Archives for human resources

New Questions for Workplaces in 2020

We saw some tough headlines in the last 10 years force companies to do some deep evaluation of their culture and policies. A few companies emerged as trailblazers, applying breakthroughs in research, technology, and science. They spotted trends before the rest, and started their own trends for the rest to follow (or not).

All the things that we can measure have exploded. We are now drowning in so much data that the next big feat looks to be figuring out what is actually meaningful and consequential to sustainable growth.

As much shade and slack that millennials are thrown from the other workforce generations, they certainly drove many changes. We’ve seen a transition to mobile-focused marketing and an intuitive user experience, along with greater focus on employee rewards.

Now that we’re wrapping up this decade and a new generation is entering the workforce, what do we see on the horizon that will prove influential in the evolution of careering, hiring, and leadership?

Without knowing who will become president, it’s hard to predict what will happen with healthcare, student debt, and consumer debt. Certainly, if healthcare becomes universal, many companies will be forced to completely reinvent how they plan on attracting and retaining employees who were working mostly for benefits. In my 20 years working with job seekers and job changers, I have known many who, if it weren’t for the need for medical benefits, would have opted for self-employment.

Employee benefits

Here are some statistics that can help show just how influential benefits have been in recruitment and retention strategies:

  • 49% of the US workforce currently receives healthcare benefits from their employer.
  • 78% of workers would likely remain with their employer because of the benefits it offers, up from 72% in 2016. (WTW)
  • More than 50% of employees said they have left jobs after hearing the siren calls of better benefits elsewhere. (Randstad)
  • 55% of employees would be somewhat likely to accept a job with lower compensation but a more robust benefits package. (Aflac)
  • 56% of U.S. adults with employer-sponsored health benefits said that whether or not they like their health coverage is a key factor in deciding to stay at their current job. (SHRM)
  • 46% said health insurance was either the deciding factor or a positive influence in choosing their current job. (SHRM)

Keep in mind there are many companies with employees dedicated to helping employers manage health care plan enrollment and administration. Will companies let these employees go or retrain them for other roles within the company?

Employee wellness

A Limeade study found that when employees feel their employer cares about their well-being, there is a significant boost in engagement, retention, workplace reviews, and “extra mile” efforts while hostility is reduced by ten times. Larger companies offer more benefits than any other size companies, and yet they have the lowest engagement. So, we can surmise that offering good healthcare benefits is not enough to make employees feel cared for and/or that offering employer-sponsored healthcare does not correlate to engagement at all, though it does correlate to candidate attraction and retention.

Wellness programs have become wildly popular as well. However, as more companies implemented costly wellness programs, most struggled with adoption and recouping the investment. (We’ve covered why in a 2-part article this year.)

We saw some influential leaders emerge as authors, as well, shedding light on issues like gender gaps in pay and opportunity, sexual harassment, workplace bullying, cyber security, engagement, and physical security.

  • Shawn Achor taught us that being happy at work DOES indeed lead to better engagement.
  • Studies on meditation at work increased exponentially, with new benefits emerging all the time. Companies like Google, Aetna and higher learning institutions like Brown, NYU and Harvard are weaving mindfulness and meditation into core cultural and education initiatives.
  • Ariana Huffington highlighted the need for creative minds to rest.
  • Travis Bradberry has been educating Fortune 500 companies on the implications of Emotional Intelligence.
  • Cy Wakeman has smartly asserted and demonstrated that engagement efforts without accountability breed entitlement.
  • Sheryl Sandberg encouraged women to lean in, own their seat at the table and find a sponsor, not another mentor.

With the rise of school and workplace shootings, we remain to see whether gun control becomes a major area of change or not. Mental health is another key issue. While people are shining a light on how mental illness has become an epidemic, sufferers are crying out to end the stigma.

Just a couple weeks ago Philadelphia Eagles offensive linemen Brandon Brooks left the field in the first quarter due to a debilitating anxiety attack that caused extreme nausea. He stated he was not ashamed nor embarrassed about the event. In the last decade, more and more celebrities came clean about their struggles with anxiety and depression. Others lost their battles before we even knew they were suffering. It’s clear no one is impervious to mental illness. The conversation about how to best treat and support those suffering is just starting, let alone how to address it in the workplace.

Being “woke” is going out of vogue as spiritual elitists fail to be influential in inspiring change. Authenticity, accessibility, and being vulnerable are proving to be much more effective.

Keeping all of this in mind, there are new questions we should be asking in the workplace.

In 2020 and beyond, companies should be able to answer these questions:

How do you address mental health in your workplace?

Are clear protocols in place for employees experiencing hardships?

Are there HR policies in place to protect employees who wish to get help for mental illness?

What is the company policy for determining if an employee needs urgent or professional care for mental illness?

What does the company do to support mental wellness?

How aware are employees of these outlets?

What might stop employees from taking advantage of mental health resources?

What misconceptions do they have?

Here is what I hope to see happening in 2020:

Mindfulness everywhere! It’s not only important for sustainable corporate and individual success, it’s imperative to people and the planet, that we develop self-awareness, emotional intelligence and consciousness at a faster pace than technology evolves.

My Epic Careering Personal Branding tools get funded, built, and adopted on a worldwide scale to put the power of career management back in the hands of the workers. This enables more people to have résumé and LinkedIn content that helps them be identified by employer’s AI as having the potential to succeed in their open and upcoming roles. It also easily communicates the cultural viability of a candidate.

Though I’d prefer people be self-aware and empowered to pursue professional opportunities that align with their innate strengths, joy, and best chance at thriving, employers have to play their part, too. Employers need to be more proactive in helping talent grow up, or even out, from a skills standpoint, a maturity standpoint, and a consciousness standpoint. Leaders must be better coaches. Give people more of a chance to be forthright about their aspirations. Don’t try to retain employees that are better off somewhere else, or who have demonstrated an unwillingness to be coachable and accountable. A person’s best chance at making a meaningful contribution and being fulfilled by it is being in the right job at the right company, as Jim Collins shares in Good to Great.

While technology will surely continue to be tried and applied, and the automated branding journey and content builders will certainly bridge the gap between high-quality talent and the companies who need them, job seekers everywhere are crying out for more HUMAN involvement. Certain applications for technology are not allowing exceptions to rules to get the attention of people who can interpret unconventional strengths as major potential. Let’s let humans do what humans do best – connect with each other and perceive potential.

Personally, I’d like to see one-sided video interviews die. I don’t trust facial recognition AI, nor people, to be free from bias. We’re just not there yet. Two-way (or more) video conferences are a great way to have both candidate and employer feel each other out without the cost and time of travel.

I hope that industries in need of disruption are not sustained just because they employ a lot of people and make a lot of money. Someone needs to step in and make sure that when a faster, better way of healing people, feeding people, housing people, shopping, etc. comes along, there are affordable and accessible programs available to retrain people to get even better jobs.

I hope internet connectivity reaches all corners of the planet and new, profitable opportunities are available to poor and oppressed countries, or even parts of our country.

I hope as more heroes emerge with human limits and behavior, we stop vilifying each other for our weaknesses and mistakes. Certainly, serious offenders will need consequences, but we can’t set the bar so high for leaders that they need to be perfect. This only leads to cover-ups and corruption. I hope we value accountability, honesty, and forgiveness more than we value perfection so more worthy leaders can emerge.

If healthcare was universal, it would no longer be a major driving decision of where a person works. This would absolutely force companies who want to compete for talent to pay closer attention to offering what actually engages people: opportunities for learning, growth and expansion. Plus, a salary that not only pays the bills, but funds a desirable lifestyle now and as we age.

What are your hopes for 2020?

https://youtu.be/THnabGK7mPs

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

What If Corporate Talent Worked the Same as Athletic or Performance Talent… Is It Time to Consider It?

“I’ll have my people call your people.”

From time to time people tell me that their job search is taken care of because they have recruiters working on it.

Oh, if only.

