Three Recommendations To Help Solve Tech’s Diversity Problem

From human resources to the executive suite, tech leaders have often decried that they can’t find qualified candidates from diverse backgrounds. They will often cite the “pipeline” as the problem, shifting responsibility to colleges and universities for not graduating enough STEM students to fill their open positions. Their argument is partially true, since most colleges do not recruit and graduate enough students in STEM to keep up with employer demand, and they are not the primary institutions of higher education and learning. However, with nearly 2.5 billion users on social media worldwide and over a billion people using Google search, tech companies are in fact “educating” the masses.

If trends of past years continue, and if the future plans of tech giants like Facebook and Google are any indication, over one billion new people of different backgrounds are poised to come online in the next few years. To make products and services attractive and accessible to this diverse new user base, companies must traverse vastly different cultures, communications and computer literacy levels. Many of these emerging markets for technology consumption are not just in developing countries; they also include untapped segments of the U.S. market — predominantly in communities of color.

Here are three recommendations for tech companies on how to improve their diversity pipeline problem at the earliest stages of the process: recruitment.

1. Amend the recruiting process.
This is a tall order that’s impossible to do in one step. However, companies can take small steps to expand their diversity recruitment efforts, starting with the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). It’s no secret that most mid-to-large-size companies rely on an ATS to screen resumes of potential candidates. What’s less commonly known is how unrefined these systems are at selecting qualified candidates. Exceptional candidates may be stopped from advancing in the hiring process simply for not having chosen the “right” keywords on their resumes.
That’s where companies like Atipica, a recruiting software that identifies top candidates through a “bias-free” recruiting process and helps companies hire more diverse candidates, come in. By first examining a company’s historical recruiting data, Atipica is able to diagnose company problems, identify blind spots and provide solutions to reduce and eventually eliminate the biases that filter out qualified candidates from diverse backgrounds. The software also uses predictive analytics to extrapolate candidates’ skills beyond keywords included on resumes.

2. Tap into job boards dedicated to diversity.
With the endless number of job boards online these days, it’s all too tempting for recruiters to only use the big-name job boards that command the largest number of users and total page views. It’s time to go beyond the most popular defaults and instead filter down into unique job boards that cater to specific populations. There are a few compilations of diversity job boards, one of which is Jopwell, a career platform that empowers underrepresented ethnic minority professionals and students to successfully navigate their careers. It enables companies to search and recruit from a pipeline of diverse candidates while leveraging the power of technology to create access and opportunities for a more diverse workforce.
By creating a company profile on diversity sites like these, you as an employer not only have the opportunity to directly market to the specific population you would like to recruit but can also signal to candidates that your company cares about hiring and supporting a group you identify with.

3. Strengthen higher education and employer relationships.
A huge untapped recruitment opportunity involves academic institutions, such as state universities. In particular, some of the best and brightest students from the most underrepresented backgrounds attend large state universities. This is a largely untapped market due to the sheer size of these broad-access universities, which enroll a majority of students within the local region. Just like most students striving for excellence, state students want the opportunity to successfully obtain jobs and internships at the nation’s leading companies. And they are ready and willing to put in the hard work to get there.

The problem is that that the road to tech companies tends to be harder to tap into for state students because professional development programs often have smaller budgets and state universities have fewer resources than private universities. One organization that is providing programs for students from coast-to-coast is Braven. In close partnership with regionally-renowned institutions, this national nonprofit is working to close the education-to-employment gap by providing a diverse talent pipeline for companies across sectors, including many tech companies like Facebook, Google and LinkedIn.

As top tech companies are renewing their commitment to diversity, there’s no better time to try and expand upon strategies that will remove bias from the hiring process, tap into diversity job sites and strengthen the education-to-employment pipeline. Not only can expanding company recruitment strategies to include these recommendations increase diversity numbers, but it can also create a consistent and continuous pipeline of diverse candidates every year thereafter. These synergistic partnerships have the ability to create a virtuous cycle that positively impacts all parties involved in a collaborative effort to bolster the diversity pipeline and create a more inclusive sector.


