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Via Forbes : How Organizations Can Open The Door To Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is a strategic imperative for organizations that want to be successful in attracting and retaining talent. As I heard Dr. Lisa Nishii, Associate Professor and Chair of Industrial and Labor Relations International Programs at Cornell University, describe it in a class once, employee engagement is how work does or does not get done in an organization. Engaged employees are connected to the organization and its goals, and invested in outcomes. Disengaged employees are trying to do just enough not to get fired (at best) or may be sabotaging the organization (at worst).

From special perks and benefits to measuring engagement levels of employees, this is a booming industry. The good news is that there are many experts who are ready, willing and able to help organizations and leaders with their employee engagement efforts. The better news is that there are three effective strategies you can begin using right now that will not deplete the budget.

Start With A Solid Foundation

One key component of employee engagement is to provide an environment where everyone can be heard, valued and respected. Organizations are well-advised to implement policies of respect and openness in the workplace that reach beyond compulsory compliance with state and federal laws.

Hold Everyone Accountable

Leaders should be vigilant to ensure employee behaviors are congruent with expectations and step in when they are not to hold everyone — including themselves and other leaders — accountable for the work environment. Workplace practices eat policies out of the organization.

Have An Open-Door Policy

Just about every company I know has some sort of open-door policy and, in theory, this is an excellent way to help employees feel heard, valued, and respected — until it’s not. Distractions, competing priorities and lack of openness to new perspectives often close those doors we claim to push apart. Here are some suggestions for swinging those doors wide open:

• Put down the phone and move away from your monitor. Employees need your undivided attention in order to connect and feel heard. Don’t make them compete with your email, texts or phone calls.

• Consider scheduling time to speak with employees. Agreeing to speak with someone who drops by when you have a meeting in five minutes may cause you to be preoccupied or hurried. Rushing through a conversation will have the opposite effect you were striving for.

• Resist the urge to rush to a solution. Do not make these interactions into a to-do list that you move through quickly to get them off your already overflowing plate.

• Listen with intentionality, ask clarifying questions and jot down notes when appropriate.

• Do not pull the “boss” card. Nobody liked the “because I said so” response from Mom and Dad when they were a child and they do not appreciate it as an adult. Everyone knows you are the boss — that’s why you get to have the open door.

• Try to see things from their perspective before you respond. Franklin Covey had it right when he said, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

• Follow up to ensure the issues have been resolved or to see how things are going. This is an often missed, but critically important, part of the open-door policy, and it is essential for employee engagement.

Employee engagement is critically important to the success of your organization whether you are a behemoth company, a small business or anywhere in between. Luckily, good people practices that lead to increased engagement do not require astronomical budgets. Begin with solid policies and leadership accountability, and swing those doors wide open.

Via Real Business : Employers are failing to implement effective onboarding processes

A study has revealed that HR teams and new employees hold disparate values about what constitutes effective onboarding.

New research has revealed that whilst many businesses, or at least their HR departments, believe they make efforts to integrate new employees into their teams, the reality is that many fail to do so properly.

This has been backed up by research conducted by Belgian based Vlerick Business School and HR software company, Talmundo. It revealed that 40% of employees felt they did not receive the minimum support requirements when starting a new job.

The Europe-wide study sought to bridge the knowledge gap between increasingly disappointed employees and seemingly unaware HR professionals. Here are the findings.

Onboarding: Great HR lingo but light on implementation

For all the non-HR people out there, onboarding denotes the process whereby an employee is welcomed, or integrated into a new company. Onboarding is top of the HR vocabulary for people working in the sector. However, the study has shown that onboarding is more rooted in language than it is in workplace-based practice.

What do new employees say?

Well, they’re saying plenty of things, but none of them are glowing reports about onboarding experiences. Some 43% said it took a week for them to gain access to a basic workstation and administrative tools.

The HR professionals who participated in the study were of the opinion that onboarding is incredibly important, and yet 34% of employees have not witnessed such a program at their organization at all.” – Dirk Buyens, Vlerick Business School

Whilst it is widely acknowledged that offices are mighty busy places, it’s essential that HR teams prepare an onboarding plan for the integration of a new employee before they even start.