I’d estimate that the odds of your recruiters actually being out there searching for opportunities for you is 1,000:1.

One out of every 1,000 recruiters will take time away from the 3-6 “hot” job requirements assigned to them at any given moment (positions for which clients are impatiently awaiting a small handful of perfect candidates), to proactively search for job requirements they are NOT working on so that they can find an opportunity for which to present you.

You might be thinking, “but if they place me, that’s money in their pocket, so…” So, you think that they are dividing their time between efforts on your behalf, and phone screening, interviewing, referencing, testing and packaging candidates for the jobs they have a chance at closing right in front of them?

You think that they are searching the jobs other recruiters are working on in hopes maybe that recruiter will offer a split fee to share you?

Or maybe they are looking to gain some new clients by dangling a superstar in front of them?

Or maybe out of the goodness of their heart, or even in consideration of their personal brand, they will take time away from income-producing activities while they are on the job to let other people know just how great you are and how much you deserve consideration?

I’m not saying this doesn’t happen, it just happens a lot less than you’d hope – 1/1000 of the time.

If you are relying on recruiters to make sure you know about opportunities as they arise, you are making a very common mistake of assuming recruiters have time to spare. Recruiters are notorious for failing to follow up. Again, this isn’t a truth for all recruiters, but most models restrict recruiters from spending time outside of producing and presenting qualified, competitively-priced candidates.

They can’t meet their metrics and their income goals if they do this. It’s why I started to resent being a recruiter and considered becoming a coach, and it’s why you see many other recruiters also coaching.

But what if corporate talent management operated more like professional sports and entertainment management?

What if whenever you were ready for your next big blockbuster hit, you had people working on it and trying to find you that next big gig (plus the paycheck to match it)?

Let’s rewind a bit, because in entertainment you’d still need an impressive portfolio and headshot. Much like in the corporate arena, you’d need a distinctive résumé and LinkedIn profile. In sports, it’s your buzz, your stats, and a killer highlight reel that get you the attention of recruiters. An agent will make sure you have all of the above, and they may offer that service in house or refer you to a trusted expert. Either way, that’s a charge that you, the talent, incur. They would spin your story as one of a star-in-the-making, and hype up your value for you. They would consult to you on managing your image and the narrative.

Then, an industry talent agent taps their network of industry players to find out who needs what you offer, what challenges there are, who is making the decision and when, how long you’d be needed, and what it pays. They mediate between the producers and casting agents to coordinate auditions or readings, and sell, sell, sell them on hiring you while you work your magic and do what you do best to earn the part. Then, if your performance matches the hype, your agent does all of the compensation, conditions and terms negotiating to make you as happy as possible.

The agent gets paid, takes 10-20% of your contract, and pays you the rest.

Think about 10% of your current income. Have you invested 10% of your income on things that will increase your career success and income, as most financial stability/freedom gurus recommend?

Now think about how much you’d spare of your income if someone actually helped you increase your income. Let’s say you make $100K annually. That would be a $10K per year investment, but what if investing $10K got you a $25K raise that year to take an opportunity that also elevated your career, impact, and influence.

Why isn’t this model used in corporate talent management?

Let me first say that there are firms who operate as agencies. Some will even postpone payment until you land while others will help you hone all of your marketing tools, like your résumé and LinkedIn profile, and then promote you to their “elite” network full of VIPs and corporate executives.  They may or may not require that you sign with them “exclusively,” meaning even if you land an opportunity not developed by them, they still get their fee. It’s the only way it could make sense for agents.

I would think that would decentivize job seekers to own their own campaign, and leaving your fate solely in someone else’s hands still seems dis-empowering. How can you be sure that the best possible opportunities were identified?

Have you used this kind of service? Please share if this worked for you, because I have my doubts.

It’s hard to believe that an executive in need of talent would entertain the solicitation of an agent representing a talent they don’t know. I know some recruiters and account managers do try to get a shot at filling a prominent placement by presenting a “dummy” profile filled with impressive stats. In those cases, the recruiter is expecting to get paid by the company should they hire someone, but an agent gets paid by… well, they still get paid by the company. This is because their fees would be negotiated into the salary just as a recruiter’s fee would be.

It can work, but I have to believe that this works a lot less often than if the talent were to personally approach that same executive, even digitally, and conveyed stories instead of stats that demonstrate how he or she can help the company achieve what they aim to achieve.

Times are changing, however. This is the first “job seekers” market I’ve ever witnessed. Maybe now, while the people have the power, is the right time for this model to become more prevalent.

It’s true that usually someone else’s endorsement can be more powerful and influential than your own. Does it reduce credibility if that someone is incentivized to endorse you?

Hiring managers and executives – What would it take for you to entertain interviewing a candidate that was represented by an agent?

Will this just turn hiring into a process where the best sales pitch gets the job? Wait a second. How different is that from our current reality? The difference is that the hiring manager would be dealing with a professional pitch master. Would professional pitch masters be trusted? Would it matter if the talent is truly great?

If this started working on a more consistent basis, more often than having someone in your network recommend you and more often than an effectively written cover letter targeting that person/job, how long would this model work for? Would it still be a valid practice if the economy shifted the other way?

Please share your thoughts and concerns as an ambitious talent or as a hiring manager/executive.

What are some other pros and cons to this approach and what the obstacles you perceive to it being adopted?

Does this solve other problems?

How could it be structured for the optimal benefit of all parties?

Fats Domino – I’m Gonna Be a Wheel Someday

Deluxe edition of Fats Domino’s greatest hits including “My Girl Josephine”, “I’m Ready” and more.. ♫ Listen to the full best of on YouTube → http://bit.ly/2BSub7B ⇓ Stream on Spotify / Deezer → http://spoti.fi/2H8nZI5 / http://www.deezer.com/album/5966978

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

Why is an Entrepreneurial Mindset a Hot Quality in Talent Today?

When I tell people that the career management course I teach at Cabrini University incorporates lessons on emotional intelligence and entrepreneurialism, people ask me what that means, though most of them recognize the problems when entrepreneurial mindsets are lacking among their teams. In my experience, advanced learning institutions want to promote entrepreneurial mindsets, but may think that promoting actual entrepreneurship is at odds with a liberal studies education.

Back in 2005, I made plans to earn an MBA in Entrepreneurship. I even had tuition reimbursement approved by my firm at the time. My plan was to earn the degree, make sure it paid off for my firm by helping them successfully launch new services and products, as was the trend there at the time, and then start my own coaching business.

Things didn’t work out as planned, but they worked out… for me. The firm, which was over 20 years old, didn’t survive long enough to have been able to leverage my MBA, and I wound up starting my company much, much sooner than if I had earned my MBA first.

Google is quite a trend-setter, as you probably know. Businesses used to be very risk-averse; investing in new ventures isn’t territory companies will enter without extreme due diligence and substantial data. However, if you’re blazing a trail, there’s no one before you to prove which path will lead you to the promise land, and deep due diligence takes time no one can afford at the pace of change today. It’s also risky to avoid innovation, or to have so much structure that it stifles innovation. Today, you’ll be easily surpassed by more agile organizations that aren’t afraid to try and fail. On the other hand, if you jump on a bandwagon that wasn’t built right or headed in the wrong direction, you also risk failure.

To quote Jim Rohn:

“It’s all risky… If you think trying is risky, wait until they hand you the bill for not trying.”

Google has become an interesting case study for various talent strategies, including the kinds of qualities and skills that they seek. It seems that they, along with other Silicon Valley unicorns, have proven that hiring entrepreneurial talent does not make your workforce one big flight risk. In fact, it helps you innovate at a competitive pace, as long as you have the culture to nurture the inclinations of this population.

When I see a job description stating that the company wants an entrepreneurial candidate, or that they have an entrepreneurial culture, I wonder what that actually means to them.

There is a definition for entrepreneurialism, but there are also varying perceptions about the related qualities and conditions that enable companies to fully leverage it.

