How To Stop Your Employees ‘Coasting’ At Work

Managers tend to be well practised at recognising employees who are failing to meet their performance targets and staff who are excelling at work; but what about those in the middle? The employees who are just doing enough to get by so their adequate performance isn’t picked up? According to a recent poll, one in three (32%) people in the UK say they are ‘coasting’ at work.

Warning signs of ‘coasters’ include poor interaction with colleagues, failure to participate in discussions, and a negative attitude, including appearing bored and unengaged with business initiatives.

Not taking action to stop employees coasting can have a negative impact on the rest of the team; after all, what is the point of some putting in extra effort if this is not required by other team members? The employee may also leave after a short tenure because they feel bored, disengaged and unmotivated during the working day. So what can managers do to stop employees ‘coasting’ at work?

First, it is important to recognise that coasting employees may have an underlying issue causing their ‘just enough’ commitment to work. Whether the issue is work-related or personal, this can have a significant impact on how the employee performs during working time. Managers can act proactively here; have a quick, informal talk with the employee and ask if they have any concerns. This may reveal that the employee doesn’t feel confident with a particular system or they misunderstand a procedure. If so, positive action can be taken to address this such as training. Alternatively, where personal issues are affecting the employee, managers can highlight the support available for the employee such as the availability of an employee assistance programme (EAP).

Employees may coast where they lack motivation and interest in their role with many contributing factors such as being in the same role for a long period of time. You can assess whether your employees are being challenged and developed in their working life, from both a professional and personal viewpoint. Ask employees whether they wish to undertake training opportunities or if they would like to work towards a different or higher role within the business. Employees who feel they are benefitting and developing from their employment are likely to put more effort into their role. A challenge can also spark a higher effort, with initiatives such as daily or weekly incentives spurring employees into action by awakening their competitive spirit.

You can also assess whether your internal business practices encourage continual effort from employees, or whether they allow a performance dip. Are employees set challenging-yet-realistic targets and objectives that encourage a positive work ethic? Do staff understand when reviews for performance and salary will take place during the year, and are these regular enough to require high performance across the entire review period? Even without formal reviews, are informal periodic meetings held with team members to talk through their work achievements? Small adjustments to your working practices can help encourage a higher work rate from all employees.

As well as focusing on the individual employee, you can review how effective your management team are at encouraging extra effort from their teams. In fact, your culture of coasting may have been inherited from your management team, so it is important to ensure managers are not just getting by. To instil a positive culture, managers need to be encouraging, enthusiastic and constructive to keep their team members engaged at work. Recognising achievements on both an individual and team basis will also help employees feel valued for their effort and encourage continued active engagement.

Peter Done is Group Managing Director and founder of business services specialist Peninsula Group.


This is why your employees are frustrated with HR

Management practices must evolve as Australian organisations embrace technology and new working styles, according to Aaron McEwan, HR advisory leader, Gartner.

“For years, the traditional manager model provided ongoing, consistent employee coaching and development,” said McEwan.

“However, as technology and innovation impact job requirements, organisations need managers who can provide employees with the tools, knowledge and connections to succeed in the midst of change.”

McEwan added that during the last 12 months, Australian employees have consistently cited a lack of future career opportunities and development as a key reason to leave their job.

“It’s clear that employees have become frustrated with managers who fail to support their professional goals and aspirations,” he said.

His comments come as new research from Gartner found manager quality is now ranked among the top three reasons Australians will leave their job.

Indeed, data from Gartner’s Q3 2018 Global Talent Monitor report reveals that manager quality rose three places from last quarter to become a key driver of attrition for Australian employees.

At the same time, people management (an organisation’s reputation for how it manages its employees) is now the number one reason employees choose to leave one job for another, followed by future career opportunity and manager quality.

Moreover, another knock-on effect of poor manager quality is employee engagement.

Gartner’s data also showed that high discretionary effort levels stalled at 17% in the third quarter of 2018.

“For employees it’s a catch 22. They’re unfulfilled with their current roles, but the last three months of the year are a notoriously slow period for hiring, making workers reluctant to seek new opportunities,” said McEwan.

“There’s only one thing worse than employees walking out the door, and that’s having a workforce that’s mentally checked out, but still showing up each day.”

In order to win back employees who are disenchanted and dissatisfied, McEwan said organisations need to seek out ambitious, high-performing managers who can develop employee skills and unite talent from within and outside of the business to deliver results.

According to Gartner research, the manager best positioned to improve performance in the current work environment is the “connector manager.”

“A connector manager links employees to the right people and resources at the right time to get the job done,” said McEwan.

Gartner data also reveals that this type of manager can improve employee performance by up to 26% and increase employee engagement by up to 40%.

Just one in four managers demonstrate the connector leadership attributes organisations need.

However, McEwan said that while these managers may be rare, they are not impossible to find.

“Connector managers proactively unite employees to an organisation’s culture, engagement and leadership team, addressing the current concerns that could see valued team members look for employment opportunities elsewhere.”

