Posts

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

Photo: Jakob Owens

#WorkTrends: The Empathy Gap

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky, CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts, joined host Meghan M. Biro for the January 17, 2020 #WorkTrends podcast. The topic:  Disasters of the workplace kind.

Dr. Tsipursky is a consultant, cognitive neuroscientist and expert on behavioral economics. Noting that we’re still suffering from an epidemic of disengagement, he pointed to one glaring omission in workplace culture: empathy. Empathy is critical to a successful workforce, Meghan agreed — while noting that disengagement is absolutely a disaster in the workplace.

Gleb’s take on the lack of empathy is that it stems from something deep-seated in all of us: cognitive bias.

“The empathy gap is one of the biggest cognitive biases out there and one of the worst causes of employee disengagement,” he said, noting that research shows that 80% to 90% of our decisions are determined by our emotions. “But if you look at HR material, if you look at internal communication, it’s very rational, very logical.”

Meghan concurred. “Why are HR leaders not able to deal with employee emotions in an effective way? Where’s this disconnect?” she asked.

Gleb said that two disconnects are at work:
First, the false perception that work doesn’t involve emotions and the workplace isn’t a place for feelings. And second, there’s general discomfort among many of us in dealing with emotions.

“There’s no ’emotional unit,'” He explained. “Even though emotions are incredibly important, HR professionals aren’t comfortable with things they can’t quantify.”

Gleb recounted some examples he’s encountered as a consultant where focusing on emotions makes a key difference in performance as well as engagement. “Even engineers have emotions,” he joked. But it’s a good point. There’s a lot we can all do to improve how we deal with the “feeling” side of work life. Ultimately, that’s how we’ll all get more work done.  

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

Key takeaway: [05:16] Even though emotions are incredibly important, HR professionals aren’t comfortable with things they can’t quantify.

Find Gleb Tsipursky on Linkedin and Twitter

 

#WorkTrends: Why Employee Engagement is a Joke

Mark Babbitt, President of WorqIQ, joined #WorkTrends host Meghan M. Biro on January 10, 2020 to discuss key issues surrounding employee engagement.

Meghan introduced the topic by noting that only half of all employees feel like they have a career. Mark expanded on this fact, suggesting that we’ve turned employee engagement from a good idea into a joke because engagement levels remain the same as they were in the 1980s. “With eight million blog posts and hundreds of experts on this subject, why have we not fixed anything?” he asked.

Mark is a colleague of Meghan’s and a longtime friend of TalentCulture. He’s also the president of WorqIQ, a community and change management consultancy, and CEO and founder of YouTern, a career site for college students and young professionals.

Mark’s upcoming book is Good Comes First: How Companies Can Create an Uncompromising Company Culture in a Confrontational World. And he’s one of Inc.’s Top 100 Leadership Speakers. Which means he’s been tracking the story of employee engagement for a long time.

“The data proves that employee engagement is a myth,” he said. “We have spent 30-plus years discussing this. Organizations and governments have spent billions of dollars on ’employee engagement’ and we have had zero impact. Every poll out there tells us that we haven’t moved the needle one bit. That employees are either disengaged or actively disengaged.” The two set-out to uncover what might actually undo the impasse. What they found is changing the game entirely.

Random Acts of Leadership

The problem is that we can’t manipulate engagement, Mark said, “Engagement is a human process.” Meghan suggested a shift to thinking about experience — so long as it’s really about people. True, Mark noted. Experience has to be a factor from the employee’s perspective. Without being able to determine and report their own experience and weigh-in on the impact of leadership, organizational values, benefits and more, an employee has no voice. This means employee/employer relationship isn’t really a mutually beneficial relationship, it’s really only unilateral management. 

What would shift the balance? “Random Acts of Leadership,” as Mark puts it. In other words, leaders actually need to walk up to employees and ask real questions, like “What are you working on today? How can I help? What resources can I push in your direction? What are your obstacles to success?” Conversations like this move the needle far more than any tools, he said. Also it helps when leaders sit down for a cup of coffee with people in intimate settings. It’s important to be real and be human.

Workplace Intelligence

Beyond simply improving employee experience, it’s important to achieve workplace intelligence, according to Mark. But Meghan cautioned, “Let’s just make sure it’s not just another buzzword.” Mark agreed, and explained that it’s a tangible stack of 5 workplace factors:

  • The most dominant leadership style that people deal with every day
  • The organization’s culture and climate
  • Purpose-driven performance
  • Employee engagement/experience, but entirely redefined
  • A sense of community

All of these define a workplace that attracts people, Mark said. “When I go to work today I feel like this is where I belong.”

Next, Meghan asked Mark to share his predictions on the future of work — a signature question on #WorkTrends — he got serious. He said he things the future depends on a new breed of leader: More compassionate, less command-and-control.

“Leaders will realize that employees recognize the need to take time for ourselves, our children, our elderly parents. It’s going to be so retro that it will almost seem revolutionary.”

