Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Straight Scoop: Why Employee-Authored Content is a Branding Powerhouse

By Phil Strazzulla Pat is looking for a new job. She sees an opening that looks promising and realizes it’s at the company where her friend Terry works.

You might think that the first thing she’ll ask Terry is, “Can you put in a good word for me with the hiring manager?”

But you might be surprised. Because the first thing that Pat would ask—or that when you really think about it, any of us would ask—is, “What’s it like to work there?”

Sure, Pat could read the company description from the ad or online, or look at some of the company’s communications materials, but she doesn’t want the glossy key messages. She wants to hear from someone who’s in the trenches, so to speak. It’s pretty simple. So simple as to be obvious. And yet, it’s a truth that is completely forgotten about by most companies: when it comes to your reputation as a workplace, talent trusts your people more than your PR.

Employer Branding and Your Staff

Your reputation as a workplace is the underlying principle behind employer branding. You can have an amazing brand as a company, and your product can be the hot name on everybody’s lips. But if your reputation as an employer is a giant question mark (or worse, a hazard sign), you won’t be the top choice of the talented and energetic people you want on your team.

“But Phil, we’ve got a great corporate culture!” you say. “Everybody enjoys their work, challenges themselves and their teammates, respects each other, and really believes in why we’re doing what we do!”

That’s great, but nobody’s going to find out about it if you don’t pass the mic to your employees and let them tell the world. But, by curating employee-generated content, you can harness a cost-effective and powerful way to cement your employer branding and improve your transparency.

Your People: A Trusted Resource

Employee-generated content can be as simple as some quick blurbs from staff in different departments that describe their roles and what they enjoy about working for you or regular blog posts from a rotating roster of staff members. When made prominent and easily accessible on your company’s website, this employee-generated content acts as an army of “Terry”s, giving curious talent an authentic sense of your company’s culture.

Making it work will take some effort. You want to make it as painless and quick as possible for your staff members, so that you’re not taking away from their other duties more than necessary. This may require some extra prep work from management to organize and plan this content, configure templates, and devise other ways to make it as rewarding as possible for staff to participate in this. But it’ll all be worth it when the people who would fit best into your company can see that fit from the outside, spurring them to consider you before any other employer.
Nobody knows more on the topic of what talent cares about than the talent that’s already within your doors. So why not encourage your staffers to give an authentic picture of your story at a time?

Phil Strazzulla is the CEO of NextWave Hire, an employer branding software company that allows companies to collect hundreds of authentic employee stories, and then distribute them through career pages, social media, and various other channels.  NextWave works with companies like Dropbox,, CEB and more to help them build their brands and attract the best talent.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Embracing Internal Mobility: How to Successfully Manage the Re-Hiring Process

By Lisa Sterling, Chief People Officer, Ceridian

Changing roles at work, or “transboarding,” is not a new trend. It is, in fact, a reality of today’s world of work. Several trends play a part, namely retiring baby boomers, the need to fill their positions, and a new workplace dynamic and work/life mindset at play. Organizations are staffing for project-based teams rather than lifelong employment, and employees are placing more value on the ability to move in and out of the workforce depending on their life situation.

When we talk about transboarding—or internal mobility, as I prefer to think of it—we’re not just talking about moving up the career ladder within the confines of one’s current workplace function. Apart from this natural trajectory, internal mobility also includes navigating teams, departments, projects. and/or geographical locations culminating in a new set of responsibilities, colleagues, managers, direct reports, partners, and expectations. 

A successful transboarding experience is just as important as a successful onboarding experience when it comes to sustaining employee engagement and retention. Transboarding is a leadership opportunity that requires a commitment to employees and an understanding of the importance of workplace culture, subcultures by function, fit, and the significance of personal touchpoints, to ensure a smooth transition and continued career success.

Here are some ways employers can prepare for transboarding and successfully transboard existing staff into new roles within the company:

  •        Understand the vision and values of their new workplace function, which may be different from their previous function within the organization.
  •        Offer technology and people resources to help them succeed.
  •        Provide the educational opportunities necessary to manage and lead a diverse workforce while taking into account differences in geographical location, tenure, and personality.
  •        Give clear expectations about what success looks like, from the beginning.

