Archives for workplace issues

The Dangers of the “Average of 5” Rule

I have learned profound wisdom from Jim Rohn, but one thing he taught, which many other coaches echo, is that we are the average of the five people with whom we spend the most time. The advice around this is to surround yourself with people who already have aspects of the life that you want for yourself to elevate your station in life.

One study confirmed that it’s not only the five people closest to you, but also the people who are close to them, and so on. The reason, they identified, was norms. “Your perception of what is… acceptable … and your behavior changes” according to what you see more regularly.

A few dangers could arise from following the “average of 5” rule too strictly. Let’s explore some of them.

On one hand, if you aspire to be a visionary entrepreneur, by all means, seek out opportunities to spend time among visionary entrepreneurs. Spending time with people who have achieved what you aspire to achieve is one great way to keep you motivated, and it serves as a pull rather than a push. It will also most likely shorten your path from current reality to achieving your desired reality if you can learn from them how to overcome challenges, navigate most successfully, and expand your sphere of influence to include people in theirs.

On the other hand, people use this “average of 5” rule to justify cutting poor or unambitious people out of your life. I do agree that, while very hard, it’s important for self-preservation to put distance between you and toxic people in your life – those who seem to intentionally make you feel bad, whether conscious or subconscious. However, we know it happens – some people make it big and forget where they came from. They lose touch with the struggles of everyday people. It’s why self-aware executives participate in the show Undercover Boss. Even if you don’t intend to, you can forget the reality of not having money, status, luxury items and vacations, etc.

Yet another problem is that sometimes people do get left behind, and you can’t make and keep any guarantees.

Sometimes naturally, just as a byproduct of growing and changing your lifestyle, things you once had in common with people shift. You can become people that no longer have the same struggles that originally bonded you. The bonds can weaken and you could become unrelatable to each other. Sometimes ego is in the way of someone else wanting more for you (e.g. why should you get what they don’t have). Other times, people will “punch holes” in your plans because they fear losing you. They fear you changing or they fear being left behind. In another possible scenario, they could genuinely believe that you’re more likely to fail than succeed, which is really a reflection of their norms, and they are trying to “save you” from getting hurt or disappointed.

When people get left behind, the divide can widen. Feelings of hurt can manifest as anger and resentment. One person can turn the rest of your old crew against you.

Now, on the bright side, people can just as easily become more likely to succeed because you do – the same way you are more likely to smoke or gain weight along with those closest to you. So it stands to reason that if you intend to follow this advice, and cut out or intentionally distance yourself from these people who are below your measure of achievement, then their chances of being positively impacted by your success is much less.

Another danger is falling into a new crowd that may elevate your pay or status, but denigrate your core values. If you are not mindful of keeping your norms aligned with your values, you may start to lose touch with your values and act in ways that start to seem acceptable, because more of your close contacts act in those ways, even if they are in direct conflict to what you had decided individually were your values. Think about the celebrity college scandal. Even in that illegal situation, one person allegedly involved couldn’t see what was wrong with it – everyone was doing it.

Still more dangerous is this “go get yours,” “rugged individualism,” “drop the baggage holding you down” mentality.  While we are fighting as a nation about how to deal with mass shootings, seeing how we put controls on guns without taking away freedoms, and knowing that mental illnesses are on the rise and also contribute. What to do about this seems to escape us, except to try to strip away the stigma so that we can get that conversation going. Leaving people behind can also be dangerous.

There is another way to look at this. As per my last blog about raising corporate consciousness, just as people can elevate so much further in income and status and become removed from their poorer or less ambitious connections, people can also evolve too far in consciousness and lose touch.

Not all of us will be monks or spiritual gurus and live a life detached from material things altogether. It seems so far fetched. Most of us will not risk our 9-5 jobs, healthcare, etc. to chase butterflies, so to speak. However, some people have found ways to live in which their lifestyles are provided for as a result of imparting their wisdom to a following or tribe. Though the average everyday person* can certainly glean wisdom from these teachers, there is too much dissonance from the current reality of a guru to the current reality of an everyday person for a guru to serve as a true model.

* Let’s define the everyday person as someone who works for someone else to generate their income, carries some debt, follows a budget out of necessity, and would need a loan for very large purchases. This person may have religious beliefs but is not necessarily living according to them at all moments. Life is challenging, and sometimes also very time-consuming. So much so that self-care, self-reflection, and spiritual practices are sacrificed.

We need people at various levels in the middle to serve as ladders, to stay relatable and somewhat in resonance with the lower levels to inspire them to elevate.

So, if you’ve heard this advice and it felt wrong to assess your friends and family’s worthiness of being close to you, honor those feelings. Do bring new people into your sphere of influence to help you elevate, but keep your hand outreached to those below. Not everyone will be willing to take your hand, especially if your rise has been less than gracious. However, work with the willing, and, based on the science backing up the “average of 5” rule, gradually more and more will elevate at their own pace.

Pearl Jam – You Are

Pearl Jam – “You Are” (Riot Act Album) unoficial video clip

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. 