McEwan recommends HR leaders develop connector managers by finding those managers who:

Take an active role to ensure high-quality development connections rather than just delegating development responsibilities
Invest time to diagnose and understand individual employee needs
Help employees get more value from their development connections by focusing on quality not quantity
Create an environment of transparency and trust within their teams and recognise peer coaching and development


Recruiting in 2018: Analytics, diversity — and a few surprises

For recruiting, it was predicted that 2018 would be the year of diversity hiring, predictive analytics, overhauled job listings and the rise of the gig economy. Those predictions largely came to fruition — with a few extra surprises.

Predictive analytics
The ability to use the data you may already have to predict job suitability in candidates and performance growth in existing employees may be news to some recruiters, but for many, it’s a reality. From major players to savvy startups, employers are using data for candidate screening and talent management.

And when it comes to AI, there’s no over-hyping the tech, according to Derek Herman, product marketing specialist at Phenom People. “It’s under delivered by most companies ‘promising to bring home the gold,'” he told HR Dive via email, but the potential is there. He suggests CHROs and talent leaders who haven’t yet brushed up on AI technology do so to help them make the right investments.

“It is one of the most impactful areas that can affect spending time with the right candidates,” he said. It can help employers find the most engaged candidates and pinpoint the best-performing talent. It can also measure ROI for campaigns — something invaluable for real-time decision-making.

Eddie Lou, executive chairman and co-founder of Shiftgig agreed. “Artificial Intelligence actually is affecting all aspects of HR/recruiting: candidate sourcing, screening and matching,” he told HR Dive via email.

Diversity hiring
Diversity hiring was certainly a 2018 recruiting trend, but there’s also no end in sight. Diversity and inclusion initiatives have proven themselves capable of not only creating a wider applicant pool but also improving employers’ brands.

And 2019 will likely bring more of the same, according to Lou. As a board director for The Mom Project, a digital talent marketplace that connects women with employers, he said he’s seen the company experience “huge growth in part given the demand for diversity hiring.”

Rethinking job postings
Employers across industries took a second look at their job postings in 2018, working to remove language that might dissuade women, older applicants and other workers from applying and attempting to hone their messages. Branding is top of mind for many, and job postings are frequently individuals’ first introduction to a company.

Extra focus on job listings has come with an added bonus, according to Jason Russell, director of North America total rewards at SAP. “When postings are sent back to managers to reword, the message is ‘this is of value to the company,’ reinforcing the commitment to a diverse and inclusive workplace,” he said. And this impacts culture: “We send the message that we’re inclusive to candidates and strengthen that message with managers.”

According to Herman, this has all required talent acquisition professionals to work on their marketing skills. Recruiters are becoming less like headhunters and more like job magnets with AI-powered technology that allows them to attract and identify the most qualified candidates, he said.

Gig workers
With predictions that up to 60% of the workforce will work independently by 2027, the rise of the gig worker doesn’t seem to have been exaggerated. The use of contractors has enabled businesses to remain agile in times of economic uncertainty, and some workers say they’re enjoying the flexibility that comes with being an independent contractor.

“In 2018, the gig economy played a major role in recruiting,” AJ Brustein, co-founder and COO of Wonolo, told HR Dive in an email. “We saw a rise in both companies offering recruiting technology aimed at the gig economy, and in gig and contract workers turning to technology to find work.”

The increasing prevalence of apps and websites dedicated to gig work demonstrates gig economy growth, according to Lou. “With unemployment below 4% and people demanding flexibility, over a hundred digital labor marketplaces have been created,” he said. “Besides digital labor marketplaces, big enterprises, small companies, and even staffing companies are developing their own gig economy initiatives with internal resources or partnerships.”

Russell cites SAP’s own efforts to become a more flexible work environment to attract and retain talent. While not historically open to part-timers, the company reassessed the value of giving employees options. Realizing that employee needs change, it introduced part-time options, even offering them the same benefits portfolio that full-timers enjoy. In the future, it plans to look into job-sharing opportunities as well.

A few surprises
While many 2018 recruiting predictions panned out, there were a few others that some didn’t see coming.

For example, 2018 saw an unprecedented and unexpected seasonal hiring shortage, according to ​Brustein. Retailers, shippers, logistics and those in warehousing have been scrambling to find enough workers to meet heightened consumer demand ahead of the holiday season.

Likewise, it wasn’t only predictive analytics leading recruiting tech this year. Herman said he believes the impact of conversational bots and SMS communications is unquestionable. “Every talent acquisition team in every Fortune 1000 company should be budgeting for these capabilities in 2019,” he said.

Finally, Russell said that an underreported but significant trend for 2018 was employees’ desire for a “mission-oriented” employer. Job seekers are looking for companies that do more than just provide a paycheck; they want to work for a company that demonstrates that it cares about the world. Employees also have made clear that they want to work for a company that reaches out and connects with them and even their family. Employees take their work home with them, and bring their home life to the office, Russell said; “When we can provide services or partner with companies that can help them, we boost our employee value proposition.”


Fulfillment is the new standard for employee engagement

Dive Brief:
In today’s workplace, the new standard for employee engagement is fulfillment, according to an analysis from PwC. The company described fulfillment as a feeling people have when their work and motivations are aligned and they gain a sense of meaning and purpose as result. PwC cited the development of neuroscience and positive psychology as catalysts for the shift toward fulfillment, and artificial intelligence and automation as the tools for accelerating it.
PwC identified three hallmarks of a fulfilling work experience: 1) relationships, or a sense of belonging and having a connection to others; 2) impact, which is progress toward a goal people believe in; and 3) growth, or a personal challenge people overcome.
The analysis concluded that workers are ultimately responsible for finding their own fulfillment, but that organizations can help them discover it through personal exploration exercises, digital assessment tools and employee programs such as innovation labs, rotational opportunities and reverse mentorship experiences.