By some Glassdoor reviews and first person accounts, it seems that entrepreneurial could be synonymous with self-managed. With other data to add context, sometimes you can tell that a company is growing at such a rapid pace that they have little structured training, supervision, and coaching. This scares me, because even effective, successful entrepreneurs need strong mentors.

The benefits of an entrepreneurial mindset can be:

  • Innovation
  • Resourcefulness
  • Accountability
  • Time management
  • Coachability
  • Tenacity/Grit
  • Troubleshooting
  • Multitasking
  • Combination of people and tech skills
  • Opportunity-seeking
  • Problem-solving
  • Experimental
  • Outcome-driven
  • Project management skills

The transferable value of being entrepreneurial to a corporation is a “do what it takes” attitude.

These people don’t complain that they can’t be effective because they don’t have the resources; they go to Plan B, or C, or D, etc.

They don’t sit around while IT fixes technical problems; they go back to the old ways things were done so that progress can continue.

They don’t ask for extensions or offer apologies – they deliver some functional solution on time and promise an even better one in the future.

They don’t wait to be instructed or told; they see what needs to be done and make sure it gets done, even if they have to delegate it to someone they don’t actually have any authority to direct.

They stay on top of almost everything, keeping the customer (and revenue) at the top of the list always.

They put in extra hours when needed, and proactively invest in extra training to acquire skills that are valuable.

They make it work.

If all of this sounds great to you, let’s get clear about what you have to offer talent like this if you don’t want them to jump ship – and they will if their impact or opportunity is limited.

You need to give the room to fail. They will want to try things that have never been tried before, things that have not yet been proven. Be conscious of how often you say no, and make sure that when you say yes, you give them your full support. Back them up when they fail. Take accountability for giving them the leeway, and partner with them to devise their next victory.

Just because they can institute their own structure and deliver on time doesn’t mean that they don’t want to learn from working closely with those who have achieved more than them. Don’t let them hang too long solo without checking in, recognizing progress, and guiding them in overcoming challenges. Entrepreneurial people still want to cut out errors and get to results sooner. If you have wisdom that can prevent trial and error, offer it generously.

Just because these folks manage to do a lot with a little doesn’t mean they will sustain a job where resources are chronically limited. They’ll want to see you making investments in new technology and training. If they don’t, they’ll see the risk for them in falling behind and will seek out new opportunities.

Trust these folks to come in, work smart, honor their natural rhythms and work at their own pace, as long as they deliver. If they fail to deliver, help them understand what actually went wrong as a coach, rather than as someone who enforces punitive controls to course correct.

Give them time to recharge. This population is at great risk of burn out, because they are so driven to solve problems quickly and deliver. Even if you offer unlimited vacation, you may need to make sure that this talent is taking adequate time to manage the important aspects of their personal life – their personal finances and relationships. Make sure that they have ample time to enjoy the things that stimulate their curiosity and creativity outside of work. Help them manage their holistic wellness.

Don’t assume that these people want to climb the corporate ladder into management, though they love having an impact. What makes them great could be what they do with their hands and minds, not what they do with their people. Make sure that there are multiple mobility options for these folks to continue being challenged and growing.

Some may say that not everyone is cut out for entrepreneurial life. While I’d certainly say that not everyone is prepared for this life, everyone can adopt an entrepreneurial mindset and though we all may need to shift into maintenance mode from time to time, true entrepreneurs will not be happy staying there for very long.

Is your company seeking “entrepreneurial talent” or promote an “entrepreneurial culture?” What do they mean by that?

Imagine Dragons – Whatever It Takes

Get Imagine Dragons’ new album Evolve, out now: http://smarturl.it/EvolveID Shop Imagine Dragons: http://smarturl.it/ImagineDragonsShop Catch Imagine Dragons on tour: http://imaginedragonsmusic.com/tour Follow Imagine Dragons: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ImagineDragons/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/Imaginedragons Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/imaginedragons Directed by Matt Eastin and Aaron Hymes. Special thanks to the Bellagio Las Vegas and Cirque Du Soleil.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

Taking On Fixing the Broken System of Hiring and Careering

Any workable solution has to bridge the agendas of all parties – talent, recruiters, HR, and hiring managers. Everyone is working from different playbooks, even using different dictionaries. So much money has been thrown into HR tech, and none of it has fixed what’s broken.

#realities

There are problems with the human solutions:
  • Bias – It requires a LOT of self-awareness, which requires time for reflection. Time is something of which we all, recruiters included, have less and less. Speaking of…
  • Time – It’s not reasonable to expect recruiters to read résumés for 300-3000 job applicants. Then you also expect that they send a response and gather and provide feedback while spending adequate time on the phone with candidates who appear to fit, and hold on-site interviews, test, reference check, network, maintain professional partnerships, etc.
  • Arbitrary job requirements – Companies are too cryptic or even naive about what skills and experience candidates really need to step successfully into a role.
There are problems with the tech solutions:
  • Keywords – What % of résumés do you think actually have all the right keywords, and in a context that qualifies the candidates’ proficiency or lack thereof? Relying on keywords shrinks a candidate pool significantly.
  • True success indicators – Keywords do not predict performance, so the candidates that rise to the top of search results are not necessarily the ones who will perform the best.
Some other unfitting pieces of the puzzle –

Rolling recruitment:

Companies, especially in this market, need to be pooling talent whether there are positions open or not, but candidates aren’t buying into this whole talent community thing. They change jobs when they’re ready to change jobs, and once they land, it’s not a great career management move to jump ship because a company you vied to work for when you were looking is finally ready to hire.

******

Market pay:

If companies invested money in programs that ACTUALLY improved engagement AND accountability (few do!), maybe they would be able to give their current talent the money they expect and would be offered elsewhere instead of losing this talent, suffering losses from vacant positions, and then having to pay a new hire more and invest resources and potentially money in training new talent. Projections on actual losses that may not show up on the balance sheet need to be factored into payroll budgeting.

******

Communication:

Companies automated so much of the recruiting cycle that it seems human-to-human communication is perceived as a nuisance instead of a necessity. HR people don’t want candidates calling. Third party recruiters often have zero interface with a hiring manager. How many recruiters wasted weeks trying to find candidates with X experience only to find out that the client hired a candidate without it? In all that time the recruiter could have followed up with candidates with real updates.

*******

Culture killers:

Hiring managers are spending a large percentage of their time killing drama, trying to get their teams business-ready in the face of resistance to change, and fighting politics and bureaucracy that there is little to no time left to give thoughtful consideration to candidates who don’t check all the boxes and provide productive feedback. Eliminating a candidate because they don’t have industry experience, for example, can be shortsighted.

******

Elimination criteria are evolving:

Background checks are still revealing crimes related to marijuana for candidates in states where it is now legal. Blacklisting is a practice facing increasing scrutiny. Companies are (and have been) eliminating references due to fear of litigation. Discriminating against candidates who suffered long-term unemployment or any unemployment is now illegal in certain municipalities and states. Eliminating candidates who have been underpaid, or using previous pay to justify paying lower than market rate are illegal. Pursuing litigation against your former employer isn’t as illegal as facing retaliation from your former company, but it won’t be long until it is, I predict.

******

There are no band-aids for the problems that plague hiring and careering. The whole system needs to be torn down and replaced.

Yes, I have ideas. I’ve paid close attention as a former job seeker who experienced long-term unemployment, a former IT recruiter, and as someone who has been a close confidant of corporate leaders as a career coach for 13 years as well as an adjunct professor teaching the next generation of talent how to navigate job search, careers, and leadership. I need the right ears. I need to find partners. This is a HUGE undertaking, larger than the sum of all I’ve accomplished to date. Hit me up if this mission speaks to you.

Wounding and Healing of Men

Provided to YouTube by The Orchard Enterprises Wounding and Healing of Men · Francis Dunnery Hometown 2001 ℗ 2004 Francis Dunnery Released on: 2004-08-03 Auto-generated by YouTube.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

Old School Hiring Practices Facing Scrutiny and Backlash in a Job Seeker’s Market

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! There are more job openings than candidates.

