Archive for the ‘Recruiting and Retention’ Category

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Is Corporate Loyalty Dead?

December 4, 2013

Nope, but it is a former version of itself.  It doesn’t look the way it looked 30 years ago…gone are the days (for most) of working at a company for 25 to 30+ years and retiring with the gold watch.  So if loyalty from employees is different…what is it, how do you define it, and most importantly…how do you capitalize on it?  Consider this example…

In my local December 1st paper there was an article on airline frequent flier miles and transferable policies.  It compared the largest U.S.-based airlines on clear and published polices vs. vague, unpublished and inconsistently applied policies.  It also compared on specific policies like if the accumulated points were transferable and if a fee was charged, or not, on transferring the points.  Another policy compared was whether there were limits to whom you could give your points too, especially after death.  (In case you are wondering, US Airways was the clear winner on providing clear guidelines and in my opinion had the best consumer policies.)  And the last sentence of the article packed the biggest punch…”the average American is a member of 22 loyalty programs.”  Twenty-two!  A quick look in my wallet had me as a member of 16 loyalty programs.  I was kinda surprised…who knew I could be so loyal?  The research firm in the article – Colloquy – estimates that “memberships in such programs increased more than 26% in the past 2 years, and all those miles, points and rewards are worth some $50 billion.”

Clearly Americans love loyalty programs.  Why?  While the programs provide repeat customers to the company, in the consumer’s eye they benefit greatly, and in some cases in really big ways. (Think lots of free flights.)  A loyalty program puts me at the center…I get sneak peeks on new items, first notification of big sales, free products and some special treatment.  Loyalty programs put ME first (or for the most part I have agreed to believe they do)!

But companies are different with their employees…they expect loyalty before giving you big rewards. Consider that for the most part all I have to do is sign up for a consumer-based loyalty program and I’m accepted.  So what if companies flipped the idea of “loyalty”.   What if loyalty was no longer equated with job stability or employment for life, as it is defined today.  But what if it was defined as how a company invests in you – from day one.  Put the employee at the center, support them in their development, provide clear, published expectations and throw in some fun rewards!  And remember to remind me of why I am loyal…a consumer-based loyalty program reminds me every time I check out and get a discount with my card or redeem my miles/points for free stuff.  Companies need to do the same too.

Final thought:  To all the companies…It’s true, I may not be employed with you for the next 20 years but we could have a good 3-to 5-to 7-year run in which I do right by you and you do right by me.  Loyalty, redefined.

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Well That is Just Depressing

November 7, 2013

I recently read in my local paper an article titled “Not happy with work? Wait till you’re 50 or older.”  The article provided data from a study conducted by The Associated Press – NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.  The study found that 9 in 10 workers who are 50 years or older say they are very or somewhat satisfied with their job.  It seems older workers, regardless of who they are, reported higher satisfaction with their job.  The assumption drawn from the study was that “older workers generally have already climbed the career ladder, increased their salaries and reached positions where they have greater security, so more satisfaction makes sense.”  The study also reports that 38% of young adults express deep satisfaction with their work as compared to 63% of those 65 years and older.

So if I’m not engaged and satisfied with my work I should just wait until I get older?   That can’t be right.  Yes, I understand the subtle point the article is making…there are more variables to cause me unhappiness in a job the younger I am.  And as I age I can become more settled in the direction of my life and my career.  But waiting till I am 50 years or older to be satisfied in my work is just depressing.

When I work with companies or teach classes/workshops on employee engagement I break engagement down into four parts, four equal parts yet some are truly more important than others.  Those four parts are the individual, the manager, the team, the company. (For smaller companies there may only be three parts as the company isn’t large enough to have different teams.)  Engagement starts with the individual so the idea of just waiting around to grow older to become satisfied or engaged doesn’t add up.  You can’t motivate someone who doesn’t want to be motivated but it is an employee’s responsibility to show up willing, with a mindset, that he or she wants to and can be engaged in their work.  And that doesn’t just happen with age.  That happens by choice.

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Do you care for me?

October 21, 2013

I recently conducted qualitative research for a graduate school thesis…how employees perceive leadership as told through their worst boss stories.

At the heart of looking at worst boss stories is being able to peel back what is hard to articulate in a positive boss relationship.  Worst boss stories allow you to drill down to what is really important when a relationship isn’t what it is supposed to be because what is actually needed is able to come through more clearly.  This research provides a back-to-basics step in clarifying what employees really want from the relationship with their boss.  My research shows there are two overarching themes…employees expressed a need for task support and emotional support.  Now this is not a new revelation but the research provides an additional body of research from a different perspective, one not told in academic research.

So why study leadership and the boss/subordinate relationship?  Some would consider it to be an over-exhaustive subject.  Because we are human and we like to study relationships.  Outside of marriage and raising kids there is not another relationship we focus on more than the boss/subordinate relationship, which is at the heart of leadership.  Let’s face it, when something is a main constant in our lives we have a tendency to obsess about it.  In fact, as a society, we are obsessed with leadership.  A recent Amazon.com search pulled up almost 85,000 books on the topic of leadership.  Which provides another reason for my research – to cut through the enormous amount of styles…situational, country club, charismatic, authentic, and what about being creative…and focus on the relationship.