Dive Insight:
Workers in a study by Globoforce’s WorkHuman Research Institute and IBM’s Smarter Workforce Institute said they want more meaningful work — and that meaningful work remains the single largest contributor to a positive employee experience.

In a 2016 PwC survey, Putting Purpose to Work, 83% of workers said “finding meaning in day-to-day work” was their top priority. Employees who can’t find meaning and fulfillment in their current position are likely to look elsewhere.

And while PwC’s latest analysis notes that things like digital assessment tools can help, employees’ need for fulfillment requires a human touch. A positive, personalized, meaningful work experience calls for a human approach to their wellbeing. And by making a better employee experience a priority, employers can not only improve engagement and retention, but they also may see significant returns on their assets.

Recommended Reading:


How To Take The Pain Out Of End-Of-Year Performance Reviews

It’s that time of year again — when so many of us are dragged kicking and screaming into summarizing the year, rating employees and writing a mini version of War and Peace for every direct report. No wonder why performance management has such a bad rep! But it doesn’t have to be this way. What if the reason end-of-year performance reviews are so painful is that we’ve been doing it all wrong? Check out these tips for a fresh perspective on this end-of-year ritual.

Prioritize alignment. The biggest mistake we make is to assume that performance management is about managers “approving” or “disapproving” of their employees. Really it’s a business tool to help both managers and employees align expectations, especially around what work gets done, how it gets done and how the manager and employee will work together to make that happen.
Develop a partnership. The other mistake is to stick too closely to a top-down approach. In the worst cases, this is where a manager views himself as a wise old owl who bestows approval, or lack thereof, once a year by either anointing an employee to most-favored-status or branding them a “poor performer.” Sounds harsh, I know, but this is how workers in some companies actually view the process. The fix? Start thinking about performance management as a dialogue between employees and managers and you’ll be surprised how quickly the focus shifts to how the two work together. This approach still calls out individual accountability but takes into account different perspectives while building trust and communication.

Focus on the work. Whether your company uses performance ratings or not, make no mistake: Performance is getting evaluated. And it’s always important to remember that you’re evaluating the work, not the person. So phrases such as high or low performer should be changed to high or low performance. While the distinction is subtle, it can go a long way toward reducing the fear and resentment employees can feel when they think they’re being evaluated. After all, work is fluid. My leader not being pleased with a result I delivered may not feel good, but at least I know I can change results. However, my leader not being pleased with me sets up a paternal dynamic that risks me spending time either avoiding his wrath or resenting him … or both.
Practice year-round performance management. The number-one reason end-of-year performance reviews are such a pain is that we treat them as if they equal performance management. They don’t. End-of-year reviews should be a summary of your many discussions throughout the year. Done right, the end-of-year review is actually the smallest part of the process. Of course, that can only happen if employees and managers are checking in quarterly to evaluate the bigger picture, look at trends and discuss lessons learned. Any one-on-one meeting can become an end-of-year performance review practice run as long as you shift the discussion away from the day-to-day and toward the larger picture.

Find another time for discussing career goals. Because most managers tend to talk about everything in one messy conversation, they create an expectation that end-of-year conversations will be about raises and promotions; what they are really supposed to be about is reflecting on what worked, what didn’t and what to focus on in the coming year. The solution? Simply schedule a separate meeting to discuss an employee’s career goals. Ideally, this should happen as soon as an employee begins reporting to a manager and then once a year a month or so after performance reviews are complete. This ensures managers have career conversations with every employee, not just those they consider “high performers.” It also helps inform goal-setting for the year and, maybe best of all, takes the pressure and awkwardness out of career discussions for both the employee and manager.
The less we view the performance review process as a policing tool and the more we see it as an opportunity to collaborate with our employees, the more value everyone will get out of it.


5 secrets for a successful employee experience framework

Today’s employees want more — more flexibility, more choice and more attention to their needs. And smart companies are giving it to them.

Indeed, the term employee experience has been elevated to boardroom discussions, but there’s no cookie-cutter framework that works for all companies. Each company has its own mission and challenges. Employees, too, are different, and getting into their minds and understanding their emotions require new tools and methods. Here are five steps to creating a successful employee experience framework.

Start with the employee-customer connection
Organizations with highly engaged employees outperform their competitors by 147% in earnings per share, according to one Gallup study. Employee experience — of which employee engagement is an important part — is increasingly recognized as critical to a company’s success and directly linked to a company’s mission and vision.

Ranked as a Glassdoor Inc. Best Place to Work, SAP is one such company. “A happy employee is going to innovate, feel included. They’re going to take chances, … and that has an impact on profitability,” said Dan Healey, vice president of HR at SAP North America.

Weaving your business strategy into your overall people strategy — and in turn into your employee experience — is critical, added Brigette McInnis-Day, COO of SAP SuccessFactors. “SAP’s mission to improve people’s lives every single day shapes a very tight people strategy and anchors the employee experience,” she said.

