Posts tagged human resources
Expanding Your Network: Achieving Great Things Together
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How many people do you know? When we consider all of our online connections and people we have met over the years in our careers, social engagements and events, each of us probably has a network of thousands of people. Of course, there are close, trusted friends and family members as well as our work teams that we interact with on a daily basis. But many of us underestimate our own reach when we consider the sheer size of our networks.

But do those peripheral connections really matter? How can one person actually connect on an authentic basis with so many others? Think about your brand and the message you send online and in person. Are you a leader who welcomes new people into your circle, or do you default to an attitude of exclusivity? No one expects that each of us has time and energy to drop everything and give substantial resources to developing a deep connection with each new contact that comes into our mutual orbit. However, adjusting our attitudes about embracing new human beings that we come into contact with can help us cultivate an assumption of openness to new ideas and people that can enrich our lives and work in countless ways and, yes, bring us more career success in the process:

·      Curiosity. Are we genuinely curious about the interests, work and lives of others? Or are we too busy with our day to day tasks to generate passion about the world and infinite opportunities to learn and grow? Thinking about the “why” in everyday issues can help us find genuine, authentic connections with others.

·      Shedding Labels. Today’s Coordinator is tomorrow’s Manager. Or today’s Instagram trend-setter and soon-to-be entrepreneurial sensation. Or community organizer and world changer. Or all of the above! Stop making assumptions about who people are from their job titles. We all have immense value to one another and I am often greatly inspired by and humbled to be in mentoring relationships with early career professionals who teach and coach me as I do the same for them.

·      Extending our Reach. Think about writing, posting your ideas on social platforms, engaging with others and creating your own opportunities to collaborate outside of your typical channels. One of my most treasured platforms is a Slack channel I created with several pros I have met over the past few years, where we can freely collaborate, tackle difficult problems, and support one another. It’s allowed us to take tenuous connections across social platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn to a new level that allows for on-demand deeper discussions without taking a lot of time or energy, but that are surprisingly timely and rewarding. My dear friend Wendy Dailey and I not only chat on Slack, but we also text and talk, and keep in touch on social. We have grown our originally Twitter-ignited relationship to many in-person adventures too.

·      Diving in to our Groups. Are you a member of any professional groups? They provide boundless opportunities not only to meet new people with shared interests, but also to exercise your leadership muscles and develop new skills you never knew you could excel in, and new passions that deepen the reward of your work. For instance, I am a member of the American Bar Association and my state and local bar associations, as well as the Disability Management Employers Coalition and the Colorado ILG-these organizations provide opportunities for connections, and also deep and timely updates and analysis of important issues I care about. I am also president of my local HR management chapter, the Boulder Area HR Association. My groups provide opportunities to stay on top of the areas of work I love (particularly, employment law, disability accommodation, and strategic human resource management) and also to meet, connect with and develop relationships with amazing people who offer me new perspectives, support, informal coaching, and opportunities to take on new challenges. I endeavor to do the same for them-and we all have a lot of fun in the process.

·      Body Language. When you meet new people in person, do you open your stance (and even your arms)? Do you catch yourself in small, closed groups of connections you already know well, hiding out in your introversion instead and forming a closed circle that tells outsiders to stay away? Networking is more naturally comfortable for some of us than it is for others. Instead of falling back on old habits, be mindful and plan your networking so you can be open, grow your ability to connect with others, and challenge yourself in the process. Alyce Blum, a wonderful colleague of mine, teaches others to do this and I highly recommend her to anyone who needs coaching and support. 

·      Generosity. In networking, as in work and life, it feels great to be generous with our resources. I look to my friend, Steve Browne, as a wonderful example of this. Steve not only connects with and celebrates everyone, he also encourages (and even sometimes admonishes) us all to connect with one another. He not only coaches and pays forward a stunning energy of leadership and connection, he also generates this energy, that emanates throughout his network and back to him again. It’s a heavy lift but you can see how it genuinely feeds his passion about his work.