Being In The Friend Zone As A Manager: Strategies To Help You In 10 Sticky Situations

Having a friend at work can make work more bearable, can make the time go faster, and can even enhance your reputation. A Gallup study recommends not just having friends at work, but to have a “best” friend at work, citing multiple workplace health benefits.

However, there are the friends that you make as you work together closely, and potentially friends knew from somewhere else who wound up working at your company. The advice Gallup gives may tempt you to get your friends hired at your company, and there are certainly many companies who want you to refer your friends – the whole birds of a flock theory. Some will even pay you if your friends get hired.

Before you decide to bring your friend into the company, I want you to think about some hypothetical situations you may likely face, especially if you are the hiring manager and you’re considering hiring a friend to be on your team.

Of course, there are times when you’ll make friends at work, but for the sake of this article, we’ll stick with a friend you knew from before. Look for future blogs about the other possible work friend situations.

1. When They Can’t Get Past Who You Were

The friends I’ve known the longest remember when I was young and stupid. They’ve seen me at my lowest. They know and accept me, my mistakes, and my flaws, for the most part. They also have most likely benefited in some way from my strengths, even helping me recognize what makes me special.

Just because they accept me as a person and friend doesn’t mean they’ll accept my authority as a manager.  They may not like the way I manage at all, actually. And, just because they accept my shortcomings doesn’t mean that they won’t exploit them, even subconsciously.

2. When They Wind Up Being Not Who You Thought They Were

There certainly are friends who know how to be professional and understand how to respect your friendship and your leadership. There are probably not as many of your friends who can do this as you think, though. Your past history can be a good indicator, but being a recruiter taught me that with people, you can never be 100% certain.  It really takes two highly emotionally intelligent people to appropriately handle the sticky situations that arise, let alone maintain a friendship through them.

3. When You Have to Manage Performance

As the manager of your friend, you are held responsible for their performance, as you are equally responsible for the rest of your team’s performance. You have to be extra vigilant not to be harsher nor more forgiving of your friend.

Enforcing standardized metrics can ensure that everyone gets held to the same standards.

You have to have a relationship set up from the get-go where you both agree that honesty is kindness. The affection and acceptance that you have for each other can either make it harder or easier, to tell the truth.

This agreement has to go both ways, but you also have to establish that same agreement with all of your team members. Otherwise, if your other team members see your friend as the only one who can talk to you candidly, they will wind up confiding in your friend their concerns, especially those about you. Your friend can then become an unofficial, involuntary delegate to deliver feedback.

Think about how you have both broached difficult conversations in the past. Has it gone both ways? How have you handled it? What were the feelings around it, spoken or unspoken? Do you have a relationship in which honesty is delivered with love and good intentions? Has it helped you both become better?

4. When Your Best Friend Makes A New Best Friend

Of course, you want your friend to make new friends at work…just not a new best friend. However, that’s exactly what can happen. You may have been friends since childhood – a function of the fact that you lived in close proximity to each other, had mutual interests, and other mutual friends.

However, at work, there may be a greater diversity of people with different interests, beliefs, life experiences, and passions to bond over.

Sometimes it happens that what your friend and new friend bond over is you. This is the worst-case scenario of your friend making a new best friend. When you’re the manager, you also often are the scapegoat, and the common enemy. This can really get toxic and degrade morale for the team as a whole. If you get into this situation, I recommend also getting a coach. You will regularly want an objective opinion and someone who can help you check your ego so that you address this from a professional standpoint and without letting your personal feelings dictate if, when, and how you put the kibosh on workplace commiserating against you.

5. When You Are Accused of Nepotism

If your friend winds up being a superstar and getting promoted ahead of other team members, expect that you will have to defend the equality of the opportunity. You will be scrutinized on anything more you could have done to set your friend up for success.

You’ll have to think about if, in the extra time that you spent with your friend, you offered extra trade secrets. You’ll have to determine if their intimate knowledge of who you are giving them an edge in learning from you or earning your favor. You’ll also have to determine if you have felt freer to give them an edge through the information you shared about the other team members.

It’s also possible that they have learned from some cultural tips or tips from earning more recognition, money or perks even before they started.

You have to hand out trade secrets, or “hot” clients, or prominent projects, to all your team members, or at least give them equal opportunity to earn them. Set them up equally for growth opportunities. Be prepared to back up your recommendation or promotion decision based on expectations that you made clear to each team member on what it will take to earn a promotion.  Cite specific examples of performance that warranted the recommendation and performance that fell short of what you previously communicated.

Keep in mind your friend most likely wants people to know that he or she deserved a promotion, or things could get really bad for them, too.  It can make it harder for them to succeed with their own team if there is a belief that it wasn’t by merit, but your friendship that got them there.

6. When You Have Bias For and Bias Against Your Friend

We all do this thing to protect ourselves from looking bad where we assume that we’re unbiased. However, bias operates without our conscious awareness. It really takes quiet self-reflection and heightened self-awareness to recognize it in ourselves.