Veterans United Home Loans, which provides Veteran’s Affairs (VA) loans for home mortgages and refinancing, realizes the benefits of its employee experience framework as demonstrated in high Glassdoor ratings and a ranking of 12 among the top 50 organizations on the “People’s Companies that Care” list. Employee experience is inextricably tied to Veterans United’s mission to be the leader in the VA loan industry and ensure that veterans and their families have a positive experience toward becoming homeowners, said the company’s chief people officer, Amanda Andrade. Those mission-driven values guide the back-and-forth conversation around employee experience as well. “When we talk with employees, we focus on how we’re living out our values [and ask], ‘How do you feel you’re living them out?'”

Use new tools to understand employees
Creating an employee experience framework begins with an assessment of employee needs — from the worker’s perspective. And that shift in perspective is likely to require new tools.

Forrester Research analyst Andrew Hewitt suggested that organizations can use employee experience journey mapping to examine the emotions and pain points experienced by different employee personas. An employee experience journey map can uncover the myriad barriers to employee success, including a lack of the right technology support. He offered an example of a salesperson who doesn’t have mobile access to customer records while on the road. That’s a big technology issue that potentially can be solved, he said. Companies can then map different potential strategies and technologies to address the issue.

Ways to improve employee experience
An accurate employee experience journey map requires empathy with employees — a requirement shared by design thinking, another tool in the employee experience toolkit. Design thinking — embodied by principles like empathy and holistic thinking — helps leaders “brainstorm challenges in the organization, come up with creative solutions and break out of historical precedent to imagine new solutions,” Hewitt said.

Brigette McInnis-Day, COO, SAP SuccessFactorsBrigette McInnis-Day
At SAP, design thinking strategy sessions were held worldwide when the company decided to reinvent its overall people strategy a few years ago, according to McInnis-Day.

Another method that’s often overlooked is simply to ask employees questions. Similar to conducting focus groups or interviews with customers, formal interviews with employees can help leadership better determine what workers want. Of course, even in a great workplace, employees may not be entirely forthcoming in a non-anonymous setting, and in a rigid culture, they’re very likely to be close-mouthed about what aspects of working at the company they don’t like.

Don’t forget the human side of employee experience
An employee experience framework should tackle major complexities, including work location flexibility, support from managers and colleagues and nuanced views of wellness. A company that fails to consider the depths of such issues is missing the difference between simple engagement and overall experience.

For Veterans United, employee experience is “about how connected employees feel to the work they’re doing and the people that they’re serving and to their co-workers,” Andrade said. That sense of community is a critical element — and so is communication. As part of its employee experience framework, the company fosters day-to-day connections among employees through various methods. For example, employees can start an interest group on any topic, and the company helps to publicize these groups on a myriad of communication channels. Executives often attend these groups.

As just one part of this whole-person approach, Veterans United is among the companies giving greater recognition to the concept of employee financial wellness, with classes and an app aimed at helping employees.

SAP also takes a whole-person approach. “We want employees to be the best version of themselves — everything they are and everything they want to be,” Healey said. To that end, he pointed to three priorities he believes contribute to SAP’s success in the employee experience arena: the company’s investment in multifaceted lifelong learning, partly to future-proof employees; more meaningful recognition programs; and better offerings for working parents.

As a testament to the company’s commitment to a holistic view of employees — inside and outside the organization — SAP has also partnered with Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global to give SAP employees and SuccessFactors users more comprehensive ways of managing wellness.

Consider the day-to-day technology issues
Hewitt said that when implementing employee experience technologies, companies and their HR teams have to get down to the daily level of technology experiences. “That’s the big thing companies have been missing,” he noted.

The technologies employees use during their workday — daily journey — encompass a wide swathe of old and new tools that enable employees to do their core work and beyond. Those tools include everything from an employee’s computer to SharePoint for collaboration, Slack for communication to the right degree, chatbots to deal with low-level functions or get information from back-end systems and robotic process automation that frees employees from repetitive work.

Veterans United also sees the technology platform used in processing loans as a critical factor in the employee experience as well as the usability and stability of its technology systems in general. Communication is paramount in this area as it is in all areas of the company — for example, updates to new rules that are shared regularly, encouraging employee feedback, and a help desk that’s connectible via instant messaging.

SAP also focuses on giving employees a fulfilling daily technology experience. Connectivity is critical for the highly distributed workforce, McInnis-Day said. An important part of the company’s employee experience framework is “delivering technology and being well-connected even if you’re not in the office,” she said. One of the critical aspects of employee experience, she believes, is “having access to data to drive decision-making.” The technology that delivers it “doesn’t have to be beautiful,” she reasoned, but it does need to be easy to use and work well, and it will “make or break” the success of a company and its employee experience efforts.

Focus on continuous feedback
“A lot of companies operate in a bubble,” Hewitt said. “They think they’re doing right things for employees, and they think employees are happy and motivated to work at their organization.”


Reskilling future workers: who’s responsible?

From switchboard operator to film projectionist, three industrial revolutions down and we’ve already seen many jobs wiped from the face of the Earth. Emerging technology is rapidly dispensing P45s, pink slips or termination letters to the next round of workers. More than half the global labour force will need to start reskilling and reinventing how they earn a living in the next five years, according to the World Economic Forum. Millions of roles will be lost, equally many more will be created.