What can we achieve together as we grow our connections? The sky is the limit. Alone, I am an attorney and HR professional. Together with my network, I can be an expansive and creative thinker, inspired to do my best work that will have positive ripple effects throughout my community, my profession, and the larger world. For example, this year, my Boulder Area HR Association colleagues and I doubled our reach with an expanded conference that brought in Nancy Lyons of Clockwork, a truly inspirational and innovative leader, as our keynote. We offered not only HR benefits and legal content, but also a track for innovation in HR, populated with speakers who shared new ways of thinking and approaching problems and barriers in HR. How many leaders were inspired and brought fresh thinking and ideas back to their work teams from just that one event? I’m proud to say that’s my network at work.

What heights can you reach with your network? Share your successes and ideas!

Image credit: created with Canva

Should Employers Give Employees Time Off to Vote?
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Voting is a civic duty, and a privilege. It’s something that all of us should have an opportunity to do, and I believe employers build trust, engagement and loyalty among their employees when they provide opportunities for their team members to get to the ballot box. That includes providing time off work, if needed, for everyone to ensure they can get to their designated polling place within the hours it is open.

Some states require that employers give time off to vote. In this list, compiled by the organization Workplace Fairness, all of the requirements are laid out so you can check out what requirements apply to employees in the states where your organization does business. The rules do vary by state regarding when an employee is required to be given time off, when it must be paid, and what the penalties are for non-compliance. For instance, in Colorado, if an employee has three non-work hours to vote while the polls are open, no time off is required.

While following the law is not optional, are employers obligated to make their employees aware of their rights? Many employment laws also require posting to raise awareness, but the time off laws do not seem to mandate this. But should employers make employees aware, or even exceed what the law compels them to do when making it easier for their team members to vote?

Nancy Lyons, of Clockwork, not only decided to give her employees time off to vote, but made the bold decision to close the entire office on election day. In her announcement, Nancy explained that it was a strong statement of the company’s values, in an age where our personal, political and work lives are increasingly intertwined. Nancy shared, “I see this simple act of closing for the day as us demonstrating our values, not just here at work, but in our neighborhoods and greater communities.”

It isn’t always practical to close an entire work location. But in the spirit of encouraging this critically important civic duty celebrating our democracy and valuing our freedom, why not show your employees you value them as well by giving them the opportunity to make their voices heard?

The Sandwich Moment
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Have you ever been moved almost to tears by a small gesture that someone who cares about you has done for you? That’s what my sister and I call a “sandwich moment.” The name refers to the time eight years ago when my sister was in the throes of mom-hood and trying to juggle a hundred things every minute, and her sweet husband sent her with me to spend a Mothers’ Day weekend away in the mountains. For the drive up there, I packed us ham sandwiches. They even had lettuce and cucumbers on them, and they were neatly wrapped in foil.

When she opened the bag and took one out, her eyes filled with tears. She said that she couldn’t remember the last time someone made her a sandwich. We burst out laughing and ever since, whenever we offer small kindnesses to each other, which we often do, we call those “sandwich moments.” It’s one of the things I love most about my sister-that each of us notices when the other could really use a sandwich, and then we quietly make one and offer it up.  

For me it’s totally turned around the phrase, “Give that girl a sandwich,” which has been a snide way to make fun of the famous and beautiful folks who are never too thin or too rich. When I think of giving someone a sandwich, I think of giving just a little bit of love freely and without strings attached. Yes, food is nourishing, and caring in itself, but the gesture is what means more to me.   

It’s made me think about other people who quietly toil at work, in the world, among my friends and neighbors. Some of them are lonely, some of them are suffering, and some of them feel lost in this big, complicated world. My daughter lives in New York City and she shared that she really only began to feel at home when she realized that small gestures connect her with the millions of other people who live there. Holding a door, sharing a chuckle, helping someone when they drop something-these are little bits of loving kindness that we give and keep a tiny corner for ourselves, connecting us with other human beings that share our world.

The same feeling arises from giving to people far away too. Finding causes we care about and supporting them can create sandwich moments too. And in the place where we spend a lot of our time, at our jobs, if we can share these moments of kindness, we make the workplace a better experience for everyone. Because sandwiches, although they are quickly consumed, give rise to more sandwiches. The memory of that moment lives on and the person who was loved will share love. This is a short ride we’re on, in this world. I find that it’s really just a collection of moments and the more kindness we share, the happier we all are.

So share a sandwich moment today and spread a little ripple of love.  