The above points are fundamental to a successful transboarding experience, but  HCM (human capital management) technology can also play an important role in enabling a seamless transition. Such a transition means cultural assimilation and engagement of an employee who is transferring roles and joining a new team—with connectivity, communication and collaboration. 

Here’s how:
  •  Using single cloud-based HCM technology, create awareness of how the employee’s new job activities impact the overall company.
  •    Leverage personal and team relatability surveys to understand how transboarded employees can work best with others and drive higher level of interactions between managers and employees and teams.
  •  Automate the transfer of information into all HCM processes for accuracy, efficiency, productivity, and a seamless employee experience when transboarding from role to role.

By engaging transboarded employees as well as new hires faster, organizations can effectively build internal mobility into their culture, see a decrease in potential first-year attrition, and better enable employees to do their jobs. Through connectivity, communication, collaboration with HCM technology, and above all, a commitment by leaders to create a personalized and delightful employee experience, transboarded individuals have a high potential of remaining engaged, happy, and productive.

Lisa Sterling is the Chief People Officer for Ceridian, focused on executing the organization’s global people strategy combined with leading the vision of Dayforce Talent Management. Lisa originally joined Ceridian in June 2015 as Vice President of Dayforce Talent Management, responsible for global product strategy for Talent technologies. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

How HR Managers Can Ease Open Enrollment Stress

By Randy Stram, Senior Vice President, Group, Voluntary and Worksite Benefits at MetLife

Open enrollment season is coming up, and employees across the nation will face benefits enrollment decisions that will impact their families, finances, and themselves.

Choosing the right benefits is arguably one of the most important decisions employees will make for the coming year. However, many employees are confused by the process. According to MetLife’s 14th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study, nearly half (44 percent) of all employees report feeling stressed by the enrollment process, and 42 percent say they are confused about some or all of the information they receive regarding their benefits.

As benefits enrollment coordinators for their organizations, HR managers are well-positioned to add value to the process and, as a result, improve outcomes for both their employees and employers. Here are a few simple ways they can do so:

·       Offer a wide variety of benefits. Employees want choice in their benefits to meet their specific needs. In fact, more than half (55 percent) of employees say they are interested in having their employer provide a wider array of non-medical benefits that they can choose to pay for on their own, and over two-thirds (70 percent) strongly agree that having benefits customized to meet their needs would increase their loyalty to their employer, according to the study. To drive loyalty among employees, especially during enrollment season, HR managers should keep this top-of-mind.

·       Clearly communicate the practical and financial value of benefits. According to the study, only one-third (37 percent) of employees find that their company’s benefits communications are easy to understand, which underscores the confusion and stress that employees feel during open enrollment season. Additionally, just 47 percent understand that non-medical benefits can help them limit their out-of-pocket medical expenses. To address this, HR managers must clearly articulate the practical and financial value of their benefits offerings, helping employees understand how they can reduce financial concerns and have a tangible impact on their lives.

·       Explain how less traditional benefits work. According to the study, the majority of employees understand how traditional benefits such as medical insurance and 401(k)s work, but fewer report understanding how less traditional benefits work. For example, one in four employees say they do not understand critical illness protection and nearly one-third (30 percent) do not understand hospital indemnity insurance. To diminish confusion and encourage increased enrollment in these benefits, HR managers should provide employees with materials that explain how less traditional benefits work and how they can positively affect their employees’ personal financial situations.

By implementing these initiatives this enrollment season, HR managers have an opportunity to drive engagement and loyalty by helping their employees make benefits decisions that will positively impact their lives.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Using Networking as a Business Tool

By Kim Littlefield, Senior Vice President for Keystone Partners

Networking events can always feel a little overwhelming, especially when it seems like everyone is already speaking with someone when you enter the room. It’s important to prepare for these events to ensure that they are fun and that good connections are made. Here are some best practices to get the most out of networking events:

Prior to an event try to find out who will be attending.  Many organizations post a list of attendees on their website. This will give you a sneak preview on the attending industries and companies to help determine appropriate conversation topics. You might recognize a former colleague's name, too.