This should include preparing a welcome-sheet with all their log-in and workstation requirements.

It will cut down on time-wasting fuss when they arrive. Over half of employees asked said their integration period was rushed, and only lasted the first month on the job. This is despite an estimated 48% of HR professionals understanding that the onboarding process should last for at least the first three months of an employee’s working life in a new company.

The gulf is vast, what should we do about it?

Allowing for the gap between well-intended but meaningless HR rhetoric and increasingly dissatisfied new employees to continue will only damage company reputations further, leading to high rates of staff owner, and some rather disparaging remarks on glassdoor.

Whilst it’s understandable that HR professionals, like all other members of workplace teams, are under increasing pressure to multi-task under strict deadlines, they are not doing their jobs properly if HR care is left at the entrance door of employment.

Effective onboarding management requires care, attention and continuous support for the new employee before, and during their first few months of employment.

Failure to do this because of perceived time constraints will only cut down on working productivity further down the line when the new employee has to rely on already busy colleagues for basic administrative information and access to tools.

So, HR teams and hiring managers, listen to the feedback from the people you employed if you want higher integration, productivity and employment reputation in your place of work.

Hear their stories, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Via Forbes : Why Is There Such A Disconnect Between Baby Boomers And Millennials When It Comes To Work Ethic?

Baby boomers sometimes believe millennials are entitled and lazy, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Millennials have entered a professional world where their realities are wildly different from the ones Boomers knew. They prioritize things that don’t make sense to boomers because their environment has different demands.

For example, millennials expect to be fired or let go regularly, so they want work that is directly in line with their own career equity, which are the skills and experiences that help them improve their career prospects. They know their time is limited, so they don’t invest in doing things outside their own path. Boomers, however, are used to working hard for a company in exchange for long-term investment in skills development and for security, like a retirement fund or pension.

But employment security and long-term investment no longer exist in the modern working world. So what are millennials working for?

Having worked extensively with millennials at my companies, I’ve found they often work incredibly hard. But first, they need to feel like what they’re working toward aligns with their own goals and aspirations. Specifically, I hired a lot of freshly graduated art history students to work as account representatives at Lofty.com. I ensured upon hiring them that I knew what they wanted to build in their careers, and ensure that their role within Lofty would amount to that end. This created a management-employee partnership. They worked hard for my company because they felt they were getting something out of it that benefited them.

This may sound foreign to boomers. They come from a world where they were expected to pay their dues by working hard on whatever the company needed, with the expectation that the company would reward them over in the long-term. Now, millennials will work hard when they are given opportunities that help them provide for themselves without any kind of deal.

In order to bridge this generational divide, we have to update the old bargain in a way that boomers can understand and millennials can use. That means understanding where both sides are coming from in order to make the best possible deal.

But first, let’s talk a little further about where boomers are coming from.

Baby boomers have certain expectations of young employees based on their own experience.

Boomers entered a company and were expected to pay their dues in order to move forward. The understanding was if they worked hard for the company for several years, and the company benefited from their work, they’d be rewarded with pay raises and promotions. If they stayed with the company long enough, they’d have a pension and a 401K.

This was the bargain struck between an employee and company in the old days: you work hard and in exchange, we’ll give you security and stability.

Now, boomers expect millennials to work for the same bargain. They think millennials want to progress too fast and aren’t paying their dues, which comes off as lazy. Boomers also assume millennials are flighty and don’t stay in their roles with any kind of commitment. What boomers don’t realize is the other end of the deal they had, the end that’s supposed to be a payoff for the employee, isn’t there anymore.

It’s a whole new world out there, and boomers have to recognize that if they’re going to successfully manage millennials.

They also have to understand what millennials actually want.

Because millennials don’t expect to stay with a company for the long term, their interest is in what can benefit them now.

This doesn’t come from an inability to commit. It’s the result of massive turnover rates, an unstable economy, and a more competitive business environment.

