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[#WorkTrends] The End of Jobs and The Rise of On-Demand Workers

Driven by the desire for more work-life flexibility, more and more of us now consider gig work our full-time jobs. In fact, just before the pandemic hit, the workplace saw a 43 percent increase in on-demand workers. And gig workers now comprise 1 Trillion dollars of the total U.S. freelancing income.

But what does this mean for the future of work — especially in post-pandemic years to come? How will workers and companies react to accelerating change in the workplace?

Our Guest: Jeff Wald, Founder of Work Market

Jeff Wald is the Founder of Work Market, an enterprise software platform that enables companies to manage freelancers. He is also the author of The End of Jobs: The Rise of On-Demand Workers and Agile Corporations. Jeff is known as a student of the workforce and forecaster on what the future will hold for employees and employers, so I couldn’t wait to dive into this future of work conversation!

After discussing the increasing role of tech in the future of work, including Jeff’s summation that history shows technology does not take away jobs, we discussed:

  • How the lessons learned from the past three industrial revolutions help us better understand today and tomorrow’s labor market
  • How we ensure fairness for workers by setting clear rules for companies (which includes Jeff’s thoughts on the $15 per hour minimum wage)
  • The surprising inspiration for Jeff’s The End of Jobs: The Rise of On-Demand Workers and Agile Corporations
  • How the pandemic has impacted the world of work, including the biggest surprise of the COVID-19 crisis
  • The key takeaways from the book — and how they apply to on-demand workers, people working remotely, and also employers

I’m sure you’ll enjoy listening to Jeff’s take on the future of work. Be sure to listen to this entire episode of #WorkTrends!

 

Find Jeff on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Editor’s note: We’ve given our #WorkTrends Podcast page (and also our FAQ page too) a fresh, new look. Please tell us your thoughts?

 

Pay Equity: A New Requirement for HR

The laws regarding pay equity are changing. In seven jurisdictions, there are new laws on the books regarding pay equity, including California, New York City, Oregon, Puerto Rico, and Massachusetts. Each has new laws prohibiting employers from asking a candidate’s salary history. There are more than a dozen other pay equity laws under consideration, and it’s going to be a very key focus for lawmakers — and therefore HR and the world of work — in 2018.

Navigating change

Employers are going to have to address this issue, starting now — regardless of your company’s position, or whether you’ve created a policy to deal with pay equity or not. The winds of change are upon us and it’s critical to start revising your hiring practices now. Or you may wind up breaking the law.

It’s not just laws that factor in, however. You’ll also want to be on the forefront of this transformation as an employer. In terms of attracting the best talent, it’s no surprise that it’s a best practice to demonstrate a progressive, well-thought out approach to pay equity. To not be clear about supporting pay equity is to possibly convey a retrogressive stance on fair and equitable hiring. At a time when pay equity is on the radar and in the news, to not have a policy towards pay equity, law or not, could be the key factor in whether a superbly qualified candidate applies to your organization, or goes elsewhere.

But there are also statistics showing that pay equity drives more profitability — tied into the fact that a well and fairly compensated workforce is a more engaged and productive one, and a more diverse workforce is a more innovative and creative one. A study of nearly a thousand companies on their pay equity positions found that the 51 companies officially committed to gender pay equity as of this past spring generated a 12.5% return to investors. That’s opposed to the rest — who generated a return of only 10.2%. Is it possible that paying women fairly is good business? I dare say it is.

Jumping on the bandwagon

According to the U.S. Census of September 2017, U.S. women still make only 80.5 cents for every dollar that men make. Glassdoor’s salary study in the Spring of last year found that men earn 24.1% higher base pay than women on average. But many organizations are taking the initiative. Among those known for their leading stances on pay equity are Starbucks — whose own study of its male and female employees found they are paid within 99.7% of each other for doing similar work. Gap has been officially paying male and female employees equal pay for equal work since 2014, and was the first Fortune 500 company to do so. Costco and Nike are among companies who are stepping up to do internal studies of their workforce. Tech companies are trying to repair their reputations as part of Silicon-Valley-esque bro-culture by conducting pay equity studies of their own. Will they play a role in changing the tech workplace? Probably.

We’ll see more and more organizations taking long, hard looks at their own compensation structures — and trying to remedy equity within existing employees as well as new ones. The Glassdoor study found that one key remedy for the gender pay gap are employer policies that embrace salary transparency. Albany County just announced it’s giving some employees salary “bumps” to address pay equity — days after passing its own salary history ban. We may see companies evaluating retroactive rebalancing, adding additional work/life balance components to their benefits packages, and setting key targets for increasing diversity and inclusion — as they drive towards better and more equitable pay among all of them. But they can’t do it alone.

Outsourcing Equity

That’s where recruiting and hiring firms come in. When companies outsource their recruiting and hiring to other companies, those companies are also responsible for compliance under the law, if not more so. An outsourcing firm that doesn’t guide its client on issues of compliance may be held liable for that client’s breaking the law. So, it’s incumbent upon firms to really understand the legalities involved in these new pay equity laws. And the firms leading the way with this issue are already setting their own policies. HireRight, for instance, recently announced it was building capabilities into its own hiring and screening tools that enabled its clients to remove salary verification from its screening process. Here at TalentCulture, we just featured a #WorkTrends podcast with HireRight on this topic — and we’re going to dive even deeper with them in a webinar coming up.

The bottom line is that if we’re going to improve the workplace, it can’t be left to legislation. But if there is a wave of legislation happening — and far more to come — it’s vital to understand the laws and compliance. When we combine solid internal policy making on the part of well-meaning companies with legislation, and then we increase the effectiveness by having hiring and screening firms create effective tools for observing best practices, then we’re getting somewhere with pay equity. It’s good news, and it’s about time.

This article was sponsored by HireRight. All opinions are that of TalentCulture and Meghan M. Biro.

Interested in learning more about pay equity?  Join us for “Pay Equity Legislation: 5 Ways to Tackle the Year’s HR Must-Do” lead by Meghan M. Biro.

 

AI: 5 Ways to Reenvision the Workforce Before the Next Big Wave

What do you do when you’re not ready? Either get ready or wing it. So, imagine that waiting outside that door is your brand new team. They’re nice and shiny and, per the paperwork, each is extremely well qualified. In fact, they are specifically qualified to do their job. Because they are robots.

Let’s not get all I, Robot here. But I’m watching a new wave of artificial intelligence (AI) heading towards today’s world of work, and you’re probably watching it too. You may be wondering when we’re going to have to face this new trend. “Trend” is not actually the term I’d use to describe such a profound and inevitable shift, but that’s what Deloitte calls it in their 2017 Human Capital Trends study. They’re certainly not wrong, but the reason this is more than a trend is that it’s not going to go away.

We’re now in the early stages of adoption — including denial, curiosity, and a whole lot of “not ready.” As Deloitte reports:

  • 41 percent of companies report they have fully implemented or have made significant progress in adopting cognitive and AI technologies within their workforce.
  • 34 percent are in the midst of pilot programs.

Well, I recommend graduating to acceptance. And here are five ways to prepare for the world of work 4.0, or as we like to call it, Here Come the Machines:

  1. Get leadership and managers in gear. Deloitte’s study also found that a mere 17 percent of global executives believe they’re ready to manage a blended workforce of people, robots, and AI. (Remember when a blended workforce meant multigenerational?) That’s the lowest readiness level for a trend in the five years of the Global Human Capital Trends survey, according to Deloitte. The first blind spot is how to actually run things with this new shift — tasking, decision making, workflow, time to execute, who checks what, and the analytics to track how it’s all working.
  2. Leverage its strengths to fix your weaknesses. Jobvite’s CEO, Dan Finnigan, has an interesting take on AI. A Jobvite survey found that 56 percent of the job seekers it polled are concerned about being outsourced or replaced by robots. Instead, as he says, AI and machine learning can help us be better recruiters, and help job seekers find positions that fit. Chatbots are already used in sourcing and hiring that (or, who) can answer potential applicant questions, and increase the odds of their turning in a resume. Chatbots can also screen for skills, measuring responses and engagements in ways humans may overlook. What we need more of, as we know in this era of Big Data, is intelligence. What we need less of: bias. AI can offer a bias-free, objective layer in recruiting and hiring: there are a lot of interesting takes on that.
  3. Seam it into existing functions. This is related, but not entirely the same thing: how can you tap into AI, robotics, and cognitive tech to augment your existing processes? Use AI in your L&D (learning and development) to capture meaningful employee data, and better tailor the learning experience to each user. In terms of work functions, if you can shift a battery of tedious tasks to machines, you not only free up your people, you may also be able to leverage machine learning to find out how to make these tasks far more efficient, with a better outcome.
  4. Don’t underestimate the value of humans. You can free your workforce from some of the mind-numbing busywork, enabling them to take on more supervisory roles. And, raise their skill levels in the process. Another byproduct may be better work/life balance — since people are freed from in-house tasks. As Deloitte’s 2016 report on millennials found, 16.8 percent of those surveyed listed work/life balance, and 13.4 percent listed the opportunity to grow, as key factors in assessing job opportunities. The two will remain a key concern as the workforce becomes even more dominated by this generation.
  5. Bolster the people side of your organizational culture. It’s critical that companies be transparent and positive about what’s happening here. Some in the workforce will see clear benefits to letting machines take over certain jobs, while others may feel downright devalued. At the cusp of change once again, focus at your workforce: Do you recognize them on a regular basis? Are you soliciting and taking their feedback? If not, get on that. Yes: the best recognition software is actually made possible by AI. But it’s going to help: We want to be appreciated, praise has a direct correlation to engagement, and whatever can make it work, I say go for it.

Our view of work is going to change in ways we still don’t understand. As the World Economic Forum (WEF) reported, some 65 percent of children entering primary schools today will likely work in roles that don’t even exist yet. Certainly, we can anticipate how AI and cognitive technology will change office and administrative functions, manufacturing, and production roles. But we also need to envision learning instead of simply data; tasks instead of jobs. And it’s happening soon. According to WEF, by 2020, there will be a new normal. Get ready.

Photo Credit: martinlouis2212 Flickr via Compfight cc

A version of this was first posted on fowmedia.com

The New World of Work – Flexible Careers and Freelancing

Is freelancing the new black? It certainly seems that way—in fact, you might call this trend the new world of work. A new study by Freelancers Union and Upwork backs this up, finding that more people are freelancing by choice. Today, a little more than one in three workers in the United States are setting their own hours and being their own bosses. The findings of the study were interesting—here are some of the highlights:

“The majority (60 percent) of freelancers who left traditional employment now earn more.” Nearly a quarter of those surveyed said they specifically left an employer in order to start working freelance. And while there’s certainly risk involved in dropping out of the traditional workforce to go solo, most of these new freelancers said that within the first year they were making more money than the more “full time” salaries they left behind. The data doesn’t indicate exactly where people are in their careers when they opt out of traditional employment, but my own anecdotal knowledge of the trend suggests many of these are folks mid-career or later, so it’s hardly surprising that they’re quickly able to maximize their incomes in this way.

“Technology is making it easier to find freelance work.” More than half of the respondents said they’d gotten a project online, which was up from only 42 percent last year. And those who didn’t source work online, and instead credited personal and professional contacts for their work success? Chances are, with social media, many if not most of those “personal” connections were certainly retained, if not gained, through online platforms. I believe the online-only component of this networking will continue to grow in the future, with even some of the most old-fashioned businesses being more open-minded about bringing on all manner of business partners and employees remotely. In the past, a business wouldn’t even consider an agency that didn’t have offices near enough to accommodate fairly regular face time, but in the age of video conferencing and cloud technology that makes connectivity and collaboration a breeze, this need is becoming obsolete. It’s no surprise freelancers are taking advantage of this openness, and it seems likely this trend will continue in the coming years.

“Freelancers, especially Millennials, are optimistic about the outlook for freelancing.” An impressive 83 percent of the freelancers surveyed said they think the best days are ahead for freelancing. And interest is growing even among those who aren’t yet working this way—most non-freelancers said they’d be open to moonlighting if the opportunity was available to them. The fact that Millennials—many of whom are well into their 30s and not exactly workplace newbies anymore—are especially optimistic about freelancing is an indication that employers are going to need to become more open-minded about allowing their employees to start a side hustle. They will need to stop thinking of their employees as property, and start understanding what the modern job economy looks like.