How to Build Engaged and Resilient Teams

How to Build Engaged and Resilient Teams

As a business owner, CEO, manager or other professional, you’ve probably heard you’re only as good as your worst employee. That holds true for many reasons, perhaps with the most notable being the direct effect your staff has on your company’s success. If you have one or more employees who are disengaged from your business, you’ll likely be able to see that in your financial numbers, as well.

While there are thousands of characteristics we tend to look for during the employee search, a team member’s ability to be engaged with the company’s goal and resilient to any obstacles are two traits you should never overlook.

The Importance of Being Engaged and Resilient
The importance of employee engagement isn’t in question. Countless studies show employees want to feel valued. When they do, their productivity typically skyrockets, while the company can significantly reduce their costs to directly impact their bottom line.

Resilience isn’t a trait we may think about on a regular basis, but by having an engaged workforce, you are more likely to have a resilient one, as well. Engaged employees are more likely to be able to bounce back from setbacks because they care more about your company. They’re more eager to tackle difficult tasks because they truly want to see your business succeed. You can have the smartest, most dedicated team, but if they can’t overcome challenges, their skills won’t always make up for it.

Five Ways to Build Engagement and Resiliency in Your Workplace
Luckily, there are a few simple things you can do that will boost your team’s engagement and resilience all at once. Here are five ideas to get you started.

1. Focus on Growth
Most job seekers aren’t looking to hop around from company to company. Applicants — as well as your current employees — want to see your business is growing, as this typically means they have better job security.

When your employees feel confident in their position, they begin to think about staying with your company over the long term. Once this happens, your team will become more dedicated, engaged and resilient to any setbacks.

2. Develop an Employee Recognition System
Just like employees want to know their company is on the up and up, they also want recognition for all their accomplishments. Whether it’s a company newsletter, a peer nomination system or simply mentioning a few accolades at the end of your next team meeting, establishing an employee recognition process can go a long way in improving your team’s engagement and resilience.

For example, a 2015 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey on engagement and job satisfaction discovered 75 percent of employees feel their importance to an organization is the main source of their commitment to the business.

3. Be Transparent
It’s not surprising trust between management and staff plays a key role in the dynamic of the office. But it also has a significant effect on your employees’ productivity and commitment to your organization. The same SHRM survey on job satisfaction and engagement found 64 percent of employees thought trust between management and workers was a necessity in any work environment.

4. Interact on Social Media
This may come as a surprise to some, but many employees truly want to post content on social media about their workplace — especially if you give them something to talk about! One Weber Shandwick study discovered social media is essential to employee engagement.

In fact, 50 percent of engaged employees will post messages, photos and videos about their employers on their social media profiles. About 33 percent have shared positive comments without being asked to do so, and they’re almost 25 percent more likely to boost sales than any of your uncommitted team members. With numbers like that, who wouldn’t want a more engaged team?

5. Require Managers to Get on Board
As the ones who work most closely with your employees every day, it’s crucial for your department managers to be entirely on board with your company’s drive to boost engagement and resilience among your staff. Not only are your employees likely more comfortable with their managers, but they also respect them and their leadership role. By holding them accountable and requiring them to participate in employee engagement and resilience-building efforts, you’ll see better results.

There’s no question your team’s resilience and engagement are crucial to your business’ success. By following these five steps, you’ll be well on your way to seeing a more productive, committed and overall happier team.


The real ROI of leadership development

There is surely no longer any doubt among leaders of successful organisations that people are the only sustainable competitive advantage, given that the definition of success today considers sustainability in the commercial, social and environmental sense. While it is still possible to make a quick buck by exploiting a gap between supply and demand, legislation and enforcement, or policy and practice, that exploitation inevitably extends to the people employed.

So yes, if you are willing to forego ethics in pursuit of gain, one can accumulate wealth, power and even popularity without giving your people a second thought. But is it sustainable? Also, I believe most of us want to feel good about our gains, so that we can enjoy the benefits with a clear conscience. This requires that we dedicate ourselves not to exploitation, but to contribution.