Arrive early to networking events. Arriving early will provide the opportunity to meet speakers or panelists. It will also give you the chance to breathe and evaluate your surroundings: Scan the room for a place to sit;  map out the restroom and the location of food and drinks. This allows you to act somewhat as a host/hostess giving you another role to play versus just networking.

Make an effort to remember the name of each new person you meet. Making this an ‘assigned task’ makes a big difference. Find ways to repeat the person’s name out loud and in your head. Use their name in conversation when you introduce them to another attendee or when you part ways. Also, try to associate the person with something: For example, does their name rhyme with something? Translate to something? Do they have the same name as someone you already know? Can you make a funny cartoon in your mind picturing the person doing something that relates to their name?  For example, if their last name is VanHattan, you might picture them driving in a van with a big hat on top of it.  Silly?  Maybe, but it works!

Breaking into a conversation. The simplest way to insert yourself into a conversation is to smile, say hello, and introduce yourself. Look for groups of people having fun or larger groups that may have become fragmented. Avoid two people in an intense conversation. If you feel like you are interrupting, you probably are.

Exiting the conversation. To break out of a conversation, it’s always best to be honest.  If you need to “grab a drink” or “use the restroom,” it’s okay to say so, but be sure to do it. Also, simply saying, “It was nice meeting you. I’d like to stay in touch,” and offering your card is a great way to break out. Getting someone’s contact information so you can follow up and have time to meet others is a sign you have successfully interacted and made an impression.

Networking is about building mutually beneficial lasting relationships.  Developing a strong network takes effort—but the benefits are well worth it.

Kim is a senior vice president for Keystone Partners, where she has more than 15 years of experience in talent management and business development. Kim consults with organizations and senior executives on complex career transitions and workforce planning issues, as well as talent development initiatives.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Digital Transformation Starts at the Top

By David Ludlow, Group VP of Solution Management at SAP SuccessFactors

Successful leadership in the digital economy is contingent on how leaders empower the workforce and equip them with data-driven strategies and technologies. For companies to truly take part in the digital economy and transform their business, change has to start at the top. While employees have an important role to play in bringing strategy to life, leadership sets the vision and tone for the digital transformation.

Leaders 2020, a recent study conducted by Oxford Economics and sponsored by SAP SuccessFactors, analyzed how executives are driving digital transformation and identified the characteristics of “Digital Leaders.” Though difficult to define by one action or leadership trait, there is a shared set of identifiable tactics and strategies that these executives embrace to drive success. These executives are better prepared to build a digital workforce, empower employees, encourage collaboration, and drive continuous innovation.

Take action. Don’t expect employees to drive digital alone – they are looking to leaders to create the agenda. This means embracing digital yourself and listening to the rising number of millennial executives who are ready to implement strategic digital initiatives. Leaders 2020 found that only 37 percent of millennial executives feel that senior leadership is using technology to achieve competitive advantage. If leadership isn’t embracing technology and data-driven decision making, how can the workforce be expected to?

As leaders embrace digital, this vision needs to be shared across the organization to engage employees—58 percent of Digital Leaders are making their decisions transparent to the people affected by them. Implement and communicate a strategy for how the workforce can leverage technology to drive new and better business processes, eliminate manual tasks, and inspire innovation.

Encourage rapid decision making in the moment. Digital leaders empower employees by giving them the tools and insights to drive rapid decision making without the bottleneck of managerial approval. This approach is critical to creating an agile business environment and engaged workforce. Leaders 2020 revealed that 62 percent of digital leaders are making decisions in real-time, and 62 percent also state that decision-making is distributed across the organization (compared to only 41 percent of other executives surveyed.)

When employees are empowered to make fast decisions, they’re inspired to challenge the status quo and achieve business agility, which leads to more satisfied employees. In fact, 87 percent of digital leaders say they recognize and reward people who make process improvement challenges. By showing confidence in employees, digital leaders also create a more engaged workforce and help attract and retain top talent. Digital leaders invest in their employees and  give them the tools to succeed. In turn, these employees will go the extra mile beyond their job requirements.