From the stories told and understanding what task and emotional support is as defined by my research provides a simple, though often overlooked reality of the boss-subordinate relationship.  When you drill down to the heart of what employees are looking for they need three things from the boss subordinate relationship which I call the Leadership Covenant³™.  The tenants of the covenant are:

1. Care about me
2. Guide me
3. Speak up for me

Employees want to know you care about them.  In a recent article in the Fortune magazine Frank Blake, CEO of Home Depot talked about the first step to improving customer service is to “start by taking care of the associates.”  Blake goes on to talk about the first question an employee will ask of the company, which isn’t about training, but is “Does the company care about me?”  It is a basic first step in building the relationship.  Companies must care and bosses must care.  I believe when you stop caring about the people you lead you cease to be a leader.

Employees want to be guided.  They want direction, but they don’t want to be controlled or dis-respected.  Academic research shows that one of the three reasons someone stays at a company is direction.  To be engaged and a contributor to the company’s success you have to know what you are doing and what is expected of you.

Employees want a boss to speak up for them.  Be an advocate…look out for employee’s interest, help them develop their skills and career, understand what drives and motivates them. And when you are speaking up for the employee, don’t take credit for what they did.  Simple enough, surprisingly hard for many to execute on.  (Read this article if you have a boss who takes the credit and blames the failures on you.)

The Leadership Covenant³ is simple to understand, but execution seems to provide the most hurdles.  So what do you think?  Take our poll and don’t forget to share your comments.

 

 

 

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Levels of Aspiration

April 25, 2012

Do you have a “level of aspiration” when it comes to your work and career? When you mash Tamara Dembo’s and Kurt Lewin’s “level of aspiration” theory with David McClelland’s work on achievement motivation an interesting concept starts to take shape.  Some of us will reach a level within our work or career and will not desire to go any higher.  According to McClelland some of us are just not born with a high desire to achieve.  But of course some of us are.  Makes sense, right?

So if this makes sense why do companies tie themselves in knots trying to figure out why employees may not want to reach the corner office, become a partner, or at the very least take that next promotion?  Now of course this is the opposite of the Peter Principle (which is being promoted to a level of incompetence).  If you have a boss who suffers from the Peter Principle – remember he or she allowed themselves to be promoted to that level (and they may not be aware of their incompetence, which is always the kicker).

But I digress. The level a person wants to reach in terms of title, responsibility, expected connectivity and stress is different for each person and in society we tend to frown upon those who don’t aspire for more.  But is the reality that there is a lack of desire to become a corporate executive alive and well?

One new study from Intelligent Office (IO) found in a survey of 1,075 people no one, not even one person, aspired to become a corporate executive.  More than half, 65%, want to work as an entrepreneur or independent.  The “Work IQ” survey found a shift in work styles as well with an emphasis on more flexible work hours, have more mobility in life, and access to technology (like laptop or iPad) that affords the desired mobility.

The survey results bring up three thoughts for me…
1. Were the results a fluke due to our economic environment?  I mean there are approximately  157,000 students in MBA schools across the country (rough estimate from AACSB accredited schools).  Aren’t most MBAs in school because the masters degree could lead to the next promotion and possibly to a position as a corporate executive?
2. IO didn’t provide a breakdown of the demographics in the release so I’m not sure if their survey respondents reflect more of our working society versus their customer base (Intelligent Office is the leading virtual, professionally staffed office space for mobile executives and small businesses in North America).  If the respondents mirror their customer base then the results make sense.  If the respondents mirror more of the workforce as a whole then the results are a cause for concern.
3. Considering the results mirror our current workforce then it does mean a new trend is being highlighted.  Could a shortage of corporate executives be on the horizon, exacerbated by the Baby Boomer retirements?

What would a shortage of potential corporate executives mean for your company?

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There’s an Employee Appreciation Day?

March 5, 2012

Did you know last Friday, March 2 was Employee Appreciation Day?  Yep, just one day on a random Friday that I guess probably went unnoticed by your boss or at your office.  And thank goodness it did.  Can you imagine celebrating Employee Appreciation Day when your company doesn’t appreciate employees in general – makes for an uncomfortable pizza or cake party?  Reminds me of a client meeting last year when it was mentioned that “Administrative Professionals Day” was coming up and they all quickly grabbed their phones and made a note of it. It’s like grandparents day too.  If it takes a day for you to recognize and thank your employees or assistant (or even your grandparents)…you might be dealing with a bigger problem. 