What millennials are learning from their work experience is they will inevitably get fired, let go, shut down, or need to look elsewhere for personal growth. They expect to leave a position in a very short amount of time, so they want to get paid competitively and want to take on more responsibility quickly. They treat work as a way to build their own professional equity and skill set as future bargaining chips so when it’s time to move on, they’re prepared.

Professional services companies like consulting firms, investment banks and law firms have already found a way to tap into this mindset by offering skills development and mentorship. In some ways, they’re preparing their staff to move on to other companies, but they’re also getting an intense level of hard work from millennials in the meantime. In some cases, the employee feels invested and stays long-term.

Tech companies also understand the benefit of this investment and fight to recruit then keep millennial talent. For example, Google also currently sends employees to conferences and boot camps to improve their skills. This is another way to tap into millennial aspirations for a mutual benefit. The team feels like they’re getting skills they can apply anywhere, and the company gets a return on their investment.

While this is one example of what a new bargain could look like, it’s not the only one.

There are other ways to tap into a millennial’s aspirations, but they don’t come from mind-reading.

Boomers managing millennials need to understand their employment relationship is going to be short, so they have to cut to the point. Conversations around what the employee wants from a job need to happen as early as the interview in order to continue motivating throughout the working relationship.

Some questions to ask include:

  • What does the employee want from us?
  • What are we providing the employee in exchange?
  • What does the employee want in the long term? The short-term?
  • What do they want from their career?
  • What kinds of goals do they have outside of work?

Once a boomer has answers to a few of these, they can start to craft a mutually beneficial working relationship with their millennial staff. This means having regular conversations between employee and employer about what each side wants from the role going forward and how the two can help each other in the best way.

One thing I do at Codex Protocol is have monthly meetings with each employee. We don’t talk about their projects or what they’ve accomplished. I limit the conversations strictly to what they want going forward and how I can help them achieve that. I’ve noticed in my millennial employees, they work the hardest when I’ve given them chances to do work, achieve goals, and build their resume toward what they want long-term.

There’s a way to build mutually beneficial relationships between generations, and it comes from compromise on both sides. When given tasks that make them feel like they’re building toward something, millennials will work to help boomers’ businesses grow. Bridging the communication gap between these two generations can lead to greater outcomes on all sides, and maybe we can finally put a stop to all those think pieces about millennial work ethic.

Via Customer Think : It’s Time to Consider Compensation in Employee Engagement Efforts

Throughout the business world, there’s no shortage of conversation about employee engagement. Experts all over agree that keeping employees engaged is vital to retaining key staff, driving productivity, and increasing innovation. What they don’t seem to agree on, however, is how to actually make that happen.

It’s easy to see why. It’s because there’s no one-size-fits-all solution that will guarantee that all employees in every industry will remain engaged at all times. There is, of course, one critical part of employee engagement that business leaders and employee engagement specialists assiduously avoid ever discussing: compensation. The reason for that should be obvious to all, but in today’s challenging labor environment, a day may be coming where employers won’t be able to continue ignoring compensation as a key part of their employee engagement strategies.

A Cloudy Narrative

One of the reasons that it’s been so easy to ignore compensation levels in the quest for higher employee engagement is that there are plenty of statistics that would seem to contradict its importance. For example, an oft-cited study reported that 60% of all employees would take a slight pay cut in exchange for an empathetic employer. That particular statistic is illustrative in its murkiness. When you consider the fact that ’empathy’ isn’t a quantifiable employer trait, it starts to become obvious that the finding is irrelevant. There’s also the matter of response bias. Think of it this way: if a survey asked you if you’d take a pay cut for a more empathetic employer, wouldn’t you respond in the affirmative, knowing such a situation would never occur and was so ill-defined as to be meaningless?

