The Hidden Factor To Getting What You’re Worth At Work

I’ve always worked hard. Some have told me that I worked harder than I needed to.

I was someone who was the first to raise my hand and say “yes” to a new project or additional responsibility. I stayed late and came in early. I gave the proverbial 110%. I carried the belief as a badge of honor that, if I worked hard enough, I would get rewarded — which, to me, meant more money from those I worked with or for.

It worked out pretty well until the day I realized that years of creating new client relationships, building on existing ones and developing an entire curriculum of leadership development material was in the control of a boss that had authority to do with it what he wanted to. When he made the decision to cut me out of the business arrangement and choose someone else to work with, the hidden factor that I had been missing in all my corporate relationships hit me in the face and the gut. I had raised my hand too soon, trusted without contracting and hadn’t negotiated the authority I needed to achieve the outcomes I really wanted.

The real reason that I wasn’t getting my full worth at work — and perhaps you aren’t, either — is that I was playing the short game. I was focusing on what I thought someone in business “should” do.

From my boss’ perspective — or the average business person’s perspective — what they think they “should” do is negotiate the best possible price for goods or services sold. The lower they can keep that figure, the higher the profit to the equity holders will be. If you can prove that you are delivering a high rate of return that leads to that outcome, you can get more money. That job is yours, not theirs. You need to ask what you are worth, not wait to be recognized and rewarded for your contribution. You boss’ job is to negotiate the lowest amount of pay for the highest amount of value. It’s your job to negotiate the highest price (salary/compensation package) based on what you can and promise to deliver.

To reach your true worth, though, you will need to have negotiated authority for what you are responsible for — and definitely what you will be accountable for. If you fail to see that hidden factor, there is a high likelihood you will hit a real glass ceiling. Without holding the authority in a situation at work, you can easily be held back from reaching agreed-upon goals, and you may not have a seat at the table or the influence necessary to make changes that lead to success at work.

What I learned the hard way is to ask some questions at the very beginning of a business relationship:

• What will right results look like this time next year — for you, for me and for the organization? What will we have, be doing and feel when we get there?

• What part of that goal will I be held accountable for?

• What are the consequences if I do not reach that goal?

• Who, what areas and what resources will I have authority over to reach that goal?

• If I am assigned team members, will I have the authority to remove them from their positions if they are not achieving the goals that we agree on?

• Will I have the authority to hire new team members, or does someone else at the company have that authority?

• What will be my full compensation package for working towards achieving that goal, and what level of compensation will I earn if I overachieve that goal?

• What recourse will I have if the person I report to and I do not agree on the same course of action for reaching that goal?

• To what degree is how I am doing something supervised or dictated to me?

• What will be the check-in points between me and the person I report to in order to be sure that I am receiving the appropriate feedback to be successful at the job I am doing?

Communicate and receive feedback up front on what you feel you are responsible for. Many times, we feel responsible for things that others do not think are our responsibilities. By receiving feedback from the person you report to, you can understand more clearly what their expectations of you are.

These questions won’t give you every answer you need to determine what level of authority you are walking into for a new job, position or project assignment, but they should give you some clear benchmarks to determine what your level of authority is and what you will be held accountable for, which means you have a clearer picture of what you are getting yourself into.

Ultimately, your pay needs to be in alignment with your ability to set the direction for what you have committed to accomplish at work. When you ask for (and receive) the appropriate level of authority, your chances of earning more money dramatically increase. Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) normally make more money than vice presidents, and they make more money then directors. The entrepreneur/owner of a company holds the highest level of authority and, therefore, determines what they make and what everyone else does, too.

Today, I am the CEO of my own leadership coaching and consulting firm. I ask members of my team for their input on decisions that need to be made for our organization. I give them authority over their areas and anyone who would report to them so that we can maintain velocity as the firm quickly grows. The ultimate authority lies with me now, though, and I’m happy to report that I feel I am finally getting what I am worth at work.


3 Ways to Reward Employees Aside From Money

Jason Waite asked the community this question, and we found answers.

Keeping your team motivated and productive can be a challenge, especially if your business is unable to provide additional monetary incentives to spur performance. It’s a problem on the minds of members of the community, like Jason Waite, so we went looking for help.

Money (or lack thereof) may not always be a problem. By prioritizing the right values and providing the right opportunities for your workers, you can ensure that your team stays productive through hectic workdays.

“People spend a lot of their day and a lot of their lives working; your work environment really can become pretty consuming,” said Jeb Ory, CEO and co-founder of Phone2Action, a digital advocacy software company. “With the time that people spend in the office and with colleagues, it becomes a big part of their identity – and being able to create opportunities for people to get really involved and to show their expertise is absolutely critical for a company as it grows.”

By providing career opportunities and value-based incentives, you can reward and motivate employees. Employee engagement and motivation is rooted in business culture. Regardless of how you incentivize employees, you should be communicating that you care about them and their professional growth. Employee engagement is a challenge for any business. Providing non-monetary rewards goes hand in hand with building a better business culture and engaging employees.

1. Recognition
Recognition is at the root of feeling appreciated and valued by a company. Employees will work longer and harder for managers who consistently provide praise and feedback and are engaged in the employees’ processes.

Ory talked about Phone2Action’s unique approach to employee recognition. He said the company’s sales team, which spends hours sending emails and calling prospective Phone2Action users, has a points system in place to log employee progress. This system isn’t used to judge low performers or add stress to a worker’s day by quantifying their success. Instead, it’s used as a benchmark for who gets the papier-mache unicorn.