I don’t think all people in hiring positions have gotten the memo – it’s a job seeker’s market. I say this because for three years now, I have been tracking and capturing gripes of job seekers (as well as recruiters, human resources professionals, and hiring managers.)

The power has shifted, and qualified job seekers are in a position to demand that a few irksome practices be abolished in favor of you wooing them into accepting your position. In a few cases, the law is even in their favor, as more legislation is passed at the local level prohibiting employers to play games with job seekers.

If we apply the trickle-down theory (not the economic theory) of adoption to hiring best practices, there are going to be early adopters, those who are watching and following the early adopters to see if new practices succeed, those who will only jump on the bandwagon after most others, and those who insist on bucking anything new.

Traditionally, this theory purports that cost is a factor for products, which does apply somewhat to practices, since new employees require training when a company updates standard procedures to adopt new best practices. More recent revisions of this theory take a closer look at motive to adopt anything new. Herein lies a mystery. All companies need talent of some kind or another.

Look at how long it took employers, even early adopters, to jump on the candidate experience initiative. User experience (UX) has been a web interface design focus and official term for nearly 25 years. Customer experience and guest experience have been evaluated and improved in retail and entertainment since the dawn of the industries, but didn’t adopt the Xx acronym until the mid 2010s, and the x can connote a purely digital experience. Patient experience has been measured since the 1980s.

In 2005, talent management thought leader, Kevin Wheeler, introduced the Candidate Bill of Rights initiative. Five years later, the term “candidate experience” was coined and within a couple years, several entities started recognizing companies who provided exemplary candidate experience.

What took employers so long to focus on the experience of candidates? The motive wasn’t there as long as they were in the position of power.

Though candidates have the power, not all employers got the memo, so if you are a candidate and you stand your ground on any of these practices, just know that you could risk an offer with employers who are on a slower adoption curve.

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The following are hiring’s most hideous, harmful practices of which job seekers and their advocates are becoming more vocal and less intolerant about:

  1. Not being transparent about budgeted salary

Job seekers have traditionally been advised to not be the first to bring up salary to avoid being categorized as money-motivated, which could also contribute to the candidate being a flight risk, apt to leave their job at the drop of a better offer. Now we know – employees who stay loyal tend to be paid less than professionals who change employers. This is backwards, yes. Companies, in essence, are losing money by having to replace people they lose with people who will expect more compensation when they could have just offered better pay raises and growth opportunities. Retaining employees costs less than vacancies, re-allocating resources to backfill positions, and paying to onboard and train new employees, and that’s not even taking into account lost productivity while new employees ramp up.

Not being upfront about budgeted salary also doesn’t make sense from a time standpoint. If you have 5 qualified candidates, but only 2 would accept your offer, why invest time in interviewing all 5?

Now that the power is in the job seeker’s hands, it’s the companies who choose to withhold budgeted salary who risk being perceived as wanting to get as much as they can for as little as possible, while C-suite employees enjoy 7-figure compensation and bonuses.

Also, don’t undervalue talents’ time. If they are currently employed, it requires them to take time off of work to interview. If they aren’t employed, their time is their money. They don’t actually have time (or energy or emotions) to invest in opportunities that are not going to help them meet their lifestyle needs.

Don’t jerk job seekers around. When a requisition for a position is approved, it is approved with a budget. Negotiating, at its best for long-term mutual benefit, is supposed to achieve a win-win. We’ve seen how win-lose negotiating eventually backfires.

  1. Asking about perceived weaknesses

I personally like this question, but I have seen/heard certain thought leaders encourage candidates to avoid it because it’s a trick to get candidates to disqualify themselves. As a recruiter, I asked it, but not for that reason. In fact, to preach that the only reason this question exists is to get candidates to shoot themselves in the foot is plain old inaccurate. It has a more noble intention, though I also recognize that the means can be achieved through more conscious questioning.

The intention when I asked this question was to gauge self-awareness, accountability, and coachability. All of these are requirements of being employable.

However, I am in Marcus Buckingham’s camp of focusing more on identifying and applying strengths vs. developing weaknesses as a sound career management strategy. All strengths can be liabilities, however, if unchecked. It can take real world experience to test how to balance strengths, and in doing so, there is trial and error. It’s the error – the acknowledgement of the cause/effect relationship between something done too extremely or too deficiently, and the future correction, that leads to growth and development. Also, as we become we wiser and realize that there are a multitude of things we don’t know that we don’t know, we start to better recognize knowledge and skill gaps.

Questions to identify such moments don’t have to be so entrapping. You can achieve the same result by asking two behavioral questions – one that deals with soft skills and one that addresses hard skills.

A. “Tell me about a time when you identified a knowledge or skill gap. How did you become aware, how did you fill it, and what impact did that have?”

B. “Tell me about a time when you identified an area of growth. How did you become aware, what did you do to develop in that area, and what impact did that have?”

  1. Demanding salary history; asking for W2s

Unfortunately, I worked for a firm that had a policy to require salary history and request W2s to validate a candidate’s most recent salary. It went against my values. As someone who had been chronically underpaid (until I learned and applied negotiating skills with my own boss), I did not feel that a person’s past salary should have any influence whatsoever on their future salary (and the training that my company sponsored in 2004/2005 confirmed this.) Still, it was our policy. This, among other policy and cultural changes, were the impetus for my own disengagement.

Perpetuating low pay keeps marginalized groups marginalized. This policy is anti-equality and sustains gender and race wage gaps. This is why many municipalities and states have passed laws prohibiting employers from requesting salary history.

  1. Ghosting/Blacklisting

The majority of job seeker gripes revolve around spending time pursuing open positions, filling out online applications, doing due diligence as advised, and then getting nothing – zero response – from a company. Even an automated confirmation of receipt would be reassuring to some level, according to job seekers. However, once a candidate is in the system, they expect an update of some kind. Newer applicant tracking systems build in candidate updates and make it quite simple to blast out when no more applications are being accepted, when first round candidate interviews are being scheduled, and when the position is formally closed with an accepted offer. Not all employers have such sophisticated ATSs, however the early adopters and those that have followed them do. The companies lagging behind are sending a message that they are not focused on candidate experience.

One of my most viral LinkedIn posts to date is about recruiter blacklisting. Some have mistaken this post as an endorsement for this policy, but it was really intended to make job seekers aware of things that they do to burn bridges with recruiter, and how the small world of recruiting can mean a mistake with one recruiter may restrict your ability to work with other recruiters as well.

It happens, and to be clear, I am not condoning it. It, too, is illegal in certain states and municipalities.

However, when a bad reference comes back or a candidate abuses a client or no-shows, their file gets marked accordingly. Many readers who commented rightly pointed out that some recruiters are on a power trip, and can be vengeful in limiting someone’s future opportunity because of a bad experience that perhaps that recruiter even precipitated.

Yes. There are recruiters who have become a bit too accustomed to judging candidates as worthy or not worthy of working with them. These are the recruiters who need a wake up call. Just as ATSs allow recruiters to keep notes on which candidates have misbehaved, there are several recruiter rating sites out there now, and their brand is sure to be tarnished by acting from ego. Karma is a b*tch.

  1. Automated rejections to candidates who have interviewed

This is a bit like breaking up over text. When two or more people have invested time getting acquainted face-to-face, an automated response just seems shallow and dismissive. Some of these candidates could be your second choice, and you might want to tap their shoulder in the future should your #1 reject the offer, not work out, or move up quickly. Any of the candidates you’ve personally met are potentially in a position to promote or tarnish your employment brand. Have you read Glassdoor lately?

I get that you can’t give a personal response to hundreds of candidates who apply, but if you’ve had under 20 people interview, (and, really, if you’ve had over 10 without an offer, there’s a flaw in sourcing and/or qualifying) it is reasonable to expect that you can let them know they are no longer being considered, even if you use a template – at a minimum.