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

Transcript Excerpt:

[04:34} They didn’t have leaders that cared. They didn’t build mutually beneficial relationships with employees. They just started manipulating. They got this little software program that said, “Oh it’s Becky’s five year anniversary. Go say congratulations.”

Mark Babbitt on Linkedin and Twitter

Photo: Kobu Agency

#WorkTrends: Insider Secrets to Making Great Hires

Our guest on #WorkTrends this week is Chad Fife is the VP of Marketing for Talview. He’s an entrepreneur and global marketing leader in Ed tech, HR software, and SaaS, with experience building $10M-260M businesses and bringing innovative products and programs to market with early adopters. 

Chad’s got a unique perspective: he’s a hiring insider who’s fluent in tech as well as marketing — but he’s never lost his passion for finding standout talent. We discussed how to make hires that thrive and help your company thrive — and how to engage the new generation coming into the workplace right now. He shared a few stories of his own on hiring successes and not-so-successes, and two must-know hiring secrets as well.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. And don’t forget to subscribe, so you never miss an episode. 

[06:52] 72% of job seekers say they need to understand a company’s work culture before accepting an offer

[10:45] I think the second reason why you need to hire someone with passion over skill, is because they have something called the R Word. They’re going to have resilience. 

(23:45) With video interviews, there’s a way to change an algorithm that’s so much easier than changing a person’s mindset that’s been in a job hiring people for 20 or 30 or 10 years. 

Talview’s Chad Fife talked to us about what factors really work for hiring today — and weighed in on the endless debate between hiring for skills and hiring for passion. Spoiler alert: his very astute response on this may close the book on that question for good. As VP of Marketing for Talview, he’s been involved in the intersection of tech, marketing and hiring for long enough to qualify for true insider status in our book. Here’s what he had to say:

High-Pressure Hiring

The hiring climate is tougher than ever — the tech sector leads industries as far as turnover rate at 13.2%, and among employees age 25 or less, the general turnover rate is 8%. So we need to hire more and we need to hire better — and that means leveraging all the innovations we can. Further, a lot of teams are becoming remote: and Chad himself is managing a substantial one via a combination of digital tools and understanding how best to adapt to different communication styles. He also spoke candidly about his own hiring process: he just made a remote hire that is really changing how he thinks about proximity versus excellence. He goes with the best now, not the nearest. 

The R-Word

Talking about passion over skill, Chad advocates for passion, citing the R-Word — resilience — a quality today’s workforce needs to have plenty of.  “I love more tactile definition of this word, which is able to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching or being compressed,” Chad said. “We don’t think of our work life like that, bringing it back into shape, but every time there’s a deadline, every time we have a conversation with our boss, every time we have a customer that says they’re thinking about leaving you … every time you look at your whatever goal paradigm you have, OKR’s, KPI’s, whatever … you need to be able to bounce back the next day, the next week, the next hour.”

Real-Life True Tales

Sharing examples of what makes a good hire, Chad explained the value in hiring someone because they’re clearly passionate about their work, and hiring someone based on a clear picture of who they are. And that picture is gleaned from a whole range of different channels, using skills and behavioral digital assessments, and getting a sense of who they are from social media. Even Twitter can convey potential fit, he explained: “I could tell just by looking at their social media, just the presence they had, tweets, what they talked about. I could tell they would fit our company.” Another indispensable tool for the global, remote age of hiring: video. Creating job preview videos not only gives potential candidates a great feel for the job, it may also separate the wheat from the chaff by clarifying exactly what the job entails. And that is going to make everyone’s lives easier, not least of all for the hiring team.

There’s a lot of great intel in this podcast with Chad that I think you’ll really enjoy. It’s a great way to kick off the new year. 

Resources Mentioned in this #WorkTrends Episode

Chad Fife on Linkedin and Twitter

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

#WorkTrends: Solving a 7 Trillion Dollar Problem

Our guest on #WorkTrends today is Calvin Hsu, the VP of Product Marketing at Citrix. A self-described right-brain technologist, he’s passionate about aligning people, technology and business to deliver an amazing employee experience. The key is a digital work environment that’s streamlined, engaging and — behind the scenes — secure. 

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. And don’t forget to subscribe, so you never miss an episode. 

[04:15] We don’t need to fix the individual application’s relationship to the person, we need to fix the person’s relationship to all of their applications.

[07:38] There’s definitely this gap in the industry between the people who make the technology and the people who tell other people what it does and why they want it. 

[15:39] You need to be able to have a broad system that’s collecting accurate information about your behavior and that really does understand you.

[20:55] The person is still the center of creativity and innovation and how the work gets done, but they could be leveraging technology in a more personal way.

Today, we’re talking to Calvin Hsu from Citrix about bringing together technology, people and business to fix a very expensive problem: $7 trillion in lost output. Hsu is the VP of Product Marketing at Citrix, and is part of an exciting new kind of digital workspace and a transformed employee experience. The company just announced they’ve added new features within the Citrix® Workspace™ — such as the intelligent feed and personalized workflows. So it’s a great time to have this conversation. 