As the job landscape evolves, so does uncertainty over the expertise that will be needed. “It’s becoming increasingly difficult to predict the skills which organisations will need in the future, so reskilling has become more important,” says Lizzie Crowley, skills adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

So who’s responsible for the skills reboot? Government, individuals, industry and businesses all must play a part in a successful transition into new, yet to be developed, jobs. Our workplace ecosystem will also need to pull together to make employment function properly in the rapidly digitalised global economy.

“Future employment is one of the hottest topics of our time,” says Thomas Frey, senior futurist and executive director of the DaVinci Institute. Here’s a look at who’s accountable.

WORKERS: are employees responsible for reskilling themselves?
Individuals must acknowledge the inevitable changes that are happening. In the 21st century, the responsibility is shifting to workers, more than any other group. Personal employability will be a key driver in the future.

“We are entering a new paradigm where people are now in charge of their own employability; that’s a huge disruption,” says Jean-Marc Tassetto, ex-head of Google France and co-founder of Coorpacademy. “We used to think employers, unions or government were in charge of reskilling. It no longer works that way.”

Employment in the age of rapid automation relies heavily on continual skills development, especially as more traditional roles become augmented by new tech. “The individual has to be willing to take the first step and embrace change. If workers want to future-proof their careers, they need to evolve,” says Chris Gray, brand leader at Manpower UK.

It will be less about what people already know and more about their capacity to learn, . Jobs will be defined by what value workers offer up and produce for a company, rather than job titles and backsides on seats.

“The new skills required to embrace these rapidly emerging technologies is creating a widespread talent shortage already,” says Mr Gray. This is where lifelong learning becomes crucial, so workers can easily adapt to subsequent waves of disruption.

“By 2030, the largest company on the internet, larger than Google, Apple and Facebook, will be an education-based company that we haven’t heard of yet. Education remains the largest online opportunity that nobody has cracked the code for yet,” says the DaVinci Institute’s Mr Frey.

EMPLOYERS: invest in reskilling initiatives or risk losing talent
Here is a dire warning for business: if you don’t invest in the employees will go elsewhere. With a bottleneck in the talent pipeline, attracting and retaining the best people will be crucial.

“We are entering an unusually creative period of human history. Those who embrace this kind of change will prosper and companies that study and embrace this fluid ‘jobscape’ will build flourishing enterprises in the years ahead,” says Mr Frey.

It doesn’t help that each new deployment of tech, each shift in business down the digitised pathway,. “The accelerated pace of innovation and diffusion of technologies will constantly require new skills,” says Olga Strietska-Ilina, senior skills and employability specialist at the International Labour Organization.

Businesses will need greater foresight and to invest heavily, realising that pumping money into training today will drive a return on investment tomorrow. “Employers must prepare themselves for changes in the world of work by putting learning and development opportunities right at the heart of their organisation,” says the CIPD’s Ms Crowley.

It is certainly the time of the CLO, the chief learning officer, to shine in every organisation. “The key change is that training now becomes strategic. It’s also about the impact training will have on the overall competitiveness of an organisation, which was not the case a few years ago,” says Mr Tassetto at Coorpacademy.

GOVERNMENT: reskilling projects can future-proof the UK workforce
Those in power have a vital role to play in the coming years. Governments can set the tone for upskilling workforces and moving whole economies up the value chain. France, for example, supports learning through a personal training account, which works like healthcare provision. This entitlement allows people to upskill; language and IT courses have been the most popular. This scheme guarantees time away from work to reskill.

Governments beware: it doesn’t help that the, with its focus on emerging technologies, has t. This is where policies and law-making can really make a difference.

“There’s little evidence of any workforce planning by the UK government for future impact. There is definitely a problem with precarious contract work, where organisations transfer the risks of employment, careers and skills development away from the core and on to workers,” says Professor Adrian Madden from the University of Greenwich’s Business School.

Certainly, public funding will be crucial. Reskilling and upskilling needs sizeable investment from government, including tax breaks, co-financing with private organisations, grants and incentives, as well as a functioning system of skills recognition in the digitalised era.

“Specific training measures will have to address all this, as well as disadvantaged groups. If this does not happen, the risk is there will be a new digital divide and growing inequality. Access to newly created technology-oriented jobs largely depends on access to education and reskilling opportunities,” says the International Labour Organization’s Ms Strietska-Ilina.

INDUSTRY: sector-specific skills guidance will be essential in the future
Industry bodies, along with education establishments, also have to step up to the mark when it comes to skilling the next generation of workers. “There needs to be a combined effort to provide industry-specific guidance on the skills that will be in most demand, so workers can decide on the options that are right for them,” says Manpower UK’s Mr Gray.

In each sector of the economy and in academia, establishments and organisations should be adjusting how they teach the future workforce, so they offer up skills that are relevant to the digitalised era. The education system needs to be fit for purpose.

This will also involve reorganising systems of study and training, so they are more receptive to learning throughout life and funded accordingly. Front-loading young people with a single lifetime qualification will no longer be effective.

“The average person entering the workforce in 2030 will have to plan to reboot their skills eight to ten times throughout their working life. Reskilling needs to become super-efficient,” says Mr Frey.