  1. Not giving accurate feedback and updates

If someone takes the time to come out to meet you and your team, take a moment to give them real, individualized feedback and updates. A phone call is preferred, but I have had the experience, as I’m sure any recruiter who tried to make it a policy to provide feedback, of someone swearing that they would take feedback professionally, take it personally, and dismiss the feedback as wrong, or even discriminatory. There are liabilities in providing feedback, even when the reason for rejecting a candidate is on the up and up.

However, if your hiring practices have been thoroughly audited (have they?), and you are sure that bias is not influencing hiring, I’m certain that you can provide a legitimate reason for a candidate not being considered, or even being forthright about something that puts them at a competitive disadvantage or advantage.

Do you think there are legitimate reasons to NOT let a candidate know that they are one of three finalists? What this information does is help the candidate understand that, even if they feel that they are a shoo-in, their efforts to find their next opportunity need to continue.

Don’t let a candidate believe that a job is theirs to lose so that they cease other opportunity development while you continue to vet other candidates.

  1. 4-month long hiring cycles

At the executive level, especially in this day and age, leaders need to be scrutinized to a certain degree. The stakes are high, and there are potentially many stakeholders. It is understandable that the hiring process can be delayed for due diligence and because getting busy executive leaders and/or directors to arrive at a consensus can be a time-consuming process.

However, we all know that the pace of change is accelerating and even at the executive level, decision-making needs to be expedited.

At an even lower level, four months is just excessive. Top talent who make things happen and innovate will perceive a long hiring cycle as a systemic sign of slow progress. If you have justifications for such a long hiring process (such as clearances or thorough background checks), it would be best if you clarified this from the beginning.

  1. Passing over people for employment gaps

When I finally landed after a 10-month unemployment period induced by 9/11, I found myself expected to disqualify technical candidates who had been unemployed for 6 months or longer. This client request was based on the implication that tech talent who had not been actively working for 6+ months somehow lost their touch, grew stale, or had skills that are now obsolete.

This was 18 years ago, and things weren’t changing that fast! This was a huge conflict for me, and one that made me rethink my own career choice.

Fast forward to the great recession, and layoffs touched more people than ever. Hard-working, talented, valuable, qualified employees were out on the streets, not just those you could assume were dead weight – which is a bias, if you hadn’t recognized this.

There are some who never financially recovered from that, 10 years later! Add to being laid off any kind of personal or health challenges and you have people who are now perpetually in debt.

Anyone can be the casualty of poor leadership in any economy.

  1. Requiring 3 references from past supervisors

Even 14 years ago when I was recruiting, many of the companies we recruited for and from instituted “no reference” policies. Apparently, many employers had been sued for defamation, among other things. The best some of them can do is verify work history and maybe be coerced into affirming or denying that they would hire them again in the future.

Here in the pharma-rich Greater Philadelphia area, pharma professionals, among others, are unable to provide references because their company adopted this policy. Does that make them unemployable? No.

Reference checking is and has been a hiring best practice based on the theory that past behavior is the best predictor for future behavior, as is the behavioral interviewing methodology.

Has this theory been proven, though? Is it infallible? Are references the only or best way to validate performance?

There are two sides to every story, and then there’s the truth. Hearing someone else’s version of a story does not help you arrive at truth, necessarily. In fact, it can raise caution flags where there needn’t be any.

My previous firm’s policy required three reference checks. Every time I butted up against a challenge, I had to validate the challenge in order to circumvent the policy and move forward with a candidate, or I was told to find new candidates. This was an unnecessary hurdle to finding the right candidate.

I’ve also learned that, not only can references be biased, but they can also can be faked or pressured.

I admit, I check references for people I hire for my company, even subcontractors, but it’s not a witch hunt. It’s a way for me to learn how to inspire their best work and what projects I might want to outsource to someone else. I don’t require a certain amount and most of the time, if they have impressive, specific LinkedIn recommendations, that is good enough validation.

As a recruiter, sometimes the validation a reference provided was used verbatim in my candidate presentation to a client, so they do have value, but should not be required to consider a candidate. Special circumstances and changing corporate policies have to be considered.

  1. Using the term “overqualified”

I admit, I have defended this term as a justifiable reason to reject candidates. It’s true that from experience, some employers have learned that hiring an experienced person to do a job below their abilities has resulted in that person disengaging, growing frustrated by not being able to apply their knowledge, jumping ship at better offers more in alignment with level and pay, and resentment toward younger managers who feel threatened.

A hiring manager will not trust a candidate’s word over their own experience, but this can still signal a bias.

The problem is that the term “overqualified” has become synonymous with age discrimination. You can’t detach that meaning once it’s there.

The pressures of decision-making authority and staff supervision can lead to burn out, family issues, and even health complications. For many legitimate reasons, some people choose to sacrifice income for better quality of life. Get a candidate’s why – always.

If there are ethical, logistical, or cultural reasons why you won’t offer an experienced candidate a position, explain them explicitly.

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These are just 10 of many trends that are shifting as companies become more aware of the need to be attractive to top talent in order to survive the next few years.

Epic Careering wants to make sure that more of the opportunities that are available for today’s and tomorrow’s talent are with conscious companies with conscious leaders who are nurturing a conscious culture.

If you know or work for a company that has a future at risk, that is losing top talent to competitors, or that is behind the curve in adopting consistent conscious hiring and leadership practices, nominate them anonymously. Provide their name, your reason, and any contact information that will help us get through to a decision-maker.

Bob Dylan The Times They Are A Changin’ 1964

TV Movie, The Times They are a Changing’ (1964) Directed by: Daryl Duke Starring: Bob Dylan

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

Epic CEO LinkedIn Profiles: Poised to Attract Today’s Top Talent

It might be tempting to believe that the best practices being touted by LinkedIn and LinkedIn experts don’t apply to the C-suite if you look at many C-suite profiles.

It might appear as though the standard bio goes where the summary is, and that 3rd person is the best point-of-view.

It might seem as though it’s not advisable to alter the headline from the default “Position at Company” format to utilize the 120 characters and say more.

You might infer that it’s excessive to write summaries for each past position, or at least the more recent ones.

It might seem scary to divert from what seems to be the norm.

I really had a hard time finding a CEO profile that abided by all of the current LinkedIn profile optimization best practices, so I can understand how my clients flinch a bit when they see their profiles in all their branded glory. Do they dare to shine too brightly? To be so bold?

I work with them to meet them in the middle. They are the ones who have to speak to their content, though at the same time I coach them to expand their comfort zone and adopt more current practices. Best practices are based on what is being learned about how humans make decisions. It is based on eye tests, split tests, neuroscience, and crowd-sourcing.

I’ve been considered a LinkedIn expert as long as there have been LinkedIn experts, but my niche is hiring and careering using free features (not that I haven’t also used premium services). Personal, executive, and employment branding are my specialties.

Much like in 2003 when I had to do a fair amount of educating recruiters and human resources professionals on the merits of using LinkedIn, I now have to make sure that I explain to my clients that what I produce may not resemble the majority of what they see, because most profiles on the platform are still not optimized according to the best practices of LinkedIn experts and LinkedIn itself.

There are some “best practices” that are solely subjective, like whether or not to use the first person. It’s a bit jarring for my clients to see content written by me in their voice. In most cases, it will sound a lot more boastful than they are used to speaking. I always err on the bold side, and then work with them to get it to a level they feel confident backing up, while at the same time expanding their comfort zone so that they can convert profile visitors into connections who have a sense of urgency to get acquainted.

Since it’s become a job seeker’s market, and following corporate headlines of executive leaders who went down in flames for feeling as though they were “above the law” or “untouchable,” job seekers demand to know who their leaders are – authentically. And, justifiably. When most professionals you speak to have been laid off at some point or another, and that is usually traceable back to executive decisions and strategy, or lack thereof, it makes a lot of sense to hedge your bets and make sure that the company you devote your talents and time to will be around, able to employ you, and able to provide benefits and salary increases for years to come.