“It’s like a kid’s toy – it’s something that kids are supposed to color,” Ory said. “This has become the embodiment of success for this team. So, the winner will inscribe their name on it, and it will live on their desk. There’s a healthy, fun competition around who gets that unicorn each week.”

It may seem like a spontaneous and unique answer to empower employees, but the meaning is rooted in allowing inanimate, symbolic things to hold value within the company. Ory said many departments within Phone2Action have this type of system in place.

“It’s less around the purpose put into identifying what those items need to be and more about how the organization rallies around elevating the employees that create outstanding work,” he said. “Then find something symbolic to recognize that and make it visible to everybody. I think that’s the important piece – everyone in the business recognizes that ‘hey, this person did really well, and that’s symbolized by this unicorn.'”

If getting a unicorn or a funny hat doesn’t fit with your organization’s culture, try publicly praising high performers in meetings or giving handwritten notes to employees. A little praise can go a long way.

“People want to be recognized for their work, and that means feedback, acknowledgment and praise,” said Omer Molad, founder and CEO of recruiting platform Vervoe.

2. Flexible schedules
Providing a flexible schedule, if possible, can be another way to promote work-life balance and motivate employees. As technology has advanced, working from home has become a viable option for a lot of small businesses. Providing work-from-home days as a reward, or as part of a set schedule, can allow employees to unwind while still being productive and contributing to the business. If you’re worried about productivity, don’t be. A Stanford study found that employees who work from home are 17 percent more productive.

“Giving our employees flexibility and freedom is a great selling point,” said Will Tjernlund, CEO of Goat Consulting. “Giving them the freedom to go on vacations or work from home is invaluable to them.”

If working from home isn’t an option, consider letting your employees leave early on the occasional nice day, or come in late on a random Monday. Again, these are small ways you can combat burnout and show your appreciation to your employees.

3. Responsibility and opportunity
While it’s not a traditional incentive, offering employees more freedom, responsibility and opportunity can help empower your workforce to do great work. This can come in several ways, specific to your own day-to-day business operations.

Ory said he often selects high-performing employees to go to industry conferences. He cited a recent example where one of his leading employees (the first one to join the company, in fact) attended Facebook’s developer conference and hackathon. By providing a unique and creative opportunity, Phone2Action rewarded this employee for his work.

“Being able to go and represent the company at a conference in a professional development situation is absolutely another benefit, because it’s saying, ‘Hey, we trust you to go represent Phone2Action, to be an ambassador for us,'” Ory said. “Rather than spending these three days working on coding this widget, we want to invest in your future growth by having you go out and learn and absorb and come back and share with us what you learned.”

While this situation may not apply to every business, the principle is still important. By providing unique opportunities and responsibilities to high-performing workers, you can build another avenue for appreciation and professional development.

Bottom line
The three pillars to incentivizing employees without financial reward are recognition, flexibility, and responsibility or opportunity. There are many specific ways to reward high-performing employees, but showing your appreciation should be the root of your action. While monetary incentives can be effective, recognition and appreciation can build a culture of excellence within your organization.

“I think just constantly coming up with different ways and opportunities for people to get involved [works],” Ory said. “That lets them more highly connect with the organization.”


Your Secret Weapon For Increasing Employee Engagement: Purpose

According to Gallup, around 70% of American workers are either “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” at work. When you consider that the average American will spend at least one-third of his or her life working, this is a particularly somber statistic.

It begs the question: what if we were able to flip the statistic on its head? What if 70% of Americans became highly engaged at work? More importantly, what would it take?

The power of purpose

There are several factors that contribute to engagement at work, but one of the most powerful drivers of engagement is purpose. According to a study by Imperative, purposeful employees perform better across the board. They are more likely to rise to senior level roles, to be net promoters of their organization, to stay longer, and to have strong relationships with their colleagues.

In other words, cultivating a purposeful workforce not only benefits employees, but it can give employers a competitive advantage as well. Imagine a world where everyone spent the majority of their waking hours working on something that mattered to them. We would have happier employees and more productive companies – the ultimate win-win.

What it will take

Unfortunately, purpose is equally as esoteric as it is powerful. There is no single path to purpose and no single definition that encompasses its many facets. Every individual’s journey is different, depending on personal preferences, passions, and work environment.

Irrespective of the individual, however, there are three broad behavioral shifts that can help create a more engaged global workforce.

1. Lead with WHY.

Taking a cue from Simon Sinek, it may be as simple as asking the right question: why? This applies to both employers and employees. Companies must ask themselves why they exist and find a way to clearly articulate this “why” through a mission statement and a compelling brand (story). This can not only drive more purpose amongst existing employees, but may also enable prospective job candidates to better determine whether they would be a good fit for the job.

At the same time, employees need to spend more time evaluating their own personal motivations. Consider what exactly you want to get out of work, how you define success, and what type of environment might enable you to achieve success on your terms.

According to Cone Communications, 75% of millennials are willing to take a paycut to work for a values-driven company. So when it comes to attracting and retaining purpose-driven talent, leading with “why” might be the most effective HR strategy you can deploy.

2. Take purpose off its pedestal.

Purpose signifies a greater sense of meaning, but how you define what type of work is meaningful to you is entirely personal. Some people find fulfillment from helping others, while others derive meaning from learning something new or working on a project they are particularly passionate about. As a society, we seem to have decided that some “purposes” are more worthy than others, but why should a banker feel any less purposeful than a social worker?

