company matters. From values to purpose to behaviors, culture is what crosses through every level of an organization and connects its people together. This week on #WorkTrends, Meghan M. Biro and Organizational Culture Strategist Josh Levine got into the power — and the importance — of work cultures today.

As companies have transitioned their workplaces to remote, grappling with new policies and tough decisions, it’s the leaders who have the power to transform and unify, said Josh. Leaders turn micro moves into macro shifts — and if they convey true intentions, mission, and expectations, employees will make the connection.

But it’s the managers who do much of the heavy lifting, Meghan noted — and Josh agreed, adding that it’s up to organizations to set their managers up for success. “Organizations need to empower managers to reward and recognize value-driven behaviors, so that people inside can understand values as more than words.”

Meghan and Josh concurred that within a great company culture lie tremendous meaning and opportunity — especially now. In these real (and unreal) times, an authentic culture can sustain an organization for the long haul — through this crisis, and to what comes next. And the bottom line has to be people: a culture’s true value should be helping other humans be better at their jobs, and better to each other. More than anything else, that’s what counts right now.

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

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why are some organizations struggling with company culture? #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can improve company culture now? #WorkTrends
Q3: What can leaders do to help create better company cultures? #WorkTrends

Find Josh Levine on Linkedin and Twitter

Photo credit: @visuals

Make Remote Work Feel Human

The shift to remote work has created a watershed moment, albeit under unprecedented circumstances. What passes for normal right now for many involves WFH — working from home, while juggling pets, kids, bandwidth, technology, worries, and a constant blur of work and home. This is not what we meant by improving work/life integration for the future. Yet here we are.

But I’m seeing leaders step up to the plate in amazing ways. I’ve talked to CMOs, CEOs and executives who are facing the responsibility of remote leadership with incredible grace, compassion and ambition — to ace this new reality and bring out the best in their people. They’re providing emotional, logistical, educational and technical support, and factoring in the importance of employee experience. And given that we’re experiencing work in a virtual space, that means finding ways to brighten up the workday.

So let’s get real and bring some fun into the virtual workplace. Try these approaches to lighten up your remote meetings:

Practice Intentional Interruptions

The imposed monotony of video conferencing is starting to be a thing: we’re seeing tutorials now on challenges unique to remote working, such as how to combat Zoom fatigue. Building interruptions into remote meetings on purpose can provide a welcome reprieve and work as an ice-breaker. If you’re on an hour meeting, schedule a five-minute break so people can get up and stretch, get a snack (working at home is big on snacks), take a bathroom break, or just switch gears for a moment. Make it clear: this is a break.

Create Virtual Water Cooler Sessions

Launching into long video meetings does little to reduce the sense of social isolation that can come with remote working. We are social beings — we get energized from interactions — but digital interactions deliver a lot less than face to face. So create a water cooler session and make the talk spontaneous (leave work off the table). Some ideas gaining traction in the remote workplace now: brown bag virtual lunch hour; half-hour highlights jams to share something that happened in the week (again, not work-related); online game sessions; book clubs; kitchen table hangout rooms. These should be by choice, not mandate, or it will just feel like more work. And one hint: don’t try to bring people together with a remote happy hour. According to the Wall Street Journal, as the novelty of remote work wears off, it’s going to take more than scheduled virtual cocktails to keep us engaged.

Let Kids Crash the Meeting                                                             

Why is it more comforting to not have to banish our kids from the room when we’re on a work call? There’s nowhere for them to go. We’re on lockdown, schools are closed. Some 98,000 public schools and at least 34,000 private schools in the U.S., have switched to remote learning. That accounts for nearly 50.8 million public school students and 5.8 million private school students.  Balancing work and parenting is never easy. Now? It’s a whole new ballgame. But we’re all working together in the same location — and instead of pretending they don’t exist, it’s far better to embrace these times. So let the kids crash the meeting to say hello. It’s great for them to see other kids and see a bit of what their parents do. Think of it as a very informal “take your kids to work” day. It’s also great for us to see we’re all in this together. Consider a round-robin to say hi to each others’ kids. Then get your team back to focus on the work at hand.

Bring Your Pets to Work 

Instead of hiding the pets, show them. Pets can reduce stress levels and provide tactile connection we’re not getting during social distancing. And they remind us to see the humor in all of this. Witness Illinois meteorologist Jeff Lyons, who decided to make his cat Betty part of his daily broadcast on Channel 14. A district sales manager has been declaring his dog employee of the month for years now, with endlessly popular posts. Create a social campaign to share your pets — and if possible, bring them to the conference. We may as well give into a little playful subversion here: who hasn’t wished they could bring their dog to the next team meeting?