If you happened to catch Hsu’s presentation at the recent Citrix Synergy event, you know he’s deeply involved — you might even say obsessed — with providing organizations with a digital workspace that does away with the hyper-siloed, apps-by-the-dozen experience in favor of one that’s seamless, aligned with business objectives and more secure. Hsu is a technologist with a difference: he started out as an English major, of all things, and has never lost his love of story. And if there’s a story to his work at Citrix, it’s a through-line of creativity, but with a clear belief that if you’re not aligned with business objectives, the innovation isn’t doing what it should.  

Application Overload

Hsu pointed out that spending $7 trillion on applications that actually thwart engagement experience and output is nobody’s fault. “When we drop a number like that, everyone covers their mouth and says, ‘Oh geez, did I do that?’’ But it’s more the natural outcome of how we’ve built technology for decades — application by application, upgrade by upgrade. This siloed thinking has resulted in employees using some 30 or 40 different applications and digital tools on any given day, and without question, that can be exhausting. On any given day, the average employee spends nearly 65% of their time on busy work and in meetings, 20% searching for information and just 15% doing what they want and are paid to do.

People Are the Center of Experience

Hsu discussed the need to shift from a jigsaw puzzle of applications to a cohesive workspace — and how a discussion with a customer made him think about how we use technology.  “He was one of the earlier customers … deploying enterprise applications and really actively measuring people’s satisfaction and how much they would recommend it to their coworkers,” Hsu recalled. When the subject of metrics came up, the customer said he wouldn’t use them, as he knew his employees would hate it. Putting people and focusing on experience is vital — but it also changes the game in terms of tech.

Getting Security Right

Of course with countless users on a digital platform, security is tantamount. But security needs to smarten up, Hsu said. He brought up credit card fraud protection — in which the credit card company collects data about your habits and behaviors, and then mistakenly decides that if you’re in a new country or buying something different, something must be wrong. The company puts a hold on the card based on this false positive, and the customer is furious. It’s critical that security measures applied to digital workspaces be based on broader and smarter criteria. And that’s just as important in terms of delivering a seamless experience as the rest of the platform.

In my conversation with Hsu we covered so much ground, including his take on the future of work. The future of work needs less digital noise and no more meaningless tasks —and that’s what’s happening now, as he pointed out. This is an intelligent digital workspace that really provides employees with the personalized experience they need to be their most productive and do the work that matters. That’s what we all want, I’d say. I think you’ll find Hsu’s perspective just as interesting as I did.

Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

Calvin Hsu on Linkedin and Twitter

This episode is sponsored by Citrix.

Photo by Florian Krumm on Unsplash

#WorkTrends: Harnessing Technology to Lead, Innovate, and Win

For all our best intentions and aspirations to better harness tech, we’re not always following through. A recent report by Ceridian found that while companies are adopting tech to take actions that will ensure long-term success, half of those surveyed say they struggle with “rapid tech development.” In some cases, the questions simple simply what to use and how to use it. And a successful model and a roadmap can certainly help. 

Our guest on #WorkTrends this week is definitely a man with a plan: Patrick Antrim, the Founder and CEO of Multifamily Leadership, LLC, is a former ballplayer for the NY Yankees who switched careers and brought the team’s invaluable wisdom with him. He’s passionate about giving businesses both the means and approach to win using technology as an integral part of the overall strategy.  We discussed the unprecedented disruptions and change happening in business today, and how leaders can deploy technology to engage employees and customers, and build a culture of innovation and feedback that gets you to the front of the pack. 

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. And don’t forget to subscribe, so you never miss an episode. 

[04:48] The consumers that are buying and interacting with our business, they’re expecting things at such a fast pace.
05:33] What’s important about the Airbnb model is that it’s the seamless experience, all from an app.
[08:24] the Yankees do a great job of understanding how to build a culture, how to build a legacy, how to keep that legacy
[19:45] if you’re asking for innovation in your business you really need people to take risks

The Future of Work Really is Right Now

Patrick Antrim, the CEO of multifamilyleadership.com, happens to be a good friend of our community, and I’m thrilled to have him back. Organizations now are trying to figure out how to take the leap with technology to meet new employee and customer expectations. Gen Z coming into the workplace means some 61 million new hires who are used to functioning via digital tools and mobile. Organizations who aren’t up on tech are justifiably nervous about attracting and engaging them. It’s no longer a question of when the workplace transforms. It’s now. So how can companies “futureproof” themselves?

Disruptions to One Industry Spread to Others

The multifamily rental industry has undergone incredible upheaval due to Airbnb. The Airbnb model provides a seamless experience, all in one single app. It’s also one of the world’s largest hoteliers, but it doesn’t own any real estate, as Patrick pointed out. “The business model that people are operating in is fundamentally changing,” he said. Another profound disruption: Uber, which has turned the taxi industry upside down. “What’s important about that process is the customer expectation of how things are going to talk to each other,” Patrick notes — from strangers making transactions to payment, underwriting and access. “It’s really the seamless process that customers of tomorrow appreciate — a technology that makes life easier for them,” Patrick said. But many industries are innovating and changing processes to meet this new reality head on. They’re not waiting for their own industry version of Airbnb to innovate now.