Photo on Foter.com

Generating a Game Plan for Improving Candidate Experience
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Your compensation is in the right range, you’ve added some great benefits job seekers value, like student loan repayment, and your employer brand is showcased on your newly updated career site. But you haven’t noticed a great response to your recent open positions, and feedback has been tepid. You’re a successful organization, and people like you. Why haven’t you been attracting great candidates for your open positions lately?

47% of candidates think employers do a good job of setting expectations regarding communication in a potential hiring interaction. 78% of employers think they do a good job. Where is the disconnect, and what other aspects of your candidate experience are lacking? Hiring is a two-way street. In many markets, industries, and specialized roles, job seekers can take you or leave you. The power imbalance that once existed in favor of employers has shifted mightily. Improving your candidate experience can differentiate you from other employers and help you land the best hires.

How do we define candidate experience? According to Mike Roberts, writing in the Jibe blog, “Candidate experience is defined as how job seekers perceive and react to employers’ sourcing, recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and onboarding processes.” What does this have to do with employer brand? Employer Brand defined: Your employer brand is your promise to your potential employee. “This is what you can expect.” Ideally, employer brand and organizational branding are aligned.

Now that we know what employer branding is, how do you develop your brand so you know that it’s contributing to a great candidate experience?

  1. Take ownership of what it’s really like to work for you!
  2. Recognize the problems and work on solving them, but don’t hide them or pretend they don’t exist.
  3. Be open about your culture so job candidates can opt in if it’s a fit.
  4. Recognize that looking for the right job & right hire is a two-way street.
  5. Don’t make excuses but do be able to communicate why your culture and way of doing business works for your organization.

Employer brand can contribute to (or detract from) a candidate’s experience in the hiring process. It’s all about expectations. When expectations and experience do not align, this creates disappointment-when promises are made, they must be kept! So consistency between branding and experience is key.

What about the other way around? How does candidate experience impact employer brand? A poor Candidate Experience can wipe out gains in visibility & credibility of your employer brand. You can’t have a great employer brand without a great candidate experience. A poor candidate experience can also negatively affect your company brand. Candidates are often current or potential customers, so turning them off in the hiring process can also hurt your brand perception with them and those they share their experience with.

All stages of the candidate experience are potential touchpoints for positively impacting candidate experience. Some of these points are:

•       Pre-application/interest community

•       Application for open requisition

•       Pre-hire assessment

•       Screening (phone, live video, recorded video)

•       On site interviews

•       Offer stage

•       Post-offer background check, drug testing

•       Onboarding

Responsiveness, communication, setting realistic expectations about the process and timeline, and clear descriptions of jobs and qualifications can make the candidate experience better at every stage along the way. Additional support for pre-hire assessments and other technology solutions like video interviewing are critically important and appreciated by candidates. Respecting job seekers’ time and treating them with dignity and appreciation can set you apart from your competitors.

Continued communication post offer, as well as an organized and effective onboarding program, will be icing on the cake if you have followed through at the other steps. Removing barriers, creating a frictionless process that doesn’t drag on, and providing candidates the support and status updates they need will help you create a superior candidate experience. Asking new hires in the onboarding process to provide a frank assessment of their experiences will provide you with the data you need to identify needs and make continuous improvements. With unemployment at all-time lows in the U.S., it’s time to make your move toward the best candidate experience, and capture your competitive advantage!

Support 101
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In my consulting, working with employees through difficult times in their lives, including medical and disability issues, I come across a lot of great techniques to support others during a personal crisis. In addition, I have witnessed some (usually well-meaning) actions that don’t help, and actually can make a bad situation worse. For an employee who is facing a devastating medical challenge or serious accident, or that of a family member, support from management and coworkers can be the difference between getting through a tough time and coming back to work with a renewed sense of appreciation and engagement, and toiling through a crisis feeling alone and disengaging from work in a way that is neither good for the employee or for his/her team and employer.