Invite a Goat

Another way to break up the monotony of seeing the same faces in the video call: invite a special guest to the meeting — in this case, a farm animal. A California animal sanctuary, Sweet Farm, was looking for a new way to drive revenue and stay true to their mission. They came up with the idea of Goat 2 Meeting. (Yes, it’s a pun.) For a fee, you can invite a goat — or a llama, sheep, turkey or cow — to make a cameo on a live video call. It’s a great way to break up the same-old-same-old and get your team smiling. 

If we can give our employees a way to reduce their stress and anxiety for a moment, we’re helping. And this is the time to get creative and give your remote work culture a boost. Consider creating team Instagram pages with weekly challenges. Set up video conference yoga and exercise classes. One team I know swears by IG live dance classes with the irrepressible Ryan Heffington. Offer learning labs and plenty of opportunities for training: we’re hungry for knowledge now — as we see on our #Worktrends podcasts every week. Do quick check-ins via chat and text. Connect teams with volunteer opportunities. 

There are endless ways to bring some fun — and meaning — into the remote workplace experience. And whatever we can do to ease the burden and make work easier, we owe it to our employees. When we’re through this and we’ve returned to whatever the new normal we’ll have, we’ll all remember how we solved the problem of isolation as we worked remotely, whether it involved a llama, a toddler, a terrier, or a dance party.

Photo: Rodion Kutsaev

#WorkTrends: Remote Working: Craving Knowledge and Skills

Is working remotely actually working? At this point, it has to. And the good news is we want it to.

Remote working was already on the rise before mandatory work from home orders. From leaders to managers to employees, we were already anticipating — and in many cases, making — the shift. So Meghan M. Biro invited SkillSoft’s CMO, Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek, to #WorkTrends to discuss the nature of remote work right now. The upshot: it’s working. But there’s plenty we can do better. 

Companies need to further support remote working by providing more opportunities and channels for learning, and managers need to empower their employees to have a “growth mindset,” as Michelle said. This conversation should be both “easy to access and rich in delivery,” she added. By doing this, organizations are not only maintaining engagement and culture, they’re also giving their workforce the learning and the means to stay relevant. 

Michelle (who’s known as Michelle B.B.), said Skillsoft has opened up access to Percipio, their immersive online learning platform: 90 days for university students; 60 days for everyone else). And many are taking advantage of the access, including managers, whose hunger for remote strategies is evidenced by the record number of searches on the platform for “collaboration” and “management.” 

While employees are doing their part by finding solutions to improve as remote individuals and teams, managers must also do their part by guiding them through this transition as humanly and empathetically as possible, both Meghan and Michelle concurred. As home life, school, and workplace collide (and combine), being mindful of employees’ emotional well-being is just as key right now. That may mean informal check-ins to increase the connection. And finding out what employees want and need.   

When Meghan asked for Michelle’s perspective on what comes next, Michelle noted that shifting to remote work has taught us that “physical proximity isn’t the only way to connect.” In fact, she noted, we’re becoming more socially connected — both online and offline, and that will likely continue. The challenge and adventure of remote working during this global crisis is a reality shared by so many, she added, and it’s bringing us together. And when we have access to digital learning it’s far easier for us to do our jobs, no matter where we are. 

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

Twitter Chat Questions                                                                                                           

Q1: Why are many organizations struggling with remote work?  #WorkTrends
Q2: How can learning platforms help improve the transition to remote work? 
#WorkTrends
Q3: What can leaders do to help create better remote workplaces? #WorkTrends

Find Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek on Linkedin and Twitter

This recap is sponsored by Skillsoft.

Photo: Andy Kelly

#WorkTrends: The AI-Powered Leadership Coach

If there’s a silver lining to this global pandemic, it may be that we’re all getting a lot more familiar with AI, data and AI-driven analysis. When researchers and policy makers explain the forecasting changes based on a constant influx of new data, we get it. We even have our own favorite go-tos: Poynter, NYT, and Muck Rack among them. 

So when Meghan M. Biro and WorkTrends’ guest Kevin Kruse sat down to talk about the future of work and life, they both touched on the universal sense — at least within HR — that our predictions about leaning on digital tools in the near future are coming true in a way we never could have anticipated. Kevin is the founder and CEO of LEADx — which created the digital leadership tool, Coach Amanda. He’s also passionate about how innovation can improve work cultures. 