Why does it take a publicized day to remind you to thank those who make your life better (assuming your employees, assistant and grandparents actually make your life easier)?  In theory we understand the statement that companies don’t function without their employees is true but sometimes theory and practice couldn’t be farther apart.  You, and every boss or leader at your company should be showing your appreciation to employees often and for reasons that matter.   So what are the reasons that matter?  Here’s a bright idea…ask them.  Those employees can be quite clever and they typically know what matters to them in terms being recognized because they are appreciated.  I’ll give you a few ideas to get started when recognition and appreciation is needed…taking on a stretch project no matter the outcome, going above and beyond the “typical” work load, coaching or mentoring another employee, dealing with a  difficult client, trying to stay focused on work when dealing with a personal issue…and there are so many more. 

Also, don’t show appreciation for just showing up – that is hollow and meaningless.  One of the greatest ways to show appreciation is to thank your employees individually for their contribution and explaining how their contribution matters to the company.  Make the connection to how they matter to the work they do, to the company’s clients and the company overall.  When you are able to consistently show your appreciation you’ll never think twice about a throwing an awkward pizza party on some random Friday in March to remind your employees you care and they matter.

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Employee Engagement Wish

December 15, 2011

My wish this holiday season is not very simple. I wish that every employee enjoyed going to work. That doesn’t mean every day is a holiday but when asked if you enjoy what you do you would be able to honestly answer “Yes.”

Research shows you are engaged to a job, career or the work you do in three ways…

1. To your individual job – the function of your work, having resources and clear direction

2. To your manager – trust in your manager, quality time

3. To the company overall – the direction of the company, how decisions are made, comp & benefits

When one of the three falls out of alignment an employee becomes less engaged, less committed, less satisfied and most importantly…less productive.  The reason I started Randall Research (formerly SBR Consulting, LLC) is to help companies create work environments where employees want to come to work.  We spend a majority of our time working so it should at the very least be enjoyable and fulfilling, right?

Research shows that engaged employees outperform their disengaged co-workers by as much as 200% and are more productive by 43% in revenue generation.  What does 43% more revenue generation mean for your company’s bottom line?

Think back to a time when you enjoyed your job (maybe that time is now for you).  How productive were you? Were you willing to go above and beyond for your team or to meet organizational goals? I believe that a small team of engaged employees can outperform, out-maneuver and out-smart a big team of partially engaged or dis-engaged employees.

I explain engagement this way…engaged employees stay for what they contribute and dis-engaged employees stay for what they get.  Which do you prefer on your team?

So my wish for 2012 is for companies to get serious about understanding what engagement means for their employees and commit to making progress.  Start with an employee engagement survey, share the results with your employees, together create a roadmap for change and hold the company accountable through metrics for moving the needle. 

Here’s to a successful and engaging 2012!

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Guest Blog Post: Mobile & Social Recruiting

October 24, 2011

Every blue moon or so I post a guest bloggers thoughts on this blog…this one is interesting as Kyle Lagunas looks at the difference of mobile and social recruiting.  It is more tactical in nature than I share in this space which is why I find it interesting. Remember that the act of recruiting talent is the first important step in the employee engagement experience.

Recruiters have always been quick on the uptake when it comes to new and innovative technology, especially if this technology makes it easier to stay connected. Lately, there’s a lot of buzz surrounding social recruiting and mobile recruiting – and many recruiters are blinldy jumping on the bandwagon. But what’s just buzz, and what will become a permanent part of every recruiter’s toolbox?

Mobile Recruiting, Mobile Recruiting & Social Recruiting

What, exactly, are mobile and social recruiting?

Mobile recruiting can be used to describe two things:

  • Tools and best practices for managing the recruiting process on the go
  • Recruiting strategies that leverage SMS, QR code and mobile technology

 –Social recruiting refers to strategies leveraging social media outlets for recruiting talent.

  • Some argue that it’s  reinventing the wheel, but I’d say it’s taking the wheel and bringing it out of the Stone Age.

 Mobile Recruiting: Apps and More

Mobile recruiting allows recruiters to do what they do best: stay connected. How? Apps. There are a few recruiting apps that I really like:

  • JobScience puts the functionality of an applicant tracking system in recruiters’ pockets.
  • InstantCustomer is a handy gadget for business card and contact management.
  • GlobalRecruitingRoundtable gives users access to top industry news and trends, and allows them to plug in to a community of experts.
  • JobSpeek adds a new dimension to job postings: audio.

Mobile SMS and QR code recruiting is getting some serious attention. However, recruiting leader and sourcing consultant GeoffPeterson says, “The technology’s not 100% there.”

Social Recruiting: Plan for Your Slice of the Pie

Recruiting has always been social, but social media has opened a new can of worms. And if you want a piece of the social recruiting pie, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • You need a strategy. You may have a Twitter account, but that doesn’t mean you have a social recruiting strategy.
  • Don’t bombard, engage. Anyone can post “an exciting opportunity” on LinkedIn. If that’s all your using your social media accounts for, however, you’re going to lose your audience fast.
  • Keep the social in social media. You can get all the Facebook fans and Twitter followers you want, but unless you’re engaging your network, they’re just numbers.

About the Author: Kyle is the HR Analyst at Software Advice. He blogs about trends, technology and best practices in HR and recruiting by day, and drinks entirely too much wine by night.

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