Encourage collaboration to drive continuous innovation. The pace of change in the digital economy is not slowing down, so neither can the pace of business. Leaders 2020 revealed that barely half of executives surveyed say their senior leadership is highly proficient at using technology to achieve competitive advantage and facilitate innovation and collaboration.

Digital leaders, however, implement technology to facilitate collaboration, motivate employees, and create a dynamic business culture. They are creating fast-paced, productive work environments and responding to change quickly – 63 percent are capable of adapting to decisions made in real-time, compared to only 47 percent of other executives. Deploying human capital management (HCM) solutions that encourage collaboration is critical to helping employees adapt to change, create competitive advantage, and drive innovation.

Navigating the digital transformation is about more than deploying technology—it’s about creating a culture of innovation, cultivating employee engagement, and mastering business agility. Each incremental investment in digital must to be part of overall strategy, not just getting the latest technology for employees. Strong leadership in the digital age will inspire your workforce and yield significant business results.

To learn more insights from the Leaders 2020 study by Oxford Economics and SAP SuccessFactors, click here.

Regular Habits of Effective New Managers

By Rob Cahill, Co-Founder & CEO of Jhana.

Whether newly promoted or hired externally, brand new managers are going through one of the most exciting—and most challenging—transitions of any upward career trajectory.

Drawing from my company’s research and conversations with HR teams and new managers—and also speaking from personal experience— I’ve put together a list of 10 habits that new managers often struggle to build. Not coincidentally, they’re also critical for new managers to get right.

1.     Hold regular 1-on-1s.  You can’t know what’s going on with your team unless you talk to them. No matter how busy your calendar, schedule 30 minutes of face time every week with each team member. Never cancel.

2.     Give and request regular feedback. No one can work in a vacuum—not you, and not your team. Make sure you are giving each member of your team regular feedback and that most, but not all, of it is positive. Likewise, it’s up to you to solicit feedback on your performance from both your boss and your direct reports.

3.     Proactively manage up. Your boss isn’t a mind reader. If you need help, notice something that needs changing or just want to keep your boss in the loop, it’s on you to speak up.

4.     Clearly define expectations. If someone’s not delivering what you wanted, it likely means that you, the manager, haven’t done a good enough job communicating your expectations. For every project, use specific language to describe what a successful outcome looks like to you, and double check—in writing—that your instructions are clearly understood.

5.     Set fair goals. If possible, ask for your team's input to select and shape goals. They'll be more committed to goals they've contributed to in some way. Once you've set goals, be sure to also define how you'll measure success.
6.     Delegate well. It can be hard to let go, but it’s imperative to your team’s success that you trust them and enable them to do their jobs. Assign tasks, and then oversee, but don’t micromanage.

7.     Don’t shy away from tough conversations. It’s your job as manager to address problems head on, even  and especially when doing so makes you uncomfortable. Waiting will only make things worse.

8.   Own your mistakes. It’s common for new leaders to want to seem invincible. Resist the urge to fight or deny mistakes. Instead, admit your error, and describe what you’re doing to fix the problem and how you will ensure it doesn’t happen again. This advice applies to everyone you work with, not just your manager.

9.    Take hiring seriously. Don’t assume HR will do all the heavy lifting. After all, this person will be a part of your team, so it’s on you to ensure you’re hiring from a diverse, qualified pool of candidates. Don’t rely on your network. Some of my best hires have come from unexpected backgrounds.

10. Embrace your peers. Cultivate strong relationships with different groups and departments. The next time your team needs something quickly from Marta in sales or Jamal in Accounting, the trust you’ve already built will pay off tenfold. 

Rob Cahill founded Jhana in 2011 after personally experiencing how proper management can make or break retention and help reach company goals. Rob's mission is to provide effective and relatable management training that is available around the clock. Today, Jhana's clients have grown to many Fortune 1000's including AOL, Orbitz, CARFAX, Career Builder, Groupon and more. Rob was previously at Sunrun as chief of staff to the founder, helping the company scale from 20 to more than 200 employees.