You know your friend very well, and may be able to identify ahead of time, sooner than other team members, when something is off, and what to do to get them back on quickly.  You may have additional insight into what tends to interfere with your friend’s mood, or how they act when something is bothering them.

Make it a habit to spend time regularly in quiet reflection assessing your response to your friend in comparison to your response to other team members. Ask yourself hard questions, and listen and record the responses in a journal. Sometimes you can’t recognize a pattern until it’s visually there in front of you.

Also, make it a practice to schedule time getting to know such things about your team members. Be proactive in asking them how they are dealing with challenges at work, or even at home.

7. When Your Friend is Dealing with Life

It happens to all of us –  accidents, death, financial difficulties, relationship problems, etc. When these things happen, they don’t happen in a vacuum or a silo. They tend to bleed into other areas of our lives, including our work.

You may even know personally the people in your friends’ life who are impacted by these life events, and so you may be dealing with life by association. This is when you need your friends the most. As your friend’s manager, however, you have to make sure that you are extending the same sympathy, time off, support, understanding, and slack to all of your team members when life happens to them, as well.

And, you’ll have to work harder to build a relationship with other team members in which they feel comfortable confiding in you when life happens.

8. When Your Team Gets Jealous

Your team members may see you being a good friend, and crave that kind of friendship with you, as well.

My old boss was an Ironman, very dedicated to fitness and competitive events. On our team of about 10, there was another fitness buff, and they would go for runs together. It wasn’t long before the murmurings of favoritism started to impact morale, engagement, and productivity. They went ignored for a bit of time. This particular account manager was also enjoying a great amount of success in earning new accounts. It could have been his great attitude, aided by his good physical health and confidence. It could have been how much more he was enjoying his work, having a great relationship with his boss. Even if there was 0 correlation between this buddyhood and his success, there was the perception that there was. Thankfully, my boss was working with the same coach our company made available to us all, and he was mindful and considerate of this concern.

His solution was to give the other team members equal opportunity to socialize with him after work hours and when the team performance warranted, he instituted a happy hour at the office. He brought in a couple of six-packs and we had beers together – a limit of two, for liability’s sake. This was one of several ideas proposed and voted on by the team.

Find the things you like in common with each of your team members, and make time to do them together. Propose that you do some “1:1 team-building” during lunch hours or before/after work.

Be aware of unreasonable requests for time outside of normal working hours, however. Also, stay mindful of how much time during work you spend chit-chatting with your friend and allocate equal time for everyone.

9. When They Don’t Share Your Good Opinion of the Company

For you, the company is a great place to work, which is why you wanted to share the wealth with your friend. However, it is apparently not great for everyone. Perhaps it’s better for managers than it is for non-managers. Perhaps the structure you appreciate is inhibiting your friend’s strengths. Perhaps his or her lifestyle doesn’t work as well with the company hours or flex-time policies.

If your friend decides that the company isn’t the great career move you thought it would be, there can be impacts on your friendship.  It’s even possible they’ll think they were better off where they were before you convinced them to join you. Once a change like that is done, it generally can’t be undone, at least without some apologizing and groveling. I hope if you find yourself in this situation that your friend is forgiving and honest as opposed to secretive and resentful. And, I hope that you have ample notice of their departure so that you can backfill the position and your mistake doesn’t impact operations and reflect poorly on you.

Sometimes revelations from your friend can taint your once-favoring opinion of the company. You may start to see things you were blind to, and you can’t then unsee them.  They may also form opinions about people – people you manage. Be very careful that this doesn’t create biases.

10. When You’re Ready to Move On

Do you owe it to your friend to fill them in on your aspirations to leave? Do you trust that if you do reveal your plan it will stay between the two of you and not get leaked to other team members or your boss prematurely?

If your team finds out your friend new first, will they be salty about it?

Is there a reasonable amount of time after hiring your friend that you are obligated to stay?

Whether your decision is career-motivated, situation-motivated, money-motivated, or lifestyle-motivated, you risk that your friend will feel left behind, unconsidered, and even betrayed.

People may vary in their advice for these situations, but these are hard questions, and there is no one right answer. You may have to ask yourself these questions if you decide to hire your friend.

Hiding anything from someone who knows you well is much harder to do and get away with.

Other situations that can be very hard to navigate include when you know that a layoff is coming but can’t tell anyone, including the person you tell everything. And, when you get fired and your friend gets your job.

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As you can see, there’s a lot to consider!

If you are a job seeker wondering why your friends won’t help you or hire you, consider that it might be a blessing in disguise and the best thing your friend can do for your friendship in the long-term.

What sticky situations have you been in with friends at work?

Dionne Warwick – That’s What Friends Are For

https://music.apple.com/us/album/dionne-warwick-the-voices-of-christmas/1482137630 Dionne Warwick’s official music video for ‘That’s What Friends Are For’ ft. Elton John, Gladys Knight & Stevie Wonder. Click to listen to Dionne Warwick on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/DionneWSpotify?IQid=DionneWTWF As featured on Love Songs.

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. 

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. 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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.