Discussing how he saw AI’s potential as a coaching tool, he told Meghan, “I’ve been writing some articles just like everybody around — top tips for leading remote teams … the same tips for leading the teams if they were in the office. It’s just more important than ever before, you know, having a cadence of communication, having authentic leadership, caring about your people.” In other words, it may be a machine, but it has to take a human approach.

Meghan asked him whether or not he thought AI coaches could replace humans. In some cases, Kevin noted, they’re providing coaching for organizations that don’t have the resources or the bandwidth to provide human trainers. But in other cases, they’re a tool that works right alongside — adding value to the leadership already happening. What AI-driven digital leadership coaching provides is a whole platform that covers a lot of bases, including starting someone on their own leadership coaching journey. Coach Amanda is virtually human and an “accountability buddy,” added Kruse, giving others access to the tools they need to become natural leaders themselves.

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

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why do many organizations struggle with leadership coaching? #WorkTrends
Q2: How can AI tools help develop leaders? #WorkTrends
Q3: What can leaders do to help organizations develop better leadership coaching? #WorkTrends

Find Kevin Kruse on Linkedin and Twitter

Photo: Nick Kane

#WorkTrends: How to Make Your Work Culture Rock

What does a person do when the pressure is on them? That’s what NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo asked in his daily press conference on March 26. The same could be asked of our organizations. In her #WorkTrends conversation with workplace culture expert Jim Knight, Meghan M. Biro started by thanking everyone working today — particularly those of you in HR and management who are doing your best to keep your people safe. This is a transformation no one asked for — a sudden and mandatory shift to remote, to flexible schedules, to sitting in kitchens, to navigating new platforms and software, and to trying to virtually and digitally maintain the values of a workplace. What enables that to happen is culture.

Jim built his career as part of the Hard Rock International brand, creating award-winning training programs to catalyze learning and growth. He’s also the author of the bestselling Culture That Rocks: How to Revolutionize Your Company’s Culture

As he and Meghan started jamming on the concept of culture, it was clear they agree that culture is anything but a logo or a color scheme. “It’s always going to be about the people that are currently working in the business at that moment….at the core it starts with each individual with their own unique behaviors, and then when you put them together, if you’ve got similar values and shared experiences, that’s when the culture becomes more robust.”

Meghan pointed out that it’s often a challenge for organizations to find out who their rock stars are — and noted that we often know who the innovators and key players are “in our gut,” aside from the data. Jim added that often, the great ones may be flying right under the radar. Finding them is a matter of looking for those great qualities even before they walk in, and then giving them a culture that brings those to the fore, that celebrates those behaviors.“ Then you can keep them because frankly, they’re a bit in love. And part of that culture has to be wanting to help the world, support the greater good — and be larger than your product or service, both agreed. In other words, your culture has to rock — and that’s when you’ll see people lean into the pressure, take on the challenges, and truly lead.

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

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why do many organizations struggle with creating a great work culture?  #WorkTrends
Q2: What internal and external strategies can improve work cultures? #WorkTrends
Q3: What can leaders do to help organizations improve their work culture? #WorkTrends

Find Jim Knight on Linkedin and Twitter

Photo: Siggy Nowak

#WorkTrends: The Power of Business Readiness

Meghan M. Biro sat down with Tim Minahan, the Executive Vice President of Business Strategy and Chief Marketing Officer at Citrix, for a frank discussion about being ready for anything in your business — including COVID-19. Meghan and our team at TalentCulture have been talking about crisis management and business continuity quite a lot — in another time we might even say business readiness is trending. But the gravity of what’s happening today has thrust the challenge into a whole new light. And what Tim pointed out will likely ring true for many of us: “The thing about unplanned events is that too few companies actually plan for them.”

Sustaining a business through an unprecedented crisis — whether a natural disaster or a global pandemic — requires foresight and frank assessments. It also takes more than thinking in terms of crisis management, Tim and Meghan agreed. To truly scale up, scale down, or simply sustain tremendous pressures takes being solidly prepared. As Meghan noted, “That’s when you really know you don’t have cracks in your company’s foundation, when you can turn around just like that.” What followed included some inspiring real-world examples of how businesses can make themselves ready — for anything that happens. And a few thru-lines to note here: employee experience has to stay front and center of the conversation, a flexible, work-from-anywhere environment is going to be key, and perpetual learning is going to be more important than ever.