The proof is in the pudding. A study published by the American Psychological Association found that hospital janitors, responsible for some of the most menial and unglamorous of daily tasks, were amongst the most purposeful workers they surveyed.

As long as we rely on society to define what a valid purpose is, rather than the individual, people will continue to be woefully disappointed when they discover that being a doctor or a missionary doesn’t necessarily guarantee a greater sense of fulfillment.

3. Uplevel expectations.

As the lines between work and life continue to blur, we must raise our expectations. This not only applies to our expectations of employers and the culture they create or the benefits they offer, but rather our expectation of work more broadly.

Given the amount of time we dedicate to our profession, there is no reason to settle for being disengaged. In fact, it’s concerning that 90% of Americans seem to have accepted this as a daily reality. Thanks to the growing number of freelance platforms and tools available, you can design pretty much any job (or portfolio of jobs) you desire – as long as you have the passion and the drive to do so.

As a society, we need to move away from the notion that you’re “stuck” with the hand you’ve been dealt. Instead, what if we embraced the concept that inspired the original “American Dream” – the belief that you can design a life you love, as long as you’re willing to work for it?

In conclusion, yes, our society’s current lack of career engagement is cause for concern; but there is reason to be optimistic.As millennials now make up the largest generation in the workforce, “purpose” is becoming an important criteria for evaluating potential job choices.

Given the reality of longer life spans, paired with dwindling financial support from social security, we have to reevaluate career satisfaction for the long haul. And, in order to affect change at scale, we must take responsibility and start leading by example. Whether you’re an employer, employee, or both, consider how your day-to-day actions, conversations, and decisions might help enable these three mindset shifts. By prioritizing purpose, we can help rebuild a more engaged, fulfilled, and productive workforce – we can all win.


Returnships: Solving both resume gaps and skills gaps

Trending across the country are intern-style programs that focus not on new grads, but on talent that took time away from their careers and want to rejoin the workforce.

Known as “returnships,” these programs are on the rise for a variety of reasons and in a number of categories, but all are aimed at helping skilled workers prep for the demands they’ll face as they return to work.

Returnship programming typically targets professional-level workers who have stepped off their career path to raise a family, become a caregiver or serve in the military. For workers, these types of programs create a path to reenter the workforce and update their skills. For businesses, they represent a pipeline of talent that already knows the ropes and just needs some training on the newest ways to get the job done.

Case studies
Returnships can be a perfect vehicle for employers to engage with professionals seeking to return to work because they allow the employer to engage with the “relauncher” on a temporary basis before making a decision to hire them, Carol Fishman Cohen, chair and co-founder of iRelaunch, told HR Dive. “This ‘de-risks’ the hiring decision to the extent managers consider engaging with people coming off of a career break as a high-risk proposition,” she said.

Cohen says adoption is up. “Not only are we holding more conferences and events than ever before, but our consulting arm in which we do manager and recruiter training and orientation sessions for career reentry programs is growing especially fast,” she said. Specialized areas, like STEM, are seeing a particular uptick in career relaunches. IBM’s Tech Re-entry, GM’s Take2, Johnson & Johnson’s Re-Ignite and more are returnship opportunities ready to tap into this talent pool.

At Deloitte, its Encore program has taken off. With input from its extensive alumni network, the company saw interest emerging and created the platform. In the more than three years the program has been in operation, the conversion rate to hires is almost 100%, Diane Borhani, director of evolving workforce strategy and innovation for the company told HR Dive. “We’re looking at a workforce that is proven,” she says, “but out of the mainstream. They have an interest in returning to work, but not a lot of opportunities.”

Encore runs along business cycles, similar to other internships: most candidates start the cycle in September or just after the first of the year. With eight-week to 16-week programs, it provides opportunities for the returner to do meaningful work, and for the manager to really evaluate skills.

“These are workers who understand the culture and expectations of the workforce,” Borhani said. “They understand how to manage work/life balance and come with a readiness factor. They know what they want, and are committed to getting it done.” The only downside? The program has been so in demand that it caught Deloitte off guard; it’s now working to expand the initiative.

The fine print
When adopting a returnship program, it’s important to remember that stereotypes can’t come into play. “Men are caregivers, too,” said Allison Kahn, labor and employment attorney at Carlton Fields, “Employers should be careful not to target programs specifically to women as that might be considered discriminatory.” She recommends targeting professionals rather than a specific group to limit risk, even if the programs mainly attract specific groups.

Additionally, the focus should be on experience and accomplishment, rather than on gaps in service. Looking at cumulative experience is important: compare uninterrupted and interrupted service fairly to avoid any equal pay violations. “After a candidate completes a returnship program,” she said, “employers should assure they’re being compensated at the same pay rate as colleagues performing the same work.”

It is important to understand the rules around unpaid work, too, Mark E. Spund, head of the employment law practice at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP, told HR Dive. “The [U.S. Department of Labor] recently put forth new guidelines on unpaid internships,” he said. If returnships are unpaid, businesses would be wise to follow the same guidelines to ensure there are no violations of local or federal laws.

Unexpected benefits
These programs can have additional benefits, for both employees and employers. “Companies recognize that there is a highly experienced talent pool that they aren’t currently tapping into,” Tami M. Forman, executive director at Path Forward, told HR Dive.

The group asks corporate partners to focus on applicants with a minimum of five years’ professional experience and at least a two-year break in service, regardless of why they took time away from work. They see about 85% of their graduates employed full-time within six months of completing the program, she said.