“The skills that will be most in demand in the future will also be some of the hardest to train: resilience, resourcefulness and flexibility. In addition, having a solid understanding of how to better manage the encroaching demands of our online existence with skills such as distraction and tech management, relationship management, opportunity management, and just staying relevant.”

There’s a lot of work to be done.


Start Off On The Right Foot: Strategies For Effective Talent Onboarding

Once a candidate is picked out of a large pile, and after they receive and sign their job offer, it seems that a big burden can be lifted off of everyone’s shoulders. The hiring manager can pause the hectic search mode, and HR can switch to other pending tasks. Likewise, the newly hired is at peace, knowing that they’ve transitioned from an anxious job seeker to an employee. Yet, there comes another critical phase after searching, shortlisting, and selecting: onboarding. The first few weeks of an employee’s tenure are incredibly important. They can significantly influence the employee’s learning, productivity, satisfaction at work, and more importantly, time spent at the company.

Talent management is quite a complex endeavor. Mostly because it extends beyond the hiring phase. Companies are recommended to always clarify their hiring strategy, to determine what skills are most vital to their business, understand what a culture fit looks like to them, work on building a strong employer brand, and then adopt the perfect technology for recruitment.

But if the goal is to not only hire high caliber talent, but to also maximize their productivity, and minimize their retention, then a bit more work ought to be done. The onboarding period connects attraction with retention, and significantly impacts projected productivity, satisfaction, engagement, and overall culture within the company. Here are some of the reasons onboarding is big component of talent management:


This is perhaps the most important reason to look at the onboarding period strategically, and to invest in enhancing it. Every company attempts to minimize turnover, and to keep its employees happily engaged and productive. Yet, with poor onboarding, the risk of turnover runs high.

Employees form an impression of their workplace during the first few weeks (if not days) of joining the company. No matter how detailed and extensive the recruitment process is, it is the onboarding period that reveals so much information about relevancy and fit between the employer and the employee.

This is why it is essential that employees feel that there is a clear plan and a supporting system for them from day one. It is also important that they build the positive impression about their workplace, environment, colleagues, etc.


According to a poll by entitled On-The-Job Training in the Middle East and North Africa, more than 9 in 10 (91.4%) respondents deliberately look for companies with clear training and development programs during their job search.

Training and development start from day zero on the job. In fact, it is most critical during the onboarding phase. Employees who are simply thrown in and asked to figure it out on their own, are likely to feel unsupported and agitated. They are also less likely to reach their highest levels of productivity and performance.

No matter how experienced employees are, they will always require some form of learning and training support so that they truly understand business practices and details. Productivity can be at its highest when a systematic onboarding and training program is put in place.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents (63.3%) to the poll, On-The-Job Training in the Middle East and North Africa, cited increased productivity as the greatest advantage of on-the-job training. 88.2% of MENA professionals also said that it is essential that they have a mentor or coach during their first few months at a new job.


It is widely agreed on that onboarding impacts employee satisfaction, employer brand and culture, and succession planning. A successful onboarding program not only introduces new joiners to key staff and teams, it also facilitates communication, cross-departmental collaboration, and clarifies rules and practices. This is essential as it can set the tone of how to engage with other coworkers and teams and what needs to be done and when.

Employees who are onboarded correctly are more likely to be engaged at work, as they have been fully equipped and introduced to key information and people. Likewise, employee satisfaction can increase as a result of successful onboarding, as this process is meant to address employees’ needs, and prepare them for a smooth and successful integration.

Without doubt, poor onboarding and training programs reflect negatively on a company’s culture and employer brand. A whopping 85% of respondents to the poll, On-The-Job Training in the Middle East and North Africa, claim that they would leave their current job to find better training and career development opportunities in another role. Since the onboarding period includes the most essential training elements, this can be a sole cause of dented reputation and poor employer brand among other professionals.

EFFECTIVE ONBOARDING [THE HOW-TO] Having discussed the importance of an effective onboarding process, it is imperative to start planning for one. The onboarding process requires companies to go through a wide range of steps such as paperwork and legalities, team introductions, equipment provisioning, learning activities, goal setting and KPIs, and granting access to systems. How these activities are structured and carried can have a huge impact on talent productivity and retention. This is why it is important to follow some of the recommended steps below:


Generally speaking, onboarding is aimed at integrating a new employee into the workplace, which includes dealing with logistics and paperwork, introductions and formalities, and learning and training. But certain companies might have different priorities or tasks to include in their onboarding programs. Therefore, starting with a list of objectives is a wise approach.

Does the company hire a lot of fresh graduates who need significant training? Is paperwork extensive and require longer periods of time to complete? Are there a lot of restrictions on access to internal systems and software? Are there preset regulations such as probation periods or new employee tests that you need to include in onboarding? All of these elements play a role in how the onboarding program is structured and carried.


The HR department should have a solid idea of the recruitment cycle and can accordingly build an estimated timeframe of the entire process, including onboarding. Hiring managers should also be involved in determining staffing needs, projected turnover, and onboarding requirements.

Creating a timeline is helpful in determining what type of tools and resources you need for onboarding, how often you’ll need to conduct these programs or sessions, and how long a department or a manager should expect to wait before a new employee is fully integrated to the workplace.