An iPhone Approach to Onboarding and HR Processes

People expect a seamless experience — and outside of your business they usually have one. Consider the iPhone, Patrick said: “We buy an iPhone, we open the box, and it works — we don’t need to have a webinar on it. We don’t need to have somebody to meet with us to talk to us about how it works.” That same intuitive approach should influence how companies refine their onboarding and HR processes, particularly as the next generation come into legacy organizations and face legacy processes. Having to log into 15 different applications, let alone download a PDF form, sign it, scan it and email it back is cumbersome, and can create damaging friction and disengagement.

Leading by Audio Text

But improving employee experience via tech doesn’t have to be overcomplicated. Patrick listed simple but  effective tools, including one he uses constantly — audio texts. As he explained, “If you can just hold the record button down and say, hey, here’s a great idea I had, and I’d love for you to be involved in helping us make this thing happen. What are your thoughts?” Then, he continued, send a text with an audio attachment. “It’s great because it’s not a voicemail. You don’t have to log in,” he added. Another strategy that’s simply a matter of common sense: if you’re not great at technology, bring in a company that is, and has already spent the time and energy finding the right approach so you don’t have to. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to reinvent your employee and customer experience, in other words. It’s all at our fingertips right now.

Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

Patick Antrim on Linkedin and Twitter
Patrick Antrim’s organization, Multifamily Leadership

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

#WorkTrends: The Importance of Second Chances

Our guest on #WorkTrends this week is Michelle Cirocco, the Chief Responsibility Officer of the sales and marketing technology firm Televerde. She is responsible for extending Televerde’s business model to disempowered populations. We discussed criminal reform and its impact on the workforce, eliminating bias in the hiring process, and how organizations can connect with, and potentially hire, individuals with criminal records.  

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. And don’t forget to subscribe, so you never miss an episode. 

[2:33] We were founded 25 years ago based on the idea that by providing women in prison with jobs, training, and education while they were incarcerated 
[7:42] There’s 70 million people in our country that have a criminal record
[09:49] There is a big movement for organizations to take a pledge. It’s called the Getting Talent Back to Work pledge, and it’s a very simple, easy thing for anybody who is involved in talent acquisition to do. 

Today, we’re talking to Televerde’s Michelle Cirocco about how we can extend diversity and inclusion to everyone. Michelle Cirocco is the Chief Responsibility Officer of Televerde, a business-to-business marketing and sales outsourcing firm. This is Michelle’s story.

An Unusual Business Model 

To an outsider, Televerde sounds like a typical business-to-business demand generation firm. They provide sales and marketing support for small businesses to some of the largest technology firms in the world. What sets Televerde apart is its approach to staffing. Televerde’s leaders founded the organization the idea of giving incarcerated women with jobs, training, and education. At the end of their sentence, Televerde helps the women reacclimate by employing them at their organization or helping them find work through a job placement program. 

A Second Chance 

Twenty years ago, after she served six years in prison, Televerde hired Michelle. She was their fortieth employee. Televerde has worked with more than 3,000 incarcerated women over their twenty-five years in business. In their Phoenix, Arizona, corporate headquarters, forty percent of the employees started their career while incarcerated. Televerde offers these women a chance at a career without facing bias because of their past.  

The Conversation Around Diversity and Inclusion

According to Michelle, “We face what’s going to be one of the biggest talent gaps ever in the history of the world.” The number of available jobs outnumbers the workforce by more than one million people. So, organizations need to consider new options to fill the talent gaps.  

Untapped Resources 

Michelle says more than 70 million people in the United States have a criminal record. Criminal records indicates a conviction of some type of a misdemeanor or a felony. A criminal record might immediately remove a candidate from the recruitment process. If organizations want to fill empty jobs, they need to rethink the way they hire. As Baby Boomers retire, the talent pool shrinks and recruiters have fewer viable candidates. 

Give Qualified Candidates a Chance

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) created a toolkit of resources and research for HR professionals. SHRM launched the Getting Talent Back to Work Pledge. Organizations that take this promise say they will give all qualified candidates a chance at employment. 

The first step to eliminating bias, Michelle says, is to “ban the box.” The concept is simple. Recruiters do not ask potential employees if they have been convicted of a felony until later in the hiring process. That way, individuals can make it through the first round of recruitment without being immediately disqualified.  

I think you’ll be fascinated my Michelle’s take on diversity, inclusion, and this untapped workforce. 

Resources Mentioned in this #WorkTrends Episode

Michelle Cirocco on Linkedin and Twitter
SHRM’s Getting Talent Back to Work pledge

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

#WorkTrends: Taking Stock of the Global State of Work

Our guest on #WorkTrends today is Mr. Hung Lee, the co-founder and CEO of the recruiting firm Workshape.io. He’s also the founder of the mega-newsletter, Recruiting BrainFood. We discussed the global state of recruiting and the workplace, how the upheaval of Brexit will affect European and British tech firms and workers, and my new favorite subject — the passion economy.   