This post is sponsored by Citrix 

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

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why do many brands struggle with business readiness?  #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can improve our ability to navigate change? #WorkTrends
Q3: What can leaders do to help organizations improve business readiness? #WorkTrends

Find Tim Minahan on Linkedin and Twitter

Photo: Omar Flores

#WorkTrends: AI, VR, and the Internal Communication Revolution

We’re all suffering from both information overload and information under-load right now. As companies struggle to communicate with their employees and navigate a global health crisis, one thing is crystal clear: communication is rarely as clear and effective as we’d like it to be. In today’s workplace, it’s a challenge we need to overcome yesterday — even in the best of circumstances. But given what’s unfolding, it’s more critical than ever – and could even mean the difference between putting employees at-risk and keeping them safe. 

Meghan M. Biro brought internal communications expert Shel Holtz to #WorkTrends to talk about how to do it better. Shel has been involved in internal communications for decades — and recalled how he’d thought he’d invented the intranet for a moment back in the 90s. But fact is, he’s a pioneer who helps many organizations understand that communication is a whole new ball game now (one that’s not canceled). While countless organizations threw everything into their intranet, that was then. We don’t process or seek information the way we used to — and companies should take a lesson from media outlets.

As Shel said, “The intranet emerged during a day when people were surfing the web and it was new and interesting and fun. But these days people tend to be very task-oriented sitting down at a web page. Otherwise, they’re reading and engaging on their phones. You have to meet people where they are. If you think about the major media outlets… they have their website, but also the app, and a podcast, and they’re tweeting and letting people on Facebook know about the articles they’ve read. We have to adopt this kind of consumer-grade mentality around getting content out to people.”

That also means using technology to better communicate — AI helps drive talk-to-text and transcription apps, powers chatbots, and more. But it can also reveal trends and issues we may miss. Shel recalled a company diversity initiative involving internal referrals that wasn’t getting any traction among employees whatsoever. No one could figure out why. An AI tool was able to find the reason by sifting through all the discussions and emails — and the organization was able to course-correct, clarify, and make the program successful. 

Meghan pointed out that the key to assuring that AI doesn’t cause unease among employees is being upfront about it all. “If we’re being truthful, and transparent with our employees, they are going to appreciate this, and be more likely to adopt and adjust.” We all want a way to do our work better — and that includes how we communicate. But in the end, we can’t be operating behind a curtain, no matter what tools we use. It’s not just how we say it – or being “tool-centric,” as Shel added. It’s about what we say.

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

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why do many brands struggle with internal communications?  #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can improve our strategic communication? #WorkTrends
Q3: What can leaders do to help organizations improve internal communication? #WorkTrends

Find Shel Holtz on Linkedin and Twitter

 

Photo: Constantinos Panagopoulos

#WorkTrends HR + Marketing: Employer Brand Superteam

Meghan M. Biro brought not one but two guests to the #WorkTrends podcast this week: Diane Adams, Sprinklr’s Chief Culture and Talent Officer, and Grad Conn, Sprinklr’s Chief Experience and Marketing Officer. The topic: what happens when HR and marketing really work together on talent strategies. In this case, the result is nothing short of alchemy. The two will be appearing at the upcoming HR Transform conference, later this year. “Creating a Winning Culture Where People Thrive Personally & Professionally.” The #WorkTrends audience got a taste of things to come.

Diane and Grad Conn talked about the approaches they’re using at Sprinklr to attract engage and retain top talent — which openly draws on the best of marketing and HR in order to build a workplace culture that people can be proud of — and are. They shared marketing strategies that cross over from customer engagement to candidate and employee engagement. Brand messaging takes on a whole new meaning when it has to do with the employer — but when your employees are on board, the benefits extend directly to your customers as well.

Diane talked about how they built a dynamic partnership between HR and marketing, establishing values for Sprinklr that drove stellar employee as well as customer experiences. She said, “We referred to it as The Sprinklr Way —  our foundation for how we live, how we work, and how the values of our employees and our company are then transcended externally to our customers. Happy employees, happy customers.” 

“People sometimes think of marketing as just an external function. But you have to sell to your own employees just as much as you need to sell to customers,” Grad pointed out.  