The most admired organisations are those that achieve commercial success by finding ways to contribute to the well-being of their people – both customers and employees. These organisations recognise that real success requires investment in leadership. They invest in helping their leaders to understand what their team members care about, create the space for contribution and in doing so, build an engaged, high-performing culture. They know that the challenge of investing in leadership, as with any investment, is to minimise the risk of loss while maximising the opportunity for exceptional returns. This starts with getting buy-in, clarifying expectations and identifying success indicators.

What makes investing in leadership more challenging than investing in the markets is that the very leaders being invested in must themselves believe that the investment is worthwhile. Without this, there can be little hope of a return because we are effectively investing in the leader’s willingness to be vulnerable. Leaders who are serious about their development need to be willing to let go of inhibiting beliefs, acknowledge blind spots and embrace feedback. This requires a lot of courage, no matter how far we’ve come or how much we’ve learnt along the way.

At TowerStone, we focus on developing leaders’ abilities to inspire, enrol and empower their teams to take accountability for making a meaningful contribution. The return for the courageous leader lies in self-mastery, authentic connection with others and meaningful contribution to the growth of the enterprise. The return for the organisation comes in the form of a resilient, purposeful culture that can adapt and remain relevant in the midst of shifting markets and turbulent economies.

Leaders will only make themselves vulnerable and explore new ways of being if they believe in the benefits for both themselves and those they serve. This conviction is the foundation upon which leaders build a resilient culture that will sustain the organisation’s commercial growth – the real return on investment in leadership development.



One of the perennial challenges that enterprises face is hiring high-quality employees that will stick around for the long haul. Technology is evolving to enable new ways of solving hiring problems that have long plagued companies across all industries. Take collaboration collaboration software and services, for example, which have allowed employers to widen their talent pool by hiring workers outside of their base location. It’s also easier than ever now to assess a candidate through their online profiles. A software development company can look into the GitHub profiles of an applicant to identify their quality before shortlisting them for an interview.

There are, of course, challenges that come along with these new developments. The first wave of people born after the turn of the millennium are likely to hit the workforce in the next couple of years. This is a population of job seekers who have experienced the internet for their entire lives. As a result, their life details are largely available via Google and accessible by recruiters. Recruiters might find themselves wondering: Should I reject a candidate simply because of something controversial that they posted as an angsty teen? While this article doesn’t aim to answer that question, it does pose possible answers on how one could handle such a challenge from an IT perspective.

Below, I’ll outline three types of tools that recruiters might find helpful in their decision making – from social dashboards to cloud-based payroll.

According to a CareerBuilder survey, nearly 70 percent of employers make use of social media profiles of candidates to screen their candidates before shortlisting them for an interview. Not only this, nearly 3 in 10 employers have someone dedicated to snoop on the social persona of their employees or potential new hires.

Social dashboards capture the social network and other public profiles of an applicant and consolidate them into one dashboard. This helps a recruiter assess a candidate in terms of their EQ and soft skills before they are even shortlisted for an interview. Although using social media as a tool to assess a candidate can be overwhelming – especially for large organizations with hundreds or even thousands of employees, dashboards are making this process more manageable.

The job interview process is often structured into multiple rounds that include steps such as online tests, group discussions, face-to-face interviews and more. Aggregating a candidate’s performance over these multiple rounds of interviews can be chaotic. Talent management applications serve as a centralized reporting software for human resource teams to handle recruitment and employee issues.These tools also handle other aspects of recruitment, including online tests, applicant shortlisting, interview scheduling and new offers management.

These talent management portals go beyond the interviewing process and are also useful in handling employee issues such as tax and leave request management. For the HR teams that need a holistic view of retention/attrition, workforce productivity, compensation and diversity goals, these dashboards are a unique resource. An added advantage of talent management software applications is that they helps organization store employee and applicant data in structured, formatted data – providing the backbone for analytics and insights to further improve the organization.