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. And don’t forget to subscribe, so you never miss an episode. 

[02:44] Brainfood is a once a week curated newsletter I send out to a global audience. 
[03:29] It’s very clear that there are some universal challenges that all of us are facing.
[04:46] With Brexit, obviously it’s a hugely divisive issue, you know, people are losing friends, family, et cetera, as a result of all of this.
[09:56] A lot of the criticism that I’m seeing from recruiters about technology stems from an overestimation of the capability of the tech.

Today, we’re talking to Mr. Hung Lee about the global state of work. Hung Lee is the co-founder and CEO of the recruiting firm Workshape.io, but you may be more familiar with him as the founder of the weekly newsletter, Recruiting Brainfood.

Challenges in Global Recruiting

Hung wears a lot of hats at Workshape, from business ops to customer success and user support to making the tea. He’s definitely one to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty. But that’s also a reflection of his global, democratized perspective on the challenges we all face in HR. He’s based in London but says that given the fact that many organizations are global, we’re sharing the same issues — whether you’re in New York, Kiev, or Melbourne. People everywhere are struggling to interact with the highly skilled, he says. We’re talking about the in-demand talent, the ones who have digital skills, software skills, and data science types.

Realistic Expectations for Tech

Emerging tech in HR can cause controversy. We saw it recently in a story about HireVue, which has its own AI system that analyzes candidates’ facial expressions, word choices, etc. As Hung notes, “I think people are genuinely quite disturbed at automated decision making.” So, a lot of the criticism that I’m seeing from recruiters about technology stems really from an overestimation of the capability of the tech.” Setting realistic expectations will help in the acceptance of new HR tech, he believes.

The Impact of Brexit on Recruiting

The European Union and Britain are certainly at a crossroads, and Brexit has thrown everything off balance. Hung confirms that Brexit’s a hugely divisive issue: People are losing friends and family as a result, he says. It may also cut off recruiters in London from highly-skilled talent sources throughout the European Union. And this could have a crippling effect on a lot of tech firms in the UK.

The Explosion of the Passion Economy

I asked Hung to look into his crystal ball and give me his thoughts on the future of work. One of his predictions is the growth of the Passion Economy. “You’re going to see people that are very passionate about certain topics and produce some type of content, where their passion really is their competitive advantage and build a clear following doing it,” he says. 

We’ve all seen it: those creating online communities around their particular passion. They’re everywhere — on YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn. Hung describes this as the Tim Ferris or Joe Rogan business model. And, he predicts, the Passion Economy is only going to keep growing.

I think you’ll find Hung’s take on the global state of work as interesting as I did.

Resources Mentioned in this Episode:
Hung Lee on Linkedin and Twitter
Hung Lee’s Newsletter, Recruiting Brainfood

Photo by Natasha Connell on Unsplash

#WorkTrends: Ageism and Its Impact on the Modern Worker

Good news for employees, but kind of concerning for employers. In the coming months, the Supreme Court could make it easier for federal employees to prove that they were discriminated against on the basis of age. I saw some fascinating research in Forbes recently that shows ageism starts as early as the age of forty-two. Forty-two?

We deal with isms today in the workplace, but we don’t tend to focus enough on ageism. Not only that, I think a lot of us don’t even know exactly what it is. Here’s what it is, a brutal truth, as our guest, Vinay Singh, says in his new book, “Your Future in Pieces. The Brutal Truth: How Ageism and Inequality are Destroying America.”

I’m delighted to have Vinay as our guest today, he’s not only an expert on ageism, but he’s also experienced it firsthand, and alarmingly, says, “Today’s workers feel the brunt of it younger than ever.” So let’s get into the realities of ageism and how we can undo this vexing problem, remove the bias, and hopefully protect our employees. The shelf life of a robot is one thing, but the shelf life of a human is an entirely different topic.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. And don’t forget to subscribe, so you never miss an episode. 

[00:32] America is at a crossroads.
[06:42] Do you think ageism is on the rise because there’s a divide between the tech-savvy and the tech-nervous?
[07:43] Everybody is constantly using technology.
[09:14] It’s a huge impact.

It’s illegal to discriminate against people based on their age.

Most of us understand that it’s against the law to discriminate against someone based on the number of years they’ve spent on this planet, but as my guest tells us, “Here’s the brutal truth: ageism exists and we’re all feeling its impact earlier than ever. Essentially it’s one of those isms we just aren’t talking about enough.”

Vinay Singh is a human capital and workforce development strategist and advocacy professional, and author of a new book, “Your Future in Pieces. The Brutal Truth: How Ageism and Inequality are Destroying America.” His passion comes from both his professional life and personal experience. And he’s got a lot to tell us.