This was a conversation that hit home: employer brand isn’t just an idea, it needs to be a reality in every organization. In this era when your employer brand is only as good as the outside world’s perception, crafting an authentic and appealing culture is a smart business strategy. As Meghan noted, given today’s focus on crafting great workplace cultures, “it all makes sense.” 

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

Twitter Chat Questions 

Q1: Why are some employers losing ground at attracting and engaging talent?  #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can help organizations create a great workplace culture? #WorkTrends
Q3: How can leaders help their organizations better bring in and keep top talent? #WorkTrends

Find Diane Adams on Linkedin and Twitter
Find Grad Conn on Linkedin and Twitter

This post is sponsored by HR Transform.

Photo: NeOn Brand

#WorkTrends: Great Expectations: Living Your Employer Brand

This month TalentCulture has been focusing on how people and companies can learn to do better. Nowhere is that more crucial than in the sphere of employer brands. We’re in an era now where companies don’t have full control over their brand: no matter how they present or package it, the outside world may have a wholly different take that outweighs the best intentions. But an employer brand isn’t just an academic exercise, as Meghan M. Biro noted on the latest #WorkTrends — even if that’s how many companies are approaching it now. 

To better clarify the link between employer brands and profitability, Meghan brought in Debra Ruh, a visionary in the field of employer branding. Ruh founded Ruh Global IMPACT, a firm that focuses on branding as well as digital marketing and global disability inclusion strategies (and more). She’s also the mother of an amazing daughter who inspired Debra to focus on the true essence of diversity, and why we need to embrace human potential right now.

We’re talking about intelligence when we haven’t even decided as a human species what that means,” Debra said.  “The human potential is there. We really need to rethink what we mean by that — and stop deciding that certain people don’t belong in the workforce.”  By doing so, she added, companies are shortchanging the power of true diversity — a proven driver of higher levels of innovation and performance. Witness companies like Amazon, Barclays and Atos, who are bringing people with disabilities into their workforce, and programmatically expanding their commitment to inclusion, with strong business results. By so doing, they’re also shifting the perception of what their brand truly stands for. They’re not just talking the talk, they’re walking it.

What’s key, Meghan noted, is understanding all the touchpoints involved in a brand, and who really controls it. The days of grumbling in public and getting a cease and desist are over — in a sense, the brand is now owned by those who perceive it. And its fate has more to do with that, and with the perception of market influencers, than the company itself. But our expectations are higher than ever, both agreed. “We want our brands — especially the brands that we work for — to stand for more,” Debra said. Tune into this great conversation to find out how to shift a brand into a desirable, authentic, diverse culture. And have faith: it’s never too late to course-correct.

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

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why are some employers failing at becoming an employer of choice?  #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can help organizations become an employer of choice? #WorkTrends
Q3: How can leaders help their organizations live their employer brand? #WorkTrends

Find Debra Ruh on Linkedin and Twitter

Photo: Adi Goldstein

#WorkTrends: Why Companies Need to Value a Great Candidate Experience

Ever since the Talent Board started researching candidate experience, at least some employers have been paying more attention to improving the applicant’s journey. Applying to a company can unearth all sorts of issues — including what #WorkTrends guest Kevin W. Grossman calls the “black hole of candidate experience.” 

This was a tete-a-tete between two colleagues that insisted on keeping the conversation looking forward not back. To get out of the morasse of a bad candidate experience, companies are going to need to truly step up and place a higher premium on better CX — and we’re claiming that moniker to stand for all the candidates out there trying to connect with the employer of their dreams. 

Kevin, who’s a longtime TalentCulture Community friend and President and a Board Member of the Talent Board, dug into the Talent Board’s latest research report, including its good news: more candidates are happier about their experience overall and would be willing to increase their relationship with that brand, whether as an employee or a consumer (you can’t think of one without the other). But there was less-than-good news as well, including a vexing rise in the “resentment rate” — with candidates so disgruntled they don’t want anything to do with a brand anymore, whether it means applying to work there or using its products, or both. A big takeaway: in work, as in life, we really do put our money where our mindset is, and vice-versa.

Chief among common hiring infractions these days are the automated, generic, “sorry you’re not right for the position” messages, which are the wrong way to leverage technology, or not providing any responses at all — which Meghan noted was inexcusable for recruiters today. But the two focused on the positives, including brands getting it right, such as recent CandE award winners Walgreens and Kronos, and innovative ways employers are keeping the connection going with candidates. Frequent and well-considered communication, chatbots, feedback — it’s all good, they noted. And when it works, the value for companies goes well beyond a single happy hire.    