“The plusses have been many,” Forman said. “One I didn’t anticipate was the handful of women who had full-time offers but chose to do a Path Forward returnship anyway. They perceived the additional support — from both the company and Path Forward — would make them more successful in the long term.”

Many companies that advertise returnship programs also find that, in addition to tapping into a new applicant pool, corporate culture is enhanced. The perception that the company is flexible when it comes to caregiving is a means to attract and retain talent.

For specific industries, particularly tech, looking to increase gender parity among the ranks, returnships — although not exclusive to women — may be an excellent path to increase female participation.

Returnships offer the possibility of improving culture and diversity while broadening an employer’s talent pool. When implemented properly, they could well be a game-changer for employers’ talent acquisition efforts.


Instant Feedback Tools Can Boost Engagement, Productivity

Praise from peers and bosses is a significant motivator, but most employees feel unappreciated and unrecognized. Making it easier for colleagues to provide feedback—positive and critical—can boost engagement and help employees connect their work to the company’s values.

Only 1 in 3 workers in the U.S. strongly agree that they receive recognition or praise for doing good work, Gallup found in 2016. In a 2015 study, Gallup reported that 67 percent of employees whose managers focused on their strengths were fully engaged in their work, compared with only 31 percent of those whose managers focused on their weaknesses.

But recognizing employees consistently has proved to be a challenge for many companies. It’s either done in an ad hoc fashion when managers remember to do so, during performance reviews, or when companywide programs are rolled out, requiring a lot of effort and leading to low adoption.

“The biggest problem companies say they have when introducing recognition technology is the hurdle of getting employees to use it,” said Ben Eubanks, the principal analyst at human capital management analyst firm Lighthouse Research and Advisory. From an HR standpoint, introducing new processes and systems and the change management around that can be a lot of work, experts said.

That’s where apps like Disco, Achievers and YouEarnedIt come in. Instead of requiring employees to log in to a system that’s separate from their daily workflow to praise a colleague, these tools are already integrated into workplace communication channels many are using, such as Slack, Yammer, Workplace by Facebook and Microsoft Teams.

Disco, for example, was built as a native integration with Slack, which has allowed it to build up to roughly 30,000 companies and around 3 million employees using the app in just three years.

“The advantage of tools that are integrated into the workflow is that feedback is instant,” Eubanks said. “If I want to thank you for a job well done on a project, it’s really easy to just click a button, assign you a star and recognize you, instead of having to set up a side conversation between us.”

Users say peer recognition boosts morale and can increase engagement and retention, and it’s especially helpful for teams that are decentralized and remote. Research shows that not only are the receivers of recognition more engaged, but the people giving recognition are also more likely to be engaged than the average employee, Eubanks said.

“There’s social validation when you give someone a star and kudos for doing a good job on something,” said Justin Vandehey, co-founder of recognition app Disco. Colleagues pile on with emojis, GIFs, custom cards and other words of encouragement, and these acknowledgments can be streamed across television screens around the office for everyone to see.

At Adobe, real-time feedback is a part of the everyday culture, said Nathan Stearns, senior manager of employee experience technology and operations. The technology has “allowed our employees a space to recognize each other in a fun and collaborative fashion while eliminating the feeling that it’s a task,” he said.

Of specific value to HR is the ability to connect the company’s values to recognition and feedback by setting up the values as emojis, which can be tagged when recognizing someone. As teams engage, analytics are produced on a dashboard, including how often values are being recognized across the company, which teams are building each other up the most, and who is offering the most or best feedback.

“We’ve seen employers structure their regular rewards programs around values and see more teams use the values data to help when evaluating performance,” Vandehey said.

Being able to tie the company’s values to recognition and engagement was a key reason to begin a campaign to use Disco, said Dana Sednek, learning architect for talent development at Intuit, the software company behind TurboTax and QuickBooks. “Our leadership programs are tied to our values,” said Sednek, who intends to use the tool to “ignite a leadership culture” at the company.

Intuit started using Disco in August 2017 to improve employee engagement survey scores on recognition. A group of 10 IT managers and 60 employees went first. “They decided they wanted to find ways to recognize their teams for the good work they are doing. It had been difficult previously because they work remotely across the globe and connect mostly through using Slack,” Sednek said.

In the meantime, other departments have started using the tool and facilitating it on their own, unprompted. “When we’re celebrating together … we collectively reinforce productive team behaviors and build trust at the same time,” Sednek said. “That way, when we need to give improvement feedback or make a significant pivot, we’ve got the foundation of trust and feeling that we’re in it together.”

Don’t Expect a ‘Silver Bullet’ Solution

Experts and users caution that simply communicating recognition is not a replacement for performance evaluation or for continuously improving workplace culture. The biggest flaw in a social recognition system is when employees get positive feedback only, Eubanks said. “Critical feedback needs to happen as well.”

Sednek added that “rewards and recognition aren’t a ‘silver bullet’ solution for employee engagement.”

Others say that these types of tools can backfire, creating resentment and cheapened praise.

“Companies need to be very careful not to make recognition a popularity contest,” Eubanks said. “Pushing recognition up is generally a good thing, but you want to be careful if you’re tying it to monetary incentives. It’s everybody’s nightmare to be handing out money to people gaming the system.”

He added that HR needs to ensure that the metrics from a recognition platform are not the only criteria used when making decisions on whom to promote.


Five Ways HR Can Incorporate Employee Development into Organizational Culture

HR department plays a crucial role in any business. The HRs not only help businesses to get worthy candidates who work with zeal and passion, but also handle various other tasks such as record keeping, compensation, relational assistance, and employee performance issues. Apart from handling these tasks, they are responsible for creating a work culture that inspires employees to truly contribute to their company’s success. This is how they give employees an opportunity to grow and learn new things. If you too are an HR professional, you need to know some simple yet effective ways in which you can create a fruitful working culture in your company.