Pros and Cons of a Freelance Economy

Clearly, there are many components of this freelancing boom. One is the popularity of freelancing among workers who are looking for more flexibility, and achieve it through the switch to a freelance career. But there’s also motivation in the growth of freelance from the business side, as well. But there are some downsides to consider as well. Let’s take a look.

The Pros. There are economic factors at work when it comes to outsourcing. Some businesses find it economically smart to blend freelance talent with full time employee talent, thereby reducing costs of benefits that go hand-in-hand with full time employment. Utilizing freelance talent can also make it easier for businesses to adapt and pivot quickly, and allow them to scale up or down quickly. Recruiting and hiring full time employees can be a lengthy process, so keeping a cadre of reliable freelancers in the mix can help ensure you can deliver, in any circumstance. For businesses, that’s a big benefit. Likewise, when work slows down, you know that your freelance team members are already in a good position to step up their work elsewhere, because they’re in no way beholden to you, and have maintained connections and contracts. They generally have multiple revenue streams, so their business model isn’t wholly reliable on you. For businesses, this can be very beneficial.

Another positive, from the business standpoint, is that when you assemble a freelance team to work on a particular client account, you can bring in talent that is ideally suited to the needs of that particular client. When you go the full time employee route, sometimes you’ve got a body on the payroll who might not be the best person for a particular assignment, but it’s a hole you’ve got to fill and it makes sense to fill that with someone already on the payroll. I don’t always think this delivers the best value for clients, but it is the way of the business world. Or at least it has been the way of the business world for a very long time. I’m happy to see that beginning to change.

Realistically, freelance work is like entrepreneurship-lite—or entrepreneurship without all the risk or stress. Freelancers gain the flexibility of not having their fate tied to one single business, one single boss, one single relationship. They get to set their own work hours, choose where they want to work, the clients they want to work with and the kind of work they most want to do—and how hard they want to apply themselves. And while that freedom comes with a certain amount of risk, it’s nowhere near the risk that being involved in a startup business often brings. We all know of the staggering failure rate of startups, and how devastating the failure can be. With freelancing, especially the work-from-home kind, you generally don’t need to invest loads of cash, even worse, go into debt in order to get started.

Cons. Not everyone is wired to be an entrepreneur, and every freelancer is, most definitely an entrepreneur. Some people who opt to work from home quickly find they miss the interaction and sense of community that goes that’s an integral part of an office setting. Some find themselves less motivated when working remotely than in a traditional setting. Some have trouble finding clients and work.

For businesses, relying on freelance talent can be inherently risky. If they aren’t beholden to you by way of full time employment and the agreement of work for wages that’s a part of that arrangement, you might occasionally find your freelance talent less than reliable when you need them most. They might be juggling other jobs and other clients and your work will have to wait its turn, which is only fair.

All in all, there are good and bad things about this trend toward more flexible careers and freelancing, but I think the good far outweigh the bad. What do you think? What’s your experience been with working with freelance talent and/or integrating freelancers into business operations alongside your FTEs? I’d love to hear the challenges you’ve faced and what you think of this trend in general.

Additional Resources on this Topic:

The Business Value of Adopting Live Streaming Video Collaboration
Here’s Why the Freelancer Economy is on the Rise
How Millennials Are Reshaping Work
How the Rising Freelance Economy Will Change Talent Acquisition Strategies

This article was first published on FOW Media.

Make Technology Compliance Sexy: Embrace The Culture

Technology compliance is a necessity. But it isn’t sexy — yet. Certainly, innovating ways to approach compliance has contributed to a greatly transformed world of work. It’s underscored the need for the power and scope (Cloud) and for agile processes and insights (talent analytics). It’s leavened a sense of mission with an edict for ethical conduct (I’m speaking generally here), and that’s certainly a trend given the trending values of a changing workforce population.  

And the topic elicits sighs among most of those not charged with its administration. It’s not sexy because it’s complicated, and it’s required. It’s like the buttoned-up older brother who insists we eat our vegetables at the picnic. HR wants to focus on talent acquisition across all the shiny platforms; to forge new paths for talent management; to help create amazing employer brands that practically vacuum eager talent our way; to futurecast. But we can’t ignore compliance. And given the profound global shift in our workforces, whether Fortune 500 or SME, it’s an even larger challenge given the need to address not just state and national, but international regulations.

But we need to love it. We need to make it sexy. How?

Make a clear part of the employer brand. As the future brightens, though not necessarily as bright as before — I’m thinking of the jobs report out Friday from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which showed that the U.S. added a modest 173,000 payroll jobs in August, and that unemployment was at 5.1 percent (down from 5.3 percent in July). Given the pervasive concern with successful recruitment, make compliance clear not only at the level of hire, but as part of candidate experience.

Dovetail it into the company culture. This is different than the employer brand: this is about what happens in the workplace — and certainly has an effect on engagement and retention. There are countless compelling arguments for this. Again, the majority of the workforce (yes, millennials) has made it clear that values , transparency and accountability are key. Compliance is part of that: a functional reflection of positive integrity and deeper ethics.

Make it functional. In its Predictions for 2015: Redesigning the Organization for a Rapidly Changing World, Deloitte reports that HR technology is now an industry in excess of $15 million, and that organizations are “scrambling” to replace their existing HR technology. Despite the incredible growth — the LMS market and talent management software markets each grew by about 24 percent, the capabilities are not improving as fast. Less that 14 percent of those surveyed stated they had made significant programs in terms of talent analytics and workforce planning. As we evolve to the next phase of HR tech, it needs to embrace all requirements, including compliance. To leave compliance out of a revamp is to have to revamp the revamp.  

Make it work for us. Leverage compliance as a structure for increasing diversity by adopting compliance software that addresses diversity and other workplace issues. Dismal statistics noone was surprised by showed that Silicon Valley has a long road ahead, and there’s a stunning lack of minorities and women in STEM pipelines. Google, for instance, reported that its tech workforce is 60 percent white and 1 percent black. Yet it’s been made abundantly clear that without reaching into these population we’ll never be able to fill the rise in STEM jobs coming up — which prevents our ability to compete in science and tech moving forward.

The legacy of HR meets Technology is that we’re endlessly bringing talent and organizations together and aiming for the best; tech and trends aside, sometimes, the marriages work; sometimes they don’t. By including compliance in the equation from the onset, we may not only increase the chance of employee engagement, we may also decrease the risk of external complications. And everyone’s happy, right? Well, maybe.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.

The Social And Mobile Workplace: Climate Change Is Real

We’ve all watched (and some of us have helped) Social and Mobile (SM) rise to the forefront of the world of work. It’s applied a new source of heat; flooded the banks of formerly tame streams of data and processes and turned them into wild seas for recruiters, candidates and everyone else. It’s turned the sometimes chilly field of recruitment into a kind of digital garden, where Cloud-based tools and software bloom in increasing density and profusion, fed by huge new storms of new information and metrics we’re just learning to harness.

As with climate change, there are plenty of doubters. Refuseniks. Hem-hawers. Prove-its and even naysayers. Stalling at the threshold of this profound change may not be the wisest tactic, but it’s not entirely irrational. When we don’t know what to do or how to do it, some of us tend to freeze, others start flailing.

The what or how is because there’s no cohesive orthodoxy — there are great approaches, but no rules —as is often the case with a new frontier. But there are compelling reasons. So to get from point A to point SM, consider what the weather’s showing us, and dress accordingly.

Boomers can benefit. In terms of a job search, even if boomers avoid SM (and they do), it could work to their advantage to join the party. HR strategist Robin Schooling cites some interesting stats from the Spherion Generations in the Workplace survey. The study queried more than 2,000 workers and 225 human resource managers, and the social mobile stats are striking:

  • Just 20% of baby boomers said they would launch their search for a new employer on a social network.
  • That’s in contrast to 28% of Gen X, and more starkly, 47% of millennials.
  • And, of the boomers surveyed, 55% felt that their age and generation limited career opportunities, yet few boomers market themselves online. Possibly, having a stronger online presence might help expand those limitations.

Brands need to be tight. No matter who or what you are, your online brand can’t be slapdash: having a strong mobile and social presence cuts both ways. The Spherion report found that used badly, your brand (which includes any and all exposure, right?) can work against you. For millennials, they were most likely, of the three generations surveyed, to not be hired based on something their potential employer found online. Interesting disconnect, since they are clearly the most savvy in some ways, but clearly, still not limiting themselves to brand-enhancing online exposure — e.g., drunken karaoke.

Employers best get to it. If an employer wants to attract the best candidates, without a strong SM platform that puts forth a clear, appealing employer brand, there’s a good chance they won’t. Back in January, Glassdoor compiled some serious HR and recruiting stats:

  • 80% of job seekers turn to social media for employer brand promotion.
  • Of those,69% would not accept a job with a company with a bad online reputation —even if they were unemployed.

And while valuing employer brand does break down by generations, it’s not that marked a contrast: the Spherion study found that 42% of baby boomers believed a company’s online reputation was as important as the terms of the job offer itself, versus 55% of millennials. 

Seriously, employers — Of all the stats in that report, I found one particularly telling. Possibly some companies are eschewing a seriously strategic renovation of their online brand in favor of something a little, well, cheaper. Here goes: The Spherion survey also found that 93% companies believe their employees are important brand ambassadors for the company. Yet only 35% of workers surveyed said they would say anything very positive about their company. Do you see what I see?

You are what you are online. Not to talk in riddles, but whether we know it or not, we are already all measuring a company’s reputation via what we see online, because most of us are doing everything online. And for any prospective employee, job seekers are not only watching, they’re paying attention: a healthy majority of every generation surveyed by Spherion believed that a company’s profitability is effected by its online reputation (72% of millennials; 63% of Gen X; and 59% of baby boomers.

If you still feel you need to look up at the sky to find out if it’s getting hotter in HR, there are signs everywhere — and I heartily encourage you to look. Because we are all looking at each other, and we’re looking on mobile and social, as it turns out.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.

Culture, Brand, Engagement: How Benefits Support HR’s Three-Legged Stool

You know the old three-legged stool metaphor: you can’t sit down if one of those legs is off. In HR, that means culture, brand and engagement. All three are closely, intrinsically related; even more so given the new world of work. In the Deloitte University Press’ Global Human Capital Trends 2015 report, the news shows palpable gaps between perceived weaknesses in all, and the capability to solve them.

Among the findings, gleaned from more than 3,300 business and HR leaders:

  • 87% of organizations cite workforce culture and engagement as a top challenges.
  • 38% of respondents felt like they were “weak” when it came to helping employees balance personal and professional life/work demands.
  • 71% of those who responded stressed the importance of reinventing their HR, but only 42% said they felt actually prepared and ready to do it.

That last stat in particular is compelling, reflecting a hefty gap (30%) between perception and action. Not surprising: the radically changing world of work knows it needs to undergo an equally radical readjustment in HR. In terms of positive realignments, here’s one arena to consider: Benefits. Rather than a part of the basic HR operations, benefits are a deeply entrenched facet of company culture and brand, and a critical driver of employee engagement.

Brand Awesome

Successful organizations like Netflix make the connection between employer brand and HR — including benefits. Logically, a new breed of workplace needs a new approach to talent, so it created one. In terms of recruitment, it made sure to include its approach to benefits as part of the brand. In terms of firing, it turns a loss into a mutual gain: if someone is let go, a generous severance may help her regroup, retrain and further their career — which possibly means she circles back to the company with more training and experience (on someone else’s dime).

A Culture Of Benefits

Other Netflix innovations include flexible vacation time, an honor system policy on expenses, and an interesting take on perks: this is an organization that figured out that having grade-A colleagues (a.k.a. fully formed adults) is a better employee perk than foosball. Other realistic components include health care programs (such as those created by Jiff) that incentivize employees to use services that promote their actual health. Firms may also offer realistic avenues for improving financial wellness — such as reducing crippling student loan debt and investing with a conscience via a firm like SoFi. Offering these kinds of benefits isn’t the norm yet, but it’s helping to set a new standard, delineating a forward thinking, authentic culture that is clearly aligned to the new world of work.