America is at a crossroads today

“We’ve got four generations in the workforce and too many employers and executives who are buying into false beliefs and biases.” The data around age discrimination is alarming. Research published by Hiscox shows that 21% of US workers age forty and older have experienced discrimination in the workplace due to their age, and respondents stated they believe they’re most likely to experience it at age fifty-one. Moreover, workers over the age of forty are perceived by their younger counterparts to be resistant to change and learning new skills, difficult to manage, and don’t understand technology.

Is Ageism on the Rise Because Older People Have an Aversion to Tech?

Is there a real divide between the tech-savvy and tech-nervous? Not so, according to Singh.” “We’re all technical. We all know how to use smartphones. Grandparents know how to use technology just like young people do.”

The impact of age discrimination on the economy

The impact on the economy is vast. According to Hiscox, ageism is creating a range of hazards for employers, including discrimination lawsuits, demotivated employees, and the lost opportunity costs associated with devaluing older workers. All of this hurts the bottom line, which, in turn, hurts the economy.

A new career forged from personal experience

In my conversation with Singh, he dove into his own experience with age discrimination, which started when he was about forty-three and working in a recruiting agency. It continued when he was looking for a new position and was told repeatedly that he was overqualified. Suffice to say this is happening to thousands of others, according to Singh. The next step, naturally, was to write a book.

How to retool and reinvent yourself after age discrimination

It’s not like age discrimination is going to stop overnight. We clearly have a long way to go. So what does someone who has experienced ageism do? Singh emphasizes the value of focusing on your LinkedIn profile. “That’s the business social media. That’s where employers are going to first and foremost to hire you,” he says. “Maybe HR looks at the other things, the other social media later on, but they are looking at your LinkedIn profile.”

He also recommends using the right industry buzzwords, keywords that convey your skills, creating an obvious digital presence, a professional photo for your avatar, and a compelling image for your banner. Why the banner image? It helps draw attention to your profile and shows you’re paying attention. Singh also recommends creating a vanity URL that’s catchy and tells people what you do. His is Vinay People Strategist, by the way.

One more tip from this veteran: stay in school, get those certifications, be as multi-disciplined as possible, and try to stay cutting edge. “And always be thinking this way, “ he said. “because if you’re not, your competition is.”

Well worth a listen, no matter what your age.

Resources Mentioned in this Episode:
Vinay Singh on Linkedin and Twitter
Vinay Singh’s new book: “Your Future in Pieces. The Brutal Truth: How Ageism and Inequality are Destroying America.
How to reach Vinay Singh: Vinay12 at opt online dot net.

Photo by Rajshri Bharath KS on Unsplash

#WorkTrends: What Will Change at Work in 2019?

Happy New Year! I hope that your holidays provided you the recharge you needed to get 2019 off to a great start.

It’s the “new” in “new year” that we’re talking about this week on #WorkTrends. We’re all wondering how 2019 is going to be different from 2018, and I’m not talking about the new coffee machine your boss has surprised you with.

marylene delbourg delphisThis week we speak with Marylene Delbourg-Delphis, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and the author of “Everybody Wants to Love Their Job,” about how work is going to change in 2019. Her answer? It’s not going to — unless you do something about it.

It wasn’t the answer I was expecting, but our conversation was a powerful reminder that the future of work isn’t defined by our fancy tools; it’s defined by the people who use them.

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

So What’s the Future of Work?

The way Delbourg-Delphis sees it, the future of work comes down to one word: automation. And while that word itself can scare people, she doesn’t see things in such apocalyptic terms. “Many jobs can be mapped onto new jobs. So the future is not doomsday,” she says.

Of course, there’s another change coming as well. Baby boomers are aging out of the workplace, and millennials have taken their place as the largest cohort, with Generation Z not too far behind. Soon the workplace will be filled with young, techno-savvy whippersnappers who can’t imagine life without smartphones and hashtags. The office will never look the same.

Or will it?

Change Isn’t a Given

Assuming that work itself will magically transform because of technology and generational change is a mistake, Delbourg-Delphis says. She admits that sounds counter-intuitive. “It’s logical to believe that [work] will change,” she says. “Digital transformation is already here for us as consumers.” But she says there’s something standing in the way of true change at work: the way things have always been done. “We should not underestimate the status quo,” Delbourg-Delphis says.

The status quo, she notes, has little to do with workplace demographics, because the issue is structural. Despite the fact that the U.S. has transitioned to a service economy, organizations still operate on a hierarchical model that dates back to an industrial economy. This model can isolate leaders from their employees, and it can lead to stale thinking that discourages innovation and disruption.

To Delbourg-Delphis, change has only one source. “Companies don’t innovate,” she says. “People do.”

The Key to Change

What companies must do, Delbourg-Delphis says, is think about their employees’ engagement — and make sure they love their jobs. It sounds like common sense, but the stakes are quite high. Delbourg-Delphis’ research shows that if employees are unhappy, productivity drops by 30 percent.

She says engagement has three categories. Maintaining these, she believes, is essential to creating an organization that is both positive and dynamic.

The first is personal engagement. Making sure employees are motivated is about more than just giving them prime desk space. “It’s very important for employees to have skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy and feedback,” she says. Failure to give employees any of these risks alienating them from the organization.