Conduct ongoing formal employee training
Conducting formal employee training is a pretty obvious way for helping your employees grow and achieve excellent results. Training not only helps them improve their knowledge and skills, but also enables them to excel at everything they do. It also empowers and motivates employees to push harder and go above and beyond what is expected of them.

It is quite logical to train your new hires, since you need to make sure that they reach their full potential and easily adapt to the workplace and work culture. Moreover, you should actually conduct ongoing training for all the employees. That way, they can always stay up-to-date with every corporate change and market trend, as well as best practices and strategies for continually improving their efforts and making them pay off in the long run.

This doesn’t have to be challenging at all, as you can advise trainers to utilize LMS software and create online training programs that will enable employees to constantly learn and grow. Add gamification in online training courses to additionally motivate your employees, and create a knowledge base that employees can access 24/7 and learn at their own pace.

Improve cross-departmental teamwork
Encouraging cross-departmental teamwork can have a huge positive impact on your overall organization . When every single team works in complete unison, they can truly do wonders for the company. Each and every one of them is an important cog in the company’s machine, so they should be encouraged to work together as such.

For instance, the customer support team knows exactly what customers’ main pain points are and how they want their needs to be met. Since they are in direct contact with customers, they should work closely with your product development team, so that they can share the knowledge necessary for satisfying customers’ needs.

The same goes for sales and marketing teams since, by joining their forces, they can significantly improve communication with customers and prospects and build strong relationships with them.

Each and every team should be interdependent if your company’s goals are to be effectively achieved. As an HR professional, it is your job to connect all teams and ensure they work together as a single team. Therefore, see that all employees mix and attend stand-up meetings and briefings of other teams, because that way they will all clearly see how they impact the entire organization, which can be a major motivator for further learning and development.

Encourage both mentoring and coaching
Employees nowadays, especially millennials, expect their managers to play the role of mentors as well. They don’t want to be simply told what to do, but rather have someone who can help them overcome any obstacle, so that they can perform better and really contribute to the company.

This is why you should encourage managers to be both mentors and coaches whenever an employee needs additional help for completing their tasks properly. They should regularly ask employees whether or not they are facing some challenges and need help resolving any issue, as well as ask them what they would perhaps like to learn more about in order to continue to improve and grow.

Not only can showing this kind of care inspire loyalty in employees and make them stay really connected to their jobs, but it can also greatly improve their skills, which is really the primary reason behind coaching and mentoring. Providing support and sharing knowledge immensely incentivizes employees to grow and achieve maximum performance.

Improve your employees’ soft skills
Soft skills are exceptionally important for effective employee development, but they are rarely seen as such. Seldom does HR put soft skills on the priority list when training employees, because they mainly focus on making sure that every team is properly trained to perform all daily operations as well as they can.

However, soft skills can considerably improve communication and collaboration among teams, which can create an incredible work culture and help employees work in great harmony. Helping them develop emotional intelligence and improve their social and communication skills will make them love their workplace and be genuinely satisfied with their jobs.

You can hire an expert to provide soft skills training, but harnessing the power of LMS software can also do the trick. You, or a particular manager or trainer, can create online training for soft skills that will teach employees how to communicate effectively and be in complete cohesion with one another.

Help your employees with personal development
Personal development of your employees bears just as much significance as the development of their technical and soft skills. If you help them improve on a more personal level, you will directly influence their professional development.

This is because they will perform their tasks much better if they are personally fulfilled. Provide your support, offer help, listen to them and acknowledge them, and you will make them feel seen and heard. Reward them for their accomplishments and excellent performance, and you will motivate them to push harder. When they feel supported and appreciated, they will be happy and do everything in their power to shine even more at work.

Ongoing employee development is vital for your company’s success, as it leads to their continuous growth and motivates them to take on new challenges and exceed even their own expectations . As an HR professional, it is your responsibility to make sure that employees keep learning and growing. Therefore, follow the aforementioned tips and not only will you increase employee engagement and retention, but you will also create a brilliant work culture that inspires learning, high productivity, and success.


How to know whether — and when — your workforce is ready for AR

Pokemon Go may have brought it mainstream, but augmented reality (AR) is more than just a tool to get kids off the sofa. The technology is finding its way into a number of uses for business, including learning and development.

What exactly is AR and how are companies using it? It’s essentially a mix of virtual reality and the real world: your actual location with images or information superimposed into the picture. AR can overlay maps, steps, data and more. It provides instructions, answers questions and, for example, can compare what a worker is doing to specifications for a task, offering input to perform the work correctly.

Tomorrow’s tools working today
The technology is already in use at plenty of worksites. Using Google Glass AR headsets, GE Aviation connects mechanics to specifications: as they use their digital torque wrench, the system tells them immediately when they have the exact fit to seal hoses and fluid lines. In healthcare, surgeons and nurses may wear glasses that display a patient’s vital signs in real time as treatment is being administered. In construction, AR can map out plans against the workspace, allowing workers to see what they should be doing in 3D, rather than having to check against blueprints.

Honeywell says it’s using the world’s “first and only self-contained holographic computer.” A headset that uses Microsoft’s Hololens provides a mixed reality view that gives learners a chance to explore in a combination of the real world and virtual space. “These active learning methods use sight, sound and touch, codifying learning,” Vincent Higgins, director of technology and innovation, Honeywell Connected Plant, told HR Dive in an email.