Executing payroll and tax documentation can be a time consuming process in a traditional setting. A number of small businesses continue to make use of spreadsheet tools to handle payroll. While MS Excel is good for documenting payroll information, it is not ideal for accessing specific employee records –a task which can become time consuming, especially during audits and tax season.

Cloud-based payroll management systems remove the headache from HR by automating salary payouts and tax preparation processes. With cloud-based tools, all payroll details are stored in the server for easy access. More importantly, cloud-based tools are less prone to data loss. Similar to the structured data
organization in talent management software, the data in payroll management systems is organized in a way that lends itself to budget planning, resource management and compliance with local wage and gender-pay disparity laws.

HR and resource management contributes to a significant chunk of any organization’s overhead. Advanced tools on the market today, ranging from payroll services to talent management systems, can significantly reduce the time and budget spent in these areas, and therefore boost the overall productivity of any organization.


Why Good People Leave Good Job

Why do people voluntarily leave a “good job?” How could someone let go of a seemingly promising career path? From the outside, these questions puzzle onlookers. But from the inside, it can be a different picture altogether.

In my 25-plus years experience in career coaching, outplacement and advising top talent in transition, the old adage holds: People don’t leave their jobs, they leave their bosses. The most profound reason I see people leave seemingly good jobs is that they don’t know how to cope with difficult people.

Difficult and often high-conflict people who gain leadership and status in an organization may seem to be top performers, but they can be corrosive to others. An employee may feel like they have tried, but they don’t think they can continue in their present role. They get fed up.

Sometimes, the pattern can be self-blame. Dealing with highly difficult people may make you think something’s wrong with you. The irony is this: Difficult people can help us grow psychologically, spiritually and in whatever other ways, but when the toll is too high, we start to look elsewhere.

So how do you know if you are dealing with someone who could be a problem? Here are some sure signs:

1. Everything needs to be their idea.

If you’re dealing with a difficult leader, you’re always finding creative ways for them to warm up to an idea you know is right, moral and best for the bigger picture. If you’re an emotionally intelligent person, you can do this, but it takes a lot out of you.

Most of us who have read How to Win Friends and Influence People and other books know that we are all, to some extent, only interested in ourselves and our own needs. But the people who are most difficult don’t just constantly push you — they want all of what you have. They need to get the attention, recognition, accolades and atonement. The problem is they cannot extend empathy to you.

2. Their title contradicts how they treat you.

In other words, people who want you to treat them according to their title often are not worthy of the title. Preservation of self, their job, their needs, money and adoration must be won at all costs. The director of customer service who disparages others in meetings, gossips and blames others for his or her problems can be maddening. Most of us know a title means nothing, it’s how you treat others that matters.

People who quietly serve others and have great empathy often don’t need to have a label to do the right thing. Chances are, if someone has a screaming need to be addressed according to their title or paycheck, they are hiding something.

3. They lack empathy.

Many of us can float in and out of some narcissism. But emotionally intelligent people can come back to earth pretty quickly. They display empathy. They forgive others and forgive themselves. They say sorry, mean it and try to make up for it.

As for highly difficult, true-narcissist types? They’re often able to charm the people they know will champion them and not question them. For those outside that circle, they will keep them from succeeding and make them look foolish in the eyes of others. It’s childish and shockingly bad for the team and for themselves in the long run.

Narcissists need the adoration of their adorers. They reward them handsomely with all sorts of praise, be it verbal or through a raise or promotion. A narcissist can have value as a boss, but you need to know how they think and play them the way you need to.

Now that you’ve identified whether you’re working with a highly difficult person, there are three ways to deal with them:

• Avoid them at all costs, regardless of the money, job or title in store for you.

• Engage with them at arms-length and with great wisdom and creativity.

• Fight with them (though keep in mind this usually won’t change them and will actually empower them).

Know where the narcissists and highly difficult people are at work and in your life. For some of us, you can’t count on changing them — you must assume they may never have a revelation to change for the better.

For those who are hurt mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually by toxic, high-conflict people, it may be time to leave your job. If you engage with these people at work, you must understand the toll that’s being taken on you and whether it’s worth it. If the toll is too high and there really is no escaping it, it’s a sure time to look for another job, another department or another career path.