Second is interpersonal engagement, or team engagement. Employees often work in teams, and part of the way employees define their roles at an organization is by their interactions with peers. Clear lines of communication within a team, as well as with other teams, is paramount to creating the respect and trust employees need to feel toward one another.

Finally, there’s collective and societal engagement. You may know this by another term — culture — but Delbourg-Delphis defines culture differently than others do. Culture, she says, has nothing to do with a company’s so-called values. In fact, culture has little to do with management at all. “A culture,” she explains, “is what employees feel.” If employees aren’t free to express their emotions, a company’s culture can quickly turn toxic.

The Growing Role of HR

If people are key to driving innovation and change across an organization, then there’s perhaps no greater piece to ensuring transformation than HR, she says. “In the future I see a much, much bigger role for HR,” Delbourg-Delphis says. “HR should be in charge of the health of the human infrastructure just as the CTO is in charge of the technology infrastructure. They are the human infrastructure designers.”

This means that the key to driving innovation across an organization is for HR to ensure that employees are both happy and productive. So while your fancy new enterprise software may be great, HR should be ensuring that these tools are put to use in ways that enhance the three categories of employee engagement. Making sure these tools bring employees closer to the organization is key to driving success.

But HR also needs to remember that it has a responsibility to grow and challenge itself. Delbourg-Delphis says the most important skill an HR practitioner can have now is “an endless ability to learn.” She suggests delving into organizational psychology. “Academia has created a phenomenal body of research that we can leverage literally every day,” she says.

As we’ve discussed, the stakes are high. Keeping your employees happy is about more than just a pleasant workplace. It’s the key to driving change itself. It’s a fascinating, practical way to think about a word we often define far too loosely, and maybe it’s a New Year’s resolution for all of us in HR.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

#WorkTrends Recap: Unleashing the Power of Your People

What’s going on in HR tech around the world? What are global leaders doing to unleash the full potential of their people?

When I’m thinking about big-picture questions affecting senior leaders, I know who to turn to: my friend China Gorman. You probably know her as the former COO and interim CEO at SHRM, or as the former CEO of Great Places to Work. These days, China’s spending her days helping smaller companies liberate their power. One of those companies is UNLEASH. UNLEASH puts on the event formerly known as HR Tech World. This year is their second year in Vegas, and as managing director of UNLEASH America, China and the team are in preparations to bring some of the most innovative business leaders in the world together at the Aria on May 15 and 16.

I talked to China and Bri Vellis, chief marketing officer of UNLEASH, about what people-management trends they’re seeing across the world, and how they’re bringing those themes to UNLEASH America in Vegas.

What You Learn from Working at a Global Company

Bri has an up-close view of how people work differently around the world. She recently moved from San Francisco to Budapest, where UNLEASH is based. Plus, when she was in the U.S., she worked for a German company where she could immerse herself in different cultures and conversations about HR tech.

“People get into their geography bubbles,” she says. But everyone can really learn from other cultures — Americans could learn from Brits, Brits could learn from Germans, and so on.

“I always hear how Americans don’t want to work so many hours. Especially in the tech industry. They wish they worked more like Europeans,” she says. “Europeans are just more cognizant of their time. Americans can learn from that.”

China has run global organizations, and she says she’s always struck more by different cultures’ similarities than their differences. “I am always astonished by how alike we are, and how, at the end of the day, people are people. People in organizations have similar wants and needs, and are motivated by similar kinds of things. I am always reassured, I am always motivated, and always reminded that our similarities are always far more than our differences. No matter where you go around the world.”

What’s Happening in HR Tech Around the World

So, what new developments are happening in HR technology, and where are the current centers of innovation in the industry? China is excited by the startups that are popping up to help leaders manage emerging challenges.

“People in HR, and leaders in particular, have lots of challenges in terms of managing different generations in the workplace. In being more global. Having different laws, different customs, different languages.”

The HR tech community is responding with solutions, she says. “The creativity, the focus, and frankly the amount of investment going into the HR tech startup world is astonishing.” She points to regional hotspots like Toronto, Tel Aviv, Budapest and Berlin.

China is encouraged by what she sees. “What I take from this is that, as we head into an organizational world of artificial intelligence and robotics, the focus on people is actually growing, not diminishing.”

While some jobs might be done by robots in the future, China sees organizational leaders who want to get a handle on people talent: How do we get it? Where are the best people? How do we deploy talent? How do we engage and develop them? How do we make sure we have the kinds of people and skills where we need them, when we need them?

The answer, she says, is technology. “Technology becomes sort of the great liberator and educator, and profit enhancer. I really believe this in my heart, that leaders are not making decisions to replace people with technology just because it is cheaper, just because it is new. I talk to leaders not about the price of people, but … how do we use people? How do we unleash the people part of our workforce so that we keep moving forward to a better world?

“I really think leaders and technology are trying to do the same thing. They are trying to make the world a better place, for the greater good.”

Because there’s so much startup activity in HR tech, UNLEASH has added a startup and innovation group as a core element of their upcoming event.