“We are finding that Honeywell’s Skills Insight Immersive Competency, which uses augmented and virtual reality, really boosts retention rates,” he said. “Technical staff are better prepared to face the challenges of a constantly changing work environment.”

Tapping into the ‘wow’ factor
The tech has certainly caught users’ attention. “AR has started out primarily in new customer-facing applications to bring a ‘wow’ factor to websites or mobile apps,” said Christa Manning, vice president of solution provider research for Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, in an email. It’s been used to help shoppers imagine how furniture might look in a home or to show airline frequent travelers how to navigate airport terminals, she told HR Dive. But the tech has moved to address the needs of business.

Early adopters telecom, for example, are using AR to support workers in the field who are servicing remote equipment. “With lots of data being generated by the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) and devices everywhere throwing off information,” Manning said. “AR can be critical to help human beings process all of this information in real time and in context.”

There are three main “horizontal applications of AR in B2B at the moment,” Tuong Nguyen, principal research analyst at Gartner, told HR Dive in an email: “task itemization, collaboration, and see-what-I-see video.” Task itemization delineates the steps needed to perform; collaboration gives employees resources and data needed while SWIS allows others to participate in the task from a remote location.

“Augmented Reality and VR represent an innovative alternative to instructor-led training,” John Buzzell, president of You Are Here said in an email to HR Dive. “Both can dramatically reduce training times, improve consistency and enhance recall, leading to higher quality and speed that helps companies retain the employees they spend so much money to recruit.”

Making the (virtual) leap
For business considering adopting AR, the challenge may be more than just identifying a need. Preparing employees and learners to use the technology can be difficult. “As they bring new AR approaches,” said Manning, “learning professionals should consider that this can cause cognitive overload for many users. Having to learn not only a new set of information but also a new tool for conveying the information and adjusting their own ways of working and learning at the same time.”

She recommends learning professionals coordinate very closely with IT to make sure they have access to the right hardware, as well as Wi-Fi that can keep up with timely processing of all the data. “Like any new technology or change in the business,” she said, ‘learning professionals really have to focus on supporting the workers empathetically through the change and market the benefits for the worker as well as the business.”

Buzzell suggests that businesses have a solid strategy before implementing new tech: “You must build a solid ‘customer experience’ for your team, create a framework that makes sense for your organization, and make the transition as smooth as possible,” he said. There are resources available, such as professional organizations like the VR/AR Association. He also noted that many device manufacturers or solution providers offer “adoption dollars” that can help companies start the transition to immersive tech.

They might be more ready than you think
If it’s deployed properly, adoption may not be solely about teaching staff how to do something differently, Nguyen said; “it’s giving them a tool that makes their job easier/faster/safer.” If an employee has been trying to drive a nail with a shoe and you hand them a hammer, they really don’t have to “learn” how to use it, he said; you’ve simply provided a tool that makes them more effective.

Curiosity may well drive learning, too, Manning noted. “As much as AR can be overwhelming, it can be very powerful to tap into human curiosity and to make learning new things or applying new information more compelling and fun.”

Don’t overlook capitalizing on the novelty of the tech, she said. “Simply trying it out in a pilot or test area will help attract new digital workers and/or ease more hesitant employees into a new area.” But AR must be in the context of a mature and sound workforce support and enablement technology strategy. “Like any new type of technology,” she said, “there will be fits and starts and it will never be the end all be all, but [it] should be part of an overall portfolio focused on productivity.”


Why Managing Up Is A Skill Set You Need

You’ve heard it said and you know it’s true: People don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses.

For many people, the primary ingredient in job satisfaction is not the quality of food in the lunchroom. It’s not the office layout or equipment. It’s not even the workload, salary, or benefits. It’s the relationship with the boss. In fact, one study showed that 65% of workers surveyed would choose a new boss over a pay raise.

Many organizations still promote people because of their technical success rather than for management skills. To compound the problem, many new managers receive little or no training before jumping into their new roles. This makes for unhappy campers in the workplace.

But as an alternative to the futile search for the perfect boss, you might consider working better with the boss you have.

That’s the premise of Mary Abbajay’s new book MANAGING UP: How to Move Up, Win at Work, and Succeed with Any Type of Boss.

A seasoned leadership development consultant, Abbajay offers tips on how to deal with some of the most perplexing challenges in the workplace.

Rodger Dean Duncan: There seem to be countless books, TED talks, workshops and YouTube videos on how to lead and manage downward. But your book provides one of the few treatments on how to manage upward. Why is there such an imbalance?

Mary Abbajay: The simple truth is that in America, nobody wants to think of himself as a “follower.” We are obsessed with leadership. It’s part of our cultural and sociological narrative and identity. We talk incessantly about leadership. We teach it, we preach it, we spend more than $14 billion a year on it. But we rarely spend much time discussing or validating the other (and equally important) side of the relationship: followership.

Many of us resist being a follower because we think being a follower is being a patsy. We confuse followership with powerlessness. We conflate it with passivity and submissiveness. We think followership robs us of agency. Nothing could be further from the truth. If we reframe followership from a power construct into a relational construct, we open up a wide world of choice and agency. In a relationship, everybody has agency. So, while we might dislike the idea of being a follower, the truth is that the majority of us spend more of our working time following than leading. Even a CEO must be a follower, too. Everybody has a boss.

Duncan: Most every leader was once a follower. What are the two or three key things a follower should learn (and practice) in preparation for being an effective leader?