Transparency Drives Engagement

The Deloitte study found that 78% of respondents believed culture and engagement are critical, but only 47% felt ready to put that into action. For that 31% gap, consider the Netflix severance concept, which uses HR strategy to replace taboo with transparency — and that, my friends, is a radical cultural shift. It scales the traditional, monolithic fear of losing ones job down to a normal hiccup (or not) in a modern career trajectory.

The change aligns with how millennial (and other) employees perceive working — as constant disruptions, possible even in employment itself. In Netflix’s case, it also means an authentic and open conversation in which both parties play grown-up. Virgin made a similar splash with its greatly expanded parental leave policy. Such instances foster engagement by allowing for the fact that yes, we are all human here. Things happen. Families happen. We will adjust — with you.

Lack of employee engagement has some heavy hidden costs, but they’re completely logical: engagement is part emotion, part function. If an employee feels as if they’re not being supported or acknowledged for their own emotional and functional expenditure on behalf of your company, then they’re going to spend less of that energy. But create a benefits program that recognizes that exchange, and is the figurehead of an authentic culture, and you drive and deepen engagement. Now, have a seat.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.

Photo Credit: huwbassett Flickr via Compfight cc

Talent Analytics: Predicting HR’s Way Out Of The Fog

Here’s the average amount of time recruiters spend looking at a resume: 6.25 seconds. That’s how long it takes to evaluate, by brain, whether or not a candidate is the right fit for a job. And here’s another stat: this is the thirteenth month in a row when 200,000 plus jobs have been created.

So, theoretically, to fill 200,000 jobs would require 347 hours of brain time. That doesn’t count all the other candidates who didn’t make the cut. Or what happens after the hire.

The variations on success or failure in HR are always endless: we’re human, not robot, for one thing. But given our profoundly transformed world of work, the variables are now also epic. From multiple generations to global organizations to the enormous impact of Big Data, there’s no turning back. Our era has been called the Talent Age, the Social Age, the Mobile Age. What it’s not: the Pile Of Resumes Age.

Hence HR’s present headache. There’s a lot of talk about how we need to change the culture: become more people-centric, understand what the millennials and innovative talent wants (start by accepting that they are The Future of Work), figure out how to foster engagement and express recognition and make sure no one leaves. And then there’s all this data. Big Data can seem part ether, part mega-entity. As someone told me, it’s like a fog machine was left on and filled the conference room as we all sat there, stunned. And the word unstructured can strike fear in the hearts of even the most seasoned talent managers.

But it’s not a fog of data, it’s our own fog. We need to approach epic change in an epic way and be very clear about it. To really leverage human capital now, we need to turn to the data that is constantly forming, streaming, reforming. Passive and active candidates, onboarding, training, engagement, retention, attrition, performance, recognition: it can all be predicted with Big Data.

The key is that we are not just gazing into a crystal ball, we’re looking with clarity, knowing that the more information, the more time, the more data points, the more accuracy. But this is about modeling, and about forecasting:

  1. Turnover.Predicting the risk for the most turnover — in which functions, which units, which locations, and what positions, and modeling the scenarios in advance
  2. Churn / retention.Identifying where the highest risk of churn is going to be, and who is at risk for it. Determining what resources should be turned to them in terms of retention activities and / or training.
  1. Risk.Building realistic profiles of which candidates are risk for leaving prematurely, and when. Creating models of which candidates are likely to experience drop in their performance.
  1. Talent.Forecasting who, among new hires, are going to be the high achievers and high performers, and decide should they be shifted into fast track programs. 
  1. Futurecasting. Modeling the various changes that an organization may experience, from global to political, and what the impact of talent hiring, retention and engagement could be.

We need technology that can be used through mobile devices, is interconnected via the cloud so it’s consistent across the board, is intelligent enough to keep learning, is agile enough to refocus. We also need tech to be consistent enough to be a Watson to our Jeopardy. But that’s exactly what predictive analytics offers: the ability to take the past and make sense of it in terms of common factors and key relationships, and to use that information not just to model and predict the future, but to make sound and insightful recommendations.

It may seem like a glaring paradox, but in data lies the future of human resources and talent management. So yes, we do need to change the culture — to one that relies on data. And then we can see clearly.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.

How To Be A Good Leader? Get Real

Labor Day’s coming up. To me, national holiday not only reminds me of honoring the workforce (which we’ve been doing as a nation since 1894), it also signifies the start of a new season. I may have left my school days behind, but that feeling of sharpening my pencils for some serious buckling down has never left.

What’s on the curriculum? In the university of HR, celebrating the workforce is more important than ever — and celebrating them every day. That requires good leadership, with a human face. I’ve been spending a lot of airtime on Talent Acquisition’s need to keep pace with the amazing tech innovations happening fast. Yes: we’re about to be hit with a virtual tidal wave of Big Data as Steve Lohr aptly put it. And yes: for HR and talent analytics, that means we have to entirely retool — and fast. But especially in the face of such massive changes, we need to focus on people, not numbers. Say it with me: A company’s success is driven by its workforce’s performance. In one sense, every day needs to be Labor Day.

I’m thinking of a supermarket. We all heard about my local grocery chain Market Basket, the quiet little New England supermarket chain whose loyal employees (and customers) responded with a resounding NO when their beloved CEO was ousted. The organization’s top-down restructuring lost millions during the misstep because it overlooked a key factor in its own success: the authentic, human relationship that Arthur T. Demoulas forged with his workforce. And I do mean authentic: based not on smoke and mirrors, on a pat on the back and a turning of the cheek, but on a mode of leadership with humans at the core. That means real benefits, a real profit-sharing plan, and first-name interactions across the board. As soon as the CEO came back, so did the success of the company.

Good leadership is authentic leadership.

When you align the best interests of your company with the best interests of your workforce, you generating more than employee loyalty. You generate customer loyalty as well.

Good leadership wants its workforce to win.

When you create a company culture that puts your people and their performance first, that will drive the best outcome for your business.

Good leadership wants it workforce to be happy.

When your people are happy, they feel more capable, more confident, and more creative. They’ll transmit that into their communications and interactions, advancing the business and driving innovation. Confidence, as many of us in HR see all the time, is contagious. It imbues collaborations with more positive outcomes, and ultimately inspires customer confidence.

Good leadership means real collaboration.

A recent piece by Rebecca Newton in Harvard Business Review focused on what defines truly collaborative leadership, and I agree:  “I define real collaborative leadership as: facilitating constructive interpersonal connections and activities between heterogenous groups to achieve shared goals. It is proactive and purpose-driven.”  Proactive. Purpose driven. I’d also add: continuous. Collaborative leadership is a perpetual learning process, adapting and growing with every new hire, new promotion, new goal.

Good leadership focuses on people, not numbers.

It may sound like a cliché, but in the face of a profoundly changing world of work (remember that tidal wave of Big Data about to hit?), it’s more important than ever. Regardless of data, regardless of technology, you simply can’t have an optimally performing organization without a genuine, people-centric relationship between leadership and workforce.

So enjoy your Labor Day. And if you’re here in New England, stop at Market Basket. The service rocks.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.

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Employee Engagement Is A Leadership Commitment

It seems like so much of what I do these days seems to revolve around storytelling and brands. I thought it would be useful to look at employee engagement through the lens of the five Ws – who, what, when, where, why – and one H – how – to frame up how companies can do a better job of mastering employee engagement.

Employee engagement is center stage in HR and The World of Work right now for good reason. Engaged employees are better producers, they’re more committed to the organization, and they are in it for the relative long haul. One study in The Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology (yes I do read this stuff!) looked at the performance of bank employees over a three-year period.  Engaged employees were more committed to the organization, achieved better business outcomes, and achieved superior customer satisfaction. Interestingly, level of engagement was more important in achieving good performance than good performance was in creating better engagement. It’s a mind-bender, which is why the five Ws and one H might be helpful in charting a path to employee engagement.

Let’s Look at the five W’s and one H of Employee Engagement.

Who: From a leader’s point of view, the Who should always be about the employee. Engaged employees aren’t just motivated by money, status or power – they are motivated by shared values, trust, mission and purpose. To get the Who right you need to have great hiring practices, an evolved and compelling culture, and systems in place for mid-course corrections when an employee shows signs of disengaging. More importantly, you need to be a compelling and engaged leader, one who leads with emotion. Leaders set the tone for engagement in the workplace.

What: Engagement is emotional commitment to the organization and its goals. I have worked with successful, profitable startups which had crazy turnover rates. People loved the money and were jazzed to work for the brand, but after a short honeymoon period they didn’t care enough to stick around for more than a couple of years. Money and success are not directly linked to engagement; it’s the other way around, which is why so many cool companies lose their shine. Their leaders don’t take time to forge an emotional bond with employees.

When: Engagement starts before the employee signs the offer letter. Top candidates don’t want to work for just any company; they are looking for the right company. They’re not looking for free soda and a dartboard, they’re looking for a shared sense of purpose, challenging work, committed leaders and excited customers. This is why brand is so important, and why companies have to communicate their brand not just on the website but also on the jobs page, in social media, and among the candidate’s peer group.

Where: I think pretty much everything to do with engagement needs to be social these days, so where is the social channel(s) your employees and candidates frequent. If you’re a consumer brand, Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram are critical; if you’re a tech brand, look more closely at Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and even Tumblr. And don’t forget your website, Glassdoor, and your jobs site – all can be an instant barrier to engagement.

Why: People – especially Millennials – want to know why they should engage with your organization. They want to know why they should work for you, why they should care, why you’re a better bet than the competition. Be prepared to tell them, every day.

How: Engagement isn’t magic, it’s craft. Engagement is built by creating trust, which engenders loyalty. It requires open communication, clearly-articulated goals and unambiguous expectations. It demands shared values and well-understood reward systems. Engagement is a journey, not a destination. It’s work. You have to get up every day determined to be more engaged, a better leader.

Many studies have been done to try to get to the secret behind employee engagement. It’s not a secret, though. It requires emotional commitment on the part of leaders, a great culture, and constant maintenance. The payoffs are huge: happier, more productive employees, happier customers, better profits and business results. Resolve to master employee engagement. It’s a worthy undertaking.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.

Telecommuting Is The Future of Work

In many companies I partner with, a certain percentage of employees work from home or are virtual employees – contractors or long-term freelancers. The percentage varies (ASTDSHRM), from 30 to 45 percent, which seems consistent with what I hear from the HR practitioners and leaders that I collaborate with. It seems inevitable, then, that working from home, or being a virtual employee, is an established trend, Yahoo!’s action to limit remote employees notwithstanding.

What Marissa Mayer did at Yahoo! Made sense for the struggling company: she was able to concentrate on getting people reconnected physically and in support of the company’s mission and culture. It also seems to make sense in the context of Mayer as a manager; her reputation for hands-on control preceded her selection by Yahoo!’s board and may have been one of the reasons she was chosen for the role.

Nevertheless, especially in tech companies, having remote and virtual employees is not only a way to get things done round the clock, without commuting, and with hard-to-find skill sets but is also a way to meet the needs of employees who don’t want to or can’t live near the mother ship.

As a proponent of work-life flexibility to recruit and retain talent and an observer of the World of Work, I support the notion of virtual workplaces and the reality of having virtual or remote employees. Not everyone wants to, or can afford to, live in Silicon Valley, Austin, Boston/Cambridge, Chicago, Raleigh-Durham or NYC and around the globe the story is much of the same.

Red Hat is one example of a highly distributed, highly effective company; in addition to its corporate hub in Raleigh, NC and development center in Westford, MA, it employs many highly-talented virtual employees. Red Hat’s culture is friendly to remote workers. Apple, on the other hand, is densely concentrated in Cupertino, where plans for a spaceship-like office complex are moving forward. Its centralized, command-and-control culture appears to be less adaptable to supporting large numbers of remote workers. Go figure.

Here, as elsewhere in the world of work, two principles prevail: know thyself, and know thy culture.

As a consultant I see myself as a virtual employee of the brands with which I work; as an entrepreneur I work actively with virtual teams. In the former case I need a specific set of skills to work virtually. I must possess the temperament and skills to succeed as a virtual team member. This requires me to know myself, to be self motivated,focusedcurious and flexibleCollaboration is essential.