The market is back-lashing against “ivory tower” leaders. Stats around CEO to front-line employee salary disparities are being fed to conscious capitalists who want to see the money they spend go more to the people struggling to make ends meet, in spite of working hard, and less to executives with large estates, bonuses, and retirement funds. Modern-day employment branding is aimed to make executives appear and be more accessible to talent. An optimized profile written in the first person along with regular, personalized status updates demonstrates a willingness to be vulnerable, approachable, and relatable, depending on what you are sharing. Of course, if what you share reveals biases, greed, ego and a superiority complex, it can also have the opposite effect. You will be challenged allowing any shred of personality to come through if you write in the 3rd person.

Many profiles switch from 1st or 3rd person, using pronouns, to “résumé speak,” in which pronouns are removed. There is no clear benefit to doing this. It is a missed opportunity to tell stories in your own voice about the past experiences that have shaped who you are as a professional, how you do things, and how this enables you to do things better and differently than other professionals who may also be seeking out the kind of support you or your company provides. It’s a missed opportunity to let your passion come through and show how much you have learned, grown and developed. It may make you seem less relatable.

Whatever point-of-view you choose to write your profile in, just make sure you use a consistent voice in your summary and your experience details. It helps keep the focus on the content and your value and experience.

As for using your bio as your summary, most biographies are written to chronicle your previous education, companies, roles, volunteer experience, publications, etc. This would be redundant to the information that is already in your profile, assuming you have entered your work history, education, honors, and volunteer experience. Redundancy is great for keywords, and it will help you rise up to the top of search results, though repeating keywords without context around them is not an effective way to compel your audience to take the next step.

Speaking of showing up in search results, if you are the CEO of a prestigious company, people may be compelled to click on your profile for that reason alone. But to presume that because you are a CEO at a company people will feel compelled to click on your name and check out your profile is a bit presumptuous. Remember, there are more jobs available than there are candidates. Even if you do little hiring in your role as CEO, you are a primary employment brand representative. Give people a little more. Identify a primary value or outcome you and your company produce. What is your mission? What drives you? Who do you love to help?

You don’t have to share anything too personal to be interesting.

The basis for how I have evolved my branding and profile-writing process has solely to do with cause and effect. Will your profile content have the same effect on each person visiting your profile? No. We aren’t looking for 100% conversion here. It doesn’t exist.

Even when the audience is a company, there is still a human decision maker at the other end of the screen. What is the benefit of having a profile that is just like everyone else’s? Effective marketing requires interrupting people’s attention, and then once you have it, saying something that resonates on an emotional, visceral level, and then backing that up with data, aka measurable outcomes. You can be both credible and likable.

I literally searched LinkedIn for 3 hours looking for a good C-level profile that leveraged all of the above best practices, and this is not by any means an exhaustive list. I did find a few profiles that had bits and pieces. If you believe you’ve hit all the marks with your LinkedIn profile, comment below so we can check you out.

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The following CEO profiles have strong summaries, but lack previous experience details that tell us a story about how and why they got to where they are now:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/viktorohnjec/

linkedin.com/in/sarablakely27

Melinda Gates is breaking down barriers in her summary, too, by presenting herself as a human being. She also has the kind of activity and experience details that humanize her – one of the wealthiest women on the planet.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/melindagates/

Leave it to a CEO who is also a marketing expert to complete and optimize their LinkedIn profile using best practices:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/joshdetweiler/

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Don’t follow the herd of executives under-leveraging LinkedIn and failing to complete and/or optimize their profiles according to current best practices. Lead the rest to the promise land, where people get back to inspiring each other to collaborate, engage, partner and innovate.

I’m also welcoming to other opinions on best practices, as long as the debate remains respectful and civil. Make your case.

Sly & The Family Stone – Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)

No copyright infringement intended. All copyrights belong to their original owners. Musical Videos and accompanying photos posted on this Channel are for entertainment purposes only. Reproduced solely for the listening pleasure of true music lovers. Sly and the Family Stone was formed in 1967, in San Francisco.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

Are You Getting the Optimal ROI on Your Wellness Plan? Checklist For You (Part 1)

This is part 1 of a 2-part article on Wellness Program ROI. Read Part 2.

85% of companies with 1000+ employees have wellness programs, mostly driven by an effort to contain healthcare costs and costs associated with lost productivity, absenteeism, and disengagement. However, a noted shortcoming, even of the most successful wellness programs, is adoption and consistent, long-term participation.

The average ROI for these programs is 6:1

3.27 ROI for medical costs and 2.73 on reduced absenteeism.

Doesn’t even take into account productivity and engagement that can be a tertiary benefit of wellness, nor further impacts on workplace safety, talent acquisition and retention, morale and community, also known as value on investment (VOI).

This is increasing all the time with better data and additional breakthroughs in

Below are components of successful wellness programs. Check how many you have:

  • Strong awareness and education, which usually requires heavily utilized internal communication channels
  • Cultures, policies, and environments that are consistent with wellness behaviors
  • Baseline evaluations tracking system, and regular progress assessments
  • Amenities on site, not just for fitness, but also meditation and hygiene
  • Group accountability and support without social pressure to engage
  • Reward-based vs. punitive incentivization, possibly even gamification
  • They have a dedicated administrator
  • Offer a variety of fitness and nutrition management options
  • Bottom line benefits are a byproduct, not the intention; the wellbeing of its people is the intention
  • It addresses the true keys to behavior change (habits and beliefs) and addresses the real reasons why people fall out, which can be a multitude of things, like life events, shame, and lack of desired or expected results
  • Holistic and integrative wellness that addresses all facets of wellbeing (Get our report, How Mindfulness Training Quickly Transforms Organizations here.)
    • Social
    • Emotional
    • Physical
    • Financial
    • Mental

Common reasons why wellness plans fall short of projected and/or optimal ROI include:

Lack of Awareness

On average, only 60% of employees are aware that their company has a wellness program.  It takes a concentrated and dedicated campaign to ensure that all employees are aware. It means that employees have to be reminded ongoingly. Managers also need to be trained and, often, policies adjusted.

This also aligns with the point that wellness programs need a dedicated leader and team, depending on the size of the organization, which adds expenses yet improves ROI, like any good investment. Many companies have appointed someone to lead wellness programs who still have to deliver on their primary role duties that are not wellness-related, like a Benefits Manager.

The effort has to be rolled out in collaboration with legal, marketing, human resources, finance, training and development, and potentially (ideally) vendors, coaches, and consultants. A wellness program leader needs ample time to communicate thoughtfully, as well as to assess status and progress thoroughly.  This leader also needs to be trusted and influential to coordinate all of the cultural, logistical and policy-based adjustments that may have to be made, as you’ll read below.

Also, if your employees have to report progress to someone who is a stakeholder in their performance, they may not feel safe being candid when a personal issue is interfering with wellness goals (and work.)

Low Participation

On average, 24% of employees participate and the ones most likely to participate already have active, healthy lifestyles. As organizations often find, inspiring people to voluntarily make hard changes is quite the challenge. Humans have a built-in survival-based resistance to change. Also, there’s no one silver bullet way to get a large population of people to want to change because we all have different drivers.

Few wellness programs include personalized coaching equipped not just to educate participants on the pragmatic steps of becoming healthier, but also to help each individual prospective participant identify what will inspire them to make and sustain changes in their behavior and lifestyle. Take into account all of the different REAL reasons why people veer off of wellness journeys and the real things that have been proven to augment physical health efforts.

Many learning and fitness programs have incorporated community due to the observation and a 2007 Harvard study that found that obesity is “contagious.” There is a belief, which seems to be supported by science, that people tend to be a product of the people with whom they surround themselves.