Francis Wade | Employee Engagement In Complex Strategy

As a local executive, you should be concerned that at the end of every strategic planning activity, there lies a risk.

While your organisation may excel at business-as-usual routines, it’s probably weak on changing employee behaviours called for in your new plans.

After all, you know what happens when people aren’t engaged. The strategy flops. In the next retreat, your team struggles, unable to overcome the prior year’s failure.

Fortunately, the strategy-mapping approach invented by Harvard’s Kaplan and Norton was made to bridge this gap. The bad news is that many companies have implemented it incorrectly. The end result looks little more than a picture of boxes filled with cliches that could belong to any company. In other words, it is not strategic and fails to do its job of getting people rallied behind a single vision of the future.

But the fault does not lie in the approach, just how it is being used. Too many executives complete the strategy map as an obligation, without understanding the specific role it’s supposed to play. After recent conversations with one of its creators, we now recommend that clients start by refreshing their understanding of the diagram’s purpose.

To whit, the real intent of the strategy map is twofold. One is to capture executives’ strategic hypotheses a collection of cause-and-effect relationships between actions and results. In other words, it represents a plan to move forward that is really a best guess under conditions of limited information.

The second intent is to communicate these hypotheses to average staff members who weren’t at the retreat. Unlike leaders, they don’t have MBA’s and spend only a few moments each year being exposed to their organisation’s strategy. Usually, they can’t recall its salient features.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of the corporate strategy maps aren’t aligned with these two goals. As a result, everyone ignores them, even its makers. You can do better. Here are some tried and tested ways to make that missing connection.

Limit the map to short-term strategy

One of the gaps in the author’s textbook definition of strategy mapping is that it didn’t address time frames. In our fast-moving world, your team must remedy this fact and choose a short horizon of one to four years.

The reason is simple: strategies with longer time-frames are too hard to compress into a single diagram. The result is a mess of words, boxes, and arrows that confuses everyone.

Plus, this approach has the benefit of forcing the team to revisit the strategy at the end of the designated period, a sound practice given the fast-changing nature of today’s environment.

Limit the map’s lines

The most important question the strategy map answers is not “What”, but “Why?” Staff members want to know the link between new actions they are being asked to take and the bottom-line effects they are intended to produce. The arrows between different activities show this connection.

Without them, the map is little more than a fancy list of projects.

But there is a limit. While it is possible to imagine a link between any two items in corporate life, this doesn’t mean that each one deserves a place on the strategy map. Instead, it is more important to limit the lines to the connections which are critical in understanding the original thoughts of the executive team.

Pass the ‘So What?’ test

The map should also have the special power to arrest employees in their tracks due to its display of brand-new thinking. If it merely looks like a capture of activities that are currently under way, then something is wrong. It shouldn’t ever endorse business-as-usual or defend the status quo.

Instead, it is all about making a sharp difference, so the map should only include fresh initiatives.

Furthermore, it cannot resemble a map from another company. If it does, then it is something other than a strategy ­ maybe a common blueprint for all companies in your industry.

In short, your map must reveal the unique thinking you have done to separate your firm from its competitors. Fail to do so, and you will join the local landscape of defunct firms.

That is not what your stakeholders want. Expect them to sift through your strategy to see if a competitive advantage is truly being created.

In summary, these are uncertain times, and employees need to appreciate how they fit into your plans. The map is a management tool to sweep your staff up in a powerful vision that generates the action necessary for your firm to thrive.

– Francis Wade is a management consultant and author of “Perfect Time-Based Productivity”.


Is Your Humility Hurting You? What Happens When You Acknowledge Your Value

As leaders, we’re told to be humble when it comes to accepting credit for our teams’ wins. But, when we deflect the credit we’re given, we actually minimize our own efforts and impact. It’s an interesting paradox to be in.

So, how can we confidently accept credit without feeling like imposters, as though we’re bragging or taking credit away from our team?