Between all the different documents, stakeholders, access requests, and such, the onboarding process can easily become time-consuming, tedious, and messy. Manual and decentralized onboarding activities can be very taxing on time, effort, and money. That’s why it is essential to consider using tools and platforms that automate the process and guarantees higher effectiveness.

One tool to look into is’s AfterHire: it is a configurable platform that is specifically built and designed using cutting-edge technology to streamline the painstaking process of talent onboarding, and ensuring that newly hired talent are efficiently assimilated to the company and fully productive in their new roles.

AfterHire helps automate paperwork through online forms, it quickly assigns tasks to appropriate personnel to streamline mundane activities like equipment provisioning and financial formalities. Moreover, employees can be assigned learning and training tasks through the platform to build up their job knowledge.

With such tools, HR gets a high level overview of each employee’s onboarding process, they can add and remove tasks as necessary, and they can ensure the process is conducted fully and in a consistent manner for the entire company.


A startup might have a very different onboarding process from a well-established company. Similarly, onboarding programs might vary based on industry, location, labor laws, company regulations, career levels, nature of job, etc. An effective onboarding tool allows for flexibility and adjustment based on these variables. Tools like AfterHire encompass a widerange of features that employers can take advantage of, but they also allow employers to design their own onboarding process using a workflow editor. Each company inducts their new hires differently, and so they’d need to be able to customize and configure their onboarding programs easily.


The onboarding period is collaborative by nature. It involves the hiring manager, the department or team of the new hire, the HR team, the finance team, the IT department, and more. Evaluate your current onboarding process to see how easy/difficult it is to communicate and collaborate on the process. You need a system that allows for smooth task assignment, communication, and streamlined task management.

Another area to highlight is the need to receive feedback and adjust the onboarding process accordingly. Consider the input of management, hiring teams, as well as the newly hired individuals. What works and what doesn’t? What could use a bit more enhancement or streamlining? Such feedback is vital for the success of onboarding, and all the subsequent metrics onboarding has an impact on.


The Business Case for an Employee Communication App

Internal communication is more important than ever. Companies need to communicate strategically and frequently with employees, sharing messages that are relevant and accessible. Businesses that don’t communicate in ways that resonate with their workforce find themselves paying the price in high turnover.

In the past, internal communications strategies that focused on efforts such as low-readership employee magazines or in-house intranet content often earned a reputation for draining resources without having much impact. But investing in an internal communications strategy that leverages mobile app technology can play an integral role in reaching employees, connecting strategy with operations and helping companies thrive, according to new research by Staffbase.

Employee apps are being adopted as a mobile solution for reaching employees via their personal smartphones/tablets—often with push notifications. An app can be an effective and secure channel for connecting dispersed workers who lack corporate email addresses or regular access to desktop computers, such as non-desk and/or remote workers, as well as freelancers, non-contract employees, temps, etc. As more and more people work this way, an employee app can provide them with easy access to corporate information and workplace tools, targeted for practicality and relevance, and promoting alignment and engagement.

Businesses Are at an Internal Communication Crossroads
Communication professionals try to utilize every available resource to reach their audience during times of change, to be a powerful voice in their lives, and to foster connections—but too often they aren’t getting through. Reach and relevance have become the greatest weaknesses of internal communications. However, new mobile communication technology can help companies reach employees directly when it matters most, targeting them with timely and vital information.

Surveys show that companies that optimize internal communication improve efficiency, compliance, and customer satisfaction, and have reduced risk and turnover. Research by Staffbase shows that a mobile employee app dramatically improves internal communication, and it identified four areas where companies can see concrete ROI.

Enabling Middle Management Communication Improves Work

Middle managers and operational leaders often hold the information that influences day-to-day business operations and guides employees in their jobs. An app allows communication professionals to identify influencers in that group and empowers them to distribute job-critical information.

Staffbase research found that effective delivery of safety information can lower the incidence of work accidents and reduce costs of occupational injuries and illnesses by 31 percent. The research also found that when apps are used by operational leaders to provide training and guidance for frontline workers, customer satisfaction (measured by Net Promoter Score) can rise at least 10 percent. For every 10 percent increase in customer satisfaction, companies increase revenue by 7%.

In 2017, German transport company Reinert Logistics implemented an employee app with their workforce, of which 83% of employees are non-desk workers. The company enabled operational managers to share safety videos and provide easy access to tools that helped with daily tasks, thus reducing incidents resulting in damages to company assets by 15%.

Reduce Wasted Time and Boost Revenue Per Employee

Studies by IDC, the Working Council of CIOs and Reuters show that employees spend on average 20% of their hours searching for information necessary to do their jobs effectively. While knowledge and non-desk workers differ in the kinds of information they need and at what frequency, the relevance of this issue for non-desk workers cannot be underestimated. A company using an employee app can modestly expect to reduce time wasted on these activities by 15%, increasing revenue per employee by 5%.

Troy Griggsby, Communications and Brand Manager at US Auto Logistics (80% non-desk workers) helped launch their employee app in 2017. Several months after implementation he reported, “The employee directory alone is pure gold. We’ve learned that some of the things that seem like small inconveniences of outdated communication are really decisive in how well employees can do their jobs. The employee app addresses a lot of inefficiencies that hinder the day-to-day activities that keep our business running smoothly.”