As an entrepreneur who works with virtual teams, I need a somewhat different set of skills to manage the remote players. I need to maintain a corporate culture supportive of – and with technical and communications systems in place – to enable remote employees to be successful. Here I must be self-aware, in tune with my skills, capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. It also requires me to be

empathetic, emotionally intelligentsensitive to what others need, and willing to provide the tools necessary to success – not just a mission statement and goals, but the communications and technical infrastructure to empower virtual teams.

As Rich Thompson of CPP Inc. (publishers of the Myers-Briggs self-assessment tool) wrote recently in the Harvard Business Review, self-awareness enables managers to understand their people, both on-site employees and remote employees. Understanding gives managers critical insights about the skills, temperaments, motivations, preferences and flexibility of their employees. It helps them see beyond the limits of a CV or resume into the person and his or her passion (I call this seeing people in 3D – no laughing allowed), which enables management to put the right person in the right job, regardless of where the employee sits physically.

For employees, self-awareness is an equally important attribute. Only with self-awareness can people understand their full capabilities, what motivates them or alienates them, their ability to learn, adapt and be flexible (excellent and necessary qualities for a remote employee) or their need for structure, routine and predictability (attributes of an employee better suited to an on-site job).

I agree with Thompson that the Myers-Briggs (one of many great tools) is an excellent tool to promote self-awareness both among managers and employees. It is especially useful in helping employees (and managers) understand if they are well-suited to working remotely or better served working in an on premise office setting. Remote is definitely not for every personality and career track.

So Know Thyself, whether you occupy the corner office or work from a kitchen table in St. Louis. If as an employee you look into yourself and can’t find your core – what motivates you – take a personality inventory or talk to a career coach and reconnect with what motivates you and will make you a successful employee, no matter where you sit. If you are a manager who questions the value of virtual employees, talk to a mentor or take a personality inventory. Explore your willingness to tolerate uncertainty and change. Probe to understand where you’re flexible and what your exact limits and expectations are. Get real with yourself first – the rest will fall in line.

I suspect, as Marissa Mayer rebuilds the corporate culture and adaptability of Yahoo!, she and her executive team will become more open to having remote employees again. For all the companies struggling to manage remote teams, remember to seek understanding and celebrate flexibility. For all the companies succeeding with distributed workforces, remember to maintain self-awareness and an adaptive, connected culture. The World of Work has changed from one in which everyone sits in the same building to one in which many sit remotely but share the same values and culture. Celebrate the differences, and strengthen the foundations of trust and workplace culture. Recruit to retain your talent.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes

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7 Traits Of Highly Influential Leaders

Without question, the world of work today runs on social media in some shape or form. It has changed the nature of work, play, friendship, commerce, romance — the list goes on and on. Where to begin?

For leaders, social media is an extraordinary tool. It enables new levels of communication and community. It establishes an immediate connection between a leader and people. It runs in real time. And it creates a dialogue and a forum that can lead to increased productivity, unity, and profits.

And yet an astonishing 70-80 percent of leaders aren’t even on social media. That’s like playing tennis with one arm tied behind your back: it puts you at distinct disadvantage (understatement). And too many leaders who are on social media pay it lip service, and use only a fraction of its potential.

The good news is that with a little practice everyone can master this exciting new discipline.

Here are 7 ideas to get you going.

1) Be Yourself. You can’t create a social media persona that isn’t true to you. It will simply be impossible to sustain, and it won’t feel genuine to your colleagues and employees. So find a voice that is comfortable, honest, and true. Be open and transparent. Be yourself, but be your best self. Remember: humor is a priceless tool.

2) Stay On Message. You can’t be all things to all people, and you don’t want to dilute your overarching message by going on tangents that you cannot put your heart behind. People need to know that when they read your posts, they will be getting something of value that will educate, inspire or energize them.

3) Put Quality Over Quantity. We all have social media favs whose posts we just can’t wait to read, because we know we’ll learn something. Then are those who post about what they had for lunch. Make sure every post is worthwhile. Don’t worry about not posting for a couple of days, better a short break than a ceaseless stream of ho-hum “I’m so great” posts.

4) Start A Real Dialogue. There are few things more exciting than a social media site that really engages employees in a forum that sparks insights and ideas. One thought leads to another and soon everyone is contributing and a sense of ownership takes hold. Encourage this outcome by asking questions, and soliciting ideas and input from the community.

5) Invest In Your Site/Social Media Presence. We’ve all seen tired looking sites, or sites that are slow and cumbersome to navigate or are not mobile friendly. They’re workplace culture killers. We all love speed and ease these days, and sites that are clean, uncluttered and operate smoothly are much more apt to engage users.

6) Think Before You Post. Know what you’re trying to accomplish. Vet your post for anything that is poorly written, or might be confusing or offensive. Like all powerful tools, social media can go very wrong. Be spontaneous, open and reactive, but always…..>>>

7) Have Big Fun. Sounds so trite, doesn’t it? Well, trite or not, the fact is that stellar talent and effective leaders love what they do. The line between work and play blurs for them. They are having a blast and it’s reflected in their success.

Remember: social media is not some amorphous behemoth, although it can seem that way to those uncomfortable or unfamiliar with it. Think of social media not as something you have to conquer, but as your partner and ally in the quest for breakthrough performance.

A version of this post was first published on Forbes.

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5 Ways To Smash The Generational Stereotype Trap

Want to know a deep dark secret? There’s some truth in the stereotypes about Gen Xers, Gen Yers and Baby Boomers and other emerging generations. That’s why they became stereotypes in the first place. Want to know another truth? Stereotyping people is a career- and leadership growth-killer. To thrive in today’s competitive world of work, individuals and organizations need all the help they can get. Be it out of the mouth of babes or ancient wisdom. French playwright Moliere said it best, “I take my good where I find it.”

We all know the labels. Gen Yers are lazy and entitled, and live half their lives digitally. Gen Xers are cynical and standoffish, and make lousy team players. Baby Boomers are stodgy and inflexible, and can’t relate to younger people. Can you find people who fit these stereotypes? Of course. Can you find people who smash them to pieces? I hope much more often. I’m one of them.

If you’re serious about success, you’ll reach to the best and brightest no matter how old or young they are.

Here are five steps to avoiding the workplace generational stereotype trap:

1) Be conscious of your stereotyping. Look, we all do it all the time. Own up. Make a list of the various ways you stereotype people by age. Become mindful. You can’t stop stereotyping until you realize how you do it.

2) Disprove the stereotype. Now that you have your list, find people who make a mockery of it. The Gen Xer who works 80 hours a week; the Gen Yer who created a winning team; the Boomer who invented a new product or process.

3) Train your brain. Now that you know who and how you stereotype, and how limiting and false it is, train yourself to stop doing it. Snap judging people by their most obvious attributes is deeply ingrained. Undoing it takes time, but every step is a move in the right. When you meet someone, watch your internal response, both intellectual and emotional. If you stereotype them, consciously tell yourself to look past it, at the person.

4) See the person in 3D for who they really are. There’s a word for anyone who doesn’t measure each individual by their unique talents and strengths. That word is “fool”. You’re working to build a successful career, project, or enterprise. Why in the world would you deprive yourself of help from all and any direction? Look at all the available talent, and judge people by their past performance and what they have to offer, not their age. You need them. Reach out.

5 ) Make it a habit. You want to build a network that transcends stereotyping. Make a conscious effort, at least once a week, to spend time with someone who you would have stereotyped in the past. If you’re a Gen Yer, take a Boomer out to lunch and listen to their story, soak up their lifetime lessons. If you’re a Boomer, mentor a Gen Yer, listen and learn. No matter what age you are, ask for help, admit your limitation. Too often we mistake an honest acknowledgement of our shortcomings as a weakness. It’s a strength. Like Moliere, take your good where you find it.

Stereotyping is self-destructive in or out of the workplace. It is also a denial of our basic humanity and the ability we all have to transcend superficial categorization. Smash stereotypes, celebrate individuality, and you will learn, grow, and be a happier person.

A version of this post was originally posted on Forbes.com on 4/7/2013.

 

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The New World of Work: Flexible Careers and Freelancing

Is freelancing the new black? It certainly seems that way—in fact, you might call this trend the new world of work. A new study by Freelancers Union and Upwork backs this up, finding that more people are freelancing by choice. Today, a little more than one in three workers in the United States are setting their own hours and being their own bosses. The findings of the study were interesting—here are some of the highlights:

“The majority (60 percent) of freelancers who left traditional employment now earn more.” Nearly a quarter of those surveyed said they specifically left an employer in order to start working freelance. And while there’s certainly risk involved in dropping out of the traditional workforce to go solo, most of these new freelancers said that within the first year they were making more money than the more “full time” salaries they left behind. The data doesn’t indicate exactly where people are in their careers when they opt out of traditional employment, but my own anecdotal knowledge of the trend suggests many of these are folks mid-career or later, so it’s hardly surprising that they’re quickly able to maximize their incomes in this way.

“Technology is making it easier to find freelance work.” More than half of the respondents said they’d gotten a project online, which was up from only 42 percent last year. And those who didn’t source work online, and instead credited personal and professional contacts for their work success? Chances are, with social media, many if not most of those “personal” connections were certainly retained, if not gained, through online platforms. I believe the online-only component of this networking will continue to grow in the future, with even some of the most old-fashioned businesses being more open-minded about bringing on all manner of business partners and employees remotely. In the past, a business wouldn’t even consider an agency that didn’t have offices near enough to accommodate fairly regular face time, but in the age of video conferencing and cloud technology that makes connectivity and collaboration a breeze, this need is becoming obsolete. It’s no surprise freelancers are taking advantage of this openness, and it seems likely this trend will continue in the coming years.

“Freelancers, especially Millennials, are optimistic about the outlook for freelancing.”

An impressive 83 percent of the freelancers surveyed said they think the best days are ahead for freelancing. And interest is growing even among those who aren’t yet working this way—most non-freelancers said they’d be open to moonlighting if the opportunity was available to them. The fact that Millennials—many of whom are well into their 30s and not exactly workplace newbies anymore—are especially optimistic about freelancing is an indication that employers are going to need to become more open-minded about allowing their employees to start a side hustle. They will need to stop thinking of their employees as property, and start understanding what the modern job economy looks like.

Pros and Cons of a Freelance Economy

Clearly, there are many components of this freelancing boom. One is the popularity of freelancing among workers who are looking for more flexibility, and achieve it through the switch to a freelance career. But there’s also motivation in the growth of freelance from the business side, as well. But there are some downsides to consider as well. Let’s take a look.

The Pros. There are economic factors at work when it comes to outsourcing. Some businesses find it economically smart to blend freelance talent with full time employee talent, thereby reducing costs of benefits that go hand-in-hand with full time employment. Utilizing freelance talent can also make it easier for businesses to adapt and pivot quickly, and allow them to scale up or down quickly. Recruiting and hiring full time employees can be a lengthy process, so keeping a cadre of reliable freelancers in the mix can help ensure you can deliver, in any circumstance. For businesses, that’s a big benefit. Likewise, when work slows down, you know that your freelance team members are already in a good position to step up their work elsewhere, because they’re in no way beholden to you, and have maintained connections and contracts. They generally have multiple revenue streams, so their business model isn’t wholly reliable on you. For businesses, this can be very beneficial.

Another positive, from the business standpoint, is that when you assemble a freelance team to work on a particular client account, you can bring in talent that is ideally suited to the needs of that particular client. When you go the full time employee route, sometimes you’ve got a body on the payroll who might not be the best person for a particular assignment, but it’s a hole you’ve got to fill and it makes sense to fill that with someone already on the payroll. I don’t always think this delivers the best value for clients, but it is the way of the business world. Or at least it has been the way of the business world for a very long time. I’m happy to see that beginning to change.

Realistically, freelance work is like entrepreneurship-lite—or entrepreneurship without all the risk or stress. Freelancers gain the flexibility of not having their fate tied to one single business, one single boss, one single relationship. They get to set their own work hours, choose where they want to work, the clients they want to work with and the kind of work they most want to do—and how hard they want to apply themselves. And while that freedom comes with a certain amount of risk, it’s nowhere near the risk that being involved in a startup business often brings. We all know of the staggering failure rate of startups, and how devastating the failure can be. With freelancing, especially the work-from-home kind, you generally don’t need to invest loads of cash, even worse, go into debt in order to get started.