To Accept Or Not To Accept?

We all have different reasons for accepting credit (or not). The first thing to acknowledge is why you want to start accepting your credit in the first place. When I ask clients about why they don’t want to own their credit, we always discover what accepting credit will actually do for them and their team. Reasons that come through as to the benefits of accepting credit are vast, including:

• You need to hear it. Just as you’re a cheerleader for your team, helping them acknowledge their own successes and strengths, you need this as well. Notice how your team members perform once they’ve heard and accepted a compliment. Are they more confident, committed or driven? It works the same for you.

• You add more value. By acknowledging the skills you bring and value you create, you allow yourself to apply more of these skills, adding even more value as a leader.

• Build credibility. When you deflect credit given, people question your leadership — whether consciously or not — as your deflection casts doubts on your ability to lead. When you acknowledge the contribution(s) you add, you build others’ confidence in your leadership, your team and your organization.

• Build authority. By owning your contributions, you understand your direct impact. You’re able to demonstrate what you can achieve, drawing people to you. Think of Elon Musk: a great example of someone who can talk about what he’s done and someone people want to follow in droves. He doesn’t talk about his successes in a bragging way but in a factual way that inspires.

• Create stronger relationships. Accepting credit given to you helps create stronger relationships. When you don’t accept credit from someone, you’re basically saying “I don’t believe you” or “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” By accepting, you demonstrate trust in their opinion.

What’s important to remember is that just because you start to give yourself credit doesn’t mean that you’re taking credit from your team. Rather, you’re acknowledging the role you played in supporting your team’s success. Own this without downplaying your contributions.

Owning Your Credit

It’s okay to feel uncomfortable when accepting credit. To move through these feelings, start

• Noticing your self-talk.

Do you think that you didn’t have much to do with a success? Notice what crops up for you during these times and start to change your inner dialogue to one of “I deserve credit because of [x].” Highlight in your mind the role you played, and acknowledge your part in your team’s success.

• Recognizing when you deflect.

Your successes are not due to luck. You may have been at the right place at the right time for the success to happen, but you still took action. Luck only takes success so far. You led your team along the path to success, so why are you deflecting?

• Thinking of your resume.

Consider what you’ve achieved as a leader and how your leadership helped your team succeed; this is what you should be proud to put on your resume. Downplaying your abilities doesn’t do anyone any favors.

• Telling people.

Whether you share your accomplishments or your learnings, just start telling people. Trust that people want to know what you’re doing. Plus, a happy side effect to sharing is that this helps you get clear on where you want to go next.

• Working with imposter feelings.

Acknowledge that maybe someone could have done something better or different than you did — but they didn’t. You did it. You’re the one who did what needed to be done. Even if this is you not believing in your skills as a leader, you were given the role as leader and you accepted. The role would not have been offered to you if you didn’t have leadership skills.

• Getting specific.

If a simple “thank you” doesn’t sit well with you, then be specific about the parts both you and your team played in a success. If you asked questions of your team, talk about how this encouraged your people to get curious and find a solution. This is just as important as finding the solution itself.

• Giving positive feedback to others.

Notice when they deflect credit given. Hold them in their own discomfort and encourage them to say thank you. Focus on helping others on their journey and you’ll see in them what you need to work on in yourself.

To begin accepting credit, you must first choose to own your part in your team’s success. You’re not going to start accepting credit and growing your confidence in yourself unless you make the choice to do so. The crux is about choosing to own your wins; the rest is just tactics.

Imagine what impact you can have when you start to accept your earned credit.


Johnson & Johnson takes top spot for employer brand strategy

Dive Brief:

  • Johnson & Johnson has the best employer branding strategy of Fortune 500 companies, according to WilsonHCG, global talent solutions provider. The organization identified the top 25 companies in its 2018 Fortune 500 Top 100 Employment Brands report. Companies were evaluated and ranked on how well their brands made them an “employer of choice.”
  • The winning companies shifted from merely preaching about their brand to incorporating a brand strategy into their operations, according to WilsonHCG. Intel took second place, with Procter & Gamble, IBM and Lockheed Martin tied for third.
  • Leading companies align their brand strategy with their financial performance, according to the report. But many companies struggle to make innovative employment branding work for them; 42% of 18 to 35 year olds said they’re not learning and progressing on the job as expected and are ready to leave.