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

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why are some employers failing at candidate experience?  #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can help organizations create a better candidate experience? #WorkTrends
Q3: How can leaders help their organizations value candidate experience? #WorkTrends

Find Kevin Grossman on Linkedin and Twitter

 

Photo: Razvan Chisu

#WorkTrends: The Journey to a Great Employer Brand

#WorkTrends host Meghan M. Biro sat down with employer brand expert Susan LaMotte to talk about the power of great employer brands — and why every organization needs to assess whether their own employer brand conveys the essence or the eh of the company. Susan, the Founder and CEO of exaqueo, has worked with an incredible range of organizations, from chicken dinners (Boston Market) to communications (T-Mobile) to education (Princeton University) to the empire-sized CVS Health. With all, though, she guides companies to get to their heart and soul. Anything less isn’t going to attract talent or engage employees, she noted.

Companies spend incredible energy and people power on marketing, but CMOs and their teams are focused on customers, Susan said. And forging a great employer brand takes focusing on employees — but using some of the same strategies: research and more research. Learning everything about employee’s values, needs, behaviors, life in and outside of the workforce is all a part of it, and so is enlisting everyone, every stakeholder, to be part of the effort. And the most important part of the employer brand? “Consistency,” Susan said. “On the marketing side, we look at the attributes of a product and then we settle on the strongest ones that are most important to our customers to build our brand on. We should do the same thing on the employer brand side as well.”

“You hear that, everybody?” Meghan said. “That is absolutely the word of the day.” 

The two discussed the importance of listening — how it’s too easy for executives to overlook complaints or concerns from employees. They talked about candidate experience as well — and agreed that the candidate experience, in fact, is part of the employer brand. “We’ve got this continuous sense that everybody is connected to the lifecycle, the brand, the outcome, the rest of the world,” Meghan said, underscoring that brand meaning isn’t static, but dynamic. It’s every interaction, Susan concurred, even from the first time a candidate hears your brand name: That initial contact “gives them a perspective,” she said. “You’re branding from the first moment.” And as leaders, she added, “that’s what we have to pay attention to.”

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

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why aren’t some brands better at discovering their employer brand?  #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can help organizations better create their employer brand? #WorkTrends
Q3: How can leaders shape a powerful, authentic employer brand? #WorkTrends

Find Susan LaMotte on Linkedin and Twitter

Photo: Utsav Srestha

#WorkTrends: Email Still Matters: Etiquette for Today’s Users

Here’s a term for you: email brick. It’s that dense blob of text in an email that starts at the top and doesn’t come up for air until the end. No line breaks, paragraphs or bullet points, and often, no readers. We tend to avoid reading those emails, eyeing them warily and opting to get back to them later. Much of the time, we don’t. 

When #WorkTrends host Meghan M. Biro got to talking with email etiquette expert Bruce Mayhew, it was soon apparent that we’re emailing each other all wrong. Bruce is President of Bruce Mayhew Consulting (BMC), a corporate trainer, executive coach, expert on productivity and generational differences, and passionate advocate of emailing better.

90% of our communication is done by email, and the email brick is just one of many sins we commit. Others include incoherent subject lines, putting the main idea down at the end of the message and, on the receiving end, answering emails too quickly. On that last point, Meghan asked for a best practice. “I could spend three hours a day in constant communication back and forth, just trying to do the right thing and respond,” she said.

Don’t do it, Bruce answered. “If you train your audience that you respond to an email in 10 minutes,” they will start expecting it every time. “You end up playing Whac-A-Mole with your inbox.” Our time management gets derailed along with other priorities, too.

Problem is, we learned to write and then learned how to email, he noted, and these are very different forms. He shared three simple tips for writing emails worth opening: put your main point in the first sentence, use bullet points, and write a clear subject line with enough information to indicate exactly what’s going on in the message. 5-7 words usually does the trick he said. Don’t start with “Hey, quick question.”

The underlying reason to clean up our emails isn’t just housekeeping, it’s trust. Sending emails that hit the sweet spot boost personal credibility, he said. They set up a positive feedback loop faster than you can say dopamine high. The next time we see an email from the conscientious sender, we open it. We look forward to it, thinking this person knows what they’re talking about — which goes miles in improving that relationship. 

“Email still counts, and it’s the way we’re all communicating,” Meghan reminded the audience. Time to practice those bullet points.