However, there are a lot of complex social intricacies that happen when one person tries to effectuate change in his or her own life. It can cause emotional, sometimes subconscious, negative reactions among a person’s social circle, including the social circle at work. Even when an individual makes a completely independent decision to change there can be social repercussions. Even when encouragement and peer pressure are absent, there can be adverse emotions. Encouragement is often perceived as pressure or shaming, even when the intention is pure, and cause even worse social backlash.

While participants can be coached in how to navigate these relationship complexities, the non-participants often remain unaware of their own resistance to change that can be spurred by someone close to them changing.  If there was a minimal coaching option, these employees could have someone there to help them recognize their resistance and emotion and make a more conscious decision versus letting resistance and emotion make the decisions for them.

The differences in how people come to change are frequently unacknowledged. Some people need data to buy into change. Some people need a compelling emotional outcome. Some will reject any idea that they feel is being imposed upon them. Some people will do something just because it’s the right thing to do and some tend to say yes to everyone else but themselves.  Each of these tendencies needs a different approach to encouraging new habits, and yet still people will change on their own time and terms.

Many companies institute smart policies on security that trains employees to protect corporate data, which promote this sense of distrust. Then employees are asked to share personal health, including mental health data, with a corporate or 3rd party resource.  The need to measure ROI is then communicated as more paramount than wellness. Some programs are all or nothing, and whether a person decides to commit or resist making lifestyle changes that could positively impact. Programs, therefore, need some flex to accommodate what a person is comfortable sharing and changing with the support that can help the person continue to build upon small changes.

The risk assessments and biometric screenings that employers offer can be perceived as an attempt to use fear to scare employees into change, but there are still a lot of people who would not act with that knowledge. In fact, it can make real change seem so unobtainable it can inspire resignation, denial and additional stress. They don’t have to be the only starting point. Already healthy employees are the ones more likely to participate.  Make it easy to start at 0 without having to confront an ugly starting point.

Encouraging employees to start with mindfulness and mini-meditations for stress relief, educating them with information on the scientific basis for it, can help employees start with something that requires little time and change, but lead to greater self-awareness. It is like a gateway drug for change. (Epic Careering is a specialist in Mindfulness, Mediation and Emotional Intelligence Training. Get our full report, How Mindfulness Training Quickly Transforms Organizations, here.)

More companies will find participation increase when obstacles of time and sacrifice are removed when there are flexible participation journeys offered, and when the stigma and relationship complexities of changing within social circles are alleviated from both sides with coaching.

Inherent Inhibitors

Some companies have programs that can’t be followed because actual work policies or facilities inhibit it. Whether it be the work hours, lack of showering facilities, lack of secure bike racks, or a cultural expectation that employees will work or meet during lunch. For example, employees can’t participate in walking Wednesdays if on Wednesdays their boss requires a report due after lunch. Some policies, like accrued sick time, will have more of your workforce in the office when they should be home.  It can keep them sick longer and spread the sickness to more of the workforce.

Some companies offer snacks as perks (or for cost) to employees, but they don’t necessarily qualify as healthy snacks. It may sound like a simple swap from unhealthy snacks to healthy snacks, but when you dig into how much is actually altered, it’s a bit easier to understand why such a simple change can cause resentment. Managers need the training to understand how to help employees vocalize and process even small changes, to reinforce leadership’s commitment to wellness without making employees feel dismissed.

Musculoskeletal issues are a primary reason for absenteeism and a real reason why many people veer off of physical fitness plans. Ergonomic workstations, standing desks, and FSAs (flex spending accounts) that employees can opt to allocate for proactive health efforts, such as chiropractic care, acupuncture, supplements, massage, will serve to augment efforts and reinforce the message that workforce wellness is a priority for the company’s leaders.

Don’t expect employees will be able to form work-based habits and regiments without accommodations to do so. Often companies don’t evaluate the logistical, procedural, and actual lifestyle challenges that keep so many people from making changes, whether a company sponsors and supports that change or not.  Creating lasting changes is already challenging enough; if companies really want their employees to enjoy significant improvements to their health, all policies and facilities need to be evaluated with the intention of eliminating any and all potential logistical, policy, or facility shortcomings. If the ROI of your wellness program is falling short of expectations, look here first.  When you want to level up your ROI, look here first. There is a lot that technology can do to help, and most of the capabilities that can help your company already has.

Next week I will be sharing Part 2 of the rest of this segment. Stay tuned!

The Pirates – “Mind Over Matter” (Temptations covering Nolan Strong)

Released in Sept. of 1962 This is The Pirates (aka THE TEMPTATIONS!) covering the Nolan Strong & the Diablos classic Detroit hit, “Mind Over Matter (I’m Gonna Make You Mine). Eddie Kendricks on lead vocals…

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Will HR AI Help or Hurt Your Career?

Considering that I have no time machine, time travel abilities or accurate predictive talents, I can’t be sure what future tech will offer hiring and careering. I am discouraged by the solutions being funded, sold, and used at the present moment.

Like, how are job boards still thriving in terms of revenue when most job seekers and recruiters admit not having great results with them? Well, some of them have reinvented themselves as multi-resource sites that offer valuable data. As the data increases, supposedly everyone can make more educated decisions.

Many technologies are now focused on scouring the web for passive talent with non-traditional professional footprints rather than producing better searches in databases full of applicants. Other recognize that you don’t fill jobs by recruiting people who don’t want to leave, and you don’t keep positions filled by recruiting job hoppers, so they score a candidate’s likelihood of entertaining a new opportunity. Some are becoming better at recognizing alternative skills, titles, qualities, and backgrounds.

There is still a large gap, however, that proliferates the challenges of employers to find, attract, recruit and retain not only good candidates, but good hires, which, according to Lou Adler, are distinct.

Credit: Lou Adler from LinkedIn post 11.26.18

Adler’s article points out a painfully obvious break in the system that has yet to be addressed by technology because it is a people problem, so far. The great hires don’t always make themselves obvious to unknown employers.

Enter Epic Careering… and other branding services.

We are the bridge between great talent and the companies that need them and vice versa.

In an ideal future, we will all adopt a common professional language and keyword dictionary so that technology will easily identify matches between employers and employees. Ideally, these technologies will also better understand human nature and human performance optimization. Until then, so much is left unarticulated, unpromoted, and unidentified. Great opportunities go undiscovered by talent while the talent that could fast-forward a company’s vision and mission drift toward lower hanging fruit, which may or may not be ripe, or even good.

AI is not solving this problem so far.

It falls on you.

If you are talent:

At a minimum, certainly, populate your skills list. You can add up to 50. Put them in order of our strengths and for what you’d like to be endorsed most. This will increase the chances that you will be found in a search and sent a cold invitation to connect by a recruiter.

At best, tell stories that demonstrate your unique value, which could be tied to an unconventional background, a worldly upbringing (or an underprivileged one), a different perspective, an innate talent, or a way with people. Give people content that not only qualifies you, but starts to garner a connection that transcends job descriptions/requirements. Position yourself as a candidate of choice. Be forthright about the culture and conditions under which you thrive, and then tell people what transpired because you were able to perform at your best.

Include your awards, even if they seemed shallow or token. Don’t hide your promotions by only listing your most recent title. Take credit for facilitating the accomplishments of those you managed, mentored, and supported.

Acquire skills in tasteful, professional self-promotion and stretch yourself to gain comfort with them. The best person for the job doesn’t always get the job. That’s a shame, but one you can prevent by doing this.

If you are an employer:

At a minimum, go beyond the checkboxes. Abandon acronyms in favor of the real success-determining factors. Ask yourself if your requirements are really just a way to whittle down a large list of candidates or if they really will determine someone’s chances at being successful. Warning: This will require thought – deep thought. I know you think you don’t have time for that. But if candidates who make great hires aren’t wearing an obvious label, you will have to consider if the labels you can see are showing you what’s really inside – what people are really made of.

Be honest about having biases. You can’t refute them if you don’t acknowledge them and if you don’t refute them you can’t stop them from influencing hiring decisions.