When Employee Engagement Rises, Turnover Plummets

Gallup’s most recent State of the American Workplace survey revealed that only 33% of US employees said that they were committed to their work. The same research found that the turnover rate for disengaged employees is 10 percent higher than engaged employees. Mobile employee apps reach all employees through a medium that is central to their everyday communication habits, and integrate features designed to keep employees engaged. Turnover risk drops significantly for engaged employees, a Gallup poll shows that engaged employees are 27% more likely to report excellent performance.

The research by Staffbase found that by capitalizing on the reach of mobile devices and creating relevant experiences and opportunities for reciprocity, mobile employee apps dramatically boost employee engagement. Companies utilizing an employee app were found to drive engagement levels to above 75%, which can save them anywhere from 25 to 65% on turnover costs.

Addressing Change-Related Stress Increases Performance

Technology has given everyone a voice, but companies are struggling to make themselves heard and understood. This is especially problematic when successful change depends on the cooperation of the workforce. Gartner reports that employees experiencing change-related stress perform 5% worse than average. Staffbase research found that through better reach and feedback opportunities, an employee app could reduce change-related stress by at least 2%, lowering related revenue loss by 41.2%.

Mergers and acquisitions involve complex organizational change, with fail rates from 50 to 75% according to research at Northwestern School of Education and Social Policy. Global refractory leader RHI Magnesita, with 14,000 employees (60% non-desk), went live with an employee app on day one of their 2017 merger. The app played a crucial role in maintaining performance during this period. The company finished 2017 with 11% revenue growth and their app was recognized with several awards for outstanding corporate and workplace communication.

Decision Makers Are Providing Proof

Transforming internal communication to meet the demands of the changing business landscape and those of modern employees is complex. Research on internal communication continues to offer new insights, but powerful evidence of the necessity of a communication transformation also exists in the growing number of companies investing in 21st-century strategies. Their success stories were the catalysts for the full report on the value of an investment in mobile internal communication.


Why HR Policies Are Prerequisites to Organizational Excellence

Human resource (HR) department is undeniably one of the most pivotal cogs of an organization. It is the sole bridge that connects a company and its employees which strengthens inter-personal relationships while eliminating any discrepancies. It also strategizes on painting the bigger picture and focusing on the short-term goals.

In the current scenario, HR’s role has become more strategic thus taking on more responsibilities than mere recruitment and policing employees. According to a research conducted by Glassdoor, 90 percent of job seekers say that it’s important to work for a company that embraces transparency. HR departments have, thus, begun to articulate policies that give structure, control, consistency, and fairness to organizational procedures and activities.

HR policies essentially serve the following functions: communicate values and expectations for activities within the organization; empower the company to comply with laws and provide protection against employment claims; and document and implement best practices appropriate to the organization.

Organizational Criteria

The HR department tackles certain pertinent questions extensively while formulating policies:

Will it promote the desired work culture?
What outcome will the policy achieve?
Does the policy reflect company values? How can it enhance them?
Who will monitor and enforce them?
Will the policies restrict managers from working efficiently? If yes, how can this be avoided?
Will they help attract and acquire top talent?
Will they be welcomed by employees and easy to implement?
HR policies must, therefore, complement the distinct culture of each organization. For instance, startups may advocate structures that include flexibility and relative informality. Hence, rigid policies would be considered unacceptable for employees. On the other hand, a large conglomerate will demand orthodox levels of discipline and control. It is thus, an organization is representative of certain values and the practices must in turn be reflective of these. Formulating policies accordingly will increase employee trust and loyalty while attracting fresh talent for recruitment. A conclusive study by SHRM is a testament in proving that building an employer brand and company culture helps hire the right people (55 percent), increase qualified candidates (49 percent), increase employee referrals (41 percent), and increase diverse candidates (32 percent).

The policies must address the context of each industry and stage of business for the company. What also needs to be considered is the employee demographic and the needs of the employee population, which once matched will lead to higher retention.

Companies like Google have raised the bar and have created policies, which support major life events in the life of an employee, including friendly policies supporting new parents, care for senior parents, higher education needs for employee, freedom to innovate and flexible work arrangements.

Clarity in Directives

Policies must be crystal clear and articulated with precision leaving no room for doubt. Spelling out the course of action clearly and concisely will ensure fair treatment for all employees. A consistent policy document is crucial in saving time and avoiding administrative overload, providing easy access to all employees is of utmost importance.

While developing policies is essential, regularly monitoring and inducing amendments is equally imperative. Legislative changes can make certain policies obsolete and changing needs of the employee population can make existing policies ineffective at the workplace in the long term. HR policies pave the way for a standard that will be applicable throughout an organization. It is therefore a must that they cater to the entire workplace rather than a minority.

Startups and other smaller organizations possess the advantage of creating a conducive work environment for employees. At this scale, it is easier to resolve issues as it is possible to have one-on-one interactions with people working in the organization. In such an environment, it would be beneficial to have greater degree of flexibility, openness and more individualized arrangements to attract people to the organization and also help retain them.

In Conclusion

Regardless of the approach an organization follows, the key to success is to devote the time and resources needed in order to develop the appropriate policies, before the need arises. It is an investment on a comprehensive people strategy that will pay dividends by creating the right culture, instilling the right values and building a foundation for success for the organization.