Abbajay: Leadership in the 21st century is much more about influence than authority, so learning to appreciate and adapt to people with different perspectives, priorities, and personalities is a key skill to develop. Managing up allows you to practice navigating and influencing people who approach work differently than you. Learn how to look beyond your own needs and perspectives and consider the needs and perspectives of others. If nothing else, by managing up, you will learn what kind of manager you want to be and what kind of manager you don’t want to be.

Duncan: For some people, the notion of “managing up” sounds like manipulation or becoming a sycophant. You use the term to mean taking charge of one’s workplace experience. When you teach people that this kind of empowerment is a choice, what kind of push-back do you receive?

Abbajay: People push back for myriad of reasons. Most of these reasons come down to three things: ego, fixed perspective, and resistance to change.

Ego shows when we get caught up in the need to be right—e.g. we say things like “my boss should…”, “my boss needs to…”, etc. Our ego prevents us from widening our perspective. We get trapped in our own view, needs, wants.

Our fixed perspective prevents us from considering alternative choices and we may find ourselves trapped in our own cloud of bitterness. While we actually may be totally right, the truth is that your boss isn’t going to change. All we can do is change our reaction and our interaction.

Which brings us to the last reason, resistance to change. Managing up requires us to adapt and change our approach. It requires extra effort and moving out of our comfort zone. Change is hard. Most of us would prefer the other to change!

Duncan: When organizations promote people for technical skills instead of managerial skills, the unintended result can be a technical expert who’s a total bust as a manager. What are some proven strategies to “manage up” an incompetent?

Abbajay: Whether it’s due to poor people skills, inexperience, or a lack of managerial aptitude, an incompetent manager doesn’t have to derail your career. While specific strategies depend on the individual situation, consider the following approaches:

De-escalate your anger: Having an incompetent boss can be infuriating. But when we operate from a place of anger and resentment, our reptile brain takes over and clouds us from making smart and strategic choices. Let go of the anger and replace it with empathy, compassion, or even humor. Put yourself in your boss’s shoes. How would you feel if you were elevated into a position that you weren’t qualified for? How would you want your team to treat you? This perspective will enable you to make strategic choices.
Diagnose the incompetence: Try to figure out exactly how the incompetence shows up. Does she lack experience? Does he have poor emotional intelligence? Is her decision-making poor? Does he not hold people accountable? Is she really incompetent or does she just do things differently than you? If you can pinpoint and prioritize the problems, you and your team can create targeted strategies to address the deficiency.
Compensate and cover: Once you’ve pinpointed the major deficiencies, make and enact strategies to compensate. Yes, this requires extra effort. No, this isn’t fair. But letting an incompetent boss derail your career isn’t fair either. Look for opportunities to shine by doing great work and becoming your boss’s biggest asset. Find opportunities to compensate for your boss’s weakness. Offer to cover for her when she is out. Proactively provide information that will help him. Offer to take on more responsibility and projects. Use your interactions to help teach them what they need to know.
Take the long view: Try not to worry if your boss gets the credit for your successful projects. Success gets noticed, and in organizations that usually means the team and/or department gets noticed too. Make your boss and your team look good and you will look good as well. Plus, people aren’t stupid—everyone probably already knows that you are the success engine behind your incompetent boss.
Learn what you can: If your boss is technically competent, take the time to learn about her technical expertise. Use this opportunity to hone your technical skills.


Guide to raising employee engagement


With the right people strategy and benefits programmes, employers can really help create an environment where employees are more engaged with their work – and the organisation is more likely to achieve its objectives. But as part of driving this high-level ‘macro’ engagement, it’s important to make sure people are engaged with those benefits programmes – otherwise they’re costing money but not adding value. We believe effective communication is an important connection between benefits engagement and employee engagement.

Good benefits engagement happens when employees understand, value and are proactive about their benefits. It’s not about a single log-in to the benefits portal – in an ideal scenario, employees change the way they interact with the benefits available to them – potentially becoming healthier, less stressed and more engaged. But although 99 percent of organisations (Aon Benefits & Trends Survey 2018) see increasing benefits engagement as important, there’s less consensus about how to go about doing it. That’s why we have devised this best-practice guidance – to help employers achieve the best benefits engagement possible.

Ten steps to engagement
Draw up a strategy. With only 25 percent of UK companies defining strategic objectives for their benefits, it’s not surprising that it’s hard to see certainties or success. Creating objectives is not hard to do and once in place, it’s simpler to monitor engagement levels closely and make relevant improvements.

The best way to deliver a comprehensive benefits package that meets business and employee objectives is to listen. Learn about employee wants, concerns and overall feedback. Engagement is a reciprocal process.

Tell a compelling story to create genuine connection. This helps make a memorable point and leaves a lasting impression. Employees need to know what the company is offering and why.

Take advantage of technology. People are exposed to new communication channels in media outside the workplace, and there’s no reason why businesses should not talk to their employees in the same way. A multi-channel approach, including digital channels, will come across more familiar and user-friendly.

Stand out from the brand. It’s common for benefits to sit under their corporate brand, but that means they can get lost. A separate brand can communicate that the benefits are about people and their needs, so can help reduce apathy and get them get involved.

Identify the champions. Think of all the grassroots campaigns that companies run – perhaps diversity, equality and inclusion or mental health awareness. Their commonality is often the colleagues who champion the cause in visible, everyday ways, sharing stories where they can. Choose champions at all different job levels, across departments.