What to Expect from UNLEASH America

“The name change from HR Tech World to UNLEASH is really about expanding the focus from being an HR tech conference — the best one in the world — to really unleashing the power of people and the future of work through technology,” China says. “We are expanding our remit. We are really getting into the heart of the matter, which is, ‘How do we use technology in an HR application to really unleash the potential of our people in an organization?’

“It’s not going to be like any HR tech conference you’ve ever been to,” she says. UNLEASH will bring together not just HR leaders, but leaders of every stripe. China says attendees can expect “real-world stories from real-world leaders, from organizations we all know. This is going to be the event to be at.”

During our conversation, Bri and China announced a major keynote: Mo Gawdat, chief business officer at Google X, will be doing his first public address outside the world of Google X. Other speakers include leaders from Johnson & Johnson, Cisco, GE Digital and Microsoft.

I can’t wait to be a part of all of these interesting conversations! You can find out more about UNLEASH America and how to join us in Vegas by visiting http://www.unleashgroup.io/america/index or following the #UNLEASH18 conversation on Twitter.

#WorkTrends Recap: Pacing for Growth

What’s your big plan for your business or team in 2018? We all want to stretch, improve and grow, but sometimes figuring out exactly how to scale your work is a challenge. I know I’m still figuring this out as an entrepreneur, and we have a lot of TalentCulture community members who are in the same boat.

Earlier this month I talked to Alison Eyring, founder and CEO of Organisation Solutions and author of “Pacing for Growth: Why Intelligent Restraint Drives Long-Term Success.” Alison has been helping organizations grow for the past 30 years. She has also learned lessons about growth through her experiences as an endurance athlete. She’s done marathons, ultra-marathons, triathlons and Ironman competitions.

What business lessons can you learn from competing as an athlete? Here’s what I learned from my chat with Alison.

Push for Growth, but Recognize Your Boundaries

“If you look at the body, it teaches us that there are certain things we can do to build capacity — to go faster and go further. As leaders we have to push, but also understand that there are some real limits, and work to build capacity,” she says.

She introduced me to the idea of “intelligent restraint” — stretching yourself and pushing for growth, but not so far that you go past your limits.

“If we’re not pushing, if there’s no edge, if we’re not pushing people outside of their comfort zone, they’re not changing. They’re not growing, and the business isn’t changing and growing. You push yourself and you push your business to go as fast and far as you can but then no further until you have the capacity to sustain it.”

Focus on Specific Goals

Just growing for the sake of growth isn’t all that meaningful. I’ve talked to a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners who are working to create focus in 2018. Alison agreed that sometimes the best way to scale is to focus: “It’s about saying ‘let’s get really focused on what is profitable, what is meaningful, what is going to bring me to work every morning.’ ”

Start with People

So many organizations think about goals but make their people plan last. That’s backward, Alison says. “When I think about scaling for growth, it’s a lot about people.”

I often see that small businesses have a hard time scaling because leaders can’t delegate tasks to others on the team. But big, growing businesses face people challenges too. “We work with some high-tech companies that are growing so fast, and their managers have very little experience. They start a job, and within six months the job is bigger. You think about in a situation like that, those people have to grow really fast, and they’ve got to be able to grow their people even faster,” she says.

The key to developing a team all comes back to having a solid routine, she says. It’s about having good one-on-ones with people on a regular basis. “Whether it’s over the phone or face-to-face, it’s about carving out a space to understand how to help that person perform and how to help them transform for the future. Having that routine is critical.”

Pay Attention to Developing Remote Workers

So many organizations are staffed by workers who aren’t sitting in the same office every day. I’ve worked remotely for years, and a lot of the organizations I work with rely on remote teams. Alison says that developing those remote workers and moving everyone forward together is a challenge.

“Remoteness is both a blessing and a curse. The curse of it is that when we work independently, there’s not others necessarily who are observing us and connecting with us in a way that they can maybe give us feedback and help us and support us as much as we might get if we are co-located in a normal office environment. We’ve got to really think more proactively. If we can learn how to coach people without seeing them then we become even stronger as leaders.”

Alison says she has people working together from five continents, and she’s focused on helping them stay connected on a human level. “We have people who have never met each other. One of the things that I’ve been really trying to think about is how do we build spirit in our company. When people are physically dispersed, it’s easy for the interactions to become very transactional. It’s about the work we have to get done. Often it’s very hard to get a holistic picture of the challenges the person faces. What are the barriers? How are they feeling? Part of what we need to do as leaders is create psychological safety. We have to provide support. When we do that, we can accelerate development.

“I think that technology can help us. Sometimes it can make it very dehumanized, but other times it can really help us bring spirit through connecting us. People in our group love posting pictures and sharing and having baby pictures. I think that human connection is really important.”

I could talk about remote work and the challenges it brings all day! Thanks to Alison for sharing her expertise with us. Check out her book to learn more.

Stay tuned for more inspiration on the #WorkTrends podcast, every Wednesday: http://bit.ly/2DjCkja.