At best, nurture leadership that is not only ethical but conscious of the impact of their decisions on people and planet and how that will trickle down and circle back. As you implement technology and streamline operations, don’t lose the human touch. Make sure your leaders are accessible and emotionally intelligent. Give people transparency and trust. Relationships will always trump technology at connecting your company with talent in a meaningful way, aka engagement.

Daft Punk – Computerized Ft Jay Z

Leaked Daft Punk track with Jay-z.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business, will be an Associate Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department in 2019,  and is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Exit Interviews: 6 Questions to Gain the Utmost Value From Lost Talent

Peace-Out

I help talent leave. For many of them, change is hard. It inconveniences them, disrupts their rhythms, and makes them feel very uncomfortable and uncertain, even if it excites them at the same time. By the time people come to me to help them, they are usually in pain. Sometimes it’s even physical.

Most people will try everything else before they actually follow through with any plans to leave, unless they are getting tapped by recruiters who wave more money and better conditions and growth opportunities at them.

Resignation – a great word that describes both the state of mind of people who decide that there are few to no options left, and the act of leaving a job itself.

According to CultureAmp data, the top reasons talent leaves a company are lack of growth opportunities, poor leadership, and poor managers, in that order. Sometimes the managers or leaders get blamed for a poor or non-existent talent development system.

There is more loss to talent resignation than just losing a single person, their skill, their intelligence, and their experience. I speak about that here. The bleeding can be profuse.

The best way to control the bleeding, if you can’t stop it, is to conduct, or have a 3rd party conduct, exit interviews.

I asked the Quora community what they would tell their former boss if they could be sure there would be no negative consequences. One person answered and another upvoted that they wouldn’t burn a bridge by giving them negative feedback. Yes, the question was specific about their being no negative consequences, but it just goes to show that some people will still fear consequences, even if you tell them there are none. For this reason, you may want to engage a firm like Epic Careering to procure more truthful feedback.

If you want to keep the feedback coming and truly prevent future losses of talent, don’t punish employees and former employees with negative references or diminished separation packages. In fact, go the other direction.

Offer any separated talent an incentive to provide comprehensive feedback via an exit interview. A moral incentive is that their leaving is not in vein and it will serve the people they have to leave behind. Many of my clients’ driving reason for staying in a job so long is because of the people they feel they may now screw over by leaving.

A monetary incentive may be more effective, but you have to make sure people don’t feel paid off for a positive review. It may even be better for the monetary incentive to come from the 3rd party in the way of a $100 gift card, much the way surveys and studies do it.

If you decide to conduct your own, even if through your company’s human resources department, here are primary questions to ask:

  1. What could the company or your manager have done differently to prevent you from wanting to leave?
  2. Did you confront your manager about your reasons for wanting to leave prior to making the decision, and, if not, why not?
  3. What do you think the company and its leaders can do to make X a better company to work for?
  4. Would you refer a friend or family member to this company as either a customer or employee? If so, why, and if not, why not?
  5. Is there anyone you would like to recommend to fill your position? Please provide their name, contact information and why you feel they would be a good fit.
  6. What was the best part of working for this company?

Exit interviews aren’t the only way to uncover why the company is losing talent so that an effective solution can be identified. Glassdoor is another way, but by the time the information is out there, it’s for the whole world to see.

If someone really feels strongly about their experience, good or bad this may or may not prevent them from going straight to Glassdoor with their rating. However, giving them this outlet may prevent those who would use Glassdoor simply to help leaders learn a lesson for the sake of all who remain and all who may consider employment.

If you don’t currently have a way for employees to share their feedback while still on the job, you are probably guessing how to keep your employees. Some companies guess wrong and think that benefits are going to keep employees around.

This is what we refer to as “golden handcuffs.” They may keep employees around longer than they would, but they don’t keep employees engaged. Engagement surveys can help you assess this, but not all are created equally, and still, if they are conducted internally, as I share in the video I mentioned above, the honesty a company needs to prevent future losses of talent can be muted. Delegate to a 3rd party firm like Epic Careering.

Pet Shop Boys – What have I done to deserve this?

Lyrics You always wanted a lover I only wanted a job I’ve always worked for my living How’m I gonna get through? How’m I gonna get through? I come here looking for money (Got to have it) and end up leaving with love Now you’ve left me with nothing (Can’t take it) How’m I gonna get through?

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Consultant and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business, will be an Associate Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department in 2019,  and is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Who would you rather hire: the undependable one or the incompetent one?

Photo courtesy of Ryan Dickey.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Dickey.

Here’s some food for thought: If faced with a choice between an undependable and an incompetent employee, who would you rather hire? Let’s be clear, no one wants to willingly hire an undependable or incompetent employee. These types of workers can be toxic to employee moral and productivity. Like a nuclear wasteland, you ideally want to stay far away from this hiring situation. In a perfect world, hiring such people would be a rare occurrence, but reality is rarely so cut and dry. In fact, reality can be quite strange. In 2010 an English recruitment agency boss was told posting an ad for “reliable” applicants could be offensive to unreliable people. Most managers will not face such an extreme situation in the hiring process, thankfully. It is still inevitable that an undependable or incompetent person will slip through the hiring process. Let’s assume you have two employees and you need to hire one of them, despite knowing their issues in advance.

An undependable worker may be an employee who is constantly late, may not show up for work on certain days or is a habitual procrastinator. When they are around, they do their job well and may be quite talented. For example, your company’s accountant may be brilliant with finances, but they make take every other Friday off. Or you may have a social media specialist who is always a half hour late for work. Projects may not be directly impacted, but your more reliable employees may have to work harder in the morning until she arrives.

Undependable workers, especially those who are talented, can be managed. Clear expectations, boundaries and rules are the first step in dealing with an undependable person. Going back to my second example, if your social media specialist has been getting away with constant tardiness, boundaries need to be set. Unreliable employees need to be reminded that their behavior affects the company as a whole. Unless you address the issue, a problematic employee may not see their actions as harmful. If you dig deeper you may even find an underlying reason for their unreliability. Family members may be ill or there may have been a recent lifestyle change in the undependable’s life. Addressing these issues may be as simple as a change of hours, designated coverage for temporary problems, or giving the employee the option to telecommute.

An incompetent employee may present more of a challenge. He or she may have the best of intentions, but constantly makes mistakes while doing the job. They may be eager to please, and may give you the impression they fully understand the task at hand. Despite their hard work, the level of quality is still subpar or the job is done incorrectly. One pertinent example comes to mind. I was once told by a good friend about a part-time mechanic who worked on the truck fleet for a large shipping company. He attempted to fix a broken truck bumper with a forklift (not an uncommon practice). Instead, he made the problem much worse when he accidentally pierced the grill and radiator with the forklift. This was just one incident in a long string of problems stemming from incompetency. The mechanic was ultimately given the simpler task of working on brakes for large trailers.

This anecdote leads me directly to my next point, managing an incompetent person. Once again, clear boundaries and expectations will need to be set. Unlike the undependable employee, the incompetent employee might be willing to improve. An underperforming employee should be reminded of their strengths, while their areas of weakness are defined. Perhaps a particular job task wasn’t explained well enough or the employee is afraid to admit they lack proper training. If an incompetent employee still doesn’t “get it” after explanations and training, they may need to be reassigned to a position that matches their skill level, if possible.

In our theoretical hiring situation, we have the undependable worker versus the incompetent worker. Both problem employees have their potential solutions. One person may perform their job just fine, but may require more flexible hours, while another person may need to be retrained or reassigned. If you look at the situation from a resources viewpoint, the undependable worker is a better choice. You won’t have to expend time and energy retraining or reassigning them because they know how to do their job. If time and energy aren’t a major issue, and the attitude of the incompetent employee fits your company culture, they may be a better choice.

So, who would you hire?

Joe Purdy – Can’t Get It Right Today

Joe Purdy – Can’t get it right today Enjoy!