Dive Insight:
Experts tell HR Dive that 2018 will bring a focus on branding. Among CHROs’ highest priorities is improving the employee experience through more effective employee engagement, and by communicating that experience through branding.

An employer’s brand, which is an outward expression of its values, can enhance the employee experience. But lip service alone isn’t enough; employers must integrate their brand into their recruiting, hiring, training, benefits and other employment operations. If perceived to be disingenuous, efforts can have the opposite effect, risking damage to recruitment, retention and engagement strategies.

An evolving workforce is demanding change, and effective branding can both signal and foster change. Younger workers often value individualization, especially as it applies to career development and voluntary benefits. And a growing number of workers favor flexible schedules and remote work options — all modern ways of working that technology has largely enabled. Employers that best communicate these options to potential candidates will be poised to compete in the tight labor market.

Succession planning: the paradox of control and power

If you are the founder of a successful company, you are likely to have built up power and control in your company for over 20 years, with everyone around you relying on your decisions. For an entrepreneur, having power means having a sense of control, choice and the ability to influence, and it is a natural and healthy instinct to use this power to achieve your wishes and needs.

For many entrepreneurs who are unwilling to face the idea of ​​giving up control, succession is a major cause of contradictions and tensions that can harm family life and jeopardize business results.

The decision to do nothing is disastrous in many cases, and especially with regard to the future of a family business. Paradoxically, many entrepreneurs are reluctant to give up control and prefer to live with an unclear future, deciding that the best way is to avoid this problem and do nothing.

Unfortunately, it is unusual for a company’s exit strategy to be considered at the optimum time – while the company is growing or holding its market position. Instead, owners find themselves thinking about succession and the exit process too late, and they do not know what the exit strategy should be. In order to maintain the high value of the firm, it is best to make the decision on selling the company or handing it over to the next generation as soon as possible. A common problem is that in most cases, the founder has the most know-how and is therefore indispensable for the company. This gives him control and power over processes, employees and the next generation – both in the family and across the company. His reluctance to abandon control and power can even be seen as a personal sacrifice.

We are all mortal, and in order to ensure the continuity and vitality of their businesses, owners should respect succession planning as one of their main duties, and make sure that it runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

It is therefore strange that although it is logical to set up a seemingly natural transition (and that there are convincing business and family reasons for succession planning), it is so common for founders to have seemingly chosen to do nothing.

Time goes by. A day, a month, a year, or several years may pass by, and the situation will still be the same – until the moment when, like it or not, something happens!


Three Reasons Why Referrals are the Way Forward for Recruitment in 2018

Key to better retention, 46% referred candidates stay in your company for at least 3 years – but just 6.9% resumes come via referrals. Learn why (and how) recruiters must change this scenario.

Employee referrals are a time-honored hiring route – imagine the cofounders of a tech startup, looking to hire their third employee. Or a large organization with high retention rates, where recruitment has plateaued at senior levels. Does it make sense to wade through tens of career sites and hundreds of resumes, to choose that one, ideal employee?

Referrals are a great way to fill positions with user-specific requirements, while also cutting down on costs and timelines. Employees hired via referrals come in 55% faster than those sourced through career sites and this could make a world of difference for competitive firms, tight schedules, and demanding product development pipelines .

Located in the heart of the Silicon Valley, Appstem presents one such story. A boutique app-development company, it has tech behemoths like Google, Salesforce, Yahoo, and Twitter as neighbors. However, their CEO Robert Armstrong is confident about their competitive hiring practices: “We implemented an employee-referral program a year or so ago. It has not only helped us attract new talent, but also retain talent because the new employees are generally friends.”

A solid employee referral program helps burgeoning companies tap into local talent more effectively and lets startups like Appstem stay neck and neck with established players.