An Unavoidable Reality

At the end of the day, while employee engagement does depend on a range of factors that extend well beyond a paycheck, it’s an inescapable conclusion that compensation plays a major – if not determining – role in worker satisfaction and engagement. The numbers don’t lie. Only 29% of hourly workers and 41% of salaried workers are satisfied with their current pay. According to William Sugarman, Esq., founder of Astor Professional Search, a national legal recruiting firm, “We’ve seen a marked shift in candidate attitudes regarding pay scales. In a tight labor market, with employers offering similar benefits and perks, salary is often the bottom line in their decisions.” There’s an inescapable logic there as well. If a majority of employees report dissatisfaction with their pay, it’s obvious that offering higher wages would lead to happier, more dedicated employees.

Transparency and the New Normal

For any business leader focused on employee engagement, it’s about time to start having frank discussions about compensation in their organizations. To continue to ignore such an obvious part of the employee engagement picture will only serve to sabotage any other efforts in the area, no matter how well-intentioned. In a labor market that is showing no indications of slackening, it’s more important than ever to embrace what should have been an obvious conclusion: better pay creates happier, more engaged employees. That’s not all though. Those that do turn their attention to employee compensation should also do their level best to increase transparency in that area as well.

Doing so will reduce the need for unnecessary wage increases for employees that were under the mistaken impression that they were being paid unfairly for their work. In many cases, having access to pay data alone is enough to assuage the negative feelings harbored by some employees, thus paying automatic dividends to overall engagement. At the end of the day, compensation is a two-way street. Employees want to be treated well and paid appropriately, and employers want engaged employees. When compensation is put in its rightful place in the employee engagement equation, everybody wins.

Via Business.com : Startup Guide to Hiring a Consulting CTO

While many successful companies are launched by individuals without a technical or engineering background, knowing when to hire a CTO and an internal software development and engineering team is an important part of your company’s growth.

Building the right team at the right time and stage in a company’s growth can make or break its success and ability to scale, especially for a startup.

While many successful companies are launched without a co-founder with a technical or engineering background, knowing when to hire a chief technology officer (CTO) and an internal software development and engineering team is an important part of your company’s growth.

Why (and when) to hire a consulting CTO

Consulting CTOs can provide the technical expertise and management experience to custom software development companies that help early-stage startups meet their strategic goals. So when might it make sense to bring on a consulting CTO?

Some of the factors to consider in your decision and hiring timeline include:

  • You are an early stage startup working with an outsourced or bootstrapped software development team
  • Your company does not have a technical co-founder or member of the management team
  • Prohibitive costs involved with recruiting full time or long term CTO
  • Finding technical and engineering talent with the right leadership skills and background to meet your goals
  • Your company does not need a full-time CTO at your current stage of growth
  • Your startup is facing a product launch, and you need to quickly bring on an experienced technical and engineering professional with the right management and leadership skills
  • Your startup is launching a product or spearheading a project that requires a unique skillset or type of experience that your current management and development team is lacking or has limited experience or knowledge of the technology and market
  • For general oversight capabilities and technical due diligence
  • As a short-term resource in the early or mid stages of your startup’s growth while you look for the right long-term candidate if you later decide that it makes sense to fill the position permanently

The “right” time to bring in new leadership will vary from company to company. Addressing your engineering team’s current pain points against the organization’s needs and plans to scale in the short and long term are a great place to start in determining when to hire outside talent.

A consulting CTO can provide the flexibility and expertise necessary to succeed in an early stage startup environment.

Qualities to look for in a CTO

In addition to flexibility, technical expertise and management experience, and relevant knowledge in your field, there are a few qualities to look for in a great CTO candidate:

  • Stellar engineering background
  • The right experience for your company’s product line and vision for growth
  • A robust professional network to leverage
  • Good communication skills
  • Relevant leadership skills
  • A strategic thinker
  • The right set of tools

As most founders and investors know, things seldom go according to plan in the startup world, especially where technology is concerned. Whether you have a small team operating on the lean startup model or are growing at a rapid pace and already have several talented engineers on your team, things can (and probably will) change at a moment’s notice.

It may be difficult for you to predict when your startup will benefit from hiring a technology manager or CTO, and in many cases the answer to the question “When should we bring on a CTO?” is “yesterday.” A consulting CTO can join your team quickly and is trained to work and solve problems in a startup environment.

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