Cons. Not everyone is wired to be an entrepreneur, and every freelancer is, most definitely an entrepreneur. Some people who opt to work from home quickly find they miss the interaction and sense of community that goes that’s an integral part of an office setting. Some find themselves less motivated when working remotely than in a traditional setting. Some have trouble finding clients and work.

For businesses, relying on freelance talent can be inherently risky. If they aren’t beholden to you by way of full time employment and the agreement of work for wages that’s a part of that arrangement, you might occasionally find your freelance talent less than reliable when you need them most. They might be juggling other jobs and other clients and your work will have to wait its turn, which is only fair.

All in all, there are good and bad things about this trend toward more flexible careers and freelancing, but I think the good far outweigh the bad. What do you think? What’s your experience been with working with freelance talent and/or integrating freelancers into business operations alongside your FTEs? I’d love to hear the challenges you’ve faced and what you think of this trend in general.

Additional Resources on this Topic:

The Business Value of Adopting Live Streaming Video Collaboration
Here’s Why the Freelancer Economy is on the Rise
How Millennials Are Reshaping Work
How the Rising Freelance Economy Will Change Talent Acquisition Strategies

Image credit: StockSnap.io

Free Agent Nation Romance: The Good, The Bad, And The Unknown

You know the story. Once upon a time, companies courted new talent with the promise of a lifelong relationship. “Work” meant employment, training, benefits, and job security for years, if not decades. But for many, if not most companies and employees, the romance has died.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an estimated 40% of all U.S. workers now operate on a part-time or contract basis. Josh Bersin adds:

“Bottom Line: the workforce of today is specialized and highly virtual: working part-time, mobile, from home, and often on a contract basis. Our research shows that among large employers upwards of 32% of all positions are now “part-time” or contract-based.”

Bersin argues that social media have enabled employers and a fast-moving, trained workforce to link up with “local projects, local tasks, and local jobs.” He gives the examples of the rapid growth of job boards such as TaskRabbit and GigWalk, and notes that “this mode of work has hit the corporate market as well. . . . But they don’t see what’s really coming – an explosion of mobile, virtual, local workers. One can think of these new services as “mobile-enabled, local job-boards” – but what they really are is enablers of the younger, more virtual workforce.”

Here’s the bottom line and our collective reality check. Bersin sums it up nicely here “the contingent workforce is now a permanent fixture, so many elements of talent management, recruiting and engagement are being extended to these mobile ‘free agents.’

Really? Just how well are leaders rising to the occasion in this “highly scalable” new world order they’ve created?

Let’s take a closer look at this Brave New Free Agent World of Work. 

1) The Good

Flexibility. For both employers and employees. Lots of my friends, especially my mom friends, like having freelance jobs for that reason.

Varied work experiences. Freelances can try different kinds of work and companies, without committing to any of them. They are “pan-opportunists.”

New skills. We like having the chance to reinvent ourselves and gain new skills. We never stop dreaming. This is very exciting.

Savings for companies. Firms save millions by not giving benefits or providing training or career ladders, and by freely expanding or contracting their workforce as needed. (All of which gives us a fascinating meaning to the word free in “free agents” and “freelancers” . . . )

Adapting to the new culture. “The fast-moving, technologically dynamic global economy has forced leaders to think about work in modular, ever- shifting ways. Organizations that can adapt, change, and innovate quickly have an advantage today. [Having] contingent and contract workers can facilitate this change.”

2) The Bad

No bennies. While my freelancer friends like the flexibility, none of them likes the lack health care, sick time, vacation pay, or other bennies. Many of them would willingly give up the flexibility if they could find work at firms offering these benefits.

No job security. Ever had that pit-in-the-stomach feeling as one project ends and you can’t see the next one over the horizon?

No training. No comment. There is no excuse for bad leadership. This should be a must for all companies and leaders. Even for “consultants” or “free lancers”

No engagement. What’s being done by leading-edge companies to ensure that contingent workers fit into the culture and engage with the organization? In fact, in nearly every way you can name, contractors are still considered “second-class citizens” in most corporate settings.

Less stability. The most stable firms are those that have stable and loyal employees. Oh no. Not good.

3) The Unknown

Have companies and their employees broken up for good?

Williams and Bersin seem to agree that contingent work is here to stay, in massive numbers. And so do I. The facts speaks for themselves.

Williams:

“Dana Shaw, former senior Vice-President for Staffing Industry Analysts, reported that in the Fortune 100 companies, contingent workers make up 20-30% of the workforce, but predicts it will soon be 50%. Statistics Canada reported that by 2009, 52% of all temporary jobs were contract jobs, 25% of them were professionals. . . . McKinsey &Co. reported that 65% of U.S. corporations have restructured their workforce and have no plans to return to pre-recession employment, but rather are opting for contingent and contract work when the need for expansion takes place.”

What about innovation? What does freelancers’ “pan-opportunism” mean for innovation? The results aren’t in. All I know for sure is that innovation generally comes from companies who nurture their teams, support their passions, and given them scope to imagine and produce. This does not sound like a description of a company dependent on a contingent workforce.

As freelancers begin having families, needing health care, wanting stability, and so on, will they change—and insist on more meaningful relationships with companies? And, therefore, will we have the happy ending: with these protagonists getting back together in more permanent ways, both wiser than before?

Social media is awesome. It has done astounding things, producing cultural transformations in HR and Leadership and Technology we never dreamed of even a few years ago. Surely we should—and can—use it to foster fidelity between leaders and contract employees. Can we agree that building a fair, meaningful relationship between these parties is a good thing . . . for leaders, free agents, and our global world of work?

So. Light the candles . . . put on the mood music . . . And think strategically about the kind of relationships that will allow us to live happily ever after in our careers.

Will social media combined with this unstable jobs economy forever lead companies and employees into the arms of many different suitors, relationships, careers?

A version of this post was first published on Forbes.com.
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5 Powerful Career Drivers For The Future of Work

Have you come up with any worthy New Years’ resolutions yet? Are they already broken? If not, or if so, relax and stay positive. It’s never too late to make a few career-focused resolutions. I’ll be bold and propose that 2016 be the year to resolve to take charge of your career, your destiny and your life story. If it sounds like a real stretch, it is. I’m encouraging everyone to take action. Take heart, though – like all resolutions it’s a process, a combination of problem identification, ideas/ideation, search for solutions, and actions. Resolutions aren’t absolutely binding, so it’s not a mental trap; it’s an opportunity to allow yourself to consider what’s been holding you back, what you’re really interested in doing/being, and how to move in the right direction.

Why is this important? Why now? Because the world of work is changing, and changing fast. If you want to have a career, not just a job, you’ll need to be prepared to change as well. We’re not talking who-moved-my-cheese here: we’re talking being the maker of cheese. It’s a weird analogy, maybe, but it gets at the central challenge we all face as we work to stay ahead in our careers in times of rapid innovation and change.

When I began my career, the most important things were mastery (education and experience), talent, work ethic, character, intelligence and flexibility. Today it’s different and it’s exciting and it’s challenging and it’s never going to be the same. Those factors are still critical, but they’ve been disrupted by the forces of social connectedness, communication, and collaboration.

Here are five ways to innovate in your career – think of this as part 1 for formulating career resolutions to put you back in control of your most passionate destiny. Why wait?

1) Become a social connector of people, ideas and intent. People who are connectors have immense power in their social networks. They’re the glue. Connectors are the new Oracles (Delphi-style, not Redwood Shores style), the passionate influencers who create trends, create links and create awesome relationships.  Becoming a connector is the best way to manage the forces of connectedness in our hyperconnected world. Live the brand.

2) Master effective communications. Even connectors aren’t necessarily good communicators. Among the skills you’ll need are empathy, self-awareness, curiosity, patience, the ability to really listen, and care. Superb communicators often say the least; they draw out others and create an environment (aka Culture) which allows the exchange of ideas and lots of them if necessary. And don’t forget to apply your skills via social media, which can be tricky indeed – we’ve all sent emails we regretted or posted something awkward or too personal on social sites. Live the brand.

3) Collaborate. It sounds odd but collaboration skills are a competitive differentiator. We’re used to thinking people who are fierce competitors have the advantage; my take is collaborators now have the edge. Being a collaborator doesn’t mean you opt out of being competitive; it means you understand the limits of competition. It can be hard to be intensely competitive while being productive in most organizations. Live the brand.

4) Create and manage your personal brand. I know a lot of people who’ve resisted this step, or found themselves blocked somehow. Don’t wait any longer. People with brands (as others have pointed out) simplify what they represent; they weed out the irrelevant bits of their lives or skill sets and focus in on a few key, career-value-based attributes. Some people would even argue that brand now trumps intelligence, experience and talent, which is a scary thought for some people I’ve talked to about careers. Live the brand.

5) Curate everything. Relationships, acquaintances, work product, books, tech tools, clothes, skills; anything that touches your work life or career space. Be a relentless editor of your skills and experiences. Curation is an expression of good judgment, not evidence of controlling behavior. Curating the right career experiences will help you push forward in your career without compromising yourself. Live the brand.

I will be digging deeper into connectedness, communication and collaboration in the next few months. If you’ve thought about what they mean to you, and how they’ll help you innovate and create career resolutions, please let me know. It’s a journey everyone in this globally connected world is on right now. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

A version of this post was first published on Forbes.com 1/6/2013

Photo Credit: Celine Walker via Compfight cc

3 Ways The Social Age Will Inspire Your Business

The Industrial Age is dead.

Social media has arrived.

Everything has changed.

And I had no idea what I was doing.

In early 2014, I was a social media neophyte peering down over the edge into the vast social sea. If I wanted to succeed and survive the social leap, I needed knowledge, a digital identity, and a solid online network.

Social media was a serendipitous treasure chest of valuable content and helpful people. Each day I dedicated time to research, reading, learning, and engaging. High-quality resources and a growing network accelerated my status from social newbie to social saveur in less than a year.

But saveur status doesn’t last long in the world of social. Disruption rules in 2015. Social is constantly morphing and evolving, creating “new normals” we must learn and integrate to stay ahead.

You must always be on the line of learning in the Social Age.

My learning led me to Ted Coiné and Mark S. Babbitt’s book A World Gone Social. Spot-on insights, provocative questions, and revealing stories inspired new ways to think about social.

Here are my top 3 takeaways from the social survival guide:

1. “More Social, Less Media”

This is your new daily mantra. 

Social is hard work: there are no shortcuts to social success. The days of broadcasting are over. People don’t connect to brands, they connect to other people.

Success will come to those who embrace and integrate these four simple words into their business. Organizations must cultivate a culture of engagement, innovation, and collaboration. Creating and nurturing relationships with employees and customers are top priorities for social success.

2. “Go Nano, Or Go Home”

Larger organizations have two things smaller businesses typically don’t: deep pockets and serious status. But social media is the arrow aimed straight to the heart of these large enterprises. “The Death Of Large” is knocking on the doors of legacy enterprises that don’t embrace social.

The once prevalent megacorporation is being replaced by a smaller, more social and collaborative model. The agile “nano-corp” can move from one organization to another, getting more done in less time.

Agility is key to surviving the disruptive forces of social.  

3. “Flat Is The New Black”

How about this for disruption:

  • What if every employee made big decisions?
  • What if you refuse to be treated as “the boss?”
  • What if there we no more office meetings?
  • What if the best parking spaces go to the earliest risers?

Social is changing the world of work. Leadership is based on serving the team. Employees are active, engaged, self-managing contributors to the organization. Excess layers of management are stripped away. It’s a world gone social and a world gone flat.

  • Will large enterprises let their hierarchies fall flat?
  • Will flat management be the new black socially forward businesses try on in 2015?
  • Will flat organizations be the only ones to survive in the Social Age?

Social is here to stay. We must be anticipatory, agile, and armed with the right tools and mindset to survive and thrive in the Social Age.

Ted Coiné and Mark S. Babbitt will be kicking off the New Year with the first #TChat of 2015 on January 7 from 7-8 p.m. ET. Come join the chat to explore the possibilities and challenge your perceptions about on how to adapt and survive in A World Gone Social.