Budget to communicate. The average HR department spends only 4 percent of its benefits management budget on communication, although 42 percent are willing to invest more money to improve communications (Aon Benefits & Trends Survey 2018). Benefits are a significant investment, so it’s frustrating when employees don’t value or understand them. Generally, it’s because not enough thought or investment has gone into communicating benefits in the best way for employees.

Don’t let them forget about benefits. A once-a-year message at renewal is not enough; there needs to be a plan to sustain benefits engagement throughout the year. Pick strategic moments to remind employees about the offerings and value.

Make it relevant and personal. Using focus groups, surveys, and demographic data, employers can not only select the best benefits for company and employees, but also how to market them. For instance, if there is a large amount of late-career employees approaching retirement, they may favour financial benefits and advice. Do remember that it’s about communicating with individuals with specific needs, so avoid generic or irrelevant messaging.

Keep it simple. If a benefits platform is difficult to access or messaging is too complicated, employees will not engage. They won’t be interested in digging through reams of information about their benefits that’s in HR-speak. Categorising benefits on types such as ‘health’, ‘finance’ or ‘family’ can help make it easier for employees to find what they want.


4 Things That Are Keeping You From Hiring the Best Talent

Above all else, a company’s success depends on its people, which is why hiring the right employees is the most important endeavor for any business. It also makes attracting them one of the greatest challenges.

Since the financial crisis a decade ago, the U.S. unemployment rate has been cut in half, and private sector employment has seen an uptick of more than 18 million jobs since 2010, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Those figures are evidence that the job market today is candidate-driven. Companies are updating their methods for finding candidates to get their name out to a wider range of applicants, even seeking international talent.

But while locating prospective employees is one thing, attracting the right talent to your company is another thing altogether. Not many companies have caught up to what today’s top talent wants, and if they have kept up, they may not be letting candidates know. For instance, a 2017 Gallup study found that the most important factors in work satisfaction for millennial employees are growth opportunities and work culture. Yet some companies still struggle to show they can provide that.

You may have what job applicants seek, but unless you pay close attention to how you present your business during the recruitment process, you won’t attract the top talent you’re hoping for. Here are four reasons you may be having trouble luring — and landing — the people you need:

1. You’re casting too narrow a net.
Today’s marketplace is more diverse than ever, and even small to midsize companies do business with other companies and consumers across the world. In such a marketplace, international employees offer numerous benefits. When looking for employees, keep in mind that location is important to all potential prospects, but even more so to international candidates. Highlighting ways your city welcomes foreign-born talent can raise your company above the rest.

For instance, business and political leaders in St. Louis partner with the St. Louis Mosaic Project and International Institute of St. Louis to help immigrants, ethnic minorities and refugees settle into the community, while GlobalSTL attracts international startups to the area. Ohio, too, has recognized the advantages of recruiting foreign-born talent, as evidenced by Ohio Welcoming Initiatives, a collaboration that aims to identify best practices for attracting and welcoming immigrants. If your company can tout resources like these, you’ll be much better positioned to attract the best candidates for your job, whatever their country of origin.

2. Your job description has no personality.
Many companies use the same threadbare descriptions to promote every job opening. To stand apart, create descriptions that serve as an introduction and a teaser, generating interest while providing all the information a candidate needs to know about the job. In many cases, the job description is a candidate’s first impression of a company, and a stale one can instantly quash the company’s appeal.

Today more companies are finding ways to make everything from job titles to application processes more interesting and inviting. For example, Zapier’s job ads first focus on the culture fit and what the company is looking for in a person before describing the responsibilities of the role. That’s an attractive approach for applicants and says a lot about the work environment they can expect. When searching for developers and engineers, companies like Apple and Google hide job listings in code, where only qualified candidates will find them.

3. You leave people hanging.
Once your job descriptions sing, focus on creating an application process that emphasizes clear communication. Rather than keeping good candidates in the dark, unsure if they’ve made it to the next round, make certain your HR team gives qualified applicants insight into what to expect next. Including a timeline of the application process, offering candidates some feedback along the way and sounding human in your communications rather than like an email bot can all help you develop a positive relationship with potential employees.

Andre Lavoie, CEO of talent-management solution vendor ClearCompany, observes that 36 percent of today’s applicants expect updates from companies they’ve applied to, while 41 percent expect to be told if they weren’t chosen. Yet only 26 percent of employers say they provide this information. Even if companies can’t reach out to every single applicant individually, they “can still close that gap in communication without exhausting their HR resources,” Lavoie says.

4. Your interview questions don’t reveal how candidates think.
As with the job description, you should never underestimate the power of interview questions. Obviously, an interview is supposed to help you determine whether the candidate is a good fit for your company and help the applicant decide whether your business is a good fit for him or her. To accomplish this, however, you need to ask interview questions that elicit more than just sparkling conversation.

Matt Sunshine, managing partner for The Center for Sales Strategy, emphasizes that the best interview questions aren’t about getting the most interesting answers. They’re about getting the best glimpse into the candidates’ thought process, such as by asking uncomfortable questions that force them out of their comfort zone. “Tailor your interview questions appropriately,” Sunshine says, “but don’t be afraid to dig a little deeper for specific examples.” With the right questions, you can discover how candidates solve problems, what they’re passionate about and how they react to conflict or uncomfortable situations.

Business leaders well know that their company’s success relies on recruiting and retaining the best employees. To attract the right candidates, begin by avoiding these four hiring missteps.

Keep in mind that in today’s global marketplace, your goal is to be the company that stands out the most in a sea of possibilities.