Sometimes employees share full details of a crisis with their coworkers, seeking understanding and help from the people they spend the majority of their lives with. It is a natural reaction for the team to express support initially, but then begin to worry about how the work will get done, and even to withdraw from the employee in crisis and realign work immediately. This is a mistake. A more nuanced reaction is in order, and managers and teammates should take their cues from the employee and allow him/her to dictate what is reasonable, while providing a safety net in case additional help is needed. If someone is still at work and wanting to be engaged and productive, we shouldn’t strip that from the employee, but rather should wait in the wings and only come in to offer help when that support is truly needed. To remove responsibility and meaningful work from an employee without them requesting assistance can make that person feel like their relevance is diminished and that they are being written off as “too sick to work” when they are still there, contributing important forward motion to the team.

Often, employees in crisis worry that they will be marginalized and ejected from the team during the time when they are unable to work, because they understand how important their contributions are and they worry that without them there, someone else will need to take their place, and they will no longer be needed. For this reason, it’s very important that managers clearly articulate their desire to have the employee back at work just as soon as they feel ready, and to check in on a regular basis to let the employee know that their presence is missed and their team is looking forward to seeing them again. That said, this message should not be that there is a lot of work to do and that the team is falling behind because the employee is away, or that pressure is being brought to bear on the employee to force them to return to work before it’s medically appropriate. Rather, the message should be that the employee is in the team’s thoughts and that they want to see him/her back at work when the time is right.

Managers who are aware of one of their team members’ illness and impending absence may have trouble answering questions from the team about what is going on. I have often heard concerns from managers about how to communicate with their teams in a way that helps them understand the impact, but also protect the privacy of the employee in crisis. The right answer, I often advise, is to be clear about the work status of the employee, without communicating details that don’t contribute to the team’s need to plan for work while the employee is out. Often the communication is simply, “Joe Doe is on Short Term Disability/FMLA leave beginning today, and he is expected to return in six weeks, so we will be covering his work during that time. I want you to know that Joe is okay and is looking forward to getting back to work as soon as possible.”

Coworkers who are aware of more detailed information because the employee has chosen to share that may be wondering how they can support their teammate. Here are a few easy ideas:

·       Listen. Say, “I’m so sorry to hear you’re going through this. How are you feeling?”

·       Help. Instead of asking, “Is there anything I can do?” mention something specific, like, “Can I pick up your kids for a playdate?” or “How about I bring by dinner tomorrow night?” If you don’t know your teammate well enough to visit the home, give a gift card to a local restaurant.

·       Stay in Touch. If you are close enough to have your teammate’s cell phone number, call or text each week or two to check in to say hello and let him/her know you care.

Sometimes well-meaning coworkers, friends and even family will do things they think are helpful, but actually aren’t. Here are a few things to avoid:

·       Making it about you. Telling long, drawn-out stories about how you once had an aunt who had the same problem…it’s fine if there was an inspirational outcome and you want to lift your coworker’s spirits, but otherwise, just offer support and a caring, listening ear instead of monopolizing the conversation chatting about yourself when your teammate is the one who needs help.

·       Offering prayers or saying anything about “God’s will” unless you are already sure that is welcome. Some people are not religious, and although offering prayers makes YOU feel better, your coworker may just feel uncomfortable about how to respond. Plus, even if they believe in it, they may feel like God’s will kind of sucks right now. Instead, think of saying, “I am hoping for a quick recovery for you-I’ll keep you in my thoughts.”

·       Sending them crackpot therapies like juice fasting, coffee enemas and crystal healing, in an effort to “make sure they know what will cure them.” If you want to give a referral for a great massage therapist to help your coworker stay in balance during healing, by all means do so. If your coworker asks for your advice, feel free to give it. But telling your teammate that conventional medicine is harmful, or trying to hijack what is already a complicated treatment process for them, is selfish and counterproductive. Keep it to yourself.

·       Avoiding your coworker. If you don’t know what to say, don’t avoid the issue and pretend your friend isn’t going through something tough and risk contributing to their feelings of isolation. It’s always okay to say, “I don’t know what to say. But I want you to get better, and I care about you.”

Most people are very caring and want to be supportive. They don’t intentionally do things to stress out people in crisis and waste their energy when they need 100% of it for recovery. Respecting employees’ privacy, treating them with dignity, ensuring they have an ongoing opportunity to contribute at work as they are able, and providing them with a caring support network are all ways to effectively help a coworker through a crisis. In addition, avoiding the things that don’t help, and focusing on the things that do, can help effectively support employees through crisis and get them back where they want to be, in life and at work!

Photo on Foter.com