About the Author: Jessica E. Roberts is the Community Manager for TalentCulture and The World of Work Community. 

photo credit: W Mustafeez via photopin cc

The 2015 Painful And Pleasurable Prediction

“We can go from boom to bust,

From dreams to a bowl of dust…”

– Neil Peart 

On December 31, 2014, I jokingly predicted on Facebook that the next day would become a new year, maybe even a happy one for many of us.

And lo and behold, my prediction came true, at least the part about being a new year the next day. A happy one remains to be seen…

No, I am no soothsayer or Jedi or outlandish wizard – I am but a mere mortal who occasionally gets visions.

Wait! I feel another coming on. Yes, there it is … oh my, this is a doozy…

How we define and live job and career is evolving rapidly, more than anytime since the 20th century.

Some of you will wake up tomorrow in the “world of work” gainfully employed full time. Others of you will wake up part time.

Both in corporate offices, co-working offices and virtually from almost anywhere in the world.

Still others will wake up temporary workers or freelancers, entrepreneurs or investors, or even stay-at-home moms or dads.

While too many others will (still) awaken unemployed and struggling to stay afloat.

And we will continuously cycle through one or more of these throughout 2015 and beyond…

All kidding aside, change will be constant, painful and pleasurable, simultaneous and relentless.

The signs are all here:

And so it is written, my friends. And so it shall be.

Happy New Year.

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

photo credit: Tim J Keegan via photopin cc

TalentCulture’s Greatest Hits: 2013 Edition

Lists! Lists! Lists! As we close the chapter on 2013, there’s no denying — the “best of” list season is in full swing.

And who can blame blogs for sharing top picks from the past year? After all, lists are incredibly easy to create, and there’s a certain seductive power in a headline that promises to deliver all the goods in just one single round-up post.

But for me, picking “best” blog posts is like picking “best” children — an impossible task. I’ve spent hours helping to envision, edit, implement and promote every one of the 200 posts we produced last year. And to me, each is uniquely relevant and valuable in its own right.

So please consider our showcase of 2013’s most popular content more than a “best of” list. It’s also our way of recognizing ALL of the many “world of work” experts who have contributed to our blog, our weekly radio shows, and our #TChat Twitter chats. For example:

Business leaders like Chris Boyce, CEO, Virgin Pulse; Richie Etwaru, Group VP, Cegedim CRM; Todd Owens, President, TalentWise; Dr. Janice Presser, Founder, The Gabriel Institute, and Jason Averbook, Chief Innovation Officer, Appirio.

World of work observers and educators like Josh Bersin, Angela Maiers, Dr. Marla Gottschalk, and Dr. Nancy Rubin

Best-selling authors like Bob Burg, Stan Phelps, Marcia Conner, Jamie Notter and Ekaterina Walter.

To these contributors, and to the many others who participate in our community of purpose, thank you. We’re all better because you share professional insights that are relevant today, and will clearly stand the test of time. Need convincing? Check out the items below, and let us know what you think…

Top 10 TalentCulture Posts (Most Popular)

1) Employees Quit Leaders, Not Companies — by David Hassell, CEO, 15Five

2) Want Engaged Employees? Tell Them Why — by Meghan M. Biro, CEO, TalentCulture

3) Are You a Good Fit? 3 Interview Questions — by Razor Suleman, Founder + Chief Evangelist, Achievers

4) 5 Social Skills Business Leaders Must Master — by Meghan M. Biro, CEO, TalentCulture

5) Considering a Career Change? Take a 360 Snapshot — by Dorie Clark, marketing strategy consultant, branding expert and author, Reinventing You

6) Brainstorming is Broken: Rethinking Group Dynamics — by Razor Suleman, Founder + Chief Evangelist, Achievers

7) Gen Y at Work: Feedback Changes Everything — by David Hassell, CEO, 15Five

8) The Steep Cost of Poor Management — by Tatiana Beale, Achievers

9) Want To Be Your Own Boss? Try This First — by Hans Balmaekers, Founder and Director, sa.am

10) Hiring Culture: Creating A Recruitment Ecosystem — by David Smooke, Director of Social Media, SmartRecruiters

Top 3 #TChat Radio Shows  (Most Popular)

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to #TChat Radio replays

1) How Collaboration Unifies Polarization — featuring Jesse Lyn Stoner

2) The Big Deal With HR Data — featuring Andrew Courtois and Christene Pantalone

3) How Open Leaders Win Employee Hearts and Minds — featuring Dan Pontefract

Top 3 #TChat Event Preview Posts (Most Popular)

Featuring G+ hangouts hosted by Tim McDonald, Community Manager, TalentCulture + Director of Community, Huffington Post.

1) Leadership + Influence, From The Inside Out — featuring Steve Gutzler

2) You 2.0: Reinventing a Personal Brand — featuring Dorie Clark

3) Should Work Be Fun? Really? — featuring Dan Benoni

Top 3 #TChat Recaps (Most Popular)

1) HR Data: What Really Counts? — by Kathleen Kruse

2) Mindfully Managing Your Personal Brand — by Kevin W. Grossman

3) Face-to-Face With Brand Humanization — by Megan Burkett

Of course, this is only a slice from the TalentCulture archives. There’s much more inside — over 500 posts with helpful ideas and guidance on workplace culture, innovation, leadership, learning, career strategy, HR and talent management. So feel free to stop by anytime.

And no matter what your professional interests may be, we hope you’ll continue to bring your ideas and opinions to the TalentCulture table throughout 2014. Because, no matter how “popular” our blog or events may be on any given day, it’s our community’s collective energy that will truly shape the future of work. So, together, let’s discover how we can be even better.

Your Turn

What topics were your favorites in 2013? And what issues would you like to explore in the year ahead? Share your ideas in the comments area — we’re listening!

(Editor’s Note: To discuss World of Work topics like these with others in the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events every Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

TalentCulture's Greatest Hits: 2013 Edition

Lists! Lists! Lists! As we close the chapter on 2013, there’s no denying — the “best of” list season is in full swing.

And who can blame blogs for sharing top picks from the past year? After all, lists are incredibly easy to create, and there’s a certain seductive power in a headline that promises to deliver all the goods in just one single round-up post.

But for me, picking “best” blog posts is like picking “best” children — an impossible task. I’ve spent hours helping to envision, edit, implement and promote every one of the 200 posts we produced last year. And to me, each is uniquely relevant and valuable in its own right.

So please consider our showcase of 2013’s most popular content more than a “best of” list. It’s also our way of recognizing ALL of the many “world of work” experts who have contributed to our blog, our weekly radio shows, and our #TChat Twitter chats. For example:

Business leaders like Chris Boyce, CEO, Virgin Pulse; Richie Etwaru, Group VP, Cegedim CRM; Todd Owens, President, TalentWise; Dr. Janice Presser, Founder, The Gabriel Institute, and Jason Averbook, Chief Innovation Officer, Appirio.

World of work observers and educators like Josh Bersin, Angela Maiers, Dr. Marla Gottschalk, and Dr. Nancy Rubin

Best-selling authors like Bob Burg, Stan Phelps, Marcia Conner, Jamie Notter and Ekaterina Walter.

To these contributors, and to the many others who participate in our community of purpose, thank you. We’re all better because you share professional insights that are relevant today, and will clearly stand the test of time. Need convincing? Check out the items below, and let us know what you think…

Top 10 TalentCulture Posts (Most Popular)

1) Employees Quit Leaders, Not Companies — by David Hassell, CEO, 15Five

2) Want Engaged Employees? Tell Them Why — by Meghan M. Biro, CEO, TalentCulture

3) Are You a Good Fit? 3 Interview Questions — by Razor Suleman, Founder + Chief Evangelist, Achievers

4) 5 Social Skills Business Leaders Must Master — by Meghan M. Biro, CEO, TalentCulture

5) Considering a Career Change? Take a 360 Snapshot — by Dorie Clark, marketing strategy consultant, branding expert and author, Reinventing You

6) Brainstorming is Broken: Rethinking Group Dynamics — by Razor Suleman, Founder + Chief Evangelist, Achievers

7) Gen Y at Work: Feedback Changes Everything — by David Hassell, CEO, 15Five

8) The Steep Cost of Poor Management — by Tatiana Beale, Achievers

9) Want To Be Your Own Boss? Try This First — by Hans Balmaekers, Founder and Director, sa.am

10) Hiring Culture: Creating A Recruitment Ecosystem — by David Smooke, Director of Social Media, SmartRecruiters

Top 3 #TChat Radio Shows  (Most Popular)

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to #TChat Radio replays

1) How Collaboration Unifies Polarization — featuring Jesse Lyn Stoner

2) The Big Deal With HR Data — featuring Andrew Courtois and Christene Pantalone

3) How Open Leaders Win Employee Hearts and Minds — featuring Dan Pontefract

Top 3 #TChat Event Preview Posts (Most Popular)

Featuring G+ hangouts hosted by Tim McDonald, Community Manager, TalentCulture + Director of Community, Huffington Post.

1) Leadership + Influence, From The Inside Out — featuring Steve Gutzler

2) You 2.0: Reinventing a Personal Brand — featuring Dorie Clark

3) Should Work Be Fun? Really? — featuring Dan Benoni

Top 3 #TChat Recaps (Most Popular)

1) HR Data: What Really Counts? — by Kathleen Kruse

2) Mindfully Managing Your Personal Brand — by Kevin W. Grossman

3) Face-to-Face With Brand Humanization — by Megan Burkett

Of course, this is only a slice from the TalentCulture archives. There’s much more inside — over 500 posts with helpful ideas and guidance on workplace culture, innovation, leadership, learning, career strategy, HR and talent management. So feel free to stop by anytime.

And no matter what your professional interests may be, we hope you’ll continue to bring your ideas and opinions to the TalentCulture table throughout 2014. Because, no matter how “popular” our blog or events may be on any given day, it’s our community’s collective energy that will truly shape the future of work. So, together, let’s discover how we can be even better.

Your Turn

What topics were your favorites in 2013? And what issues would you like to explore in the year ahead? Share your ideas in the comments area — we’re listening!

(Editor’s Note: To discuss World of Work topics like these with others in the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events every Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

#TChatHoliday: Sharing Warm Wishes, Community-Style!

The holidays are a perfect time to reflect upon the past year’s experiences, and look ahead to new opportunities — something the TalentCulture community does continuously.

But earlier this week, Kevin W. Grossman joined me for a brief hangout to compare notes about what it has meant to connect with all of you this year, what our holiday plans are, and best of all, why we’re so excited for 2014!

Of course, we’re not the only ones with ideas, plans and goodwill to share with the community. We’d love to hear from you, too!

Just leave a comment below — or post a tweet, photo or video from Vine or Instagram, and include the hashtag #TChatHoliday. As we roll into the New Year, we’ll curate and share your greetings, memories and aspirations for all to see.

THANK YOU for being part of our growing, thriving, continuous world of work conversation! We appreciate everyone who is helping us explore this new form of community building.

We hope that you enjoyed Hanukkah and Thanksgiving holidays. And we wish you a Merry Christmas, Heri za Kwanzaa and Happy New Year!

Looking forward to our next #TChat on January 8 — but until then, make the most of this time to catch-up with those who matter most to you. Stay safe, and be merry!

Image credit: Kirkland’s

Community Heart + Soul: #TChat Favorites

When loss blots out all other light, that’s when the stars around you shine the brightest.

It’s counterintuitive, I know. The times when life is bleakest, what you’ve sown is reaped in the form of torches guiding you through the blackest labyrinth.

This time last year was tough for me, having lost my father in July and then my mother in December. Both were very ill, and it took quite a toll on me, my family, and my world of work. This included my usually dedicated participation in the TalentCulture community and #TChat Events.

There’s a kindhearted warming that can occur in times of desperation and need — like coming in from a freezing rain to thaw in front of a fire, surrounded by supportive family and friends. This reciprocal positive power moves us into lighted places, into rebirth, into healing, into growth, into bettering ourselves so we can better others, in turn. The economics are simple and powerful. Yet, they require transparency, authenticity, trust and love — essential elements that cynics squash like bugs underfoot.

Healing Power: Community To The Rescue

Thank goodness for the light (as we watch the bugs scurry into hiding – or their metamorphosis into believers). This uplifting energy is the heart of community — and the heart of community is you.

We see community spirit at work time and again, when help mobilizes after global disasters, disease, war, and injustice — or simply when we grant a child one magical wish. (Here’s to all Batkids in the world!) It’s okay to get good news once and a while, you know?