Here are 3 biggest advantages of focusing on referrals as a key component of your hiring strategy:

Hiring costs are significantly less via referrals, than through job boards and staffing agencies:

Companies do not need to invest in advertising or third-party staffing agencies. What’s more, since referral bonuses are paid on an outcome-based model, the costs are contained and generate a far higher ROI.

For companies choosing job boards and career sites, advertising costs: have to be paid across the board – regardless of whether the campaign met the required benchmarks. And if an agency charges say 10% of a hire’s net annual pay, for a candidate earning USD 80,000, that’d round off to USD 8,000.

In case of referrals, even a generous bonus would be around USD 2,000 – a sizable difference.

And with the process being faster, internal efforts and resource allocation is also saved – on an average, a referred candidate takes about 29 days till completion, less than both job posts (39 days) and career portals (55 days).

It’s easier to retain referred employees than traditional candidates:

Companies with referral programs in place boast a 46% average retention rate, compared to 33% for employers using only career sites .

This could be a result of several factors – job seekers who come through existing employees have a clearer picture of what the role entails, the culture of the company, organizational practices, and can self-calculate the probable fit . The candidates coming in, therefore, have already undergone a round of self-screening.

External candidates, on the other hand, are more in the dark.

Further, referred hires know there’s a familiar face in the organization to make their employee journey smoother. This support system boosts engagement and ensures they remain part of the organization for a longer tenure. In fact, about 47% employees hired via referrals stay for over 3 years – for job boards, the number is an abysmal 14%.

Employees who refer candidates , are likely to stay longer as well:

While this may sound almost like a no-brainer, it’s interesting to note that workers who make successful referrals typically have a longer stint at the company. A study by LinkedIn offers a useful insight: referral programs are like Net Promoter Scores for an employer; they’re essentially asking “How likely are you to recommend us as a workplace, to your network?”

Workers responding positively are more loyal to the organization, more invested in its growth, and are more likely to stick in the long run. Successful referrals come with bonuses (in cash, or as rewards such as vacation days) which also make him feel valued and appreciated.

Finally, the simple fact of being surrounded by familiar faces – people with similar values and goals – has a massive impact when it comes to happiness in the workplace, and also on productivity. As Boryana Dineva, HR alumni at Wikipedia and Tesla put it, “The wider and stronger your network, the quicker you can get work done.”

The bottlenecks, and how technology can help:

Despite being a mine of quality talent, referrals are lagging behind as a primary hiring strategy. Imagine an employee has 10 viable candidates in his network for a specific position, and the business vertical comprises 30 employees.

Even at these modest figures, that’d mean 300 potential candidates for the job – yet they account for just 6.9% of all applications. There’s a clear disconnect between demand and supply, and the first step to bridging the gap is improved communication channels.

It’s not surprising to find on-floor workers who are completely unaware of hiring plans, let alone the availability of referral programs. This is especially true for larger teams or hierarchies where several layers exist between the employee and the HR/hiring departments. That’s why companies are trying to automate the process, deploying tools that’d raise the requisition, alert employees, and let them suggest candidates on the platform itself.

The lack of motivation is another challenge. Lukewarm encouragement from management, piecemeal bonuses, or the failure to understand latent needs (more leaves, rewards, and other forms of compensation) all add up.

What’s needed is a smart assessment of employee requirements – spoken and unspoken – and a solution that keeps them engaged and updated on the referral’s progress.

HR innovators are now stepping into the arena, taking what’s been primarily a word-of-mouth practice and overhauling it for the digital age. According to CEO and Chief Architect of AkkenCloud, technology can help find quality candidates without spending a fortune. Their Inbound Referral Management solution has already garnered cost reductions to the tune of 75%.

And just last week, referral solutions provider Preferhired joined Workable in creating a framework that combines the intricacies of referrals, with the enhanced visibility and control of ATS. With so much potential in the space, it appears solutions providers are just getting started – the next few months promise bold leaps, exciting integrations, and moves that will restore employee referrals to the strategic position it deserves.