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

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why are we failing at email etiquette? #WorkTrends
Q2: What techniques can help us write better email? #WorkTrends
Q3: How can leaders help employees get better at emailing? #WorkTrends

Find Bruce Mayhew on Linkedin and Twitter

Photo: Miguel A. Amutio

#WorkTrends: Acing the Metrics: Reading the Data on Engagement

Sometimes a #WorkTrends episode answers a trending question so clearly it’s as if we never have to ask the question again. That’s what happened when Meghan M. Biro sat down with Leila Zayed of Best Companies Group to talk about measuring engagement. The January 31, 2020, #WorkTrends podcast quickly went from whether or not we should measure engagement to the best strategies and benchmarks for understanding your workforce like never before. 

Leila works with companies of all shapes, sizes and industries to survey their employees on engagement, and pointed out that you can’t tell if your employees are engaged if you don’t know what engagement is — and once you know what it is, you can’t find out if you’ve got it if you don’t know how to take measurements. Engagement, Meghan and Leila agreed, has to do with not only being satisfied with your employer, but really looking forward to going to work — with having a sense of meaning, purpose, and pride. “They feel you’ve created an environment where they can do their best, they’re willing to give extra efforts to see you succeed, and they plan on staying a while,” Leila added. Another sign of engagement they both agreed on: employees will recommend your brand to a loved one.

Meghan noted that Leila’s approach — measuring two sets of demographics — made far more sense than an all-in-one-bucket approach. Personal demographics include our individual identities and perspectives; workplace demographics are out of employees’ control, like department, brand and locations. The question came up about whether small companies can survey engagement effectively: “Talk to us about how this approach can work for organizations of any size,” Meghan said. 

Actually, Leila offered, it can, even with a company of 15 employees. 

Whatever the size, she said, the key is going outside your own company to compare yourself to other companies in the industry — or you won’t really know how you’re doing. And the more companies doing these engagement surveys, the more data we’re getting, and the more specific the benchmarks get. 

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

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why aren’t we better at measuring engagement? #WorkTrends
Q2: What measurements work for assessing engagement? #WorkTrends
Q3: What strategies can help organizations better measure engagement? #WorkTrends

Find Leila Zayed on Linkedin and Twitter

Photo: Kevin Ku

#WorkTrends: The Human Impact of Data Literacy

Jordan Morrow joined Meghan M. Biro for this #WorkTrends podcast sponsored by Qlik. The topic: data literacy. It may sound simple enough, but it’s far from it.

Meghan notes that 60% to 73% of all enterprise data is never analyzed. “Data remains a value that’s trapped by our own lack of understanding,” she said as she introduced Jordan. As global head of Data Literacy at Qlik and Chair of the Advisory Board for the Data Literacy Project, Jordan has long been involved in studying data literacy and had a lot to say about why we aren’t using data the way we could — or should.

Citing recent findings from a Qlik/Accenture report on the human impact of data literacy, Jordan explained why organizations around the globe miss countless opportunities because their employees aren’t trained to better use data. The report found that just 21% of the global working population are fully confident in their data literacy skills. In other words, the data on data literacy is pretty clear. There’s a huge productivity gap caused by our lack of data literacy.

In part, Jordan pointed out, we don’t know how to use data because we either think it needs to be isolated from any human experience, or we’d rather just go with the human experience and leave out the data. The truth is, we need both, he said. “To realize true potential with data, you need to combine the human element with the data and technology element.” 

“We’ve got a long way to go,” Meghan said, and asked Jordan if our current state of data illiteracy surprises him. He said it doesn’t. He’s been watching this evolution for years, and he believes that we’re way behind in terms of how we educate our young talent, not to mention students in schools. And of course, both agreed that data literacy should be taught in schools.

In general, we need to stop worrying about people making mistakes as they learn to use data. Curiosity, creativity and critical thinking all have to be developed from a young age, Jordan said, and then we’ll be on our way.

“Let them muddy the puddle,” he says. It’s all part of embracing technology, embracing change, and becoming comfortable with this new way of approaching information. And it will certainly get us to the future of work faster.

What’s at stake?
[23:19] Data and analytics is not going to slow down. So companies that want to succeed in the future have to embrace data literacy. They have to, so you have to have those skills.

Listen to the full conversation. And don’t forget to subscribe to the #WorkTrends podcast, so you don’t miss an episode!

 

You can find Jordan Morrow on Linkedin and Twitter