TChat_logo_colorAfter this rally from my greater Northern California community last weekend, I was uplifted. And coming on the eve of #TChat’s 3rd anniversary, it reminded me of the mutual support that comes from within our TalentCulture community — through bad times and good.

That’s one of the most powerful aspects of online communities like ours. They spring from the wild, virtual earth, in many different forms. They’re often vibrant and complex, even in their simplicity. Their roots are nurtured by the diverse individuals who come to learn, network, share and support one another around relevant topics, both personal and professional.

That’s what #TChat has become since its founding. The proof is evident after 150 Twitter chats, and 50 radio shows in the past year alone.

The first #TChat occurred on November 16, 2010, and the topic was emotional intelligence, which seems appropriate, since most of the time we try to be self-aware and manage our emotions — whether we agree with one another or not. Trust and mutual positive regard are just as important in our community interactions as they are in the larger world of work.

Best of #TChat

Since then, my favorite #TChat events include all of them. Although it’s tough to choose, I’ll list just 15 here that stand out:

  1. Moving, Schooling, and Finding Your Voice
  2. Community Beginning the Social Revolution
  3. Performance Reviews: Like Bad High School Movies
  4. IRL Networking Is Face-to-Face, not F2F
  5. Freelancers Make Better Business Biscuits
  6. Hobbits, Jedis, Fealty and the World of Work
  7. Getting Workplace Recognition Right
  8. Real Brands Humanize
  9. The Business of Talent: Magic?
  10. Office Space: Work in Progress
  11. Open Leadership: Going Deep
  12. HR Data: What Really Counts?
  13. 101 Ways To Save The Day With A Paperclip
  14. Engagement As Energy: #TChat Lessons From #HRTechConf
  15. Mobile Hiring Hits The Fast Lane

I’m so excited that #TChat continues to break new ground as one of the largest and longest-running online learning and networking communities in the “world of work.” A very special thanks to the thousands of loyal participants who have participated during the past three years.

And a very special thank you to those who keep the weekly wheels of #TChat turning each week:

New To #TChat? We’re Just Getting Started

If you’ve only just discovered #TChat, welcome!

The TalentCulture (#TChat) Community is an open online network of business leaders and innovators, human resource and recruiting executives, organizational development and learning professionals, HR technology vendors, industry consultants, job seekers and more who collectively create, curate, crowd source and share timely “world of work” news and information critical for all professionals to grow and succeed in business today.

And that means you and you and you and you…

What’s your role in the TalentCulture Community? Just as it’s always been since the beginning:

Sharing your real world expertise and candid perspectives.
Actively participating with others in expanding the depth and breadth of your reach.
Contributing as much as you benefit.

The conversation starts…wait for it…here!

This is an exciting milestone for #TChat — and we have all of YOU across our wonderful community to thank. So thank you again. We look forward to moving forward with you all!

Image Credit: Pixabay

Risk, Reward & The Social Workplace: #TChat Recap

“It is not only for what we do that we are held responsible, but also for what we do not do.” – Moliere

Opportunity cost is a powerful concept. Finance 101 teaches us that inaction is the riskiest move of all. If you hide your money in a mattress, you remove yourself from the game, abandoning all hope of future return. Even worse, what happens if the mattress accidentally goes up in flames? Game over.

In business, as in life, every decision involves some risk. Each time an organization chooses to pursue Path X, it sacrifices the potential upside of Path Y or Z. But credible information can reduce that risk, and strong leaders look for reliable signals to guide their choices.

When deciding how social media fits into the workplace, leaders would be wise to watch and listen for signals from employees. These days the noise is deafening. New methods of organizational collaboration and communication are proliferating — not just through authorized corporate initiatives, but through ad-hoc efforts of workgroups and individuals who are pushing the social envelope just because they want to work smarter.

This isn’t heretical. It’s progress. It’s a by-product of human culture that’s as old as fire and as enduring as the wheel — and it was the upshot of yesterday’s #TChat World of Work exchange, as @Hootsuite HR Director Ambrosia Humphrey (@hambrody) and her team moderated a spirited discussion about social media’s role in work life.

The Big RT

Among hundreds of comments, which one registered highest on the retweet scale?

“Telling today’s employees not to use social media is like telling employees several years ago not to use the phone.” @MattMonge

In other words, business leaders, the social ship has left the harbor. Many of your employees eagerly climbed onboard, and it’s not too late to steer that vessel toward a desirable destination.

But which way to go next? We feel the pain of that question even here at TalentCulture.com, as we choose social platforms and tools that will best serve our mission, going forward. Recently, we’ve been exploring dozens of solutions to enhance workflow and internal communication, as well as tools to engage the TalentCulture community. Our conclusion? Even for a fearless crew of passionate social media advocates, the options can be overwhelming.

Sure, there’s a price for progress. The process can be messy. But even if you stumble, you’re still moving forward. And if our #TChat comrades have anything to say about it, environments where social connections are enhanced promise far more benefits than the status quo.

Bottom Line

The only rationale for standing in the way of social workplace progress is fear. But in this brave new socially-driven world of work, fear might as well be money in a mattress.

Did you miss this week’s preview? Look here — and look below for a swanky slideshow of yesterday’s many tasty tweets. We again thank our new best friends over at Hootsuite, who guest moderated #TChat World of Work with characteristic Twitter savvy: Joining Ambrosia were Ben Watson (@bitpakkit), Hootsuite’s vice president of marketing; Steve Johnson (@steve1johnson), Hootsuite’s chief revenue officer; and additional members of Hootsuite’s HR team, Sabrina Lavin and Kristine Naldoza.

[javascript src=”//storify.com/socialmediasean/tchat-insights-one-trillion-dollars-of-social-med.js?template=slideshow”]

#TChat INSIGHTS: One Trillion Dollars of Social Media Tweets

Storified by Sean Charles · Wed, Sep 19 2012 21:23:51

Guess Hoo’s Coming to #TChat Tonight Wed 7pm/EST? Bam, it’s Team @hootsuite Join US! http://pic.twitter.com/cOAIPB9CSean Charles
Five minutes to #TChat. Just wanted to say hi to everyone! Online now…ambrosia
Hello! Supporting our owls and looking forward to this chat. RT @steve1johnson: Awesome joining the great folks at #tchat tonight!Kristine Naldoza
Me and Adrian droppin’ into #TChat from the @WorkSimple office in #SF! http://pic.twitter.com/R1XUp5BkJocelyn Aucoin
@FaronicsHR @FrankZupan @KevinWGrossman @DaveTheHRCzar @ybalanced @PRGWest @RichardSPearson arrr #TChat http://twitpic.com/aweka2Sylvia Dahlby
Coffee is on and in the office ready to #TChat http://pic.twitter.com/a5TkAFK8Jen Olney
#Tchat Live from the Czar’s basement/mancave http://twitpic.com/awebm7Dave Ryan, SPHR
Going to get started Q.1 Social tech is valued upwards of $1.3 trillion. Where’s the greatest biz opportunity in the next few years? #TChatambrosia
Q1 Learning culture requires participation from top level management to workers at every level. Can’t just roll out without buyin. #TChatJudy Martin
A1 Knowledge / data sharing. Consolidation of services in the “cloud”. #TchatRedge
a1 social media is an invitation to co-create meaning & build engagement – both customers with a brand & employees with organisation #tchatrobbie semple
@hambrody A1: Increased innovation from workers who use & *get* #socialmedia. #tchatTara Eames
A1 Online “Techspertise” consulting & marketing / selling via brand content management. #TchatRedge
A1 #Privacy by design vs. an ad hoc / “make it up as you go” approach will become increasingly important in social tech. #TchatJoe Sanchez
A1 Device won’t matter… function for all #tchatsteve johnson
A1: Knowledge sharing across levels, functions and geographies #tchatLaTonya Wilkins
A1: Improved communications and collaboration within and across enterprises #TChatSean Charles
A1 Certainly another opportunity is in the realm of recruitment in terms of changing the way we interact and engage potential ee’s #TChatJanine Truitt
A1: Integration all of the social media, communication to include business side. #TChatRobert Rojo
A1: Smarter utilization of data. #tchatRob McGahen
A1. Mobile Apps Cloud Storage & Predictive Software #FutureGrowth #TchatDave Ryan, SPHR
A1 Greatest biz opportunity for social? Company engagement for all externally facing employees #tchatsteve johnson
#TChat – A1: Keep your current employees more engaged, as the economy improves, more opps, so spend money to retain talent, not replace!Michael!
A1: It’s gotta be in converging all aspects of the business enterprise under a common SM brand. #tchatMark Salke
A1) Integration. Social shouldn’t require unique, stand-alone apps, must integrate into work tools. #tchatJD Dillon
a1. Social business can save and transform our planet. #tchatMichael Clark
A1 The greatest biz opportunity is for big data aggregation tools & Mobile – m-o-b-i-l-e #TchatLeAnna J. Carey
A1: The greatest opportunity in the next few years involves combining the automation of systems with the personalization of social. #TChatTalent Generation
A1. Gotta go with marketing and advertising as the BIGGEST (but not only) #tchatChris Fields
A1. Internal collaboration, info-sharing as a knowledge management tool, get knowledge in people’s heads out into the org #TChatJane Watson
Moving forward Q2. Currently only 5% of U.S. online content sharing happens on social media. Will this change? #TChatambrosia
A2: People may be afraid of negative consequences if they share something that goes against their work ethics. #TChatAuchoybur Ferane_HR
A2: Like the larger economy, what happens depends on us–*right now* we are creating the future w/our choices. #DecideThenDO #TchatNancy Barry-Jansson
A2 – push marketing to users will explode as GPS proximity to events/products /targets is fine tuned #tchatRichard S Pearson
Q2) Agree with others that it HAS to. As more companies adapt and grow it will increase. #TChatAmber Britton
Q2 Where did that stat come from? 5% #notbuyingit #TchatDave Ryan, SPHR
A2: If you’re sharing online content, aren’t you, by definition, socializing media? #TChatMatt Charney
A2: Yes, as long as it is easy to create content and share it with social. Path of least resistance wins. #TChat #tchatFaronics HR
A2: if companies want to stay relevant and current, and be where the ppl are..it has to! #tchatPlatinum Resource
A2: To succeed it has to change, we’re creatures of habit, change comes slow, #TChatRobert Rojo
A2: Social sharing habits will change depending on the behavior of how people want to interact with platforms #tchatJen Olney
#TChat A2 – Some orgs are still using #SocialMedia like web 1.0, one sided engagement. NOT the way to use it, that is NOT social.Michael!
a2. Haven’t we always wanted everything to be more transparent? #tchatMichael Clark
Q.3 How do leaders overcome perception that employees “waste” their time on social media? Definitely not #hootsuite office concern;) #TChatambrosia
A.3 Being on social is a vital part of our recruitment strategy. It is definitely not time wasted for us! #TChatHootSuite HR
Haha touché > @bitpakkit: a3) Posting what you had for lunch isn’t bad if you work for the restaurant where you ate it. #tchatambrosia
A3: Orgs need to embrace the tool and even help employees learn how to use the power of social media. Stop trying to ban it. #tchatMatt Monge
#TChat A3 Leaders need to use it to engage with customers & focus their messages to share their vision/mission.Naomi Caietti
A3 Quite frankly I learn a lot more on social media than hanging around the water cooler. Gossip never taught me a thing. #justsayin #TChatJanine Truitt
A3. A good servant leader communicates well & has transparent relationships developing your people – TRUST Social as part of that #TChatKeith C Rogers
A3: Leaders need to find value in that ‘waste.’ Turn the perceived weakness into a strength. #tchatRob McGahen
A3. Recognize employees as a sample population. Value Social Media brings to employee’s lives mirror the customer’s. #TChatThinkCEO
A3 Trust . Employees aren’t mindless, they are an asset. Of you don’t trust them they won’t trust you. Employees will surprise you #tchatArron Daniels
A3. employees won’t be wasting their time if they learn how to use it effectively. @wilsonhcg showed me how to find candidates :) #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A3: Most leaders know the ROI of social, but do they know the value of it? #tchatRandy Thio
A3. Recognize employees as a sample population. Value Social Media brings to employee’s lives mirror the customer’s. #TChatThinkCEO
a3) Posting what you had for lunch isn’t bad if you work for the restaurant where you ate it. #tchatBen Watson
A3 If employees are being unproductive it’s usually an engagement and performance issues not a social media issue #TChatPam Ross
A3: Find examples of productive/effective/relevant enterprise social use w/in the org & showcase it. Nurture it. Reward it. Model it. #tchatExpertus
A3: Devil’s advocate alert -> Aren’t plenty of employees indeed wasting their time on social media? #TChat #tchatBrent Skinner
A3: Allowing employees a quick SM break every now and then can promote a more relaxed atmosphere at work and increase productivity #TChatSpark Hire
A3. I show my boss that I spend time on so me connecting with stds, promoting career svcs & share relevant blogs, articles with staff #tchatGuy Davis
Great discussion here. Q.4 Will social media only be valued by extroverted sharing & collaborative people? Is it an ego thing? #TChatambrosia
Spot on! @steve1johnson: A4 Social media’s value is substantial b/c it ISN’T about being extroverted. It’s about content, empathy… #tchatVicky Truong
A.4 Room for everyone. Various platforms have their spheres in #recruitment too: Twitter = public, FB = private, Linkedin = professional….ambrosia
A4: in many ways yes, but #bizsocial is more accepted than typical #socialmedia and gets everyone involved if it is a biz necessity #tchatJohn T. Lawrence
AWESOME! community, working together, feels good to be helpful @gingerconsult A4: it’s WE not ME #tchatLori~TranslationLady
A4. Social media gives individuals access to real-time info on any topic/event. Extroverted or not, you can’t deny the value in that! #tchatLaura Crawford
A4 No—asynchr. nature of #sm offers chance to compose thought—appeals to introverts. Increasing # of convos or ego isn’t only value! #tchatShawna Kelly
#TChat A4: Recognize and adapt to the cultural norm of social media or become dinosaurs sticking to legal compliance and a static brand.Avi Lambert
A4: Social media is about conversation, collaboration and filling diverse gaps that normally would be left open due to lack of info. #tchatBeverly Davis
A4 – Social media is like other communication tools, people will use it when they need it. #tchatMichael VanDervort
A4. With social media compliance becoming increasingly important in regulated industries it ll be valued by people w/ diverse natures #tchatsandrachung
Extroverts adopt early, but: @MeghanMBiro: A4: I’ve seen many INTROVERTS do very well w/ #socialmedia – It’s not a necessary skill. #TChatKeith C Rogers
@talemetry re: A4 Everyone participating on #socialmedia is collaborative; gives introverts an equal voice, too. #TChat > Smart perspective!Ian Gertler
a4 social media no different to a meeting. introverts can add value too just need to have an easy method… like buttons? re-tweet? #tchatrobbie semple
Big final Question: Q.5 What are the best social tech tools for recruiting, onboarding, learning, performance, retention & mobility? #TChatambrosia
A5) When selecting tech, my first question: “is it mobile?” If I can’t share from my phone in a movie theater, I’m not buying. #tchatJD Dillon
a.5 we launched this entire cultural initiative through our social platforms Twitter and 7Geese! http://ow.ly/dQuzY #TChatambrosia
#TChat a5. @Evernote @Rypple @jobs2webMichael Danubio
A5. ESNs like Tibbr or Yammer or MoxieSoft… #TChatBill Cushard
A5) Twitter is my muse. I spend a lot of time in @confluence for content curation, sharing, and learning. #tchatJD Dillon
A5 Twitter &LinkedIn are gret tech tools for HR to connect, as well as provide insight. #TChatAmy Do
A5: Another GREAT tool for workspace management is @Podio. It beats Basecamp any day of the week! #TchatGwen Woltz
A5 LinkedIn is good for recruiting / learning. Blogs are great for learning / engagement. Twitter an avenue for all of the above. #TChatRedge
A5. The best social tool for reruiting is YOU! #TchatDave Ryan, SPHR
a.5 Twitter (@hoothr) has been a huge game changer in not only recruitment but also our onboarding, and cultural initiatives! #HR #TChatambrosia
Hurrah @hoothr RT @hambrody a.5 we launched entire cultural initiative thru social platforms Twitter and 7Geese! http://ow.ly/dQuzY #TChatDaveO from HootSuite
Thanks #Tchat and @talentculture @meghanmbiro for having @HootSuite on today. We’ll post a storify tomorrow. We had a brain blast! #wowambrosia

What’s Next on the #TChat Radar?

Be sure to join us next week (Wednesday 9/26, 7pmET/4pmPT) as we explore the dynamics of generational differences in the workplace — especially when older workers report to younger managers. (Read the preview post.)

Image Credit : Riesgo frente a recompensa, by Daniel Lobo

Get Back to Work with Generation Now: #TChat Recap

And then there’s this:

The term was used in a 1964 study of British youth by Jane Deverson. Deverson was asked by Woman’s Own magazine to interview teenagers of the time. The study revealed a generation of teenagers who “sleep together before they are married, were not taught to believe in God as ‘much’, dislike the Queen, and don’t respect parents.” Because of these controversial findings, the piece was deemed unsuitable for the magazine. Deverson, in an attempt to save her research, worked with Hollywood correspondent Charles Hamblett to create a book about the study. Hamblett decided to name it Generation X. (Whatever happened to the original Generation X?. The Observer. January 23, 2005.)

That’s part of my generation’s namesake. A proud moment indeed, although I was taught to believe in God and I respected my parents. Just sayin’.

For us to better understand the generations around us, we’ve named, we’ve labeled, we’ve classified, we’ve categorized, we’ve stereotyped. We’ve taken date ranges and created generational groups and aligned specific traits with each, knowing that the long tail on either end will have fewer of those shared traits.

And as it applies to the workforce today, we’ve created a booming industry around how best to assess and place the generations in the workplace, because we all know how unmanageable those wily Millennials are (i.e., Gen Y, those born somewhere between the mid-1970′s and the mid 1990′s). Plus, there’s these Gen Z kids today with their digital nativism and hyper-connective collaboration while us Gen Xers and Boomers destroy the global economic engine.

Right, that last part is already in play unfortunately; it’s not just the younger generations that shred the societal fabric.

It’s been said that Millenials will have at least 7-8 careers in their lifetimes. Again, I’m a Gen Xer and I’ve already had 7 to date. Many of my peers can relate to the path of “I wanted to be this but I fell into that, and that, and that.” There are now five generations in the workplace who are scrambling to stay afloat in this post-apocalyptic economy, even with the hot spots in emerging economies such as Brasil, India and China.

Months ago I wrote that some of the most exciting business startup activity in over a decade is coming from a mixed generational group, young and old alike, all re-imaging the way and why of work within an emotional connectivity and cultural inclusivity. I still say that’s the trend, as well as the fact that contingent workers, consultants, and independent contractors of all ages will make up as much as 35% of the total U.S. workforce within a decade.

But it’s the bucket generalizations that bother me the most, because if we’re truly focused on getting the job engine started again, and hiring and promoting for the highest quality of fit and productivity, then each individual needs to be assessed on their own merits including experiences, skills, education, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, collaboration, adaptability and the like, not based on a broad-stroke labels that help sell books and create media soundbytes, but aren’t going to help businesses thrive.

Stop the name calling. Let’s just call us all Generation Now and get the world back to work.

Read Matt Charney’s precap here as well as the questions.

The #TChat Twitter chat and #TChat Radio are created and hosted by MeghanMBiro and KevinWGrossman, and powered by our friends and partners:  TalentCultureMonster_WORKSMonsterCareersHRmarketer, and of course Focus.

Building and Sustaining Online Talent Communities: #TChat Preview

Originally Posted on MonsterThinking

The interesting thing about technologies (cloud computing is a good example) is that while they profoundly change the way we live our lives and operate day-to-day, no one, outside a few technophiles, understand not only why these emerging tools are important, but also why the average consumer should care.

And with good reason; the ultimate test of any technology is its transparency; apositive user experience is predicated, after all, primarily on instinct and intuition.

Consumer technology, as a rule, is designed to operate in the background, enabling efficiencies and empowering users in significant, yet silent, ways.

The more one has to think about a technology, the more it calls attention to itself, the greater challenges it faces in gaining user adoption and, consequently, main stream success; user experience is the fundamental difference between a Mac and a mainframe, between 8 MM film and digital video.

But when it comes to the social technologies in the talent acquisition tool box, the goals, and associated best practices, shift from creating transparency to increasing visibility.

This is, after all, the entire point of engagement and employer branding.  Getting top candidates to notice your company, its culture and careers creates the competitive advantage in the war for talent.

This also requires fundamentally rethinking many of the tenets of HR Technology; after all, applicant tracking systems are designed to drive applications, not to mention operational and reporting efficacy, by making the process as streamlined and intuitive as possible for both recruiter and applicant (how well they succeed is a different matter).

The most meaningful metrics here are tactical (days to fill, number of applicants, etc.), but for most organizations in this market, finding applicants quickly isn’t the challenge: it’s finding the best candidates.  Who, as we know, have the kind of marketable skills that mean they probably aren’t actively looking.

That’s where talent communities come in.  In the new world of work, it’s not about selling jobs anymore.  It’s about building relationships.

And the transactional tools of driving applications and developing databases are giving way to strategic initiatives which transform recruiters, traditionally “gatekeepers,” into career concierges.  Or, as they’re more commonly referred to, “brand ambassadors.”

These talent communities have traditionally been called “talent pools” or “pipelines,” but these concepts are quickly drowning in that these relationships exist in private, on the phone or over e-mail, with everything tracked in a closed system: “Just calling to check in and see how everything’s going.”

This 1-1 interaction can easily be scaled, and translated, into meaningful interactions that give insight and add value not only to the candidate who’s “right now,” but those who will be “right” in the future, showing the process and filling in the traditional black holes of transparent technology.

Of course, building talent communities takes time.  But here’s the good news: they’re organic, and if managed properly, are self-sustaining, with the community of candidates driving the dialogue about what it’s like to work at your company – and why they might want to work there.

And while that drives affinity, loyalty, and ultimately, increased applications and referrals for an employer, it also gives the recruiter a recruiter visibility into that most nebulous – but most important – consideration of all: culture fit.

#TChat Preview Post: Building and Sustaining Online Talent Communities (09.28.11)

Because culture’s the core component of all communities.  Your workforce included.  That’s why this week, in the lead up toHREvolution, #TChat Radio will on the air at 7 PM ET/4 PM PT discussing the best ways brands can build – and maintain – sustainable, 3-D talent communities.

We’ll be joined by a cavalcade of social media stars, including:

Whether you’re an employer, candidate, marketer, leader or recruiter, talent communities are more than just a buzzword: they’re likely to be the place you find the next job or your next hire.

Here are the questions we’ll be discussing, along with some background reading that, while not required, will help inform  – and prepare – your participation in our #TChat discussion, on air and online, on this week’s topic: Building and Sustaining 3-D Talent Communities:

Q1) What is a talent community and how does it relate to sourcing and recruiting?

Read: How to Build & Maintain A Talent Community by Heather Huhman

Q2) Who’s responsible for building and maintaining talent communities within an organization?

Read: Talent Communities: A Whole New World by Maren Hogan

Q3) Should companies create enterprise wide talent communities, or smaller, specialized “neighborhoods?”

Read: Put A Sandbox in Your Roundabout by Kevin W. Grossman

Q4) What do talent communities need to remain sustainable and successful?  What are the biggest taboos?

Read: How Organizations Are Dealing With Social Media by Harpul Sambhi

Q5) What are some of the biggest benefits of building talent communities for employers? For candidates?

Q6) What does an effective talent community look like?  Any best practices or examples you’ve seen?

Read: A Fresh Approach to Recruitment and Employee Engagement by Connie Blaszczyk

Visit www.talentculture.com for more great information on #TChat, as well as other great resources on careers and hiring.

Monster’s social media team supports #TChat’s mission of sharing “ideas to help your business and your career accelerate — the right people, the right ideas, at the right time.”

We’ll be joining the conversation at our new time this Wednesday night as co-hosts with Meghan M. Biro ,  Kevin W. Grossman , and Craig Fisher from 7-8 p.m. (Eastern) via @MonsterCareersand @Monster_Works.